Friday, January 8, 2010

Past as Prologue

      A week into the new year, I set up this blog. On January 9, my friend Linda told me that 'Keep a Blog' was the Number One New Year's Resolution, beating long-time winner, 'Lose Weight.' Well, I didn't want to start the new year with another promise that I wouldn't keep, with a resolve that would soon dissolve, so I made one more entry and set the blog aside. Now that it is February, I'm back to explain my lapse and ready to go.

In addition, my husband and I lived in London from September through early December, returning just in time to spend the holidays in Connecticut with my family.  So January, for us, was homecoming, a month of exclamations, "Oh, this is my big, comfortable bed!; here's my sorely missed dishwasher!; I really do have a closet!; I love my friends! Yea, a dollar is a dollar and it doesn't take almost two of them to make a pound!" month.

While we were in London,my husband Roscoe directed and taught in the University of Denver London Study Abroad Program, a program similar to one he and I co-directed in Bologna Italy three years ago. But London was 2009 and this is 2010. If you want to know more about our glorious time in London, just go to my blog
But it's a new season for me, another "Now what are you going to do?" time. 
"Now what?"  is not a new question for me.  Here's some background:
It's been a little over two years since I officially retired. At the time,  I wasn't exactly thinking 'retirement.' Rather, I envisioned myself as on a permanent unpaid sabbatical. It was a bit of a shock when the Human Resources adviser suggested I get a new photo identification card, replacing 'professor' with 'retiree.'  I couldn't get myself to trade one title for another. And I really loved that almost wrinkle-free face photo.

I didn’t think I fit the retirement category. Does anyone?
I had loved my years as a University professor and administrator, but didn't want to stay too long at the fair, as they say.  Having said far too often "Oh, is he still here?" about others I thought should be on the retirees' bench, I didn't want those words to come back and haunt me. I desperately hoped the new word 'emerita' in my newly granted title ‘Professor and Vice Provost Emerita’ would save me a place in the world that people associate with intelligence, wit, teaching and the good life.  Who was I if I wasn’t the sum total of my teaching and administrative achievements over the decades?  What was I thinking as I made this transition?  Opening new windows; closing others. Knocking on the door of the future, trying to keep it all green.
But that was then; this is now. In the past two years, I've traveled, done some part-time teaching, facilitated a workshop on wisdom and wellness, practiced beginner's yoga in Denver, Guatemala and Costa Rica. And I had major dental work done in Costa Rica. I've walked part of the Camino in Spain, been to the beach in Rhode Island with my grandchildren, visited family, friends, joined a reading group, writing group, all sorts of groups.  I've spent time with Buddhist friends in India and pushed the pedals on my bike through parts of Idaho. I've managed to keep my now thirteen-year old Toyota Camry buzzing around Denver, snitched a head of lettuce from a stranger's abundant garden, and inadvertently walked out of Barnes & Noble with two books I hadn't bought (I returned them the next day.).

But those are actions, things I've done. What do they matter? How are they meaningful or enriching? Reasons and Season.  Transitions. What does it all mean and how does it matter? Do these experiences change who I am or do they just dribble off me, leaving me as a blank slate for the next experience? These aren't new questions either. I suspect we're all in this together, so let the journey begin.

       Now what?