Sunday, February 13, 2011
The page above is what each month of our retired life looks like. Don't bother to enlarge the picture to read what exciting stuff we are doing....because you won't find it. Our retirement days pass one by one with the "same ol' same ol'" kind of stuff - doing wash, grocery shopping, doctor and dental appointments, an occasional lunch or dinner with friends, visits to the car mechanic (again!), golf tee-times, etc. Believe me, we are not the rich retired who motor-home around the US or who cruise the Seven Seas. Nor do we lop around on recliners watching sit-coms or ball games. The crazy thing is that our modicum of activities actually keeps us running all the time; It is such an enigma. Staying alert and happy in our golden years seems to make us tired and ready to hit the sack at 9 p.m.
We are always looking at ways to balance the "have to's" with the "want tos" -- and often we end up more or less "multi-tasking" and ending up tired. It was especially obvious to us after Christmas this year where our choice in the run-up to Christmas itself was to visit our families who live around the southern California area. We did, and found ourselves way too tired at the end of the season. We used to be able to do it, but we decided in 2011 we would have to make some changes.
In the dentist's office late in January I picked up an old Christmas issue of Women's Day magazine and found a short little article that really spoke to me, not only about my own life but also about my kids' exceptionally busy lives. The article was written by Ann Daly, Ph.D., a psychologist and Life Coach who was discussing how to accomplish what matters most. I excerpted a few ideas from her article because I felt each were things that would help me, in the course of each day as well as in those times when life pinched me, to minimize the tiredness that sometimes becomes almost debilitating. Here's what she said:
1. When you say to yourself, "This is too much. I'll never get it all done" you counter with, "I can do this. I'm good at this!" She says that stress comes from negative messages our mind churns out. Affirming your ability to handle what is ahead of you strengthens your resolve and gives you confidence that you can, indeed, finish the task at hand.
2. Stop every so often - on the hour or each time you are alone - and go inside yourself to connect with your spirit, whether by a quick meditation, a prayer or just thinking about what is good in your life. I know my mother's mantra, so to speak, was "This too shall pass" and it was how she managed her tough times. If I had to pick a balancing thought for myself it would be the bible verse "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It has always made me laugh - because to me it says there's trouble enough today without looking for tomorrow's trouble. Narrowed down, I then can focus all my attention on getting today's problem resolved.
3. She reminds us that our energy level is like a bank account. We need to be sure when we draw on our energy that it is available and being used for the purpose it is needed for. Moreover we must always make provision to keep enough in the bank and not overdraw our account. This goes for psychic energy as well as physical energy. Figuring out how to be good to ourselves throughout the day, sometimes with little tricks and sometimes with little treats (in a desk drawer) is a good restorer of that energy bank account.
4. Finally, Dr. Daly offers that the busy person usually operates from a "to do" list -- and it would be to our advantage to also create a "not to do" list. I find that I am very hard on myself when I don't move fast enough to get things off my "to do" list. It was after this last Christmas, when not only was I tired from doing what I wanted to do but I also was not feeling well at all because of what later was discovered to be an allergic reaction to a drug the doctor had given me. I'm sure that is why Ann's article spoke to me personally. I took a look at all the things I felt were pressuring me and discovered three things: They were all stressors in my life, I really wanted to do them all, but my life would not fall apart if I didn't do them.
As she suggested I made myself a "Not to Do" list. The first thing I did was to give myself permission not to write a blog every day. I can if I want, but I deliberately took away all the pressure by moving it from one list to another. I reassessed the things I had on my plate, threw a few down the garbage disposal, so to speak, and have temporarily set aside others.
You'd think at age 75 one would have already learned these things and put them into practice long ago. Perhaps most people have and I'm just a slow learner. I truly have tried to smell the roses as I've gone through life, but sometimes even Type A people need to have a reminder it's ok to slow down a bit.