Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thoughts on Blogging and Retirement.

In what seems a lifetime ago now, I taught high school English and English as a Second Language.  I loved teaching English.  I especially loved teaching English as a Second Language.  Towards the end of my career as a classroom teacher, an opportunity came along that allowed me to expand my professional experience by going to the local University to create a program to train teachers to become ESL teachers.  While this meant that I would have to leave the secondary classroom, a place where I dearly loved being, I changed the course of my professional life  and left the classroom. 
Sally teaching high school English
at Centennial High School
Pueblo, Colorado
At the Colorado State University-Pueblo, I wrote curriculum  and developed a program that would lead to an endorsement in Linguistically Diverse Education.  I loved the diversity of my new position.  I researched. I wrote. I recruited students. I taught classes.  I became a part of the larger community of others across the state who worked in the Linguistically Diverse Education field.  It was all a wonderful experience.  

Then, I retired.

I began this blog as a way to keep me writing as I began retirement.  I had no idea what direction the blog would go.  I even had a hard time naming my blog because at the time the only identity I could come up with was that of a retired English teacher. 

I had visions of using the blog as a place to record my thoughts as I launched into a new phase of my life.  I had established a consulting business and began to do a bit of professional development in the area of helping content area teachers teach English language learners.  That was my passion at the time.  Even in retirement, I did not think I would ever want to give up working with teachers who wanted to learn how to best serve their linguistically diverse students.  I hoped my blog would reflect my passion for my field of professional experience and expertise that I hoped to continue throughout my years of retirement.

A funny thing happened on my way to working after retirement.  After a few years of doing that, I didn't want to do it anymore.  I wanted to spend more time with family.  I didn't want commitments.  I wanted to read, to write, to garden, and I wanted to do all of that in my own way on my own time schedule.

My blog became a place where I wrote about random thoughts, memories, and experiences.  It had no focus.  That seemed to be just fine with me.

Now, having been retired nearly ten years, I have thought of renaming my blog.  I question how much my writing reflects the persona of  "retired English teacher."  I sometimes wonder if the title puts a lot of pressure on me when I write in a more public format.  After all, I really have to focus on my grammar, my punctuation, my sentence structure and all of that. Sometimes, I groan out loud when I see the mistakes I didn't catch before I published a post.   

When I began this blog, I had no idea how my world would expand as I began to read blogs and to make blogging friends.  Blogging opened up a new world that many of us never knew was out there before we started blogging.  I love reading the posts of my other blogging friends.  They keep me interested because they are all so  interesting.  

At times, I wax and wane as a blogger due to family demands, health issues, and other interests, but as I don't plan on abandoning blogging anytime soon.

Perhaps, blogging, as one form of writing, is important to me because of the reflective piece that goes with it.  As teachers, as learners, as writers, we find that we are most effective when we practice reflection.  I recently came across Peter Pappas' work on what he calls the Taxonomy of Reflection
His model really speaks to me as I think about blogging and retirement.

… to reflectively experience is to make connections within the details of the work of the problem, to see it through the lens of abstraction or theory, to generate one’s own questions about it, to take more active and conscious control over understanding. ~ "From Teaching With Your Mouth Shut
by Donald Finkel

 Certainly, retirement is an ongoing field of exploration for me.  One way that I make sense of my journey through retirement is by writing as a reflective practice. 

Most of my writing takes place in my journal, but I also appreciate that I can reflect upon, write about, and read about retirement though blogging.  This blog continues to serve as a place where I explore the public expression of my private writing.

I can't imagine my retirement life without blogging in it.  


Olga Hebert said...

I am certainly glad you are planning to continue blogging. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your reflections. You have a way of elevating the ordinary, making it shine out into the world in an extraordinary way.

Barb said...

Your words always make me think and inspire me, Sally. Keep writing, no matter what you call the blog. Your personality shines through your writing.

Terri Tiffany said...

I can't imagine you not blogging anymore. You write so real and I have enjoyed your journey and photos.

Linda Reeder said...

It's interesting to read how others got started with blogging, and why we continue.
I started mine as a way to keep my family informed when we headed off to France and the Netherlands, so they could follow our travels. My son had a blog then, and that's how I had become familiar with the concept. I couldn't import photos then, what with only expensive riverboat hook up, so I posted photos after we returned.
I wanted to keep on blogging after the trip was over, so I just began writing about daily life. While I called my blog "Linda Letters", it became more of a photo blog. Through it I have posted about more distant travels, and also about just traveling through life.
I do a lot of reflecting in my head, but seldom write about those reflections. Many would be too controversial for most of my readers. But as this political season heats up, you all might get a glimpse if what I "really" think.
I'm glad you'll keep on blogging, Sally!

DJan said...

I also began a blog in retirement in order to keep up my writing skills. On our recent writing retreat on Vashon, I rediscovered how important writing in a journal can be, especially for getting new ideas and keeping myself feeling involved. I'm interested in what you might change your title to, Sally. And I too am glad you're going to keep on blogging! You have a fan club, you know. :-)

The Furry Gnome said...

I too thought i'd write in a way that continued my career interests, and very quickly found i wasn't interested in that. Instead my blog has become central to my retirement, with both thw writing and photography that it requires.

Terra said...

I began my blog before I retired when the university where I worked encouraged employees to blog. I liked it and continue it today. We each have our own path to blogging and I am glad you plan to continue.

#1Nana said...

Yes, I'm glad you started blogging too. I can't imagine life without my blogging friends. My title, Benchmark 60, doesn't fit anymore either. I will turn 65 in a few days...guess I met the benchmark!

Margaret Adamson said...

Iamso glad you are not stopping blogging. I was a bit worried when I saw the title. So many are cutting back or stopping. I love your writing adn thoughts. I don't think changing a title matters as we know you for who you are. when I started tow adn a half years ago, I had not a clue and thought perhaps I would write and photograph birds but as time past, I discovered I came across other thing, even more natrue that people were interested in adn o although my blog content has changed a bit, i would never thing 0f changing the name. I hope you do not either. Have a great week.

Tom Sightings said...

Well, we all wax and wane; there's nothing wrong with that. And the way I see it, we're all exploring together.

thisisme said...

Lovely to hear that you will continue to blog, as I always enjoyed your writing so much. You are right in that there are so many kind and generous people out there in bloggy land as I like to call it. I have made some lovely friends, and whoever thought I would journey to America for the first time at the age of 68?!

thisisme said...

So glad you are going to continue blogging, as I really enjoy your writing. I left for a year, but I'm coming back into it again now. You are right, the blogging community are such kind and generous people and, like you, I have made many new friends, and I really do look on them as friends. Also, who would have thought that I would have journeyed to America for the first time at the age of 68?!

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

I love meeting other bloggers!

troutbirder said...

My son and his spouse went off to Ethiopia to adopt a child. We were left to baby sit a 2 year old. My son showed me several blogs about Ethiopian adoptions to look and get up to speed. I look and decided I could do this (write not adopt in Ethiopia...:) So I did and choose nature as my basic them. Took up photography. And the rest is history including another blog on books.
I must admit I've always loved to read, write and tell stories to make people laugh. Its the reward I get for helping people.

Arkansas Patti said...

Your title scared me into thinking you might be retiring from blogging. So glad that is not the case. Isn't blogging a wonder? If we all lived in the same town, it is quite possible we would have never met and that would be a great loss. Blogging opens so many doors and lets us into such interesting lives.
Keep those posts coming Sally.

Relyn Lawson said...

I am still at least ten years from retirement, but I do look forward to a time not so tied to the clock and the calendar.

Jeanie said...

Well, I'm certainly glad you're sticking with blogging because as you know, I love visiting and always thrive on our "conversations" on and off blog. I think a name change is a grand idea. I know many who have done it as they have evolved. The good thing is all you have to do is change your header and your "name" (for the commenting). You don't have to start a new blog or change the url so you won't lose people. Whatever you do, I'll be here!

Kay said...

I started blogging to keep contact with my children and friends on the mainland as we began our move back to Hawaii after 35 years. My dear friend in Jerusalem got me started explaining how to begin. It's amazing to think that Dina would be able to help connect me with the Internet world all the way from Jerusalem. Now I blog to keep my mind active and interested, as you say. I'm trying to keep as many of my gray cells as I possibly can. I have so enjoyed meeting you and learning from you, Sally.