Tag Archives: retirement

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.

NaMoWriMo and a Nonfiction Author

I sat on the edge of my bed at 5 am checking my emails because that’s what retired people do, right? I noticed some information from my local library about events for National Novel Writing Month in November (NaNoWriMo). I quickly moved on. Not applicable.

An hour later, after I completed my exercise routine, washed the baby bottles and baby toys the dog had mouthed, and had my first cup of tea, I jumped into the shower, vowing I would be quick about it. No hair washing as I have a hair appointment at noon and she will wash it then. The people with whom I volunteer as a conversational English tutor will just have to look past the flat spots in my less than perfectly coifed hair.

Let me randomly add here that I usually wash the bottles and clean up on Tuesdays after my granddaughter leaves from her ten hours with me. For some reason I was more exhausted than normal after chasing my 11-month-old angel.

 I have ignored whatever has crossed my visual path about NaNoWriMo this month as I am a busy, NON fiction author in the midst of the trials and pains of marketing a recently published book. I have also never, I repeat, NEVER aspired to writing a novel.

Years ago, I began writing a picture book about a chipmunk, of all critters. I also began an early readers’ chapter book as well as a memoir picture book for children. I had considered writing nonfiction children’s biographies. No adult novels in the works at all.

I like to believe I do my “best thinking” in the shower. There’s something about the warm water washing away the nighttime stiffness that frees my mind. My thinking in the shower is actually random and all over the place. It might be considered brainstorming. If you are into bullet journaling you might call it a brain dump.

The problem with my wonderful shower thoughts is that once I am dressed and excited about writing down whatever I thought about, the finer parts of the thoughts seem to have gone through the exhaust fan with the steam. I can’t remember that wonderful first sentence or the details of the brilliant idea that made it most brilliant.

This particular morning, my shower thoughts happened to focus on NaNoWriMo although I think it might have whirled around my head more like “Namo Rhino” or “Rambo Nemo.” I really had some great thoughts! While the finer points have wafted off like steam into space, two questions were circling around in my head and still are.

One. Should I, who never considered writing a novel, try writing a novel in a month? At least there wouldn’t be years wasted. Just thirty days. What on earth would it be about? Well, since I have been immersed for three years in autism maybe it could be a fiction book about a family who has a child with autism? It took almost three years to write the book I have written. And that was mostly other people’s words! How could I even write anything in one month? So funny, right?

Second. Could I just use the month as a motivation to actually write anything? Should I post something to one of my blogs every day, something just for the sake of sharing my thoughts? I would take a break from checking book sales and web stats for thirty days. I would not think about appropriate use of titles, first sentences and headings to maximize SEO. I would not think about the ideal blog length. These thoughts all stifle any creativity I might or might not have.

And, by the way, I wrote this in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes a day for thirty days. Hmm.

Moment of Truth: (Added to the original twenty-minute piece write before posting.) I allowed myself twenty minutes to write so I would have enough time to get to my volunteer job. I finished in twenty minutes. Perfect right?

Well by the time I grabbed my purse, decided on a coat, etc. I was too late to go anyway. I had to bail. I love my volunteer job (sad face). I’m glad I didn’t wash my hair! That would have been a waste.

Any thoughts out there? What should I do with NaNoWriMo? What are you doing?

I have only one more day to decide.

Retired or Author?

Am I retired? When I began this blog in 2014, I adopted the theme of “Retirement – My New Reality” and somewhere along the way, retirement does not seem like my reality.  I am……. Hmm. Who am I? When I think about who I am, the word retired doesn’t  pop into my brain as readily as it once did. I am busy, but have plenty of time to relax, frequently. I am a grandmother, enjoying a three-month-old without the pressure of parenting. I am a somewhat lazy gardener who still manages to grow enough kale to make smoothies all summer and enough lettuce to make a big salad almost every night for most of the summer. We won’t talk about the tomatoes that were ravaged by the deer last year. I volunteer as conversation tutor for adults learning to speak English. I am a college instructor, teaching one class only in the fall, my own time schedule. And oddly, I teach MATH, yet I am a writer!

Yes, I am a writer who now thinks of herself as an author. I have finished my manuscript of a book that shares the experiences of families that have children with autism. Publishing is right around the corner, or maybe a mile away. I am not sure how long the time will seem.

For two years I have had conversations about autism with mothers and fathers of children on the spectrum. I have also spoken with four individuals who have autism.  All of these amazing people have shared stories of their experiences for me to pass on to others who are on the same journey. I was energized when I first heard them talk about their lives, as they explained details of their days, months, and years. I was re-energized every time I listened again to their words, transcribing these events for the chapters of the book. Then, with their words still resounding poignantly in my ears, I was forced to rediscover my own writer’s voice as I wrote introductions for each chapter. Now, my manuscript is finished! I am in the process of preparing for publication.

Currently my manuscript is out of my hands, figuratively and mentally. I told my six beta readers that they have until mid-April to read and report back to me their initial thoughts and reactions to my book. Meanwhile I am pretending that they have the only copies of my book and that the whole file in not on the desktop of my computer and backed up in about three places. The suspense is killing me, but I needed to distance myself from my writing for a while so that, when I pick it up again, I will see mistakes I might have missed or thoughts that need clarification.

In April, I will make any revisions that I feel necessary after getting input from my beta readers. Then I will proofread my book a few more times before passing it on to the editor. I am sure that I will have more revisions to make after professional editing. Writing a book is not for the fainthearted or the thin skinned. Then on to graphic and layout designers, etc.

Am I retired? I don’t think so. I now see myself as an author. I know I have enough compelling material to publish a second book. I have other ideas floating around in my brain as to how I can use my newly activated Facebook author page and an eventual author website to spread information about resources available in my local (St. Louis, Missouri) autism community and maybe to provide connections for people who are looking for support. I think what started out as a “project that I hope will turn into a book” has turned into a new mission. I am not sure how or where I will end up with this extended project.

Reach out if you have any thoughts about what I could do next. What would be important to you if you have a child on the spectrum?

If you are interested in writing or autism please follow my new Facebook Author page – “Debbie Frick Author”.

My Autism Project Begins

Throughout my years teaching in a public elementary school, I had various students with autism in my classroom. During the early years, it was difficult for me to find helpful information on how to best reach these children or to provide me with any insight into what autism even is. I could find dry lists of “characteristics” and equally dry lists and articles of techniques. Books, also, seemed to lack what I might call a human element. Once I discovered “Thinking in Pictures” by Temple Grandin, I realized that memoirs about individuals with autism could be much more revealing and interesting. I was hooked.

About fourteen years ago (who knows, life flies), I was taking some graduate level school counseling classes. Each of my required research papers provided me with another opportunity to learn more about autism, as I blended research from professional journals with insights from memoirs to try to present a realistic yet practical approach. By this point, I even found professional articles interesting. I was hooked.

So fast forward to 2014, my retirement. My “Things I Want to Do When I Retire” list included possibly writing a book, probably a children’s book or a book full of teaching anecdotes. I had been working on ideas for several years, and had a writer’s notebook with several first chapters of children’s fiction, a list of other possible topics, and thoughts of children’s nonfiction books.

After retirement, I began to write down some of the funny and interesting little stories of life with elementary children. Once I had several stories written down I realized two things. Many of my most memorable stories were about children with autism and what I learned from them. More importantly, I realized that I really didn’t want to write a book about me or my experiences, but I wanted to write a book about the children themselves.

What would I do and how would I begin? I called a friend whose life path had crossed mine at opportune times in the past (long story also connected to autism). She is very tuned into the local autism community both because she has a son on the spectrum and because her work for many years has been connected to autism. She thought a book was a wonderful idea. She explained that the board at the organization for which she works had considered trying to gather and share stories, but didn’t quite know where to begin. Well neither did I! But my “Project that I Hope Will Become a Book about Autism” began.

Thus began yet another “new reality” in retirement and I jumped in with both feet. That’s a scary thought, because of the water analogy and the fact that I don’t swim and am petrified of water higher than my knees!

Retirement Aspirations

 

When nearing retirement age most people begin to consider what life will look like post-retirement.  For some, sadly, retirement only means escape from a job that requires more energy and mental stamina than they can muster.  They do not think of what comes next, of what they may enjoy doing.  For many, retirement means an opportunity to try new things or to travel.  There are those who think about things they have been wanting to do for years but couldn’t fit into their working schedule.  Some people begin to think about their “bucket list”*.  Several months before I retired I found a little metal sign in one of the dollar bins at a craft store.  The message “Follow your dreams and explore your new reality” became my retirement motto and was even written on the sheet cake at my retirement party.  Long before I retired I had many ideas about what I might want to try in retirement.  I will share a few of the more ambitious thoughts.

For years before I had a retirement date in mind I began to consider retirement possibilities. One of the things I considered was opening a teashop.  When I was in my twenties I developed a taste for tea and began searching out stores where I could be buy assorted loose teas.  I recently subscribed to a tea magazine.  I felt I could almost open a tea store with the variety of teas that filled two shelves of my cabinet, with overflow of my daily favorites on my counter top. I began to research tea organizations, suppliers, and conventions.  Several years ago I even considered going to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas to learn more about tea.  When I finally retired several of my friends asked me if I was going to open that tea shop I had talked about it so frequently.  It seems I had customers lined up and waiting!  By then, however, I realized that having my own retail business involved more hours and weekends then I was prepared to invest.  I knew I wanted more freedom in retirement.

When I was teaching, I took a “writing workshop for teachers” class offered by my school district.  As a result of that class I have several partial or completed drafts of children’s books that I considered editing and trying to get published someday.  I felt particularly interested in writing chapter books for children who are early readers or a children’s story about selected events of my childhood. (My author mentors are Donald Crews and Cynthia Rylant for those of you who know about such things or such people.)  After taking part in a three- year history grant which included traveling with peers to the Smithsonian Institute and following the Civil Rights trail through Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta, I also thought it might be interesting to write biographies for children.

When I first retired I dabbled in writing. I began a collection of some short anecdotes of teaching experiences that I felt might make interesting reading for adults.  I started this blog because writing a blog for adults was something I wanted to try. I purchased a text and DVD from the “Great Courses” series and did some writing for that.  I found this challenging as the course assigned writing tasks for no audience but myself and I craved some feedback on the pieces I wrote. Writing is still on my list of things to pursue.  I need to decide  which genre I really want to pursue first.

For each of the last eight years of my teaching career, I hosted a student teacher in my classroom.  I enjoyed mentoring these young people and learned from them as well.  It seemed like a natural move for me to work with students in the university setting. About three years before I actually retired, with no certain retirement year in mind, I began networking with people at the universities attended by my student teachers.  I updated my resume and sent it to my Alma Mater after talking with the Dean of the School of Education.  The universities prefer hiring experienced teachers who are newly retired as adjuncts in their education departments and people who secure these positions keep them for years. There were no openings available before or after I retired but I had so many projects and activities to keep me occupied the first year that I set the idea aside to think about at a later time.  Spoiler alert…I received an unexpected call late last summer regarding an adjunct position. I taught last fall and will again this fall.

At, this point, two years into my retirement, I still embrace some of the same large and small goals that I set for myself.  Now that the wedding is behind me and the basement on the path to recovery I am feeling motivated to once again tackle writing.  Hence, I am once again posting to the blog.  I also began a short course on writing memoirs at the local community college.  We will see how that progresses.

 

*In case you’ve wondered, according to the Wallstreet Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-origins-of-bucket-list-1432909572) the term “bucket list” was coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham  in 1999.  He composed a list of things that he wanted to do before he “kicked the bucket.” Looking for a shorter title he called it “Justin’s Bucket List” which eventually led him to write the screenplay that starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  The term has become a part of our language and now represents any list of things that someone wants to do, without the thought of dying even considered.

 

 

Where Did the Second Year Go?

 

     Over the last week I have thought about all the end of the year school activities that have been occurring. The school at which I taught is at the end of my subdivision and I pass it many times during the week.  My first year of retirement I sometimes felt like a stalker, looking each day to see whose cars were in the parking lot or which teachers were on the playground.   I noticed when the Maypoles were in place and what was written on the sign by the street. I even felt a bit of nostalgia on nights when cars crowded the parking lot as parents attended conferences.  I know from talking to neighbor children that all of the normal end of year activities have been taking place and I have thought about the feeling of exhaustion that all of the staff have been experiencing.  But this week, like the rest of this past school year, I barely glanced at the building except on those few days when I volunteered.

     Still, the teacher in me surfaces as students and staff begin summer vacation.  While some people reflect and project on January 1, I find the distraction and excitement of the holiday season to hinder serious reflection.  After the holidays, one goes back to normal routines.  The rhythms of life don’t really change. Conversely, the last day of school affords a distinct interruption of the norm. As a teacher I always attended numerous summer workshops, but these experiences were very different from being in a classroom.  The teachers sitting by my side were not the same.  I was absorbing information with the gift of time…time to soak in the learning, time to digest it, time to reflect on the most effective way to use this new learning with my students not that day, but weeks in the future.  When the school year began again my students were different and some of the staff had also changed.  I found the distinct variation of the summer months the perfect time for reflection and transformation. 

     This year has brought its own ebb and flow.  My husband retired. My basement flooded. I followed one of my dreams. I found a new volunteer opportunity. My daughter got married. I sadly discontinued some things while I started others.  Today I ask myself, “Where do I go from here?”  ……and so…..I’m back!

Reflections on a Year of Retirement

The school year ended a few weeks ago and for the first time in many years I did not have to worry about packing my room, filling out report cards, and completing files. Nor did I experience the traditional and bittersweet end of year wave as buses waited to pull away until all staff members, tissues in hand, gathered at the front of the line of buses. I didn’t cry as kids screamed goodbye and waved out open windows (in flagrant violation of normal bus policy) and staff smiled as they moved their hand back and forth like riders on a float, calling back their own goodbyes. I didn’t heave that grateful sigh of exhausted relief as the blare of honking horns died down and the staff all headed back into the quiet building. I actually considered showing up at school for the wave but knew it wouldn’t mean much without my first having hugged each of my own special people before they got on those buses.
While I did not miss the task of filling out end of the year report cards, I remembered all of the reflection that is part of year end. Each year, as I filled out those grades and typed in comments I would consider each student’s progress, ways in which I had aided or hindered that progress, and what I would do differently the following year. It seemed appropriate for me to reflect on my own journey during my first year of retirement.
I looked back at this blog to remind myself of my eight fields of growth. And now I begin my reflection. I am laughing to myself as I am typing this. Ten months have passed since I last posted on my blog. I abandoned my blog for several reasons, including the splint on my hand. I also realized that blogging for only myself or for strangers (or maybe virtual friends) was a completely different experience than blogging with my second graders, whom I knew well. I also considered that my own thoughts and ideas were probably not of much interest to most people. Blogging was just one of the things I wanted to try when I retired. Nine posts later and …..
Blogging was fun for a bit and maybe also necessary for my transition from being a teacher to being a retired person who was excited but also a little frightened and worried about what would come next. It really helped me think about what I hope to get out of my retirement. Searching for and reaching out to other bloggers that are retired was also beneficial to me. I still read some of their blogs even though I don’t comment. Writing posts provided me with an opportunity to hone my writing skills. I was able to check something off my bucket list. Blogging was part of “exploring my new reality.” So as I write this post I am laughing because I envision myself creating nine posts – this one and one for each of the eight areas in which I wanted to grow. Then, who knows? Maybe as every school year ends I will reflect and blog. We will see!

Books on Retirement

Everyone who knows me knows that I am an avid reader and a lifelong learner.  At school if anyone recommended a book or provided the grade level team with some reading material which we were encouraged to peruse, my team liked to say, “Give it to Debbie.  She’ll actually read it and tell us about it.” They kindly stopped short of calling me the team nerd.  Years ago, when our school participated in a study of the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, and each of us took the accompanying online quiz, no one was surprised to discover that my top strength was Learner.  In the 5 weeks since I have retired I have read for fun (nothing worth recommending) and for book clubs.  In the effort to declutter my mind I have intentionally stayed clear of anything that required much thinking. That intellectual piece of myself that I want to continue to develop during retirement has not been developing, but recovering. But, as is typical of my normal summer vacations, about four weeks after school is out I begin to feel restless and ready for something. It is time for mental stimulation. If I were returning to school in the fall I would be pulling out my books on Professional Learning Communities, formative assessments, using student data, and the myriad of other topics that are the focus of educators today.  Instead, I am hunting for books on retirement.

When people find out you are ready to retire, they often have advice.  Some of that advice comes from people who have already taken the plunge, some from people who are trying to sell you something, and some from people who are just well meaning friends.  Included in the advice given me were two book titles (The New Retirement and Don’t Retire, REWIRE!) When I was suddenly zapped with the desire to read a book on retirement, I logged into my Overdrive account at the library to search for a book to download to my Nook from the comfort of my air conditioned house. My search turned up one of those messages that inform the customer that while the item you want cannot be found here are some other options that might be appealing. That is how I happen to be reading What Color is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future.  It’s a very readable book, yet has caused me to do some good thinking.  I even filled out the worksheet to help me determine my core values, of which there are only nine, then encouraged me to think of my own value words within the values this author defined.  The idea is to be sure to incorporate my top three values into my retirement.  The core values are quite general, which stands to reason since there are so few.  There is a lot of ground left uncovered, in my opinion.  I am not sure if I agree with my top three core values unless I reframe them in my own words.  There weren’t any values there that strongly seemed to reflect my thinking but there were several that I know I could not claim.  What three values were assigned to me after I performed all of the convoluted adding, subtracting, averaging, and dividing that were part of the worksheet formula? My core values according to the worksheet were Universalism, Security, and Achievement.  Hmm.  I’m still thinking about whether that reflects my values.

Meanwhile, I acquired a shiny copy of Don’t Retire, REWIRE! Once I finish the parachute book I will read this book in order to identify my drivers or motivators to help me figure out what to do with my life. Maybe these will all help me figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up!

 

The Present is a Gift

After planning the the title of the post I researched “The Quote” about the present being a gift – only to find several variations of the quote.  I chose this particular one for the graphics.

Beginning my retirement with my hand in a splint really has necessitated that I slow down.  Everything takes me at least twice as long as it would take if I could use both hands.  I broke my finger because I was so focused on getting to work early that I was not even considering being careful about what I was doing. So often in the past years life has been about tackling the next thing on my agenda in some impossible effort to catch up. I’m not sure what it was that I was trying to catch!  Several times in my life I have injured myself by not being in the moment.  Now, as I tackle my tasks with the precision of the turtle in the race against the hare, I breathe deeply and intentionally to keep myself in the present. I wonder if the turtle took deep breaths to keep himself on track.  I don’t know, but it’s great for me.  I am enjoying things without looking at the finish line.

This past weekend, my daughter came in town.  She wanted her older brother and sister to come to our house for a belated Father’s Day barbecue.  Saturday at noon was the time when the others could come.  My daughter and I hit the grocery store Saturday morning, just a few hours before the event, with no menu in mind.  We chatted and shopped, came home and chatted and began food preparations. Well, she began preparing food as I was more of a hindrance than a help. We all enjoyed a great meal.  Usually my daughter takes off early Sunday so she can get her laundry and shopping finished and be ready for work on Sunday.  I usually begin my catch up routine as soon as she leaves.  This weekend was a little different.  She was not leaving until 4:00 since she was going to a business destination for a Monday morning meeting.  Those extra hours were such a gift, I think for her as well as for me.  We went on a lengthy shopping trip to a local outlet mall and really enjoyed the excursion.  Her sister came back to our house for a while to visit.  When every one left I breathed, pushed thoughts of laundry out of my head, and just soaked in the pleasures of the leisurely family time that had been ours over the weekend.  WHAT A GIFT!