During the past week, I have read multitudes of lists – the top songs of 2013, the most annoying sayings which should disappear from the language, worst TV shows, best TV shows, the top movies of 2013, the most popular New Year’s resolutions – I’m sure you get the idea. I’m now fifty-nine years old, and I’ve begun to reflect on lists of my own – achievements, failures, goals, changes, the good things in my life, and the things which need to be pruned.
My life is very different from the way it was five years ago. I left my full-time teaching job after twenty-five years; I went back to the same entry level position which was my first job after I graduated from college, which I swore I’d never do again; after two years full-time in that job I cut my hours to part-time; I founded a music academy in our church which is now in its fourth year, and I teach piano in the academy; I took a part-time job teaching elementary music in a local charter school, and I’m still enjoying it into my third year; I wrote and published three books and have written two more, one of which I will publish this week; I bought a better flute and joined the praise band at church; I started following college football two years ago, reading and learning all that I could about the game; I was diagnosed with diabetes; I lost thirty pounds and gained it back; Gayle, Stephanie Hamm, and I founded Beyond Austen; I became a regular contributor to this blog; I started decorating cakes and making decorative candies again after abandoning the hobby for about fifteen years; my younger daughter graduated from college and is in her second year of teaching; my elder daughter joined the Navy, served five years, married, left the service, and is now pregnant with our first grandchild.
Phase one: For the first twenty-three years of my life, I was a student, daughter, and sister. Phase two: I married at twenty-two, had our first child at twenty-seven and our second at thirty-six, and taught school full-time. My dad died when I was forty, and my mom died when I was fifty. Phase three: refer to the above list.
Church work has been a thread of continuity in my life. I have been part-time staff at our church for twenty-two years. Presently I am the Associate in Music. I’m serving as the interim choir director until we find a full-time Worship Leader.
I have no idea how long this phase of my life will last. Last month, one of my music students at school referred to my having a “mid-life crisis.” I had to laugh. Unless I’m going to live to be 118, I am well passed middle age. I have to admit that my memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and I don’t play the piano as well as I did thirty-five years ago. My eyesight is not as good as it was ten years ago. Eventually, I won’t be able to work anymore, though I hope that is several years in the future. I probably have another twenty years or so to live, unless an accident or illness claims me sooner, but death doesn’t frighten me. Being useless does.
When I reach the end of my time on this world, I want to be able to look back and think that I did what God wanted me to do. I want my children to be happy. I want them to remember me with smiles. I want my schoolchildren and co-workers to think of me kindly, and most of all, I want God to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)