She served as a gofer for a production of "Our Town" at Colonial Players in 1979. After that, she immersed herself in every aspect of production, including props and lighting design. But it was eight years before her son declared, "Mom, you should be directing."

Her husband, Jack, encouraged her to volunteer at Colonial Players.

"Good," he thought, Carol Youmans recalled. "That will give her something to do when I bowl."

But within weeks, he was beside her, painting sets. "He never looked back," she said, "and he hasn't bowled since."

Now she is the theater's artistic director, which means she is part of the team that selects the shows and chooses the directors. There are six or seven shows a season — some with a "viewer discretion advised" sticker on the playbill. She will return to directing when her time as artistic director is over.

Like Marsala, who found the educational component of being a master gardener so appealing, Youmans is invigorated by what she can learn from each play. Each part of a production, from lighting design to character development, has a role in telling a story, she said. And she and her fellow volunteers at Colonial Players have a role in breathing life into that story.

"And I love the people, whether they are characters in the play or the actors on the stage," she said. "I will be doing this until I drop."

Joe Perona

It took a lot of planning to retire at 53, said Perona, who left his job in the defense community 15 years ago. But he wanted time to pursue the things that interested him — primarily, teaching in college, a job he always had imagined for himself.

He's been teaching math ever since at Anne Arundel Community College. But his schedule allowed time for the physical fitness he never had time for when he worked.

"I would skip lunch and walk up and down the stairs instead," he said of his working years.

He signed up for aerobics and, after 30 years at a desk job, was surprised to find that he could keep up.

There were other sports, too. Ice skating and martial arts and some yoga classes. But there also were several surgeries, two on his back and one on his knee, and a pair of serious abdominal surgeries. Each required a long, frustrating recovery. Each time, he gained weight.

Determined to get back into shape, he signed up 18 months ago at Evolutions, a gym, yoga and Pilates center in Annapolis. He took another yoga class and never looked back. He has barely missed a day since.

"My weight went down, and I felt stronger," he said. "But I also began to experience the clarity of thought that they talk about.

"I went there with physical goals, and I found that," he said. "But the benefits of the process are there. Yoga is the foundation of what I do. I can't imagine my life without it."

Perona finds that he can keep up quite well with the mothers of toddlers on the mats beside him. He has energy, no matter how hard he works in class. He has gotten even more out of the classes because of the spiritual leadership of his teachers.

Yoga healed his body but also sharpened his mind.

"I don't make any serious decisions if I haven't been in several days," he said. "I find that if I have something on my mind, when I leave class I can frame it differently."

Practicing yoga was not on Perona's list of things to explore when he retired 15 years ago.

"Now I can't imagine ever stopping."

sreimer@baltsun.com

twitter.com@SusanReimer


To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.