Sunday, September 14, 2014

Photo Journal: Lake Life

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to Life

Last school year left me completely sapped. I saw a friend forced into retirement, while other colleagues feared for their jobs and most of us generally walked around shell-shocked. Stress was palpable. I lost someone close to me in early spring and didn't have a chance to grieve because I, too, feared for my job. While I tried to keep one step ahead, I realized that I don't want that kind of job anymore. A decent retirement plan could never be adequate incentive to stay for the long term in such a toxic environment.

A happy, hopeful Plan B took form during April vacation, and it buoyed my spirits through the last several weeks of school. I spent evenings researching, jotting ideas, sharing them with friends. My exit strategy took form and occupied time after school and weekends that heretofore were filled mostly with more stress--rehashing another crazy day, dreading the next. While I was scheming, my friend, Erica (also an unhappy teacher at that time, now a satisfied Realtor), was putting her Plan B into action and my friend Tamara was in the final weeks of reinventing herself as an event planner. I was inspired and encouraged.

Still, I spent the first four weeks of summer vacation trying to feel normal again, to regain some physical and mental energy. I slept until I felt rested and tried not to make many plans because I wasn't sure I'd have the energy to put on a happy face and follow through. I wondered if Post Traumatic Stress Disorder felt like that.

Eventually, I soaked in enough sunshine by my pool to start feeling better. And then, while out at the pool, I decided that exercise would help me to feel better too. I got in the water and started exercising. A few weeks later I felt remarkably better. I feel like I am finally coming out of a deep, dark tunnel, I told a friend a couple of weeks ago--just as I started back at school.

Terrible timing.

So far I have been able to walk away at the end of the day and leave it behind me, enjoying late afternoon hours in the sun and pool for the last few days it was open. This week I plan to join a gym with a pool and will think about modifying my exit strategy timeline.

Why put off for three years what I might be able to accomplish in one?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Simple Summer Pleasures

I am probably the only person over forty who does not have a Bucket List, although I'm not exactly sure why. I have not lived with wild abandon, so it's certainly not because there is nothing left for the list. Maybe because I don't have a burning desire to do things like bungee jump or skydive, I haven't taken the time to start a bucket list that in the end would likely be a list of places to which I'd like to travel.

I did start a different kind of list, however, when I was sitting at the pool the other day. Just the day before I had gone on an antiquing adventure in Woodbury with a friend (which was a first for both of us, and a lot of fun), but other than that I thought about how I hadn't done much new or different. My vacation was half over and I hadn't done very much at all. I have a lot coming up during the second half, but even as I sat by the pool--sunning, reading, relaxing--I felt disappointed. I wondered what could I do to feel better about how I spent my summer vacation, especially with limited remaining  time and budget.

So I started thinking...

When is the last time you went to a bakery or coffee shop and sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a pastry? Doing so in vacation places--Chicago, Newport-- doesn't count. Neither does Starbucks. Somewhere close to home...Similarly, when is the last time you went to an ice cream stand? Have you ever gone to hot dog stand? What about packing a picnic lunch and finding a place to sit and have a quiet lunch?

Hmmmm. None of the things are particularly time consuming or expensive. I just never think to do them. And I should. I need to step outside the box, change my routine a little here and there, and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of summer. While I still have time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

[Heart] Bluer than Blue Skies

There are afternoons in the summer when the sky is so blue it is almost purple. If the sun is at my back I can stare at it and get lost in it, all the while wishing I could describe it (is it periwinkle? or is that indigo?), bottle it, remember it when I'm feeling anything less than happy. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Photo Journal: A Little Lift

Found this on my white board yesterday, written between restriction enzyme sequences. My spirit really needed it. Thanks, girls.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


This time last year, I was probably already a fixture by the pool, well on my way to summer bronze, pink only around my strap lines. Two weeks into this pool season, I have yet to stop by the pool for my pool pass. I haven't even brought my chair up from the basement, although I did repack my pool bag for a day at the beach (that we spent bundled up in the back yard--having fun nevertheless).

It was not until the third weekend in May when I finally felt the way I typically do in mid-March. Two days in a row of sunshine and seasonable temperatures, one of them spent walking around Boston, and I finally began to feel winter thaw from my bones and my spirits lift a notch above major clinical depression. 

Two weeks later, on a day forecast today to be "top ten," I did not gear up and hit the pool today.

No, I didn't have a skin cancer scare. And I'm not getting more insecure as I age. (But don't worry. I'm also not giving up on myself and ordering muumuus on line.) I definitely still have an aversion to other people's Ill-behaved children near 5 feet of water surrounded by cement (nothing relaxing about that), but that's not it either. This year I have a new life plan, which at present seems to be diverting me from some of those old, unproductive habits. 

In a few years I hope that my life no longer cycles as it has for the last several : 42 weeks of misery followed by 10 weeks of bliss and avoidance.

Unless aliens have abducted Joanne and I am just pretending to be her, I will eventually, definitely, get my tan on. But today, instead of getting by the pool hoping for peace and quiet, with ear buds on the ready just in case, I went to the bookstore and bought a book on floral design and took myself out to an al fresco brunch. While I created my own peace,  I stirred new life into my spirit. 

I am hopeful. I am inspired. 

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