December 2015
Billie Silvey
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History, Culture and
the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
Some people look forward to retirement, but
it was difficult for me.  It's always been
important to me to be useful—to friends and
family, employers and readers, Christian
brothers and sisters and anybody who needs
help.  When I began to feel that I was on the
receiving, rather than giving, end, was the
most difficult time of my life.

While a weekend can be wonderful after a
hard week of work, a constant vacation can
be boring, and a meal that's all sweets can
cloy.  What's needed is a balance of work
and rest, stress and relaxation, wholesome
food and dessert.

I'm a workaholic.  I enjoy working--particularly
on the jobs I've held.  I've been able to write
and edit publications, do outreach for a
church, and work with nonprofits.  I've even
been able to develop and coordinate a
nonprofit myself--by far the most satisfying
work I've ever attempted.

In fact, it's all too easy to get your identify
tangled up with your work.  It's hard to
remember that you're more than just what
you do.  I needed to discover the proper
balance between
being and doing.

It even took some effort to figure out
what I
might enjoy doing.  I've never been any sort of
athlete.  I do a lot of reading and writing--even
watching some things on TV, but I have to
watch out for eyestrain.  It takes a real effort to
schedule exercise.  

My friend Diana Ryan has been great to
come by and take walks with me.  My
husband Frank is good to do it as well.

I ordered two books that have proved helpful.  
The first was
Ernie J. Zelinski's How to Retire
Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom
That You Won't Get from Your Financial
 It was the subtitle that sold me on
that book.  

Too many books about retirement treat the
money angle.  Money was never most
important to me.  Zelinski emphasized
principles and values, things that are
important to me as well.

The second was
Dr. Gary Small's The
Memory Prescription:   14-Day Plan to Keep
Your Brain and Body Young.  
Dr. Small is
director of UCLA's Center on Aging.

As Dr. Small points out, "I was particularly
struck by how many people who had
committed to my four-pronged approach of
stress reduction, healthy brain diet, memory
exercises, and physical conditioning reported
almost immediate results."   

I began to look back and assess what I had
done with the time God had given me to
serve him in this world.  Time has always
been a valued resource and gift from God.  
One of my first books was the time
management book I wrote with Helen

And I began to look forward and plan just
what I want to do with the time I have left.

I thought about my relationships.  I need  to
balance relationships and personal
development, caring for others and caring for
myself, knowing God and serving him and
the people he brings into my life.  

The past few years I'd been really
discouraged.  It seemed that my service had
all been in the past.  While I'm grateful for the
opportunities God had given me to serve
others, to teach and write and encourage
A Delicate Balance
people to live in his way, now that all seemed
to be at an end.  My brain, my memories, my
very self, seemed to have let me down.  My
final book had been written.

Then an old school friend, Harris Ives, visited
from Japan.  We made our usual trek to the
Getty Villa where we admired the work of
Harris's favorite, the Baroque sculptor
Bernini's "Boy with the Dragon," and my
favorite, the Hellenistic bronze, "The Boxer."

Harris responded to the contrast between the
innocence of the child and and the menace
of the dragon (below).  It looked more like an
alligator to me!  

He compared it with Paolo Bernini's "Christ
Child Playing with a Nail" at the Louvre and
the Millais painting of "Christ at the House of
His Parents" at the Tate in London.
While Bernini expressed the  
classical ideal, I identified with
the  pain and exhaustion of the
much older "Boxer" (right).  
From his furrowed brow to his
limp hands, the boxer
expresses the emotional
response of the Romantic.  

From my study of Byron to
some of my own writings, I
have explored the place of pain
in life and growth.

In this month's site, I'm looking
at some important elements of
my retired life: the joy of
sharing it with my
Frank, the ups and downs of
year which is ending, and
the pleasure I get from

You're welcome to share your
thoughts about the site, or
anything it brings to mind, at  I hope
you and yours have a safe and
happy holiday season!
In retirement, I'm learning to look back in gratitude for the blessings of a long life and ahead in
hope to whatever the future has in store, to balance useful activity with appreciation for the
service others offer, to enjoy old friends and make a few precious new ones, and to learn from
both beauty and pain.   
Longtime friend and new writing partner, Harris Ives,
visiting from Japan with Kathy, Billie and Katyana.