This set of blogs for October is about change — change of seasons, getting older, moving. I am moving, both my office and my
Change of Seasons
home. After living in my current home for 20 years, I decided to sell it – it is beautiful and loved and I am already grieving its loss. My choice of career has a lot to do with my decision: being a psychotherapist is less lucrative (thought endlessly rewarding) than being a senior manager, and maintaining my home needs the wages of the latter. I bought my house, with my ex, and fell in love with it even then, because it was unspoiled Victorian – original walls, trim, windows, cornices. It was covered in layers of pink and green paint, both inside and out, and we eventually removed all of that. Over the years, I have lovingly restored it to its original beauty, adding a glorious bathroom and kitchen, and summer room; adding a huge man-loved garage and a wonderful back and front yard. I uncovered the decorative brick and deep blue slate, and I dug a wonderful, 8-foot ceilinged basement. I added antique fixtures and hardware everywhere it was needed, and polished the original wood floors to a soft sheen. My best buddies, Monty and Seamus, are buried there – it was the only home they knew after being born, and they very much made it their own. I have experienced both joy and grief, and contentment there. It was my sanctuary.
And now it is going to a young couple who also love my house. I am happy for them and also very sad for me. To me, my house is priceless.
The other night I watched a documentary on the elderly. While I am not yet in my 80’s (an age I would consider “elderly” these days), I noted over and over how critically important home is for us when we become octogenarians. Is it surprising that I am so distressed? I have already found a new place to live – it doesn’t have everything I was looking for, but it has a lot, and it in it’s own way is beautiful. I am sure I will like my neighbors and the neighborhood. I am, indeed, very grateful to have found a place so nice and so quickly.
Like so many of us, change is difficult for me, especially major change. And yet, as with the never-ending change of seasons, I think it is very necessary for us if we want to continue to evolve and grow. I remember my grandmother deciding to sell her home and move, first into an apartment that was nearby, and then into an assisted living complex that she chose because her apartment overlooked the house she raised her family in once they moved to town. I didn’t know to ask her how it felt and how she managed. I wish I had had the wisdom to do that then because her courage and vision could no doubt help me now.
Nana was eminently practical (the opposite of my grandfather – a romantic dreamer), never suffering fools. She knew that maintaining her house was an either/or – either do that or do what she wanted to do after retirement, travel. Then she planned for her later declining years well ahead of time, and moved once more when she felt the time was right. She died a day or two after suffering a massive stroke while playing bridge. She loved life fully and gently. I remember one time watching her get impatiently fed up with an elderly friend who was depressed and wouldn’t care for herself. While Nana had her bouts of depression, she never spent any more time there than she had to. She was someone who never stopped growing and loving life, and among so many other things, that is why I loved her and love her memory still.
It’s autumn. The trees are golden and red and green. The air is crisp and the sun is gentle – more distant than it was a month ago. Days are shorter. Nature is preparing for a long sleep, reaping what it had sewn during the abundance of summer. Nature knows how to transition and grow – gently turning off the lights, putting things away, gathering nourishment for the long nights. Slowing down.
Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.