Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Bag Lady has an off week

Yesterday I woke up depressed and bored. Actually, I've been waking up that way for the last week or so, but only yesterday was I able to nail down the descriptive adjectives. I knew my mood was low, but adding "bored" was clarifying.

I've been in a frenzy of activity since our return from sunny Tucson to the cloudy Pacific Northwest - mostly trying to declutter and organize. I always run into some resistance from my husband Art when I try this, so it's been somewhat of a struggle. My sister finally suggested I lay off for a week or two, to allow Art to rest up from the onslaught of my suggestions. So I have. I recognize that sometimes I engage in "whirling" behavior when I'm trying to avoid thoughts percolating in my mind. 

When I quit my job three years ago, I had goals I worked toward and accomplished:
  • We've taken 27 trips since June 2010
  • I took a course in teaching English as a second language and decided I didn't want to teach; that was a relief, actually
  • I participated in builds for Habitat for Humanity and realized I don't have the stamina to work alongside laid-off 30-something construction workers; I'd rather take a nap after lunch than go back to work, and I'm afraid of standing on scaffolding or roofs
  • We wrote and self-published a book
  • I spent 140 hours to become a certified mediator practitioner
  • We lived on our retirement income and I am pretty sure I won't become a Bag Lady
  • We became snowbirds during the darkest of the Pacific Northwest months
  • I developed the habit of exercise besides walking - water aerobics and line dancing
As I pondered my depressed and bored mood this week, I realized I'm in transition. Not a comfortable place for me. Doing all the same things I did three years ago doesn't suit me now. But I'm not sure what I might be doing instead. I know this three-years-into-retirement thing isn't uncommon. That's a comfort, somehow. Here are some thoughts that may be part of moving through my transition.
  • I like diversity of ages around me.  I'm not real keen on spending a lot of time just with people my age or older, unless they're active and inquisitive types.  In my community I like the energy of little kids shrieking on swings, and young parents pushing strollers as they jog, and tattooed young people with that attitude of "I'll never get old" - the same one I had at their age. I have taken a few classes through Lifelong Learning organizations, but I think I may look for one at a community college that's not just for seniors. And I suspect I may need to switch my water aerobics schedule so that once a week I'm in an evening class where I'll be exercising with all ages of women.
  • The dressing room of a community pool is an eye opener. I've been excessively modest all my life; in college the three classes required for P.E. that I took were archery, golf, and bowling, because they were the only offerings where you didn't have to dress out. So many different kinds of bodies in the dressing room at the pool!  I'm glad to finally be participating in the diversity.  Everyone there is exercising, and that's a good thing. There is a nearby Korean spa I have heard is a fabulous experience, but it requires nudity. I have never even considered it. I might now.
  • Yesterday I went to the mall and bought new lipstick and eye shadow. Nothing dramatic, but not the same thing I've worn for the last 20 years. The young woman found me new shades that look natural. That probably could have happened years ago, but I was proud of "I always get the same thing" when I handed the clerk the old stuff and asked for a replacement just like it. I don't wear makeup a lot these days, but I'm becoming willing to choose something other than the same old, same old.
  • While at the mall I bought a pair of flip flops at REI - my first pair in 30 years - and some clothes at Chico's. These were all to prepare for next month's trip to Kenya. I let the woman at Chico's choose colors for me that I never wear ("I only do black and red and blue") - but look pretty good (cream and tan cropped pants and a muted olive green t-shirt). Something different, you know. And the new clothes will be fine for next winter in Tucson.
  • I like sharing my thoughts and ideas with my husband Art in a friendly way. When I told him yesterday that I was depressed and bored, he put down the paper and listened to me. He was especially thoughtful all day. I should spend way less time talking to him about things I think we (he) should be doing! I printed out a map of Kenya, marked it up so he could see where we'll be each night of our trip, and read from the Lonely Planet  Kenya book about each park. Now I feel like we're taking this trip together. That's a good feeling.
  • There is nothing I can do about gray weather this time of year. But I can make my to-do list flexible enough that, when the sun comes out for a few minutes or an hour, I can stop what I'm doing indoors and sit in an Adirondack chair - on the deck or in the garden - facing the sun. Even if it's 8 in the morning and I still have my pajamas on. There are birds out there, singing, paying no attention to the weather.
So I'm in transition. I wish I knew where I was going. But if I say "yes" to what comes along, I'm more likely to find my new path than if I doggedly pursue the same one.











20 comments:

DJan said...

This all sounds incredibly healthy to me, Linda. You are a doer and seem to be doing this in just the right way. Kudos for the interesting post, too! :-)

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I wouldn't have imagined that you could be bored, given all that you do, but the way you've explained it makes sense. It sounds like you are doing very positive things to adjust, including talking with Art about how you were feeling! New makeup and clothes are a good step, too, because they remind you that you are open to change. Transition is hard, and I can see it looming in my future, too. Thanks for this post.

Terra said...

You are coping with boredom brilliantly; exercise, new shade of lipstick, reading about Kenya, etc.

Arkansas Patti said...

Change, even small ones, are rut busters. I love change and how it alters one's thought patterns.
Djan is right, you are a doer. I envy you in a way for I am much more an observer and should be more active like you are.

#1Nana said...

Hard to believe that you are bored. I get tired just reading about your activities. I find that when I start getting bored with the sameness of my days, I wind up taking a trip. I hope it will be better when the spouse retires and we can be more active.

Bob Lowry said...

You have crammed a lot into your first three years of retirement. Just the travel alone would wear out a lessor person! As you correctly note, the first few years of retirement usually contain some down periods. After all, you and Art have made several major life changes and adjustments.

Maybe this past week has been your body and mind telling you, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. There is nothing wrong with some time of just being.

Perpetua said...

Isn't it interesting how different we all are, Linda? Like Nana I get tired just reading about what seems to me like your incredibly active life in retirement. :-) I'm at the opposite end of the activity spectrum, revelling in the ability to do absolutely nothing at all (other than mundane housekeeping) unless I want to.

It's obvious from this post that what works for me wouldn't suit you, so I do hope you can work out a pattern of life and activity that satisfies and energises you.

Olga said...

It seems to me that the down times are necessary in order to appreciate what we have. I was a bit down until I spent the day with my sister. I came home and kissed my husband. My life is pretty good.

rosaria williams said...

Nothing perks one up than a new project, but you have been on a whirlwind tour with many projects executed and checked off. We do that for a while when we retire, trying to remain active and useful and...
You'll find the new pace soon.

I too was in a go and accomplish state of mind after I retired. Now, ten years later, we try to maintain ourselves active enough and unencumbered enough to stay connected with our family and our community and still be able to go off somewhere when opportunity calls.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Sometimes shaking up the same old routine can invigorate life back into life! I can't wait to read all about Kenya but even hearing that you're out there picking up new makeup or clothes means you're having fun embracing the changes you've started this year. Right on!

Out on the prairie said...

Kenya sounds real fun.

You asked about Ashfall.We were visiting and they were putting a new set of steps in and discovered a tortoise shell that was a fossil when the rest of the fossils were alive.My oldest got to brush at the dirt around it with the curator.Headed up soon to trout fish and enjoy the park.

Galen Pearl said...

There is a great book by Joyce Rupp called Open the Door. She talks about the discomfort of the liminal space, that point inside the doorway when you are no longer where you were, but not yet where you're going. My word of the year this year is Wait. You are welcome to borrow it!

Simone Moland said...

Oh Linda I so GET what you mean. I'm heading towards 50 in July and I'm nowhere close to retirement but I have to always do something. Redundancy is not my style. I would love to hide away in your luggage as you go to Kenya. The travels that you've taken since 2010...I'm in awe and admiration. You are living the kind of life I would enjoy but I know that I have some things here that need to be done too. J is very laidback...the great listener but not much for adventures so I'm not sure we'll ever travel out of the country together. I'm glad that you are thinking outside of the box. Good for you!!

Tom Sightings said...

Nothing wrong with being in transition. It's a little unsettling, sure, but it means something's coming, something good ...

Dee said...

Dear Linda, your stamina is so inspiring. And the list of what you've done in the past few years as well as the list of what you're into now also inspires. I've been stuck in doing the "same old, same old" for quite so time so I hope to take a leaf out of your book and find some new activities. Taking a class sounds great to me.
Thanks for your wonderful suggestions. Peace.

MyMaracas said...

I'm exhausted just reading the list of things you've already done! I've been retired about a month now, and I haven't accomplished much of anything, other than clearing out some of the clutter and organizing things. I find myself so scattered, flitting from one project to another, not completing any. There are just so many! I've got to get a handle on this new way of living.

Barb said...

Linda, I agree, we are all in transition-just give it time. I will say that I deliberately chose college classes instead of lifelong learning because I wanted the all age interactions. I have the same concerns about water aerobics, but then again, the even crowd tends to be young working moms....

Grandmother said...

I've come back a couple of times to read this because I recognize this space you're describing and want to offer some measure of support. I know the frustration of this phase and the slightly lost feeling of it. When I was in my last one, my dear friend said how excited she was for me. I wanted to whack her! She said something wise then: "I don't know is the closest you can get to God.". I again wanted to hit her but understood when I emerged out the other side. I share her wisdom with you and I'm confident you'll find an enriched path.

Retired English Teacher said...

I'm glad you took the time to pamper yourself. You need to do this I wonder if you are just going through a transition from the time in the sun that you loved so much. Change can be really hard. If I were you, I'd be so tired from all you have accomplished, that I'd be sitting and staring. You are an inspiration. I loved reading this post because no matter what, it seems you come up with a proactive way to approach whatever is bothering you. You gave me insight into where I am right now too. New lipstick never hurts!

Friko said...

Perhaps a little less of the rushig around and a bit more of thoughtful relaxation?

Whichever way you choose I am certain you’ll get back to a happy place.
Happy isn’t necessary all the time anyway, nobody ever is.