INNER RESOURCES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother used to tell me how important it is to have ‘inner resources.’ I nodded and agreed but never really understood what she meant. As a retired person, I finally get what she was talking about.

Coincidentally, my husband, Tom, always preached to me that I had to be comfortable living alone. I lived home during college and I spent a total of four months living alone during law school before I moved in with my first husband. That’s it for my entire life. After law school, I was married. Married with kids, divorced with kids, remarried with kids and now retired and married with no kids at home, just dogs.

I didn’t think that Tom’s mantra about being able to live alone, applied to my life.

Now I realize that my Mom’s ‘inner resources’ and Tom’s ‘living alone’ are really the same thing. While retired, I’m technically not alone, but for a good part of each day, Tom and I ‘do our own things.’ Tom loves video games and can play them for hours and hours. He also voraciously reads the news and watches news on TV for hours a day. He has projects around the house and on the boat. He has inner resources and can be alone. In other words, he has the ability to entertain himself, by himself for long periods of time, every day.

I don’t do video games though I watch a lot of Food Network and HGTV shows. I read the news but much less exhaustively than Tom. That leaves a lot of hours each day to be filled while Tom shoots bad guys and solves the problems of the world.

I used to be an avid reader so I could entertain myself endlessly with the books piled up on my nightstand. I always had a tower of books I wanted to read waiting patiently for me to get to them. I didn’t know it until I was recently diagnosed, but I have always had ADD. It has gotten worse since menopause, which is common. So now it’s hard for me to sit for hours and read. It’s hard for me to do anything for hours without getting up and walking around or doing something else for a while.

I’m often antsy.

The ADD medication worked wonderfully and I could sit still and read to my heart’s content. But the medication also kept me up till the wee hours of the morning and I had to stop it if I wanted to sleep normally again. I may go back to taking a pill once or twice a week, but I have other medical issues I have to square away first.

So now I’m left with hours and hours a day of unstructured time I can’t automatically fill with a good book. Writing blogs has occupied a lot of my time as has writing for and promoting my audio theater group.

There are still days that contain periods of ‘nothing to do’. That’s where the inner resources and being able to be alone come into play. I somehow manage to find things to do that don’t just kill time. I come up with projects around the house or errands to run or I spend extra time working with the dogs on their obedience training (sit, down, stay and come is as far as I’ve gotten so far). I text and call friends and stay in closer touch than I used to be able to and I read in short increments.

I actually enjoy days when I don’t have to leave the house. They are comforting in some ways and also prove to myself that I have what my mother worked so hard to instill in me – inner resources!

I’m comfortable with myself and happy in my own company. I can stay occupied by myself when I need to.

Thanks, Mom!