Musings by a Phoenix Currently Made of Ash

I’ve undergone some drastic personal renovations of late. Like the mythic phoenix, (remember Fawkes in the Harry Potter books) I have burst into flames, reduced to a pile of ashes.

Unlike Fawkes’ miraculous rebirth, mine has been much slower. And on so many different, interconnected fronts.

Physical Change

On the last weekend of September, 2014, I tore the meniscus (in two places) in my right knee. After thousands of dollars of physiotherapy, an MRI, a family doctor who referred me to a sports medicine doctor, who referred me to a surgeon, I had orthoscopic surgery to repair the tears. More physiotherapy and I was ALMOST “better”. The better was an illusion though, and soon I found myself relying on the cane again.

I’ve come to the emotional conclusion that I will never be “better” in the true sense of the word. The cane will be a permanent accessory. My blue parking pass might need to be renewed when the expiry date approaches. My days of being completely and utterly self-sufficient are over.

Lack of self-sufficiency is probably the most difficult piece with respect to my physical changes. I like doing things myself. I like being capable of mowing my own lawn, shoveling my own driveway, and cleaning my own house. Sure I don’t exactly ENJOY doing these tasks, but NOT being able to do them is way, way worse. Not being “able” means pestering my kids to help. Or, alternatively, paying strangers to do the work. These financial and emotional costs are difficult to bear.

I also had a milestone birthday this year. My age once again ends in a zero. And I have to say that meeting this particular birthday with a cane in my hand is a nasty harbinger for my future. I’m not sure if, or when, I will ever completely come to terms with this new, older, “broken” me.

Ultimately, I want to re-introduce exercise into my life. Every day I don’t use my exercise bike and turn my back on my physiotherapy exercises, I know I’m doing myself a disservice and my mood will be all the grumpier because of it. But after a year of physio, I need to step away from it, at least until the thought of doing these exercises feels less ugly.

Relational Change

My relationship metamorphosis involved breaking off my seven+ year relationship. While any disentanglement takes time, I am working through it.

Organizational Change

My need for order took over at a fundamental level this past September. As an easy way to reclaim order, I focused on my immediate surroundings. Specifically my house.

The order began with a purge of one cupboard after a trip to the grocery store. I re-organized the soup, pulling the cans from the back and discovering a few had gone well past their expiry dates. One shelf turned to several, until I’d completely purged my kitchen.

Next, I moved my focus to my closets. The front hall closet, which hasn’t closed properly in ages, has been tamed and organized. My walk-in closet is also much tidier. I have yet to tackle the guest room closet, but that work requires plaster and paint, and the re-installation of closet shelving. I can’t tackle a renovation right now.

In tandem, I’ve been working on the greater, structural aspects of my home. After months of waiting, I had my roof re-done. Three days of mess and noise, plus one hefty payment, and that task is done. The roofer recommended an eaves repair company, and after some minor repairs, they installed leaf guards. So I won’t be scrambling every fall to find someone to de-ickify my eaves.

After enduring the fiasco that is “getting a bunch of quotes”, I signed a snow-removal contract and enlisted the aid of a new housecleaning service, solving the issue of keeping my house clean and my driveway clear with a bum knee. As a bonus, these quotes produced leads on landscapers to deal with the gardening I didn’t/can’t get to. (My knee surgery just happened to coincide with the beginning of the 2015 gardening season.) I also tidied my shed and garage to make room for my vehicles for the impending winter.

Because…you know I have to say it…winter is coming!

Financial Change

On the financial front, I’ve recently endured a minor audit by the Canada Revenue Agency. They always seem to sense the absolute worst time to mail their letters to the unsuspecting.

I visited with a lawyer to update my will and powers of attorney. My children are at very different stages now than when I wrote up my last papers. Of course, the visit only opened my eyes to more details that need to be investigated and/or considered before the drafts can be drawn up. That means more phone calls, more meetings, blah, blah, blah.

As much as these sorts of matters make most of us feel uneasy, taking tiny steps feels good. Don’t wait. I’ve lost too many friends and relatives recently.

Spiritual Change

I’m not a devout person. I probably lean closer to an agnostic than an atheist, but I’m still, technically, a Christian. I’m not going to suddenly join a church, (a bit ironic, considering my last name) but I do feel as though I need something more. A deeper understanding of myself.

I’m certain my recent ends-in-a-zero birthday has contributed to my yearning for more. As does my change in physical ability. Meditation helps, so I’ve been doing more of it.

But introspection tends to be only half the recipe. I need to interact with others. And while the convention circuit, combined with my authorly appearances, helps somewhat, my knee limits the size and number of these activities. I need another outlet for socialization. Like a club, or volunteering. Cue the research, phone calls, list-making etc.

Final Thoughts

I am slowly growing my phoenix feathers out of the ash. One day, one hour, one phone call, one appointment at a time. I don’t much like being a metaphorical pile of ash, but it certainly beats the alternative.

Onwards and upwards…