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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

T - Time

T is for Time

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Do you remember when you were young and Time seemed to pass ever so slowly?  You wanted Time to go by fast so you could get to the next thing!

  • the next birthday - especially the BIG ones: the first 'teen birthday,'  sweet 16 birthday, or the big - 21st birthday.
  • the big holidays - for me December dragged on so slowly till Christmas.
  • first day in first grade, graduation from high school, first day in college.

Curiously, the older you got, the faster time passed!  When my son signed up for the military and I dreaded the arrival of the day he left for boot camp.  He was on a delayed admission so we waited months before he left - but that time passed in a blink of an eye for me - probably dragged for him.

Time passes no faster or slower than it did centuries ago.  It is just our perception of the speed of time ... but I find it interesting that almost all people share the same perception.  It is probably the only perception in life that we share exactly the same way!

As I aged I looked forward to retirement and having more time.  No one really has more or less time.  Said properly - I would have more control of how I spent my Time in retirement - rather than having more of Time.  And that is the joy of retirement.  

What is not so joyful about Time and retirement is that I am older now.  I know my life span is limited - my Time is limited.  Maybe I have 10 more years, maybe I have 20 ... or maybe I have only 1.

Time becomes more precious - I don't want it to pass quickly. I want Time to stick around a bit longer.  I still have a looonnng list of things I would like to do and see with the Time I have left. 

As I get older the value I place on time is similar to the person who gets a devastating terminal diagnosis.  That person knows for a fact they don't have 10 years or 20 years or maybe not even 1.  What they do have rather suddenly is an increased value of Time.  They see each day, each hour, each minute through a different lens.

I am using a different lens now. 
My only regret - I didn't change lenses 
sooner.

Don't have regrets.
Change your lenses now!  







Monday, April 22, 2019

S - Swedish Death Cleaning

S is for Swedish Death Cleaning

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Bet I got your attention with that title.  
It is a real thing and it caught my attention as well.

Swedish Death Cleaning for Beginners:
How to Declutter and Downsize your way to a happy home and life
by Sara Hodges.  

WOW - I thought.  Death Cleaning!  How is that different from any of the other declutter, downsize, minimize, frugality readings I have done?  Can there possibly be anything new "under the sun" on this series to topics that I haven't seen yet.

The simple answer is yes - and I have actually seen this done but did not realize what it was!

I am a long time down-sizer, a sometimes frugality proponent, and a dabbler in the minimalist movement!  I have done my fair share of reading on all those topics from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (from the 1990s) up to and including Marie Kondo's recent best seller  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Since the 1990s I have cleaned out, organized, downsized, decluttered and drove my self totally nuts - making room in a 2,200 square foot town house for returning family members to live.  First it was for my mother-in-law who was in hospice for lung cancer (yes, I was her caregiver too), then for a returning son after military service, then for a daughter during a down time, then for my mom who was no longer able to live on her own, and finally for myself and my husband as we did the traditional senior citizen downsize - to move into 1375 square feet of condo space. I thought I knew a lot about this topic - 'cause I had lots of practice.

What could this little book offer me - except the answer to what was 'death cleaning.'

Grims-ville!  I thought.
 So, of course, I read on!!


What the heck is Death Cleaning?

The author says it best on the first page of Chapter 1 ...

"To put it simply, the art of Swedish death cleaning is about ridding your home of possessions that you don't want, need or use, so when you do happen to kick the bucket, your loved ones are not left with the grave emotional task of shifting through 80+ years of your stuff.  It's a blatantly honest approach to decluttering your home and a very transparent way to look at all the things that you possess."

Light bulb time!  
Ok, I get it!
Clean out your own stuff
So your relatives don't have to do it for you.

I will say that the words "art" in relation to throwing things out ... and "kick the bucket" in relation to dying - made me smile a bit.

Before you say why should I care about Death Cleaning - let me share a story about an uncle that my cousin shared with me.

My Uncle Walter died the month before my mom.  His son, my cousin, called me a month later to offer his condoences.  We hadn't chatted in probably 30 years.  But we both lost parents within a month of each other.  It was good to talk.

Uncle Walter lived in the same house he brought his bride to in the 1950s.  He died in 2014 and his wife pre-deceased him by many years.  You might anticipate, expect, understand ... if his house was filled to the brim with all the little items of living until 90 and on his own as a widower for many years.  But you would be wrong.  At his death, he left behind a totally cleaned out house - with only the items he needed to live.  His closets were totally bare except for his one personal clothes closet, excess furniture was gone, surfaces were totally clear.  My cousin said when they entered the house after his father's death to prepare it for sale - they discovered the wonderful gift he left behind for his children ... a house that required no cleaning, no repair and no clean out!  NONE!

My Uncle did 'death cleaning' without knowing about this topic or book.

So death cleaning may not be important to you - but it is a wonderful last gift to give the ones who love you.

Yes, I have swept my life clean of things that were redundant and unnecessary in downsizing to this smaller condo.  But I am not done yet.  My downsize journey going forward with be for a different audience other than myself.  It will be for my children - so when they are in the midst of grieving (after I kick the bucket,) they won't have to be further weighed down by the weight of all my stuff.




Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Update - Walking and other stuff

Hello all

Happy Easter to those who celebrate this religious holiday.

Just a little update - in between all the A-2-Z postings.

I missed last Sunday's check in.  I didn't want to miss today's check in.

The bad news is nothing to report on walking ... because ... I have been too sick to do anything beyond take naps, stare at the TV with glassy eyes or listen to an audio book.  I thought this might be another cold (6th of the season), but, no, nothing simple like a cold. After 4 days of increasing symptoms I visited a mini-clinic near me.  Flu A, was the diagnosis.  Apparently it was a strain that was not covered by my flu shot.

Friday was my birthday.  It was a pretty miserable day - feeling terrible - rain - and all our weekend plans cancelled.

Saturday morning I woke up even worse.  Could . Not . Swallow!!  Eyes both blood shot red red red.  So I returned to the clinic ... who bounced me to the ER!  Six hours later - after fluids to get me hydrated and a CAT scan of my neck and a push of steroids through the IV to shrink my swollen throat and blood work, and new prescription drugs - the diagnosis still is  .... All Flu.  Flu.  Flu.

And Saturday night, while I was feeling half way to human again - my husband spiked a temp of 102.6.  We are not out of the woods yet, I fear.

Walking??  Well, its been over 2 weeks since my shoes have hit the pavement - no walking unless you count the steps from the living room recliner with TV to the bedroom and back again (between naps.). The flu really takes it out of you.

All I can say is I am glad that I wrote and scheduled all the A-2-Z postings in March.  At least that goes on without me.  I am behind visiting the blogs in the challenge, but may be able to catch up at some point.

While I am in a flu-coma I am listening to the audio book Gone With The Wind.  I know I read the book a very long time ago and I saw the movie and I probably listened to this audio version before - but it has been great fun to hear the story again - and at 44+ hours of listening (long book), it should distract me until I am more well.  There is a lot of civil war history in this story, of course, but it is the kind of history I really enjoy:  how people lived, what was important to them, what that war was like for the civilians - the inside story that is often missed in factual retelling of history books.

I'll check back next Sunday with an update when I am not a human germ making machine (hopefully.)



Saturday, April 20, 2019

R - Rollercoaster

R is for Rollercoaster





I sometimes think of the stages of life like amusement park rides.

Image result for carousel free clipart
123RF.com

Infancy and childhood

 Merry-go-round: safe, colorful, happy, great memories, different ways to ride - in carriage, or up and down on a horse, or on a stable giraffe.  Innocents.  Joy.  Learning.  Loving.  Eyes wide open.  Parents near by.  All is wonderful.

Image result for fun house clip art
iStock

Teen Years

Fun House - only sometimes not so fun for teens or their parents.  Ride in to the Fun House and expect the unexpected:  scared, happy, laughing, screaming, crying, and when the ride is over, come out the other side whole (hopefully) and happy that you don't have to go through THAT again!

Image result for ferris wheel clipart
Clip Art Mag
Adult life

Ferris wheel - predictable highs and lows, time to interact with the world from a rather high safe position, without too much risk, but ... as with anything there is always some risk.  Sometimes people fall off those things and get injured or die before they get to the final ride - rare, but it happens.  Just like in life.




Image result for roller coaster clipart
clip-art.com

Elderly Life

A Rollercoaster - especially the roller coasters of old.  Those rickety ones made of wood (that rollercoaster enthusiasts say are the best) and are pretty dangerous.

Now prepare for the 'thrill' ride of your life,
(and prepare yourself for the longest run on sentence you will ever read.)

The ride starts out slow with a steady creep upward, feeling good, life is grand, the view feels free and open, you can see it all, no work - just play, free time to spare, and pulled along predictably by life,  nearing the top ...  until a sudden down turn hits (usually an illness) catching you by surprise,  and the slide down may be fast and huge ...  until things level out a bit and you begin to climb again, out of that health-hole slowly, regaining strength and health, the view improves again, you near the top ... until you come to another downturn, surprised AGAIN, your brain says this can't be, and reaching a new lower level then before ... but then you rise slowly up, improving and improving, looking for the view which is beyond your reach, and never as high up as before,  but you settle for a 'new normal,'  the view is not so grand but you cope ... and so repeats the up and down of the senior experience with new lower normals each time you fall.

That, dear friends, is the amusement park of life!
Not always fun, but I would argue,
 it is definitely worth the trip!!

After all, 
the view from the very top of that first hill on the rollercoaster
 is spectacular
as is the whole ride of life!!




Friday, April 19, 2019

Q - Quality of Senior Medical Care - an Opinion

🎵 Happy Birthday to me. 🎉
🎠 Happy Birthday to me. 🎡
🎼  Happy Birthday, dear me! 🎶
🎉  Happy Birthday, to me. 🎊

Finally, actually 72 years of age - today at 8:45 pm.  I remember my 30th birthday.  Mom called to wish me a Happy Birthday.  She said she was calling at the exact time I was born 30 years ago. 8:45 pm!  I laughed and said that ... no, mom, I was born at 8:45 am ... she had missed it by 12 hours.   Mom quickly corrected me saying, no, I was born at 8:45 pm.   She was there and aware of the time - AND this was before I could tell time!!!  8:45 PM

Crap!  Here I was commiserating ALL DAY LONG that I was 30 years old, when in fact I was only 29 until just that moment.  I had been cheated out of 12 hours of being 29!!!

Today is my 72nd birthday and I elect to take those 12 hours of being 29 TODAY!!
 And so ... as you read this post, just know
 I am the oldest looking 29 year old you will ever see!
(at least until 8:45 pm - and then I will be the youngest looking 72 year old you will see!!
haha!)

*****

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Ok, back to the blog challenge!  A more serious topic!

Quality of Senior Medical Care

Quality of Senior Medical Care is a serious concern of mine.  Medical care is pretty good in my area - I have no problem with the quality of medical care generally.  But during the last 8 years with mom, I learned that the medical care system is designed to keep you alive - at all costs - without consideration for the quality of living - Period, The End.

It can sometimes forget that living is more than just a beating heart!

More times than I can count, I needed to intercept / interpret / evaluate the need for care for mom against what that care would do to her in the aftermath.  Let's take an example:

Mom was diagnosed with a rather large aneurysm on her descending aorta from her heart.  I agree, that is a very serious life threatening condition.  She was in the hospital, however, for one of her many UTIs (Urinary Track Infections), that are SO common in the elderly (and yes they do hospitalize the elderly at times for this condition.)  I can't remember how they discovered this aneurysm in her chest, when her complaint centered in her belly - but they did. When the doctor told us of the aneurysm, he said something like ... "Really, this is serious, typically we wouldn't discharge her with this aneurysm and would insist on surgery to fix this.  It is a big, big, big aneurysm.  What did you think?" ... I looked at him.  Was he kidding??  What do I think??  So I told him. "There would be no surgery.  My mother's health was not good (many many other issues).  If she didn't die on the operating table, she would most certainly be bed ridden for the rest of her life, because the enforced weeks of bed rest would totally sap any little strength she had now.  She would never recover to her current disabled status."  I remember his eyes got big.  I am sure he noted in the chart that patient's daughter refused treatment for a life threatening condition.  He was off the hook.

The important point here is that the elderly need an advocate with them to guide the decisions of a hospitalization - ideally 24/7 advocacy, - because care in a hospital is 24/7.  Mom was suffering mildly from her dementia at the time of this conversation.  She could converse normally to the unfamiliar ear.  If I wasn't there, I don't know how that conversation would have played out.  Would she say yes?  Would she say no?  The bottom line is that doctors want to 'fix' things - they don't want to release a patient with a life-threatening condition no matter what their age.  I get that.  But sometimes you have to balance quality of life over longevity of life.  High quality medical care can keep you going for a very long time - but it can also hurt you if not managed in a humane and reasonable way.

And just so you know the full story, mom died 4 years later from dementia - not from that aneurysm which did not show on her death certificate ... or from her kidney failure or her Cardiac Heart Failure (CHF) or the painful boils on her legs or from the arthritis throughout her body - it was her brain disease, dementia, that was first on her death certificate that killed her.  Surgery I believe would have certainly taken her from this earth earlier.

Was I right or was I wrong!  I guess it is a matter of opinion.  But all the decisions I made on my mom's behalf are decisions I can live with - to this very day.  I believe I gave her more life - not less - and the quality of her life was surely better than trapped in a bed.

Mom was in the hospital many many times.   I was with her always.  Sometimes I would walk down the hallway to the cafeteria and I would see other very very old folks in beds - many without anyone to speak for them.  I always felt badly for those folks.  Always.

I have a special soft spot in my heart for only 3 things in life:
children, animals and the elderly!
Everyone else can fend for themselves!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

P - Pets


You know ... when I did the letter G earlier in the month - I featured my grand child.  If you missed that post - click here.  And if you didn't miss that post, click here, anyway. My grand daughter is just that cute.

No really - I'll wait ...

And ... because I know you didn't go back -

The picture doesn't do her justice!
She is a seriously cute kid!

P is for Pets

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Why did I begin my P post with a picture of my grand child
 (other than the fact she was worth a second look?)

My very first 'grandchildren' had 4 legs!  Pets are 'family' to me. I know that point of view is not universal to everyone!  But if you have pets you probably understand that it is the only way on earth to get complete and total unconditional love - without judgement or expectations or anything else that gets in the way of human interactions.

For the elder citizen, that unconditional shared love is important to emotional and psychological health.

Just the presence of a dog or a cat in an assisted living or nursing home raises the quality of life for the residents.  In my mom's assisted living home - they had a resident dog.  Some of the homes had birds and one resident was allowed to bring her cat with her.   On my initial tour of the facility, I knew the moment I saw how pets were integrated into the daily life, this place cared about more than just the physical well being of their residents. They were interested in the whole person.

So ... here are my very first grand children.

Meathead

Meathead "Meaty" is gone now.  He was my son's first dog - and English Bull Dog.
He lived until almost 12 - which is a long time for the breed.
He was adored ... and he knew it!  He was well behaved and dignified in his later years.
We called him 'The King' and he lived up to that title.  He is most certainly missed.

Grimace

Grimace was a Pug, my son's second dog, and he is also gone now.
Grimace and Meathead were buds!  Grimace was a rescue.
Over the years he became a bit confused about who his owner was.
He LOVED his grandma so much that towards the end of his life
he believed he belonged to me and was just visiting my son.
We were soul mates - that dog and I - and I miss him so very much.

Milo

Milo is a French Bulldog and he belongs to my daughter.  He is now the senior
member of the collective family dogs and considers himself
now to be 'The King.'  (Frenchies actually think they are born King.)
Milo is now in his senior years.  His grandma loves him so dearly.
We share some of the same medical conditions and are about the same relative age!
And that age would be 'old.'
Live long, dear Milo!


Olivia

Olivia (Livvy for short) is another rescue and is a mixed breed dog - Mountain Dog and  Hound.
She had a rocky start in life, but she hit the jackpot in finding her 'forever' home when my son and
daughter-in-law adopted her.  She is sweet, mild mannered and smart as a whip!
Her vocabulary is amazing.  She is devoted beyond measure to my
daughter-in-law who found her at the pound.  Grandma calls her "girl friend" cause she
is just that special.
Live long - dear Olivia

Ragnar

Yep!  Another English Bull Dog.  What to say about Ragnar (Rags).  Firstly,
this picture is young Rags.  He is all grown now, but I love this picture.  He, like all bulldogs, thinks he is King.
He is fun, overly energetic, overly athletic, exceedingly crazed, ADHD kind of 'guy.'
But he is loved loved loved for all his qualities - and he loves you back
with big enthusiasitc sloppy kisses - which grandma isn't a big fan of -
but she knows his heart is in a good place.
This dog is smart as a whip too, and probably has a great vocabulary -
but in typical bull dog fashion, he hears what you say and needs time to "think about it"
before getting back to you on your 'request.'  Ha!
Live long - dear Rags, but please, just slow down a little. Ha!  

Just so you don't think that my kids have ALL the pets, here is a picture of my two boys - right, cats!  Since my grand dogs visit often and I walk them in the neighborhood, neighbors were surprise to discover I had cats ... not dogs!!

Max and Wally

Yes, they are brothers!
Max (left) and Wally (Right)
Max died 2 years ago from life long kidney disease - a condition we treated
with every other day with subcutaneous fluids - for 9 long years.
He was kind of a miracle kitty because of his long life span with that disease.
Wally is still with us.  He is going on 12 years old and still going strong.
Did he miss his brother when he died?
Not one little bit - in fact - Wally blossomed as an only cat.
More outgoing, friendly, loving and inquisitive.
Guess he was glad to finally step out of his brother's shadow!
Live long ... dear Wally!  

Life without pets would be
 a poor quality of life for me at any age!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

O - Old

O is for Old


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


Or specifically - How old is old!


I know I planned to base my posts on personal experience - but really - this particular post would be pretty darn short if I didn't do some research.  It might look like this.

How Old Is Old?

Oh, maybe 95!

The End!

I know.

If you are 25, my current age of 72 is old, but from where I stand, it is not old!  And you can get back to me when you are 72, and tell me what you think is old then!

I managed to find a free ebook on line called 40 Issues for an Aging Society - a Guide for Students, by J. James Cotter, PHD.  It is a very readable quick work - 90 pages printed out (yes, I printed it out) and it covers a broad range of issues (a "starting point") on aging for students (so, inquiring minds do want to know.)  The book is grounded in research with many many references for further reading on each topic.  In his introduction he makes this statement:

"The Aging Tide is coming in.  We have a new frontier of age and aging.  In 1900 about 1 in every 20 persons was old.  By 2030, it will be 1 in 5.  The fastest growing population group is those over age 85."

Wow!  He is talking about me and my generation (crap!!). Those numbers were staggering to me.   In 2030 I will be 83 - approaching that 85 mark.  Being born in 1947, I am at the beginning of this baby-boomer generation that is flooding in behind me.

The third section of his book is called:

How old is old anyway?  The changing View of Age.

It begins with a quiz.

How do you know when you're old?
    A - It's the number of years since the date on your birth certificate
    B - It's how much more effort if takes to walk up that long hill.
    C - It's when society tells you you're old.
    D - All of the above.

His answer?  D - All of the above is the answer.    Hmm....

Dr. Cotter quotes the work of Ken Dychtwald in Age Power.  Mr. Dychtwald suggests a change in the way we look at older ages.  He suggest these categories:

      Middlescence - 40 to 60 years of age

      Late Adulthood - 60 to 80 years of age

      Old Age - 80 to 100 years of age

Ok!  I am liking Mr. Dychtwald's ideas!  I am ok with the label Late Adulthood!!

I am not saying that to be funny!  It is pretty much how I feel physically and mentally.  Granted, sometimes in the morning I feel more like 90, but once I get my "engine running," I feel like I aways did in my 50s!

Increased life expectancy has changed the definitions of old.  Dr. Cotter makes the point that in Ancient Rome the average life expectancy was 20 years!  Gosh!  That sounds sooo short.  Glad I wasn't born then.  In America around 1900, the average life expectancy was 45 years.  I wouldn't happy with that either.  Today, at my age of 72 - my average life expectancy is 84.  Of course Dr. Cotter notes that many elements play into those totals - "the advances in medicine and health care, ethnicity (inequality persists,) and environment."  But as you can see - the definition of "old" slides upward as time goes on.

Not to be a "Debbie Downer" - but I can't help feeling that man is designed by nature to live only so long.  We are organisms, after all, and not meant to live forever.  I wonder if we have finally pushed the envelope of exactly how long we can live productive healthy lives - given the limitations that are probably hard wired into us!  Just a personal observation - not based on anything I have read.


Dr. Cotter ends the chapter on 
How Old is Old
 with this statement:

      "The best definition of old - 
ten years older than your current age."

I was thinking the same thing!