Guerrilla Aging: I’m Not Where I Thought I’d Be, But I’m Exactly Where I Am

Posted on March 28, 2014

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 The following is a guest post by Lakota Grace (her name, alone, makes for a great story) a  “71 year old, twice-divorced single lady who dyes her hair red, just because.” She can be visited at her blog,  A Look Forward.

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This isn’t where I thought I would be. I’ve never been very good at the five year plan, or the three year plan. The one year plan? I can do that pretty good. But as I get older, I find that my time horizon shrinks like my vision.

I am doing, right now, what I want to do. I eat healthy, I exercise, I write. I have a good solid house (rental) with lots of potential. My (old) car runs. My cat is happy (although she snores). I miss more companionship (both male and female), but my life is rich and rewarding in spite of it. Not what I thought it would be—it’s different—but okay, even so.

I always knew I would like to write. I wish I had started sooner. I didn’t think I was capable of a long fiction writing project like a novel. Now I know I am. Thanks to a writing group I’ve been a part of, my practical knowledge is growing by leaps and bounds.  I’ve developed a rhythm in my life that has allowed me to finish two complete novels; I’m plotting a third.

I have gained a peace that I did not have when I was comparing myself: To folks that were rich. Especially those that had saved tons for retirement. To people that were young and fair-haired. That were married. That had a full time career.  Or that worked tirelessly as a homemaker for a large family, or volunteered for countless service organizations. That were male.

I don’t have any of those prerequisites that society seems to require in order for a person to be deemed worthwhile, and yet I still have value, I still respect myself. That took a long time to create, that sense of a valued self.

This is the first work, ever, (other than school) that I chose for myself.

I didn’t think I could hold down three (part-time) jobs simultaneously, and I do, because I have to work in order to eat. But only one of those, and that job is not paying yet, is the one I love.

I didn’t think I could cook “for myself” and thanks to my sister and Indian spices and food co-ops such as Bountiful Baskets and discovering vegetarianism, I do.

I didn’t think I could get up into a Plank, much less hold it for a full minute, and I can. I didn’t think I could run again. Now I know that I can do that, too. I ran/walked my first ever 5K last month.

I still have spells when I get hungry: for a brand new car with all the bells and whistles; for a house—not a new one, but one I can redesign to my heart’s desire; for all the service people: gardeners, handymen, housecleaners. I am a techie person without the money to indulge in gadgets. I’d love to experiment with art, but I don’t have the time or money to do so.

I told my daughter when she was trying to choose her college major, “You can do everything you want, just not all at the same time.”

I guess that’s where it is for me. I enjoy the quail at the feeder, a full moon through the pecan tree. I get up and walk to work on Mondays because I like the feel of the early morning breeze on my face.

I live in a small town, so I have clear skies, but no shopping. A good thing, because I don’t have the money to go to Nordstroms, or Saks Fifth, or Gumps. Hard to believe, but a trip to WalMart or HomeDepot becomes an adventure when that’s all there is.

I don’t have television. I gave up my land line for a single cell phone several years ago. Both were expenses I wanted to eliminate and I found I didn’t miss them.

I spurged on Pandora, because I like music. I made a stand-up desk to write where my laptop sits on a big volume of Shakespeare. That tickles my funny bone.

I order stacks of books through the inter-library system because I can. Because the books waiting to be read give me pleasure like a five pound box of chocolates used to.

Chocolate: Love it, but it makes me sick. My system will no longer tolerate its richness, even the healthy 70% chocolate kind—especially the 70% kind. So I ration what I eat, knowing I will pay for it in discomfort later. I don’t like that reality, but have learned to accept it.

Each morning when I wake up before I get up, I do a mental and physical scan: How am I feeling, physically, emotionally? And then I adjust my day accordingly. I don’t get up at the same time every day—sometimes it is 4:30; sometimes it is 7. I like that variety. I make time for naps.

At the same time, I find ritual to be comforting. At night: Closing the curtains, turning down the thermostat, cleaning the cat box (because it’s in the bathroom), showering, plumping the pillows before I go to bed. In the morning: First cup of coffee or tea, vitamins, sitting in my favorite chair with my cat, watching the sunrise together.

Spring is a joy, because I no longer anticipate there will be unlimited numbers of healthy springs ahead of me. I savor the moments of euphoria that spring out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. I catch the glimpse of butterflies—first Western swallowtail yesterday—and I am happy.

I did not choose this life, but I am learning to appreciate each new day. I have to. They are all that I have.

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Would you like to guest post on Guerrilla Aging?  Send your post to lifeintheboomerlane@gmail.com.

 

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Posted in: aging