Am I Happy?

Apparently I am going through some kind of “normal” retirement slump. Every day people ask me with a big smile “so, how is retirement”. People have the oddest idealized idea of retirement. And perhaps it is based in some truth that I will discover later. It is hard to live up to people’s expectations of your retirement happiness.

Lots of huge changes in my life. It has been pointed out to me that it is reasonable to be a little traumatized by this. Single in my sixties after 27 years of marriage would be enough, but the basis for being single is something that destroyed an enormous chunk of my self esteem along with whatever imaginary idea I had about growing old. Then I retired after fifty or so years of working. Those two changes created a huge decrease in my finances. So… trauma. I guess it comes in many forms.

I spent fifty or so years working for others in, for the most part, a reasonably structured environment. I set my alarm and got my coffee every weekday, and some weekends, for all those years. I worked two jobs in college and law school, and one graduated, just worked. In all those years there were very few breaks or real vacations. My life was bounded by my work life and my son’s school schedule.

I woke up on January 4th of 2019 without an alarm and had no obligation to go anywhere. For a few weeks I found myself sleeping a very great deal, waking only when the sun bothered me or the cat wanted food. Six weeks later I left the country for almost four weeks. I returned to a teaching backlog, an intensive rehearsal schedule, my taxes and Passover. I was so busy I couldn’t keep up.

Now I am in self-care/doctor’s appointments world. Just catching up, not to mention getting older. Recently cleared out storage and many cabinets and held a garage sale: caveat – don’t do that. The good of it is that “stuff” is gone. Things that belonged to my father – gone many years now. Things that belonged to my ex husband, that he didn’t want – gone from here more than three years ago. Gone are many things I didn’t want and didn’t use and that others could use. It is a good weight to have gone but the process tends to reopen some wounds that are still healing.

I have a wonderful life. I have a beautiful home. I have a wonderful son and his lovely fiance. I have many loving women in my life. I have the privilege of making music with some brilliant musicians. And every day I wake up speaking my gratitude, thanking the G-d of my understanding, trying to meditate on the good. But I feel oddly off kilter, as if this retirement thing hasn’t quite found it’s footing.

So, in six weeks I am off to Europe for another amazing adventure. I guess routine and finding my feet will have to wait. Ask me in August.

On Resolving

So here it is, New Year’s Eve 2018 and I have two thoughts. The first is a little dark. I see all of these new year posts on Facebook, everyone is posting these happy and joyous and sparkly posts. And I know that many of the people behind those posts are struggling. Not that one must share all their pain in public, but why not acknowledge that holidays can be difficult, can be sad, can be lonely? While I happily wish everyone a fabulous new year, for me this has been a year of learning to celebrate alone, a year of being ok in my skin whether I am in the company of others or not. Would I like to share holiday celebrations with an intimate partner? Sure. Do I need to? No. I sat surrounded by my channukiahs reflected back in the windows and just felt at peace with the beauty of their light. On this night, I kissed my millennials and wished them a happy new year and I am at peace alone in my bed.

For thought number two. I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. I believe we should resolve the things we want to do, fix or accomplish every single day. We should resolve every day to eat better, resolve every day to move more, to fix our budgets, meditate, and on and on. The point is that it does no good to resolve these things once a year, to try to live up to our own expectations for a few weeks, maybe months and to fail, yet again, and give up until we resolve again at year’s end.

If I were to make a resolution for this year’s end it would not be a personal one for my own betterment. Rather, it would be to make the world a better place in whatever way I can. To encourage kindness, work for peace, stand up for justice, help those in need, teach truth and act in love. Those are my resolutions for us all. All that other stuff well, I need to do it for myself every day that I can. Happy new year.

Singularity ~ Pun Intended

So over the last year and half or so, I have been doing and going and showing up at all manner of things by myself.  Having ended a marriage of over 25 years, I am re-learning the joys of doing things “single”.   People often speak of the joys of partnerhood, and I will come back to that later, but rarely do you hear people speak of the joys of singlehood.  So here goes.

I find that I am much more able to make space in my busy life for solitary prayer and for meditation practices.  Now mind you I don’t often find a 30 minute block of time, but I do find short spaces for meditation and I feel much more centered and at peace for those short spaces.  By solitary prayer I mean prayer that is not in a ritual or congregational setting.  There is nobody here to think I am weird if I just sit up in bed, close my eyes and talk to G-d.  Who, by the way, does not mind if I drink coffee during these prayer conversations.

I do not have to ask what anyone else wants to watch on tv, what movies they like or what kind of music to see.  I happily have gone to symphony, american folk, several types of jazz, blues, musical theatre and gospel without needing to find out if any of those are acceptable to a partner.  It is not easy to find folks with broadly eclectic tastes to share these things with.

I do not have to explain that I rehearse twice or three times a week because music is everything, with books, teaching and live performances close behind.  I am free to stand out on my front porch and contemplate the moon and stars or sit out on my lanai and watch the raccoons and listen to the frogs whenever the mood strikes me.  There is nobody to think I am crazy.

But then, there is that moment when you turn to the partner who is not there to say “look at that beautiful moon” or “listen to that frog choir”.  There is nobody to bring the coffee in bed.  There is nobody to talk about the music, and the joy it brings, with.  There is nobody to put your feet on while you watch a movie at home.

[tweetshare tweet=”I have learned, this past 30 months or so, how singular I am and that I can be joyful alone, and that I am not alone.  I have amazing people in my life.  But I have also come to understand that singularity makes you difficult in ways that are hard to explain.  And so, I am not only singular, I am single and, for the moment good with it.” username=”@trienahm”]

Things I Want My Son To Know # 17 ~ Build Yourself A Family

Ok, you may have noticed that our house has always been full of people. There are lots of reasons for this, some complicated, some not. You may also have noticed that we are a small family. Something you may not think about is that we are older than most parents of eighteen year olds. Unfortunately, there will come a time when we will be gone and you will probably be much younger than many when they lose their parents. This is not morbid, it is just a fact. Hopefully you will find a wonderful life partner that makes you happy. I dearly hope you will have children, you will be a wonderful father. That’s where your family will begin.

Make sure you cherish your relationship with your cousin Jax, you are close in age and you are the only ones. And your uncle Bev ~ with any luck he will be around a lot longer than we will. You have two little cousins that will need to know you; don’t forget them.

But in addition to those few family members that you will have, you must fill your life with people that make you happy, inspire you, challenge you to think, tell you the truth and are just plain available. Remember that none of us are perfect; if you strive to have perfect friends you will have none. But different people will fill different needs for you throughout your life.

Your partner will not fill all your needs and that’s ok. Your very best friends are the ones that will tell you when you are being an ass; and you are willing to listen. Some friends will be the best for lively conversation and challenging thought, some friends will just make you laugh and some will be there when things go to hell.

Build yourself a family, fill your life with people who love you and who you love back. Don’t waste time on high-maintenance people, they are not really friends and life is too short. Find family in your Temple community, at least you know you will fit in. Just build yourself a family however you can.