Blogging as an Encore Career – Reflections on my 100th Post
Posted in ChicagoNow, June 23, 2014
Wow, I can’t believe this is my 100th post on ChicagoNow. When I started back in September 2013, I had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to say. It’s been quite a journey, and here’s what I’ve learned.
Back in March 2014, I wrote about ten things I had learned as a new blogger. At that point, 6 months into my newest career incarnation at age 68, I was focused on learning to write differently and on my feelings about putting myself “out there.” Now I am looking back at the bigger picture of my personal journey from career to retirement to finding a new purpose.
My first posts were retirement rants. After introducing myself as “Reinvented, Not Retired,” I played with the word retired. I was RetirEd (get it, a retired educator). And I was Retired in the conventional sense of being a grandmother who fell asleep at 8:30 while watching Game of Thrones (you try that one, Gens X, Y, & Z). Finally, I was ReTired as in a previous driven vehicle starting on a new journey (I had new tires on a used car).
As a former teacher and preschool administrator, I wrote a lot about education, particularly special education. I wrote about my beloved mentor, Warren Cherry, and the preschool I founded (with a little help from my friends) that bore his name. But I also wrote things like “Not Useless or Used Up – Just a Retired Volunteer (probably best not to click on that link!).
One of the best things about this encore career has been finding people I hadn’t seen in ages and brainstorming with others I loved and respected. I’ve always loved collaborating. Working with the great cartoonist, Marcia Liss, not only enhanced my messages but also transformed an old acquaintance into a new friend. Marcia really captured where I was at 100 posts ago in the cartoon near the top of this post.
Like many recent retirees, I felt unmoored and unsure of where to go. It was only by luck that I connected with Deborah Siegel in the office of Cherry Preschool shortly before I left. A writing coach, consultant, lecturer, and author, Debbie asked what I planned to do upon retirement. She suggested I write a history of the preschool, especially focusing on its founding. After doing that, I had a 20-page document of over 7,000 words. Clearly, I needed some coaching.
Having grandkids with special needs and young grandkids just entering preschool and elementary school combined with my career as an educator to provide the fuel for many posts. There was just so much that needed fixing in education. It also helped to have my daughter who is a child psychologist, Alissa Chung, and my friend, former colleague, and Cherry Preschool Inclusion Director, Rhonda Cohen serving as unpaid consultants. Both generously shared their knowledge and insights. And the ideas just kept on coming.
I soon discovered I had a multitude of other interests outside of education and being recently retired. I developed a strong need to share how I felt about a wide range of topics, including generational shifts, aging, pop culture, healthcare, genealogy, parenting and grandparenting. More and more, my posts fell under the category of life style opinion.
So here I am today, writing my 100th post and no longer feeling useless, used up, or unsure about which door to open. In a recent post giving advice to new graduates, I quoted Fred Rogers, one of my personal heroes and the wise and gentle guide through Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a show I watched with my kids.
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
So, I guess I have decided to follow my own advice to look for the next door and open it. In fact, I plan on opening lots of doors in writing the next 100 blog posts.
Thank you to Jimmy Greenfield and ChicagoNow for giving me this platform that helped me find my voice.