My days often start with a couple of Aspirin. I was diagnosed quite a number of years ago with RA, but I have to say that if it really is RA, it’s not progressing the way it usually does, or maybe I am extremely lucky and my version of rheumatoid arthritis is very mild. Certainly I have always had a very decided tendency to early morning stiffness – more than just my god I slept crookedly stiffness – and I have pretty constant ache-iness in hands and neck but nothing like real pain. Trust me, if it was real pain, y’all would know. I am a giant suck for pain. Stub my toe, go to bed, lie in darkened room with bell to ring for soothing embrocations… and scotch.
Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, Aspirin. I got to thinking about what it means to start one’s day with a med, even a fairly innocuous OTC product like Aspirin. It means… middle-age. And that means… getting older. Which of course, I’m not! Never mind not going gently into that good night, I’m not going into the early evening without a lot of kicking and screaming, thank you very much.
Of course I am going into the early evening. We all are. It’s just a matter of how we do it. And I’m planning on doing it by embracing the possibilities that open up.
That starts with a new career path that Jeff & I are about to start – working with an older population. We’ve done kids, now we’re doing oldsters. And we’re looking forward to it. But it’s not just our workplace – it’s also going to be about lifestyle. We pushed the busy track for a long, long time, and I think now the time is right to re-adjust. Jeff, actually, has been re-adjusting for awhile, having given up office jobs for the pursuit of music as both vocation and avocation for about five years. I’m the slower one, slower to recognize that living life at a somewhat easier pace is okay.
Somewhat. Let’s be real here. I like a little stress in my life – I think it keeps my brain sharp and my attention focused – but I don’t want to be stressed out constantly. And I think what we’re planning to do will provide me with a little stress, but not too much. I’ll be like Goldilocks – everything is just right!
There are other reasons we’re taking this path, not the least of which is Jeff’s parents. They’re 90 years old now, and age is making them slow down a lot. Mom has had some relatively minor heart problems for the past year, but with the right meds, is doing really well. Dad has a few mobility issues with a bad knee and is showing some short term memory challenges, but again is otherwise well. Jeff tries to visit them once a month or so (we’re a four hour drive apart), and talks with them regularly, writes letters fairly often, and otherwise is a great youngest son. But it’s what Mom told me last year that has been an important touch stone for me as I make this transition from one industry to another, from one lifestyle to another – “enjoy your old age before you actually get old!”
My mother-in-law is so smart.
Watching both of them age, and seeing how they’re doing it with the same simple philosophy that they have always used – which is, just get on with it, so typical of the Depression era/WWII generation – added to which is a layer of strength and even, dare I say, courage (because being old isn’t for sissies!) makes me love them and cherish them even more than I do. My own parents died too young – 62 for my mother, 71 for my dad – and I miss them every day. But there is a tiny little part of me that is grateful that they and we, their six children, missed the long descent. Even though cancer killed our mother, she wasn’t ill for long, she had meds for the pain, and she died at home which is all anyone could ask for, and on the whole I think better than dying long and slow.
So deciding to work with older people as a part and parcel of our new careers (which will also include marketing, sales, endless paper pushing, and staff management) seems to be a natural growth of where we’ve come from, and to where we are all headed. The transition is still, um, transitioning for us. We’ve given notice on our house, we’re staring at packing boxes like we know what to do with them (we do, we just don’t want to quite face them), we’re making lists about “stuff to live with” and “stuff to store” and “stuff that’s really WTH do we own this”. We hope to be in place and working by May 1st (following several weeks of training) and are… excited.
Life in the cultural sector has been rewarding. Not so much with the dollars, but with the creativity and the fun and the good work and, most especially, the very great and wonderful people with whom I got to work. But, and here I’m going to choose my words carefully because this blog is trolled, the heartbreak has been difficult. Not just recently for me, but for Jeff too a few years ago with a management job he had with musical organization, not to mention the indecencies that happened to another theatre company I worked for, behaviour that deeply hurt and damaged all of us who loved the company.
Tough decisions and tough actions will always have to be taken in any industry – I get that. And the company for which we’re going to work made some huge, gigantic mistakes in staff management when they were going through their own transition two, three years ago. But they’ve learned from some of those mistakes, and we don’t think they’ll be making those same ones again.
I most sincerely hope that’s true because I don’t have problems with mistakes, even huge ones. I have problems with people not learning from them, and making the same damn mistakes over again. Having made some doozies of my own, I can only trust that I’m smart enough, and maybe open-minded enough, not to repeat those same ones (really, please be smart enough…), leaving the field wide open to new experiences, new mistakes, new challenges and new rewards.