A Challenge of “Everyday is Saturday”

By September 29, 2017Farm, Retirement

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One of my biggest challenges as a retired person is all this time I have to myself. “Everyday is Saturday” is not as easy as I thought when I worked and longed for more time. Now time slips through my scoop like kitty litter scattered on the floor. I have become a person I don’t recognize—spending hours on Facebook and internet reading when I have books to read, sitting in front of junk TV when there is a radiant evening outside and Morgen waiting to be called to work.

(I took up TV as a treat from the years I prepared for class and edited and graded papers and couldn’t watch, but now it has become one more distracting screen. I am especially drawn to reality TV like  Bachelor in Paradise.)

I  miss the person who was able to ride her horse in the morning, write in the afternoon, and prepare for school in the evening. I miss how I was able to find my way to my written stories, day after day, even though some of those days, I didn’t write much more than a sentence. At least I showed up at the page and kept at it, little bit by little bit, despite the demands of my job and life as a wife and friend.

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Two years into my retirement I miss being useful in the way I was useful as a teacher. But it was a work that chronically hurt because office politics never settled. Weekends grading papers, weeks preparing class, writing in between were draining in themselves. Two years in I miss my job, the structure it gave my weeks, the feeling useful, the money, the feeling useful. I don’t have it in me to teach, to slap a grade on creative work, or to spend my weekends studying heartrending stories.

(And as I think about this feeling useful, there’s not much of a step over to feeling used, and then used up. Christians often ask God to use them, but that desire can be a set up to becoming a doormat.)

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Inertia, acedia, has set in. Almost a spirit. Kathleen Norris defines it as one of the seven deadly sins or bad thoughts. For me it’s a vague, nondescript loneliness that drives me away from my own thoughts to others’ thoughts. Many writers have spoken the word that silence is what is needed. Ann Voskamp recently suffered heart failure and wrote how her life depended on her listening to her heart, how we need silence to hear it. “The only way you can listen to your body — is not to be afraid of silence.By silence, sanity is found. By silence, sense is made of things. By silence, satan is silenced and lives can listen to their Maker.”

But I have run away from that silence into NPR in the barn and Facebook on my computer because I got tired of the same old bad thoughts having to do with abandonment working their way through my head and figured watching the train wreck that is our country would at least replace them.

But it does me no good to study the culture, to prepare for an argument that I am not equipped to argue with others, especially since I question the validity of having that argument, at least on Facebook. I’m not sure loyalty to a cultural slant is worth losing friends who see a different slant. I haven’t sorted out what it means to be a citizen and a Christian. My first loyalty should be to following Jesus, not to the latest drama coming out of Washington. But I am a citizen and  have civic responsibilities. 

There is so much more to know about God and goodness. I can step outside my door everyday and see how the stub tail squirrel is running across the road or the daddy long legs stepping across mums or see how the clouds are shaping up in the sky, that is new today and will be new tomorrow or feel the Gloria patri sing through my heart into my voice. There is so much that says, “Shout for joy,” and all I can find is a mumble and the prayer, “Lord open our lips and our mouth shall show forth thy praise.”

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13 Comments

  • Mark says:

    Oh, Katie . . . you and I are so much alike!
    I’m praying for you even as I write this note.
    God, we’re all messes, ain’t we? Father, Son, Holy Sprit, Thou Threeness Divine . . . please bless the mess we dare call life! Amen.

    • katiewilda says:

      We sure are alike. Thank you so much for your prayers as they are powerful in Bruce’s and my lives. I feel like something has broken loose. I’m seeing a counselor for these issues. It is a relief to talk with someone who is so supportive and giving me space to talk. Looks like you’ve had some wonderful trips and concerts…It is so good to hear from you.

  • Melinda says:

    You captured this well, Katie. Is there a balanced life within retirement? I’ve had to ask this question as a person with a chronic illness, too. Before that my days were full. Some things I’ve figured out. Some I haven’t. I can still be tormented with futile and hopeless thoughts. The negative voice in my head can be large. That tells me much about where I am spiritually. I long to be where I see Ann Voskamp having arrived. This is the constant challenge of growth in trust and faith of a loving God.

    One thing I do know is that structure and routine are still essential. If I have a routine, I keep moving forward. If I don’t, I wander aimlessly. And if I turn on the television, all is lost. I don’t turn it on during the daytime hours. Before I began writing fiction, I homeschooled my six rambunctious children for twenty-eight years, sending them all off to college. Our days were structured from sunup to sundown. That got everything accomplished. I’ve tried to keep that same mindset now that they’re all grown and now that I’m attempting to keep writing fiction while being chronically ill, though I flex and adjust more easily now. It truly does help me accomplish more than I could without it. I don’t think I would have kept moving through this chronic illness without that mindset. So, for all it’s worth, that’s what has helped me keep going.

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much for your wisdom and help. I am working on finding that structure an routine. It has been very hard since moving to the farm and since Facebook. I took a freebie webinar with Michael Hyatt and there are somethings he mentioned that I want to put in writing, like who are the important people in my life that I need to prioritize.

      I think it’s amazing you homeschooled 6 rambunctious children for 28 years. What an accomplishment. And now you get to see how they are working out their lives.

      Those hopeless thoughts bite don’t they? I think they are the enemy we fight. I read a book about an Orthodox monk and he had a name for them that was like Madeleine L’Engle’s Ecthroi…I looked the other day in those books but couldn’t find the term…Bad thoughts suck…I wonder if it would help to give them voice. But they can tangle you. I also have used the Jesus prayer to block them when it’s been bad…

      Thank you for reading this…

  • An attitude of gratitude!! I often feel empty. Putting up with a chronic disease like diabetes will do it to you!! I find listing the little things I’m grateful for (and it’s quite a list!!), that gives me a sense that God loves me and is concerned with my Comfort, become a launch pad to a better state of consciousness. I try not to slip into stinking thinking. Nevertheless a sense of meaninglessness and purposelessness takes over and It’s at the edge of this emptiness that Abraham heschel recognized prayer started. Also I like this quote from Robert Bly:
    ” the beginning of Love is the horror of emptiness”

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you for your wisdom here. I too need to list the little things for which I’m grateful. I’m so sorry for your chronic disease…It must be quite a challenge…I love that quote from Robert Bly…Love it…Do you read Richard Rohr?

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Here is another “Oh, Katie,” for you: I was not expecting to read this. I’m not sure I expected to read or even wanted to read it (and that is NO commentary on the beauty and raw honesty of your post–you always write so well), but I don’t know where your post ends. Like many bloggers who tell lovely stories with pat answers or pert endings, you leave me in acedia limbo. There is so much depth here, and so much of what I am feeling (or not!), and I don’t even know where to start. I want to pour it all out here, but instead, I think I will email you (sometime, hopefully, in the not-so-distant future). I believe in being transparent online. I believe in encouraging transparency in others (actually, I believe that to be my God-given purpose). But just like silence, maybe I don’t have the words right now to write them here, and more frightening, maybe not even the feeling. Acedia. Lukewarmness. Stoicism. Feelingless. Laissez faire. Whatever. These are the things I’m feeling (or NOT feeling!) right now, and I (a wordsmith, if I might be so bold as to say it), have none. That’s an awful feeling (ah, a feeling of sorts, at least!) The words I find to express something similar to you (because I truly get this, so I should be able even to respond now), I think will have to be forged on the anvil of my journal or in the safety of an email, received by someone who gets it . . . and yet, who doesn’t quite get what to do next herself. And now, I sense I am rambling senselessly. Sorry, Katie. So let me print your words, mull them, ingest them, and get back by email. Two more things occurred to me as I read your post: My poor, dear cousin would give anything to feel anything right now (no matter how seemingly trivial or how dauntlessly important, because she lies comatose, sans any brain waves now. Her poor, dear husband, is agonizing over whether to remove life support. I grieve endlessly for her and for him. We just saw her over a week ago, and she was filled with exuberant life. In a moment, it was gone. So this weighs heavily on my heart…. that “whatever” is not acceptable for me (meaning about myself–I’m hardly talking about you in telling you about my cousin. I’m just thinking aloud in my pain). I’m sleeping, yet awake: God is giving me a chance to do *something.” Lory is alive, but asleep–permanently. I know deep in her soul, she’d give anything to awaken and be back w/ her husband. And this is another really random thought/word association re: your use of “mumbling.” I think of all the mumbling and grumbling on media sources like FB, including a lot of Christians–like me, who should know better–and I think of the old Spiritual, which says, “And He never said a mumblin’ word….” and I wonder: Jesus was being tortured to death. About what on earth are WE mumbling?!
    Wonderful, thoughtful, evocative post, Katie. I know my response likely seems completely incoherent. But just know your words here mean a lot.
    Love
    Lynn

    • katiewilda says:

      Oh Lynn, your post makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you for sharing. I hear you on taking thoughts to silent places like your journal or email. Take your time with it.

      It sounds to me your “whatever” feeling is tied up in deep grief and an expression of that grief over your cousin and her husband.

      I have sought out a counselor for these issues, because I got tired of wasting my days, and I have found her to be safe. I feel so relieved. (We talked about this in another post.) I’ve only talked about politics with her because they are part of the problem, but I feel free to do my own journaling about stuff that I need to journal–those words are coming. And I’m going to assign myself some exercises that rose out of listening to Michael Hyatt’s free webinar on time management.

      I so hear you on the mumbling and grumbling on social media. Your point about Jesus not saying a mumbling work is amazing and wise.

      I hope your write out your responses privately and let the words show you yourself and also show you answers. (I know you know this…)

      Thank you so much for reading this and commenting so very wisely. Love back, Katie

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Katie, thank you for affirming my ramblings. Much appreciated–truly. And you are very wise in your response. I appreciate your kind words about Lory in connection w/ what I said . . . but honestly, no, in that these feelings have long been w/ me. I am very sad about her, and also her suffering calls me up short. I’m also so worried about my mother who adores her niece. This has been so difficult for her.Turning a very abrupt corner, can you refer me pls. to the Hyatt link you spoke about? Thank you so much on call counts… and I hpe I can process this for you in an email.
    xoxo
    L

    • katiewilda says:

      Oh you’re very welcome. After I got off I wondered if I”d said the right things…I hear you on your sadness over Lory and being called up short with her suffering…the suffering we see so much of in the news…I hope your mother finds some kind of comfort in her grief..

    • katiewilda says:

      Oh you’re very welcome. After I got off I wondered if I”d said the right things…I hear you on your sadness over Lory and being called up short with her suffering…the suffering we see so much of in the news…I hope your mother finds some kind of comfort in her grief..

      Michael Hyatt ran a free webinar last week on the seven “sins” of productivity or something like that. I don’t think he’s running it this week though. Here’s the link. It only ran last week: https://michaelhyatt.com/productivity-sins.html

  • Wilma Christine Guzman says:

    Katie:

    It’s been six years since I left a very demanding job in Recreation in Long Term Care. A job that took so much of my emotions, energy, creativity, intelligence and physical presence – making me feel very needed, yet too much so. Along with the social contacts and being part of a workplace “family”, it offered many time of connections with others – the residents, students, volunteers, family members. It takes a lot of emotional adjustment to see your self as needed and of value in other ways. Being free from past schedules – gives us a lot more time for contemplation and reflection, taking note of nature in all its beauty.
    Each week now I don’t know “what I will do”, yet the week fills up. Sometimes I feel I should record what I did each past week – including all social contacts, as it is easy to wonder where time went. A song Charlotte Diamond sang “the Laundry Song” spoke of how in past days when women had larger families and few devices for lessening their load, they had specific days for laundry, ironing, grocery shopping. A friend who spent 3-4 months traveling in Europe and Israel years ago, said how much she missed her daily routines of home, having her coffee, reading the paper, opening mail. The challenge is to develop new routines, knowing life is always open to revision and now you can enjoy having much more flexibility. Set a timer for how much time to spend on Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Be selective about what TV shows you want to watch. (I like coloring- a book with inspirational sayings with images, or in the fall/winter doing jigsaw puzzles while watching TV.) Inspiring movies or books you have seen or read – should be recorded with a mini-review. Know you want to spend some time reading – set a specific hour (lately, I don’t do as well reading late at night).
    I came across this radio interview on a book yesterday – which is relevant – worth listening to or reading: No More Work – James Livingston http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry – Oct. 1

    • katiewilda says:

      Yes, the challenge is to develop those routines, which has been hard for me because there are always interruptions. I like your idea of being selective about the TV shows I watch. They can take up a lot of time and not give much back. I hear you on the reviewing good books…I have wondered about setting different days for different chores…I also like your suggestion to log what we have done during the day and the week because we do accomplish more than we think. Thank you for this long and helpful comment. I copied the link to the radio show and look forward to listening to it.

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