|One of my alter egos at work|
In 2001, I married the love of my life and my best friend. We worked at opposite ends of the same hallway at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts for twenty years. I confided to a mutual friend that I was done with divorcees and had my eye on widowers at work. When I mentioned my husband, my friend told me he was a good friend of his also. He set us up at his retirement party. Larry and I began dating, and a year later we were married.
I worked hard at my job. I began my career at the CfA for Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1980, when I moved back home from a four-year adventure living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then in Blanchard, Louisiana. Unemployment found my job for me. I began as a Secretary in the Radio & Geoastronomy Department at a Grade 6/Step 3. After about eighteen months, I got a job as the Secretary in the central Computation Facility. I learned quickly how to receive the most money I could get at each performance review. I needed to make money to support my son. I was an unwed mother. Until close to the end of my twenty-five year tenure, I had always gotten two-step increases or grade promotions. I had grown my secretarial job into a departmental administrative position, ending it as a technical person.
|A photograph I entered into a contest and won an award|
|Eileen Collins, first female shuttle commander|
I created such an efficient system that I could do my duties in the first hour each day. The rest of the day, I was bored out of my mind. I could not take any more classes or find any more interesting ways to remain motivated and happy. I grew depressed. After marrying Larry, I was miserable in my job for two years. Because I married him, I had the opportunity to think about retirement. Had I not married him, I would have had to work until I dropped. I just couldn't see myself living so unhappily. So, after much deliberation and guilt for leaving the best job of my life, I retired at age fifty-five. I have never looked back. In fact, I still cannot understand how I would fit a job into my new life.
I have explored many activities and outlets during my retirement. I tried volunteering, and joining the local gym with a personal trainer. I took writing and painting classes, and still do. I quit the gym when my body revolted, and joined a more nurturing movement class that has been kinder to my body, but has kept me strong, well-balanced and healthy. I have developed friendships in town, walk almost daily, joined a community chorus, and am living a life I love. I feel very blessed.
But, in the last year or so, I realized I had no passion for anything, and wondered what the next phase of my life would hold. When Larry and I took a trip to South Africa last October, I found a passion. I wrote a book about that trip based on a little toy bear I named Logie (after our grandson). He came along with us, and we photographed him participating in every activity. It was such a fun experience, that a friend convinced me to start a company and keep traveling with Logie and writing more books. The South Africa book will come out at the end of this week, and I am actively setting up what I perceive will be a good preliminary way to market the book and my new career in retirement. Logie's web site is: logiebearadventures.com .
I can end my life as I started it: living a life of joy and loving every minute of it. I am very blessed because Larry is taking this journey with me and loving participating in the fun. Friends also enjoy the fun when I encourage them to participate, whether they were strangers to begin with (as on our trip), or friends we recently vacationed with. A second book is in the works about this most recent vacation.
I look forward to a happy life of traveling with Larry and Logie, seeing the world through the eyes of a child, and writing about it all. I hope you will buy my books, and live life the way you want. Choose to be happy. It's a risk, but a risk worth taking. My personal web site is: kathycrowleygardner.com . Happy New Year with love from me and Logie Bear.