Voyage on a Deep Blue Sea

boat MM

Once upon a time, I was beautiful.

I was shaped by the rough-hewn hands of a carpenter, molded, planed, loved.
My grains ran through the wood, like blood vessels under skin,
and I smelled of trees deep in the forest, reaching up to the sunshine.

I was braced with metal fittings, bolted and stretched taut,
then had crevasses sealed with thick pitch.
Weather-proofed, water-proofed against the elements of a sea-faring life.

I was painted at last a soft green to match a sea of tranquility,
and I braved the ocean day to day, clear and stormy alike,
to feed the hungry my fresh catch.

I grew older and stronger through the years in my daily routine
until my owner sold me to another sailor,
who painted me a new color to match my mood and the deep blue sea.

My skin was gashed and pushed to its limits by this energetic man,
but I carried my catch none-the-less,
until I slowed down in my waning years and needed more attention.

boat I

Sold again to another poor fisherman who painted me the red of poppies,
who saw in me a new-found resilience and strength
that could only be had by years bargaining with the sea.

Until finally he moved onto a boat with lines smooth and true
that smelled like a fresh forest in the morn,
and I was left behind on a deserted stretch of beach, to question my purpose.

I was weathered and worn down by my life on the sea,
my paint faded and chipped and peeling,
my metal fittings rusted, my boards bleached, my skin scarred.

Now I brave the storms from my land-locked port
and am covered with seaweed and lichen,
kissed by the sea when the tides come in, the taste of salty tears.

I sit waiting and hoping for a visit from someone who loves the sea as much as I,
until one day I hear the shouts of children
and feel their feet bouncing upon my creaking boards.

In my mind I take them out upon the ocean,
a swash-buckling pirate roaming free upon the deep blue sea,
while in their imagination I am at once young and proof against nature.

Once again, I am beautiful.

boat II
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Photo Credit: John Grant at Meticulous Mick

With my gratitude and blessings… ~ Theresa

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Monday Meeting — Carl

Carl was a quiet man. He didn’t talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.

Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us.

He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.

Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister’s residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

gardener

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.

He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him.
Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, “Would you like a drink from the hose?”

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, “Yeah, sure,” with a malevolent little smile.

As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl’s arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl’s assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him.

Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn’t get there fast enough to stop it.

“Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?” the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.

Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. “Just some punk kids. I hope they’ll wise-up someday.”

His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, “Carl, what are you doing?”

“I’ve got to finish my watering. It’s been very dry lately,” came the calm reply.

Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn’t rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.

hose

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.

As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.

“Don’t worry old man, I’m not gonna hurt you this time.”

The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.

“What’s this?” Carl asked. “It’s your stuff,” the man explained. “It’s your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet.”

“I don’t understand,” Carl said “Why would you help me now?”

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. “I learned something from you,” he said. “I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it but every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn’t hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate.”

He stopped for a moment. “I couldn’t sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back.”

He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. “That bag’s my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess.” And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.

In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn’t know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.

The minister spoke of Carl’s garden as a lesson in life.

garden II

In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, “Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden.”

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: “Person needed to care for Carl’s garden.”

The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister’s office door.

Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. “I believe this is my job, if you’ll have me,” the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.

He knew that Carl’s kindness had turned this man’s life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, “Yes, go take care of Carl’s garden and honor him.”

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done.

During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl’s memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn’t care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, “My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she’s bringing him home on Saturday..”

“Well, congratulations!” said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. “That’s wonderful! What’s the baby’s name?”

“Carl,” he replied…

garden IV

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Thursday Re-View — Who Will Remember?

Memories IV

“Memories” by
Adrian Art

Who will remember us after we are gone?

Really – who will remember each one of us, past perhaps our grandchildren? Or, if we started a family young enough (I didn’t), perhaps our great-grandchildren? If we have not achieved the notoriety that a Lincoln or a Gandhi or a Mother Teresa has, then who will remember us?

These thoughts came about during the past year when my sister and I were charged with cleaning out our Dad’s house after he died (see Remembrance II). This is the house that he purchased for Mom in the town where she was born – her “homecoming,” so-to-speak. She loved it, even though she died after only a few years of living there.

After Mom died, it took Dad 24 more years to die (at least physically; emotionally, I believe he died when Mom did). And in that 24 years of living alone and missing Mom, Dad accumulated three 30-yard dumpsters full of “stuff” that we threw out, and that didn’t include lots of furniture, food, clothing, etc., that we donated.

That’s a lot of stuff. More than a third of a lifetime of stuff.

What my sister and I sorted through over the course of months (yes – months) meant something to Mom and Dad. Sometimes we understood why it meant so much, and it meant a lot to each of us as well. Did those things mean something to his grandchildren? Only a few, markedly recognizable things. To his great-grandchildren? No – they only remembered that Poppy used to bring them a treat whenever he came to visit.

Some things we found:

– Mom’s old eyeglasses
– Thousands of rubber bands
– Hundreds of plastic bags (wrapped inside of paper bags, wrapped inside of…)
– Piles of empty boxes
– Coins
– A compilation (at least 10 years worth) of mpg for Dad’s Saturn
– Laminated, hand-written, detailed instructions on how to correctly pull the handles on slot machines in Atlantic City in order to win money (we’re talking coins here)
– Black lab calendars for at least the past 10 years (Dad loved our black lab, Misty) with important dates and events listed
– Christmas gifts that Dad had specifically asked for, opened in front of us, then placed in piles, never to be taken out of the boxes
– Packages of white tube socks, unopened
– Bottles of rubbing alcohol
– Thousands of band-aids and cotton balls
– Hundreds of clipped coupons
– Thousands of personalized mailing labels from every charity imaginable (Dad always was a soft touch for sending in donations)
– Hundreds of comic strips clipped from newspapers, held together with rubber bands or paper clips
– Trousers in Dad’s size from Haband, still with tags on
– Several boxes of new sneakers in Dad’s size
– Boxes of tissues and toilet bowl cleaner from the days when Mom & Dad had their own business (they retired in 1981)
– About 15 digital wrist watches in their original boxes, never opened
– Packages of sugar and artificial sweeteners from fast-food restaurants
– Styrofoam coffee cups from McDonald’s (used but washed clean)

The list goes on and on…

But please don’t get the wrong opinion about my Dad… He was not a “hoarder,” as showcased by the reality show of the same name. He was simply a man for whom time stopped when Mom died, and who couldn’t bear to part with anything that reminded him of their 41 years together in marriage. Being born in 1925, he was also a child of the depression, where doing without was “normal;” where he ate what his mother grew in her garden on the farm, and he drank what he milked from the cows (that is, whatever was left after he finished squirting all the cats who lived on the farm) and had breakfast each morning with the fresh eggs he grabbed from the chicken coop.

You never knew when you might need something, so you’d better not throw it out…

Every available resource was used, then reused. Clothes were patched and handed down, foods canned and “put up” in the basement, vegetables stored in root cellars. You were poor, and in order to survive, you kept just about everything.

Old habits die hard.

But we also found:

– a bank envelope with 5s, 10s, 20s and 1s laying on the top rack of the dishwasher
– two paper clippings (one for each of his daughters) with the name and number for a business that specializes in estate junk removal with a comment in Dad’s handwriting: “for after…”
– detailed instructions on the location of life insurance policies, bank accounts, keys, important papers
– a note from the parish priest who married my parents authorizing their double room reservation in a NYC hotel for their honeymoon (my, how times have changed!)
– The NYC train schedule that Mom & Dad used when they first started their business – when they walked through the garment district, door-to-door (and having many of the doors slammed in their faces) – trying to find work
– three copies of a prayer for those living alone
– Dad’s rosary
– Dad’s American Legion membership cards all the way back to 1945, when he was honorably discharged from the Navy
– All of the sympathy cards sent to Dad when Mom died 25 years ago
– laminated copies of years of the “In Memorium” notice Dad put in the local newspaper each year on the date Mom died

And so on and so on and so on…

How much stuff do you throw out until you no longer have anything tangible to touch, to hold onto, from your loved one?

I remember when I traded in my car a few years after Mom died; before leaving it at the dealership, I ran my hand along the worn leather of the passenger seat, knowing that Mom had once sat there when we went shopping together. I cried while I was shredding Dad’s old tax returns and cancelled checks, running the tips of my fingers over his handwriting, always heavily indented into the paper. And when I drove Dad’s 20+ year-old car to the salvage yard to have it scrapped for parts, I could barely see for the tears, knowing my hand was touching the steering wheel with his DNA still on it, interspersed with laughter at the sound of its jet-engine whine. Not to mention the sound of the muffler that a teen-ager would do almost anything to own…

Now I know I’m the author of Soul Gatherings, with daily quotations that touch upon the importance of relationship and interconnectedness, rather than the material. And I truly believe all of that. I know that my parents live on in my memory, in me, in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But I’m human, and it takes a lot longer for our heart to catch up with our head where strong feelings are concerned. And throwing out so much of the “stuff” of my Dad’s life was exhausting, liberating and draining, along with a deep sadness accompanied by a profound sense of loss.

Who will remember us after we are gone?

Tell me – who will remember???

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“En ma Fin gît mon Commencement…
In my End is my Beginning…”
~ Mary, Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587) ~

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Regrets…I’ve Had a Few

Regrets…I’ve had a few.  And with this past Saturday being IWD – International Women’s Day – I’d like to take a moment to admire someone from my past.  I’ll get to the regrets part a bit later.

Those of you who follow my blog know that being a psychotherapist is a second career, and that I practiced as an Optometrist for 15 years. When I went to Optometry school – back in the dark ages – women health professionals of the doctor kind were not in the majority. Indeed, my graduating class had 25 women and 116 men.

Much different from today’s schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry and chiropractic where the classes tend to run 50% men and 50% women, or thereabouts.

Back when we women of a certain age were paving the way for the fairly equal percentage of gender distribution in the health professional classes today, we were up against a fair amount of discrimination. […and my son wonders why I occasionally have some difficulty with men in positions of authority…] I had one professor actually tell a close friend of mine that women did not have the aptitude for the math involved in the optics courses spread through the 4 years of optometry school and that we belonged in the home, “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.” That same professor (they were not all possessing of a Neanderthal mentality; indeed, I highly respected most of them) said that since we would undoubtedly get married, have children and stop practicing, we were taking up a seat that a (cave)man could fill. In other words, someone who would practice in the profession until his dying breath.

Wow. Really?

Which brings me to a regret of mine and a woman to be feted for IWD.

slides

Although at the time our optometry school was considered the most prestigious in the country, with the most up to date equipment, etc., these were the days of projectors and slide carousels in the classrooms. [In fact, I remember in my sophomore year in undergrad, when my parents bought me a calculator, I was one of the first in my organic chemistry class to have one. So much for that period of state-of-the-art technology.] One day in our Gross Anatomy class (keep the class title in mind; it’s entirely appropriate for what’s coming up in this story), the professor got his class materials ready and turned on the projector. On the first slide was a Playboy Centerfold in all her buxom glory.

Really. A nude woman.

The professor was delighted with the sudden boom of male laughter that rolled across the silent women in the classroom. So pleased with the result, the professor advanced to the second slide.  You got it – more of the same. I was flabbergasted at his audacity and embarrassed by the picture. Anger about the entire episode didn’t come until later.

But I sat still, not saying a word, stunned. While the guys laughed. And the professor smiled.

I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and saw Michelle, a fellow student, carefully grab her books, place them into her backpack and slowly – proudly – walk out of the classroom without so much as a glance at the front of the room.

Wow. Really.

And ever since that day, I have regretted not getting up and following her out of the room. Instead, I kept quiet, sat through the entire class and was grateful that there were no more juvenile slides.

And ever since that day, I have regretted not approaching Michelle to shake her hand in appreciation of her protest in the face of such disrespect of women.

Regrets…I’ve had a few.

Those of you who know me personally probably find my behavior back then hard to believe. If this happened in one of my classrooms today, I’d be the first one to lead the charge and demand that the pictures be removed, the professor reprimanded, and anyone who laughed dressed down for their disrespect.

But back then, for whatever reason(s), I chose to stand back when I should have taken a stand.

So, Michelle – I salute you on International Women’s Day. And even though this is some 30 years late, I here-by shake your hand and say loudly, for all to hear, “well done, lovely lady. Well done.”

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Monday Meeting — Krishna Thompson

Krishna Thompson

Krishna Thompson

Meet Krishna Thompson, 47: Shark attack survivor

From “The Against All Odds Club”
By Brooke Lea Foster
Psychology Today – April 2013

August 2001, Krishna Thompson and his wife flew to the Bahamas to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. Thompson’s wife didn’t enjoy swimming, so one morning he woke up before her to get some extra time in the ocean. The water was usually crystal clear, but that morning it was murky and rough. Thompson was treading water when he noticed a shark fin coming toward him. He calmly backed off, hoping the animal would go away, but the 10-foot bull shark swam through his legs, its slippery skin grazing his right knee.

Then, without warning, the animal snapped back and took Thompson’s left leg in its mouth. It dragged Thompson underwater, shaking him like a rag doll. He thought about how he was going to die without ever having children. He feared that he would drown, which panicked him. Thompson summoned all of his strength, reached down toward his leg, and punched the shark in the face, which surprised the animal enough to release its jaws.

Thompson swam to shore and collapsed. When he caught sight of his left leg, all he saw was a broken tibia bone—there was no flesh left, no arteries, just bone. He remembers staring at the overcast sky and thinking: “I beat this shark, and I’m going to live to tell the world about it.”

As Krishna Thompson lay on the beach after the attack, his left leg ripped up to nothing but bone, it occurred to him: I am the man who conquered a shark. He approached his recovery with similar resolve, working hard to chase away any negative thoughts with positive ones—even after learning his leg injury would require amputation.

Thompson counted down the days for six months until he could return to work on Wall Street. In 2002, on his first day back, he didn’t drive in to New York City, which would have put less pressure on his leg. He insisted on taking the one-hour commuter train, pushing his way onto packed subway cars, and walking up the steps out of the station. He’s taken the same route in the decade since, his leg often throbbing at the spot where it’s connected to the prosthesis. Still, when a woman asked him to help carry her stroller up the subway steps recently, he didn’t tell her he had a prosthetic leg. Instead, he nodded and said: “We’ll just have to go slowly.” He held onto the railing with one hand, the stroller in his other, and used his good leg to inch his way up the steps.

Sometimes he stands in the mirror and shudders at what he calls his “deformed leg.” But he’s quick to remember: It could have been worse. “Yes, you lost a leg,” he’ll tell himself. “But you have a whole other leg. You have two arms. You can walk.”

Today, he and his wife have a daughter, Indira, 10, and a son, Chad, 5. As his kids have grown, he’s realized the attack can still rattle him. He and his family were swimming in the pool one day when his son accidentally kicked his foot—and a shot of panic rushed through him. He nearly didn’t let his daughter go on a class trip to a local beach. “I was scared they wouldn’t watch her closely enough,” he says.

When a Manhattan police officer was hit by a car and lost his leg, Thompson felt compelled to visit the man in the hospital. He strutted into the room in a suit, walked over to the windows, and put his leg up on the windowsill. “I heard about your accident,” Thompson told the officer, whom he’d never met. Then Thompson lifted his pants leg and showed the young officer his prosthetic leg. The officer’s face lit up, and Thompson said to him: “You’re going to be fine.”

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In honor of all those who triumph over adversity with
courage, perseverance, determination and sheer will.
Your souls shine and your spirits inspire us with hope.
~ Theresa

Thursday Re-View — The Broken Places

Day in, day out, how much can a person deal with before being broken?

layoutsparks.com

layoutsparks.com

Don’t be afraid of the broken places (see: Strength”).

Some days are easier than others, true. But other days, what we’ve lost in our lives seems much greater than what we’ve found, especially as we get older.

Something that’s easy to forget is that loss does not only pertain to the physical death of a person. It actually runs deep through our lives, like an underground current.

It can’t be seen, only felt. You’re not aware of it, only aware of something.

The pink slip,

…hospitalization
…miscarriage
…divorce
…missing out on that promotion
…not being in the career you pictured for yourself
…breaking off an engagement
…moving away from family and friends
…putting down a pet
…receiving a cancer diagnosis
…being sexually abused
…fighting an addiction
…having your home foreclosed
…giving up on the dream of a house with a white picket fence on a tree-lined street
…questioning your faith
…dropping out of college
…having your retirement fund emptied
…wrecking your car
…witnessing a shooting
…disappointing your parents
…cancelling a vacation
…conceding the school board election
…failing an entrance exam
…losing a valued friendship

– those are just a few of the losses we experience.

The ones we don’t tend to classify as “losses.” The ones we don’t give ourselves a chance to mourn.

But we keep on, keeping on. Then one day, some unexpected event triggers something deep inside us, and we wonder what hit us.

Hopelessness. Loneliness. Bitterness. Helplessness. Anger. Emptiness. Longing. We’re numb. We break down and wonder why we can’t stop crying.

Our souls are bruised, and we don’t know why it hurts so much.

We can’t stop crying because those losses are cumulative – they build and build – and we deal and we deal – and we bury them, until we can’t bury them anymore.

Don’t be afraid of the broken places.

If we didn’t break apart, the light wouldn’t be able to get in. Now, where there was only darkness, there is light.

So we sit with them awhile, those scary emotions we’ve tried so many creative ways to ignore. Don’t fight it.

You’ve heard the term, “When God closes a door, He opens a window?” I believe that.

Standout Cottage Designs

Standout Cottage Designs

Picture yourself alone, walking into an old one-room cottage, curious to see what’s inside. The door slams shut behind you. No problem. Probably the wind; you’ll get out. You turn the doorknob, only to find the door still closed. Maybe it’s jammed or stuck. This place is old, after all. You yank on the door, angry that it won’t open. Then panic sets in and you bang on the door until your hand hurts, yelling for someone until your voice is hoarse. You keep on for hours, trapped.

Until you have nothing left and you slide against the wall to the floor, exhausted, fearful, bereft. You curl into a fetal position and rock back and forth, taking yourself to a safe place in your mind.

Then, something…

At first, you think it’s your imagination. A brush of something against your cheek. Then you feel it again, only stronger, this time accompanied by the delicate scent of an unnamed flower. The breeze refreshes you, and you realize that a sunbeam has fallen across your face, drying the tears. You sit up and slowly open your eyes to find its source.

There, to the side of you, is an open window, sunlight streaming onto your face, the breeze billowing sheer curtains into the room. The window was always there…you just didn’t see it; you didn’t notice it. While railing against the darkness, you couldn’t see the light.

Stacey A. Bates

Stacey A. Bates

With a smile and a look of wonder on your face, you walk to the window. You lift your legs over the window sill and step barefoot onto the green, fragrant grass. It feels good. It feels right. It feels like home.

You turn for one last look at the tiny cottage, grateful to be outside. Then you turn your back and walk toward the warmth of the sun. Toward life and all its challenges.

But always toward the light.

With a sense of purpose and direction, with a strength that was born of the darkness, with a renewed sense of hope that this was all a part of the journey.

Your journey.

Don’t be afraid of the broken places.

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Life Reimagined

Now what?

That question – in a nutshell – occupies a fair amount of my time now that I’m “not working.”

People who know me, know me as I once described in one of my posts. In my adult life, I’ve been many things: daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, aunt, wife, ex-wife, mother. Optometrist, Licensed Professional Counselor, writer, teacher, advisor. Friend, adversary, student, mentor, volunteer, colleague, supervisor, supervisee, boss, advocate, committee member, office holder, perfectionist, overachiever. Catalyst, irritant, critic. Tourist, retreatant, co-journeyer, listener, speaker. Avid reader. Supplicant to Saints Francis, Jude, Therese, Teresa and Michael the Archangel. [Human Being? Human Doing? Human Becoming?]

Now that modern medicine has us not only living longer, but living healthier lives, what to do with this life re-imagined?

Two comments I hear (too) often that bother me to no end:

1) Where do you work? (Nowhere???)

2) How do you like being retired? (When did I retire???)

Let’s look at question #1. In the past, I answered: I’m in private practice; I work for a group of ophthalmologists; [insert career change here] I’m in community mental health; I work in spiritual care at a hospital and at a hospice; and, I’m Director of a Counseling Center at a small, private college.

Professional, succinct, in control, no hesitation.

Now what do I answer? Nowhere?

I guess that means housework doesn’t count, or grocery shopping or cooking the occasional meal, dropping off the dry cleaning, setting up appointments, paying bills, bringing my cat to the vet, being my own travel agent for Egypt or Sicily or Peru, being supportive of my husband, ironing, doing laundry, etc., etc., etc.

Somewhere my mind got used to thinking that a pay check was directly related to my self worth. If I got paid to do something, that equaled work, which mattered. Yet I remember when I practiced as an Optometrist, I was always careful to ask (mostly) women if they “worked outside the home,” so they would realize that staying at home incorporated work.

Let’s look at question #2. Retirement? Who retired? A year ago, physicians recommended I step aside from my position and take time off to rejuvenate. Someone asked me not long ago how my stress level was now that I was home. I told them honestly it was higher, since I was so stressed about not working.

I’m never satisfied, I guess…

At any rate, I’m no more retired than the President; I’m just in a holding pattern until I figure out what I’m going to do the rest of my life.

You know – my life re-imagined…

life reimagined

So far, I’ve incorporated neck and shoulder massages into my life [note: my poor massage therapist, who does my deep tissue massages — we spend half the session solving the hers and world’s problems, then the other half talking about how the ever-present knots in my muscles that will not loosen have “migrated” from place to place; who knew that I had traveling knots???], I’ve started this blog, I took swimming lessons at the YWCA, I got back to volunteering in Disaster Mental Health for the American Red Cross, I take a silent 8-day retreat once a year, and I’m looking to get back into per diem crisis work at a Level I Trauma hospital.

But with all this moaning, woe is me attitude, I’ll let you in on something that surprised me — I’m not “hungry” anymore…

Let me explain.

Could I open a private psychotherapy practice and do well? Sure. I did it as an optometrist and I can do it as a therapist with the benefit of years of experience behind me.

Do I want to? No. I’ve done my time and paid my dues. I’m tired of going 24/7 and being exhausted all of the time.

Could I work at another college? Sure – somewhere. Am I up for the politics and resistance to be faced? Not worth it. Let someone younger take that on; my time is too valuable for having to bulldoze the man-made obstacles that would be thrown into my path. And quite frankly, my time is more limited. 30 more years of non-stop, highest quality productivity is no longer possible or realistic.

Let the younger generation have their moment in the sun and in the spotlight, starting up new programs, generating income, getting published and promoted and challenged. It’s their time to shine, bonfire style, while mine is more of the quiet glow of a bank of embers.

Steady, sure, mellow. Still providing light and heat but without the expenditure of so much energy all at once in a short period of time. Both fires serve their own purpose.

Working full-time out in the competitive work force has its purpose, but so, too, does re-aligning my trajectory in mid-life.

But why is it so hard for me to do? Why isn’t what I’m doing, or attempting to do, enough? How can I help more of those in need by what I’m doing? Or not doing?

If anyone has any suggestions as to the best use of me, please let me know. After all, I’ve got plenty of time to listen…

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