• Katherine Dudley Hoehn

"Leave IT!" and Staying Relevant


Leah with her best Florida buddy

“Leave it,” is a popular training command used when a dog is misbehaving or unfocused. It is preferred over “no,” but a brief enough command that, with emphasis, is understandable to a distracted dog whose native tongue is not English. Leah’s comprehension is limited to “no,” “come,” “sit,” “go for a walk,” “ride in the car,” or “treat,” the latter being her favorite. “Treat” induces tail wagging and body gyrations. She doesn’t understand “Leave It!” and her resume is full of both good and bad behaviors.

Leah chases lizards. Native green anoles are off limits.

Leave it applies to humans, too. Sometimes we need to be reminded to stay present and leave the past behind. During a recent meeting to discuss a volunteer board position, it became clear that my new acquaintance had no idea what I did in my former life, and it didn’t matter at all. He knows me only because of my work here in

Granddaughters playing "freeze" and creating memories

the community and what I have done since I moved away from the Washington, D.C., area. A retired physician, his former life was unknown to me until our meeting, and equally irrelevant. However, we enjoyed reminiscing a bit about changes in Washington, D.C., and the world of medicine.

Blue Ginger, one of my favorite garden residents.

I’m increasingly aware that my story began anew a few years ago, after leaving my former career and much of what was comfortable and familiar. No resumes required here. Leave it!


Moves, and to a certain extent retirement (or, for me, semi-retirement) and career changes, are a good way to “leave it” and move on. Become a new you, forget past struggles or even embarrassing failures, develop new skills, and simply celebrate who you are now. Write a new resume!

Volunteer! Keeps Nassau Beautiful!

In Washington, D.C., I was always some extension of the person, the cause, or the institution I worked for. Being your own person was more challenging. There, your perceived value had much to do with the access and status you could bring to the table. That meant less focus on the real person and more on the resume.


Only what I have done since relocating matters to most people, now. Volunteering, sharing, writing, and supporting the community make up my new bio. Having no title is freeing. Resting on my laurels is not the place for me.

Cliffs at Pickle Springs, Missouri

Nobody cares what I used to do or what positions I held before I came here. They just want to know me. That feels good and opens a new world of possible friendships and acquaintances. If I feel the absence of friends or activities, I know it is because I am not doing enough to generate them.

Ladies' lunch!

Accomplishments are no longer as newsworthy, but I need new ones to stay relevant. Whether it is writing or donating my time, accepting a volunteer position, entertaining, reading a great book, adopting an amazing dog, or traveling to fulfill the need to explore -- it all adds up to the present me and makes her more interesting than a yellowing resume.


I recently wrote my introduction to a group of writers with whom I will be in a study program. My brief writeup included nothing from my old life and instead described my writing, volunteer activities, recent and planned travel, and family. That is me.


Past accomplishments fade, and get dusty and irrelevant, like old, tarnished trophies. Our stories need re-writing, updating, and current activities to make them - and us - relevant.

Dungeness Mansion on Cumberland Island

Let's keep on doing, without the crutch of our old accomplishments, stay active in our communities, and build new resumes where we look interesting to be with. The rest can become stories, for our books, blogs, or memoires, that we can embellish all we want.


A fresh start can be a wonderful thing - after we learn to just “leave it!”

Atlantic sunrises are the best way to start a new day!


Sis and me, making memories




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