by Karen Hirst

One of the many pleasures of retirement is the hopeful availability of free time … time to explore what otherwise might have been relegated to a back burner in the prioritizing push and pull of earning a living and raising a family.

Exploration will mean something different to each retiree.

One may immediately think of all the exotic places in the world that might be discovered for the first time or the many places closer to home that have not been frequented as a result of a daily preoccupation with getting to and from the workplace, grocery store, hockey rink or dance studio.

For some, the idea of exploration may promise a personal learning curve of discovery. Whether academic, athletic or artistic, the freedom years may permit a dedicated commitment to pursuits of personal achievement that had been previously denied the retiree.

For this retiree, one of my personal pleasures has been the luxury of both my father and I having the same space of time unencumbered by worldly demands … as is so often the case with demands made upon our time we can run short of a limited commodity.

My retirement party 2016 and enjoyment of the” icing on the cake”

A young John Kerry, my father, with his calf at home on Lake Scugog Island

“Shoulders We Stand Upon”, biography of father, written post retirement

A couple of daily excursions made with husband Ken, Appleton Side Rd, enjoying the sighting and photographing of Clydesdale with her colt and tour of Rosamond Textile Museum

Many happy hours have been spent in my father’s company exploring the lives of both paternal and maternal families and on up through the years that my parents shared together to current times … between the covers of “Shoulders We Stand Upon” portions of our story came to life, accompanied by a profound sense of pride and thanksgiving.

We not only have been gifted with time to explore together the pieces of our shared history but continue to build upon the moments available to us in “the now” … time’s passage inscribed on an empty page, the places we live and with whom, coming into clearer focus.

Stephen King says ” If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot … no shortcut.” A newfound post-retirement joy for me has been realized in transporting words from the keyboard to the computer screen. I have always enjoyed reading so maybe I qualify on some level as a neophyte writer? No matter, it is as pleasurable a daily experience for me as hitting golf balls would be for others. The golfer’s hole in one equates with a writer’s skill at being able to communicate in a manner that resonates with the one who may read what has been written.

It is often said that writing is more or less about self-exploration…the very nature of the process seems to take one deeper below the surface of an outwardly projected ‘self.’ With deep engagement in the process of writing one isn’t conscious of oneself nor from whence the linkage of words and sentences have come. Therein, read for the first time, lies the joy of discovery.

Together with my husband, who just happens to be best friend and love of my life, we experience a renewed lightness of being and the culminating pleasures of enjoying the icing on the cake … so to speak!

Each stage of life prepares for the passing of a baton and requires the picking up of a baton. Nothing in life is wasted, we are brought to fruition in the season of our ripening.