Desperately Seeking Thelma

May 18, 2009 at 6:30 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , , , )

How is it that after being handed my retirement package 3 1/2 months ago, or 15 weeks ago to be exact, I still feel so lost?  By now, I figured I’d have landed on my feet and fully be taking advantage of this new-found time to do all those things that I’ve been putting off for too long.  You know, important stuff, like cleaning out the linen closet or attacking the years and years of accumulated junk treasures that have taken over our basement.  Instead, I spend most days exactly like I am right now … sitting on the sofa in my pajamas, wrapped up in a blanket, with my computer on my lap.

How the hell did this happen?  I have zero motivation, zero direction, zero interest.  I used to have a job that mattered, that I was proud of, and that I was very good at.  I used to have a reason to get up in the morning, and a program for the day.  And now?  Now all of that is gone.  And I know it’s only the external portion that was taken away, but it seems to have taken a huge part of ME with it.  Malcolm sees what’s happening and tries to help, God knows he tries, but he can’t fix me.  So let’s add a serving of guilt to the mixture.  And it’s killing me because I know he deserves better – a better wife, a better partner – instead of this organism that’s stuck in neutral, slowly fusing with the leather sofa.

I don’t want to be like this, honestly, I don’t!  I used to have focus, plans, goals … a freakin’ life for Pete’s sake!  Now, with very few exceptions, it doesn’t matter if I even get dressed in the morning.  But as much as I want to move forward, I’m held back by one teeny tiny detail … I.don’t.know.how.  I don’t know how to move beyond this apathy and indifference.  I don’t know how to put myself in ‘First Gear’, let alone ‘Drive’ again.  And perhaps most troublesome of all, I don’t know how to be happy again.

But as much as my ability to motivate myself has been shattered, I still know one thing … awareness of a problem is the first step to overcoming it.  So now I just have to figure out how to move forward.  Maybe I’ll start by putting a Want Ad in the newspaper.  It could read something like this:

WANTED:  A life, with direction and meaning.  Must come with motivation.  Willing to work hard to get it, but need guidance on setting goals, and how to get started.  Will trade lethargy, disinterest, and a couple pairs of well-worn pajamas.

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The naked truth

May 13, 2009 at 11:10 pm (Stuff that's on my mind)

While I was cooking breakfast, Malcolm crept up behind me, grabbed my fleece pajama bottoms and yanked them down to my knees.

Me:  “Hah!  Fooled you!  I’m wearing underwear.”

Malcolm:  “Yeah, that thong really hides a lot.”

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A job possibility?

April 30, 2009 at 7:52 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) ()

Malcolm:  “I’m getting a bit hungry.”

Me:  “I’m going to make a chicken burger in a minute.  Do you want one?”

Malcolm:  “Yeah, that sounds good.”

Me:  “You want fries with that?”

Malcolm:  “Keep practicing that line.  You’re going to need it in a few months.”

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In the Sandwich Generation, I am an open-faced tuna melt

April 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , , , , )

The “Sandwich Generation” refers to the generation that is raising kids as well as taking care of their parents.  That doesn’t accurately describe me; I don’t have any kids of my own, although I have a step-daughter from Malcolm’s first marriage.  Now however, as the eldest of my parent’s three daughters, the responsibility of keeping an eye on my mother and keeping track of my her affairs has fallen largely to me.  Which is fine for the most part.  Those who know me  know I am organized enough to handle both my mother’s affairs as well as my own.  Those who know me really well know I am a total control FREAK, and am therefore, of the three of us, probably the best-suited for this job.  At least, that’s what I tell myself when I need help getting through the insane moments.

And OH. MY. GOSH!  Are there insane moments!  The stubbornness, the self-diagnosing, the stubbornness, the second-guessing… and have I mentioned the stubbornness?  And as exasperating as it can get, I KNOW what’s behind it all.  My mother doesn’t want to be “old”, because her definition of old is needing someone to take care of her, and losing her independence.  And as Mom enters her 70’s, her independence is more important to her than anything else in this world.

And you know, I totally get it.  So I do everything I can to make sure she keeps her independence for as long as possible.  Which basically means that she and I, along with my two sisters, work as a team to keep her healthy.  And the best way to keep her healthy is by making sure she takes her prescriptions on schedule and eats three meals/day.  No excuses accepted and no stubbornness allowed.

I know the day will come when she is unable to live unassisted.  And when that happens, I don’t know if I’ll be able to take care of her daily needs or if we’ll have to consider other options.  But one thing I DO know is I will be just as committed to her quality of life and happiness as she was to mine when I was growing up.  Because as my mother and my friend, she deserves no less.

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How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

April 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm (Stuff that's on my mind)

Me:  “Thank you, honey.”

Malcolm:  “Huh?  For what?”

Me:  “For being okay with me meeting Ralph.”

Malcolm:  “Seriously?  Do you KNOW who you’re married to?”

Me:  “I know, but sometimes I forget just how awesome you are.”

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My coffee date

April 23, 2009 at 9:22 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , )

Just got back from meeting up with my friend Ralph for a coffee date.  Except instead of going to Tim’s for coffee, we went to this ridiculously high-priced restaurant and had appetizers and Pepsi.  Hey, it wasn’t about the food … it was about getting to see each other again for the first time in about 10 years! 

More than anything else, the high prices probably contributed to the reason it was relatively quiet and cozy … just the right atmosphere for catching up and enjoying the too-brief three hours we had together before his flight left.

It’s not like we’ve had no contact in 10 years – we email regularly … usually several times a week.  But there has never been an opportunity to get together physically … to sit across the table from each other and just breathe the same air… to receive the immediate gratification of a well-delivered one-liner… to hear the resounding laughter in response to a funny story………

It’s interesting how you can have so many people in your life … family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances … and each play a specific role and fulfill a certain need, but only the most special you consider to be in your “inner circle”.  People you instinctively feel comfortable with.  People you just know will always be there.  People you can discuss your deepest thoughts with.     

Ralph is one of these people.

He has been gone for only two hours and I miss him already.  But every time I think of this afternoon, I will smile.

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EEEK!!!

April 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm (Stuff that's on my mind)

Malcolm:  “There’s either a rat or a squirrel in the storage shed.  And I don’t think it’s a squirrel….”

Me:  “Well, I’m glad it’s out there in ‘Man-land’!”

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Letting him feel that he’s got a choice in the matter

April 22, 2009 at 2:30 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, )

Me:  “My buddy Ralph is flying in for a 2-day business trip, and I want to meet him for coffee on Thursday.  You got a problem with that?”

Malcolm:  “No dear.”

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Rude awakening

April 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, )

I didn’t get to sleep until 5 a.m.  Then the phone rings at 8.  Eight o’clock!!!  Who calls anybody at 8:00 in the freakin’ morning?!?!  Especially a retired person?  People, pay attention!  This is important!  In THIS house, life doesn’t begin until at least 9 a.m.  I’m going to be a zombie all day.

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Living in the moment

April 3, 2009 at 9:42 am (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , )

For so long, I lived in perpetual chaos.  Rushing to get somewhere, stressing over meeting a deadline, worrying about someone dropping in before the house looked “decent” (forget about “perfect”!), trying to do it all … because this is what women do, right?

My thoughts were consumed with the future…

– what do I prepare for dinner tonight? 

– how can I juggle everything to get that project done by Thursday? 

– I’m donating blood and stressing because I’m going to be late for my next appointment in 30 minutes.  Can I FORCE this blood to leave my body any faster through sheer willpower alone?

… and regrets and guilt about the past…

– one of Malcolm’s customers dropped by and I was embarrassed by the latest load of laundry still piled high on the sofa, exactly where I left it when I brought it from the dryer, intending to fold it and put it away … before I got sidetracked;

– I had to work late to meet a deadline.  That left Malcolm alone all evening, and by the time I got home, he was already in bed, sound asleep.  And the guilt I felt wasn’t because it was so late when I finally got there – he gets up for work at 1:00 a.m., so he goes to bed at an insanely early hour – nor was it because he’s incapable of being alone … it’s just that home with him is where I really wanted to be;

– I was tired when I left the office … too tired to make a five-minute stop to put gas in the car.  Then the next day I’d stress over whether I had enough gas left to get back to the filling station … where IS that extra gas can, anyway? … and IS there any gas left in it? … just in case???

Though not of my own design, and certainly not of  my own wishes, my life has slowed down lately.  Drastically.  But I’m beginning to realize this is okay.  For the first time in a long time, I’m beginning to live in the moment.  I’m appreciating the small things.  The things that I took for granted every day.  The things I never gave a moment’s thought to.  Like ….

– when I close my eyes and inhale the intoxicating aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, time freezes for that one exquisite moment, and everything in my world is completely right;

– when I open my front door and take that first step outside, I feel the sun on my face, smell a mixture of fading winter and emerging spring, and hear the sound of melting, dripping snow mingled with the joyous music of precocious songbirds;

– when I go about my daily housekeeping chores, with gospel music blaring to keep me company, I sing along at full volume and actually listen to the lyrics, sometimes truly hearing them for the first time…

I have begun discovering the joy of living in the moment.  And with it, peace.  Because when I’m focusing only on the moment, I don’t stress about the past.  I don’t worry about the future.  I am here.  Now.  And for these short moments in time, I am fully alive, and that’s all that really matters.

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