“A year and a half? You’ve only been here a year and a half? It seems like much longer.”
I’ve heard that from several people just in the past few weeks, and I’m taking it as a compliment – even though I suppose it could be interpreted as, “It seems like we’ve been putting up with you a lot longer than that.”
It’s actually been one year and seven months – if you want to be precise – since we moved to Georgia after 18 years living in Minnesota. And if memory serves, I heard similar comments from people in Minnesota within the first few years of our living there.
It all has to do with connections. Relationships. Getting involved with people and organizations in our neighborhoods and our communities.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous and apprehensive when we first moved here, even though I was also excited at the thought of learning about and exploring a new area of the country. We’ve done this several times over the years – always in conjunction with my husband’s job. And it’s always – until now – been at a time when our kids were still living at home, which gave me built-in connections and activities through parents’ groups at their schools. I didn’t have that when we moved to Georgia, as our kids were now grown and gone, and this was a move to enjoy our retirement years in a warmer climate.
It’s worked out well, though, and I can joke that it’s taken me only a year and a half to get as over-committed as I ever was in any other place we lived. My standard line, whenever anyone comments on how busy I am or how many groups I belong to is, “It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.”
The truth is, though, that I love taking part in a variety of activities and organizations. Through Toastmasters, for instance, I can continue to improve my communication and leadership skills, which are important life skills for all of us, at any point in our lives. Through the Georgia Writers Museum, I’ve had the opportunity to help high school students prepare their work for publication, and to teach adults to recognize and appreciate the value of life lessons found in our day-to-day activities. Church groups help me strengthen my faith, and neighborhood groups such as my book club give me both mental stimulation and social time with friends. And it makes sense that being involved in all of these activities makes it seem like I’ve been here longer than I actually have.
I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here. Maybe it’s that keeping busy does keep you “off the streets and out of trouble.” Or that time flies when you’re having fun.
Or maybe it’s that doing what you love, and jumping in with both feet, is the best and quickest way to feel right at home no matter where you are. Or how long you’ve been there.
October 26, 2018
©Betty Liedtke, 2018
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