Monday, January 2, 2017

Resolved: Look for/at the Horizon(s)

I don't generally do New Year's resolutions (although I try to refresh this simple one each year, it's so good), being something of a goal-setter in my regular life already. Possibly too much so. I suppose I could make a resolution to dial that back a bit, and I suspect I'd be healthier for it, but I guess I prefer to let those realisations and determinations -- okay, yeah, resolutions -- happen on a more frequent, smaller scale of regular adjustments than "New Year's resolution" suggests. (See Sue's post today at Une Femme d'un Certain Age -- she's still using New Year's as an occasion to "re-set," but she's adopting an incremental approach which has more appeal to me.)
A panoramic iPhone view from the rooftop terrace of our building, on a snowy Near Year's morning...

That said, after last year's big move (two moves, in fact) and my retirement the year before; after my ten weeks' travel this fall; after a month, since our return home at the beginning of December, of family festivities, gatherings, baby-sitting, of unpacking boxes and finding room for their contents, of deciding what new furniture was needed, then finding and purchasing it. . . After all that, as I was saying, I'm ready to sketch out some clear horizons for myself before the landscape gets too cluttered, all over again, with obligations and plans and interruptions that settle into an ongoing context.

I'm not yet sure how I'm going to manage this -- I feel as if I will need some substantial swathes of alone time, and preferably in my own space. That's going to be tougher to manage than it would have been in our previous home. Even there, with more rooms to disappear into and a whole big yard to wander, I couldn't help being conscious of Pater in the vicinity, potentially noticing how much I did or didn't get done, how much I was "just" puttering or "lazing" in a chair with my book. Of course, those were only projected judgements -- in reality, he's very supportive of my being less (obviously) active and/or productive. But nonetheless, I feel self-conscious even in my ever-so-supportive husband's presence, and to really unwind and to putter effectively, I'm plotting for ways to achieve some Me, Myself, and I time.  (Note: while your suggestions will be very welcome, I've already got a few ideas becoming concrete. More later....)
But don't worry, I'm not planning to send him up to the frosty roof so I can have our place to myself. . . ;-)
Sure to stay in the schedule, for now at least, is the blog. I'm doing some thinking about how I can better make it work for me, as well as for you, but it seems clear that the discipline of writing regularly is important to me. And even more important is the community I have the honour to facilitate here, the friendships I've made.  I'm playing with a few ideas around better answering and integrating your comments, always so thoughtful and supportive and smart, often amusing and informative. Honestly, the comments make such a difference. Writing in a private journal has its own satisfactions, I know, but for me to know that readers enjoy or find useful some of these posts -- huge motivation.



But I wouldn't say that any of that is a New Year's resolution (although I'm going to scurry off when I've finished writing this post and Catch Up on Responding to Comments!).

Here's one, though, that I'll grudgingly offer up. If I were pushed to make a resolution it would be simply to sit here for a while. To stay still. To be. To take stock (but no lists! Not yet!).  As the year moves on, I want to post some reflections on Making a Big Move, on Furnishing a New Nest, on Traveling for Extended Periods, on The Fragility of the Grandparent Stage (thanks to Beth Shia, see her comment two posts ago). Oh, I have ideas. . .

But for now, I'm going to try just to sit and look. Work my way up to some puttering. . . .

What about you?



36 comments:

  1. So glad you're keeping the blog. It's interesting how some of us are much harder on ourselves that our patient, supportive partners. In my case, this comes from a demanding mother who, for some reason, feared I would go wrong and an academic career that can easily go off course without vigilance. My goal for the year is to relax and allow myself time to adjust to new circumstances whatever they may be (perhaps retirement?). Not a resolution, but a hope!

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    1. Interesting. The pressure I put on myself also comes from my childhood family and there's something about academe that reinforces that tendency (and perhaps that's why personalities like mine -- and maybe yours -- choose it, unconsciously?). I like your goal. I hope you have some success with it -- good practice for retirement someday...

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  2. I have struggled with apartment living with Monsieur ever since we started living together. Although our apartment is about 1100 square feet, we seem to be on top
    of each other a lot of the time. I need my own space to binge read, watch some slow foreign film, de-stress or whatever. For a while Monsieur tried renting a studio in Steveston to practise music and to be a sort of "man cave". It did not work for him but it probably would have for me. Perhaps, you could try something like that.
    I'm glad that you are continuing your blog as I find that we share a few issues and interests. One of the positive aspects of blogging is that we find that we are not that extraordinary or that defective. We just are what we are.
    We fly home today and I feel the weight of the transition. My mother hasn't been able to get out because of the snow and a bad cold. My daughter is recovering from surgery and needs me to help her take her Christmas decorations down, the
    seniors' book club needs leading on Wednesday and the bread bagging schedule
    for the community meal has been posted. Do eldest daughters just set themselves up??? Sue's post hit home though. We have to take responsibility for ourselves and our health.
    Well, Monsieur and I are going to cross the street to have a last sunny beachside breakfast ( un omelet saludable).

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    1. What truth you pack into your second paragraph!
      Sounds as if you'll be hitting the ground running -- and yes, you might be right that this is what eldest daughters do. But try to take care of yourself as well. And watch out for all the ice!

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  3. That view is perfect for just sitting and looking out and waiting for everything to fall into place. And it leads back to your resolution of 8 years ago. It is what you have got, and it is wonderful.

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  4. Very thought provoking. We seem very alike in our time of retirement although not that I've moved. Getting the balance right in a relationship newly retired is a tricky beast. The guilt trip of not doing enough I know well. Blogging too is important because it makes you look at life in fine detail, and you get to communicate with like minded souls. So rewarding. I'm loving my National Trust volunteering which has also branched out into historical research. Not too demanding; doing as little or as much as I enjoy. You're right tho in taking time to stop and consider for a while. That happy balance will come I'm sure, with a little work. I look forward to hearing your plans. B xx

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    1. I think that's right, about the blogging. It invites closer attention to daily life and it helps us find one of our tribes.

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  5. I want this year to be easier than the last two or three and am not prepared to put up with nonsense. I think that sums it up rather well. Being quiet and alone is good; the older I get, the less I can bear to listen to noise. Good luck all!

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    1. A slightly acerbic summary, but yes, it works! I was becoming a wee bit curmudgeonly about nonsense towards the end of my pre-retirement life and am trying to get back to tolerating a bit more of it now (of the variety that might deserve toleration, that is, if that makes sense)

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  6. Doing some catch up reading after the totally hectic run-up to christmas, and so enjoying your writing, your thoughts. I totally 'get' that need for privacy, I am the same, sometimes I just need to stare into space because my head is so busy, or shtand stock still in the kitchen and finishe the chaoter of whatever book I am reading, or stare out of the window thinking about the colours, the seasons, the trees, the wind. Tomthe onserver, this behaviour can appear eccentric, but it makes perfect sense to me. I am fortunate that I have most days alone, during term time. I often wonder about retirement though ( not for another 8-10 years), so if you develop any strategies please do pass them on! X

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    1. You are fortunate -- I used to enjoy the same, especially during the years my husband worked in another city during the week -- It's one of the biggest adjustments of retirement.... we're working on it, but it's a wee challenge ;-)

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  7. Aaargh, so many typos, should have checked my work......! X

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  8. Mater, such a beautiful view. I'm not a city person, and I have a great view out my rural windows, but were I to live where you do,it would be hard for me to leave the windows.
    I am intrigued and assured by your comments about finding alone space. I thought I was the only one who felt that way. Thanks for the reassurance that I am not alone. Carol

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    1. You're definitely not alone in this, Carol -- as I've found I'm not by mentioning in it. We are, apparently, a small tribe ;-)

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  9. I think just "simply sitting" is quite a dandy resolution! You've been through so many changes recently, one on top of the other; it's probably a very-much needed pendulum-swing. The view from your roof is wonderful, really captures the essence (for me anyway) of Vancouver.

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    1. Back and forth, that pendulum, and every once in a while we magically hit balance! ;-)
      I'm not sure the photos do capture the essence of Vanc'r (where's the rain?!😂, but I do tend to orient myself by those mountains. . .

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  10. I agree with Sue... take some time.
    The benefits of sitting quietly and just thinking may not seem like you are working but they are a very important component when assessing where we want to go with our lives. You have been so very busy that some "down time" will be restorative.
    Your views are expansive and your condo bright...its a panoramic scenic setting for the next chapter of your life.
    BTW...I am admiring your lovely pen...well done Pater!

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    1. Didn't he do a good job with that? Apparently, he had considerable fun trying out the different models....

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  12. Being alone for a while every day, was always necessary for me,time to regenerate,more and more esssential as time goes by. Time to reflect,time for things to settle down,time to read,find solutions,concentrate......in my work as well in my private life (and than I could continue,being better,stronger.....but it is hard for people around one to understand that they'll have to let it go for a while, to get more in return)
    Last year was very demanding for me-this year would be,too
    I have space,I simply don't have enough time for myself
    I'm thinking about a week or two alone at the coast (if it would be possible at all)...
    Your last year was very hectic and emotionally hard,one needs some time to adjust some old traditions,set new habits to love and enjoy,new paths to go (and run :-)!)....
    It would be interesting to read about it!
    Your view is so beautiful,those mountains far away....lots of possibilities......
    Dottoressa

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    1. Yes, you have so much going on right now, Dottoressa. I hope you find time for some self-care as well as for caring for others. Hope you manage some time at the coast -- it sounds beautiful there, replenishing.

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  13. Well I'm in AWE of your photos. The dire looking sky and the majestic mountains. Snow everywhere. In every way NOT like my humble view: rolling hills; smallish mountains; cozy non threatening skies....the Northwest is amazing. So my hubs and I lived in a condo off and on over a 2 year period but he was out working 5 days a week. In a small space I think of things like set up the guest room as your alone space (when it's not being occupied). And without that is it possible to have a wee screen to 'define' the space? Being retired means having time to dream and read and write and laze a bit. I would recommend cutting back your schedule just a little so you can do those things. Your schedule over the last couple of years overwhelmed me but then I'm probably older and a little less kick ass than yourself. I look forward to your newsletter and photos every day. <3

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    1. We do have some possibilities for carving out spaces here, and we're also finding ways to use public spaces in the neighbourhood -- he likes to go for a coffee and read the paper there, for example, or work out at the gym downstairs while I get the place to myself. And yes, there could probably be more downtime in my schedule ;-) Thanks for the kind words about blog and photos, much appreciated!

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  14. You have had a couple of very busy, busy years, young lady...filled with huge life changes... you deserve some down time!

    But...still... I do know what you mean about "observant" husbands who might be judging one's "productivity" ... when, of course, they aren't doing any such thing. Sigh. It's the guilt thing.

    Like, for instance, the day my mum called and when I said that I might read all day, she said I should have "something done" before Stu came home in case he thought I wasn't "earning my keep." "Really, Mum?" I replied,"Did you hear what you just said?" This from a mum who, as a single parent, raised three daughters to stand on their own two feet. And even though she was somewhat joking, I reminded Mum that Stu did not "keep" me... I had worked just as many years for my teacher's pension as he had, after all. Then I hung up and proceeded to feel guilty for doing "nothing."

    I know you'll get "it" all figured out eventually, Frances, and will share some of that figuring with us. And we appreciate that:) Meanwhile... enjoy your view!

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    1. Yes! A great anecdote to illustrate how deeply coded some of this stuff is. Ah, I do guilt so well. Sounds as if you do too ;-) Working on it though, right?

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  15. Oh, I totally hear you on the alone time - and the 'doing nothing'. I desperately need stretches of no company other than the pets, so when everyone is on holiday and hanging around at home, I actually get quite tense. And I have a spouse who considers quiet (reading, puttering, cooking) time to be a) boring and b) non-productive. I hope you find plenty of you time this coming year!

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    1. Even though we love having them around, right? And then I just want to go to my room and read in my bed with the door closed. . . .

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  16. Might this need for quiet time be an extrovert/introvert thing ? I enjoy company but need to recharge with quiet time . One of my sisters is the opposite , she's happy to be alone for a while but needs the excitement of company to recharge . I've sometimes wondered if you have to be an extrovert to teach , as it seems rather like being on stage to me - am I wrong ?
    I'd like to see snowy mountains from my windows - just soggy ploughed fields here at the moment .
    Wendy in York

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    1. So many of my uni colleagues were like me, Wendy -- we can all perform quite well -- most of us even enjoy it -- in front of the lecture hall or classroom. But once classes and student office hours are over, we're quick to shut our doors and hole up in our little rooms. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that many actors are introverts as well.
      Sorry about the soggy ploughed fields, although to be honest, I'm secretly wishing for a sustained bit of rain. . . .

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  17. I know exactly what you mean about needing the place to yourself every now and then and it sounds like other friends do too. I shall look forward to hearing how you negotiate this, indeed I shall be there behind you notebook and pen poised...

    My new year's resolution is to eat more veg. I think we can all get behind that one. Going well so far

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    1. It does seem you can't go wrong with more veg ;-) Carry on . . .

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  18. I completely get the alone time thing and for me it is partly that I seem to be attuned, like a radio receiver, to my nearest and dearest and their presence. So to have total peace I need to be physically alone. Ian does not get this as he is very good at switching off from other people when he is engaged with something. I hope you manage to achieve less if you know what I mean. It's a constant balancing act for me between doing enough to feel alive and validated and taking time to simply be. Good luck!

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    1. This is what I find -- it's really hard for me to disregard any needs I perceive in the vicinity. My husband is like yours in being able to switch off -- and even when he's being social, there's always a level of his energy that's held back. Socialising simply doesn't cost him as it does me. And the balancing act -- you've articulated that perfectly. I get accused of doing too much, but that's often what I need to "feel alive and validated." Yet clearly I tip over occasionally into wearing myself out. Balance needs to be re-calibrated regularly, especially these days...

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  19. (for better or worse but not for lunch)
    That first year when he retired was a HUGE adjustment for me.
    Now we have drifted into - he is up early, and I am at my laptop or reading in the evening when he has gone to bed early. And even our small garden, is big enough for 'where are you?'

    I get peopled out very quickly ;~)

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    1. Another kindred spirit. I think it was good that my guy retired four or five years before me -- and he continues to work several contracts or sit on various boards, so that takes him out enough. And as you suggest, we're beginning to find some times and spaces to get the alone time we need. But it's still a work in progress.

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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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