Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: DONNA CONNOLLY, RETIREMENT REFLECTIONS

121 Comments

A warm thank you to Jill Weatherholt for including me in her Summer Spotlight Series. I’m Donna Connolly from RetirementReflections.

When my husband and I first toyed with the idea of retirement, I tried to read as much as I could on the emotional aspect of this transition. At that time, I found heaps of information on the financial side of retiring and much less on the emotional side. Thus my decision to document my reflections (and confessions) as I journeyed into retirement and to reach out to others who were doing the same.

As I began to write and to read other people’s blogs, I discovered what, for me, lies at the true heart of blogging. Building relationships, sharing ideas, reaching out, connecting, and inspiring each other have by far been the most rewarding part of the on-line writing experience. Blogging has allowed me to process both joyous and sorrowful events that have taken place for me during the past year and a half. Other than school documents, policies (and report cards), I had not done much writing since university. Now, spending time each day blogging has been like reconnecting with an old friend who I never realized how much I missed.

You can check out more about me in my answers to Jill’s clever and inspirational questions. I’ve found these questions to be a perfect platform to get to the core of who truly lies at the heart of my writing.

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

Prior to retiring, I worked as a Middle School Principal and Deputy Director at an international school in China, The Western Academy of Beijing. I was privileged to be able to spend much time with children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. As Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho has stated, “A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” I have found these lessons from children to be invaluable.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

Our Middle School in Beijing had only four ‘rules’, i.e. Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect the Environment and Practice Kindness. With these four guidelines firmly in place, our staff and administration discovered that we did not need any other rules for our students, or for ourselves. If choosing just one ‘must’ for the world, I would select “Practice Kindness.”  As actor Morgan Freeman has stated, “How do we change the world?’ One random act of kindness at a time.”

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

On our fridge, my husband and I have a list of destinations to which we wish to travel and a yearly calendar placed beside the list.  At the top of our compilation are Machu Picchu and the Trans-Siberian Railway (okay, so maybe the latter is not exactly a ‘place’). We do not yet have any dates set for these two journeys. Nevertheless, our goal is to get both trips on the calendar within the next three years.

I hope that my answers to Jill’s questions have helped you to get a sense of who I am and what I write about. I’d love to hear from you in the comment section of this post. I’d especially like to know what rule you would make for our world. I look forward to connecting with you!

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

121 thoughts on “SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: DONNA CONNOLLY, RETIREMENT REFLECTIONS

  1. Nice to get to know you a little better here on Jill’s blog. I enjoy your posts. Let’s see, yes, I like your rule of kindness. I feel that if everyone was taught from a young age about empathy – about putting themselves into someone else’s shoes, kindness would abound. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Pam – It is so nice to see you here. I LOVE all of the connections and intersections that take place in our little corner of the blogosphere. You are right. If we would all band together (parents, teachers, community members, political leaders…) and truly model empathy, the results would be world changing! I look forward to following your posts further.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It would be a different world, wouldn’t it, Pam? Thanks for visiting today. Enjoy your weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, Donna. You don’t look old enough to even be considering retiring! Anyway, nice meeting you. How did you wind up at a middle school in Beijing? I’ve never been there, though I’ve wanted to visit. I spent time one summer teaching English at a middle school in Wujiang in the Jiangsu Province. We had similar rules.

    My niece visited Machu Picchu last year. She’d wanted to visit Peru during the time she lived in Ecuador.

    Hope you have a good weekend! Thank you for hosting, Jill!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, L. Marie- It is a pleasure to meet you. With your kind comments above, I like you already!! (Never underestimate the power of Instagram filters.) In 2001, I was a Middle School Principal in British Columbia, Canada. I unexpectedly received the opportunity to work as a Principal at an international school in Beijing. My husband and I thought that we would go for one year….and stayed for fourteen! I’d love to hear more about your teaching experiences in Wujiang.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I went with a group of about 14 other teachers, along with three interpreters, to hold an English Camp at a well-to-do middle school. We were the first Americans to go there. So whenever we walked to school, traffic would stop, as drivers stared at us.

        About 400 kids signed up for the camp. I had close to 40 kids in my class. We worked 12 hour days, taking all of our meals at the school. I never went anywhere without at lest 20 students following me around. 🙂

        We took a field trip to Suzhou. Have you been there? It has beautiful gardens.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, L. Marie! Thanks for stopping by today. Enjoy your weekend and happy writing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Jill for introducing us to Donna. I loved this interview and all those perfect rules! So true that if those are in place, no others are needed. I’ll have to pop round and check out more of her blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Marlene – Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I just checked out your blog. Your recent comments on “paying it forward” fit in well with the concepts of respecting each other and practicing kindness. I look forward to reading more!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Donna. I loved the Dalai Lama saying that Kindness was his religion. I’m on board 100% with that. There is so much more kindness that meanness, it just doesn’t get the attention the negative gets. Stay well and positive. M

        Liked by 2 people

    • It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Donna, Marlene. I hope you do check out her blog, she’s lived a fascinating life thus far. Enjoy your weekend! I recently checked out some journals for you. They weren’t quite as big as the ones you prefer. I’ll keep searching for you. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Even though I follow you, I learned new things about you today! Wow! Beijing! Pretty cool.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Here’s hoping Machu Picchu and the Trans-Siberian Railway come to fruition!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Carrie – Next month my husband and I will hike 675 km from Najera to Finisterre, Spain (approximately 22 km a day for 30 days). In October, we will drive from our home on Vancouver Island to Indio, California. In February, we will visit our youngest son in Singapore. Our plan is to make either Machu Picchu or the Trans-Siberian Railway our next trips after that. Our theory is that if we want to do it, now is the time! I will keep everyone posted on my site. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I have a feeling it will, Carrie. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Guest Post for Jill Weatherholt - Retirement_Reflections

  7. Those are such great ‘rules’ for kids. They get a lot of chatter, not enough follow-through, and I’m thrilled at least your school did that right.

    You’re going to have a great retirement!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great rules, but have to agree with the crowd here that Practice Kindness is the one that the world needs the most right now. Learning of your travel dreams, I can’t wait to read all about your adventures. Whenever you get to them.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Even though I already follow you (and consider you a friend), I enjoyed learning more about your pre-retirement life. I love that you and Richard have a list of places to travel front and center so that they will always be top-of-mind. I have no doubt you will travel to both destinations… and many more!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great to meet you, Donna! Isn’t it wonderful how the Internet connects us? I’m the first to complain about the time drain, yet so enjoy meeting new friends online. Love that you keep your bucket list on your fridge where you can see it everyday to remind you. 🙂
    Waving to Jill! Happy weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi, Tori – I agree that the deep connections made are totally worth the time commitment! Thanks so much for stopping by. It is a pleasure to meet you here.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nice to meet you! I love your photo with the city in the background like that. I’ll have to go on over to your blog and follow because I’ve been wanting to retire for years now. I’ll look forward to hearing about your travels. Thank you, Jill, for introducing us to Donna.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi, Sheila – The retirement planning stage is also an exciting stage. I believe it is a very helpful piece in a smooth retirement transition. I look forward to connecting with you further on my site. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Very nice meeting you, Donna. Thank you, Jill.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi Donna. Nice to learn more about you. Your travel plans sound so exciting. Hope you plan to share about them on your blog. Have a nice weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Lori – I just visited your site and read your very powerful post about Piezon. Your words strongly resonated with me and moved me deeply. Sending you warm thoughts. I look forward to following your writing further.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for popping over, Lori! I have a feeling Donna’s future posts will be full of her travels. Have a great weekend and stay away from that sugar. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi Donna. I’ll echo Kate in saying that I learned more about you through reading this post. I also support all of the commenters who said that “Practice Kindness” works for them. I’d add another rule that is big for me and that is the single word ‘Create’ – create your life; create your own happiness; create something new, even if it’s just new to you. Creating is so uniquely human and it makes us feel alive, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Jill, another great spotlight and I like your thought-provoking questions! 😀 Donna, it’s lovely to ‘meet’ you and your warm personality shines through this post. I couldn’t agree more with your comment about blogging and ‘building relationships, sharing ideas, reaching out, connecting, and inspiring each other’ is at its very core. What great rules and that must have been a wonderful experience to teach there. Have fun on your trips…I like the idea of pinning them on your fridge…luckily we have a large one! 😀❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Annika – My husband and I found our fridge to be the perfect place to firmly write our dreams. Not only do they stare us in the face several times a day, friends and family who visit also engage in discussion with us and help us to continue our planning. I agree that Jill’s questions were very thought-provoking and went right to the core. Several others, who regularly follow my blog, found that they learned brand new things about me here. Thank you for your warm comments.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m happy you enjoyed Donna’s turn in the spotlight, Annika. I loved her reading her answers and learning more about her. Thanks for visiting today! Have a great weekend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I like your four rules… we all would live better lives living by those four rules and I believe being kind is the way to a better world. I feel as though I know you a little bit, I enjoy your comments on Kate’s blog. I will subscribe to your blog when I finish my comment here. Thank you Jill for the interview with Donna, I enjoyed learning more about her. Good Morning!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind comments. I’ve seen you at Kate’s Blog before and have always wanted to stop by your site. I just had a quick visit to your blog and am very intrigued by ‘Friendly Fill-Ins.’ It is amazing how we can get to know each other so quickly through blogging. It’s as though it strips everything else down and we get right to the core. I greatly look forward to going back to read more.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for popping over, Pix! I’m happy you enjoyed Donna’s post. I sure did. Enjoy your weekend and stay cool!

      Like

  19. Nice to meet you, Donna. I love the four rules! Now if only everyone would follow them. 🙂
    Thank you, Jill, for sharing Donna with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Sounds like you’ve had a good and rewarding career, Donna. All I can say is to enjoy your retirement. It will go swiftly past. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Hi Donna, it’s so nice to meet you.

    “Our Middle School in Beijing had only four ‘rules’, i.e. Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect the Environment and Practice Kindness. ” If everybody followed these rules, the world would be a better place.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Hi, Jackie – I greatly appreciate you stopping by. I agree, a little bit of kindness can go a long way!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What a wonderful experience teaching in China, Donna and now you have retirement to enjoy. My husband and I love to travel and discover new places. Like you we have a list and this year it will be Spain in October. I think kindness is definitely lacking in our world and I recently wrote a post about the health benefits of giving and receiving kindness. We can’t have enough! I enjoyed learning more about you, my friend.
    Sue from http://www.sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sue – Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting me at Jill’s blog. She has a wonderful site that I know you will love. Richard and I will be in Spain this year from mid-July to early September. I am so sorry that we will miss you by less than a month. It would have been amazing to meet up with you there! I completely agree with you about kindness. I greatly enjoyed your recent post about health and giving!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by to learn more about Donna. Wishing you and your husband safe travels, Sue.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Donna, I am very impressed with your travel schedule for the upcoming year. I love the idea that the fridge is a perfect place to “firmly write our dreams.”

    To Jill, I too am a writer who has participated in NaNoWriMo several times. But, alas, I have only won once. I have a slow, perfectionistic approach to writing and find it hard to get to the 50,000 word goal.

    Jude

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate you stopping by to learn a little more about Donna. Completing NaNoWriMo once is quite an achievement, Jude. You should be proud. It’s difficult for many to write without editing as they go. For me, I use NaNo as a way to get a fast start to a very rough draft and to learn more about my characters. Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi, Jude – Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing here. Winning NaNoWriMo is a big deal. Congratulations on that! I agree that 50,000 words is a big goal. That’s why I try to stick to under 900 words (or less)! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Nice to meet you Donna and your answers to Jill’s questions were very interesting to read. If I could make one rule for the world it might be to ‘pay attention’, because I think that’s the beginning of empathy, kindness, awareness of what needs to change.

    Like

    • I couldn’t agree more, Andrea. Of course, my immediate thought was people with their faces stuck in their phones, ignoring others around them. People are missing so much. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a great week!

      Liked by 2 people

  27. That is such a creative and thought-provoking rule, Andrea. I love that you have broken this down to look at what lies at the foundation of empathy and kindness. Thank you so much for this powerful reflection!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. It is so nice to get to know you yet a little bit better, Donna! I had no idea you were “stationed” in China. What a rewarding and interesting environment to “principal” in. 🙂 When I was younger and still working as a teacher in Belgium, I had visions of ever teaching in an international school. Instead, my path took me elsewhere.

    And, did you know that the Trans-Siberian Railway (through Mongolia) has been on my wish list since I was 18? My mom once bought me a travel guide about this train journey for my birthday, many, many years ago! It is now on the pile of “need to get rid of” to downsize my few belongings in Belgium. I”m sure it is out-of-date. 🙂

    As for one rule for our world… I am not religious, but the “do not do to anyone else (including animals and the environment) what you don’t want to happen to you” principle is one I wish everybody would take to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great to see you, Liesbet. I appreciate you sharing some of your experiences with us. I agree with your rule too. Thanks for stopping by to learn more about Donna.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Liesbet –
      Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting here. When I read your posts and comments, I discover more and more thoughts/characteristics that we have in common. And now we share the dream of the Trans-Siberian Railway!! I am so glad that I included this ‘desire’ on my guest post for Jill. This has caused Richard and me to relook at our calendar and try to find a time to slot it in. Currently, we have it penciled in for February 2019…but would love to move it up earlier.
      I agree with your rule of treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t forget Russian winters are brutal… Summer time might be better for the Trans-Siberian, but I have a feeling it has become a very popular journey. Mark and I have been playing with the idea of doing this trip as our honeymoon one day (years and years after getting married…). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good point about the Russian winters! We may need to move this trip back to Spring 2019. It sounds like the perfect way to celebrate a long-awaited honeymoon! I hope that you and Mark get there soon!

        Liked by 2 people

  29. Thank-you for the introduction to Donna, Jill – I was fascinated to read about her time in China.
    I am very pleased to ‘meet’ you, Donna! I too, believe that kindness is the key to a better world. My husband and I have spent the first 18 months of his retirement trying to catch-up with all the jobs round the house and garden that we couldn’t get done while he was at work and travelling away from home. It has taken us much longer than we expected and we still aren’t finished!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Hi, Clare – I am so pleased to meet you. Today marks exactly two years of my retirement. You are right–getting stuff done’ takes much longer than expected. Seriously, I don’t know how we ever had time to work! I’ve just had a quick visit to your blog and look forward to reading more. I love following others who are newly retired. I usually find so much in common!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Thank-you so much, Donna! We have been so busy this past couple of months I have hardly posted anything at all! Here I am at 1.40 in the morning trying to catch-up with posts I need to read! I will visit your blog later today after I’ve had a sleep!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Thanks, Clare – While I was still working, I never imagined that I would be so busy in my retirement that I would need ‘catch up time’. Now, I completely understand what you are saying. I look forward to following your blog. Have a good rest!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Clare and Jill – I totally relate to the 5 hours (maximum) of sleep per night. That previously was my average as well. I honestly thought that my body was telling me that that’s all that it needed…especially since that pattern continued in my first year of retirement. Now it’s very rare (and I get very cranky) if I don’t get at least seven consecutive hours of sleep per night. Shutting down my computer and iPhone a minimum of one hour before bedtime has been helpful…but that simply wasn’t an option when I worked. I also find that a warm bath and listening to a good book on audiotape before bedtime helps me sleep quickly and soundly. For me, there’s still something magical about being read to!

      Liked by 1 person

  33. I love this guest post, Donna, perhaps this is the idea you have? How cool to add Maachu Pichu to your bucket list. When I told my hubby that we could retire to Colombia or Chile (where he was born), he almost fell over. I might make it to MP before you! 🙂 Lovely post!

    Like

    • Hi Terri! I’m glad you enjoyed Donna’s guest post. It was fun learning more about her. I hope you make it to Maachu Pichu soon! Thanks so much for stopping by today.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Terri – Thank you for your kind words. My hope for my ‘Sunday Series: Favorite Retirement/Lifestyle Bloggers’ is that it runs similarly to Jill’s Summer Spotlight. Jill’s blog has such amazing followers, who share in very engaging discussions! It has been a terrific experience to be part of this series.
      That is cool that you also have Machu Picchu on your list of places to visit! We will have to compare notes!

      Liked by 2 people

  34. It’s a pleasure to meet you and thanks for sharing your answers to Jill’s questions. 🙂 My husband and I are starting to consider retirement options, but not for a few years still.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by to meet Donna, Lynette. She’s really enjoying retired life. Like yourself, it will be several years until I can call myself a retiree. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Lynette – I greatly enjoyed the planning stage to my retirement. I believe for me, having ample time to consider and plan for retirement was extremely helpful with my transition. Take time to enjoy this stage! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Pingback: Guest Post for Sizzling Toward Sixty: Building Walking into your Lifestyle - Retirement_Reflections

  36. Thank you for including me in your Summer Spotlight, Jill! You have a wonderful community of engaging and inspiring readers/writers/bloggers. I greatly look forward to following this series further!

    Liked by 1 person

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