One year. It's been that long since I loaded my microwave and refrigerator into the back of my CRV and left my office at Virginia Highlands Community College for the last time. One year!
There is a commercial running on television now that shows pictures of people on their first day of retirement. Now why didn't I think to take a picture? My blog from December 18, 2010, is the closest thing I have to a picture: remember the ice storm that knocked out our electricity on my first day of retirement? Maybe I don't need a picture of that.
The past year has been educational for me, leading me to explore my "discomfort" zone.
Lesson 1: My house will never be completely clean. One year ago I had mighty plans for completing all those jobs that never seemed to get finished. I gamely jumped into cleaning out the "attic", washing windows, cleaning carpets, and throwing out old clothes. I made quite a bit of progress, as was evidenced by the many trips to the dumpster with items from my collection of cardboard boxes. But the windows are dirty again, and the "attic", while it has much more open space, still needs to have things picked up off the floor. If I didn't finish it in a year, I don't think it's ever going to be completely clean.
Lesson 2: I don't have to dust every week.
Lesson 3: I don't like to travel. It's wonderful that retired people go on cruises and have bucket lists of exotic places they want to visit. I wish them well, but I lack the spontaneity gene, so I will never throw a few things into a bag to take off on an adventure. My trips require exhausting amounts of planning, and I believe I've seen just about everything I wish to see on this planet.
Lesson 4: Snow isn't so bad if you never have to leave the house. Instead of getting nose bleeds when the snow begins to stick to the roads, I just make a cup of apple-cinnamon tea, and turn on Walker, Texas Ranger.
Lesson 5: Chuck Norris is a very interesting person.
Lesson 6: An incredible amount of socializing can be done at Food City, our local grocery store. Once I spoke to someone at Wal-Mart in Marion, saw them a little later at the post office in Chilhowie, and wrapped up conversations with them at Food City. I'm sure they thought I was stalking them. The old-age circuit is completed every weekday morning, except on holidays. I catch up with old friends in the bread aisle, find out all the news in the dairy aisle.
Lesson 7: You never know what will happen next, so stop trying to figure it out. There is just no way of knowing all the wonderful things coming along in your life. In the spring I worked with high school students to improve their college placement test scores, and now I work at preparing the bulletins for our Sunday services at church. Both of these jobs would have been impossible for me if I hadn't been retired. Snow storms and rainbows come along at the most unexpected times.
Lesson 8: You can grow as much in a weedy garden as you can in a neatly hoed garden. The weather has more to do with a productive garden than hours of pulling up especially prolific indigenous plant life. If you like the way a cultivated garden looks, it's good to get out the hoe and take it for a test drive. It can be therapeutic.
Lesson 9: Paul Farris knows a thousand stories. A few weeks ago, I told him he should write a book, and he said that yes, indeed, he maybe could fill one up. During the summer months, Paul (my neighbor) runs over a few tomatoes to me or maybe some yellow squash. Along with the vegetables or freshly-canned salsa, there are always a few stories to share. Some are about fishing, some about Chilhowie in the forties, or some maybe about building houses. He can tell a good story.
Lesson 10: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even on days that I don't have to set the alarm, I'm usually awake by 6:30. I've had very few days with absolutely nothing to do. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've had any days with absolutely nothing to do. There is always something that needs attention, and I have a mental list of things I want to do when I have the time. I've never been bored in the last year.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7