Published in the Rains County Leader on January 1, 2019:
I spend too much time on Facebook. I don’t stay up until the wee hours looking at cute kittens or comparing what actors looked like then and now, but I do lose writing time, cleaning time, and other productive moments while keeping up with the current activities of my family and friends. Still, I do occasionally find little bits of inspiration like the one I saw on Sunday.
One of my friends posted a cartoon in which two mouse-like creatures were perched on the three-dimensional numerals “2019.” The first mouse was standing with his arms crossed, worry lines around his eyes, and drops of sweat popping off his forehead. The second was on his knees with an eager look on his face as he dug into the surface of the big zero. Their conversation went like this:
Why so optimistic about 2019? What do you think it will bring? Everything seems so messed up.
I think it will bring flowers.
Yes? How come?
Because I am planting flowers.
I have friends who remind me of the first mouse – always sweating bullets over the messed-up condition of the world and worrying about what the future holds. They watch the news and wring their hands, and every conversation revolves around the imminent demise of life as we know it. I think the world would a better place and people would be a lot happier if we approached life like the second mouse – if we imagined life as we would like it to be and set to work to make it happen.
I’m not sure what 2019 holds for David and me, but I know there will be a lot of changes. I left the business world over ten years ago, but for the last four-and-a-half years I have been the part-time secretary at Believers’ Baptist Church. On January 7 I will begin training my replacement, and once I have taught her everything I know – which won’t take long – I will join the ranks of the retired. This time I hope it sticks.
When I think about how I’ll spend my time once I’m a woman of leisure, I divide the list into three parts. There are the things I should do, and the first thing on that list is cleaning. I’m not the greatest housekeeper, especially when it comes to deep cleaning, and I have closets, drawers, and cabinets that desperately need to be cleaned and organized. In addition, David and I both need to exercise more, but we are mutual enablers when it comes to walking on the treadmill or “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” Between us, we can always think of a good reason to wait until tomorrow to begin a new regime. I also need to plan more healthy meals, but with Volunteer Dessert Day every other week at the Senior Center and Home Group dinners every Friday night, there’s not much point.
I’m sure there are others “should do” things, but they will most likely get pushed off the schedule in favor of the things I want to do. Since we’ll have the time, David and I both want to travel more, but we’ll have to watch the budget since I’m not working. Lower fuel costs will help, and we’re not five-star travelers, so we should be able to make that happen. Whether we’re here or on the road, though, I want to devote more time to my writing. I have two books almost ready for publication, and I have a new one percolating around in my brain. I also hope to have time to attack my to-be-read stack of books.
The third part of my list consists of the things that will probably happen if I’m not intentional about parts one and two. I’ll sleep a little later, and by the time I check my email and Facebook, it will be time to go to the Senior Center. The morning will be gone with nothing having been accomplished. The afternoon will be much the same, and before I know it, it will be time to fix dinner and settle down in front of the TV for the evening.
That’s not the kind of 2019 or the kind of retirement I want. I want to continue as an active volunteer, becoming part of solutions instead of part of problems and helping to make the world a better place. I also want to enjoy my leisure time, but I don’t want to waste it. Like the second mouse in the cartoon, if I want to stop and smell the roses along the way, I probably need to get busy and plant some roses.
Blessings and Happy New Year!