Monthly Archives: December 2019

The Gift of Time

Freedom from obligations and schedules!

When I first retired from teaching, time was my friend. I had no schedule. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I was in heaven. At least for a while.

I caught up with housework, purging shelves and closets and making repeated trips to the thrift stores to drop off donations before I changed my mind.

I went on a retreat and began hosting a faith sharing group in my home, in addition to continuing to attend the group I had gone to for the previous eight years.  Four years later, I still belong to both groups.

I took community ed classes and community college classes on drawing, writing, and tai chi. I read and read and read books for fun, as opposed to books to improve my teaching skills. I could devour two books a week.

I enjoyed time with my mother-in-law two days a week. I still do.

By the time that first year was over, though, I was looking for something else to fill my time, something useful. I searched various volunteer sites and could find nothing that appealed to me.

Then, within a period of a few weeks, two opportunities fell into my lap. I felt they were meant to be.

I got a job teaching college classes at a local university. I taught what is known as “methods” math classes to students studying to become elementary teachers. I looked at this as an opportunity to give back to the profession that had meant so much to me. Since I only taught in the fall, I had a nice break in between. I was still teaching one of those classes this past fall.

I also found a volunteer opportunity that suited me perfectly. I began tutoring adult English language learners in conversational English. There was no planning or preparation involved. I just showed up and enjoyed myself as I listened to the stories of people who were still learning the English language. I love this weekly opportunity.

Somewhere during that time, I felt the urge to listen to the stories of families of children with autism with the thought that I might write a book. That became a three-year project from organizing interviews to book publication, followed by book signings this past fall.

 Three years ago, I joined the local writer’s guild and publishers’ association, both of which meet monthly. I attend both regularly.

I meet monthly with a group of retired friends for lunch and “game day.” None of us play bridge but there are many other fun games that we enjoy as we catch up on each other’s lives.

Two years ago, I took a class on Mahjong and loved it. Unfortunately, I could only find groups that played on days that I had other obligations. Maybe that’s because I have obligations five or six days a week!?!

A little over a year ago, I picked up a crochet hook and began making amigurami, small crocheted animals, for my soon to be born granddaughter.

Some of my Amigurami

How did my retirement get busier than my work years?

When did I stop having time to just sit down and read a book? I’m lucky to read four books a year now. When did my house get so cluttered again? When did I stop feeling retired? When did I stop walking or keeping myself physically moving?

Some days I have three activities a day. On a good day, I have only one.

Over the last few months, I have taken a new look at my life and at what brings me joy.

After five years teaching college classes, I decided to retire from teaching again. Grades are posted. The semester is over and I’m moving on.

I started making little crocheted gnomes – which my daughters claimed.

I created a plan to finish some other “little old lady” crochet items for Christmas gifts for my young great nieces and nephews and for my granddaughter’s first birthday. It’s been therapeutic. I have loved knitting and crocheting since I learned as a child.

More Amigurami

I made time for this labor of love by taking off from my volunteer job for a few weeks. Attendance is usually lighter for the holidays so I didn’t feel too guilty.

For the first time ever, I have done most of my Christmas shopping online. Other than that, I have cut back drastically on time on the computer.

My husband and I are both experiencing some new and bothersome aches and pains, so we are simplifying our Christmas decorations this year. For this year, at least, we have gone to a tabletop tree because we can’t seem to manhandle the big one.

My New Tree

Our fifteen guests at Christmas will just have to accept the smaller tree.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to watch my grandbaby for two weeks because of what I think is a major pulled muscle in my side.

I decided to put on hold anything that has to do with my book, like signings and promotion, until after the first of the year.

I feel like my choices in life have being given back to me, like a weight has been taken off my shoulders.  Time is my friend once again. It’s a gift I have given myself, a gift of three weeks.

When I was working, I took an occasional vacation. I’ve never been a big traveler but, for me, just taking time for myself is my escape.

Since I have retired, I really haven’t taken a break from my self-created responsibilities. I think we all need a break at times. We all need to find time to retreat from our daily tasks, whether we are retired or working a regular job.

I hope that when my three-week hiatus is over, I will be a little kinder to myself.

How do you carve out pieces of time for yourself? Or do you?

Guess what? I heard about a mahjong group that meets on Monday afternoons. That time’s free since I quit my teaching gig! It begins on December 30.

Uh! Oh!

The Sandwich Generation

It seems like I am not just a Baby Boomer, but I might also part of what is called the Sandwich Generation.

According to Wikipedia: “The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people (usually in their 40’s to 70’s) who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.”

Well, I am approaching the top of the age bracket. I usually spend one day a week caring for my eleven-month-old granddaughter. Most weeks, I spend part of two days enjoying the company of my ninety-two-year-old mother in law, although I would not call that “caring for” her.

I am not particularly fond of sandwiches. When I was growing up, my bologna or jelly and cheese sandwiches were made on soft white bread. I loved the filling of the jelly and cheese sandwiches my mom used to make, especially with swiss cheese. I was not wild about the soggy bread that soaked up the jelly.

If I am part of the sandwich generation, I am the part in the middle.

That implies, I guess, that my grandbaby, my children, and my mother-in-law are the soggy bread. I don’t look at it that way at all.

They are not soggy white bread. They are the artisan bread that gives meaning to the filling in between, that adds to its flavor.

Getting pregnant did not come easily to my daughter. I feel blessed to have a grandchild. Tuesdays are a mixture of laughter, delight and exhaustion. I can’t imagine life without that little slice of artisan bread that anchors me in place.

Then, there is my mother-in-law. My own mother died of leukemia at the age of forty-eight. I was twenty-three. For forty years my husband’s mother has been my own. She helped me in the midst of new motherhood. She has been there through it all. I could not have been luckier.

Currently, I laugh when I tell people that she has a better memory than my husband and I together. Her hearing is assisted by hearing aids. Her eyes are failing due to macular degeneration, leaving her unable to drive. I am glad that she is still with us and that my husband and I can visit her twice a week. My husband and I take her on errands and out to lunch while discussing the fate of her beloved St. Louis Cardinals. How lucky we are. I think she is more like a sturdy, old-fashioned piece of sourdough bread. Definitely not soggy.

My son and two daughters are all strong and independent. None of them are in need of financial support. Sometimes, the things they say to me are truly touching. They make me realize that I did as much right as I did wrong when raising them.

I am fortunate. I would like to redefine what it means to be part of the sandwich generation.