Arranging the Pieces

By Marsha Tennant

Arranging the Pieces

Leave it to Virginia Woolf to put it out there. She once remarked “arrange whatever pieces come your way.” As 2010 opens we continue to be in a recession / depression / downturn-depending on what cable channel you watch. The big question looming for most is how to weather it and what to do about it.

Like most everyone else I didn’t see the economic crisis of 2009 coming. Americans think that we are immune from trials and tribulations. At some level I knew it, but just kept trucking away. I said all the right things –“I’m cutting back. Don’t need that.” But for the first time in my life I was really afraid last year-for my family and country. There were a few weeks of uncertainty in the stock market, world market and my personal bank’s future. Would we survive as a nation? Flashbacks of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life played through my mind. Well, George Bailey made it. That was a happy ending.

Approaching retirement and my Golden Years added to my angst. Time to implement a Plan B. What was my plan? I wasn’t prepared for the answer but it came at me full force and with gusto. Not only did I cut back, kick back and regroup, but I changed my course and actually took a salary cut to follow my heart and find peace in the midst of the storm. I threw the pieces up in the air and watch them fall in an unexpected location. So much for my GPS programmed life.

Fear for myself and country propelled me into action. I had nothing to lose. We could be on the brink of collapse anyway. So I listened to my heart and paid attention to that itchy feeling that had been looming for sometime. I asked myself “why are you really here? What do you really want to do?” I used to be able to answer that when my life was less complicated with stuff, schedules and responsibilities. Where did that person go? I had been on the fast track so long that I didn’t recognize the sound of my own voice.

I craved the simple life – throw out the excess, reuse, recycle and redo – all the buzz words. So last spring I decided to return to my true passion. I left a position that had taught me so much and headed back to the classroom and kids. I had planned to teach again at the end of my career so I stepped it up a few years. I wanted to write more, facilitate journaling classes and play at creating and crafting. That was step one. I was amazed at how energized and free I felt. Less money and more time could do that?

Being a child of the 60s brought step two into focus. This was a symbolic gesture of decluttering my life and my possessions. I cleaned out my closet and headed to a consignment shop to sell what I was not wearing. Some of the items still had price tags on them. I bought them because they were on sale – mindless spending. Consignment and thrift stores became my shopping haunts. I wanted to make a new statement. What I discovered was that many of my friends were doing the same thing. We shared stores and bargains. This was fun, and we were repurposing and saving lots of money. With all the clutter gone in my closet I could actually “shop the closet.” When the catalogues came in the mail I cut out pictures of the outfits I liked and then headed out to recreate them on a budget. I did it!

Slowing down gave me the chance to enjoy being at home. Happy Hour on the porch was stunning as the wildlife gathered on our pond. And it was cheaper, too. I gathered old cookbooks and started trying recipes that I had cooked years ago. My best friend, Cheri, and I wrote more letters to one another as we shared our love of books, recipes and simple pleasures. I was reading more and even teaching a few more journaling classes. I could get used to this!

What I discovered as I made this change in my life was that it wasn’t really about the money or budget. It was about returning to my authentic self. I had been so busy doing what I thought I should do that I had lost sight of ME. The national crisis gave me permission to be fearless and forge ahead. I hear this sentiment repeated in the consignment stores and journaling classes as women gather to find their own purpose and reflect. My granny used to say that less is more. It took me six decades to understand what she was telling me.

About this writer

  • Marsha Tennant Marsha Tennant is the author of the children’s book, Margaret, Pirate Queen. She was recently published in AARP Bulletin and Mary Jane’s Farm. She and her husband retired and moved to the beach from Calabash in an attempt to downsize and spend time with their new grandson. A second Pirate Queen book is circling while porch sitting these days!

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One Response to “Arranging the Pieces”

  1. Landy says:

    This is very good & true for so many of us.

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