Friday, May 6, 2016


No, I'm not on a boat. But I am in transition and I don't like it much.

I knew it would take some time to adjust to my life in Washington State after four and a half months in Arizona. But I expected to be finished with that by now. And I'm not. Here's why:

  • The weather is different. The rainy season is ending but there's still enough moisture in the air to make me feel my arthritis.
  • The terrain is different. It's hilly. When I take my two-mile walk in my neighborhood I'm getting aerobic exercise. When I ride my bike in my neighborhood I'm panting by the time I get to the main street, and I'm in the very lowest gear. It's a good thing, I know, but I'm not used to it yet.
  • The traffic is worse. Sometimes I have to wait for nearly a minute at a stop sign before I can make a left turn across traffic in my neighborhood.
  • Friends are not within walking distance, except Jennie next door. Today I drove nearly a half hour to meet my friend Bev. Granted, we went to the beach at Mukilteo, but still.
  • My house is three times larger than our place in Arizona. I notice everything annoying. Like carpet that needs to be cleaned (done this week). Like dingy colors in our bedroom (most of it got replaced today). Like weeds in the garden (hired grandson Kyle last weekend).
  • My house is full of STUFF. I get the urge to declutter, to make Goodwill runs, to donate books to the library and old glasses to the Lions Club. I can only do a partway job, though, because my husband Art is not a declutter. He is a saver. When I think about the possibility of downsizing sometime in the next five or ten years, I feel exhausted by the idea of how much STUFF we'll need to get rid of.
That's just the whiney part of adjusting. Here are the harder parts.
  • I like to be busy, but things change. I've been mediating in small claims court for my county for a couple of years now. Last year I led a team of three to five others every other Tuesday. But I'm gone for a good chunk of the year. The dispute resolution center where I volunteer needs a lead who is there year round and can be consistent. That's not me. So I will still mediate, but I won't be the lead. It's good for the dispute resolution center but it was an intake of breath for me. 
  • I've been the liaison between 27 Massage Envy clinics in the Puget Sound and the State Massage Board for the last year or so. That role will probably be ending by the end of the summer. Legislation has happened and I won't be needed in the role I've been service. Another intake of breath.
My friend Deb points out that if I want to say "yes" to things that come along, I have to have enough space in my life for it to happen. So letting go of the things that are changing does that. But at this point I haven't said "yes" to anything new, so I'm slowing down a bit. Yesterday, for example, I didn't do a thing except order a new refrigerator to replace the one with the broken compressor at our Arizona place. Well, not exactly nothing. I read, I went for a walk, I took a nap. But my days are rarely like that. I know there will be comments on this post about "Well, you should rest and take it easy from time to time. You're retired, after all."

There's another thing. I have an Arizona friend who has just today gone into hospice. She's in Illinois now, being cared for by another Arizona friend who also lives in Illinois. My winter Arizona community is being kept informed as to the friend's condition. But we're not in Arizona now, where we can support each other. We're in Colorado and Michigan and Florida and Canada because we've all gone home. So each of us is alone with our heavy heart. Email doesn't quite cut it in a grieving group. I'm doing solitary grieving and I wish I weren't. 

Come to think of it, I'm not actually adrift. I'm between. I know where I've been but I'm not exactly sure where I'm going. But I suppose that's always the case, really, isn't it?

In the meantime, it's spring! We have little baby cherries and apples and pears and blueberries in our garden, and the strawberries will be ripe in a month. I look forward to a delectable summer.


Olga said...

It's interesting to know that even you can be 'adrift.' However, I have no doubt that you will fill up with purpose soon.

DJan said...

I find it interesting how much Arizona has changed your everyday life, even back in your summer abode. I commiserate over your friend in Hospice, it's always hard to grieve at a distance. And then there's your adventure in August, which is not that far away and will be here before you know it. :-)

Mona McGinnis said...

I had turned to one of my sage friends during a period of angst, looking for consolation and commiseration. She said, "Good. Stay with it and see where it takes you." And like you expected, trust that you are just where you belong.

Tom said...

Thank you for this post which reminds me that we all have the same problems. Transitions are often difficult, and it's hard to give up things, whether they are favorite activities or piles of old stuff that often hold so many memories.

#1Nana said...

Any change can be hard. IT's a process. I try to remember that each stage of change brings its own challenges. It gets even more complicated when you go through a lot of different changes at the same time and need to work through the stages for each of them. I have to reassure myself when I feel nervous or unsure that it's just the process...ride the wave, you don't know where it will take you.

Snowbrush said...

I lived in Mississippi for my first 36 years, and in Oregon’s Willamette Valley for most of my last 31 years, and I still miss the South. I wouldn’t want to go back, but even after all this time, I don’t feel as at home with the natural environment of Oregon as I felt in Mississippi.

Arkansas Patti said...

It almost sounds like you might like to be in Arizona year round. Still it wouldn't be the same for most the friends you miss are also gone plus an Arizona summer may be really hard to take. Transition living does have its drawbacks but loads of positives. Pretty sure you will be back in the swing of things there in no time.

retirementreflections said...

Transition is difficult. Being aware of what is getting to you, and being able to articulate it so eloquently, is a big step in the right direction. Other advice often given for transitioning is 'HALT' (never let yourself got Too Hungry, Too Angry, Too Lonely or Too Tired). I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.

Deb Shucka said...

I'm really sorry to hear about your friend in hospice. The added weight of that grief has to make your boat feel a little tippy. How's the writing? :-)

Meryl Baer said...

We live in one place but travel a lot, and am conflicted about involvement in community activities. I just took on a major responsibility that is busiest in spring and summer, so hopefully it will work out since we travel mostly fall and winter. When away I miss activities at home, but when home cannot wait to be on the road again. And I totally understand about the bigger place - we downsized and now my small place sometimes feels too big!

Linda Reeder said...

It's easy to be "adrift" even if we stay in one place.
Today I am not being at all physically active, and now at 4:00 in the afternoon, having spent hours reading email and FB and editorials and the newspaper, I feel dissatisfied. Tom has been busy all day, and I feel a bit guilty. But I needed a day off, and I'll be making up for it tomorrow.
Not every day is rewarding.

Madeline Kasian said...

When we were going back and forth to our mountain home and our home in the Valley, I felt I was always missing out on fun and important events here at home (the Valley.) I did enjoy some mountain time, but I need to have ONE HOME SPACE AND COMMUNITY. We have figured out being snowbirds would not work for us.I do like traveling a little,visiting new places, and taking getaways to refresh, but when we moved away for almost 2 years,I missed my friends, my history, my family, my church, all the places I know so well..and just the routines I have come to appreciate. So we MOVED BACK!! And we are here for the long run!! Maybe you're getting ready to come to Arizona permanently!?? Of course,with some travel thrown in.. We have become so tired ok keeping two houses we are selling our mountain house and enjoying the freedom to go where we choose, when we choose. Instead of always to the same mountain town. Some months we like just STAYING PUT!! Downsizing, which we did about 4 years ago, was bittersweet..we released a lot of old stuff we didn't need anymore but I also had to sell some furnishings I did love, but they did not fit or match our new,smaller home.After a period of adjustment,I have come to love the new home with it's own decor and energy. I agree with your friend who says you need to release first so you can say YES to new happenings as they come up--I am in an in between space right now too..but it's feeling good to have a bit of NOTHING on my plate for a while!! Will keep reading to see what crops up for you!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

It seems that the balance of your involvements is tipping southward. I totally understand your discomfort with giving up two roles that have given meaning to your life. But there just might be an important role in your future that calls upon your skills.... Meanwhile, enjoy that garden!

nik said...

Hello my Friend. I thought I posted this before...but here goes, one more time. I am sad that you feel like you are adrift. But, I always like to remember that even if I cannot change the direction of the wind, I can adjust my sails. That quote has helped me lots of times. I miss our talks, and hope that you are having a lovely Mother's Day. You impact so many people in so many ways.

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

I have always called that feeling "The late arrival of my soul." It is as though my body is here but my heart and soul is still back there. Thankfully it does pass and I let go of one to regain my life at the other.

My thoughts are with your friend. It must be very hard for all those around her.

Much love to you and Art.