Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?These are the questions that any writer must answer. These are the answers that the readers seek. So, for my first blog post, I’ll try.
Last week if you asked me who I was, within seconds I would have told you that I was principal of a nationally recognized elementary school and proceeded to tell you why it was so great. As they say, it’s not bragging if it’s true. I loved my school: my kids, my teachers, my staff, my admin team, my community. So. Many. Great. Times.
This week. It’s no longer true. After 30 years in education, I retired. Sigh. There were thousands of reasons to make the decision to leave and only two reasons to stay. Two powerful reasons: my kids and my people. But, the conclusion at which I arrived was that the two reasons to stay would always be present and if I went by them, I would never leave. There would always be kids and a school family to love. Leaving was going to hurt no matter what.
Bittersweet. I’ve come to dislike this word very much. It’s been used many times by others to describe how I feel. Because I didn’t have a better word and I didn’t want to burst into a fountain of tears multiple times in a day trying to figure it out, I would politely agree, but it’s not the right word. I think the right word might depend on the day, but today it is heartbroken. It just hurts to leave all I’ve known and loved even for a future that seems bright and exciting. But, I’m doing it. If anything, knowing the end was near gave me the awareness and the choice to focus on the present, enjoying each moment of the second semester instead of wasting them worrying about how sad I would be in the end or how hard particular future days might be. So, if today I’m feeling heartbroken. I can feel that way. I don’t have to worry that I might feel this way forever. I only need to experience today.
I know heartbroken. Another answer to the question of “who” is that I am a widow. I am going on two years of this status. Widow is another word I dislike. I think of a person forever dressed in black, shrouded in gray clouds of sadness and grief living in the past. A widow is old. I am none of these things, yet I am a widow.
Grief is like the ocean. Immediately following the event, the waves are angry and violent fighting to drown me in the dark shadowy figures and swirling silt. If I fought against them, it was futile, exhausting me and my strength. Or I could go with the waves. Riding each one with its feelings. At first they are constantly fast and furious, but with time they become calmer and more gentle, never completely ceasing. Just like the ocean, conditions change and affect the surf: the moon, the seasons, the weather. The grief never really goes away, life simply grows around the heart. The hurt is there, but it’s insulated.
I’m a runner. I’ve been running for about 6 years. One day I was taking a walk and in a Forrest Gumpish moment I thought, “I wonder how far I can run?” So I did. It wasn’t far. Maybe it was a quarter of a mile. It was slow. And I thought I would die. But, little by little I developed endurance and strength and I ran my first 5K with two goals: don’t die and don’t be last. I made it and have run countless races since. My race, my pace. Keeping it fun.
I’m loyal. I’ve had the same bestie since high school. We’ve shared the best of times and the worst of times. We’ve laughed, cried, shopped, swam, danced, talked and texted. We share a lifetime of memories. Now we’re sharing retirement.
I’m a yogi. I just started practicing daily a little more than a year ago. I mostly practice at home in my yoga room or on my deck using videos from: Five Parks Yoga I do go to guided group classes as often as possible. Physically yoga builds strength, flexibility, and balance, but mentally and emotionally it builds presence, perseverance, patience, focus and more. It’s both energizing and relaxing. I never thought I would like yoga or be able to stay focused, but it is a skill that develops like any other. I thought yoga was just for the bendy people who could do the splits and stand on their heads, but it really is for anybody. It’s a practice that moves at my pace.
I am a paddler! Both kayak and stand up paddle board (SUP). The SUP was a real challenge for me to master. I had to do it on my own terms. I’ll share my Facebook story from the day I finally felt “real” as a SUPer.
“So, I did a thing today! I finally have a real stand-up paddle board! It’s still the same inflatable one, but it’s a “real” SUP because I actually STOOD on it and paddled around the lake. I’ve had this toy since last August and actually standing up has been my nemesis. I knew I could physically do it. I have balance. Good grief, I can put on 8 wheels and zoom around a skating rink like it’s nothing, even though I know it’s hard to learn when you haven’t done it yet. Especially if you’re afraid. I’ve taught many kids to skate. I can take a non-skater to skater in about 10-15 minutes, if they’re not afraid of falling and they follow my directions. Admittedly, I probably could have taught someone step-by-step how to stand up on a paddle board (as long as I didn’t have to demonstrate) . I’d studied it. You can learn anything on You Tube. But, the one missing ingredient was “non-fear of falling off the board” and that anxiety would not let my muscles relax enough to stand successfully. It was a perfect morning on the lake with no wind or much current. There were no boats nearby. I put the nose of the board on the mushy shore to give it more stability. I was able to stand on it easily. I moved my feet around to get comfortable with the board rocking a little. Then I pushed off the shore. I stayed near the shore at first but eventually paddled across the lake and back. The breeze kicked up a little, just enough to let the cottonwoods clap with their little green cymbals.A three goose flyover made the victory complete as they honked their approval. Oh, and all of my butterflies were here at one point or another during the morning. There was one dark cloud in my perfect morning. The valve stem on the board was making an audible leaking sound. I tightened things and moved it around, but I couldn’t fix it. Seriously? On the perfect morning that I decided I was going to stand up? Then I realized it wasn’t leaking that fast, so it wasn’t an excuse. I just took it back to the car every so often and topped off the air. Eventually I got the bright idea to time how long it was taking to lose air and figured out it was a rate of about 2 psi per 30 minutes. So, I just set a timer to remind me to get out and top off the air.”
Perspective… sitting on the board and paddling was fun, but before I could stand up, felt not quite “good enough.” Now, sitting, kneeling, standing…its all good!
I’m a writer. I’ve published articles and crafted grants in my professional life, but really that doesn’t make me a writer. I am starting a project as a magazine editor, but that doesn’t make me a writer. I am a writer because I write. I observe life and create word pictures. Lately, I’ve been driven to write about my life experiences and what I observe and learn, many of which have been emotionally difficult as of late. People read it on Facebook. I decided to bring my new life chapter here.
So, I spent a lot of time explaining who I am. What is this blog really about? It’s about my next chapter, my new adventures. I’ll share videos, photos and stories as I take my new found freedom and explore our beautiful world.
Starting now I’ll share my new life with my readers. I’ll write when I have something to say, so I can’t predict how often this will be.
I’m seeking beauty. I have some exciting future travels planned to some beautiful locations, but I am working on living in the present and looking for the beauty in today, so travels may be as near as my own backyard or so far that I need my passport!
Making a difference, touching the future.
This is my six word memoir. My purpose. My reason. My “why”. For my entire life, I have accomplished this through being an educator. Now, my writing can be my vehicle.
Why writing? Because people in my life have encouraged me to write by reading my work, finding value and sharing that with me. I hope what I have to share inspires and encourages you.
The question is never “can I do…?” It’s “HOW can I do …?” That small word changes everything. Whether or not it will happen is not in question. So, my question is not “Can I navigate my new life?” It’s “HOW can I navigate my new life?” So, thanks for coming with me!