People are aghast when they discover I left my comfortable job at age 55 to enter the state of retirement as our culture popularly defines it. This for most is an illusion where one is looking for financial security until they die. For me, leaving my job had less to do with dollars and more to do with sense. My intuitive voice was begging me to return to serving others, work that had dwindled at my current job. I needed to find the quickest and best route to help my fellow human beings in a way that wasn’t restricted by policies, regulations, technology or fear of stepping on someone’s toes; to do this out of the kindness, love and goodness of my heart. When it became apparent that such an environment was hard to find, I decided to venture out on my own terms.
Money and material items, although necessary to get by, have never been high on my priority list, so scaling down in those terms was easy. I’ve spent most of my life guiding college students to their futures by assessing their skills and, more importantly, their passions, so a few years ago I began taking a close look at mine. I came across a quote by writer Frederick Buechner who described this eloquently, “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.” My career had started that way, yet with time the deepness waned, so I dug further and found that writing, nature and helping others were the qualities that bring my deepest gladness. I noticed a world hungry for joy, love and human connection. Where those meet I found my essence, Capture Life Writing. Refirement.
I will show others how to unplug and reconnect to themselves to joy and simplicity through writing, nature, and to people who genuinely care about each other. In today’s media and screen-driven world with people afflicted by illness of every kind, it’s a tall order. Yet it is far from impossible. Starting in my small sanctuary and community, as long as there are places to immerse oneself in nature, people who desire to discover and share their important stories, and someone to listen, there is purpose for me. Money, success, prestige often take precedence over inner satisfaction and personal values and truth. I’m all about the latter.
To those who ask me how I managed to retire so young, I respond, “I was no longer able to serve my students, so it was time to move on. The money will take care of itself.” My mother used to tell me that as long as you use your God-given talents in a positive way, you will never starve. Her words echo through me as part of my truth. And as I pass them on to you this day and encourage you to revisit your talents and passions and consider how you can use them to ease one of the world’s hungers, you will create your own unique definition of retirement. I wish it to be as joyful as mine.
FROM THE SANCTUARY The highlight of the Sanctuary this week was a cat on a cold shingled roof. A recent snow storm covered the outdoors in an exquisite blanket of white, showing all else in contrast. That included an unfamiliar kitty that I caught out of the corner of my eye from my kitchen during breakfast the other day. Her black spotted features gave her away as she sped across my deck and to my shed. One minute she was peeking in the open doorway and the next she disappeared inside. I glanced back to my scrambled eggs for just a minute before I looked up to see her prancing on the shed roof. I have no idea how she got up there. As I marveled at her ability to walk a slanted angle, I ran to get my camera. When I returned, she was back on the ground. Amused about how she had returned there in one piece, I was grateful for her safety and the presence of her prints on the roof as evidence that I had not lost my mind. She disappeared back into the shed and didn’t come back out while I was looking. I love this clever creature.
I’m dodging the elements inside and passing the time with my favorite activities, reading and writing in front of the fireplace. A special shout out to Alex from the firewood distributor who delivered a hefty load of kindling so I can keep warm all winter the old fashioned way. So grateful!
Meanwhile I’m networking and having conversations to lead me to the path of least resistance in building up the Sanctuary in time for me to move to Florida by the time the snow flies next year. Stay tuned, the new website is coming before the end of next month.
Joy and Warmth to All!