Just read Gretchen Rubin's post for today, and she talks about choosing a word or a phrase as an over-arching theme for the year. Last year she chose "Bigger" and her sister chose "Smaller". (I like that she points out that "the opposite of a profound truth is also true.") My first reaction was, "This is kinda corny," but when I looked back at the past couple of years, maybe not so much!
Apologies for this, ahem, dissertation, but hey, you can skim! I won't be offended, because I won't know!!
2011 What If
During our summer trip to Windsor, Ontario to visit our daughter and check on the new house we'd built the year before, (retirement plans for 2013 had been put in place), Joe announced that he did not want to wait until 2013 to retire. He wanted to go in 2012. With that sentence, he blew apart my 2-year plan, and made me play the "What If" game over the next few months. What if we could do this? Retire a year earlier than originally planned? Quit our jobs, have no new jobs in place and therefore no income, move, leave our beloved grandson?? Go against expectations? The norm? And so I began to examine our potential lives from a new angle, but I felt like I was wearing blinders, as I just could not really see how it could all work out.
January was where 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 was the month that I realized that the school year 2011/12 was my 30th year of teaching. It was like a physical cuff to the head. 30 years of teaching. I used to say I would never teach a day past 50 (back in my 20s I figured 50 was clearly ancient), and here I'd already taught 2 years beyond that. 30 years of doing the same thing was enough for me. I wanted my life back. I loved teaching, loved it with a passion, as it's been in my blood my entire life (and I'm talking lining-up-my-dollies-and-teddies-orange-crates-as-desks in my blood) but I was done. I was still an excellent teacher, getting many parental requests for me as their child's teacher, having fun and feeling a sense of accomplishment within the walls of my classroom, but I'd had enough.
And so we put in motion our move from out West to down East, selling, sorting and simplifying our life. 24 years of living on 1 to 3.5 acre-plots meant we had a lot of simplifying to do. Yet it felt good. And right.
I signed up for a year-long Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training course, knowing that I'd have to complete it by either flying back to Edmonton from Ontario, or travelling to Montreal to the instructors' studio there.
I gave in my letter of resignation at the beginning of June. The bubble of Possibilities was tangible within my chest! And it did not go away all through the final weeks of packing and into the first weeks of living in Kingsville. HOWEVER, over that Fall, Doubt reared its ugly head, with Worry and even some Regret waving their tentacles in the background. I found three helpful strategies.
1. Getting my new 6-month old kitten, Bella, really helped me to deal with my new normal, strange as that may seem. Never underestimate the healing power of animals. Never.
2. Joe's words about my alternatives: to either accept and be happy with this new life, or be miserable. Adulthood profound truth. (He should write a Happiness Project: Joe's Truths, I swear.)
3. During a spur of the moment detour home one night in early November, a seemingly serendipitous sign (ha, love THAT alliteration, came out as I typed!) about a Yin teacher training course led to a perfectly placed in my calendar weekend course. Out of four remaining weekends, I had ONE available, the third weekend of November. The last weekend of November, and the first in December were my last two for Ashtanga Teacher Training back in Edmonton, and the second December weekend we were leaving for Florida! The Yin TT dates? You guessed it, third weekend of November. Talk about the universe lining things up.......
So this past year really has been about embracing this life change. Ha, now that I've typed that, I realize I can't lay claim to that expression really, as it was said to us by our next-door neighbour, Wayne, who, along with Jude, his wife have become two of our very best friends. He said they embraced their retirement, the lifestyle. And I realize now that is what this past year has been about.
Spending the first 3 and a bit months of the year at our condo in Florida was a "pinch me, I must be dreaming this" feeling. I bought, with my darling husband's well-honed skills on eBay, a virtually new Avanté longarm quilting machine in January. I began teaching myself to quilt on it, loving the learning process. I know I mention her in just about every post, but I cannot thank Leah Day enough for the level of educational service she puts out through her website. Without her guidance, I would not be anywhere near the comfort and confidence level I am.
I started teaching yoga at the beginning of July! It was Yin, a style of yoga that I felt more comfortable teaching. Hmm, 200 hours of TT in Ashtanga, 20 hours in Yin. Makes no sense, although I do see an explanation, but that may be for another musing! I love teaching Yin, and I love the place where I teach, and I love the people who come to my classes. Moreover, not to blow my own horn, but I have been very successful, getting much positive feedback, and increases in attendance.
Joe and I started playing Pickleball that summer. This is a great sport, fantastic exercise and lots of fun for couples. We met a great group of people and joined the Kingsville Tennis Club, under the Pickleball chapter, lol. We've got a terrific group of pickleball players.
I joined the Kingsville Quilt Guild in September, and, although I was only able to attend two meetings this past Fall, I am enjoying the meeting of like minds, the stimulation and inspiration, and the challenge of doing something with a very old appliqué block through our Self Round Robin.
We started walking the dogs separately. I do miss the opportunity to talk and walk with Joe, but all in all, we both know this is the right thing to do: each dog behaves differently (better) alone, each human has a different walking pace (mine is fast) and so each dog/human team comes home relaxed and happier!
I seem to have settled into a routine now, and I realize I need routine, order, and organization in order to feel like I'm accomplishing something, getting somewhere. That is in my nature, and although I am a firm believer in the power of 'chill-axing', it's not something I aspire to as an all-day activity. I still have not got a set-in-stone routine, and yet I think I'm starting to be okay with that. I think as a retired person (and I can now say that, write that, even though I'm not a pensioner yet, still too young, and I LOVE saying, writing that!) I'm learning that I need to have big-picture routine, and I'm learning not to sweat the minutiae. In other words, my routine includes a daily hour-long dog walk, sewing, reading, getting outside into the sunshine, and my weekly routine includes 3 yoga sessions and some TV, but I am starting to be okay with not having specific hour slots in which to do these activities. I think just recognizing that in itself is a huge eye-opener. I plan to incorporate an hour of TV to be watched at supper for this next year, as I'm making dismal progress in watching series: Heroes, La Femme Nikita, Call the Midwife, to name a few. Part of this is only having one TV, but still.
I could go back even further! 2008: Monumental Life Changes, 2010: Big Steps...
STOP!! I've been at this for, uh, three hours! I analyze, edit, dissect, WAY too much here. Maybe I need to stop taking myself so seriously... no, I think part of the reason I take a long time is that I am, by nature, a thinker, a reflector, a philosopher, and add that to an analytical English teacher equals too much time spent writing some of these posts. I just messaged my daughter that I'm still at this term paper of a post!! Rather à propos, that, as it is a term paper for 2013.
Just what is my theme word or phrase for this new year? For now, I am going with that. When I write my next post, which is about my sewing goals for 2014, I'll keep that in mind and see if it fits. I like acceptance, because I have made great strides in accepting my new life, yet I also need to accept myself. Just typing that makes me squirm. Yup. That's it. Be comfortable with all of me. Accept my body that is changing/has changed with the onset of menopause. Accept my personality, knowing that I am continually working to improve my flaws. Accept my physical abilities. Accept my white hairs- - - Be happy! Maybe I will be like my paternal grandmother and end up pure white! So far so good!
Happy New Year!