Acceptance, Family, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Retirement, swimming

Swimming

I am a swimmer.  I’ve never been on a swim team, had my last swimming lesson when I was 12, my stroke is far from perfect and even my fastest pace is slow….but starting when I was in grad school, and continuing with only short breaks due to injury or lack of pool access, I have shown up several times a week and swum laps.

Swimming is my exercise of choice, but more than that it is what keeps me sane when my world is going crazy.  Counting laps is my mantra, and the rhythm of my breath is my meditation.  As Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui wrote in this blog post, 

“In the pool, I let go of all my responsibilities and inner chatter and focus on my breath and the way my body tilts gently with each stroke.”   When I emerge from the water, my body is tired, but my soul is revitalized.

Lately my life feels even more turbulent than usual.  My last few weeks at work before retirement are busy as I wind down or hand over tasks and projects, there are too many retirement events for an introvert like me, and we are partway through a month of non-stop house guests…family members that we love, but who bring long-standing triggers and dramas.

Most of this will die down once I retire, but I will still be faced with the roller-coaster ride of Don’s cognitive issues and the uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and fear that we both are feeling.

I will swim my way through.

To borrow again from Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui, swimming “is one more invitation, on this life journey, to step into small, imperfect action.  I am reminded that I am the type of person who moves through fear and anxiety, and does hard things, who seeks freedom and does not quit.”

I have a feeling that the coming months and years will test me in ways that I never wanted to be tested, but I will swim my way through the fear and anxiety and I will not quit.

 

Family, Friendship, Reflections

Make new friends but keep the old…

Last night as we sat by the fire and enjoyed a quiet New Year’s Eve at home Don and I were talking about the year just ending and were struck by how many connections with family and friends were rekindled throughout the year…which was truly amazing in hindsight.

Early in the year Don’s childhood friend found him on Facebook, and we have since enjoyed a couple of get-togethers with Ted and his wife, who now live only an hour or so away from us.  Don and Ted had not seen each other since they were 11 years old!  Ted’s mother was an artist and we have long had a small photocopy of a painting that she made of Gould’s Landing, the family home in Maine, displayed in our home.  Ted gifted Don with the original painting, which now has pride of place in our living room and brings Don great joy.

Then, after a gap of several years, we reconnected with Don’s maternal cousin Chuck and his wife Michelle, and then caught up with several members of Don’s extended family at Chuck’s 80th birthday celebration in May.

In June we were in Maine and spent time with several friends from Don’s young adulthood and with extended family that we had not seen in many years.  It is amazing how you can pick up without losing a beat!

By total coincidence we also bumped into the son of Don’s favorite cousin, and long-deceased cousin) when we stopped by Gould’s Landing (now a public park) on the spur of the moment, and Don struck up a conversation with two guys pulling a boat out of the water…one of whom was Rob Gould, who Don used to babysit when he was a college student! Don and Rob have since connected on Facebook, and we look forward to spending some time with him when we are next in Maine.

July saw us hosting a “mini reunion” when the sons of another of Don’s cousins visited us.  We had connected with Josh and his wife Rita several years ago (again through the miracle of Facebook), but Don had not seen Scot in several decades and I had never met him.  We had a fun afternoon of visiting and reminiscing while Josh and Rita’s kids enjoyed the beach and the pool.

We also had a visit in July from our friend Logan from Australia, who we hadn’t seen for about 10 years.

In August the sad occasion of my Aunt Lydia’s memorial service also gave me a chance to reconnect with several cousins that I had not seen in years.

In November Australian friends that we had not seen in nearly 20 years spent several days with us, and we had fun remembering good times in Australia and catching up on each other’s lives.

And as the year drew to a close we were blessed to attend a gathering of my father’s extended family hosted by my great-uncle Jerry.  All of my father’s cousins were there (although my father was not), along with many of their kids and grand-kids.   I have such fond memories of these Segar family gatherings growing up, and it is so good to see everyone still connected after all these years.

These past few years we have been blessed with new friendships that we cherish, but 2017 was a reminder of the importance of people who have known you for many years and with whom you have a shared history.  In every case it was as if we had seen each other yesterday, not years or decades ago.

While we often curse social media for its fake news and the way it isolates us from people who don’t share our views, this year we were also really grateful for the way technology can bring us together.  If not for Facebook the rekindling of so many longstanding relationships would not have been possible, and our lives would have been so much less rich as a result.

At the same time, I am very aware that social media consumed way too much of my time in 2017 as I got sucked into scrolling obsessively through Facebook, posting pictures on Instagram, and letting the political noise distract me from what is most important.  This year my goal is to put technology in its rightful place – to use it to strengthen and maintain healthy relationships and to disregard all of the noise that it generates.  Wish me luck!