Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Week that Was: What I've Been Wearing . . .

 My Retirement has not officially begun yet; with my colleagues, at this time in a normal work year,
if I weren't away at a conference right now,I'd either be at a conference right now, or on campus on and off until June 15th, readying book orders, writing up syllabi, developing and writing assignments, trying to get all print jobs into the shop in time to have them on hand for fall classes. But, obviously, I have no fall classes and although I still have to clean out my office (shelves and shelves of books, drawers and drawers of files), I'm essentially on paid holiday until the end of July.

But we're already celebrating my Retirement. Three weeks ago, at our department's annual day-long Big Meeting (I really can't bear calling it a Retreat!), very nice words were said about my contributions, a motion was made and seconded and something moving entered into the minutes for posterity, and there was applause, and I had to wipe away a few tears. Then the next week, more tears, and kind words and an absolutely splendid gift  from my department (details to follow) at a dinner in my honour.

And then the invitation to Bear the Mace at Convocation, an honour extended to Retiring Faculty. And once I'd accepted that invitation, I was asked to attend the Chancellor's Dinner. My goodness, make a Retiring Prof feel special!

I'd intended to wear the same Vince dress that I wore to meet Sue and Le Monsieur in Seattle -- it's fabulously all-purpose, can be dressed up or down, and I always feel confident in it. But I left it behind in the hotel, if you can believe it, and I'm waiting with crossed fingers to see if it makes it to my mailbox, as promised, before too long. That temporary loss posed a dilemma, but I decided I'd go a bit bolder with the new silk dress I bought at All Saints in the (Paris) Marais last month. I tried the dress with flats and with heels, closed toes and sandals, and it was okay-meh in various of those combos. But then I tried these black ankle boots (made by Ink, an Italian company, bought in Paris four years ago), and I love the look. Just sassy enough. (btw, the dinner was on a weekday, at 6, in the uni cafeteria, and the invitation suggested Business -- which, yes, I've stretched a bit, but given the academic environment, be assured this outfit fit well within the range standing in line at the buffet).

The outfit below, though, is more typical of what I've been wearing (although it's warmed up so much the last couple of days that long breezy skirts and tank tops are alternating with sundresses).  The Gap pants are from last summer, and the little striped t-shirt is one I bought at Aritzia just before I went to Paris -- I've probably worn it ten times already!

  . . . and since I mentioned Paris, I'll show you the scarf I bought there, hand-dyed, hand-printed silk organza -- with hand-written French script telling some barely legible tale or other across its length.  The blue-on-blue-on-blue might not be for everyone, but I'm really liking it now. At 30 degrees today, though, it might be a while before I'm wearing a scarf again. Definitely not the jean jacket. The new watch strap, however, that Pater got for my birthday last month, that seems to be my new staple accessory. I'm calling orange a neutral, thanks to Kristin (I have a post upcoming about her and her latest project -- stay tuned).
 One last special occasion outfit to show you. This one required a light layer worn underneath because it gets hot under those stage lights. The layer had to be decent enough to stand on its own before and after, so I wore my JCrew navy cotton pencil skirt and a fine silk-cotton blend shirt in a zig-zag navy-white print (also JCrew). I played around here a bit, as you can see, with the half tuck; still not quite convinced I've got it. Honestly, I prefer a bit more heel with this skirt and I wouldn't usually go so white-legged, but sometimes practicality is paramount, and this gig demanded safe, comfortable, trip-proof shoes. . . .
 And, after all, the half-tucking and the bare white legs and the skirt's length, got covered up by this gown and hood. That Mace weighs, I'm sure, between 15 and 20 pounds, and it was truly an honour to carry it, as a reminder that scholars' freedoms need to be protected.  More official photographs were taken, but I got someone to snap this for me, when all the fuss was over, on my iPhone, a reminder for my future self of the last time I'm likely to wear this particular OOTD, having first donned the whole doctoral kit-and-kaboodle just ten years ago.
I started my family very young, without having completed a degree. While raising my four, I completed a Piano Performer's diploma and then prepared hundreds of students for exams, running a music studio from home. But part of me always wanted a salary-earning position outside, to prove myself in some way, I guess, and I also felt incomplete without a university degree. Working part-time on that, I eventually finished a BA at 41, then my MA at 43, and not until after 50 did I get my doctorate. By then, I was lucky enough to have got Sessional work at the local university, and once I'd completed my PhD, I landed a full-time gig as what we called, at the time, a Regularized Instructor (the institution's status has changed since, with huge overhaul, new provincial legislation, etc.). I have been thrilled with my good fortune in having meaningful, paid work, fulfilling and challenging work, in my own community. In many ways, I wish I had the stamina (and/or a time-spreading machine) that would let me keep that work and do all the other things I want to in this life. But comes a time choices must be made, and I believe I've made the right one.

It's all onward from here. But I hope you didn't mind a little looking back, just to see What I Wore. (oh, and btw, although you'll never see it pictured here, part of What I Wore this week included the running gear that I wore not only for the morning's long run today, but also for a plunge into the ocean -- and a 5-minute. The temperature was surprisingly amenable for so early in June).

For a much more usefully systematic, rather than idiosyncratically anecdotal, look at What One Wears in Retirement, Lisa's two-part series is great: She helps those of you who are still working look ahead to ways your working wardrobe can transition to one that suits Retirement and she address questions you might have about What to Buy while you're still working to get ready for the more relaxed requirements of Life Beyond the Paycheque. . . 

20 comments:

  1. Dear Mater,I think that you are Superwoman,and I admire you and your stamina,as we all should do!
    I'm sure you're going to enjoy your retirement and find some more interesting things to do,if you'll wish. Take a break,think about all,you will see a lot of new possibilities in future. Brava!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Not Superwoman at all (oh, there are so many frailties that don't make it into these posts! And surely Superwomen don't take long afternoon naps) but thank you!
      I'm already seeing so many possibilities. Time to sit, first, and think about which to play with . . .

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  2. I'm liking that last image ... you actually look ready to swing that mace if any scholar should be in need of a champion.

    A lot of my academic achievements happened in my middle years, although sadly a withdrawal of funding (through no fault of my own) means my PhD has been on hold for a few years now. Here's to life long learning, before and after retirement x

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    1. The middle years, in so many ways, are perfect for the academic pursuits, as I saw many times with "mature students" in my classes. I was so glad to have life experience (for perspective and discipline and a body of both practical and esoteric knowledge) at hand when I sorted and discovered and integrated learning. . .sorry about the interruption to your own formal studies, but, of course, it's obvious from your writing that your scholarship has merely taken other pathways in the meantime. Lifelong learning -- happens whether we intend it or not! ;-)

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  3. I love the mace. This age is about choices. Sometimes I wish that I still worked but there is so much to do, so many places to see while I am still able. I like your Paris dress with the booties. Don't you find it amazing that you were able to accomplish so much? I think of taking buses with a toddler, diaper bag and book bag, dropping off at daycare and walking a couple of miles to an 8:30 class, and it seems like a distant dream. Someone else's life... Women should never think "I can't do that because…." If you have the will and the ability, there is a way.

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    1. Truly, it is/was amazing. I can picture you doing all of that to get to your early morning classes, remember myself writing papers after finally teaching my last piano student, the kids finally in bed. . . I tend to compare to others who've accomplished more in one area, and then find myself lacking, but in terms of managing to do reasonably well in a number of areas, which suits my magpie personality better, you're right. We did accomplish quite a bit, didn't we? And there are still a couple of decades left!

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  4. I love the various playful outfits, and the magisterial robes, but most of all, your unusual and moving career trajectory, which reflects tenacity and intellectual firepower to burn! All that, while raising your wonderful family.

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    1. You are too kind. Thank you! (see my comment, above, to Madame, to see why your perspective on my overall trajectory means the world to me -- I'm trying to really hear this when I hear it, if you know what I mean)

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  5. Love the shot with the mace. As you say ... "onward from here." Enjoy your conference...intellectual stimulation for its own sake, without the return to grading papers. Sounds wonderful.

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  6. Sorry, that was a confusing sentence, which I've tried to repair -- I'm not at a conference right now. I was trying to point out what I'd normally be doing now, but am not. Rather, I'm enjoying wonderful weather, gardening, swimming, reading in the hammock. All the good stuff! ;-)

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  7. Well look at you, having some fun! You have earned this, so clearly, and it seems that that tenacity has served you in the end to be able to feel like you accomplished what you really cared about. Which must make the fun all the sweeter. And thanks for the mention. I appreciate it.

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    1. I AM having fun! Tenacity is often underrated, but it ticks goals off lists like nobody's business. Sheer bloody-mindedness, one of my fellow PhD candidates said after our respective defences, that's what got us through. And I think it applies to quite a bit. But the fun is important as well!

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  8. Hooray for you. You have achieved so much and there will be more to come

    Savour this celebration of the passing of a phase of your life well lived and here's to the excitement of the next

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    1. Thanks, Ceri. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next, but it does seem a good time just to sit and savour and say goodbye. . .

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  9. Congratulations! You made it! And you look very impressive in your gown. (I am from a university which did away with gowns and all other aspects of ritual in the throes of '68. I never missed any of that either, until I spent a couple of terms at St. Antony's in Oxford and found it quite dificult to dress up properly for High Table whereas most of the local colleagues just had to throw their gown over whatever they were wearing...)
    I follow your first steps into retirement very closely and try to see myself within two years from now. I am particularly looking forward to the clearing up and throwing away stage.
    Enjoy the freedom.

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    1. I've only worn a gown three, maybe four times, renting it each time (I debated buying the gear but it's so expensive, and didn't seem worth it). I can see how it would make sense in the situation you describe.
      Funny you'd be interested in the clearing up and throwing away stage. I've been debating whether to describe that, as it's something I suspect only a certain type of reader would understand the complexity of. I have a wastebasket full of research in my home office right now, sitting for a few days while I debate whether I'm really done with it. Short answer: yes, I am, but . . .

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  10. I have enjoyed this post a lot! Always love your WIWs. I liked reading about all the honors you have received from your university. How interesting to find out about how and when you earned your degrees - SO VERY impressive! When I studied for my Ph. D. (French Lit) there were a couple of women who already had families and tons of responsibilities compared to me. All I had to do is study, write my dissertation and teach one class for my TA-ship. I was always so impressed with how they managed to combine their family life with the university obligations and really could not believe how anyone could make it work. I myself was so busy - how did they do it?

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Anita. I can't speak for other women who combine studies with raising their family, but I know I learned management and discipline from having kids. I also know that SuperWoman does not exist and I know there were areas that I had to compromise, whether with my family life (the domestic standards got lower, believe me!) or my studies (I sometimes chose courses, for example, because of whether they'd fit my life schedule rather than because the subject matter was my primary passion). And I took forever to finish my doctorate (8 years from when I entered the PhD program -- of course, I was teaching halftime for the last few years of it). Congrats on finishing yours, even though it was a few years ago.

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  11. I am so uplifted by this post. It is possible! I worked for many year in the tourist industry. I had good jobs in managment, but I always wanted something more. At 37 I went back to University and started my bachelor degree. I felt so stupid and had to take a lot of stick from people around me. At 41 I had finished my master. Now I am playing with the thought of a PHD. But the thoughts goes along the lines of "I am to old" etc. After having read your post I think, hmmm, maybe... Thanks for brightening up my day.

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    1. I'm so glad I added that bit about my career trajectory if it inspires you. I hadn't intended to, and then it just seemed relevant to trace how I'd got to the Mace Bearing. . . Depending what your field is, you might or might not be able to expect your PhD to "pay off" in terms of bringing you to a job when you're done, but as long as you're realistic about how you'll support yourself and as long as you're excited about the learning for its own sake, I don't see that age should be a deterrent. In my late 40s, I certainly found the much younger grad students to be very welcoming, the program in general quite supportive.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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