And I did that. We took 14 trips. I got to hear Warren Buffett speak, learned to ride a Segway, and helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity. I took a class in teaching English as a second language, found out it wasn't something I wanted to do - and took a class in mediation, finding out it was something I wanted to do very much.
Now I'm into year 2 of not working, and my priorities are different. I realized on a recent 10-day trip to Alberta and Idaho that I've got five priorities: spirituality, community, curiosity, purpose, and exercise.
By spirituality I mean developing the habit of connection to a higher power of my understanding. Listening to what the universe has to tell me, spending time with a quieted mind. That's hard for me - I have a hamster running in my head most of the time, and the hamster apparently sleeps only when I do. I've learned that if I don't listen to the universe, I get off track in what I'm about.
By community I mean nurturing the habit of connecting with people in my household, my neighborhood and my larger community. It's easy to spend most of my time at home, on the computer or reading. I'm sociable, but not an extrovert - I'm not usually energized by being around a bunch of people. That usually happens in one-on-one conversation or in a small group. When I follow my own instincts I tend to isolate - which the hamster in my head loves.
Curiosity means engaging my mind to learn. To read, explore, ask questions. In my mediation training I'm learning to keep an open mind and a spirit of curiosity, because everyone's story in a conflict makes sense if I'm able to hear it.
Purpose means looking for opportunities to be useful, to be of service, to make a contribution to the wider world. Becoming a certified mediator will qualify for that. So will taking the steps necessary to get my book published. I've got a good mind and a reasonable amount of energy and there's no reason why I shouldn't use them both for the greater good.
And exercise. I've been a walker for years, but when I hurt my back in May and developed tingling feet, I stopped walking for a couple of months. Now I'm back at it - plus core strengthening exercises and light aerobics.
What can happen to me if I don't pursue all five of my priorities is that I get depressed or anxious. I become self-absorbed. I obsess about every physical symptom. I make myself miserable. My doctor tells me I'm healthy, but I'm 63 now and it's my job to take the best care of myself that I can.
I have friends in the real world and in the blogging community who love to spend time knitting, or reading, or quilting, or taking pictures, or doing nothing. So far that's on my wish list, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe it will, if I remember my priorities.
This morning Art and I took a two-hour drive in a rural area. We were looking for a patch of chanterelle mushrooms he remembered from 20 years ago. We must have driven every road in a five-mile radius. We didn't find them. But we saw morning fog, hunters out for the opening day of the season, huge abandoned houses, and trailers at the end of dirt roads. We had good conversation and the company of each other. I barely noticed my tingling feet. That's a good thing.
Time now to go exercise!