Merrily Orsini's Thought Leadership

Time to think about what is and not what was

Those trips that were planned. The classes scheduled. The family gatherings. The next normal phase of life that is not happening. Getting old in the age of Corona. Living with a love who is aging in front of my very eyes. Wondering what will survive and what will not. Hoping for a future for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Time Waits for No Man

Make meaningful use of your time

that is safe, clean, kind and friendly.

Life is what you know, what you have come to know and expect. When that changes drastically, what do you do? First you try to keep doing all the things that you used to do, and you long for those that you cannot do now, but there is hope that “normal” will return. Then, you realize that things have changed for you and the life you knew before will never be again like it was. Then you get really depressed as you see no way out and no proverbial light at the end of this tunnel. Then you realize that this IS life now as we know it, and how can you restructure this life to be one that is enjoyed, experienced to its fullest, and meaningful. Afterall, if you have life, if you are breathing you have things to give and things to receive. And, in a global pandemic, living and breathing are especially meaningful as keeping safe and healthy is also a change to daily life and has to be accommodated.

When setting out in life in the beginning there were so many choices. What are you going to be when you grow up? That was the question. And, there were so many options. So how did you choose? I did things that I was good at and then strategically planned on how to use my talents to not only feed my family but provide a nice life for them, by my definitions. And that meant travel. I have always loved travel. Next to travel it is probably gardening that I love most. Then art.

So, now that I cannot travel, gardening (nature in general) and art are available to me. And, how can I take my talents now and translate those into meaningful activities that also satisfy my need for change and new things? How can I include my aging loved one in activities to keep him as healthy as possible? This is my current quest: to utilize my talents and interests in meaningful ways that will keep me at a greater level of happiness more often.

Taking Wednesdays off. That is my start. For years I have worked regardless of weekends because I was traveling at least once a month, and not working while traveling. Since the shutdown on March 13 I have been working most days without regard to weekends. Starting three weeks ago, I now take Wednesdays off. You noticed that this is being written on a Wednesday? Well, it is hard to break old habits since I also love work. But, the key is that I am doing this because I want to, and not because I have to do so.

Walking. I started walking in the woods by myself in March. At first, I was tentative about being so alone in so vast a space. However, now I seem to have no fear and can walk any trail within walking distance, which, let me tell you, is a large choice of trails. Nature provides constant change. The cycle is so evident and powerful, that is is really fun and exciting to watch. Trees grow and fall. The flowers and grasses change weekly. Birds provide color and sound. And, there is so much to learn about it all. Harder than you would think, as well, but it is not only something that I learn alone, all of my grandchildren have an interest in learning about the things around them and we can learn together.

Art. Looking at art and enjoying it with others has become a passion. Every Friday I host a MeetUp on Zoom for my Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass membership. in case you are interested. This provides meaningful results through sharing art and experiences with others. We start early and say hello to each other prior to a presentation by a glass artist, a gallery, a museum or someone involved in the art world relating glass to art in some way. The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass channel on YouTube houses all of these MeetUps. Some are really fascinating. We are also getting some travel in as some of the sessions include photos of where the presenter is and what is happening there: Venice, Murano, Prague, New York City and the Berkshires have all been featured.

Aging issues. Wearing a mask when with others. I am religious about it, my love, not so much. He is better now at wearing the mask when he goes out but does not have the capacity for understanding social distancing. Neither do my littlest grands. So I am forever, saying think of the space as a llama. An adult llama. That seems to get them all to better understand. Washing hands thoroughly. All the grands have learned this and comply. Note that I am not mentioning my love on this one. Speaking slowly. Repeating exact sentences. Trying to be patient. Looking for ways to include another in cooking, gardening, walking, and art. Taking over the task when it just becomes too unpleasant, like carrying things downstairs safely. Asking daily about getting out to have some exercise. Even a stroll around the yard. Just moving. Patiently teaching the intricacies of Zoom, microphones and headsets so that the shared experiences can be shared. Fixing healthy, some even home grown, meals that have variety, are tasty and nutritious, and can be frozen and used so I am not relegated to a daily routine that includes always having to fix dinner. Oftentimes when I am interviewed about aging issues I say, “If you have met one 85-year-old person, you have met one 85-year-old person.” Each of us ages in our own way, at our own pace, and in ways that cannot be predicted. Each of us accepts advice or opportunities at our own pace and in our own time. The one thing I learned from having an elder care business for almost two decades was that nature takes its course. You cannot make someone do something just because it is good for them. The only time you can really insist is when whatever the action actually puts the person in danger or endangers others. You have to learn to live with whatever happens and adjust to the reality of what is.

All in all, I am doing well. I am now looking at all my endeavors and trying to make life more exciting, educational, and meaningful. I’d love to know how others are coping and what you are doing. Stay safe out there.



  1. Ann Zeman - July 15, 2020 2:53 pm

    I could identify with your post. Like you, I love to travel and feel especially deprived because of my age. How many years will I be able to travel in good health? Also my children live in distant cities and I am missing time with them. On a daily basis, I miss spontaneity. Going to pick up some little something that I want or need. However I am learning how to enjoy life as it is now. I walk in Cherokee Park and many other trails around Louisville. I have learned more about wild flowers, spent more time gardening, learned more technical skills, and work out to videos on YouTube. I have socially safe ways to interact with friends and can swim laps again. I don’t want to live this way but feel fortunate that I am not worrying about work, childcare, or the multitude of problems young families have to contend with because I am retired. I doubt that life will go back as it was ,maybe ever, but I hope to develop the skills and attitudes to move forward and stay healthy.

  2. Marilyn Magazin - July 15, 2020 3:02 pm

    Dear Merrily,

    Thanks for your writing. I enjoy a lot reading what you have to say.
    You know me well, so you can imagine I’m very « active » at age 73 in spite of this pandemic.
    Since we’re living these days especially in Toulouse and Stockholm, we often switch between English, French and Swedish. Foreign languages are one of the best ways to keep sharp ! Confined more than three months in Stockholm accelerated my progress in Swedish. Keeping up with the scientific data on this corona virus has been interesting and I’ve been answering lots of questions from family and friends. Many of the yrs. I spent doing medical research were in the fields of Virology and Immunology so I have been able to send e mails with lengthy explanations and give some advice too, when asked. Paolo stays active by continuing to do his calculatiions in Theoretic Physics, daily walks, etc.
    Cooking and eating fresh, healthy food, daily walks, Tai Chi Chuan, and satisfaction with life can do wonders ! Corona wouldn’t stop me or my love, Paolo, who is 77 now! In fact, we had mild cases (surely contracted in Italy in January before the epidemic was recognized), so mild I realized it only in retrospect. I had the antibody test for confirmation. There has been no required confinement in Sweden but we always use good sense and are careful since the virus can still be spread more.
    I admit to being a bit frustrated by the lack of interest among the Western medical community for studying what « alternative medicine » has to offer against corona. The simple and riskless suggestions by Tibetan doctors concerning diet and behavior, homeopaths with remedies that have been proven to work, experts in phytotherapy who know well Artemisinin and other plants and essence oils, etc., could save lives and considerably reduce suffering, and wih no side effects ! And it is not difficult to boost our immune systems with zinc, vitamin D, propolis, echinacia, etc. (all taken according to recommendations by competent persons) . We can also make more of an effort to get enough sleep and eat well, right?.
    Stay healthy and happy !
    With love to you and your wonderful family,

  3. Steve Edwards - July 18, 2020 9:46 am

    Dear Merrily,

    Thank you for your thoughtful writing. It sure struck a chord with me. I think we all feel the same. Life has been turned upside down for all of us. I grew up a hippie in the age of free love. I love to hug people, empathize with them and keep them close. No social distancing required, in fact it was discouraged. Love your neighbor comes to mind. What happened? Covid.

    Seemingly out of nowhere came a disease that could not be ignored or wished away. The world shut down. The freeways emptied. Everybody went home. It got quiet, real quiet. Now we are encouraged to socially distance, wear a mask and be fearful of others. Life could not be more different for me. What has not changed is our need to live in the present and accept change. Change is really one of the only things in life you can count on so why not embrace it. It happens. You can’t stop it. If you hang on to the rear view mirror you will crash.

    Life is different now. Priorities have shifted. We have all aged. It is not easy. It is not what we expected. But it is what it is. How do we make the most of the time we have left. Here is what I think. Find your bliss. What makes you happy, really happy? Has that changed? Probably not. Helping others, love of friends and family, love of nature still fill my heart. Please stay safe and know you are loved and appreciated.

    Warmly, Steve Edwards

  4. Mary Childs - July 19, 2020 2:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing this succinct and sensitive summary of what by now must be an almost universal experience. It takes strength and courage to navigate the unknown, but what other option do we have? This is especially true when one has a loved one to protect, and your loving commitment is something we should hope to emulate! Thank you also for all you do with the AACG; I know these sessions are a bright light for so many!

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