December offers us a month of gratitude, hope, renewal, and review. Yes, it is a part of my life to review the intentions I made for 2017. I happily am thankful for those intentions I met and in some cases, those taking me on a different path as events mandated. I recognize some intentions are to be extended into 2018, while some are left because of changes in circumstances.
What I’ve discovered from my adventures in living, is what my Dad told me, when I was in my early 20’s, has remained relevant throughout my life. Even with the ravages of Rheumatoid Arthritis assaulting his body and mobility, he said, “LIVE until you die, don’t die until you die.” He was confident no matter what happened to see the beauty around you, love your family and friends, keep a sense of humor, and take in every moment to discover something new to try or experience.
A recent study was released finding people who retired and had no hobbies, or social interaction through volunteerism, a part-time job, or learning new skills, often shortened their life span significantly. Recently, when I interviewed one of the WW2 veterans of 94 years old, he said when he retired with several other colleagues, he experienced the friends who had no active plans to fill their lives had died within three years or so. He, on the other hand, began a whole new adventure in living with woodworking, music, travel, and service activity in the community.
With the wisdom my Dad imparted, I started many decades ago to make intentions for the coming year to discover and experience. One that holds true since I was in high school is to read books by authors I’d never read before. Among those books are at least several books every year from writers overseas.
My horizons expanded to starting my own business which led to work overseas, becoming a journalist/writer, and to engage in stateside travel around the nation. In between, life changes forced some new experiences like maintaining a beef farm for a couple of years after becoming a widow. A big move was after my children were on their own to leave the security of area I’d grown up in and take to traveling to different locales through contracted services I obtained.
Today, is no different for me, despite the aging process. I laugh when my family calls and instead of saying “Hi Gramma” they ask, “Where are you Gramma?” Their expectations are I’m on the road and quite often correct. You see, my adventurous spirit always sees a new opportunity for discovery.
So why am I writing this column for January? It is to encourage you to consider the adventures in living among your intentions. Volunteers are always wanted for schools, meals on wheels, extended care facilities and more. Have you thought about learning a new language? Or starting to learn about different crafts or painting? Have you considered the local book club to expand your reading diversity? How about learning some new recipes with a group of friends? Consider getting a group together to visit the area museums you’ve never visited or see newer exhibits.
There are so many groups in the area that offer opportunity to enjoy friends and make new ones. And, of course, your faith fellowship can always use an extra hand. When I taught Sunday School, I was so lucky to have a gentleman who assisted and brought some real great creative ideas for the group that were fun and inspirational. He taught me some great things besides demonstrating you are never too old to contribute.
Among my own intentions this coming year is to get the family pictures and history pulled together with my sisters to assure the legacy of our family is preserved. Yes, I’ll be traveling more with my sisters. My adventures to Mt Shasta CA is already on the docket for six to eight weeks camping in the mountain in my truck tent camper while also marketing my photography at some shows and freelance contributor for an area newspaper in California. And I can’t neglect the fact I’m learning new ways to showcase my photographer, and repurposing items into usable products instead of throwing away to add to the mounds of trash. I even have been learning to do some minor carpentry, and some new techniques of taking old pieces of furniture, pallets, etc to create useful products.
What I’ve learned is we don’t ever really retire from work. What keeps us aware of life and all it has to offer, is to stay in the flow of life with new experiences. Albert Schweitzer said, “Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder – in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” Just take the time to stay engaged and you will be surprised at the adventures even in your back yard of discovery.
©Maralene C Strom – Adventures in Living