Posted by: susanideus | August 6, 2010

Living a Normal Life

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for—in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it. ~Ellen DeGeneres

That quote would have been a very accurate verbal snapshot of my “normal” life before mid-June, when I began retirement. Some of you who know me well may suspect that I’m not the retiring kind. However, let me assure you that I am doing my best to change that perception. After so many years of going off to work daily, there are new habits to be learned and some old ones to extinguish.

Retirement . . . is when you stop living at work and begin working at living.   ~Anonymous

Is it possible that one has to work at living? I think it is. For a lot of years, I was so bogged down in the daily-ness of a job that wasn’t very fulfilling emotionally. It exhausted me to keep up the hype and the masks that go along with being a “good employee”. Believe me, daily forced hype and wearing masks are not good habits. It got to the point that my life consisted of getting up, going to work, working, coming home exhausted, doing a few things around the house, going to bed, getting up…pure drudgery. My life was all out of sync. No time for much that was healthy, fulfilling or pleasurable. I do not define that as living at all, but merely existing. For those of you who have great jobs that you love and still manage to live a quality life outside of that job, I salute you. I envy you the balance in your life. Clearly, however, it was time for me to make some changes.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

It won’t be easy. We’ve lived a long time with two full incomes. There will be substantial savings on my part in clothes, transportation, gas, etc.  And, we’ll be doing much less eating out–and hopefully banishing most prepared processed food. Still, we’ll be counting pennies, and yet I expect big dividends too. If I can learn to really use my time–writing, reading, editing, running a loving calm healthy household–it will be worth whatever it takes. I need to leave the Type-A compulsions behind me, and recognize as valuable the contributions I’ll be making now. It’s time to start really living.

Life is the only thing worth living for. ~Zen proverb

For me, living life to its fullest means slowing down, being able to make choices about how I spend my time, being able to have time to do for others, lavishing extra time and love on my family, working on the vocation of my choice (not necessarily for money), being more aware of the natural world around me, being able to study and learn whatever subject interests me, using my hands and my mind to create something of lasting beauty, taking time to really listen to my body and to care for it, being able to reach out a hand to a friend in need, being at peace at the end of the day, being at peace in the moment, every moment.

Good for the body is the work of the body, and good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for either is the work of the other.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Those may sound like lofty goals, idealistic yearnings, but there it is. I want that balance of which Thoreau spoke. I have no intention of not “working”. I will always find ways to engage my hands and my mind and my soul and my heart. That’s my new normal. I still have a lot to learn and a lot to accomplish in this life. I have places that I want to visit, ideas that I want to make flourish, people that I want to love by being there for them. This is not an idle time in my life. My prayer is that it will be the most productive time of my life. I retired from a job, not from life. Living is my job now.

Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.  If you’re alive, it isn’t.  ~Richard Bach
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”  ~Erma Bombeck
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Responses

  1. Susan, I look forward to keeping an eye on you and your blog! It seems we run parallel in many ways.

    I’m just trying on retirement too – seeing if I can afford it. Your writing and your quotes are great and I see you are a Madeline L’Engle fan as well.

    But most of all, I’m really celebrating living as I write my way through each day and thank God for this precious chunk of freedom.

    – Amy

    • Hey Amy! Precious, I like that word–every day now is a precious new opportunity, to make of it what I will. It’s such a refreshing and renewing change. Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope this retirement decision works out for both of us!

  2. Absolutely love your post Susan, and looking forward to hearing how it goes!
    You have a zest for life which is amazing, and a desire to live your life the way you want to live it, which is absolutely refreshing. I would say I wish you luck, but luck doesn’t come into it. With such an understanding of what’s truly important in life, your imagination, faith, desire & determination will see you through!
    With much admiration,
    Lee

    • Hi Lee,
      Yes I am trying to live life my way–time for some authenticity after lots of years of wearing masks and building walls. I’m so thankful to have this opportunity, and pray everyday that I contribute something of value to someone. It sounds as though there’s a bit of change afoot in your life as well. (I looked at your blog.) I wish you well in your endeavors and hope that you find that which satisfies heart and soul–and supports your loved ones. May you love wherever you end up! Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. “Living is my job now.” ~ Susan Ideus

    Amen and amen and amen.

    • Kathy, I’ve tasted freedom and it is good. I’m so thankful for these days of discovery and renewal. Lots to be done yet with the body, but the soul is mending.

  4. By the way, see that little pink dog up there? The one that likes your post? That’s me. I don’t know what happened to my picture, but I like the dog, too.

    • I like the little dog, wherever he came from–maybe a little critter who needs some love and attention…

  5. Wonderful post, Susan, wonderful journey. I salute your courage to follow your wisdom. I hope you also get to have time to just Be. I look forward to the unfolding developments and new expressions of the unleashed you.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mary. I probably will be re-visiting your blog soon as I need to get to work on some body issues. Now I have the time and I hope the discipline to do it. Need to really start listening to the messages my body sends out.

  6. Hi Susan, I know all too well what you mean. I just retired from teaching in May. Twenty-seven years in various schools, different districts and systems, various positions (not always in a classroom), different principals all of which required being flexible enough to “go with the flow”. Always being told what to do, how to teach, what to teach while districts cut out art, music, PE, shop and watching as kids, year after year, no longer enjoyed coming to school because they had nothing to look forward to but another day of being forced to sit at their desks reading what they were told to read, writing what they were told they had to write and doing math problems. I became as bored and frustrated as my students. I rebelled against the system (somewhat) and sometimes got called on the carpet for it. Now here I am at home with tons of work that has accumulated over the years and needs to get done, hundreds of books I want to read, writing I want to do daily, gardens I want to plant, and a house I need to get ready to sell so we can move to a friendlier climate than the Sonoran Desert and I find I need to be flexible enough to manage myself, be my own boss, and find a schedule that will work for me. I’m more than up for the challenge 😀

    • Where do you live now, Lindy, and where do you want to be? We just moved back to New Mexico from south Texas and we’re loving it! Thanks for dropping by!


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