One of the most wonderful things about being in the retirement stage of life is that we may have more time to spend on things we choose to do – especially things we choose to do for love, not money.
Money is a necessity of life, I know, and I’m not knocking it. But some things are worth more than money, and we can enjoy those endeavors a lot more when we find we have more time.
Take, for example, the joy we can get from volunteering.
As regular WOW readers know, I’ve been lucky enough to teach English as a volunteer one afternoon a week at a small after-school school here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, called Aprendizaje del Ingles. My lesson plans often involve hiding behind my handmade puppets, of whom there are now quite a few:
Harry the Horse teaches “H” words, like “hat.” He says, “In English we pronounce the ‘H.’ Everybody say Ha-ha-ha-ha!” Frida the Frog teaches “Fr” words, like “French fries” – “YUM!” Phil the Fish teaches “Ph” words, like “phone.” Zorba the Zebra teaches, you guessed it, “Z” words. “Who has a ZIPPER?” Zorba wants to know. Debbie the Dragon specializes in “D” words. Dolores Danza just likes to dance to keep the kids’ attention. Pink prefers to sing pop tunes.…
On the last day of class for me for the semester, May 23, the director, Linda Curran, surprised me by having the students read aloud, one by one, the notes of thanks they had written to me as their class exercise the day before. Such as:
Daniela: “Dear Miss bonnie – Thank you for helping me. I like your puppet Dolores. Have a great vacation.”
Rodrigo: “Dear Miss Bonnie – Thank you for helping me. I like your puppet Reina. Have a great vacation!”
Karla: “Dear Miss Bonnie – Thank you for helpig me learn english. I like to learn alot. Have a great vocation.”
Alan M.: “Dear Miss Bonnie – Thank you for being my teacher. I like your puppet. Hav a great vacatioon.”
I was so touched by the niños’ thank-you notes, I was speechless and near tears. I couldn’t even formulate thank-you words of my own in English. I could only tell them that I loved them all.
I have worked and supported myself since I was in my teens, but no paycheck I’ve ever received has ever made me feel as valued as these children’s handwritten notes.
~ ~ ~
This is my 200th blog post. I began writing The WOW Factor four years ago, in May 2014, when I’d just turned sixty-nine.
Like many of the life choices I’ve made on this long journey –such as starting my own small catering business in NYC in my forties, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa in my fifties, adjunct teaching at a community college in New Mexico in my sixties — this blog was never meant to be a money-making enterprise. It is totally free. And nobody pays me, monetarily, that is, for doing it. As they say, “Once a Peace Corps Volunteer, always a Peace Corps Volunteer.”
Call me a fool (a fool for love?), but in the words of Edith Piaf, “Non, je ne regrette rien,” I regret nothing. (Go to YouTube to hear her sing it. Her voice will melt your heart, whether or not you know French.) Money comes and goes, but the priceless things endure.
So I plan to continue to write more weekly WOWs, for as long as I can, in the hope that some readers will continue to find them, like a lot of things that have no price tags, enriching and worthwhile.