Almost three quarters of the way through this year, and my best laid plans, my desires, my goals have been buried in cycles of life. In spades and doubled.
I admit I was looking forward to new starts this year. Selling our home of 22 years, downsizing, building my health coach practice, advancing my freelance writing, moving Jeannine to better health and engaging her in life outside our home…all noble and attainable goals. All thrown under the bus in a series of domino effects that place me now in mid-September still trying to sort it all out.
The first lesson I have learned is to make a habit of waking each day with a new set of eyes. Inevitably something is going to happen that will derail everything in your planner. Expect it. Embrace it.
For example, we planned on having our house ready for market in March. Updates to our 30-year old home, however, took weeks longer than the eight weeks we planned, with the house finally making it to market in early April.
The domino effect of this meant dealing with more home improvements instead of focusing time to manage my health coach practice, securing research and writing opportunities, as well as missing some key “buyer time” on the market, additional stress, and a timeline that needed revision, but I had no time or energy for it.
The second lesson I have learned is that in spite of it all, the derailments in and of themselves offered opportunity for growth in relationships.
In the middle of this house selling business, for example, my 87-year old mother-in-law had a cardiac event that resulted in a pacemaker placement. As she and my father-in-law (who is 90) lived in a small community about 45 minutes away, and as she has been the primary caregiver for her spouse in poor health, her hospitalization and rehab meant Dad moving in with us. On top of this, her discharge needed to be to a place where she could easily get to her follow up appointments (all in town)….which meant our house.
Let’s see: house on the market, needing to be “show ready” anytime. Elderly in-laws now staying with us as they look for living arrangements closer in town, and requiring transportation to and from appointments until Mom was cleared to drive.
The domino effect of this meant adding time to every scheduled event in the course of the day. Getting ready for appointments began three hours before the scheduled time. Check lists had to be created so that things like walkers made it to the car. When there was a house showing, we had to figure out where to take seniors (and occasionally a toddler) for an hour or so. If I never go into an ice cream store again, it will be too soon.
Their stay with us lasted until our house finally sold in August. In the interim, they did find a great senior living community, but delayed their move when Dad (resisting the move) had a mini-stroke, with short hospitalization, rehab and now respite care until he can move back with us. Mom is now in their apartment, but living with guilt pangs that she can no longer care for her spouse and wondering if she should move in with us as well.
Now that they are settled, I find that I am missing the rhythm and routine of mornings with my mother-in-law: coffee and conversation as we talked about the coming events of the day. Physical and occupational therapists visiting Dad, visits to senior living communities, her cardiac rehab outside the home were the primary topics, but inevitably the conversation would turn to her hopes and fears for their future, her good health now hitting a snag so that she cannot manage her spouse (who sees no change in her condition), what to do with their house, her lack of financial acumen…real insights into this woman who was always so confident and strong.
The third lesson I have learned is that I can be remarkably adaptable even when the course is not so sure.
Since our house sold and we had no other place ready to settle this next phase of our lives, all our possessions (and some of my in-laws) are now locked away in two storage units. We had hoped to finalize the sale more than a week ago: it did not happen.
The domino effect in all this has been two weeks in an extended stay residence, frequent trips back and forth to help the in-laws until we are settled and Dad can live with us, learning how to navigate unfamiliar streets, and figuring out making meals so that we are not spending significant dollars on restaurants, while at the same time trying not to collect food items that may need to be discarded before our move.
But here I am, writing again. Reading again. Connecting with my mentors after a dry spell. There will be some more dominos to fall in the next two weeks as we complete this move. I am looking forward to watching these last dominos fall, and seeing what I can make of the last quarter of this year.