blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Friday, June 8, 2012


This month, sixth of my 65th year marks a major transition: from working to make a living to working only when it suits me. This change has been anticipated with pleasure for my body has been saying "no" for several years. There must be, however, some recognition given to the other murkier emotions, the anxieties that ooze out of brain cracks in the middle of dark, sleepless nights.
What if there are more expenses than resources?
What if the free hours fill up with boredom and laziness?
What if the loss of laughter with my co-workers brings loss of life-joy?
My years as mental health counselor have taught me that what I tell myself about the story of my life will create the reality of my own experience. What is perceived, what is remembered, what is filtered out to be discarded are all choices made every moment of every day.
 Dread/Anticipation..  Fear/Anxiety… perhaps they are the meanders of the same river.
Working, even when interesting and rewarding, has often seemed to be a daily struggle to keep people afloat, and provide enough resources that they can reach their destination.
How is it possible to deliberately change direction from forging upstream to relaxing into the gentle flow of downriver? What skills do I need to navigate to calmer waters? Experience teaches lighter travel requires lighter watercraft.
Maneuvering is easier when the boat is empty of all except essential gear.
Some wise words of an old friend come to mind "there's too much stuff in my canoe of life". What weights are mine to jettison?


  1. I think some anxiety comes from the habit of describing ourselves through what we did for a living. I'm a "blah blah" and then I'm an "ex-blah blah." Just replace the blahs with your former job. Although I have to say when I worked as a cleaning lady or made sandwiches for vending machines I was less likely to identify myself that way. Then I'd say "I work FOR blah blah." Still we're raised to think in that pattern. No one in my immediate family actually liked to go out and work so I wasn't raised to feel like my identity would ever be linked to a job or a workplace. So when I left, I mostly thought about how much time I would have to do things I liked more than working. Of which there are a zillion. People still ask me "what do you do?" but nothing shuts them up faster than saying "I'm an artist." They don't expect artists to "do" anything at all!

  2. I really like where you ended with this meditation. "What is mine to jettison?" is a life affirming statement. Instead of thinking of retirement as loss, one may see it as an opportunity to find those essential values and live for them without the baggage. I hope I can bring that attitude into my own retirement - into my life without retirement!
    Thanks, NJ