I started this post several times only to erase the words when they hit the page. Today I'm ready to release the litany. Ready to tell you dear readers that I've reached BURNOUT, and I need to learn to relax so I can heal my mind, body (especially my body) and soul.
Taming my type-A personality
As many of you know or can tell, I'm a type-A person all the way. Why give 50 percent when you can give 100? Or perhaps even 150 or 200 percent? That was my game plan throughout my 35+ corporate career.
Then, just shy of 50, I lost my spouse and emptied my nest, when my daughter A and my son D left respectively for work and college. I was all alone and reinvented myself. I sold my house, retired early from my full-time job at 55, met my boyfriend L, bought my condo on the corner at the New Jersey shore.
My fifties were filled with transitions, yet my game plan never slowed. If anything, I seemed to speed up, filling all the crevices of free time.
It wasn't enough to just practice yoga in retirement. Three years ago, I became an instructor and started to teach. My yoga teaching blossomed from private clients to subbing, to co-teaching monthly classes. I rarely turn down an opportunity. After all, that's what a type-A person does.
Navigating the current blogosphere
My blog became more expansive, with offers to travel around the world. Why wouldn't I? Or better yet, why shouldn't I? "Go, Judy, go," I'd tell myself. "Say yes! You can do it. You got this!"
And I did.
My little blog and I got caught up in the current blogosphere that lately feels like a big ocean wave. There are more social media outlets to publish to, more influencer marketing to aspire to, more email solicitations to answer to, more travel and events to consider. There are podcasts and videos to produce, Pinterest boards to post, Twitter chats to join, Instagram stories to tell, picture-perfect photographs to take, and better search responses to reach more readers. More likes, more follows, more Google analytics numbers—the list is endless.
"Pick up the pace," I'd tell myself. "You got this, Judy! You used to work 50 to 60-plus hours a week. You can do it!" And I did.
My game plan worked throughout my fifties. I was great at teaching mindfulness. "Live in the present, enjoy every moment," I'd say to my students, family and friends. The only person I could not teach it to was myself.
Bouncing into burnout
My game plan worked for a long time. In fact, it worked until about two years ago, shortly
before I turned 60 and was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Even then, after my first surgery and a diagnosis of noninvasive cancer, I bounced back and continued bouncing from one trip to another. They were all so good—so fulfilling. Why couldn't I? Why shouldn't I? And I did.
And I did. And I did. And I did.
Then this spring my body started to resist all the doing. I was diagnosed with bladder cancer again. It was noninvasive but a more significant tumor. It hit my root and sacral chakras, two of the energy centers of the body that help keep me grounded and my passions flowing. I sustained BCG immunotherapy treatments for six weeks in April and May and then three more weeks in July. While I managed through each set, the second set hit me harder both physically and mentally.
In addition, I tried a new drug called Praluent for my high cholesterol. I was so hoping these injections would work to lower my low-density lipoprotein cholesterol since I cannot tolerate statins. OMG. My cholesterol levels shot all the way down. It was amazing! The only thing that wasn't amazing was how this new drug's side effects made me feel—myalgia, rib pain and stomach spasms added to my already menopausal sleepless nights.
To top it off, two weeks ago after many more sleepless nights with abdominal and rib pain, I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers and a small hiatal hernia. Wow-o-wow! This time the disease struck my solar plexus chakra—located right at my core.
Coupled with my own health issues, my mind and soul were hit hard when my sister-in-law passed away in July after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Her death brought more reminders to cherish every moment with our loved ones and practice self-care.
"Judy, what are you doing to yourself?" I screamed. "You are bouncing right into a BIG BURNOUT! You have to slow down. You have to stop doing and start being."
Instead of constantly doing, I'm going to take relaxing walks this autumn.
Reaching out for help
I reached out for help. And this time I know I have to listen and remind myself of that famous quote: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
"Take all the 'shoulds' out of your vocabulary," said my new therapist, Dr. R.
"You need to slow down," said my BFF L and my boyfriend L and my daughter A and my son D and everyone else in my life.
My strength will help me get through these challenging times.
My new relaxation game plan for my life after 60
So dear readers, this is my new relaxation game plan for my life after 60. I'm going to take the 'shoulds' out of my vocabulary and add in daily relaxation. I'm putting the littleback in my blog again and reminding myself of why I started blogging in the first place—because I like sharing what I learn with others.
I still plan to write, but it may or may not be weekly for now. And I still plan to share the rest of my Sicily travels and any other travels I take in the future.
Some of my posts may take more of a wellness focus as I navigate my new relaxation game plan. So many women are under great stress and in a state of constant juggling with caregiving, work and health. I know this by the positive responses I've received from those who commented on my recent Facebook posts:
5 Tips for Achieving Personal Growth During Challenging Times
I'm So Excited for 40th Grade
Wellness Talk: How to Practice Mindful Aging
That's it. I feel like a load has been lifted. It's tough keeping all this stress bottled up inside.
Thanks, as always, for your support. My gratitude and love for your readership is overflowing.
This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.