Embracing Change—A Success Story

Frances Kolarek-150 wideBy Frances Kolarek —

One day Hazel took a look at her well-ordered life in a Midwest city—a successful career from which she had recently retired, a comfortable home, an active church membership, a tightly woven group of friends—and thought, ”I’m bored.” Days unfolded, one after the other in the same pattern, with holiday celebrations identical, year after year. “Boredom had set in and I was ashamed to admit it,” Hazel now says, “but there it was, staring me in the face.” Aging in place, that vaunted goal, had lost its appeal.

Each of her two adult children had found jobs within the greater Washington, D.C., area. She paid them a visit, toured some retirement communities, found Collington’s spacious rural surroundings appealing and impulsively signed up for a cottage.

“I was surprised at myself,” Hazel later said. ”I am not inherently an impulsive type. But suddenly there I was, in strange surroundings with all my stuff in boxes waiting to be unpacked asking myself ‘What have I done?’”

Today Hazel admits to being happier than she ever expected. She’s involved in the many activities open to Collington residents, who play a significant role in community life, even sending three members to the Board of Directors.

She helps with flower arranging—fresh floral arrangements greet the eye in all public spaces. She’s active with an outreach group that offers financial and mentoring support to community schools, where children qualify for free lunches and their families are in need.

Hazel has embraced a circle of friends whom she enjoys for the variety of their backgrounds, and their open-minded attitudes, welcoming lesbian and gay couples into their midst.

She especially enjoys time she spends with her grandchildren, liberating their parents for dinner out, time together.

She believes she has ”grown intellectually,” having gained a wider appreciation of art through visits to Washington’s National Gallery of Art and many other museums.

“I would never have believed that I could remake my life in such a rewarding manner,” she says.

Change! Embrace it. You’ll like it.


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