A sudden blur of movement across my patio alerted me to his presence. This is the first summer we've hung a hummingbird feeder up. I had never thought of hummingbirds and Nebraska ... it seems too extreme, too hot, humid, windy, too corn-filled for such seemingly delicate beings. Of course, the hummingbird is actually a very hardy thing and this ruby-throated fellow will make a 500 mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico to return to his breeding grounds. My backyard feeder is a fueling up station - an all-you-can-eat nectar buffet bar - for the hummingbird couple that kept me company throughout the day.
That was yesterday. Today is a new day. A very different day.
A clap of thunder woke the entire family up. Just as Cowgirl was ready for school, the skies split open with heavy, plopping, splattering rain drops. It's been raining all morning now.
I am inside with the lights on. Their yellow glow combined with the cannon-blasts of thunder and percussion of falling rain have me in a strange mood. The house is empty and my day ahead uncertain. Oh, there are things to do and things I want to do but here I sit at odds with myself.
I feel like I am playing hooky. While others are at their work, I am busy with ... what?
At recent potluck held by the Husband's colleagues I was asked "Now that you've retired, does that mean you are lady of leisure?" I'm not sure quitting my University staff job is the same thing as retiring ... I suppose the mug I was given (yes, indeed ... 12 years of service and I got a mug) and the going away luncheon (left-overs from a previous gathering ... style points for sure!) suggested a moving on which is how I myself viewed that career decision. I don't help my cause by keeping silent, but I was unprepared for this assessment of my situation.
Lady of leisure? Retiree?
Here is the dilemma: I work harder now than I ever did as someone's employee. I work harder and reap more satisfaction and fulfillment from my efforts; I feel more engaged, more vital, and connected to what matters to me. That others don't see or immediately grasp this is ultimately inconsequential but frustrating none-the-less.
Every day, I feel like I am reinventing myself. Or rather, reinventing what work looks like and means in my life. No one else can rubber-stamp my efforts and I alone set the terms and evaluate the outcome. It is both thrilling and incredibly lonely.
I have to guard my time, watch out for my inner saboteur who dangles distractions and negative self talk in front of me, scaring me temporarily off my path. Ultimately, my irritation over being pigeonholed as either retiree or worker bee has more to do with my own confusion. The internal chatter tells me I'm either productively engaged or loafing. I have to return to the reason why I opted to set off on this unmarked trail; to remember I believe the fullness of my life is to be found in this space. Home. Family. Personal work. Creative Expression. Spiritual practice. Less hustle and more presence. Surrender. Trust. Curiosity. Faith.
I'm into my second cup of coffee ... it's going to be that kind of a day. I am alone because the one I need to converse with, to really get to know, understand and accept is ... yes, myself.
But I do seek out lights of support and encouragement. Friendly voices like this one and clear-eyed voices sharing deep truths and simple (yet powerful) advice.
You have to take a step. You are not going to mentally or emotionally move toward something until you’ve literally moved. (Karen Maezen Miller)
The rain softened for awhile. Now it is a steady soaking. It is early afternoon and the dog hasn't been out once. That would bother me, but it doesn't seem to rattle him.
The dark skies have settled into a uniform pale gray. Even on this gloomy day, the hummingbird returns. There is nectar waiting after all ...
I am not alone. I am never alone. The world waits for me to join in ... Life is arms always open to receive me. I just have to move into them.
And today ... and elephant wants carving. Music awaits my ear. A sleeping dog rests at the edges of my attention, but always by my feet.