The best laid plans…

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”.  John Lennon

Well, John, I think you were on to something.  If things had happened according to plan, I’d be using up my remaining vacation days right now, serving on a Global Volunteer Project in Italy.  Instead, here I sit in New Jersey, typing away, with one eye swollen shut.   Five days before departure, I discovered I had a detached retina.  Emergency surgery performed the next day clipped my wings.  No flying anywhere for 8 weeks!

Guess I’ll have to wait till 2012 to find out whether a woman with few real skills and limited talents can make a meaningful contribution.  I’m hoping that abundant enthusiasm will make up for said lack of skill.  In my youth, I had fantasized about a stint in the Peace Corp, but my aversion to any possibility of discomfort proved to be a rather formidable barrier.  That, plus a mountain of student loans made work without pay impossible.

Anyway, here I am, decades later, getting ready to retire-reinvent-recreate by sticking my toe into volunteer waters.  Although Global Volunteers offers programs throughout the world, I decided my first experience would not be Africa, Vietnam, China, India or even Mexico, but Southern Italy.  Good food, good weather, and I even have a shot (albeit a LONG one) at deciphering the language essentials.

I chose Global Volunteers because I love their overall philosophy.  As a ‘servant learner’ I will to do whatever I am asked to do, within my limitations, working under the direction of local leaders.  Global Volunteers’ object is to empower and support the local people to complete their chosen projects. The local community decides how the volunteers will be used and everyone works together.  For some locations, the chosen projects require physical work, such as building a school, or digging a well.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I would not be a good choice for those projects.   Instead, I decided on teaching conversational English.

I was assured that my not knowing Italian or having any teaching experience would not be a hindrance.  My main contribution is my English speaking ability.   Yep, I can do that.  So despite my very deep disappointment in the delay, I’m feeling so fortunate that my eye problem didn’t occur while I was in the middle of the project.

So, other than healing and regaining my eyesight, nothing interesting will be happening for a while!

Thoughts on Retirement

When I tell people I’m retiring the end of this year, the most common reaction has been “what will you DO”?  And no wonder.  The word itself sounds dreadful.  Re-tire.  Become tired again?  Here’s a dictionary definition: to withdraw from office, business or active life, usually because of age.  Oh dear.

I recall reading Erik Erikson’s book “Childhood and Society” in college.  He describes the eight stages of psychosocial personality development.  As I remembered it, I would be entering the ‘generativity versus stagnation’ stage,  during which energies  focus on future generations and  contributions to the world.  My memory check,  via the internet, sure burst THAT bubble.  Instead, I learned that I am rapidly approaching the ‘ego integrity versus despair’ stage, which extends from age 65 to death.  How encouraging.  And it gets even better.  During this stage all you do is look back on your life,  and are either happy with what you have accomplished, or are cranky and bitter.  Hmmm, ol’ Erik lived to be 92.  I wonder if HE spent 27 years sitting around contemplating the prior 65?  Darn, guess Erik is not going to help me define retirement more positively.

I think I need a new word.  There are so many other ‘re’ words that I like better:  reinvent, reconnect, renew, recharge, rejoice.

So maybe that’s what I’ll be doing:  I’ll be reinventing myself, while I reconnect with important people in my life, recharge my batteries, renew interests that were neglected because of lack of time.  Best of all, I plan on rejoicing in my new-found freedom!

Venice

Karen, Diane, Victoria, Kathleen, Jim and I all opted for the additional two day post trip in Venice.  What a perfect ending for a perfect trip!

Here are Beth and Victoria living large in the back of our water taxi, as we make our way to the Hotel Giorgione.

Meanwhile,  I’m up front, keeping my eyes on the back of our driver, who seems to be making quite a few waves.  He could teach the NYC cabbies a thing or two…

The Venetians sure know how to live.  The traffic doesn’t stress THIS guy out!  I will confess, though, I’m glad he wasn’t driving OUR taxi.  Something about steering with his foot just didn’t feel reassuring.

Quick turn down a side canal and we’re almost there.  Hope Victoria and Beth duck before we get to that low bridge.

Are you ready for some Venice sights?  Here goes:

San Marco as seen from a vaporetto

San Marco seen from the ground

Okay, so I’ve done land and sea.  How about air?  Well, this is about as close as I could get to an aerial view.

That’s all for today’s post.  More Venice shots tomorrow.