Changes – It’s Still All About Acceptance and Self Love


“Evening Song” www.sfago.com

I always recoil when anyone says, “at your age ….”, “It’s expected at your age…” or a diagnosis of “age-related”. to which I respond, “OK, but what would be causing this if I were young?” And then I have been able to find a satisfactory solution, usually on my own. Until recently.

I have reached a time in my life that is bringing perhaps an inkling of changes that are probably pretty close and maybe even here now, if I choose to acknowledge them.

I have a paint buddy that I met in 2014. We were immediately best friends and we’ve rarely done plein air painting or travel relative to paint workshops or paint outs, art shows, gallery trips without each other. I’ve grown close to her and consider her one of of my two best (nonfamily) friends. She is several years younger than me, I’m in my 80s and she in her 70s. She is still traveling internationally and has a higher level of energy.

I don’t want to hold her back from doing painting events, because I’m unable, knowing we can modify what and where we do some things together. She’s a lesson in loyalty and I realized yesterday that I need to make her feel comfortable with looking for a new paint buddy but first I have to work through my own feelings about this and at this moment I’m having a difficult time facing that. I’ll miss the very special times and making memories, our painting relationship, experiences and the closeness that goes with creating memories and just the fun of painting with her in situations that are highly unlikely to happen again. I imagine dynamics will change, proximity, time together will probably change and will our wonderful friendship change? I expect it to continue to be meaningful in other ways. We have a lot of fun memories.

Choosing is sometimes a little easier than being forced to let go so am trying to use that perspective to face the end of an era, a change caused by some new limitations in my life, and probably not in the too-distant-future, hers as well. Painting is my passion and still consumes my thoughts and time but in my studio now.

I’d like to, in fact, plan to travel to paint again and need to find my own comfort level. I have now and have always had an abhorrence, even an inability of feel that I’m being a burden to anyone. Now I’m faced with needing to deal with that and find a way to accept that it’s ok to ask for help or, with forewarning to my buddy, friends and family, of my less energetic self. I know that it could sometimes hold someone else back and concerned that I would make them uncomfortable and impatient. I have to remind myself that these are more likely my feelings – not theirs. Yikes! Admitting that I’m not the person I want to be or used to be? That I’ve become less? Again I have to remind myself that I’m more than my energy level. I have the same issue no matter when, where or who – I’ve always pushed through as much as possible but can no longer stretch myself. When I’ve hit the wall, I’m done and it’s often inconvenient to me and have a difficult time involving others in that.

I’ve been isolating, partly because much of the time I don’t have the wherewithal to leave my home, but also waiting for a time when I would be able to keep up comfortably. I finally realize that I’m going to have to admit to myself and others the possibility, in fact reality, that I have a new pace. I’m hoping – and quite sure they’ll understand, and that they also have a choice and can opt out of anything, no harm, no foul. Giving that “out” to them is easy for me to do and accept. I also need to accept the possibility that I may have to opt out last minute – and that’s difficult for me to accept ! No harm, no foul for me? Yikes!

Is slowing down such a bad thing? I suppose not. I still walk briskly and have a pretty sharp mind. It’s subtle changes in desires, actions and staying power. Maybe that is part of aging? Maybe not? I have a feeling that I’ve been in denial and those close to me already get and accept it. After all, I do have a head of white hair and that is hopefully associated with wisdom, discrimination and maturity – and slowing down. I think I need to concentrate on that description of my changes. I have loving family and friends around me who are eager to be together. That’s all that really matters. So what am I concerned about? Nothing serious going on here! Isn’t part of life just acceptance of constant changes?

Other changes in my life that were monumental and real life-changers at the time are now, as part of my past, remembered mostly with very little, if any, emotion. This change has been more insidious, occurring rather slowly and somehow immense and accepted with more resistance; I think because I am equating it to moving toward the end of life as I know it and that I love so much. But other changes were really no different? Yes! Because now I’m closer to the end of my life. Period! And I love my life! But I’ve milked it and am still having a wonderful time and I’m past my expiration date.

So just another change – really nothing new. Only what I decide to attach to it. Perspectives?

Self love, acceptance. Remember, Sharon! Self love, acceptance. And then Joy and Gratefulness!

Carpe diem!

And Namaste,

Best Friends


I don’t often experience envy but I admit to this one…

There are some couples that just love each other – deeply and honestly.  And I just love being with them.  This is a rare experience for me but I’m fortunate to have two such couples in my life.  One couple are former clients – RC and CC.  We had an almost immediate connection when I picked them up at their hotel and over the years it has grown into  a dear friendship.    The other two are close relatives of my husband, GG,  and her husband, DW.

I was single for almost 20 years and very ambivalent about remarrying – until I met RC and CC.  I acknowledged to myself that I had often pictured marrying my true best friend – spending my retirement years traveling, laughing, reading, exercising, sharing.   The more I got to know RC and CC, the more firm my resolution became to be open to a committed relationship.   I saw that what I pictured could actually be a reality.

DW and GG, RC and CC, all live my dream.  Of course, they have their issues and problems too, but there is an underlying friendship and respect that prevails.  I spent some time with RC and CC a few weeks ago, and for the last few weeks, have been with DW and GG almost every day.

Being around all of them over the last month,  I’m finding myself nurtured and renewed and in an effort to hold on to my feelings, I’m identifying words to express what I experience when I’m with them.  For the most part, I find myself feeling comfort, joy, peace, hope and admiration.

I know about many of their struggles and triumphs, the heartaches and joys of their relationships.  I’ve listened to their stories, shared some experiences with them.  I know their lives have not been without pain, death of a child, infidelities,  serious health issues, long separations while serving in the Military, the stresses of being married to an obstetrician/surgeon – experiences that have torn many couples apart.  But they managed to reach the other side and become even closer.   I’ve watched them handle differences with respect, acceptance, a lot of listening, and humor.   They have a gentleness, even when they’re irritated with each other, have  shown courage to let the other be unhappy or gritchy, sad or happy.  They’re all individuals and seem to know their boundaries.   And they respect those boundaries.

Some words I might use  to describe what I see and feel between them is acceptance, loyalty, safety, generosity, comfort, admiration, respect, gentleness, a deep caring.  A joy in being with each other.  They are truly best friends.    They express differences easily.  They share some activities, tolerating others  just because they prefer to spend time with each other and share a memory.   They both have friends and outside activities but it’s clear that they prefer each other and their time together.   They are present for each other.  They have differences but have learned, over many years, how to express themselves respectfully.   They know that absolutely their partner has their back.  No matter what or who…  And they have traditions – with their families but also between themselves.   Little things.  Some are daily rituals.  DW brings coffee – every morning! – to GG in bed.   He always pulls her car out of the garage and has it ready for her when she’s ready to leave.  She rewards him with a lot of praise and admiration. Every time.  Just like it’s the first time.  She never seems to take him for granted.  All four of them express abundant appreciation for their partners.  Consistently.   When I hear them criticize, when they’ve done something wrong, there’s still a sense in speech and attitude that they’re on that person’s side.   I also know that they’ve hurt each other deeply at times and I’d really love to see how they handle it in private.  Is it the same?  They’ve all just said they try to stay respectful.

Both couples have been together since high school.   They have told me that early years together were not without hurdles and huge adjustments – there were some very difficult times.  Communicating well was not an easy thing to learn.   They all feel that they worked very hard to create their present relationship.  Part of it just evolved as their friendships grew over the years.  They were deeply committed to being best friends and treating each other with respect.   At times, their only expectation was – and is – that they protect their friendship as they would with any other dear friend.

I now realize that when I married, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations.  You’d think that in the time it took to get all of this gray hair, I’d have learned more!  My husband and I  are in the early years of our relationship and I’m discovering that just because we are older – and more experienced in relationships – it doesn’t mean that we can bypass adjustments and difficult times.   We both now have more tools to work with – and we use them a lot!  We are still learning our life lessons.  And that sometimes means double the lesson – we are there for each other while we get through our individual lessons as well.   The single life was so much simpler in many ways – not as rewarding in other ways.  I just believe that a relationship takes us places that we simply can’t get to on our own.   And that’s where I want to be.

My husband and I have been together for almost five years, in our 70’s.  I treasure our relationship and friendship.   We came together with our pasts – our longest history and memories are with others.  We just simply don’t have a lot of time left to create a long history together.    No time to waste on wishing that I had what my friends have but it is a great goal.  I’m busy working on getting as far as possible with that one….  And I will be gentle, appreciate, respect, be grateful.

I will be grateful for the time and progress we have – and will make in our relationship.   We have some great role models.  I want to be that for our children….