Category Archives: Retirement

A New Writing Challenge

I became a member of the Winnipeg Friends of the Library Board this past fall.  I helped to found the Friends of the Library group in Steinbach many years ago and as I contemplated retiring from my part-time job at the University of Winnipeg I was looking for other ways to get involved in my community. The board has been a good fit and a good challenge so far.  Friends of the Library groups located in North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa fund all kinds of special programming in libraries. One of the ways I thought I could support the Winnipeg group’s work was by writing articles for their newsletter called NOTES which is printed several times a year. The most recent issue just came out and I wrote four articles for it.  Each provided an interesting experience for me.  

For my first article, I had the privilege of interviewing Carolyn Gray the current writer in residence at the Winnipeg Public Library and recently appointed editor of Prairie Fire magazine.  Carolyn and I  met at a local coffee shop and had a wonderful chat.  Among other things, I found out she was an accomplished puppeteer, shared her home with a Golden Retriever named Minnie and had recently completed a Masters degree in Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan. I also was assigned to write profiles of four new Friends of the Library board members, including myself.  I learned such interesting things about the people who sit around the board table with me.  I found out Rita loves the Bombers and the Jets almost as much as she loves ballet and the theatre. I discovered Kim loves to cook, is a marketing and communications consultant and has a family cottage.  The interview questions Chelsea answered revealed she loves playing board games and her favorite writer is a Japanese author named Haruki Murakami.  The editor of Notes asked me to contact the latest winner of Governer General’s award for English language fiction Joan Thomas to see what books were on her nightstand and write a short What Is She Reading piece. Joan was so gracious when I contacted her and quickly sent me a message about what she was reading. Finally I collected comments from folks who attended our group’s annual fundraising book sale at Grant Park High School. They were excited about their experience at the sale.  These were incorporated into an article by the book sale manager. 

I have all kinds of ideas about how we can make our newsletter an even better vehicle of communication with our members.  I am looking forward to perhaps implementing some of those ideas in the future.  In the meantime I am finding it interesting and challenging to be a kind of roving reporter for NOTES.

You can learn more about The Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library here.   And you can read the NOTES newsletter online here. 

Other posts……….

Five Wives by Joan Thomas

This Was Crazy Wonderful

Winnipeg’s Millennium Library

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Filed under Retirement, Winnipeg, Writing

Look At The Bathroom Floors

Recently my husband Dave has been inviting guests to come and see our bathrooms soon after they arrive. “Just look at those floors,” he will say.  Most guests are puzzled particularly if they have been to our home before.  “Did you change the flooring?” they will ask. “It kind of looks the same.”  At this point, I usually intervene.  “Dave washed the bathroom floor and he wants you to notice what a great job he did.” 

In December we did some minor renovations to our two bathrooms.  New toilets, new hardware and newly painted cabinet doors.  I also wanted to replace the flooring which readily shows any speck of dirt and needs to be swept or washed far more often than I like to do it.  However, after consulting with a friend who is a flooring expert, Dave decided taking out our old tiles and putting in new ones would be far too difficult and costly. So he made me a counter offer. “How about from now on I wash the bathroom floors?”

I accepted without hesitation.  After some forty years of cleaning bathroom floors I was ready to turn the task over to someone else.  And not only does Dave clean the floors of our bathrooms he has taken to doing all the other cleaning in the bathrooms as well.  I am thrilled!  Knowing he will take care of that loathsome task makes the rest of my housecleaning less onerous and dreaded for me. 

If having my own personal bathroom cleaner means our guests will be treated to a bathroom viewing at the start of their visits I can certainly live with that.

Other posts……….

I Don’t Make My Bed


Doing Housework in Costa Rica

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Filed under New Experiences, Retirement


I don’t want less, I want more
More stars, more sun
More truth, more love
More kisses, more spring
I just want more of everything

My brother introduced me to the song More by Lynne Miles.  It really resonated with me.  In her spoken introduction to the song, Lynne talks about how as people get older they tend to turn more inward and become more isolated.  She says she wants to do just the opposite.  As she ages, she wants to reach out to other people, to have new experiences, to appreciate deeply all that life has to offer.  

Lynne Miles

Often as we get older some of our time is freed up from family and work responsibilities and so we actually do have the opportunity to examine things more closely, to look at things more deeply, to experience things more intensely.  Lynne puts it this way. 

The sky’s not blue, it’s indigo
That’s not a tree, it’s a willow
I’m not crying, I’m deep
I don’t cry, I weep

To me Lynne is suggesting that growing older doesn’t mean getting more complacent, becoming less involved, being more cautious or fearful. I know I am realizing that it is actually easier to take risks as I age because I have already had a great life and I am not worried about it ending.  I’m realizing as I grow older there aren’t necessarily as many ramifications for expressing my opinions freely, exploring new ideas openly, facing some real truths about myself and my relationships, or trying things that aren’t exactly safe. Lynne says……..

I want the whole bottle, not just a shot
Don’t want a little, I want a lot
I don’t want rain, I want a downpour
I don’t want less, I want more
I don’t want the evening, I want midnight
Don’t want to argue, I want to fight
Don’t show me the outside of my heart, I wanna see the core

I don’t want less, I want more
More stars, more sun
More truth, more love
More kisses, more spring
I just want more of everything

Listen to Lynne singing More here.

Other posts………..

Growing Old Is Not For Cowards

What Will You Be Building When You Have To Go?

Should We Get Tatoos Or Go Skydiving?

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Filed under Music, Retirement

Kindred Spirits

Last week I spent a morning in Carmen Manitoba talking to a group of some twenty -five women about my life and travels.  Susan Mooney had invited me to speak. She and her husband Tom are long-time residents of Carmen, but Tom’s parents Isaac and Lottie Mooney lived in the Steinbach area from 1944-1980.  One Christmas Lottie gave her son Tom and his wife Susan a gift subscription to The Carillon and they have been subscribers ever since. Susan has been reading my newspaper column Viewpoint since I first began writing it in 1985.  She had always wanted to meet me and decided inviting me to Carmen, as a speaker for her women’s group, would be a way to do that.

I was interested to learn that the group, which meets at the Carmen United Church, has been in existence for almost forty years. Every Wednesday they invite a speaker to make a presentation and then they ask questions and have a discussion. In the weeks prior to my October visit, Theresa Oswald, a former Manitoba Health Minister had been a speaker as had Jean Friesen a university professor and spokesperson for the Treaty Relations Committee of Manitoba. The week following my visit Nilufer Rahman a Muslim community builder and filmmaker was scheduled as the guest and after her retired Canadian senator, Joanne Buth was speaking.  I was told authors Miriam Toews and recent Governor General award winner Joan Thomas had presented in past years.

The women began their meeting by introducing themselves and then answering a question posed by Susan Mooney. She said since she had always wanted to meet me she wondered who might be a person the other women had always wanted to meet. A number thought they would like to meet Queen Elizabeth while several named favorite childhood authors like Lucy Maude Montgomery, Beatrix Potter, and A.A. Milne. Others mentioned the Dali Lama, Michelle Obama, Margaret Atwood, and Eric Clapton. One woman was looking forward to meeting a refugee family that would be arriving in Carmen shortly. Hearing the women’s answers was a great way for me to get to know the group a little better. I told them I already felt like we were kindred spirits. 

In my talk, I used examples from my own life to expand on an idea I was first introduced to at my son’s university graduation many years ago.  On the journey of life we have a choice to be pilgrims or tourists.  Which will we be?   After my presentation, the women asked questions and made comments and their ideas and contributions were thought-provoking and meaningful.  During our lively discussion, I learned more about the women’s families, travels, reading preferences, community work and faith affiliations.

The women take turns bringing soup for lunch each Wednesday, so I was treated to a hearty bowl of hot vegetable soup and some fresh bread before beginning my drive back to Winnipeg.  The women in the group are busy with all kinds of other interesting things.  The woman to my left at lunch had come to our meeting from her yoga class and the one on my right told me she was headed off to a community choir practice.

Before I said goodbye the women posed for a photo with me.  I wanted a reminder of my morning with them. I gave Susan Mooney a hug and thanked her for inviting me. Two other women who also happened to be near the church door as I left gave me hugs too.  I left Carmen enriched, blessed and delighted to have spent a morning with such a group of caring, engaged and intelligent women. 

Other posts…………..

Strong Women

I’ve Been A Newspaper Columnist for Decades

Women Were Honored?  Think Again John Kelly. 


Filed under manitoba, New Experiences, People, Retirement

A Role Model

I’ll never forget Colleen. When we visited New Zealand in 2008 we stayed in the lovely bed and breakfast Colleen and her husband Bob ran in the city of Taupo. This past week I was preparing for a talk I will give to a women’s group in Carmen on Wednesday. In a section of my talk about a fulfilling retirement, I will describe Colleen.  I had written about her at length in my journal when we were in New Zealand.

Dave with Colleen’s husband Bob. He took Dave golfing.

Colleen and her husband Bob were both in their seventies and already great grandparents. They were the consummate hosts. They had been sheep farmers. After selling their farm they used some of the proceeds to finance travel adventures on every continent. They were wine connoisseurs. They showed us pictures of their granddaughter’s recent wedding. Bob and Colleen chuckled about the fact they had attended barefoot because the wedding was on a beach by the ocean.

Me with Colleen

Colleen was active in her church, was in the midst of taking a writing course, belonged to a bridge club, and one afternoon during our stay she canned thirty jars of apricot marmalade and then whipped off a letter to the editor of the local paper concerning an issue she felt passionate about. She was the president of the local Women’s Institute and was in the midst of preparing for a New Years Eve party they were hosting. She wrote the invitations to the party in the form of a narrative poem that she shared with me.
Colleen bounced around her home whistling hymns and Beatles’ songs. One night she cooked us a lobster dinner that also included glazed ham, potatoes, beets and salad, was highlighted by two bottles of fine New Zealand wine and capped off with a homemade bread pudding served with cream and apricots.

Colleen gave me a valuable piece of retirement advice over a cup of tea one evening, “ I love my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren desperately” she said to me, “but I’ve realized its not healthy for me to be involved in every single detail of their lives.”
Colleen was vivacious and opinionated and I wanted to be just like her on my own retirement journey.

I did an internet search yesterday to find out if Colleen and Bob were still running their bed and breakfast in Taupo and was saddened to discover an obituary for Bob who died in September of 2017. I did learn from a Women’s Institute newsletter that Colleen was still hosting events for their organization in 2017 and I found the photo below of Colleen with other women from the Women’s Institute. In a May 2019 newspaper article I read that she and her friends at the Women’s Institute were hosting a national meeting of women from all over New Zealand.  It seems Colleen is as active as ever. 

Colleen is second from the left

 Other posts……..

Taonga Treasures

A Realistic Look At Aging


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Filed under New Zealand, Retirement

A Puzzling Achievement

I finished before they did!  When we were in Mexico last winter Dave and our friend Rudy who was staying with us, did crossword puzzles together almost every day from a big book of New York Times crossword puzzles Rudy had brought along with him. Although I wanted to participate the puzzles were clearly too hard for me. Dave has been doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every weekend for over forty years so he’s an expert.  

Here in Winnipeg Dave has a regular Saturday morning date with his friend Les at a neighborhood coffee shop to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in the Winnipeg Free Press. After we returned home from Mexico in March I decided I would start joining them in an attempt to develop my crossword puzzle skills. Although the New York Times crossword was too daunting for me I would work my way up to it by doing the less difficult Premier Crossword in Saturday’s paper.  

Initially, I could get only a small portion of my puzzle done before Dave and Les had finished the New York Times crossword.  Then Dave would take my crossword and quickly finish it. 

Slowly but surely I improved and would get more and more of my puzzle done before the guys finished theirs. Then this past Saturday a miracle! I finished my puzzle before the guys finished theirs.  Granted they said their puzzle was VERY hard and I figured out the theme to mine quite early on so that made it much easier to complete.  But still…………. I was pretty pumped!

I may not be ready for the New York Times crossword puzzle yet but I’m getting there.  

Other posts……….

Sunday Morning At the Olive Mill

Coloring Books- Not Just For Kids


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Filed under New Experiences, Retirement

Look What I Found!

Normally I volunteer at the MCC Thrift Store with a group of women from my church. But this week I went in on a different day. For a couple of hours in the afternoon, I was all alone in the upstairs workspace.  I am the “Christmas Lady” at the shop. Every week I sort and price and package all the Christmas items that have been donated. Most weeks I fill up five or six large banana boxes with items for sale.  Apparently, all these thousands of items will be purchased by customers in December. Left to my own devices last week I had no one to talk to about the unique items I was finding so I took photos instead. Check out this Scottish Christmas Santa in his kilt and bagpipes.  He is a music box figurine. I assumed the tune he’d play would be some Christmas carol but no….. once I had him all wound up he piped Amazing Grace. I was delighted to find this creche.  Made of cardboard it brought back memories of my childhood when I saw manger scenes just like this at my house, at church, school and in the homes of friends and family.  I just had to put it together to be sure all the pieces were there and they were!  I almost bought it myself. My next big find was these Christmas cocktail candles. Yes, complete with straws, fruit garnish and perky red bows they are actual candles but had never been lit. Finally out came this hat! I am not sure what it was doing in the box of donated Christmas stuff but I LOVED it! I did a little checking online and these feather headbands were all the rage in the 1920s.  They were part of the Flapper look. I wasn’t quite sure how to wear it so I tried it in two different ways. I almost bought the hat too but tucked it into a Halloween box thinking someone might want to use it with a Roaring Twenties costume.

Although I made my own fun in the shop last week I am looking forward to sharing my workday again with my friends in the future. 

Other posts……….

Christmas All Year Round

Going On A Field Trip

The Book Lady

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Filed under Retirement

A Realistic Look At Aging?

The movie Diane starring Mary Kay Place makes aging look pretty depressing. We saw it last Friday night. Diane is seventy years old when the movie begins, a widow in a small town in Massachusetts. She is doing all the ‘right’ things to try to make the last third of her life meaningful.

She’s helping others. She volunteers at a drop-in that serves meals to the homeless and she delivers homemade casseroles to ailing friends and relatives. She visits patients in the hospital.

She’s connected to people. She maintains a relationship with her only son and his partner even though it requires tremendous effort on her part. She has friends she meets with regularly for meals and card games. She has close contact with her extended family and gets together often with them.

She has interests. She journals and reads and writes poetry. She takes walks in the woods and has bird feeders around her home. She attends church. She likes music. 

She makes lists of things to do each day setting goals and tasks for herself.
But despite all these efforts at engagement and connection her life still is pretty sad and bleak.  People she is close to keep dying. She tries to stay busy but there is still substantial time when she is alone and lonely.  During these solitary hours she thinks about her past, the mistakes she’s made and worries if she is doing enough to atone for them.

Diane knows the limitations of her situation and for the most part accepts them with grace, but every once and a while her anger and frustration bubbles to the surface.  

In the last years of her life my mother-in-law often said that growing old was not for cowards. The movie Diane makes that abundantly clear.  I’m not sure if I am glad I saw it or not.

Other posts………

 Mr. Holmes

Life Lines

She Walks in Beauty

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Filed under Movies, Retirement

Embracing Anxiety and Handling It

I was talking to a high school teacher not long ago who told me that research shows teenagers are suffering from increased anxiety for a whole variety of reasons.  Teachers try to be understanding of their stress but at the same time, they want to help kids appreciate that sometimes anxiety can be good for them.

1) Anxiety can help you feel motivated and inspired when you face challenges. Athletes who are a little anxious perform better. Anxiety can help you put extra effort into tasks and move you towards a goal. 

2) Anxiety can be a warning sign that you need to make changes in your life.  Do you need to get more sleep, get more exercise, handle your finances more responsibly or eat in a healthier way?

3) Anxiety can help you become more empathetic towards friends and family members who are also facing challenges. 

The young teen in the movie Eighth Grade talks to her dad about her worries

Knowing that stress and anxiety can sometimes be a positive thing means teachers are looking for ways to help kids deal with it. A variety of education and psychology articles offer good ideas. 

  1. Find someone to talk to about your feelings.
  2. Journal or write about your anxiety to help you explore what may be triggering it.

    Volunteering to clean trash off a beach with my high school students 

  3. Volunteer.  Reach out to help others instead of focusing on your anxiety. 
  4. Develop an attitude of gratitude and find concrete ways to express it. 
  5. Learn to emphasize the process or the experience more than the product or the final goal.

    Wilderness hiking with my students 

  6. Make meditation and exercise a regular part of your day. 
  7. Go outside and connect with nature. 

Anxiety isn’t just a challenge for teens these days. An article in Live Science says that in the past we thought anxiety declined with age. Mental health experts are finding that struggles with anxiety in seniors may have been underestimated. Interestingly the same things that can help teens deal with anxiety can help their grandparents’ generation deal with it too. Seniors who volunteer, meditate, get exercise, connect with nature, express gratitude, journal and build relationships with others will also ease their anxiety. 

My Mom doing tai chi in Hong Kong

No matter what our age, a little anxiety can be good for us and there are ways we can handle it so our lives become more rewarding, meaningful and peaceful. 

Other posts………

Go Outside, Go Often

Coloring Books- Not Just For Kids



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Filed under Childhood, Retirement

Why Are Women Always the Example For Sin?

My 96-year-old aunt lives in a Mennonite personal care home in Saskatoon.   On Thursday morning I joined my aunt’s Bible Study group that included six other women in their late 80s and 90s. The leader was reading John 8:1-11 a story about a woman caught in adultery and the teachers of the law who thought she should be stoned.  The leader read………“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?” Right at this point, one woman in the group interrupted in a loud voice.  “I say if they were going to stone the woman, they should have stoned the man too. “

The room where our bible study group met

The Bible Study leader was a little taken aback but stopped to thank the woman for her comment.  When she was finished reading the passage in which Jesus challenges the Pharisees that the one among them who is sinless should cast the first stone, the leader asked for any responses from the group and the same woman who had made the earlier comment said, “Why do they always seem to use a woman as the example for a sinner in the Bible? The Bible starts off with the story of Eve as a sinner.”  The leader said it was because the Bible was written in a time when there were different attitudes towards women when women weren’t even considered people.  “Good thing that’s changed,” the woman replied. 

Talking about this with someone later they commented that perhaps the woman who spoke up so boldly had been thinking along those same lines all her life.  Now due to her age, and perhaps having lost some of her social filters she is able to share her real opinions, opinions she may have had all along but wouldn’t have dared voice aloud in the patriarchal Mennonite church in which she was raised. 

We often say the truth comes from the mouths of babes or children.  It can also come from the mouths of octogenarian women.

Christ and the Adultress by Lucas Cranach the Elder- 1535-1540

Other posts……….

A Poignant Book

Five Sisters

A Woman I Wish I Knew More About


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Filed under Religion, Retirement