Tag Archives: retirement

The creek spoke to me this morning

It’s Saturday morning. I’m retired, yes, but this still means something after thirty years of working with the public. The animal companions and I had a tough night: 4:00 a.m. a loud blast of thunder awoke me.

Winnie, the oldest dog, began shaking and pacing. I comforted her, put my slippers on, and went to the front door to grab Jasmine the cat who likes to spend summer nights outside. I got her in and she and Winnie and I sat on the upstairs love seat to wait out the thunder and lightning.

So, with my sleep interrupted, I awoke later than usual. While the coffee pot was creating my stimulant, I went out on the deck. Ahhh, how lovely it is after a good rain! And the creek…..

It is practically in my backyard. From the edge of the deck it can’t be more than 10-12 yards. The sound of the water coming around the arc and hitting the rocks is like no other. Scientists say the negative ions produced may boost our moods. This morning it did.

Here’s why it’s so especially important: for the past year I’ve been actively considering moving.

There are days when I sigh when I think of how much money I’ve sunk into this house. Lately, it’s Champion windows, a new heat pump and furnace work, the plumber….. I know I could live more cheaply. Yet….yet I have a pension (glorious karma!) and money to pay the mortgage plus take on the Champion Window loan. But my fireplace is unusable; let’s say I’d been using it a few winters until the chimney sweeper told me I was lucky I didn’t catch my house on fire! Why in August am I looking ahead to December?

I can be a worrier. A thinker but sometimes my thoughts turn to trying to solve things. Like my future. I will turn 65 next February. I think about aging especially when I don’t awake as refreshed as in my earlier decades. I’m a “young 64,” I’ve been told by many.

Back to the creek, that sweet creek. No one owns a creek. I side with the Native Americans’ philosophy of Mother Earth. Yet the County Auditor tells me the part behind my house is mine. Yes, I’ll claim those wondrous negative ions! Right now I hear the water telling me something clear and compelling: why would you think of leaving this place and not hearing the sound of the humble waterfall? For in this sound and nature’s activity lies truths I’ve searched for.

I’ll let Lao Tse, the founder of Taoism have the last word: “Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river.” For now I will be still and remember to watch that humble creek that lies right before me.

gratitude on a Saturday morning

All week I’d been quite busy. So when I went to bed last night, I looked forward to an extended sleep. I had nothing I had to do until Saturday night.

My bedroom window faces east so I usually can’t sleep in much when the brightness of the sun shines in on me. I awoke at 7:00 a.m. and let the dogs out in the back yard. There was a young deer in the woods across from the creek. Not a doe, but young. It was so quiet and camouflaged, I didn’t realize it was there. Only Mia’s frozen stance and upturned tail called my attention to it. It slowly climbed the steep tree-filled hill. Feeling groggy, I decided it was not really going to be the start of my day yet. I lay on the couch for a morning nap.

It felt great! So when I awoke (again) two hours later, I was refreshed. I fed the animals, made my organic decaf, and shuffled out to the garden bench. This was not an ‘official’ meditation although I could call it a ‘nature meditation.’ I spent time listening. How often do we just sit and listen? It was early enough that the mowers and weed whackers were not yet in action. All I heard were birds and an occasional car. This is one of those retirement moments I had waited for. I am very active with organizations and friends but have learned to make sure I ‘schedule’ days off. It seems ironic but it’s true: I must consciously choose to spend time alone.

I know how fortunate I am. For this day, I am grateful.

Tonight I am taking myself on an artist’s date to the May Festival. I want to hear the Verdi opera the Festival is doing. They will perform “Luisa Miller” in concert. Verdi has always been one of my favorites. So I expect that tonight’s poem will be my response to a wonderful musical evening.

my 2 father figures . . . & poem #40

I ended up spending the afternoon with Mr. G. He is an 87 year old man I deliver meals to once a week. Mr. G is always appreciative and pauses at his front door to chat. His wife died last year and his two sons live out of state. At some point, I started carrying the bag of food into his kitchen and talking to him while he unpacked it. Every now and then, I’d linger and chat with him.

So when he told me he was urinating blood and had an appointment for a cystoscopy, I offered to give him a ride. What was to be a few hours turned out to be more complicated. After the CAT scan, he waited to be called in for the procedure. After he was prepped, they buzzed me in. The doctor said they’d found what was likely a tumor in Mr. G’s bladder. He looked so vulnerable sitting there in his gown with a bag of solution linked to his vein. Later I joined him in recovery and we were informed that, due to the catheter and the fact that he lived alone, Mr. G would be staying overnight at a hospital. I reassured him that I’d go to the hospital the next afternoon and bring him back home. My nice deed turned into a family affair.

Then there is Prem. This Indian man is my personal Deepak Chopra. When we saw each other at a New Year’s Eve gathering, I warned him not to shake my hand, it was cold from driving over without gloves. He gently cupped my hands in his and warmed them. He is so kind. We reconnected over the weekend at Veena’s home. While the other two men went to pick up pizza, he stayed behind with the women. Prem and I talked of retirement, how to schedule our own time, prioritize what is important. What did I do with my time? What is important to you? Please tell me, he insisted. Our conversation seemed intimate even with his wife and Veena drifting to and from the kitchen table. I wished it could have lasted longer.

poem

in sickness and in health,
those who are so different
can connect in kindness

turning into a geek

I remember it clearly: it was an evening last week and I was working on my blog. You should have heard me muttering as I explored my blog’s dashboard, tinkering with the widgets on the side. I heard myself mutter ‘geek! you’re such a geek’ and loving it.

I felt such power and creativity. But it was, say, a Friday night and shouldn’t I be out somewhere being social? Not necessarily. I won’t begin to describe how some days I lounge around the house in the same clothes all day, looking like I hadn’t gotten out of bed. I’m retired, after all, and actually thrive on days such as these when time seems unlimited

positively middle-age

I realize I am pushing math to the limit those times I say I’m “middle-age.” This can only be true if I were to live to 118 (59 + 59)! Not impossible but highly unlikely. I mean, the statistics are against it.

I know how lucky I am: I’m an early retiree and I get a pension from all those years at the Library. So I have security most of my friends do not. On the other hand, I have diabetes in my family — both grandmothers and a sister. My doctor considers me diabetic but says don’t worry about checking my glucose on a regular basis. My numbers are low but still ….. I just completed a 6 week vegan/juicing/detox regimen with five other women [I’ll write about it soon] and, besides feeling energetic, lost 8 pounds. Hurray and it’s not enough. Yoga, elliptical, treadmill, and walking my two dogs all help.

What is so great about being the age I am (old enough to wear purple every day if I choose) is that I don’t hold back nearly as much as I used to. I used to worry about what people thought, did they like me? ad nauseum. Now, I realized I can only be me and if they can’t handle my progressive views and alternate lifestyle, they’ll just have to go elsewhere. I feel now that I am actually choosing what I want to prioritize in my life and who I want to surround myself with. My life is filled with writing/meditation/chanting/yoga. I live in an A frame with a creek and woods in my backyard. I have a deck where I can spend 1/2 the year in my ‘outdoor living room.’

I spend a lot of my time communicating, whether it be by phone, in person, on Facebook or Twitter. There are some weeks when it seems I spend hours eating and gabbing with someone I know (or am getting to know) from the various circles I travel in. I have chosen those circles and this feels good.

In fact, it’s great! I have my health, a certain wit, and things to learn and do before it is all over for this lifetime, at least. In 2009 I feel positive about my personal situation even if the news seems to sink further into a cesspool of greed and corruption. I don’t hide behind rose-colored glasses but I don’t have to dwell on the negative either. I know 60 is coming up next and (gulp) then I’ll really have to grow up (is it true, Peter Pan?). Meanwhile, I choose to stay present to a certain childlike wonder that makes my life worth living.