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.

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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

When Friendships End

This is a topic that is rarely spoken about. Sometimes even after many years, a friendship cannot continue. One person grows in a different direction or too many incidents happen that are unacceptable to one or both people and the friendship no longer brings joy. To me, friendship should be a happy union of two people that grows with time and withstands all of the tests. There needs to be acceptance of flaws but underneath it all there needs to be love. One has to feel loved for who they are in order to gain from the friendship. I have noticed that there are some people that I outgrow and what was once tolerable isn’t anymore. I also know that others have let me go and yes, it hurts, and you always wonder why, but it’s best to stay neutral about the whole thing and remember what was pleasant and good in the friendship during it’s “lifetime”.

Some people keep their friends from high school and college but not all do. If you have moved often and lived in different places as I have, there isn’t a common ground with those who you once shared a job with or a town or an experience. Then there are those friends that seem to last forever and you come to cherish them more with time because of the longevity. There are friendships that were cut short by death and you never forget them, especially during the holidays or at times when you would have seen them. The world isn’t the same without them in it. That just shows how unique each one of us is and how we can be touched by a person who comes into our life. That must mean that we also touch others in ways that we don’t even know.

In my experience, we find activities early on in friendships that become a ritual for a period of time. You might be one of those people that have kept the same friends throughout your lifetime and keep up certain rituals with them, but I have travelled through many experiences and places and homes in such a short time and have known so many different people as a result.

I have come to value those people who have remained in my life through all the twists and turns. Especially those who “knew me when”. The rare person who has known me through decades of my life holds a special place.The ones who knew me when my children were young, or during or after my divorce are the most precious to me. Those who were part of the spiritual community I belonged to in NYC can never be replaced because of all that we went through together.

As we age we have memories to keep. No one really knows what they are unless we choose to talk about them. Even if we do try to explain, it’s so hard to convey what we feel or see of that memory. They are the precious gems that we store. They have no physical shape and cannot be stolen from us. Locked away in every person is a large storage room of memories to be sifted through from time to time. There might be photographs to memorialize them but as we look at photos we remember all the other details of what was going on at the time. Behind a seemingly happy family photo might be memories of turmoil and misery.  Or we might discount all that and appreciate now what we didn’t at the time. We are ever evolving souls that morph and change and reinvent ourselves all the time. Some of us do that at faster rates than others but in the end, we’re all growing and moving toward something that is greater than ourselves. In the process we hit against other marbles, learn what we need to learn and then move on. What kind of marble are you? Do you mostly stay in one circle? Is your radius small or large? I believe I am a very colorful marble that cannot sit still for long and rolls in and out of circles always looking for its tribe. Perhaps someday I’ll find a community of similarly bright and colorful marbles who have rolled around the earth many times as well and then I can settle down and stop moving.

 

Trajectory

How can we change the trajectory of our life’s decisions? What can we still do today that will undue the damage from past decisions that we might regret? Conversely, what can we change today that will take us onto a new trajectory ending at a better place.

This is one of my favorite words in the English language. Trajectory.

tra·jec·to·ry
trəˈjekt(ə)rē/
noun
1.
the path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces.
“the missile’s trajectory was preset”
synonyms: course, path, route, track, line, orbit
“the missile’s trajectory”

The reason I love this word is that it describes how we make decisions that lead us on a journey to an endpoint.

Or we decide to get off of that trajectory and take a different course of action.

Or by taking a different course of action we can reach the end point faster.

At “this stage of life”, between 50 and 70 years old, how can we change the trajectory of our life’s decisions? What can we still do today that will undue the damage from past decisions that we might regret? Conversely, what can we change today that will take us onto a new trajectory ending at a better place.

There is also this other reality in life. Things often don’t go according to plan. We have some control but not total control. No matter how hard we try, life can interfere with our plans. I googled the saying, “Man Plans and God Laughs”, to see where it came from. I was led to this Yiddish Proverb:

“Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht”.
Man plans and God laughs.
English equivalent; Man proposes, God disposes.

We can try to take control over our lives. By doing that we start out on a healthier track. Then something unexpected happens and we are thrown off course. Reality steps in and we have some challenges in order to keep going on the same trajectory. This is the conundrum and it is what makes life so interesting. We can choose how we will react to those challenges and whether or not we will let them interfere.How often have you said or a friend said, “I was doing so well, I was on course and then….”. We are frequently thrown off course, by a crisis, a break in routine (like a trip), an injury and other unexpected curve balls. It’s important to be resilient enough to get back on course whenever possible.

All we can do is to try to set up new trajectories for our lives as needed and expect that things won’t always go according to plan. When everything seems to go seamlessly we can be grateful. I am often sidetracked from my goals. There are so many distractions and staying motivated can be challenging. If we remember what our original idea was and where we thought we would end up then this image of a curved line from point A to point B might help us stay on track or get back to the original goal. Reaching goals doesn’t always equate with happiness. The excitement is in choosing the goal and working on it. There might be one moment where we feel a peak emotion (ie. reaching a goal weight, winning an award, getting a medal, etc) but all the rest is just daily life. The way we choose to use our time is somewhat up to us.

Younger people have many years to experiment with this. At our more advanced age we have hopefully come to know ourselves better. We know whether we are good at this or not and where our weaknesses and strengths lie. Some move through life wanting immediate gratification without a thought as to what the consequences are. Then there are those at the other extreme who might be overly cautious and don’t allow themselves to enjoy life or to take any risks at all. Knowing where you are on that spectrum helps. You don’t need to change and become a different person, instead you can respect how and who you are and work from there. Most goals stem from a desire to be happier once they are achieved. What goals did you set up in the past and reach? Did those achievements make you happier with your life? What can you learn about yourself from the successful ventures and the unsuccessful ones? What have you been really good at? What did you enjoy the most about those journeys?

You can use this image of a curved line stemming from the decisions you make now to help create your future.

Sharing my Reality

I should make it clear that sometimes I can sound like I’m “telling you the way it is”. I don’t mean to do that at all. I hope that what I share here will resonate with some readers. We can never touch everyone in the same way, but sometimes we might say something that seems small and it could have a big impact on another human being. Aren’t most of us really looking for a shared experience? Have you ever described something near and dear to your heart only to get a blank look from the listener?  Either they weren’t listening or they seem to have no idea what you’re talking about. Every once in awhile though,we may actually touch someone with our words and it’s a gift to both of us.

What motivated me to write this blog is to have others join me in my current journey through this stage of life, (thus the title of my blog). I am at one of those crossroads. I realize that some people have kept things constant in their lives and may actually come to this point in time feeling very gratified and fulfilled. This blog is probably not for that person.

I have never been a content person. I’ve often left bad situations rather than stay in them because it seemed like needless suffering to me. Looking back I walked away without a fight. There were things I wanted to stand up for, and didn’t. Many people make the opposite choice and stay in bad marriages, jobs and relationships. My marriage is an example of how I leave when I’m unhappy. I ended the marriage when my sons were 1 and 3. We had been together for 10 years but married only 6 of those. The relationship was full of red flags before we got married and after the wedding day everything changed for the worst. It wasn’t the person I was married to that was bad, it was a bad match. I had no idea at that time in my life how to judge who would make a good partner and a good person to have children with.

Looking back at our differences, you couldn’t have picked two people more ill suited for each other than us. At the same time, I can understand why we came together because there was also some common ground. We had two sons together and divorce only magnified our differences and our contempt. Those who choose to stay in those situations, (and many do) have other long term effects. The point is, there is no right decision or even better decision from what I can see. Had I stayed, there would have been different problems. I wish I had stayed in the marriage longer, for everyone’s benefit. I was headstrong and determined to leave. Eventually though, I would have ended it.

When I became single at 35 with two very young sons, I didn’t know that my life was about to take such a dramatic new direction as a result of that decision. It did. I learned to manage on my own and to become financially responsible and successful in order to provide my children with as much as I could under the circumstances. I also delved into a spiritual journey. I used my spiritual community as my main support. I got the answers I needed there. I got the inner guidance from my daily spiritual practice. I made lasting friendships with like minded individuals. I could not have had as much success with my individual quest without all the spiritual seeking that I did in those years.

Now when I meet women who are becoming single for the first time in their lives in their 50s or 60s, I can appreciate all that I had to learn quickly and under pressure at a younger age. The women that have to do that now, at this time in their lives due to divorce or death of spouse, have challenges that I didn’t have. I had youth on my side when it happened to me. They don’t. I have known some very resilient women that come up with creative ways to make it in the world in their later years after loss. It is sad though when I meet some along the way who are struggling to make ends meet because they never paid attention to financial matters and now are being forced to. How can a person enjoy single life in these later years if daily survival is the main issue?

I don’t have any family members beyond my two sons that can offer emotional or practical support. I have very little contact with the relatives who were part of my childhood and some have passed on. Friends die too. Some just move away. I currently live in a small town in the northeast where people are close to family and friends from childhood. My life experience has been the complete opposite and I feel that I have never fit in here. I kept trying to make it work until I realized, or someone pointed out to me, that I was trying to make the impossible possible. So once again I’m moving on.

This stage of transition is all too familiar to me. It’s about detachment and loss. It’s the phase of leaving one area but not arriving in the new area yet. It’s the array of feelings, senses and thoughts that go along with that. Was my life meaningful here? Did I make a difference? Who did I help? Who helped me? Could I have done more? What didn’t I do that I can do in the next place?

My younger son is autistic. I’m looking for places for him to get some transitional training in areas where I would like to live. So far he has been living with me and is dependent on me financially and for many other supports. This will free me up to have a more normal experience at this stage of life. I won’t be a 24/7 caretaker anymore. It feels frightening and exciting at the same time. I have doubts and enthusiasm all at once. I don’t want to get too excited in case he has to come back home after the 2 years. The program is supposed to teach him to be better able to live on his own but that will remain to be seen based on his limitations and what’s available. I’ve managed to work my life around his and without him being at the center, I think all things are possible for me again. I will write more about this as we go along. Government assisted housing for Autistic Adults is a major lack in this country. The cost of care is left to the parents and siblings. Only those who can afford to help can provide their children with suitable situations. Those who can’t are placed in the wrong level of care and are treated improperly. If you care to know more about this topic go to http://www.autismhousingnetwork.org

 

#aging #transitions #moving west #retirement #pre-retirement #agingsingle #parenting disabledadults  #caretaker #autism