To enjoy retirement, you must make good choices

March 2, 2014

One of the most wonderful choices I made in my retirement was to join the Coastal-Georgetown branch of the American Association of University Women. I wandered into a book club discussion a few years ago at the Lewes Public Library, and seated around a table was a group of women sharing their ideas about a book titled “The Warmth of Other Suns: the Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles the long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost 6 million people changed our nation. I never even thought about this before. New knowledge empowers me, and since then, I have chosen to read more nonfiction and have even joined a diversity book club.

Last week at our monthly AAUW meeting, two guest speakers talked about their decisions to become involved in prison ministries. Pat Powell, a retired teacher, spoke about her work with Thresholds, the decision-making program at Sussex Correctional Institution. An eight-week course is offered five times a year for anyone who has time to teach others about making good life choices. Volunteers attend a decision-making in-service, prison orientation, and then shadow an experienced teacher before they step in to teach themselves. Pat says she doesn’t ask about an inmate’s past transgressions, because her job is to see people as they are today - wanting to learn from past mistakes and receive a another chance at a better life.

Guest speaker Tony Neal, a recovering addict, shared his path to The Way Home, an interfaith ministry that supports men and women in their transition from prison to home. The program engages the community in this work. Tony now dedicates his life to The Way Home to ensure that other inmates know they have someone like him to help make the transition from prison to a new life outside bars. If interested in Thresholds, please call Sandy, 302-236-9110 or email If you would like to learn more about The Way Home ministry, go to or phone 302-856-9870. The Way Home annual gala will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, April 5, at Catch 54 restaurant in Fenwick Island. Admission is $35 per person and includes a scrumptious meal and lively music by Doug James. To reserve tickets, call 302-856-9870.

I received a lovely email from Michael, a retired elementary school principal from Baltimore County, Md., who is helping people in his neighborhood lose weight and focus on nutrition, exercise and a healthy heart. Bravo! In our busy work lives, we often ate our lunches in front of a computer in 10 minutes, tops. Eating healthy can be a challenge for those of us with more time on our hands, and it all comes down to that word again: Choices. I love that I have time to cut an avocado and construct a fresh salad and actually sit at the dining room table to eat lunch now. What keeps me motivated to maintain a healthy weight is the memory of my mother. She tried every diet, but she smothered her bread with butter and often bought cheese Danish at the local bakery. When I would accompany her in my early adult life after I had lost weight, she would act disappointed if I didn’t eat one too. I prefer to remember her taste in literature and marvel at the fact that without a high school diploma, she was one of the most well-read women I knew. Wish I could share what I am reading now with her.

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