Limiting Limitations

Limiting Limitations

The connection between confidence and limitations has become obvious as I wrangle with primary household care. When assuming disliked or new responsibilities, as many of you have experienced, the exposed limitations threaten confidence and independence. Job changes, promotions, births, moves, marriages, illnesses and losses of loved ones afflict all of us.

I’m newly aware of how Jim actually reinforced my independence as he easily handled finances, auto and house repairs and managed to fashion my ideas into reality—Clematis trellis, holes dug for bushes, asparagus and tomatoes, big pots lifted, water lines installed wherever needed and mulch transported to the areas where I worked and weeded, and reminders when my allotted work-time was up. He enjoyed yard work, snow removal, and assisted me in the kitchen as needed. He insisted on doing everything that I didn’t know how or was not strong enough to do. He regularly reminded me of my neurosurgeon’s restrictions of don’t pull, push or lift and made it easy for me to shop, garden, counsel, write, clean, bake and cook.

This discussion focuses on the seemingly giant-size limitations spawned by physical jobs rather than problem-solving endeavors. Intuitives, numbering just 25 percent of the nation, will understand perfectly what I mean because they have to intentionally work at Sensing (hands-on) necessities for survival. Learning the ropes little by little ushers in an improved scenario.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help”, my widow-friends advise. Many family and friends encourage me to call anytime. I’m learning to seek assistance, but asking for help strikes against independence—Catch-22. I am following last week’s Riding Out the Storm suggestions to ascertain what I can do on my own and who to ask for help.

For example, let’s begin with catching mice. For 65 years I was the checker of traps and when an outdoor furry visitor was trapped, all I had to do was say, “Jim, you have a mouse.” Now, neighbor Mark, across the street, is teaching me mouse-disposal and trap-reloading.  I don’t want anyone to perform new or distasteful jobs for me, but I rather prefer to build confidence by learning how to handle and/or repair hands-on demands, thereby limiting my limitations.

Driving and car care, more natural for the Sensing-segment, also contributes to my personal Intuitive physical limitations. Jim kept our automobiles in top-top condition and registrations up to date. Whether we were in my car or his, Jim was automatically the driver. I drove when I needed to go to a class or meeting. Last fall, I was returning from a class when flashing lights appeared in my rear-view mirror. I pulled over so the officer could get around me. But, lo and behold! he pulled up behind me. “Did I do something wrong?” I asked.  “Your registration is out of date.”  “How do you know that?”  “It’s there on your window”.  “Oh, is that what that is? Well, my husband takes care of the cars and I cook.”  “He smiled”.  After looking at my record, he gave me 10 days to renew it. Jim took my car to the garage the next day.

I learned later that brain tumors were behind Jim’s follow-through problems such as auto registration and over-due bills. I had never had any reason to look into his financial accounting book but now it was evident that it was time for me to take over finances.  Characteristically, Intuitives do not relish balancing checkbooks and keeping up with payments. I’ve always handled my own account of counseling and writing, food and gifts purchases, but had little idea about paying utility bills, TV, insurances, and yearly car registrations, etc.  I felt very inadequate. Fortunately, with Jim still of sound mind, with his initial information and suggestions regarding bill-paying and then assistance from family after his death, after seven months of keeping the books my feeling of financial insufficiency is being replaced with new confidence.

On the cell phone: “Hi, Mark. Are you up?”, “Yes”. “Do you have your shoes on?” ‘Yes”.  “I’m trying to dig a hole to transplant a bush, but I don’t have muscles to complete the job. Do you have muscles?”  He chuckles. “I’ll be right over.” “I want to move this plant to the back yard, but just realized, I’ll need a big hole back there.”.  “Let’s go”, he says.

Mark intentionally offers help.” Ruth, I’m at Lowe’s. Need anything? And, after a heavy rain, discovering that water seeped through Jim’s basement dyke in one spot, Mark came to the rescue. He purchased caulking and reinforced an entire wall of dyke in about 30 minutes. After serving for years, a tile bathroom soap dish let loose.” When I took the dish over to show Mark, he said, “That’s easy to fix.” He replaced leaking valves in outdoor waterlines, with a style easily turned. These are just tokens of his help exceeding a dozen. Our out of state children certainly appreciate his sensitivity and abilities to repair just about anything that can go wrong.

Being prepared mentally and physically lessens stress. One of my first projects, after Jim died, was organizing his work area in the garage. That lengthy project paid off when the door on our vanity sagged.  Since I couldn’t inform Jim, I said to myself, “Okay, Ruthie, you are on duty and will have to take care of this little job. First, how would Jim handle this?  He would first say, “Well, how ‘bout that! He usually kind-of laughed when something broke.”  So, at 3 am I went after my Philips screw driver and tightened the loose screw. Nice! When I shut the door, I heard the screw clatter down the clothes chute. The door sagged open.  I went to the basement bent on finding that screw in the dirty clothes basket. Found it. Went back to work my Phillips again. “Now it’s tight”, I murmured to myself. I Shut the door to the sound of the little crew clicking down the chute.  I hate to admit this, but I’m very determined and repeated the drill the third time. (To be honest, I think Jim would have waited until morning,).

The next day I showed Mark the hanging door and told him about my screw dilemma. He took a look. “Oh, yeah, I can fix that. I need a little piece of wood or the tip of a dahl rod. The wood for the screw is too large to hold.”  “Ah,” I said. “I know exactly where to find one”.  When I organized Jim’s work area, I had put little pieces of wood and dahl rod ends in a plastic bag and fetched it quickly.  I watched Mark repair the door in a few minutes. Now, I need to learn how to use a drill. Mark is encouragement to all of us to be available to people in need. The pandemic has created more than the normal amount of help needed especially by seniors.

Knowing I couldn’t physically do some of winterizing outdoor jobs, I asked college great-granddaughter, Suz, to do what Grandpa Jim used to do. Working with her was pure joy. I’m glad I needed her. This week I needed to find a place to store my garden wagon, purchased since Jim passed.  I yearned to ask Jim “Where would you store the wagon for the winter?” I tried several spaces on the deck, then checked the shed with his riding mowers, snow blower, push mower, bags of lawn care stuff and flower pots.  I moved out what I could lift, stood the wagon against a wall and moved everything back.  It fit! I felt so energized and pleased. But, boy, was I tired after wrestling with that wagon for over an hour. However, I limited my limitations.      And I believe Jim was smiling down on me.

Gary Small, MD, in his book Two Weeks to a Younger Brain advises how to keep our brains young by embracing new chores and continuing adding and subtracting, reading, doing crosswords, brain games, scrabble, playing instruments and writing letters. Keep your mind busy. He says brains don’t shrink as much as they just suffer from not being used. Limiting limitations is the name of the game if you want to keep your independence and confidence alive and well.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace. I Pet 4:10 (NIV). You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  Ps. 16:11. Verses like these encourage us to confidently tackle baffling responsibilities.

Thank you, God, for always being there for us in new trials, upsets and set-backs. Amen