Choose Optimism

I am not sure how time can move so fast and so slow at the same time. Has it only been eight weeks since I started this project? Maybe being in limbo makes time feel slower than usual. I only had one script to read yesterday, so I procrastinated. It's like the old adage: "if you want something done, give it to a busy person." Have I become a less busy person and therefore lost my motivation to read one lousy script?

In spite of this, I still found myself dreading Monday. Yay for consistency! I am not sure what there is to dread? I have less work and less pressure.

If changing one's career after thirty years wasn't stressful enough, we put our house on the market last week. We hired a woman to stage the house. She said the trick to selling a house is to keep it clean and uncluttered. She said that our Asian themed accessories and fake plants were outdated and we needed to get rid of them. So we did. But then, she shows up with her assistant, three moving men and two trucks full of furniture, art, pillows and a lot of small fake plants and Asian themed accessories. (Somehow her fake plants, Asian themed accessories, pillows and candles are not dated.) In spite of the volume of stuff, the house seemed to swallow it up and it all came together. It now looks like we live in a well-appointed hotel. Of course, when your house is on the market, you have to pretend like you don't live there. Every pillow has to be fluffed, every trash can emptied, every towel folded perfectly. The OCD part of my personality is in heaven. But my hyper-vigilant perfectionist is in overdrive. I don't want anyone to use a Kleenex without throwing it outside when they are done. It's like living in a dollhouse.

After that, I was off to have brunch with my (almost) 89-year-old dad. He is adorable and adored by all, but his health has rapidly declined in the last few years. He has the usual suspects of aging: hearing loss, limited vision, memory loss and he tires easily. He also has Parkinson's which now prevents him from walking unaided. For the last two years, he has had to have full-time caregivers.

The good news is that his spirits are excellent, he has almost no pain, and he eats and sleeps well. I went to see my dad for my weekly visit. I am so grateful that his spirits remain high.

He usually has lox & bagels. Always good, but he expressed his disappointment that they only have it once a year at his retirement village. I gently reminded him that they offer it every Sunday on their menu. He was surprised and delighted by this news.

My dad has become my own cautionary tale. Why do I kill myself to work so hard? Take such good care of my body? Deny myself all the delicious indulgences? Run around like a rat in a maze? Only to possibly live into my late 80s and be dependent on caregivers for absolutely everything. Robbed of my independence to drive, travel, bathe myself, be alone, make my own appointments or even walk.

Don't get me wrong, my dad doesn't feel this way at all. He is still thrilled for every day and manages to enjoy himself in spite of losing his hearing, his sight, his mobility, his own apartment, etc. He is way more optimistic than his children who all look at him and say, "That is not how we want to live out our final years."

But I keep trying to figure out where the sweet spot is? I have been so busy raising children, working, running a home and trying to be the best mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, colleague, and business woman that I can be. Instead of enjoying my life, I feel like most of the time is spent surviving it. I think I have it all backwards.

Maybe the reason my dad is so happy is that he is an eternal optimist. He loved his career and always counted his blessings. With a few rare exceptions, he is just a happy person.

I have always envied his ability to lay down at night, close his eyes and go to sleep. No trouble falling asleep. No trouble staying asleep and no trouble getting up in the morning. In fact, he never used an alarm clock. He just got up when he needed to. He was not plagued by complicated recurring dreams. While he was a bit of a worrier about his family and friends' health issues, he always saw the glass half full.

When he was younger, we would joke that he had short-term memory issues. But, in hindsight, I think he just chose to not remember "the bad stuff."

There is a lesson in this. Choose optimism.