The Blessings of Retirement….

When I think about it, my life is so blessed that I hardly know where to begin to blog my thoughts. I cannot put a value on my blessings nor can I try to list them according to importance. Because you see, understanding blessings is a state of mind. It is a connection you have with God in recognizing and understanding that He is at work around you, all the time, whether you are getting what you want or not. For as you grow in your walk with the Lord, your wants begin to align more so in trusting His Will. You realize that whatever you receive is because God has a purpose and a plan. While some of you may feel that a blessing warrants some significant, huge experience, I see blessings in the smallest things. It is a blessing to wake up each morning, as my grandmother would say, clothed in my right mind. I never understood as a child why she always thanked God for this, until I began to age and fully understand that good health and independence and clarity is indeed a blessing and something we should not take for granted. It is a blessing to do the norm, the routines of life and to know there are certain givens that one comes to expect like having food, shelter, clothing and good friends. These are all blessings for which I am extremely grateful.

At my retirement party with my sons
At my retirement party with my sons

But today I want to focus this blog on the blessing of being retired. I started working at 16 years old. That summer while visiting my cousin in Springfield, Illinois, we got jobs as maids at the State House Inn. As time went on, I also worked as a bookkeeper at a local dress store while in high school. While in college I was an welder at a local factory during the summer. Working those jobs all pointed me toward college. I knew college was not an option but a necessity. In fact I was so determined, I finished college in 3 years with only $3500 in student loans. That was a blessing!

Me during my college days
Me during my college days

I say all of this because life is a series of steps that we take. Each step has some defining moment in moving us to our final destination. I knew early on that I wanted to teach. And I worked to attain that goal and now know that I taught during the golden age of teaching, from the 1970’s before the bottom began to fall out in 2012. I loved being a teacher and will share many stories related to that in future blogs. I was not ready for retirement in 2012 but because of implementation of Act 10 by our governor and the attack on public schools, I knew that my time in the classroom was coming to an end. For you see, I was a bit of a radical teacher. I loved opening young minds to truths and to learning. I loved seeing the connections that my students made to the world around them. But as I ended my last year, I was told, my teaching style needed changing, I needed to stick only to the state standards and curriculum for my grade level only. All of these things, I knew would hamper me as a teacher. Because if a child asked, we talked about it. I did not believe in confining learning to the limits of standards for my grade only.

My first day of school during my last year of teaching!
My first day of school during my last year of teaching!

So feeling moved to retire 5 years before I wanted resulted in me coming out of the classroom in 2012, a decision that I now know was a blessing. I absolutely love waking up in the morning, thanking God for another day, and then laying there a moment to think about first of all, “What day is it?” and secondly, “What should I do today?” I know that would drive some people crazy; those that need structure and focus. But for me, this is perfect; for you see I fill my days with what I want to do. And that… indeed a blessing!

Retirement is like eating my way through one big festival...
Retirement is like eating my way through one big festival…


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