DD is currently enrolled in my Legacy Series session 1. During week 2 I ask my students to answer these questions regarding finding balance in their lives. These are the answers that DD came up with:
WHAT PULLS FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND TIME?
My greatest attention is given to ensuring I take my medications on time and as prescribed by my doctor. Maintaining that regimen gives me the best possible health status.
As an 18+ year retiree it’s difficult to say what else pulls for my attention and time. There are only two appointments that I meet every week – one to get to Mass each week-end. The second is getting to Palm Springs to my favorite hair dresser for a shampoo and blow dry, and every 3-4 weeks, a nice cut. It’s difficult for me to wash my own hair because I can’t use the shower (breathing problems) and surely I can’t style and dry it. I decided almost 14 years ago I could either go to see Joanna, the maven with the scissors, once a week, or I could line my casket with $20 bills. I chose the first alternative. Other than these two weekly dates, I venture outside somewhat infrequently – again because of my health. Wind, rain, too hot, too cold – all these variations in our weather tear at my lungs and seemingly take my breath away. Fortunately I’m perfectly able to entertain myself with reading, watching favorite tv programs in the evenings, catching up with old and new movies via Netflix, maintaining a lively correspondence with my family and friends on my computer, and playing a variety of games on my faithful computer. I don’t actually feel any of these diversions “pulling” at me. Rather I sort of just float from one to the next. I suppose the one good thing about this situation is that I am most usually available for a lunch or dinner or whatever with friends and family.
WHAT DO I NEED TO ACCOMPLISH TO FEEL SUCCESSFUL?
To awaken and find that I’m breathing regularly.
I enjoyed what I think was an extremely successful career serving in a dual capacity of a Supervisory Recreation Specialist in a civil service position with the Army while at the same time serving in the Naval Reserve as a “week-end warrior.” In my civil service position I was one of only two recreation specialists Army-wide in the advanced grade of GS-12 managing the Youth activities program for the Army in Washington State and in Europe. As a Navy Captain, I had reached the highest grade available to women reserve officers, there being no female Rear Admirals in the Naval Reserve at that time. At that point, women officers competed for promotion only among themselves rather than against male officers as is done today. But with a “women only” zone there were fewer women promoted each year. In 1981, the year I became eligible for promotion, there were 11 female Reserve Commanders Navy-wide eligible for promotion to Captain and only one of the eleven was selected for the higher rank. Only one in the whole nation and it was ME! To say I was pleased would be true. To say I was dumbfounded was putting it mildly.
My success in my chosen career fields has seemed to carry over to my personal life. At least I feel AND think it has. I am fairly self-confident in my abilities to accomplish whatever I set out to do, although I must admit failing health has taken its toll on what projects I even attempt now. My COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – has been diagnosed as “very severe.” But I do accomplish many things my doctor says I shouldn’t be able to do – and she “blames” my positive attitude on this ability. To quote her, she said “your numbers are so low, you shouldn’t be able to do all you do…… but you just go ahead and do it anyway.” What can I say? Should I stop and give in? HELL NO!
I own my own home though I am still paying on the mortgage. I suppose to be “successful” I should pay off the mortgage, but then I’d have only minimal deductions and that would be costly.
In essence then, the thing that I need to do to feel successful is what I stated at the head of this topic: I need to awaken each day and find that I am alive and breathing. My positive attitude is what gets me through each day, be it a “good” or “tough” breathing day. I thank God for the good days, and know that at the end of a tough day, a good day is just around the corner. And all I need to do is to wake up tomorrow …………….still breathing.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GIVE TO FEEL USEFUL?
I am not necessarily wealthy, but I do have more than many. I have given a lot of money over the years to family and friends, to charities and churches and other causes in which I believed and felt would benefit from my help. Since I can’t provide physical assistance, financial assistance is the next best thing, and in providing it, I feel useful.
I feel useful when friends and family talk of a personal problem they are experiencing and seem to be asking if I know of any solutions to their particular situations. There are times when I have heard or read about the same problem experienced by someone else that I can relay that information and either cure the problem, or at least alleviate it. Other times I know of no assistance, but just listening to them expound on their trouble seems to bring some relief to them. I feel useful when I can help a friend or family member lessen their anxiety if not actually solve their problem.
Often among my daily email receipts there comes a note requesting, suggesting even demanding sometimes that I not only read and agree with whatever is contained in the email, but I need to send it on to 10 others – and I may get some sort of reward for doing so. I’ve learned that many of these solicitations are pure hoax and in fact, are blatantly untrue. It irritates me to see so many untruths promulgated by a few and sent to many who simply read and pass on as instructed. In particular are untruths about our President, our Congress and even our military. I take it upon myself to check out the veracity of these statements and, if they aren’t true, to let the person who originally sent me the email know that the information in the email isn’t true. Several friends have written back to me thanking me for taking the time and energy to get to the truth and let them know. They tend to send a note out correcting the information to all those they had contacted with the incorrect info in the first place. This action gives me much satisfaction to know that I have stopped circulation of a hoax, even a blatant lie. I feel useful for having done so and for informing others who email of the truth of the matter.
I need to feel useful to others, particularly when I’m visiting their home. I often try to offer help in the kitchen, though the oxygen tank which is my constant companion gives pause to many. For sure they don’t want me hanging over their stove. But I can set a table, load and unload a dishwasher, bring plated food to a table and other chores. I must admit it would be lovely to have someone at my house to cook meals. But since I don’t have such a person, I do hang over my own stove and cook my own meals, just like in the old days. Yes, I’m slower than cold syrup, but if you can give me the time, I can do the job. So I say to my family and friends, let me do the things I can do. Let me actually be, not just feel, useful.
WHAT DO I NEED TO TAKE IN TO FEEL NOURISHED?
Like every other human, and lots of pets as well, I need to feel loved. Oh, not sexual love, though that’s nice too. But loved as a friend, as a sister, as an auntie, as a helper, as a good boss, as a good employee. I see love as being an all-encompassing feeling with varying degrees available so you can love your lover and love your boss. Obviously not in the same way. Beyond the necessary food and water every human needs to be nourished, LOVE is next most important ingredient each body needs, not only to live, but to flourish.
I need to know, positively, that I am loved. Not just sense the emotion, but to hear it being said, to read it in a note or card, to feel it in a touch on the arm, a fleeting kiss, a happy voice, a shared song, a hug.
There are plenty of other things that make me feel nourished but they seem relatively unimportant when compared to food, water and love. Yes, it’s wonderful to be complimented for a job well done, for colors and incidentals which you’ve chosen to decorate your home. It’s uplifting to be thanked for helping a friend or family member when what you provided wasn’t easy for you to give. And it’s nice when someone notices you have a new haircut, or that they like the perfume you’re wearing.
But compliments are like snacks; love is the full meal.
So give me food, water, my computer and LOVE. I’ll be fixed for life.