Filling the days…..

In my attempt to be a disciplined blogger I’ll begin this post by addressing the first point in my  December 25th blog which, of course you remember was, “how do I fill the days without just filling the days?”.

Well….in addition to devotedly attending pilates sessions two mornings a week all year I signed up for  two weekly discussion groups, one focused on social and political issues and the other on foreign relations. Not only am I very interested in the topics but they had the additional attraction of beginning the first week of my “retirement”.  Next I signed up for a contemporary art appreciation class at the New School. It turned out to be an amazing learning experience for someone who knows very little about the art scene. My friend Merry who introduced me to the New School class also introduced me to some great women  and we wound up having lunch every week  before the class (maybe my favorite part of the day!) Our class homework consisted of  visiting galleries and museums exhibiting the work of artists chosen by the instructor as topics for his weekly lecture.

In addition to becoming an art expert (hah!) I discovered that it’s important to pay attention to the museum and gallery hours-it’s not fun to “shlep” all the way downtown to the Whitney on a Tuesday only to discover Tuesday is the one day of the week the Whitney is closed!  I also discovered that gallery visits feel less intimidating when I am fulfilling a homework assignment rather than, as on previous occasional visits, fighting the uneasy feeling that I was taking up space when I was only window shopping. Without the guilt I felt the gallery staff seem almost appreciative that I paid them a visit!

It was very surprising but only logical that by filling my days with things that interest me I would meet many new likeminded and interesting people (hence numbers 1 & 2 on my list converge). This happy blending has provided opportunities to attend events I might never have known about or, even if I did, never planned to attend. One such event immediately springing to mind was a Saturday evening performance of gospel music performed by artists who had never previously sung professionally. At this concert, held in an auditorium in the heart of Harlem on a hot July evening, I once again came face to face with the magic of embracing new experiences even if , at first, they appear to be out of my comfort zone.

 

 

Sometimes A Word Can Change Your Life

 All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware…..

Martin Buber

 

“Mission” is a word that has the potential to change your life. Sometimes you immediately recognize that you are fulfilling a mission, sometimes you are further along before you realize the road you are traveling is indeed your mission and sometimes your friend Louise points out that seeking a new “mission” might be one of the reasons you are writing this blog!

Having stepped down last January after serving for 14 years as the Executive Director of a non-profit whose main purpose was helping families cope with the imminent loss of a loved one from a dehumanizing disease it seemed totally absurd to think of writing this blog as anything more than a fun and creative outlet.

That thinking changed when I agreed to participate in a free Life Coaching session with my aforementioned friend Louise, a very accomplished artist, marketing expert and Life Coach who needed to conduct and record a test session with a client in order to qualify for her next level of Coaching accreditation.

“Of course I would love to participate”, I replied, especially since it only involved a phone call and not traveling to a warehouse studio in a deserted section of Brooklyn to model clothing for a fall fashion portfolio (which was the case last time I agreed to accommodate a friend). Modeling clothes could not be further from my comfort zone but I couldn’t think of a reason to refuse other than blurting out the truth, that I completely recoiled at the thought! However I discovered, as I had many times before, it sometimes pays to take risks, lo and behold that is where I met and became instant friends with the stunning Louise!

But I digress….

For our recorded session Louise asked me to prepare an agenda consisting of  areas in my life I felt I needed help with. The first challenge was narrowing the field! I finally settled on help sorting out my feelings  as I completed my first year as a “retired person”. Having spent much of the year exploring many of the incredible options available in New York City I knew it was time for me to focus. After listening to me ramble for what seemed like a long time, Louise helped me understand that I appeared to be struggling with a way to define this chapter of my life, especially after such a clear and focused previous chapter.

The epiphany occurred when she commented that  to her it it felt that I can function better when I am “mission” oriented. Wow, she nailed it! Thinking about our conversation I also realized that by adding one more syllable the full context of my struggle became crystal clear.

In addition to a “mission” I needed to give myself “permission” to enjoy the creative process writing a blog brings and to embrace this very different time of life.  I hope my blog will provide a smile, maybe conjure up a sense of recognition as I write about my experiences which, in some instances, created unusual learning curves and who knows, maybe I can even help a few fellow travelers discover their own “secret destinations” (assuming one or two people read this and join the conversation as opposed to only family members and close friends who are obligated!).

A one hour session with a trained, insightful listener helped to clarify my vision for this new life. Thank you Louise, I am truly grateful!!!