Labor of love

September 4, 2022

Here we are again at the end of summer, Labor Day weekend, and for many people this marks the beginning of another school year. While I don’t plan to return to the classroom as a teacher, I’m celebrating my current classroom called Never Stop Learning.

What about this life called retirement? Has it brought you contentment, or does boredom too often knock on the window?

On a scrap of paper in my office is a quote from Milton Glaser, co-founder of New York Magazine, that reads, “One of the great lies of American culture is that at a certain age in your life, 65, you are ready to go to Florida and stare out the window. Where in the world did this idea come from?”

Further reading about Glaser led me to an article by Mariana Fernandez, published Aug. 28, 2018, “Milton G on making new work at 89 and why retirement is a trap!” Glaser said, “I’m still working every day. I know that the day I can’t walk up the stairs will be the day I have to put my pencil down. But if I woke up in the morning and didn’t have a place to go, I’d go nuts. It’s a great reason to keep on living. Retirement is a trap. What you want to [make] is work that has some usefulness to others.”

Glaser spent seven decades as an illustrator, graphic designer, art director and visual philosopher. You might know him as the man who originated the I ♥ NY logo. He also said, “I’ve been teaching for over 60 years as well. For me, the role of sharing what you’ve learned is an essential part of the act of making things. You feel differently toward the world when you make things.”

Upon early retirement, in 2011, I signed up for three classes at University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: Basket Weaving, The Creative Process and Song Lyrics - 1900 to the Present.

I made five baskets for the fun of learning a new craft. Next, I brainstormed with a small group of people about what the creative process means. The teacher asked, “What do we need to create?” “What are the parameters of opportunity?” At the time, I wanted to mount my own play – and I still do.

From Doug Yetter’s class on song lyrics (I have five pages of notes), I can still hear him playing his keyboard and singing “The Trolley Song” from the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis,” starring Judy Garland. By listening to and reading lyrics, we felt an appreciation for how much joy they have brought to our lives. The class ended with examining the lyrics of Paul Simon’s “The Sound of Silence.”

In retirement, perhaps there can be too much silence.

Currently, I am in rehearsal for a performance piece that I have written about a pivotal year, 1974, when I became a waitress at the restaurant in Leisure World in order to earn money for college.

And in Delaware Beach Life publisher Terry Plowman’s basement, with two of his cronies from a band called The Gone Boys, Steve Wilson and Mike Long, we are matching song lyrics to my script, editing, jamming and listening to each other create something new! We are immersed in the creative process and loving life as seniors.

We have a gem of an opportunity living here. The catalog for fall classes at is available at your fingertips. The teachers are all volunteers who offer to share their knowledge with retirees who aren’t ready to stare out a window and wonder what to do today.

You can learn about woodworking, watercolor, the German language, Mexican train dominoes or bridge online, or at locations in Lewes, Ocean View, Dover or Wilmington. There’s an OLLI book club, a bird-watching club and a support group for care partners of people living with dementia.

Milton Glaser died on his 91st birthday, June 26, 2020, of natural causes after an extremely long and productive career.

Learning for the joy of learning is what OLLI offers. Feel a part of your community and find new passion, they claim! Visit for details. Most classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 6.


Reach Lisa Graff at Find her on Facebook by searching Our Senior Yearbook; on Twitter @#lisajgraff1 and at her website,


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