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More Retirement Revelations

Now that I’m retired, which makes me officially old, I don’t have to subject myself to opinions, about anything, with people I don’t know or don’t respect. That’s one of the BEST EVER things about retirement.

Back when I was working, often more than one job, I had to suck it up when someone (like a manager or important coworker) foisted their views on me. It didn’t matter what the view was, I had to smile, appear to agree, or at least not disagree, and act as if I wanted to hear more. Now, I can do things on my own and if someone in line at the grocery store tries to engage me in political conversation I just ignore them, totally ignore them.

HA! I don’t CARE if they think I’m not worried about the fate of the world, I don’t CARE if they think I’m ignorant or uninformed (because I didn’t listen to them I MUST be uninformed, right?) and I don’t CARE that they may be offended. If you don’t want to be offended, don’t bother people in the grocery store, or the bank or the library or wherever with your negative, gotta take sides, personal views on anything.

And I’m not picking on political activists here. There is a time and place to be effective. Pestering people who are trying to go about their daily life isn’t effective. Oh, sure, maybe you’ll get a “dialogue” going, you’ll get people to have a conversation with you because most people don’t have the spine to just ignore you. We are all socialized to be polite, to avoid confrontation (and I am all for that when it doesn’t accomplish anything positive, like arguing with your boss) so they will nod and even sometimes contribute. Sometimes they will disagree and both people will get a little heated and the other people in line will sigh and look around and shuffle their feet, or worse, will join in the argument and they all go away thinking they just did something valuable. They raised someone’s awareness, they informed someone about the right way to think about something.

I got news for you, buddy. Most of the time all those people walk away with is what a jerk you are for pushing your views on people who feel trapped in a public place. So, your political view (or religious view, or whatever you were pushing) will always be associated with some jerk in line at the grocery store.

There are venues for expressing and sharing opinions about anything. Use them.

The point is, since I no longer must be polite to someone because my job depends on it, I can just walk away from people who bug me! WALK AWAY. I never get into arguments with anyone because there is no reason. It’s not like I’m walking around looking for arguments. The point I’m making is exactly the opposite. I have an opportunity to contribute to a kinder, calmer atmosphere everywhere I go by NOT engaging in conversations with prickly, pushy people. It makes me feel much calmer, more in control and frankly…superior. Yeah. Superior. Superior to myself. I just learned some big lessons and I’m growing. Still growing-wow.

I’ve spent my life wrestling with an enormous lack of self-confidence, often resulting in self sabotage, and terrible life altering decisions to convince someone to love me. Sounds sad, doesn’t it? It is. Now, I don’t care who loves me or likes me or thinks whatever of me. I am who I am and I am building my self-worth and independence one wobbly block at a time.

What I have found is that by walking away I feel stronger. The first time I worked up the courage to act, and I’m not going into detail about the incident because that isn’t the point, I was trembling. Scared, heart hammering…that’s what it feels like when you can count on one hand the times in your life you changed your behavior. Really changed behavior. Knowing there were people looking at my retreating form I heard (in my head) all the comments “What a nutball!” “What an ignoramus! Doesn’t she even CARE about…fill in the blank…?” “What’s her problem?” and I did it anyway.

And I didn’t stop and explain. I didn’t do anything except keep walking. All day I trembled, thought of all the things I should have said, could have said. I had a good brisk walk to burn off the energy which I finally identified as fear. Plain old fear.

It didn’t matter what the discussion was, I need to emphasize that. The exchange was about me NOT doing what was expected, NOT engaging with someone to be polite, to please them. It was me walking away because I don’t give a shit who they think should be president, who what they think everyone should be doing about it, or what they think the catastrophic events of this administration are going to be. I don’t care if they think their religion is the one that is going to save my soul, or if they think the teller should be working faster or they think the price of groceries is too high and the checkout girl is probably putting in fake prices and pocketing the difference (I’m not kidding, I overheard some guy announcing that to all and sundry once) or if the men behind me are making a bet on whether the women in line ahead of them are going to use a check instead of cash because all women use checks and hold everyone up…you get the idea. It was me changing my behavior instead of doing what I always did, trying to please someone.

Now, I don’t respond, I stay in my meditative world and I never, ever respond. I don’t CARE if they think I agree, disagree or am too frightened to offer a differing opinion. I don’t try to change the way they think. If someone tries to engage me directly, I ignore them. That’s how I WALK AWAY -I look at something else and act as if they aren’t there. The when it’s my turn, I do whatever I’m there to do and I go on about my day.

Finally, tody, it’s not such a challenge. I don’t have to please anyone anymore to keep my job. Now, when I engage in conversation with strangers, or the checkout person, it’s with a bright smile and pleasant remarks on the weather, the product I’m buying, or the pleasant anticipation of the activity of the products or the books or whatever. I try to leave people with a good taste in their mouth because I remember all the sour, grouchy people I had to interact with daily.

I love being retired. I’m poor but wow what a world of internal riches I’m discovering!

 

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Holidays 2017

 

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Merry Christmas!

Showing off

My “Bistro” set and a series of  collages “Sticks and Stones” is in Kathleen’s Gallery in Saluda, NC. I’m really excited about being represented here. It’s a colorful art and craft gallery. Jeff Ely, the owner, has been wonderful to work with. He has helped me with pricing and his displays are excellent.

He represents quite a few artists who, like me, are interested in using items destined for landfills, or simply forgotten or discarded. His cool gallery is at 66 E. Main Street in Saluda. Check it out!

My photos!

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Forget the Etsy Shop

I have closed the etsy shop-just wanted to let  everyone know. Working on a website with sales options.

Sigh, it’s one thing after another.

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ETSY

I’ve opened my Etsy shop, and have some cool little cat art listed.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MakerArt?ref=profile_shopicon

Stop by and look over my cat whimsy. I’d rather be drawing cats and owls and coloring in red and orange green and blue than just about anything. These pictures are great flashes of color on your wall, perfect for your children’s rooms, the kitchen, anywhere you want a smile. I can also make them into T-shirt transfers. And if you have a favorite quote about cats, send me a conversation and I’ll put it on your print or transfer at no extra charge.

I’m working on more images all the time. Mermaids, owls, carousel horses, seahorses…oh, this is going to be fun!

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Magnificent Max

Max disappeared. My beautiful, affectionate, feral cat. It’s four weeks now and I have tried to write about it many times. If I can’t finish this tonight, I won’t try again.

He came to me in 2009, not long after I adopted Annie. A friend has a feral colony behind her business and Max was dropped off there. I stopped by for totally innocent reasons and she said, “Oh, you have to meet the new kitten. I can’t put him outside yet, he’s too little. Wouldn’t you like a friend for Annie?”

I turned to see the tiny tuxedo kitten in the huge carrier behind me. I stooped down and said “Hello, there.” Max looked up at me with enormous black eyes as I scooped him in my arms. He trotted up my arm and looked me full in the eyes again. Then he licked my nose. He stared at me and I said softly to my friend, “Oh, you bitch.”

When I got home, I casually sat the carrier on the floor, opened the door and said, “You have a new friend, Annie.” Then I walked away and began quietly folding laundry, watching the interaction. I never thought Annie would do anything to hurt him, but I kept a watchful eye. Annie jumped on top of the carrier and peered over the door. Max (as he had become on the way home) scampered out of the carrier and spotted Annie above him. Gleefully he turned over on his back and began pawing the air, inviting her to join him to play. Annie watched for a moment, as if trying to decide what the heck this thing was. Finally, she jumped down beside him and sniffed him all over. Max loved it. He batted at her legs, jumped on her head, purring loudly the whole time. Annie eventually calmed him down with a thorough washing. They fell asleep together on the floor in front of his carrier. The toys my friend had sent home are still here. Annie plays with them all the time. Max, once he discovered the outdoors…and real prey…completely lost interest.

That first month the weather was warm and Annie took complete guardianship of Max. I suppose she felt she had no choice; he never left her side. He jumped on her head, he gnawed on her ears, he washed her in return while she was washing him. She taught him all the things his own mother never had the chance to teach him.

One afternoon I heard Annie’s cry for me to come look (any pet owner will tell you there is definite language between animals and their owners.) When I stepped outside the screen door onto the front porch, I saw Max standing on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps, his little face completely obscured by a Painted Lady butterfly. Annie mewed and walked up and down beside Max, obviously proud of her student. I approached Max, who was strutting with Annie. He growled, and I stopped, trying not to burst out laughing.

“OK, OK, I’m not going to take it away!” I stepped closer and Max darted down the sidewalk and under the car. Annie stayed with me, continuing to purr and coo. I looked under the car and was greeted with more growling. I went back to the steps and sat with Annie, petting her and telling her what a bang-up job she was doing with Max. Eventually, Max came out (the butterfly gone, of course) and sauntered up the sidewalk to the steps. Annie washed him and finally they dropped off to sleep on the porch, sun on their fur.

Max and Annie presented me with all manner of mice, moles and voles. I never worried about unwanted guests in my house. No, I wasn’t very happy with the “live shows” they sometimes brought inside but I also understood this was their way. They are predators and no matter how domesticated any animal is, the wildness is always there. I gritted my teeth and hid under my blanket until it was over.

Annie and Max were mates, friends, hunting partners, even though they often split up to do their own thing.  They slept together on the deck outside, the sun shining on their fur. They napped on the bed, on the floor while I was painting, on my computer (whether I was using it or not), on the hood of the car. Frequently, Annie hissed and batted Max when he got too rough. He never cared. He kept right on jumping out at her from doors, moving over to her food bowl when he’d emptied his. Annie never did manage to teach him manners in that area. She just moved to the side and watched him. When he finished, she checked to see if he’d left her anything. I saw all this and happily gave her another helping. Frankly, I prefer that to squabbling over food. Max grew to over 20 pounds, easily twice Annie’s size. And he was all muscle.

I took Annie to my friend’s house when I went on the trail. Max ran off and I couldn’t catch him. Annie was much more domesticated than Max ever was. Max had me and Annie and never cared about anyone else. I tried several times before I left to find him. My landlord watched out for him and promised to feed him if he saw him. That was the one thing I always felt guilty about. I left because everything was in place and I honestly thought Max would be cared for by the man who he had seen (even though my landlord hardly ever saw Max) ever since he had come to live with me. When I came home, so did Max. He was clean, healthy and well-muscled. All the time I had been gone Max had taken care of himself, and obviously never ventured far from home. It was probably the most profound moment of my life when I opened the door the night I came home and heard Max’s cry. It was raining, he was wet and he and Annie and I had a tearful, wet reunion. We barely slept that night, the 3 of us. Max kept waking me up kneading my shoulders with his huge saber like claws. I didn’t care that it hurt. I cried every time I woke up. Annie and Max washed each other, and me. I promised them both I would never leave again.

I have been waiting for weeks now. I have waked in the middle of the night, thinking I heard his cry at the door. I jump up but there’s no Max. Annie has been edgy, eating more than usual, coming in at all hours. It’s been better the past week; she seems to be settling down. Maybe she has looked everywhere she knows to look.

Whatever has happened, I know this: Max was a healthy, happy creature. He was magnificent, my Max. He was strong and beautiful. He loved me. Sometimes, he jumped up in my lap and simply gazed at me, unblinking. I felt he was communicating with me. When I was writing, or reading, or working on an art project I would look up and see Max watching me. His gaze was always steady and calm. Max loved me, and I felt it.

Max was feral, the wild in him would not be denied, not by me or anyone else. He loved me, but he was wild. Because I knew this about him, I let him be who he was. No matter what has happened, Max lived a strong, happy life. I have many regrets, allowing Max to be who he was is not one of them.

Still, every morning I think, Today. Maybe Max will come home today.   

Goodbye, Leonard

I’m feeling terribly old right now. Leonard Cohen died. He was a genius. I know, everyone is saying that. I wish I could think of something brilliant and profound that hasn’t already been said.

I discovered him in my 40’s and wondered how I had missed him all my life! I became hungry for his music. His deep, almost guttural voice touched something in me that I didn’t know existed. I suddenly understood groupies. I wanted to know him. Of course I knew that would never happen..I’m a realist, not a groupie. Oh but I loved listening to him sing! He was one of my favorites when I had to drive any distance. His songs made me think. And often ache with sadness.

Like now.