Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Monday, transitions

Waiting at the top of the parkade ramp for the gate to close behind me, I noted how dark it was, still, at 5:25. In theory, my decision to take an early ferry back Monday morning rather than battle the Sunday afternoon crush made sense. In practice? big yawns. . . And the dubious delight of a full moon peering through clouds at its reflection in English Bay....

It's 7:20 in the morning as I write this, though, and the sun is shining reassuringly on the blue water, a slight chop frothing up the occasional white cap. The distance is closing between the ferry and the island where I'll drive off the boat and continue up the hill to work. Two classes to deliver this morning, so perhaps I should grab a coffee on the way.

But in the time left before disembarking, I'm recognizing all the other reasons I might be tired this morning. Yes, waking at 4:50 might be part of it (although I was in bed by 9:15!). but so might cycling 20 kilometres to visit our new granddaughter and her parents on Friday, then taking said g'daughter for a 4-kilometre walk so Mom could feel some breathing space.

The two-hour round-trip drive to visit my mother-in-law in her assisted-living complex wasn't physically taxing, but the visit, while emotionally satisfying in so many ways, was also draining. Such extremes, to come from a wee infant just getting established in this world to someone who says she's ready to leave it. No wonder I napped after this, although Pater needed to discharge his emotions through another bike ride. I fit in a long walk, later, to do the same.

And then we had a fabulous meal at our son's, healthy, delicious, beautifully presented food, thoughtfully designed to support my run the following day. Accompanied with perfect wine chosen by our sommelier daughter-in-law. There's something quite wonderful about being well-fed at the table of a son or daughter.

The run with my sister Sunday morning is a major culprit in the fatigue stakes, but we took the 14 kilometres at an easy pace (something like 6:53, I think). She hasn't been training much, but was using the Coho Run to kick-start her preparation for the Big Sûr Marathon next spring. I could have run faster, but was just happy to have a chance to visit with my "baby sister." We both sport some hearing loss, so I suspect our chatter may have been noticeable but we were happily oblivious.

Again, a nap was in order, but I still had a g'daughter I haven't seen in weeks, so post-nap I walked across a bridge again (8 foot crossings of big bridges this weekend!) to meet the gang for some beach time. Hugs and big smiles and many kisses from two little girls made all the walking worthwhile.

But oh my, was I ready for some quiet screentime and an early bedtime. And now, as I catalogue the weekend activities, noting that somewhere in there I read the weekend paper and spent a few hours marking student work and preparing lectures....I'm exhausted all over again. Exhilarated too, though, at how full life is at this stage. Greedy, I am a bit, to grab as much of it as I can right now, while it's still in view, like that dramatic, full moon I viewed over the water this morning, peeking through the clouds, ready to disappear in the next hour...

Are you, too, surprised at how very busy this late midlife stage can be? And if so, how much do you think that final horizon has to do with the pace we set, and how much is simply circumstances, logistics, demographics? Do you savour some of the busy-ness even as it wears you out, and/or have you found ways to dial down the exhaustion factor without stripping your calendar of much that gives it meaning? You know, just a few small questions for a Monday morning...

24 comments:

  1. Without a regular job, busyness comes in spurts for me. But there is always something or someone to attend to. Life is so full and somewhat more complicated than when I was younger. There are more grey areas - is this a sign of modern times or has it always been this way?

    Just reading about all your exercise and activity had me in awe at your stamina. Congrats on the run!

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    1. Even though our children are raised and now raising their own, family keeps us surprisingly busy, doesn't it?! And that's a good thing! Thanks for the congrats, but really, that was just fun with my sister.

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  2. My daughter did my tarot cards the other day (a new skill learned from my parents, don't ask...). The fourth card (don't ask me what it means, I can't remember) was all about how I'm one of those people who's perpetually busy. While all of the other cards could easily have been attributed to everyone in the land - and certainly this 4th card also fits that description - I really felt a resonance. My kid said: Oh yeah, this card is SO you!

    I am perpetually busy. I don't know if I mind it. I can't imagine my life being otherwise.

    PS: I only wish I didn't constantly feel like I'm under-functioning despite my busy-ness.

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    1. You know, that middle paragraph is so perfect. I think that might describe me as well, and sometimes I do mind it and sometimes I don't, but it hasn't been otherwise and I don't suppose it ever will be! And the p.s. perpetually applies to me as well, which might be where the fatigue factor comes from.

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  3. You were quite the busy one this weekend! I spent a lazy two days at home in an attempt to regroup and relax. I usually go hard for several weekends before taking one off. I don't consider it an age (final horizon) thing, I have been doing this for 20 or more years. So much to see and do, so many people I want to stay connected to and so little time to do so. Like many other working people, much of my time is consumed by work.

    The nursing home-assisted living environment is tough, even on a good day. Like you, I find a visit with my dad draining. I have learned that Wednesday afternoons with him leave me too exhausted to do much else. This is where the final horizon comes into play in my thoughts, when I walk out the door I always wonder about my own aging process...

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    1. Some of your weekends are crazy busy! And you sound like K-line above, and like me -- when I look back, I can see this pattern at every single step of the way, but perhaps I'd imagined it might ease off by now.
      And yes, although luckily my MIL is still relatively mobile and cheery, the cognitive impairment makes a visit wearing in many ways. That nudge into thinking about how we'll face that process. . . .

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  4. I am feeling exhausted by a commuter's drain. My children go to school 45 minutes away from our home, so we each make one round trip a day getting them there and then home again. And we're increasingly finding that their sporting/cultural/social lives are in the same town, so sometimes we make that drive 3, even 4 times a day on top of our regular teaching/parenting/housework lives. When I leave for the summer, it is the oddest thing to sit still, in a home I do not have to constantly straighten. I then realize how my fall/winter world is Sisyphean--I make some progress and then something else needs attention. But it's all in the name of giving my youngsters a good educational start in life . . .

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    1. That's a really big commitment -- a good cause, but a big commitment, and no wonder your fall/winter life is challenging, coupled with the teaching. Even with shorter distances, I found those years of soccer practices and games, piano lessons, band practices, etc. demanded seemingly constant driving. . . It does pass. . . ;-)

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  5. We've had many conversations lately about how demanding life seems to be right now, between jobs in industries somewhat in transition and caring for a special needs teenager who is bigger and demanding more control of his life, but often needs the same level of care as a toddler. At the point that we're feeling the urge to slow down, even just a little or shift to more self care, our lives are often asking more of us. Retirement is starting to sound mighty good...but need to hang in there just a few years more.

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    1. I'm hoping to hang in a few more years as well, especially since I do realize how much of my work I thoroughly enjoy, how much of it energizes me. It's just all the pursuits I have to push away to make the family-work juggle possible . . . Your family commitment is particularly challenging right now, and it's too bad that has to coincide with the work front being somewhat rockier.

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  6. Sounds good to me. Lots of exercise, company, fun and games is what we need in the salmon run of our lives. I like the greed for new experiences. Better than sitting about whining because you can't get about anymore and mourning your lost youth. Imagine going into your dotage with a huge backside. No thanks. I'm staring tempus fugit right back.

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    1. It's true! The very things that exhaust me are also what keep me going. I would love to have three non-fatigued extra hours a day, but not sure I'm ready to give up what I'd have to in order to gain those.

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  7. After working (writing) from home and teaching casually for many years, I'm now teaching primary school full-time and it is REALLY consuming my life. Up at 6am to get myself and my own kids (14 and 17, yikes!) ready, at work by 7.30am, teaching till 3pm, meetings/work/programming till at least 5pm with an after-school Art class till 6pm one day a week - then leaving to do shopping/laundry/ironing/cooking. Everything's done by 8.30 or 9pm and I'm ready for bed. Sleep. Repeat. Weekends I spend doing all the domestic stuff that I have no time for on weekdays. Yoga/running/meditation currently all on backburner. Nuts. But at the same time I absolutely love my class, so I'm not complaining. It's just a stage; there will be others ...

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    1. So glad to see you here -- and no wonder you don't blog anymore! I miss you, but it sounds as if this intense stage of your life offers enough satisfaction to make it worth pushing things to the backburner. I think this is what I'm reconciling myself (yet again! at 61!) to -- the tradeoff! (p.s. really? they're 14 and 17 now? How long have we been blogging friends -- weren't they quite small?)

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  8. Although the prolonged period of quiet was good for me in many ways. I am much happier being busy, which is good because I seem to heap it up in piles. I am happy though, even if tired, and those periods of rest are well-deserved even though short-lived. I think the thing about this time of life is that it is a busyness we choose and therefore it suits us well, even if it can be exhausting. Like K-line I tend to be one of those people who is perpetually busy, even when I am sitting, I am rarely still, rarely doing nothing. I used to wonder what people who didn't do all the things I do with my time did, so I suppose I don't mind it. I haven't found a way to manage that exhaustion thing, just to go and go until a break forces itself upon me and then go again. If you master balance, please share.

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    1. You and Kristin frame busy-ness in a way that really makes sense -- resonates! -- to (with) me. Balance is a theoretic possibility . . . ;-)

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  9. I'm helping to facilitate a transition right now, so my activity level has increased. My mother is selling her home of 46 years and I am the only child who resides in the state. I've put off some things for myself to assist her in cleaning out so many memories and walking her through negotiations for a smaller, one story home. And to think that I thought my newly empty nest was going to be quiet! Since I work part time from home and my schedule varies, I am finding the structure of going through the sale and purchases enjoyable. As Tiffany above says, it is a stage, I accept it and there will be another right around the corner.

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    1. I think that's so important -- the recognition of stages. They offer us variety, and they pass. I also remind myself that I've exercised choice. Occasionally, I'll indulge in some "victim-whining," but generally I try to remember that if I'm busy it's because of choices I've made for good reasons. Sounds as if you've taken something that might make someone else feel overwhelmed and you've framed it positively. You and your mom are lucky to go through this process together.

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  10. I absolutely admire you for all the things you get done in one single weekend! All your walking and running and cycling was certainly worthwhile and meeting so many of your loved ones must have been rewarding in spite of some exhaustion. But how on earth did you fit in marking papers and preparing classes in that schedule? I feel that at the moment I can't move at such a pace. Perhaps it's just a stage and the strength of other times will come back. Perhaps I have to accept that there are only so many things I can fit into one day or weekend and that I have to learn to enjoy them and not to think of all the other things I should have liked to do but couldn't. Maybe this feeling is normal as one gets older, or perhaps it is the flip side of my reluctance to go back to school and to enter the treadmill again. Perhaps it goes away once I've taken up the rhythm again. I very much hope so.

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    1. I'm not at all sure there's anything admirable -- my busy weekend is simply me responding to things in my life that need to get done. The fitness activities do take time, but they give me some of the energy and the tension release to keep up. I was dreading the return to class, sure I wouldn't be able to make the switch. Somehow, once again, I got energized by being back in the classroom -- a good surprise! You might well find the same. That said, I generally feel exhausted and rather discouraged somewhere between weeks 5 and 8 of the semester, and I hate that we go from September through April without room to get away for a week -- I'd love a break somewhere in there! Bon courage with your start-up!

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  11. Seconding the great pleasure of a fine meal prepared by your own children! I'm at a different stage of life, but also do not choose to do as much as I once did. Despite the energy requirements it does sound as if your visits and care of both the young and old are deeply appreciated, and also give you much in return.

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    1. Yes, you know those pleasures living in a family of wonderful cooks as you do! Your life strikes me as equally very busy, but full of things you choose. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I choose to be working and that the choice is a luxury -- and that everything I do, as you point out, has its rewards to compensate for its demands.

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  12. I am overawed and exhausted by your weekend. I'm in the final stages of my thesis so all I do is sit at my keyboard - for hours and hours... But what your post - and some of your friends' comments above - put me in mind of was a couple of lines of Dylan Thomas: 'Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light'. Isn't that the way to go?

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    1. I have to say that the last year(s) of writing my PhD thesis (it stretched out!! Ugh!) were some of the hardest in my life for being at the edge of depression. The slough of despond! For me, taking on a part-time teaching position helped move me out of it. The busy-ness was balanced by doing something that could get immediate positive results (a paycheque, at the very least!) AND that gave me social contact.
      And yes, your Dylan Thomas quotation is apt!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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