Seniors & Aging

University communicator finds a new voice in retirement

Name: Lynne Masland

Age: 67

Residence: Bellingham

Retired from work not life: After Masland stepped down as director at the Office of University Communicationsat Western Washington Universityin 2006, her day-to-day routine didn't lose steam. She joined the Whatcom Community College Foundationboard, serves as Sunrise Rotary'svocational director, and writes a column about cheerful books and films for Western's Retirement Associationnewsletter.Nothing to do? "I made efforts not to have that happen." She says staying involved and active made an "enormous difference" in the quality of her life.

Thinking bigger: Masland's discovered there are fewer risks trying new things when her career can't be jeopardized; she's taking ad-vantage of her new freedom. "You're supposed to have courage to fail, but it's more realistic now." If you don't like one thing, "you go onto something else."

Staying engaged: Don't do it if you don't enjoy it, says Masland, who has less patience for things she isn't excited about.

Still learning: One year after Masland retired, she conducted a survey she created about campus life at Western and analyzed the re-sults. She had commissioned surveys in University Communications, but had never hit the field to flesh out the results. "I had never been a cruncher of numbers," Masland says. Her new skills culminated in a complete report for the university.

Writing history: With the help of Whatcom Museumphoto historian Jeff Jewelland a $5,000 grant from the Washington Women's History ConsortiumMasland is writing a history of Whatcom women's progress and the Whatcom YWCA's"100 Years of Challenge and Change" — an "interesting" and "challenging" experience that will benefit the organization when it's released in November, Masland says. The pair realized they had enough material for the book after researching photo archives for a Whatcom Museum exhibit they co-curated for the WhatcomYWCA's centennial.

Aging with grace: Masland wrote her dissertation in 1999 — coming into her own middle age — about the roles older women played in literature over time. "It's a really good time to be an older person if you have access to certain things," Masland says, such as health, education and sufficient resources survive to not have to worry about basic survival issues. Learning from literature: Older women were historically considered at the end of their lives when they were no longer "useful" to society as wives and mothers. From reading women's literature, Masland gleaned what kind of person she wanted to be as she aged. "I decided to be an elder with wisdom, not a pious old woman!"

Broadening her horizons: Masland most recently traveled to Hondurasand Guatemalawith Rotary friends in January, furnishing clean water supplies in CopanLast fall, Masland traveled with her daughter and son-in-law to visit his family in Ireland. "It's wonderful to be able to say yes to these opportunities and trips." With each new avenue there's a sense of exploration, she says.

A Sunday artist: Maslandparticipates in a weekly painting class at Whatcom County artist Lorna Libert's studio. Since taking her first oils class at Whatcom Community College, she's exhibited at the Blue Horse Galleryand painted in Venice, Italy .

Staying active: Since retiring, Masland increased her exercise regime. "It's the last thing in the world you feel like doing" when raising a family and working, she says. She often walks around Lake Paddenand weight- trains with friends in SilverSneakersclasses at the YMCA. She's prepping to be able to still pick up her 20-month-old grandson, Patrick, as he grows.

Joy of grandkids: "I get to see (Patrick) every day." Masland says it keeps her younger,mentally and physically.

The challenge of aging: "People who remain interesting to be around keep going." The key? "Trying to stay interested," she says, by reading the paper and staying knowledgeable by current events. "It's worth the effort."

Brain exercises: Masland furrows her brow over crossword puzzles and her writing projects.

What's next: What can we be like after we're mothers and have a career, Masland asks. She looks to examples of strong women in her own life taught her to voice her opinion, speak intelligently and have a sense of humor.

Words of wisdom: "Do what's there and have fun with it. When you're through with that, something interesting will come your way. Follow what's there in front of you."