Friday, May 27, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Cheer

When I saw the word for Five Minute Friday, it brought a smile to my face. One of the things that my family has always tried to do is to find the "little things" that can bring cheer to someone else. We also try to appreciate the "little things" that are done to help bring cheer into our own life.

As an example, my son, who graduated from college in December has developed an enthusiastic appreciation for typewriters. Though he owns a Macbook and a cell phone, he has become enthralled with the idea of owning and using a good old fashioned typewriter.

He had looked at several second-hand stores and had actually located one or two that he could try out. Each of them had their flaw: keys stuck, small pieces fell out, or keys were actually missing. Then, on a recent visit to my mom and dad's house I remembered that I had owned an old typewriter. I asked Dad if he happened to know what had happened to it. He said, "It's in the cabinet downstairs." We took a quick trip to the basement and sure enough found the typewriter, right where he had stored it. I carried it to my car and took it home to surprise Keenan.

When I arrived home I used my cell phone to call inside and ask if he could come carry something in for me. When I opened the back door of the car and he saw the typewriter he smiled from ear to ear. After a brief explanation about the typewriter's origin, Keenan took it inside. Over the course of the next hour or two he managed to slip away for a few minutes at a time to clean it and try it out. I could tell that this gift had really been able to bring a little unexpected cheer to his day.

Who would have thought that an old typewriter could bring such delight to a twenty something young man who had grown up loving computers and technology?

Sometimes we need to remember that it doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant... we just need to do SOMETHING to brighten the lives of those around us and help bring them a little bit of cheer. It is those LITTLE THINGS that help make life so wonderful: the hand picked wild flower in the hand of a small child, the card made by hand with a youngster's backwards letters and squiggly handwriting, the candy bar and soda left on a co-worker's desk just because. These are the things that make life so wonderful!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Minute Friday.... Expect

A lot of people have been asking me, "So.... is retirement what you expected?" I respond with something rather bland like, "To be honest, it has not really sunk in yet." Then I go back to what I was doing and, in my own quiet moments I ponder the question.

If I had to honestly answer the question, I would have to say that I have not REALLY retired yet. (That becomes official on July 1. That is when the school's fiscal year ends, so I am on contract and paid until that point. Because of that, it is the marker that I am using for actual retirement.) To complicate matters even more, I am working 6 weeks of summer school, beginning next Monday. It adds a bit to my retirement and it keeps the school system from having to train someone else for the reading program.

I may not technically be retired, but I have to say that retirement is just as wonderful (so far) as I expected. I expected to be able to sleep in without setting an alarm and I am so happy that my body clock is already adjusting to that. I am able to stay up a bit later with family and sleep in a bit later each morning. 

I expected less stress and, (so far) that is happening. My biggest stress has been trying to decide what to cook each night and what to crochet or craft next.

I do expect that I will get a teeny bit "bored" from time to time, so I am preparing myself for the idea that I may have to take a part time job doing something. I am, after all, still young enough for a second career and still healthy enough to make the most of it. 

I once read a quote that said, "Expect nothing and appreciate everything." I think that kind of sums up my expectations for retirement. I hope to appreciate every minute of free time or family time that I am given!

This post is my attempt at participating in the online "Five Minute Friday" writing group. I discovered it quite a while back, but I never seemed to have the time to commit to participating. Now I do! 

For more information about the group, you can click on the Five Minute Friday button on the right. I would love for some of you to join us!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Settling In

Friday came and, with it, I retired. I don't really feel a lot different. My body is still on the school clock, waking up this morning bright and early at 5 AM. (I am hoping that will change.) I still find myself checking email to see if I have anything that needs my immediate attention and I still have those school related pins that keep popping up on my Pinterest feed. The fact that I am actually retired has not really set in yet.

The last week was an eventful one. My students spoiled me rotten. With the last day of school for students being Thursday, the gifts and cards started rolling in on Tuesday. I managed to hold the tears back until Thursday itself. When my students were sitting in my classroom awaiting that final, "Students are dimissed," it began to sink in. This was IT. My last group of students, my last "last day", and my last official day as a teacher. That is when the tears began... 

Then my sweet daughter and hubby showed up at the door with a gift bag and the tears poured! They brought me a crown and a sign, declaring me queen for the day. (The bear was a gift from a student.)

Friday was even harder for me. I went in as late as I would allow myself- (keep in mind that I am known for arriving at school at least an hour before my students). First stop- the office, to turn in my keys. The tears started again and they continued off and on for most of the day.

At lunch my middle school team surprised me with something I have been longing for: a Cracker Barrel rocking chair. 

It has been really difficult to think of leaving these guys. They have been my family for years now. If you want to see a real TEAM in action, we were that. The whole district knew us as a team. We planned together, ate together, laughed together, and cried together. I love them and I will miss them. I have already warned them that I will be returning, with food in hand, to sit down for lunch and hear the latest gossip.

As far as plans for retirement go, I tell people that there are 4 things on my "to do" list: read more, cook more, crochet more, and clean more. This week I have attempted to get started. I have swept, mopped, scrubbed, and reorganized 2 bathrooms and started on another couple of rooms. I am into chapter 6 or so of a freebie book that I downloaded ages ago to my Kindle, I have had a warm supper on the table each of the last 3 days, and I have been catching up on the last of my crochet orders. I have even been able to experience an afternoon nap each of the last 2 days. I think I can get used to this... LOL!

Over the next week I hope to come up with a plan that will allow me to regularly update this blog. I am muddling things over in my mind and trying to decide how best to use this as a platform for all of the things that I want to do: share my family, my faith, and my fun stuff with everyone. I will keep you updated. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Where Has Time Gone?

Has it really been months since I have been on here? I know I have said it before, but life has really been putting a weight on me..... (So much for my word of the year- BALANCE....) BUT... I am hoping that this is about to change.

Here I sit, May 8, 2016- only 4 days left in my teaching career. After 31 years in the classroom, I have decided that it is officially time for me to wrap up that section of my life and enter the next stage. I am actually retiring!

Here in Kentucky, teachers can retire as early as year 27 and many of them do. I stuck it out, primarily because I was concerned about money. Would I have enough in retirement to make it through each month? Would my family's needs be met? Year 30 came last year and I kept telling myself that I needed to hang on until I was 55. (That is the other milestone that Kentucky uses to determine retirement eligibility.)

Then the school year started. Changes within the system started. Around September, the yearly student angst started. By October or November I was praying, asking God for guidance. I just didn't seem as happy in the classroom anymore. I felt that I had accomplished things that I wanted to accomplish. I had taught thousands of students across a three county area, touched many lives, imparted wisdom, set examples, and stood by to cheer on my students as they succeeded. Many of my students were now parents and some of them were even stepping into classrooms alongside me. My own family was growing older, with my son graduating from college and my daughter in her second year of undergraduate school. I had discovered a new love for crocheting and was finding it difficult to make time for some of the small orders that were coming in. It just seemed right....

I find myself a bit melancholy at the thought of leaving. I have made strong friendships with the 5 teachers who formed the middle school team at my school. For the past several years we have encouraged one another, cried with one another, laughed with one another, and been through a lot. We have shared births and deaths, successes and failures, and much, much change. I have no doubt that I will be returning to visit them often (with food in hand) to catch up on the recent gossip and continue to encourage them.

I am also more than a bit happy. I am looking forward to being the teacher who VISITS the school and leaves when she wants to, not when the bell rings at the end of the day. I have a lot of plans and I look forward to following through on many of them.

I know that life will continue to throw its curve-balls in my direction- that is normal. Without it, life would get boring. I think that retirement will have me better prepared to deal with those curve-balls.

I do not know all of God's plans for me in the coming years, but I know that he will make them evident to me, if I will only take the time to listen and watch.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.