ELDER MUSIC: Roots of the Stones
A Mental Health Day

Ease and Routine

category_bug_journal2.gif As an aside in her story today at The Elder Storytelling Place (link below), Marcia Mayo says this:

“With me at my advanced age, it had to be early and it had to be easy. I no longer like to stay up late and I don’t look forward to much of anything enough to go to much trouble to take part in it.”

Although that is not the point of Marcia's story, it was a minor Aha! moment for me. Without making a conscious decision, I have behaved in this manner for a number of years now – at least a decade.

Back in my youth – which extended into my fifties – there must have been hundreds of mornings, as the alarm clock dinged, that I regretted having been out and about into the wee hours the night before.

And I'm not even talking about having imbibed a glass or two more wine than I should have, although that was known to happen too.

It was that heavy, foggy, brain-dead feeling that comes with getting less than seven hours of sleep that I knew would infect my entire day making every small effort – walking two blocks to the subway – feel like pushing a boulder uphill. I despised that every time it happened.

What's that old joke about knowing in the morning that this is the best you're going to feel all day?

One of the great, unsung perks of retirement is that I don't set an alarm clock anymore, and further – because early mornings are the best part of the day for me – I don't stay up late at home or for almost any reason.

I don't remember now when I last ruined an entire day from too little sleep and I intend to keep it that way. Who knows how many days I have left and I want be bright and shiny for them all.

It is also the “trouble” Marcia refers to. If I am invited to a dressy occasion, how far will I need to walk in pretty shoes that god intended only for show-off purposes from the comfort of a chair? Does getting there or back involve driving on a highway at night? Or, how often do the buses run? Will it be crowded? I hate crowds.

If the event is important enough, I might hobble there in my impractical shoes, but I won't drive farther than a couple of miles – on slow-speed, familiar, city streets only - in the dark. (That's a lifelong rule. Even in my twenties, I couldn't judge distances to tail lights at night.)

Like Marcia, I find that little is compelling enough these days to go to any trouble to attend and that is particularly so if it involves an airplane.

No longer is there just one day lost to travel. It's two days, as the second is needed to recover from the exhaustion of

• Nearly undressing for the TSA

• Walking five miles each to and from the gate

• Hauling an overnight case all that way

• Sitting in a cramped space too small for child for up to six hours

• Perhaps missing a connection

• Being stuck at the airport for six hours until the next flight

• Repeat the above to return home

A total of four days lost from my life. There had better be a million-dollar check at the far end of the plane ride if you want me there.

It is also the reason I do as much shopping online as possible these days. In New York, everything I needed or wanted was in walking, subway or taxi distance and so much to see and enjoy in the getting there.

In Maine, almost everything except food was at the mall, a five-mile drive from my home on a lightly traveled highway but not much visual or mental stimulation.

And here, the necessities are scattered in several malls, all involving different, poorly marked highways and I've never not gotten lost on the way home. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I'll learn my way around in time, but it's easier to open a browser. I'll save the driving for more compelling reasons than shopping.

In addition to the trouble, it is breaking routine. Until I read that portion of Marcia's story, I hadn't realized how much I cling to routine these days and that messing with it takes a lot of planning to keep tiredness at bay.

For most of my life, I jumped at last minute invitations, eager to see friends, a show, a concert or dine at a new restaurant. Nowadays, I need time to plan to do those things, to parcel out my stamina.

What a bore that is and by extension, I am. But that's only from someone else's perspective. I'm fine with it.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia Mayo: Let It Roll


Amen, Ronni. Interesting how desires and perspectives change over the years. I don't plan to fly anywhere ever again, not the way commercial airline travel is these days. Not worth the stress and strain.

I, too, shop (and bank) online. Saves time and energy. Thank goodness for the Net.

You're so right ... one of the total pleasures of being retired is not having to get up to an alarm clock.

I've noticed, too, that I like having, and pretty much sticking to, a routine. Am I therefore "set in my ways"? Well I guess so, and so what!

Conserving energy is the name of the game now. As my mother said some years back about growing older, "You learn to pace yourself."

Wise words from a woman who will turn 95 this summer.

After reading the quote from the story, I read the story - she was 61. That's a far cry from "advanced age" in my book.

I have made changes in my routine as I reach that "advanced age," but it only takes a few minutes with a child to remind me that there is so much to explore and learn yet. So, like the saying on my coaster - "life is too short to drink bad wine" - but it's also too short to hide away from people and experiences, as long as I am able.

Amen Ronni, airline travel has become a no-no to me too, everyone I love is very far away but the thought of several days, waiting for connecting flights in airport hard seats, suffering body cavity search indignities, sitting with knees under my chin in an infant seat on the plane, debating trips to the infant sized washroom is not for me.
I still like driving, even at night, and long road trips are still manageable but like you I parcel my time out with care and absolutely refuse to see people that drive me around the twist for any length of time.

Yes, I have come to be most protective of my time and my energy.

After thirty-plus years of yanking on panty hose and a professional outfit to commute one hour to my job, I just wanna do what I wanna do.

It has taken me the seven years of retirement to learn how to pace myself.

I was like a tiger let out of a cage when I retired from teaching high school, and I ran myself ragged at first.

I kept wondering why I would get so worn out after a full day of activity and people.

I finally got it. I am old. I turn sixty this summer.
Not real old, I know, but I am old enough to note a marked difference in the stamina I had just ten years ago.


I think that old joke was Frank Sinatra's reply to a non-drinker who admonished him about his imbibing.

Glad are we all that you still take the bother of this blog!
At your own pace, in your own time. That's the ticket.
And still the younger ones don't get what we do with our time. I'm giving up trying to explain that, whatever it looks like, we're busy.

Oddly enough, just yesterday I wrote to one of my long-time email friends of 30+ years that I had become "boring." And that was because I enjoy a peaceful, quiet life...a daily routine. I cherish the serenity of sitting on my back porch reading a good novel, occasionally looking up to observe the birds & squirrels.

I do think as we age our priorities change; that is to be expected. Nothing stays the same forever. Be glad you are still alive to experience the changes life brings...

I remember, after I got out of college, it took me a long time to get used to the regular hours you have to keep for a job.

The funny thing is, now that I don't HAVE to get up with the alarm clock, I couldn't vary my routine if I wanted to. You could set your clock by me -- in bed at 10:45; read till 11:20; wake up at 7:10.

Go figure. After 30+ years on the job -- and now that it doesn't matter anymore -- I've finally been trained!

I'm the opposite of you, Ronni, as far as hours. I've always been a night owl by nature, but when I was working 60+ hours/week and fighting commuter traffic every day, I was forced to be a (reluctant) morning person. However, now that I'm working part-time, I can read until 2:00 AM and sleep until 8:30 or even 9:00 AM. I'm finally back in sync with myself.

As far as going-and-doing, I never was much of a traveler--a good thing because I had neither the time nor the money. Now I may have the time but I still don't have the money, which is fine with me. From all I've seen and heard, today's travel conditions are totally unappealing.

I haven't noticed a dramatic drop in my energy level (yet). At 74 I don't feel really OLD most days. I recently started volunteering for a local no-kill cat shelter at one of their adoption sites. I clean cages, change litter, feed and entertain about 10 cats at a time, as well as talking with potential adopters. The cats have been surrendered or abandoned and sometimes abused, so they don't always get along with each other or with us. Still, I'm glad I decided to do it. Not only is it a challenge at times, but it's also great exercise, and I love cats!

I have to say that I've become more routine-oriented, at only 51!

I still work full time and am single with an old house and yard that constantly needs upkeep and a herd of cats to care for. So when the weekend comes up, I run errands, clean and do laundry and just like to sit and watch tv. If someone invites me to do something (like last weekend I went to our areas Homes and Garden show with my sister), I reluctantly say yes. I do enjoy myself but I have to rearrange all my weekend chores, and drive over an hour each way on the dreaded beltway. Left home at 11:30 am and returned at 10:30 pm. I was exhausted on Sunday and still had to run all my errands and clean! I think most of my stress comes from my horrible commute everyday. DC was, after all, just voted worst traffic in the country. On weekends, I really HATE to get back in my car and deal with even more traffic.

I'm hoping when I can retire from my current job, I'll be more amenable to getting out and doing things.

If you aren't social now, you may not be later, either. I used to think that when I had more time, I would be, but it hasn't turned out that way. I still spend a lot of time at my computer which is essentially a solitary pursuit. I have started volunteering, as I mentioned, but like you, I have no desire to fight traffic if I don't have to. Traffic in the Other Washington (Seattle) may not be quite as bad as yours, but it's bad enough!

Yes, yes, yes! I LOVE the little routines of my retirement life. My elder life. I had enough fun in years past to literally last a lifetime.

I so agree with Nikki and You!!!! No bosses to tell me what to do and my own home messy so it is...I can do what I want when I want it...not a bad life. As for travel - been there and done that - and am not interested in the "bed bugs" of the world to leave mine. Wouldn't mind a little extra money - maybe conduct a Bar Mitzvah or two....but on the whole Praise God for giving me 67 good years and I hope maybe a little more.

Generally, I enjoy spontaneous activities -- keeps life interesting. Miss my close-by friends who did also -- too many keep dying -- only couples left locally. Guess that's a hazard with aging. Seems from reading here that many younger and older are into same-'ol routine. I am by default but keep stirring the pot and plan to do more.

I do share the aversion to commercial flight the way it is now, but may have to bite the bullet and do some. Once I arrive at a destination all is fine. Think exploring alternative transportation might be worth exploring.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)