Year of living joyfully

A friend asked what I'd been doing to keep busy.

Two thoughts:
1) Why do I feel compelled to keep busy, and to account for my time?
2) For a person who doesn't work regular hours, how is it possible to keep this busy?

Anybody with time on their hands is a magnet for people seeking volunteers. Most things sound fun and others just have to be done. I left my newspaper career a year ago this week, but even right this minute, I'm working against a deadline.

My retired mother serves on the local school board, library board, church session and community/church choir, among other committees, and writes grants for various municipal services.

She says the inability to sit still is an inherited feature, perhaps even a permanent personality defect. (Hi, Mom.)

What have I been doing for a year?

Took a houseboat vacation with my wingmen, mom and friends.

Took Mom to see the sights.

Served on the search committee for a new Shasta Area Red Cross CEO.

Took a crash course in wind power.

Served on the steering committee of a landowners association to negotiate wind-power leases.

Took a crash course in stock-market investing (ow - don't say "crash").

Attended farewell parties for The Albuquerque Tribune.

Trib farewell party

Consulted on Web sites and media access.

Served on the Redding Rotary board of directors.

Career-counseled recovering journalists.

Edited speeches, articles, resumes, manuscripts, essays and promotional material.

Served as a panelist on "Is there Life after Newspapers?" at Denver editors conference.

08 Denver ACES large

Tutored grade-schoolers in reading.

Fretted and prayed for the health and safety of my determined young rule-breaker.

Got to know the juvenile authorities even better.

Blogged daily.

Took a mini-course in creating gift baskets, and made several for friends, family and charity.


Outlined two novels.

Enjoyed the company of my best friend, Steve.

Read dozens of books.

Prayed a lot for the health and safety of my determined young hitchhiker.

Trained for and worked both California primary elections.

Reported on several things, including a controversial museum exhibit.

Traveled for fun, for holidays, on business and for no reason at all.

Practiced my photography.

Posted and shared 2,000 family photos on Flickr.

Learned how to make rose-petal sachets.

Watched my youngest cherub build his own skateboard.

Quality control

Taught him how to drive a stick shift.

Crossed my fingers and prayed for safe driving on everybody's part.

Goofed around for fund raisers.

Cat in hat?

Set up a writing seminar for the resident author.

Suffered wallet pains from eldest cherub's major car repairs (body work not his fault; engine another story).

Suffered sympathy pains as he recovered from having four wisdom teeth pulled.

Max, 18

Served on the steering committee of the new Sundial Film Festival.

Enjoyed several sets of houseguests.

Deepened some special friendships.


Was found by a long-distance cousin. Hi, LaRonda!
(Would love pictures of Donna and Randy, too.)

Rediscovered the joy of cooking.

And gardening.


(Hence the sachets.)


And, of course, grew hollyhocks, mostly in shades of pink:

A year, really? Are we sure? It went by zippy-quick.

I must be having a grand time.

Wonder what Year 2 will bring?


  1. What a year, indeed. That's for the career-counseling. I hope to look back a year from now as rewarding as your last 365.

  2. Good luck with the new gig, ThomG. It's going to be spectacular. Don't be a stranger.

  3. Well done! Congratulations on a year well-lived and thanks for sharing what you know with your readers.
    A "curriculum of joy" is what I always recommend for homeschooled kids -- it works for parents, too.

  4. Hey, nice hollyhocks!

    Ashamed to say I haven't put that bag of seeds to use yet, but now I have new motivation.

  5. Wow! I know I haven't had a dull moment since my being let go from you-know-where, but you've certainly crammed a whole lot o' livin' into a short period of time! My hat's off to you!

  6. well, I spent a lot of time playing that marbles game you included in a previous blog. Then my computer crashed and I lost it. So can you please tell me where to find it again. Otherwise, I might have to start being useful

  7. Thanks, everybody.

    Erin, a curriculum of joy sounds like genius.

    Mitsy, you're even busier than I. How I envy your gardening talents.

    Bruce, they say hollyhocks won't grow here. Too wet. But "they" say a lot of things that don't come true. I say give it a go. Throw those seeds in a sunny spot of dirt and baby the plants the first year. After that, stand back and watch.

    Judy, I'll find you a marbles game. Heaven knows you need something to do.

  8. Nah. A year? Run your numbers again. I know you reporters can't do numbers;)

    Happy day. Purdy flowers, too.


  9. I'm coming up to my own 365 days... it just can't seem possible! I'll have to put on my thinking cap and see what I've done with my days. The best part has been the books, books, books! It's been a wonderment to be able to read to my heart's content!
    Here's to another 365!

  10. You forgot to mention that your intelligence and personality helped maintain your strong network; That you kept up the important friendships from the RS, and gained new friendships this year. I imagine that you completely skipped the "7 stages of grief" that people live through when they leave a job. You're my heroine.
    Joanne Lobeski Snyder