Jeff Dowler has challenged us to reflect on the last ten years, and share ten things that have changed during that time frame. Here is my input - It's amazing how much can happen in a decade!
1. Marriage: In 2009, I had been divorced for over a decade, and was still looking for the right partner. On January 1st 2010, my almost-expired eHarmony account sent me a potential match. I waited a few days before responding since the dude lived an hour north from me. I just didn't know how I'd find the time to get to know someone that far away. But after a few days I decided to respond positively. We wrote, we spoke, we met, and in 2011 tied the knot. My sailor/ hiker/ author/ canoe builder/ tons of fun husband and I are now having adventures every day! What a difference a decade makes.
2. Children: In 2009, I was raising two teenage boys with all the fun and challenges that entails. We had some difficult times in those years. School, life and teenage issues were sometimes overwhelming, but we struggled together, those boys and I. Love won out and those two boys are now men. At 25 and 26 years old, they are both independent, productive, intelligent and loving people who make me very proud. And I now also have two adult stepsons (because of #1 above). A family of five men and me. What a joy.
3. Friends: In 2009, I had some friends I don't have now. And in 2019, I have a lot of friends I didn't have then. One of the benefits of being in real estate is that I meet a lot of people. And some of those become clients, and a few of them become great friends. It is wonderful to get to know people, and even better when you can create a bond which will hopefully last forever!
4. Parents: In 2009, my mom and dad were living in Albuquerque, NM, enjoying trips to Vegas, as well as various hobbies and work related activities. Mom was already dealing with peritineal cancer and in 2011 after a four-year battle, she succumbed to her illness. Dad missed her terribly. Because mom wasn't here any longer, he had no one to really talk to anymore. As a result, he opened up and let me see him as a person not just a father. I am happy for the short time we had to get to know each other better. In 2015, Dad also contracted cancer. His death came a lot faster. He started to get symptoms in January, told me in March, and was dead in April (passing away on my mom's birthday). So now I am the oldest living person in my family. The circle of life.
5. Career. In 2009, I was a product manager at a major telecommunications firm. I was working to implement a product enhancement that normally takes 18 months in a company such as that. I was told to do it in three. I did it, while at the same time I continued to manage all the other projects on my team's plate while my staff was being reduced due to budget cuts. It was a recipe for burn out, and by 2010 I was reviewing my options. I decided to retire from my 30 year career and move on. In August 2010 I officially retired, and in September decided on my next career - real estate! For the next year or two because of various other things, I didn't work full time, but started in late 2012 as a full time agent. And realized being an independent business owner after corporate life was stimulating, fun and definitely an improvement!
6. Physical Health. I've always focused on trying to stay healthy. Even when I had small kids I would try to fit in some exercise on a fairly regular basis. I would eat relatively well. And in 2009, I was still doing the same thing. At the time I was using a local gym, and would go in three or so times a week to use the exercise equipment and take classes. In the ten years since, I've ratcheted up my focus on my health. I truly believe much of what we eat, drink and use can impact our health. I also think exercise is incredibly important in staying healthy. And I'd like to stay healthy as long as possible. I've seen what poor health can do to people as they age, and I want to enjoy life. I now exercise five or six days a week, eat more vegetarian meals, eat no sweets (but do still drink my wine) and I feel better at 58 than I ever have. Hopefully that will continue!
7. Brain Health. After seeing what Alzheimer's can do, I've also increased my attention of my brain. I watched a long video series on what chemicals and medications can do to our bodies. In 2009, if a doctor had told me I needed to take a medication for an ailment, I'd have just done it. Now in 2019, I want to research other options first. So for example, a year or two ago, my doctor indicated my cholesterol was high and I should start taking statins. I asked him if I could hold off and try other options first. He said sure, come back in three months. So I did some research and started taking plant sterols instead. My cholesterol improved and at my last visit, he told me that my "good" cholesterol was about two or three times better than the average. In addition to trying to keep anything unnatural out of my body (in attempt to keep my brain sharp), I do at least one crossword, one cryptogram, and one soduko a day. Does it help? I don't know but I'm having fun and acing the crossword type clues on Jeopardy! Oh yeah, and I watch Jeopardy as well.
8. Emotional Health. In 2009, I was continuing thought processes that started in childhood. That saying "no" to requests wasn't the right thing to do. That my needs were not as important as others, or that doing what I needed was selfish. Well..... I don't feel that way anymore. Saying no is critical to my well-being. And that doesn't mean I'm not helpful - I still am. I'll go out of my way to help others. But, if I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of others properly. So when I'm feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do, I can certainly say "no" now. And if I need something I get it. So along with improving other areas of my life, I've been working on myself. And I'm a lot happier for it.
9. Location. In 2009, I was living in coop in a suburban village in Westchester County NY. What a great place to raise a family! Everything was walkable. We could walk to dinner, the school, grocery store, or anywhere else we needed to be. The town was on the Hudson River and we would head down to the riverfront for free evening concerts in the summer. The village had some fun family events. For example, they closed the streets to traffic on Halloween and the kids could trick or treat at all the businesses. Now in 2019, I'm living in a more rural area in a single family home. Nothing is really walkable, so if I need to go to a store, I have to hop in the car. Both places are totally different from each other, but both fit the needs of my life at the time.
10. Learning. In life, we are always learning something. In the last ten years, I learned that I care a lot less about what other people think of me, and a lot more of what I think of me. I've learned more about what makes me me, and what makes me happy. And I've learned what I don't want in my life and removed it. I've learned that I feel much more alive if I face what fears me. I've learned that I want to spend whatever time I have left living in the moment, enjoying whatever I do have, and not worrying about what I don't. I've learned that while life can be hard, it can also be amazing. And I've learned that I want to experience everything with an optimistic and grateful attitude.
And there you have it, my last ten years. I can't wait to see what the next ten bring.