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Balancing Social Life And Self-care In Midlife

Balancing social life and self-care

Career Kuel Thought Leader: Gayle Petrillo

Sometimes we need to adjust what’s no longer working – well into midlife, I’ve learned I need to better balance my social life and self-care.

Those of you who know me, know that I’m rarely stationary. I thrive on moving, whether by myself or with others. I’m constantly on the go seeking out family, friends, and colleagues for coffee, tea, wine, brunch, lunch, and dinners. I’m rarely comfortable alone, though in the last year or two, it’s become more comfortable. Hubby Al ‘plays’ well alone; however, I’m not known to do that often or well. While I enjoy quiet time reading, I crave being surrounded by one or more people.

As with most holiday seasons, this year’s calendar was full. There was a gala, several house parties, networking business functions, couples’ open houses, coffees, wines, and meals with single friends and couples. We planned to hold our annual New Year’s Eve get-together, which, prior to Covid, might include 30 people; though the last year or two has dwindled, intentionally, to around 12. 

“One year it was Valley Fever; another back strain, pneumonia, etc. 

I’ve been healthy most of my life and I’m grateful for that. Yet, every few years, my body tends to signal in some form or another that I’ve pushed it too far and it takes control. One year it was Valley Fever; another back strain, pneumonia, etc. 

Socially Meeting Up With Friends And Colleagues:

Since late August, I have tried to take especially good care of myself, or so I thought. After my mom passed unexpectedly, while working on emptying her apartment, meeting with attorneys, financial advisors, and banks, closing her accounts (virtual and in person), all the while juggling my clients, my philanthropy commitments, and my personal life, I did take time to pamper myself, as so many professionals and friends encouraged.

I continued with yoga practices three times a week, Pilates one day a week, and I added massage and acupuncture, and stayed on course socially meeting up with friends and colleagues, by myself and with hubby.

I planned a visit to Los Angeles for a long weekend to see my mom’s sister because she was unable to travel to Tucson when mom passed. It, as always, was a whirlwind. I slept on her (soft) couch (she lives in a one bed, one bath condo). We walked the beach, had great discussions, ate well and shopped. 

Life Gives Us Opportunities For Change:

On the Saturday morning, three days after returning from my visit, I woke up in pain. I was barely able to get out of bed. Sciatica! I hadn’t experienced this in four or five years, but I remembered it all too well. I stumbled to the bathroom, then into the kitchen.

How was I going to go to the gala that night? Let’s just say it was a gigantic mistake to even have tried, though I did (at $450 per ticket, you don’t simply not show up!) and we were invited to represent the Arizona Burn Foundation who were recipients of a large grant.

After four long weeks, and with meds including two prednisone dose packs, and personalized yoga visits to ensure I kept moving, I was improving. 

“The following weekend we headed to San Diego to celebrate hubby’s 75th birthday.”

Then, New Year’s Eve arrived and we celebrated with five other couples who have been beside me, physically and/or virtually through this recovery and supportive as I grieved. 

Not Be Social 7 Days A Week:

The following weekend we headed to San Diego to celebrate hubby’s 75th birthday.

I’ve never been one to make conscious resolutions for a new year. However, what I learned will help me to focus in the year ahead to only schedule one social (work or other) activity a day for myself, and not be social seven days a week. Re-balancing my social life and self-care was a necessary step for me. Now, a little further down the midlife path, that schedule that once fit me, is too strenuous. I’m going to listen to my body more than I have in the past.

As we age, maybe we should consider:

  1. Taking time to appreciate what we have and who we are;
  2. Being active, yet grateful for, appreciative of, and honor our relationship with our magnificent bodies  
  3. Be patient with ourselves and others, particularly as we age, we all do it in our own way and time

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About the Author:

Gayle Petrillo is President of First Impressions, Image Consulting. Gayle is an image consultant working with both businesses and individuals. Her services include: customer service training; team building skills; secret shopper services; gossip avoidance techniques; closet analysis; wardrobe transformations, personal shopping; employment coaching; and presentation skills.