Sometimes gifts come to you in ways you would never expect. I would never have expected to receive such a wonderful gift because I was having a hard four months, health-wise. I had no serious issues, one bout of bronchitis that took a while to clear up, followed soon after by pneumonia. As I said, neither of these was life-threatening, but they did slow me down. At the time, I was upset about that. Now, as I am hopefully nearing the end of the pneumonia, I have realized that I have been given a huge gift.
I am a “busy” woman. I love being busy. In the past a lot of my activities revolved around doing “social” things with friends. I love people! I have a large circle of friends, although I would not call many of them “close” friends. I have always felt that being around other people and having interesting conversations was a wonderful way of growing and learning. I am a woman who needs to learn and grow and I hope that this will always be true.
Many of the things I was “busy” doing with friends were fun as well. I love going to live music events, wine tastings, visiting art galleries and dining out. These activities are not, in my opinion, frivolous or a waste of time. Again, they are experiences to learn and grow, but more importantly they add joy to my life.
I also love spending time with my grandchildren, although that has not been easy of late. I hope to spend much more time with them when some personal issues affecting them are soon resolved and we are all healthy.
As I mentioned before, being hit by the bronchitis and pneumonia really slowed me down. The doctor told me that the fastest road to recovery was to sleep a lot…and he specifically said that he did not mean “bed rest”. So, sleep I did. A lot…during the day as well as at night. I rarely left my condo. When I look back over the last four months, I have not gone out very much at all.
At first, I didn’t miss the social aspect of my life because I was too sick to really do anything anyway. We were also experiencing very cold weather with killer wind chills. Going out for any reason was not all that appealing.
There was a period of maybe three weeks between the end of the bronchitis and the start of the pneumonia (thankfully that included Christmas) that I felt a lot better. I was able to visit with a few friends and see my son and grandchildren for the holidays. Having been ill, I had been busy getting my condo decorated and gifts wrapped, so was not missing the “outside” world.
I am the Secretary of the Board at the condo where I live and usually that keeps me quite busy. December is actually the least busy month for us. The projects I needed to work on were few and far between.
I discovered something that I had not had for a very long time…free time…by myself…something that I have always loved but have not had for quite a while. Over the years I had a lot of free time …the years after I was widowed and before I started dating again (fourteen years to be exact) I loved to read and usually read four or five books each week. I also did a lot of writing.
That all stopped when I met the man I thought was the love of my life. For the next three and a half years I let my life revolve around him and put my solitary pursuits on hold. I will never make that mistake again although our years together were filled with love and wonderful times. When that relationship ended almost a year ago, I felt lost. I don’t think I had ever felt that way before, not even after the death of my husband.
I struggled at first and then decided that I needed to do some work in order to move forward in my life. I started reading more and taking some courses on line. Yet I still felt that I was “too busy” to do what I felt I needed to do.
Well, guess what? Being ill gave me the gift of time…time for me…time to do the kinds of things that are most meaningful to me. I stopped going out, except on rare occasions, and seriously started a journey of self-discovery, recovery, and personal wellness.
I started taking tai chi lessons and am now doing that three times a week. It has made an amazing difference in my life, both physically and emotionally. I started learning how to improve my meditation skills and making sure that I found time each day to meditate…although, I must admit that I have missed a few days here and there. I gifted myself by spending money on some courses that have made a huge difference in my life. I have been overachieving in terms of all my exercise and weight-control goals. I now have serious “woman muscles”.
I have learned how to set intentions and then give up any emotional attachment I have to “receiving” what I want. I have faith that if it is mean to happen, it will…and it does!
I decided, as I approach my 70th birthday, that I have spent far too many years (actually most of my life) caring more about what happened to others than what happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have ALWAYS been a happy, positive person. But my world always revolved around making sure that I could help others, be there for them whenever they needed me, giving them what they needed.
My journey, this past four months, although initiated due to outside events in my life, has been such a wonderful gift! I no longer feel guilty when I spend any money on myself. I no longer deny myself things that bring me great joy and pleasure. Yes, I am still careful with money because I hope to live many more years and I am on a fixed income. But I now realize that I have enough money to do the things that bring me joy without having to worry about the future. Still there are ways that I can help others.
I have learned to say “no” when I don’t want to do something. I do not let myself be manipulated or affected by guilt or emotional overload. I also say “no” when I need time for me…to do what is important for my emotional and physical well being.
I have loved the last four months (maybe not the coughing and wheezing) for making me realize how important it is to do the work necessary to be the best I can be…to learn how to love myself so that I may, at some time in the future, find someone I wish to love and spend time with again. I have learned to truly look at each day as an opportunity to live, gaining new experiences and knowledge. I have learned that laughter is an amazing healer. I have learned that all things are possible. I have learned how to relax more and to understand that when something is out of my control, I need to forget about it and trust that things will be as they are supposed to be. I have learned that there are some relationships that I must give up and others that I need to encourage. I have learned how to clear the past and live in the present, joyfully and with pride in myself. And I have learned to be a damn good pool player.