After watching senior members of my family age without a plan, I keep swearing that I will have a plan. I have good intentions. This plan of mine has three separate facets: 1. future living arrangements, 2. my physical health, and 3. becoming more socially active, which is necessary for my mental health. These have been bouncing around in my head for the past year with me trying to consider all options before the future gets here and such decisions become last minute and stressful. I am a planner, a thinker. Not having a plan is what stresses me out. But the options I consider are fickle. What I need to satisfy one, conflicts with another and so I get nowhere.
I may seem a bit young to be wanting a plan, but The Doc is 70, almost 71, nine years older than me, and my plan needs to consider his age. Not that he is old. The Doc is far from what I consider old, but he is slower than he used to be. He currently spends a lot of time putting around the house and yard doing all those house and yard things that men do. Or fishing or tying flies for fishing and making fishing rods, hobbies with a great deal of inventory that require a space of their own. A place where feathers and threads can drop to the floor. These are the things that define him. Just like yoga, gardening and kayaking are some of the activities that now define me. We are not ready to give these things up. I couldn’t imagine not being able to walk down the slope of my backyard to the lake and go for a paddle whenever I want. I couldn’t imagine The Doc sitting in a tidy little apartment day in and day out doing nothing but reading his iPad. Yet, I have heard stories of people who all of a sudden realized that they could no longer manage their houses and had to move in a hurry. Of homes being sold without places to move into. Of moving into places that are not that nice because of the lack of options.
If, all of a sudden, The Doc was unable to help manage our house and yard, I could not do it on my own. My wimpy muscles are not up to the task. Plus, the many tools of this trade that are housed in our garage, the snow blower, the chain saw, the ride-on lawn mower, the leaf blower, the seven or eight different types of power saws and the multitudes of other tools that are used when required, may or may not have corresponding instruction manuals and sometimes have their own oil to gas ratios that only The Doc is privy to. Just thinking about trying to figure them out sends my brain into a spiralling tizzy.
During winter I now worry when the snow starts to pile deep on our roof. Four years ago, we had an ice dam that caused water to enter the attic then pour through the ceiling in our front hall. When he was younger, The Doc would climb up onto the roof and shovel it off; but these days, I am not sure that is a wise idea. We don’t have family members that live close enough to help with these types of things and searching Google for roof shoveling services in my area is a bit of a bust.
Earlier this year I had this idea that we should purchase a condo in an location where we would like to live in our future and then just rent it out until we needed it. Not a bad idea except that we may not need it for ten to fifteen years and the news these days is filled with horror stories about people not paying their rent or tenants placing rented condos on Airbnb. Things that weigh heavy on the Con side of a list. As you can see, I have spent a good deal of energy thinking about this part of the plan. If nothing else, I have been thinking.
The part of my plan that I have had the most success with is my physical health. I have written about this in past posts because I am quite proud of myself for becoming more physically active after a career of sitting at a desk all day. Much of my physical activity is linked to where I live. To the lake behind my backyard that allows me to kayak, to my huge garden that gives me an enjoyable reason to get out and move around, and to my large family room that doubles as my morning yoga studio. I also get to go for walks and hikes in beautiful areas not far from my house. These things have become important to my daily life. I have aspirations of kayaking when I am 80. So these provide strong arguments for aging in at home.
Part 3 of my plan is the part that I struggle with the most. The Doc and I are introverts, but while The Doc seems quite content to quietly putt around with little or no social interaction, I am finding the opposite. My sanity suffers when I spend too much time in our overly-silent house. It becomes more difficult to fend off those opportunistic dark clouds that want to toy with my mental health. I crave conversations. To combat this, I have been consciously trying to stay in contact and get together with friends, but it is easy to let several weeks slip by without doing so. During the summer and fall my paddling partner, Sue, did a wonderful job keeping me sane on a regular basis. (Thanks Sue.) But winter is coming and winter can be hard. Last winter certainly was.
My only argument for moving out of our home is the fact that we live outside the city and most things socially interesting happen in the city. The Doc and I do get out and enjoy certain events, local theatre and restaurants; but I crave additional connections and conversations. Often I will see an event that I think would be stimulating to go to, that I wouldn’t mind going to by myself or meeting a friend at. City events mean that I would need to build in up to forty minutes driving and parking time. Then another similar amount to drive home. If it is an evening event, I no longer enjoy driving after dark. If it’s a winter event, snow drifts make parking difficult and boots necessary. These days my feet have a physical aversion to socks and boots. For these and various other reasons, I can easily talk myself out of attending such events. Sometimes I think I would love to live close enough to walk to everything. Close enough to get out and get social without it being a drawn-out production. It would be nice to have the option of spontaneity. Then I think again. Although this is a strong argument in January, February, March and sometimes part of April; it is pretty weak during the remaining of the year, so I doubt that it will win me over anytime soon.
Recently, I have come up with a solution that would take care of all aspects of my plan. We could turn our house into a home for aging introverts. Why not? We have two extra bedrooms, three if I was willing to give up my office. Not sure I am willing to do that, but I’ll put it on the table for now. We have a great view and a very relaxing location that works well for introverts. You never know, we could end up with a waiting list. We would acquire introverted roommates that have certain skills, say the ability to use a snow blower, or perhaps introverted roommates with connections, like people who shovel snow off of roofs. There would always be someone like-minded to chat with in order to help fend off those dark clouds. And perhaps some help with the cleaning. It could be a win-win situation, or so I would like to think. For the moment, I will consider this my latest pipe dream, I mean plan. Hmmm… I wonder what The Doc will think of it.
Thanks for reading.