It’s been ten years since I officially retired from public education. What a change has happened. I wasn’t sure what to do when I left my former employment. Less than a month later, I began volunteering at the local public library. That led to teaching adult education classes which in turn led to an invitation to be a trustee of the library. Which, in time, led to being a trustee of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. Ten years ago, I began volunteering at The Warming House in nearby Olean, New York which is the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the United States. That too led to being invited to be a board member for the Warming House. A high school friend invited me to membership on the board of directors of the St. Elizabeth Mission Society in Allegany, New York. A year ago my time with the Mission Society ended.
A year after I retired, I received a direct Twitter message from a friend who invited me to attend the All Things Open Conference in Raleigh, NC, which, in time, led to an opportunity to become a writer for Opensource.com. Another friend sent me writing ideas and encouraged me on that journey which resulted in over three hundred articles published on a number of websites, including Opensource.com, Sysadminsignal.com, TechnicallyWeWrite.com, Fossforce.com, and this blog. Next month I’m returning to the All Things Open Conference for the eighth time. I’ll be seeing friends I’ve met along the way and learning new technology too.
Technical writing led me to learn Python well enough to begin teaching home-schooled children and others in local libraries. I also became a digital literacy trainer. I have become an experienced grant writer too. I’ve learned how to use Markdown and other tools. I’ve also become an advocate for free and open-source tools in education, libraries, and the community. I’ve helped senior citizens and others learn about various distributions of Linux, including Pop!_OS, Linux Mint, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi OS.
Volunteering in soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, libraries and elsewhere has given new meaning to my life. Ten years ago, I worried that my life was ending, but I’m here to tell you that it was the beginning of the end of an old life and the birth of a new one.
I’ve become a grandpa with seven grandchildren and counting too. I’m grateful for my life and the blessings of the last ten years.
I’m thankful for the last ten years of my life, which have been a journey of discovery. From the dark days of depression and uncertainty, I have come to a place of purpose, joy, and connection. Through writing I have found a passion, and I am proud to have had my work shared with others. I have also found ways to give back to my community, serving in places like Meals on Wheels and the local food pantry. I am also the President of the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Library Trustees, and a prostate cancer survivor. Most of all, I am blessed to be married to my wife for forty years and to have two children and five grandchildren, with two more on the way. Today I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.
I love TED talks. They are a preferred learning network and yes I prefer them to regularly scheduled cable television. Tonight I watched a couple of really interesting and inspiring talks. I’m approaching another birthday. Next month I’ll be sixty-one. Recently I retired and I’ve been exploring what that means for me. This talk by Jane Fonda about “Life’s third act,” is profound for me because it inspires me. Though I’ve entered my seventh decade of life I’m still young at heart. I still love learning and sharing what I’ve learned with others. Retirement has given me an opportunity to pursue some new ventures like working at the Warming House. I’m able to spend more time reading and writing. Just this week I’ve returned to daily Mass at the local parish. Daily Eucharists were part of my life as a young man. I hope you enjoy this talk as much as I have and that you draw from it inspiration for your own journey.
Lately I’ve been brimming with gratitude for a new beginning in my life. Grateful for the opportunity to begin another chapter in the book of life. “Sit finis Libris, non finis quaerendi.” That quote is found at the end of “Seven Storey Mountain,” which has been central to my life. August 31 was the end of one book and the beginning of another. I’m finding new life and purpose as a volunteer at a number of venues including Blount Library, The Warming House, Canticle Farm, Mt. Irenaeus and elsewhere. My days begin and end with yoga and meditation. Hot oatmeal, honey, flax seed and coconut milk are my companions too. Long walks, short naps and ample time to read highlight my days. Thank you for my life and retirement which is more like reinvent. Peace and all good.
This poem has hung above my desk at work and lay germinating in my conscious and subconscious mind. It’s funny how the spirit moves within us. Thanks to its author, John O’Donohue, a man I will never meet but whose words brought new birth and direction for my life. The title is “Blessing for a New Beginning,” and so it is.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.