Hi everyone, Mama Karen here!
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I retired and fulfilled our life long dream of moving about 45 minutes south of our former home to a place where we had always hoped to live. After a 20+ year long career as an elementary teacher, I was ready to enjoy some rest and relaxation without the stressors of lesson plans, report cards and state testing that are all too familiar to my fellow educators. Though retirement is a phase in life I had been looking forward to for quite some time (who doesn’t love the idea of getting to sit around in your jammies all day long without ever needing to get up and go to work ever again?!), it did take some getting used to. My husband and I had to learn how to create structure and meaning in our lives outside of the roles we formerly held while we were working.
After we got settled in our new community, we started looking for some ways to volunteer and give back. We scoured the internet for organizations we felt a connection to and made multiple informational phone calls to try to find a good fit. We were somewhat limited in the amount of time we were able to contribute as our dog Allie requires a great deal of attention and we don’t feel comfortable leaving her home alone for really long periods of time.
We eventually settled on volunteering one day per week at the elementary school where our son works as a Speech Language Pathologist where we help out with odds and ends like making photocopies for the staff, delivering information for the PTA, and any other projects that the staff need help with. These may seem like such trivial things when compared to other large scale volunteer efforts like overseas missions trips but as someone who was formerly a teacher herself, I know from personal experience that this type of help can be priceless. Teachers put so much of their hearts, free time and love into making their classrooms and lessons visually stimulating, exciting and lively for their students. We felt that anything we could do to help lessen the load of the staff would hopefully make a difference.
What we didn’t count on is how much we would actually gain on a personal level from giving back. It may seem selfish but volunteering and sharing our time with others has allowed us to be so much more mindful and grateful of how lucky we are to now be in a phase in life where can fully enjoy retirement. We appreciate how hard our son and all the others in the field of education work to provide an excellent education for our youth and we feel fortunate that we are able to be a small part in this. However, we are also super thankful that after a few hours of volunteering, we can go home, take off our shoes, have a cuddle with our dog and then settle down for a nap.
We are truly loving life and all of the blessings that retirement and volunteering have bestowed upon us. Being retired has given me so much more time to focus on sewing, which is something I always loved to do but just never really had the time to delve into the way I am able to now. Since I no longer have lesson plans and assignments that need grading scattered over every spare inch of table and counter space in my home, I can now spread out my fabrics and really take my time creating a product that I am proud of.