Bruce and I are now into week two of him working part time from home, and friends and family have been inquiring, "How is it going?" Some ask based on their own experiences of transitioning from working full-time outside the home to part-time work of some sort or to full retirement--whatever that is! Others inquire with the view of change looming ahead in their own future. Still others are simply kind and curious and good at asking questions.
I can say without hesitation that this new lifestyle is good. Bruce is happy, and I am happy, too. We have not yet discovered any problems to solve or areas where we need to be more considerate of each other or where we are getting in each other's way. Yet. Of course, that will come. The novelty will wear off, but so far so good, and that as Martha Stewart always says is a "good thing."
By the end of the first week, however, I realized how tired I was. True, last week was not only Bruce's first week at home, but we also had the grands with us for a couple days and the grand dog with us for additional days; the painter here late afternoons finishing a complicated project which kept the house in a mild state of unsettledness; a garage sale in process for three days, and …who knows what else. I am too tired to remember!
Even so I am aware enough to know that all the activity is not the total source of weariness. Frankly, I am not used to the amount of interaction which is now part of our day to day life. As an introvert, I adjusted quite easily and naturally to the quiet days I had all these months from Sunday afternoon to Thursday evenings when Bruce was in Madison working. I wasn't quite a hermit, but most of the time I chose when to interact, to be with people.
Now there is someone else in the house. That someone calls up the stairs to the garret, "Can I come up?" Of course. I want him to come up here. I want to enjoy the ease of conversation, instead of only communicating via text or email or phone--we have never been good phone talkers and such interchanges usually left us dissatisfied. Still, I need to adjust. Like turning up the thermostat when the temperature drops, I need to turn up my ability, my willingness, for unplanned, incidental, spontaneous, in passing sorts of discourse. I am not complaining. I'm just noticing and am aware.
Having the ability to chit chat during the day is different from the days when he would return home at the end of the day, and we could share the day's comings and goings. Now we are experiencing sharing as we go along. Certainly, many of those dinnertime conversations were less than satisfying, for he would be tired from a long, full day, and many days I would not have much of interest to contribute. I may have had a routine domestic day of loads of laundry and groceries purchased or I may have had an inner-directed day of writing, thinking, listening to my own soul work. Much may have been percolating, but was not yet available for sharing. Those end of the day times together had their own challenges, but we adapted and forgave the lapses, knowing they were temporary.
Now there are new challenges. This time has the potential to be one of holy delight, but that means adapting and adjusting and being willing to open to new ways of being with one another. Paula Huston in her book A Season of Mystery, 10 Spiritual Practices for Embracing A Happier Second Half of Life gives some sound and clear advice.
…we must first give up our notions about what should
or should not be. We must be willing to let go of
personal preference or too much concern about what
might inconvenience us. We must resist becoming anxious
when things don't go our way. For an overly controlling
stance is the enemy of delight. p. 19
I hope I am up for the challenge. I want to be and intend to be, for, I know, ultimately we will both reap the rewards. Bringing who we are into this time and space, we can come to know each other in deeper and more profound ways. This is an opportunity for a new kind of presence to each other and to ourselves as spiritual beings.
Yesterday afternoon I retreated to my garret to read and write in my journal and to nap as well. Bruce was at his desk when I walked up the stairs. Later he took the grand dog for a walk, and I thought for a moment about joining them, but I could feel I was not ready to leave the solitude I carved for myself. Soon, I said to myself, but at the moment I was not quite ready to adjust the thermostat to a more congenial and conversational temperature. Just give me a few minutes.
Where is your thermostat set for daily interactions? Does there need to be some adjustment? What have you experienced when there has been a change in your lifestyle? I would love to know.