Revelations

 

It’s that time of year again where we made our New Year’s resolutions, face a clean slate, decide what we want to write on our slate.  I feel like I started with a clean slate in September.  I’m still working on it.  If someone told me a year ago, at the beginning of 2020, I’d be living in a new house, different climate and culture, changing my reality, I’d most likely have thought them daffy.  Yet, here I am.  I didn’t make resolutions again this year.  However, I am pondering some revelations.

Rhetorically, does a move to another state change our reality?  Decidedly so.  

Despite my trepidation about living in the snow belt, our Christmas was not white with snow, but sunny with temperatures in the high 50’s.  By Thursday it was 61.  I washed, waxed and detailed my car while Martin bicycled 18 miles.  Major storms, which made national news, went either north or south of us revealing a short winter season.  I’m ready if we get hammered as today it appears ‘The Iceman Cometh’.  My new reality includes a snow plowing service for the driveway as well as generator for power outages.  

But, compared to my altered emotional, spiritual and mental reality, the change in my physical reality is a minor aspect.   

Christmas night, as we prepared to leave our daughter’s house after a day of family, our grandchildren offered up hugs, our son-in-law backed my car out of the driveway and our daughter said, “Watch out for deer.  They’re scampering all over the place.”  

“I know.  We see them scampering.  I’m tired.  Glad it’s only 5 minutes to the house.”

She smiled.  “A lot better than 12 hours.”

Yes.

Having family, assistance and love just 5 minutes away has granted the measure of peace I hoped for.  I’m happier than I’ve been in years.  My only regret is not making the move sooner.  While being a caregiver is still strenuous, it is now a shared responsibility.  The kindness, acceptance, attention, effort, compassion, empathy, time together – I could go on and on.  

This hasn’t been easy.  After 21 years in South Carolina, even with the help of family, adapting to a new culture is a challenge.  Fortunately, we’ve lived here before.  Some things never change.  At the same time, growth renders cities and streets unrecognizable.  Family ties, of course, make it easier to find doctors, hair stylists, the best places to shop and other services.  When we moved to South Carolina, we had to rely on maps to get around.  GPS makes a new locale a lot simpler, especially wending our way through those now unfamiliar high growth, high traffic areas. 

While not making resolutions, I did reflect on what I wanted 2020 to look like.  Nearly two weeks into the new year and new decade, I decided to take a page from fellow blogger Pat Doyle’s post (https://retirementtransition.blog/2020/01/06/woty-2020-release/) and choose a Word Of The Year (WOTY) as a guide.   I wanted a word to lead the way to the emotional, spiritual and mental growth I sought in this new reality.  I wanted a word to aide my focus.  I wanted a word to define 2020 for me.  My WOTY is ‘Engage’.  While I’ve been busy settling in, locating services, changing licenses, address, painting walls and whatever else was needed to make this home our own, other than family, I haven’t engaged in the community in a meaningful social way.  

We live in the country.  However, looking around at what’s close to home revealed a wealth of interests hinging upon our natural world.  Small town activities abound.  Then there’s always the big cities, a bit longer to get to, but filled with many pursuits to choose from.  

Martin’s Painting of Canadian Geese

Keeping it local, as a first step to engaging Martin and I joined the Michigan State University Bird Sanctuary and Manor House only a few minutes from our home.  Similarly, we joined the Kalamazoo Nature Center – yes, there really is a Kalamazoo, Michigan – a bit further down the road.  

As a caregiver one of the challenges of engaging is finding activities, which will engage and satisfy both of us as well as finding community involvement for me alone.  The Bird Sanctuary is home to Trumpet swans, Canadian geese, ducks and rescued birds such as a Bald Eagle.  With nature trails surrounding a large pond and a monthly Birds and Coffee Walk, as longtime hikers, it’s the perfect place for both of us to get some exercise, engage with other people and nature.  On our last visit we met a photographer who drives over an hour just to take pictures of the once endangered Trumpet swans.  Martin took his own photos of geese, translating them to his artist canvas.  For me, there’s also the Richland Area Community Center with yoga and art classes.  It’s a beginning.

With an open mind and an open heart and ‘Engage’ as my WOTY, we’ll see what I can draw upon my slate by the end of 2020.  Engaging is under way!  More revelations to come.

21 comments on “Revelations

  1. Glad to hear the move was the right decision. I think my sister will be moving back to Missouri after 30+ years in Florida. Hope her transition goes well. The bird sanctuary sounds awesome. Good luck with engaging – sounds like you have a good plan.

    P.S. Martin’s artwork is beautiful.

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    • Thanks Kim. Your comment about Martin’s artwork made him smile. I also plan to spend more time on the blog and engage again with my readers. I’ve deeply missed my online community. I hope your sister’s transition goes well, too. Perhaps I need to write a post on making a smooth transition.

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  2. Kathy, you are very lucky that Martin still has his walking abilities. Being a caregiver for me involves being the legs, the driver, the main bill payer, the laundress, and most other activities we used to share. My only resolution this year was to no longer try to get my recently turned 80 year old husband to move out of NYC, as he has lived here all his life and for me, I’ve been here more than 40 of my 69 years. Being engaged for both of us are simply short trips in our 21 year old Maxima to local stores, a few favorite restaurants and doctors. I usually take an overnight trip up north to see siblings, friends and family. But all our hiking and fishing trips are in the past now. I run an art club and have taken up knitting, along with reading and writing memoirs. Hope to rent a lovely place this summer, but can’t plan too far ahead anymore. You are also blessed to have offspring, as we were not as lucky, though had a lot of fun trying.

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    • Hi Mary, Martin’s form of dementia is early-onset, so at 66 he is still physically able to bicycle and walk. However, I can relate to your situation. Martin can no longer drive and since he can no longer read and write and is losing his verbal abilities, everything else falls to me. My two oldest granddaughters (14 & 17) clean our house once a week and what a great job they do! So, that gives me free time to return to writing and doing art. I’m happy to hear you carved out some hobbies for yourself. I hope you find that lovely place to rent this summer. Let me know. Best to you and your husband. K

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  3. I’m so happy for you that you feel so loved and supportive in your new home town. My WOTY is similar to yours- Connect. Martins painting is lovely.

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  4. Best to you too, Kathy, as I know first hand with my late mom, your path is not an easy one. Bless you for this site. Bless you, Martin and family in 2020 and beyond. Thanks a bunch for your sage words.

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  5. I’m so glad that your move is working out for you. The switch from South Carolina to Michigan couldn’t have been easy but, now that’s it’s complete, it sounds like you are settling in nicely. “Engage” is my word too… I think it’s a good one to focus on as you move forward in your new home.

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  6. Lovely. Nice to hear things sound like they are going well. My husband and I moved away from big City of Toronto (though we lived in the outskirts) to a rural area 2 hours away – 3 years ago. My parents followed (un-willingly) a year ago as they both needed to be in Long Term Care. This past year has been very challenging. Then I got Lyme’s disease last summer. So I am hoping for a better year ahead but we are still a distance of 1.5 hours to one son and 4 hours to the other so I would really like to move again in the future and not leave it too long.

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    • Heather, I’m sorry to hear about your challenging year, especially with Lyme disease thrown into the mix. I hope you recognized the disease early on. As you already know, moving is a huge undertaking and now you have the added responsibility to consider your parents. I hope your 2020 is a less challenging year. Best to you. K

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  7. Kathy, Happy New Year. Your commitment to engage is so wise. Both those with cognitive deficits and those who are caregivers are at risk for social isolation, which puts us at risk for other problems. Engagement not just with family, but also with the wider community, is an important source of support. You are a role model for making wise decisions to provide both you and Martin with support and engagement to keep your lives full.

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    • Social isolation, which results in loneliness, which results in depression and boredom is my impetus Jean. I don’t want us to be in that situation. No matter what your circumstance, if you move to a new locale, making the effort to be a joiner will pay huge dividends in terms of health and well-being. I have to tell you I bought an amaryllis, which produced half a dozen large red blooms in time for Christmas! What a pleasure that was.

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  8. Kathy, Wishing you all the best in the coming year! Take good care of you. As always it was wonderful to hear from you! Blessings to you, Nancy

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  9. Blessings to you and M. So happy to read you are adjusting beautifully to your new life. Being surrounded by family is such a blessing. My WOTY is JOY… joy in work, play and everyday things! Life is so precious yet short so Joy is my 2020 goal.

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  10. Kathy, Thanks so much for the link and I am very glad I inspired you for a WOTY. As you’ve articulated it, Engage feels so right for you!

    What a blessing to have family that is so supportive. Tim & I are actually going the other way at the moment…moving away from his family to Florida. But our circumstances are different – the family is not supportive and the freedom of living down here (access to outdoor activities) is the right choice for us right now. It might be different in the future, but right now, it just feels right (typing this as I sit here in the sunshine). I’m trying to live in the “now” this year.

    I’m inspired by your approach to engage… I will be looking to see how to engage in our new community as well. I’ve got an invite to the local garden club already!

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    • You’re welcome Pat! You’ve been an inspiration with your bright, cheery posts. A support system is important no matter what your age or circumstance, but it becomes very important as we age. Best to you in your new home in Florida. K

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