Things have changed in oh so many ways since retiring a couple of years ago. The changes have not been slight, by any means. I figured there would be some adjustments, but I must admit there were more than expected.
Just months after my retirement began, I was diagnosed with a new medical disease. I had never even heard of it. I was shocked and disheartened believing that the rest of my life was going to be horrible. (I have always been a pro at catastrophic expectations.) I was convinced that my joy of retirement would be stifled by the new diagnosis The news hit me hard. I couldn’t figure out why any human needed to get another illness at this stage of the game. (Insert stopping my feet because of my perceived injustice.)
A dear friend helped me escape the pity party I was holding. She understood my angst. She had a family member who has the same disease. I was introduced to a variety of methods to help survive my new life. I realized that if I wanted to be well, I needed to take drastic measures to lower my pain levels. I began by cleaning out my kitchen to resist the temptation to eat foods I should no longer consume. I kept notes about what foods I was eating to try and make connections when my body flared. I discovered what my “safe” foods were. It was a process that still exists to this day.
Another wonderful friend insisted I look at what things I could do make my life bearable. She never used kid gloves when she spoke to me. Her overture was to refocus my brain. She told me recently that someone called her a velvet brick. It fits her. Because of her, I concentrated on lifestyle changes to help me live happier. When I spoke about my new life, I was reminded that I should be grateful. The new ailment was completely life altering, but thankfully not life ending.
I found myself returning to the place where I needed to focus on gratitude again. I had to let go of the smug future I had planned for myself. I had to replace my wants; with the reality I was dealing with. For example, I purchased a new-to-me car the month I retired. I planned on taking the grandkids on numerous trips. Long distance traveling was not to be part of my future. With the help of some medical aides, I can take short rides. I am grateful that I can research what works for others to try new things. I had to keep reminding myself to do the best with what I had been dealt.
A couple of months after by body settling into my new normal, I was struck with shingles. Never have I known such pain. For numerous weeks I was in agony. As the saying goes, I would not wish that on my worst enemy. (For the record, I wouldn’t wish any ill on anybody at any time.)
My declining shingles pain levels just happened to coincide with the first lockdown of Covid. Bye bye medical pain, hello emotional anxiety. I must believe the universe is one giant prankster at times. This past year has been fraught with stress. Between worrying about the deaths and horrible consequences of Covid there were few days without shattered nerves. The world as we knew it, no longer exists.
I realized I needed to again focus on things that brought me joy. Every day that my body was willing, I pushed myself to complete more and more goals. Accomplishing tasks became an obsession of its own. The good news was that I cleaned, purged, redecorated, and changed multiple spaces in my house. The not-so-good-news was that I was still not living the retirement life I dreamed of.
Recently, I was challenged to NOT work on my yard for three days. I was spending too many hours outside. I was causing myself physical pain. I accepted the challenge. It was not easy on day one. My messy yard needed me to clean it. (Or so I thought.) I waited my three days. Then I decided to choose a task, complete it, and stop working. The reframe was beneficial in many ways.
Looooong story short, I am once again working on reframing my retirement. I am completing easy tasks that bring me joy. When I am outside, which is most days, I crank up the stereo and listen to hard rock music. It brings me joy to sing along in my off-key voice. I find joy spending my evenings reading and writing blogs. I still haven’t returned to my ability to read novels yet. Covid has deprived me of that still. I am working toward more joys daily.
I am learning to spend only as much time as I want to on chores. In fact, many a day I do absolutely nothing at all. The only thing I must do every day is play with Annie. She brings joy each and every day of my life.
Written for these prompts: Ragtag Daily Prompt (human, music), Word of the Day Challenge (hit) MMA Storytime (gloves), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (slight/figured/method/note), Your Daily Word Prompt (stifle/overture/coincide, prankster), Three Things Challenge (same, well, temptation, evening, replace, evening, smug) and The Daily Spur (game)