Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Early Stages

So what does this picture of boxes suggest to you?

If you thought of 'moving,' you would be right!

We are facing a move and we are in the very early stages of that enormous task.

Long time readers know that I live in a 3 level town house with 2 full flights of stairs.  Those who followed the blog during the years my mother lived here know that I also have 20 common area steps to climb to reach my front door.  49 steps in all!  Some may also know that after 30 years of wonderful service to my family, this town house has gotten just too big.  Too big to heat and cool, too big to clean (3 1/2 bathrooms for 2 people is too many toilets to clean and does anyone really need 11 closets,) and too much in taxes and upkeep for retired folks on a limited income.

I frequently hear things like - what a lovely setting, how well maintained, the neighborhood is great, and .... huh, just how many steps do you have??

Last year we began talking about moving.  But my husband and I were of two minds - so the topic was dropped.  This year, with me facing 69 and him facing 70, (yikes) the topic of downsizing brought us to the 'move' question again.   The realization that on this day we are as young as we are ever going to be was a big motivator to get serious.

So the downsizing parade has begun.  Lists of furniture and objects that will not travel with us are underway, conversations with the realtor and our bank are in full swing, and packing has begun.  All very early stages, but started in earnest.

And let me say this now ... it is exhausting and at times overwhelming. We should have done this years ago, but years ago I was exhausted and overwhelmed with caregiving.  The timing was never right for a move.

So I plan to take you with me during this 'adventure' (nightmare.)

Hold onto your hats!

In closing - a personal observation about aging as it relates to change and big decisions (and this move is a big decision.)

I learned through practical experience how the aging brain handles change.  Not well!  It looks very much like ... nothing.  No movement, no change to upset the status quo.  There is comfort and security in the known.  Lack of action makes a weird sense as time marks your body and mind.  Looking to conquer even small challenges is not on your radar.

In early senior years the brain may continue to function well, but it is easy to slip into faulty thinking about the future.   "I don't need to change anything.  Yes, this isn't ideal but I can handle it now, and yes, I should be able to handle it for years to come."  And in a small percentage of the population that may be true.  But can you be sure you are in the small percentage.  Hard to know.

I have seen the initial stages of faulty thinking in myself this year.  Last year I was 100% in favor of selling the townhouse and moving.  I saw the writing on the wall of our lives.  It was all plain as it could be.   We need to move.  I was 68 last year.

This year I am 69 and the tiny web of resistance to change crept in.  Again I started to push for a move.  My husband started to see the logic of it, but I began to second guess myself.  There were days when I wondered is this the right thing to do.  After all, we are handling it now, how terrible would it be if we didn't change anything, yes, I know all these steps are not ideal for my disabled husband, but he has fallen only once on them.  We are doing just fine now.

See what I mean?

Next year I am 70
 and who knows what I will be able to talk myself into not doing.

The early stages ... the clock is ticking!

More to come.


  1. We have been discussing downsizing too now that Frank has retired. Good luck with your move. It is a big decision.

    1. It is more of an effort the older you get. Don't delay too long.

  2. Dear Knitter, you described exactly what my husband and I am going through now. We are both 78. I have bilateral store bought knees and moved my bedroom downstairs to the one bedroom and am still here. No steps for me. However Tom continues to climb the one flight of stirs in our 1 and 1/2 story house but we know he cannot safely do that forever. We have some beautiful condos communities and retirement communities in our town but just can't convince him to make a move. You are so right what is present is security, it seems. I am a nurse and believe in acting rather that reacting. But here we are paying someone to care for our lawn and help with heavy house work. This is universal for seniors I do believe. I will say a little prayer that things work out for you before a broken hip happens or something such as that.

    1. Dear Peggy. My heart goes out to you. And I hear your frustration as well. You are right. As much as "new-bee" seniors like think they can handle this aging task better than those that came before, time takes it toll on all of us, and the body and mind eventually slow and change - nature running its course. I learned a lot from watching my mom. I am a "take action" kind of person as well (worked in the health care industry myself for 19 years - caregivers are action people.) So I am trying to make things better now while I have the energy for it.

      I think I finally have my husband totally on board with this. It is a relief, but it is still a scary thing to do ... and a sadness. My next post addresses that sadness.

      My best to you,
      Elaine (Retired Knitter)

  3. Elaine I am in that very same frame of mind right now. I still have the two grandkids with me but one is leaving soon and only two more years of high school for the other. I just turned 65 so I am already there with the brain thinking. It is so frustrating to be so sure of myself one minute and so un-sure the next. Good luck with this process. I am happy to go along!!

    1. You still have family within your walls so your house still serves a function. When I was 65 I had my son and daughter-in-law living with me and my house was a shelter for them as well. Moving really was a distant goal then. Now it is a very close up goal. But you can do what I did for probably the last 4 years. I started getting rid of stuff regularly. Right now I am so glad that I did. Yes, we are still downsizing, but the mountain of belongings would have been so crazy to work through all at once if I hadn't started years ago.

  4. I think you are doing the right thing. We are a decade younger than you but are already making tentative plans to downsize. We have settled on a part of the country that suits us both and where Hubby already owns a lovely flat. He has long wanted to move there. It is only recently that I have realised I could live there quite happily. We are only waiting for our daughter to get settled in her own place...which is not an easy thing for youngsters to achieve at the moment.

  5. I'm on a completely different attitude about moving than most people as you know. I enjoy a move. Maybe because we've moved so many times! : )
    I'm not surprised to hear of your moving as you have spoken of it a few times. Are you moving in the same area or somewhere completely different? It will be fun to move along with you. : )

    1. Yes, I remember you liked to move. My daughter mover 18 times from the time she left college until she bought her condo in DC. 18 times. And she said something similar. If you move a lot you get good at it, and you thin your belongings each time. The down side of moving so much is that you don't really put down roots anywhere. But that may not be important to all. I do feel, however, you are putting down roots in your present location. :-) We are looking in Columbia. Our family and life are here.

  6. I see my folks (both sets) NOT doing this, and get worried about what I'm going to have to help them with in the not-too-distant future!

    1. Michelle, I watched 2 mothers and 1 grandmother slip into older age and not change one thing. My husband and I had to do what needed to be done. I learned a lot of lessons from those seniors ... lessons about what I didn't want to do. And even with the close up example of what not to do, the older brain just begins to think differently. My daughter is in the retirement industry and she warned me ... no matter what you think now, your brain chemistry changes and your thinking changes.

      My sympathies to you. It is a long and difficult road to step in and parent a parent ... and unfortunately it can come to that.

  7. Elaine, I know this will be a huge job and it's easy to second guess when you look at the work ahead of yourself over the coming months but you will be so happy once you are moved and settled in. Good luck on your new home search.


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