Fogginess is a relatively unusual condition for Sydney Harbour and a relatively unusual feeling for me.
Both Clive and I like clarity, and we tend to plan more rather than less in terms of how we spend our time, even if our plan is simply to sit on the balcony and read. That was in fact our plan for this weekend, and what we’ve been taking great pleasure in doing.
The weekend has also felt strange. By design, we had no family commitments or social engagements. We put to-do lists out of sight and tried to keep them out of mind. It’s the first time since early 2008 we’ve been able to well and truly relax at home.
The In-Between Week
I realised this morning that these days feel different because they are different. It’s the first Christmas since my son’s birth that we’ve spent the holiday apart, and the first time in years that my job hasn’t been hanging over my head throughout the season.
This is the first in-between Christmas and New Year’s week since I was in college that I’ve felt ‘free’:
· Single years – I worked this week, often as junior team member with fewest vacation days.
· Married and children growing-up years – I stayed home this week, having gradually accumulated more vacation days, now able to use them to be with my stepson and son when they were out of school.
· Children’s college years – I often went back to work this week. It was usually quiet and a good time to get things done. I saved my vacation days for longer family trips
· Today – being ‘free’ this week feels both weird and wonderful.
One Year Ago
Last year at this time, my son was an undergraduate senior home for the holidays, and I was flat out with corporate work projects. On New Year’s Eve, Clive and I watched fireworks and talked about what we’d do in 2008.
We’d both continue with our work, go to England in March for Clive’s cousin’s birthday, and to the U.S. in May for my son’s graduation. We had no idea how the year would unfold.
It’s a Physical Thing and a Change Thing
As it turned out, we had a year of significant change, which I’ve written about on this blog since starting it in August.
I left the business world in February and we did go to England and Paris in March and the U.S. in May. From that point on, much of the year was devoted to moving my mother from her home of 54 years to an assisted living residence. Clive had hand surgery in July, and we returned to the U.S. and Europe for another three months in the latter part of the year. Since returning home this month, we’ve been focused on Christmas with our Australian family.
“Don’t Use the ‘E’ Word”
When my son was in pre-school, he had a good friend whose mother was always rather dramatic. Whenever anyone asked, “How are you?” she rolled her eyes, sighed, and said, “Oh, I’m just EXHAUSTED,” then listed the reasons why.
One day my son returned home from their house and said, “Mom, I’m just exhausted.” My own stiff upper lip upbringing immediately kicked in. I told him not to use the ‘E’ word, that he sounded like a whiny hypochondriac instead of a 4 year-old in the picture of health.
To this day, the ‘E’ word seems an overused complaint to me, and I cringe when I hear healthy adults use it as a routine part of their vocabulary, especially with children. Like the boy who cried wolf, ‘exhausted’ should be reserved for times when a person is really, truly worn out.
The Physical Impact
Looking back over 2008, I’m amazed at the pace Clive and I kept up, and the amount of work we got done in different countries and contexts. I think it’s fair to say we arrived back in Sydney in a state of physical and mental exhaustion.
There, I’ve said it, not to whine and dwell on it, but to consider that maybe some of my foggy feelings are simply from experiencing the dreaded ‘E’ word.
So we’ll spend a few more days on the balcony, enjoying this time and restoring ourselves with relaxation, reading, and sleep.
Changing Phases of the Empty Nest
On top of the physical aspects of the year behind us, we’re adjusting to a new phase of the empty nest.
The first was when my son went to kindergarten, and the yellow school bus represented growing independence and the outside world. Later, when he started driving, another huge step was taken on his journey to adulthood.
When he went to university, I knew approximately where he was and when he would be home on breaks. As all parents of college kids know, they’re in and out of your lives during those years, coming and going with all their energy and all their friends, then leaving you quiet when they return to campus.
Now my son is out there in the big wide world, working, living on his own, and finding his way as an independent young adult. By fate or coincidence, the year he’s starting out in the professional world is the same year I departed that world.
A New Rhythm
I’m happy for my son about where he is with his life, though I miss his presence in Sydney this holiday season. I’m happy for my change, too – glad I did it, thankful I was able to satisfy my ambition and achieve career goals.
Clive is still considering “the big R” and may retire in 2009, after spending much of 2008 helping me and my family.
As Simple as Sunday, and Summer, and Slowing Down …
Maybe my foggy feelings simply reflect the intersection of the normal slowing-down feelings of Sunday with the feelings of Aussie summer holidays and long, lazy days just ahead.
… and a New Year around the Corner
Summer holidays coincide with the start of the new year Down Under, and its opportunities for new activities and experiences. It’s a natural time to look forward, and Clive and I have goals, ideas, and plans.
We’re also aware, especially from our experiences this year, that it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen in 2009. I am thankful for my blessings in 2008, and for today.
The world looks clearer already.
Filed under: My Journey |