Sweet friends, at last, I am setting aside all remaining excuses to finally write this post. Have been writing it in mind for months but putting my thoughts down on ‘paper’ is another thing entirely. I don’t even know what to title this post so if it has a title at all, at least I was able to figure out that much.
I have been typing at this post now, off and on for most of several days. I am still not certain if I am saying what I want to say. Maybe that statement alone says it all. I am still feeling very lost, now almost 8 years into this retirement gig. None of my days ever look the same, which I guess keeps things interesting but I long for routine, and direction and a sense of purpose.
I am tired of trying on things – activities, hoping for the right fit. Again this school year, I agreed to be on the substitute librarian list. Perhaps I return to library work because that was one area in my life where I felt successful and accomplished. I long to have that feeling back. But I can’t figure out how.
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Maybe you read my similarly difficult-to-write guest post over at Leanne’s blog, Cresting the Hill, last week. Had actually hoped to have this post go live when my guest post did 2 Mondays ago. It was just as hard to write as this one has proven to be. A big thank you to Leanne for her invitation to guest post, and to everyone for the kind comments of support. They provided incentive for me to try writing from an authentic place again today.
Of Mirrors, Band-Aids and Boiled Eggs
Not sure why posts written from the heart are so hard to write. But I can liken this to standing before the full length mirror naked. Or, at the very least, in my underwear or bathing suit. I guess it’s just putting yourself out there…wherever out there is.
Rather than pulling the band aid off in one quick rip, and just getting this post written, I have toyed with the idea of writing it every day for months. Many times, I actually begin my day thinking how I will start this post. But I make a world of excuses for not sitting down to write it. In the midst of that last sentence, a notification came in that I had been paid for a book review I did. And just like that (snaps fingers), I was whisked away from here to PayPal in order to transfer the book review money I received from there to my bank account. Then I hopped from PayPal to Amazon to order a light bulb and to pay my credit card bill.
That has to tell you something right there. Paying my Amazon bill was more appealing than writing this post. So was boiling eggs, washing 2 loads of laundry, taking a walk, paying my Amazon bill, ordering those light bulbs, and last but not least, marinating a steak for dinner. I could keep putting it off but I really want to refocus my blog on writing. So…
It’s Time to Write
If you are new to my little world at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After, allow me a moment to share my original purpose for blogging. As my tagline suggests it was to chronicle the journey of rediscovering myself and my life after an early and reluctant retirement. I guess a little of that rediscovery was more an attempt at reinventing myself.
In what felt like the blink of an eye, I had gone from busy: full-time wife to my sweet husband, hands-on mom to my two beautiful daughters and elementary school librarian to an idle, retired, empty nester with lots of time on my hands. I no longer knew who I was or what I what I was supposed to be doing. Almost all of the labels and job responsibilities that had identified me throughout adult life had fallen away. Being Paul’s wife was the only constant from before and after retirement.
Once Upon a Time
A little background. The Once Upon a Time in the title of my blog refers to my life before retirement. Originally, when I picked up blogging, I thought I would use this space in part to share lesson plans that had been successful in my former career and ‘past life’ as a librarian. In particular, editions of fairy tales and lessons to go with them. Have always loved creating lessons and bringing books to life.
Once I had recovered from my surgery, it seemed logical that I put my hat in the ring to substitute teach. Mostly in elementary school libraries where I am most comfortable. Also accepted a few classrooms assignments, too…but quickly ruled that out as being much fun!! Even considered trying to go back to working as a librarian full-time but there are a lot of restrictions placed on school district retirees by the Texas Retirement System. So I stuck with being a library sub. Perhaps I repeatedly return to library work because that was one area in my life where I flourished and felt I was making a difference. I long to feel that way again.
Happily Ever After
Now that you know where the first part of the name of my blog came from, how about the last…the Happily Ever After part. That’s where I am stuck. I don’t know what this part looks like.
Lucia and Camila went through a short spell where they played Shakira’s song “Try Everything” from the children’s movie “Zootopia” on auto repeat for days on end. Thankfully, I love the message and the music. It could be my theme song for these first years of retirement.
Some of the things I have tried since retiring include: fashion challenges with Alison at Get Your Pretty On, taking up the art of mosaic-making, teaching an after school art program and through a grant-funded summer program downtown, a part-time, data entry position inputting items for sale on an eBay store front, painting classes, a one day trial of a photography class that wasn’t what I was looking for, and working as a volunteer to organize the El Paso Holocaust Museum library. And dabbling in arts and crafts but not limited to mosaic work. Scrapbooking, painting, collages, too.
My time going across the mountain to help with the girls has come to a close. Lucia started kinder 2 weeks ago, 08.02.2021, meaning she has to be at school before 8:00 am. Lauren is getting the girls up earlier and out the door so that they are both delivered to school/daycare before she starts her work day from home.
Although PC would deny it, I believe he has some trouble with me being home when he has to work. I retired early at 55. He is now 57 (I am 6 years old than he). He is absolutely ready for retirement and understandably so, as he retired from the military in 2007 with 23 years in. Then began his second career with the government in 2007. He is getting close to 20 years and retirement with. I completely understand that he is ready to retire. But it would really hurt our income for him to completely quit now.
Will Work for Food
So, since retiring, I have tried to work at various things so that I am contributing to our finances. As I mentioned earlier, there are crazy policies in place with the Texas Retirement System that keep me from being able to go back to being a school librarian full-time and I don’t think I would want to do that full-time again. But Paul seems less discontent when I am doing something…subbing, working part-time, even helping with my granddaughters. I think he resents me being home. And when I am, he asks what I did with myself all day…did I sleep? Did I eat bon-bons? Did I entertain some other man? Of course, I haven’t written all of here before because TMI. But feel like I do need to touch on it to better explain some of my difficulties in figuring out this chapter of my life.
In the meantime, it seems better between the 2 of us when I am not home all day everyday while he has to go off to work. Subbing is a good fit. A week ago, I was offered another long-term library sub position in a school where there is a vacancy. But the district did not approve the hiring of a long term sub for the position. I prayed about it and have to think there must have been a reason this job didn’t pan out.
Instead, I will be helping pick up my babies this week. But with all the rain our mountain road, the most direct route to their house, has been closed due to debris on the road. Will be taking the long way ’round.
When I am not helping with my babies, or subbing, or volunteering, I like to craft and decorate for holidays and different seasons. But these pastimes have not come without issue in my relationship with Prince C. either.
I have many craft supplies filling my loft where I paint, collage, scrapbook and do my devotional time. It is a small area, you can see it here. I have tried to contain my supplies in boxes and bins but mid-project my desktop can be quite loaded down. Many times I have thought of moving my creative space into one of the guest bedrooms where I would have a closet and a door that I can close behind all of my crafting endeavors. But we need those guest rooms probably a half dozen times a year for company!!
Then there are my decorations. If you and I have been friends for long, you know how I love to decorate for the different seasons and holidays. Doing so has often been a bucket list activity or seasonal goal. I store my decorations in plastic tubs on shelves in the garage. We still have room there for 2 cars, 3 pieces of exercise equipment=our mini gym, 2 bicycles, several tool carts, and more.
But my tubs are a point of contention with PC. And he isn’t that thrilled by the decorations either. You can see my summer decorations in this Where Bloggers Live post about my kitchen from last year. I set most of those things on the curb a few weeks ago in a start toward whittling down my many decorations to just a few special pieces. My neighbors gave the decorations a new home. Even my wheelbarrow that I decorated seasonally was adopted.
In some ways I am breathing a sigh of relief. I have lightened things which makes PC happy, is easier to get out, put up and store. And means that I will have less to go through when we downsize from our current house to something smaller. But it still feels like I am losing a little more of myself in doing so. Or am I just evolving?
Turning to Books for Clarity
In an effort to try to make sense of who I am now, I have begun reading more nonfiction books…of the self-help-ish genre. Two in particular have stuck with me – a huge feat since I seem quite capable of forgetting most everything in record time these days. The first was Yeah, No. Not Happening.: How I Found Happiness Swearing Off Self-Improvement and Saying F*ck It All―and How You Can Too by Karen Karbo. This book gave me permission to contemplate saying no to busyness and self-improvery. And even a big brave no to all the wrinkle creams being peddled on the Internet lately to the early retirement crowd.
And I just finished reading Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine. One of the biggest things I took away from it was the human need to feel like you belong. And I think that is what I have been searching for since I retired. And that was the central theme (I think) of my guest post for Leanne. Seeking a place where I belong. Where there are people who sincerely care about me. About whom I sincerely care. Tremaine suggests we take baby steps noticing what makes us feel more like ourselves, and then work toward getting more of that into our lives. Which I think is what I was doing when I was trying on the different part-time jobs, tasting new craft activities and hobbies. Seeking experiences that allow me to be my truest me.
I hope to review these books in a little more depths in the near future.
My Comfort Zone From a Different Direction
For a short time, I wrote a series on my blog entitled Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone. You can find some of the posts, here. I used this series to challenge myself to try new things. To explore myself and my interests. To hopefully grow. And I think I have done that. Perhaps ad nauseam.
Maybe That’s where I am now. Peeling away the things that don’t matter as much any more. But will I be left hollow, empty?
None of my days ever look the same, which I guess keeps things interesting but I long for routine, and direction and a sense of purpose. My friend Leanne explains the attractiveness of living within your comfort zone, here, much better than I do. Have come to realize that maybe what I am longing for in this season of life is contentment, security and peace. A sense of belonging. A comfort zone.
How would you define the season of life you’re in right now? Are you managing it well enough? If you are retired, how did you adjust? Can you offer me any tips? Would love to hear from you. I hope to write more posts on my experiences as I navigate through this chapter. Hope you will continue to join me. I so appreciate your support.
Make it a great week. I am finishing laundry, going to do a little Bible journaling and get the ironing board out. The sun is trying to break through so need to get outside for a dose of Vitamin D.
Hugs and kisses,