Last week on the eve of my much anticipated trip to Paris, my two favorite retired Metropolitan Police Department (DC) members, Alvin Brown and Mike Ross came to my house to see my recent renovations. We had a great time and they loved the way I’ve transformed my basement into my new living area! Before leaving, Alvin, who was the best man at our wedding, asked me a question that I’ve been processing ever since. The question was “are you happy?”
It seems like a simple question, but it most certainly is not, and though I said Yes after an initial pause, I’ve thought about my answer constantly since. So many thoughts have flooded my mind! Prior to Tim’s death I’d rarely driven myself to the airport to go on Alzheimer’s speaking engagements in a fight against this disease, and I certainly never carried books with me for book signings. But In the three years since Tim’s been gone, I’ve driven myself and flown to countless cities, carrying or mailing in advance all of my books. In the last year alone I’ve made so many new friends on the road as they’ve come to my presentations. These friends have emailed and called me, friended me on Facebook and even mailed me motivational cards or letters which I’ve added to my JOY folder (a folder on both my phone and in my filing cabinet containing inspiring notes and messages to lift my spirits in my down days). I’ve authored three books to date and Mom is now 90 years old is thriving at Lifesprings Eldercare. I’m incredibly proud about both those things, as would Tim be. So in terms of my confidence and success in writing and speaking and advocating and caring for Mom, I’m incredibly happy!
At the same time, this year has been really difficult for me. There was the year long process to get me 7 dental implants and the now 8 month saga of trying to close a hole in my left retina and an accompanying eye infection that just doesn’t want to go away. I worry if I’ll ever regain normal sight in that eye and putting a couple of things in place, just in case my sight worsens. It’s when I’m in pain and afraid that I feel the most alone and unhappy.
The other part of my frustration and anxiety this year has been the almost now 5 month renovation process I’ve done in my home. The goal was to create a more livable space, including a kitchen so I can live in my basement and rent the upstairs to finance my camping trips. The project started off horribly, with lots of mistakes that amounted to more than double my budget. I knew there’d be challenges in a renovation, but they miscues and my mistakes overwhelmed me. I learned so much during this process including the valuable lesson of how to bounce back from misfortune and poor decisions. I’ve wondered every day of this process what Tim would be thinking and saying as this saga has unfolded. There were moments (days actually) that I cried uncontrollably. These have been some of my most unhappy times.
Even though the experience had been incredibly expensive, I’ve learned more about my house and my capabilities than I ever thought possible and for that I’m grateful. I wanted to just cut my losses and give up so many times, but friends kept me going even when I didn’t want to. A pretty low time for me for sure. But the good news is in the new few weeks the process should be totally completed and a renter is already interested. The most amazing outcome of the renovation was the design I wanted for my patio and path to the street of intertwining orange and blue bricks as a symbol of the love that Tim and I shared. It truly exceeded all of my expectations.
My travels for fun are still what makes me happiest, so this year was amazing in that regard… of course my outings with my RVing Women are all awesome and I depend on those to keep me uplifted, but it was my trip of driving alone to and from Maine and meeting Larry and Barbara up there to enjoy a week with me that I count as one of my greatest accomplishments. Tim would be more than proud. And my current trip to see my friend Louise and have her show me around Paris and now Marseille that we arrived in today was the greatest end to my year of celebration of turning 60. Experiencing France again is exhilarating, but tinged with sadness at times without Tim. These trips confirm for me that I’ll continue to travel for as long as I live even if I do so alone! Nothing feeds my soul like traveling and seeing new places and things!
One of the things that is most concerning to me this year is the loss of some friends who mattered to me. I’m not even exactly sure what happened to these relationships but in all honesty I have to take a long look at myself because at times I think I push people away or I simply walk away when they disappoint or hurt me. I think I’ve had enough hurt so at present I seem to give people one chance with me. With all that’s happened this year, I’ve been too tired and preoccupied to try to repair some of these relationships, especially considering the fact that some people are only meant to be in your life for a period of time and maybe that time was just over. I’m grateful to Wendi, Louise and Kris and all of the Gilweski family for being there every step of the way this year, and I wouldn’t have gotten this far without them.
So here’s the bottom line…I’m thrilled that I’m content with myself, with where I am in my life and with what I’m doing in my life. I’m not looking for love and could certainly be happy alone for the rest of my life…. and though people keep asking me when I’m going to start dating, it’s taken me three years to be able to articulate that I’m likely going to choose to be alone. This trip to France has given me lots of meditation time and I haven’t done one minute of work (except on myself) and I’m proud that I’m doing this for myself….I’m starting to see the light!
So YES Alvin, I’m not only HAPPY …. I’m THANKFUL and BLESSED too! So for all of you reading this, I’ll ask you what Alvin asked me. Are You Happy?