When I step out of the car, the wind takes my breath away. I fumble with my hood, but the closure is too tight, so I yank my right mitten off with my teeth and unzip my coat a bit. Holy Freaking gawd, it’s cold. I can’t get the hood up with one hand, so get back into the car. A blast of snowy wind rocks the car as, with two hands finally free, I manage to pull my hood up and re-zip my coat. Leaving my things behind for a minute, I step out of the car again and immediately turn my back to the wind. I take two side-steps to the back door, get the extension cord out and move quickly to plug the car in. This part isn’t too bad as my back is to the wind and I’ve left the engine running so the headlights shine onto the electrical outlet mounted on the post that I’ve parked in front of. At least I can see what I’m doing.
The college parking lot is full this morning – it always is when the temperature drops into “cold spell” ranges – and I have had to park at the very back of the lot. I suppose that’s good…extra steps and all that, but this morning I could do without them. Finally, clutching my insulated coffee cup to my chest with one hand and gripping my purse with the other, I begin the trek to the building.
The world is a cozy muffled place inside my hood. The snow strikes the fabric over my right ear with a deceptively soft patter that reminds me a bit of rain on an umbrella, but by the time I get to the building, my shins are stinging and burning with cold. It’s an odd sensation to have a warm torso and warm feet but be nearly frostbitten in a single area the width of my hand, just below the knees. I need a much longer coat. Or maybe after 27 years in the Yukon I should buy some snow pants.
I am taking my coat off when my coworker comes stomping in, face red with cold and hair disheveled. “Bloody god-forsaken country,” she mumbles not so quietly. We laugh. And really, it’s only -28o c. Hardly cold at all.
“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ” Abraham Lincoln
Someday I am going to retire, and this quote speaks to why I’d like to retire sooner (rather than later). I like my job and I like being around the people I work with, don’t get me wrong…but I feel that while I am sitting at my desk behind my computer, I am really just marking time. Sure, I do good work – and yes, I do valuable work, including giving good service to other people. But in the end, it is work that pays my bills but doesn’t enrich me or feed my soul. I don’t happen to believe that it is my jobs job to enrich my life. That part’s up to me. And honestly, now that I am starting to come out the other side of what has seemed like a lengthy illness, I have a better appreciation of what is enriching and what is not. And of how much more of my life I am willing to donate to what is not. I want to spend more time living my life and less time “marking time” at a desk.
“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
I am an impulse shopper, and I can tell you that buying whatever I want has not brought me happiness, it has brought me financial stress. I have fallen into the trap of wanting a great many things over the years. Now I am starting to winnow things out. Do I really need 3 sets of casserole dishes and two sets of everyday dinner plates? Do I really need 4 roasting pans and all of those dusty vases? Why do I need 22 hip scarves, especially when I only every wear one? It is time to get rid of everything that I do not want nor need. If it doesn’t bring me happiness, I don’t need it. I yearn for a simpler life. I don’t need everything that I want, but I do need to love everything that I have!
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
Add a good pair of hiking boots and a path through the woods and I’ll be all set.
Over the weekend I asked Kelly if I seemed “better” to him. By “better” I meant “all better”. He said yes, I seemed better but not “all better” from his perspective. He then asked me what my definition of being all better was. I immediately said that it meant being back the way I was before I got sick. After all, isn’t that usually the case? You are recovered from a broken leg when the leg is healed and back to the way it was before? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, though, and I don’t believe that definition is true anymore. After all, if I break my leg, do I then go back and repeat the activity that caused it to break in the first place? I mean, maybe I slipped on the ice. After my leg is healed, aren’t I going to be sure to be more careful next time? Or maybe I broke my leg trying to jump over the coffee table. I don’t think I would try that again! LOL! So… I got sick for a lot of reasons; menopausal hormones, traumatic life event, insane amount of obligations on my plate (meaning a work ethic set at over-achieve.) Some of those things just “are”. Others, though, I have some control over. Will I consider myself to be “all better” when I’m once again working 6 days per week, with no time to spare for anything other than work? That’s the way I was before I got sick. According to my definition, that’s what being well would mean.
Guess what. It’s not. It’s not what I want to go back to.
Questions running around in my mind…what do any of us want out of life? Who am I trying to impress by working myself into the ground? I have a great day job, but I don’t love it the way I used to. And also, when did teaching dance start to become work, too? And isn’t that a sign?
Work ethic overdrive. Where does that come from? It’s okay to be proud of the work we do. How many vegetables we planted and canned, how we painted the house, how we sewed a quilt. But where does it cross the line into being unhealthy? How many days a week can I work and still be alive? How many hours each day without collapsing? If I can’t add up what only I can judge to be a “sufficient amount of X”, have I failed?
Time has always been an issue for me. Often, my broken times and panic attacks center around the feeling that I don’t have enough time.
Time for what? Ah…there’s the question! (and the answer).
I think I will call up my future self and ask her. I’ll let you know if she calls back.