|My week alone wasn't as productive as I'd hoped, but I did finish this handknit doll and sew up the tulle skirt to match her new owner's preferred style of dress. . . .|
I called my bluff this week. Gave myself the potential free time that I've been claiming I want but surprisingly (considering my retired state) can't seem to consolidate. Instead of a week in Portland, Oregon, accompanying my husband who was travelling for work, I sent him off on his own. This despite the fact that I love the city, that I had a great time wandering there (with camera) last year at this time, that I was looking forward to dinners together each evening reviewing our respective days in the Foodie City's many great restaurants, pubs, even food trucks....
My decision was fairly last-minute, but I'll admit my hesitations began shortly after the presidential inauguration. Crossing the border felt much less palatable when my privilege to do so was so unpleasantly highlighted. Still, I probably could have plugged my nose and made the trip if I'd had a January of full health and if I'd felt everything was in order in our new home, and if I weren't traveling a bit, fairly locally, in the next short while. The reality, though, is that after last year's moves and travel, coupled with winter downtime due to weather and illness, I'm becoming impatient for a productive or purposeful rhythm of my own,. And I know, I know, Patience is a virtue, et cetera, et cetera.
Impatience is also a good way of identifying desires, right? And for me, part of this whole retirement and moving gig is figuring out what I want to do now. Perhaps, even, who I am, or who I want to be.
And what I can see so clearly right now -- and couldn't quite have imagined when I was so busy at work that I rarely had an evening or a weekend during term that was marking-free -- what I can see now is that without work firmly in place to stake out time for me (and at least that part of my identity that was built around work), it is all too easy to spend one's time reactively. In fact, while I'm eager to see my guy again when he gets back later today, I could use another week on my own. Because as it turns out, I've only barely cleared space -- mental, emotional, and actual material, physical space in the condo -- to get started on a few projects I've identified for myself.
More on those projects later (I do that too often, don't I, promise "more on this later," and then catch myself up in a string of obligations. . . . Hmmmm, might have to tackle that problem. . . later!)
For today's Friday Five, here are Five Things I Did in my Week to Myself
1. Baby-sat. I got to hang out with an Almost Two one morning, and I had two dinners and one overnight visit with an Eight. This was time spent happily, and time spent voluntarily (yes, the kids asked me to b-sit, but they would have readily accepted a "No"). Still, since I'm trying to see my way forward to what I want to do with the next 20-ish years, it's worth acknowledging that I gave a big chunk of time and energy to spending time with my grandkids. At the moment, this is a choice I make joyfully, but I need to remind myself that choices generally come with consequences, and if/when I find myself complaining that I don't have enough time for, say, creative acitivities of my own. . . .
2. Yoga. Two classes. Here's another example of something I do voluntarily, even joyfully, but that takes time away from keeping my home and life as organised as I might want them to be. It's a choice, and although I believe it's a necessary choice for a healthy life, the two classes pull another five hours of "free time" out of my week. In return, of course, they also ground me, make me stronger, and replenish my energy levels. In terms of the immediate trade-off -- turning down a trip to Portland in favour of a week at home -- I think this investment was worthwhile. Re-establishing my fitness routine and bringing back some mobility to stiffened joints and tightened muscles boosts my confidence that I'm finally "getting it together," developing a schedule that supports a satisfying urban lifestyle.
3. Doctor's appointment. We were very relieved, in December, that our daughter's GP accepted us as patients. Physicians are in short supply in the city, and so many rely on walk-in clinics where continuity of care isn't easily established. Neither of us has needed much medical care and we've been known to miss more than a few annual check-ups, but we're aware that we've moved into a period of our life that might demand more vigilance. So last week, we finally got to the lab for the bloodwork the new clinic wanted done, and this week, I met with my new doctor. Time very well spent, and I feel as if I've advanced some of my organisation goals, ticked off a very important box in the Must-Do list. Because I stayed home this week, I was also able to grab a spot that opened up in my Physiotherapist's calendar, and between Doctor, Physio, and Yoga, I'm feeling as if I'm on the mend and striding forward....
4. Met a blogging friend for lunch and had a great time. These meet-ups are always exciting, generally (as this get-together was) fun, but let's face it, they demand a commitment of organisation, social energy, and, of course, time. And when you travel quite a bit, it's very easy to be distracted by that novelty and to neglect putting in the time that relationships require. Staying home for the week saved me time to invest in my own social life -- even if it didn't save me enough time to do the zillion things I seem to have hoped I might do. . . . .
because for Number 5, I will have to squish together. . . .
5. Reading (not nearly as much as I hoped); Knitting (ditto, although I finished a little boy's garter-stitch hoodie, and have made progress on my own cabled poncho); Drawing (only one day, a 5-minute sketch); Home-organising (shockingly little -- although I filled a bin with towels we no longer need, and I looked through Every Possible Drawer, Storage Bin, Nook, and Cranny for a tulle skirt I bought my g'daughter last month and intended to add to a parcel for her -- Never found it!); List-Making -- oh, so much needs to be done before we're settled here -- but top of the list, and something I was sure I'd have got done this week, Getting Tax Materials ready for the Accountant; Grocery-shopping -- almost none, preferring instead to work my way through the contents of fridge and pantry, surprisingly adequate; Finally Getting My Good Camera Out for a City Walk -- didn't happen, will have to go on the list; Re-establishing Italian Practise -- nope, that didn't happen either; Shopping for a Little Girl's Skirt (see Home-organising, above) to match the one I made her doll. . . .
That's rather breathless, no? And it obviously indicates that I have considerable work to do prioritising what I want to do with my time and energy -- and how, once I know what I want, I'm going to safeguard enough of that time and energy to spend as I wish. Interestingly, having arrived at this point, I'm prepared to have some of that Patience I mentioned above.
I suspect that some of you, already Retired, have done much of this sorting already. I'd love to hear your thoughts, if so. Tell me you don't simply abandon all the items in your Number 5, that you've found ways to honour at least some of those hopes and intentions. I also suspect that some of you, anticipating Retirement within the next few years, will be looking at this hodge-podge either with dismay at the possibility that you might be equally challenged to protect your free time or with a certain (polite, I'm sure, nicely disguised even) scorn that someone could be so scattered. To that scorn, might I just recite what the kids say these days, "It is what it is" -- and sigh. . . For me, it helps to pin it down so that I can see the tangled process. And then keep moving. And untangling. Perhaps forward to clarity and effective purpose? We'll see. . . .