Friday, July 12, 2019

Finally, The Summer Of Nance

Seventeen years ago Rick had his first back surgery. That summer, the boys were teenagers, seventeen and fourteen. They were a big help to me while their dad had to lie and sit, not bending or twisting or lifting. He spent a lot of that summer lying on a chaise out by the fishpond or lying in his recliner whilst we did pretty much everything under his careful observation and, when it came to the yardwork, his gentle specifications. Most of the time, however, we teased him about lolling around and goofing off. And we dubbed that summer The Summer Of Rick. It was All About Him, for we had to pick up his slack and haul around his chaise. And we babied him a lot.

"Next year look out," I warned him. "Next year is The Summer Of Nance." I wanted my payback, my chance to lie about and enjoy a sultan-like existence. I don't need to tell you how Life had other plans, year after year, and I kept waiting and waiting for The Summer Of Nance.

This past winter Rick had another back surgery. Dear friends moved out of state. My mother was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and needed more help. In May I suddenly turned sixty years old. Life seemed very...big.

And then I realized, with the help of a very wise friend, that if I was going to have The Summer Of Nance, I was going to have to simply make it happen, that it was a matter of Perspective, and that it started with me, internally. I had to choose to have an Independence Day, and celebrate from there.

Sixty was my Pivot Point, my Liberation Day. I thought about how long I had lived with the shadowy presences of Guilt, Should, and Worry clouding my days. I took a hard look at how often I lived in two days I could do nothing about, Yesterday and Tomorrow. I analyzed all the stupid rules I made for myself about how I spent my time and conducted my life, and I looked carefully at just where they came from. And I wondered why I was so kind and forgiving and thoughtful to everyone except myself.

I decided that, at Sixty, it was about time Those Days Were Over. The only thing preventing me from having The Summer Of Nance was...Me. Me and the consistently bad (but well-meaning) choices I made.

I think as a woman, a mother, and a teacher, I was in a particulary vulnerable role, susceptible to the kind of mindset I was in for so long. I was the director, the planner, the nurturer, the command center, the fixer, the rule giver. And that's just the Adult Me. Habits formed in those roles are hard to break.

The benefits of Reclaiming Me have been many. I'm reading books again, and that is a profound Joy. My migraines are lessening, and my days are busy and happy. I don't think about Tomorrow or dwell upon Yesterday; I'm very content in Today. Guilt is almost completely gone, and I rarely use the word Should.

I sometimes mourn--briefly--the time I lost being so stressed and unhappy. But I know there were many Happinesses tucked away in there, and I know that I always did the very best that I could.

When I was about fourteen, I went to the doctor because I couldn't take deep breaths. I was simply unable to. The doctor, an elderly man who practiced family medicine in a pragmatic way, checked me over and listened to my chest with his stethoscope. He thumped my back a few times and pronounced me perfectly healthy. Nothing changed, really, for the remainder of my life. It was only a few months ago that I realized that I was finally able to breathe--deeply and fully--whenever I wanted to. Can you imagine?

So, this is The Summer Of Nance. I wish with all my heart that it is Your Summer, too.


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17 comments:

  1. Hip, hip, hurray! Let the Summer of Nance be the best darned summer that ever was. I like your thinking and I'm always pleased when someone says they're no longer saying "should." Don't let the world should on you. One of my favorite sayings ever. Carry on...

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    1. Ally Bean--Thank you. I never realized the power of that one little auxiliary verb before. It's really quite a bitch: judgy, guilt-inspiring, nasty, and defeating. Think how different sentences could be if one substituted the word "might." Instead of saying "I should clean out the refrigerator today", say "I might clean out the refrigerator today." What a difference!

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  2. Congratulations on your own, personal Independence Day and the Summer of Nance. Make it count!

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    1. Jean--Thank you, and I certainly am!

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  3. I wish ................I will just have to enjoy the Summer of Nance vicariously.

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    1. Dee--As I said to Meredith below, start with an Hour Of Dee. All revolutions start with a single step.

      I'm not lolling around Doing Nothing this summer. Quite the contrary. But I'm doing way more of the things I Want To Do and letting a lot of other stuff loose. And not feeling guilty about it.

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  4. Bravo Nance, Bravo! I am so proud of you. As for those deep breaths, well run your fingers under your rib cage and if there is a tender spot just stay there and massage until it loosens and then move on to the next spot. So many of the kids I work with have tight diaphragm muscles from years of shortened breaths, anxiety and such. You need to do this and you will be amazed at just how much you are still holding onto. I need a summer of Meredith, but I think Little B has to be older before that can be accomplished. Maybe I can start with an hour for Meredith and work up from there.

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    1. Meredith--Thanks for the helpful advice. I'll definitely take it; it makes a lot of sense.

      Your idea of an Hour For Meredith is terrific. That's how I started. All revolutions start with a single step, you know.

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  5. It definitely is my summer as well. I'm off chemo!!!

    It's a great idea to have the Summer of Nance in absence of an illness or convalescence. It's a shame Rick wasted his summer recovering from surgery. Yours is free and clear. Turn it all loose and let it go. Do only things your enjoy and stay away from the "news." Take a deep breath (yes, you can do it now) and let it out. The Summer of Nance has officially begun. I'm very happy for you.

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    1. NCmountainwoman--I read your fantastic news and am thrilled that you are having The Summer Of YOU! What a fantastic report! What joy!

      Thanks for some good advice and for sharing my joy as well.

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  6. I had the summer of Dana a couple of years ago when my hip gave out on me. I just lolled about & let other people take care of me. It was great (except for the pain whenever I tried to walk). I highly recommend & approve your kind of summer - ENJOY!!!

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    1. Bug--I recall that Summer Of Dana. You spent some time being pushed around (in a wheelchair). I think I like being on both legs for My Summer, but there will definitely be some lolling about here and there. Enjoy your summer as well.

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  7. I am having the year of surgery. A real downer. Hopefully I look forward to fall. Gladdened by your post about your summer and content.

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    1. Mary G--Thank you for being happy for me.

      I'm terribly sorry about all your Repairs. It is my hope that everything sorts out with you feeling much better and moving about pain-free. Please take good care of yourself and don't overdo.

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  8. Oh goodness, how wonderful! I took yoga years ago, and I remember our instructor taught us about the Niyamas, one of which is Ishtar Pranidhana - Surrender. I was churning at the time, having trouble really breathing and being present in my life. So I concentrated on surrender. Surrender to joy, to calm, to today. To the happiness that wants to get in. Your post reminded me of that, so thank you. I am going to try to focus on it again. Not easy, and sometimes impossible (found out recently that one of my sisters has cancer, starts treatment tomorrow)....surrendering to that news without giving up, that will be a challenge, but probably not a bad one to attempt.

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    1. j@jj--Oh, Julie. I'm so sorry to hear this news about your family. What a Sadness it is! It's a helpless feeling to get bad/sad news of a loved one from a distance. It immediately doubles and triples that distance and hurts so much.

      Yes, you're right about the Ishvara Pranidhana-esque nature of my realization. It is all about surrendering that false sense of Control and letting in the Joy of whatever Today has in store. Surrendering without giving up--I like the distinction.

      Take care, my friend. I will hope for the best.

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  9. This is just great Nance! Enjoy your summer of Nance...and maybe make it a Year or a Lifetime of Nance. No one should be saddled with "shoulds" and guilt, etc. Woo-hoo for you. Maybe some fireworks are in order?

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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