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Be thankful for unintended consequences

Happy Thanksgiving. By the time you read this column, I’m guessing that you have already expressed your thanks for the good things in your life — your family, good health of one or all, living in a great community, etc.

Now, I’d like to suggest some good things for which you can be thankful, maybe ones that you haven’t recognized. They are those that are “uninintended consequences” — the good things that you hadn’t planned for, hadn’t expected and therefore hadn’t even considered in your list for giving thanks.

When I moved from my Lake Oswego house to Mary’s Woods, I knew it was right for me. I had recognized what my physical limitation meant when I looked out the window and saw work I hadn’t done — without pruning, roses were wilting on the stem and blueberries were rotting on the bushes. I looked forward to an environment that was a better fit for me.

Being at Mary’s Woods means someone else takes care of the landscaping. Someone else will do the cooking, and house cleaning happens even though I gave away my vacuum. Of course there was an unintended consequence. I resented the very long walk from my apartment to my mailbox. Now, I realize that there are what may be those unintended consequences. What I saw as a problem has had very positive results!

For years I have been to making New Year’s resolutions and for all those years the same item at the top of the list was to lose 10 pounds. Somehow the fewer pounds never happened. Now I weigh 10 pounds less and have more realistic ideas about resolutions.

For now, I’m just delighted to find out the “problem” of going to get my mail is a plus. I needed exercise and I’m thankful that I finally realized the plus of that walk rather than the minus that I’d assumed.

Another reason for thanks is the magic that can come from change — even painful change. The pain came years ago when the county, in a study of management salaries, labeled me as the “most overpaid!” What followed were months of pain, both emotional and financial (for the lawyer fees that I and two other “overpaid managers” faced).

In a negotiated settlement with the county, I resigned and the change brought new pride and pleasure for me. I became a consultant — certified as a woman-owned business by the state of Oregon. I worked with various governmental agencies, environmental groups and business associations like chambers of commerce.

My new career included training and advice on goal setting, conflict resolution and public relations. It was fun! And I put to use some of my neglected training and skills. The horror of being labeled “over paid” was replaced by rewarding activities like writing newspaper columns and publishing training materials and books. I enjoyed the people I worked with and still do. My “overpaid” pals are coming to lunch here at Mary’s Woods.

Stories for Positive Aging is a semi-monthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego author of “Facing Age, Finding Answers” Ardis Stevenson. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.



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