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Roadrunner – that would be a good definition for me. Blessed with a very high energy level, I did three or more things at once…while thinking what were the next three or more things that had to be done. My dad used to call me the “hurricane” because I would come into a room in a whirlwind, stirring everyone and everything up.
For years I ran everywhere. Seeing two or more clients a day, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up after dinner, paying bills, doing the laundry, etc. – my metabolism was on overdrive. Even when my body was at rest, my mind was racing from one thought to another. I had always been a night owl; sleep was elusive. Dragging myself out of bed in the morning was a chore; but once I was up, I hit the floor running.
Well, now things are different. For one thing, I wake up at 5:30 or 6:00am. It doesn’t matter if I fall asleep quickly or not; it doesn’t matter if I wake up a couple of times during the night, my inner clock has changed me into being an early riser. By 1:00 pm, I’m beat.
I began to sense that I am slowing down physically and mentally a while ago. The aches and pains arrived. A disc out of whack creates great lower back pain; arthritis is here. As my body is aging, I find that I get tired more often and need to rest. It takes me longer to do things I was able to do in a snap; it takes me longer to answer those quiz questions on game shows you see every night. I can “see” the answer in my head, but often can’t remember the name of it.
At first, I was in denial and just ran harder…but as I explored this phenomenon, I realized that “hey – its all good!” It took me a while to accept this, as I often felt that I was not “on top of things going on in the world”. And then one day, it finally dawned on me that I’m okay with this because I will never be on top of things since the world is on a different timetable than me.
I am not in a hurry any more. There is no reason for it. I’ve got a “new normal”. Work has evolved to a different level so I can pace myself with client needs, I work at home so there is no mad dash out the door in the morning. I am not standing at the deli counter tapping my toe exasperated with the slow worker behind the counter; I now chit chat with the other customers or peruse the displays of salamis and hams while waiting for that slow worker. If I catch myself dashing from one thing to another, I purposefully stop what I’m doing, take a deep breath and begin again with smaller, slower steps.
Each day has a different rhythm to it. I plan my day’s activities: work, chores, errands, etc. based on what absolutely must get done vs. can I do this tomorrow? I take naps when I want to. As Zaf too is slowing down and has his share of aging issues (total knee replacement!), we have simplified how we live our lives to smaller, simpler meals, hiring out more household maintenance and chores, etc. The Greek word Ataraxia means: a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility. I have this word posted on my desk blotter because that’s our goal.
I am reserving my energy and taking care of myself (and Zaf!) because when we retire, we’re going to explore the world. There are so many places we want to see, and we need to be in decent shape so we can walk through the picturesque villages in Italy and Portugal, visit ancient ruins and modern museums, taste different foods and dance to the tunes of the local lutes, bagpipes and clarinets.
Living takes time. And it’s time for me to now do what I want to do and that is exploring retirement. When we get to the point (not too far away now!) that we can actually “retire” I will be blogging and sharing our explorations. The thought of that makes me very happy.
We are on it!
Helene Relaxing Photograph from Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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