Thank God for work!

The importance of balance

Image: John Schaidler - Unsplash

Thank God for work. I run a private Special Education practice, and see (albeit mainly via Zoom these days) over twenty students weekly. Many of these young people remain under my tutelage for around six years. My passion for the role I play in their well-being, and the knowledge that my input plays a pivotal part in their capacity to grow and flourish into fine young people who have the means to reach their full potential, and contribute meaningfully to the society of the future, gives me a real sense of fulfilment and purpose.

Even at my relatively young age of 69, I see this path leading towards a future, not of retirement but growth, both personally and professionally. My mentor, a fine woman of short but elegant stature, aged 81, is perhaps the best teacher I have known. Jenny is much sought after and highly regarded as a private practitioner in this field of Special Education. In her case, age is not a defining boundary, but rather a defiance of the preconceptions of many when the mind remains alert, physical energy abounds, and the fires of passion remain ignited.

The unexpected upheaval that COVID-19 presented was indeed an unwanted challenge. Choices had to be made, and fast. Was it time to retire? There was no time to contemplate this proverbial dilemma. The challenge was met head-on. All my resources were converted to be online-compatible, and students were met weekly via Zoom. It was a steep learning curve, which although exhilarating and highly successful was utterly exhausting.

Apart from work, my days are balanced by activities of choice. I bookend most of my days with yoga classes. My favourite yoga teacher Ann, moved back to her home city of Perth. I was delighted when she invited me to join her newly created Zoom yoga classes. Never before had I participated in more than one class a week, but a bonus of the lockdowns has been that now I can attend yoga sessions daily in the comfort of my own home. A quality I have always admired in Ann is her keen attention to the needs of all her students; this has not diminished with her online classes.

My calligraphy teacher, Marg, eventually got her classes up and running via Zoom. It’s not the same as sitting around a workbench in a studio focusing on our projects whilst enjoying the relaxed chatter of women immersed in the world of creativity. Whether to enroll for another term, or to branch away and download one of the highly polished online packages of pre-recorded classes offered by some of the calligraphy masters from overseas and work independently, is a decision yet to be made. The world of creative lessons has indeed changed.

I meditate daily, and this inward quietening of the mind has allowed me a sanctuary of peace and sanity. By no means has it eliminated anxieties and fears about the future, but it restores my sense of equilibrium and recalibrates my sense of direction.

Michael and I do not have children. Sometimes, the trajectory of ageing and the unknown qualities it inevitably presents become a little overwhelming for me. Michael handles this far better than I do. Having survived two cancers and lost his first wife, he has a remarkable capacity to live in the present. I try to follow suit, but I tend to analyse and project into the ‘what ifs’. Dreaming and planning positive ways forward has always been my modus operandi. Although we have friends, I feel relatively isolated on occasions. Not having children, grandchildren or blood family in this country has made me question our level of support. To me the word ‘community’ is an ideal only. Occasional communication from relatives and friends during this COVID-19 time is always welcomed. I think people see Michael and me as being self-sufficient, or more likely they have huddled into their own protective bubbles, and bunkered down accordingly.

My conclusion is that by maintaining good health, both physically and mentally, I can sustain a sense of equilibrium. I constantly reassess my well-being by consciously recalibrating my ability to balance what I perceive to be five fingers of life – physical, emotional, social, spiritual and creative.

I do not think our society is well equipped to handle the challenges of ageing. Those lucky enough to have loving and supportive families may feel safer. For the rest of us, ageing well is an individual pursuit.

[Source: Daryl Jenner (Education Consultant / Specialist Teacher]