The two of us sit at a long table in the dining room of a flat-roofed house that juts out from the steep slope at the southern end of Skaneateles Lake. Aside from the gentle lapping of the waves, an occasional acorn dropping on the roof, or the crunch of one of our cats eating, it is silent.
The glass that wraps around the front and sides of the building gives us a 180-degree view of the Finger Lake we spend a week living beside every fall. When we pause in our work we take a moment to look out at the iridescent blue-green water before returning to our respective laptops where I am writing a memoir and my husband is composing music.
He sits across from me wearing a headset and listening to a piece he is arranging for a mixed quintet of classical and jazz players. He nods in time to music I can not hear, mutters to himself when things aren’t going well, smiles when they are.
On the other side of the table, I sit with a clipboard of notes on random scraps of paper, the raw material I collect for new pieces when I don’t have time to sit down and write. In the past year, I’ve been successful at feeding my writing practice in this way because it allows me to play with an idea before I decide to make it into a project I have to work on and complete. In other words, it lets me ease in.
We are both exactly where we want to be doing exactly what we want to do.
The idea of being invested in the here and now also happens to fit my ideal vision of retirement and has given me a better word for what I’m now doing at the age of 70.
As I reflect on this sentence, it feels as if this phase of my life is taking shape as gently as the water below us changes from a darker to a lighter shade of gray as clouds pass overhead. My sense of calm centered-ness comes from practicing what I preach as a career professional—the alignment of oneself with the work one is called to do.
There have been periods of turbulence to get to this point. Giving myself permission to do what I wanted to do has required accepting that everything new emerges from the ending of something old and there is a period of wrestling with the zigzag back and forth between what has been and what is to be before you arrive at a place where you are certain where you want to put your time and energy.
I see a sign that we have arrived in a choice we made a few months ago. After several false starts at putting together a trip to Europe, we realized that it wasn’t happening because we were both so “invested in” what we were doing we didn’t need the stimulation of European travel. The decision to put Europe on hold came very quietly, without the extensive discussion we’d engaged in trying to make the trip happen.
The idea of being invested in the here and now also happens to fit my ideal vision of retirement and has given me a better word for what I’m now doing at the age of 70. I refer to this stage of my professional life not as retirement but re-engagement, replacing the “tire” because it fits neither how I see myself, nor the way I choose to live.
I wish you the best in writing your memoirs. While I will miss your Choicepoints (at least temporarily), I must say, in this particular one, you’re going out with a bang! Your message is timely, inspirational, encouraging and challenging for me. I hope to embrace your inspiration and see where it takes me.
I love your perspective on redefining your post 69 focus. I have never understood the term retirement. As a result, I’ve never really thought about special point in time when I would “hang it up.”
The term re-engagement is so much more realistic. It’s about concentrating on what is most important in the present. During this next decade (# 7) I foresee many periods of re-engagement.
Best of wishes on an enjoyable experience in completing your memoirs. I am certain that your readers will benefit from your many interesting tidbits and gems of wisdom.
Hi Bev, I am so happy to hear about your “transition”. I look forward to hearing more about what comes of this exciting time in your life.
All my best,
Beverly, best wishes on your memoir-writing sabbatical – may the fruits of your writing flow bring you great fulfillment and joy!
Clarity of Life Purpose is so freeing, isn’t it? I know that your memoir will bring you inspiration and open many windows of expansion and creativity! Enjoy the journey–you have earned it. I look forward to seeing you in June after the snow melts!
Waah! – but good for you!
Bev – Thank you for the value and inspiration your words and your work in all their forms have provided. On to your next project, where I wish you all the best as you re-engage.
I will certainly miss your monthly columns but this one will stay with me for a long time. I felt like it was speaking directly to me especially where I am in my work and life. Thank you for all the great inspiration over many years. Enjoy your re-engagement time!
Peace and Love,
Bev, Wonderful to hear about your own choice point! Re-engagement sounds like a fascinating idea, although I’m not ready yet to let go of my “day job”. Your memoir, I’m sure, will be as inspiring and insightful as your blog has been.
Godspeed to your new adventure,
I have read everyone of your articles since our session together well over a decade ago. I find them educational, informative and entertaining and pass them along to my wife to enjoy. I wish you the best in taking a time out to work on your memoirs and look forward to reading your future articles, whenever you are prepared to resume writing them.
So nice as always to read your column. It sounds like a wise decision to put it on hold for a while. I will miss the calming effect that your columns always have on me and look forward to reading them again when and if you decide to restart them. I know that they represent a lot of time and energy.
Congratulations on having created the life you want to live. While I look forward to your monthly newsletters I strongly support your decision to make the time to finish your memoir. Good luck with the writing, I will look forward to your return.
Wow! Have fun writing your memoirs! I will look forward to the return of Choicepoints when you are finished.
My deeply felt appreciation to all who expressed how they value the newsletter and affirmed my choice to make space for another writing project. I’ll be back. Bev
We met at a career talk you gave at Manomet Library in Plymouth about 6 or 7 years ago. I’ve enjoyed reading your newsletter ever since. Consistently thought-provoking and often inspiring. Enjoy your next phase.