Never Say Never: The Tale of a Reluctant Blogger

I always said that I would retire when hell froze, and I’d become a blogger on the twelfth of never. After making these unequivocal statements, I retired two years and four months ago at age 55, and I have written 87 posts in my first eight months of blogging. All of which means that I either don’t know my own mind (scarily true) or that the Yiddish proverb “Man plans and God laughs” is accurate (I have no doubt).

Since Donna’s readers reasonably expect to be hearing from someone who is willing to reflect (blog) about retirement and I’ve clearly been ambivalent, okay hostile, about both, I’d better explain.

Donna and I come from the same background –education—and even worked in the same school district, although we unfortunately never met. I wish we had. Donna, as I’m sure you agree, is terrific –warm, thoughtful, engaging.

Back to my story. I saw my work as my life’s purpose and did it to an extent that even workaholics found excessive. The wheels came off the bus after I left the school district to write books for teachers, principals, and students, and to travel all over North America doing workshops and keynotes based on those books. Six professional books, three adolescent literacy programs, and hundreds of speaking engagements later, I burned out. You can watch the short version of that story in the whiteboard video on my site. The video is called “Joining the Club of the Living Dead” which is a completely apt description of how I felt when I left education. So I didn’t so much retire as collapse, not something I recommend to aspiring retirees!

reluctnat blogger

As for blogging, my current site is not my first rodeo. My publisher, Pearson, urged me to blog for the readers of my books. They claimed that people would be fascinated to learn about the person behind the author/speaker. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would care one whit about what I did in my life outside work. Besides, I didn’t have a life outside work! Being crazy busy writing books on deadlines, I blogged reluctantly, inconsistently, and only about education.

Everything changed after I recovered from burnout. I relished the opportunity to reboot my life—to live more intentionally and choose what is meaningful to me beyond the world of education.

I decided to start Profound Journey as a way to both document my own journey, and to find my tribe of women who want to live vibrant, creative, purpose-filled, passionate lives.

Here are the categories on the site and the title of a sample post within each:
Personal Change – Your Transition to Retirement is Supposed to Be Difficult
Creativity – A six-part series on writing memoir, including Why Your Memoir Needs a Theme and How to Choose One
Self-Care—Guided Meditation Help for Beginners and Skeptics
Perspective –Appreciating the Wabi-Sabi Way of Life
Tribe Stories – 25 Not-Too-Scary Life Questions Worth Asking Yourself
Wow Notes – Longplayer: Music for 1000 Years

No longer the reluctant blogger, I am delighted to be a reader of Donna’s site and of the many other excellent sites she has highlighted through this Guest Post Series. Thank you for being a blogger’s matchmaker extraordinaire, Donna, and for the opportunity to introduce my site to your readers.


Profound Journey

From Retirement Reflections
– I, too, wish that Karen and I had met personally when we both worked for School District 23. I greatly appreciate her remarkably open and honest sharing. I highly encourage you to check out her site at Profound Journey. I’m confident that you will find her blog to be filled with much wisdom and encouragement, as well as fascinating information.
For next week, please grab your hiking boots! Anabel Marsh from ‘Glasgow Gallivanter’ will be taking us on walking adventures around the globe. Don’t worry about the pace, Anabel always stops for coffee!

49 Replies to “Never Say Never: The Tale of a Reluctant Blogger”

    1. Hi, Kate – You’re right! There are endless routes to ‘happy’…and what works for one person would be sheer misery for another. That’s one of the many things that I love about following the blogs that I do. I get to share with like-minded people…and ‘experience’ things that I would never try for myself. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. You are such an inclusive and engaging blogger, Donna. I truly am grateful that I’ve met you. You’re a great model of how to engage with life post-retirement. I’ve just read a new book that I’ll probably talk about on my site at some point. It is called “The Third Chapter” by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. The subtitle describes you: “Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50.”

    2. So true, Kate. Once a teacher, always a teacher. I admire your blog where you chat so freely and so humorously about personal issues. I’m using your blog and others like it as models going forward. It should be interesting!

  1. Hi Karen, as we’ve only “met” recently I didn’t know your back story, so I was interested to read it. Like you, I retired at 55 (and two weeks – that accident of birth is important because it made me eligible when my job disappeared). I haven’t looked back! Donna, I like your trail for next week. *Exit left to put kettle on*
    Anabel Marsh recently posted…Arran – the castlesMy Profile

    1. Hi, Anabel – Thanks for commenting. I love introducing my favorite bloggers to one another. And yes, the ‘end’ of our trail is all too near. Bittersweet for sure!

    2. Hi Anabel. Thanks so much for commenting. It’s neat that we were the same age at retirement. I love life’s little synchronicities. I’m looking forward to your post next week.

  2. Hi Karen and Donna

    I am delighted to have met both of you in District 23 and it would be great if the two of you do get a chance to meet somewhere, sometime.


    1. I’d love that, Fran. I do try to get to Toronto every few years. I will definitely let both of you know the next time that I am there!

    2. Hi Fran,
      I’m grateful to you for introducing me to Donna, however virtually that might be so far. If she comes to Toronto, we’ll definitely have to get together with her. And if not, maybe we need to make a road trip to her!

  3. It’s great to learn more about Karen. I often feel like the “reluctant blogger” myself, but with all of my whining, I can’t give it up. I’ve met so many wonderful people. Enjoy your retirement, Karen!

    1. Thanks for stopping by to check out Karen’s post, Jill. I think that there is at least some degree of ‘reluctant blogger’ in all of us. But once we’ve caught the ‘blogging bug’ and met so many great people, who could give it up now?

  4. Happy to see you here, Karen! Once an educator, always an educator!

    I’m so happy for you that you decided to retire at 55 to focus on happiness on a personal level. It is interesting how this whole educator thing works, though. I was a teacher in Belgium and very passionate and thorough about my job. The hours were long and, as a perfectionist, a teacher’s job is never finished. I loved my time in the classroom, but all the other (extracurricular) tasks were over the top. That being said, I never really decided to quit all together, I just happened to be on one of my long-term travels (“sabbaticals”) and never return. I miss teaching and making a positive change to students’ lives, but my life had other plans in store. And, God is laughing, I’m sure. 🙂
    Liesbet recently posted…Monthly Expenses – July 2017My Profile

    1. Hi Liesbet,
      Happy to see you here too.
      If the journey you’ve taken since teaching is mirrored, even a tiny little bit, in what’s ahead for me, I will consider myself very fortunate indeed!

  5. Great post, Karen, the internet is truly a neat place since people from all over the world can “meet” and get to know each other with all their similarities and differences. Once a teacher always a teacher is right… but that is not to say it is a bad thing, you have taught me so much through Profound Journey Karen and I hope that continues for as long as you have the will to do so. I think it is a natural thing for you to share knowledge with others. If someone does something well and brings value to other people’s lives how will they know unless someone tells them? So, I am telling you! Profound Journey is an inspired creation, Karen, and I am proud to be counted amongst your tribe members.

    You chose an excellent guest blogger here, Donna and the upcoming lineup sounds excellent as well and I will have to come back to check out their posts too. I am already following Anabel Marsh’s blog but I am interested to see what her guest post is going to say. I am just now catching up on my emails and will catch up on my blog reading and comment posting shortly as I work through them. Until I do they sit patiently in my inbox waiting for me to click on them, so rest assured I will get to them.

    1. Thanks so much, Susan, for coming here to comment and for your reassurances and encouragement re my writing. What beautiful sentiments you express, Susan, and you express them beautifully. Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Karen and Donna, I’m really loving this summer guest blogging sequence as I’ve found another kindred spirit blogger (I think) in Karen. I call myself a recovering workaholic. In the work/life balance, there was really just work. I didnt’ have kids, didn’t volunteer, and was even pretty bad with self care. I worked. A lot. How I kept my husband is more a comment on him than me! So my earlier than expected retirement has been a huge learning curve. And so, being a story teller and a “sage” archetype (early self-discovery work in retirement), I started my blog, and am very glad I’m growing my tribe by meeting Karen!
    Pat recently posted…Fear of Missing Out?My Profile

  7. We are indeed kindred spirits, Pat! It is wonderful to meet you. I’ve read your blog posts about your African adventure, but now will go back and read from the beginning of your blogging. I look forward to following your posts.

    I’m curious about the self-discovery work that led to you identifying your archetype. Can you point me in the right direction for doing that? Thanks.

    1. Pat, Just needed to let you know that I’ve started reading your site from the very beginning and am so excited by what I’m finding. You’re talking about exactly the kinds of things that I’m thinking about/wondering about. It’s going to take a while to read all of your great posts, but it will be time well spent.
      And another connection between us that is very obvious. I have a background in and passion for research just as you do. So glad we found each other. Thank you, Donna, for the opportunity.

  8. Hi Karen! It was nice to read about another 55-year young retiree! We seem to be kindred spirits, although I went from the crazy, full-time career of parks and rec TO being (now) a part-time lecturer at a university teaching courses in the parks and rec major. Teaching 15 units a year keeps me busy, as does writing and blogging! I still love this unusual idea of having my entire summers free (something that never happened in 35 years in my career). Thanks for keeping Donna’s lovely blog interesting while she is wandering around Spain 🙂

    1. Hi, Terri – Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting Karen here. It is amazing how much we all have in common in this little corner of the blogosphere! I hope your hand is healing and that your book writing is going well!

    2. Thanks, Terri. I replied to the comment you left on my site, and have signed up to follow your site. I know I will learn so much from your passion for and expertise in the topic of leisure – something I am decidedly not good at!!

  9. Hi Karen! It’s always fun finding new bloggers and Donna’s weekly guest posts are turning out to be a wonderful resource for us all. It sounds as though you’ve had a very interesting life so far, and it’s easy to see that you will continue on teaching and sharing your ideas far into the future–just in a different way than before. I look forward to checking out your site and seeing all the good you have to offer the world. ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living recently posted…Placebos Prove That The Secret To Good Health Just Might Be Our Own MindMy Profile

    1. Hi, Kathy – Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out Karen’s post. Thank you also for your kind comments on this Guest Post series — I am delighted with the way that it has turned out (due to such generous bloggers). BTW – Richard and I had a great discussion on the trail today about placebos and the power of our minds to heal our bodies. Thanks to your recent post for stimulating this discussion!

    2. Hi Kathy,
      You are so right about Donna’s guest posts being such a great resource. I continue to think about the ideas you presented in your guest post and am finding that I am making slight and subtle changes as a result of those ideas. Thank you for that, and thank you for your comment today. I too am looking forward to reading your future posts. Best. Karen

  10. Hi Karen and Donna… two of my favorite bloggers! It was so interesting to learn more about your background, Karen. I was fortunate to retire shy of 60, but a few years older than you. So far it has been a wonderful ride… I can’t imagine going back to work. Although I wasn’t a reluctant blogger when I began three years ago – I was looking for a way to keep writing after leaving work – I find myself going through periods of reluctance now, but only because there is so much else to do now that I am free of work.

    I just love that picture of you – your smiling face reflects the kindness and wisdom that I also find in your writing.
    Janis recently posted…Hodgepodge TravelMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much, Janis! I appreciate your comment about my photo. It’s funny, isn’t it – now that I ‘know’ you a bit too, I find myself zeroing in on the photos in your posts that include you. Pictures are a poor substitute for meeting face-to-face, which I hope we will someday do, but they help a bit.

  11. Nice to meet you, Karen. I’m laughing here. I’m the complete opposite of you. I couldn’t wait to start blogging once I discovered it. I love the ability to start conversations with people around the world– and see what everybody is up to. I’m glad that you had a change of heart, and joined in the blogging fun.

    1. Hi, Ally – I’m a combination of you and Karen — at least in terms of approaching blogging! When I first heard about blogs, I didn’t understand them at all. But as soon as I began reading them more carefully (in preparation for my retirement), I was totally hooked. Now, I can’t even imagine not blogging/following great bloggers!

    2. Thanks, Ally. Nice to meet you too. Now that I’m meeting so many great people, I’m converting for sure. Blogging is way more fun than I thought it would be. When I first started after retirement, I was very serious about it all – convinced I needed to build my audience to the thousands and have all sorts of elaborate plans. Now I’m totally happy with my small but mighty group of tribe members and with the freedom to write about whatever I want. I can definitely see the benefits now and they have nothing to do with numbers.

    1. Hi, Sue – Thank you so much for stopping by to read Karen’s post. It’s amazing how many like-minded people there are in this corner of the blogosphere!

  12. Karen, I too thought I would be a person who never retired, or at least not until I was well into my seventies. But, as you know, I surprised myself and retired in June of this year at the age of 60. Despite all the introspection and angst leading up to my retirement date, I have been loving it and have not had a single moment of regret so far. As for blogging, when I started nine years ago, it was mostly as a way of continuing with a regular writing practice in spite of my busy work life, and also to explore the potential of the Internet. Finding like-minded others out there and connecting was an unexpected bonus!

    Dr Sock recently posted…Moving to a New HouseMy Profile

  13. Hi Jude,
    I’ve been wondering how you are doing. I am so happy to hear that you are loving the early days of your retirement. And of course, what’s not to love? A new home in a beautiful place, more time with family including your wonderful grandsons, and the opportunity to make your own decisions each and every moment.
    I’m so glad it’s working out for you, Jude.

    1. Hi, Dee – Thank you for continuing to follow my ‘Sunday Series.’ I greatly appreciate you doing this. I am loving your blogger series as well. It is such a fantastic way to meet other bloggers and to quickly learn some of their background and what they write about!

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