Serendipitously, after recent knee replacement, I found myself playing with many ”R” words: Rejuvenate, Replenish, Relax, Recoup, Recover, Regroup, Rest, and more. These words do not describe the activities that I have typically allowed myself to behaviorally embrace in my life. Yet, with the requirement to recover from major surgery, I am here. And I find myself surprised at how welcome has been this Respite .
The recovery time coincides with the blossoming of springtime, deliciously green leaves and grass, yellow pansies, and beautiful weather. All of which have confirmed my need to do nothing much but enjoy the arrival of spring, with a few strength exercises thrown in for good measure.
The need to grieve can creep up on you without your awareness. Yes, I’ve called it sadness in another post. Yes, I’ve acknowledged the importance of grief in the scheme of life changes before. This time it really caught me by surprise. After 9 months of moving, selling my home, and getting settled in senior living, I became depressed and I couldn’t figure out why. Everything had gone perfectly.
After a while, it occurred to me that I had to stop, name the feelings that were emerging, give them space to flow. I had to finally honor the process, rather than beat myself up about a depression that seemed to have no reason. It took a while feeling depressed for the underlying truths to emerge.
Outwardly, I was very happy about the changes I’d made. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t enormous and that the losses weren’t real. To be faced with both happiness and sadness was confusing. Consistent with my positive outlook on things, I went with the happiness about all that had happened. Yes, I was a homeowner no longer. Yes, I was a meadow and mountain viewer in my memories only. Yes, a 50 year family tenure on this beautiful property had ended. It was my choice. Yes, it was all OK.
Or, was it?
Consistent with my lifelong difficulty in listening to and deciphering what my body has tried to tell me, I denied the enormity of my chosen losses.
Denying what’s true does not really work. It’s a lesson I apparently need to keep learning.
So…the reminder for myself and my readers is this: If you are feeling different, unlike yourself, ask “What’s going on here? What’s beginning for me? And what’s ended for me?” Allow whatever is there to speak regardless of whether it seems to make any sense.
Who knows, it may be time to grieve.
In order to really move on.
Today, I gave $1. A small amount. Yet, it was rare for me to do this. He was a nicely dressed 30-ish man standing outside a large chain store, with a locked box, hoping for a contribution to his cause. I hadn’t intended to participate. And I kept moving.
When he saw I was having trouble mobility-wise upon entering the store, he went inside and brought out a cart for me. He also seemed to understand that I was in no mood for a sales pitch. ”Nice man,” I thought, and kept moving to accomplish my goal of returning and replacing one item.
Exiting the store, I found myself wanting to give him at least a token of my appreciation, both for getting me the cart, and not bugging me about his cause. But not before I got a little better acquainted. ”Why are you standing here?” I asked (in retrospect pretty bluntly.) The sign on the box mentioned a Christian organization in Connecticut. He explained that the organization helps people who are down on their luck, in part by introducing them to Jesus.
I asked again, “Are you in the program?” ”Yes. It is a year program. It has really helped me get back on track and I’ve been a client for 9 months. God has turned my life around.” He had messed up his life with alcohol and drugs, and I sensed that somehow or other he had truly found both a solution and his salvation. He was grateful for the program, and was choosing to both support and publicly witness for the help that had been provided him. I put $1 into his locked box.
As I reflected afterwards, I realized that it was he who had freely given first…to me, by just being the genuine and thoughtful man he seemed to be. By seeing my need and getting me a cart. Which made me really want to give to him. This very pleasant interaction made me also think of all the other people in my life who give to me in small ways that really make a big difference. And most likely, they’re not even aware of their giving.
I also thought about the ways that some of the most important gifts we have to give, like listening and appreciating, or getting a cart when one is needed, or even offering a $1 and a smile, are those that may seem “inconsequential” in the scheme of things.
Our interaction was short and lifted my spirits.
Two souls giving freely.
One precious moment to treasure.
My errands done, I was heading back home on a Friday afternoon. Rte 9, the road connecting to super highway 91 was really backed up. So I thought, I don’t want to sit in this traffic, what’s another way? A detour! On an unpaved road through the farm fields in my Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. I hadn’t traveled this route for several years and was delighted to discover that the large fields beneath the mountain still showed no indication of being a developer’s dream, and may actually have been purchased and saved in perpetuity by forward thinking conservationists.
I love open space and fields, and am still feeling the loss of the 10 acre meadow behind my former home. To put it daintily, the process of normal aging encouraged me to pass that beautiful property on to new owners last year in 2012, while I still could manage the downsizing/relocating phenomenon.
Although the detour of the day was not forced upon me, it was clearly a suggestion-to-self that I decided to take. I’m glad I did. I’d much rather be writing about taking time for this bit of pleasurable meandering, than taking time to figure out how to get through or even “enjoy” my time in a traffic jam.
How often do you suggest for yourself a detour in your day when it ‘s not necessarily forced on you? What kinds of detours can you imagine for yourself?
Message to Self: Do this more often!
I’ve been feeling sad and somewhat reluctantly giving myself time to cry. I realize that’s been a mistake. Although taking time to “think” through a difficult problem may seem like the more usual and prudent approach in handling one’s affairs , I want to at least put another idea on the table.
Sometimes the wisdom and clarity we seek reside under the blockage of unexpressed, denied, fear, sadness or despair. So, crying real tears, particularly if they are just under the surface, may be a good first step. As well as uncensored moaning of real moans, beating a pillow, screaming real anger (in a private place, or outside under a tress). Allowing yourself to “express” raw emotion, which may initially make no sense, can relieve a significant blockage, and the thinking that comes forward may be quite illuminating.
Recently I did allow myself to cry deeply. This “dumping of raw emotion” allowed me to write my way through to some new clarity. This after a month of held back tears which I couldn’t find a rational explanation to give myself, nor give myself permission to feel it through. Crying when you feel like crying is terrific (as long as you have a place to do so, and even more important a friends who allows it).
Check out today’s musing as I write my way through an issue that was nagging to be felt.
Do you have things lingering in the back of your mind, surfacing over and over with the thought: ”I’ve got to get to this?” It could be anything– calling a friend after months or years, scattering a parent’s ashes which had been occupying the closet for far too long, making an overdue apology, keeping a long held promise to celebrate or nourish yourself in a tangible way.
Well today, one of those things for me bit the dust. Done! I did it. Today I signed my last will and testament, my health proxy, my living will and my power of attorney. I’d been delaying for years. Let’s face it, the process itself takes emotional energy. Contemplating my mortality is not my favorite thing to do. But it MUST be done. The consequences of not doing are extremely burdensome to those who remain, whenever my time comes. So I set aside the time.
Perhaps you also have something to “just do–and be done with.”
Obviously, it can be anything––anything that’s occupying space your mind and regularly surfaces. Whatever’s been nagging at you for however long, asking for your time and attention. For me, signing off on these particular decisions not only had been nagging at me, they had become important in the larger scheme of things. I’m 73. And heading for knee replacement surgery. We never know when our time will come.
It was also important in keeping my promise to follow the model of my mother and leave things organized for family members. So very important, that I’m noticing that I will probably find myself becoming an annoying evangelist to my siblings for getting at this particular project. But that’s another day.
For now, I offer those of you who have managed to avoid, delay, ignore the importance of something that’s been really nagging at you, to bite the bullet and just take time to do it.
You’ll feel a lot better.
PS. The Inspiration Station at my local “Y” comes through yet again:
“There are seven days in a week. Not one of them is Someday.”
On the very day when I had invited one of my helpers over to sort and recyle some of my books, Katie Couric was publicly admitting to being consumed by clutter and sharing what she did about it. This on her 10 am morning TV show where I serendipitously landed in an occasional moment of surfing.
The very next day I happened to run into a consultant who specializes in helping people move, downsize and address the hoarding addiction. On the third day I seemed to be drawn to open a drawer and pull out some old journals. About eight old journals. Perusing their contents, I revisited the pain and anguish of a difficult relationship, recorded over a period of 10 years. First, I was amazed at how much pain and anguish there had been. Second, I decided I never needed to review that period again. And out they went.
What seemed to keep happening during those three days, focused my attention and prompted this blog–in the form of a very short reminder to all of us.
Bottom line: If you are going to move on to a new phase of life, or a new goal in life, or more of what you want in life, it’s important to make room for it. Take the time to toss what you don’t want or need any more.
Not that this is always a short task, an easy task, or a fun task. Some tosses you can do alone and for some you’ll want some help. Helpers abound in your local area and on the internet. Visit theflylady.net for a great romp through this topic. She offers specific and playful tools, suggestions and products for decluttering.
And then there are the inevitable feelings. You’ll want to notice and be gentle with any feelings of fear that you’ll miss whatever it is, any guilt about the memories that surface, or regrets that you’ve stored whatever it is away, unused for so many years. Like so many things, taking the time to toss may also require taking additional time; to savor the memories, or to grieve the impending loss, or both.
Tossing is a necessary part of life and it’s a big topic. I think I’ll leave it there.
Personally, I’m enjoying the relief that comes with living with less of what you don’t want and more of what you do want. And the pride that comes with having created some extra space in drawers and closets.
Yes, heed this reminder. Take time to toss!
There’s a Nor’easter upon us in New England. While many have very good reasons to dread this onslaught, and fear the potential danger and damage, for me it happens to be an unplanned, unanticipated, gift of time…to do not much. And that’s something I continue to struggle to allow myself. I started musing about “welcoming NEMO” and the blessing that accompanies it. For me it brings a gift of time for myself that I hadn’t planned for. And now i’ll notice what I do with it.
Hopefully this storm will bring a serendipitous blessing to you as well. Perhaps this post will encourage you to seek it in the storm event or whatever next unplanned event, from whatever source, happens to demolish your intended schedule in the future.
Appreciation of self and of others is life affirming. It’s a focus on what’s good. And focusing on what’s good generates positive energy that heals. I participated in giving the gift of appreciation yesterday and the memory of the impact on me and on my companion haven’t left me. When I think about what a small thing it was and how much it meant to both parties, I find I’m still savoring it enough to want to share.
Carolyn Myss offers: “There is no such thing as a simple act of compassion or a seemingly inconsequential act of service.”
I would add that the simple acts of a) expressing one’s own joy in life, and b) appreciating the expression of that joy in another, fall into that category of consequential. The ripples into the world are inevitable. Here’s my vignette:
Serendipity struck today. While, for me, the last day of each year often presents itself as a time for reflection, today I was faced with three experiences which prompted me to think about where I was in my life, where I am and where I will be. I was invited by the events of the day to ponder the past, the present, and the future I want to create. No creatures stirring in my house, it was easy to accept that invitation. Here are the prompts I chose to give attention to as they occurred on this last day of the year… December 31,2012.
Entering the YMCA for my regular swim exercise, I encountered some motivational quotes on the announcement board.
- Don’t look back! That’s not the direction you are heading.
- Will what you are doing today help you become the person you want to be tomorrow?
My former goal setting and goal getting self-improvement persona got right into those. The residue of gung-ho-ness in this former business woman surfaced with a long list of things I wanted to be, do and have. It even offered the ever familiar critique that I wasn’t moving fast enough. All right, all ready.
Secondly, I noticed another quote:
3. Start where you are; use what you have; do the best you can.
My heart softened, I remembered that I am about to be 73, have an as yet unresolved bone-on-bone situation in my left knee, a scoliosis that keeps me bent, and an MS condition that I believe has run its course and is not progressing any further. While none of that prevents me from having goals, the current me is quite a bit wiser and quite a bit gentler on herself about the selection of those goals. The current me is quite happy about the downward modulation from do, do, do, to be. The current me is quite content with the gentle wisdom of the final quote. I’m doing the best I can and enjoying the journey.
Thirdly, I arrived home for the unexpected pleasure of sharing lunch with a neighbor 17 years older than I. Now 90, she’s mentally sharp, and contemplating when, and how, to say “enough is enough”. And if, she will have the courage to say it when her quality of life and reasons for living have both diminished beyond what she is willing to accept. I am not too young to understand her question and her thoughtful ponderings about that question. More than once I have picked myself up, from this or that loss or decline, to recalibrate what makes me happy, what I will do, and how I will be. I am sure I will have many more opportunities to address the normal decline of aging, and to creatively keep it free of distress.
Today, I am reminded that I am all three of those people. I can never erase the gung ho goal getter person of the past. And I don’t want to. I’m hopeful the current 73-year old me can continue to modulate to the energy and circumstances that I face both today and into the tomorrow of 2013. And, I am also the person wanting to befriend the death that is coming and allow this awareness of my own mortality to enrich my final journey.
Some readers may consider this a bit of a “heavy” reflecting on my part. Let me offer you this: On a given day, many sights, sounds, people, ideas, cross your path. At any moment, any incident, any person, or any thought can prompt a perspective-producing reflection. I believe that noticing, paying attention to what strikes you, is really the act of taking the time to listen to your own best wisdom, your own best guidance, and your own best perspectives .
So, be a bit greedy! Take this time with yourself and for yourself. What’s crossing your path these days? And what strikes you about it? Before the new year consumes you with it’s self imposed resolutions and other demands, take time to entertain whatever arises as the reflection opportunity of the day. Be well!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!