Now to be honest I don’t really know what an actual curve ball is…something about baseball I think? ( Clearly sport is not on my radar!) But I know that there are times in life when, despite all our efforts to be in control, organised and “fully self -actualising human beings”- life shakes its head and says ” Nah- we have other plans for you.”
When a loved one becomes ill or we suddenly get sick we are called to find strength beyond the normal. Sickness challenges us to adapt quickly, think differently and reassess what is important in life. The comfortable routines of life are discarded and we need to be agile in mind and spirit to see a different reality and find peace with it.
I’ve been editing or writing 6 articles or more each week for Viva for 9 weeks now. This is what I do and I love it. But this week my granddaughter was admitted to hospital and her parents are capsuled in a small hospital room 24 hours a day with their strength, their fears and each other caring for their daughter with little ability to influence the path of her illness. She will be Ok but its a rough road to travel when you’ve been part of this world for only 15 months. It’s a waiting game until she is well.
In his lovely article, this week, Chris O’Connor talks about his “gap year” and restoring an 1860’s cottage. When a back injury strikes, for months on end he is managing excruciating pain and the cocktail of pills prescribed to alleviate the symptoms. A dream is put on hold while he heals. It’s a waiting game.
Synchronicity has always been a very meaningful word for me. By” chance” I’m also reading a wonderful book by Mary Pipher called Women Rowing North. It’s a beautiful book about ageing and how we can live a good life. Its full of stories and examples. She writes a personal anecdote about how a sudden crippling illness affected her hands and caused an inability to write for a sustained period of time. She talks about adaption, not only to using different tools to write- a dictaphone etc. but a major shift in mindset…embracing vulnerability.
Bernice Neugarten, a developmental psychologist has distinguished between young old age and old old-age. In young old age ( or older age as I call it) a VIVA spirit is relatively easy. We might ache, pee a lot and don’t have the energy of youth but we can still be independent and follow our dreams. We have a sense of agency. We are largely in control of the shape of our lives. Neugarten says that when our health fundamentally changes the way we live we have entered old, old age ( or simply old age!)
When we are thrown a curve ball we have no control except in how we think about this event and our new selves. We’ve known change before in life. We’ve all known bad times. what’s different in Old Age is that for some, health issues cluster and our world becomes unpredictable and frightening. This is change on an epic scale.
So how do we survive when life throws a curve ball?
- Stick with the facts and not the storyline we construct when we’re frightened. Work only with what is actually factually happening not what our worst fears imagine might happen
- Increase self care. Heal. Rest. Eat well and be mindful of the things around you. Notice the good, Be thankful
- Sort through what’s important. Illness or adversity will strip away all the noise and you’ll be very clear about what matters and what doesn’t. So what if you have to cancel a holiday? So what if the lawn isn’t cut? Letting go of things is important to moving on with a new reality
- Finally, call on others. You are never alone. You might live alone and it may feel as though others have no time or there are more important things to be done. You are worthy and at this time needy. You deserve the care and warmth of others. Don’t be afraid to ask.