Category Archives: Retirement

SENIORS WHO SPELL

Audrey Fischer Partington
Audrey Fischer Partington

They came from all over the county to participate in a Senior Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Friends of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Library.

But this was not a competition for high school seniors. Competitors were seniors citizens. You know, the generation born before spell check. The folks who learned to read phonetically, and who memorized rules like “i before e, except after c, or when sounding like ay as in neighbor or sleigh.”

Yes, those seniors.

Some came in wheelchairs from a nearby assisted living facility. What they lacked in physical ability they made up for in mental agility. A few were retired English teachers. But what they had in common was the love of words and libraries.

“Public libraries are one of the best things about America,” said a competitor whose first language was not English.

Senior Spelling Bee
Senior Spelling Bee

The joy of browsing the library shelves may be lost on younger generations for whom “googling” too often replaces a visit to the library.

Another lost art is etymology (word origins). Contestants not only asked for words to be repeated, defined or use in a sentence, but their place of origin, which can provide clues to their correct spelling.

Phonics and etymology have been replaced with … “magic spelling.” My daughter was introduced to this approach when she started first grade in 1992.  In a desire to get young children comfortable with writing, teachers told them not to worry about spelling correctly.

Okay. That made some sense, but why not at least correct the misspelled words for the child’s edification? Unfortunately, the writing and spelling methodologies of the day childwithtrophycoincided with the self-esteem movement. You know, “No Child Left Without a Trophy.”

And also lost to posterity is cursive writing. How are future historians going to decipher primary source documents written in cursive?

Oh, of course, they’ll be an app for that!

 

 

Audrey:  I’m a writer-editor with nearly 35 years spent working in the federal government. When I think I began working for the government at the tail end of the Carter administration, it really does seem like a lifetime ago. In a way, it was a lifetime ago. I’ve since married and raised a wonderful daughter with my husband, with whom I now share our empty nest. Our baby bird flew across the pond to live with her British husband. So, to keep up with her life, I got on Facebook, where I have since reconnected with many old friends from my childhood in Brooklyn, New York, as well as from my other walks of life. Most recently, I had the joy of reconnecting with Annice, who launched this blog. It should feel like a lifetime ago since we met in our twenties, but happily, it’s like time never passed. That’s one of the secrets of getting older—the face and body may change, but at heart you may remain very much the same.

 

 

A Retiring Mind: Part III by Amoke Kubat

If you recall, Amoke shared two posts with us last year about being a newly retiree.  Here she is with her latest episode of her Retiring Mind.

Amoke Kubat
Amoke Kubat

February first marked year one into my retirement years.  My initial days were filled with me grinning and chanting, “I don’t have to go to work no more” and “I can do anything I want” and “I was a teacher” – a lot.  Time was now my BFF.  I have a big imagination and the possibilities were like assorted valuables in a bank vault.

Here is the year in review.  On the eleventh day of my second emancipation, I woke up in a world of hurt.  I could not move without crippling pain.  Thigh and shin muscles visibly pulled away from leg bones in an effort to detach from unrelenting spasms.  My torso twisted into a chicken wing.  An alarming mix of shrieks and sobbing brought both adult daughters to my bedside.  They had never witnessed any medical emergency before.  They didn’t know me as a crying woman.  Agony painted sharp lines and pulsing circles that made my face a new kind of canvas.  Never had I been so scared or felt so vulnerable.  A trip to the ER informed me that I had bone on bone arthritis in my knees and sciatica.  I got medication that made me itch.  I was told I’d get better in time.

This misery lasted until late spring.  Chiropractors, massages, herbal remedies brought some relief, however I began to feel mentally fragile.  My shadowy thinking scared me. What if this was the beginning of my end?  Would I have this pain for the rest of my life?  Will I not be able take care of myself?  A small voice whispered, “You wanted time to write stories, books and screenplays,” yet all I could think about was PAIN!  I felt so helpless. God!  Take me dandelionamokenow!!!

I decided to make “last calls”.  I scavenged through years of old phone books and started calling old friends.  Most conversations picked up where the last one ended years ago.  Laughter, tears and sharing from the heart brought me unexpected joys.  I remembered simple pleasures of yesteryears.  Friends reminded me of who I used to be – way back when.  A Wild Woman!  Crazy cool! Always into something or doing something.  Unflappable, a friend said.  Then, a minister friend of mine invited me to Las Vegas where she was creating a Goddess Study Center.  I went for four days.  At the fundraiser, I met many women my age and older who were cavorting with the Feminine Divine, nature, oracles, music, dancing, and luscious food and drink.  God, I missed this energy!womens empowerment

I returned home, feeling empowered and reacquainted with my wild woman self.  I called my former health clinic and told them that I had no insurance but needed to be seen, as I was not going to live my life in pain.  If I fell down, I was going to keep getting back up.  The hospital social worker assisted me.  I was able to see a doctor and specialists who referred me for assessments that eventually led to better care and treatment.  I am regaining stamina, strength, ability, and hope.

In those 365 days, I grieved the loss of the teacher persona.  I grieved the changes in my body that are not related to physical illness but to inevitable aging.  I discovered I can no longer put coins or dollars in my bra. Not only have the sisters gone south, they have left their posts.  I grieved with friends who have lost their loved ones.  I offered a shoulder to those caring for elder parents or siblings.  I have neither.  I am claiming retirement.  I will keep calling for a purposeful and meaningful retirement just like I call on old friends.  And by the time you read this, I will be on my way to Florida to visit a friend I have not seen in 27 years.

To learn more about Amoke Kubat (writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis) visit her website.

A Retiring Mind Part II

Amoke Kubat
Amoke Kubat

Move over James T. Kirk, a retiring mind left to its own, totally uninterrupted and undiminished possession, goes beyond the final frontier. My fist size chunk of grey matter becomes my private Intergalactic Teleporter. I am the Queen of Flashback and Flash dancing memories!

Mind you, minding me, is a mix of guilty pleasure and alarming revelations. My mind jumps back to things half thought, wishful imagination and unsolicited information that hungers for a future that I have yet to charter with certainty. Some memories are surprising, others are stunners.

In 1968, I decided to stop wearing sanitary belts with Kotex as large as manhole covers.

Remember?
Remember?

(One of my friends did call them just that). These pads were like riding in a saddle. If you were a bleeder like me, an accident could gush out at any moment from back or front or both. One day I CHOSE to switch and use a new way to sop up my oozing womanliness. I got me a box of compressed cotton, less conspicuous, for the modern woman, TAMPONS. Proud of myself, I swaggered home with a variety of sizes that promised “going with the flow” like a real natural woman. I decided to become an expert: I practiced taking care of business with my new hygienic tools that severed the legacy of taking the rag off the bush.

I loved peeling off the thin wrappers of the tiny little feminine things. Holding my breath, stilling shaking legs, I pushed Tampon number one up a chute never travelled. It was a bit snug but not uncomfortable.  It pulled out easily enough. I was fascinated that something no bigger than my pinkie could swell, clog and hold back my monthly monsoon. So, Tampon number two, a larger size, was inserted. I walked around with my secret intact. I did a happy dance! It did not move! Who would know? I was now a woman of mystery. “Oh really” TAMPON number three, the largest, asked my body. Then it sucked up all mystery, ritual and moisture. No amount of pulling released the dry knot of cockeyed liberation from my body. You know you have a friend for life when your girlfriend comes to your rescue, respectively demonstrates a surgical skill for removing a foreign object, and does not ask any questions.

In 1975, I lived with a cannibal and two Jesuses. I lived commune style in a large Victorian House off Portobello Road in London. portobellos rd.The cannibal lived in the basement. We seldom interacted and rarely spoke to each other. I only went downstairs to bar-b-que on a homemade grill on hotter summer days. He never licked his lips over sizzling ribs with my secret sauce. He didn’t stand around telling me stories or appeared hungry as I made plates to sell to homesick Americans on Portobello Road. He always seemed sleepy and slow and quite possibly satiated. I wondered who he had eaten. However my pervasive shyness and southern sensibilities told me that was too personal of a question to ask.

On the other hand, it was impossible to not get personal with Jesus the Pure (as he was blond) and Jesus the Dark (who was a bit mangy looking). They lived in the hallways on separate floors. They were drawn together like magnets. They constantly fought and had to be pulled apart. Depending on who interrupted their epic battle, one or the other and sometimes both got thrown outside. They would fly at each other and use fists, feet and teeth. They never said a word as they delivered and received punches that knocked holes into walls, shattered glass and broke stairway banisters. Neither ever preached nor sang the gospels in the presence or absence of the other. My guess was that the forces of light and dark was really an on-going universal struggle.

Later, I discovered, “For F**** sake keep Jesus out” written on the walls, just as I opened the door for a visitor.  Under that somebody had scrawled, “Which one?” More written, “They both can go to hell”. The visitor and I stared at the wall. I had a nagging sense she thought I had wrote it. I was an 22 year old colored woman far from my Southern Los Angeles home and the very racist, newly integrating America.

I wonder how these two very specific memories serve me. What are the lessons?  Are they worth keeping or sweeping? Am I in the throes of another individuation process? I survived the parallel journeys from girl, maiden to crone and colored to black to American of African descent. memoriesAs an Elder, I am racing towards the finish line to get to my fullest humanity. I am going into a deeper space. I pray to enjoy and remember.

Amoke Kubat is a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.  http://amokekubat.com 

http://www.livingwombceremonies.com/

 

 

 

A Retiring Mind

Amoke Kubat

I first met Amoke Awele Kubat at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in Asheville several years ago where she lead a heartfelt and authentic storytelling workshop for women.  I’ve been asking her for years to write something for Oops50.com, and now that she has retired, we are happy to have her blog with us.

Amoke is also a published author of Missing Mama: My Story of Loss, Sorrow and Healing , a deeply personal and universal story of mother loss.  She feels that internalized grief, due to loss and trauma, has become as intrinsic as any other internalized oppression.  

Annice

Missing Mamma

 

When I turned 60, I told my daughter that I was having a mid-life crisis.  She said that was good.  I was going to live to be 120.  I replied that I was done.  I was done being a teacher, a parent, friend, and associate to a whole lot of emotional entanglements.  I no longer wanted to wake up exhausted, give up 15 hours of my day, then come home foraging for energy by over-eating.  I started to ponder the possibility of retiring – early.

I started asking women who were retired what life was like after working? Their responses differed. One told me she didn’t like it.  Her husband was dead and she was estranged from her adult children.  She didn’t have access to her grandchildren.  The people at Bingo were her family.  Another woman told me that she had “deep cleaned” her house, read one book a week and now was enjoying her first grandchild.

Then I was alarmed by my best friend’s response.  She felt guilty.  We met when I was 14, almost 50 years ago.  She was struggling with being retired.  She felt like she was mooching off the government.  I hardly contained my tongue. “You are not a slave!”  I yelled. “Why do you feel this way?” I asked.

She felt this way because she had not waited until she was 70 to quit working!  We both had started working in our early teens.

I asked Spirit to send me a sign.  If statistics were true, I had 12.2 more good years.  If I was on my dirty dozen years left journey, I needed to get busy.  I began to write my “Bucket List”.  

This list changes frequently.

The sign came.  As I checked in for my eye surgery to remove cataracts, the receptionist reviewed my intake information.  She noticed my age.  She was bubbly.  “I’m 62 too,” she said.  She also told me that she was retiring in 4 months.  I asked what lead her to this decision.  She said, “Most of my friends that retired at 66 and older and were dead in 1-2 years.  Not me.  I want to enjoy my life!”  I retired in February 1, 2013.

A “Retiring Mind ” is a danger to itself and others.  On the first day I retired, I woke up and shot out of bed as was my normal morning routine.  I raced through the house to look outside.  I live in Minnesota.  Last year this time, it was in the high 70’s.  This year we had ice, snow, and single digit wind chills.  Then I looked at my Bose.  I had a startling revelation.  I was not giving “stink eye” to the clock!  Time was no longer my adversary!  I went skipping through the house.  I sat in my rocker naked!  I grinned until my face hurt!  I began to sing and made up my new life theme songs.  “I don’t have to do that”.  “I have all the time in the world”.  “For the rest of my life”.  “I feel like a newly freed slave.”  I was giddy with excitement.  My mind raced with possibilities.

I have no map for this road trip called retirement.  The IRS defines retirement as “willful termination of employment with no intent to seek a new job after age 55”.  (Hell yeah!!)  I have had to wrestle down the “I gotta do demons”.   I have had to harshly counsel myself when my “internal overseer” wants me to “occupy” and “account for” every minute of my time.

I have seen more TV and DVD’s than ever.  I am reading until 3 and 4 a.m.  I am writing, writing, writing.  I am slowly de-cluttering my house of work related stuff.  I am telling well-meaning people that I don’t want any more jobs.  I don’t want to join them in their projects.  I have learned to say no.

I am reacquainting myself with me and the things I love, like music.  I played an old favorite, “It’s Raining Men” loudly, repeatedly while singing and dancing with abandon!  I am calling one friend a week and having deeper more meaningful conversations.

I have made tender discoveries.  Finding a frosted crystal necklace in an old velvet box, I realized I had been saving it to wear on a special occasion.  I realized I had never worn it.  It shook me to acknowledge that in 25 years, I had not had a special occasion or special day?  I wore it all that day.

What I love most about being retired is – simply, being.

BIO:  

Amoke Awele Kubat(M.Ed) is a north side Minneapolis resident who has been involved in empowering families since 1987.  She is a teacher, artist and writer who partners with community artists, activists and organizations to bridge African/American culture and cultural legacies for healing and building sustainable families and communities.  Amoke uses art making, storytelling and education to women, as mothers and first teachers of their children for mapping memory to generational trauma (personal and systemic) and facilitating healing through individualized action steps for recovery.  She has used her skills to work with international youth 12- 25 who participated in The Children of War.  She has worked with bi-racial adoptees, Native American, Korean, and African American, to reconnect them to their mother culture and assist them on their journeys to a holistic self- identity and actualization.

 

We Suck at Contests

Annice

In late August, Oops50 launched our first ever contest giving away two copies of the book, Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger and Happier by Peter Spiers, about creative retirement. And guess what? No one entered. No one. That translates to We suck at contests. So, I ask myself, is it just our failure at Oops50 to launch a contest or is it that we women baby boomers can’t get excited about a how-to-book on retirement?  Believe me, I wish we could give way a week-end for two at Shoji Retreats, an outdoor Japanese style hot tub and massage spa in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. But, honestly girls, we’re just not there yet.

Shoji

Ironically, since our miserable failure in promoting on-line contests, I happened to receive a link about that very subject from a Facebook friend. It seems, we need to hire James Wedmore who knows how to create kick-butt videos because the best on-line contests involve YouTube videos. Who knew? So, for all you out there contemplating a contest, the top 3 lessons are:

1. Motivate your audience. Oops, failed miserably.
The trick is to create an incentive that is strong enough to encourage your audience to take the time and effort to create a video. You don’t have to give away a new car, but a free supply of your product would be a great start.

2. Give customers a voice. Oops, do women over 50 go on YouTube a lot?
Start by uploading your own video to your YouTube channel explaining the rules and other details of your contest. Contestants can then upload their entries by leaving a “video response” under your video. A YouTube contest not only can provide value to your audience, but also show that you’re listening to them. You want to give your audience a voice so they can express themselves and not simply promote your business.

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3. Cash in on the social capital. Oops!
If contestants know that views, likes and shares are key to winning, they will reach out to their friends for support — effectively spreading awareness about your brand at the same time. You also can encourage contestants to tap into their social networks to cast votes in your contest.

So, until we can figure out all of the above, we decided to give the books away to two of our faithful followers: Sal from Nevada and Jean and Va from Sheville.org.

Until our next contest…I’m signing off.