New Beginnings Over a Lifetime by
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(28 Stories)

Prompted By New Beginnings

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Cartoon by Marcia Liss

I started writing for MyRetrospect in July of 2018, so I’m a relative newbie. John Zussman found a post I had written on another site and asked if he could use it. Then he asked if I wanted to write for Retrospect. I loved the format and, as a woman looking at her 70th birthday in the rearview mirror, I could definitely think back. But after retiring in May of 2013, I decided that I wanted to share my stories forward. What a perfect fit.

I have seen many endings in my life: The loss of loved ones, changes in jobs, retirement, and more recently, writing opportunities that are in a constant state of flux. Rather than viewing these as endings, I have chosen to follow the wisdom of Fred Rogers, one of my great heroes:

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

My life journey has been filled with so many new beginnings. Getting married, starting a teaching career, raising three kids, going back to work as a preschool teacher (a far cry from teaching high school English pre-kids), and deciding to learn about what I was actually doing by getting a Masters in early childhood education. Becoming a preschool director just fell into my lap. Founding a new preschool evolved from having to leave the old one. Most of my new beginnings happened with little planning. Serendipity.

Kids leaving home evolved into new beginnings for them as they married and later had their own children. Grandkids. That was an amazing new beginning for me. And then I bumped into a really tough ending, retirement. Determined not to spend the rest of my life babysitting my grandchildren, taking classes, participating in a book club, and meeting friends for lunch, all activities I adore, I was also searching for a new beginning just for me.

I’ve always loved to write, so when a friend suggested I give blogging a try, I thought, why not? As a newbie blogger for ChicagoNow, I struggled to learn the ins and outs of writing short blog-worthy pieces, doing Internet research, trying to get comfortable with WordPress, setting up a Facebook page, and writing an emailed newsletter. Guess what? I came to love it. Sometimes my posts were well-read and other times almost ignored. Sometimes folks made complimentary comments and other times not so much. But I learned to enjoy this new path for the sheer joy writing brought to me.

Having grandchildren 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 of my initial posts. There was just so much that needed fixing in education. I soon discovered I had a multitude of other interests outside of education. I developed a strong need to share how I felt about a wide range of topics, including generational shifts, aging, retirement, pop culture, politics, healthcare, genealogy, parenting, and grandparenting. More and more, my posts fell under the category of “life style opinion.”

My mother’s death on April 19, 2015 was a huge loss in my life. I was now an orphan and about to turn seventy. I was truly in desperate need of a new beginning, so I decided to write a book. Why not? My mother was my biggest fan who thought everything I wrote was brilliant and worth sharing with her lady friends. While I wrote Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real, I was haunted by Paul Simon’s lyric, “How terribly strange to be seventy” (Old Friends/Bookends). I really wrote the book for my mother and to create another new beginning in my life to cope with my grief.

In addition to working on the book, I kept blogging. Opportunities came and vanished. My editor at Alternet left. Huffington Post changed its format and my editor there also left. Once again I sought new beginnings for my work. Debbie Galant from Midcentury Modern Magazine saw something I had written and asked if I wanted to write for her via Medium. When John Zussman found my post there about Pursuing the Perfect Purse, he asked if he could publish it on MyRetrospect. Then I asked him if I could write more posts for his publication. Another new beginning.

Twenty-five stories later, when I learned that MyRetrospect was ending I was heartbroken. I loved the concept of thinking back to share forward. I enjoyed the challenge of writing to a weekly prompt, and I was just starting to make virtual friends through the comments we made on each other’s posts. Then I discovered that Suzy Underwood and Marian Hirsch were looking for another partner-in-crime to keep the site alive. I again thought, why not? And I joined the Retrospect team.

My dear cartoonist friend and sometimes collaborator, Marcia Liss, drew the image at the top of this post for something I wrote. I love it, especially her incorporating the Goethe quote,

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Here’s to dreaming big, being bold, and to a very special new beginning.

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    Great story, Laurie, about so many new beginnings! You have had an illustrious writing career already! Glad that you wanted to sign on as a “partner-in-crime” on this site. Maybe partners in crime should be a future prompt.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I love that idea of writing about partners in crime. Throughout all of our lives, we have had collaborations that have enriched us. Here’s to our new venture as the Retrospect Team!

      • John Zussman says:

        I think the term du jour is “unindicted co-conspirator!”

        Being a writer—and actually posting or publishing what you write—is inherently risky in that you never know what the response will be. Every time you click Publish, you put a piece of yourself out there. I love that Goethe quote. One thing I learned as a pianist is that the audience WANTS you to succeed and will forgive many flaws if you are communicating from the heart. I think the same is true of writing—and of creating and managing a website. So glad you decided to join the team!

        • Laurie Levy says:

          That’s the beauty of MyRetrospect. People share their stories — very brave. And others share their positive thought about what people have written. There is so much cruelty in social media. This is a refreshing experience. Thanks for your encouragement and help.

  2. joan stommen says:

    Wow, live your way with words, Laurie! I’m so glad you’ve joined the Retrospect team to relaunch it….it’s like welcoming a great friend back home! We have many things in common…I look forward to knowing you better!

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Laurie, it seems you have had many chances to remake yourself, each time a little different, but each a true expression of yourself. I took a writing class on Martha’s Vineyard many years ago called “Writing from the Heart” about “finding your voice”. It seems you’ve found yours.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I love the expression “finding your voice.” We all have many voices that express different parts of our lives. Retrospect gives us the chance to share our voices through our stories. I have enjoyed reading yours.

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