Leading Our Lives

“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.

photo for blog post on AutumnIt 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.

2nd photo for blog post on autumnWhat do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Have you assessed your activities lately?

About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: http://www.WomenMakingStrides.com/ Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WomenMakingStrides1
This entry was posted in Challenges, Empowerment, faith, Inspiration, Leading Ourselves, personal leadership, Proactive, self-care and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Leading Our Lives

  1. Nalina says:

    Sue this is so beautifully written and just what I needed to read at this very moment….thank you! Isn’t it funny how the changing seasons can speak to us in so many ways? I love what you said about flowers still blooming in the fall…I have a rosebush in my front yard that is more full of life right now than it was in the spring or summer! A quote I love comes to mind for this post…”It is never too late to be what you might have been”. You definitely have a writer’s spirit and so much to share with the world…it is only too late when we stop trying! If writing is calling to you…pursue this passion!

    Much Love,


  2. Susan Ekins says:

    Thank you much, Nalina! I appreciate your visit.
    To my readers: Nalina is an artist. You can check out her creativity at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NalinaRoseStudio .


  3. Sherri Russell says:

    I think one of the reasons I love perennial gardening so much is that it resembles life to me. Every year I watch the cycles of life beginning with the new plants pushing out of the ground to the gradual fading away. Each plant is different – each blooms at a different time and each blooms for a different length of time. And every year the gardens surprise me with new plants – ones that the birds or the wind must have “transplanted” the year before. But the primary lesson to me is that life never ends – it just changes. Thank you Sue for this lovely article. Your writing inspires me.


  4. First of all, thank you for stopping by my blog. It is appreciated.
    Second of all, thank you for this posting. I could not agree with you more; flowers do still bloom in fall, and they are often the most vibrant of blooms, and these rhythms of life do change as we move along in it. Wise is the woman who learns to step along with the beat – you are such a woman. I’ve enjoyed wandering around your blog this afternoon and will return. Penny


  5. Cindy Johnson says:

    I left my career as an environmental scientist 8 years ago. During the past 8 years I, too, have felt the awkwardness of being too young to retire, but not feeling validated because I don’t always collect a paycheck. Our culture seems to suggest that if one is not making money, one has no identity. No wonder so many have such a difficult time losing a job, leaving a career, or retiring! I know that women who have put their careers aside to stay at home with their children feel this as well as other volunteers I have met along the way.

    I have held several part-time jobs, but have had a difficult time because even though I work part-time I am regarded as a full-time employee without the full-time benefits. I get hassled by employers for wanting time off for vacation (something I’m not paid for anyway). My husband and I live very economically which enables me to not have to work. When he travels, I often travel with him and we do mini-vacations together during his off-work hours. Volunteering works best for me because I can explore what I love doing and help others who cannot pay me for my skills to get the work done that they need done. It’s a win-win all around. My husband is happy because I can travel (or not) with him and I’m happy, and the organizations for which I volunteer are happy.

    I set my aspirations on volunteer work for several reasons. I picked several organizations and volunteer tasks at which to try out my skills and passions. Keeping my skills and developing more skills is important to me and to my husband because if I have to collect a full-time paycheck at some point, I will have something to put on a resume.

    I turned 50 this year. My father passed away 2 years ago and I had a life-threatening illness 10 months ago. I’ve learned to say “no” more often. I have lots of working years left, but even more important I have lots of LIVING years left.

    Thank you so much, Sue, for posting this.


    • Susan Ekins says:

      Cindy, you are one of the most active volunteers I know! And I’m sure you are seldom thanked, so thank you for all you do for many good causes. This statement you made, “Even though I work part-time I am regarded as a full-time employee,” is so true. At one of my jobs, I was supposedly part-time, but you could place a bet and win that I’d be putting in my own time on Saturday or even an occasional Sunday. I’m grateful that you and I have made our lives fulfilling even without paid employment.


  6. Pam Matras says:

    Thank you, Sue, for your thoughtful reflection. You know how much I have struggled with my forced retirement. I have felt like the brittle, dry plants of the summer garden. Thanks for reminding me of the still blooming colors of fall, especially those big fat Chrysanthemums ( my favorite).


  7. Sue says:

    Sue, I really had to think about this, since if you are in the Autumn of your life, I am as well! I wasn’t sure whether I liked the idea until I realized how much I enjoy Fall. So, for now I will embrace the sunshine and cooler temperatures as well as the colors and beauty of the season. Actually, I’ll savor it as long as I can! For I know that I’ll enjoy this time and look back fondly when it’s gone! Thanks for your post!


  8. Glynis Jolly says:

    Bravo! Although I’m not actually a ‘senior’ yet, I just have a few years until I’m labeled as such. I haven’t worked outside the house for many years now. This hasn’t been my decision though. It’s just the way things have turned out. Being without a job doesn’t necessarily mean a person is retired from working, which is something you have pointed out so eloquently. The Autumn of life is a beautiful time. No one is done until they decide to be done.


  9. Annie Zane says:

    I am a senior Sue – I just don’t feel like I am. I do what I can to keep healthy and active so my muscles and joints don’t freeze up on me, and I keep my brain busy with lots of projects and I read a lot – I love reading and learning new things. I spent a decade out of the paid workforce after my hubby died, then taking care of my terminally ill Mother and then my depressed and ill father. During those years I got involved in volunteer work and completed some studies so my brain would stay active. I really needed to do that because of the horrible depression I fell into and because of menopause hitting me at the same time. The sun shines on everyone regardless of age and it has come out again for me. Sue your post speaks straight to my heart and I hope that all the lovely ladies who read it feel inspired to look the world in the eye and breathe in the wonderful scents and colours of these autumn days. Soon it will be winter and we will wish we had done more while we had the opportunity. Our worth isn’t measured in the amount of money we are paid or not paid for our contribution to the world around us. Our worth is within us and in the love and kindness we share and receive back. There is still so much to do and so much to learn, and age is no barrier to either. I have no intention of retiring – not now and not at any time in the foreseeable future. To retire is to say “its over”. And – it isn’t over till the lid comes down. (In my humble opinion)


    • Susan Ekins says:

      Beautiful writeup, Annie. You could be a blogger yourself! You are a Woman Making Strides with your positive attitude, the way you take care of yourself, and because you use your talents to better the world. Kudos to you!


  10. Noreen Watts says:

    It’s never too late to do something that you really want to do. You inspire me!


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