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.”
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.
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.