One Music Teacher Retiree’s Reflections on New Year Resolutions
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. – Oprah Winfrey
Segment from the December 22, 2015 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Retired Member Network eNEWS. For additional articles and blogs on the transition to retirement, please click on “retirement resources” at the right, or visit the PMEA website: http://www.pmea.net/retired-members/.
Ushering in the New Year is all about pursuing new directions or a sort of “rebirth,” making promises for self-improvements, and analyzing and revising our personal goals/visions… perhaps a little like the personal renaissance of retirement.
According to Wikipedia, the tradition of making resolutions is rooted in history, with many examples:
- The Babylonians making promises to their gods at the start of each year “that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.”
- The Romans giving tribute to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
- The knights in the Medieval era taking the “peacock vow” at the end of Christmas season to “re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.”
- At “watch night services,” many Christians preparing for the year by praying and making New Year’s resolutions.
- During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur, reflecting upon “one’s wrongdoings over the year” and seeking and offering forgiveness.
While success and happiness are in the eye of the beholder, many resolutions do not stand the light of several days… you’d be lucky to “stick with it” for more than several weeks! However, the process of revival – re-examining what is important in our lives, and placing effort in establishing new habits and plans – is just plain “good for you.”
Here are my top-ten recommendations to help you “grow” and enjoy a glorious 2016!
- Read at least one new book each month, in spite of our society’s fascination with media, the web, movies, TV, etc. Multi-millionaires are known to reach out for new ideas, innovations, and leading-edge thoughts from recent publication releases.
- Take time for regular physical exercise and to “smell the roses.” For me, the three or four daily sessions of walking my dogs are extremely helpful for gathering my thoughts, calming my nerves, re-charging my batteries, and even brainstorming via speaking to Siri on my Apple iPhone. For example, using the Evernote, a note-taking/sharing app on my cell phone, was the tool for creating this article’s outline. I can even do it hands-free while I am driving (very carefully!), and with my “all thumbs” keyboarding skills, it sure beats typing everything out by hand!
- If you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren (your own or adopted ones), enjoy them! Not only is your generous super-competent babysitting services providing ever-so-essential care-taking of your love-ones, “playing with the kids” is wonderful for your own mood and mental health. “Keep around young people and you will stay forever young!” However, invest your time wisely. You deserve a life of your own and unstructured time off. It is easy to be taken advantage of, so don’t let this childcare schedule dominate everything you do in your retirement.
- If travel is your thing, get out there and “book it!” One of the great advantages of retirement is the capability to go on trips while the kids are still in school. One of my least favorite memories of a family vacation was going to Disney World over Christmas break… Overcrowding closed the Epcot parking lot by Noon on December 27, and my wife had to endure 45-minute lines to use the ladies’ room.
- If you really like being “out on the road” a lot, consider offering your services to local travel agents as a music trip manager. Many PMEA retirees have already assumed new part or (nearly) full-time jobs organizing music groups’ out-of-town adjudications, festivals, workshops, and tours. Really, who is better qualified?
- The single most satisfying pastime for all of us is to be or do something creative. With few exceptions, every day you need to find venue(s) to express yourself. This could mean pulling out your instrument or singing, with a renewed focus on exploring your musicianship, interpretation, composition, or improvisational skills. Creating new musical works, like adding to your own “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” can “make your day!” Other projects in creativity could involve conducting, acting, dancing, creating two or three-dimensional artworks, sewing, gardening, and my personal favorite, writing. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, articles, books, poems, letters-to-editors – the activity is very personal – and possibly profitable? Try to assemble in words your long-practiced insights and experiences acquired working as a teacher. I am particularly inspired by the prospects of creating and posting blogs on just about any subject that motivates or moves me. Check out the opportunities that WordPress.com can give you. (I am not too shy to refer you to my own website, showing off my articles and “pet peeves” on the subjects of creativity in education, marketing professionalism, and retirement resources: www.paulkusc.wordpress.com).
- At the very least, complete one new “random act of kindness” every week. Do the math! This would add 52 “good deeds” a year, and if every PMEA retired member adopted this resolution, that would total more than 22K caring moments in 2016.
- Every week for the rest of your life, spend some time “giving back!” Volunteer or share your hobbies, interests, or expertise helping out wherever it is most needed… in local churches, hospitals, charitable organizations, schools, pet sanctuaries, or senior care centers. I never understood why some enterprising entrepreneur does not buy a large piece of land to build a combined animal shelter, childcare center, and assisted-living facility, connected with easy access to each other… mutually beneficial opportunities for needy children, lonely seniors, and rescued pets for interaction with each other! That’s a “win-win-win!”
- Now that you have significantly more time on your hands than you ever had before, advocate for music education. It is not really up to somebody else to eloquently voice a thoughtful opinion about the essential need for music in the schools. Politics aside, writing to your congressman or senator is important, and who knows, might make a difference in proposing and passing upcoming legislation.
- Stay involved in PMEA. Help new or recently transferred music teachers by joining the PMEA Retiree Resource Registry, the free (but priceless!) adviser/ consultant service (go to http://www.pmea.net/retired-members/). This is one way to get more involved at the state or district level as a judge of adjudications, guest conductor or accompanist for festivals, guest presenter or member on a panel discussion for conferences, workshops, or webinars, etc.
These are New Year’s resolutions I can live with, and hopefully fulfill. Time will tell! I recall the words of the classic Star Wars character Yoda: “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.- Michael Josephson, whatwillmatter.com
© 2015 Paul K. Fox