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When J & I first considered living in Florida for four months out of the year I was a little concerned. We had spent two or three weeks here every January for many years, and sometimes we got on each other’s nerves – too much togetherness. Would we be happy away from family and friends and all that sustains us up north? Sun, warmth, green, flowers, and open windows usually trump cold, grey, snow, grey, cold, shoveling, driving on ice, dressing in layers, and freezing my tush off (another way of saying cold). I experience so much less pain in the warmth of Floridawinters so it was something I needed to do, but I worried.

Today I am leaving to go about 60 miles north to spend a few days with my book club friends (The Bookies) from up north at a condo owned by one of them. If I had $10 for every time J has said he is going to miss me, I would be able to buy myself a new camera lens. I am going to miss him, too. I am going to miss his quiet company, the semi-routine we have that fills our days.

Our life has evolved as we needed it to. We bought a small condo that has just enough projects to keep J busy. He has more energy than I do and loves to putter. We have met people and go down to the pool if we need companionship. J is more of an extrovert so once a day he grabs his hat and disappears. I know he is at the pool or is walking around looking for someone to talk with. He comes back with some tidbit of condo news or the name of a new restaurant to try. While he is gone I enjoy the solitude – or sometimes join him for a swim and some chit-chat.

We have found a church that is very different from the one up north – important in our lives in a different way. We have found a few favorite restaurants and have thousands yet to try. J enjoys being able to go for almost-daily bike rides and I enjoy always having someplace to go to take a photo or two or a hundred. We are no longer on vacation – we have found a second home.

I’m going to miss you, honey, but will see you on Sunday. I’m also really happy that you miss me – that we still enjoy each other after all these years. Say hi to our friends at the pool for me while I’m gone and remember to use those blueberries on your Cherrios.

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?

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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.