Pictured: Marjorie P. Lee resident Joanie Thomas.
Purposeful living can make all the difference in how we focus, react, and dream after retirement. When we make a choice to live purposefully, we’re also choosing to live fully and enjoy each day fully. Purposeful living can be an abstract subject, though, and many people don’t know how to put into words how they would live purposefully.
At Marjorie P. Lee in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood, residents don’t have to worry about home maintenance or other stressors. Instead, they can focus on doing the things they’ve always loved and can devote more time to their passions.
Meet three of our residents and see how they embrace the idea of purposeful living in their daily lives here at this premier retirement community.
We first showcased Dan Wheeler’s positive aging story back in April 2018. Nearly four years later, Dan continues to find purpose in his life at the Marjorie P. Lee retirement community through his encore career as an artist.
“I was a serious fine art photographer in high school and college,” he explains. “I shot black and white film and made 16x20 exhibition prints in a darkroom. But when I went to graduate school in psychology, I gave up photography completely.”
“I began photography again when digital cameras came along,” Dan continues. “I could get the control on the computer that I used to get in the darkroom. I’ve had a series of digital cameras, and now I’m also using my iPhone for photography. I use Photoshop and Lightroom for photo editing.”
Dan says he hasn’t been able to go out and take many photos during the pandemic, but he continues to hone his craft in other ways.
“I’ve concentrated on submitting my previous work to online competitions,” he explains. “The Motif Collective runs an international monthly competition with a different theme each month. I’ve been entering every month since last December. I haven’t won any major prizes, but my photos have been consistently shortlisted into the top tier of the themes competition.”
Visit Dan’s website here to see more of his photography.
When asked what purposeful living meant to him, Dan said, “My creative work gives me purpose for my life.
“I have several creative outlets in addition to my photography,” he continues. “After coming to Marjorie P. Lee, I joined the Memoirs Group. Each month, the members read to the group a brief memoir about some aspect of their life. I’ve now written over fifty of them. In 2016 I submitted one of them to the regional LeadingAge Art & Writing Show. It won second place in the non-fiction category.”
“I’m a creative cook, too,” Dan says. “I buy ingredients that look good at the moment and then figure out something to do with them. I sometimes use recipes, but the resulting dish often bears only a vague resemblance to the recipe that inspired it. I’ve posted photographs of meals I’ve cooked on my website.”
“I’ve also invented a new kind of sundial that shows both the time and the date. I planned it for the [Marjorie P. Lee] Victoria Courtyard and made a working prototype that was printed on paper. But I never figured out how to make a weatherproof version that could actually be put on display.”
Although Joanie Thomas has only lived at Marjorie P. Lee since 2019, she hasn’t wasted any time integrating with the community and finding ways to live purposefully in her retirement.
Joanie, pictured with Katrina Traylor, left, and Ann Hunter, center, who helped reopen the Corner Store at Marjorie P. Lee in 2022 after the pandemic closed it. Joanie says the best thing about volunteering at the store is “meeting people and looking at the good things we have.”
Joanie serves as the President of the Marjorie P. Library and was instrumental in moving it from the first floor of the community to the sixth floor. Joanie, along with several other residents, helped tag every book by the last name of the book and the first letter of the author’s last name, so their neighbors could browse the collection more easily.
“It’s a lovely, quiet little place,” Joanie explained during Episode 29 of the ERS Linkage Podcast on January 29, 2021. “It’s got two beautiful, comfortable chairs and tables surrounded by all these wonderful books. And we’ve now got over a thousand books in there, so it’s a great room to just go up and right among all those authors and all those wonderful stories.”
Joanie also enjoys the social connections that come along with being President of the library. “I have a wonderful committee,” she said on the Linkage Podcast. “They come up with all these great ideas, and it's been so fun. It'll be even more fun when we can all get together again — we have ten people now, so we can't meet [due to current COVID-19 guidelines]. I've been doing communications through our little cubbies that we all have to get our mail. We still have small groups doing projects here and there, but it will be so nice when we can all be together.”
Marjorie P. Lee resident, Peggy Downs (pictured below with Chloe Hough), practices purposeful living by taking advantage of the retirement community’s fitness center. Not only does she use the equipment for independent exercise, but she also attends group classes with Wellness Director Chloe Hough. Chloe offers both standing and seated exercise classes focused on helping residents keep their bodies and brains active.
“[Chloe] is very inspirational, and she’s fun,” Peggy explained in Episode 24 of the ERS Linkage Podcast. “Every Friday, we all wear crazy socks — you know, like with Fiona [The Hippo] on them or something. It’s a great way to start the day… we all look forward to it.”
When she’s not at the fitness center, Peggy enjoys knitting — sometimes by herself but often with friends. “I have been knitting newborn baby hats,” she explained. “I used to volunteer at Christ Hospital in the special care nursery. I volunteered there for like 27 years, and I'm still knitting baby hats! That's all I knit anymore. I used to knit sweaters and all kinds of stuff, but now I knit baby hats.”
“Unfortunately, the hospitals aren't accepting them right now [because of the] coronavirus,” she continued. “So I just kind of accumulate them. Chloe had two friends that had babies. I also try to give them to people who have great-grandchildren. I have to do something with them. I've got all this yarn, and I'm going to use it!”
Now that you’ve met three of our Marjorie P. Lee residents, surely you can see how living purposefully and staying engaged after retirement can make a difference in your outlook and joy. When you join a retirement community, you can free up your time to focus on the activities you truly enjoy. You might even have time to rekindle your love of old activities. No matter what you choose to do, staying engaged will help you continue to live purposefully after retirement.
If you’d like to hear more stories about how our residents live purposefully, listen to the ERS Linkage Podcast!
This blog was updated in 2023.