Let’s face it, change is not easy. It is not easy for us as young people with the whole world ahead of us, and it is certainly not easy as we age. In fact as an over 65 Senior, it can be quite daunting. There are so many ways to talk ourselves out of moving from our comfort zone into a vast unknown. And for the most part, most of us tend to do it, unless the choice has been taken out of our hands. I know I am one of the few who have done it and is now building a new life on the other side of the moving experience. As I continue to reflect on that move, I just want to share a few things I have learned and hopefully if you are facing that decision, this could help in making it easier for you.
First of all, if you have grown children living far away from you and are asking you to come live closer to them, weigh the options. Are they ever going to come back to live where you are? Are they happy in their new world and genuinely want you to come share in the possibilities of living close by? Think about how blessed you are that your adult children want you to be a part of their lives on a regular basis. As I have talked with young people in my new city, so many of them say they wish their parents could consider moving closer. They tell my kids how blessed and lucky they are. And some even ask me if I would be willing to talk to their parents about how I did it. I take this as the ultimate compliment.
Second, it really is not hard letting go of possessions to make that move. Ask yourself how often do you use the things that you have kept for years and years. “I might need it” or “you never know” are not good reasons to keep things. I know each trip I made as I donated to Goodwill and Salvation Army freed me and lightened my step more and more. I made this move with only my bed and boxes of personal mementos. Everything else….gone! And in setting up my new household, I have not regretted letting go of any of my things. In fact, I have loved my new choices and have had the best time with my daughter-in-law choosing and searching for new furniture and decor.
Third, you are going to have some regrets. That is inevitable. After living over 35 years in Wisconsin, it was hard leaving my friends. And I am yet to fill that void. I may never be able to find the close friendships that I had. But that is not to bemoan a situation or to get depressed. I see it as an opportunity to keep those old friends alive with our friendships thriving, just through different venues. Face it, everything about life is a change or an evolution of change. Even life events, such as retirement changed the landscape on some of my friendships. If we look at change as a positive in our life, then we begin to focus on how it can work best. Even though I don’t see my friends, through social media we have daily contact. There are also phone calls, and planned visits. Sometimes you just have to plan life. Moving away makes you realize that for things to happen, you must work at it. How long do some of us stay in the mind set of “Well, one day I will….”? Well now I think more of how can I make sure we get together without too much time passing by. Since my move, I have had one dear friend come to visit and it was wonderful. And I plan on going back home in the next couple months to visit, so that is something fun to look forward to.
Fourth, carving out a new life takes work. While my kids are able to fill a great deal of my time with family activities and fun, I still need a social life apart from them, more in line with peer interaction. Or in other words, not running with the young folks but enjoying things more in line with my physical abilities as a senior citizen. There are many different ways to do this. As most of you know from my previous blog posts, I have found a fun travel group on the social media “Meetup” site. You can go on that site and just put in the variables of the type of group you are interested in, whether over 50 groups, bookclubs, social groups, etc, and just check them out. There are also senior centers around that offer classes, which is one of my next steps. Maybe a cooking class or a crafts class would be fun. And there are classes offered by local libraries. I just took one last week on “Mediation”. But with taking care of my granddaughter, 3 days a week, it is limiting on the days of the week I can schedule classes. I have attended several churches in the area, but yet to find a church home, which is becoming a priority for me. But as you can see there are options in going forward. The point here is to keep going. It can get easy to just sit.
Last thing I have learned is when making a move, get out and explore the city. Embrace your new surroundings. I love my “WAVE” GPS and it has taken me in so many areas I would have never gone. I was initially very intimidated by the traffic of Atlanta, but no more! I just realize every step of getting around takes time. Plan for it and just jump in. There is also the MARTA transit system that I love. I am enjoying new restaurants and partaking of the many festivals and events and art shows happening every weekend almost throughout the year. There is always something to do and the best part is the choice I have in going out and experiencing it.
So in closing, my words of encouragement would be to embrace change. You never ever know where it will lead you and even though we do enjoy routines as seniors, change can be a very fun thing.