Change Is Afoot with the Flatmates!

Ann here. If you’ve been keeping up with the Flatmate posts (although, I know they’ve been infrequent), you know that “change is afoot.” Let me catch you up.

Dina and I have split up. No, not because we got angry, or tired of one another, but because two things happened. First, our apartment (which we rented) was sold from under us. So, second, I decided to leave NYC and move back to Austin, TX to be closer to my son. Dina is apartment hunting still in NYC. We talk regularly and miss each other terribly.

I am now settling into a new co-housing arrangement in Austin with an old friend. I’m in my room, but not unpacked. My new flatmate is Lee. I’m sharing her beautiful house. So, we will now be changing our byline to: Co-housing adventures and fun in Austin, TX.

Lee may or may not join in and write, but mostly it will be me. If it’s interesting to you, let me know. So many of you keep in touch and I’d like to keep this going. If this change has pushed you away, I understand.

Actually, in all fairness, Lee and I will be joining with other seniors looking for opportunities to seek funding and develop a “co-housing”community. You know I totally believe in the whole home/apartment sharing momentum … so stay tuned.

For now, that’s my update. It’s hot in Austin – was 102 yesterday, but my new car has great air conditioning. I’m adjusting to my new lifestyle here, missing all the walking and public transportation options and fun of NY. I’m a bit daunted about making or renewing friends here, finding new work options. However, being resourceful and friendly, I think it will all work out. I already have some playdates on my calendar. My biggest fear – gaining weight without all the walking :)

So, as I said, “stay tuned.”

Time…and Again

It’s time for Ann to leave the apartment. She’s decided to spend her last three weeks in NYC at the home of a friend, and by the end of August she’ll be back in Austin.

Over these few months, I’ve been watching her pare down her property, selling her bed, donating her heavy winter clothes and tossing old prints in frames too heavy to make the “art” box for shipping. I’ve been listening to whatever she’s wanted to share about this experience. I have to say, I’ve been pretty stoic about it all.

To say we’ve loved our run as Senior Flatmates would not be putting too fine a point on it, and I know Ann would agree with the sentiment. We’ve learned a lot about putting two strangers—with very different looks and lifestyles—together to figure out harmony and connection in a shared space. We’ve done a good job, and now I am going to step back and hand over our blog to Ann as she anticipates beginning a new “Flatmates” relationship in Texas.

This is my last official blog as a Senior Flatmate. Sometime in the near future, you—and I—will look forward to reading about Ann’s new adventure, as well as, perhaps, getting the perspective from her new “mate”. I’m sure you will continue to enjoy and connect with their experiences, and I’m also sure that you, as I, wish them both success and fun.

As I wish you all. Thanks for listening!

Dina
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We’ve Been Through a Lot Together

Dina and IWhen I moved into the apartment with Dina in December 2011, little did I know how important this relationship would become to both of us. In reflecting back, we’ve been through so much together. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gotten through some of mine without Dina’s friendship, and I’ll bet she would say the same thing.

For me:  I had another couple of cancer scares; my son had Cancer (he’s fine now); I stopped some medication and went into full-blown anxiety reactions (not fun to be around). For Dina: She had a scary illness (she’s fine); her Dad’s illness and death; the ongoing support and care of her 93-year old Mother. And, we went through 4 Winters together. For me, that’s a big deal. I don’t love Winter and complain and stay in a great deal. Dina was patient with me.

Throughout it all, we kept a sense of humor, constant contact and check-ins with each other. We’ve really been there. Of course, a few glasses of wine helped, too.

In reflecting, I can honestly say that, even though I was married for 25 years and felt emotionally supported by my husband, the personal touch of one woman’s understanding of another is quite something to be treasured.

Now, as we start our separation from each other, there’s much to reflect upon.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to be with a calm, smart, caring woman who helped me with difficult times. Her level of love and support is always palpable. I’m pretty sure she would say the same.

In many ways we are very different people. We’re both neat and orderly, but she’s more disciplined and concentrative. I’m more scattered and sometimes watch tv or distract myself with things. We’ve respected our differences.

We still have about 2 more weeks of living together. It’s bittersweet. I get sad, even though a huge part of me is ready for my move and next adventure.

Stay tuned … more to report soon.

Ann

Change is Afoot.

As Dina and I continued to look for a new place to share, it became clear pretty quickly we weren’t going to find it in a neighborhood we liked or at a price we could afford. So, we decided it was time to look separately.

For now, we are still in our apartment. In August, it all changes. Dina will have found a new place in NYC, and I will be returning to Austin, TX, to be closer to my son and my very long-term friends.

We have had 3 ½ years of delightful apartment sharing, friendship, laughs, love, trauma … and we’ve loved it. Our friendship is deep and no doubt will last forever. (We’re already planning when I’ll come to NY and visit and Dina is already planning to come to Austin for my 70th birthday on Jan. 1st.)

We’ve learned a great deal from our sharing of space. We’ve been patient with each other and there to help each other. That continues: Dina is offering help to me as I pack boxes of stuff to mail to Austin. I, in turn, will help her look for apartments and pack things up for her move.

Good News! I will be starting a new chapter with another Flatmate in Austin. I’ll be sharing a space in my friend Lee’s home. It’s a beautiful house, with a yard, a dog and I get my own bedroom and bathroom. It’s kind of her to let me land there for as long as I want. Perhaps it will be for a few months, perhaps longer. We’ll see what happens. We will then be the Senior Flatmates, and I’ll continue to blog.
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Keep the faith: There are live-in situations all around. If you’re looking for one, go after it. Here’s a resource for you:  http://www.roommates4boomers.com/  I used them to look around for a roommate before my friend Lee stepped up.

(The photo is from a trip that Dina took to Austin with me in Jan. of 2014. We are with my son, his girlfriend and friends.)

All good things…

Three days after we signed the new lease, the landlord emailed to say he is selling his apartment. What do we do now?

Of course, we hit the pavement. Harlem, Washington Heights; stay out of the upper west side when you’re looking for two bedrooms with two bathrooms. Ever optimistic, we checked everywhere, called in brokers from all the neighborhoods we might want to live in.

We saw some great spaces, but none that was perfect: one bathroom and two bedrooms side by side. Was our privacy going out the windows?

We don’t know yet how this will end, and we’re still here, not a stick of furniture out of place. I’ve been culling my books–my first response to an upcoming move. Ann’s been worrying, wondering if, maybe, the universe is telling her it’s time to return to Austin, Texas, to her son who, with his girlfriend, is building a house.

What will become of the Flatmates in this new adventure?

Keep in touch.

 

Three days after we signed our new lease, the landlord emailed to say he is selling his apartment. What do we do now?

Of course, we hit the pavement. Harlem, Washington Heights; stay out of the upper west side when you’re looking for a two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms. Ever optimistic, we checked everywhere, called in brokers from all the neighborhoods we might want to live in.

We saw some great spaces, but none that was perfect: one bathroom and two bedrooms side by side. Was our privacy going out the windows?

We don’t know yet how this will end, and we’re still here, not a stick of furniture out of place. I’ve been culling my books—my first response to an upcoming move. Ann’s been worrying, wondering if, maybe, the universe is telling her it’s time to return to Austin, Texas, to her son who, with his girlfriend, is building a house.

What will become of the Flatmates in this new adventure?

Keep in touch.

Dina

Talking…finally….

“I’ll talk about it,” I said. “I’ll blog about it, every day.”

That was my intention. My father, at 93, was preparing to die, and I knew from the past that being present at the dying of a person you love means something in this world. When my husband died, and my beloved aunt years before him, I learned much about what it means to be a human being.

Don’t get me wrong. The sadness and the painfulness of loss are profound. This is not about that. This is about a window that opens in the room where a person is dying. A window that brings a different air from the other side. You have to be there. How could I not share that with you?

I didn’t talk. I didn’t blog. it was, after all, too intimate, too personal for social media. Only now, almost two months after my father died–I imagine he left through that window–am I able, perhaps, to tell what happened, and what I know now.

So far, I can tell you this: I felt honored to be present at my father’s dying, even as I felt helpless to make his life easier through all the days and nights and weeks of his leaving.

He helped me learn, though, as he had through our life together. I learned that we are safe in the Universe, that death is leaving here and going there, where there are others who also love you. They help you prepare to go. Don’t be fooled by endless speculations that death is anything other than that.

There’s more to tell, so much, much more. Maybe I’ll talk it soon.

Dina

 

 

 

 

I Think It May Be Spring …. Finger’s Crossed.

imagesWow, what a Winter we have had in the North East. Now, to be fair, NYC has it easy in comparison. The tall buildings block large build-ups of snow. But, navigating the sidewalks, the street corners (with all the snow that’s plowed built up there) … now that’s a challenge. In case you’ve never been here: We are on foot. Most of us who live here don’t have cars, so we’re taking buses and subways and walking. I LOVE that, in the Spring, Summer and Fall. But, in the Winter it’s a bit treacherous and scary, for me.

Dina’s more of a trooper than I am.  She’s a born and bred New Yorker who has lived with cold weather in various places all her life. I, on the other hand, spent more of my life in warm climates – Miami til I was 24 and then later, 20 years in Austin. Of course, there were those 12 years in Chicago (but I was younger) and now it’s been 9 years in NY.

It was great to be stuck in the apartment many a night with my flatmate. We cooked dinners together, watched old movies. When we needed time to work or pursue our own interests, we retreated to our own rooms. I can often remember times living alone where I got bored, even depressed in the Winter. That didn’t happen this year or even the last two, since we’ve been sharing our space.

I had some trips, pleasure- and work-related. I went to Austin in November to visit my son. It was still warm there. Then, I went to Syracuse, NY, Toronto and Pittsburgh. Each of those … well, do I need to explain? I’m ready for warmth.

With Spring coming, how about we all start thinking of what’s next? Are there some new projects you want to explore? Are there some new work opportunities? Is it time to start working out more or eating healthier? Is there a trip you want to take or a continent you want to explore? Spring is a time of blossoming and blooming.

As for me, I’m starting some new teleclasses for people that have been through cancer and now want to reinvent themselves. I’m also partnering with someone to run new weekend workshops on Identifying your Genius. Oh, and I’m volunteering more for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. I love what I do and often have so many ideas that I can’t focus. However, new things always come my way.

New York in the Winter … and Some Reflections

Ann here. I’m straddling two beliefs about Winter. One is how beautiful it is, especially on a first snow day, like today. The second is how freezing and uncomfortable it is.

When the weather channel announced we would have snow today, I was excited. Having lived much of my life NOT in Winter places, I’m still always excited by snow. It’s white, soft, lovely. I remember the very first time I saw snow. I was 24 years old (having grown up in Miami). I was like a kid, running to catch flakes on my tongue and yes, of course, lying down to make angels.

So, this morning, when it began to snow, I put on some warm clothes, snow boots and went outside to walk to the grocery store. I figured I should stock up on some extra food because we’ll be dropping to the single digits in the next couple of days. Might want to hunker down for a bit. I walked, slowly, those couple of blocks. It was crunchy and very white.

Now, it’s early afternoon, and as I look outside, I see the slush already in the street, much of it melted and run over. There’s still some white snow on the cars. By later today it will either be all gone or will have turned to ice.

The last two weeks, I took most of the holiday season off … to rest, reflect, regenerate myself. I feel more ready to face this new year, where challenges are already in place, concern about directions are already worrying me … BUT, seeing the snow, realizing how peaceful it makes me, helps me feel more prepared. In normal / warmer times, I feel antsy and want to be out and about. I think sometimes that is to avoid being with my thoughts. Winter forces me to be more with myself … more reflective. For some reason, now, that’s creating calmness rather than anxiety.

IMG_1303Wishing you warmth and safety wherever you are.

 

Some Thoughts on the End of 2014

It’s been a challenging year. Dina has been watching the deteriorating health of her elderly parents. She’s also had less time to deal with her writing and other projects.

I have had some challenges around having enough work to keep me at the earning level I’m used to and need.

There are a few more examples of the “not so good” experiences. However, boring you with that isn’t helpful nor is it positive for moving forward. So, let’s take a look at how we, the flatmates, deal with these times.

1.     We support each other through them. I’m a support to Dina with her parents and even visit them with her, make recommendations, etc.

2.     Dina brainstorms with me about ideas for building business or at the very least offers herself as a sounding-board, to help me say things out loud.

3.     We often take ourselves out to a nice Happy Hour, where wine and food are affordable, and we can have a great time “away”.

4.     We also cook together, sit for a nice meal and sometimes go to movies together.

5.     We always check in to see how the other is doing and if we have any needs.

6.     We are considerate, give each other space as needed.

7.     We watch tv together and laugh or cry (depending on what we are watching.)

8.     We get annoyed (as in pissed off) when we watch the news and have been known to swear and yell at the newscasters. This is quite fun for us.

Now, I’m sure there are many other things we offer one another, but these come to mind. The point of this discussion is that two heads are better than one. When on our own, we don’t think of all the possibilities, the scenarios. However, when we discuss together, we see a much wider set of options. We see past each others’ “blindspots.”

If you don’t have the chance to be living with another person, we hope you have that very close friend or loved one who is there in similar ways.

Lastly, since today IS the last day of 2014, I hope you will take a bit of quiet time and look within about what has worked and what has not worked this past year. Then, go one step further and make a list of what you are grateful for. Finally, if you’re ready, put down a few bullet points about some steps to take in the first quarter of 2015.

We both wish you all a very Happy New Year.