Momentum: The Superpower of Success

Alert the media! Stop the presses!  Something went right today.

After multiple home improvement debacles, my gut is firmly trained to seize up and revolt at any mention of the word “handyman.”  I actually expend quite a bit of energy trying to ignore situations that might require the services of a home repair professional.

Today, however, we actually accomplished something with minimal time, hassle, and expense.

Some time ago, the fluorescent light tubes over Max’s bathroom sink burned out.  We replaced them.  This involved climbing on stepladders, kneeling on the counter, and holding things above my head.  There is no question that Max is the one who did the bulk of the heavy lifting.  Even in my very limited capacity, I was graceless and ineffectual.  However, we did finally get both the light tubes replaced. 

A few weeks ago, Max again complained that the lights were flickering on and off.  When he flipped the switch to illuminate the bathroom, the lights took his request under advisement.  However, they were as likely to stay stubbornly unlit or to tease him with a hopeful flicker as they were to emit actual sustained light.  When they did cooperate, Max would leave them on for hours just to avoid another confrontation later.  While this strategy had marginal success for a little while, the lights eventually breathed their last.

Max mentioned the situation to me.  He diagnosed the problem as a need to replace the ballast.  He suggested that we call the electrician company we used a few other times.  I agreed, in an absent-minded kind of way.  I put it on my mental “to-do” list, but didn’t “do.”

For a couple of weeks, Max employed various workarounds for light in the bathroom.  Like the trooper he is, he found ways to take care of his daily ablutions without benefit of overhead lighting while he patiently waited for the “call electrician” item to work its way up on the “to-do” list.

I finally decided to do something before Max became the victim of a self-inflicted shaving fatality.  On Saturday, I called the electrical company we’ve used in the past.  The dispatcher told me that he wasn’t sure the company still covered our area.  He told me he’d check and call back.  Amazingly, he did.  But only to tell me that he was still checking and would call back in a little while.  Come Monday, we still had not heard back.  “Here we go again,” I thought. 

I went trawling the internet for another highly-rated electrician.  I thought I found one and called, only to have the dispatcher tell me their company didn’t handle our area for small jobs.  Fortunately, she did give me a referral to another vendor, though.

I called electrician #3.  Jackpot!  He answered the phone immediately.  He quoted an acceptable price.  He stopped at the supply warehouse and appeared on our doorstep inside half an hour.  Twenty minutes later, he was gone and we had light.

It is amazing how this event changed my metabolism.  For weeks now, I’ve been dragging around barely getting through each day doing what I absolutely had to do.  Today, after the light came on in Max’s bathroom, I was a whirlwind.  I finally drove a couple of nails in the Florida room wall to hang a wreath that had repeatedly fallen to the floor after its suction cup hook stopped adhering to either the wall or window.  I swept the Florida room.  I stopped to get my mother a milkshake on my way to the rehab facility.  I had an emotionally-charged conversation with a doctor at the rehab and then visited with my mother for a couple of hours.  Then, I went to her mobile home and packed up stuff for an hour.  On my way back home, I stopped at UPS to send back her satellite TV box.

It’s crazy that we tend to focus on what goes wrong when concentrating on what goes right generates such a power surge. It seems there is no more effective fuel for activity than success.

At any rate, I am all a-flush with victory.  I am ridiculously happy about the completion of a simple household repair.  But I’ll take it!

How about you?  Do you find that even small successes can motivate you to keep trying?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can send me an email at 

I hope many things go right for you today!

Terri 🙂

Special programming note:  Next week, I may be posting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday morning.  I’m sorry I can’t be more definitive, but such is life.  Thanks for your understanding!

An Attitude of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving approaches, it seemed a good day to revisit my “Thankful Thursday” theme and share a few things for which I am especially thankful.

For the record, I’m still thankful for the color pink!  

I am thankful that the election is over and, with it, the barrage of political commercials and robocalls.  I am thankful I live in a country that depends on independence and free elections to shape our future.  I am thankful we have free elections, even if I don’t always agree with the results.  I know that many people are protesting because they do not like the outcome of the election.  I am thankful we live in a country where people are allowed to make their voices heard.  I pray that the protests continue to be about raising voices and not raising fists.  Rioting against the result of a free election seems scary similar to violence against democracy.

I am thankful for the beauty in the world.  I am thankful for the Sandhill cranes and for the gorgeous greenness that blesses central Florida.  I am thankful for flowers and oceans and lakes and clear skies.  I am thankful for puppies and kittens and giraffes.  I am thankful for laughter.  I am thankful for the beautiful moments that are born of fun…. Like at Disney World. 

I am always thankful for the love of my family and friends.  I am even more thankful for their caring and support during the past few months as I’ve tried to cope with my mother’s illness.  I know that it can be hard to know what to say or what to do to help someone in a difficult situation.  We hate to think that we might make things worse by saying or doing the wrong thing.  I’ve learned that there is no “wrong thing” when whatever is said or done is offered in love.  Also, I’ve often found that a friend has said or done something that turns out to be EXACTLY the right thing, once my poor wee little brain has completely processed it. 

I am thankful for the people who care for my mother… the doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, cooks, housekeepers…. Just everyone.  They are really doing an awesome job with my mother.  As they have gotten to know my mom and me, they have also shown incredible compassion and empathy for me, as well.  My heart is so full of gratitude for them all, it spills over on a regular basis.  I wish there was a way for them to mind meld with me for just an instant to really know how much I appreciate them.  I try to tell them and thank them, but I can’t really communicate the abundance of my gratitude with words. 

And, as difficult as these past few months have been, I am thankful that my mother is still with me.  People say that every day is a gift.  To be completely honest, I’m not sure I can go quite that far.  Some days are not so good.  On the balance, though, most days with her still do feel like gifts when we can still love each other and laugh with each other.  I am thankful enough to take the bad with the good. 

I am thankful that I have a good God who is in control of the world instead of me.  I sometimes fool myself into believing I have some control and behave as if I do. I know, deep down, that I really do not.  I think we can all be thankful for that.  Let’s see… hmmm… God in control or Terri in control?  Uh… no contest.

I am also joyously thankful for all my readers.  All my life, I wanted to be a writer.  For a very long time, life got in the way.  Now, the people who read my posts validate that I am a writer at long last.  It excites and humbles me to think that I am writing anything that anyone, including people who don’t even know me, actually want to read.  One kind soul actually suggested that I don’t realize how effectively I inspire and entertain people.  While I think that may be a stretch, it is very gratifying to see that real people visit my website and read what I’ve written.  This whole experience shows me that dreams do come true.  They don’t necessarily come true like when you blow out the candles on a birthday cake.  Dreams are like blueprints.  You have to use them to build what you have envisioned.  Here’s what I’ve learned- building is better than blowing. I absolutely love writing the blog posts, thinking about how they might impact on others, watching the statistics to see readership increase, and reading the interesting perspective the readers provide.  I think, for me, the creation is part of the dream.

So, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner and count our blessings, know that I am counting you amongst mine.  Thank you from the top of my head to the tip of my toes!

For what are you giving thanks this year?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at 

Have a blessed day!  Again, thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Terri 🙂

The Anti-Frump

When my hairdresser found out I was retiring and moving to Florida at the ripe old age of 55, she tried to convince me that I was way too young.  She is about five years older than I am and had been resisting her husband’s thinly-veiled hints about retiring.  She saw herself as too young to stop working at the job she loved.  She didn’t have any vision of what her life would be like post-retirement.  There wasn’t anything that she felt that she was missing because she was working and wasn’t sure how she would fill her days if she didn’t have her job.  Somehow, my impending retirement challenged her certainty that working well into her sixties or even seventies was the best way to go.

When she realized I had no doubts at all about my ability to fill my days and lead a satisfying life in retirement, she sighed and said, “well just promise me one thing… you won’t let your hair go grey.”

An odd remark to make to a woman who had been coloring her hair since she was in her mid-twenties, I thought.  I inherited my father’s hair.  My hair subtlely started turning grey when I was sixteen. I decided that salt-and-pepper, while perfectly fine for my father, was not a look I was going for on my own head.   For the first ten or fifteen years, I would occasionally remember that “subtle” grey and think about letting my hair go natural.  It didn’t take me long to realize that, under all that hair color, that subtle grey was no longer so subtle. I have long maintained that, as long as I had a checkbook, my hair would not be grey.  Nothing about retirement was going to change this philosophy.  Being relaxed and comfortable in your own skin when you retire is one thing.  Giving up completely is something else.

So why did my hairdresser think continuing to color my hair was so important?  And why do I agree that the whole hair color issue is vital to my well-being?

Because, for me, coloring my hair is a symbol of a much bigger issue.  The battle to avoid the dark descent into frumpiness.

For me, it has been important to my general well-being and feeling of vibrancy to do my hair and make-up and to wear clothes that make me feel happy in my own skin.  Sure, there are days when I am working around the house or just lazing around when I look like I’m staggering away from a losing battle with the nearest time warp.  Bedraggled hair, no make-up, old sweatshirt and threadbare leggings.  Still, most days, even if I am not going out of the house, I just feel better if I put a little effort into my appearance.

Frumpiness can effect men, as well as women.  For men, it just manifests itself in different ways.  Many men seem to grow facial hair once they have retired.  That’s fine, if a beard is the intentional goal, not simply an unfortunate byproduct of giving up shaving.  Male frumpiness could also manifest itself in the ubiquitous wearing of the lucky t-shirt.  Just a word to the wise…. Its luck has run out.  In 1987.

I don’t mean to imply that what you look like is the most important part of who you are.  Anyone who actually knows me can tell you that, if looks are the defining factor, I am in serious trouble… trouble that started long before I retired.  I’ve never been pretty.  I wouldn’t even consider myself reasonably attractive, except for the attractiveness that comes from being happy, interested in the world, and comfortable in my own skin.  The anti-frump is not about what you look like.  It is certainly not about what some random person who writes a blog thinks about your fashion choices.  It is about how you feel and whether your clothes and grooming impact your level of energy and vibrancy.

There are lots of very secure people who can joyously dance through their retirement sporting gray roots, no make-up, grubby shorts, and an oversize t-shirt.  I am not one of those people.   I quickly found that I felt a bit old and tired and worn out of life once I wasn’t getting up and dressing to face the world as I did when I was working.  If you, like me, find you feel a tad under the weather because you suffer from a little schlump and dump (or, say, face a major life event like your mom’s stroke and can feel your serotonin plummeting), maybe you would like to try my anti-frump.  Here are some rules I’ve developed for myself.

Wear clothes that fit.  All the time.   A couple of months after I retired, I felt like I was losing a little weight.  I put it down to wishful thinking and forgot about it.  Until I realized I was living my life continuously holding a fistful of fabric at my waist to avoid having my pants fall down.  I can’t tell you how much better I felt when I bought pants that fit!  If you find your clothes getting a little too tight, it is also important to buy a few garments in a larger size.

Consider what your twenty-something daughter would wear.  And don’t wear that.  After all, they don’t serve micro brewed beer in the same glasses as vintage champagne.  The goal is to look and feel like you are fun and flirty, not desperate and trying too hard.

Be comfortable.  You don’t have to wear what you did in your corporate life in order to feel like the best version of yourself.  I always envied people who had jobs, like my hairdresser, that allowed them to wear cute play clothes to work.  For a long time in my adult life, I didn’t even own play clothes.  I had my corporate office type garb for going to work and grubby clothes for housework.  It is now a joy to wear sundresses and cute sandals, even if I’m just going to the grocery store.  Someone once said that the only purpose jeans have in life is to make your butt look cute. Now is the time to see if this is true.  Knee length shorts and a flirty blouse with flat shoes can be a super comfortable and put-together outfit.  If you need some ideas on how to be comfortable, age appropriate, and still feel cute, you might want to visit 

Remember the side dishes.  Simplify your hair and make-up routine if you wish, but don’t abandon it.  If you have been coloring your hair, continue to do so.  If you really do want to give it up, talk to your hairdresser about how to do it gracefully.  There is truly nothing wrong with gray or silver hair if you are happy with it.  It can actually be very pretty.  However, growing out the color can be brutal.  The skunk look is not good for anybody. I color my hair, but the style is very simple and low maintenance so I can feel polished without spending a lot of time on it each day.  I wear make-up most days, but not as much as I used to and the color palette is a bit gentler. Make-up should make you feel pretty, not like you are trying to cover up your age.

Bring on the old razzle dazzle.  If you are a person who likes jewelry, go ahead and wear it.  It may feel like you have nowhere and nothing for which to wear your baubles.  Of course you don’t want to wear them when you are doing things that might damage your trinkets.  On the other hand, it makes me happy to look down at my wrist and remember the Hawaiian trip when Max bought me the beautiful gold bangle.  It makes me smile to pass a mirror and notice the “friends forever” pendant my dear friend bought me before I moved.  I like to admire the three-stone diamond ring I bought myself on my 50th birthday to remind me how blessed I have been yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Even if I’m not leaving the house, I often sport some bling.

These are my rules.  How much you want to adhere to them is up to you.  If you could not wait to retire to liberate yourself from the world of fashion, hair, and make-up, then you should absolutely continue on your merry way.  If you have a faint suspicion that the  general malaise you have been putting down to iron-poor blood is actually a touch of frumpiness, you might want to try some of the rules that returned the spring to my step and the prance to my dance.  Keep administering the anti-frump until the effort becomes greater than the benefit you receive.  It is all up to you.

So what do you think?  Have you changed your grooming routine since retirement?  Do you find it relaxing to not bother about things like clothes and accessories?  Or do you, like me, find yourself feeling a bit lethargic and tired if you don’t “put yourself together” a bit?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a pretty day!

Terri 🙂

The Sweetest Days

Max retired almost three years before I did.  I have to admit to a smidgeon of resentment when he retired and I could not.  It made no sense, as he is older than I am, was older when he retired than I would be on my planned retirement date, and he basically took over all the work of running the household after he retired.  It was pretty irrational.  I had no reason in the world to feel annoyed about it.  I was 52 years old, bringing in a tidy paycheck, and coming home to a clean, maintained house, freshly laundered clothes, and a fully stocked refrigerator.  Still, a part of me was really ticked off when I awoke violently in the middle of yesterday when the alarm clock went off and I knew he was still in bed.  Sometimes I’m not a very nice person.

Within two months of my retiring, we moved 3000 miles across the country.  We had not even really settled into a new retirement routine.  I was still toodling around town, celebrating with one batch of friends or another.  There was Thanksgiving and some early, pre-move Christmas preparations.  I didn’t have time to figure out what our life was going to be once we were both retired, much less what the impact would be on our relationship.  During the time I was still working after Max retired, it felt like “retirement life” was a reality, but “on hold” while we waited for me to reach the magic age of 55.  I wasn’t sure the routines and activities Max had in his retirement would continue after I would be around all day.  I wasn’t sure what sort of routines and activities I would do.  And I really didn’t know how his life and mine would intersect.  We were always very good about sharing time and fun while we were forced into a structure by our work lives.  How would we accomplish that sharing once the artificial timeframes of our work lives were gone?

Once we moved, it became pretty clear that both of us were experiencing a certain amount of stress related to this major upheaval in our lives.  At least, in retrospect, it is clear that we were both experiencing a certain amount of stress related to this major upheaval in our lives.  I have to confess that, at the time, I just thought Max was being compulsive and annoying and I am sure that Max thought I had turned into a lazy, irresponsible grasshopper version of the industrious little ant he had known for almost twenty years. 

The problem, I think, was that we learned that we both deal with stress in very different ways.  I was wrong to think that Max believed that the move and all the changes were no big deal.  He most definitely did find all the transition to be a big deal.  It is just that Max deals with stress by trying to control the heck out of it.  He tries to think of every possible problem, action, or task that could conceivably be an issue in any universe and believes in attacking each one immediately and simultaneously.  If you think of everything and do everything to solve/prevent problems as soon as they enter your head, you are unlikely to be unpleasantly surprised by disaster.  On the other hand, you might be exhausted, which, to me, was a disaster in itself after 33 years of working for a living and being chronically exhausted.  My way of dealing with problems is to let them sit for a little bit, brainstorm some possible options to deal with them, research those options, and then decide on a plan of action.  That plan of action will involve dealing with one problem at a time, celebrating the resolution of that problem, and then resting between rounds, as it were.  My way means some things may never get done.  Max’s way means we are constantly on hyper-alert and busy doing stuff that may never need to get done. 

The other issue involved the way we make decisions.  Both of us obsess in the decision-making process.  We research, weigh every possible factor, and simmer in our own juices for way too long before actually settling on a decision.  Often, we settle into paralysis by analysis.  However, for me, the obsession does not stop when the decision is finally made.  I second guess myself and mourn the road not taken with almost as much intensity as I mustered to make the decision in the first place.  On the other hand, Max never looks back.  Once he has made and implemented a decision, he tells himself and anyone who will listen that it the unquestionably correct one.  This became a problem whenever I voiced any possible downsides of our decision or mentioned that I missed something about our old home.  Max would immediately start reciting the litany of all the reasons our decision to move was the only one a rational person could possibly make.  To him, I think entertaining any possible regrets felt as if the whole thing was a catastrophe.  To me, not acknowledging the difficulties and the disappointments felt dismissive. 

For the first six months or so after the move, the difference in our two styles was an irritant to both of us.  It was uncomfortable to be at odds with one another, as we have so little practice at it.  We had seldom disagreed in our twenty year relationship before this move across country.  It made me kind of depressed to know that there were times when Max was not pleased with my approach or decision.  I’m sure it also frustrated Max no end when what he perceived as his “rational convincing” to do something (and I perceived as “nagging”) did not move me to his way of thinking and I really could not explain why.  I started snapping at him fairly regularly and he started just assuming I agreed with him about things.  I guess that is a chicken and egg conundrum.  I don’t really know which came first.

Then something happened.    I’m not sure when or why.  I think Max probably started it.  We became gentler and more tender with each other.  Instead of being frightened or irritated by the disconnects, we started to be more accepting of each other.  We started being more visibly appreciative of what each of us brings to the relationship and what we do for each other.  We started reminding each other of how much we loved each other.  Our lives became more about each other again and less about the complications around us- the house, the lawn, my mother, finances, etc.  There is a new easiness to the relationship- something like the joy we had when we were new to each other, but deeper and warmer and softer. 

In a few weeks, Max and I will celebrate twenty years together.  During that time, we have shared the death of three of our four parents, the growing up and growing old of our little mutant Welsh corgi dog, many vacations, many wonderful entertainments, health problems, career challenges, home renovation, caregiving of my mother, two retirements, and many, many other experiences I can’t even begin to name. With all that, the relationship has truly grown richer. It is sort of like warming up spaghetti sauce.  It is good the first day, but it gets better as it simmers when you warm and rewarm it.  There may have been times when each of us privately wondered if our “we” was going to withstand whatever was going on at the time.  I think maybe our new chapter is about being more secure that, whatever ingredients the future adds to our mix, our relationship will be okay because the base of the recipe is love and respect and admiration.  For me, the best place in the world to be is snuggled in his arms.  He makes me feel the warmth and wholeness that comes from being truly cherished.  For Max, I think being with me makes his spirit a little lighter and more joyful. 

So, my darling Max, Happy Anniversary.  There is no question that the sweetest days I’ve found I’ve found with you.

How did your relationship change when you retired?  Were there challenges you had to overcome? How have you navigated choppy waters?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a sweet day!

Terri 🙂

The New Normal

When I was working, I participated in a training program designed to develop my potential for a middle-management position.  The course consisted of three sessions of one week each.  In between the sessions, we had homework to complete in the time until we reconvened.  At the end of the second session, the instructors explained that our third session would include a long (a whopping understatement- as it turned out, the word “interminable” was more accurate) simulation of a real business problem. The exercise would require us to prioritize needs and create a budget to run the entire agency in an environment of limited resources and continuing budget cuts. The instructors told us that, as part of the simulation, we would have to deal with constantly changing conditions and would have to present our decisions to a team of executives.  The executives’ role would be to pick apart our budgets and make us defend them.

To make the challenge more difficult, the instructors assigned each student a role to play in the exercise.  We would each have to play the part of an executive from an agency department with which we had no experience.  In the time before we came back to class, we were supposed to research our roles, figure out the interests and priorities of the person who actually held the position we were assigned, and be prepared to explain the inner workings of the department of which we had just become the executive.

During the months between the second and third session, I became a manic fact-gatherer.  I knew virtually nothing about my assigned department.  I scoured the internet for information about my role.  I tried to talk to people who actually worked in the department that I was going to “fake lead.” To be honest, I actually understood only about every third word that I read about the new department.  To say the least, my comprehension was a bit compromised.  Still, I kept printing things out and trying to organize the information in a way that made sense.  I built large three-ring binders of printed information.  I hoped that I was combining the bits and pieces of data that I did understand into a coherent overall general understanding of the department’s priorities and mission.

I arrived at class pulling a rolling suitcase behind me.  The suitcase contained the binders of pages printed off the internet, email traffic between me and employees of the actual department in question, and my own notes and analysis. I was a sitting duck.  As soon as I walked through the door armed with my suitcase, the instructors immediately re-assigned me to another position in a completely different department.  Other than killing a lot of trees and building my muscles lifting all that paper, my research was pretty useless.

The instructors were trying to teach me that I tend to rely too much on planning and preparation.  They wanted me to learn to develop my quick-thinking and adaptability skills.  I completely agree with their assessment of my obsessive-compulsive planning tendencies.  I also agree that the lesson they wanted to teach me is a valid life lesson.

However, I don’t learn that easily.  In the weeks since my mother’s stroke, the memory of this episode has come careening back to the front of my mind.  It almost seems like I am living through the whole thing again.

All day and most of the night, I strategize about how to help my mother, how to advocate for her, and how to provide a comfortable future for her.  I run errands.  I talk to experts.  I google so much my brain hurts.  Just when I think I’ve got a good enough plan to tame the tigers of uncertainty in my gut, I start the day and something happens that makes all that planning pretty much moot.  It is as if God sees me hauling my rolling suitcase of information and plans, gently unclasps my hand from the handle, and puts me in a different situation where all that wonderful research I’ve accumulated is completely useless. Instead of shrugging and just dealing with whatever the new situation is, I find myself heading headlong into another flurry of research and preparation.  I think I must have the hardest head ever.

I am still not real good at living in the moment and I’m really bad at living in the particular moments I’m experiencing right now.  I think I’ve been kind of waiting for the “new normal” to begin.  I know that I have to find some way to live some semblance of my own life in order to stay sane for myself and stay strong for my mother. However, I keep thinking that I will be able to gradually disengage somewhat from the “stroke world” where I visit my mother every day and work with her on therapy and do the administrative work necessary to provide for her life.

The thing is- I keep waiting for some milestone of recovery to jump start that gradual disengagement process.  I’m not sure exactly what I expect that moment to look like. I am thinking of milestones such as regaining enough speech to truly be able to express her opinion of activities concerning her, moving into her eventual home in assisted living, or having no reason to expect that she will go back to the hospital in the forseeable future.  Maybe that milestone is even just having several days of progress in a row. Maybe one of the reasons that I am so tired (aside from the manic midnight internet research, I mean) is that I’ve been holding my breath waiting for that magical “new normal.”

It strikes me now that maybe this is the “new normal.”  Maybe the “new normal” is not stability.  Maybe the “new normal” is a series of amorphous, disorderly days from which I cannot expect anything specific.

Despite the vagaries of this version of “new normal,” I do try to schedule time for myself.  I’m just not very good at it.  Something always seems to get in the way. I feel like a dog wearing one of those electronic fence collars.  As soon as I start nosing around the perimeter of “stroke world,” I get a shock that sends me scurrying back well within the boundaries.  I had to cancel a trip to California because the stroke was so fresh and rehab so new.  We had an overnight trip to Disney scheduled and I was going to avoid the hospital for the entire day we left.  I ended up having to go to the hospital because it was the only day the paralegal could come to get the Power of Attorneys signed…. And then she didn’t show up.  I had a reservation, made months and months ago, to spend a day at a local day resort to swim with the dolphins.  I cancelled it because the hospital suddenly scheduled surgery on my mother’s leg for the day of my reservation.

For the first two months after my mother’s episode, I went to the hospital or rehab facility every single day while also trying to handle the administrative stuff of her life and keep my own household running, too.  I kept thinking that I must find ways of doing things for myself, but rarely put those thoughts into action beyond meeting my most basic needs.  I needed a day off from “stroke world”-  a day when I didn’t have to watch my mom struggle in the hospital or rehab facility, when I didn’t have to chase down medical professionals to share information, when I didn’t have to consider different strategies for paying for care, when I didn’t have to enact administrative procedures to manage my mom’s life.  After two months of going to the hospital or rehab facility every day, I craved a “day off” from “stroke world.”

When Hurricane Matthew threatened to stuff Central Florida into a blender and hit the “liquefy” button, I finally spent a whole day without visiting my mother at the rehab facility.  As it turned out, Matthew’s impact was pretty minor in our neck of the woods. There probably was no reason for me to not go to the rehab facility.  Still, even a girl raised in Southern California knows enough to question the wisdom of going out in the rain… especially when the rain has an actual name.  I was glad I did stay home, if only to show myself that I carry no magic talisman with me when I visit my mother that will ensure her health and safety.  She was just fine without me for a day.

Since then, I have taken one day each week to not go to the rehab facility.  Max and I went to Disney Springs one day, Epcot one day, and to the Lowry Park Zoo one day.  I think it has helped, although I am still learning to manage the discomfort I feel about leaving and the dread of what I will find when I go back.  Overall, these excursions do help me wring out my stress-addled brain so I can start fresh.  Still, it is a bit of a conundrum.  While I want these “days off” so badly I can taste it, it feels disloyal.  After all, my mom doesn’t get to take a day off from “stroke world.”

I know that it is irrational.  I know that I can’t decrease my mother’s anxiety and misery by feeling anxious and miserable myself.  I know that there isn’t much I can do to decrease her discomfort and frustration in seven days that I can’t do in five or six.  I know that my mother would want me to have a separate life.

I know all these things in my head.  But not so much in my heart.

So how do you deal with a “normal” that isn’t?  What pointers can you give me?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at 

Have a “nicer than normal” day!