Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The question I ask myself

"How did I ever have time to go to work?"

I quit my last full-time paid job in June of 2010. Nearly eight years ago. I envisioned quiet days, long walks, lots of reading.

I should have known better. That happened for about four months. Then I got busy.

We could have just traveled. As it is, I've taken 63 trips of three days or longer in the last eight years. But on one of them, I came across a couple hundred refugees in the Saltzburg train station, and within a year I became a volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece. After my first time there, I went back three more times. I joined the board of Do Your Part, the disaster recovery nonprofit I worked for at the camp.

I could have spent time on just one hobby. I love genealogy and have been working on my family history for nearly 20 years.  Hours can go by while I explore online.  But instead of focusing on genealogy, I took 140 hours of mediation training and got certified. As a volunteer, I've done about 80 mediations in the last four years - some at the dispute resolution center in my county, some at small claims court, some out in the world. I've gotten better at it, and I still love it.

We spend winters in Tucson. For the first four years mostly I played: swimming, discussion groups, line dancing, handbells. And then the Voyager Theatre Company came along. The first year I did ticket sales; the second, assistant to the producer; this year, I'm part of the cast for a one-act play. Just for this year, though. Next year I want to have a quieter winter. I think.

In the meantime, I've started volunteering with Keep Tucson Together, doing work similar to what I did at the refugee camp. Talking to people now in the US who fear for their lives should they be forced to relocate to Mexico or Central America. Helping as I can. For KTT, I took on a new project this week. It's only three hours a week - at my request - but still, it's three hours.

And two weeks from tomorrow I'm giving a lecture on my experience at the refugee camp. I really need to get started on preparing for that. Most of it is in my head, but it needs to get transferred to a script and a PowerPoint presentation.

Almost everything I'm doing is important to me. I'm not sure what I will give up. I know for sure that I want to keep the friendships I've made in all of these endeavors.

But about having a quieter time. My sister reminds me every now and then that when I'm quiet, I think too much. She and I both say "our minds are a dangerous neighborhood. We should never go in there alone." When I'm busy and engaged, my mind is useful, and that's a good thing.

I had time to go to work because I volunteered very little. I traveled only a couple of times a year. I raised two kids and established bonds with six stepkids. It was a full life, and mostly satisfying.

I can say the same thing now. I have a full life and it is almost always satisfying.

Still. Every now and then I'd like to spend an afternoon lying on the couch, reading a book. Maybe I'll do that.


Bonnie said...

I can relate to volunteering and over doing it. And not having time for Genealogy. And wanting to just sit and read

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Keeping ourselves busy is the key to a healthy, good life. You are doing things you want to do, not like your working life when you did things you had to do.

Barbara - said...

We all need different levels of busyness and involvement. At this time of life, you seem to have found your niche, and what works for you. I've gone from busy to less busy by choice (im reading that stack of books, going to lunch regularly and taking those walks). But I expect before to long I'll be at another level-who knows.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Linda! You are an inspiration to me. And while I'm sure it can be a bit tiring to be so active, the service you offer others is "priceless" and no doubt brings you great satisfaction. You are a role model to what is possible in retirement--we who haven't yet retired down always see that so it's important. Someday if I make it down to Tucson I would love to sit and chat with you about all that you do. ~Kathy

Arkansas Patti said...

You set the bar high for the rest of us. I could never keep up your pace. I did have to smile at,"our minds are a dangerous neighborhood. We should never go in there alone." Good advice for a lot of folks.

DJan said...

I feel the same: how did I ever find time to have a more than full time job? Part of it is that I am now enjoying not moving so quickly from one thing to another. You are a dynamo! :-)

Roberta Warshaw said...

If you are looking for something to read, I am currently reading this book "The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail" by Jason De Leon.

It is related to my last comment about the Samaritans. The author is an anthropologist and it is quite horrifying and graphic in parts but it is happening as we speak. It is very hard to put down.

It is pretty specific to the Sonoran Desert.

Dee said...

Dear Linda, you have become an inspiration to me. I don't volunteer because I can no longer drive, so my life is mostly devoted to writing words that I hope will help heal all those they reach. I retired in 2001 when I was 65 and did keep involved until 2009 when I became Ill. That ended volunteering and many other aspects of my life. And so I have searched for and found delight in simply being still and being within the present and Presence.

My mind can become a labyrinth of confusion and anxiety. So I have a mantra that centers me.

You know all you do and all you want to do will finally mesh and you will cease to be somewhat of a taskmaster to yourself. Letting ourselves be who we are is hard and you certainly are doing that. I so admire you. Peace.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Bust people tend tolive much longer lives especially when they love what they do and repeap the satifaction affirming their purpose has meaning.of course reading the right book could be a comfort but after that you’d want to talk , to share. Right?

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...