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.