Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Musings: Coming to terms with reality

As many of you know, I've had a health diagnosis that sort of blind-sided me. It's taken awhile for me to come to terms with it. In other words, to accept this new reality. It means I've gone from someone who, at 64, took no medication whatsoever, to someone who needs meds for both thyroid and heart.
That made me think about where I am at 64 and where I still want to be.

In my memoir, there's a part of my story where I am driving through the Mojave Desert after yet another relationship ended and I am filled with despair and no longer want to go on, not just driving, but living. A voice whispers, "You're not done yet, Karen."

I am hearing that voice again. I am not done, even though I am slowing down. I don't have the stamina I once had. I need more down time than ever before. I've thought about the aging process a lot since I have first-hand experience caring for my aging dad and mother-in-law, until they died. I also having elderly friends I do some caregiving for.

What I've observed is that aging is a lot about coming to terms with reality. The body starts to give out. Things don't function as they used to and eventually stop functioning at all. Some things can keep functioning with medications. Others with procedures. But eventually, there will be nothing that can be done about the malfunctioning parts. We all get to make choices what to do in those cases.

So aging is about accepting limitations. And letting go of who we used to be and what we used to be able to do. I think, if we allow ourselves to, it is an opportunity to become more deeply spiritual human beings, instead of human doers. I am trying to incorporate that awareness into my life now, so that as this aging process continues, I am more and more comfortable with the limitations and losses that will most definitely come.

How about you?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe those limitations slow us down for a reason. If the body isn't go-go-go all the time, the mind will get a chance to think and reflect more.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I personally think that accepting our limitations is one of the keys to opening the door to happiness and contemtment. Wonderful and introspective writing Karen.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to what you write Karen, coming to terms with change is hard but with a bit a patience and faith I know all will be well.

L.G. Smith said...

I am watching my mother deteriorate physically and mentally (she's eighty). It's very sad to witness from my perspective, yet she is still happy and upbeat most days. Attitude can make up for a whole lot of other stuff in my opinion. :)

Karen Walker said...

Alex, that's my point exactly!
Optimistic, thank you for those kind words
Yvonne, yup!
L.G. yes, attitude is key~

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are things I just can't do as well or as fast as I used to. I know not to push myself too far now.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Very smart. It doesn't just start in our 60s, either...I'm trying to learn my limitations now in my 40s. I know there are things I shouldn't try to lift anymore, for example (otherwise...I *always* get hurt.) Such a good point about realizing our limitations and understanding reality while still striving for our dreams!

Jack said...

Very few people accept changes in their bodies, whether it is sickness or age. They deny it and try to shove on doing what they've always done. It is good to be able to accept these changes and learn how to live with them, to adjust to them.

Karen Walker said...

Diane and Elizabeth, interesting, I didn't notice it in my 40's. But learning just how far we can push ourselves without injury (either emotional or physical) is so key.
Jack, yup.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, I think it's important to mentally accept there will be limitations as we age. Some of my friends try to push it though and think they're still in their 20's and end up getting hurt.

Nancy La Turner said...

Your reflections touch me deeply, Karen -- yours and your friends here. I'm standing eye-to-eye with my 73rd birthday, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with ageing, medications, and procedures. Here's what rings true to me today: there are three stages in life -- in the first, the child stage, we are devoted to growth; in the second, the adult stage, we focus on doing; and in the final stage, we are free to just be. Growing, Doing, Being. The hard part is to give up the doing and surrender to the peace of simply being.

Karen Walker said...

Jennifer, it's a hard lesson.
Nancy, I gosh, I miss you. Thank you for these words of wisdom.

Tonja said...

Inspiring post. Thanks.

Julie Flanders said...

I have to echo Nancy's comment, I'm always so touched by your posts, Karen. And I think you are so right about becoming more spiritual beings as our bodies start to wear out on us. I saw that with my dad as he aged and also with numerous patients when I used to work in health care. Blessings back to you!

Robin said...

I have found that people resist change in all things.

My mother is 70 and she still finds it difficult to accept that she cannot do the things she once could. Some days she will over-reach and then spend several days after paying the price. I think the more of Doer you are in the first place, the harder it is to quit Doing and just Be.

Karen Walker said...

Tonja, you are welcome.
Julie, thank you so much
Robin, yes, that is quite true. And I was a big Doer.

Mason Canyon said...

Karen, knowing our limitations is one thing, but accepting is a bit harder. We want to think we can always do what we've done. In recent years I've noticed my limitations have changed and I'm also trying to learn not to push to do what I once did. I think you're on a good path.

Thoughts in Progress

Suze said...

Karen, your posts are getting richer. I am listening to a 50s song as I read this and feeling like I want to allow my body and psyche to be properly saturated with the truth of your words. It's a little like feeling my heart break, inevitably.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Even at 33, I've found that I have to watch for trying to push myself too far. We each have a limited amount of physical and emotional energy, and everyone has different demands on that energy. Regardless of age, we have to make sure we're not spending more than we can afford.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Beautifully put, as so many others have already said. I find this attitude of letting go and just "being" pervading my writing also, and the more I let go, the more love flows all around. Through open the doors and windows to soul! Let the breeze of spirit blow where it will. You keep reminding us of that. Bravo!

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Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen - I learnt a lot from my mother and my uncles, who thankfully accepted what they could do, adjusted accordingly and carried right on living as best possible - acceptance and adjustment are the keys, then being positive .. cheers Hilary