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“What are you going to do with all your time now?” a friend recently inquired. This seemingly innocent question has me dumbfounded. It was as if she just asked me the square root of Pi.

As previously disclosed in other articles, I ran for a seat on my local city council and my opponent won. Expecting a different outcome, I had cleared my calendar for 2019, with the anticipation that I would throw myself head first into city council activities. 

But life put her foot down and presented me with another option — a blank slate for this year. For someone who thrives on structure and routine, white space on a calendar is like staring into the abyss. It’s scary.

I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t win the election. I was bereft for weeks after, feeling terrible about letting down those who had supported me. But the holidays came, parties and errands and other social engagements beckoned, and I slowly climbed out of the funk I was in.

Now it’s a New Year, and I’m still doing a lot of reflecting. I’ve met with a few others who have either run for office, recently retired, or had a change foisted on them that they hadn’t planned. All of them have given me the same advice: “Don’t jump into anything. Things will come to you. Take time to figure out what is truly calling you.”

And so I wait for that call. In the meantime, I’ve returned to the activities and people that I had to set aside for almost a year while I campaigned. 

I’m back to yoga, regular exercise, meditation, long walks, reading, friends and family, short trips, and supporting causes that matter to me. In a couple months, I’ll be back in my garden, getting things ready for summer.  

For an energetic and organized person, such as myself, taking a pause and not filling up my calendar is really difficult. It’s not my nature to sit back and relax. And that’s exactly why I’m doing it. Because it’s hard for me.  Because I’m not built this way. Because I will probably get antsy and maybe even become a bit blue. 

During this quiet time, I’m recalibrating my inner compass, which has always pointed me in a direction that fills my soul, introduced me to new people and viewpoints, and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m old enough to know that answers come quietly and can’t be rushed. And so I’m practicing patience as I wait and working on enjoying this unexpected sabbatical from external pressure. 

My friend who inquired about what’s next seemed satisfied with my brief answer: “I’m not sure right now.” Perhaps she’s been in the same situation and understood. Perhaps she didn’t want to inquire further, thinking it best to leave well enough alone. Or maybe, just maybe, having a simple, honest undetermined answer to one of life’s big questions is the best answer one can give

Teri Merrill

Teri Merrill has been writing professionally since 1982. She has recently been writing for her town newspaper.

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