Thinking Out Loud!
|178/365: Eden rose|
So to set the scene and give some background on how I arrived at my current situation ... Ced was 16 years older than me and our plan was always for me to retire at 55 so we had time to enjoy the remaining years together. But, best laid plans and all that, he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease; this was a long time coming as he'd been getting progressively worse for four years and when the hospital eventually confirmed the MND in 2008 the prognosis was that he had one year of life left. In the end he lived for another five years but at a cost to both of us. As often happens with serious illness we lost friends during this period and then again after the funeral when invitations for me to meet with our (couples) friends mostly stopped. We didn't go out socially during those five years and I eventually took a sabbatical from work when his condition deteriorated to the stage where he couldn't be left alone. He spent the last five months of life in hospital with me visiting every day and often sleeping there, and he eventually passed in 2013.
Although I'd passed the age when we'd originally planned for me to retire I continued to work because of the uncertain future. I was facing life alone but with the support of my family and the few friends who'd been there for both of us throughout it all. Eventually I retired just before turning 60 on medical advice, although I continued to teach some private lessons for a while before stopping completely.
In the first year on my own I created a list in my mind of the things I wanted to do but hadn't been able to for reasons outside of my control ... just because I didn't want to look back and feel bitter in any way about the things I hadn't done and I've been working through that list in the last nine year. I've made new friends, taken holidays alone, joined (and left) groups, visited lots of places I wanted to see, and focused on getting the house and garden how I want them to be. I survived the solitude of the lockdowns and have almost finished the decluttering so am due a shake up to life in general. Post lockdown lethargy is hanging over me at the moment and I am aware that I now tend to pass on too many opportunities. While I am for the most part content with how things are I am not feeling completely fulfilled so have realised that I am in danger of looking back and feeling that I didn't make the most of life.
So I've been giving a lot of thought to what I want to do. I've been making lists and have ended up with a list of personal achievements and also a bucket list of places to visit and things to do. I'll post the bucket list tomorrow, but here's the list of personal achievements, which I'm sure will evolve as time passes but this is the list as it stands at the moment:
- learn to play the piano - started September 2021, ongoing
- learn to speak Italian - started May 2020, ongoing
- improve my fitness - starting June 2022, ongoing with a target of being fit enough to walk with the Ramblers or similar
- complete a course - this still has to be decided and may be an OU course, an A level, or maybe continue with the photography degree. I'm wanting something that stretches my mind and pushes me out of my comfort zone.
- take up, or resume, a skill/craft - this will probably be dressmaking but maybe I should be looking at trying something new
Coincidentally, just after reading Sue's post the organisation that runs the online classes I like emailed their members to talk about healthy ageing and the importance of finding what keeps you thriving. The email discussed your 'reason for being', your purpose, or ikigai. Ikigai is a Japanese concept which is related to purpose and broadly described as what makes life worth living or more meaningful. The impacts of Ikigai and related sense of purpose on emotional wellbeing have been widely researched and has shown to be a key factor in healthy longevity. This email reminded me of the notes I'd made in a Healthy Ageing class, and in particular the discussion about the need to have five categories of hobbies/interests:
- one to build knowledge - this is covered by learning Italian, and creating the family tree
- one to keep you creative - this is covered by the two things I am really passionate about, i.e. piano and photography
- one to strengthen your mindset - I still have to sort this out - there are ideas here
- one to keep you in shape - this is the exercising with personal trainer + daily walks
- one to make money - I'm not sure that I agree that this is necessary but will be interested to hear what you think. I don't currently have anything in this category