How my life changed after cancer

via BC/AC – Before Cancer/After Cancer

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Reflection, Acceptance and …

Isn’t this stage of life really about acceptance and reflection? If it’s also about something else you can fill in the blanks. I find that as I approach my 60th birthday my energy is dropping and my physical abilities are much less than they were 40 years ago. Not everyone experiences this. Many say they are feeling as good or better than they did in their 20s. That isn’t the case for me. I was an extremely active child and adult. I never thought of myself or my life that way but now that I’ve lived a little and met people who live more simple lives, I realize that I packed a lot in to each day for the majority of my life. Maybe now I’m paying the price for that or maybe this is a temporary lull in my energy because of the move. I’m not sure.

There is so much to reflect on! I guess that’s a blessing. I realize that I’ve been in relationship with each place that I lived in. Now I’m in a new relationship and it’s with Tucson. I had a 3 year relationship with Tokyo. I had an on and off again relationship with NYC from 1978 until 2010 until I finally had had enough and left. I had a 5 year relationship with Boston that changed the trajectory of my life, and 7 years in CT.  Now I’m in this new relationship with Tucson. I’m in that fetal stage where you ask, “will I stay here?”, “is this going to be long term and permanent?” “what is my level of commitment to making this work?”. I’ve never been one to stay in a bad situation. I admire people who do though, because leaving isn’t always the answer either. Connecticut was always a transitional place for me. I thought I might make a life there but deep in my heart I knew that was impossible. Now I wonder if Tucson is “the one”.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know my new friend, Tucson. I’ve explored the most attractive parts of it, I’ve experienced the very frustrating aspects of living here (but no place is perfect). The good has to outweigh the bad for something to work. So far it does. I am on a “sabbatical” of sorts. This is my “Eat, Pray, Love”. Others can do it so why can’t I?

If I compare my life with others in my age group I will be miserable all the time. I don’t have those good family memories that I imagine they do. I had struggles as a working, single mom and 2 sons with special needs. I never had the family support that many others seem to have or the coparenting that some are lucky to create after divorce, but I’ve learned to be self sufficient as a result. I appreciate how far I have come in my life when I look at where I started. I would have to say I’ve accomplished a lot. There is this question of my health and not knowing what the universe has in store for me in the future.  Therefore, I make the most of now and I am grateful that I can still do what I’m able to do. It’s very hard to accept that I can’t do more than that, especially since I was such a physically active and fit person for so many years. When I attempted to become that again I had one injury after another until I got the message, “you can’t do those things anymore, your body just won’t allow it”. Some can, but I can’t, it’s very hard for me to accept.  Accepting our own limitations is important to succeed at aging (if there is such a thing).

I am fortunate to be able to have some time right now to reflect. I hope that my energy returns soon but I don’t know if it will. It might be a sign that something’s wrong with me or it might just be exhaustion from doing so much to put this move together for 2 years. If you’re contemplating such a move, beware, it isn’t easy! For me it’s been complex and much more expensive than I anticipated. There were probably easier and cheaper ways to do it, but I did it the way I did it, and I am still in the thick of it. I still have half of my things stored back in CT. I am only half way moved in. I own a condo that I’m renting out back “home”. I realize from all the past experiences that I had with moving, that this is just the earliest stage of starting a new life in a new place. I’ve acquired more patience over the years and I’ve learned to be realistic about what it takes to build a relationship even if it’s with a place instead of with a person. I choose solitude and that is what I treasure the most right now. That could change. Each of us is different, what’s important to you isn’t necessarily what I’m seeking and visa versa. It’s important to know what makes you tick and what kind of environment you can thrive in, I’m still searching for that, but I may have gotten it right this time, we’ll see, I’ll keep you posted.

 

The “Art” of Moving

There definitely is an art to moving. In fact many industries have been born around this art form. I have successfully arrived on the other side of my move but find that as hard as I worked for the last 13 months, so much more work lies ahead. Do you know that feeling? I’m so glad to be on the other side of the move, meaning I have arrived in AZ. I moved into a furnished and fully stocked condo while trying to sell my condo in the northeast. A few pieces of furniture remain back home for staging.

Warning: this move cost thousands and thousands of dollars. I have broken it down into phases which possibly was not the best way to do it and may have cost a lot more in the end but that is how I needed to do it. Every move, like each child we bring into this world, has its own unique set of challenges. I have moved so many times in my life that I considered myself to be a pretty experienced mover. However, this one is possibly the most challenging one of all.

When I was married and had just given birth to my first son, we were transferred to Tokyo from Brooklyn, NY. As ExPats “the company” provided so much assistance. We had movers and packers and agents to find us housing. In spite of that, moving with a 3 month old baby was not a wise decision. In the end though, it was all worth it because my 3 years in Japan were life changing and provided so much growth.

I have learned that moves are merely outer reflections of our inner growth. As we evolve we may desire different things. Many people would not consider leaving what they have to experience something new, but that’s something I enjoy. It means starting over, over and over again. It means making a life in an unknown place. I always enjoy rising to the challenge but as I get older it is becoming something that is less practical. It took years in my last location to find just the right hair stylist, dentist and doctor. It took many mishaps to get to the right people. That is a big sacrifice when moving. Sometimes, now that I’m here instead of there, I think that returning might be a viable option in a few years. Going backwards though, is usually not a good thing. I chose this area because of the weather and the relaxed atmosphere. I’m going to have to make it my home one way or another. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

#moving, #transitions, #aging

 

Mini Post- dreams lead to more dreams

When we venture out to follow a dream there might be unexpected twists and turns. In the end when we arrive at the goal there is a sense of satisfaction because we tried. The journey is most definitely the most exciting part for me toward any goal. Once there I have new dreams as a result. There are always new lands to conquer, new dreams to manifest. We cannot get to the new ideas without first arriving at the first one.

A Hollow House

My son has moved out and only the cat and I remain. The walls are bare after having the place painted to sell. Boxes were packed up and moved out yesterday. My home is a hollow shell of what it was. It feels strangely like the day I moved in 5 years ago. It is just that empty. Back at the beginning it had not been renovated and I didn’t know what lay ahead. It was a new life full of possibilities. I bought the townhouse for myself and my autistic son to start anew. So many good things happened for him in those 5 years. He developed a very full life in our town. He had a job, a church, and a therapeutic support system. My life was focused on making a good life for him while also earning a living. Unfortunately after a lifetime of living in large cities like NY, Boston and Tokyo, I never adjusted to the small town life here.

A year ago I decided it was time to make a change. I had always envisioned moving west at some point in the future and even though I’m not retired yet, I decided to do this sooner rather than later. I explored a few possibilities. I was considering New Mexico and Colorado but most of all I was interested in Arizona. I resumed a search that I had started in 2008. Back then I went out to Scottsdale, Prescott and Sedona to see if I would like living in AZ. For several reasons it wasn’t the right time but I was intrigued with how different AZ was from all the places I had lived before. I felt happy there because there was so much sun. I noticed a difference in myself. I felt energetically in tune with the area.

In 2016 I made several trips out to Arizona and Colorado to explore. The act of exploration was rewarding and fun and a new lifestyle emerged. It gave me hope again. I felt that there were possibilities for my future after all. Getting him on board with this move was not easy. After all, he was very content in the northeast in a small town even though he had grown up in Brooklyn and NYC. He didn’t want to leave and I tried to find a way for him to stay without me but it wasn’t going to be possible. I found a program in Phoenix and he’s there now. They are teaching him life skills in order to transition into some sort of supportive living program later. He is 26 years old. I never had the empty nest that my friends experienced when our kids came of age. Mothers of disabled adults are never free.

Right now I’m looking back and forward at the same time. The past is done, over, finished. I don’t get any do-overs. The future is hopeful but still uncertain. The home that I moved into with anticipation is hollow and empty but I am not. There was a life here. There are so many good memories and most of all I expressed myself creatively here. I did renovations and designs that I am so proud of. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to arrive at this point. There was nothing left for me to do here. I was stuck last year and I knew that if life continued that way for another 5 years, nothing was going to change or get better.

Aging is full of unknowns. Health issues can’t be predicted. Even practicing all the best health habits can still result in an unexpected illness down the road. That is why I decided to make a big change now. I couldn’t afford to wait. One small go round with cancer was enough to wake me up and make me grasp the present fully. We always hope that a new place will be a better place but it doesn’t always turn out that way. There are no guarantees on change.

However, feeling hopeful is a refreshing change in and of itself. My experiences over the last 12 months were exciting and fun. The process was extremely enjoyable. I’ll never forget that. My son has made strides in his new program and he feels more hopeful about his future without me because chances are, he’ll be around long after I’m gone. It’s important to create win-win situations with our loved ones. Everyone deserves to be happy and fulfilled, even mothers.

 

What We Imagine vs. What Really Happens

When we manifest our visions they often turn out to be different than what we pictured but we still get the spiritual lessons that we are supposed to have.

The pictures we have of what we are going to create are never the same as what actually happens. We play with a future vision that is a fantasy and then when it starts to take form we are surprised at what it really looks like. You can say this about all of life’s milestones like marriage, child birth, a new job, a new project, a new relationship and a new home. We believe that it is definitely “going to be better” than the last time. I was sure I would be be a better mother with my second baby and do things completely differently. What I didn’t anticipate was that he was a completely different human being that required a whole new set of parenting skills. Approaching new experiences in life is really about spiritual unfoldment. Painful lessons might lie ahead mixed with the joy and tears. Life is never perfect. We know that from experience and we can never imagine the things that end up coming our way.

I’ve been envisioning this move to AZ for a year now. It started last February. I made several trips there to explore all the possibilities. Eventually though, I had to make a decision about where to start. First I found a program for my son so that he was taken care of. I sent him off to AZ first. He is very brave! Now I’m taking the next step in that journey which is to put my toes in the water. It is harder to get myself out there than it was to send my son. Settling him into his adult autism program last January was so much more complicated than I ever imagined. Figuring out how to get his things out there was the biggest challenge of all. Now it’s my turn to  go through that “birth”.

When I was younger I just took the plunge foolishly into new experiences because you can get away with that when you’re young. Now, after a lifetime of mistakes (and some very bad experiences with change) I have learned that you have to do this step by step and not destroy what you have already created. There is always good in our “now”. There will even be better things in our future. That doesn’t mean that we can ever avoid the pitfalls, wrong turns, mistakes and unexpected catastrophes. One thing I have learned though is that I have to keep the movement going forward or else I start to spiral down. So when you get discouraged with anything, just remember to keep moving forward. As one therapist said to me “just put one foot in front of the other”. That was the best advice I ever received.

#change, #moving, #transitions, #movingcrosscountry

Mini Post-When Did White Refrigerators Stop Being Enough?

I’ve been looking at photos of houses on Trulia and Zillow in Arizona while also prepping my townhouse just in case I sell it. I notice that the houses with white appliances just aren’t making the grade in my brainwashed mind and that I “thankfully” have already replaced all of my kitchen appliances with stainless steel and upgraded my kitchen and master bath. These are the must haves on my list probably because we have been told so many times on HGTV that it has to be done if you ever hope to sell your house in the future. 

The thing is this. When did white refrigerators become unfashionable? I remember longing for a double door, white refrigerator in 2000 and I got it when I did the kitchen in my NYC Coop. I missed it when I moved to a CT condo and had the ugliest kitchen, the original from 1978. Finally I had enough money to “do my kitchen” and I’m very proud of the outcome. I just “had to have” the stainless appliances. It was a given. The problem is that with every upgrade comes loss. For instance, no more magnets. Stainless Steele won’t hold those adorable magnets that I collected from trips for the last 20 years and the ones with the kids’ faces. Also, my electric bill went way up in spite of the energy star logo and promise. It was explained to me by the electric company that the newer energy efficient appliances use more energy but use it more efficiently or something like that. 

I’m in an airb&b at this very moment (that is also the latest trend over hotels). This one is gorgeous and fabulous and full of personal touches and that old fashioned homey feeling that has been lost over the years. I feel so comfortable here I think I will move in. I’m staring at the white refrigerator and that thought came over me. “When did white refrigerators stop being relevant? Why do I just “have to have”stainless appliances? The ones I bought, that were pricey LGs, are inferior products. They were extremely disappointing. 

#aging #retirement #sellingyourhome #buyingaretirementhome #travel #babyboomers