I am laying on a futon in my man cave surrounded by various pain relief products. I have pills, some prescribed by the Veterans Administration and others purchased over the counter in the pharmacy. Next there are ointments, and essential oils. The latest remedies were purchased tonight from a store that sells hemp related products. When I retired 3 months ago pain was a strong motivator. People in my age group (I am a baby boomer) have a lot of these types of experiences. Especially in our hardworking joints: knees, hips, shoulders and elbows. And don’t forget the fingers and toes.
I mentioned in a blog post that I had a cortisone shot in my hip that lasted a couple of days. The VA scheduled me for an operation on my big toes but at the last minute, I decided to cancel the appointments. It is difficult for me to figure out or predict how severe the pain will be. On Monday and Thursday I was very active, reaching my exercise goals, with more than 10,000 steps each day. But today I had hoped to be able to go out and be active. I was going to get a haircut, go to the gym and check out a podcast. The only one of those goals I accomplished was checking out the podcast.
Tonight the level of pain is moderate, mainly in the toes. I went to the hemp store with my significant other and got a couple of salves. I rubbed them on when we returned home and things are a little better. I want to be able to have more good days than bad ones by the time my new job starts in a month. I am trying to figure out what works, each day. Keep at it.
Well this is quite a shock. I had expected to keep on working at the same place because the money was good and it would pay for the things I enjoyed. But suddenly I decided no I could not. It is the end of the week in which I simply walked away. My work phone only rang a couple of times. I am facing the usual problems of the newly retired wondering what to do and how to manage a schedule. There are a couple of meetings next week I could attend but they are in the evening. I talked today about the things I enjoyed: I had volunteered years ago at a literacy center for adults. I also though about getting exercise. I noticed that I had a surprising lack of energy although with a brief rest I was able to keep going. I saw an enjoyable photo exhibit that reminded me of my family. Well so long youth.
I decided to go to the gym yesterday at a time that the March for our Lives was taking place in Washington and elsewhere across the country. I was on the treadmill when the young people were taking the stage. I read their words on closed captioning. It was an amazing sight. My generation sought tremendous social change and I am proud to see a new generation dissatisfied with the status quo. During the 50s and 60s I never feared for my life in school. No one came our schools with guns and opened fire. I never thought that those I disagreed with would try to kill me. But now with Facebook, computers, social media, all kinds of new technology, come higher tech weapons and more people with anger and vengeance on their minds. We need news media to report truthfully what is happening or get out of the way. We need to keep changing the times. It is once again a time for hope and change.
I am struggling. I thought I had found some answers for my foot problems by getting new orthopedic shoes from the VA on Friday. But today my feet were as painful as ever and I did not put on the shoes. I also was hit with some potentially devastating personal news that may or may not be true. I will have to wait for about a month to find out. I have cried a few times and tried listening to music. Joan Baez and Simon and Garfunkel mostly. Meanwhile I received confirmation that a fitbit is on the way as a reward from my insurance app. I have been earning points for exercise and the new shoes were going to help me. I made 11,000 steps Friday. I had noticed that my pattern had been to go all out for a few days and then be practically inert. I am hoping to become more consistent. But the wild card is what will happen with this personal news.
I am very introverted which becomes clear once you begin to know me. This means I am more comfortable socializing in small groups with people that I know in than with a roomful of strangers. My nickname is Spiderman which is appropriate because I am often in a corner reserving my energy. I am also facing the reality that many people I see are younger than me. This was especially true at the General Assembly, our annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association. A lot of efforts were made to bring teens and young adults who were active as speakers and presenters. So it made for a much different conference than a lot of people were used to seeing.
The General Assembly is where we vote for the president, who serves a 6 year term. We also have elections for the board and several other positions. The plenary sessions include many statements of public witness where we state our values about issues. Unitarian Universalists tend to be highly educated and opinionated. And we like to study issues. We commemorated an earlier public witness by reading in unison a resolution that had passed 25 or 30 years ago. I dropped out after about 5 minutes of this. The entire thing took about 15 minutes. I guess we have a lot of people who go swimming to build up their energy before the convention.
At the plenary sessions there were seats reserved for the youth which surprised some adults who were used to sitting wherever they chose. In addition there were discussions and meeting spaces set aside for people of color and some of my friends were assigned to tell their white brethren that they needed to respect the boundary.
As for my boundaries I often sat near the back of the hall during sessions. Some of my Milwaukee friends chose to sit with me which was helpful. I took pictures of friends and sometimes went to restaurants by myself or with a friend. One veteran of General Assembly said we should pace ourselves because we will be exhausted by the effort of attempting to attend as many meetings as possible. The convention center layout contributed to this exhaustion because there were rooms hidden away at the end of long hallways. At first I enjoyed the high step counts I was getting on my phone but I learned to sit down and sometimes invite a friend over to talk with me.
I enjoyed the small group discussions where I was able to ask a few questions about some of the controversies that had arisen. One issue was the fact a couple of people retired from the jobs with the Unitarian Universalist Association and received large sums of money before the interim presidents were appointed. I asked about what changes had been made to ensure nothing like that would ever happen again. I also paid close attention when the Black Lives Matter group was talking about their plans and accomplishments. I felt it was a could time to absorb and understand as much as possible.
I was amazed by the variety of African-Americans I saw because I had never seen more than a handful of us at the First Unitarian Society. Even the videos of the Black Lives Matter event this spring had not really prepared me for this. I was excited and also wished I had been at the earlier event. There might be regional discussions and there is a retreat scheduled for this fall. My next step will be to open up and begin suggesting some activities for our Black Lives Matter Collaborative.
Despite the fact I am mostly introverted, I do have my moments of fun in the community. I usually find some money for a gym membership. I have belonged to the Jewish Community Center, several branches of the YMCA, Bally’s and now the latest is Planet Fitness ever since they opened a branch near our office. I have been dissatisfied with the rather worn down Bally’s that I have belonged to for more than a year. The Bally’s was taken over by Blast which promised to invest money into the business. Thy have done nothing to the equipment, the locker rooms or anything else. Their only advantage has been convenience, they are not far from our house.
Recently I learned they had closed one of their branches and the one I have been going to may be next on the list. Now I have a reason to tell them goodbye. Well I signed up to Planet Fitness yesterday and the results have been impressive. I spent time in an exercise chair and an exercise bed. Those were very relaxing. I also got stuck in something called a body enhancer which demonstrated the difference between my girl friend and me. She would not step inside a gym but in the things she does, she thoroughly reads the instructions before doing anything.
Me I figure I don’t need no stinkin instructions. Which was how I ended up stuck inside the terrifying, not body enhancing machine for 10 minutes. I almost thought of yelling for help but I figured there were probably simple instructions on how t escape printed somewhere. Well, it’s all good, I got out without breaking the enhancer. It turned out the massage chair was more my style, anyway.