“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
I was taken aback when a friend asked if I’m retired. I said, “I’m not doing anything for pay but I have my blog and my Facebook page. My husband gets six weeks of vacation, so we’re traveling more. And I’m doing lots of volunteer work.” I didn’t directly answer her question because I had to think. I’ve not worked for pay since losing my job 18 months ago, but I hadn’t thought of myself as retired.
After reflecting, I realized I’m no longer interested in working for someone else unless my family has an unforeseen financial need. So in that sense, maybe I am retired. However, I would like to earn money as a writer.
The arrival of autumn reminds me that life is moving along. The colors are changing from green to gold, red, and brown. Leaves are falling. Young shoots that grew into summer plants are now dry and brittle. It‘s a beautiful time of year but a precursor to winter. Perhaps I am in the autumn of my life–no longer young and closer to death than to my birth, with my years of paid employment probably behind me.
When I told my daughter I might be in the autumn of my life, she said, “Don’t say that.” But I think it’s good to face our mortality and the knowledge that the years are going by.
It was actually freeing to accept that I can’t do everything that interests me, for I decided to assess my life for what stays in and what to stop doing. I put all the things I want and need to do in an Excel file. It is over two typed pages. As I’ve gotten to know other writers, I realize it is not just me who is like this. Writers have many interests and these fuel our writing. But we must leave time to write!
Lately, I’ve been saying “no” more than I did in the past. “Thank you, but I can’t use your ticket to a musical.” “This week I can’t participate in the Twitter Chat.” Or the Walk & Talk. These are all good things, and not everyone comprehends my decision to say no. This shouldn’t surprise me–after all, I’ve taught everyone that I’m available.
New opportunities continue to come my way, and I do say yes to some of them. In the past week, I attended a Women’s Leadership Summit, I signed up for a New Testament class taught by a nun I admire, and I tentatively agreed to lead another church ministry. I also entered a blogging contest where I’ll get paid $40 if my guest post is chosen. It’s a start.
I feel like I’m juggling sometimes, but it is better than letting someone else decide what I should do. We need to assess our activities if we want to be leaders in our own lives.
I have faith that I can still grow a career as a writer even if I’m in the autumn of my life. Many good writers got a late start. After all, flowers do bloom in the fall.