Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two Month Anniversary

On January 3, 2010 I made my first ever blog post. At the beginning of the year I made a commitment to myself to blog for at least two months. I started enthusiastically. There was a lot to learn. I was excited when I figured out how to put a counter on the site. I checked frequently to see if anyone visited. I was the most frequent visitor, but slowly others started to drop by. I spent a lot of time looking at other blogs and I left comments with my blog address. Then one day I got a comment on my blog and soon I had a couple of followers!!! My non-blogging friends didn’t understand what I was so excited about. What is a follower and why would anyone want one?

I had lots of ideas about what to write, at least for the first two weeks. I started another blog with a theme, as opposed to this one where I tend to jump from one idea to another. Midway through my two months I had a bout of writer’s block. I explored some of the sites that have suggested topics and I participated in a meme.

At one point I was ready to give up, but a commitment is a commitment. Now I find myself taking mental notes of every daily incident and thinking “Oh, I can blog about that.” I’m constantly writing in my head, although it’s still a challenge to actually get all those thoughts down on paper

So what have I learned from blogging? I have rediscovered my love of writing. Writing about some of the challenges of retiring has been therapeutic. I have revisited and analyzed experiences and, for the most part, put them behind me. Writing has allowed me to gain some perspective and let go of some haunting memories.   I've learn from my mistakes. Blogging has also allowed me to celebrate what's important to me.

I have so enjoyed the comments of those who have visited my blogs. I’m thrilled that others are reading my words, and some people are enjoying them! Thank you so much to those of you who have found my blog and are supporting me in this adventure. I think I’m going to continue. There’s still a lot to learn.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Door To Door Salvation

Since I retired I spend a lot of time at home…puttering around the house and not accomplishing much. Today I was trying to figure out how to transfer a retirement account and was spending quality time watching The View while I listened to hold music on the telephone. (They really wanted to talk to me, but all representatives were busy with other callers!)

The doorbell rang a little after 10:00 while I continued waiting for the next available representative and the Octomom showed up on The View, but that’s another whole subject. I opened the door to two middle aged women in calf-length dresses. One was carrying a well-worn book that looked suspiciously like a bible. I was going to say that was my first clue, but the sensible clothing was really my first clue. Joanne and Clair were visiting me to share some good news from the bible.

I politely said “ I‘m not interested”

…and, since religion is one of my hot, hot buttons, it really was an Oscar worthy effort for me to sound like I sincerely appreciated their efforts spreading the word of our Lord savior Jesus Christ while gently closing the door.

Clair immediately responded “YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN THE BIBLE?”

Clair’s performance would not even rate a People’s Choice nomination. I could hear the judgment in her comment…I was going directly to hell.

I channeled my inner Barrymore.

“Oh, of course,” I replied “I am just solidly grounded in my own faith.” I touched my hand to my heart and smiled and nodded my head. I considered adding something like “May the Lord continue to bless your work as you carry His word to my heathen neighbors,” but that might have been overkill. It was a subtle performance.

Now where did I put that bible…yeah, right!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Clutter Busting Update

It's Wednesday and I've got even more clutter than I had when I posted the before pictures.  In the laundry room there's the over-flowing bins of dirty laundry. Yesterday I went grocery shopping (because I had a $10.00 off coupon with a purchase of $50.00 that expired that day and even though I didn't really need anything, well, it was $10.00!) So the counters in the kitchen have a new layer of stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.  I haven't even ventured into the back bedroom...I don't want to look at the stacks.  What's my excuse for not getting started with this project?  There's no excuse, I just found more interesting things to watching American Idol.  So tonight I'm going to tackle the cubbys in the entry while American Idol is on.  I'm a little out of practice with multi-tasking, but it's not like it takes a lot of brain power to watch TV!  If I make this goal I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Clutter Busting for Tackle It Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I'm not sure that I should be posting under this Tackle It Tuesday meme. I think I'm supposed to actually accomplish something before I post. All that I have accomplished is identifying the targets...and taking the before pictures. I figured if I made this public declaration of my intention, maybe I'd actually follow through and get at least one of these messes cleaned up.

As you enter my front door the picture below is what you see.  What a lovely greeting!  Every cubby is filled with clutter.

The counters in my kitchen are full...because there's no room in the cupboards for the overflow!

The counters in the laundry room aren't any better than the kitchen.

When my mother died, I inherited all her jewlery.  There are pieces that I remember her wearing and pieces that we bought when we shopped together.  There are also pieces that hold no meaning for me or have no value or are broken.  There are single earrings and rings missing stones.  When I brought the jewlery home after cleaning out her house, I piled it in the back bedroom.  I haven't sorted through it because making decisions about what to keep and how to dispose of the unwanted items seems to be too big a task.  Several times I started sorting and then gave up.  It has been two years since she died, and it's time to get this taken care of.  The pictures below don't really show the scope of the task!

Now that I have thrown open the curtains to expose the clutter that is my home, I'm making a commitment to start organizing.  I know I will never be Martha Stewart, but I do believe that one cannot have tranquility in life when living in chaos.  I'm choosing to shoot for tranquility.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Year

The following post was inspired by a topic posted at Topical Tuesday.  The task is to create a post about "My Year, 2009."    This is the first time I have participated in a meme. Here is the link to the Topical Tuesday home page:

I have now been retired for one year and it has been the least productive of my life. After 30 plus years in education, I abruptly retired at the end of December, 2008. Where I had once been a valued, experienced administrator, a change in superintendent and two new assistant superintendents restructured our district level leadership. The assistant superintendent for student services, my new boss, was less than half my age…I had just turned 58. Overnight I became the village idiot. The knowledge I had gained after working 15 years in the district was useless because we had apparently been doing it all wrong for years.

I know all the research about change. I know it’s hard. I know we go through stages as we respond to change, but I’m really one of those people who likes change. I like to move forward and work toward meeting high expectations for all kids. But I had been cast in the role of the old-timer who stands in the way of real progress.

My opinions held no weight in decision making. My department and my staff suffered because I was no longer an effective advocate for our programs. One morning in early December following an administrative meeting I had a short meeting with the superintendent. It is enough to say that I had never been talked to by a supervisor like I was in that meeting. The superintendent’s voice was laden with contempt. His body language and gestures showed disgust. That afternoon I made an appointment to discuss my eligibility for retirement with the state retirement system.

I was eligible for full early retirement. The district was contractually required to pay for my medical insurance for seven years. I would receive a pension check only slightly smaller than my paycheck. I didn’t have the fight in me to stay where I was neither wanted nor effective. I retired.

I had no plans for retirement and I have spent the past year floundering. A friend who retired in similar circumstances had told me that leaving the district was like leaving an abusive relationship. She didn’t realize how bad it was until several months had passed and she had gained some distance. One day she woke up and realized that she was no longer stressed and unhappy.

My life had always been filled up with work and when I wasn’t at work, I brought my work home with me. My hobby was writing grants in my spare time to fund projects at work. Everything came to a screeching halt. I had no idea what to do next.

When people retire they take trips…so I went to Hawaii in January when everyone else went back to school and I watched whales.

I made numerous extended visits to Texas to see my grandchildren. I spent most of the summer in the pool and watched my granddaughter learn to swim.

I took a cruise to Alaska

I stayed up late and slept without an alarm clock. I got up when I wanted to get up. I got a new wardrobe of casual wear. I renewed my library card. I bought a laptop and set up an office. I started to write again and braved a blog. I rode my bike around the neighborhood. I began to heal and one day I realized that there was absolutely nothing that I had to do.

I’m still finding my way in retirement. I substitute occasionally and remember how much fun it is to teach. But then I eat lunch in the teacher’s room and the discussion about budget cuts or new regulations reminds me how fortunate I am to have no dependence on, or responsibility to, the school district.

I have gained the freedom to do whatever I want…my only challenge is figuring out what I want to do. That’s a work in progress.
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