Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Monday, August 17, 2015

Move

I live in a neighborhood that was built about 30 years ago.  My husband and I are original residents so I remember a time when all the growth was young and not very big.  I love the maturity of the vegetation and how it provides a cool and shaded space to live and walk.


Really, there is no excuse for not walking in my neighborhood.  It is safe and well maintained and comfortable.

But for some darn reason finding time for walking is always a struggle for me.  This spring I started out so well with a routine of regular exercise.  Then the house renovations started.  Three weeks of painting, and a week of kitchen renovation ... and all those weeks and weeks to prepare and clean out and recover.  No walking then.  And some days the heat was more of an assault than even these lovely trees could cope with.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

That is all those barriers were ... just excuses.

Last week I began again to establish a walking routine.  And I kept thinking about the why and how of my struggle with this simple habit.

And then I saw it.  The example of what happens to you when you don't keep active.  I saw it on my walk and it is a picture I just might put on my fridge to motivate me.

This is an old road way that was closed to through traffic over 30 years ago.
It ends at a creek where the bridge was washed away in a long-a-go hurricane.

Do you see it?

It is so obvious that you might miss it if you are looking too closely.  The side walk suddenly narrows.  Oh, the side walk is still there - hiding under the overgrowth of nature, but the path shrinks remarkably when not tended.


I live just to the left of this picture.

Here is the view with me standing on the narrow path.  And literally, this is where I feel like I am looking at my walking life at present. Standing on a narrow untended path.

You would think the example of inactivity in my mom's life would put the fear of God into me.  And it did for a time.  But images like that fade from memory.

I am a very visual person.  I do best with graphic examples.  My visual memory is petty darn good as evidenced by road trips when I could find my way back without a map - because I had "come this way before," ... even it is was years and years ago.

And so, in my walking world, I have come this way before.  I am standing in a place that is not well tended and I see where I want to go.   Aim for enough activity to broaden the path - my life.  This image also accurately shows how quickly you lose stamina over 60.  When I was 30 I could hold onto energy without much effort.  Now if there is no effort, the path narrows very very quickly.  Nuts!

This aging process certainly is a whole lot of work.  No wonder so many folks just give up and sit!

Out of respect to the body that got me this far - I am a bit more reasonable about expectations, but "reasonable" is not my normal mode of operation when it comes to exercise.  I am wired to be a competitive person - always looking to do more - be the best - aim for the lead.  And because of that exercise has always been "all or nothing" thinking.  After all, you can't be competing all the time.  Competing means there is a start and a finish - and someone wins.  This less younger version of me has had to readjust that thinking.  Walking doesn't have a start and finish as a habit.  The goal is not to be a winner, just physically a more active version of me.

Now my goal is to just move!  It isn't important that I beat last month's time, or walk more miles than I did last week.  The goal has slipped comfortably into what makes sense now - keep moving - and hold onto 10,000 steps a day average.  Those steps don't have to be fast, they don't have to be all at one time - but they should happen ... just happen!  As far as goals go, this one couldn't be more simple.

So here I go again.

Pedometer says today I have only 525 steps - at 8:23 am this morning.  Only 9,500 more to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jacket Sweater Done!



The picture above is the bodice of my green jacket sweater I made for myself back in 2009.  It is called the Faery Ring Jacket by Mary Scott Huff and it is a free knitting pattern on Ravelry.   I fell in love with it the moment I saw it.  I will say that this jacket sweater is an enormous project - the hem falls mid thigh, there is a hood, and the bodice is all cables.  It is a whole lot of knitting.  I would guess the number of stitches in this sweater are equal to knitting two sweaters.  It took me almost a year to finish my jacket.  But the finished product is lovely.  Love at first sight for me.

And apparently it was love at first sight for my cousin, who saw my jacket one visit in 2013.  She tried on my jacket and offered to pay me to make her one.  Well, I don't knit for pay and I definitely don't knit for pay for family.  That afternoon we sat down together and she picked a color for her own jacket ... this beautiful blue.


I am sorry to say it took me two years to finish her jacket, but as my other cousin (her sister) reminded me ...  "you had a lot going on these last 2 years."  Yes, I guess I did, but this spring, I decided that this jacket had to be finished.  And I finished it in July.  And here is the proof!!  

And as far as accepting payment ... I did get compensated!  Look at that beautiful smile.  

Love you very much dear cousin.  Wear that jacket in good health!!

Other knitting projects that have waited patiently behind this one are now in the works.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wisdom from an unlikely source!



George Carlin was a American comedian of the 70's and 80's.  My husband and I were big fans of his stand up comedy and his observations of life.  But I understand that Mr. Carlin was a controversial person and not admired by many.

Some of the descriptions of Mr. Carlin include:  social critic, actor, author, philosopher and satirist.  He didn't shy away from difficult topics like religion or politics, and he addressed taboo subjects with gusto.  One of his best and funniest bits was called "Seven Dirty Words."  Google it if you are not familiar with his work, but be warned - they really are words not used in polite conversation.

I don't know when this piece was written by Mr. Carlin, but I believe it is representative of the worth of this man.  It shows that he was more than just controversial ... he was a many faceted individual and seeing life in this piece through his eyes is worthwhile even if you did not like his comedy.

I wanted to share this piece on my blog so that I could find it again when I needed a reminder of what is crazy and is important in life.  So much of what he writes reflects some of my own evolution in thinking over the last year.

It is a long piece but well worth your time.  Hope you think so too.

*****

"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.  We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.  We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.  We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much and pray took seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.  We Talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life.  We've added years to life not life to years.  We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.  We conquered outer space but not inner space.  We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.  We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.  We write more, but learn less.  We plan more, but accomplish less.  We've learned to rush, but not to wait.  We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.  These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.  It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.  A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.  A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak!  And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Time Machine

Recovery from care giving is taking longer than I thought.

Not recovery from mourning a loss - although I still miss mom every single day.  No, this particular "recovery" is more related to my current life ... more of a constant discovery of where I am in the aftermath of care giving.

Don't get me wrong ... I can't imagine making different choices for the last 10 years.  Nope!  I would do it all again.  But I must have naively thought when all this care giving stuff passed into my personal history, I would just pull up my "big girl" panties, square my shoulders ...  and move on with  life exactly as I planned when I was 50.

Reality has been different.  It is more like a time machine experience.

When I stepped into the care giving time machine I was in my late 50s.  I was working and looking forward to all the free time and activities of a planned retirement.  Now I have stepped out of the time machine. I am ten years older.  The landscape of my life has changed - inside and outside.  My previous plans seem to have drifted away like a puff of smoke.

And strangely that is ok!

I suspect that this is nature's way of slowing down the "busy-bee mentality of living" and making space for a more mindful life.  Instead of running around checking off my retirement list of to-dos, I find my days naturally shifting in a different direction.

***

I can hear the comments rattling around out there.
  
"Huh oh!
She has lost it.
What the heck is she talking about?
Did she read this in a book somewhere?
Is she drifting into a esoteric space?"

In my defense I guess this is what happens when you have the time to think about things.  Weird stuff pops out.  :-)  But stick with me a bit longer.

***

Looking at the arc of my life from the 30,000 foot perspective - it looks like this:

Rocky childhood
Good health
Education
Stable marriage
Wonderful kids 
Professional success
Good friends
Nice abode
Dedicated care giver
Retired.
Good health (still)
Family Longevity

In the grand scheme of life, I am one of the luckier individuals on this planet.   Other than my early years and my care giving experience,  my life followed a predictable and satisfying pattern.

So the real question is ... what now?

I thought I had the answer to that question - I had retirement nailed!  Topping the list of activities was travel, volunteer work, a fun part time job, hiking .... just to name a few.  But I don't have this period nailed down at all.  My retirement plans seem jumbled and not in sync with where I am at right now.  And I think I know what happened!

 Mother Nature stepped in while I wasn't looking and said ...
 "Hey you, listen up!
You have slipped into the arc of your life
where things are processed differently
 in your mind
 and in your body.
You need to respect that.
So get over yourself!"

Ahh, thank you very much, Mother Nature, for that in-your-face reminder!  I didn't build any of that into my retirement planning.

Now my retirement has a more realistic focus:

Stretch those muscles every night so you can walk upright every morning.
Gently greet the new day and don't expect too much before coffee.
Keep walking so you can stay on your own two legs.
Eat carefully so your stomach doesn't punish you.
Drink water - dehydration is not your friend.
Simplify. Simplify.  Simplify.
Enjoy friends and family.
Read.
Knit.
Think.
Gracefully accept the gift of a long life by respecting the body that got you there.
And thank Mother Nature.  She really does know best.

If I could still have a wish list ... it would have only one bullet point:

  • Live in a world where the elderly are respected and relevant.


(Hmm... thinking, thinking)

Balder Dash!
Get rid of wishes.  They are a waste of time!

 I don't care about what the world thinks.
Respect your self, I say.
Don't see my worth?
Good riddins to you!
Your loss!
Step aside.
 You are in my way!
:-)

Yep!  That time machine has changed ALL my landscapes!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Silly Season - A Rant!

I can't believe we are approaching the very early stages of another election season.  The "silly season" is what I call this time of year, but I won't bore you with all the reasons why I picked this label. Elections are a necessary function in a representative government, even if our particular process is flawed and frustrating.

In fact,
 this post is going to be
 "A RANT!!"  

Sorry, I don't rant here very often.  Actually my only other rant was October 2010 - same topic.  Guess two rants in 5 years isn't too bad.  But if you want to skip this post, I don't mind.  However, when a blogger warns that their post will be a RANT, I find it hard to turn away.  Like a car wreck ... I feel the need to slow down to see what happened, but I really don't want to see what happened, but I look anyway, but I wish I hadn't, but I would do it  ... and so on and so on.  Oh well.

You were warned!
Here I go.

OH . MY . DEAR . GOD!!

How I totally hate the circus our political election process has become.  Lost are things like civility, fact finding, balanced and fair exchange of ideas, comparison of issues,  respect for different positions, intelligent research, and polite debate.

All of the above have been replaced by insults, belligerent name calling, and slanted opinions that slip into outright lies about political figures and their positions.  Enormous sums of money are wasted on attack TV ads, hand outs, and campaign signs that end as litter on our roadways.  Really??  Does anyone make up their mind on who to vote for based on a card board sign with a name on it??  Let's not forget the invasive political robo phone calls that squeeze themselves into our lives between with other unsolicited calls.  I don't even understand how the huge TV spectacles of conventions promote anything useful beyond whipping up the electorate into a frenzy.  All that money and time wasted just to draw attention.

It is a nightmare to me.

On top of that, even when the election is over, we have become a nation of disrespectful, finger pointing citizens who seem to take joy in saying simply awful insulting things about our elected leaders.  It seems in the eyes of some of us, our current leaders can do absolutely NOTHING right.  If we don't agree with their political positions, then they must be wrong about EVERYTHING.

That particular national trait makes me nuts.

I am not a Democrat or Republican.  I proudly identify as an independent because I don't believe one political party has all the answers just as I don't believe any one person is all good or all bad.  All of us are shades of gray with some sterling moments tossed into the mix.  Sure, there are a rare few elected officials who get caught putting themselves above the law or in unethical situations.  But generally people enter public service with good intentions.  At least I like to think so.

Another frustration for me is social media.  Wow.  How entitled and free some people feel as they slam our leaders in the "Public Court Room of Facebook."  Some postings are so unbelievably ridiculous.  Comments generated are completely appalling!  All that poison get shared with thousands of people, usually bringing out the worst in us.  How can reasonable thinking people identify a sitting president as an "SOB, hateful, Evil, the worst president ever," just to name a few terrible labels.  Come on, folks!  These are completely unacceptable labels for a person who was elected to the office by us, the citizens.  You may not have voted for him or her, and you may not agree with the current leader's ideas, but "evil?"  Really?  And as for "the worst president ever," I doubt the general public knows enough presidential history to make an educated guess at who is the worst.   While I do recognize that some elected officials have been caught in discretions that are wrong or shameful, the vast majority of our elected officials are citizens just like us doing the best they can in impossible situations.  So Social Media folks - back the heck off - and use words that don't make you look ignorant.

I try hard to keep my own personal criticisms of the Presidents limited, as being President is probably the hardest job ever.  I don't have access to all the relevant facts on many decisions to qualify me as expert enough to take cheap shots at the person we have put in charge.  Staying on top of and coordinating all the details of national decisions is a full time job that most of us don't have the background or time for.  That is why our government has a full time job for doing just that ... it is called "President."  And if you don't think this job is difficult, just look at each retiring President as they leave office.  They age considerably doing what we elected them to do - that aging didn't happen because the job was easy.

And how about all the criticisms we send towards our elected Congress!  I will agree that they have become stalled along party lines and really aren't earning their salaries.  But how can we expect congress to come together and work for the common good if we, the people they represent, have become stalled and derisive, and don't feel committed to working for the common good either.  Sometimes I wonder if Congress is just a mirror image of us.

Depressing.

Maybe it has always been like this ... but to my eye, it seems to be getting worse with each year.    Maybe the curmudgeon in me is coming out.  I don't know.

But I do know this ... if we don't find a way to be civil and work together effectively during and after an election - then our country is mostly bluster - not substance.  And "bluster" cannot be the leader of the Free World - at least not for long.  It will be our Achilles heel as a nation.

I know I have painted a sad picture in very simplistic terms.  Not everyone behaves as badly as I have described.  Otherwise I would consider packing my bags and moving to Canada (Canada would let me in ... right, Delores??)   :-)  But the "badly behaving individuals" are the loudest.  They overshadow the quiet majority.

Ok,
I think I am done now.
Rant is over.
It didn't change anything, but 
I feel lighter!
Everyone needs to do that once in awhile.

If you stuck around to the very end, thank you.  Feel free to vent back, agree or disagree, etc.  This post was my personal opinion and I know opinions vary.  I would love to hear yours.

While you do that - I will be building my virtual hibernation hole until the "silly season" passes in late 2016!


Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20 - A Five Year Blog-a-versary.

Today is my 5th Blog-a-versary!

Gosh.  Five years!
Has that much time passed
 since I sent a first post out into the blog-a-sphere??

I recently paged through a few old posts.  I changed a lot inside since those early days.

A bit of naval gazing seems appropriate now.

My blog was launched in 2010 during a busy and sad time of my life.  I was buried deep in elder-care issues for my mom having slipped into that role in 2006.  But by 2010 I was drowning in it.  Solitary  full time elder caregiving can devour you in a way that is hard to put into words.  It is a slow depressing slide down hill for the senior and the caregiver.  In 2010 I felt I was waving a white flag in the battle to maintain both our lives.   I was looking for a safe place to hold the "me-things" that were slipping off my radar.  This blog was my life preserver ... literally a preserver of a life I was putting on hold.

And it worked.

I wrote about everything including things important to me - not me, the caregiver, - but me, the "used-to-be" working professional, wife, mother, crafter, walker, friend ... the me who was still interested in everything life had to offer ... but had to put it most of it aside to be me, the caregiver and daughter.  That receptacle of "me" was this blog.

But even with that goal, in 2011 my mom started to take center stage here as well.  I felt compelled to share the struggles and the emotional turmoil I was holding inside.  I needed to let go of some of it in a controlled bleed rather than an explosive eruption.  That slow controlled bleed of pressure was a  series of blog posts called Through My Care Giver Eyes.   Writing allowed me to put some space between me and the life I was leading.  It helped me to look at things through my mom's eyes and see that all this struggle was ours together.   It cemented my love and commitment to her even after I had to let let go of her primary care to Brooke Grove Assisted Living.  I felt closer to her in the writing process.  We were walking this path together ... to the end.

In hindsight, I am glad for other reasons that I wrote about that journey.  Now that she is gone ...  those posts and memories serve another purpose.  The blog holds the story how I changed as a person because of her.  It also holds those precious life experiences that would fade from memory with time unless they were written down.  What started as a coping mechanism, became a tribute to the woman who was my mom.

The decision to bring mom into my home have far reaching impacts to this day.  Some of life's opportunities have passed beyond my reach because of that decision. Delaying things so many years at my age does not allow much wiggle room in achieving bucket list accomplishments.  But I don't mourn that loss.  Some life goals we choose for ourselves are frivolous with no real value.  The role of caregiver that I naively adopted with an open heart ranks up there for me with motherhood.  I made a difference in the life of someone else.

And I learned like never before about myself.  The world did not end when I pushed back on authority, when I let my rough edges show, and when I walked away from unsupportive relationships.  A black hole did not swallow me up when I fired a physician, demanded accountability and questioned medical opinion.  I am now more results-driven, less worried about what others think, stronger in relying on my own decisions,  and more reflective on what is really important.

Did all these changes make me a more like-able person?  Probably not.  I still have trouble filtering the comments that escape from my brain.  I have less patience and understanding for some people.  But I am more at peace with myself - because my life has value in my own eyes.  My life had value to my mom especially towards the end when she had lost everything else.  

This blog holds all that for me.

In other five years, what will be housed here, will there be another evolution of me tapping on the computer keys ... hard to know.  I might not even be blogging.  I don't focus as much on the future.  I try to live in the "now."   But I am so grateful to have captured a small important part of my past in this space and a small part but important part of my mom's past resides here with me as well.

Something to cherish.

Happy Anniversary, dear blog.
Thank you readers for being there.






Sunday, July 19, 2015

Love runs deep ...



... when you give your heart to a pet.

On this day a year ago, we lost a piece of our soul ... our family's soul.

Meathead, my son's English Bull Dog and my grand dog, passed away at his home a year ago.  He left such a big hole in all our hearts.  To this day we still mourn his death.

A looker!!
Meaty as a younger guy - charming, yet a stud muffin even from day one.
A few pictures of a short life well lived as a devoted family member.  

Cared for.
Struggled with bath time, but don't we all.

Pampered.
His grandmother always made sure there was a pillow to rest his chin on.

Devoted.
Recovering with his Papa from a near death illness
one year before he died.
One of my favorite pictures.

Adored.
Tucked firmly away in his Aunt's heart.
Such an old old guy in this picture.

Dear Meathead,
Rest in peace my sweet grand boy.
Your time with us was too short.  
But I know you stuck around as long as you possibly could,
  even though the last years were hard for you.
  Although I have many questions surrounding the afterlife
 I never doubt for a single minute that you are there waiting somewhere
for your family
 in whatever serves as a "heaven."
The thought of anything else is just too painful to bear.

Love,
Grandma