Saturday, June 15, 2013

Will My MiniMe Please Stand Up!

I had an epiphany at the fourth meeting of our “ProjectRenewment” women’s group. It was one of those moments of clarity that seem so obvious – only after it happens.  When I left my career as a full-time newspaper journalist of nearly 40 years, I had  expected  that I would blossom into a “new me.” That a long dormant MiniMe inside me would suddenly emerge and thrive. Something like a neglected seedling finding moist conditions and sunlight after the felling of the tall tree of my career that had so long shaded it.
My epiphany came with this comment by Julie Jaffe:
“I’m a worrier. I’ve always been a worrier. I’m good at worrying!”
The women who’d gathered for the meeting, about 15 of us, cracked up.
Then Carol Kulla chimed in, and it quickly became clear that we were talking about change more so than worrying.
“This whole transition thing. We are who we are, whether we are retired, whether we’re not retired, whether we’re in the process of retiring,” she said. “Truly, I’m disappointed that I haven’t found this different way of being than I’ve always been as a result of being retired. I had this illusion, that when I retired I would be more relaxed. I would be a different person. I’m the same nervous nelly that I was when I was 12. I’m just bigger and older now. It’s not about working or not working. It’s just annoying because now I’m worrying and I don’t get a paycheck.”
Suddenly, I realized why I just can't slow down.
As Popeye would say: "I yam what I yam."
Unable to relax. Eating lunch standing up. Jumping from activity to activity. More busy than I want to be. (Could it be the spinach?)
Where was the new, relaxed person I had imagined for myself? The one who was going to paint and sculpt, cook gourmet dinners, sit and read in daylight hours, and volunteer using my Spanish?
Now I can articulate it: I thrive on deadlines. They make me feel alive. The adrenaline-coursing rush of a deadline is one of the things I most loved about being a journalist. On an almost nightly basis, I would have to draw on all my intellectual strengths to totally focus on editing a story. At the same time, I’d have to draw on all my social skills to negotiate with the reporter the error of his or her ways. All the while, the clock was ticking.
I still thrive on deadlines. I crave deadlines. In my so-called unretirement-without-structure I constantly find ways to create for myself challenges with deadlines. And I’m not talking about cleaning the garage TODAY.
It's still mostly about journalism. I’ve given myself a weekly deadline (which I don’t always meet) to interview someone or write something with substance for this blog (about 100 so far). I'm editing, for the second year, the Forward's Genetics special section and I'm freelancing. 
My mother always said that everyone as they age becomes “more so.” By that she meant that if they were funny,  they'd get funnier. If they were mean, they'd get meaner. If they were a worrier, they would worry more.
If she were around today, she’d say something like that about me.

To read previous blogs on my Project Renewment group:
To learn more, go to Project Renewment's website.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reaching 120 May Be Common Some Day

The oldest man in the world has died. That would be Jiroemon Kimura who died June 12 at the age of 116 years and 54 days.
Jiroemon Kimura, dead at 116-plus
 So now the hunt is on for the new oldest man (and woman) right now.  As I said in a previous post, being the oldest person in the planet is a record that is not held for very long.  Kimura, who was born  in Japan on April 19, 1897, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne,  held the title since Dec. 28, 2012., less than six months. Nonetheless, more and more of us are getting up there. Our children should take note. This month National Geographic talks with a number of long-lived people in its cover story and predicts our children (or grandchildren) will live to be 120.
So... start planning for a longer future than you thought.  And don't worry so much that your kids (or grandkids) haven't figure things out by age 30. They have plenty of time to get their act together.