MARILYN’S RETIREMENT NEWSLETTER SPRING, 2006
I sent out a version of this in May, but thought I’d include it in the website in case anyone hadn’t read it. This is a long description of my thoughts and experiences surrounding retirement, so you may want to read in installments. .
For several years I’ve been counting down the years, then the semesters, then the months and weeks until I could retire. And now- ta da- the deed is done. While I have very much enjoyed my time (19 years!) as a psychology faculty member at Fort Lewis College, I got bored, and even irritated with the job in recent years. Like all of education in Colorado, Higher Ed became more bureaucratic, rigid and business-like. We were required to create more and more documents to demonstrate outcomes, justify programs, declare how our majors were fulfilling certain state-dictated criteria--- the effort became onerous, and I feel like I got out in good time. Plus, I was so, so tired of grading papers and tests, bringing them home for evenings and weekends- taking papers and tests with me on vacations… yuk.
Also, looking back I realize that over the years my work life has been characterized by various jobs and occupations, and being at Fort Lewis was the longest I’ve ever had the same job. I have moved around a lot, being able to pick up and go somewhere for new adventures. I taught public school and college in Florida, college in Ohio, then in Colorado owned/operated a restaurant, operated my own publicity agency, worked as a publisher and editor, been on staff and then the director of an agency serving developmentally disabled children and adults, and been the news director of a radio station. In addition, I pursued dance in various places, having my own company (Silver Heels Dancers) in Gunnison, Colorado, then organizing the Durango Dance Co-op in Durango, until I “retired” from dance around 6 years ago. So, becoming retired from FLC seems in many ways like a resumption of my former life of multiple pursuits.
In preparation for retirement, I started a project in January called “Count-Down Haiku”. Every Monday of the semester I posted a new haiku that I wrote outside my office door [as a reminder- a haiku is a Japanese poetry form of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables, hopefully illuminating a single thought or impression]. My haiku reflected what was going on at FLC and were often funny, sometimes had double meanings, and usually were about anticipating (gloating?) retirement. I intend to post some of these on the upcoming website. The effort became notorious, and people would come from various places to check out the weekly haiku. Then, some members of my department started posting limericks in response to my haiku. The whole hallway was awash in creative juices. It was grand. Then, for my going-away party, they got a full-size cardboard cut out of John Wayne that someone had, and put my face on it, also full-size!! We dressed him/her up with earrings, bandana, fingernail polish… such fun.
What am I doing since April? Well, partly following some advice to not make very many commitments for one year after becoming retired. This means I’ve been reading and lying around a lot. Feels good. However, I’m also taking lessons in many things that I’ve wanted to do but didn’t spare the time while at FLC. I’ve taken voice lessons and gotten back into singing. Before I got involved so thoroughly in dance, I used to sing- in large groups and small groups. So, I joined the Durango Choral Society- we just finished a big concert, Music in the Mountains, which included the Coronation Mass by Mozart and a choral arrangement of the 1812 Overture where we sang the opening and closing. I sang alto before, as I have a low singing voice, but even then alto was sometimes a bit high for me. My voice teacher says I have the lowest vocal range of any woman she’s taught- I joined the tenor section of the choral society, and really enjoyed singing with the guys, and one other woman.
I have also taken some knitting lessons. Wow, knitting is so trendy these days!!! All the celebrities are doing it. So here I am, joining a movement. I’ve always been fond of sewing and fabrics, and used to crochet (which is easier than knitting). There’s a fabulous new store in town, Yarn, which is like an art gallery- they only carry beautiful yarn and supplies, and they give classes where you learn to make a specific item. I caught on very quickly, but I’m not very consistent yet, so I’m doing a lot of practice before I spend a bunch of money on terrific yarn and mess something up. I’ll keep everyone posted on how I do; maybe I’ll post some photos of my knitting attempts on the to-be-created website.
I am also the Band Manager for the Westwind Pipe Band, and have already been able to practice more on my bagpipe (which as you know I’ve been playing for around 5 years) so I hope to get better. Right now I’m strictly intermediate. Being Band Manager means I arrange gigs and take care of scheduling and taking payment. It’s fun, and now I actually have time to do this. The band is doing well- our “new” Pipe Major (for a year) is so much better, keeps us working at a higher level, and we’re all improving. Interestingly, a lot of folks have backed off, partially due to the increasing demand to practice more and improve. It seems several band members just wanted to have fun and play stuff, not worrying about whether we were really together as a band. So now, there’s a core group, and we do sound quite coherent. Plus, the majority are women!!! How about that. Several of us just returned from our annual trip to the US School of Bagpiping in Flagstaff, AZ, which was again a ton of fun and a great learning experience.
In future plans, I want to take art lessons- mainly drawing, but who knows what I’ll get into. I also want to work on paper and fabric collage, maybe quilting- and I’m just in ecstasy about being able to read a lot!!! I have a book list of dozens of books that I’ve been waiting to read until I had more time, which is now. If any of you have suggestions, send them on!
I also want to ride my bicycle more, spend time at the recreation center working out, take more walks with the dogs, and start on the never-ending list of house projects. If you own your own home, you know what I mean. We have done some lovely landscaping, but there’s more to be done. Always more to be done. Photos will be… yeah, yeah, you know where.
Then there’s traveling- hope to do some of that, too. Not so much over the summer- too hot to travel, and because we live in the desert southwest, during an extended period of drought, there’s always fire danger, and we want to stay near home. But, this fall when Bob goes to Africa for 3 weeks plus, I am planning a road trip with my sister, Melissa- we are driving to Tennessee to visit our amazing brother, Bill and his lovely wife, Tammie. That’s going to be a fantastic trip! Then, Bob and I are planning a road trip to California in January for him to go to a conference, and we will do some traveling before and after the conference. We’ve talked about a trip to Alaska- and I’ve got my heart set on two long road trips- one to points west, and one “back East”- we plan to cruise around and visit some of our friends. In fact, many of you, reading this long missive right now- may be on our list to visit. Not sure whether these trips will be in 2007, or after- more planning to be done.
Our health is good, although we are annoyed by little wellness issues- I guess that’s part of being in our early 60’s- Some aches and stiffness (both) and some dental issues (me) but mostly feeling just great. By the way, here’s some hot news- Bob has lowered his serum cholesterol by 50 points his LDLs by 41 points and triglycerides by 51 points!!! His readings have been a bit high in the past few years, probably genetic, but before Christmas it was recommended he try a natural product called Red Yeast Rice. It comes in capsules at the health food store, and apparently contains natural statins. The cost is low, and there are no side effects. We went on line and checked it out- it’s a legitimate product used for centuries by Chinese practitioners, and only introduced into the USA in the 1990’s. There are studies to back it up, but Bob’s substantially lowered numbers are convincing to us. Maybe this info can be of use to you.
Our dogs are fine- Cheena is getting old- 11 ½ years and slowing down. She’s got arthritis and hip dysplasia and needs daily anti-inflammatories to keep going. Rafiki is pretty much over his earlier problem behavior; he was an abused dog we got at the Humane Society, and through a lot of training and attention we’ve gotten him to be a secure, happy, comfortable and obedient dog. He still gets aggressive when a strange dog comes onto our property, and he will freak out a bit if we’re not around and he feels threatened (or there’s a thunderstorm), but overall he’s just great. Our kitty, Gabriowl has been on a weight-reduction diet since the fall, because she was grossly overweight and most likely pre-diabetic. She has come down from 17 pounds to 10 pounds, and she’s a lean mean mouse-catching machine once again.
My sister, Melissa and brother, Bill are doing well also, and Melissa’s children are just terrific. My nephew, Jackson, finished his freshman year at University of Colorado. His grades were pretty good the first term and even better the second term, and I’m proud of how he takes academics seriously. He also has been active with friends and sports, and is just a wonderful young man. My niece, Celine, will be a High School senior this coming year, and she’s looking around at colleges. She does well academically, and is very involved in many activities in school, mostly of a performing arts nature. She had one of the leads in the school play in the spring, and sang several solos and duets (some photos are on the Family and Friends Gallery). She was really good on stage, which doubtless she gets from her Auntie Marilyn!! She is in a small a capella singing ensemble, and does some theatre also. She’s very politically conscious and concerned and active about environmental issues. She’s a wonderful young woman. Being an aunt is the way to go.
So, if you made it to the end of this long, long newsletter, congratulations- you are hardy… or maybe just crazy. I hope to see some or all of you sometime soon; I love staying caught up with old and good friends. Stay in touch…