Nonfiction First Place
“Getting My Feet Wet,”
by Lisa Graff
When I drove over the bridge one year ago to retire to the
For the past year I began to rediscover me. Thank God for yoga or I might be dead by now. The practice teaches you how to breath and for the last 56 years I have had enormous trouble in this department. Judging from the size of the class, I am not a lone yogi. When I wake up in the morning agonizing about what I think I should be doing that day, I find a space on the blanket and listen to the teacher’s soothing voice, “Breathe in slowly and when you exhale, let go of your fears.” My entire life has been about hyperventilating. Even my kindergarten report card said, “Your child has trouble resting during quiet time.” A vast expanse of time that I always dreamed about now stretches the entire coastline from Lewes to Fenwick and it is mine for the taking. My new mantra is, “Just be.” My old thinking is “Be what?”
Last fall, when I would normally be gearing up to teach seven year olds, I signed up for Beginning Basketry and a Watercolor class at the
The truth is that once I gave up teaching, I assumed I’d finish my novel, a novel so brilliant that Oprah would come out of retirement to promote it. I created a writer’s haven, a room of one’s own, forbid my husband to enter it even to play solitaire. The hummingbird feeder was strategically placed outside my window for inspiration. I stared at the computer screen but succumbed to mundane tasks like scrubbing mold off the patio furniture or the siding. Got up to make sugar water and circled the house three times, picking dead leaves off plants.
So for inspiration I joined the Rehoboth Writer’s Guild and attend free writes at the local libraries and workshops with other authors. Most importantly, I read my work out loud once a month at the Beseme restaurant where writer friends support me and I applaud them too for the courage to be writers. Writers are like those balloon bag toys. Each rejection is a punch to the floor and yet we are back up wobbling for more.
One of the best changes in my new life is having time to take walks or ride my bike on state trails. Exercise forces you to breath. I joined the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park. I am willing to pick up trash on the trails, work a book sale, participate in chocolate tastings and borrow one of their free bikes too. I can take barefoot walks on
Last spring I became a volunteer docent at the Ryves Holt house in Lewes, and I proudly announce to visitors when they enter, “You are now standing in the oldest house on its original foundation in the state of
My grown daughter is embarrassed that I like the phrase lower slower
So I am going to make another basket. I’m going to keep writing and going to yoga. Like a new kid on the playground at recess, I have made new friends. I found a new pew in a different church and have begun to participate in community outreach programs. My mother used to love to tell the story about me as a young two year old standing on the seashore for hours looking out to sea. She asked me, “When are you going in the water?” I would point at those tall waves and answer, “When they stop coming in.” Change was hard work for me. Retirement is getting my feet wet. Not holding my breath in vain. I must be patient and appreciate the motion of the water.