It’s All About Challenges…

As far as I am concerned, having a satisfying life is all about challenges. When I no longer have anything that tests or stretches me I am the most prone to periods of depression. That is what this post is all about.

This is the beginning of my “gray season”. In the Midwest it is the time of year when the skies are almost always gray and the sunlight seems to disappear.

  • It is the time of year when I hibernate.
  • It is a time for overeating and under exercising.
  • It is a time to become a couch potato.

I blame my coming depression on many things but recently I think I may have found a root cause. It’s easy to blame my condition on others. Our political world proves that to be true. It’s never my fault, someone else caused it to happen. But, I need to be accountable for my state of mind.

I am the most depressed when I see my life without purpose, but in reality I think that really means when I see no challenges on my horizon. Without challenges, I see myself just sucking air until the Lord takes me. Whose fault is it that I have no challenges? Of course, like most everything else, that rests solely on me. When it happens I have a pity party about life. I’m not sure I know the solution to this annual problem. How do I tackle the lack of challenge? That is what I am presently contemplating. I hope I find some solution before this season reaches it deepest depths. Any advice from you would be appreciated.

4 thoughts on “It’s All About Challenges…

  1. Go have some fun! That is what my doctor told me during a recent exam when I commented I was a bit down in the dumps. She kindly chided me and said you sound like my dad (a year younger than me). She then said she sees this a lot in older men, particularly those struggling with retirement.

    The light went on. While I’m not struggling with retirement, I was struggling with what to do next — as in what is the next challenge? So I jumped back into my blog, along with developing some on line classes. Stuff I’d put aside, but fun for me. Starting to consider other fun stuff too, like mid-week getaways or local sightseeing.

    Guess what? The cloud lifted, the energy returned, and life is good again. Challenges indeed – it is what drives us, my fellow engineer. Happy Holidays!

    PS – It is the great (not gray) season here in AZ. How about a trip to some sunshine?


    1. Thanks for the thoughts Daryl. Yeah, I think just about all of us struggle with “what to do next”, I know I certainly did. But, that was almost twenty years ago now, it’s about time I go over that. 😬

      RJsCorner is an important part of my daily life now. Eleven years ago I couldn’t have imagined it would go on for this long. But, it is a good way for me to put out some of my feelings that need to be released. My Aspie traits make that difficult to do in many social situations, but on the corner I can take my time and thoroughly hash out what I intend to say instead of what just gets blurted out in the instant.

      My uRV trips have allowed me to satisfy some of my “adventurous genes” so they continue to be part of my challenges. But, they go into hibernation for these coming 5 months or so. Keeping busy is the secret to having a challenging life.


  2. RJ, First of all I think everyone (or at least most) deals with being down some during an Indiana winter, when it is dark and grey for so long. Is the condition called SAD? Several years ago I discovered that I needed to be NEXTING—-not texting. That is a term that I made up for my need to have something to look forward to next. I realized this before I retired and feel that it is as much if not more important now.

    My husband and I enjoy traveling and I have found that it helps me to have ’the next‘ trip scheduled before we complete the last one. This way I still have something to look forward to when we return from our latest adventure. Otherwise I feel more than the normal let down when a vacation—trip (now that we are retired, I don’t call them vacations anymore, but an adventure) is over.

    I’m good in this regard for now. We are currently in the middle of a 2 1/2 week trip to a China; and we have a Mediterranean cruise scheduled for next fall and our first trip to a South America scheduled for this coming March. I’ve always enjoyed travel and remember learning over a decade ago that travel is a good activity for seniors to keep both physically and mentally active. It is an incentive for me to remain reasonably fit. Because the deal is that even though my husband helps me, I need to be able to climb stairs and be able to handle my own bags for the most part. Traveling involves planning and problem solving. As much of of the joy and satisfaction of travel, we’ve found to be in the planning and anticipation as in the actual travel. And a lesser amount of satisfaction comes from the memories. Few people really want to hear about your travels after the fact. If you are lucky enough to find others to travel with you, they like to talk about it later and really enjoy planning together, but don’t bring it up to others. Some don’t really like travel but many others would love to travel but for various reason cannot. If asked, I love to share with them but otherwise, don’t want to appear to be bragging. [note: we worked hard to save for a comfortable retirement, saved a lot when others spent, and are (for now—who knows what the future could hold; that is outside of our control) enjoying being able to do pretty much what we want.]. We have also met many interesting people and made a few good friends during our travels.

    Another NEXTING project that I set for myself a few years ago was to take our two Indiana grandchildren to all of Indiana’s State Park and Recreation Areas. We call this Gramping, another term that I made up for ‘Grandma’s way of camping’. This started three years ago when our daughter’s two children were 4 and 2 and we took them to McCormick’s Creek State Park for a weekend getaway and stayed in the Canyon Inn. It happened to coincide with the Centennial celebration of Indiana’s State Parks, of which McCormick’s Creek was the first. it was so much fun for all of us. I ’ bought the tee shirt’ and set a goal to try to take the Grands to all of them and thought, maybe if we are lucky we would have 10 years that we could do this that they might still enjoy going with us. As of October, we are officially over one third of the way through the list of parks.

    Sorry, I got a bit long here, but in short my suggestion is to try NEXTING for whatever project or adventure floats your boat.

    Another thought, since you admit that you need a challenge, and I know that you are a good researcher and a critical thinker, you could give some thought and offer some ideas or suggestions for a dilemma my husband and I are currently dealing with.

    Our son, who I have written to you about a couple of times in the past, because we are convinced that he is/was aspergian, though never diagnosed, (That wasn’t so quickly picked up on in schools 20-30 years ago.) went missing/perished (we are still having trouble saying died) two months ago. He would have turned 40 on October 16. You can see an article about him and the situation in a front page article in the Greencastle Banner Graphic in early October.

    He was mountain climbing, in Western Mongolia, alone, which he would do when he couldn’t find or was willing to wait for someone else to climb with him. We had pretty much come to terms/accepted his dangerous life style. Friends tell us they cannot imagine what we are going through but in fact we have imagined this scenario for at least the past 10 years. Our pleas for him to make plans (and share them) to prepare for if/when something happened were ignored just like our pleas to not do his dangerous hikes and climbs alone were apparently ignored.

    We are now dealing with the complicated aftermath of how and when to have a memorial or Celebration of Life, to help with closure, not just for us but for his sister and others. There are no rules or guidelines, that we have found yet on dealing with this type of loss, let alone how to proceed with settling his estate. If it were just us, we wouldn’t be so concerned, but he does have an ex-wife and an 8 year old daughter in Shanghai—the reason we are in China now. When we planned this trip we were to spend time with him as well as with our granddaughter and her mother and her family.

    Whether it was his aspergian tendencies or something else, he was very private and did not share much personal information with us or anyone else that we know of. He had many ‘friends’ from around the world from the climbing community, that we have heard from as they hear about the situation. There are people who liked, respected and admired him, but not sure of anyone that he confided in. Even his girlfriend, in Pinghu, China, who we’ll be meeting for the first time next week, we doubt will have much of the information that will help us to proceed.

    Our son lived mostly in China during the last decade, where he worked as a chemical engineer (plus MBA from Purdue) until he quit working about a year ago and spent most of the last year climbing mountains around the world. He was a very unique and challenging individual, but he wasn’t as indestructible as he thought, and also admitted to not worrying about that. I know there were times when he was depressed and probably questioned (like he questioned EVERYTHING) why he was living or what he had to live for.
    Again, sorry for going on. But we are left with a very difficult problem of how to go forward—remembering him, and his life, as well as dealing with someone missing/dead in a remote foreigner location, and no death certificate, for who knows how long. We know he had assets (which we want to secure for his daughter) but have little information on what and where as well as limited legal rights to proceed. Talk about a challenge, we have a huge one and little guidance on which way to go. Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

    We are taking it in baby steps. When we return to the U.S. at the end of November, we will proceed to work with the representative at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia to have Patrick’s few belongings that were left stored in a hostel near where he was climbing shipped to us. The representative there thought we might be able to get a declaration of death sooner than the usual 5 year waiting period, but we are not sure and will likely not be able to do anything about managing his estate until that is established. The waiting period in Mongolia is 5 years. It is our understanding that in the U.S. it is 7 years! We are not young so cannot delay in working on trying to secure and set up a trust for our Granddaughter. If we don’t follow up and try to do something she would likely lose out completely on what she should be entitled to from her father.


    1. Jackie, thanks for your thoughts. I want you to know that you can use my corner to get it out anytime you want. So sorry to hear about your son. It does sound like he and I shared some common traits. Asperger’s like Autism which is where it now resides on the medical arena, has a very wide spectrum of characteristics. What troubles some Aspies doesn’t affect others as much, but we do share many traits.

      I wish my wife enjoyed traveling as much as I do, but unfortunately, she is a 100% homebody and even more so in her late senior years. Every trip we have taken in our 33-year marriage is always preceded by her getting sick a day or two before travel day. But that feeling goes away once we are on the road. But, for the last half-dozen years she has NO desire to leave the house for more than a couple of hours. I tried to talk her into a three-day vacation about four hours from home, but she absolutely refuses to do so.

      I too am a Purdue Engineering graduate. I look back on my life and often wonder it my wife rescued me from a deeper depression. I was just never good at social situations and I stunk at the dating scene. It’s a wonder that she looked at me as a potential husband.

      I hope all the current problems find a good solution soon. Come back anytime to let me know how things are working out. Again, my deepest sympathies.


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