December 24, 2011
Dear friends far and wide,
This year I’m sending the annual “state-of-the-household letter” electronically. And even worse, it’s not even an electronic transmission sent personally to YOU, but an entry on a blog! E-gad, the angels have lost their pitch and screech to the high heavens, Hosanna, Hosanna. I have finally succumbed to the ease and swiftness of this medium, but I have to tell you, I’m not happy about it. It just doesn’t feel right at all. In the past, I have taken great pleasure not just in writing my annual letter, but in choosing paper to print it on, stamps, stickers, or drawings to decorate the paper, and even carefully selecting the stamp I put on the envelope. When I finish 50 or 60 of them and take the nice fat stack of stuffed envelopes into the post office, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. But now, I’m just one of those people who is too darned busy to write a real letter.
So welcome to the twenty-first century, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
As you can see from this new website, the big news this year is the addition of Dash to my household. She’s now nine months old, and is the joy of my life, for sure. Happiness, silliness, and messiness abound in my home these days. Every room has a blanky or doggie bed on the floor, an array of toys and chewies, and at least one pair of underwear she’s managed to drag out of the laundry basket. She’s a curious and rambunctious little girl and we’re pretty tight.
By the end of August, Dash had turned into a nicely behaved puppy, remembering most of the time where to do her business, and very happily curling herself into my lap when I needed to work or study. And so we began the school year without a hitch. She comes to the office with me many days, and holds her own office hours, counseling my students in the fine art of ball retrieval. When she’s not with me at school, she’s at Woof Gang Bakery & Day Care where she loves playing with her best friend Lucy, the lab, and Scout, the Welsh terrier. The shy little puppy, who wouldn’t come out of the back of the crate when I picked her up at the airport on May 24, has disappeared, and in her place is a romping, running, jumping, fetching machine. She is adorable.
School has been busy this year, and rather momentous. Rollins is facing some challenging times in that the president has made big decisions that are directly contrary to the vision of the faculty. It’s been disturbing, to say the least, and unnerving for those of us deeply committed to upholding the liberal arts tradition. I’m not sure if this event has sped my movement toward retirement, but maybe it has. I have made the decision to resign my tenure at Rollins in May 2013. I’ve thought and thought about this, and bored my friends to death trying to decide when to cut loose. My friend Barbara Carson kept saying to me, “When the time is right, you’ll know. It won’t be a decision; you’ll just do it.” And she was right. It just felt right once I actually signed on the dotted line.
So I have sixteen months to live in this oldest version of Lezlie. Undoubtedly, I’ve had a strong attachment to this role, though I’ve tried to keep all attachments in check. I’m going to watch myself closely for these months and write as much as I can about the process of shedding the professorial skin and taking on a new form. I want to chronicle what it’s like to shift into a new phase of life, with awareness and mindfulness. So check in with the site occasionally and see what I’m discovering about getting older, dropping identities, purging 43-year old files, closing down an office, and various and sundry ruminations that occur to a woman on the brink of change.
The question most people ask at this point is, “What are you going to do?” I have heard myself answer that question very quickly and confidently: Oh, I’m not retiring, I say. I’m simply redirecting my energies. I’m going to teach more yoga, read more, draw more, and continue to conduct small workshops and reading groups. I have a lot of interests, a lot of friends, and a dog to take care of! I’ll have plenty to do, I say. But of course, I won’t really have anything to do, and that’s the whole point of moving out of a professional life. You get the opportunity to think about and observe yourself outside of the roles you have easily played for so long. So I’m going to just let the stripped down Lezlie take it nice and easy. I want her to sit and be open and move more deeply into her dearly beloved equanimity. But I also want her to take action that will serve a larger purpose (more later on that project). In addition, I want her to be free of those ready responses and conditioned behaviors that keep her in a too-small frame. And I’m confident a new version of Lezlie, just as acceptable as the previous version, will emerge quite naturally.
So look at this! It’s December 24, and I am, for the first time in YEARS, getting my Christmas greetings out BEFORE Christmas. That’s definitely a new version of Lezlie! To all of you whom I have loved, adored, admired, and respected over the last sixty-four years, I send my heart-felt good wishes to you. I hope your internet connection is powerful enough to receive them!