Friday, August 30, 2013

Something Did Happen

I know you remember, because as I’ve said before, you are hanging on my every word. But in case not … last falI I wrote about getting out there, following my interests until something sticks, going to Tucson Modernism Week, blah, blah, yadda, yadda.  And about my little synchronistic experience that confirmed my belief that Anything Could Happen, and something would happen, eventually.

Well, at TMWeek I met some cool women from my neighborhood, one of which is Gillian Drummond, editor of 3Story Magazine, which was about a month old at the time. I subscribed and started enjoying reading the magazine and following it on Facebook. And kept it up.

As I read each month I felt a little twinge of envyness. “Gee, why can’t I be doing something creative and cool like these people?”  And I was telling myself I’m not a professional like all those other people involved in TMWeek and 3Story. See how that work-world, need-credentials point of view can stick (and undermine)? But, I was in my being, not doing, stage anyway.

Then, eventually, and coinciding with my starting to feel a little lazy and that I wanted to step it up a bit, Gillian posted a solicitation for an intern who could write with “accuracy, flair and enthusiasm” to do one or two pieces a month. I thought “Hmmm, I could do that”. Thinking that Gillian was probably looking for a 20-something journalism student and that it was a long-shot, I wrote her, saying as much, using my blog as a writing sample and hauling out my decades-old Bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and my long-time vintage cred and interest in what goes on in Tucson. It worked. We met, chatted and decided to give it a try. The rest, hopefully, is herstory.

So, I'm possibly the oldest intern ever, but you know how I like being the oldest person in the room. I’ve never worked in a “creative” field before. It’s a new world, although a lot of  my skills transfer. My goal is to learn about this kind of writing and have fun. And be part of something pretty cool.  

When I retired I thought I’d eventually do some sort of volunteer work. Since this is unpaid, for the time being, I guess it counts. I thought it would be more philanthropic, but I rationalize that I’ve done decades of “try to make the world a better place” work and I’m due a little self-indulgence. Besides, 3Story is all about celebrating the creative talent and goings-ons that make Tucson such a great place to live. It’s part of building urban community, so I figure that counts.

I will still be telling my personal story here. And, for now,  I’ll have another life as … girl reporter.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lazy Mary Takes It On

When I was a kid my mom used to sing my sister and me a fun little song when trying to rouse us. It went like this (you’ll have to improvise the tune): “Lazy Mary will you get up, will you get up, will you get up. Lazy Mary will you get up, we need the sheets for the table!” Obviously from the era of my mom’s youth, but it still dances around in my head every now and then. Like now.  While I haven't been bored, I started to feel a little bit lazy.
Last August when I retired,  I gave myself the first year as an experiment, a sort of financial la-la land. I planned to pay attention in a general way to the estimated budget, spending, and  investment performance, which I did. I had a little run-in early on with my attitude about money, but belief in abundance stared down the financial picture and I continued with my year. I hoped all would magically flow to my advantage.

The fact that I even have a budget is a bit annoying. When I was working, I always lived below my means and did my best to save, even in the really lean years. In the last decade of work when I had an actual job, I had discretionary cash. Although there wasn’t a ton of it, there was enough to easily fuel my adventures.  But a budget is a fact of life when income is fixed and a bit uncertain given partial dependency on investments. So, as part of taking stock of my first year of retirement, I recently looked at finances in detail. It was a bit sobering in the budget-versus-actual-sending category. Nothing drastic, but I can see now that I will need a little more money if I want to continue to live in do-whatever-you-want land. Or I’ll need to make some adjustments in that regard.

My first reaction was a bit of a panic. All about scarcity and uncertainty: Uh-oh. Gotta get a job. What if someone reads my blog and sees I'm not ideal employee material. Might have to take down the blog. But I love the blog. Writing is what I enjoy the most.  Oh I wish I had a husband to pick up the slack. I wish I didn’t have to make these kinds of decisions on my own. I’m alone. And on and on. Waa-waa. Boo-hoo. For about a minute. Until...whoooaa. Wait. No I don’t (want a husband).  And no I’m not (alone). And haven't I learned anything from my year of authenticity and pursuit of zen? Some changes will need to be made, sure, but I don't need to grab back to old ways. I'm still gonna eat and have a roof over my head. There's nothing urgent about this. Let’s just turn on the Pandora “calm meditation” mix and get a grip.

I feel an energy coming on, but in a new way.  I've overcome the fear-of-being-a-bag lady syndrome that has kept me from taking some risks in the past, sent me down one road rather than another in the name of security. Which is why I even have the privilege of retiring now, so no regrets there. But that’s not where I want to be now.  I cannot fall back into fear-based thinking. I am believing in myself and the path I am on. This is the real change that I was hoping for once I set out on the frontage road. No turning back now. Instead, I’m going to pick up on the inspiration from the wise words in my last post and dance with these circumstances through to true change. It's time to step it up and learn more than I already know about the financial investment world. Not rely so passively on the experts. And continue to explore what comes next.
I had been thinking that maintaining the abundance attitude and belief in my ability to find my way are easy when circumstances are flowing along easily. I wondered how it would be when challenges arose. Well, now I’m finding out. Lazy Mary is up. And about to take it on.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Back to the Future

Ok, so it's been awhile. I know. I'm back now. I wasn't really gone. Just diverted. Doing hard labor in my front yard, which has been interspersed with random thoughts, just not enough to corral into something. I'm seeing how writing takes presence. Intuitive clarity.  Clear thought field. Instead, I've been working my lists and moving crushed rock around.

I've resurfaced in time to acknowledge that August 1st was one year of retirement. This anniversary feels more meaningful and celebratory than my upcoming birthday cause I've had lots of  those. Good opportunity to take stock.

Early on, right before I actually stopped working, I wondered what the challenges of being able to do whatever I wanted almost every day would be. Wondered if I would finally learn to meditate (no) or drink in the day time (every once in a while. it's 3 p.m. now and I'm drinking a beer. that's what writers do). I suspected I would get bored and be inspired, be lazy and be active, travel far and wide and burrow in, watch a lot more movies and, I  hoped, live my own story. That pretty much sums it up, although I've done a lot more reading than movie-watching. Books come to me. Not sure how interesting or inspired my story has been, but I certainly have been living it.

And I have yet to be bored. Daring that precipice and engaging "not knowing" have been a gift. There has been a lot of good nothing and plenty of somethings. Life is different now. I am different now.

I'm no longer working against type. Or my type has changed. I thought all that paying attention to details and the intensity that propelled my work life might transfer. But now I swim in the ocean of conceptual, big picture, creative possibilities and am no longer driven to push the rope uphill against an avalanche of resistance.

My relationship to time has really changed. Life is much more spontaneous. I get caught up in the day, going from one thing to the next without regard to time. I love looking at the calendar and seeing many days ahead with nothing planned. There is so much going on in my head and out. I hardly have to plan. Things present themselves - invites out, workshops, camp-outs, meet-ups - or they don't, and I read or putter. A big day can be getting some really good berries on sale. On a Friday I'll have a list of a few things to do on Monday. But then they might not get done for a week. So what. Things seem to get done when they really need to. I haven't missed a deadline yet, although I have come close because I'm just not "on time" anymore. I'm off time.

I've become patient with change. I recently came across this bit of inspiration that resonated:

True change isn't a light switch. It's an intention you hold. It's a dance with the circumstances that present themselves.

So I'm no longer looking for the big something that comes next. I'm open to whatever good  is looking for me. And there has been plenty of that. Seems passive, but it's more in tune with how reality actually is, unlike in the workplace where everyone pretends we can control circumstances more than we can. I just keep doing what comes to mind, feels right. While I have some ideas about what might come next, I'm only thinking a few months ahead now (increase my Spanish proficiency) with vague notions about anything after that (travel alone in a foreign country). I might combine the two, although having traveled so much while working, I'm actually paying more attention at home. Traveling is less essential to maintaining a sense of adventure than it once was. Now I have more of that on a day-to-day.

Writing has been grounding. It has created an outlet for my internal dialogue as well as being something in and of itself to learn about and get better at. Admittedly, I veered a bit from chronicling retirement per se because living in retirement is about more than the absence of work. Like getting older and embracing certain realities. I'll probably be doing more of that. Those posts were among the must popular.

I'm still about emergence of authentic self, just no longer necessarily in relation to the past work life. A year away from stopping work, experience is starting to stand on its own. It is less a comparison to what was and more about what is. I'm still on the frontage road to zen. And probably always will be. I can't wait to see what this next year holds. I hope you'll stick with me on this continuing adventure. Thank you all for being there.