When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take a step into the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen: there will be something solid for us to stand on or… we will be taught to fly. ~ Patrick Overton
Quotes like that make my stomach do flips. Not always fear flips, mostly anticipation flips. I’ve had those times in my life where I took that step into the unknown. Eventually, I flew. Have you thought about some edges you’ve been at? Scared? Clueless? But you took that step anyway?
Changing careers has been like that for me. I’ve been an elementary school teacher. Counselor with families, working with teens. Life skills coach with women in transition, empty nesters, people who found themselves at the edge of the light. Public speaker, writer, editor, writing coach, storyteller. I took the steps into each “unknown” new career. Many of you have been with me on one or several of these paths.
The “edge” in my career changes was not for lack of training or certification. It was from the heart of the career change. Could I really do it? Would I succeed? And yet, for each, I believed, or someone helped me believe, that I could fly.
I’ve been having a love affair… with words, for decades. I love the sound and meaning of words … and the power of words. I’ve been fortunate to share this love with emerging writers, readers, and listeners, with senior citizens, a population as rich in imagination as the young children I taught and with many decades of experiences to choose from. My most recent flight, storytelling with adults, brings a richness to words as they are lifted from the page to the stage. Organizations like Tucson Tellers of Tales and Odyssey Storytelling are now an exciting part of my known world.
I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. ~ E. B. White
The Next Adventure – Retirement
In the last year, I’ve felt the magnetic pull to roll up my sleeves, go out and do “just one more workshop.” But then I’m pulled to the other magnetic pole and need to laugh, dance, go on a hike, and like E. B. White, “…have a hell of a good time.” And so I’m going to retire. This is definitely an unknown. I’ve been in the workforce since I was a senior in college. There’s no flight plan other than continuing to follow who I have become, living my values in this phase of life called retirement. No writing workshops, public speaking presentations, how-to seminars, or programs will fill my calendar. I’ll spend time with friends and family, and travel, two miles or two hundred, to meet new friends.
I will write for the pure enjoyment of it. The occasional blog or ELM newsletter will get posted and arrive in your mailbox with ideas and stories about life and relationships because I still appreciate the power of words.
My husband of thirty years has been my true North, offering guidance through each of my career adventures. My twin has helped me immensely in my writing endeavors. They both have waited, mostly with patience, as I’ve looked at retirement. At first I did this reluctantly, then with curiosity, and now with confidence. Hank heard me speak of retirement as “semi-retirement,” then the “R-word. I’m not sure he believes me when I say I will no longer teach about writing or public speaking. In time, he will. There are so many knowledgeable, passionate people who love words as I do and have time, talent, and innovative ways to teach, present workshops and retreats, and have far better skills in the digital world.
I’m pausing here to offer a huge and sincere thank-you to the many special people who trusted me to share in their child’s education, or to hear their sorrow, insecurities, and then joys, or to see into their hearts, marriages, or crumpled selves. Thank you to people who came to workshops and shared whole-heartedly. Thank you to writers who sent me their manuscripts with the accompanying questions, dreams, and desires. Thank you to readers, writers, and storytellers. I hope you will continue to connect with me. It’s been an honor to be welcomed in your life.
March 15 is my 73rd birthday. One of my most treasured gifts will be to retire. I know I can fly.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, relationships and the writing life. Her life has been enhanced through multiple careers that have all held planned and unplanned adventures. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. She’s sure retirement will offer more incredible adventures.
Wishing you the best in your retirement! I know it will be just as fun and full and connected as your careers. Thank you again for all of your help in my writing journey. You were a game changer in my growth as an author and turning my memoir ideas into a manuscript.
A retirement celebration is waiting for you at Via the next time you are in Worcester.
I’m smiling reading this- because I am READY to retire and the idea of coming to see you as a matter of summer travel is so OKAY!!!!
You know, retirement or not, I am always ready to talk about writing with you.
I hope that your retirement will offer you many opportunities to continue to grow and have fun on your continuing life journey. My retirement, Tom’s long illness and death, and so many other circumstances are continuing to lead me into growth into the person that I think that I was always meant to be.
I wish you joy and fulfillment in your new life.
Life is just an unfolding package like looking over the way an origami is folded and unfolded. Only in looking back, for me, could I see how the person I am now was formed. Like you, some of these opportunities were very hard (losses, illness, death) but you made it through. So did I and so have many other women and men of courage. Life-what a gift. I look for the continued fulfillment you wish for me. Sincere thanks and good wishes for you too.
Ethel, one thing I learned in my retirement (16 years ago from teaching elementary school) is that teachers are always life long learners, self-motivated, altruistic and generous of spirit. I also was READY. I knew my time had come to spread wings and use my skills elsewhere. Hence, the Miller Place Historical Society. I never expected nor planned to be where I am. It was a natural evolution. I felt like I bought new shoes that were already broken in. Retirement is a misnomer. It sounds so final like one is concluding one’s life. No way!!! We must refer to it as a voyage. Joy and blessings to you.
It is a voyage. What a fitting metaphor for my writing colleague who lives near the beautiful Long Island Sound. I see myself as a life long learner too. How fun is that! Retiring from the hustle and bustle of career lives to… hmm whatever. I am sure my new pair of shoes will be waiting.
When I retired at 66, I imagined life would slow down. Not so! It sped
up. I volunteered to care for ex-racing greyhounds with two local rescue groups for ten years: fostering, adoptions, cleaning kennels, writing grants; wrote three books in nine years; continued to paint Indian designs on pottery until my hands gave out; and continued to swim three times a week. So much for taking life easier, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. So you go Ethel, do whatever turns you on, but with your inquiring mind and drive, life will not get easier, just more interesting, and you deserve it.
Glenda, You’ve been one of those writers who I have watched reinvent herself and enjoy every step of the way. Thanks for your reply – I know it’s going to be a busy life, just in a different way.
Happy retirement, Ethel!(And early birthday greetings!) You have soared to such heights in all your chosen careers, retirement will be no different. Enjoy the view…
All the best to you and Hank.
Thank you Bridget, We’ve been on parallel paths for a few years now, and I’m grateful to have had some of them actually together here in AZ. I wouldn’t be surprised if the future holds more for us nearer to each other. For now, stay safe, stay happy. Keep sending out those Wee Words. I love ’em.
My dear Ethel.
I wish you a retirement full of adventure that tickles all six of your senses. I’m positive your retirement will be just that! You deserve the next chapter of your life to be the absolute best.
I feel blessed you were the editor of my book. I could not imagine it being any one else but you.
I wish you fire red sunrises and sunsets. I wish you sparkling nights as you gaze upon bright silver stars. I wish you everything your heart desires my friend.
With light and love,
I love and will remember all those wonderful wishes. The sunrises, sunsets, and sparkling nights are phrases to take as my own. You and I are connected by more than our writer/editor relationship, (which has been very special) And for that I am grateful.
Love, light, and laughter,
I retired from my day job 30 plus years ago. Never a dull moment, never a day without some fulfilling new experience, and new wonderful people to share life’s blessings. Happy to be neighbors, game nights in the future?
Happy retirement! Happy Birthday!
Dear Patti, Posting this notice was the beginning of the excitement. I’m sure my feelings are parallel to yours. It’s a crazy tough time in our world right now, but I’m an optimist. We will get through this.