The Oarsman

galley slave 4Forty years of pulling on the oars is hard to walk away from. You get used to getting up in the morning and trudging to work. You get used to being the “goto” person for problem solving because it makes you feel important. Now I sit on top of the deck trying to relax while others do the rowing. I sit on the deck drinking mint juleps and listening to the oars as they dip in and out of the water. I want to tell them which direction to take.  I want to tell them to grab hold of the handle with both hands, and their stomach and chest should be resting against the tops of their thighs. But, I don’t.

It feels like I’m slacking off. They say I deserve it. They say I’ve earned it. They say, I owe it to myself, but even after 5 years, there’s still a bit of nostalgia for smelling the sweat of hard work and wiping the tears from failures. Nostalgia for “being the boss.” It is still hard.

The funny thing is I know I’ve earned it. As I drive by office buildings in the late evening, I see people working at their desks and I’m so glad I’m not in there with them. I look through office windows and see people sitting around conference tables. When walking through hotels, I see all the conferences in progress. And I ask myself…. What am I missing? Do I miss working late evenings? NO. Do I miss the endless non-productive meetings? NO. Do I miss wagging the dog? SOMETIMES just because it’s fun.

Now I get to sit on the dock of the Bay. I get to climb the highest mountains. I get to travel the world. I get to explore museums and road trip with my husband. I get to sit indoors on a snowy day and crank up the fireplace as others go to julep

Would I rather be in the hole pulling on the oars? NO. I’ve earned my mint juleps and I’m going to drink my fill!

Paris Day 4: Pièce de Résistance

louvre 2
BTW… what numnutz decided to put a 20th century pyramid in front of a structure built in the middle ages !!!

This is the day for our planned visit to the pièce de résistance – the Louvre! When we arrived, Clay took one look at the line and declared that he was not going to stand in a long line! Keep in mind that the primary thing he wanted to see in Paris was the Louvre and with all the recent terrorist attacks, there was no way he could cut the line without being hauled away by security. I left knowing that we would come back after he adjusted his mindset to the realities of security in Europe, we walked away.

Avoiding the security line provided an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. So we walked to the Opera, which provided a chance to see more of Paris. Didn’t know what to expect at the Opera House because it was not on our backup list so we were gobsmacked (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) by the opulence of the opera. There is so much gold there that it could have been designed for Trump. The most remembered event was when two “real opera” singers serenaded us in the lobby. What a treat that was!

Croque Monsieure at Cafe Pais

After touring the Opera House, we stopped at Café de la Paix for a croque madame. My daughter would call the place very “frou frou”, which translates to very expensive. (BTW… just found out that money spent on vacation is like Monopoly money. It isn’t real. So you can spend as much as you please.)

Left the Opera house and headed back to hotel for our afternoon siesta. (Naps are wonderful! May make them a regular part of my day.)

Upon awakening from our nap, we decided to walk over to see the Eiffel Tower light show. Typical crowd of Parisiennes laying on grass with many bottles of wine while waiting for the show to start. The show consisted of strings of Christmas tree lights wrapped around the frame of the Eiffel and twinkling off and on. Sorry but we’re jaded, spoiled Amercans and were therefore duly unimpressed by their twinkling lights.

Oh well… Stopped at sidewalk café for drinks before heading to hotel.

Even though we didn’t see the Louvre, we had a fantastic day!


ut news desk
“Staged at UT Studio”

You know you’re important when you walk into a room or step up on a podium and heads turn. You know you’re important when people go out of their way to acknowledge you and cater to you. You know you’re important when people come to you for advice and guidance. So what happens when all that stops? Does that mean you are no longer important?

Is that why people un-retire or never retire (i.e., Phelps, Letterman, Ali)? I’ve seen people who hang on to vestiges of themselves and it is not pretty. You see them at receptions where it is obvious that their time is past. People are polite to them, ask how they’ve been and then move away as if they didn’t exist. I could join Boards and committees, but I will not be a vestige. I will not waste time trying to hang on. But, what do I do with the business knowledge accumulated over the last 40 years. Be a consultant…  been there, done that. Be an educator…. Been there, done that. Or… move on.

Of course, what is really important is definition of oneself apart from definition by others. Now that I think about it…. I’ve actually played many “important” parts over the years…. Mother, congressional fellow, grandmother, sister, professor, boss, wife, association executive, and other roles that I can’t even remember.

How wonderful it is to be able to define myself once again.

Stay tuned

It’s All Relative

EscherIf Einstein is right then it is okay to sleep late and stay in my PJ’s all day because there is only NOW. I can’t waste time. Is it lazy to sleep late and stay in ones PJ’s all day? Should I feel guilty wasting this precious commodity called “time”.

I know I shouldn’t feel lazy, but a 30-year habit of waking at 6am is hard to break. Waking late makes me feel as if I’ve wasted part of the day when I could have been doing something productive. In the time I spent sleeping, I could have been improving my body (exercising) or my mind (reading/studying). I could have been productive, which is how I’ve always measured myself. At the end of a day, I would look back and see what I checked off. If most things were completed, then I counted myself productive. If not, then I wasted the day.

On the other hand, wasting time by resting, is really relaxing and that should be just as important as exercise. I choose to view my time as an opportunity to recharge my batteries. To destress. To unwind. To become whole again.

So today I relaxed.

Stay tuned,

Tennage redux

Zits 2Living life as a teenager is really cool especially when you’re over 50 and retired. Think about it…. I go to bed whenever I want. I get up whenever I want. I do whatever I want to do and I’m not responsible to or for anybody or anything. Hallelujah!! This is actually better than being a teenager, because I know what the alternative is like.

I always thought I knew how to do things better than others. Therefore, I needed to be in charge, which led to full-on responsibility. It was life as puppeteer. Pulling strings to get people to do what they were paid to do. Helping clients understand that what they needed isn’t what they wanted. Guiding and directing without letting folks know they were being guided and directed. Determining the big picture (vision) and getting others to buy-in to it.

Relationships were based upon the barter system. First one had to quickly determine “what’s in it for me”. If the answer is nothing, then one quickly moves on to the next person. In fact, receptions or other events geared toward “networking”, became a dance. Like the “if-then-else” of app code, I became adept at determining the potential value to a relationship within the first 30 to 60 seconds of conversation. If the answer was “none”, then I would extricate myself quickly and move on to someone with “some value”.

Now my relationship meter is more geared to my level of interest. For example, I met a guy who was an aspiring Cirque du Soleil gymnast while working as a medical technician. He and I had nothing in common, but his life was so much more interesting than mine. I was thoroughly engaged in our conversation. In another world, he would have quickly extricated himself from me, but he was stuck sitting next to me at a banquet table. So I had an opportunity to pepper him with questions so I could peek into another world. Just imagine how much I could have learned from all the others I have encountered over the years, if only I had not been so determined to ascertain their business value to me.

Except for the parental nagging, peer pressure, college decisions, and hormonal changes, teenage life is not so bad. They just don’t know it. Like Jeremy in Zits, I never want to grow up.

Stay tuned.

Sands of Time

sands of timeI never had time for anything. No time to shop. No time for pampering. No time for housecleaning. No time for anything except work. But now everything is different. Since retiring, I have an endless supply of time like millions of grains of sand on the beach.

I have time to read the entire newspaper… if I want. I have time to linger over a cup of coffee… if I want. Just the other day, I walked a lady to her destination instead of giving her directions, because…  I had the time.

It’s as if I’m on an endless vacation. Now I understand why retired people move at such a leisurely pace, because they have time. No schedules to meet… no crises…no todo lists.. no more politics… no more… no more… no more. I don’t care “what you do”,  I no longer take a few seconds to decide if you are worthy of my precious time before moving on to others. I now know that everyone is worthy and everyone has a story if only I take time to listen.

I’ve always said one either has time or money, but not both … unless you’re rich. Not being rich, I’ve had time and I’ve had “comfortable” money, but never both at the same time. So this is a strange, new feeling. It’s like getting used to a new pair of shoes. I’m walking around in them, and they don’t hurt, they don’t pinch, and they feel like the right size, but they still don’t feel quite right.

Stay tuned…

I Cannot Sing

Found a notice in the Resident Associate catalogue for the Encore Chorale for Older Adults. Ordinarily I would have immediately passed over this simply because I am not “older.”  But what caught my eye was the billing “for people who cannot sing”. At that point, I inwardly raised my hand, because it was acknowledging my place in the singing world. I CANNOT SING. I don’t even sing in the shower because I don’t want to hear my own voice.

 But, since this is the year I continue to challenge myself… I figured WTF, and immediately paid up. The first session was fun. The warmup exercises were fun and it’s a very interesting and excited group of “older folks”, who describe themselves as young, older folks. They certainly have a zest for life and appear to be really, really enjoying retirement with singing just one of their many activities. So, I walked away from the first session with joy in my heart. As I sat next to people who could “really sing”, I received immediate feedback when my voice did not match theirs… at all, but I was not daunted.

Not only can I not sing, I also cannot read music. Now, that was not a prerequisite, but it would help and many of the others can play by ear, read music, have taken music lessons, and/or can sing. I, on the other hand, have none of these qualities.

But since I’m challenging myself, I went to the second session. By the end of that session, I had tears in my heart. I so desperately want to sing, and I think I had hoped to discover that I had a secret talent for singing, but the reality is that this will be a long, hard struggle for me.

I took the recorded music home to practice, and the more I listened and sang, the clearer it became that this may be more challenge than I’m prepared for, especially at this time when I’ve taken on other challenges such as training for a “possible” mini-triathlon. (That’s entirely different story to be told later.)

So, I’m battling with hanging in there to see if I can gain some improvement or giving up now before I totally destroy my self esteem. I try to think about what I would advise one of our children or grandchildren when faced with a similar situation. In fact, I had already looked forward to having them attend my recital. So they could see their mother/grandmother was still taking on challenges, which might encourage them in their life pursuits.

I’ve never been a quitter, but sometimes we have to face realities, and this mountain might be too steep.

Stay tuned


Running with the Boomer pack and experiencing angst over shrinking retirement dollars; deciding whether to move to lower cost area; pursuing the career dream, etc.

Just returned from touring new housing developments in Wilmington, NC as a possible new home.  Found it to be a beach town that is rapidly (over 25 years) transforming its downtown.  As with all quests, I learned more about myself (note to husband: I and myself mean we and ourselves). Learned that Wilmington is a very nice town, but not quite urban enough for us.

We went looking for nightlife and found that there are two kinds (fast/slow or young/old). If you fit somewhere in between, then there is nothing. Our first clue came from a transplanted Charletonian who said that there is no culture in Wilmington. But that was just one woman’s opinion, so we went looking for a place to dance (not cultural but fun) on Saturday night and started out at Rox. The bouncer took one look at my husband and me and came outside to explain to us that “you don’t want to come in here”.  Being obviously a few years older than their usual clientele (21-31), he suggested another club.  We went where he suggested, Sportsmen’s Club, and walked into a time warp. Nice club, good DJ, and comfortable, but reminded me of the old BYOB cabaret days.

Left the Sportsmen’s Club and decided to return to Rox and see for ourselves. Upon arriving the first thing we noticed were policemen out front. That was all we needed for confirmation that “you don’t want to come in here.”

Not to knock Wilmington. Nice place. Friendly people and definitely on the upswing. May come back in 10 years. It’s just too slow for us. So the quest continues.

Ciao till next time.