Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Gain Some, We lose Some and life goes on.

I've been pondering some wise words from a friend.  I think I will ponder them better here.

Here are her wise words:  Growing older is a series of losses.

Let's back up a little here.  When we start out in life, we're like a blank chalkboard.  We have everything to gain in front of us.  We gain language, mobility, we gain people who love us, we gain laughter and joy.  We gain friends, experiences that will begin to shape who we are becoming.  We begin to gain interaction, and education.  We being to gain friends and relationships.

At the first part of our life, everything is new and fresh and exciting.  Each stage brings something new and exciting.  As we get older the next stages bring the excitement of adulthood.  We experience college, future spouses, marriages, careers, children, homes, etc, etc as we enter real adulthood.

The next stage are our peak years.  We have the most energy to accomplish the most things and we can juggle more things in our lives that we ever thought possible.   It's exhilarating for a long time.  It's like making to the top of the mountain after a long, hard climb.  It feels good.  We feel proud, fulfilled, content.

The kids are out on their own and we feel like we can finally breathe.  And then, after a half a lifetime of gains, we begin to see some losses.  It feels as though our bodies' warranties ran out when we hit 50.  

You know those body organs you can life without?  Mine lost their warranties and had to be discarded.. So I lost my...appendix...tonsils....gall bladder....female parts.... I don't feel as strong as I used to feel. 

I'm losing my quick memory.  Words and names don't come as quickly as they used to.  It frustrates me because I never had to struggle before with those things.  I have to ask for help to remember something.  It's humbling because I had been competently independent for many years.

I can't remember our conversation last night, but I can pull stories out of my brain from my childhood so easily.  The grandkids are asking for stories and I can do that with so much clarity that it's a little disconcerting.

I'm having to learn to adapt to some losses.  My eyesight has taken a bad turn and I am having to relearn a new normal in my vision.  For the first time in over 30 years, I am scared driving at night because of the loss of vision.  I'm not in control and can't fix it and losing feelings of confidence is another loss.

I think I can handle some of these losses when they feel within my control.  But I am learning that these losses are now involving losing friends.   In the last couple years, I have lost more family and friends than ever before in my life.  When I was younger, it was almost always someone older who died.  Now those 'someone older' deaths are my friends, my peers (I'm a someone older now too)  I think I'd always hoped we'd just grow up, enjoy life and start dying off later, much later.  And it would be
 nice if it was pretty much close together, like at the same time. (just an idea)  I desperately miss my friends who have died.  I don't think I will ever get used to this.

However, losses don't follow a schedule.  We lose a loved one and at our age, it's inevitable that we'll lose another loved one....repeat way too often from now on.

Losses come in other forms.  Job layoff is a big loss when it changes your whole lifestyle.  When this happened to us, we realized that we'd also lost that sense of adventure that would've had us moving at the drop of a hat and starting a new life over.  But we've lost that.  Our roots are here and we choose instead to readjust our lives here.  

We've lost dreams that we always thought would happen one day.  Trips to visit people who have now died have had to be set aside and given some time to grieve that loss.

It's difficult to shift thinking from embracing all life has to offer and then realizing that things are changing and you're not in control of those changes.

I know that I have the choice how to respond.  I wasn't expecting the losses and changes throw me into emotional chaos so that I don't know how to repsond.

On this 'losing' side of the journey, I am in the midst of learning how to respond.  How to keep peace and hope at the forefront.  I'm learning to look for things to make me happy regardless what is consuming me emotionally.

I'm trying to accept my new normal instead of wishing I was somewhere else from 20 years ago.  I don't know how I will do or what's going to happen.

I'm clinging to God every step of the way.  And I'm looking for the person in charge of putting out signs along the way....."Changes ahead!"....."Bladder control does not work on this side of the journey"...."Yield to aches and pains"...

I think the ageless Cat In The Hat has a poem that says it well:

Saturday, September 01, 2012

What are the odds.....putting a new face on fear

I am tired of being swayed by fear. I hesitate to do things because of fear.  It's as though fear has become a habit that happens first when life is played out.  I want to put a new face on my fears.

Before I can do that, I have to put my fears in perspective.

For example, the odds of having my identity stolen are 200 to 1.  That means that I have 1 chance in 200 of someone stealing my identity.  Somehow, I have come to see most statistics from the perspective of the biggest fear.  I tend to think, 'oh no, I have a 200 to 1 chance of this, how horrible' instead of realizing that 1 out of 200 really isn't that big a risk.

Did you know that the odds of striking it rich on Antiques Roadshow are 60,000 to 1?  I actually have a better chance at bowling a 300 game because those odds are only 11,500 to 1.

My chances of getting the flu this year are 1 in 10.  But that also means my chances of NOT getting the flu are 9 in 10.

My chances of finding out my child is a genius are 1 out of 250.  (oops, wait, I beat those odds 3 times....nevermind..)  ;^)

My chance of dying from a shark attack is 1 out of 300,000,000!  However, if you've ever seen Jaws, chances are good that you wonder if it's really safe to swim in the ocean.

I understand that I need to be careful even if the odds are in my favor.  It's not caution that I struggle with, it's fear.  I let the fear of what could happen strangle the joy of the moment.

I'd like to find something to blame that mindset on, like advertising or the media.  But I think it's actually more simple than that.  I think it's human nature.  I think we naturally tend to fear because we can't control.  I think human nature makes us think that we will be that 1 out of 10 or that 1 out of 300,000,000.

So, am I doomed to let fear be my driving force?  Thankfully, no.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Bible uses the phrase "do not fear" a lot!  If I truly believe there is a God (and I do) and I truly believe He loves me (and I do), then it's up to me to make the choice to not let fear be a driving force.

I can't control the circumstances but I can control how I respond.  I can't control the chances, but I can control my perspective.

So, instead of being afraid of my nightgown catching fire and burning me to death, I will instead be glad that I have a greater risk of being eaten by a California mountain lion.

About Me

My photo
Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.