The following post is a story written by our fellow Stitch member Patricia K. from Florida. Patricia has recently relocated from Florida to Denver, Colorado and she hopes to meet new friends on Stitch.
Patricia has a huge heart and has embraced life’s roller coaster to the fullest. We are so thrilled that she has offered to share her story and thoughtful advice – She is a true inspiration!
One of life’s certainties, change, seems to those of us over 50 to continuously speed up. It used to be that I just had a sense that time passed more quickly. Now, it seems that changes come more frequently and with more intensity. Whether it’s a change in lifestyle due to job loss or divorce or death or a change in mobility due to health issues, the changes feel more impactful being older.
On the stress meter, I’m sure my decision to get divorced, leave my home of 20 years and move from balmy south Florida to chilly Colorado is a big bell ringer. Especially since I did it all in 5 months. But, I knew it was the right thing to do and threw myself into it. Sold the house, gave lots of things away, had a number of teary farewells, visited the beach one more time and wheels up!
Welcome or not, changes by definition require adaptation. Facing change without a broad network of support is daunting. I am very blessed to have a close, loving and supportive son who welcomed my move cross country to be near him. But, we all need community as well.
Just by chance, I landed in a great place with wonderful neighbors who have a very strong sense of community. I was welcomed immediately. They are friendly, open and caring. More than once, I have been lucky enough to rely on them for the kind of things we all are looking to find on Stitch, a laugh, some solid and trustworthy advice, and some reassurance that yes, life has changed but life goes on and is wonderful in some ways that are unpredictable.
I wanted to find something to do that would get me out of my place and my comfort zone immediately so I would start to live life here. I’ve always loved libraries so I checked out the volunteer opportunities and applied for a docent position in the Community Technology Center. My first day on the schedule was a week after I arrived. It was great leaving my “Major Transition” world of “Where is it?” and walking into “What is it that I can help you with?”
I highly recommend this as an initial step for anyone who is facing any kind of big change. Find others to get you outside yourself and your own challenges. Give some of your compassion and talents and share with others who have different challenges. You will find that it will bring you more joy and satisfaction than you could ever imagine.
My first shift at the Tech Center really opened my eyes to the fact that despite desperate circumstances, people’s basic humanity is often intact. Our computer stations are modular circles for 6 patrons each. A teenage mom with a 5-month-old baby in a stroller asked for my help in finishing and printing a job application. I told her that it would cost her 20 cents to print out the two pages. “Oh, I don’t have any money with me. I guess I’ll have to come back later.” An elderly homeless woman was at the next computer. She overheard the girl and reached into a bag on the top of her overloaded shopping cart and pulled out two dimes and placed them on the desk. “Here dear,” she simply said. The young mom was so surprised and touched by her kindness and replied, “That is so nice of you. Thank you so much. Would you please watch my baby while Patricia shows me how to print this out?” “I’d love to watch your baby.” The woman was smiling from ear to ear.
I glanced back from the print station while the mom and I were waiting for her resume to appear. The old lady was cooing and so was the baby. Both were totally engaged in each other. It was a beautiful experience for all of us. I saw people’s basic humanity and kindness. The two women, young and old from very different circumstances, connected and brought happiness to each other through sharing what gifts they had. And lucky me, I witnessed it and it filled my heart with joy.
My days there remind me how very fortunate I am and how privileged I am to have had the wherewithal to withstand the changes I sought. It eases the stress to be engaged in community and be participating in making a difference. It also makes the world seem less scary when I see people who, despite their own hard times, reach out and help those around them.
The second thing I did was find a ballroom. I haven’t participated in ballroom dancing in a few years but as I walked up the steps alone that first evening, I thought, “ Chapter One, Page One of the New Volume in My Life.” Yes, I was a bit nervous. It felt like the first day of school. But, I did it anyway. I jumped in and took Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do at least one thing a day that scares you.” It did scare me so I decided to take a group lesson before the dance. That way, I got to meet some people and we laughed together as we struggled together learning a new dance. I asked for advice on dance venues and great places to go. They shared their knowledge with me. Some of them wanted to know about vacationing in Florida and I gave them the scoop. Reciprocity is a beautiful thing. That’s one reason I love dancing. Plus, it keeps you moving and that’s really important the older you get.
Finally, I just happened to see an article about Stitch online. I was curious. I investigated and liked what I read. Next thing you know, I decided to drop them a line and see if I could get involved.
I think Stitch provides a curated resource that is always available. It’s like LinkedIn but it’s personal. No matter how excited or resilient we are to face the challenges of getting older, we need help. We’ve always needed help but being of our generation, we want it on our terms whenever possible. Stitch let’s us do that. We will not go gently into the good night. We will be vibrant, interested and sharing as long as possible. Thanks to opportunities like Stitch, we can do that independently. As much as we need and want community, we are determined to define it for ourselves.
So if you’re facing a transition of your own, don’t be all consumed by it. Reach out for resources to help you; preserve your sanity and bring a bit of light and laughter back despite the circumstances. Seems to me that Stitch can help us hold it together!
Have you faced a big life transition of your own? Share with us in the comments section below.
If you have a story to share, let us know and you could be in the next Stitch Member Spotlight!