By Carole Leskin
"What you really need is a change of scene", I said aloud to myself.
There was nothing new in those words. I have said them many times over the years. For the most part, during tough times. Divorce, an unhappy relationship, business difficulties, failures of one type or another. Occasionally, out of boredom - that feeling of being stuck.
And usually, it meant taking a trip. A weekend or sometimes much longer. Always someplace different. A chance to see a new view. Meet new people. Eat new food. Try new activities. There was always a sense of adventure. No real plan. Letting life unfold in whatever way.
For the most part, it worked. It was, after all, my adult version of a child running away from home.
But this time it was different.
This time, wherever I went I took "me" with me. There was no escape.
The reality is I am a 73 year old woman who recently had a stroke. My degenerative disc disease and neurological disorder have progressed and become more serious. My physical being is entirely different. My personal freedom significantly limited.
Adventure? My bucket list - zip lining, more hiking, travel to far away destinations, going cross-country in an RV and more - not going to happen.
How can I change my scene?
I am tired and annoyed, sometimes even angry at people, often well-meaning, who hardly know me and send me inspirational posters and quotes.
They remind me that it is all a question of "attitude". "Never say never! Buck up! Stop wallowing in self-pity. So many people have it much worse."
There is a lot of truth in what they say. I count my blessings every day. I have good medical care, a cozy apartment, access to classes and special events. Friends. I love to write and take photographs.
But here's what they don't understand. Sometimes, actually often, it takes a strong will just to get out of bed. Daily chores, things I used to do in a few minutes, take hours and are exhausting. Pain is a constant companion. Doctor appointments, tests, medications, complications.
And what is worse is FEAR. What if I have another stroke? What will I do when I can no longer walk? How will I manage? I have no family and live alone without a support system.
Suddenly, I realized what will change my scene.
A lot of people won't like it.
I will grant myself time to be dark for a bit. I will not feel as if I always have to smile. I will not feel I have to pretend to be optimistic when I get bad news. If I am grouchy - so be it! If I am sad - I can cry. If I am scared - it's okay. In other words, I will allow myself to be me - in all my dimensions.
Most important, I will reach out for help. Something I never do. My whole life has been one of independence and pride. I have to let that go.
I will continue to love writing and photography, nature, animals, learning new things, and meeting new people. I will love my friends and treasure their support. I will be grateful every day.
I will do all of this and more. But I will do it without pretending my declining health and related issues will all go away. I will look at my life from a different perspective and plan accordingly. I will make necessary changes and adjustments.
I will take all the pleasure I can from my change of scene. I will be me. Good, bad, happy, sad.
It's all part of my new view.
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