Saturday, November 26, 2016
"Get a Life!"
I was on the ground floor of our state Capitol, and it was about mid-way through our daily SingAlong over the noon hour. I am not there every day, but someone has been there every single weekday for well over five years now, making a stand "until Wisconsin gets better!" We always welcome visitors, and encourage folks to join the singing, come into the center to take pictures of the beautiful high ceiling, or just pass through as they take a shortcut through the building. It is, after all, the "people's house" and we are proud and happy to share the space each day. More about my participation here
The man approached me, as most of them do, without really making eye contact, and I smiled as I usually do, to make him feel welcome. Without looking up, he spit out those words we have heard all too often: "Get a life!" --- and from that moment on I totally lost my concentration and had trouble remembering the lyrics for the songs I have been singing since spring of 2011, songs I sing in the shower, songs that go through my head day and night, awake or asleep. The words weren't coming. I was way too preoccupied.
Oh, if you only knew! Stop for a minute and let me tell you about my life. It is full beyond belief and I feel blessed in ways I never could have imagined.
I could tell you about my family - wonderful husband of over 50 years, grown children and foster children, who provide us with awesome grandchildren, ranging from toddlers to those in their 20's, starting out in exciting careers and living now on their own. Soon a whole new generation of "immediate family" will be a significant part of our lives. There is, of course, also an extended family of siblings, in-laws, cousins and others. Some we see on a regular basis, and others only occasionally, but all are special to us and provide a deep richness to our lives.
I could tell you about my friends - some I have known for over 60 years, some I know only through my many contacts on social media. We have moved several times in our married life and always do what we can to maintain connections with the friends we have made in each location. Our holiday mailing list has always been a long one and we love to hear from those we don't see on a regular basis.
I belong to a book club, we participate in a Senior Learning program, we travel for both fun and education, we travel to visit family and friends, and we travel to watch our grandchildren participate in all their various activities. Are you a sports fan? We have watched grandsons play football at both Northwestern and Ohio State. Should I tell you about our never-ending loyalty to the Wisconsin Badgers? We love our life in downtown Madison within walking distance of the campus we love, the Kohl Center, Camp Randall stadium and of course Capitol Square. Farmers Market, State Street, sporting events, culture, restaurants, educational opportunities and a newly renovated library - we have it all!
Do you have just a little more time? I absolutely love telling people what I am doing in my retirement. Yes, I have become more aware politically (now there is an understatement!) but it's not just that. I am a retired special educator with an intense interest in the field of autism and have established my own business as an independent contractor, now helping mostly adults who are unable to speak to find their voice through typing. There are so many of these amazing people, and they all have a lot to say. I won't bore you with the details, but I have written more extensively about this on my blog. You might want to check out this posting in particular: "Why I Do What I Do."
Sorry for being so defensive about this. I understand that you might have made a quick judgment about the group you saw singing that day. I can guarantee you that every single one of the participants has an interesting story to tell. Next time, plan to stay a little while and get to know us. Maybe even sing along.
As we say in one of my favorite songs, "We are a gentle, loving people, and we are singing for our lives."
All are welcome.