Almost all my life I have worked.
When I was in my teens I was a babysitter, a grocery clerk, and a water safety instructor.
In my twenties I was a licensed hairdresser. I was a clerk. I was a Mom.
By my thirties I was a real estate broker and I was a business owner.
When I retired a few years ago in my mid-sixties, I thought I would be thrilled to have all the extra time I didn’t have when I was working all those years. Now I could do projects I never had the energy for….like put all my photographs in order and clean every closet. I could travel or I could just sit back and put my feet up. And for awhile I did all of that but I became bored. I didn’t want to be non-productive.
So I have been volunteering a lot of my time to others. I teach a Scrabble class to seniors. I painted two bedrooms for two grandchildren. I help in a consignment store. And of course, I write. The busier and more productive I stay, the happier I am.
When I am done with one thing I have to keep looking for more things to do (even as a volunteer) so my time is full of activities except they can’t be too challenging….like painting the two bedrooms. My knees ached for days after climbing up and down a ladder to reach the top of the walls. I think my painting days are coming to an end very soon. I must accept that I am not young and agile like I was way back when. My body reminds me with its aches and pains that arthritis is present and I must give in to it to keep it at bay. Icepacks and hot tub soaks plus trips to my chiropractor every now and then help a lot.
I really don’t want to get old. I don’t want to become incapacitated. I don’t want to linger in no man’s land where I am frustrated because I cannot do for myself. I have watched the horrors of alzheimers damage a cousin my age leaving her a vegetable and totally dependent. I have cried at the cancer deaths of two dear friends again, my age. I consider myself relatively healthy in the scheme of things but I recognize that I am slowing down. So are the millions of other baby boomers who fall into my category.
I have vowed to remain active and productive and alert. I will exercise my brain as well as my body. I will play Scrabble and read. I will walk as much as possible and swim when I can. I will eat good food – no white breads and sugars – organically grown fruits and veggies and little meat. I will really try to take care of my body even at this late date.
I recently bought a framed picture that said “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of my body.” I have it hanging above my desk so I can keep its message in my line of sight. I want to be reminded that I must take better care of myself and that I can still do things to improve my health. I can also continue to “work” such as it is.
I once hoped to write a book but the reality is that writing is a lonely activity and I am too social to sit all day in front of a computer pecking away. After a few hours I get restless for the outdoors. Why stay in when the weather is sunny and warm? So I guess that dream will die along with the one that I’ll be rich and famous some day. Famous is not what it’s cracked up to be and the rich….well how much can one spend. I can accept that but I cannot accept my body doing me in slowly. I have to hope that when the time comes my death will be quick and painless. Until then I’m off the work.