~ Intertwining Lives ~

Memoirs, Life's Journey, Fitness/Health, Hiking/Trailing!


Retirement/Loneliness ~ August 24, 2013 ~

I am a 62-year-old female who recently retired from state government. I’m wondering how to cope with retirement, the loneliness, and what to plan for my future. Here is what my day and thoughts are about thus far:

After being awakened during the night by the thunder, I finally rested until about 6:30 am. In the past, I would jump out of bed and think that the day was half over and I needed to do something. Well, today I took a leisurely approach. I stepped out to view the rain that had fallen, took my vitamins, fed the dogs and then made coffee. I got on FB and looked at Cassie’s Hawaiian pictures for a while. I then got on the treadmill and read my nook while walking a mile. Only afterwards, then I did sit down with my coffee and continued reading from my nook.
Once my eyes started to blur, I got up and fixed a salad and read some more while eating.

All the while, I look around and think about what on earth am I going to do for myself? I read through the Goodyear magazine and found some things that might interest me, such as a boxing class, a belly dancing class, an emergency preparedness class, and outdoor concerts. But then I think about how boring that is to do these things by myself. I then lecture myself that it would be nothing new to be by myself and it would do me good to get out of the house….which brings me to an ever growing problem of retirement adjustment and facing loneliness head-on.
I recently had a discussion about retirement and loneliness with my 32-year-old daughter Katie and my 34-year-old son Alex.
The loneliness existed before my semi-retirement. As I seem to have made a decision to live by myself for countless years, my loneliness has been ever present, but pretty much ignored. After all, I had work, family, grandkids and friends to keep me occupied. Work consumed most of my time because I, over the countless years, grew into a workaholic, working into the nights and on the weekends. This workaholic business happened many years ago while my children were young. I was a single parent and felt the BURN to get ahead. In order to get ahead, I had to work harder than my male and female counterparts. I also had to go back to school and get that Master’s degree. I existed for years on 4-5 hours of sleep….and even to this day it is hard for me to sleep longer than 4-5 hours at a time. At least I’m napping now. Ha.

All these hours kept me away from finding a real mate or friend where we shared our lives together. Adults need, no, CRAVE, this partnership. We fill up our hours with work, kids, grandkids, social friends. But what happens when everyone goes home or moves away? Our loneliness becomes palatable. You can taste it. And it can weigh you down. You begin to think about “what is the point” of doing any of those things you love to do because there is no one to share it with; no one to laugh or cry or just enjoy the moment with. (I know, I know. I should not end a sentence with “with”. Sorry to all my teachers.)

So, the headlights of loneliness flashed right in my face when I retired from state government. It seemed that I no longer had a purpose to my day. I no longer had work friends with which to communicate. I no longer had a direction. After working more than 40 years, this was like an avalanche of stark nakedness to my soul. What on earth will I do? What is my continued purpose?
Fortunately, my 36-year-old daughter Cassie came up with an idea and a proposal to work for her for about 30 hours a week in their PV solar business. This job gave me a reason to get out of bed and a purpose to my mornings. I have also created RENLDZ Consulting, LLC, a “very” part-time job consulting on behavioral health records and clinical practices.
And what did I do in the afternoons? I think I slept them away for a month or so. I was simply exhausted. This exhaustion was the result of not having to have my adrenaline pumping 24/7, as it did in my state career, which began in 1985.

Responsible parents care for their children. They live and breathe for their children. And then they live and breathe for their grandchildren. I think parents never stop parenting and wanting the closeness of their families. When those children move on to their own lives, it is gut-wrenching. It is necessary for their growth, but it is gut-wrenching for the parent who cares and is left behind.

Realizing this, I mourn that I left my mother for school and jobs. We were two of a kind and I feel I left her to fend for herself, even though she had Dad. My sister also lived close to her. My mother and I were soul mates; I cannot describe our relationship differently. However, my mother wanted me to LIVE and be INDEPENDENT. She wanted to see me accomplish those things she could not. She grew up and lived in a time when women were encouraged to be dependent on their husband for all things. I find myself feeling weepy now that she is gone. I miss her. I need her. Above anyone else, I knew she always had my back because she always loved me unconditionally and often protected me. She was always there for me. She believed in me and gave me courage to strike out and become independent. But now, because I’m feeling lonely, I feel like I am somehow a disappointment to her.
And as I look around my home, feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have friends or kids to tool around with, I wonder what my next direction will be. What will I build out of this nothingness called retirement that we are all supposed to look forward to? Would it be better if I had a husband so we could travel together? Would it be better if I had a good friend so we could travel together?

I have many talents, or used to. I oil paint. I sew. I’m good with other crafts. I’m good with organization. Well, I used to have these talents. When I think about doing something, such as painting or sewing, I’m stuck. I think what is the point? What am I doing for myself, for others? What is the point to taking a trip by myself? What is the point in going to a movie? Painting? Hiking? Frankly, I’m tired of being alone. Well, my 31-year-old son Luke tools around with me some, but he cannot fill this void for me just like I cannot fill it for him. I want to find that special someone to love and be loved. And if that doesn’t happen, then I NEED TO REDEFINE my life once again. It is ironic that I once thought that I never needed another adult to love me. Now, I realize I am craving this; craving to not go through the next 30 years alone.
I realize I’m grieving. I’m grieving the life I made for myself. I’m slugging through my days trying to carve a new life. Only time will tell what I come up with to enjoy the remainder of my years; only time and some seriously hard work on my part. As my mom would say, “pull up the bootstraps, Patty, and get tough! get moving!”. God bless her! I think I shall, after I rest this afternoon (smile). Then I will think some more about getting out of this mindless, self-pity rut I seem to be experiencing of late.
Over the years, I’ve realized that grieving is a natural state in life. I have learned to allow myself to grieve. I know, however, that it is important to not wallow in this grief. So, I do know that I must move ahead and plan some things that will give me purpose and get me out of the house and active among other similar adults.

Although the day is nearly over and I can feel good about cooking that steak I bought a little earlier than normal, I plan to sit and watch some movies so I can continue to escape what is facing me. Perhaps tomorrow I will make some more plans and commitments. Yes, Mom. I will pull up the bootstraps. I always do, don’t I?



How Trailing is Helping to Redefine Myself ~

Memoirs Trail Hiking ~ March 1, 2014

I was 62 and a half (2013) when I started trail hiking with a passion. I had trail hiked with family members in Vermont and Colorado, but I was a youngster and was simply following my father around some trails. Even though I somewhat discount this as real trail hiking, I found a love of the woods or plains and the solitude and peace that is found during trail hikes. I also found it a sense of adventure, finding deer antlers and rocks I found interesting.

I had camped and taken day hikes over the years, but again, not what I would consider trail hiking.

Even my trip half way down the Grand Canyon in 1995 did not seem like a real trail hike to me. I had three of my four children with me and for water we carried 2 or 3 gallon water jugs. We got half way down at the Corral and had to climb the corral rails in order to miss the flash flooding that happened within minutes of our arrival. When the flooding was over, the rangers told us to hike back out because the trail was clo~sing. He advised us to tread carefully, as there were likely rock slides. There were. We were wholly unprepared to hike the Grand Canyon and took us until dark to reach the top.

In June/July 2012, I visited my daughter in Bend, OR. My two daughters, Cassie and Katie, and three grandchildren, Aubrey, Jack and Arwen, thought to hike. I was reduced to tears because I simply could not keep up. It was such a shock to me, as I felt like I had always been athletic. Now, what seemed like all of a sudden, I was totally out of shape at the sweet young age of 61 years. How depressing! And instead of going home and enrolling at the gym, I traipsed back to my 10 hour work days where sitting at a desk all day was paramount to my work and the extent of my exercising.

And let me back track and give a brief history of my physical activity. In my youth, I was a competitive swimmer and a cheerleader for seven years. I also jogged/ran with my dad in high school. In my young adult years, I continued jogging and using exercise DVDs, especially following the birth of my children. I worked the construction trade for a while and worked on homes and/or gardens. In 2008 and 2009, I consistently did P90X or some other types of similar exercising. I would join gyms and exercise. I would bike ride. So, I was fairly active, but I also had sedentary jobs, where I worked anywhere from eight to ten hour days. The sedentary jobs were killing any benefit from the exercising, as my weight increased with my age, especially through my fifties.

After my retirement from state government in March 2013 and a few months of adjustment (I say adjustment lightly here when it was anything but), I began walking around my neighborhood. I also bought a treadmill so that I could walk inside during the high temperatures in central Arizona. Although starting this, I was not very consistent and still suffering from the transition into retirement after nearly fifty years in the work force (my first W-2 was in 1965). I simply did not know what to do with myself, even with having a part-time job. The adjustment was depressing. I seemed to have to redefine myself and realize and accept that my life had changed.

In October 2013, my daughter invited me to visit and go on a weekend retreat with her to Skamania Lodge in Washington. Our goal was to write and prepare ourselves for the November National Writing Month contest (NaNoWriMo). Cassie, my daughter, wrote mostly. I wrote infrequently, but hiked every day. I hiked in the woods. I hiked to a neighboring town. During this weekend, I completed two six-mile hikes and one three-mile hike. I was in heaven. Even though I was in pain and iced my ankles, I was so enthralled with the beauty of the scenery, the solitude, and the peace that I experienced during these hikes.

Upon returning home, I began to walk more earnestly. I was able to walk around my neighborhood for two to four miles during the week. On the weekends, I began longer walks, achieving anywhere from five to ten mile walks.

And then I read Wild by Cheryl Strand. I started buying the books she recommended and searching for Arizona trail hikes. Cassie claimed she told me about this book a couple of years before I read it, which rang a bell to me. Cassie had also told me about her desire to walk the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

I had a desire to walk the El Camino across Spain, which resulted from seeing the movie and reading a couple of books about this pilgrimage.

I knew I had to start training if I was going to ever accomplish the El Camino or the PCT or other long trails.

It is daunting to think about hiking and camping for miles upon miles, but at the same time, I think it is something I could accomplish.

On March 1, 2014 (my mother’s birthday), I joined yet another gym and signed up for personal training. I need to lose eighty pounds. I am starting with the first forty pounds now! We will see where this takes me and hope that I can achieve beyond the first forty pounds within six months.

Between 09/23/13 and 12/29/13, I logged a total of 511,344 steps, 226.91 miles, and burned 217,987 calories.

Between 12/30/13 and 02/23/14, I logged a total of 287,315 steps, 127.5 miles, and burned 125,397 calories.

As my daughter Cassandra states ~ Happy Trailing ~