Monthly Archives: January 2017

Retire? Me? Hold on!

Retirement?  Yikes!  I’m far, far from that age.  Except, well, I’m not.  This is my husband’s 30th year teaching special education.  At 30 years, he can retire with the full package.  (I should know very clearly what that it, but I do not.  Mostly because I didn’t ever plan on being retirement age.  Well, I planned on being that age, just not that retirement thing.  Well, that’s not true either, but I just don’t know such things.)  And all that means that people frequently ask when Dan is going to retire.  And then, inevitably because we are the same age, they ask when I plan to retire.  And I always say in a pained voice, “I don’t know.”

But lately I’ve actually been thinking about it more.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps it’s a combination of things.  Dan loves to watch homesteading videos and I have been watching a few lately myself.  I just finished reading a book about a modern sustainable farming family. And we had a couple of snow days that extended our Christmas break, creating time for me to do things at home.

And you know what?  I love doing things around my home.  I find it extremely fulfilling.  Dan and I bought this property almost 20 years ago with the idea of being more self-sufficient.  But then life took us (me especially) in other directions.  I taught school as a substitute teacher more.  Then I was offered a job as a special education teacher, which ended up with me getting a Master’s degree and student loans.  It all meant that I really just did not have time to be self-sufficient.

But it was always there.  Sleeping a lot, waking drowsily from time to time.  And somehow lately, it has woken up.  I love teaching.  I really, really do.  But I derive such joy when at least part of the food I put on the table was grown here.  I want to do that more.  And it’s just so hard when I’m at school all day.

So, I’m starting to actually think about when I will retire.  I still don’t have an answer, but I no longer think I will just go on teaching forever.  In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out ways to supplement my retirement to pay off those pesky loans.  Maybe I will grow salad greens.  It was an idea I once pursued, but life…..  I could get back to that.  Or maybe I will bake cookies.  Or knit hats.  Or bake bread.  Or sell roses.  Or some combination.  Right now I don’t know.  But it’s sure fun thinking about it.


Christmas Reflection

december-30-stockingsEvery year, shortly after Christmas, I sit down to reflect on the previous season.  I do it while the memory is still fresh in my mind.  What went well.  What needs to change.  What I liked.  What I missed.

This year I really had trouble finding things I would change.  My best friend moved away, so we didn’t get to make cookies together.  I missed that.  But we made plans to bake cookies via Skype next year.  (Thank you Dan for that idea.  You could have come up with it sooner, but it’s still a good idea.)  We didn’t go to see any lights.  But, we did stop by one of the local nurseries to watch their display that coordinated with music.

Otherwise, it was just about a perfect Christmas.  Which makes me wonder.  What exactly made it so terrific?  First, I got to see both my boys.  Not both on the 25th.  Not even on the same day, but I still got to see them in person.  Jacob spent Christmas with his in-laws in Chehallis and the Carlsons graciously invited us up for Christmas.  So we bundled into the car on the 25th and made it in time to have snacks before dinner.

Henry came home on the 30th, so we had “Christmas” on the 31st.  Through the miracle of technology, we were even able to include Jacob and Shawna in the fun.  I wasn’t quite the same, but still quite good.

But there was more to this fabulous Christmas.  I was calm.  If you know me, you know that I am already planning for next Christmas (355 days) because I don’t want to feel so rushed that I miss the joy.  But usually I still have a few times that I am just crazy.  I feel overwhelmed and panic about all I need to get done.  I don’t know why I do that.  It really doesn’t help.  In fact, it makes it harder because I’m not getting anything done when I’m having a meltdown and then I don’t get anything done while I get calm again.

But this year, it just did not happen.  It was the most peaceful Christmas I can remember ever having.  Granted, it was helped by not having little kids at home.  We do have our foster son, but he does not create a lot of Christmas craziness.  But that hasn’t stopped me from being crazy in the past.

Fall was rough on me.  There were many things that went wrong and came out of nowhere to make keeping up feel impossible.  It was not fun and I felt like a mess much of the time. I certainly did not feel like someone who was a good representative of what a Jesus follower looks like.  I didn’t want to be that way, but I just couldn’t seem to get myself on solid footing.  And then I read this statement by Graham Cooke: You don’t become a new person by changing your behavior.  You focus on who you already are in Christ and behave accordingly.

Since who I actually am is a woman who trusts Jesus, I’ve been practicing acting like one.  It’s amazing how that little shift can make such a difference.   I would never have believed it could, but I’m living proof.  So, this Christmas, when things didn’t go as planned and I was tempted to panic, I reminded myself to act like I trusted Jesus.  I didn’t have to feel like I trusted him, just act that way.  And it worked!!

Doing that helped me to focus more on Jesus and less on the crazy.  I LOVE Christmas music and listen to it throughout the year.  But this year, it didn’t hold the attraction for me.  I just didn’t want to listen to Jingle Bells and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.  Instead, I found playlists of Advent Songs on YouTube.  It was so relaxing and really focused my mind on Jesus, who really was my Prince of Peace.

This was a wonderful Christmas.  So wonderful, in fact, that I am still feeling the peace of the season.  I want to keep this feeling.  It is just such a better way to be.