People ask, “What do you do with your day now that you are retired?” I have always said I will never completely retire. I may not get paid for my labor but will always find a project or two worth working at. I am semi-retired at this time of my life. In June 2021 what I retired from was multi-tasking 5 or 6 days a week. My body and mind had enough, literally my heart and my doctors were telling me to slow down. My employee wellness job with the local government kept me overly busy with 4 or 5 projects at a time, an income not reflecting what I did for over 4,000 employees and 2,500 retirees. Since retirement from full-time work, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill my days with what God deems worth my time, resources, and energy. A person’s value or worth to this world is not based on how much income they bring in. Value is placed on what God says is worthy. I know worth is found through Jesus, who died on the cross for my sins and yours, because of His love for me and you. I believe most people have a “Mary” and a “Martha” side to them. I have been a “Martha” by necessity since 8 years of age and have to allow the “Mary” side to come out more. That is the side where my soul gets refreshed and my writing plays in the script. When I allow myself plenty of time to reflect, the words flow. For me at least one day out of the week, it is a steady stream.
My hobbies of gardening, cooking, crafting, reading and writing provide several projects, but not all at the same time. Each day is different than yesterday. Those daily routines of making the bed, laundry, meals, bills, and quiet time, are consistent. I am attempting to make brisk walks or lap-swims a regular part my life again without making it such a regiment, just a natural flow in my day. I started working a wellness-related job, but just 1 or 2 days a week. That’s enough multi-tasking for me. Developing and teaching culinary classes at the local community college is limited to just 2 or 3 classes a month. This summer I took on work with senior citizens in our community through an organization called Papa. Using an app, I sign up as needs arise, assisting with household chores for 1 or 2 local women in my community during the month. Recently I signed up to bring meals to our pastors twice a month. Then one weekend a month Dean and I rent our vintage home through Airbnb, a good reason for a thorough cleaning before and after the rental weekend. This allows tourists a quaint home to stay in for the weekend while visiting our historic town. I know what I like when Dean & I travel and try to make our home just that for others. We recently have made “super host” status. My newest art craze are button journals. I design those and attempt to sell them through a local hand-craft boutique. And there is our big family with all those social events such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries in the mix. So that is the day in the life of this retired Martha, never the same each day. I am not retired from life and enjoy living a Mary life more and more each day.
It has been a summer touched by St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Ignatius. Their lives still live in God’s people today including in me. A stray puppy became a part of my husband and I’s life one week in August before finding the perfect family to adopt him. After several weeks of packing, donating, moving, repairing, scrubbing, and just plain hard work, we finally put my mother’s villa on the market with the St. Joseph statue buried in the yard. Several willing buyers offered contracts more than what we asked for within 24 hours of being on the market. The closing is in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Dean and I have some major household upgrades. We replaced a furnace well over 20 years old, a roof maybe as old, and gutters failing their job even when removing leaves and debris on several occasions this spring and summer. We have had plenty of rain even over the summer. One wall was showing some leakage during a storm prior to the roof and gutters being replaced, so some plaster work will be next. St. Joseph intercedes while God oversees the details.
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.” ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola
I awoke one day singing from my heart the spiritual song, Take, Lord, Receive. I sang all day long, beginning with my shower and while I worked around the house that day. This song is based on the quote above from St. Ignatius, co-founder of the Jesuit teachings and Spiritual Exercises. I knew I was singing this for someone else besides me. A phone call from one of the kids revealed who. But the words welled up in my heart for myself, too. A yielding I need right now. A yielding of my own heart matters. Worry about things I cannot control, anxiety about the future of those I love, and my lack of understanding for some of God’s people placed in my life. Take, Lord, receive. My liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All I have and call my own … To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours. Do with it what You will. Please Lord, give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me. Amen.”
Life is too short to sit idle, hate others, be jealous or depressed, and play mind games. With God’s grace, sincerity and a pure heart is what I desire to become. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10. Pure and as sweet as honey. White as snow. No bargains made or motives conjured up. Just live for my Creator. I answer to my God at the end of the day, every day. And every day is a gift. At the end of the day, I take in account how I spent those precious minutes, my God-given talents, supply of resources and energy? Is my time consumed in front of a screen, iphone-size or mega flat screen TV-size? Size of the electronic does not matter, just how did I personally connect to those around today? Did I pick-up my neighbor’s storm-tossed trash scattered across his yard, encourage my co-worker on her new project, smile at that smelly stranger on the street bench, or pick-up the phone to talk to my kin living a few hundred or 2 miles away? Everyone has something they are good at. My energy levels may be up or plummeted down or be sporadic. Did I use whatever today’s strength is to extend God’s love and grace? Did I pray and be a vessel for peace or healing? At the end of the day …
Time, energy, money, and prayer spent on yourself is not a waste. We women spend so much of our resources and reserves on others. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete,” quoting Jack Kornfield. Our granite strength can crack underneath if we neglect yourselves. With our Rock foundation, our lives are built with love, accented with care, and yet at times splats of doubt, insecurity, and fear appear on our walls.
We each are a treasure to behold and admire. “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware”, 2 Timothy 2:20. The vessel holds nourishing water until a leak forms. “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.“ Philippians 3:12. Seal that leak with your Maker’s salve of mercy, forgiveness, grace, trust, hope, faith, and love. And your cup will overflow again …