The Second Half: Back to my future

By Kathleen D. Tresemer


Instead of agonizing over resolutions I need to make this year, I am starting 2010 on a positive note. After all, a new decade deserves a new approach.

“Reflecting on the past year, or decade, can give us perspective,” I confide in my nearest and dearest. “And it helps us create a more productive, enjoyable future.”

This kind of philosophical discussion has led to some of my less-enlightened friends calling me a “know-it-all” behind my back. On the other hand, I recently overheard a gaggle of my Second-Half buddies announce my arrival with, “Here comes the Grand Poobah!” I can’t figure out if I should be flattered or insulted, so I roll my eyes and grin knowingly, trying to cover both bases.

One 50-something pal talks about his struggle with just this issue: “This year, I am starting with a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself—looking back to move forward.”

For those of you in the dark, this is a typical practice of participants in a 12-step program. This step helps to objectively reflect on the past—on strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, and acts of both kindness and harm to others—to make amends where needed and create a plan of progress toward improved behavior and choices.

Sound like a lot of work? Well, the “making amends” part is portrayed with great humor and silliness in the now-cancelled NBC & TBS television sitcom My Name is Earl. When a petty crook decides to mend his ways—he just discovered the concept of “karma”—he takes a personal inventory, makes a list of all the people he has harmed, and proceeds to try making it right. Unfortunately, the more he reflects on his past deeds and makes amends, the more he needs to fix…just like real people.

I saw in the news that My Name is Earl just got cancelled—so much for a humorous take on taking responsibility for your actions.

Back to reflecting on last year: “Yeah, well, I’d rather just forget about yesterday!” some argue. “I’ll just see what tomorrow brings when it gets here.” I’m told this has worked very well in the past—in the vernacular, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

I don’t know what all the resistance is about. How is my new plan different than cleaning out your closet or sitting down with your tax preparer? Well, to be truthful, I hardly ever clean out my closets because they resemble those circus clown cars, stuff tumbling out and multiplying before my horrified eyes. And I am on the verge of tears for a whole week before going to the Tax Man. Still, in the rational light of day, they both seem easy enough…afterwards.

So, I tried with Hubby, “Hey, based on last year, what would you like to change, improve, or accomplish this year?”

“Change?” he asked.

“Yeah, you know,” I kept trying, “Like how I’ve started working on eating healthier and taking yoga.”

“Oh, right,” Hubby nodded enthusiastically. “That sounds good!”

“OK,” still patient, “but what would you like to do, to improve on last year? Maybe something we could do together, like save to take a trip or something.”

“Oh, right,” he jumps right on the bandwagon. “I would really like to take a trip together.”

And so on…at least I got the “taking a trip” suggestion out there. The “making a plan” part is a lot harder than I thought, especially when it comes to engaging another person in the process.

I’ll return to my original idea—take a close look at last year and see where that takes me.

My 20-something son commented generously on my career this past year: “Creativity, journalistic collaboration, and the ability to add your personality to everything you work on…looks like you’re thriving!” Well, that’s just awesome.

Looking back, I noticed my appearance has taken a hit this year and my wardrobe is suffering from neglect. Hubby says, “Buy some new things for yourself—you know it will make you feel better.”

So, I wandered off to Coldwater Creek and found my new favorite thing: jeans made of a knit fabric! Stretchy soft, like sweatpants, only nice-looking. Thrifty at heart, I only got one pair, but I’m going back for more…uh, after I drop a size.

That takes me to my attitude about my body: exercise and nutrition have been an after-thought all year. I ask myself, “What could be more important than my health?”

So, I signed up at Lazy Dog Yoga Studio and Yoga Master Rachel Bixby is pushing me to new heights…literally! After only one month, I feel a couple of inches taller, or maybe I just feel so good I stand taller. Either way, it’s a plus: “Namaste, Rachel!” (

On the “healthy eating” side, I took David Mulvain’s nutrition class out at CLR (Center for Learning in Retirement: and, with my usual commitment phobia, implemented only a few of his suggestions. As a result, I am the only person I know to have lost weight during the holidays, and I feel good, too. I am working through my grief—mourning the loss of those least-healthy carbs—with the help of my loved ones. And I console myself with visions of slipping into my riding chaps without the help of a crowbar this spring. (

I’ve stopped reflecting for now—every time I look back, I find another change I need to make. Like Earl, my list keeps growing, but no one can accuse me of being bored. “2010, here I come!”

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at

From the Jan. 13-19, 2010 issue.

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