As part of the health plan I set up for myself, in addition to catastrophic coverage and a health savings account, I decided to keep up my appointments with my massage therapist. He does not live here, he is only in town every three weeks or so, and I can deduct the visits from my health savings account if I am diligent about record keeping and turning in the paperwork. My massage therapist is a licensed clinical psychiatrist as well as a body work guru. I often accuse him of massaging my brain as much as he massages my body….and often times it is more brain than body. On our visit last week, I was sad, and he gave me homework. I am to use pen and paper (no electronics) and do bulleted lists. A list of my physical abilities. A list of my mental abilities. A list of things that invigorate me, and a list of things that wear me down. I am also supposed to do a timeline, another bulleted list of events in my life where I felt a “shift.” I’m good with lists, not so good with pen and paper. I’ve started my homework, and I’ve learned a few things.

On the abilities lists, I am capable of a lot of things! From basic construction to rowing rivers, yard work to trail runs, packing for wilderness trips to reading a book in one evening….I can do a lot. I am a loyal friend and a good enough parent. I can make caramels or something out of what looks like nothing in my fridge for dinner. Surprisingly, my work abilities did not appear often in the bullets. While I like what I do, and I think after almost 30 years I know some stuff, it is not as important to me as the other roles I play, the other passions I possess. The abilities list make me realize that as I taper off work in the next decade, my life will still be full, and there will never be enough time to fit everything in.

An interesting thing happened as I did my timeline of life shifting events. I was just going through my life chronologically, using dates as list makers are wont to do. Each bulleted event got a line of dashes under it for “sub events” or things that happened as a direct result of choosing one road over another. My parents divorce marked the end of my childhood, and a broken engagement catapulted me to Tahoe. Moving to Corvallis, making lifelong friends, and marrying Jim were pivotal events. Having 2 kids and deciding to put roots down in Moscow rather than the previous pattern of moving every 2 years. And, of course, the last item was Jim’s illness and death. Looking back over the bullets, I realized that my sister’s death was not a bullet, but a dash. It was there in my Tahoe years, and had an influence on my decision to leave there and move to Corvallis. Makes me wonder, if at some point, Jim’s death will just be a dash and not a bullet. Having a 2 year time frame where I have gone from wife and mother to solo is a life shifting event. Jim’s death is just part of that.

Still working on the invigoration/worn down lists. I know that a lot of things invigorate me, and that many of the things that used to wear me down, I no longer have to do or put up with. A shifting role to solo does not happen overnight. I know that this current shift is not completely over yet. There are times when I still feel very uncomfortable in my own skin, and other times where I am just giddy at the possibilities in front of me. It’s a bit of a roller coaster….so might as well enjoy the ride.

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One Response to Homework

  1. Jennifer says:

    Your is truly the most supportive and inspiring widow blog I have read in 2.5 years of being in your company. Thank you, endlessly!

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