Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slip out the Back, Jack

Someone figured out that I now have 33 days left to work before my retirement day. After 40 years, I am happy to step out of a high pressure but very rewarding leadership position. I am thrilled that a person I have mentored for seventeen years in two different settings is next in line for my job. I am proud of the employees I hired and have watched them grow into amazing and productive leaders, themselves. I am blessed to have worked with a group that believes in honesty, compassion, integrity and effort. I am pleased that our organization has undergone significant changes, is thriving and focused, and is ready for new, young vigorous leadership. We are all pointed in the right direction. I feel good about the work I have done over the years and know that the time is exactly right for me to move on. I am looking forward to my next endeavor - whatever that may be . I will miss the big salary, but I am intrigued by the challenge of living simply on less. I didn't expect to feel nostalgic or a bit sad at this juncture - but I do.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In Restless Dreams I Walked Alone

J and I walked around Greenlake yesterday. She had just returned from a wonderful long vacation. They stayed in a fabulous house at the trail head. They hiked in the desert and she took 200 pictures of wild things. She climbed rocks and scrambled canyons. They visited family, sailed a bit, ate port marinated figs with dark chocolate. They went into SanDiego for a few days. She didn't want to come home. Maybe they will go to Puerto Rico, or maybe they will go to Australia. Now she is looking forward to getting the boat in the water for evening sails and so they can cruise this summer, that is if the kids don't need her to babysit. Three miles we walked and for three miles she talked. And talked . And talked more. Nonstop. My few lines were strategically placed: "oh my" "wow!" or "hmmm..." She is my absolute best walking partner. She has never noticed that I can't talk and walk at the same time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

...And with All Your Soul

B's father called her at work. A lot. "My darling daughter, how are you?" "Daddy! I am so glad to hear your voice - I hope you are having a fine day." A few hours later, he would call again. "Daddy I am so glad to hear your voice! I will see you for dinner ."

Recently I stood outside with other mourners as B's son shared a quiet eulogy for his Zayde, a brilliant scholar and leader. Throughout his life Zayde wrote several books, hundreds of articles, held a PHD and was a respected and honored religious leader for decades. And then he started to forget things.
Throughout Zayde's life with Alzheimer's his family cherished their time with him and never allowed anyone to compromise his dignity. Like the broken tablets, Zayde in his last years, remained the honored elder. His caregivers were relentless in preserving for him a quality of life, no matter what the state of his mind. He was included in every event, every celebration, every outing until it was clear that it wasn't pleasant for him. His grown grandchildren came regularly to visit, to take him on outings, or to just sit with him. B read to him daily from his own scholarly works, The New York Times, and the same sweet children's books that he had once shared with her.
The family said the traditional Jewish prayers daily. While Zayde might forget family names and faces, he never forgot the words and tunes of these ancient prayers. His soul never lost its memory.

******* From a commentary: "The purpose of wisdom is the performance of good deeds. The elderly individual while engaging in Torah study in the past, also acquired knowledge resulting from good deeds throughout his life, and for this reason a residue will always remain in his soul of righteousness and correctness.

Even if he has forgotten his learning, this only means that he has lost the details, but the pure encompassing concepts that are collected within the soul as a result of the great quantity of his former study, can never be forgotten. Similarly, even while one is in full possession of his learning, he can never verbalize the entirety of what he knows; it is only a person’s inner spirit that recognizes the truth of the pleasantness of the principles corresponding to his accomplishments.

The residue, the aura of holiness and goodness continue to be associated with a person as well as an inanimate object, regardless of the ravages of time and circumstance, and therefore continued reverence for such people and things is appropriate. "

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Springtime of My Life

I love the new blogroll on the right - just a few of the places I go almost everyday for nourishment, inspiration and connection. I love that blogs roll to the top when something new has been added. The very last tab "Dancing in the Light" doesn't roll up often - But I hope you will click on it to see a beautiful slide show of my friend Jan's photos - (make sure your speakers are on!) That girl sure knows how to enjoy retirement!

In anticipation of own my rapidly approaching retirement (June 30)I have added a few other blogging goals to my yellow notebook. Lonely Rivers began as a simple place to capture and record small moments. Little did I know that there was a "blogworld" and that I would find myself connecting with others and cherishing the thoughts of new friends.

Because I may soon have lots more time devote to writing and blogging, I am going to play around with the format a bit and continue to try out some of the things that I've noticed and appreciated in other blogs. One goal has already been accomplished: I figured out how to add a photo - at least to the header..time will tell whether I will remember how to change it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

....Sat on their park bench like bookends

Book club tonight at my house. I love these gatherings of food, years and years of shared friendship and fabulous conversation. This month our group read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - A Flavia DeLuce Mystery. It was a fun read. To be truthful, this is just not my kind of book. Try as I might, I am just not enchanted with English Mysteries,even when the sleuth is a charming, witty, precocious,quirky eleven year old. I prefer novels that stir my soul, pique my curiosity about life, challenge my understanding of human nature, and open up new vistas. I love details and metaphors, and characters vivid enough to accompany me on my morning walk. Though I predict that several of my dear friends will have loved the book, I did not. When I finished this book I was done. I like books that linger.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mr. Cellophane

My temporary home in the city is a beautiful apartment in an block of mansions. A hundred years ago the early and newly rich of Seattle built these homes and lined the street with trees. They preserved vistas of lakes and mountains. I am thrilled that on most days the sidewalks are alive with adults and children who love being in this neighborhood. I never tire of watching the bikers and strollers from the six windows of my living room. I know that I am blessed to be able to walk to work, coffee shops, great restaurants and a bus to anywhere from this wonderful spot.

I am also struggling and miserably conflicted - because recently an older van/suv has been parked on the street near my building, and clearly it is a man's home. He keeps the van clean, and he appears himself to be clean though a bit ragged. He talks to himself and sputters and coughs a bit. He is gone most of the day, and returns to sleep each night. He moves the van a few inches a day to avoid parking fines. I wonder if he is down on his luck, out of work and homeless, or working nearby and saving his money, or if he is a psychopath.

I feel like I should do something but I do nothing. I wish I wasn't a little afraid. I want to live in a country where people are not forced to live in their cars or in tents or cardboard boxes. I feel guilty that I have two homes at the moment and this guy has just a car to sleep in. I want to feel safe and at the same time I want to be a compassionate and generous human being. I wish this guy (some mother's son) would move on. I wish I was Mother Teresa.