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Survival Secrets, Anyone?

Ok, I admit it. I was a woman 58 years old and going nowhere. Going nowhere fast, in my estimation, because I’d already lived over half my life. I’d lived long enough for a number of things to go awry. One panicky morning I sat up in bed, shoved the cat over and said:

“Yikes! I need to make some changes! In twenty years, I just may be dead!”

Reality check.

I wasn’t sure what those changes would be, at the time. Oh, let me see…….I was a single woman, living in my son’s house on Hawkins Creek. I was employed at a job with a very low ceiling. In fact, like an overgrown house plant, I had reached the ceiling and was about to tip over. My clothing was a bit dowdy, my hairstyle, dated. But who cared? My workplace required uniforms. Men, when they had nothing better to do, looked right through me.

So what do you think?

Bingo! You’ve already figured out the obvious!

But I hadn’t. Anyway, it’s easier to leave serious changes for someday, right? Besides, I was very busy most of the time. I spent a week out of every month staying with my elderly mother out of state, and then making up for reducing my nursing hours to part time by working a small business of my own. My son was handicapped, his wife, over-worked. I had two grandchildren deserving of attention. I was too busy to worry about my appearance, my health………or my probable descent into poverty….someday.

But, doesn’t everyone live this way? Don’t we all just live for a couple of paltry weekend days to ourselves, utilizing most of that time to clean house? Don’t we all work every other weekend and feel privileged to do so? And don’t we all have that little, niggling thought:

What will happen to me when I can’t work anymore……and run out of the money I wasn’t able to save?

Like many women I’d juggled my way out of a crummy marriage – too late – and wasted valuable time just feeling relieved. Feeling relieved meant having a job, food and a roof over my head. Whew!

But when I would stop for a breather, I knew I wanted to live another kind of a life.

We don’t stumble accidentally into an amazing life. It takes decision, a commitment to consistently work on ourselves. Henri Junttila.

I had an immediate load of excuses on that one, and, you know, they were pretty valid. One was the time factor. I didn’t have time to ‘work on myself’, whatever that meant.

I was already ‘committed’ to all kinds of stuff.

The invalid side was, I was really scared to start something radically new. That seemed the most valid excuse of all at the time!

I wanted to change, but the uncomfortable was a lot more comfortable than the unknown. Does that resonate? That’s a survival tactic of its own. Just….hunker down and wait. The trouble was, I’d already waited 5 years as a single woman for serendipitous improvements in my life cycle.

My embarrassing admission: Hadn’t I waited for 30 years for my marriage to become wonderful? I finally got out of there with the clothes on my back and no further plans but food and shelter, which worked. Why did I have to make a decision now that might compromise the little security I had?

Yet, my present condition was overwhelming. At times, I felt I controlled very little about my life. My abusive past marriage should have provided me with some insight here!

You think?

Enduring abuse means handing over control to someone else. I had eventually removed my presence from that opportunity. But, had I ever really gained control over my life?

I had brief flashes of insight upon this in the past, just in case you are wondering, and gave up, shoved the whole mess under the bed.

But, speaking of that, at the time I shoved my insights under the bed with the dust balls, I did have a housekeeping business that was pretty successful. And within that sphere I began to see some lessons for me………..

I didn’t clean the whole house at once. That would be impossible. Logically, I cleaned one room at a time.

I began to wonder if I could take my fears apart and face them one at a time………I began to think about managing what went on, not in a room, but in my own head.

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