Baby, it’s hockey season

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Hockey is hockey is hockey. Baseball is what happens when its not hockey season. I am a huge sports fan, and favor hockey, baseball, and football, in that order. For years I would go to the Thanksgiving Day hockey game. The arena personnel were like family. There are no more Thanksgiving Day hockey games, so last year I cooked Thanksgiving at home.

I have had the privilege of attending a NHL game and a MLB game for my favorite teams. My favorite national teams will not ever change no matter where I live. I consider the fact that I have been able to see my favorite national teams to be a great privilege, as it is not something that the everyday person has the opportunity to do. First, tickets are expensive, and second, geography and work schedules are not conducive to attending national games.

People typically root for the home team. Attending national games is for the people with means to do so. Many people will not have the opportunity to see their national teams live in person. Hometown teams are in our backyards. These are the regional teams, the college teams, the high schools teams, and sometimes simply the frozen corner lot with a bunch of kids from the block running around on ice in sneakers, hitting a puck with a broomstick.

This past weekend, I spent $4 to see the local college hockey team play on Saturday afternoon. There are 4 colleges and universities within a 30-mile radius around me. I knew about the university team (whose tickets cost as much as an AHL game). I did not even know that the local college had a hockey team. Apparently, it’s been there since the 2000-2001 season.

After being pampered by heated stadiums at AHL games, it was shockingly refreshing to watch a game in an unheated arena, wearing full winter outerwear trying to keep warm through three periods of play. Next time, I will bring a blanket. Of course, I am also the fool that sits in row three in an 18-degree ice rink.

While my home team lost, the play was great. The passes were crisp, the checks were hard, the skating graceful, and most of all, you could tell they played their hearts out and enjoyed every minute of the game. This is what hockey is all about.

Not only was the game well played, but it was the most relaxed I have ever been at a game. I was not worried about taking photos to post online, I had no need to constantly check my phone to text someone, I was not preoccupied with thoughts of homework or other things I had to do with my day once the game was done. I was able to sit and enjoy that hockey game more than I have typically enjoyed hockey games. There was no stress of going through security like the have at AHL and NHL games. I always travel light, and carry the smallest purse possible that is large enough to hold the epi pens, but just having the more relaxed atmosphere that did not include pat downs and metal detectors was refreshing. There were concessions that had coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and snacks. There was no pressure over beer or wine and no worrying about rowdy fans around me because they were continually fueled by booze.

This was the first hockey game I attended since I slowed down my life, and it was amazing. I am able to enjoy the things I love so much more now that life has slowed down. What’s more, it’s affordable. I can attend the entire season of college hockey games for what it would cost me to attend one AHL game. While I have seen my NHL team play on home ice once, to do so again would require almost a full month’s pay between the cost of the ticket and travel.

I think I enjoyed this hockey game more than I have enjoyed any other hockey game in recent memory.

To think that this team has been here for the past 15 years, and I had no idea what was in my own back yard. It is good, fun, affordable entertainment. What other activities are in my own back yard that I had no idea exists? Now that life has slowed down, I have the opportunity to open my eyes to what is around me. I no longer have tunnel vision focused on work and school, punctuated by brief periods of “relaxation” that involved some big, expensive trip just for the sake of “getting away.” I am very fortunate that there are so many sports teams around me to support and that ticket prices are reasonable.

What events are in your back yard? I have heard the concept of being a tourist in your own town before, but when I think tourist, I think of museums and plays. I did not initially think about attending college sports events.

So while it may be 27 degrees out this morning, I willingly spent a part of Saturday afternoon in an 18-degree hockey rink watching some college kids on skates hit a once-inch thick piece of rubber with a stick. Baby, it’s cold outside; baby, it’s also hockey season. It does not get much better than this.

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Reality Check

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In 23 years of driving, I have never had a collision claim. This changed this past week when I was rear-ended while stopped at a red light on my way to work. This has been one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, and it’s not over yet. Not only was the driver who hit me impaired, but also had multiple other violations as well, and there was nothing from the other driver to the police officer to the other person’s insurance company that has been easy to deal with. The factors surrounding the driver were very sketchy.

Although this is a nasty situation, I have been blessed in my ability to handle it calmly. I am sure that if this had happened before I slowed down my life, that I would not be able to “go with the flow” on this as much as I am. In fact, I remember when I hit my first deer a few years ago, that I fell apart completely. It was just too much at the time for my already overflowing plate.

I now have the time to deal with this situation as unpleasant as it may be. Life isn’t fair, and I know that. The one thing that I am very fortunate is that I was not critically injured. In that moment that my car was being struck and I was being pushed into oncoming traffic, I was worried about who would take care of my cats if something serious happened to me. That was the biggest thing that came to mind.

I know that the stress of the situation got to me, as I have been having difficulty the past few days with my autoimmune disorder on top of everything else. Stress is a trigger for the autoimmune disorder. A big part of slowing down my life was to reduce my stress levels. So while this is a bad situation, it could be worse.

This accident is just another learning experience for me to think over when it comes to making positive changes in my life. Is there another way I can take to work? I was stopped at a red light, so it was not like I was even moving. There is nothing I can change about that.

If I did not love my job as much as I do, I would try to work in a different city. I loathe the city in which I work. Since that is not currently an option, I need to figure out other ways to be safe. But seriously, if we are not safe when sitting calmly at a red light, then where are we safe? Just more reasons why I wish I could move into the woods and off the grid.

The silver lining in all this is that it helps me to remember my priorities. I need to focus more on what’s important because life is so fleetingly short. There is nothing like the feeling of “omg, I’m going to die” as you are being pushed into traffic to give you a reality check.

It’s time to prioritize what’s important. That’s why we rewind real slow.

All That Jazz

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Last year, I had written about letting go of our fantasy selves. If you have table service for 12 with visions of hosting grand soirees, yet in reality value solitude, then letting go of the extra table service and allowing your self to live authentically is going to do more to bring happiness than constantly planning for a house party that probably will not happen.

In my quest to slow down my life and to pare down my belongings so that I am only surrounded by that which I love, letting go of my various fantasy selves has been quite helpful. This is not to say that we should abandon or tear down all of our hopes and dreams. To the contrary, I am actually living the dream now that I have given up the fantasies.

One of the dreams I have always had is one of leisurely weekend mornings spent with good music, good coffee, and quiet peacefulness with those I love. I’ve finally made it happen. This weekend, I had Frank, Duke, and all that jazz. I was at home with the ones I love, good coffee, and nothing pressing on my agenda.

My work schedule changed recently, and for the first time ever, I am working Monday through Friday with weekends off. While I have traditionally shied away from working on Sundays sue to my running schedule, I have worked Saturdays for quite probably, with no exaggeration, 20 years. Now that I have Saturdays off, my life is slowing becoming that of the setting on the washing machine – “normal.”

We have had frost at least 5 times now, with the first time being at the end of September right before I had caught the flu. With the weather driving me inside, I am focusing more on home and being sure that I am surrounded by only by those things that I love. I recently went through my CDs. While I have been adamant that my music collection is the only thing that I will allow to be wholly untamed and off-limits to my minimalist tendencies, I decided to see what life would be like if I stored about 150 items from my collection.

I have found that not only am I more likely to listen to my music collection again compared to the drone of the radio, but that I am enjoying listening to entire albums without skipping around. It’s very soothing to sit at night with vinyl on the record player and relax. It’s equally restorative to push play on the CD player in the morning and be able to melt into the music without automatically being all keyed up with the events of the day.

Being able to listen to jazz in the morning helps to set the tone for the day. It helps me to appreciate and be thankful for all of my blessings instead of going straight into the stress of news and politics that are happening in the world.

I had tried having a morning routine to deal with stress. My thought was that if I had a morning routine, it would help to center and prepare me to meet the demands of the day. Instead, my morning routine only served to stress me out more. If I did not have time to do it all, or if I did not feel like going through the entire process, then it made my morning routine more of a chore than a point of relaxation.

I have decided to do away with the morning routine, and instead listen to my body and do what is best for me for my mind, body, and soul for the moment. Lately, what is best for those three things have been jazz, coffee, and a good book.

Almost a year into retirement, I am still not sure what to do with myself. I feel like I’m still trying to find my footing and figure out how to navigate the world without the identity of “student.” Changing my mornings have helped to ground me in peace. I’m hoping that somehow out of that peace will come direction.

So this morning as Duke Ellington spun in the CD player, I did more than just listen. I felt the music with mind, body, and soul. I felt it in my bones. I may not know where I‘m going from here, but all that jazz is a pretty good place to rest.

 

 

Lost & Found

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I’ve thought about calling this year the Lost Year. In the now 10 months that I have been retired/out of school, I have felt completely lost. A huge chunk of my identity (student) is no longer there. I don’t know what to do with myself. On top of that, this is the first year that I am not running a major race or getting a medal. That has never happened before. I have run through pretty much everything. This year, I have been waylaid by my autoimmune disorder, my work schedule, and now the flu that has simply rendered the requisite 5-month training schedule an impossibility.

I’m seriously starting to wonder if NOT being a student is making me depressed. In what seems to be a bottomless pit of despair, there have been some pinpricks of hope this year. These are the three top aspects of “found.”

One of the major things on the list given to me by the doctors for how to manage my autoimmune disorder is to reduce my stress levels. It has now been over 6-months since I completely deleted my facebook account and canceled my home Internet service. Getting off of facebook is the #1 thing that I have done to decrease my stress levels. Words cannot express how much happier I am now that I am not online. To be honest, people talk to me a lot less, yet I do not feel lonely. When I was on facebook, a lot of people talked to me, but I always felt lonely. So now, I’m lucky if someone sends me a text message once a month, I am actually less lonely than I was before. Strange, but true.

Out of all the things I have done to decrease my stress levels, going offline has taken the most burden off my shoulders. I drink green tea and meditate, and I still want to slap someone. Going off facebook is better than yoga and jazz and all the new age relaxation techniques combined.

Second, when I had the flu last week, there was one day when I was trying to watch football, and just physically couldn’t. That’s when I said, you know what? I can’t do this, I don’t have to do this, and then I shut off the TV set and went to sleep. Having the flu last week was the first time in my life that I have been sick and was able to listen to my body 100%. If I had been in school, there was always something to read or something to write, and I would have fought through the flu because I had schoolwork to do. Last week, I did not have schoolwork, so I was able to say “no” to everything around me, and give my body what it needed to heal, which was pretty much sleep.

Third, I had less beach days in 2016 (in retirement) than I did in 2015 (in school). When I first realized this, I was dismayed. Why would I have less beach days when I have taken great pains to slow down my life and my schedule to have more time to do what I want? And that’s when I realized that life cannot be measured by beach days. When I was in school, I made a point of scheduling beach days so that I could relax. Scheduling a day to relax is about as much fun as making a schedule to have sex. It’s not. Fun. It’s more fun when it’s spontaneous. Looking back at summer 2016, I may have had less beach days, but here is what I had more of: baseball, live theatre, movies, time with family, time with friends, picnics, hiking, camping, sunsets, swimming, reading, and sleep. I did so many things this summer other than going to the beach.

Days before I was completely flattened by the flu, I had made plans to return to school. Yup. That’s right. I have talked about teaching, but I actually have that opportunity at work. I am enjoying the “teaching” I do at work so much, that I do not feel the need (at the moment) to teach in academia. I am truly blessed in that I have a job doing what I love.

But I’m a person who likes to finish what I start, and I was thinking I have some unfinished business. I would like a PhD, but my student loans are maxed. I know I cannot get financial aid, so the PhD is off the table. There is, however, the question of the physics degree I started and never finished. Three years into that, I switched to psychology, and stuck with that field. Plus, there is the fact that I actually looked through my high school yearbook this summer given that it was technically my 20-year class reunion. One of my future plans under the Senior Directory was to “get my PhD in Chemistry.” I’m thinking of going back and finishing a degree in either chemistry or physics. Of course, I would have to pay for classes out of pocket, but I could take one at a time.

I could, theoretically, complete my 5th degree by the time I turn 40.

That was the plan before the flu. Now post-flu, I am thinking “hell no.” Going back to school must have been part of my flu-induced delirium. There is no way I want to go back to school and be stuck in that schedule again. Especially now that my time is my own, I enjoy being homework free.

However, it is only October. The spring semester does not start until January. We will see what happens and what I think over the next three months. Apparently, I had a lot more wisdom at 17 than I do at 37. At 37, I feel like this past year has been lost and found. At 17, my quote in the yearbook came from Luke Skywalker: “I’m ready for anything.”

If I can hang onto that, maybe this year can turn around from lost to Found.

Your favorite 1:37 story

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It all started Saturday night. I knew something was wrong when I woke up completely drenched in sweat. I just had a nightmare that I was pitching for the Yankees in the World Series. Pedroia was at bat for the Red Sox. He walked right up to me and snarled, “I’m making a line drive for your head, traitor.” Why was I pitching for the Yankees? I have nightmares about baseball every single time I have a fever. They typically involve the World Series.

That nightmare was warranted; my temperature was 102.7. If those numbers were a radio station, the call letters would be FLU, and the program completely sucks.

I’m home through Wednesday, at which point I am considered to be no longer contagious. In the meantime, I feel like I’m dying.

I’ve pretty much been sleeping since Sunday. I wake up every 3-4 hours. I’ve been awake about 3 hours in every 24. Today is a stretch – I have been awake almost 5 hours. I’m sure I’ll pay for it later.

Being home from work is not very fun. I woke up this afternoon and decided to turn the TV on. I was looking forward to some Price is Right on my TV set. Instead, there is no Price is Right. It’s Jerry Springer and a bunch of judge shows. Although I skipped my 20-year high school reunion this year, I was able to get caught up on everything today. I am pretty sure everyone on Jerry Springer is someone with whom I went to high school. I did not have to drive 2 hours to see the drama; I got it in a 30-second TV clip. I would much rather be at work.

Deciding that TV is a lost cause, I decided to pop in a Cheers DVD. It just so happens the first episode up is the one in which Coach and Sam accidentally leave Norm in the locked bar overnight. Right before leaving the bar, they had a discussion about the time – the 1:37 moment. Coach commented that although 1:37 used to be his favorite time, he is more of an 8:15 guy now.

I’d like to be an 8:15 gal now too. But right now, I’m a little all over the place. I never came back 100% from the allergic reaction I had last spring, so I am hoping that after the flu, I can come back okay. This is totally not the best time for me to be sick right now. I am definitely not a 1:37 girl. Unless that’s 1:37 pm.

What’s your favorite 1:37 story?

 

 

The Price of Convenience

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I had an errand to run on my day off yesterday in a city about 40 miles away from my house. It was a good drive with little traffic. I had no frustration in my travels. I realized that it took me the same amount of time to reach this city 40 miles away as it does to drive the 10 miles to work every day. That’s how bad the traffic and parking situation is in the city where I work.

In my efforts to slow down my life, I have been trying to cut out all of the unnecessary fluff so that I have more time, money, and resources to devote to things truly important to me. The fact that I spend 2 hours commuting every day to a place 10 miles from my home is ridiculous to me, but I really like my job.

While I was trying to save money by giving up my parking pass for my work location, doing so added an hour to my commute every day. Not only was I fighting traffic, but it typically took me an additional 60 minutes to not only find a parking space but also to walk the 1-3 miles from the parking space to work. That was one hour out of my day that could be spent doing something else that I want to do – like spending time with my sick family member.

So, I bit the bullet and decided to pay for a parking pass for work again. I decided that spending $80 a month for parking is worth 5 hours a week of my time. I now have 5 hours per week more to be at home that I am not fighting to find parking and then having to walk from a parking spot to work.

This is the price of convenience.

Life seems like an endless series of opportunity costs. Which do we value more – time or money?

It depends.

Mostly, I value my time.

Another cost of convenience that I have been evaluating recently is car repair. I have my vehicle maintained and repaired in the city in which I work. I have been doing so for at least the past 15 years. The logic is that if I have to leave the car to have work done, that I can walk to work, and then walk back to pick up the car later in the day when it is done. What has been happening lately is that I get an appointment, and end up having a few hours to kill in between the appointment and when I go into work.

There is not enough time to go home; I end up stuck in the city in which I work with some down time. Again, this is down time that I could be using to do other things that mean something to me.

Starting next week, I will be having my vehicle repaired some place close to my home instead of my work. Of course, that means if I need a significant amount of work done, that I may have to take a day off from work and stay home. To me, that situation is a better scenario than being stuck in the city where I work. At least if my car is repaired closer to home, I can be home, and it alleviates the stress of trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B (mainly from work to home).

These simple changes in life will hopefully free up more of my time to be home and to do the things that I want to spend my time doing. I want to be more in control of situations, not simply responding to whatever crisis presents itself at the time.

What “conveniences” in your life take time away from what matters most? Evaluating the simple things we do each day and why we do them can help to figure out solutions to challenges that may not have been available before. By changing my perspective on how I look at things that need to be done, I am freeing up more time for people and things I love to do.

My Yoga Pants Went To Yoga

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Yoga pants are an essential part of a marathon runners’ wardrobe. Once you complete running 26.2 miles, yoga pants are pretty much the only things you can wear for the first 2-3 days while you recover from putting your body through the equivalent of natural childbirth. Your legs kind of flop around like a fish on land, and yoga pants are very forgiving with the first few days post-race.

I have two pairs of yoga pants. They have never been to yoga.

Until today.

I have been to yoga many times, but I do not usually wear yoga pants to yoga, I usually wear shorts. Since it is a little ridiculous to pay $45 per one-hour class to take yoga in the city in which I work, I decided to do a yoga class in the city in which I live. It was a much cheaper rate. Actually, I am on a free trial.

Thank goodness it was free. It was the first, last, and only time my yoga pants have ever been to yoga.

When I entered the facility, the instructor seemed exasperated that I came with only a mat – no blocks, no leash, none of the other yoga props – just a mat. Hey, at least I came with a yoga mat. I’m not new to the scene here, but I’m also not a hard-core yogi. I do what I can, and when I can’t, I just relax.

Her exasperation over my lack of accessories only served to strike fear into both my head and my heart. In my experience, yoga classes that require props translate into situations in which I am either going to get physically hurt or poses into which I either cannot get into, or once into, cannot get out of. Yoga classes with props give totally new meaning to the phrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I typically do better with classes that do not require props, and when I can’t do the pose, I just lay there peacefully. This woman was like some sadistic combo of drill sergeant and dominatrix. I can’t tell you how frustrated she was at my lack of a leash.

For the record, the only leashes I want to deal with are those attached to my surfboard, or, if I had a dog, the one we use on walks. I digress.

I attend yoga mostly for relaxation, and also for some light stretching. I tore the patella tendon in my knee a few years ago, and every once in awhile, it gives me pain. I know better than to do anything overly pretzel-like. I have also had multiple head injuries, with at least 5 documented concussions, so I know I am a fall hazard if they are trying to get me to balance in some type of ballerina position. This class was obviously going to be much too rigorous for me.

I rolled up my mat and started to leave once I realized that this was not going to be the peaceful and relaxing yoga class I had envisioned. That seemed to only perplex the instructor further. She just could not understand why someone would need or want to leave her yoga class. To her credit, she did suggest that the senior citizen chair yoga class may be more my speed. I smiled and nodded politely. I have indeed taken the chair yoga class with the senior citizens years ago after my most recent head injury. I have actually successfully graduated from that class and done several gentle or slow flow yoga classes with no problem in the city in which I work. I didn’t tell her that, though. I’m just thankful for the free trial. At least I did not have to pay $45 to learn that lesson.

This year is the first year in well over 30 years that I am not in school. September has been a very hard month for me. I’m sad, I’m frustrated, and quite honestly, I have absolutely no idea what to do with myself.

My two biggest coping skills have always been running and school. I have always played the two off from one another. When school was not going well, I ran. When I had an injury that I had to rest from running, I focused more on school. Now that I am retired, I don’t have school anymore. All I have is running.

I love running, but I know that I will not be able to do it forever and I need to have a second coping skill for those times when I cannot run. I have been trying different activities. I am trying to get myself onto some sort of schedule. I like having more time to do things since I have slowed my life down, but now I don’t know what to do. I miss the structure that came with the semester and having to go to class and do schoolwork. I need to replace it somehow.

I am not sure how this is all going to shake out, but I do know that I am not going to be a yogi. I have some more activities I plan on trying to see if they fill the void I have in my life by not being in school. You never know what is going to work until you try.

For today, my yoga pants went to yoga. It was so overrated. I think they should be called marathon pants instead. I’ll have to write Victoria’s Secret to tell them I am renaming their pants. These yoga pants aren’t going to yoga again.

 

Vacation

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I’ve been working 23 years. For the first time in my work life, I just completed having a week’s paid vacation. I have never before had employment that gave me paid vacation. It was wonderful.

At one moment, I was lamenting that I did not take as many day trips this year as I have in years past. Then I realized that my life has slowed down enough that I no longer have need for the day trip escapism that was so essential to keeping me going when I was working two jobs and going to school full time. Now that my life has slowed down, I actually have a few hours each week in which I can relax without having to leave town and take a day trip. Having an entire week off completely blew my mind.

I was amazed at the fact that even though I had a week’s vacation, what I wanted more than anything was to be home. I do a lot of driving. I drive every single day. I am sick of driving. Especially where I live in the Finger Lakes, the traffic is so bad in the city in which I work that it is worse than Manhattan, Boston, or L.A. I have driven in those three cities, and would rather drive in them than drive through the city in which I work. So one of the nicest parts about being on vacation was that for nine straight days, I did not go anywhere near the city I work in, which is about 10 miles away from my house. It takes me almost an hour to drive those 10 miles one way to work on a daily basis. I did not miss it.

I did a lot of reading, a lot of hiking, a lot of sleeping, and a lot of relaxing on my vacation. I also planned some fun things for the coming fall and winter. Vacation was a great time to stop and assess where I am in life and to be sure that I am on the right track.

I am so relaxed; I don’t have anything to say.

I have heard many arguments for vacations and many for staycations. I would say that my week was a hybrid. I had four “away” days where I went on a trip, and five “home” days. I read that staycations became popular after the recession. Family vacations of the post-war period were typically camping trips that centered on family togetherness. As the extravagance of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s took over, families go to Europe or Disney. Personally, I needed home days before and after my trip just to prepare and decompress. I go from point A to point B every day of my life. The last thing I want to do on “vacation” is the same thing I do in my everyday life except in a different location. That just does not seem like vacation to me.

What fun are you having this summer? Vacation or staycation?

Wide Open

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Above: At the oldest covered bridge in the USA

My first vacation is coming up later this month. This will be the first time in my 23 years of working that I have a week long paid vacation. I have never had a week off from work before, and it has not been paid.

Given that I had to cancel my travel plans to take care of my sick family member, I will actually be having a staycation punctuated by day trips. My schedule is wide open. In fact, the only thing on my calendar for that week is meeting a friend for lunch on one of the days.

In a way, it looks like I completed my objective of slowing my life down. No longer am I running from point A to point B like a crazy person who does not know which end is up. The hard part about having so much free time is that now I feel like I’ve been drifting for the past 9 months. I don’t really have a direction anymore. I almost feel like I am maintaining status quo waiting for my family member to die to try to figure out what is next.

That may sound really mean. I don’t intend it to be. I love this family member very much. It’s just that I need a break, and I won’t be getting the break that I need since I had to cancel my travel plans.

Part of my goal for my staycation is to try to figure out what I like most about my annual ADK camping trip and try to incorporate some of those aspects into my staycation that is upcoming. How can I feel like I’m on vacation even when I am stuck at home?

The biggest part that scares me is that this is the first time in 15 years that I have not been able to take my annual break from reality, and I am apprehensive if I will be able to cope for another year without it.

Mostly, I’m just tired.

I’m preparing to head into the great wide open where I have a completely empty schedule for a week and absolutely nothing to do. It’s a little scary. I have never had this problem before. Welcome to first world problems, I guess.

What would you do with a week long blank calendar? If you were unable to leave your home for more than a day at a time because you had to be at your house at a certain hour every single day, what would you do?

Grow Where You’re Planted

I’ve had a hard time finding my groove in retirement. It’s been 9 months since my 20 year career as a college student has ended. I feel sort of like a recluse. No one talks to me now that I’m no longer in school. It’s almost as if I’ve lost my voice and nothing I say or do matters.

So I’ve been struggling to fill the large, gaping hole left in my life now that I’m not in school. I had joined a book club. I had joined a writing club. I’m not one for bars. Running is a solitary sport, and I have no interest in group sports. What is there to do?

To the seemingly surprise of many, I returned to church about 6 months ago after a significant hiatus. I was raised very strict Baptist, and even married to a minister – until he got his girlfriend pregnant. I tend to be extremely liberal in my views with a laid back personality, so many people did not see me as any sort of Jesus freak.

In these past few months of drifting, I have gone back to old habits and old coping skills in my quest to find both an anchor and my next direction in life.

After the numerous negative experiences I have had as a Baptist, I was cautious to go back to church. I was basically just looking for some peace without the politics. I knew I could not return to the Baptist church after everything that has happened, and decided I needed to convert. On recommendation of a very good friend, I tried a Methodist church.

In June, I went through my official confirmation ceremony to join the church. Good bye, Baptist. Hello, Methodist.

I mostly keep to myself at church. It’s a traditional service that provides familiarity, and brings fond memories of services attended with my grandparents in my youth. Plus, most of the congregation is older than me. I really haven’t met anyone my age, and there’s only about 40 people that go.

The friends I’ve made at church are slightly younger than my grandparents would be if they were alive and well. So, it fulfills that sense of safety & joy I had attending church with my grandparents growing up.

There is one gentleman who stopped me dead in his tracks. When he sings, he sounds just like my grandfather, and it brings me to tears. My grandfather was the one person in my family who was ever supportive of me. He was such a role model. This gentleman at church is the exact age my grandfather was when he passed away.

While book club and writing club did not work for me (mostly, my work schedule changed), I had been thinking of getting involved at church. I have such a sense of peace there. But, I don’t want to be involved in the politics like I was as a pastor’s wife. Plus, while I long for a sense of belonging, I am not looking for a huge commitment. I don’t want to replace the rigors of school, but I need something to do.

I had been thinking about volunteering for the food pantry, but with multiple food allergies that react by touch, that doesn’t seem like a good idea. At one point, out of frustration, I actually asked God what I should be doing with myself. I’ve been out of school for almost a year. I’ve spent the entire time drifting, and have at times been in a bad place.

Well, today, out of the blue, the woman in charge of the food pantry asked if I could help with the August food pantry, as the usual person is on vacation. They know how severe my food allergies are, so I will be doing the people and paperwork part – checking people in, and being sure they get enough to get by – like inventory, without having to interact with any of my allergens.

Also, the woman who is the church gardener is moving south to be closer to her children and grandchildren, and today she stood up in church and asked if anyone would be willing to take over the gardens both to serve God and to keep them up for the enjoyment of all the people.

Before I knew what was happening, I was volunteering.

I know nothing about gardening. I can’t keep a plant in the house. The only plant I ever had that I didn’t kill was a spider plant, and Kitty ate the entire thing until it was gone (this was years ago).

So, I know nothing about plants, but now I’m the new church gardener.

I had the lady walk out with me after service to explain everything that needed to be done. She even told me the plant names. I didn’t know them.

Right now, it will be mostly weeding and getting the plant beds in shape. I can spend a few hours a week doing that before work. Maybe growing plants in soil outside will be easier than having a house plant inside with two cats.

Lets hope so.

I’m looking forward to some quiet time weeding, reflecting, thinking. If I wanted to serve the church without being involved in the politics of church life, then maybe the garden is it.

Apparently, somehow in this transaction, I’m also now doing the flower arrangements for the alter. I don’t think they know what they are getting into. I don’t know names of flowers. I’m just like, this is pretty, put it here.

I mostly went back to church in my quest to peace. I’ve been trying to unwind and relax. That’s the entire purpose of rewind real slow. You can’t enjoy the good things in life if you are frantically going from one thing to another and trying to keep pace.

Lets hope that church gardening is my groove. When they say grow where you’re planted, they weren’t kidding. Hopefully the gardens keep growing under my care