1. My father was a military officer, so we moved around a lot. I was pretty much an obedient daughter - expected in the military environment - interested by nature in academics, music and theatre. The closest I ever came to a life plan was "I'll go to college and then get married and have kids."
2. I was accepted as a high school junior to the College of William and Mary in Virginia, when my father was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I wanted to go there, but my father was then transferred to Camp Smith on Oahu. My parents thought 5,000 miles was too great a distance between my college and their home. My mother had been a Marine during World War II, stationed at Santa Barbara. She said it was a nice place. I applied to UCSB, and that is where I spent my four years of college.
- Outcome of not going to William and Mary: didn't spend my college years on the east coast and marry an east coast person and have east coast kids; didn't go to a smaller school where I would probably have been more comfortable.
- Outcome of going to UCSB instead: spent my college years on the west coast and married a west coast person and had west coast kids; went to a large party school (I have never been a partier); experienced anti-war activity and got tear gassed through my apartment window; felt some guilt that I had anti-war preferences though my father was in Vietnam and paying for my college education.
3. I got married and had kids (two sons) . Part of the plan.
4. I got divorced after 15 years. NOT part of the plan.
- Outcome of getting divorced: I went back to school to earn a degree that I could use to support myself and my children. I learned how to take care of myself and my household.
- Outcome of the degree: I moved from a small town in Oregon to a large city in Washington for the job I got. I didn't keep that job, but I've lived in Washington ever since. And I have used some element of that degree every day for the last 30 years.
5. I was a single mom for nine years. Not part of the plan.
6. I got remarried and acquired six more kids. Part of the REVISED plan.
- Outcome of getting remarried: I found a partner I never would have met in college. We have been together for 27 years.
- Outcome of acquiring six more kids: Got to have as many kids - and more - as I'd hoped for. Got to experience the differences between boy kids and girl kids. Got to be a role model for young women.
7. I retired after working for 25 years. Part of the plan, though in my heart of hearts I couldn't imagine such a thing without more than a twinge of worry and fear. That's when I started my blog, "Thoughts from a Bag Lady In Waiting".
8. As a retiree, I could choose how I spent my time. Part of the plan, though I had no idea at first what I would do other than sleep as long as I wanted in the morning and read a lot of books.
9. I said yes to what came along, but only since I turned 60. Before that I was pretty much still the military officer's daughter. Here's what's come along since I started saying yes:
- Took 140 hours of training in 18 months and became a certified mediator.
- Mediated about 100 conflicts at a dispute resolution center and in small claims court. Still have the skill, which I use nearly every day.
- Took 69 trips of three days or more, within the US and elsewhere. Still have the memories, the blog posts and the photos.
- Volunteered five times at a refugee camp in Greece. It has changed my life.
- Bought a small home at a +55-plus community in Tucson for winters. Found a community in this "camp for grandmas".
- Started adding blue and purple and burgundy highlights to my hair. Still love it!
- Got a tattoo of the world. My first and last. Still love it!
- Volunteer each week at a refugee shelter in Tucson. I am continuing to say yes to this amazing work. Greece or Tucson? It's just about the same. And I know beyond a doubt that We Are All The Same.
But I feel especially blessed and lucky. No master plan. But it's all worked out to be more than I would ever have imagined.