Posts Tagged ‘Life changes’

Saw-Whet Owl — The silver lining of aging is that I have more time to observe birds and paint them. — Art by Pat Bean

As An Old Broad Sees It

I married young, had five children, then joined the work force a month before I turned 28. I was lucky. I fell into a job that I loved so much that I overlooked how hard I struggled to make it all come together as a working mom. I actually believed I could have it all. That makes me laugh now. Today’s women are wiser.

I joined the work force in 1967, long before the much-needed Me-Too Revolution took place. It was also a time in history when women, in large numbers, were finally speaking up for equal opportunities and equal rights and pay as men.

We women have come a long way since then. Just one example is that in the 1960s, women accounted for only 3 percent of the nation’s lawyers. Today that number is over 40 percent. Ruth Baden Ginsburg pointed out the growing numbers of female lawyers in her book My Own Words.

But on a more personal level, I see my granddaughters struggle with finding jobs that they enjoy, but also jobs that let them have a life outside of work. And they are not alone. Just this morning I came across two articles, one in the N.Y. Times, and one that just popped up because I was reading the Times piece. (Sometimes I think the computer gods know more about what I should want than I do.)

Wrote Roxane Gay in the Times article: “… People want something different, something more. They want more satisfaction or more money or more respect. They want to feel as if they’re making a difference. They want to feel valued or seen or heard. They want the man in the next cubicle to chew less loudly so they are afforded more peace … They want to have more time for themselves and interests beyond how they spend their professional lives. They want and want and want and worry that they will never receive the satisfaction they seek.

I’ve heard the same thoughts from my granddaughters.

These are thoughts this old broad, raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression, is only now beginning to hear. During my parents’ era, the main concern was simply for the man of the family to have a job, hopefully one that the family could survive on, never mind if he liked the job or not.

I remember hearing my father say, when my mother finally went to work after the children were all gone, “her salary only pays for what the IRS now charges me in taxes.” This wasn’t true but it salvaged his pride that his wife was working. She, actually, was a better provider than he had ever been.

Now retired, I have time to reflect on all the advances we women, and men, have made over the years. l think having a life outside of work is a worthy idea, especially, since as a journalist of my era, I met hundreds of people who hated their jobs but didn’t have the advantage of quitting, or so they thought.

If I hadn’t fallen into a job I loved, and which gave me all the satisfaction I needed, I could have been one of them.

Now, I’m just an old broad enjoying her retirement, and having time to look at the world a bit differently. I find this quandary of life and its many changes fascinating – but glad I’m not in the middle of the quandary. Being an old broad does have its silver linings.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is an avid reader, enthusiastic birder, the author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), is always searching for life’s silver lining, and these days aging her way – and that’s usually not gracefully.

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Great horned owlets hanging in during a storm. — Photo by Pat Bean

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending an extra amount of time hanging out on my living room third-floor balcony, where I always see hummingbirds and often great horned owls during the day and a spectacular sunset almost every evening.

The views have become especially precious since I know I will be leaving them behind when I move to a new place mid-August. We humans are quite funny in that we tend to value more what we don’t have than what we do have. And that certainly includes more than just a pleasant view.

My new place offers me things I need, like a fenced patio for my dog, and it does have trees and birds and brilliant red and orange desert bird of paradise plants which make me happy. So, I will be receiving new gifts for my eyes, for which I’m thankful.

But in the meantime, I’m enjoying my tree-house view with more appreciation, knowing that I’m going to be leaving it behind. The attention I’ve given it let me take the owl photo above of this year’s great-horned owl siblings. During the 10 years I’ve spent in my apartment here, I’ve watched newly fledged owls learn their way around for seven.

I’ve also listened to their parents courting hoots early on in the year, but these more mature birds are more aloof and don’t hang around in full view as often as their young – who haven’t yet learned that man is the most dangerous beast on earth.

The favorite roosting spot of this year’s owlets is a tall Ponderosa Pine that stands in perfect view of my balcony They are a brother and sister, easily told apart because the female is quite a bit bigger than the male, a trait of just about all predator birds.

Recently I watched the pair during a rain and wind storm, one strong enough that it crashed down another large Ponderosa Pine here.  As I watched the owlets, the female actually seemed to hover over her brother as they stood high on a large branch right next to the tree trunk as smaller limbs and tree needles tossed to and fro around them. This was when I took the photo.

Last year, there were three owlets adjusting to the world here in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills. Their favorite hangout was usually the rooftops, and I usually only saw them when walking my canine companion, Scamp.

But for days and days, one of them spent many hours in what sounded like literal crying. It was quite an unpleasant screech. I suspect that it began after their parents stopped feeding them because it was time for them to be off on their own.

Shortly after this happens, the new crop of owls disappear, and the courting songs begin again soon after.

 I feel quite blessed to have had the past years with these owls. But it’s time for me to move on and start making new memories to cherish.  I can do that, too.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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