Retirement Anyone?

“Wholeness does not mean perfection … it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.”
Parker J. Palmer
On the Brink of Everything

Our move last fall into a townhouse has changed my life in many ways … some good, some not so good.  But I prevail and am not allowing the chronic pain that began during that challenging time to take over my life. After working my way through two orthopedists and a neurologist who didn’t help much, I’m back to my usual “fringe medicine” ways of taking care of myself.

I’m working with a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and doing egoscue. Several months ago I joined our local YMCA and am working on getting there three times a week to use the recumbent bike and the indoor track. My workouts are short, but get a few minutes longer each time I go. I’m feeling much less pain now and plan on going back to my favorite yoga class in the next month. I also plan to in the future to try water aerobics and get back to pilates.

I’m not sure that the pain will ever completely go away. Some say that with time it will, but I’ll not count my chickens just yet. I’m in pain management mode and we’ll see what happens.

The other very helpful thing I’m doing is taking CBD oil twice a day. It not only helps to control the pain, it also helps to reduce my anxiety which has been a life long problem. It’s an oil made from cannabis flowers and is lacking the element that gives you a high and is not addictive.  It is legal here in Virginia and is getting great press all over the country for those with cancer and helps people who suffer from seizures. 

As a result I’m much more relaxed and find it easier to accept my health issues and aging dilemmas. That alone is a major change in the way I spend my days. All of the things I thought I’d get done in the last few months including getting back to writing are still on my to-do list and are slowly getting done, but now when I feel I need to take a nap I just do it without feeling guilty or anxious that I’m not completing the tasks on that list. 

This relaxed way of being is what I’ve been longing for all along.  Before our move I was on my way toward being more mindful, listening to my body, and taking care of it. But the move crushed the boundaries I’d built up to protect myself and once again I became a raging Type A, insane workaholic, bashing myself to death for not being able to do the amount of work I used to do.

My anxiety was off the charts. I was holding myself to very high standards and expecting the same from others.  Bill was exhausted from the move and couldn’t keep up with me and my perfectionist ways.  The boat was rocky for a while, but we’re happily enjoying life again and feel the move was necessary and well worth the struggles.

I recently proclaimed that I’m officially retiring. That means no more speeding through my days. I’m allowing myself plenty of time to swing in a hammock, read a book, write a story, make art, be grateful, and simply enjoy every single day for its gifts.

I may swing back and forth occasionally and become crazed with anger and impatient with the ways of this very frightening world.  It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a process well worth the effort and brings me peace and lots of hope.

Adjusting To What’s Next

The Thinker, Auguste Rodin

Bill is 78 and I’m 75 year old. We both have arthritis and these days we talk about aging a lot. As many of you know Bill has already had one knee replaced along with a shoulder. The other “good” knee is now giving him trouble. It isn’t bone on bone yet and he’s taking his time using a brace and gently working on it until he feels he wants to have it replaced. He’s also been having a bit of trouble with memory loss. We haven’t yet heard of brain replacements, and even if that were possible, how do you download 78 years of memories into an artificial brain and still be human?

Although joint replacements never work like the real deal, artificial knees help make those suffering from pain continue to move about comfortably. Our Orthopedist says that those who tell us that we’ll be as good as new after a replacement are full of you know what. And when it does happen it’s extremely rare, especially if you’re of a certain age. But we go for being comfortable and spending our senior years continuing to go on adventures. Bill’s recent week on board a ship with 700 joyful Irish musicians was a wonderfully fun time him and he got around happily using a cane or a wheel chair when he had to.

I myself have just been diagnosed with bone on bone arthritis in my right knee. Although I move around most days comfortably there are days when it’s too painful, especially during this stormy winter when I can predict a tempest coming well before it arrives. I, too, will be trying a brace for a while, and use a heating pad or ice to lessen the pain. Our good doctor does not want to jump in with his knives. He’s conservative and doesn’t like to be overly invasive. So we’ll spend a while seeing how it goes before we enter an OR.

The other complaint you often hear at our house is how long it can take to get things done. We’re moving much more slowly than we used to and completing tasks that used to take an hour can now take up to one or two hours more, depending on how complicated it is.

I’ve just discovered how addicted I have become to schedules and time. It seems to be how the world operates these days. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. We wait in line overnight just before a new electronic device comes on the market so that we can be one of the first to own it. And big box stores open their doors on Thanksgiving day giving all the “must haves” a chance to get whatever it is they want before the store runs out. They forget that spending time doing something relaxing with their kids and other family members is essential while the world spews more and more stress our way.

I may not know what to do about my knee right now, but I do know what to do about this newly discovered schedule addiction of mine. Firstly, I quit wearing a watch a few weeks ago. Silly me used to check it constantly to see if I had plenty of time.  Secondly, I’ve discovered that by taking more time to do things, I notice all of things I used to miss when I was in such a hurry. What I sometimes considered distractions, like watching the birds at the feeder or a flower slowly opening its petals in the garden, help me to be at peace with myself and the world around me.

Aging may be something that many people don’t look forward to, but I’m discovering that it is delightful to allow myself to go with a much more slow and gentle flow than the tornadic activity that too often accompanied my younger days.  It’s all about adjusting to what’s next!

Trusting In The New Year Ahead

As a child I moved constantly. My dad was an architect/ home builder and we often lived in half built houses while he finished them off and then sold them. It was a pain of course having to change schools, leaving “best” friends behind, and feeling my way during those first weeks in new schools and neighborhoods. I did it though, often missing what I’d left behind. It wasn’t until I was in highschool that I stayed in the same school with the same classmates that I finally felt I really had a home. But when I graduated I moved to Vermont with my parents and went to college there. Another new beginning. Bill and I met there, got married there, and that’s where our kids were born.

We left Vermont in 1979 and came to Virginia where we’ve been ever since. For the most part I love the weather, except for  hot and humid July and August. The rest of the year is pretty awesome though. We moved here to the Charlottesville area in 1985. Since then we have moved three times within this community. Each place we have landed was perfect for us at the time and when we needed something new we moved on.

We’re still in Charlottesville and continue loving it. The new home we moved into in November is perfect for us right now. We’ve been able to simplify and find that aging is easier than it would have been in the lovely home we recently left. This place is smaller, better organized, and easier to take care of. And we continue to still have the friends we made here.

We’re still getting settled, but we’re warm and cozy and enjoying the array of birds at our new birdfeeder. Even the resident blue birds come to feed. I’ve never had them come to a seed feeder before. When summer comes I’ll be offering them meal worms to keep them around. Our aging kitty, Lilliput, is now an indoor cat and is no longer a threat to the avian and rodent communities around us.

All of us have just moved into a new year. There will be more fresh starts and adventures ahead. What are you hoping for in 2018? What will bring all of us joy during the next 12 months? What will we bring with us that will sustain us during possible trials ahead?

I’m bringing TRUST as my word for the coming days and continue to work with last years word, PAUSE, which I still need to work on. I trust that the days ahead will be filled with love, kindness and ease. I hope to continue to pause when life gets tough, remembering all of the things that I am so grateful for … including family, friends, and you, my followers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Next Great Adventure

For Bill and I, big changes often come out of the blue. We’ve been perfectly content and happy where we are. But less than a month ago we were in conversation with a friend who is about our age. We were talking about aging, aching bodies, brain farts, and a host of other things that inflict those of us who are moving on in years. She told us about a couple she knows who have sold their lovely dream home and moved into a new one-story home in a small, nearby development. They are loving their new place, meeting new neighbors, and the convenience of having the outside mainenance of their home taken care of for them. No more seasonal gutter cleaning, leaf raking, snow removal, lawn mowing, etc. Healthy and happy, they now have more time to travel and take advantage of leisure time they’d not experienced in the past.

As we were listening to our friend, both Bill and I realized we’d been thinking about a similar kind of move. Though we’d talked about it now and then, it was something that was way in the future. But with birthdays coming up in November and being in our mid-seventies, we have been aware of the struggles of other friends who have waited too long to accept the changes that aging brings. Some have gotten very ill, passed on, or are now moving into senior living facilities. Wanting to make the most of the years we have left, we want to live with dignity and grace while we can. And there has been the haunting question of what would life be like without the other? Would the one left behind be comfortable living where we are now … a big house that is also aging and needs continuing maintenance? Though the garden is small and exquisitely beautiful, I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with it as my body refuses to do what it used to do. And though I do loads of self-care including Egoscue, Pilates and Yoga, it still won’t go back to the way it was when I was twenty-five or even forty.

So we decided to go take a look at a small, new development not far from where we live now. And though we said we’d never live in a townhouse, we walked into the model that was open that afternoon and fell in love. During the next few days we toured other places, but at the end of the day we always went back to that first place in a quiet location with lovely gardens and walking trails in the woods next door. We put a hold deposit down on one of the last available lots that will be a finished home next June. We figured we’d need at least a year to clean this place out and prepare ourselves for the next chapter.

But God, the Universe, or whatever you may want to call that thing that helps us and directs us through life, had other things in mind. When we told our good friend and realestate broker, Bob, what we were doing, he found a finished resale available in the same development. It is an end unit with glass on three sides rather than on just two. We went to look at it, made an offer and it was immediately accepted. The unit is only a year old, and the seller lived there for only seven months. It is a four story home, but get this … it has an elevator for when our legs, knees, and other bodyparts start failing us. It is half the size of the home we’re in now but I’ll still have a fairly large studio on the top floor with a walkout veranda.

So here we go, ready to set out on our next adventure. This house will go on the market shortly and with lots of available help we look to move into our Out of Bounds townhome sometime in November. We will miss this gorgeous home and our wonderful neighbors here. But it’s time for us to simplify and to move on.  Life moves on and we need move with it. I’ll post pics as soon as I can get some.

I’ll keep you apprised as the adventure continues. In the meantime I hope you are all having a wonderful summer.

Are you setting out on any new adventures?