A year ago today I was recovering from pneumonia. During that down time I blogged on "The Bag Lady reflects on a quiet week" (comments 1-5 below). By the next week I was feeling better, and in response to a friend's comments about my muted mood, I recast my thoughts in "Blog response from a friend" (comments 1a-5a below). Today I'm looking back a year and adding my current reflections.
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.
1a. I'm grateful for all the years of Christmas with kids and the years when we traveled or just enjoyed quiet times.
Today: I'm grateful for simple Christmases, where we can donate our time and our money to those less fortunate than us and then spend the special times with special people, whether family or friends. This year we went to San Diego for Christmas and spent a lovely three days with daughter Melissa and son-in-law Scott. The 425-mile trip from Tucson was easy.
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.
2a.I'm grateful that I'm past PMS and cramps and angst, and for modern medicine that provides cataract surgery to millions of elders. Today: Still grateful to be past the 2a issues!, and very grateful for the second cataract surgery in September that now allows me to drive at night and without glasses. 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 day a week to write. And I plan to do a lot more reading. 3a. I'm grateful to be surrounded by people and activities that interest or provoke or confirm, and that I have the freedom to choose what I'll do with each day. Today: Grateful to have people and activities to keep me engaged, and the freedom to choose what to take on and what to let go of. This year in Tucson I won't play handbells or take a Spanish class, but I will finish my Rosetta Stone Spanish course and my second book, and take an online course offered by Brene Brown. 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." 4a. I'm grateful that I'm learning to let go of things over which I have no control and to pay attention to ways I can be useful. Today: Still working on letting go of things over which I have no control!, but I'm getting better at noticing ways I can be useful. I'm now a lead mediator in small claims court in my county and the liaison between Massage Envy franchise owners in the Puget Sound region and the Washington State Massage Board. And in Tucson this winter I'm responsible for ticket sales for our 55+ community's March production of "Oklahoma!"
5. Nearly five years into retirement, one of my greatest pleasures is still sleeping as long as I want, most mornings.
5a. I'm grateful that I can sleep until it's light outside. Today: Sleeping until I wake up on my own is still the greatest! I think these periodic reflections are a good idea. I don't want to lose track of myself! I can see I am still moving forward, still engaged. That's a good thing.