NaNoWriMo

banner for Nanowrimo
National Novel Writing Month

When I was in Quebec with my friend, Patricia in September, we talked a lot about the dreams of our youth, and the dreams we have now. I told her about the germ of an idea for a novel that I’ve been carrying around for about 40 years. This was one of my deferred dreams, I never thought I had time to write while raising kids and working, but it has surfaced over and over again, a little more insistently in the last 4 years.

Today starts National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. During the month of November, thousands of people commit to writing daily for 30 days, the object being to complete a first draft of a novel during that time. It may seem gimmicky, with a cutesy name, but I know enough about my habits to know that I need a structure and some form of accountability to keep me on track! So I am committing myself to writing daily for 30 days on the novel idea I’ve had for 40 years. I have a writing buddy, we’re checking in daily with word counts, and because she is a friend, not someone anonymous from the NaNoWriMo site, I will be less likely to blow her off!

While thinking about whether to relaunch my blog, I realized that unless I was living up to my tagline, it’s never too late, I couldn’t write honestly or convincingly to you. I keep coming back to another maxim: It’s only too late if you don’t startI am writing blog posts again because it’s something I really want to do, and the only way to do it is to write, and hit publish.

I’m not expecting a first draft by Nov. 30, but I will have way more direction, pages and ideas to work with than if I didn’t take the leap to join (and told everyone that I am doing it…). And who knows? Maybe it will be a rough first draft? I’ve never written a novel before!

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I’m Retired, Now What??

get it on paper…

For years I have been saying that I would be so busy after I retired, doing all the things I put off while working, that there would be no adjustment period. HA!! I retired in November of last year after 16 years as a massage therapist, a career I entered at 50 and loved. I thought I would work at massage until I was 70, but when my hands began to hurt, I decided I was ready to quit, because I want to use my hands to do all the things I have been planning for years.

I have been positioning myself for about 4 years to be able to retire from full-time work and get along on my resources. I am incredibly lucky that in 2014 I was able to move into an Artspace community, with subsidized rent. The building is located in a transportation hub, so I have been able to give up my car, which is a huge saving. I am able to get all over the city from where I live. The apartments in my building are designed to be live/work spaces so I have plenty of room for the types of art that I enjoy. The best part, and one that I consciously considered, is that this is a community of artists, I am surrounded by interesting people of all ages, so I am constantly learning new things.

I made lists and plans for years of all the things I wanted to do when “retired”. Working on this website and blog were high on the list, as well as offering classes here in my studio. I felt like I was all set! However. if you’ve worked for the better part of 50 years, with your time externally structured around working 5 or so days a week, with two or so days off, it is quite a shock to suddenly NOT have that structure, and have to structure your time yourself…

As I have said before, the election in November was a real roadblock for me, and it didn’t help that I had no real structure in mind for my days. I’ve talked to other people who have been retired for a few years, and all have said that there is a period of adjustment to the amount of freedom from time constraints one suddenly has. The temptation to stay in one’s pajamas all day is real!

I’m only now getting down to the work of figuring out how to structure my days, post-retirement. I have discovered that I still need to keep a schedule, and to write things down if I want to get anything done. I’m working on getting rid of the bad habits I developed in the last year. That will be an ongoing effort.

I set an alarm and try to get up at the same time every day. I’ve found that showering and getting dressed first thing is really important for me. Pajamas are great, but if you need to go to the store, or want to go for a walk, or get invited to meet someone, being dressed makes it a lot easier and quicker! Even sitting down to work on my blog or some art is more likely to happen if I am already dressed.

I am still working on scheduling the hours of my day. I have really resisted doing this, after being a slave to work schedules all my life, but if I don’t have a plan written down and at least preliminary steps to get started, nothing happens. It may be “never too late”, but without some kind of plan and a few action steps, it ain’t happening!

I live alone, so part of my planning includes making sure that I get out of my apartment and see people. Following people on Facebook and Instagram doesn’t count, as fun as it is to see what people are up to, nothing beats meeting friends in person or going on your own adventures! I also go to a gym to take classes, rather than work out on my own, because I am a) out of the house and b) seeing people!

Goofy as this may sound, I use charts and markers to keep track of my progress on projects I am working on. I am a person who needs accountability structures to get things accomplished. When I was working, I was accountable to the people I worked with and that was great, but if I don’t have that external motivation, I tend to not do even the things I really want to do! So I make charts, and draw stars on them with colorful markers. I also tell key friends about big projects when I think I will have a tendency to slack off. I value their opinion, so I am less apt to quit.

Being retired is an ongoing adventure, and I know I will always be working on how to make it work for me. What kinds of structures do you use? Do you have other questions you would like to explore? Leave a comment, and I will share in a future post!

 

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Beginning Again

the magic of old friends

Hello there! I am coming back to my blog after being absent for most of this year. I never intended to be absent when I launched my website a year ago…I wrote about one of the reasons in January, I have been seriously distracted by the shit storm of the Trump “era”. I followed each new (horrible) development, and I have made many phone calls, and signed many petitions, and I managed to lose perspective on my real, day-to-day life. I retired at the same time, and having so much free and unstructured time, I got sucked into following the insanity on the internet rather obsessively, I am ashamed to say. I let my connection to things that I valued, my REAL life gradually fall away.

I gained weight, stopped going to exercise, stopped reading books for the most part, stopped creating and became very depressed.I had great plans going into retirement, not the least of which was developing this website and blog, but I did not pursue any of them. I thought about how I was NOT writing, but it only made me more guilty and less able to write.

As the months added up, I became more depressed about my failure to be the (wild girl) I wanted to write about and embody.

Here’s what saved me: at the beginning of the year, I bought a ticket for a big trip. One of my dearest friends from college, Patricia, lives in Quebec and Ottawa, and I have never been there to visit. I decided to make a trip in September to celebrate our 50 year friendship. We planned to do a lot of walking to see everything, and here I was, gaining weight and not exercising…

I went to Quebec two days after my 68th birthday. I was nervous and worried I wouldn’t be able to walk so much, and whether Patricia and I would be able to spend 2 weeks together without running out of things to talk about. I KNOW that if I hadn’t bought my ticket in February, I would have chickened out on the trip…

Of course, it was wonderful! We talked all day every day, we walked 3-4 miles a day (I was in pain some of time, but I did it anyway), I fell in love with Quebec, especially Montreal, and I walked and talked myself out of my depression. I am beginning my blog again, with an entirely different perspective than I had a year ago. I am going to be posting three times a week and will be sending out periodic newsletters, I’d love for you to sign up here.

I hope I will inspire you to follow along, reading what interests you. I am planning a few book reviews, a little travelogue, some thoughts on friendship, and other ideas about finding the (wild girl) if she’s gotten lost— we all need to find and celebrate the parts of us that get lost along the way. 

 

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Here’s to a New Year!

Happy 2017!

I did not intend to have such a blank spot in this blog after beginning a few months ago. I wrote up an editorial calendar of all the posts I intended to write for two months a few days before the election. Like many others, the election really threw me for a loop. I had a hard time concentrating on anything. The election and the response to it from both sides has called into question my values, my vision for the future, and frankly, my vision for this blogging adventure of mine.

To add to the mix, at the end of November, I retired from my 16 year career as a massage therapist. I planned for the retirement, but the reality of letting go of the career I loved so much when everything else seemed to be up in the air only added to my confusion and inertia. I expected a certain amount of inertia, it goes along with retirement for a few months, but had not planned on the sadness and fear I have been feeling due to the election.

However, here we are. It is January, a time for new beginnings, and I have had over a month of retirement and two months of post-election wallowing. I am ready to shake off the doldrums and get to work on my plans for the rest of my life. I am ready to meet whatever comes with the political climate. Not resigned to it, but ready to resist and to stand up for my beliefs and values and the rights of all people.

I figure out what I am thinking and feeling by writing and making art. I feel that now, more than ever, the world needs people who are figuring themselves out and expressing themselves.

Being creative has made me braver. The world needs bravery and courage, it needs people able to express themselves thoughtfully, not just with knee-jerk responses on social media.

So, I am still here, and I’ll be writing and sharing, and making art and sharing. I hope you will join me, whether online or in person. I have updated my classes and events page with a wonderful two part class I am teaching with my friend, Tina Abbott. It is a class about getting curious about what really lights you up, and how to make those things happen for you in the New Year. It is more than making resolutions, read the description for more.

Unfortunately, we have canceled the two part class, and will be announcing it at a later date. I have 3 dates for beginning art journaling classes in my studio on the classes and events page, if you are interested.

Post-election Reflections

It helps to write it out...
It helps to write it out…

I had planned a very different post-election 2016 post, I allowed myself, in the last couple of days before election day, to get excited and very emotional about a woman president.

But, here we are, four days post-election, and I am still emotional but not excited. I’m not going to write about all the reasons I’m not happy with the result, but I do want to point out the most discouraging statistic, for me, from the outcome:

53% of white women voted for Trump. This statistic lifted a veil from my eyes. We still live in a white supremacist patriarchy, and the majority of white women voters are ok with that.

White women voted for exclusion against inclusion. They voted for a person and a party that are eager to shut down what little progress has been made for women’s reproductive choice, for equal pay for women in the workplace, for basic dignity rights for women not to be sexually harassed in the workplace or elsewhere. They voted for a system that has children of immigrant parents, and black and brown children waking up afraid and being bullied at school and in the community because of hate speech practiced by the candidate for whom they voted. As a woman, mother, grandmother—HUMAN BEING, I cringe and cry for these children and their parents.

What I have decided so far with this election I am so opposed to is this: I am still passionate about working with creativity and I believe that art saves, art illuminates, art opens our eyes–I am more dedicated than ever to my own art-making AND to opening the eyes of all of us through creative expression.

I hope you’ll join me. Make a journal page that expresses your sadness, joy, anger, fear and transform your feelings into a message of love and action. Write out your anger, fear, sadness and what you can do about it, figure out a way to dress that expresses your solidarity with those who are afraid or being harassed. Make dinner for a neighbor family. March or show up at a demonstration, raise money for an organization that’s threatened and/or working for change.

My hope for this website and for the classes I will teach in the future is to help people find a way to express themselves through art and through that process, define themselves and make changes to live with courage, creativity and wisdom. The world needs women and men of courage acting with deep wisdom more than ever. I truly, truly believe tapping into our innate creativity is how to reach that courage and deep wisdom.

My favorite season

Fall is my favorite season
Fall is my favorite season

I love fall! My birthday is in September, so it always feels special for that reason, and for me it feels like a time of new beginnings, much more so than January 1. A couple of years ago I started setting up my calendars and planner to start in September, I seem to have much more energy for planning goals and implementing new ideas in September than I do in January.

I have had the idea for for this website and blog since January of this year, and I have worked on it, a little more off than on, for these 9 months. True to form, something kicked in at the beginning of this month, when I was setting up my planner, and now I am ready and September is the auspicious start!

One year ago this month, I qualified for both social security and a small pension, and I quit working as an employee at a massage clinic where I had worked for 14 years. I kept working at my private massage business, but now, I am winding that down as well to devote myself to the things I’ve always wanted to do, which is to write and make art. This blog is integral to my life change…I will be writing about the changes I have gone through to get to this place, sharing books I think are important, and sharing my art.

In this season of new beginnings, I am starting over yet again, as I have many times before. As I am sure you have, too. Change is good, change is scary, change is exciting—it means we are alive and growing. It is never too late to begin again and to evolve into the person you always wanted to be.

In this season of harvest we can gather all the goodness of our lives, even the difficult times, and focus them into a more full & fruitful harvest of the dreams we may have put aside in busier seasons of life, and become the person we always wished we could be.

My wish is that you will want to join me in this journey by signing up for my weekly newsletter. I will link to each week’s blog posts and keep you updated about upcoming classes and events.