Sunday, July 29, 2012

Musings on Retirement

I just noticed it’s been almost 2 months since I last posted on my blog.  I have been busy quilting and doing other things, but nothing I felt needed blogging.  However, my life has changed and it will take time to digest the fact that I am no longer gainfully employed.

On June 22nd, I retired from teaching forestry at a community college.  When I started my career, I had not ever thought I would teach, although some people early on thought I should.  I first worked as a forester: I fought fires, surveyed lines, cruised and marked timber, supervised logging sales.  All the normal stuff us foresters do.  However, the timber industry is a fickle one.  Recessions hit it harder than other professions and the growing anti-logging sentiment by the public didn’t help either.  (Just wait, however, when you run out of toilet paper…).  In 1979 I was working for a private company that was slowly circling the drain.  An adjunct teaching position came open and I took it to fill the gap until I could find something different.  However, I found that I loved teaching and the department liked me – so when the position came open as full time and tenured, I applied and got the job.  That was 33 years ago!  

But even the teaching environment has changed.  Students come less prepared for higher education, budgets have gotten continually tighter and decisions are made by administrators with no or extremely limited teaching experience, so that their decisions usually make the job harder without real benefits to students.  It was the growing feeling of frustration that told me it was time to go.  While I will miss the students and my colleagues, I will NOT miss the low morale and lousy atmosphere that has grown the past few years.

At 60, I am on the young side of retirement age, but there are some things I still want to do, that require a reasonably sound body.  My blog name is the Quilting Climber.  It’s the climbing part that I see as most perishable.  My hips and knees remind me of that every morning.  But it feeds my soul and provides the inspiration for my art quilts. My husband is 3 years older and we still have trips we want to take and climbs we want to complete. The weird part is that I have had summers off these past 33 years: our students are off doing their internships, so we do not offer summer courses.  It’s in the fall, when the teaching year starts again, that I will realize that I am truly gone. 

 However, I am already making adjustments.  I hope to finally not only get into shape, but I hope to quit the up and downs of it: I get into shape during summer, only to lose it slowly over the school year.  Even though we teach field classes that require a lot of bush travel, it’s just not the same.  I spent way too much time at my desk writing lesson plans, grading papers and dealing with the daily BS of administration.  I was a ski patroller and patrolling helped somewhat during winter, but I retired from that as well and have not skied nearly as much since (that will change, too!)  So now I am trying to build a regular workout schedule.  I also have a long list of things to do on the house and garden.  Of course, there’s all those quilts that need finishing or need to come out of my head and into fabric.

Where we camped last week - hope to have many more such mornings.  We climbed the mountain in the background.  Daughter of the Sun, Mission Mountains, Montana.  Photo by Fred Spicker July 26, 2012.

It is said that retirement is a stressful, life changing event akin to a death, marriage or similar.  While I am happy to finish that chapter in my life, I realize I am now much closer to the end than the beginning.  That’s the thing that has me pondering the most.  I intend to make the most of it!

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave  with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride!

(Attributed to various people with various versions – I like this one best, apparently a Maxine cartoon.)


Martha said...

Moni, I enjoyed reading about your retirement thoughts and plans. I imagine you will soon wonder how you found time to go to work. Enjoy your hiking, climbing, and skiing as long as your body cooperates. And when it doesn't, you will have more time freed up for your artwork.
I added your blog to my Google Reader when we were in Ellen's class so I would see your posts. I just posted some exciting news on my blog: I hope you'll take a look. I'm entering my Atrium piece in our quilt show in October.

Leslie can't stop quilting said... well put!! I totally agree with what you have written!

PT in SC said...

Oh my, I don't know how I found your blog, but I love it...yes, one day the tree huggers will need toilet paper and really won't know why they don't have any...and can I exchange the martini for a margarita? Happy Retirement!