Today I am opening up that ‘piece of my mind’ that examines creating transformations in my life.
I have experienced many dramatic transformations in my life. Changes instigated by me, by others, or just by life in general. People have come and gone. Homes and careers have come and gone. Pets and pastimes have come and gone. Other people, homes, careers, pets, and pastimes have come to fill the void. Over the years, everyone and everything in my life has changed – except me.
This morning when I sat down to browse You Tube for a morning meditation, I came across a Tarot Reading. I am not into astrology as a rule. I don’t totally discount it but I definitely haven’t studied it either. This Tarot reading caught my attention. It had a heading that proclaimed ‘Leo,you are going through the biggest transformation of your life.’
It spoke to me. My life has changed drastically in the past two years and I have worked harder to change more than ever before. Except lately, I have been feeling stuck. Not necessarily in a bad place, but not in a great place either. Just stuck – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Obviously this Tarot reading was just what I needed. After all of the changes that have happened in the past two years, all of the changes that I have made, this is IT! This is the darkness before the dawn. I am about to be transformed. 💞
So I watched this Tarot reading. It went really well for the first fourteen minutes. Then the last two cards and there it was. The transformation was not coming from outside of myself – it would happen on the inside AND only if Imade it happen with work and dedication.
So I guess that is it. We all have the ability to change, but we have to invest the hard work and dedication that it takes. Even when we feel stuck, we just have to keep working at it. It isn’t want I wanted to hear but it was obviously what I needed to hear today.
The ‘Piece of My Mind’ that I am sharing today is rather a deep one. ‘Grief’ – we all experience it and we all process it in our own way. This post is about my way. (Sorry, this post will be a lengthy one.)
I have experienced a few devastating losses over the years, the first being the loss of my brother-in-law. Paul died suddenly in a horrific accident. His death was a terrible loss for everyone who knew him and definitely for everyone in our family. He had been married to my sister Jeanne as long as I could remember so he was more of a big brother than an in-law. I was shocked and beyond saddened.
Years later – I was driving across the city with my daughter on a Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, I ‘sensed’ Paul lean forward from the back seat and sharply warn me to “protect her”. I glanced over at Jen, who was about nine at the time. She was sprawled across her seat with the seatbelt pulled up to her neck. I barked at her to sit up. She responded immediately by jolting straight up. I looked back at the road just in time to see the black van in front of us slam to a sudden stop. I responded, but not fast enough. I slammed my little sedan into the back of the van. The police came and, as the one behind is always at fault in such situations, I expected to be charged. The police officer spoke to the driver of the van and to me and gave me a minimal ticket. (I don’t remember why the driver of the van had slammed on his brakes). Everyone involved was unharmed and our insurance company covered all of the repairs. The thing with Paul was wierd but I just thought that the mind does strange things. I let it go at that.
The next major loss in my life, was the death of my father. I was devastated. We were so close. He had been suffering from cancer for a few years. My rocky marriage had turned violent and dangerous at the same time. My heart, my soul and my life were just shattered. I stumbled through the next few months until I was forced to pull myself together and get myself and my three teenagers out of the dysfunctional situation with my ex. The next few years brought the best, the worst and the weirdest experiences of my life. Through it all, I often felt my father’s presence. We all did things that we simply could not have done, if he had not been a part of it – supporting us, encouraging us, laughing at our mishaps. My Dad was gone but he had left a part of himself with each and every one of us.
Finally, Mom passed away a few years ago. Losing a parent is always difficult but Mom was ninety-five, the quality of her life had deteriorated in her final years, and she was finally ‘home’ with Dad. We all accepted our loss and we were all prepared to move on with our lives. After the funeral, we all headed back to our own homes and families. A few days later I started to hear hymns in my mind. Like when you get a little tune stuck in your head. But they were not hymns from Mom’s funeral. They were not hymns that I was familiar with. They were hymns that I knew were from my mother’s youth. I knew she had left a piece of her soul in my heart. By that point, I just knew.
Back to my Dad. Losing my Dad had a devastating impact on me at the time of his death and my grief had been overwhelming. With everything else that was terrible about that time, the timing of his death was the hardest. Dad passed away on December 17th – days before Christmas. Everything about that time was made worse by the Christmas decorations, the carols, the holiday reminders that would come back hard and fast – every year, for decades! Every December hit me hard. Finally one year, I woke up on a December morning to a holiday carol. I could feel the familiar pain crushing my heart. And I ‘heard’ my Dad. I heard him tell me to let it go, that every year he felt my pain, and that it was haunting him.
I had the biggest epiphany of my life when I realized that if I could sense his presence in my life, that he could feel mine. I vowed there and then to ‘let it go’. Not just for Dad specifically, but for all that I lost and all that I would lose.
Grief is natural, but going forward I will never allow grief to consume me again. What’s more, I know that no matter what happens in my life, I will do anything I can to keep my heart and my soul light and filled with peace and love, contentment and happiness. It is not just about me or for me. It is about the people that I love. The ones here with me and the ones who go ahead of me. It is for all that I carry in my heart.
So that is my take on life and love, loss and grief. As always, feel free to comment in the comment section below. All comments are welcome and will be respected.
I have been retired for an entire eight months now, so it is time for another update of how things are going!
Finances – contrary to virtually every column I have ever read on retirement, we did not become destitute the day I retired. Granted, my husband is still working, but I am fairly confident that even when he does retire, we will not end up under a bridge. Maybe these dire warnings in finance columns are not meant for Canadians. We have Old Age Pension and Canada Pension, plus Dan will have a work pension. We have public Medicare and reduced costs for prescriptions, insurance and the like. Plus – working costs a lot of money that us retirees do not shell out. (Like restaurant meals, or take out meals or quick cooking meals, clothing, vehicle expense, aspirin and the like). 😊
Appearance – Inevitably, looks change as we get older. Some fortunate people actually get more attractive and distinguished looking as they age. Some of us get wrinkles, move all of our weight to our waistlines, and look like dandelions that have gone to seed on our bad hair days. I choose to avoid mirrors, wear stretch pants, and feel beautiful, anyway. ☺️
Health – Health can be challenging as we age. Apparently when you hit 65, your warranty runs out and parts start to go. That does not mean you have to believe every advertisement or meme out there. I still have my hearing and my sight is as good (or as bad) as it has ever been. I have only fallen down once and found I couldn’t get up. (That incident involved a bottle of tequila and a hot tub, so whatever🙄). I haven’t started to pee a little when I laugh (phew – that is a relief – cause I laugh quite often since I retired). My joints seem to be holding out – except I pulled something in my left knee the other day and that hurts like hell. Other than my sinuses, lungs, heart, and this knee thing, I think I am doing relatively well. 👍
All in all, retirement is still working for me. I am happier and more content than I have ever been. I love being able to live my life around Dan’s schedule and spend time with him. I love having time to rest and relax – it feels so decadent. 🤗 I love having time to remember the good times that I had in my life. This morning I was going through some Christmas pictures from when my kids were tots. They were so cute and sweet and precious. I miss my little ones, but I am happy that they are all grown up and have their own little ones now. It is funny, we enjoy the time when our kids are small, but we are so busy taking care of them that we do not fully appreciate that time until we have time to cherish our memories of it. Thank goodness for retirement!
This year, my focus has been on peace. As things go, my choice of focus for this year has been spot on. 2020 has been a stressful year for many people and for my own reasons, it has definitely been challenging for myself as well.
Challenges aside, I have enjoyed my quest for peace and have learned a few things in the process.
1. I have spent sixty-four years battling anxiety and one year focusing on peace. I have learned that I should have started focussing on peace sixty-five years ago. 🤦
2. I have learned to make MY peace my priority. For the better part of my life, my priority has been trying to maintain a peaceful, pleasant cushion around others to try to keep them happy and peaceful. My reasoning being, if they were happy and peaceful, they were not making my life difficult and stressful. In my defense, I had a very high-strung mother. My first husband was difficult (such an understatement🤣🤣🤣). My current husband is a really good man but, after number one, complete trust in any man has been difficult for me. My children were typical, difficult at times children. Finally, as an administrative assistant for the better part of my career, it was my job to keep things running smoothly in my work environment. I drove myself to be the peacekeeper. Except, my peace was way down the list of my priorities. I have come to realize that to enable or encourage peace in any situation, one must first be at peace themselves. 🙄
3. I have learned that peace makes all of the best things in life possible. Health and well-being is difficult to impossible when one is constantly stressed. With peace, health and well-being come naturally. Happiness is next to impossible when one is stressed and anxious. With peace, happiness is natural. Love is difficult to impossible when one is constantly stressed and anxious. With peace, one is easily more loving and more loveable. Relationships are healthier and easier. Prosperity is possible when one is stressed out and anxious – feeling prosperous is difficult at best. One never feels financially secure when one is anxious and stressed. You feel you need more and you worry about losing what you have. You develop poor financial habits or addictions that undermine your efforts to be financially secure. Peace brings a feeling of security to all aspects of one’s life – including financially.
4. Peace is the gift that keeps on giving. I could, and I intend to, make my peace my priority going forward in my life. I believe we are born into this world to evolve – to become better, stronger, and wiser – as individuals and as a whole. I believe peace is the key to evolution – at least to my evolution.
Why do so many people waste their lives trying to convince others that they themselves are ‘better’ ? Or that others are ‘not good enough‘ ? Better than what – or not good enough for what? Why is life a contest and who made the rules? And why does our society seem to be getting so much worse and less tolerant?
I grew up in small town Saskatchewan. People were not judged by race or sexuality. We were rather oblivious to the major global issues in those days before internet access.
That is not to say that there was no bigotry and ignorance. People were judged by different criteria. From my earliest days, I was well aware of the judgemental nature of small town Saskatchewan. I was French Catholic and to make matters worse, my family lived on the lower end of the economic scale of things.
I grew up knowing that I was not good enough. From my earliest days, I did not understand why. I was kind – certainly kinder than those who dismissed me or taunted me for being ‘not good enough’. I was honest. I was as smart as any child in our school. I was always close to, or top of, my class academically. I was as attractive as any of the other children in my school (at least in my mind). I was physically challenged (I still am) – but who cares? It was not like my goals in life ever revolved around how far I could throw a ball, how fast I could run or how high I could jump. I did not understand why, but I was made very much aware that I was ‘not good enough’.
When I grew up I was often reminded that I was ‘not good enough’. I married into an Anglo-Saxon family who felt they were very much ‘better’ than anyone and certainly better than my family and I. I was constantly reminded that I was not good enough for them. My mother-in-law felt badly for the way they ‘had’ to treat me but she did once tell me that I would understand one day when my sons grew up and married cheap tramps. (Jokes on her – I have two daughters in law and both are amazing women – each in their own way!).
While there have been many good, kind people in my life, there has always been enough ignorant and judgemental neighbours, co-workers, employers, etc. around to remind me that I was ‘not good enough’. I do not know why I ever let them bother me, but I did.
It has taken me to retirement to realize I truly am done with people and their games and attitudes. I am happy living my little life of secluded retirement. I do not care who I am good enough for. I do not care about trying to be ‘better’ to meet their criteria for ‘good enough’.
I am good enough for my husband, my dog, and most of my family (depends on the day🙄). I am good enough for my current neighbours. I am good enough to enjoy the sun, clouds, rain, trees, flowers and rocks. I am good enough to enjoy the life that I am living. I am good enough to face myself in any mirror and know that I am a good person. I continue to learn and change as life goes on but I am now and I always will be, good enough for me!
Happy Father’s Day to all those Dads out there. I hope your day is special.
Genie has been followed by eight more grandchildren – all of whom Dan welcomed with open arms and a loving heart.
Having a family is great, except for the times when it is hard, and we have had our share of both with our family. Dan is there, in good times and bad. I cannot imagine doing this without him. He makes the good times better and he makes the bad times tolerable. I love you Dear. Happy Father’s Day!
I can’t let Father’s Day go by without honourable mention to a few more fathers today.
Yesterday was a day like any other day. Except, yesterday I went to get the report on my follow up x-rays. They showed no sign of pneumonia. Yay! They did however show signs of COPD. So, I am off for more tests, more doctor appointments, and more medication. The medication will have side effects. I am hopeful that the side effects will be soft manageable hair, improved eyesight, and stronger muscles. I am hopeful, but I am not delusional enough to actually expect such side effects. 🙄
In less than six months I will be retired. I was so excited about the possibilities when I made my decision to embark on this new phase of my life. My family and friends supported me. It was all good!
Somehow the closer I get, the harder this has been getting. Retirement has not been looking that promising. Finally, in total frustration, I sat down and wrote a blog about my current struggles. I put it all out there. (Well most of it). I hit publish and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I suddenly realized what I was really struggling with.
For the past five decades, I have been in the enviable position of being a ‘caregiver’. I have had the physical, mental, emotional and financial ability to help and support others – husbands, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, employers, co-workers, friends and the occasional stranger. Now, I am suddenly planning for a life where my main focus is caring for me. It never occurred to me that such a change in focus would be a problem for me, much less others – especially those who I have done the most for over the years.
There are probably a lot of people who come up against these mental struggles when they are planning or kicking off their retirement. I wonder why nobody talks about them. 🙄
The closer retirement gets, the more it looks like an unavoidable train wreck.
In July 2019, I decided that I would retire on my 65th birthday (July 2020). This was not a rash decision. I gave it a lot of thought and took a number of factors into account.
1. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my husband. With his 24/7 shift work and my 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, our together time was limited.
2. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and daughter and my grandchildren.
3. Although I have always seemed more youthful than I actually am, and felt I could easily work for a few more years, I decided I wanted to retire when I was still felt young enough and strong enough that I would have the energy to pursue new interests.
4. There were situations within the construction industry and the construction company that I worked for that made my job stressful and frustrating. I did not want retirement to be about getting away from what I was doing but I was ready to leave it behind.
5. And, last but not least, I wanted the opportunity to start enjoying the retirement life that my older siblings were already living. 🧘🧚🏄👩👧👦💃
I discussed my decision with my husband, my children, my boss and my siblings. Everyone was on board and encouraged me to do what I felt was right. I threw myself into preparing for retirement🥳
That was then, this is my now:
1) In recent weeks my husband seems to be less enthusiastic about my impending retirement. He has to work for another four years to get his full pension and he seems to resent that I will not be slogging it out with him. I get it. I really do. But I know this will be better for both of us. We will have more time to spend together. I will be able to carry more of the household workload. We will both be able to live around his schedule. I want to do this, but I do not want to go into this feeling guilty and resented.
2) I will no doubt have the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and their families. That will be nice. In August, my daughter kicked me to the curb and banned me from seeing her children. To say that I am devastated from the loss is a total understatement.
3) I am definitely not feeling youthful. I have been sick since October and I am exhausted. I look old and I feel old. 👵 Retirement, as I see it now, is the opportunity to nap – a lot.
4) Even though I was definitely ready to leave my job, I wanted to go out feeling really good about the job I did and the contribution I had made to the company I worked for. Things get worse every day. I do not care how I get out. I just want to get out. That is not how I wanted to begin my retirement. I did not want it to be about getting away from where I am. I wanted to be excited about where I am going.
5) Finally, my siblings and the retirements they were enjoying. I have a sister two years older than me. We practically grew up as twins. We have been best friends before bff’s were even a thing. She had a kidney transplant last March. She still, and will always, takes a handful of pills every day. The side effects are brutal. She was always the bright one, the quick one, the happy one. Now her life is so hard. My oldest sister has always been large and in charge. Not do much large physically, but definitely in charge. She has always been a hoot. She has been dealing with recurring cancer for years. She has been keeping it at bay and living a good life. She has been sick since before Christmas. She has been exhausted and losing weight, confused and weak. Last week she was diagnosed with aggressive, advanced Alzheimer’s. We are all heart-broken for her, for her family and for us.
I am less than six months from retirement. I should be more excited and relieved and happy everyday that it gets closer. I should be, I want to be, but to be honest I am struggling. I definitely do not want to stay in the workforce but these days I do not know if retirement is going to be any better. 🚂