less stressful living

Creating a New Outlook on Life: Karen’s Story

I am a divorced woman, 58, with a private practice in
clinical psychology. I had anticipated that my income would
increase some each year. With my child grown and educated,
I would focus on contributing to my retirement, retire at
60-65, sell my house and move to a condo.

I envisioned hiking, exploring wilderness areas, becoming
more knowledgeable about the environment, animals, birds and
wildflowers. I would spend lots of time with my friends and

At 50, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – a condition
characterized by chronic muscle and tendon pain and chronic
fatigue. Almost every area of my life was affected in some
way – self-image, professional image, finances, family and
social relationships.

Three things were needed to help me reconstruct my life:
time, excellent professionals, and a new philosophy that
“less is more.”

It took several years to accept my new limitations, to
mourn the old dream and to find a new one. Now, I pace myself
and prioritize differently. I plan carefully to preserve my
energy so there is time for work, rest, friends and family.
There is less of each than I would have wanted but the balance
makes it satisfying. A psychotherapist was invaluable in
this process.

I found the best physicians I could who would listen
carefully and were experienced with my disorder. They helped
me find the right medications in the right dosages to ease
many of my symptoms.

With less income in the present and less capacity to
contribute to my retirement, I had to develop a new financial
plan. My accountant and Morningstar On-Line have aided me.
I actually like the challenge of making do with less. I have
become knowledgeable and capable of doing my own investing.

I can’t hike far but luckily walking is one of the best
things I can do to ease pain and maintain muscle conditioning.

My practice is even more satisfying with fewer clients
and a more leisurely approach to the work. And, I have turned
to my garden as a way to be out of doors. A great nurseryman
and gardening websites are my companions in creating an
environment that is a wilderness of its own.

Truly, less can be more.


Stepping Stones: Less is More

Karen has chosen to create a positive outlook on life in
response to her negative health situation. Through a series of
steps she has developed a philosophy of “less is more” that
enables her to truly enjoy her life. She has adapted her
interests and activities to accommodate her changed situation.
She still does what is important to her – just differently.

Karen’s journey included the following steps as she:

(1) Accepted the need for adaptation and ongoing change

(2) Recognized her feelings regarding:

Living with chronic illness

Her expectations for the future

(3) Implemented her strategy to reconstruct her life:

Evaluated her situation

Prioritized her needs and interests

Utilized support and resources

Accepted her limitations and built on her strengths

Embraced the challenge of change

Focused on the positives of her situation

Through this process, Karen continues to find true satisfaction
and fulfillment: Less really is more!


Recommended Resources to Explore

“The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful,
More Joyful Living” by Janet Luhrs.

Janet Luhrs, founder and editor of “The Simple Living Journal,”
has written a complete and balanced guide to living simply
and consciously. It contains strategies and resources in many
aspects of life, including: time and money management, health,
exercise and gardening. Luhrs provides real-life stories of
people overcoming obstacles and creating fulfilling lives.

“Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with
Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Joe Dominguez
and Vicki Robin.

This unique book has provided valuable information for many
in the voluntary simplicity movement. It offers a 9-step
program in money management and a comprehensive resource list
to help put the program into practice.


The National Institutes of Health provides information about
recent research on fibromyalgia. When you log onto the NIH
site, you can search “fibromyalgia” for articles about
symptoms, diagnoses and treatment options.

The Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation provides a variety of services for
people dealing with fibromyalgia, including classes, pamphlets
and a book entitled “Your Personal Guide to Living Well with
Fibromyalgia.” You may obtain information by calling their
toll-free number, 800-933-0032.


IV. Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us.

(c) HerMentorCenter, 2001