June 5, 2014
An update from Arlene.
For more than twenty years, I’ve told clients to slow down and smell the roses. Take time for yourself so your body can last as long as possible. Carve out spaces so you can be more creative. Savor life’s simple pleasures. Chop down that to-do list. Don’t put more on your calendar than you can comfortably complete.
Of course, if you knew me personally, you would know that I haven’t done those things very effectively, and not only because it’s taken me awhile to become a recovering perfectionist.
How times have changed in the last year.
Unexpected Twists and Turns in Life’s Journey
A year ago, I was in pain from a rare muscle condition in my neck. In an attempt to fix it, I was given Botox shots that landed me in the hospital because my body rejected the toxin.
A year ago, my husband was feeling well and working five days a week. When he turned 81 in September, he still loved his work and would have continued, except that he developed a blood cancer that eventually took his life in February.
Knowing that Bob was going to die gave us a chance to talk about how much we meant to each other and how I would manage our finances. It was a bitter-sweet time for both of us as we learned to accept life as it unfolds and appreciate what we had.
A Retirement Community? Really?
Because of our health problems, it was suggested that we sell our house and move to a retirement community.
Wait! Rubbing elbows with a bunch of “old” people? Of course, it was pointed out that I was using a cane and a neck brace and was not much younger than most of the people there. But still. It seemed a little premature.
However, when I thought about Bob’s impending death, I realized I didn’t want to have the responsibility of running a house without Bob’s help, so we moved to Villa Gardens in Pasadena.
About a month before Bob died, I asked him, “What am I going to do without you?” He replied, “You have lots of role models here. You’ll make it.”
He was right. It is the perfect place for me to be! Here I am surrounded by lots of vibrant “old” people. They provide the support I need to make the transition from wife to widow.
Having Someone Else Make Dinner Every Night Is a Delight
We get one meal a day, or more for an extra fee, and I am relieved of the need to go shopping for food and cooking. Breakfast is healthy cereal and lunch a few easy-to prepare items. I heartily recommend such arrangements when you reach my age.
With all this support, I am beginning to have a greater sense of peace and balance in my life than I have ever had before.
And guess what? By concentrating on removing stress in my life, my health has gradually improved and now I have very little pain and my regular strength has mostly returned.
My body is telling me that the advice that is good for others is good for me as well!
Did You Survive Without Me?
One of the things that can stop blog writers like me from slowing down or even taking a long vacation from writing is the delusion that our readers won’t be able to get by without frequent additions to our blogs. It’s as though we think you are sitting home with baited breath waiting to see what we will write next.
Of course, it isn’t true. You are going through your life just fine. And if you come here and don’t find anything new, your life will go on.
Now, however, I am gradually returning to writing. I plan for you to have something new from me every week, plus links to older posts that you may have missed. ‘Course, plans can get changed, but that’s what I think I can do.
Next post will be the comments I gave at the celebration of Bob’s life, which I called “What I Will Miss the Most.” The post after that will be a poem I wrote called “I Will Always Remember You.”
I’m glad to be back but won’t be pushing myself as much as I did a year ago.