“No matter how heavy the challenges we face in our life, embrace optimism, perseverance, tenacity and courage” Angelica Hopes
There are many articles, lectures, and advice via social media about successfully transitioning to retirement. One-piece I particularly like is by Bruce Feiler. In the article, he introduces a term called “lifequakes” – moments in the life of great personal upheaval. One way to survive them and thrive in spite of them is to start with your superpower.
Lifequake is exactly how I would describe the Covid-19 pandemic. For retirees, it put a stop to many of the plans they had. They were told to shelter in place or stay at home as much as possible. Families and friends were suddenly cut off. Many of the activities they were involved in abruptly ended.
The people I am going to introduce you to in this blog series have taken a healthy and proactive approach to create multifaceted lives during these unprecedented times by using their superpower: tenacity. It is helping them adapt and achieve.
Eileen B. moved to the Northern Virginia area from New York to be close to her daughter and her two beloved grandchildren. Not one to sit around, she joined a local senior center to participate in one exercise class and was soon on her way to leading a very full life.
In addition to helping out with the grandkids, she ran the center’s busy social committee, taught a variety of classes, including a popular genealogy class. She also served on the center’s advisory group where she spearheaded several community service projects. Once a year she and a cousin would spend a month in Florida relaxing and enjoying the warm weather. However, in March 2020 all that came to an abrupt stop.
Eileen cut her Florida vacation short and quickly returned to Northern Virginia as information about the pandemic started becoming direr. The reason for her urgency she tells me was that “things were starting to close down fast and I didn’t want to get stuck far away from my family.”
While she returned to her home, which was close to her family, Eileen didn’t get to return to the same level of involvement she had before she traveled to Florida. The senior center shut down. Her apartment building stopped all social programs. Eileen followed the advice of her Doctors by making sure she took all the necessary precautions to stay safe which severely limited her opportunities to socialize.
She was determined to make the best of the situation. She has a self-care program where she commits to having one thing to do each day. Whether it is leading her genealogy class on Zoom; conducting Advisory Committee business; talking to her family on Facetime; sitting outside talking with neighbors (observing social distancing guidelines) or cleaning the kitchen; Eileen says it’s important in these uncertain situations to prioritize what’s important. Health, family and friends should be at the top.
It’s crucial, especially for those who are struggling with the social isolation brought on by the pandemic, to have someone who will look out for them. Eileen checks in with friends she knows haven’t left their homes since last March. Her motto has always been “Life from now on is what you want it to be”. She wants people to know that “things might be hard right now but there is a future.”
She is certainly looking forward to the day when she can hug her grandchildren and socialize with friends at a restaurant. For now, though, she is going to rely on her tenacity to get her through each day in a positive way. Tenacity is indeed a superpower.