Sunday, September 23, 2007

Betwixt and between~

I got some good news a couple of days ago. The Chicken Soup series is going to include an essay I wrote in their "Chicken Soup For the Empty Nester."

They asked for a brief bio-- no more than fifty words. Me in a nutshell-- the traditional paragraph written in third person where I tell about myself as if I weren't me.

Actually, I have five versions of me in my "brief bio" folder, because some publications allow more words, and each publication warrants a different style.

None of my bios would do, though. They all began: Ruth is a teacher, or, Ruth has been teaching for more than . . .

The book will be published in June 2008. I will be retired then. I need a new bio for the future. In the publishing world the future is always ahead of reality. The future is now.

I revised my bio to say: Ruth is a retired teacher . . .

No big deal. I liked the sound of it, but my subconscious had something to reveal.
I dreamt I had given birth to a baby girl. I was thrilled, but I wasn't taking care of her. I was going about my surreal dream business, leaving her in the care of others. No worries. I felt safe doing this, and thought about her often.

At some point, I asked that she be brought to me. Whoever had been taking care of her-- I don't even know-- carried her carelessly, nearly upside down, not protecting her head. She was tossed down in front of me looking nearly dead.

I began taking off layers of her clothing that were making her sweat. (It figures I'd get a baby who has hot flashes, too.) She perked right up, and became alert. I noticed how beautiful she was.
I think too much, analyze too much, my husband tells me. Just live, he says. Don't try to find a reason for everything. So I've been ignoring the odd feelings lately, the betwixt and between, neither here nor there sense. The feeling of metamorphosis, of being squeezed in a cocoon, but it's too soon to emerge. Asking the proverbial adolescent question tweaked for midlife: Not who am I? But who will I be next?

I am a teacher. I've said that for 34 years. Next year I will say, I am a retired teacher. But that's not enough. Who else will I be? My dream . . . am I pregnant with a new me?
I took a walk today, the first day of fall. Summer to fall transitions were everywhere. It was beautiful. I took comfort.


Carter said...

You can say you're a writer. They'll ALL look at you funny. Some will say, "What do you write?" Some will change the subject quickly and not ask any questions. I've been there for years.

Or you say, "I'm the greatest woman in the world!" They'll agree to that, surely.

Jennifer Curtis said...

Beautiful. What an interesting analogy between a new career and a new baby, if I got it right.

A whole new Ruth, kind of. Exciting.

leslie said...

I know exactly what and how you're feeling, Ruth. However, I didn't know for sure I was going to retire until the April before I actually did. It had all hinged on finances and as soon as I knew I'd be okay, I handed in my resignation. I had planned on traveling until almost Xmas and then getting started on my book in January. Well, I did start, but got sidetracked with my Dad's strokes and then my daughter's illness. Now that Dad is gone and my daughter is so much better and on her own, I feel like this year is the start of a new life for me. But it will take me a while for it all to sink in and I will let you know how I'm doing. There is so much I want to do and I hope I'll be able to do it all. I want to live live live - with gusto!

By the way, so sorry to hear you got the first bug of the school year. Usually, I managed to ward anything off until January or February. Hope you're all better now. :D

Also, I found you on facebook so check it out.

Josie said...

Ruth, wow, congratulations! I'm going to keep my eye open for that book. You're famous!

I understand the betwixt and between as well. It seems to be a permanent condition once our children leave home, doesn't it?

But, now you have a new baby... :-) What a funny dream.

Voyager said...

Congratulations on the book entry! I wish I could say I will retire next year. At the moment I feel like my only reaction will be HOORAY!!!! But I'm sure, like you, the "who am I now?" question will loom large. But a very wise soul said "Change is good donkey." (Shrek)

Ruth D~ said...

Interesting comments from the long retired to the recently retired to the home with baby gal to the retirement wannabes.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a wannabe. You'll hear my "Hooray," Voyager.

I can't find my Facebook anymore, Leslie. But I'll look for it. People mention it and I get notes that theysend, but where am I? Duh!

Janice Thomson said...

You'll always be you Ruth - warm, compassionate, loving....the rest is just different wrapping. Autumn seems to really make us introspective doesn't it.

georgia strait said...

I have been retired from teaching for 10 years - but not retired. I guess I could be called a writer - but as I only write educational things for primary teachers - I don't really feel like one. Writers should be creative and it sounds as if you are that..... I have found 'retirement' to be wonderful - the freedom to putter, travel, look after grandkids and give them back to the parents, have naps and write. May you be as blessed!

rain said...

Congratulations on your article! Can't wait to see it in a bookstore...I love new beginnings - I'm excited for you!

Rick Bylina said...

Congratulations. I hope your rebirth in "retirement" is just as enlightening as 34 years teaching.


Barbara said...

You may find that it takes some time to define your "next life" after work. For me it is an evolutionary process as I try on something and see if it fits, feeling free to take it off and try on something else. I'm excited for you!

Ruth D~ said...

GS~ You're a writer, trust me. And you must be creative to be read by primary teachers. Your retirement style sounds like mine will be: putter travel, and NAPS.

Rain~ The CS for the Coffee Lover's Soul will be on sale mid October. :>)

Rick~ You made me realize that it is even conceivable to have 34 years of retirement. wouldn't that be something?

B~ You make the freedom sound good. To be able to discard what doesn't fit, and keep trying new things.

Ruth D~ said...

Oh duh! Rain, not that it matters, but I forgot that I'd written about CS for the Empty Nester's Soul. That won't be out until next summer, but the Coffee Lover one will be this fall.

rain said...

Now I'm doubly excited! I'm still (hopefully) at least 12 years from being an empty nester, but coffee is now!!! I'll be looking for it.