So many of us, especially women, seem to work our full time jobs, constantly wishing we could be home. Maybe not all of us, but I don't know how many times I heard almost all of my female coworkers, over the course of my working life, stating their wish to stay home, or work just part time like so many of our moms did. I was guilty of the same wish. And I have just one thing to say to that now....
!!!!!!!!!BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!!!!!!!!!
It just might come true.
As I think I mentioned somewhere on my blog page, I had to leave my job in 2004 because I become chronically ill. I had not planned on retiring, did not want to retire, and had NO IDEA what retiring was going to mean for me. Sure...the first couple of weeks was great! Like a vacation! Had the house to myself, could do what I wanted.... All the friends I had made through my job had made great plans with me about how we were going to stay in touch....all the lunches, shopping trips, movie excursions. It was going to be fun! And you know what?? None of it happened. Suddenly, I had the time, but no one else did...EVER. They were always too busy. My calls were always sent to voicemail, seldom returned . Some people seemed to just shy away from me because I was now "ill" with something they were not familiar with....maybe they thought they would "catch" it?? Most of these people were work associates who needed to stay on my good side (in their minds), because of my job position. They had to return calls immediately, and many even spent considerable time "kissing up" and whatever, because being on the good side of the state agency was considered very important and conducive to their employers keeping in good standing. And I knew and accepted all this....but still knew that I had some long standing friendships, I thought. But once you retire, that all changes.
So, I had pretty much lost all my friendships and personal connections. But I was also realizing I lost a lot more than that. I no longer knew who I was. I never realized how much my position had become who I was. My job was what I did . It was what I was good at. It was something I had spent years building an excellent reputation on. Now it was gone. And like I mentioned in an earlier post, even my family started treating me a bit differently, especially my husband. I was no longer bringing in the paycheck, so I no longer had a say in things. I felt like I was being treated as though I had no education at all...in other words....like I was just some blubbering idiot. And that was just not going to cut it for me. I needed to do something, if nothing else, than to just fill up all the time I had on my hands.
I dug through all the stuff in the attic, and found my old easel and paints. I decided to make some birdhouses for the yard. They turned out really well! When I had enough for our yard, (and since no job meant no money to Christmas shop) I made one each for my mother and sister. BOY were they a hit. Next thing I knew, my mothers friends and sisters friends both wanted some. My sister suggested I consider selling my birdhouses as a small business.. Altho I considered it for a bit, I also was not sure I would be satisfied painting birdhouses day after day. So.....back to the attic. I dug out all the rest of my old art supplies, and started playing. Then on a trip to the craft store (for the first time in a decade or more), I discovered some new interests. Pretty soon, I was making some other things, mostly out of clay and paper. My sister asked if I would try making some wine glass charms........she has since bought several sets, and so have different people she knows. The gourds were something I just discovered 2 years ago, but found that, for the most part, I am quite good at carving and painting those, if I do say so myself!.
What was that I said....?"good at"?????????
Suddenly, I was GOOD at something again. People were complimenting me, and I was getting a whole different "reputation".....my ART was becoming my new identity. Something that distinquishes me from others, something I can be proud of myself for. Once I decided I was comfortable enough with what and how I was doing, I made a goal for myself.....to open up that shop and make a business, just like my sister had suggested 4 years earlier. So, in November, 2008, I opened up my Etsy shop. I had been selling by word of mouth for a couple of years, but a "Shop" seems like more of an accomplishment, more......well, just MORE. I had a LOT of obstacles to get here (my husband being the largest, and ongoing), and it is definitely slow going, but I did it. And now, I might even be starting to feel a little bit good about myself. There are things I am good at, things I might even do better than other people I know!
As for the issue of "friends", well, I am still working on that. I may not have a lot of people around where I live that I can get together with anymore, but here, on my computer, in my "artist" groups, I have made friends. Good friends. Friends who now call ME on the phone sometimes to chat, who email back and forth with me, and accept me just as me, not because of the position I held or whatever. People who also realize the value of friendships, and know the importance of taking the time to spend time together, even if it is just on the phone.
So...I know this was a long post. But it was important for me to get it all down in writing. This was a major life change for me. It might happen to you someday. The change when you retire is MASSIVE. When it happens under the circumstances it did for me, it is even more difficult. But my art saved me. I think it saved me from going into a deep depression, maybe even from getting more ill more quickly.
THE VALUE OF ART, OF CREATING, IS INVALUABLE.
It soothes the soul, and gives you wings to fly....sometimes when you are most in need of something to help ground you!