Last week I decided to give up New Year’s resolutions in favor of a New Year’s REVOLUTION – a new and positive way of looking at aging. Part Two of this revolution is the decision to live the rest of my life in an authentic way. I want my life on the outside to reflect the person I am on the inside.
Well, that shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that I’ve been this person for a long time now. I should have it down. I should be perfectly authentic. But, the fact is, like a lot of women my age, (and men, too) it’s not so easy to find that person. I’ve been busy, and I’m sure you have too, being the good wife, the good mother, the good employee, the good friend, the good committee member, etc., etc. You get the picture. Sometimes the real “us” gets lost in the roles we fulfill.
When I had my last physical, I was given a test for Alzheimer’s. It’s the first time I’ve been asked to take the test. I had to draw a clock face and remember some words.
When I asked my doctor about it – after he gave me my usual hug and told me I looked tired – he said, “Well, at your age . . .” Sitting in that tiny examining room, I was gobsmacked. “Oh, my gosh! I’ve reached that age!”
How old is “at your age?”
You know the one I mean. It’s the age where we’ve finally begun the steady decline from active and valuable adult into the stereotypical inactive and worthless old person. At first I was terrified, and then I was furious!
So tonight I attended another Happy 70th Birthday party for a male friend in our retirement neighborhood. Five days before Christmas 2016 and someone else is joining my exclusive club which requires 70+ years. The club of positive aging.
When you live in a 55+ community of retired active adults, everyone is young. Young at heart, young in perspective, young in activity levels. We are surrounded by retirees a little older, a little younger or the same chronological age.
Most of these 50+ party attendees are on competitive tennis teams in our area. The rest are involved in golf, bicycling, computer classes, choir, swimming, boccie and a myriad of other activities. The point is, this party was to celebrate aging happily; with camaraderie, laughter with friends, good food and drinks.
Inevitable aging doesn’t have to be a sad or lonely decline.
Part Two: Phases of my unexpected retirement & flexibility
Health was the unexpected reason for my unplanned early retirement. Retirement isn’t necessarily one decision that you live with for the rest of your life. There may be one phase. Or, there may be several phases, each of them enjoyable.
In my post on November 3rd, I described Phases 1 and 2 of the 5 phases of my retirement. I’m recapping my story not because I think it is riveting but because it illustrates how life intervenes and often changes our direction. Even when we plan.
As said before, “Flexibility is the key to happiness.”
To recap, Phase 1 was caused by a health issue. Phase 2 was caused by a need for medical insurance.
Many retirees find themselves in the “Sandwich Situation.” We have adult children with our young grandchildren and 1 or more of our aging parents still living. Oftentimes this creates a situation where we are needed to care for our aging parent(s) and also needed by our adult working children for their children. Hence, “Sandwich Situation.”
My widowed father became our responsibility after my mother passed in Northern California during Phase 2.
You know those balls we’re balancing in the air at all times – the ones that represent what we must do and what we really want to do? The ones we imagine ourselves managing so efficiently while we live our retirement dream? Well, mine are not behaving very well at the moment; they seem to be crashing down on my head and falling to the ground in a heap. What happened to the nice, balanced life I had planned for retirement?
“Planning” is probably the operative word here. Part of my original plan was to “say yes” to pretty much everything during the first year of retirement. Perhaps that was not a good idea. I said yes when my nice part-time job asked me to do more. Lots more. I said yes to being the co-captain of the tennis team. I said yes when the opportunity for a second tennis team came up. I said yes when the neighborhood Christmas party needed a co-chair. I said yes to dance lessons and an early-morning exercise class. Not to mention all the regular stuff. You get the picture. You’ve probably been there.
Now I’m in search of the balanced life and the quiet mind.