Starting to feel whole again

art_mandalaTreeofLifeIt has been a very eventful week and as I sit here today I am so aware of feeling different; actually feeling the freedom I’d hoped for in retirement.  Strange, given what’s transpired in the past week or so that I feel this way now after a trauma-filled week … but I do.  It’s as if some kind of weight has been lifted from my spirit (and my shoulders) that is making life just plain easier to live.  After years of feeling as if my immune system had collapsed I’m back to being who I once was; able to take things in my stride and move along in life with the things that matter the most to me.

Trauma #1:  In Santa Fe on our holiday I hurt my ankle when I missed a step and came crashing down to the ground.  When the two young women who witnessed my fall came to my rescue and asked if I was alright my answer was a bit obscure:  “No, but yes”.  That certainly left them concerned that I’d not only hurt my ankle but perhaps also bumped my head.  I knew what I meant though.  The “no” was that I recognized that I’d done some significant injury to myself.  The “yes” was that I also recognized that whatever I’d done it would be alright; I could manage whatever I needed to.  This new (to me) feeling I attribute to the meditation I’ve been doing.  Indeed, on the hour’s drive from Albuquerque (where I fell) to Santa Fe (where I got treatment), I focused on icing my ankle and meditating; imagining my ankle whole and well and trying to “breathe into it”.  Once x-rayed and bandaged up, I was told that it would take at least a week before I could walk without an ankle-splint.  Well, two days later I wasn’t sporting the splint and was able to trek to a hotspring.   

A little aside here.  Because I had good health-care coverage (on my VISA card) I received great medical care in Santa Fe.  No worries.  What I can’t understand is the response that I’m seeing daily on the news with folks going what I can only call “nuts” fighting against universal health care in the US.  Indeed, while in Santa Fe, when anyone asked where I was from, my answer would be: “I‘m from Canada, where we have a great health care system in spite of what you’re hearing on your news”.  Everybody here knows that they can get the health care they need when they need it.  Nobody here worries about whether or not they can afford the surgery or medical attention that they need to be well.  Do we wait a while for elective/non-urgent procedures?  Sometimes.  But when my mother needed angioplasty a couple of years ago she got what she needed right away, with great care and … no bill to haunt us.  When David needed an MRI or a Cat Scan for an eye infection, he got it … no wait and no bill.  Now I know that we can never underestimate people’s capacity for being stupid but honestly … who would believe that Obama would actually be suggesting “death panels”; at least who other than someone as vacuous as Sarah Palin?  So folks in the US, please get it together and start to take care of each other.  Everyone needs access to good medical care; make sure you support it.  Okay – I’m putting the soap-box away now.

Trauma #2:  Two days ago I had some pretty significant dental surgery.  This was follow-up to a disastrous root canal done a few years ago; a piece of the file broke off inside the root and was left there (and the dentist forgot to tell me about it).  The result was recurring infections and no way to clean the area because of the broken file blocking the canal.  So on Monday they cut open my gum and went in “through the top”.  Once again, I used meditation as a way to get through a difficult experience.  As I left the endodontist’s office – after a 2-hour ordeal – I was told to expect that I’d be in pretty rough shape for about a week.  My son Motti took good care of me all day, keeping me company, bringing me ice and bowls of the jello that David had made before leaving for work that morning.  My friend Laurie came by with popsicles, a welcome addition to the get-well diet.  In the evening David took over the nursing duties and delighted me with mashed potatoes and the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten.  It’s Wednesday now and I’m feeling pretty good; just a little swelling left so that when I smile one side of my mouth goes up and one side turns down.  Weird.  But once again, healing much faster than anticipated.

So here I am.  I’d expected that today I’d still be down for the count with my foot elevated in a splint and an icepack on my face.  Living LegaciesInstead I’ve been up since 6:30 and I’ve just completed – and submitted – a draft that I hope will be a chapter in the second volume of Living Legacies: A Collection of Inspirational Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women.  It’s still not easy for me to realize that my hours are my own, that I can pursue the things that I choose to do, and that I don’t have to answer to anyone else for what I do or how I do it.  It’s still not easy to see myself in my new roles as writer and speaker … and of course doer.  But little by little, day by day, I’m feeling stronger in my own identity.  Little by little, day by day, I’m finding ways to adjust to the changes in schedule and expectation (there’s that tricky word again!).  There are still some dark clouds hovering not too far away (more about that in another posting) but overall I think that I’m “over the hump” and starting to wear my retirement with more ease.  I sure hope so.

Time to do a standing yoga meditation and then go for a walk; it’s finally a sunny day in Toronto.  

Anyone have time to meet for a coffee?


9 responses to “Starting to feel whole again

  1. i find the subject of retirement endlessly fascinating, although i am still a decade away from doing it myself. Sounds like you are much loved. I enjoy your posts.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Thanks for the kind words Fern. I’ve come to think that starting to think about retirement well before-hand, and not just the financial aspects which is what most people seem to focus on, would be really helpful. It’s such a major transition point in our lives; exciting and terrifying both. Thanks also for your comments; they make this all a much richer experience for everyone I think.

  2. Sylvia,
    Glad you are recovering well (in so many ways). Thanks for commenting on the misinformation in the US about healthcare (where are the rational, informed people who can deal with debate-bullies?)….and I have to say that Obama and crew aren’t helping, as their messages are to complex/technical, and don’t ensure the themes come through…..and it isn’t over, and there’s time for the US folks to figure out how to have these community conversations and work things out. (Positive visualizations continue!
    ….And I wish I could have joined you for a coffee, but I am stuck on the other side of the storms, hoping that a plane can leave Toronto and come and get me (and 125 of my soon-to-be close personal friends) and take us all home – tonight!
    As for planning retirement, let me echo the sentiment….planning the financial part is important, yes, but most important is visualizing one’s life — what does 5 years after retirement look like? (or, as I am want to say, retirement from one job/career/position/situation jsut means that one can move on to something different – the next phase/stage….because, if one is alive, then one needs to live!)

    ….anyhow….keeping on blogging…..and looking forward to coffee and kibbitzing sooner than later!
    love ,

  3. Sylvia, that part about Living Legacies is very exciting! I trust we’ll be hearing more about it in the near future.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Seems that what I’ve submitted has been accepted already which is very exciting. I’ll share more as it becomes more of a reality.

  4. Hey thanks for contributing your perspective to our healthcare debate. I’ve been waiting to hear from some Canadians about the “evil system” they have. I honestly don’t get al the fear here either.

    As far as waiting for elective surgeries-it’s no better here. Yeah, I can pick my doctor, but I had to wait 4 months to get on her schedule for dealing with a fibroid tumor. I don’t understand that argument against a government plan when we already have the problems they are worried about! Not to mention the 50 million people without anything at all.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      I don’t know if you heard Congressman Barney Frank responding to someone making incredibly stupid comments the other day at a town hall, but his response was: “I have only one question to ask you; what planet do you spend most of your time on?” I really can’t imagine how people there are being duped by what’s clearly a corporate attempt to make sure that the terrible care folks have gotten through insurance companies is protected. It matters to me to know that everyone in my community has access to good medical care; after all, isn’t that a very basic right we all need to have in civil society? I sure hope that the US comes to its senses before Obama’s plan is reduced to nothing but security for insurance folks and continued lack of care for so many.

  5. I think it’s a disgrace that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t have some form of universal healthcare. And, I’m totally dismayed at the mean-spiritedness that has been displayed by so many AARP people. They disgust me.

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