Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hands to Work

Years ago, a friend told me that one day I'd have to find a happy identity without that of my work. Her words rose like gray shadows over my colorful and vibrant world of fabric, furniture, and fittings. Huh? I said at the time, flinging her words out the car window as I drove away from our decorating session.

Turns out, losing my beloved-and-always-fascinating editorial work this summer is a kind of grief,
something that leaves me with hours to fill...
...empty hands, what-nows, and self-absorption.
It's not a pretty picture.

I go to lunch with lovely friends who have ideas for What Now.
Write a book, they say, teach English as a second language, volunteer for the Red Cross.
I consider staging homes for sellers and grouse around the house.about the real estate market.
I order Netflix movies, escaping to other worlds. I read books~~just one or two.
I blog, scanning the landscape with my camera in search of simple, beautiful, or uplifting things to post while absorbing the mind-bending works of creative bloggers.
Hoping for increased energy, I walk, logging miles on the pedometer my sister gave me. 
I spend outdoor days with bright-eyed grandsons who outrun me.
I plan trips we can't yet afford, cook meals instead of dining out, and collect coupons.

Still,  I look for the spark to re-light the fire...
materials to burn away this quiet desperation
and the longing to create beauty and order in meaningful ways.

Side-tripping down the quote lane, I find words like these:

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life
with a catcher's mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw something back.
                                               ~~Maya Angelou

As you grow older,
 you will discover that you have two hands,
one for helping yourself,
the other for helping others.
                                                 ~~Audrey Hepburn

What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has the eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That's what love looks like.
                                             ~~Saint Augustine

Ah, a small spark in the dark~~
for the love thing.
Like cutting fabric into quilt blocks
and stitching them up
for Lutheran World Relief.

I still have useful hands, I'm still breathing.
Alive and healthy in this wierd and wonderful world,
 I'm still free and walking about.
And, on Monday mornings, there's much laughter going on 
when the Dorcas Quilting Mission
meets to do their hands-to-work, hearts-to-God thing.

I'm in.
I could use a good laugh.

Perhaps I'll find a new little commitment after another.


Old Ollie said...

you have a good strong philosophy -

RuneE said...

Retiring from work, for whatever reason, is hard. I know, since I had to to it. I had to do it in stages, so that helped me, but I understand you very well. One longs for something useful, something engaging, something worthwhile, to do. It seem to me that you are doing fine. My one advice would be to make one of them your main concern, and if possible to make as many as you can of the others supporting ones.

Leslie said...

You were so blessed to have had a job you love - I can understand the grief you must feel at losing it. I also understand the bewilderment about finding your purpose when the game plan changes. Life in this world is certainly full of surprises, and not all of them pleasant. I often wonder about God's plan and purposes for me, in the midst of the bewilderment that living with chronic illness can bring. Some days I feel like life has purpose and meaning - others I struggle just to get through the day. But ultimately, I believe that we are clay and He is potter, and that He will make something beautiful, in His time... you are doing different things, now, but I would venture to guess that you will always bring your gift for creativity and beauty into whatever you do.

J said...

I absolutely admire the way you have forced yourself to move forward. I have a hermit-self inside of me that is afraid to step out. You inspire me! And kudos to you for embracing the new and different and enjoying this stage of your life. It seems hard, have made it clear that you are on a journey in this area...but I think you're going to be just fine. :o) Blessings to you today!

Jane said...

Good thoughts...Somehow, I cannot imaging you just sitting around, wringing your hands because you have nothing to do. Helping others is a wonderful way to fill days...good for you, GOOD for those you help. And you can meet some wonderful people that way.

Seems like we women are always looking for our next projects to fill the next phases of our growth. I would definitely worry when we stop looking....

Jen said...

I feel a bit like a kindred spirit -- I've quit my job and my kids are going back to school and I know that I am doing what God has called me to do and yet...

there is anxiety and a bit of grief and a whole lot of an identity crisis of sorts.

your words were encouragement to me today.

mise said...

Dear Becky, I hope you find your way. I can imagine that the colourful world of fabrics and household accoutrements is a wrench as you let go a bit, but also that you may find something of more lasting importance (I can't believe I'm saying that, but I guess it's true). Many good wishes from your Irish fanbase.

S. Etole said...

Change is difficult for sure. I know you will find a way to share your creative beauty one step at a time.

rosaria said...

I remember these days, eight years ago, when I mourned for the old me, ready to jump into anything that was meaningful. I did; I jumped in and spread myself thinly. Then, slowly, I began to pull back, until a happy medium was reached.

My recommendation? Don't rush. Take the time to know what you want to do with your time now. Yes, help others, get into activities. But, give yourself time to discover new interests, new relationships by taking classes, attending lectures and seminars.

You'll soon find your pace.

Mama Zen said...


Trailboss said...

You're endowed with the same creative restlessness that made your wonderful namesake grandmother Rebecca knit while she sat napping.
It's a gift. It's also a never-ending struggle.
Carry on.
Love, your brother,

ells said...

Our lives are a story...being written...unfolding overtime...a chapter has finished...but a new one begins...maybe the pages are blank right now...but God in His Love will continue to write a beautiful story as you start this new chapter.
May you have peace and rest as you find your new way...

michelle said...

I can relate to the way you are feeling. I long for that spark to show itself, to work with my hands and create something both for me and for the joy of others. I love the quotes and love that you are taking it one step at time, doors will open up and that spark will become a flame. :)

mermaid gallery said...

relax! are too hard on yourself!...Enjoy yourself without feeling that you have to be productive all of the time....For so many years we have no time for ourselves and then when we get it we feel guilty or just at loose ends. Helping others is always soothing to the soul...but remember how special you are....take the pressure off yourself and just love life....we all love visiting you.....

Sheila Moore said...

empty hands, what-nows, and self-absorption.
It's not a pretty picture.

lol - not with me either. getting involved, doing service work always gets me out of myself, which is a good thing. sounds like you are on the right track. glad I stopped by.

RuneE said...

Me again. Thank you for the nice comment! The glacier might very well be the same, since it is the one with the lowest end in Norway and is easily accessible if you come from a ship.

Kaybe said...

Love the St Augustine quote. Love looks like something is so true. I believe every person we encounter each day is an opportunity to show some love & caring even if it's just a smile or a affectionate pat on the shoulder. That's the challenge of life - keeping our arms & hearts wide open.

Take good care,


Jennifer in OR said...

What Now? I was feeling that way just now, this moment, and saw this lovely post. Thank you for these encouraging words!

TSL @ Living in Art said...

Very poignant post, I am ddeply touched. Someone once told me work is what we do, not who we are, but for some people who put their heart and soul into their work in creative areas, it is still who you are, and luckily you will continue to fill your hours sharing and creating and inspiring just as you always have (but now you are free-er than ever to do it.) I have been sick as a dog since last Thursday, I can only spend minutes at a time on the computer and getting no work completed that has been waiting. If you had time I would love a blog post fill-in on my blog!

Anonymous said...

there are so many kinds of loss. and you are in mourning right now.
just be extra kind and patient with yourself. there will come a new outlet for your creativity! and we will be the fortunate ones who hopefully get to benefit from it.
tammy j
and ps... i would buy your book!:)
no pressure of course. lol.

Anonymous said...

just went back to visit leo the lion's picture and re-read one of my favorite memories with my late beloved husband, bob.
and there was your lovely comment! what a nice surprise. i'm 66 and a little new to the computer world. i would love to have a blog, but am right now content to visit all the wondrous ones out there... like yours!

LauraX said...

You will Becky. When things in our life change, we learn to change with them. When our body changes, we learn to change other things in our life. Change is the one thing we can count on...our response to change is up to us. I love your quilting idea, it helps you and others:-)

emily wierenga said...

wow friend... you don't know how i needed this post today. a beautiful reminder of what truly matters. may you know him full, even as you seek...

Bethany Ann said...

oh, i'm so glad you chose the love thing!

Rachel Cotterill said...

Lovely post, and the quilting project sounds like a very good one. Have you done it before? Quilting is one craft I haven't learnt yet. I don't imagine that I would struggle to fill my time even if I had twice as much, I never feel that I have enough time in the day as it is! But if I had to suddenly stop one of my regular activities, I know I'd miss the people more than anything.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Oh! I love a good quilting bee. Needles dancing, art created en masse!

You are finding your way. Altho, I secretly think you never lost it.

Hugs from the heat!

Jeanne said...


I feel for you, I can appreciate how hard this must be for you and I applaud all the efforts you are taking to keep moving and get involved. I still feel that great things will come your way..when you least expect. You are moving forward...
Best wishes...always

Jeanne xxx

Dimple said...

Hi Becky,
The waiting and wondering can be hard, but God knows what is right, and when the time is best. Live each day as it comes, do the work which comes to your hand, and be thankful for the small things. God is not done with you yet!

Korkowski Kit & Kin said...

I love stopping by now and then to clear my head when reading your blog entries. This one on post-retirement was just 'what the doctor ordered' for a dear friend. Will be forwarding this to her ASAP!!
Always a delight to see your comments on the Kork blog!


I am really in a similiar stage of life . . . listening hard to see just what God has for me right now. It can get a little depressing.

You are so lovely . . . that lucky group that got you.


MissBliss said...

Hi, Becky,

This is a very lovely post... so honest and expressive.

Thank you for sharing your journey.


Korkowski Kit & Kin said...

Becky: Knowing Stan and Linda well, I think it's time you and I meet up! My husband and I will be in Naples FL for Jan-Feb-Mar of the upcoming winter season. Please, please contact me so we can get together. Both Stan and Linda know how to get ahold of me. You can also leave a phone number w/them so they can forward to me. I would absolutely LOVE to meet you and get together. Bev

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

I LOVE this! One small commitment after another...

A good idea, I'd say.

deb colarossi said...

Most things I was thinking have been said.

And you humble me..

wishing you peace