Starting Over

Cat in Sun

Wake up Lazy Cat

I think I have to admit that I’m a lazy person. I haven’t always been like this – I worked really hard in my younger days. I accomplished a lot when I was working, building an academic program into a large, respected and accredited educational major. I, along with my wonderful husband, raised three children adults and I earned several university degrees while doing this. But now I feel lazy and this is tearing me apart and tearing me up.

I retired three years ago and life has changed a lot. As I wrote elsewhere, I didn’t want to retire but had to because of low energy and chronic pain, and I’ve come to terms with that. I am very happy being retired and don’t have any desire to work except for doing a little contract work here and there – and my desire for this is diminishing. I’m very selective. But I can’t shake the feeling that my life lacks meaning.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. (J.R.R. Tolkien)

This was a recent Goodreads’ quote of the day and it speaks to my discontent. The one that says, “What is the purpose of my life… now?” My faith in God has been central in my life for a long, long time and while I was working I looked to God for guidance – I still do. I believed that God’s purpose for my life was to give students a quality education, especially students who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get one and who want to make the world a better place. I looked to God to give me what I needed to make it through each day and to do right – I still look to God but I don’t know what to do that is good and useful and right. I still want to make the world a better place, but…

I had a conversation with friend Kerry, back when I was unhappy about having to retire and he was oh-so-ready. I explained that for me, doing so many of the things people like to do when they retire, like day trips and volunteering, were very difficult. If I had the energy to do those things, I would still be working. I have active days that are happy days but I have to plan on the following day being very quiet and, well, lazy.

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. (Alan Wilson Watts)

I’ve been trying to redefine myself. I have thought about the lack of meaning in my life for close to a year now. I even thought about giving up and just accepting that life is just about living, nothing more. I had one of my eyeball-to-eyeball conversations with God and I think I heard that I am to enjoy life. Maybe I didn’t hear right – maybe it was just my own voice echoing this nonsense. I still believe I have a lot to give but I haven’t found a way to use those talents in a way that is compatible with how I have learned to live with my body and helps me feel useful. I know that I enjoy thinking, teaching, writing, photography, blogging – all things I have been doing. My interaction with all of you has brought me great joy – but can I find meaning? Is it enough to bring pleasure to people as I share my neighborhoods and travel experiences with you?

water and waves 004

I really have a lot of fun posting photography because it is popular and gets a lot of traffic, especially through the challenges that I participate in. I admit that it is rewarding to see the “likes” add up and to read your comments. I think, however, I need to balance this form of “instant gratification” with some posts that involve writing. I know a lot about the human experience. I have written a few posts on my experience with chronic pain and finding a new way of living – like this post. These posts receive fewer “likes” but also seem to touch those few of you more deeply.

I think I can find meaning in sharing my perspective on life’s joys and challenges as I am starting anew each day. I can draw on my professional wisdom to write about my todays that build on the best and worst of my past. I wrote previously that I remember my past but live each day as a new day. You know, that is what we do every day of our life. We start over, we start anew. And maybe, just maybe, what I have to say about my “new-day-built-upon-yesterdays” will resonate with what you have to say and we will build a dialogue. There, that feels good!

What about the lazy part? Well, this post has been bouncing around in my brain for a couple of weeks but I had been too lazy to put forth the effort to write it. Writing in a way that is clear and concise and engaging is really, really hard. But I am feeling really fulfilled now that I am putting the finishing touches on this post. God never told me life would be easy but maybe she was right – that I am just supposed to enjoy life at this phase of my life-cycle. This means that maybe I can make a difference through my blogging if I am willing to do the hard work that brings joy to my life. I can start over – while building on my yesterdays.

The “Daily Post Challenge – Starting Over” was what got me off my rear end to write this post. You can find out more about it and join the fun by clicking here.

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15 Comments »

  1. Pat – I cried as I read this blog as I am so much in this exact same place. Thank you for putting into words what I feel in my heart. I do thank God for each day, even though they are different than what I had anticipated in my retirement. Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. As a person with a chronic condition and low energy, I can identify with your situation. You articulate so well what I can’t put into words. Its a comfort knowing others go through what you do. My photography gives me new purpose in life. When I take one day or three to five day trips I often find new energy because I am doing something I love. On these trips when I get too tried, I just rest or find the energy to carry on because when I get home I can rest more. It usually takes me from 3 to 7 days to recuperate from a trip, but its worth it. Thank you for your writings, they are a source of inspiration and encouragement. Keep at it, believe me it helps others.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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    • Thanks for sharing your experience – it mirrors mine. I frequently make the decision that doing something is well worth the price. And knowing I may get some good photos adds to the fun. My dream was to be active in retirement and I’m finding how to do it.
      Thanks for your kind comments – I really appreciate having you as a blogging buddy. 🙂

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  3. Pat,
    You bring a bright spot to a day with your blogs. There is so much negativity around this world, when someone can show beauty – that they captured with their lens or give an insight into life – that is a real treasure. So maybe God is telling you your purpose in life is to enjoy Him and bring joy into others’ mundane lives. If God wants you to do something, He knows how to get your attention, He will direct you.

    I remember a line from John Milton’s poem “On His Blindness”, which helped me a great deal when I was incapacitated, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” An attitude of expectant listening is a servant attitude that pleases God, even on “lazy” days.

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    • Thank you so much, Jo. God does know how to get my attention – even when I’m not in a mood to listen. I think you are right – I just need to relax and chill (well not as much as would if I was in Michigan). I feel like all is well with our relationship so I don’t know what I am fretting about. Since I did the post, I’m feeling more centered and your comment seemed to nail me down. Thanks so much for appreciating the treasures I hold out. Now that I have figured out what I enjoy about blogging, my goal is to make all posts a treasure from my soul.

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    • Thanks so much for the feedback. I especially appreciate that you described my blog as thought-provoking. I am really enjoying writing about what I am experiencing and my hope is that I am able to help others think through their experience.

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  4. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 20 years ago.
    Pain and tiredness always, for about 9 years.
    I read quite a few articles that said that fibromyalgia was often an undiagnosed thyroid problem.
    This was of interest to me, because autoimmune thyroid problems run in my family.
    It took me about 3 years to convince doctors to do a very thorough thyroid check.
    Turns out that I had Graves autoimmune thyroid disease all along, and my thyroid levels were often swinging between too low (horribly tired and aching) and too high (unable to sleep and aching).
    The doctor apologized for not realizing the problem sooner. I was told that this sort of “hashitoxicosis” is often hard for doctors to see, because the thyroid TSH test simply shows an “average” and not the up and down swings that might have created that average median number. The ‘number’ kept indicating everything was fine and normal, when it was not.
    I am now on thyroid medication and my fibromyalgia has been gone for quite a while.

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    • I’m glad that you were able to advocate for yourself and find a resolution. My friend had Graves Disease and she is one of the few who really understand what chronic fatigue and pain is like. I attribute my stability to a good doctor and being smart enough to learn how to take care of myself. It takes constant work, however. I look forward to learning more about you as I follow your blog. 🙂

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