Adding Brushstrokes

I loved Vanessa’s last post. I chuckled at the comment about how our lives are “about to change” – I think that happened the day we were both let go from our employer within 15 minutes of each other. πŸ™‚

So much of what Vanessa wrote resonated with me. We truly are staring at a blank canvas. It’s exciting, and yet scary. The last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing higher levels of anxiety, and even a few anxiety attacks. I’m no stranger to them, so I know what’s happening. My first action is to get my thyroid levels checked. πŸ™‚ Sometimes, anxiety is a symptom of having too much Synthroid, and my medications need to be adjusted again. Failing that, I need to look at other causes.

I suspect part of it is living in a nearly-post-Covid world. Did anyone else find it weird to walk into stores without wearing a mask? For two weeks, I carried one with me. Sometimes I felt I needed to wear it, other times not. I don’t like when strangers stand to close to me – something I never used give much thought. I’ve gotten used to going without a mask (most of the time), but I still sanitize my hands every chance I get.

Truthfully, most of the anxiety is coming from not having a clear path before me. I’ve always had a plan. Now, like Vanessa, I’m looking at a blank canvas. Hers is a new van; mine is the life I want to create. In our early days of blogging, we talked a lot about creating space, through decluttering and purging things that no longer serve us. Now, what do we do with the new-found space?

If you read my posts, you know it’s a question I’m wrestling with right now. I’ve got tonnes of time, and yet, am well aware that I have more years behind me than ahead. The vision I had for this stage of life has been erased. I’ve taken the metaphorical sledge hammer to it because I wasn’t about to settle for less than I deserve.

I’ve added a few brush strokes to my canvas in the past few months. I have a long way to go to complete the picture.

Doesn’t “Calm” Come First?

I haven’t been very active in this blog for the past couple of months. My life has taken some unexpected, sudden turns and I feel like I’ve missed the “calm” and have landed firmly into the “storm”.

Some of the storm is physical – my dad moving into long-term care, my roommate deciding to buy me out of our home, finding a new home, getting ready to move, and work projects coming fast and furious.

Some of it is emotional – feeling as though I’ve let Dad down (even though he’s the one who asked to move), angry at my roommate (soon to be ex-husband), frustrated from dealing with him, excited about my new place, sad that my CrossFit gym is permanently closing (thank you Covid), and happy with how things are going in my current relationship.

Some of it is mental – I find myself paralyzed by indecision. I’ve never had the opportunity to purchase and set up a home just for *me*. What do I like? How do I want to set it up? What works for *me*?

I alternate between feeling as though I have everything in order and, like today, feeling as though everything is out of control. It’s uncomfortable.

I try to get comfortable through “to do” lists. I love the sense of completion I get when I can cross something off the list. Thing is, the closer I get to the closing date, the longer the “to do” list seems to grow. It feels like a hurricane increasing strength as it moves towards land.

Will the storm’s strength decrease before it reaches land, or will it hit land and wreak havoc?

I need to stay on top of my self-talk and reflect on what I’m feeling.

Yes, I feel overwhelmed. I need to focus on what needs to be done *right now* and not think too far into the future. What do I need to get done today?…tomorrow?

I need to focus on creating a new home and filling it with things that sustain my physical, emotional, and mental well-being and rather than dwelling on what I’m leaving behind.

I need to remember that – yes – as I pack and realize I have a lot of “stuff”, I don’t have to unpack it all in one day. It’ll be OK to move things and decide it doesn’t serve me anymore. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – I can do that anywhere.

I can peruse Pinterest to get ideas for setting up my new home. Or, I can set up the rooms next week and feel free to change my mind as I live in the space.

I may not have experienced a calm before the storm, but I feel there’s a tremendous calm waiting for me after it.

Change is Tough

β€œThe Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

This quote, along with “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” have been running through my mind a great deal the past while. Do you ever think, “Enough! I’m strong enough! Stop testing me!”?

For the past four years, I’ve been the primary caregiver to my parents. We lost Mom two years ago, and today, I moved my dad into long-term care. I had no idea how difficult the day would be for me. On one hand – he and I are both ready for it. He asked to move. I’m burning out. I know, deep in my heart, it’s the best move for both of us. With his vision loss, he was getting more easily disoriented in the house and it was scaring him. I was responsible for getting his meals, medication, doctor appointments, transportation, and keeping an ear open to make sure he was safe at all times. I couldn’t leave the house for more than an hour or two at a time. We were thrilled when a spot opened at one of the homes we had chosen.

Today was moving day. I thought I’d feel relieved. It’s the last thing I feel. I’m sad because Dad won’t be in the house anymore. As much of a toll as it was taking on me, I feel sad that he won’t be cared for by his family. I feel sad that Dad can’t see what a lovely place he’s at now. He’s got a room that faces the mountains and the airport runway. I know he’s love to sit and watch the planes take off and land. The home has pool tables, plenty of couches for cozy conversation areas, raised gardens outdoors – all things he’d enjoy if he was more able bodied and had his vision.

I’m concerned that he’s going to get disoriented in his new room, despite setting it up much the way he had it at the house. I spent 30 minutes having him walk to/from the bathroom so he felt confident he could find his way on his own. I had to teach him how to “see” with his hands in his new environment – a bit of a challenge for an 83 year old man who is also in cognitive decline.

I worry that he won’t get the care he deserves. I have no reason to believe he won’t, but this is brand new and it’s not me anymore. I need to put faith and trust in others. The people I’ve spoken with the past week, and met today, are lovely people. I’m sure he’ll be well cared for, but I’ll need to hear from him that he’s content.

Dad has to quarantine in his room for 14 days. My niece and I are the only two people who can visit him. His meals and activity workers will spend time with him – but will it be enough stimulation? Will he be bored? How scared is he?

Once quarantine is over, he can leave his room and socialize with others. He will require assistance to get out of his room and into the social areas. Will the staff remember he can’t see? Will they get him out and about? It’s all so new for both of us.

After getting Dad settled and hearing him say, for now, he is happy, we left. I cried all the way home. I feel that I’ve let him down. I know he’d say I haven’t.

It’s tough. Even though it’s a change we were both ready for, and wanted, we’re not prepared for it. Within an hour of getting home, I fell asleep. I can’t remember when I’ve felt this tired. It’s weird not having Dad here. Dinner time came and went. I didn’t have to get him to the table, get his meal ready, and his medication out for him. I don’t hear the TV blasting from his bedroom. There’s an emptiness in the house.

Dad’s move marks the start of more changes. There’s no reason for my roommate and I to live together anymore. I’m free to move. Our mortgage is due and it’s the perfect time for him to buy me out. I’m looking at being a home owner on my own for the first time in my life.

None of this was in the 5 or 10 year plan. Will there ever be a time when my life feels settled, when change isn’t the constant it’s been the past few years? Or, has it always been like this and, as I age, am I simply more aware of it?

So much of how we react to change has to do with mindset and resiliency. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being a strong, dependable, optimistic woman who can handle whatever life throws at me.

Tonight, I want to be the little girl who misses her dad.