Here it is—the first week of my 70’s and the first week of the new school year and the kick-off to a new way to be of service.
This website is a celebration of all three.
What can I say about turning 70? I have been talking about it for months to long-suffering friends (apologies and appreciation!) and writing about it in my journal. There’s the normal woulda/coulda/shoulda and the necessary balm of self-forgiveness and compassion. There are comparisons with grandmother, mother, aunts, cousins, friends, colleagues and former clients. How am I like them and not like them? I can see the ways I modeled myself on the ones I admired. I also see behaviors I rejected. Like Popeye, I yam what I yam & dats what I Yam!
I see myself as a scout, someone who journeyed across difficult terrain and returned to tell the tale. This applies most recently to the relocation from San Francisco to Milwaukee and going back to school. It also describes the journeys with others who were in the throes of illness and dying. At 70, I can speak to what I have seen and survived. I know so much that others could use to their benefit. How to get this information out where it can be accessed? It is very hard to see so much preventable pain and not be able to enter into a dialogue that will galvanize the kind of actions that make a difference.
When I used to do home visits for seniors, sometimes there would be stacks of brochures and handouts from talks they had attended (mine included) but no action. All those great suggestions and important information gathering dust. I saw one put to real use—folded in thirds to prop up a table leg.
One downside of reading in the same field of study for 30+ years is that I explored the writings of so many brilliant and innovative people. And it hasn’t been a purely intellectual exercise. Their life and work has supported me in mine. The desire to share is immense. Sometimes I have trouble restraining myself. Sometimes I don’t succeed. One dear friend stops me with the words: “Enough! My brain is full!” It is not about showing off; it is about knowing in my bone marrow that new ideas, new insights can make a difference, can shift a situation especially situations that are fraught with trouble. The website section, Thought Leaders, is a place where I can showcase the people who have made such a difference in my life.
The two-year program at the Chicago Jung Institute enabled me to walk my talk about the importance of new learning. That program led to Loyola University which led to this internship: Spiritual Direction in the Ignatian Tradition. New learning, indeed. Having to come up to speed on new technology, new vocabulary, and a new mix of people. Filling out applications; worrying about being accepted; final papers! A mix of stress (healthy) and distress!
Peter Drucker (1909-2005), a management consultant and educator, wrote: “Opportunity comes in over the transom, and that means one has to be flexible, ready to seize the right opportunities when they come.” (Source: http://www.druckersociety.at/index.php/peterdruckerhome/commentaries/bob-buford?start=1)
Well, the idea of becoming a spiritual director came in over the transom at the Chicago Jung Institute (The Monadnock building (1893) still has transoms.) I applied to a program at Chicago Loyola. Courses there led me to the internship.
I owe a lot to the people who enabled me to seize the opportunities. It is vital to point out that at each point of crisis (the cancer, the need to relocate, creating a life in a new city, the vicissitudes of aging, loneliness) I have had people with me. Phone. Email. In-person. Sharing. Listening. Contributing. Without this companionship I would not be moving forward into my 70’s with so much optimism. Some are long-term friends; some are new friends. Each gave me so much. Thank you, all!