Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Gift Exchange

LLI---The Adult Gift Exchange
I had just retired from a successful business career of nearly 37 years when I thought my life as I knew it had ended. I was so restless from the lack of constant pressure that I even took a job at a local bank as a teller temporarily until I realized that my new source of income would jeopardize my qualification for Social Security. What was I to do? Gone were the pressure of quotas, reading hundred’s of emails, and trying to live on airline food: peanuts and soft drinks. When did airlines start to think that all the passengers are elephants?
Slowly at first, the adjustment was gradual because the human spirit and psyche needed time to adjust to sleeping in and the phone not ringing every few moments. The briefcase containing my laptop and blackberry has been surgically removed from that frozen hand that instinctively held a firm grip on both while waiting in long lines. I didn’t know how I was going to live this way. I no longer wanted to get on airplanes, sleep in hotel rooms far away from home, or eat dinner alone
I do not pretend to be the only person who lived that type of life as a business professional. There are hundreds, even thousands of people who live that type of life every day. Once retirement arrives with the watch and box of congratulatory letters from friends and co-workers you begin the transition to your new life.
Then, one day it arrived in the mail the bright orange colored booklet containing the list of classes that would be offered by the LLI during the fall semester at the local University. The variety of topics was amazing. At first the work gene kicked into gear and I started thinking in
terms of what courses I was expert enough in to be able to teach next term. Then you realize that the booklet’s content which lists the classes are actually a gift that has arrived early. So after a short period of time mulling the decision over in my mind I decided that this was the year I would try to give myself an early birthday gift, even though it was not November yet
Do you remember the first gift that you received? Your excitement built as you tore off the paper in anticipation of finding out what is inside. Not all gifts come in neatly wrapped packages with fancy ribbons. Sometimes they appear as email from a close friend or a card in the mail that makes you want to cry. Sometimes you may not realize that you have received a gift until later
The LLI is in the business of gift giving. More correctly stated its function is to serve as an adult gift exchange. Individuals who participate are giving of their time and intellectual curiosity and in return receive information from talented instructors who share their life’s experiences and knowledge. Even the instructors receive the gift of satisfaction that they have enriched someone’s life.
As it turned out I did get my birthday present early and I found out that the LLI programs gives out “gifts’ to others as well. Listen to their stories.
Inspiration and Perspirations
“They say writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration--but I think not. I was 100% inspired by Nancy Pinard's Creative Writing Class and a dozen fellow travelers agreed. After the class ended, we decided to form a writer's workshop called the Wannabes.
Thoughts and family stories have jiggled around my brain for years, and now I have the time and the energy to form them up into a memoir of sorts. But writing is hard work and the monthly Wannabe meetings provide the structure to present new work at each meeting.
This class has been a life changer, and I hope to be worthy of Nancy's inspiration”.
Mary Lou
The exchange happens multiple times a year. Listen to the gifts that other people have received:
“The class was large and I was concerned about my abilities to work in a medium that I was not used to. After spending over 36 years with large technology company’s selling consulting and technology solutions I was more adapt to using the left side of my brain which could generate hundreds of acronyms and buzz words. Our instructor successfully awakened a sleeping literary giant inside my brain. I finished my original manuscript and will soon publish my first book. Through her encouragement I have written a number of other short stories and have taken a number of other classes in order to enhance my writing talent.
The class also brought a special gift to me that had nothing to do with writing. A number of people who attended that class have formed a group that meets once a month to read and encourage each other’s writing talents. Those new friendships have been very rewarding for me both personally and helped my literary development. My recently published memoir also brought me in touch with many of my old friends who I have not had contact with for close to 50 years. That would not have been possible without the encouragement of our group and the class which I took at UD last fall.”
Friendships and the awaking of a new spirit from within are gifts that are not easily identified at first. Another LLI alumnus wrote:
“Searching for meaning and purpose after retirement? UD's Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning offered me a realistic way to unleash my passion to become a fiction writer...a dream I never had time to pursue with a 9 to 5 job and 24/7 homemaking duties. But now I revel in the brain cell stimulation and "learning for learning's sake" excitement generated by challenging moderators and effervescent classmates...budding storytellers, each of us eager to chart new paths, bare our souls, risk egos to share our wisdom, aged to perfection, with the world. Thank you, UDLLI for igniting my spirit and awakening my dream!”
The gifts come in various sizes and shapes. The only qualification to take classes is that you have reached the age of 50 and can attend classes during the day and early evening. The Institute is not restricted in any way. As a former educator who participated in classes at the school once said:
“I was pleasantly surprised with not only the courses but with the interesting people I met. My first courses were writing, Amish Culture, and finance. The writing course has let to a group of us who met after the course was over and encouraged each other with our writing endeavors. The Amish Culture led me to other books on the Amish and trips to the Amish in Ohio and Pennsylvania. And with the finance course I took in the fall of 2008, I realized that I was not alone in concern about the economy!
Other courses I took in 2009 also produced positive results. Not only did I learn more about interesting topics but I met special people. We had lunch together at the nearby Art CafĂ© and visited with UD students. We heard the students’ concerns about jobs and their interest in further education. We saw a group of grade school children perform a mime at lunchtime. And we laughed with each other as we rode a shuttle bus back and forth to the McGinnis Center where classes were held.
We are forming an educational community where we can develop many interests and new friendships. We are not competing for grades but are expanding our knowledge. We have intellectual and cultural explorations beyond our classes. Lively discussions can happen before and after class. Our participants have many experiences and I felt like I was swimming with the dolphins or passing through the Panama Canal as stories were shared.”
One of my fellow classmates from the Creative Writing Class recently wrote:
“OSHER has opened a big, wide, inviting door! It has beckoned quietly to those souls who have passed the five- and- a- half decade mark, and suddenly find some time on their hands. This reality may not hit till later, but the gateway to learning is there for the taking. It says: “Come to me – learn from me – dare to trigger your mind! It is never too late to start learning!”
It is a golden opportunity to enhance your world in many ways. First, you have the relationship with the moderators, who have a connection to the University. Then, one can meet dozens of other seniors who are interested and anxious to learn. Besides these two positives, you are connected to the library, and the cultural events scheduled at the University.
My husband’s class was “Listening – a Lost Art.” How it has impacted both our lives! We are both involved in health care, and listening is the first prerequisite to a healthy involvement with the patient. Besides, just being the parents of five girls makes the tools of listening imperative!
The last class I was privileged to attend was “Learning the Craft of writing – by Writing.” Our teacher, Nancy Pinard, is the author of two novels; various published literary works and a teacher par excellence. Both classes had a full house- thirty nine in mine, and Ms. Pinard guided us with delight, through creative endeavors of every kind imaginable. She presented us with a syllabus that could have lasted a semester! Three cheers for Osher!
This is my motto:
OSHER = Osher showers humanity (with) exceptional resources!”
Our parents taught us many things when we were young. At an early age they instilled in all of us the practice of thanking those people who had taken the time and energy to provide you with a gift. Many times they are sent to the “giver” of the gift in the form of cards with personal messages, phone calls so just simple the words:
Thank You! Osher and UD LLI for our gifts.

A Letter from Oscar Hammerstein to Richard Rogers

A new Short Story by Jack Matthews is a documentary of a proposed musical between the two famous musical legends. The Story begins:

Dear Dick:

I saw Mary Martin last evening in "Sound" and, you know Dick...I like that show. It's got Moxie, as well as Mary! Dick I'm in the mood to another go at it-America deserves another big helping of R&H...whaddayasaybaby? Shall we roll up the ol' sleves? I've got an idea that can be the real BIG one...

A musical based on Colonel Charles Augustus Lindberg's Autobiography, We, A short story about guys and gals who few around America's heart in the years following the first World War in three acts.

I see the action something like this...

Jack is in the final stages of editing this work and I am sure he will share the finished manuscript with our group at future meetings.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Next Meeting on September 18th long last we have another meeting of the now famous Wannabe's. Our reputation is starting to spread. In a positive way I may add. You might be able to see from the mailing list that are ranks are again growing. Mary Lou and I been actively recruiting new members. We are currently taking a LLI class from our favorite instructor Nancy Pinard. She recently put in a plug for our group at the first class. We welcome the new people and hope that you will enjoy the companionship and support we provide one another in this enjoyable business.

Speaking of business: Here are some recent announcements that you might want to take part in.

A...The 10th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition is accepting entries! We're looking for fiction that's bold, brilliant ... but brief. Send us your best in 1,500 words or less. But don't be too long about it—the deadline is December 1, 2009.

The Grand-Prize winner will receive $3,000 (that's $2—or more—per word).
For guidelines, prizes and to enter online, click here.

B....If you want to keep up with deals, agents and the publishing industry subscribe to Publishers Lunch at the following Web site:

Make sure you continue to the 2nd page to receive the free version every Tues through email.

C...For those who want to publish using the new e-books platform here are two sites that you should check out:

Kindle.... The site is Digital Platform. It is similar to Createspace which is used for self publishing.

Mobi...also called MobiPocket.....

We can discuss these at future meeting.

D. The Christmas Anthology. We currently have five people who have signed up to participate in this project. We will also need to find an Illustrator. I have someone I would recommend but I think we should be open to suggestion of local talent as well. I am still seeking people who would like to contribute a poem or a short story either fictional or non-fiction. We will discuss further on Friday.

E. This will be the last call for individuals who want to participate in the article that we are submitting to the LLI Journal. I have sent the draft document to Julie and will meet with her in the next few weeks to discuss our next steps.

F. Agenda for Friday:

1. Introduce New Members

2. Jack has asked for 10 minutes to discuss two of his recent projects. We will read one and provide feedback and he is providing a copy of the 2nd which we will post on the Blog site for comments.

3. Discuss the Anthology Project

4. Discuss the LLI Project

5. Set date for next meeting

If anyone has a reading or a topic that they would like to discuss please email me by Thurs night.

Thank you in advance for your attention and we look forward to seeing you al...this Friday.

Ciao! PDQ