My job came to a rapid halt. Not because I failed to live up to expectations or because I planned to retire. A flock of compelling reasons swooped in out of a clear blue Hawaiian sky and left me with few choices. They boiled down to the following: stick with a job I loved (and a good income) or prioritize family needs (and live in poverty).
What’s a woman to do?
It wasn’t an easy decision and I reject the notion that women lean into sacrifice. I’ve bumped into more than a few people, both male and female, who made similarly difficult choices. Our specific circumstances differ, but I realized that sometimes we have to make the hard choices, take a leap of faith, and turn into a new journey… whether our choice is to dig in our heels or go for the big changes…
In my experience, the key consideration is this: does Fear or Love drive the choice? Secondarily, is the move Toward or Away From some person, place, or thing? (No judgments on #2; moving away from danger seems sane, but wherever we go, there we are.) Finally, for me, in the end, ignoring my instincts has created more problems for me than practicing sound logic.
Today I’m over 2,500 miles from my former life. It has only been 2 weeks and I’m completely exhausted from running around trying to fit into this new existence. Granted, some of the tasks suck a lot of energy: unpacking, sorting, squeezing my life into a smaller physical space, updating the new space so it feels like my own. Still, something huge occurred to me today, as I rushed from my grandson’s school to Target to pick up a few necessities and, conveniently, to Starbucks to await contact from my disabled son’s case manager (while enjoying a Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, coconut milk, please), trusting the caffeine to propel me through at least until noon.
Seated at a table, in a quiet moment, I generated a list of things I should do. Buy backup fabric for the fabric for the costume I planned to sew for someone else; recalling what foods family members like so I could shop for a meal they might enjoy; comparing prices for airfare, train, and rental car for a trip to visit my son and meet with his care team.
Among the things I planned to do during semi-retirement: join the YMCA and visit the gym or pool a few times a week, edit the book I finished, research and include more anti-inflammatory foods in my diet, and, oh, yeah, develop a support system. What steps had I taken with any of those? Not a single one, unless it counts to recall the plan whenever I pass the YMCA.
The gigantic revelation: I’m not practicing good self-care.
It seems the challenge of a lifetime to move from one situation to another without bringing the same baggage of long hours, setting aside my own needs, wondering what else I can do for others. It doesn’t take a genius to acknowledge the importance of, in the words of attendants on every commercial flight I’ve ever taken, putting on my own oxygen mask first.
This self-care stuff is not as easy as it seems. I believe it takes courage, determination, and a willingness to fail – then try again. And that’s what this bloggy-slogging journey is about.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton