What it means to have ‘time off’ – permanently

ID-100139471.salit_sinhin

For the past forty years it seems my life has been one hectic event after another – marriage and travel and children and work and community involvement and celebrations.

I had holidays, of course, but they were always squeezed in between one hectic period and another. There was always the ‘working through into the night’ to get things done in the days before in order to be able to get away or have time off, then more of the same catching up on my return. Business things, house things, community things, family things. In many ways it was never ever a true break as there were always thoughts in my head about things waiting for me on my return.

Now … that isn’t the case.
Such is the joy of my ‘permanent time off’ (I hesitate to call it retirement) days.

I have mixed feelings.

In some ways I feel a bit lost with no sense of purpose. For so long I absolutely craved this time with nothing to do. Now that it is here, I feel a bit aimless, a little lifeless, with thoughts each morning of ‘what will I do today?’ Some days the answer comes back as ‘not much’ and that feels scary. On other days, however, the answer comes in ‘whatever you like’ and a warm fuzzy feeling of sheer bliss washes over me.

Another significant thing that I have mixed feelings about is that I am now more truly alone. While I was working, there were always the people at work who knew where I was (or at least where I was supposed to be) and when. Now there is no-one. There is no-one to report my subtle little daily activities to. I can go out, or not go out. I can have a really busy day or I can do nothing. And no-one knows. If I go out and do not get home, there is no-one to know that I haven’t. I could disappear and no-one would know for hours. The advantage to that is that I only have to answer to myself. If I have a ‘restful’ day, I no longer feel lazy. (Thanks to my blogging friend Julie for this insight). If I write a few letters or make a sandwich – I can count that as satisfactory achievements for the day and there is no-one to say otherwise. I can feel good about everything I do.

A third significant thing is the drop in emails and mail that I am getting. A lot. While at first it was strange to check and find that there was nothing there, after a few months of this, I now find that sometimes I even forget to check. While initially it made me feel ‘unloved’, I now think this is fantastic! It is probably the most significant change in my life. I am no longer glued to my phone or computer, on edge as to to how many emails need answering and the work that each one means to me.

Lastly, there is my now (almost) non-existent ‘to-do’ list. There is no downside to that, just the joy in the disappearance of the constant feeling of ‘how on earth am I going to find time to deal with all this’. The to-do list is gone. The feeling of dread is gone.

So what do I do?

I open the blinds in the morning to let the sun shine in.

Then I take my day as it comes.

And sometimes I go outside and smell the roses.

Oh what luxury! 🙂

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Image.courtesy[Salit_sinhin]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Foundations of freedom – my sanctuary

 

ID-100241522In the process of revisiting my needs, with the aim of moving from my vulnerable fragile childlike ‘I need to be comforted’ mindset, to the stronger adult ‘I need to be doing and giving’ mindset, I became distracted with my revival identity and a vision for my future. Miraculously my pain disappeared and I instantly had more energy.

Not knowing how long the energy would last, I spent a few weekends doing some tidying projects that had mounted up including resurrecting my old home-office. This room had previously been used for our business management when I was at home with the children, but over the last two years had become a grotesque junk room.

I decided this room would make a new life for me.

When I married, I lost myself in my husband and my family. That was not something that (in marriage) I would have resented as the benefits of my marriage out-weighed losing myself. However, when my marriage collapsed I felt I had nothing left because, in losing my marriage, I also felt I had lost me. When my ex-husband left me I began to slowly revel in the freedom of doing things my way. After a time, I realized I was doing our things my way and still not doing my things. For example, even though initially it was great to watch what I wanted on TV, and attend or hold parties only when I wanted to, I soon discovered that I actually did not like watching TV at all and, likewise, I disliked loud parties immensely, preferring small casual gatherings. So it also went for the previous frenetic fast-paced activities for leisure and experiential pastimes. These were not my preference. My preference is for calm relaxation. Now I could live like that all the time, the way I want to.

Back to my room-

Over the past two years I have written about creating security and stability through routine revolving around my home; basking in the glory of it being a peaceful sanctuary of comfort. Yet here was this room that was a mess, neither peaceful or comforting. I got to work.

I cleared out the mess of accumulated business and divorce files and records, moving them elsewhere. I archived or burned mountains of papers. Then I rearranged the space. I upgraded my computer and bought a good quality scanner to begin copying the family photos. I halved the number of books. When I had finished last weekend, I sat down at my desk. I had a view outside to the tree in the court-yard; my favorite photos are displayed nearby; a whiteboard and favorite books are within easy reach; there are empty drawers, empty shelves, a clean and tidy desk, good lighting, time to myself, peace and quiet.

Then I suddenly realized. This is something that I have wanted my entire life.

As I looked around my new room, it finally sunk in that I now had no-one else I needed to think about ahead of myself. I could choose to do exactly as I wanted to do. This room would have a greater purpose than simply a place for quiet reflection. It would become a greater provider than mere comfort. This is where I would begin to move up the levels of my needs from a ‘comfort’ level to a ‘doing’ level; albeit doing quiet solitary activities. This will become a new haven for me – a writing and project room. This quiet solitary space will allow my creative abilities to flourish. That part of me that has been locked away for 40 years will now make herself known.

An incredible feeling of warmth and excitement arose within me.

And I realized that I was in seventh heaven right here on earth.

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Image courtesy:[panuruangjan]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

My life in transition # 6 – anxiety

 

ID-100131775.AfricaAt the beginning of this series of posts I wrote down all the negative emotions I was feeling dealing with my life in transition and the property settlement. I planned to devise steps to tackle those negative feelings. The last feeling I noted was anxiety. I have discovered that working through the other steps has cured the anxiety.

This is a simple summary of the actions I have taken over the past few months:

1. In the depths of turmoil, I found a place of quiet and realised it was quiet.
2. I reaffirmed my conviction to live by my core values.
3. I adjusted my vision by re-framing my transition as steps towards my bright future.
4. I wrote a list of all issues, broke them into tasks and steps; then started on the first one.
5. I enlisted help for issues too difficult to handle on my own.
6. I resolved to build foundations of comfort to create certainty in my world of uncertainty.
7. I am bringing every choice I make back to my core value decisions.

As a result, instead of sliding backwards, I am now moving forward… anxiety-free.

(most of the time 🙂 )

 

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ImageCourtesy[Africa]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

My life in transition # 5 – the aloneness of decisions

” Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” C S Lewis “The Silver Chair”

ID-10022566.Danilo.RizzutiChoices are not the same as decisions.

A choice is when there are two or more items on the shelf and you choose one.

A decision is the end-point and the thing you get to live with after the other choices have been discarded.

In its cruelest sense, I was the discarded item of choice. The decision was the ending of our marriage. The choice was his and he gets to live with his choice. I get to live with his decision.

I coped to a large extent from the consequences of his decision by making my own choices. For example, I chose aloneness over loneliness.

Loneliness was feeling sorry for myself.

In the early days post separation loneliness descended upon me.  I felt my whole world had collapsed and with it all those levels of companionship and support my husband had seemingly provided. Gradually I realised that comfort could be provided by other means and from other people. I even embraced aloneness as my companion and as an opportunity to develop my creativity. By doing so I have not let myself become enveloped in any further loneliness.

Aloneness is a state of being alone

Aloneness does not simply mean living alone. Aloneness is being the only one in exactly my position with my strengths and weaknesses, the only one with my inner beliefs and desires, the only one who can face my difficult moments when I feel most bereft.

When I was married all major decisions could be shared. Where to live, how to provide financially, which projects to become involved in. Now all those decisions are mine and mine alone. My problem now is agonizing over the consequences of any decision I make, making sure any decision is fair and reasonable to myself and others, and feeling utterly alone in the making of those decisions.

I realise now these are not my decisions, they are my choices – where to live, how to make or spend my money, and what to do with my time. I realise that I can enlist help from others in making those choices and I can take my time in making them.

In contrast my most difficult decisions have been mine alone and have not been made with choices laid out for me. They were not made after protracted analysis or at times of quiet deliberation. They were made at times of distress. At those times of distress, the raging turmoil within me grew so intense that the only choices I had were sinking into complete collapse or finding calm. I chose calm.

From the calm within the turmoil I made those tough decisions – alone and with yet with total conviction because I just knew they were the right decision.

Those difficult decisions have been to change myself, to face the truth and to live by my core values no matter what.

Any choice I make now will come as a consequence of those life decisions I have made.
In fact, for any seeming conflict I have within myself for any current choice I now need to make, I only need to look back to those decisions and the choice becomes an easy one.

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“When the pain of what we are living becomes greater than our fear of changing, we let go. When our fear of drowning swamps our fear of holding onto nothing, we start to swim”. Louise Gallagher

 

 

 

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ImageCourtesy[Danilo.Rizzuti]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am an (empowered) introvert

“You will find her outside sitting on a large rock looking out over the water or inside looking out the window with a pensive appearance….. Yes, I like this person very much. She is me.”   ‘Donna’ from “Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe

It is not news that I am an introvert. What is a revelation, what is empowering, is that for the first time in my entire life I am totally comfortable being that introverted person, happy with how I feel, and glad that I am now able to live the way that is right for me.

Society tells us that to be successful and happy is to be daring, adventurous, decisive and sociable. To be ‘sociable’ you need to belong to some sort of group of friends, family, community, or work group. To be accepted within that group you need to interact with the group as a group, be prepared to speak up, and enjoy engaging in large social gatherings or attending ‘parties’.  Organizations encourage teamwork and networking. Schools encourage children to participate in teams. Parents urge them to socialize. Social-media platforms enhance this concept.

This is the world of the extrovert. Extroverts are people who obtain gratification from outside themselves and are energized by human interactions, large social gatherings and parties. Coming from the loudest voice – the extrovert voice – it is often taken as being the normal way to think, live, act. In reality it is simply the best way to think, live, and act for half the population. This is not the way for the other half of the population – my half.

Some 50% of us are introverts. Introverts are more reserved, less outspoken in groups and take pleasure in solitary pastimes. They become energized through reflection and feel overwhelmed by too much stimulation and time spent with large groups of people.

Some of the people who have been closest to me have been extroverts; my sister, my two childhood friends, my best friend as an adult, and my husband. Extroverts and I have been drawn to each other. They talk. I listen. They react with emotional highs and lows to the ups downs of life. I smile and carry on. They pursue exciting pastimes and draw me in. I radiate calmness and pass it on.

In my commitment to our marriage it was easier for me to understand my extrovert husband’s need for constant stimulation and requirement to socialise than for him to understand my need for being alone. This is because he talked. I listened. I understood. I adapted to his world. I lived and shared with him the exciting world of fast-paced activities and constant socialising. When at the end of a busy week, I did not want to go ‘out’, I thought there was someone wrong with me. When I did go out and exhaustion overcame me, I battled on. In time, I forgot, and did not understand my own needs.  I lost myself without even knowing that I had.

When I have felt overwhelmed since our separation, some of my closest people have made suggestions to me of what I should do in order for me to thrive again – engaging in some exciting activity, travelling and being surrounded by people. I have slowly discovered that what is actually best for me is exactly the opposite – I require quietness, no stimulation, and time to myself for reflecting. Slowly I am discovering me.

I am not shy, anti-social or depressed. I am simply an introvert. I enjoy time to myself. I enjoy solitude. I have a preference for surroundings that are not over-stimulating.  I work best alone on focused projects. I do not like loud noise or a lot of confusing activities. I like time to think before making considered well-planned decisions, before taking action. I like time to think before I speak. I prefer to relax or ‘wind-down’ after a day’s work by reading or writing or going for a walk rather than going ‘out’. I prefer holidays doing quiet activities rather than engaging in frenetic pastimes.  When I do engage, I enjoy myself but I need to recharge afterwards by having quiet time. I like to engage one-on-one with people and share ideas on topics that interest me, rather than small-talk with many people at the same time. I listen well and I empathize well with another person’s position. I prefer small social activities with one or two close people rather than large social functions. I enjoy best weekends with no commitments so I have plenty of time to think, write, reflect, plan.

I have much left to contribute to this world in my quiet, slow, methodical fashion. I am not enticed by being the centre of attention, a desire for accolades or wealth. I am dedicated to a larger goal of finding a purpose to my life.

I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.”

from Part 5 ‘Song Of The Open Road’ by Walt Whitman.

Week 27 – Memories

Week 27 –

I went to the mountain with my son and a friend. It never fails to amaze me, inspire me. Although overcast, the air was crisp and clear, and the views spectacular. My mind flashed back to us going there on our first adventures as newly weds, our first five day walk together, when the lodge was a simple sanctuary for bush-walkers; rather than the sprawling accommodation complex it is today. I thought of the time we had there with the children, staying in the cabins, sitting around the warm cosy fire. I thought of the walks we did with them, carrying them as little ones on our backs, or later the longer walks we did there round the lake, or up the mountain, into the forest, and into the wilderness. I thought of going there with friends and extended family and by ourselves. I thought of us there in the summer and winter and autumn and spring. Whatever the season, whatever the weather, I have always enjoyed my time there.

 

So this was a positive reflection, the first that I have had; of thinking back to the happy memories; and instead of thinking in terms of what has been lost, I thought in terms of what has been gained. I thought of us as a family, and of how the children had a magnificent childhood, being brought up by parents who not only did things for them, they did things with them; and we gave them all a love of enjoying and appreciating “the wilds” of anywhere and everywhere that that may go. And I thought of our legacy given to them, of knowing that no matter what life brings your way, you can always return to the mountain and find peace and calmness and … for me …..happy memories………….

“So all that I will ever have is our memory,
The roller coaster fun that was you and me.

A life with a promise of a future that finally came true
Is now a memory of the family and the life I had with you”. ………………………………………………..

I found this poem written by a fellow blogger which captures the memory of family. The stanza above holds so true to me and I have copied a shortened version of the poem below of the parts relevant to me of family life. You can read the full poem and have a look at her fantastic blog-site by clicking here

Memory

Today I went to the place WE once called home
Filled with memories, though it wasn’t OUR own.
Laughter and love used to fill up the whole place
But today, all I saw was an empty space.

It’s hard to believe that we used to live there
And children’s voices just linger in the air…
Sweet yesterday, all you will be is a memory
A memory of how our lives used to be.

It’s not the same anymore…
Just when I walked through the door,
Time passed by, I wonder where it went.
It felt so weird, it felt so different…

Just yesterday, we all had each other…
a family, an extraordinary family
Who would have thought it won’t be forever
And all that we have is a memory to remember.

Water splashing, barking dogs, keyboards clicking, toy choppers fly
Children playing and the never ending of asking why…
What I would give to hear the sound….
Of a memory of what it was like to have them around…

Today  when I walked in, I am not like the one who used to live there
Today, I faced a battle I thought I couldn’t bear
I fought back the tears, I fought back the heart ache
I stood tall, smiled and did not allow myself to break.

It wasn’t just the memory that was there to haunt me
It was the yearning and longing for the “normalcy”
I’ve let go of my lost love, and have already moved on
When I finally stopped asking what went wrong…

……………………..

So all that I will ever have is our memory
The roller coaster fun that was you and me.
A life with a promise of a future that finally came true
Is now a memory of the family and the life I had with you.

by True Love Junkie May 23, 2011

Week 17 – Days like this

Week 17 – January 17

I was asked to join a social group this week. I declined with a ‘maybe later’. I could not face meeting new people quite yet. Even though it may seem to others like it would be a good idea for me to socialize more, it really was quite an effort for me. I felt making small-talk with people I did not really know quite draining. I decided to take one step at a time in this new world of ‘me’, one baby-step at a time. One important step for me has been to confront my aloneness; to appreciate and soak in the merits and benefits of the aloneness of singledom and of being me, before I stepped out looking for networks. And the aloneness I was enjoying was the peace and solitude of the early summer mornings; putting aside my woes; rising early; watching the sunrise; and being by myself writing and reflecting and taking in the joy of being alive. I knew that if I was able to find and enjoy and soak up just one of these days of summer sunshine, peace and contentment…..and I was……. then others would follow.

“Days Like This”

VAN MORRISON

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this