Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Bag Lady reflects on a quiet week

We arrived in Tucson, our winter home, a month before high season. It's quieter then. We got busy fixing up the place and then I got pneumonia and Art got a sinus infection. We were pretty much knocked out for nearly two weeks. Antibiotics did their job, but the fatigue lingered. Neither of us felt like doing more than the minimum. 

In that time, I got quiet. Unusual for me, the doer. I learned a few things about myself.

1. I am okay with Christmas these days. Once our eight children grew up, I had a tough few years. The holiday tree made me sad, as I decorated it with all the memory-laden ornaments and realized that holidays with the kids were a thing of the past. I felt left behind for several years. Then we traveled during Christmas weeks - to Idaho and Kauai and Paris, substituting one pleasure for another. Now we are content with quiet. Aside from sending out holiday cards, putting up a small artificial tree, sending money or gift cards to our grandchildren, and gathering for Christmas dinner with over a hundred other 55+ people at our winter residence, we spent low-key days and evenings. Partly it was because we were sick and recovering - and partly because it was enough. 

2.  I am beginning to come to terms with the realities of aging. Though my brain is still quite nimble, my body is not. I do exercise but my stamina has decreased in the last few years. I injured my back nearly four years ago; the symptoms show up as tingling in my feet and I no longer expect to recover from that injury. I need to have the second cataract removed. And I no longer consider driving at night to be an option. That sense of disbelief that I am getting older is gone. I've moved past denial. Finally. Now I can move on with what comes next. I take comfort in the knowledge that everyone my age is having the same experience.

3. I have a busy life, but I'm no longer pushing myself to stay busy. I can waste time extravagantly without guilt. I noticed this especially when I was sick, since I didn't have the energy to do much besides sit. Now that I feel like being more active, I don't plan to go go go all day. I've set aside one a day a week to write. And I plan to do a lot more reading.

4. I'm letting go of unnecessary complexity. I spend less time thinking about what's going on in the lives of family members. They will find their way. I'm not obsessing about my health or the health of others. I'm not worrying about the state of the world. I'm learning that if my mind is quiet, it's receptive to other possibilities. I think of what Mark Twain said: "I am an old man, and I have had many troubles, but most of them never happened."

5. Nearly five years into retirement, one of my greatest pleasures is still sleeping as long as I want, most mornings. 

16 comments:

DJan said...

What a wonderful bunch of realizations to come to, Linda. I think I've been there in every case, learning these lessons as we grow older. I just watched "The Lady in Number 6" about Alice Herz-Sommer, who was the oldest living Holocaust survivor until she died at 110 earlier this year. She is an inspiration! (It's on Netflix if you want to watch it, and it won Best Documentary last year.) We are blessed to have the chance to learn about people like her. May you have a wonderful 2015! :-)

Carole said...

Thanks for a thought provoking post. I always enjoy reading your blog. You make me think, and often give me a different perspective. I like your Mark Twain quote!

Jean Fleming-Kehler said...

Very nice perspective. I have come to the same conclusions on son some points, others I am still learning. Thank you for your writing. Happy New Year and may you both feel a bit more energy soon.

Tom Sightings said...

I think first our kids struggle to get away from us; and then we struggle to let them go. Not struggle with them, but struggle with ourselves. As for the other, I'm all in favor of "letting go of unnecessary complexity."

Bob Lowry said...

Your thoughts are quite helpful to me as I go through a period of trying to figure out what is next. Your words speak loudly to me this morning.

Thank you.

Arkansas Patti said...

"waste time extravagantly without guilt."
Oh that takes a while to get but it sure is wonderful when we do.
Enjoy your new and more relaxed goals.

Olga Hebert said...

This is the first year I did not struggle with the picture in my head of perfect family gatherings over the holidays. They are only pictures in my head based on nothing that ever happened and I have a real life to live so I let myself get on with it.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I love this post. First, many of your realizations are similar to mine. We are facing similar issues as we age, as you note. But the larger point is that you were quiet and listened to your own thoughts. I need to do more of that.

dkzody said...

Being quiet and reflective is very important to me.

I am very content to waste time doing what I want to do, no longer having to meet deadlines and commitments. I keep the commitments to a minimum and I am only doing what I absolutely love.

I've decided I am too old to do things that don't give me joy. Life is short.

Pam said...

I'm like a sponge, trying to soak up the wisdom of people like yourself who are already retired. I admire that you are embracing the changes life has brought you. Hope you feel 100% very soon! Thanks for your honesty.

Barbara Bomberger said...

I love number 3 and follow it whenever I can. This kind of contemplation always helps. I need some alone time.

Cindi said...

It's comforting to know I'm not alone. Thank you for your candor.

Madeline Kasian said...

After a super hectic year of retiring then moving to a new town, I am ready for the "simplicity" we thought we would enjoy at this phase! It just hasn't happened yet! But I feel a lot of what you're feeling, albeit with an urge for some small part time work,yes,work.Am looking at perhaps using the real estate license,we'll see. Otherwise,I am allowing for a lot of quiet space to think,read, and mull over just how I wish the next few years to be.... I DON'T need to be busy every moment but my mind COULD use a bit more stimulation-- January always brings about thoughtfulness,doesn't it?!

joeh said...

I'm working hard at not worrying about stuff I can't change. I'm almost there with politics.

joeh said...
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Abraham Lincoln said...

Fascinating post. I am out and about looking for new and different pastures. I think I have found one here.