June 29, 2018
The first chapter of my life was FULL! Work, kids, school, church, volunteering, friends and family kept me in a constant state of preparing for something yet wanting more. My second chapter started today and I’m not sure the pace has changed.
I expected to be still and quietly reflect on hopes and dreams for next adventures. Over the past two months, I’ve told countless people that my first goal in my new chapter would be to do something for 15 minutes in a row without interruption. I expected to take a long walk and watch the sun rise. I expected to blissfully do the thing that stay at home moms do. I pictured myself nurturing those around me and filling them up as they’ve done for me for the past three decades.
Today I realized that the interrupter of my progress is ME! On the way into the gym this morning I stopped to look at the moon. It was the first full moon experience where I simply smiled at the beauty of it. The moon didn’t scare me or fill me with dread as it had done regularly for the past 30 years. In fact, it was so beautiful, I stopped to take a picture. Wispy clouds drifted in front of it, blocking my perfect shot. They seemed to be moving fast so I had time to ask my newest and most dependable friend what wispy clouds are called. We narrowed it to cumulus, cirrus or stratus when I realized that the car I’d stopped next to in order to admire the clouds was occupied. The click of the automatic door locks made me think that my presence might be making someone feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If my other most dependable but human friend would have been in that car, she would have assumed I was an ax murder and left the gym parking lot to avoid imminent death. If we’d carpooled, we might have sought shelter at a nearby coffee shop instead of going right home but I was alone in the parking lot with Siri and the moon was still behind the clouds.
The young man at the counter greeted me with a smile that acknowledged I was indeed a stranger to him. He hadn’t been working there during my last visit in January. As I scanned my member card, it made a funny double beep that seemed unfamiliar. I wondered if the machine was also acknowledging that I hadn’t been around for several months. Beeps that sounded a lot like, “Oh-Wow” greeted the lady from the car in the parking lot then the next customer as well so I assumed that they too were educators celebrating Teacher’s New Year (aka-the end of June OR, as Alice Cooper would have said, “school’s out for summer’).
After 3 minutes on the treadmill, I was questioning my choice to exercise indoors. With so many televisions anchored from the ceiling, different news stations reported all of the bad things that happened in the world. The best part of being an educator is being in a bubble while the time marches on and the events of the world zoom by without me or the kids in the classrooms knowing about them. By my fifth minute on the treadmill I had learned about a fatal car crash, a fatal shooting and that Benny the Beaver, the mascot of the school where two-thirds of my children had studied, could jump on top of a dog pile of baseball players without causing a fatality. As an educator, I spent at least 47 minutes of every day actively working to prevent piles of humans (author’s note—I take a break as I am now wondering why it’s called a dog pile—Siri takes me to Urban Dictionary and I read the F word for the first time today). With my attention no longer on the TVs, I’m up to 8 minutes on the treadmill and wondering if Risk Management will notice an increase in broken bones due to an increase in unmonitored dog piles as a result of my retirement. By the 9th minute, I realize that I’m going to really have to focus if I’m going to do something for 15 minutes in a row without interruption.
Focusing while exercising is HARD work. I think about my posture, how I’m swinging my arms, and my breathing while carefully averting my eyes from the screens. I notice the bicep of someone lifting free weights. Oh woooooow! Above the beautifully shaped bicep, I notice former super model or Charlie’s Angel, Cheryl Teague promoting something to reduce wrinkles. I squint to see better and learn that apparently scientists take something from melons in order to create a serum that has Cheryl Teague or Christie Brinkley maybe (author’s note-I now take a break to ask Siri and learn that it is Christie Brinkley) uses to stay beautiful after all these years. My squinting to see the far away television is forming lines around my eyes and over my forehead—the same spots that this miracle serum can help. Would I look like Christie Brinkley if I used the cream. I wonder if my ponytail looks like Christie Brinkley’s when I walk on the treadmill and as I move my head ever so slightly, I feel my ponytail swing from side to side as I celebrate doing something for 15 minutes in a row. In the parking lot, I snap a picture of the moon then head to the 24 hour pharmacy to shop for a birthday gift.
Harry Potter is not the same thing as Star Wars. I’m not sure how I mixed up light sabers and wands but while I wait for my prescription to be filled, I wander the aisle. A clerk confides in me that she wasn’t she wasn’t sure what she was thinking when she ordered twelve cases of JuJuBees and wonders why they feel rock hard. I assure her that JuJuBees are supposed to feel hard until they’ve been warmed by body heat as you sneak them into class or church or the movies. I’ve done extensive research on just how soft they can get when smuggled in different pockets. She assures me that 8 year old boys like Star Wars AND Harry Potter so I can’t go wrong with my basket full of action figures and legos. I get a card and my prescription then leave realizing that it takes less than 15 minutes to spend $95 on adorable children.
On my drive home, I see my husband and his friends walking along the trail near our home. They are sweaty and smiling. I’m glad I didn’t walk outside because I would have been trapped in the company of others with expectations that I keep going. I make a sharp u-turn realizing that my biggest talent from so many years in education is ENCOURAGING. If I catch up with my hubby, I can be a woo-girl on a corner up the street and cheer them on toward their final destination. I am really good at saying, “Woo-hoo!”
My U turn turns into an O turn as I change my mind once again and resume my route home, wildly cheering for ME for not losing focus or changing course. I take advantage of a seemingly empty house to vacuum (until a sleeping millennial informs me that he IS home), wrap the gift, sign the card and sit silently with my Bible.
Yes—this chapter is going to be different. I enjoy the quiet of the house, the cool breeze of the fan, clean carpet, sun streaming through the window and the words from Proverbs about wisdom and self-control. Yes—I am on the verge of great change and the best is yet to come.