Donna-Ryan-headshot

Tape Measure

I have been feeling overwhelmed for the past few months. My husband Kevin and I have wanted to move out of our Queens, New York apartment for way over a year, and after lots of soul searching we decided that Atlanta, Georgia is our next address.

I’m relieved that we finally made a choice, and now I’m impatient to move on. I want this chapter of our lives to be done. What are we bringing, tossing, donating, selling?  How are we getting all of this accomplished?  At times I feel like we go five steps forward and ten backwards. I’m impatient – and I feel apprehensive, too.

But I learned a great lesson one afternoon.  I came home from work early because of a stomach bug.  I was resting on the couch, flipping channels on my remote, and I stopped on an episode of the Dr. Phil Show.

On the stage was a long tape measure, and he had a couple standing on the numbers indicating their ages: 65 and 67. Dr. Phil had them face them in the direction of the beginning of the tape and said all this time is gone.  (They were having a conflict with a family member, and they couldn’t seem to leave the sadness behind them and move on.)  If you are not going to enjoy life now, Dr. Phil asked, when are you going to do it?

​Looking back at the tape measure of own my life, I realize I’ve been making excuses to remain tight in a bud versus the risk I’m taking now to finally blossom – to move to a new home, in some ways to start a new life. And I know that the apprehensive feelings I have are the signs of my change.

But I can’t change anyone except myself, just like that couple couldn’t change the family member they were arguing with. And despite my desire to change, I’m not in charge of what happens as I start our new life.  I can hope, pray and try my best to plan, but the reality is none of us are or ever were in charge of what happens.  We are only in charge of how we react.

​​​From time to time I read my old blog posts and they feel like postcards of past journeys.  It is important for me to keep creating new postcards for the journey I’m beginning.

It is now 9:45 p.m., and we’ve returned from a delightful day spent on Long Island with family. My impatience got the better of me this morning, and I slammed my laptop shut because it was taking too long to update. But I’m going to open the laptop again, and continue the story I began. This is the way to mark the tape measure of life. These are the moments we pack and bring along with us.

Donna Ryan, a frequent contributor to thirdAGE, edits the blog 50plusstickingtogether.

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