Friday, February 10, 2017

I'm Back ... or at Least I'm Trying




haven’t been a good blog-keeper for over a year, having written only five posts since January 2016. My audience tells me they miss reading my thoughts. That previous sentence makes it sound like my audience is in the thousands. That’s hardly true, but I so appreciate anyone who has read in the past.

Why haven’t I been writing? I’ve thought a lot about how to answer this question because I loved writing and sharing with you. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to keep up the pace. After a lot of deep thinking, I came up with a few reasons.

The biggest reason is that my whole life has done, as they say in racing circles, a 180. The course I had planned in 2015 – retire, spend time with my husband, family and friends, write – did not go as I thought. I did retire, but when Richard died, I didn’t have the desire to write. He was my muse, my inspiration for this blog and many of the posts. I didn’t have my editor anymore and didn’t feel confident in my thoughts or writing. 

Also, I didn’t have anything I wanted to write about. My world had become so small while caring for Richard, and I didn’t want to let anyone inside. Writing a post about grieving would be too sad, for me and for you. Often, I considered writing about news events but why? The election wore me out, and I stopped watching national news. I, like many people I know, now focus on my small world, accepting that there’s not much I can change about the big picture.

Instead of writing, I became physically active, mainly to become exhausted so I could sleep at night. I worked in my yard, pushing my old-school lawnmower, chopping shrubs and vines and even cutting down trees with an ax. I set a daily goal of reaching at least 10k steps on my Fitbit but also of having at least I hour of active minutes. I walked 1.5 miles every morning and again every evening. 

Along the way, I rejoined Weight Watchers which led to healthy eating. Since March 2016, I have lost 58 pounds. I began working with a personal trainer weekly which helps build muscle and protect my old bones. My appearance has changed so much that people I haven’t seen in a while don’t recognize me. It’s awkward when we meet because we must get the "new" Pam out of the way. Often, someone will say, “Oh, you’re so skinny” which bothers me. Before, did they want to say, “Oh, you’re so fat” when they met me? Body image, especially when you focus on your own body, is difficult.

May 2015 and November 2016

In August 2016, I returned to the school where I had taught prior to retirement to teach part time. I have the best job in the world! For three periods each day, I teach super kids who are taking dual-enrolled English. These kids chose to be in the class and had to jump through several hoops to be allowed in; therefore, they are committed to the work. They are receiving high school as well as six hours of college credit which is sometimes demanding, but I am well pleased with their work ethic.

I love my part-time gig, especially the part about being finished at 11:15 every day. Now, I have time to plan thoroughly and to keep ahead of my grading. I am willing to try new strategies because I’m not stressed of having to plan and grade for two other classes. If you are one of my former students and you thought I was a pretty good teacher then, you should know that you were cheated. I’m 100% better now. I wish every teacher could enjoy teaching part time, but alas, the money isn’t enough. Fortunately, I have my retirement income as well.  

So much about my life has changed over the past year. My wise friend Jo often said, “Something good always comes from change. You just have to wait long enough to see it.” I am grateful every day for all the blessings I receive – good health, financial independence, great working environment, family, etc. I still have those negative pictures of worst-case scenarios that pop up in my head, but I’m working on mindfulness, living in the moment. I’m getting used to the new me by spending time alone, exercising and saying yes to most invitations to events.

Sometimes I want to plan the rest of my life, but if the last year is any indication of how well I plan, it’ll all go "to hell in a handbasket," as my mom always says. I’ll try to write more often because I hate to see the blog go away forever. Why don’t you send me some topics you’d like for me to write about? Obviously, I need ideas.