Jeff started at Waikato University exactly 40 years after me. I missed him during all those hours that he was at university, but I enjoyed the conversations that arose from his work. I rapidly ran out of understanding of his computing work, other than in a very vague sense, but was better able to enjoy discussions about his philosophy and English papers.
But then half way through the second semester, Jeff went flatting with his brother, Simon, Simon's partner, Rebecca, and Megan, a friend of Rebecca's. Then I found out what missing my sons really meant! Given that Jeff's departure coincided with Mac getting even busier at work, having evening meetings, sometimes twice a week, and in the month leading up to Christmas, numerous 'dos' associated with work, I found myself alone way too much for comfort. I've never found time with me to be stimulating, interesting, or pleasant!
I looked forward to Wednesday nights, when we met at a friend's house to play marimba - Jeff leads the group, and Simon plays with us too. It's a lot of fun and we had our first playout in November. Best of all was spending time with Jeff and Simon, doing something fun.
Friends, acquaintances and complete strangers, on hearing that my home educating days were done and dusted, have been full of suggestions on how to fill my days: how I can turn my hobbies into businesses; suggestions for new hobbies; suggestions that I get a job (like anyone is going to employ a 58 year old woman who hasn't been in paid employment for thirty years, especially in a period of economic downturn); how I need to get out and make new friends - or simply that I need to 'get a grip', pull myself together, blah blah blah.
The thing is, I have plenty to do. More than enough. It's not the doing that's the problem. I have spent 30 years fitting things in around my children. Even now I still do that: when they are available to spend time with me, I try to drop as many things as possible so as to maximize time with them. If they come to visit, even if they are hanging out with a brother, I will do inside chores, rather than go out to work on my bookmaking or garden, because I just like to be around them.
So now, most of the time, I don't have to fit things around them: logically I should be able to get so much done. But I don't. All those decades my sons were my focus and everything else was peripheral. I find it really difficult to pull, from the periphery, my bookmaking, my craft work, my gardening, my writing into the central focus of my life.
My feeling has been that 2009 has been a real struggle, yet now, looking back on the year through looking at my diary and at my photos, I realize that there has been so much that has been good and fun. There have been parties and weddings and 21sts. Mac and I have been on not just one, but two, holidays without any of our sons for the first time in 29 years. There have been fun times in the company of my sons, womad, parties, playing games, visiting the Sculpture Park, going out to lunch with them in Raglan and Hamilton.
I have also spent more time in the company of women friends: a Mama Mia party, evenings out at Jazz Society, lunches, coffee, just visiting their homes. In the last half of the year I met up with a woman I worked with in 1972, and have spent time with her, and look forward to seeing a lot more of her this year. And I have met more women through new activities.
Perhaps the most exciting thing I did last year was a night class in beekeeping and the subsequent acquisition of a swarm of bees to put in my new bee hive. It was a real challenge to get myself to the point of believing I could do it, but that was achieved largely by seeing three women who are around my age or older confident and enjoying beekeeping.
In December I attended a two day course on 'making art your business', and although I certainly don't want to make my book making a full time business, I would like to get to the point of making a bit of money for it.
Finally, on Boxing Day, Mac and I went out and bought a treadmill - I am so tired of being tired. And unfit. And being overweight almost to the point of clinical obesity. (No matter how hard I search the net, I can't find anywhere that doesn't have my just one kg short of the obesity range. I chose to ignore the ones that place me in it.) The first day I did just 10 minutes on it: twelve days later I managed forty minutes.
So now it's 2010. Time is running out - in just a year and a half I'll be 60. My mother was 77 when she died. 19 years doesn't seem that long. But as someone said recently: time is all you have. I have to stop wasting it, and pack as much as possible into what time I have left. And if I am to do that I need to get fitter, and actually get off my butt and do things, rather than just sit around feeling sad about things past, people gone, opportunities missed. I have to appreciate the things I have. Not easy tasks to set a person who has been depressive and negative thinking and just plain lazy all her life! But in 2009 I have worked on myself and have managed to be less depressed and less negative - I need to work a lot harder and more consistently. The natural laziness is going to be hard though!
So - goals for 2010 (famous last words):
- Get fitter and lose weight - I have never tried to lose weight before, so that's going to be interesting! My aim is to work on fitness first, using the treadmill. Given my life-long aversion to exercise, that will be enough of a challenge to start with: I'll leave the dieting until I've managed to use the treadmill consistently for a couple of months!
- I'm challenging my brain by doing a Permaculture Design Certificate course in a modular format which will mean one or two days a month in various locations around the Hamilton / Raglan areas.
- Seriously attempting to sell them through a thought out plan.
So that's another thing I have never done in my life before: I've made New Year resolutions! I'll try not to break all of them.