Thursday, June 29, 2017

It Is Well With My Soul II

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
                                       -Horatio Spafford

I have been retired for one month.  I don't think I've received so much advice or had so many people tell me how/what I would feel since I was pregnant or had a newborn.  I've listened and nodded, said "Ok," and "Thanks."  It seems to me that no two well-meaning friends have the same advice or story.  That's fine.  I look forward to writing my own story.

I loved being a teacher... everything about it suited me. 
Reading and writing with 10 year olds every day is just about the best thing ever.  It was a good way to spend 32 years.

So, how is is it that I am here on my back porch watching the chickens and without a schedule?

I loved last summer... more than usual; I just savored it.  When the school year began, there was drama, some usual beginning-of-the-year stuff, some very major. It was stressful, draining... and the year had just begun!

I love to read, but when my real-life is filled with turmoil or emotional upheaval (good or bad), I can't read fiction.  I can't get into someone else's drama, so I turn to non-fiction; sometimes that non-fiction might be a blog. I love to look through random blogs.  Often I discover one that makes me want to read 4-5 posts.  But once in a great while, I stumble across someone's blog that I love, one I can relate to.  No, I don't mean they paint or are a teacher or are somehow like me or even share my same interests or beliefs.  I mean that I love the voice in their writing.  They talk to me.  When that happens, I go back to the beginning of their blog and read it from the beginning.  It's like time travel... you are reading about the blog writer's life as it unfolded in present tense... you feel like it's happening in her life right now... but it was 5 years ago... so odd...but I LOVE it!  (Although I will say, you enter someone's life and follow it along, become invested in their joys and hurts and decisions... feels a little bit like stalking... ha ha)

One evening during the first weeks of the school year, I was looking at Pinterest when I came across a cow quilt block that took me to MMM Quilts. The first line was "Thoughts on life after work and after 50."
Hmmm... worth reading a post of two.  I quickly discovered a couple of things... First, we basically had nothing in common (She makes quilts, does yoga, and lives in Canada). Second, I loved her. So... from its beginning her blog provided my reading for the next few nights. (In the mean time, I was trying so hard to get a feeling of peace with the school year.) Somewhere along the first months (remember I'm reading from the beginning) it's obvious that she's a recently retired teacher... and she is so at peace with her life... Hmmm... retirement had never even crossed my mind... hadn't been an option... that was quitting... or was it? maybe more "finishing" than "quitting."  It might have been this sentence from 12/31/13 -"I started believing, truly believing, that I was in my final year of my teaching career.  I started throwing school stuff out, recycling the mountains of paper I'd accumulated over the years.  It felt so good.  It surprised me by how good it felt." that caused the shift in thinking.

I'd had these 6 questions... I always wondered why would I retire when I can answer positively to them all.
#1 Am I still good at it?
#2 Is it still fun?
#3 Do I need the money?
#4 Are there still goals or achievements left?
#5 Do I still fit or belong?
#6 Is there something I'd rather be doing instead?

My husband, bless his heart, was so supportive through my decision... offered no advice, gave no suggestions... just let me talk... and talk... and talk...  One Wednesday night in mid-September I said, that I could only answer the first one with "yes" without thinking or adding an explanation.  He said, "WelI, 1 out of 6 is only around 15%." I went in the other room to get a tissue, blew my nose, and realized that instant... "OH... it's time!"  I came back and said it just like that. "It's time." There was an immediate surge of relief... a huge burden lifted... a peace from within.  I never re-thought that decision, not for one second.  And, I went on to thoroughly enjoy the school year.  I began that process of letting go of my stuff.  It was as if Sandra's posts had given me permission.

For a several weeks, I told no one but my dear (mu deaf - long story... an auto-correct that stuck) teaching partner and friend (I did this painting for her.) and one more person... My new dear friend (who had no idea I existed 3,000 miles away) who helped me with the process.  I cannot imagine what she must have thought when she read my first lines.  "I’ve debated whether to tell you how important you’ve been to me… I don’t want to seem weird.  I think that sometimes people are put into our lives for a very real purpose.  Let’s see… where to begin…  Don’t worry… I promise I’m not a stalker who’s longing for a new on-line pen pal...."  and I went on to tell this dear friend / complete stranger my secret, my decision to let my 32nd year as a teacher be my last and how she'd helped me.  If you're reading, Sandra.  Thank you.

So what have I been doing during this first full month of complete freedom?
  1. eye exam 
  2. annual women's exam 
  3. mammogram
  4. colonoscopy
  5. picked up all my paintings from when the shop where they hung closed
  6. home energy audit
  7. unpack all the "stuff" that was mine and I brought home from school
  8. prepared for and had a garage sale with my sister
  9. went to a painting workshop weekend at Welcome Home Retreat in Weatherford, Texas.
  10. was devastated by the loss of my 3 beloved little chickens 
  11. was given 5 new hens (who don't seem to like me, but that's another story)
  12. began Pilates (for core and flexibility) 3 days per week (sore every day)
  13. worked out with our P.E. coach (a.k.a. my personal trainer HA!) for strength training 3 days per week (sore every day)
  14. walked on trails, elliptical, or tread mill for endurance work 3 times per week (Yep, taking this getting in shape seriously!)
  15. and...currently have the shingles... yes... shingles... (FYI... if you treat that big fever blister on your chin... feel another seeming to try to come through on your cheek bone... you get canker sores inside your lips... get different toothpaste because your teeth just hurt... go to the walk in clinic to be told you have an ear infection to take antibiotics... you don't know why you feel grouchy and want a nap... and all of this is going on on one side of your head... maybe it's none of those things... SHINGLES!!
All in one whole month...
But this is what I know for sure...

It is well...
It is well...
It is well with my soul.

Original Acrylic Painting on 16" x 20" Wrapped Canvas.
This one has a home, but you can purchase one almost like it by clicking "It Is Well With My Soul."  Or, contact me if you'd like me to make one similar.


  1. Superbly written by an awesome retiree of a profession, but still living life to it's fullest!:)

    1. Thanks! My mother always said, "Every stage is the best stage," and this is the best stage.

  2. Well loved this story and I am with you looking forward to your journey. So sorry about the shingles, know they are ultra uncomfortable. Hope they clear up soon. I answered your question on the stars and have a bit of a story as I just heard from the photographer if you want to recheck my blog.

    1. Thanks! I too am looking forward to my journey! :)

  3. How terrible to start your first month of retirement with shingles! I have heard that they are terribly painful. I hope your treatment goes well and you continue to enjoy your new life.

    1. It's been a good first month. Shingles are a pain... literally, a pain! Thank goodness for good meds.