Everyone’s Life is Worth a Novel
Hi! I’m Carmen. Welcome to my blog on the Second Half of Life. First off, relax. This is not a novel but is to help you decide your interest level. Someone I know of once said, “Everyone’s life is worth a novel.” I immediately felt how honoring the statement was of our personhood and our shared humanity. We all have a story to tell, and our stories are important. We can connect around our shared human experience. I felt I owed you, at least, a part of my story if I’m going to blog on something as important as the Second Half of Life. Hopefully, we’ll connect a little and my story will help you to decide your interest level in what I have to say. So, here is some of my personal and professional information and why I am passionate about the Second Half of Life.
Family, faith and trying to contribute– to make a difference–are what I’m about. I have to be doing something that has meaning and purpose, that I have a heart connection with. If that sounds rather serious, it is; but I have my lighter side as well. For instance, I have been known to show up, in appropriate costume, at a friend’s birthday party or other celebration and deliver a surprise “singing telegram.” I wrote original lyrics based on the friend’s history and personality and put them to an appropriate song. For a co-worker who had just received his license back after a DUI, I was Willie Nelson (complete with guitar) and sang my parody of the real lyrics to “On the Road Again.” I can still remember his low, hesitant, incredulous “Carmen??????” when I walked in. I admit to somewhat of a split personality.
I am the youngest of eight, with three brothers and four sisters. My mother was widowed when I was five and did not remarry. I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s as part of a close-knit, loud, fun-loving family united behind her. We loved games and cards, especially poker and pinochle, and sometimes played all night then went to 6 a.m. Mass before going home to bed. When a new boy or girlfriend met us for the first time, they often thought we were fighting. They definitely experienced an adjustment period–or just didn’t come back!
A Whole New Meaning of “Bio Pic”
I have been blessed with very good health all my life and only a few years ago was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember the needle they were going to use in the biopsy looked like a javelin lying on the table it was so long. I remember thinking, “Why didn’t they cover that thing up?” Fortunately, the cancer was the slow growing kind, and the doctor said I will probably die from something else. He checks me twice a year. I admit I have been in more doctors’ offices and had more “procedures” in the past few years than in the rest of my life put together. Nonetheless, I’m very grateful for the large number of years I was given with nary a health hitch.
The Endless Summer
I always enjoyed sports and the outdoors in any form and still do. As a kid, I disappeared most of many a summer’s day, too into the revolving, unorganized sports at the grade school playground to go home for meals. We’d play softball, basketball and touch football all in the same day. Some days we would just wander through the large local city park or down by the Allegheny River. Summer was timeless for a kid then. I’m sorry that my grandchildren miss out on those carefree times in their much more structured, busy world. As an adult, I especially enjoy tennis (mainly doubles now) and running and fishing and boating. I won the singles championship of my township one year, but I have to admit the best player didn’t enter that year. I’m very grateful to still be able to enjoy the activities I like; I just do them more slowly and with more frequent rests.
The Greatest Generation
My older siblings were part of the “Greatest Generation.” Two brothers served in World War II, one at the Battle of the Bulge and one in the Pacific. As a child, I was very curious about a special looking bottle in a pantry drawer. I didn’t know it was champagne. A sister explained, “It’s for when Frank and Michael come home.” By the grace of God, they both came home. I feel privileged to have, in effect, been raised by members of the Greatest Generation. I tried to live their values and pass them on to my children.
Now, only my youngest sister and I remain. She is ninety-one and still “with it,” but has mobility problems. We share many, many warm family memories ( as well as the loud ones). We inherited a strong work ethic, solid family values, living with integrity and faith, and the importance of helping others. Whatever good I have done in the world, I owe to the influences of my family, my wife and my faith. I have been blessed to have good supportive friends as well. My wife and I belong to a group of six married couples who we have been together with for over fifty years.
My wife and I are life-long residents of Pittsburgh. We met when my older brother married her aunt. (If you are of my generation, you might recall the song, “I’m My Own Grandpa.”) Last August, we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary and spent a good part of the summer celebrating. (I’ve been known to celebrate just a birthday for a week.) We have seven daughters and sixteen grandchildren. We are blessed that only one daughter lives outside the Pittsburgh area. Three live within about a three-mile radius from us.
Getting Down to Business
After leaving the Cold War army, I taught high school in the Pittsburgh City Schools for eighteen years. The early years were so enjoyable that the paycheck came as a pleasant surprise at the end of the month. In time, the luster wore off, I’m afraid, and the enjoyment was gone. I then entered the business world for five largely unremarkable years. Thanks to grad school on the G.I. Bill, I became a psychotherapist for ten years in drug and alcohol rehabs and then over twenty years in a private therapy practice. After a few years of partial retirement, I am “retiring for good” this year but plan to stay active, and hopefully useful, with my Second Half of Life blog.
Who is that Old Dude?
Somewhat arbitrarily, the Second Half of Life begins at age fifty. This November I will turn eighty (hard to believe but true). That puts me in the fourth quarter (and hoping the game goes into overtime). I suppose I could have said, “I’ve paid my dues; it’s past time to just relax.” I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing that. Two key facts stop me personally: (1) deep misgivings about the state of the planet my grandchildren will inherit (2) great enthusiasm for the transformative power of conscious travel through the Second Half of Life.
A Gold Mine of Opportunity
The second half, to me, seems an undiscovered gold mine. Most people don’t even know the term “second half of life” to Google it. For the past two-and-a-half years, I tried to increase awareness and offer support for the second half. I gave talks. I developed and offered a personal growth group focusing on the second half. The talks were well received. Group members were enthusiastic about their experience. However, the numbers remained small then dwindled to where the group could not continue.
My blog is my second effort to “share the wealth,” the literally life changing potential of second half work. If you find yourself interested, see my Home page for details. If you elect to follow the blog, you’ll gain knowledge and support for living vitally in your second half of life and for remaking meaning and purpose if necessary. You will see how the natural path is then to give back from your accumulated experience and wisdom. Our families, neighborhoods, country and the world all desperately need what transformed elders can contribute. I hope my efforts to help you decide your interest level have sparked or reinforced your interest enough to use my blog to enrich your journey through your Second Half of Life. If it has, welcome aboard!!