new transitions

1998-105Back on that bridge …

As I wrote in a recent post, I am again on my way from here to there, with life in transition. A transition is moving from one life chapter to the next such as transitioning from teenager to adult or from adult to retiree. We may also transition after a significant life event such as moving house; changing jobs; having children; coping with an illness, injury or disability; and navigating a financial or legal crises. Transitions involve four phases – holding on, letting go, taking on, then finally moving on.

The life ‘chapter’ or ‘event’ I have been through is the end of my marriage and relationship with my husband of 37 years. In my case of late-life divorce, there has not been this one simple life changing event for me. There have been several. The business sale has meant the end of my working life as I have known it and an identity crisis of its own merit. There has been a change in family dynamics, my social networks and community connections. There is my sunken financial situation to consider. I also intend to sell my home, move to a new area and forge ahead in a new career and lifestyle. That is a lot of changes over a few short years. Continue reading

My H.E.A.L.T.H.plan – To begin at the beginning

ID-10041450.digitalartIn my first few weeks of freedom, after signing the marital settlement and selling the business, I was euphoric. The feeling of being alone and single and having full control over my own time, my own social life, my own family connections, my own finances, and my own responsibilities was intoxicating.

Then came moments of feeling overwhelmed.

It was as if three years ago I had been hit by a truck. It had taken me those three years to scramble from underneath the truck. For a long time, that became my focus and aim, to get out from underneath the weight of the truck, from the weight of the ‘process’ of legal and financial separation. So even though I finally became free of its weight, and that in itself was liberating, I could also begin to see the world beyond the truck.

It had changed. What’s more, I had changed. I had been waiting for that freedom for so long and yet when I got there, I realized an awful truth.

I must begin again.

Alone.

Initially I could not decide where to start. I was looking positively at this being a transition to my exciting new life, but it was still rather daunting. There was still so much to do and decide. I did not know where to start.

After a few fitful nights, tossing and turning, I woke one morning with my project for the next twelve months laid out before me. It was as clear as anything and I was excited about it. The project that came to mind was:

PUT YOURSELF FIRST

Begin.

Begin at the beginning.

Begin on the first step of the beginning.

For the next year, this first year of my new life, my first step would be to focus on me.
As clear as anything, I knew that was what I wanted and needed to do,

There were no excuses for me now.

Over a few weeks, I came up with a plan. It is more than a plan. It is forming new habits.

Headstrong Eating and Active Lifestyle Transition Habits

Ah! That spells out ‘Health’. What a great place to start!

However, there is more to this plan than simply good health. If you read the words carefully it captures everything I want from life. Good health. Sensible eating that allows social interactions. Becoming more active. Forming a balanced lifestyle of self, family, stability, relaxation, social connections, career, creativity, home, celebrations, community. Giving myself a year to transition into my meaningful life and find my life’s purpose. And making all this become habit so that I do it for life!

Wow! What a plan!

For too long in my life, I had been putting everyone and everything else first. I had suffered for that. My heath and well-being had suffered for that. I had gained some weight over the years of my distress (by my seeking comfort in food) and although I had made a start on health and fitness, things had slipped again. I had become less active. My blood pressure was labile. My blood cholesterol was OK, but higher than it had been. My home life had holes in it. My hobbies were in boxes, along with my dreams. I dropped social connections when I got caught underneath the truck. I had resigned from community groups. I had wanted to make something better for myself, for my family, and for the world, by making a contribution to worthwhile meaningful projects. Yet, it had become all talk and no action.

Yet I am no use to anyone, I cannot be supportive to my family, I cannot contribute to the world, unless I remain in good-health and my lifestyle returns to a better balance.That is the place I must first get to.

This has been a summary of my plan to get me to that better place.

Now to begin that first step.

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Image courtesy[digitalart]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Almost there…..

 

ID-100107304.num_skymanIn regard to the marital property settlement I have recently passed through some major hurdles and have almost got the whole settlement across the line. The feeling I have is that I have been lost and alone in this thick dark gloomy impenetrable forest which I have spent three years trying to hack through, seemingly getting nowhere. Then I decided to go a different route, trudging uphill through an area of dense brambles, enduring much pain and suffering to go that way, but by that route I have slowly been edging forward. At last I have come to a clearing. Even though there is still a little way to go, I can at least now see the path ahead. The way to go is easy walking for me now and, just a little bit further down at the end of the road, I can see some light.

I am almost there.

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Critical choices

ID-100202241.Tao55It has been a roller-coaster of emotions for me over the past seven weeks.

I had been working hard to try and get the marital settlement over the line before my second son’s upcoming wedding. I was also busy getting my home ready by doing a few things to the kitchen prior to my son and fiance (and her parents) coming to stay. Coming from Canada, they planned to stay in Tasmania a week before the wedding and I was looking forward to spending some quiet time with them.

Three weeks before their due visit and four weeks before the wedding, my mother had a turn and was rushed into hospital. She was there a week before we realized that her illness was quite serious. I flew up to be with her and my siblings for a week.

Then my siblings made me return home to prepare for my expected visitors and to get myself into ‘mother-of-the-groom’ mode. I returned home with the countdown one week before visitors and two weeks before the wedding. The kitchen needed to be put back in shape (as I had stripped it bare before my sudden exit), and the house had to be put in better order. On top of that there were business issues to attend to, a mountain of paperwork to complete, and bills to pay. Two days after my return, there was a sudden major strategic development in the marital settlement, which required urgent meetings.

For those crucial few days, as I dealt with the marital settlement development, I had to put all my emotions completely aside in order to make some highly critical decisions. I had to put aside the emotions surrounding my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding. In doing so, a numbness descended on me and I began to feel nothing at all.

In the topsy-turvy world that I had been living for the three years since my life upended, I had craved normality. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be final so that I could feel normal. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could sit back and enjoy my children’s milestones, such as weddings. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could start my new life. Over the previous weeks, I had discovered that life would not wait. My mother needed me now. And I needed to be with my mother. My son needed me to be happy and relaxed at his wedding. And I needed to feel happy at his wedding. Now, I could not work out how I was going to fit my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding into everything else that was also suddenly happening in my life.

On the Thursday evening, after I returned home from the crucial meetings, I just wanted to sit down and cry. I couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, I sorted sheets. From absolutely nowhere, I had a sudden nesting instinct, and of my wanting to do something ‘normal’ that did not involve emotional pain. I sorted sheets and then more sheets, well into the night.

The next day, I went into work and did all that was necessary in order for me to absent myself from everything that was going on in my life EXCEPT for my mother, my son’s wedding, my visitors and my family. I put EVERYTHING else aside. The business, the marital settlement, decisions. Life was more important.

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ImageCourtesy[Tao55]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unmasked: Living by organized chaos

 

ID-10027930.m_bartoschFor the second time, someone commented they perceived me as organized and an ‘on-time’ person because of my methodical approach to situations.  I thought that it was time to put the record straight.

I am actually inherently a befuddled person.

I was born into a family who live by disorganized chaos. I have inherited many annoying traits and habits. Forever losing keys, poor time management, careless mistakes in crucial work, forgetting appointments, forgetting to pay bills, messy desk, going back twice to check whether the iron is off. You get the picture. Unorganized chaos. That was how I grew up. That is what I fight against being every day of my life.

I determined early on as a young adult that if I was to achieve anything worthwhile I would have to organize my chaos. This is how I have done that:

1) Take responsibility

I alone am responsible for who I am, not my genetics or upbringing. As being organized does not come naturally to me, I have to make it happen.

2) Write out lists.

I do not make lists because I am organized. I am organized because I make lists.

3) A careful methodical approach of categorizing and prioritizing.

The secret of me achieving things is not being a superwoman and doing a million things all at once but rather categorizing, prioritizing, shelving less important tasks into the background (or rubbish bin) and doing just a few important tasks each day.

4) Clearing my in-tray every day

Remaining ‘less important tasks’ are stored neatly in to-do lists / trays, drawers, appointment books, or wherever; out of the way of my central field of vision. Yet I am safe in the knowledge they can be recalled when required. A bonus is I even have a tidy desk!

5) Allowing myself enough time to complete tasks.

This is crucial. I estimate the time I think I need to accomplish something, then double it. Then I double it again to allow for extra things that inevitably always crop up, time for me to organize my disorganization, procrastination, and time for ‘faffing’ about.

6) Don’t panic when I still run out of time.

I know that no matter how organized I am, Hostadter’s law always applies: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” This is usually when I drop less important things such as being tidy, punctual or perfect and I stop less essential functions such as eating or sleeping until I finish whatever needs to be finished.

7) Gradually working through the steps of getting things done.

I feel a sense of accomplishment when I cross tasks off my lists, even small insignificant tasks and small seemingly insignificant steps. It gives me a feeling of moving forward. This is important for complex projects with many steps and bits to them.

8) A place for everything

If I have a place for everything (and remember to always put things there) then I am less likely to lose keys, scissors, stapler etc. Remembering to put them there is the hard part.

9) Out of sight out of mind

When all the above fail, I shelve things into boxes and cupboards ‘to sort out later’.

10) Spring clean

Every so often I go through my ‘sort out later’ boxes and my ‘less important tasks’ shelved to a later date that never comes. At this point I realize all the things I thought I might get round to doing I never will and throw most in the literal or metaphorical rubbish bin.

11) Buy clothes that do not need ironing.

Then I do not need to remember to turn the iron off.

That is how I live by organized chaos which, I assure you, is a huge improvement on disorganized chaos. And within that space of organized chaos I have managed to achieve some remarkable things such as raising four beautiful children, running a business, and active involvement in the community.

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ImageCourtesyOf[m_bartosch]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Foundations of freedom – freedom to do

“And the moment came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. “ Anais Nin

ID-10043380.digitalartWe are the lucky generation. Our forefathers handed us freedom from: freedom from slavery, tyranny and oppression. The next generations gave us our freedom to: freedom to vote, choose, express opinion, work, associate with those of our choosing, become educated, or be elected into positions of power. That has been followed by social, cultural and sexual revolutions since the 1960s. We are now free to pursue whatever we desire in terms of our dress, our leisure activities and our relationships with each other – in both the coming together or the breaking apart.

It seems to me each generation has wanted more freedom than the previous and, whereas in previous generations ‘freedom’ did mean the true sense of the word in freedom from oppression, our modern generation has put the emphasis on having freedom to do whatever we want. We want it all and we want it now. This is supposed to be something that we all desire. When my husband first left, people would say to me ‘now you are free to do whatever you want‘. When repeated back, that advice would catch me in the throat. Taking ‘freedom’ was foreign to me as I was craving stability and structure. I also saw it as being selfish. I thought I still had responsibilities and obligations to fulfill.

It has taken me nearly three years to understand that I don’t.

While it appeared I did, it really was an obligation to my own inner code of responsibility. I really did not have obligations to fulfill, except to myself. I am truly free to do whatever I want. Looking at it another way, I had to a degree been putting perceived responsibilities and obligations in my own path because of not knowing what to do with my freedom if I had it. It was easier to keep doing what I had been doing, even though painful, rather than taking my own freedom and basking in its sunshine. I could now undo my own imposed restraints of responsibility.

The big question now is not whether I have the freedom to what I want but rather, now that I know I do (nearly) have that freedom, what do I want to do with it?

That’s scary.

As I sat with a blank page on that question, a few overarching ideas of what ‘freedom to do’ means to me came to mind.

I have the freedom to live my own way.

I am free of external restrictions.

I have the freedom to impose my own moral code such as ‘first, do no harm’. As long as I impose it myself it is not a restraint, it is free-will. I cannot enslave myself. With no external restrictions, only internal ones, I have the freedom to think, speak and act the way I want.

I have the freedom to choose to be responsible for my family and friends. When I act out of devotion, there are no constraints – no matter what the responsibilities require of me.

I have the freedom to be part of my family, children and grand-children’s lives.

I have the freedom to be by myself whenever I want.

I have the freedom to choose my own direction in life and to fit that in with my own life’s purpose which I alone shall choose and I may take as long as I want to make that choice.

I have the freedom to choose my own goals by my own free-will and to work towards those goals unimpeded.

I have the freedom to choose my own attitude to develop a capacity by education, training or resolve to overcome any obstacle or impediment in my way.

I have the freedom to impose limitations, moral codes or constraints (by whatever definition) if that makes my new direction more comfortable. If my constraints are based upon my own goals or values – knowing where I stand will give me the liberty to act in complete freedom.

That is not so scary. That is all exciting …

Now to begin.

 

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