Change of seasons

By Jeanne Reynolds

Our neighbors — catty-corner behind us to the left — are closing on the sale of their home this week.

But they are way more than just neighbors, and this is way more than just a real estate transaction. For almost the past quarter century, my husband and I “grew up” as a married couple with their generous, kind and loving example of what it means to be a family, a neighbor and a friend.

And we’re happy for them as they move full-time to their retirement dream home on the lake, near the mountains. (OK, let’s be honest, it’s not the geography but the grandkids singing the siren song.) But happy in a bittersweet kind of way.

I mean, we get it: We’ve also built our someday-retirement home, albeit in the opposite direction in the lowcountry as opposed to the upstate. But we’re still straddling both worlds — and we’re not ready for them to leave ours.

In fact, lately it feels like a stream of friends are moving on in their lives. Another set of neighbors on the same street moved earlier this year, and our financial planners who’ve also become wonderful friends are selling their Columbia house in favor of their mountain home. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. We’re all about the same age. And we’re all gradually moving to a new season in life.

Autumn Maple leaf transition

My new season became more of a reality when I semi-retired the middle of this year. It’s given me the flexibility to try some new writing ventures and to spend more time smelling salt air and pluff mud. I’m still figuring it out, but that’s part of the fun.

Another change involves this blog: This will be my last post, at least for now. It’s a little bit scary to give up something I’ve enjoyed so much for the past two years. Where else will I find the creative license to write about whatever pops in my head or feels closest to my heart at that moment?

But two things: One, like our neighbors moving to the lake, it’s the right time. And two, (which I also fervently hope is like our departing friends) it’s not an ending. It’s a change of seasons.

Thank you so much to those who’ve taken time to read my ramblings. I hope our paths will cross again someday. Meanwhile, I’ll tell you the same thing I plan to tell those neighbors:

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the rain fall softly on your fields.

And until we meet again, may God hold you gently in the palm of his hands.

 

If Change Is Good for You, Why Is It So Hard?

By: Jeanne Reynolds

Ever since we got married, my husband and I have shared a dream for our retirement that would combine our love of the North Carolina mountains and the South Carolina lowcountry. We’d have two small homes — one in the Asheville area and one near the coast — and split our time between them. We’d have the best of both worlds.

We searched for months and years and eventually bought lovely lots in beautiful areas: one in Mills River, between Hendersonville and Asheville, and one on Cat Island, minutes from Beaufort. Toward the end of the recession, thinking construction costs were about as low as they were going to get, we started building the first of these homes. If you’ve read any of my earlier posts, you know it’s right on the marsh and immediately became my happy place. We planned to build the mountain home several years later, when we retired and sold our home in the Midlands.

Everything is going according to plan, right? Well … yes and no. We soon found owning and maintaining two homes is a bigger challenge than we expected. And the final price tag of the new home was significantly higher than we originally anticipated. On top of that, the taxes, homeowners’ dues and road assessments on the other lot meant we were writing checks every year for the privilege of owning something we wouldn’t benefit from for many years.

So we made the difficult decision to let the mountain property go, and satisfy our summer cravings for cooler, leafy surroundings by renting from time to time. But during more than a year on the market, we didn’t get even the tiniest nibble of interest. It was so long, the listing agreement lapsed and we didn’t even remember our agent’s name.

That was until a couple of weeks ago, when out of the blue he called to tell us someone wanted to look at our lot. Within days we had a signed contract, with a closing rapidly approaching.

And now, suddenly, I’m sad. Relieved, but sad.

It’s hard to let go of a dream, even when you know it’s the right thing to do. It’s hard when your head and your heart are in different places. Sometimes it’s hard to admit when your dreams themselves have changed — that might mean admitting you yourself have changed, in a way you didn’t plan.

However, I’m making a conscious decision not to second-guess our decision. That means separating sadness from regret, because regret is a waste of time. Learning from past mistakes is one thing, but wallowing in the “what ifs” and “should haves” is unproductive, and constantly looking backward instead of forward can be dangerous (remember what happened to Lot’s wife).

Change may be good for us, but sometimes it’s just hard. And that’s OK.

How Weight Loss Changed Me

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

“Are you dating anyone?”

That was the third question my internist, Dr. Brad Word, asked when I stopped by Columbia Medical Group for some blood work.

His nurse, Teresa, shot him a dirty look and said, “Why do you ask that just because she’s lost weight? She’s still the same person she was before she lost weight.”

In his defense, Dr. Word always asks me that question; it’s usually about the third one. He is a family doctor in every sense of the word, no pun intended, and when one of us see him, it’s like we all see him. He always asks about the family first; in this case, he asked how my mother and sister were doing. Dr. Word isn’t hitting on me, nor is he a nosy doc; the question and my resulting answer, he says, gives him a barometer my mood.

Back to his question, “Are you dating anyone?”

I laughed it off and gave one of my usual flip answers: “No, can you believe it?” or “Why? Do you have someone in mind?” But later that night, I recalled his nurse’s reaction and wondered if I was really the same person I was before I lost weight.

To quote Madonna, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”  When I compare my self of today with my self from 85 lbs. ago, I’d say that I’m the same, but a little better.  Mary Pat 2.0, if you will.

My fundamental self, that person I am deep down, has stayed the same. I still root for the underdog, play Devil’s advocate and use humor to avoid familiarity. I procrastinate. I am competitive, obsessive-compulsive and rebellious. I don’t like the status quo, and heaven knows, I still have the same hips, just a little smaller.

On the flip side, since I’ve lost weight, I’m more direct and stand up for myself more. I am more confident. I take a few more risks. I’m more forgiving of my mistakes, not as hard on myself as before. While my sister would say that I still seek the spotlight, I’d say that I’m more comfortable staying behind the scenes and giving credit to others. On a superficial note, I’m smaller, and my clothes look better. And after years of short styles, I’m growing out my hair.

Not all of the changes have been positive. I find myself less tolerant of those with unhealthy lifestyles. Because I had such an unhealthy lifestyle for so long, I have a hard time understanding that one. I’m also less social because I have less free time and still haven’t figured out how to manage social events that revolve around food and drink.

As I move into the second year of this new lifestyle, the changes are evening out. I’m working on losing the last five pounds and building strength, but the physical changes are slowing down. The things that were first so challenging and disruptive at first – grocery shopping, cooking, working out – have become more comfortable routines. The overwhelming high of “finally losing the weight” is being replaced by the steady satisfaction of attaining wellness and enjoying the resulting benefits. Finally, I’m getting used to the person that I see in the mirror.

But am I dating anyone? Why? Do you have someone in mind?

How have you changed as a result of a lifestyle change? Was that change temporary or permanent? Were the changes welcome or disruptive? What advice can you give someone who goes through a significant lifestyle change?