Retired, Rewired, and Inspired!
Written by Shanie Levin
The fourth Empowerment series co-sponsored by Jewish Seniors Alliance and Jewish Family Services was held virtually on Tues. April 26th at 11 a.m. Continuing with the theme “Be Inspired,” this event titled “Retired, Rewired and Inspired” featured three older adults expressing their feelings, ideas and experiences about “retirement.”
Gyda Chud, Co-President of JSA, described the Empowerment Series and the theme. Fran Goldberg, member of the Program Committee, introduced the three speakers. The idea was to have a panel of three peers, who would describe who, how and what helped them in their transition to retirement.
The first speaker was Rosa Tesler, known as Chully. Rosa retired in 2018, she had been a counselor for abused women. The next was Dr. Paul Steinbok who retired in 2017 from neurosurgery. The third presenter was Tony DuMoulin, who retired from an active law career and has become active at JSA.
Chully described retirement as an up and down road. She missed her clients. She lost her husband and her mother within the same time period. She feels privileged that she had the support of a loving family. To weather the downs, one must develop patience, determination and self-compassion. Enduring many medical issues, she thanks her friends, her therapist and her yoga teacher for their ongoing support. She participated in a course on Friendly Aging and also the Peer Counseling Training at JSA. She is now an active peer counselor. She continued throughout the Pandemic with tai chi, yoga and peer counseling, virtually. Adapting, reframing and hope kept her going. We are defined not by what happens to us, but by what we do. Chully quoted a friend in Argentina who teaches healthy aging. He has three suggestions: what is in your power, continue; stop what you didn’t want and can’t do; and initiate what you want to do.
Paul Steinbok had been a pediatric neurosurgeon. When he retired in 2017, he thought that he would pursue his love of photography, walking and travel. Paul had been part of an amateur camera club for many years and won an award to 1970. He joined a photo group at UBC, learning digital photography. He expanded his ideas about photography and began looking at nature from a closer perspective, especially the textures and patterns in natural things, like tree trunks and flowers. He started to use his camera more creatively. He showed us close-ups of tree bark, stumps, mushrooms growing on stumps and flowers. There were shots of manhole covers—many of which have lovely designs on them. The photos are beautiful and artistic and have been in many competitions. Paul stated that the art of photography adds meaning to his life and he shares them with family, friends and the photo club. It feels as if he is continuing to teach as he did in neurosurgery.
Tony DuMoulin was a practicing lawyer for forty years, managing the firm for twenty-five years and teaching law. He retired ten years ago at age 67, because he had many interests that he wished to pursue and had not had the time or energy to do so. He wanted to retire at the top of his game. He calls himself a recovering lawyer. He needed to rewire and although he was told that he would be bored, the opposite has been the case. He feels his world view has widened and that he is lighter and freer. He now has the time to enjoy what he loves to do. He spends time with his five grandchildren as well as reading more. He has started a co-ed book club, is traveling more (before Covid), and exercising more. He has designed and built a cabin and has done some water-colour painting. He teaches and plays chess. Tony is active in JSA, as an Executive on the Board, and is on the Editorial Committee of Senior Line magazine. He chairs the Advocacy committee. He is inspired by volunteers in the non-profit sector. Tony stated that the future is our responsibility and belongs to us as well.
Tamar Stein, the Seniors Outreach Coordinator for JFS, thanked the speakers. Gyda brought up the three R’s that she had heard from a friend: relationships, reflection and restorative practice. Tony mentioned recording family history and a specific program that helps with this called Story Worth.
Larry Shapiro, Co-President of JSA, felt the program had been inspirational and that we should hear from seniors at every event. Gyda thanked Tamar, Jenn and the three speakers.
Cosponsored by Jewish Family Services (JFS)
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