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

 

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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

There is nothing useful about saying “I used to be…”

Many of us in this age bracket can fall into the trap of living in the past. “I used to be able to do that”, I often say. Or “I was married once way back when”. Or the ones I am most known for are “I used to be a dancer; I used to be a figure skater; I used to be fit; I used to be active; I used to live in NYC”. I guess the only things that those statements are good for are to divert the attention away from how awful and boring I have become as I passed 55 and am hovering around the pending and looming Six Oh. I will hold onto 59 as long as I can because who in the world wants to be in their 60s?

I met a woman in CO who wrote a book about how wonderful her life was after menopause. She says the “pounds came pouring off” and her marriage ended leaving her to really find her true self. Well that is all well and good for her but Menopause is about the worst thing I have ever experienced. In many ways it has been the beginning of the end for me. The drop in Serotonin levels made me more depressed than I was before, my weight soared without provocation and losing the pounds seems near impossible now. The fatigue has been immobilizing at times and well…if you want me to put a positive spin on Menopause, I won’t. No one ever told us the truth about this. I wish I had known some facts. I turn to Jane Fonda for my information about this later phase of life.

But we travel through the phases of our lives with ourselves. There may be some of the same people in our life that were there in the past and some may havec drifted off, but one thing is always consistent. We are still here with ourself. That can be a good thing if you can see good qualities in yourself. I rather prefer my own company to anyone else’s so it works for me. I think I’m a hoot to be with. I make myself laugh.

But back to the topic, as I look at this fit young women at the gym doing these very complex things with machines and weights, I think “I was like that too at that age”. Or “I was just like that once”, but I am not anything like that anymore. There is a moment of remorse and then I quickly recover, because what is the point of living in the past? It cannot move you forward at all. I have to set a baseline now for where I am in all areas of my life and then work from there. There really is no other way. It’s nice to know that I was once so much better but I honestly can’t say I was happier because of that.

What was the happiest time in your life? For me, besides the day I held my first born son after an excruciating birth, it was a particular day when I was 17. I had achieved success in many areas of my life and had reached many of my goals after always being the underachiever. It was a night when I was ice dancing and had tested in  front of judges and had passed all of the tests. I was being praised by the judges and had reached a goal weight after much work. I had learned that nothing comes without effort and if you do the work it always pays off. It was a lesson for life that served me well in terms of achieving. But at this stage of life, how important are goals and achievements to us? I don’t have an answer to that. I’m sure it varies from person to person. Those who were particularly goal oriented throughout their lives probably continue to be. For me, there it’s taken a back seat to just enjoying the day. My priorities are changing. I am able to take moments to appreciate the very smallest things like my cat staring out the back sliders as she breathes in a little fresh air through the screen. It is this unseasonably warm weather in the northeast while also looking at trees turning to indescribable colors in the yellow and orange families. It’s appreciating being cancer free in this moment until someone tells me otherwise. It’s having choices and options that I never had before. There are some pleasant sensations while staying in the moment. It doesn’t have to be all bad.

 

 

Let me be real

Here is my story up to this time in life. I write for the 50-70 year old set. I hope my story helps someone else.

When I was younger I did a lot of writing, took writing classes and have always enjoyed writing throughout my life. I thought I “knew my voice” on paper but now I realize that I am searching for my voice. The voice that I had in that freshman year course at Ithaca College in 1976 is not my voice anymore. I remember her. I’m not her anymore. The essence is there but life experiences have changed me. She was in love. I am not.

I think it would be better if I just share with you what my current situation is and how this stage of life is affecting me. At first, when I started this blog I thought I would come from a professional angle. Then I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to say at all or the audience that I wanted to reach. I just want to share my story and see if it helps anyone or if it touches someone in any way.

I am 59. there I said it. Some say “no need to tell your age or to keep repeating your age to yourself”. But I think it’s relevant here because I’m right in the middle of the 50-70 year old range. The 50s went by so fast. I was young at 50. I was young at 52, but something happened around 53 that I had never anticipated. My body began to really fall apart. I had taken good care of it. I had eaten healthy foods, and had been pretty athletic throughout my life. Because of all of my athletic pursuits, my body began to strike back. I had multiple injuries, illness, balance issues. Lots of work ups at the doctor’s office. The main issues have been breast cancer in 2013 and Lyme Disease in 2016.

I have been a single mother since 1992 when my kids were 1 and 3 years old. That has taken its toll too. On top of that, my youngest son, now 26 is autistic and my older son, 28, has had his share of mental health challenges as well. For many years I worked 2 and 3 jobs and tried to juggle their multiple special needs at school,  and at the many doctor’s appointments. There were therapists, psychiatrists, geneticists and endocrinologists for the kids. It was really hard. Looking back, it was impossible to achieve what I was trying to achieve, which was…perfection?

It wasn’t a fun life. It was quite the opposite and yet I managed to make it very meaningful and full of great memories in spite of it all. Post divorce, I found a spiritual path that helped me to stay on track and to not give up hope. I became extremely involved in that path and spent hours at the spiritual center at classes as well as teaching and guiding others while also being guided and helped in tremendous ways. We went to seminars all over the country and I managed to get to these several times/year. It saved my life, literally, and helped me to keep going.

Then 2010 happened. Life turned upside down again. But then I put the pieces together. I relocated to a new state. I got licensed in that state in my field. I found work. I bought a townhouse. Life was pretty good for awhile. I lost both parents in 3 years with lots of drama and turmoil associated with each death. My son got married and moved away. He graduated from college and grad school between then and now and has been in his field of work for 3 years.

Where am I today, you ask? It’s the end of 2016 and I’m anticipating a move across the country. I wanted this blog to be about that. I wanted to share my journey with you, the reader and to hear about yours too. Like everyone else I feel disconnected and seek more connection in my life. I want to be part of a community but cannot find a community that I want to be part of. I sort of fit in one place but “not really”. I kind of fit “there” but “not really there either”. My mother used to say I was the “princess and the pea” and I think that is so accurate. I can never really get comfortable and I can feel the tiniest pea at the bottom of my mattress which would keep me awake all night. I am hypersensitive and have learned to appreciate that about myself. My intuition is not my enemy but I’ve learned to keep my inner thoughts quiet because I can rarely get agreement from others but I am right sometimes. Not always. It’s better not to have opinions about others’ situations and to remain neutral. As for my own, it’s best to follow my gut. I am often right about what I need to do for me.