mad in pursuit journal
2.8.2004 Beginning My So-Called Retirement
After 24 years in one job, after 24 years of draining my brain and my heart into caring about what happens to troubled kids, I retired. At 55 I am too young to actually "retire" so maybe it's more like graduating from being a salary slave to a second career as Brand Me.
Anyway, after 24 years, the only tribute my boss could come up with was that I "loved dancing on the edge of the precipice." An interesting image -- he used it on at least 3 occasions in those final December days -- but he didn't bother to elaborate what it meant or how that jig made any contribution to the community. Whatever, was probably going through his mind as he said goodbye to the cranky woman who wound up annoying him with way too much thinking. Whatever, thought the cranky woman, anxious to move on.
My friend and colleague Joanne bought me a book: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It is a 12-week program designed to unblock your creativity. The creative part of me didn't feel particularly blocked back in December. In many ways it had felt finally liberated from corporate exercises in pseudo-strategy. But I did have the fear that I would use my new-found freedom to drift along with no structure, no discipline, no goals.
So, on 12.20.03, I started what Cameron calls "morning pages." The idea is to wake up early and take 30-60 minutes handwriting 3 pages of whatever is on your mind. Just spew it out. Don't construct it, don't censor yourself, don't even reread it. At the beginning there is no purpose except to get it done. Then you start noticing where you are feeling good about yourself and where you are beating yourself up.
I learned how to set the coffee pot timer to start sending me wake-up aromas at 6 AM. I straightened up the ground floor study so I could sit on the couch there without having to look at a big mess of books and broken chairs. As soon as I get up now, I grab a cup of coffee and my notebook, go downstairs and write. By now there is a little variation to this routine, but it has served me well in getting the day off to a good start.
I've decided now to balance that private reflection with this more public one, so I'm not sure how my routine will change.