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Emails to my Therapist

Organize My Life? What Happened to My Trusty Rituals?

(Email to therapist) Nicholas, All my routines are scrambled. I feel like a box of puzzle pieces. Shake me and I rattle. It’s not unpleasant, just new and a bit unnerving. Not even sure I’m ready to organize my life again.

I’m trying to put my regular self/life back together after the six weeks at home and hospital during Bob’s medical adventure.  I do know this is very little shake-up compared to that of Syrian refugees and people who lose homes and loved ones to floods and such. Especially since Bob is now doing fine.

Even so, it’s my shake-up and has gotten my attention. Also, I think it was underway before Bob’s health went into typhoon-spin.

For example

Here it is a weekday and I’m neither on vacation nor in my office. Currently on den sofa in fetching fleece loungewear, not sure when that will change. I tell myself I’m 68 years old — some kids my age have retired– and I have a cold — sick leave might be considered an option.

And another of my loved ones had a serious and upsetting health scare this week (that’s turned out to be okay.) So maybe a striking lack of get-up-and-go is in order at the moment.

But I don’t think this is a matter of a day.

I’ve always taken my self-devised routines seriously: time spent on my current novel-in-progress, time spent reading other writers’ manuscripts, exercise, date nights, lunch at the K&W with friends, meditation, weekly writing group. Likely relied on these rituals for a sense of security. It’s ironic that I’ve made my life into a large ritual, when I’m so averse to following anybody else’s schedule.


Of course, I do mean to keep doing all these things(Clients, I will not neglect you!) but right now these familiar elements are puzzle pieces that may fit back together somewhat differently. However, I’m not at ease with that. I fear I’ll make decisions out of laziness, so I’m keeping a good supply of guilt ready if needed. I know that trying not to feel lazy is probably not the best principle on which to organize my life or make or not make any kind of life change.


Right now, I’m passive about the process. Just watching myself evolve, hoping I’ll jump up and firmly assert order if things get totally out of hand. I do wonder what out-of-hand would look like.



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  • Judy
    February 15, 2017 at 9:14 pm Reply

    I have been ” off schedule” since my heart surgery in 2014. It is very hard to get re-organized and I’m not sure I want to. I officially retired in 2009, at the age of 69.

    You’ll find your rhythm again.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 15, 2017 at 9:33 pm Reply

      Retired or not, Judy, I see quite a few floral arrangements of yours. Gorgeous ones, too.

  • Gail Waters
    February 15, 2017 at 10:50 pm Reply

    When something seismic like a life threatening illness bombs one’s life, it takes much time for the dust to settle. But nothing is ever quite the same again, even as we long to return to the long-known familiarity of former rituals. but we do settle, and it is get acquainted time for the new normal….and that is an unexpected challenge.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 16, 2017 at 2:57 am Reply

      Gail, your dust settling image reminds me of something my brother Harry told Bob right after the surgery. He and twin brother Franc had bypass surgery ten days apart from each other (very trying for their big sister and mom.) Harry told Bob to expect everything to be stirred up and floating around and it would gradually silt down back into place.

  • Lynne
    February 15, 2017 at 11:07 pm Reply

    For me February is least motivating month every yesr,…i tell myself one out of 12 is not bad ..its really okay..really ???

    • Peggy Payne
      February 16, 2017 at 2:54 am Reply

      Sounds okay to me, Lynne. I never thought of one month as more motivating than another. But I did have reverse SAD for a while; heat really got me down for several years. Got over that fortunately.

  • February 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm Reply

    Well Peggy, I’m curious and watching too. I guess my rituals before my operation were exercise, eating, doing my work, hangin’ out with you and Date Nights, daily dog care/contact, weekend morning pleasures, suppers with Charlie, reading and laptop-internet stuff. Now 3 months after the operation, seems there’s little change except in exercise and work. I haven’t yet returned to Tai Chi and my reduced strength and aerobic capacity make workouts less satisfying, shorter and way less intense. i’m working 3 afternoons a week instead of 3 days a week, and find leading my 3 weekly therapy groups a comforting and pleasurable ritual that I look forward to. Mostly I’m grateful for the chance to slip into my former ways, and especially to get to enjoy continuing to be with you.
    For a while doctor visits, many new meds, and that damn Warfarin diet were not particularly welcome rituals – I’m grateful much of that has passed away.
    So I’m waiting and watching a while too, to discover what new’ll develop, for me and for you. At some point our very old dog’ll fade away, and after grieving, I’ll likely take up new puppy rituals.
    So as the farmer in the old Chineese tale kept sayin’ “Lets wait and see” bob

    • Peggy Payne
      February 18, 2017 at 10:53 pm Reply

      To be continued offline!

  • Randee bieler
    March 9, 2017 at 7:09 am Reply

    This sounds familiar. I am seriously considering cutting back and letting go. It’s hard to admit that there are many things I will not get to. Rather than just leave up to chance what goes undone, I have decided to make some conscious choices. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s too terrifyingly filled with the issue of mortality. But I have decided to decide. Hard stuff. I like your pjs.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 9, 2017 at 4:03 pm Reply

      I’m impressed. I’ll be interested to hear what choices you make, Randee!

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