Sunday, November 17, 2013

Last Year: Sense of Identity

Since I haven't blogged about the last year much lately....some of you may be thinking that I have  forgotten it was my last year of work.....NOT SO.

I wandered into the staff work room one day this last week and found this stuck in my mailbox. Staff ID. What an ordinary and yet profound thing. I actually didn't give it a second thought. Then twirling it in my fingers while talking to someone I realized that this is the LAST staff ID I will be getting. No biggie, right?  It's just a plastic card with a never ending array of bad school pictures! Yet it's not the ID itself but what it represents that gives one pause.

For thirty years when someone asked "What do you do?"  I had a pat answer... "I'm a teacher." or "I'm a middle school counselor."  A sense of work identity defines our lives or at least allows us to name our role. It gives us a goal, a purpose, a sense of meaning in an often meaningless world.

It's just one sense of identity. I have others: daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, church member, writer, etc. Some of those have changed throughout the course of my life. Some of those, honestly, are much more important than work identity. (gasp...I know crazy, right?) 

So often people ask: "What will you do when you are retired?"  Right now I don't have a good answer for that but I can tell you it's not something that I ponder or worry about. Finding something to do isn't something I've ever had trouble with. Oh, yes, there have been times I've been bored. Times where I feel a little lonely because everyone else is busy. Times I'm a bit restless. Those times are normal. People experience them whether they are retired or not. I have home projects, errands, hobbies, and other means of occupying time but that's not really what people mean when they ask: "What will you do?"

What they mean is "what will your identity be?" How will you define your life and what you do?  How will you explain what occupies your time and justify its importance? They don't know they are asking that...but there it is beneath the surface.

And so while I can't tell you exactly what I will be doing with my days. I can tell you that I will not lose my identity. Who I am is much more than the sum of those individual identities: wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, counselor. It's hard to put into words. These thoughts that swirl in my head and are both vague and well defined at the same time.

Perhaps my twitter name sums it up best (although not fully).... astorycollector. Being a story collector is an identity that encompasses all those smaller ones. It's about the story of life, the journey on a path that is as old as time, known yet unknown. It is about embracing life in small ways and big ways. It's a quest that is both internal and external. It's about enjoying the stories of others while creating meaningful ones of my own. Those stories will not end with retirement. I look forward to even richer stories vibrant with color and laughter and a love of life.

It was all that red and white plastic card....the story of identity.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Things Friday: Things I Want

Five Things I'd totally love to have.........

Rachel Ray cooking set. It comes in several colors but I love the red the best. (I think)

Lap Top computer....It would be fun to be able to play on the computer AND watch TV at the same time.

New kitchen cabinets and counter tops. My kitchen's not too big so obviously not this exact style. And let's add a dishwasher while we are at it!

And while we are dreaming....let's talk about a bathroom redo....with a clean new shower stall!

A three wheel bike for fun and exercise.!!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday Therapy: Stop Rewinding

Stop rewinding....the bad memories. The things you wish you had said, the things you wish you hadn't said, the things you could have done. The past is the past and replaying things doesn't really change anything. It only serves to depress you and give you a sense of melancholy. Too often we stay focused on things that are no longer relevant. No longer "in play" so to speak. This attitude prevents us from living NOW. This creates a loop that you become stuck in. By not living week, next month, next year you will be thinking "why didn't I.. ___________"

Stop the madness. As much as we would like there isn't a rewind button in life. Enjoy the happy memories (but don't live in them) and let the bad ones float away. When you catch yourself dwelling on something...give yourself a mental kick in the butt and find something fun and more productive to do!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What I'm Reading Tuesday: City of Glass

I actually just finished this third book in the Mortal Instruments series. It was and easy read and I could tell where the story line was headed. There are actually two or three more books in this particular series but I am not sure where it will head after this book because the storyline has sort of played itself out. I believe the next one in the series is called City of Fallen Angels...time to check it out? or take a break from the series?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Moonlight Monday: Lemp Mansion

I thought Moonlight Monday would be the perfect time to write about the Haunted Lemp experience. We went there for my birthday on October 15th. We started out with a tour hosted by the St. Louis Paranormal Research Society. I loved that they had night vision video equipment as we were able to tape our tour in the complete darkness of the mansion.

The mansion certainly isn't huge by today's standards but it is very spacious. There is a basement level, main level, 2nd story and then the attic.
We started on the main floor and climbed to the darkness. I found the stairs a little hard to maneuver in the darkness but we made it. In the attic now there are three sleeping rooms. The Frederick Lemp room, the Lewis Lemp room and the Elsa room. The attic was actually the servants quarters. This level is said the be haunted by Zeke, a down's syndrome child who was locked away in the attic which was quite common in the 1800s and early 1900s.
This picture shows the railing where Zeke fell to his death. He fell all the way to the basement level. As we were climbing this stairway after the tour (in the light) I kept turning around because I had the oddest sensation that someone was behind me on the stairs and I thought it was a guest but no one was there!
Kelsey and I slept on the third floor in the Frederick Lemp room and we both felt Zeke's presence. He even moved a piece of candy that Kelsey left for him. My other daughter and niece stayed on the second floor in the Charles Lemp room and they did not have quite as peaceful of night. This is the room where Charles shot himself.
During the night they kept hearing loud banging noises in the corner where he shot himself and at one point Katie heard growling. Later a picture we took showed a shadow dog image in this very room near the sofa.
This is the Charles Lemp room and the sofa is over in the corner where the noises came from. Directly behind that wall and to the right is the locked and closed off haunted nursery which they will not let anyone into.
I definitely want to spend the night there again sometime to continue our investigation.

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