Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Year Later: Life Post-retirement

May 15 was my one year "Retireversary" from librarianship. Where has the time gone? I remain humbled by this opportunity to "do my own thing". Although life as a public servant may not have been the most remunerative path during the actual years of work, putting in the time towards a secure retirement made it all worth while. I often hesitate to speak of my joy in retirement. So many friends and family do not have their retirement plans in place, and I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way. Sometimes I still can't believe I am really retired.

More than anything, I've returned to my art roots. My study overflows with projects, materials, tools, etc. The weeks fly by, and much like in my work days, I have to keep a detailed schedule to keep up with myself. Staying fit takes a high priority so I try to fit two exercise periods into every day. There's more time for gardening and cooking. Some travel is good, but that gets expensive. One of the pitfalls of retirement is that there is more time for spending. So I try and channel some of those spending urges towards resale and bargain shopping. Probably my biggest weakness has been spending on art materials.

I'm trying to turn into a money-making artist and craftperson again. All through college and my pre-librarian days, I sold things I made to help get by: pottery, silver or beaded jewelry, crocheted goods, etc. Back then, it seemed like there were always casual opportunities to sell at farmer's markets, craft fairs, etc. I am only beginning to ferret out the best ways to sell stuff. On the high end are my so-called "Dollscapes", the collage series I have been entering into art shows with good response but no sales so far. There are plenty of shows to consider; most of them have an entry fee, so you can't do them all. I had three of my collages printed on giclee canvases to enter in an upcoming member show at the Jung Center. If even one of them sells, it will be encouraging. On the crafty side, last summer I was obsessed with small quilting projects, and donated some to my church for a fundraiser, but otherwise have mostly given these creations to friends and family. A few months ago I started making Sculpey faces I then embellish and sew onto little wall hangings, but no sales to report there either. Soon, I may get started selling on Etsy. I have many original greeting cards for sale on my Zazzle site, but so do about a million other people, so no rewards there either. Maybe it's the economy, right? Oh well, I'm not into art for the money, but as I keep explaining to my husband, it sure would be nice to feel that what I make has value to other people.

Because of my TLA Lariat List involvement, I spend a lot of time reading book reviews online and elsewhere, plus I also still write occasional reviews for Library Journal. My Bloglines account has gotten more diverse; I've gotten addicted to a number of cooking, craft and decorating blogs, among them: Feasting on Art, Karla's Cottage, The Pioneer Woman, Posie Gets Cozy, Unconsumption, Colour Lovers and Cuteable.

But what is life if not a search for meaning? For me, the community places to explore that include Exploritas, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston and the Jung Center. I just finished a wonderful Jung Center lecture series on the Hero Journey with J. Pittman McGeehee last night. His definition of the hero's journey is the individual's search for meaning. What kind of human are we? We are an accumulation of all of life's stages, including that cliched being, the child within. (Good to know as my retirement is indeed a second childhood...) Permission to play: such "regression" is natural and healthy as we spiral through the paths of individuation. Perseverance is key; we are always going home and home is a metaphor for wholeness. I have a small notebook full of these and other wonderful bon mots a la Pittman. Later this summer I plan to attend a Jung Center lecture series about the poetry of T.S. Eliot to be given by the distinguished author and Jungian analyst James Hollis. Real adventure follows via the inner journey. Kicking and screaming, the soul is built. We all have dragons to slay, even in retirement.... One last link: Mythic Imagination, a site I hope to spend more time on, exploring experiences of life's mystery and metaphor.
Blessings to all - KAO.

photo by KAO: my study, 5-19-2010

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