ELDER MUSIC: Some More Guitarists I Like
The Longevity Prescription of Dr. Robert Butler: Introduction

Coming Up For Air

category_bug_journal2.gif In some postings since my move to Oregon three months ago, TGB readers may have detected a lack of enthusiasm. They would not be wrong. I did not address it directly, but it's there. You might have sensed it between the lines.

Among the perceived disappointments that informed my pessimism was living in a suburb, one that is - however conveniently close-in to town - a bit rich and oh-so-cute for my tastes. And, anyway, I'm a city girl.

What I had imagined for myself was living in the Northwest section of Portland with its beautiful old apartment buildings, urban hubbub and a mishmash of shops both necessary and not. Pretty much anything you could want is there, all as walkable, interesting and convenient as my Greenwich Village neighborhood where I lived contentedly for 40 years. But it was beyond my means.

My new home, while well-maintained and nicely upgraded through its 20 years of existence – and particularly the large alcove off the living room for my office – is, well, awfully young, lacking architectural details and charm that I liked so much in the old homes – of one to two centuries - I have lived in for most of my life.

The condominium complex, 112 units among the 14 two-story buildings, is less diverse than I expected or wanted. With the exception of about half a dozen families (I'm guessing from casual observance), it's an ad hoc retirement community. On most days I see only gray hair among the residents I run into.

A nearby neighbor has been caring for her two young grandchildren this summer and I like hearing their chatter and squeals through my open windows. With fall approaching, they will soon be gone.

It has been hard to maintain my enthusiasm for Time Goes By. Normally, I have a running list of 20 to 30 story ideas in various stages of development – some needing research, others partially written or, in many cases, only sketchy notes requiring more thought.

In my ennui, I had willfully ignored those that involve a lot of work, used up many of the simpler ones and had added hardly any. My normal eagerness to get on with them - making choice harder than execution - had flagged. Was it time, I wondered, to let go of the blog?

And another thing: some dybbuk had invaded my head nagging that I haven't yet been in to Portland – only 15 or 20 minutes away by car or public transportation – except for dinner at a seafood restaurant one evening with my brother and his wife.

When I expressed all this to a friend in a telephone conversation a month or so ago, he suggested that I was clinically depressed, perhaps enough to seek medical treatment. Another friend I spoke with a week later agreed. I love and respect these two friends, but I rejected their solution.

Yesterday in a New York Times Op-Ed piece, the writer objected (rightly) to a proposed change in a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that would label normal grief at the death of a loved one a "major depressive disorder." This, as the Op-Ed points out, would lead to wholesale medicalization (not to mention more profit for pharmaceutical companies) of a normal human experience,

"...an unavoidable part of life," notes the writer, Allen Frances, "the necessary price we all pay for having the ability to love other people. Our lives consist of a series of attachments and inevitable losses, and evolution has given us the emotional tools to handle both."

The Op-Ed crystallized what I had been slowly coming to understand since those conversations with my friends; I have been grieving for the loss of part of my identity - leaving behind, with this move and choice of home, a piece of my definition of myself, of my long-held belief in who I am.

Superficially, I appear foolish to give so much value to location and type of living that black clouds descended when they changed. But not so fast. It takes a long time to develop and nurture our privately-held senses of self. Mine, which I began building 50 years ago, is hip, big city, cool, street-smart and up-to-date.

Any reasonable amount of self-reflection would have disabused me of that description – and belief in the value of it - a decade, two decades ago. In one sense I did. The more I became interested in what getting old is really like (see subtitle of this blog) and passionate about the cultural issues of aging, the less I participated in anything that would meet that definition.

But the definition itself didn't change. Beneath new, late-life interests, it remained bedrock – still part of the foundation on which my sense of self rested and thus, my disappointment – and depression these past two or three months.

It is interesting how, sometimes, we know things before we know them. When I accepted that I could not buy into my first-choice neighborhood (the one affordable apartment would have required half again the purchase price in repairs and upgrades), I honed in on the realities for a retired woman of 69 years who would not be moving again by choice: no stairs, in above average condition, affordable fixed costs, easily adaptable to potential future physical needs, close-by neighbors for emergencies, walkable distances to daily necessities and public transportation elsewhere.

Although those existential questions of identity nudged at the back of my mind while I continued to house shop, I nevertheless chose, however reluctantly, a home that met the appropriate considerations of my time in life. I have always been able to trust myself in the practicalities and I traded that fanciful identity for them.

What I learned is that my sense of who I am hadn't caught up to who I am now (and have been for some time), and for these past three months, I have been grieving for what I liked and must leave behind.

The depression has been gradually lifting in the past ten days or so – again, a knowing before I knew what I know.

I can tell in several ways. Last week, I started the series on Dr. Robert Butler's book that we will read together here – something too ambitious for my mood even a couple of weeks ago. I announced an elderblogger MeetUp (the date will change; more on that tomorrow). On Saturday, in a flurry, I added about ten ideas to my list for future TGB stories.

(I also tried to make a design change at The Elder Storytelling Place and screwed up the styling in the footer below the stories. Bear with me – I'll fix it soon.)

I took a break halfway through writing this on Sunday to run an errand. On my way to the car, I met a young neighbor, the mother of those children I mentioned. Due to personal need of the moment the family, now including mom, have moved in with the grandmother.

We had a long, lovely chat and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily and politely the children fitted into the conversation. The two kids, a boy and a girl of about five and seven, were eager to tell me about their dog and cat, and to explain the stickers on their scooters.

Silly me, I couldn't tell those smiling, roly-poly, toothless, pink cartoon drawings were dinosaurs.

Recently, I initially dismissed as ho-hum a study about the healing effects of forests.

"Forests and other natural, green settings," the author reports, "can reduce stress, improve moods, reduce anger and aggressiveness and increase overall happiness."

During these weeks of darkened mood, I have spent a lot of time in my favorite reading chair which faces this window in my living room.

Window and Trees

With this as my backdrop, I've spent more time pondering than reading. Well, more like wallowing in my misery as the sun and whispers of breeze played with shadow and light. Who can say how much this scene contributes to my recovery which has arrived in due course without medication.

I'm more content lately in my home and suburban surroundings. On the main streets of Lake Oswego, tree-covered hills (they would call them mountains in the east) are so close by, I could almost touch them.

They call to mind my childhood in this very town, they feel familiar - which is a good thing when you are finally coming up for air and working on a new sense of self that will more closely match current reality.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan Gulliford: Mom's Air Conditioning


and so you pull yourself up and give us all hope in the process. thanks, as usual, Ronni.

Ronni, I do not have the gift of words that you possess. I do know that I understand all you have shared. I have been on the same journey as you. Mine taking place a few years before what you are sharing. I moved to the city to be near children a couple of years ago and then returned to my home place - had several tell me maybe I was depressed. Even my new young doctor suggested I just "try medication". I refused. Yes, there is healing in nature and I have named my new simple home at the edge of the woods "Woodhaven". A name that came to me as I meditated one evening. Haven - a place of peace, solitude, a sanctuary.
You will be fine. Give it time but if you do not feel better - there is nothing wrong with moving again. Who knows you might find the perfect "old place". A day a week drive into the city and explore. I believe in miracles!! There have been a few in my life. You are always welcome to visit me at my simple home in the woods that is surrounded by nature and peace.

Thank you for letting us in. Self reflection - what an important tool. Not the most comfortable one but necessary.
This sharing helps us all, I think.

Thank you, Ronni. What I take away from this post is a warning about the dangers of being *too* practical. I'll be more cautious about accommodating problems I haven't encountered yet. You're 69 - but you're only 69. Notdotdot has, I think, a point about the possibility of your moving again.

That was beautiful. I especially connected with "What I learned is that my sense of who I am hadn't caught up to who I am now..." Every decade or so we all should 'update' our self image.

Working through grief is a process. I'm glad you are starting to feel better

Ronni, moving is one of the major stresses in life. You have done this twice in a short period of time. It is normal to feel discombobulated for a while, until you get used to a place.

The original move you made from NYC, was like yanking a wisdom tooth from a rhino. It damn well hurts. I hate endings and good byes.

You still miss NYC. That comes through every post.

You are going through the normal stages of grief. You will have to decide eventually, if you are going to make the most of your new life in Portland, by getting involved in something outside of your home and yourself, by bringing some of your many readers closer to you (by your idea of a meet up) by pushing yourself out there, even if you don't feel like it, or by concentrating on the wake of your boat.

You have a large cheering squad online every day. Don't quit on yourself. Your track record is solid.

Your life is far from being over. You will have many more adventures coming your way.

You might return to NYC some day, but for now, if you are asking me, I would get busy and shine where you are.

Look around, see what there is to do in Portland. Use everything you can to make a space for yourself with all your skills.

If you like walking, see if you can find a partner, maybe someone who lives in your building, who knows, maybe another NYC expat. Check those walking trails.

You are a fantastic writer. Write about your new place, people, who does what, when. Oddballs.

Do one thing different, each week. Tell us what it is, and what you learned. Readers love that.

Do not hibernate. You have too much to offer.

You could even tutor some of those little twerps, or adults. Show them how to write properly and use words for more than tweets.

Tutoring pays $40 an hour. You don't have to be a qualified teacher to teach English.

I just signed up for Portuguese lessons downtown at night. Why? Because I feel like kicking my own 67 year old ass into gear.

It's time to open a large can of whoop ass.

Take care,

Your Montreal friend.

I was recently struck by Kay Redfield Jamison's description of the difference between the subjective experience of grief and depression. KRJ, an accomplished psychologist and long time sufferer of bi-polar disorder, is the author of Nothing Was the Same, a memoir of her marriage and her husband's death from cancer. On the June episode of Charlie Rose's Brain Series, she pointed out that one of the differences between the two is that depression is unremitting while grief tends to come in waves. I'm glad yours is passing.

Such an honest, insightful post. I wish my husband's idea of himself could come more toward the reality of it. We need to sell this big house and move to smaller quarters, but he is not ready to admit that stage of life - and he is dragging me along with him. I have been ready to divest us of much "baggage" for several years - and so the frustration and indeed, mild depression I feel is sort of forced on me. I am glad you are getting your groove back, Ronni.

Thank you for your honest disclosure of your recent experience. I empathize, living as I am in a vanilla townhouse with a tiny patio, when my notion of real life is a rustic cabin in the country. Everyone gives prescriptions when a fellow human expresses discomfort, and so I will too. I recommend excursions to Powell's and PDX in general! Bio-locate a friend or two to hang out with fairly regularly.

Sending you love and a hug.

Thank you for such an honest post. I second what doctafill had to say. I do hate it whenever a professional (or not) advises medication for normal grieving. Sort of part of our society of take a pill if it hurts and make it go away, rather than go through it and learn/grow from it. You are doing the latter!

I'm looking for other things that might explain the malaise. It is, after all, the "dog days of summer". Maybe the coming change of season and weather will help?

Think about learning something new. That always gets me out and meeting new people.

I moved from a very dense urban area to a much smaller town. I don't miss rap music throbbing from passing cars and I don't miss seeing ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE holding a phone to their ear. Be careful what sort of hip environment you wish for.

When my mother was in a nursing home, having been knocked for a loop by chemo, she wanted nothing to do with the elderly, infirm people in the common areas. She didn't want to be like them...but in fact she was. I had a similar moment of denial yesterday at a folk music festival in a shady park. "Oh my God, all these people are in there 60s and 70s!! Yeeesh!" But then so am I. I guess we all have to get over our former stages in life.

I think I understand. Change is always difficult. Right now I'm re-thinking the changes I just made and stepping back from them in favor of other changes I was considering.

Depression has been my enemy for a long, long time so I feel your pain and am delighted (and envious) that yours is lifting and look forward to more of your wit and wisdom.

Wonderful post! The resilience of the human spirit is a thing to be celebrated. Welcome to your whole new life.

I imagine the very fact you managed to express your emotional depths on this post means a corner has been turned.

Though our circumstances and ages are different, I felt my own chest grow tight with the acknowledgement of changes in life over which I feel a complete loss of control. I do understand what you are saying about a lost "sense of self".

I don't like not being in control.

Acquiring the wisdom of age doesn't guarantee extra personal satisfaction, I am learning. You still have to work at that. For some reason, I had this preconception that my elder years would bring this magic peace and harmony into my life, as if I had finally figured out what "life" is all about and I had cleared the larger hurdles with nothing but milk and honey and the occasional arthritic pain to deal with.

Trouble is, you don't lose the hurdles; their forms just change. And I have always been plagued with a "flighty" nature, which in itself is a major pothole to manuever...constantly.

Reminds me of the way Gus McRae describes Jake Spoon:

Jake's always been a drifter, Newt. Any wind can blow him.

Looking forward to the exploration of Dr. Butler's book with you and the gang.

(BTW, even though you are the responsible party for TGB and thus bear the burden of management, this post exactly defines the kind of forum your readers have come to expect: a good place to exchange ideas, disappointments, and experiences. I am sure I speak for the rest of your readers in saying I enjoy the give and take and the "safety" to explore and/or speak my mind. Why shouldn't you of all people be extended that courtesy?)

Oh, I'm going to have to ponder the concept of Who I am vs who I am now. I had never really considered that we must continually update our self-image to keep up with the 'new' self that life changes bring. So now I'll spend some time evaluating who I am today. Thanks for the insight.

And glad your grief is abating and that you had the wisdom to refuse meds for what is a normal reaction to grief. As Peg says, "Welcome to you whole new life." It's a fork in the road towards new adventures.



I just read every word of your essay today and when I was done I clicked one of the "You might also like" posts and the one that came up was written almost exactly 7 months ago from Portland,Maine.

It was the blizzard of January 2010 and you posted pictures of your little red PT Cruiser absolutely buried in about 10 feet of snow.The pictures were beautiful but I don't think the inconvenience of that storm was really worth the beauty.

Now you are looking out your window and seeing a woodland setting and unless something really strange happens,weatherwise,you won't ever be shoveling your car out of a drift again.

Just one more thing to make you feel good about your move...

Hi. I've been reading and appreciating your blog for a number of months. Thank you for sharing your experiences in a way that helps others. I lived in the Portland area for thirty years, but when my husband and I could retire we moved to Bend, Oregon, because we love the outdoor life more than the city life. Even when you love the city, nature does restore the spirit in a unique way. I have suggestions for a couple of outdoor places to enjoy in your area. Tryon Creek State Park is not far from you -- up Terwilliger off highway 43 -- a beautiful forest with shady paths. Wonderful gardens are not far away at the Bishop's Close
Elk Rock Garden (http://www.elkrockgarden.com/).

What you faced is something I will face eventually as I have defined myself as a country woman. I grew up in the country and have lived the greater part of my life there. It's an integral part of what I do every day; but it can't stay this way either. I am a long way from town and the work becomes more of an issue as one gets older. I don't have a real community and miss that but haven't been willing to move and wonder how would I manage in a city or town even.

It sounds like you handled your depression well with accepting a dark time and doing what you can to help it lift. I have taken Prozac before for depression and it did help but it had side effects on my creativity that I didn't like. A lot depends on the level a person has gotten down to whether medications are beneficial or just delaying a necessary process.

We are too prone in our culture to think we should be happy (or at least not unhappy) all the time. Life doesn't work that way and denying it just denies us a full experience of living. We also often try to block it for those around us as in get over it, lighten up, others have it worse, etc etc. Sometimes we should just let people have their dark time as long as it's not to a life threatening level.

You've nailed another aspect of "what it's really like to grow old". This is the companion piece to the blog about one's sense of what is home. Moving seems to impact both home and self identity, creating a disorientation of the spirit. Thanks to you and all responders for sharing and illuminating that constant rearranging of self identity our changing bodies and our changing circumstances require. It's helped me to understand why my last move was so depressing, even though it was a logical one (and I am self identified as a logical person). In moving I also lost my friends and my volunteer job which was a source of reinforcement of my sense of myself. My task has been, I now see, to reinvent myself based on present realities. I'm reminded of the admonition "Bloom where you are planted" -- one more time.

A counselor once told me that to move past being depressed you have to actually be depressed for a while. Actually wallow in it, give yourself up to it. Curling up by a window sounds good to me. I always find that writing about it helps too. I'd even say you have earned the right to be depressed for a while. Do you find that the blogs helps you figure things out?
BTW I'm glad you are moving the meet up date. I really want to come.

No matter where you go, there you are. You're still you, no matter where you live.

So go take those day trips to Portland and have fun.

Welcome back Ronni;
I was missing "the real you", the sometimes cantankerous, creative, forthright, ("tell it like it is") gal that I looked forward to reading with my morning coffee: "NYT and Ronni too".
We all know that Bette Davis nailed it when she said "Getting old is not for sissies". It takes guts to be over 65.

I've been thinking a lot about how the "Elders" don't really have any role in modern society. Like America is now a "post-industrial economy" maybe we're "post-functional" people. I mean what are we supposed to do. My role as a family provider and co-director of my clan was clear and the hat I wore as "dynamic advertisng executive" seemed to fit OK but now, I have no idea what my role is supposed to be other than "old gringo" or "retiree". I've been spending a week with my two youngest offspring- my 35 year-old hotel CEO and my thirty year educational expert. They nice people and I enjoy their company but they're certainly not looking to me for "sage advice" or answers to any "big questions". The father role has been withdrawn and I'm just another old, slightly deaf guy who no longer keeps up on the hikes and sometimes looks a little frayed after 10 PM.

So I guess I'll be hitting the road again tomorrow where I still feel I'm in control of things (or at least my truck"
/s/ "the Spirit of '76" (my birthday's in a month)

You really spoke to me with this post, Ronni. I have been suffering from a feeling of malaise and wondering if my life is fulfilling. I still read all the political news, but I just feel helpless and no longer want to write about it. I am becoming bored with my blog and beginning to lose interest. That frightens me, because blog land is where most of my dear friends are. I wonder, with my physical limitations, what I would do to replace it. I am sure, this, too, shall pass and I will take up the challenge again when my mood improves.

I never thought of my loss of interest as depression, but I see now that it could be. I have not had any major upheavals to blame it on. I know I will get through it, too. Maybe it's just the heat and humidity that is affecting everyone this summer.

I do not think you suffer from clinical depression. My daughter does and, believe me, it goes way beyond normal depressed feelings.

I understand why your environment is so important to you. I think we all have a dream of the kind of place we want to be in. If it's possible to make the dream come true, go for it. Maybe one of those condos in the section of Portland will become affordable and you can move. Keep the dream alive, even though it probably would not be affordable to move again. As long as there is a goal, we are content with 'what is'. At least, I am.

I know that if you stopped writing TGB you would leave a multitude of disappointed followers. I have always said that your blog is where I get my 'fix.'

What you & the others have written says it all, IMO, & has done much to lessen my loneliness. Thanks to all of you for helping me today. Perhaps it will be some comfort to know that altho' I'm very far from Lake Oswego & Portland, I have, nevertheless, made this trip with you. I'm going to make every effort to begin a renewal process as you are doing. Thank you so much. Dee

You are doing what comes naturally. This ennui follows any major move or change in your life. Just wait until the rainy season starts!! LOL


This is a completely normal post-move mood collapse. It happens right after all the really scary and demanding stuff (cross-country trip, packing and unpacking, paperwork details) are over. I should know: I'm on my eighth state.

People diagnosing "depression" have probably never moved and have certainly never been our age.

I, too, am an urbanite long out of a big city and miss it still. I personally think the craziest people I know are the suburbanites who claim to "love" the driving, yard work, and isolation. (As if anyone could, but that's what they say).

The rest of us are indeed reluctantly making the best of what circumstances dictate. It's hardly our fault that that's where all the reasonably priced one-story housing is. We weren't queens of the zoning board when these places were built, obviously.

You did do the right thing with this move, but for goodness sake, don't HELP the suburbs squish you.

Your best "prescription" is: Tomorrow, get on that train and go downtown to Pioneer Courthouse Square for at least two hours. Have a coffee, walk around, poke through the bargains at Ross Dress for Less or Nordstrom's, hang out at the main Portland public library. Inhale the energy! (I, too, run to Portland to recharge, as you can probably tell).

Go, go, go. Think of it as preventive medicine.

Allow yourself time.

Are you too much in a hurry to adapt or adjust? Perhaps you might want to put that reverse mortgage on hold a bit - that's a big decision to make so quickly after your move. It could lock you down even more.

Ronni, it was a great day when I discovered you and TGB. Speaking from a strictly selfish standpoint, I'd hate to see it go away. There are so few places for older people to connect, since most of us aren't glued to Facebook or Twitter. (I'm on both but must confess I'm crazy about neither.)

Moving v. contemplation of moving--which is more difficult? Undoubtedly moving, but the contemplation isn't pleasant, as you probably experienced. Although my husband and I are relatively fortunate in that we didn't lose 50% or more of our savings over the past three years, as so many did, we didn't emerge financially intact either. Since both of us worked for nonprofits much of our working lives, we never made Fortune's Top 500 wealthiest people list so finances are definitely a major consideration in anything we do.

We love our 2BR townhouse outside Seattle, but there are interior stairs as well as stairs between the garage and the front door. In addition, our very steep driveway and sidewalks were iced over for 3 weeks during the winter of 2008. We also lost power for 9 days. Even with a generator, 4-wheel drive vehicles and a good supply of ready to eat food, at soon-to-be ages 81 and 74 respectively, I'm not sure how many more winters like that we can handle. One great invention: slip-on crampons for snow boots!

All this, of course, relates to your more existential question of who we were v. who we are now. We're still basically healthy and relatively vigorous. I still work part time. Even so, I'm coming to realize that we aren't exactly the same as we were when we moved here in 1996 at ages 68 and 61. What happens over the next couple of winters will probably help us decide, but it won't be easy.

I'm so glad you're beginning to feel better about your new life.

Ronni, this post made me think of a section in Thomas Moore's book, Care Of The Soul. In Chapter 7 he writes about the gifts of depression, calling depression by the name the Romans gave it, Saturn. Since Saturn is also the god of wisdom and philosophical refection, Moore views Saturn (depression or melancholy) as a healer and teacher.

We're inviting Saturn to make a house call when we try to delay our service to him. Then Saturn's depression will give its color, depth, and substance to the soul that for one reason or another has dallied long with youth. Saturn weathers and ages a person naturally, the way temperature, winds, and time weather a barn. In Saturn, reflection deepens, thoughts embrace a larger sense of time, and the events of a long lifetime get distilled into a sense of one's essential nature."

No big meaning to this comment, just thought you would find the above interesting.

I related to a lot of this. For me, being close to nature is essential.
I do have some friends who live in Northwest. They rent in a cheap apartment building and have been there for years. They use public transport, the library, do all their shopping on foot. Both still work but are looking forward to retirement, but they love where they live and would never change that.
And hey, be good to yourself, Ronni!

Ennui - love that word, it is heavy with sadness.

Gazing off into the distance where our youth has gone, leaving behind no bread crumbs.

I got really sad one day looking into a mirror wondering where the brown haired girl had gone. As I walked away to get a tissue, I remembered some of the things the brown haired girl lived through. Suddenly, it was more than OK to have the gray hair. I simply don't have the stamina to do all that again.

I like to watch the wind as it whispers to the trees, spreading rumors as it breezes past. The leaves quickly turn to hear, then turn again to pass it on.
Peace without pills.

Oh, and living in the 'burbs never bothered me. We had a comfortable family house in Beaverton, but I was downtown all the time. My bus connection took 20 minutes. Lake Oswego is not that far away. Just take the bus. It's so much easier than hassling with parking. What could be cooler than sitting on the bus with your I-pod or a book, enjoying the ride?

Years ago I learned from several sessions with a psychologist that the depression I was suffering after getting some shocking medical news was normal. I didn't need medication or extended counseling. Depression happens and we just have to trust we will get through it.
The upheavals in your life got you down for a while Ronni, but the "real" you is coming back. It shines through today. I'm so glad as your insightful posts and the thoughtful responses to them have been so
helpful to me in navigating these aging years. Welcome back.

This is a post and a comment thread that really resonates with my recent experience, Ronni. Thanks to you and all your commenters for the reflection. It's inspired me to drag up the last two and half years of my life and ponder some experiences and choices. If I'm lucky the pondering will turn into a blog post. If I write it, I'll be linking and quoting a lot of what I've read here today.

Am privilaged to live nex to a forest...I know the green piney woods soothe my soul everyday...

Here I am bringing up the rear again! Gad... What a terrific post, Ronni! I'm so thankful that you share yourself as you do. It helps me and so many others (obviously by this thread). I certainly I find solace in your allowing yourself the time to sink into the truth of what you're feeling.

Self-reflection is not for the feint of heart. The intrepid Ronni Bennett, woman about the world, it seems is still very much alive and working from the inside out; looking at the difficult places where angels fear to tread...and reporting what she sees. We are all the better for it.

You are so honest with yourself. A wonderful attribute. Your truth shall set you free -- barbara

Whew. I thought for a moment there you were going to pull the plug.

Thank you for sharing this part of yourself with us. What you wrote helps me understand myself and what I've been going through for several years. Again, thank you.

As many have said, you've been through quite an upheaval in a short time. It takes whatever your time-line is to get through the grieving process. Yes, that's what it is, isn't it?

Two things:

First, I agree completely that there is far too much medicating going on for normal responses to life events.

Second, I agree with the commentors who suggested that it's possible that this does not absolutely have to be your final choice for where you live if you are not truly comfortable. I realize the necessity for acceptance of certain circumstances, but there may be a way to rethink yours -- tweak them enough to make you happier. So, I'd like to suggest that this may not be the right time for you to make a decision about a reverse mortgage if you don't need to do so immediately for financial reasons. Writing about your experiences learning about the options and the process is great, but maybe acting on it could be put on hold. I'm glad you're feeling better emotionally and you may decide that you're content where you are, but if you could take just a bit more time to reflect before making a further commitment, it might be beneficial. Just a thought.

OK, yes, this makes sense. A while back, I wrote here that it kind of hurt my feelings how you always make it sound like Greenwich Village is the only valuable place on earth (or some such thing). Of course, I took it all too personally. But what you're saying here makes sense. I think it has sort of grated on me that in practically every other post you make, you find a way to mention the years you lived in Greenwich Village. Again and again and I'm thinking... WE KNOW! WE KNOW!

I can see now that maybe it's your way of trying to hang on to what you felt was a rather large piece of YOU. It was nearly your whole identity. The place.

But I can promise you, YOU are far more interesting than any place. Your experiences in life are far more interesting than any place. I doubt if any of us care very much where you used to live. What we care about is what you are saying to us NOW. What you share with us NOW.

It's a big adjustment for most anyone of any age to move to a new place. It isn't a matter of just moving boxes and furniture. It's YOU who moved. Give yourself a break. Let yourself catch up. :) And don't stop blogging!

Hi Ronnie - new reader from Australia - just recently dipped my toe into the blogosphere and was feeling it wasn't worth the effort until I found TGB - like you I spent a decade learning about growing older because I had stumbled through my youth knowing nothing and was determined not to do the same with old age - 7 years ago retired with my partner to my dream home in my dream country town and all that research and learning disappeared into the trees along with my identity - it has often been a struggle to stop myself sinking into a morass of misery but now I am struggling less to find a "purpose" - I am more able to be grateful that I still have the energy and interest to go 'seeking' - may never find the answer - but have found lots of interesting facts and had a lot of fun - one thing I did decide was that I needed a 'community of minds' and I may very well have found it in your blog - thank you - Jeanette

Another splendid post, Ronni, which rings bells for all of us who upped sticks and moved in later life and had to reevaluate ourselves.

Thanks for your generosity of spirit in saying what is familiar to my "inner self", which I often hesitate to share.

goodness, this post hit a chord with your readers, all these comments!! And well it might as it was beautifully written and insightful. I have had to move 5 times in the past 6 years (this after 20 years in the same place) and my sense of who I am (which is very much connected to place and landscape) is so shattered and I havent time to settle in an find the new me. I am contemplating, also as you did, living in a neighborhood i never in my life thought I would. A ticky-tacky development with long winding connected roads where you feel you are lost and will never get out.

It is humbling to acknowledge the changes that life brings to us. It is humbling to observe the difference in what we think, what our idea visions are, and what we can do.

You have admirable fulfilled so many of your elder age requirements in your home selection. I didnt read all yr comments but I agree with someone who said meet some folks who live in that area you love. Visit them often. You are brave and articulate. Thank you.

Congratulations on your ability to embrace your emotions and just be willing to feel bad for a while! There is nothing wrong with that. And, like you've begun to experience, the valleys don't last forever. Just keep walking.

To me, this is probably the best post you have ever written, Ronni. And one of the most potentially helpful to everyone who reads it. It's honest, straight from the heart and all about one of the key aspects of "What it's really like to get older." For these are key emotional/spiritual tasks of elderhood and you're not only tackling them but modelling for others how to do the same. Precisely the message of TGB. Thank you, as always.
Hugs from Marian.

Hey Good Looking: See what happens when you start feeling sorrry for your self--the comments of your readers underscore the value your current life's work brings to them. Initially, I wanted to write for you to remember others (Women as well as Men) who currently pack weapons and 75 pound rucksacks up and down mountains (or in the flat Iraq desert) in 110 degree heat to let you live free in beautiful Lake Oswego, Oregon. (Or drive down a road or street wondering if an IED is about to explode underneath one's vehicle.) How lucky you are, Dear Lady, to have the editorial and literary roll you enjoy today. Life, as the Wise Woman one said, could indeed be worse. I'm certain there are some poor folks in the Swat Valley in Pakistan now homeless, hungry, and broke who would love to change places with you. I'm new to this blog and maybe I shouldn't criticize here: a man's point of view is sometimes just different than a Woman's, even a Woman as erudite, warm, sensitive, and meaningful as you.

Hi Ronni -- Thank you for the wonderfully authentic and insightful post.

I am trying to move about 7 miles into center city Fort Lauderdale and not able to afford that.

It makes a huge difference whether I have to drive 20 minutes to downtown, with its shops and sidewalk hubbub, or step outside my door. One is a special trip; the other is a walk around the block.

"You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you get what you need." Rolling Stones.

Best wishes.

Since discovering you thru this blog I've thought you are intelligent, savvy, wise, delightfully irreverent, and entirely honest & open.

This post just confirms those opinions for me.

Cheers to you for knowing ("we know things before we know them") that you didn't need a drug to experience your life thru this time of adjustment.

Thanks, Ronni, for all that you bring to us.

Wow Ronnie, you really hit a nerve with a lot of us. I spent my life wishing that I could live in a small town but was "stuck" in Los Angeles because of relationships, kids, parents, jobs.

Then all of a sudden I was left with nothing when I turned 62. My kids had moved to northern California and I had become a grandmother. I just made the decision to move up there, but chose a small town outside of San Francisco (San Rafael). It has taken me almost 5 years to settle in and find a nice little place surrounded by trees, in a quiet neighborhood.

I can certainly relate to the depression which seeps in every so often when I feel rudderless with no passion or motivation. I'm now 67 and though I see my son and his family regularly, my daughter moved to Portland, Oregon and I go to visit her a couple of times a year, I love where I live now, but am trying to accept who I am today. It has been a slow transition and have done some volunteer work, some part-time work (which I enjoy because it gets me outdoors), I still feel a sense of loss of youth, who I once was and trying to figure out who I want to be next.

When I first moved to San Rafael I moved into a small cottage and got a job. It was sufficient and worked for awhile, but then I knew it wasn't the right place for me anymore. It took me about 1 year to find the home I have now and I'm happy with it for the time being. Will I stay here? I don't know, but I'm going to stay present and enjoy it for today. When it doesn't work anymore, then I will consider my other options.

Thanks for your honesty and sharing what so many of us have gone through or are will be going through.

Ronni, am catching up with some of your posts here. This one, this amazing one...all I can say right now is I never felt closer to you after reading it and I am sure many of your readers felt the same way. Once again, you show us that life is a constant evolving and acceptance of what comes. Your process is very important to me because you are so honest with yourself and with us and so I know I can trust what I read here.
I think you are amazing!

How is Ollie, by the way?

Every time I moved to a new city, I spent the first few months mourning the differences. I felt as if I were trying to be unhappy, though I didn't know why. Reading your thoughtful, insightful, painful truths I've begun to wonder whether there is a necessary transition period when you uproot yourself. Do we need to lay the past to rest before we can fully embrace the present? It seems to get "worse" with age, though that may be that making connections becomes appreciably more difficult as our social lives become more circumscribed. Without a job or school or kid to bring others to your doorstep, the pressure lies squarely on your own shoulders. But the depressing, upsetting, unsettling nature of moving gets in the way of the desire to get our and explore. I'm glad the feeling is passing - give those kids a hug from me for putting a smile on one of my favorite bloggers.

Yikes! Me truly hopes you don't decide to d/c TGB! Surely not!!!
It is true that relocating one's home is in the top five major sources of stress/depression. I cannot imagine my life without the joy that reading TGB brings to me. You are a gifted writer, and someone that I hope to "read" for years to come.

Ditto for what Lydia said, and all the rest! I think we can become depressed by where we yearn to be, too. I was born in Portland, and in my 40's and 50's had the great fortune to work there every summer. I could be happy sitting on a street corner in my beloved city, not to mention enjoying the fabulous economical restaurants of every type!

Unfortunately, I live six hours south in a natural paradise, but which doesn't have the fun and friends and delights of Portland. For example, one of my dearest friends and I love to go to 'the bins' a megaspot (I think near Milwaukie) where Good Will processes thousands of items before shipping them overseas. Clothes and housewares can be .69 cents a pound. My pal washes them and gives most of them away. Then we go eat cheap Thai food to die for.

And don't forget the rotari sushi in the midst of NE Portland!

I loved Ronni's thoughtful and honest essay and all the comments. I don't get here every day, but always carry for days the poignant columns which ring a bell.

Being newly retired is indeed like moving to another place--everything is new and different and not always pleasant. Ditto battling a chronic illness which has distinct phases....cheers to everyone!

PS I missed where this meetup is happening...maybe we could get together regionally as well? I'd help organize for northern CA and southern OR.

Glad to hear you are feeling better. I loved the way you shared with readers, knowing they may also experience a similar depression at some point. I think it's part of life. Sven gets this way sometimes. I liked the greenery as anti-depressant. Much better than meds. Sending you a hug across the country and through cyberspace.

I have been reading with interest your post and also the comments of this aging community of readers. I also am on a journey of discovering the personal responsibilities of aging well. Self discovery in these later years is more urgent and of a different nature than it was when I was younger. There was a post on your blog in August 2007 about Jung's seven task's of aging. The story of your personal journey after moving to Portland reminded my of Jung's 4th task, letting go of the ego. All my definitions of myself are coming into question as my life changes and I reach my 68th birthday. I wonder now what this coming year will require me to let go of? This seems to be an ongoing necessity on the journey of aging. I have to be sure that my involvement in my community and my activities are not an escape from my personal journey but a way to deepen and enrich it. Only then can we be the wise elders that this country and the world needs.

One of the bloggers I read regularly (Jonah Lehrer, The Frontal Cortex) just posted an article today that relates to well-being and what you see when you look out the window, Ronni. You might find it interesting. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/the-psychology-of-nature/

Am catching up here. Think med. avoidance this early after your most recent move -- you've had so much change for so many years, not just geographically -- is very wise.

Your self-examination does usually seem to lead you to the answers you need. For some writing is best in this process, for others talking may be, so whatever works.

Another late comment--I don't know if you'll even see it, but I need to write it. I have had so many changes of identity in my nearly-80 years and they were all hard and involved a process of grieving. There were three identity losses of major impact: from a happy wife to a broken-spirited divorcee; from the owner of a big, beautiful house in the woods to 1 of 35 residents of a tiny, government-subsidized apartment; and from a working in-demand singer/performer to .....a contented writer, photographer, great-grandmother, blogger and friend. But it took time.

Ronni, I can't say that I fully understand but I can relate to the process we must go through in the later years. I am 54 and life is busy and filled with family and it's day to day challenges. I know as I grow older that the journey will change and so will I. My only advice is to engage in activity, stay busy with mind body and spirit. You are never too old to change and have purpose. Good Luck , I wish you well.

Dear Ronni - Thanks for sharing with those out here in"cyberland" who connect with you and dearly love you! ~Tricia

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