My best writing and thinking takes place early in the morning with a cup of coffee for company. I wrote all of this while on vacation and am just getting around to transcribing and editing my handwritten notes.
I had a lazy day on the couch during my vacation. I simply vegged either in front of the TV or on the front porch with a book in my lap. I think it was because my mind was examining some big questions and needed the time and space. Here are some of the topics I examined:
- The repercussions of being single with limited nearby friends during a pandemic. This issue has resolved itself somewhat. Friends, family and coworkers have stepped up to volunteer assistance should I need it. I am blessed and thankful.
- Now that cases are escalating exponentially, working in the office, even with a mask is a bit fraught to say the least. No shit, Sherlock. I wrote this BEFORE I realized I might have been exposed and before Florida hit over 15K cases in a single day.
- Vacations for the next few years will be limited for many reasons. I do not see myself flying anywhere unless there is a damn good reason. Rats because I yearn to travel.
- What and where will retirement look like for me? That is always a question for me. I like to plan and this is the biggest unknown for me. My pragmatic side hates the uncertainty of this. I just need to accept that I have limited control over this. I need to identify what I can control and focus on those things. A topic for another post.
- Can I handle a decade of my boss who can be a handful on occasion? This is looking like it will be my last full-time job if all goes well. I believe the answer is yes. Everyone has their moments of questioning their employment. Will the company navigate this recession successfully and without major layoffs? Too soon to say….
I wrote all of this as I sat outside on the front porch of my parents’ mountain home. It was a beautiful morning. I listened to the birds and watched the chipmunks scurry around the yard. I turned 56 this year. I am pensive because I am on the downhill slide to 60. LOL.
I have a decade of full-time work left in me, hopefully. A decade to save and plan my retirement. A decade to make a home in my new community so I can decide if I stay or leave during my golden years.
I am happy having my free time be for just me. I am happy to be doing little to no compromising these days. It is a first in my life. I have spent a lifetime compromising and letting loved ones’ needs come before my own.
Birthdays are a great time for reflection. 50 years ago I was a young girl living about 2 hours from this mountain home. My parents were in the midst of splitting up. My mom had a breakdown and was hospitalized for a few days. My dad was having an affair with his now current wife of almost 50 years. It was 1970 and all the adults in my life were acting in self-centered ways to the detriment of me and my older brother. My mom was a borderline personality. She claimed their psychiatrist labeled my dad a sociopath. Let’s not get hung up on labels and let’s just generalize it and call them both selfish.
The result of selfish parents, for me, was to counter balance with over-giving. I have always given too much. Too much time doing for others, too much time putting others before me, too much time for futile causes, too much money for others rather than saving for myself, too much, too much.
Now I am learning to value myself and my time. I am learning the value of no and boundaries. It is a bit uncomfortable to express those boundaries, but each time I flex that muscle, it becomes stronger and easier. I look forward to it becoming more effortless and less guilt and anxiety producing. When I first wrote out the previous sentence, I wrote it as a limiting belief “I am never going to think…”. As I transcribed my handwritten notes, I recognized the limiting belief. That is a minor victory!
I feel safe these days. I feel like I have navigated my little lifeboat into a tiny, safe harbor while a storm of catastrophic proportions rages around me. I feel small when looking at the vastness of chaos all around me. I know this single year of 2020 is a turning point in history, yet I will carry on having normal days of work and home. I am very fortunate.
I also feel incredibly fortunate to have my little boat safely anchored. I now longer strive to have trappings of success like expensive clothes, car and a fancier home. Minimal suits me far better. I am happy in my cozy oasis of an apartment. I may decide to redecorate. I need to do something with my grandmother’s dining room set. I think I will get it refinished. Maybe change the seat covers even though she needlepointed them all. Perhaps I will frame them instead or just store them for the kids. Fewer belongings mean fewer ties and responsibilities.
I have led an incredibly interesting life compared to many. Yes, I know many others who are even more interesting and that’s fine. I am no longer competing. I am content to realize I will always have a story, an experience, an understanding for almost any conversation. That is an accomplishment. I also have learned to be a good listener and appreciate the stories and experiences of others.
I have kids who are simply amazing. I listened, on vacation, to my son’s friend tell him how amazing my son is for living in Asia for a year. What an accomplishment that few people have achieved. My son felt and looked rejuvenated and recharged from this vacation. He needed it as much, if not more, than me.
My daughter is in a league of her own. Finding her soul mate has made her journey easier. Their communication with each other is light years ahead of my relationship communication. She is still wrestling with conforming to society norms. I continue to encourage her to follow her heart without guilt. What do I mean by that?
For example, she has discovered she doesn’t like to teach. I get it. Her patience is a precious commodity. She feels guilty because her residency program has encouraged her to teach others, but it is not in her DNA. I asked her how many doctors of her specialty teach and she responded less than 20%. I replied that her mentors knew from the beginning that the odds were against them for her to teach. I said she shouldn’t sweat it.
Perspective – perhaps that is my best gift to friends and family. I offer gentle perspective when appropriate. Blunt, but I also hold back at times. It is a nuanced diplomacy that I have been blessed with.
There you have it. Maggie’s morning reflections on a porch swing with delicious coffee….