Monday, May 13, 2013

Community: four new faces

I'm still thinking about the importance of community when we're no longer working.  I wrote about it over a year and a half ago in my blog post Retirement, Year 2, but until recently I hadn't done much about cultivating a post-retirement community. I got a jump start this winter in Tucson, when we made new friends fairly quickly in a 55-plus snowbird resort. But it's easy in that environment, when people are eager to form seasonal friendships. It's a little harder at home - which is probably why I put it off.

In the last two weeks, I've made four new connections. Here's what happened.

1. I met Carol at small claims court. I do some small claims mediation, and I was interested in observing what happens when people don't settle during mediation and go to trial instead. I spent a Monday in small claims court last month, watching. Carol was the judge. I was interested in how she managed the conversations in the cases, and how she explained the law to the disputants. After the trials were over, I remained in the courtroom to ask a few questions. We talked for almost 15 minutes - first about the cases, then about what it's like to be retired (me) or almost retired (her). We made arrangements to meet for coffee. We did, last Monday. We had a lively, interesting conversation and plan to have lunch sometime soon. In this case, I just showed up at something I was interested in and decided to "approach the bench".

2. I met Fran at a regional growth management planning meeting. I'm on the planning commission for my small city (population 6,500) and she has just been appointed. We talked for a few minutes at the growth management gathering and decided to meet for lunch. We did, last week! She's widely traveled, smart, opinionated and humorous, and our lunch conversation was quite interesting. We have a common interest in making our family-oriented city more senior friendly.

3. I did a workplace mediation last Friday with Lisa, a co-mediator from the Dispute Resolution Center. Lisa and I have co-mediated before; I like her style and she apparently likes mine. When we finished up the session we talked about other possibilities for mediating together. I'm looking forward to that.

4. I've been chatting off and on in my water aerobics class with a woman named Vicki. She and I are the only ones in the class with dark hair, so people confuse us with each other - odd, since she was born in Indonesia and I was born in California! Today in the water, we talked a bit about spirituality, and we're going to have coffee sometime soon. I have a strong spiritual bent but haven't been part of a church or spiritual community for almost 30 years. I'm feeling myself drawn to that now. I expect Vicki's community may suit me well and I'm looking forward to exploring that.

In each of these cases, my conversations were one on one. When meeting new people, that's where I'm most comfortable.  I may not end up having friendships with all these women, but some of them may be part of my post-retirement community.


rosaria williams said...

We do have to extend our hand and look at possibilities wherever we are, continue to volunteer our talents and skills and be open to whatever connection is mutually supportive.

I just got elected president of the Arts Council because people have a need for the skills I bring to an organization.

Now, I'm constantly meeting new artists, arranging to network and write grants with more people than I knew existed in this town.

Bob Lowry said...

You are such a vivacious great conversationalist, Linda. Opening up to new possibilities will pay off handsomely.

lyndagrace said...

I am also more comfortable in a one to one situation. But I struggle with shyness. I found it much easier when I was working to find a friend to have coffee with. We had our job in common. That meant there was always something to talk about.
Being a quiet person and being retired seems to be a stumbling block for me in trying to find and establish connections.
I know the answer is putting myself out there, but that is a terrifying concept for me.

DJan said...

I have made many friends in my exercise classes over the years here in Bellingham, but my most favorite people are the ones I know from the hiking group of the Senior Trailblazers. I am the opposite of you, though: I actively try NOT to get more engaged in meetings so I have more time for my own pursuits! :-)

Olga said...

Community is important. We all need some level of connection. I tend to be more of a loner than is probably good for me, but I do enjoy the friendships I have made in retirement.

Tom Sightings said...

A lot of people (including me) find that it's hard to meet new people after your kids are grown and you're no longer working. So good for you for providing a good example. (But that's the one appeal, to me, of a 55+ community, and the only reason I'd ever consider living in one -- that it's easier to make new friends.)

Ms Sparrow said...

I have come to seek out interesting conversationalists too. Trivial conversations or gossip can get terribly boring and a total waste of time better spent elsewhere!

Arkansas Patti said...

You met people with mutual interests. The best way. When I move to a new area, I join clubs that are centered around something I am interested in. In no time, it is easy to build up a core of friends and you all ready have that common interest.
Enjoy your new and interesting sounding friends.

Barbara Torris said...

I like that you are doing this Linda.Reaching out to those around us is so important. Good luck with this new are a brave woman.

Thinking of you.


Out on the prairie said...

I found lots of voluteer opportunity to do on top of what I was already doing and finally landed a job back inthe workforce with a lot of pleading to do it.There are times I would like my freedom but enjoy helping others with my experience.

Kathleen McCoy said...

That's wonderful that you're meeting such interesting new people and feeling a connection, Linda. I think it's really true that we meet and connect most often when doing something we enjoy.

Cathy Severson said...

It's been 3 years since we moved to Arizona. I've made a number of new friends. My husband and I have a few couple friends. I miss having a buddy. You can meet people and enjoy their company, but a buddy is something special. I may never have it again. But, it would be nice.

Dee said...

Dear Linda, since moving here to Missouri four years ago I haven't really made many new friends. Your posting today inspired me to try harder. Thank you. Peace.

Retired English Teacher said...

This is a great recounting of how to get involved with others and become a part of a community. I love how you went outside of your normal routine and comfort zone and by doing so met so pretty amazing people. I love that part of you.

The medication training that you took has really been a great bonus in filling a void in your life after retirement. I watched you use the skills you have and was so impressed when we were on Vashon.

I hope once I am feeling better to become more involved in the larger community. You have given me a great blue print on how to do so.