It is very much a work in progress for me to try and understand the ageing process, on a personal and on a professional level. Many thoughts bounce around in my head to better understand why some family members (including myself) face such a difficult time (at times) with their parents at this delicate stage in life regarding the big question of staying or moving. Recently I acknowledged a personal moment of growth, of maturity, of ageing…I am not sure what to call it. Here are all the thoughts that have been swimming around in my head that created an Aha! moment: the rules and regulations we find in sports; to what ‘ageing’ means; why this stage in life is so hard on seniors and their families; to rattle snakes shedding their skin; and my realization that my boundaries recently changed (or, I too have shed like a snake). I will try to guide you through this recent Aha Moment on my part. I’ll explain why I think evolving personal boundaries, overtime, could be a cause of contention as we age with others around us.
Since the publication of Stay or Move? I have had many thoughts as to “what is next?”. I’ve been thinking of the “ageing” process and the difficulties that seem to accompany it. On morning, while noticing a new wrinkle on my upper lip, I thought of starting to chronicle my ageing process. But what does it mean to age (without looking it up in the dictionary)? How do I chronicle it? What does it mean to age other than living today, tomorrow and perhaps the next day?
I saw on You Tube a gal who took pictures of herself, daily, over a period of three years.
This to me is about the aspect of getting older but not the notion of ‘ageing’. My new wrinkle is a physical aspect and visible to the eye, but what about my evolving personal growth, my maturity, that does not show and is not visible, how can I keep a diary of it? I wish I were able to say “Today this in me has changed. I have aged. I have matured in this way.” I am not sure how to do that, perhaps because it is subjective, too abstract….I do not know.
So many of my elderly clients look at me and say, “Whatever you do do not get old.” Oddly enough they usually have a twinkle in their eye when they tell me. There is nothing I can do to stop aging and so far I have enjoyed getting older, wiser perhaps, and I do want to grow old to better understand the process of being ‘old’ and the ‘ageing’ process.
The other day I was playing racket ball with my son. For those of you who have not played this sport, all players face the front wall and it is played in a white closed room (40’ x 20’) with a few red lines on the floor. With a racket in hand you hit the ball to the front wall and your opponent tries to return it. I do not know the rules nor the “best” way to play racket ball as no one has taught us, we have played a bit with a pro and did a quick research on line but that is it. My children depend on me to teach them.
While waiting for my son to return the ball, I thought “Man, I wish I knew the rules to this game more, I wish I could be more of a teacher to my son to share with him the whys and the hows, we are playing blindly here with no strategy or real knowledge of how to play. ”
While still waiting to return the ball, my thoughts continued: “Why do I like sports so much?” My answer was (is), “I love the exercise, the challenge, the competition, the rules and the boundaries.” WHOA! Boundaries! Rules! Those two words resonated in my head. Hmm…. sports have rules and boundaries, with referees. There is always someone there to blow the whistle when someone goes out of bounds, or if there is rough play… When I work with seniors and their adult children there are no boundaries per se, I am not talking about laws but about lines that indicate personal boundaries, no referees, no rules. Wow!
That is why I like sports so much, every time I go back to a sport I know what to expect, how to play the game (most of the time) how to score points and I know at what moment the game ends….when someone accumulates the right amount of points or that the time has run out. Relationships on the other hand do not come with straight lines and definite boundaries.
So I walked out of that little white room and said to myself “And that is why I love sports (always have), but I also like interacting with people (always have) but that is why relationships are more challenging then sports as you never know what the rules are and or the boundaries and there are no referees. I know what my personal boundaries and ‘rules’ are, but I am never sure about the other persons’.
Boundaries. Looking back on the year I have just lived, you will know this now as I tell you but otherwise you would never know by seeing me, after finalizing Stay or Move? in French and English, I went through a slight depression.
Looking back, I realize that my personal boundaries have changed and I only realized it after I came back from Florida (the next thought below) and Mather Nature is the one who helped me understand that I had recently shed a skin. SHE often helps me better understand situations in life.
So all these thoughts in my head: the ageing process; to find a way to chronicle aging; boundaries and rules in sports; personal evolution; fluctuation within relationships amongst humans; the challenging and emotional year I just lived and the trip that I had just come back from.
I recently came back from a trip to Florida where I participated in a senior move managers’ conference (NASMM). It was my first year attending and also my first time buying a table in a market place to try and sell Stay or Move?. Every part of it, from planning to get there to all the way to coming back home was a challenge in every which way but that in itself is another book all together. (I will spare you the details.)
While in Florida I went on a nature walk. During this gorgeous walk I read a sign that stated that when a rattle snake sheds its skin a new rattle segment is “created”. I thought that was pretty cool.
Not long after I came back from Florida I realized that my personal boundaries had changed. From having read that neat comment about the snake to the challenging times on this business trip and recent events in my personal life there are certain things that I am not willing to tolerate anymore. This is hard to say in words but I have found a stronger voice and I am allowing myself to use it.
Simply my boundaries have changed. If I would not share it with you today, you would never know as I am neither a rattle snake with a new segment, nor a sport with new dimensions or modified rules. The next time someone encroaches on my “new” boundaries, they might notice that things have changed or simply say “Come on? What is going on with her?!”.
I have aged. I have matured. Without realizing it was happening, but by looking back I can acknowledge it. Over a period of how many days, months, years? I cannot say for sure but I know it is at least a good year. A big milestone regarding my growth has just occurred.
And now the Aha moment!!
This all leads me back to helping our parents (yours and mine) regarding the question of staying or relocating. How many times over the years have your boundaries changed? What about your parents’ boundaries? Have you all talked about who you are today? I haven’t. You probably have not either, as it is neither something we talk about nor something that is easy to put into words. Over time personal boundaries change and evolve for everyone, point final.
On the other hand for a sport, when they change rules or boundaries ever so slightly, the media discusses it until the cows come home.
Humans, unlike a snake or a sport, are always evolving and that is what we want but we never know where the other persons’ boundaries are. This makes it quite challenging. This is one of the aspects that makes it so hard when it comes to helping our parents. I think this plays an important role at this stage.
For many years now I have been wondering why adult children often say of their parents that they are so “stubborn” or that seniors call their children “bossy”, why do adult children have trouble understanding their parents choices, I still do not have complete answers but I feel somewhat closer with this Aha moment.