"In this sticky web that we're all in, behaving decently is no small task." -- Novelist Stacey D'Erasmo

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Questions to Ask Yourself

     At the beginning of the year we tend to assess our lives, wonder about the future. I think it's especially true this year, since we've all been sitting around the house with not enough to do, and too much time to think.

     So here are some questions to ask for 2021:

     What am I most excited about, right now? It is your grandkids, your volunteer job, your future travel plans? Of course, we can be interested in more than one thing, and we shouldn't feel that we're slighting one aspect of our lives just because we're focusing on another. But if your volunteer work seems like a drag, but your grands light up your life -- or visa versa -- don't feel guilty spending time on what you love.

     What's the best thing that happened in 2020? It's easy to focus on the negative. But surely all of us have at least something we did in 2020 that we loved -- and want to do again. For me, it's our February trip to South Carolina. Can't wait to go back!

     What are we most looking forward to in 2021? Probably first and foremost we want the pandemic to end -- to get our vaccination and resume somewhat normal life. But once normal life does begin, what's at the top of your list? Even before South Carolina I want to go see my new grandchild in Wisconsin. We were scheduled to make the trip last summer, but we canceled due to fear of exposure. Hopefully by this summer we'll feel safe enough to make the trip.

     What can I do for fun? I just read a memoir by a hard-drinking Irishman. He had a lot of fun in his youth. We all did. But what fun can we have at this age? Well, some of us, like my brother-in-law, still like to pop into the local bar for a drink and some camaraderie. But he lives in Florida with outdoor service even in January. As for me, it's table tennis. Alas, we're not playing anymore since Covid hit. But I'm hoping we can get our club back together this year -- outdoors for the summer if we have to.

     What is the most important charitable cause I can support? Some of us give time, some give money. And we each have our own focus. B is involved with our local Opportunity Council and other organizations providing food to the hungry. I focus on education, based on the old idea that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime. But there is no right or wrong way to go about helping others. We each have a role to play.

     What should other people know about me? Many people used to be defined by their job -- they were a lawyer, a teacher, a housewife, a dentist. Now many retirees feel that nobody knows who they are, or pays attention to them. That's why we need to define ourselves in retirement -- by highlighting what's important to us, who our friends are, what we spend our time on. So in my town, I'm the guy with the Center for Learning in Retirement. I do lots of other things -- I'm a volunteer tutor, I play golf and table tennis -- but mostly I'm the man to call for CLR. So . . . who are you in your community? 


Wisewebwoman said...

A really good post Tom. Got me thinking. I'm an activist and have two groups - one for supporting seniors, highlighting major flaws in the support that is offered (and living it myself). We had planned a protest for March of last year but hey Covid.

I have a group for Covid news across Canada but the US and Ireland infiltrate there too due to the shocking numbers, keeping us more aware out here on the Edge of how fortunate we are.

I also volunteer with addiction issues.

My mobility issues hinder me but I persevere.


gigi-hawaii said...

I guess what I didn't miss in 2020 was the symphony, opera, and musicals at the various venues here in Honolulu. As a result, we have decided not to renew our subscriptions. We shall depend on YouTube instead.

Carol Cassara said...

You are such an inspiration to me today, Tom.

DUTA said...

It's too early to ask all those questions. We're on the third lockdown and there's talk of a fourth one, despite the fact that Pfizer and Moderna have made my country a priority with their vaccines.

And it's not only the pandemic that causes deterioration. In the USA - will Biden be able to rule with all those millions of Trump voters waiting to do their act? Not likely.

Celia said...

Number 1 for me is the food bank. People need to be fed. Children need to be fed. Elders need to be fed. Please give dollars as food banks can get 5 or 6 times the food ordinary people can for the same money.

Kay said...

I am looking forward to visiting our children and grandchildren again and having them come to visit us as well.

Since my husband worked for EPA, high on our list are environmental causes because we want to protect the world for our grandchildren.

What would I want people to know about me? Just that I tried my best and tried to be kind.

Fun? I can't wait to see friends again.

Linda Myers said...

Looking forward to a bike and barge trip from Amsterdam to Bruges, set for June. I'm always an optimist!

I volunteer at agencies helping asylum seekers and right now am a tech host for our online Olli program in Tucson. Also helping my son start his own remodeling business.

Tom said...

I'm an optimist, too. So DUTA, I think the sun WILL come out tomorrow!

Janette said...

Best thing that happened in 2020 was a complete break down of my psyche thorough isolation. I have had to start at the bottom and work forward. Whew. I barely made it.
2021 brings a new move for us- West! We are building our house. Passionate work.
After the move I plan to marry my dream of being full time volunteer in fair wage for immigrants and education for migrant children. I plan on volunteering at the local library and possibly at the high school in our small town.It will be some work to wedge my way in.
Thirty percent of the area could become new US citizens--so they will need help in no longer being paid poorly. My work in food insecurity shelters will be a part of this as well. My Spanish is terrible , I have six months to get on some sort of footing. I miss teaching and being with people who appreciate hard work. I am really nervous- but I have done it before, I can do it again.
I also want to relearn how to stream fish and possibly become a volunteer ranger at Yellowstone (but I have to get in shape for that). Wouldn't it be fun to be a volunteer couple for our 40th anniversary? My husband was an Idaho ranger in the early 1970's.
OK- too many plans?
Who am I in this community? I have no community where I currently live. We moved here to help with my daughter and we formed, absolutely, no roots. It will be good to leave. Can it really be seven years? Our daughter's family is thriving and growing and it is time for them to fly---and we will!

Laurie Stone said...

Love this, Tom. A new year is such a great time to reflect on who we are and where we're going.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

Wow! That's a lot to think about. The best thing that happened to me in 2020 was moving in next door to my girlfriend with another woman my age. We have our own community and support system. I love the area and the house I'm living in too. Charity - healing the division in our country. I'm looking forward to getting out and traveling and not having to wear a mask everywhere when it's safe to do so. What other people should know? I'm pretty much of an open book so I'm not sure.

Olga said...

This is a great list. Lot's of things to think about, gently leading to the more positive.

DJan said...

I know there must be something I should be able to point to that was good about last year, but right now nothing comes to mind. My husband had a stroke in August that has altered our lives, but as two people who are DNE (damn near eighty), I feel no compunction to take on new projects. I give money to the local Food Bank and have given quite a fair amount of my limited income to political causes I believe in. Good post, Tom! :-)

Tabor said...

I am most excited about having the freedom to pursue any education or training online and looking to the future to see my children and grandchildren. The best thing that happened in 2020 was that our children made an attempt to virtually visit us more than they would if there was no pandemic. 2021 is travel ... local and far if at all possible and the vaccine, of course. Fun for me is canoeing and gentle hiking and photography. I support many charities and am fortunate that I can. I am a ghost in my community...partially because of this cough and Covid. I should work on that.

scott said...

Wonderful post Tom! Lots to think about.

One of the things that I get to do that I feel good about, volunteering at the Georgia Aquarium. I signed on with them right after retiring. It was great. Learning a lot, helping out, and a sense of purpose post retirement. About five months into this, the pandemic hit and it all came to a screeching halt. They've reopened at a much lower capacity and do abide by the CDC guidelines. This allowed me the opportunity to volunteer behind the scenes. I now volunteer in their commissary preparing the food for the whale sharks and manta rays. It is very interesting. Regardless of everything going on right now, they still have to eat. And they eat a lot! I had no idea how many different types of krill existed.

Nancy Coiner said...

Great questions! I always enjoy your posts.

I'm teaching a Learning in Retirement class, trying to self-publish a funny fantasy novel, and (of course) keeping on with the blogging. Don't you LOVE Learning in Retirement? My classes have been just great, even on Zoom.

I agree with whoever above said that foodbanks are important to support now. We're a rich country. No child should go hungry. (No out-of-work restaurant worker, either!)

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

My husband and I are pre-retirement but closing in on it. But in 2020, as a banquet chef, he got laid off early and spent most of the year, until the last week of the year, out of a job. I was still working, but working from home, and so we got to spend a lot of time together. And we enjoyed it. What I am looking forward to is returning to Connecticut for a week to see our family. Although I'm a little hesitant about planning anything. In 2019, we planned to return and a hurricane came through and stopped the trip. In 2020, we planned to return, and then there was a pandemic. I'm afraid to think of what might come along in 2021 if we plan a return to Connecticut.

Meryl Baer said...

Right now life is on hold until I get the vaccine. Then I want to visit the kids in Vermont and Florida, and other relatives in New York and PA. And travel beyond, but haven't planned anything yet. I want to get together with friends and 'hang out' - at the coffee shop, a restaurant, my house.

Mens Fashion said...

Thank you for post this informative article. Leather Jacket

Shannon Mackle said...

I was suffering from Herpes for good three years with no solution, the diseases almost took my life and because I was unable to work and I was also loosing lots of money for medication, but one faithful day when I went online, I met lots of testimonies about this great man so I decided to give it a try and to God be the glory he did it. If you need his help or you also want to get cured just the way I got mine,He also have herbs medicine to cure the following diseases;Contact. Robinsonbuckler11 ((@)) gmail. com ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️