When I first started writing this post the world was on the fringes of falling apart. Were there signs of anxiety here on the East Coast of the US, sure, but the first cases of the coronavirus in the states were few, and although I was cautiously concerned, I was trying to live life business as usual.
That all changed suddenly when the first cases showed up in Pennsylvania, the state I live in, and quickly started popping up more and more across the country.
Then the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and the daily dynamics changed, and so did the behavior of the general public.
Chicken Little came to cry, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
Now I am certainly not trying to lessen the severity of the situation, but the behavior of a large portion of the human race was certainly one of histrionics.
TRADITIONS – the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
CUSTOMS – a usage or practice common to many or to a particular place or class or habitual with an individual OR long-established practice considered as unwritten law
It’s hard not to think about traditions this time of year. From Thanksgiving straight through the New Year the season is brimming over with traditions and customs. Whether they are unique to a family, culture or faith, they’re there, large and small.
Even if you don’t think you have them, you have them.
If there’s something you do annually, like coloring eggs on Good Friday, going to a pumpkin patch every fall, or putting up holiday decorations on Black Friday, you have a tradition.
Some of them may be ones passed down from family members over the years, while others may have been created or adapted from another source.
It doesn’t have to be annually, or even tied to a holiday. It could be something you do monthly, or even daily that has become part of who you are.
For example, my Son and I had a little ritual every night before bed when he was little. After reading a book, I would tuck him in and say, ”Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams” and give him an Eskimo kiss. And, although he’s older, when he’s home from college, I still make sure I give him a kiss on his head and say, ”Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, Eskimo, Eskimo” Saying Eskimo, Eskimo replaces the Eskimo kisses.
Funny thing is, my Son looks for this. It has become part of who we are. Hopefully when he has children of his own he will carry this tradition on.
Traditions/customs are the threads that weave the fabric of the family together. No matter how small or simple they may seem, they matter. At their root is the history of who we are.
Back in May I took a retirement planning class. It was
informative and overwhelming at the same time. Fortunately part of the price
included two very detailed workbooks, which have come in handy as I unravel all
the details taught.
In addition, they offered
two free consultations with the
planner who taught the class. It was those consultations that turned out to be
even more beneficial than the class.
The planner was a wealth of information beyond retirement
planning. He became the source of
inspiration I needed to believe my
dream of turning writing into my retirement plan was and is valid and possible.
To have someone who
spends their days with their head in the
world of investments and numbers believe that something creative was a tangible prospect for my future blew my mind. On the numbers side of things,
he did have me write a business plan and included that in the retirement plan
we discussed at my second appointment.
was the wealth of resources he
passed on beyond that that became the spark
I needed to ignite my plan for the
Last month I met an old
friend for dinner. This is something we had tried to do for years, but between
raising kids, and caring for our aging Mom’s, time just got away from us. BUT, with both of us now having our children back at college for their sophomore
year we knew we had to make it happen.
OR, it may never happen.
Once seated at our table,
my first words to her were “How are you
doing since the girls went back to school?”
Without any hesitation
she stated sophomore year has been
tougher than freshman year. I agreed, confessing I was downright depressed
the first week or two.
I hate to say it,
but it was refreshing to find out it wasn’t just me feeling this way.
Freshman year I had many texts, emails, and even a
somewhat regular Sunday afternoon call from my Son. Plus, I had a few runs to the college to aid with
roommate issues and moving. And, bring things he discovered he needed for the
This year however
has been drastically different.
Which is good for my Son.
It means he’s becoming more independent,
self-confident and self-reliant.
For me however, it has been beyond challenging.
The feeling of not being needed was
overwhelming at times.
Before I let it get the
best of me though, I knew I had to put
my energy into something positive. I needed to be proactive and not dwell on
With an endless list of unfinished projects
staring me down, I set my sights on
those, and created a plan of attack based on the time I had till my Son’s
first visit home for Fall Break.
During our thirties we
might start to see some grays and faint wrinkles, but overall we generally feel
Even our forties aren’t
that bad. Might start to feel the start of some achy arthritic joints, and see
more grays and wrinkles, but overall we’re still feeling pretty peppy.
Then the fifties hit and things really start to change, at least for me they did. Maybe not right away, but by my mid-fifties I could feel myself slowing down.
Part of the slowing down
process is certainly tied to Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder involving
chronic inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the ability of the thyroid
gland to produce thyroid hormones often becomes impaired and leads to a gradual
decline in function and eventually an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism).
I was diagnosed with
Hashimotos in 2010 at the age of 49 after a bout with pneumonia that went
sepsis and wrecked havoc with my entire body.
Medication was not and
still is not an option because my thyroid levels remain within normal range.
Even after having half my thyroid removed last fall because of a suspicious
The nodule was benign Thank
God, so the threat of cancer was removed from the equation. Amen to that!
With meds out of the
question, I knew I had to find other methods to combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The key symptoms being fatigue, weight gain and brain fog.
I discovered doctors were
not very helpful when it came to advice in this area and found out quickly I
was on my own.
Coincidently around the
same time, I caught an interview with Gina Lee Nolin, of Baywatch fame, where
she discussed her personal health struggles that went undiagnosed until she
found Dr. Alan Christianson, a naturopathic medical doctor for Integrative
Health in Scottsdale. His book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease”
became my saving grace.
After reading Dr.
Christianson’s book, I started to play with diet changes and adding
supplements. In doing so, I was able to thwart off some of the fatigue, weight
gain and some brain fog.
The key thing was going
gluten and dairy free. Plus avoiding soy and fluoride, which can interfere with
the function of the thyroid. I also added ginkgo biloba and ashwaghanda, but my
endocrinologist recommended I stop the ashwaghanda because it can skew thyroid function
Over the years I have faired pretty well with this issue, but honestly I think I was too busy raising my Son and helping to care for my aging Mom to completely feel the impact. Or, should I say take the time to notice.
It’s only the past year
or two, as I hit my late fifties and my Son is off at college that I’ve truly
noticed how much I’m slowing down. My energy levels just aren’t what they used
to be. Some of it’s age, but I know part of it is my thyroid.
As the month of August
unfolded the reality that my Son heads back to college to start his
Sophomore year in 25 days hit me hard. I had that same pit in my stomach as I experienced all of last summer as his
Freshman year crept closer with each passing day.
It’s just me and my Son
at home, so facing a truly empty nest
for the first time in 18 1/2 years was beyond
a challenge for me to say the least.
I had my ups and downs over the course of his
Freshman year, but by the time he came home for the Summer I felt I had conquered a lot of those
To feel that sadness in my gut popping up again
confirmed that I still have work to do,
which I’m quite sure will be the topic of future posts.