The Daily Prompt: Tiny

I spent many years sewing tiny dolls that were sold to support Amma’s Embracing the World humanitarian projects. I wonder if making them again will become part of my retirement activities.

Written for Daily Prompt: Tiny

My Life is in Transition

dehydrator
My new dehydrator.

Over the last few years I have felt myself inching towards retirement. Last month, I set a retirement date of May 31, 2017 but the size of my psychotherapy practice has reduced so much lately that sometimes I feel as if I am already retired. I know that could change, but I don’t know if it will.

This transition time has been very interesting. When my ex-husband had a massive heart attack in 2001, we began to reconnect. Now we are regularly doing things together, such as watching Seahawks games and Dancing with the Stars, and occasionally going together to movies or other events. We have talked about contacting two or three of our friends from our pre-marriage days.

I also have reconnected with Kathie, who was a close friend in the mid-80’s to mid-90’s. I helped her start a blog last year, ChosenPerspectives, so we have that in common in addition to our past history.

I’ve noticed other things that could be related to this transition. Since 2005 or so, I have felt a drive to reduce the number of my belongings. While I have never been much interested in material possessions, I began to give away anything I hadn’t used in the last three years, unless there was some major reason to keep it. Last year, I changed that number to objects that I hadn’t used in the last two years. I also have had an ongoing desire to organize and clean out cupboards, shelves and drawers.

I have had a renewed interest in numerous activities that I enjoyed doing in the past, such as gardening and canning. For about a year, I felt pulled to buy a microscope, an item I loved during my childhood. When I realized that I could add microscopic photos to the nature photography I put on my blog, I bought a microscope and started using it immediately.

I’ve also developed new passions during the last few years. The most important is blogging, which has become a major part of my day-to-day life. As a result of our mutual blogging interest, I have much more contact with my son, who is the person responsible for me starting my blog. (His blog is The Seeker’s Dungeon.) As the result of blogging, I have also developed a passion for photography.

For several years, I have considered learning how to dehydrate vegetables and fruits. Last month, I purchased a dehydrator and started dehydrating bananas, mangoes, plums, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, cucumbers (probably won’t do that again), and as of yesterday, watermelon. I’ve also felt the urge to start knitting, crocheting, sewing, and possibly folk dancing and going to Dances of Universal Peace, all activities I enjoyed decades ago. These could all be retirement activities.

When I am with Amma, the frequency of the synchronistic events that happen in my life increase dramatically. This summer was no different in that regard. A clear theme emerged in the course of those synchronicities.

The week before Amma arrived in Seattle, I was at my Network Chiropractor’s office when a woman walked out of the treatment room. She looked familiar. I did a quick 20 year age-progression in my mind and then asked if she was the person I thought she was. I was correct. The next week, the same thing happened, in the same place but with a different person. Again, the woman was someone I hadn’t seen since the mid-90’s.

When Amma came to Seattle, I spent the first morning she was here helping a staff member find and go to a dentist. I didn’t walk into the program hall until 1 p.m. As I was walking in, a woman was walking out. She called me by name. When I looked at her, I recognized that she was also someone who had been in my life in the early to mid-90’s. I hadn’t seen her since then and she told me she hadn’t attended one of Amma’s programs during the intervening years. I was amazed by the commonalities between all of these synchronistic experiences.

The most amazing reconnecting events happened just before and during Amma’s Toronto programs. On Father’s Day, I received an email from my brother saying that his son had written a Father’s Day post about our father, i.e. my nephew’s grandfather. Before I tell that story, and the events that followed, let me say that I left home to go to college when I was 17; my brothers were 12 and 14 at that time. I saw them very few times after that. My youngest brother died in 1992. (My children and I did visit him several times between the time he was diagnosed with cancer and the time he died.) I have seen my other brother only three times since 1992, and those visits were brief. We do email each other every now and then.

So back to the story at hand. It was fascinating to read my nephew’s post and to learn about my father from his perspective. Even more fascinating was that I discovered that my nephew and his wife are professional photographers and that my father had also had an interest in photography. My nephew posted some of my father’s photos in his Father’s Day tribute. I knew my father had taken some family pictures but this part of his life was completely unknown to me. It was particularly interesting to me because of my current interest in photography. I was discovering there are things I have in common with my family that I didn’t know anything about.

In his post, my nephew had referred to my father’s military life. Some of what he said was different than my memories. When I checked those things out with my brother, he put together a time line of my father’s career. There was information in it that I didn’t know, and I knew some things that he wasn’t aware of. We wrote back and forth over the next few days. At one point, he added his two sons to the email exchange, so I added my son and daughter. All of us made a comment or two on the joint exchange and then the four cousins wrote each other separately. This was the first conversations they had ever had with each other. I marveled at the miracle that was unfolding.

Over the next week or so, my brother and I continued emailing each other about our childhood memories. He mentioned that he thought our father had gifted us with a love of music, books, education, hard work and the desire to do things right. I believe we also learned the value of hard work and education from our mother and even more important, the value of being in service to others.

I still don’t know my surviving brother well but over the years I have learned that we share some of the same political beliefs. Recently, I learned that we are both introverts and have similar thoughts about some religious issues. Since he is a landscape architect I assume we share a love of nature.

While I was pondering all of these commonalities, I realized that my current passion about nature is something I have in common with my youngest brother, even though we didn’t have that focus at the same time.  His room, both as a teenager and a young adult, was always filled with injured birds and other animals he had rescued and was nursing back to health. I remember visiting him before he married. At that time, he was raising snakes in his room. I will never forget this piece he wrote just prior to his death at age 39:

I am very sad that people seem to see so little of the world around them. I can’t walk outside without seeing the beauty of our created world, from the rainbow in a line of earthworm slime, to another visible ring on Jupiter. We have been given this magnificent world to study and enjoy in limitless detail at any level, microscopic to cosmic. Even though I have enough things to interest me another 10 lifetimes, I must take solace in knowing that, at least compared to others, I’ve had much more than my share even in half a life time..

As I approach retirement, I am grateful that a natural transition seems to be occurring. I am reconnecting with my past in many different ways. I have no doubt that I will have enough activities that I am passionate about to keep me occupied for years to come. The unanswered question that is most up for me now concerns where I will ultimately live: “Will I move to India?” “Will I live in one of Amma’s U.S. Centers?” ” Will I continue to live in my own house in Seattle?” Those answers, and the answers to many other questions, are yet to be revealed. At this moment, there is no need for me to know the future. I know I will know what I need to know when the time is right!

 

cropped-senior-salon  Senior Salon

Practicing Retirement

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Not long ago, I was talking with someone who commented that being retired would be so boring.  I was startled because I think the opposite.  There are so many things I’d like to do.  It seems to me that when I’m retired, I will have time to do more of them.  I decided to practice being retired!

Ideally, I would be able to devote three or four days a week to that experiment, but that won’t happen often.  Yesterday, unexpectedly, ended up being a free day so I decided to make it a “Practicing Retirement” day!”

I planned to do some canning that day, so on Wednesday I purchased blueberries and peaches at the farmers’ market.  I was ready for the big day.

The first thing in the morning I checked my email and blog and then reblogged a post from @contentedness.net.  Next I ate breakfast, showered and dressed.

The first project on my list was to gather tomatoes from the garden and make some roasted tomatoes.

Then I baked a sweet potato that I will use later in the week for making Immune Booster Orange Smoothies!

On to making crock-pot soup for tonight. The garden isn’t producing much now, and the vegetables tend to be small, but there is still enough to make soup.

Next, time to make blueberry freezer jam.  I needed to get some supplies at the store to be able to do that.  I started feeling strange when I was there and realized I had been so eager to start my “Practice Retirement” day that I had forgotten to take my blood pressure medicine in the morning.  Not good.  I carry extra pills in my wallet for occasions like that though, so took one right away.  I will need to make sure I don’t get too engrossed in activities when I’m retired.

The medication wasn’t working yet so I decided to use the regular checkout line rather than the self checkout.  That seemed reasonable for a retiree to do!  When the bagger asked if I wanted him to put my bag in a cart I said “No, I can carry it.”  I soon realized that it was heavy and that my blood pressure was up, and besides I’m retired, so I changed my mind.  I could have even asked him to take it to the car for me, but I didn’t go that far.

Back home, it was time to make the freezer jam!

Time to rest and have some lunch.  I shouldn’t be busy all of the time!

From time to time throughout the day, I worked with the graphic artist on September’s Pacific Northwest GreenFriends newsletter.  By late afternoon, it was finished and I started sending it out to Amma groups in the region.  I plan to continue working on the newsletter when I’m retired so it definitely fit into my practice day.

Page1_Sep2015http://greenfriendsna.org/Downloads/04_Newsletter_50-September2015_v2.pdf

Time to can four quarts of peaches.

I have at least 6 more quarts of peaches to process, but that was enough canning for one day.  I was tired.

After some rest, I was ready for dinner and my “Practice Retirement” day’s big finale.

This was the last of the preseason games and we won.  If the Seahawks are playing this well without our starters, I wonder what the regular season is going to be like.  I look forward to finding out!  I also look forward to discovering which rookies make it onto the team.  (I can’t believe I’m talking like this!  I NEVER thought football would become an important part of my life.)

I loved my “Practicing Retirement” day.  I know I won’t be able to do this much in one day when I actually retire; in fact I couldn’t keep up this pace even at the age I am now.  When I retire, I will make sure I spend time being quiet and still, perhaps even having picnics with friends and looking at beautiful scenery like in the picture at the top of this post.  Even when my body isn’t able to do the things I want to do, with my family and friends support, I believe I will live a fulfilling life. I do not think I will be bored when I retire.