Hey, 2012: Come Meet Your Master

You Are My Sunshine, Take I

"You Are My Sunshine" photo by me, taken on 12/10/11 using a Canon EOS Rebel T3i

Bleary-eyed and bone-weary, I sit watching the remaining minutes of 2011 slowly ticking away as I anxiously await the arrival of 2012, more affectionately known as “MY year,” the end of my beginning.  This is the year I bid a tender farewell to the first phase of my adult life and leap joyously into the second with arms open wide, ready to embrace all the world has to offer . . .

Ever since I announced my intentions several months ago to retire this coming June, I have been asked almost daily by someone, somewhere, what I am planning on doing after I clear off my desk, empty my files and walk away from a 30-year career.

At first, my response to those questions was something along the lines of “Do?  I’m not planning on doing anything–unless you count eating chocolate with every meal, reading every best-seller as soon as it hits the stands, and lying around in my pajamas all day until it’s time to slip into a swimsuit and take a nap in the sunshine.”  In other words, my only “plans” were to be as lazy and stress-free as possible.  I thought those were some pretty good plans, too–until I started noticing the rather unkind looks others were giving me after such a response.  How could I so brazenly announce my intentions to do nothing when so many of them would still be answering the alarm clock’s shrill every morning?  It wasn’t very nice of me, and I soon realized it also wasn’t very honest because even I would get bored with such inactivity after a while.

And so I revised my response, “tweaked it” just a little, you might say.  My answer may be no less annoying or offensive to those hearing it, but it is at least a little more truthful (whether it is any more realistic remains to be seen).  My future retirement “goals” can be summed up quite simply:

I want to read.  Now, anyone who knows me at all already knows that I am an avid reader, so announcing my intentions to read during retirement is hardly a revelation.  However, so much of my precious reading time in recent years has been consumed by work-related materials, and there will be no more of that–none, I tell you. 

I will read for beauty and inspiration and entertainment; I will read thought-provoking prose so elegantly worded that I will re-read entire paragraphs just to marvel in their beauty, and I will read poetry so intoxicating and exhilirating and enlightening that it will literally take my breath away–and I’m not exaggerating.  A friend recently introduced me to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet from the 20th century, and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, a.k.a. “Rumi,” a Persian poet and mystic from the 13th century … wow!  All those world literature classes I took in college would have been much more interesting (and much less sleep-inducing) if these guys had been included on the syllabi.  (If you’re interested, you can read a few of Neruda’s poems at http://www.poemhunter.com/pablo-neruda/ and some of Rumi’s at http://allspirit.co.uk/rumi.html.)

I want to write.  More precisely, I want to write every day (an activity I have been neglecting lately), and I want to write prose that others will find beautiful and inspirational and thought-provoking (except on Fridays, when I hope to concentrate my limited talents on being sarcastic and funny).

I want to eat.  True, I already engage in this practice on an almost hourly basis, but I hope to focus future consumption efforts on quality over quantity and variety over ho-hum mundane.  You still won’t see beans and mashed potatoes on my plate (the mere thought launches my gag reflex into overdrive), but palak paneer (an Indian dish of fresh spinach and ricotta in a creamy curry) or gai pad met mamuang (a Thai dish of stir-fried chicken with cashews) are definite possibilities–not to mention white chocolate mousse and almond dacquoise and cheesecakes (especially cheesecakes!) so sinfully decadent that mere slivers will bring tears of sweet bliss to my eyes.  Ahhh . . .

I want to travel.  I have spent most of my life as a homebody (by choice), but now that my children are grown and my time will be my own, I want to explore the world.  I just recently returned from a family trip to California (my first-ever trip to the west coast–fodder for another blog!), and that little jaunt has made me realize how much I have been missing.  I want to tour the museums and monuments of Washington, D.C., I want to travel the coastal highways and tour the vineyards of California, I want to see the fall colors in Vermont and the sunrise in Key West–and when I’ve seen everything I want to see in my own country, I want to meander through the cathedrals of England, savor gelatos and tiramisu at the sidewalk cafes of Italy, and stand in awe of the sweeping magnificence of New Zealand.  And that’s just for starters.

I want to photograph my experiences.  I have always been interested in photography, but the daily, constant demands of being an educator, a wife and a mother pushed that interest out of the picture until just recently.  With all three of my sons pursuing careers in filmmaking/videography/photography–and with several of my friends sharing their stunning photographic endeavors–my own interest has been re-awakened.  For quite some time I had been planning on purchasing a new camera when I retired, but about a month ago it suddenly dawned on me–why am I waiting?  Like so many others (especially mothers, I think) I have developed the habit of always delaying personal gratification–someday, when I have more money–someday, when I have more time–someday, when everyone else’s needs have been met–and then I realized that I don’t have to wait any longer, and furthermore, I shouldn’t wait any longer (translation:  I’m not getting any younger!).

And so I bought my dream camera, a Canon Rebel T3i, and have already discovered the tremendous joy and soul-feeding stress relief that it can bring.  While staging shots, shooting photos (and changing settings and shooting some more), and editing the results, I literally get lost in time–which partially explains the recent neglect of my writing (and all those other boring tasks like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry that others seem to consider necessary).  I still have much to learn, but I’m enjoying the process and hope to eventually incorporate more photography into my writing.  (I’ve included a few of my first attempts below–just a few flowers because, especially in the dreary dead of winter, flowers make me happy.)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want to figure out how to get someone to pay me to do all these things so that I can continue to do them.  And if anyone has ideas on how to make that happen, I would be happy to hear them!  So far, the only retirement disadvantage I can think of is that I am about to become one of those people on a “fixed income,” which might make my goals a little harder to achieve, but I am certain they are still attainable.  Last year my New Year’s resolution was to lose 20 pounds, which I did (and then some!), and that accomplishment not only gave me improved health but also a sense of empowerment with the realization that I really can do anything–anything!–I set my mind to.  I will find a way.

Yes, 2012, I have been waiting for you, and you will be mine.

“And you? When will you begin your long journey into yourself?” 

“Your mind, this globe of awareness, is a starry universe. When you push off with your foot, a thousand new roads become clear.”

“There is a life-force within your soul, seek that life.
There is a gem in the mountain of your body, seek that mine.
O traveler, if you are in search of that
Don’t look outside, look inside yourself and seek that.”

Unidentified Flower, Take III

"Unidentified Flower" from the gardens of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

A Rose Is a Rose

"A Rose Is a Rose"

Daisies, Black & White on White

"Daisies, Black & White on White"

Gerbera Daisy: The Lady in Red

"The Lady in Red"

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
This entry was posted in Retirement, Simple Pleasures, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Hey, 2012: Come Meet Your Master

  1. Kip Light says:

    Why do they call it a “fixed income” when I’m always broke? All the best to you in the coming year, and those to follow, in your endeavors to “discover” retirement.

  2. Miles Long says:

    Awesome photos and quotes… And those are awesome choices to do in your retirement!

  3. Homestead Ramblings says:

    Love your post and glad to see you back. I was worried at your silence. I too love my new camera, have fun with it. Was in your neck of the woods this week, discovered the Bagnell Dam and the Outlet Mall. OH MY 🙂 I’m excited for you as you begin a new adventure!! May the force of Whimsy be with you 🙂

    • Thank you! No worries–just too many obligations to fulfill. I’m hoping now that the craziness of the holidays is past, I can get back to a more “normal” routine and spend more time doing the things that bring me peace and fulfillment. And I hope you are enjoying your new camera as much as I am enjoying mine! “May the force of Whimsy be with you”–I love that!

  4. SUE KLAYMAN says:

    Yout new blog entry was a wonderful way to kick start the new year!
    Second after your trip to DC – CAPE COD – You will love it – just your kind of place. Lots of white sand beach & history, with a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. Start there & work your way to Key West. I’ll vicariously enjoy your meanderings around the country, maybe even be your tour guide if you need one
    You, your camera & your laptop are going to love your new life!! I am so happy for you!

    • Thank you, Sue–and thank you for the suggestion of Cape Cod (I’ll have to look into that!). I’m sure I will be seeking your travel advice and assistance, and I’m looking forward to taking a few trips with you (we’ll have so much fun!).

  5. SUE KLAYMAN says:

    PS – I LOVE that too – “May the force of Whimsy be with your” – awesome

  6. emjayandthem says:

    What a delicious post. I’m drooling over the excitement in your words … and will happily tag along as you recap your adventures for us!

    Welcome back; I’ve missed you 🙂


    • Thank you! I feel I’ve neglected my “duties” (translation: I’ve neglected my writing, my reading, and my self). Hoping to get caught up on reading your blogs in the coming weeks …

  7. Julie says:

    As far as the traveling…..I didn’t see Colombia on your list (yet). Tis unequivocally THE most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and remember, you do know someone there now. In fact, I’m looking forward to heading home to Manizales on Tuesday. It was great to see you before Christmas! :)…..Later……j

    • I will put Colombia on my “maybe” list. However, by the time I visit every place I want to visit in the U.S. and finally get around to applying for a passport, you will probably have moved on to a new environ. Might I suggest a Fuji, Belize, or Italy–maybe even Greece? I would gladly come to see you in any of those places, too! And it was great to see you also–enjoy your second semester, and I will remember you fondly every time we have a snow day …

  8. Sanchari says:

    I really like your list of things-to-do. And I also think adding consumption of Palak Paneer to that list is a great decision (I can vouch for that, being an Indian :D)

    I recently got a new camera too! Photography is such an amazing hobby.

    Oh, most importantly…Happy New Year! 🙂

    • I have never tried Palak Paneer, but I’ve loved every other Indian dish I that I have tried, so I’m even more anxious now to give it a taste! I hope you enjoy your new camera as much as I am enjoying mine, and Happy New Year to you as well! May it be joyous and prosperous and simply divine … (and thank you for visiting my blog!).

  9. Thank you for Living Out Loud Authentically………always enjoy your posts! May this year definitely be the “Best Year Yet”!

    • Thank you so much! And I love “Living Out Loud Authentically”–great acronym! It will be the best because I am determined to make it so–and I am too stubborn to accept defeat. I wish the same for you.

  10. Johnnie Rotten of the North says:

    Happy Mayan Calendar year to you, Clementine!

    Merci for Neruda and Rumi (sounds like a happy hour cocktail!)…I’ve never read these before…quite beautiful. I’ll peruse the link you provided.

    Woman, travel, travel, travel! The best classroom of all encompasses the twelve continents (tee hee)…and no exams! I hope soft winds and fair seas carry you to a plethora of tantalizing and colourful (Canadian spelling, in case you think I’m illiterate) ports of call on this home we call Earth. Most of my professional life has involved international travel – I’ve been blessed in that regard – and what a profound and priceless education it has been, and continues to be! My latest sojourn was to Asia – China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangkok, and Singapore…a veritable tableau of wonder and exotica.

    Follow the yellow brick road and the north star, and it’s always best to travel light. Become the female Marco Polo and do what I do – pen your travel experiences and offer them to numerous travel and leisure publications. Enlightenment will be derived by both yourself and the avid readers of your global jaunts. DO make a point of including exotic (understatement) Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey on your list of locales…you’ll be no doubt spellbound.

    How many miles to Babylon?
    Four score and ten.
    Can I get there by candle light?
    Yes, and back again

    Okay, I’m going to wing it here with this little made up story. I’m rather pooped, so forgive any grammatical sins on my part…

    And where in God’s name, they all wondered, was she? Charlotte?
    According to clocks and pocket watches, It was half past seven, and she had yet to appear at dinner. This was most certainly odd.
    Most unlike her. Prompt was she, and blonde, petite, polite and pretty, yet she entertained bizarre flights of fancy, to be sure. An odd duck. Her own drummer. One suitcase she walked through the boarding house door with! Imagine that! No hat box! No petticoat! No letter of introduction! Scandalous! Fascinating creature. Allusive, and, what was it Mrs. Fellowes, the handsome and plump mistress of the manor with piled gray hair and a facial tic, called her? Neurotic? Or was it Catholic? One could not be sure. One brandy too many after supper, the change of life, and being frightfully frigid affected one’s hearing. Cold libido. Warm fireplace. Warm brandy. Hot water bottle placed on her feet. Hot flashes. The price of widowhood. Young Miss O’Connor, aged twenty two, school teacher, red haired, freckled, and plain as sin, accompanied on the piano and sang, entertaining the boarding house residents with her very off-key yet decidedly apt ode to Victoria and Albert. Mr. Franklin – for one never knew his Christian name – a dour accountant aged forty – ignored the scene by burying himself in the newspaper. Charlotte, seated in a red velvet chair, immersed herself in the enticing journals of a dashing and positively brilliant mind – a new man on the British scientific scene – one Mr. Charles Darwin. Fossils and apes and chimpanzees, and revolutionary evolutionary theories captured her fancy and fascination far less than his enthralling accounts of alien lands afar. She purred like a soft and cuddly kitten as she dreamed of Africa. Old Mr. Hatfield thought Charlotte might perhaps indeed be this idiotic missing link the Darwin chap went on and on and on about…or perhaps all women were the missing link? Women, as far as Frederick Hatfield – sixty two and never married – was concerned, and especially the brazen Charlotte, were indeed alien creatures from mind-sets afar.

    So true,, yet dinner was being served by the simpleton, working class scum kitchen skivvie, Naomi. Where was Charlotte, indeed? “Well”, surmised old Mr. Hatfield, eyeing the barley soup placed before him – bread crumbs hanging off his yellow beard. They all eyed his napkin placed beside his bowl…sending collective urgent thoughts his way. “She’s either upstairs, or perhaps is in Cairo. It is, after all, Tuesday, is it not?”
    “Indeed it is”, chimed in Mrs. Fellowes, as she took a sip of red wine and quickly glanced at the silver framed photo of her late, beloved Byron. The old girl placed the photo on the dining table each night…right where she could see it as she ate….she most certainly hated to dine alone. God bless and rest his tired, tormented, demented and perverted soul.

    Mr. Franklin piped up, echoing Mr. Hatfield. “I do say, she must be gone to Cairo. Remarkable hussy, like an untamed female stallion. A woman, journeying on her own? Rubbish! Outlandish! Selfish!”
    The motley ensemble pondered this, exchanged quick glances, then all nodded, and in unison quietly proceeded on the first course with wistful and envious expressions. Outside, the sheets of cold early October rain fell. The wind was most certainly picking up. Out in the front hall, Oliver the black tabby cat with nine repressed Victorian sex lives sat before the great Grandfather clock that sounded yet another pretty picture postcard with the fascinating stamp none at the table would ever write….but would in fact receive by post, care of one Miss Charlotte Ava Haversmith of West London…and the world. What was that she deemed herself? An international citizen? Outrageous! Gypsy! How absurd! How Catholic! How American of her! A woman travelling on her own! No chaperone! How utterly and bloody brazen! How about that!

    *I’m having a most delightful, magnificent, sensational and glorious time, and do so wish you all were here to take in the sheer wonder of the awe-inspiring, marvelous, stupendous, divine and mysterious pyramids and the majestic, masculine, hedonistic, commanding sphinx and the Nile is a most beautiful, gorgeous river, just a few of so many sights and many spices and flavours and so many virile men, why, it’s a tantalizing, aromatic buffet every evening! So much fun! So perfect! So many adjectives and a run on sentence! Goodness gracious me!*

    With most sincere and kindest regards,
    Miss Charlotte Ava Haversmith

    Back in Scotland at the dinner table, each wished for Giza and Luxor, and figs and dates and spice markets and a hot sun and palms and Tut, as the siamese twins – salt and pepper, the gravy boat, and precious, fleeting time were passed around the fine oak table at number seventy one Harwick Avenue, Glasgow. Mrs. Fellowes, a notorious spendthrift, was tonight either in good spirits or was into the spirits prior to dinner, as the working class scum, Naomi, brought out the savory roast lamb…with mint sauce, to boot. Eyes widened, nostrils flared, and shock was the order of the evening. As they ate in silence, each had a private thought or two for the dearly departed – Charlotte, not Byron – a eulogy for a voyager – especially the reserved and mousy Miss Mary Agnes O’Connor of County Cork, the red haired virgin Mary. No satin lined coffin and a photo of Charlotte placed on top – or course not. More likely she purchased, in the quaint little shop on Fairfax Street, a large steamer trunk, and perhaps one of those hats one wears on safari. If there was a heaven, perhaps one reached it via Cunard Steamship Lines by way of the Mediterranean, and once arrived on the other side of home, the tired soul of the traveller, after a long journey. rested in spacious tombs alongside the great rulers of Egypt, or in a suitable and most comfortable hotel room with a four poster bed, cool, crisp, clean sheets, a ceiling fan, Darjeeling tea ,and a balcony overlooking the Nile River. The only way to go! How utterly and bloody brazen! Damn Catholics!


  11. bronxboy55 says:

    Beautiful words, photographs, and dreams. Please take us with you!

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