BRB

 

Spring has come and is almost gone. Summer is knocking on the door with claps of thunder and flashing skies and time is rolling past at it’s own chosen speed.

This year I thought it was about time to tend to some health issues – both the ever-annual check-ups and addressing some other aches and pains that I’ve been putting off.  Seems like it’s never a good idea to open that particular bag of worms, so I will be leaving this space for a while to tend to business.

As I write this, I’m in a holding pattern, waiting for days to pass until it’s time for the appointments that will give some better answers to next steps.  There’s a very messy lump. There’s some crumbling bones and joints. There’s just some overall maintenance that needs to be tended to. For me, these are things that need time and quiet and thought to make the best decisions.

I hope your summer is filled with sunshine and laughter.

See you on the other side . . . . . .

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Hesitation

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. Feels like my brain went on vacation and didn’t want to come back. I don’t think I can blame it on Christmas. I wasn’t particularly busy. In fact, I went out-of-town for Christmas weekend, so I didn’t even cook.  New Years weekend was a lovely 3 days off with no plans or events, so as you can see – I have no excuses. In December I worked. In January, I worked.

In the process of dealing with year-end paperwork the question of vacation time has come up. This was the year I was going to make another journey back to Wyoming. Originally it was just a plan to visit again without letting so much time go by but then my friend there reminded me of the solar eclipse in August. As it turns out, the path of the eclipse goes directly over Jackson Hole (my destination) and we begin thinking about how that could work.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Jackson is literally the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park and thereby, Yellowstone. In the best of years the traffic and crowds are intense in the summer but this year it’s going to be something all together “more”.  I’ve been seeing advertisements for months about places to stay and things to do while coming for the eclipse.

Although there are several reasons aside from this, I have been rethinking this trip and I don’t think it’s going to happen this year. Maybe next spring. The thing that struck me though was that the crowds and busyness didn’t even used to be a part of the conversation. But NOW the whole idea of all the people and plane schedules and traffic just sounds extremely stressful and unappealing. My friend reminded me that I would be staying with her and we know Jackson so well that it would be easy to avoid the thousands of people everywhere with eyes turned towards the sky. This is true, but it’s not really the point. Restaurants, stores, roads and especially the parks will be jam-crammed full to the gills.

But why do I hesitate?

I think it’s a combination of age and depleting energy. I see this in myself more and more when I think about a perfect vacation – or even a perfect day. I visualize quiet and peace and space.  Breathing room, not excitement and adventure.

Do our preferences reflect our age, or does our age dictate our preferences?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed a considerable diminishing of energy. I know that most of this (for me) is related to health issues, but not all. I think my age and my life experience just make some things sound not-so-exciting any more. Overcrowding anywhere doesn’t strike me as a good thing. I haven’t been to the mall in a couple of years.

The whole idea makes me a little sad. I miss the fearlessness of that 30-year-old I used to be. I’m not convinced more energy would bring her back and for now this is how I view the aging process – with sadness.  Maybe if I could gain back some of that missing energy it would be enough to help me approach aging with fierceness instead.

I love reading about young women today who are taking back themselves – becoming wild women – strong and fierce and full of life. I love that they are working in the first half of their lives to be brave.  They are relatively young though, and I can’t help but wonder about the sustainability of that kind of energy. It’s possible, of course. My friend was just telling me about a woman she knows who is climbing mountains at 70, but I think this is the exception. (I hope I’m wrong.)

Is “slowing down” just natural?

There are so many conversations to have about this, but I think it boils down to finding a compromise between acceptance and making a decision to try a little harder to feel a little better.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with my preference to avoid crowds and noise. I’m pretty much of an introvert anyway, but I would like the choice to come from a place of thought rather than exhaustion.

To be clear, I’m not talking about giving up and just laying down to wait for death to find me. I’m talking about the gradual shifting of energy and perception and life-style. Is it OK to slow down? Is it OK to tone down? If not, why not? If not, who says?

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

Getting Real

I know the feeling all too well. Joints aching. Tired. Tears puddling just behind puffy eyelids. Feet almost too leaden to drag across chilled morning floors. Get up. Feed the dog. Brush hair and teeth and lint from shirt. Drag to work. Late again.

burgerThis is a day after gluten and sugar – an evening burger and a soda is all it takes for the food hangover. You’d think it would be easy to remember how it turns me into a puddle – all wishy-washy and frail-edged and snarled up inside.  You’d think after the infinite number of times I’ve managed to feel fabulous after NOT going there, that I would never want to go there again.

But the days drag on – too many little pokes and prods and irritations and issues and the evenings roll around with the need for something – anything – that doesn’t chafe. Too tired to cook, to clean-up after. Just need to get home and eat something and go to bed in time to get up and do it all again.

What would make a difference? What could change to make the change? Something must because, as they say, if nothing changes – nothing changes. The changes needed here are too big. A new job and a cross-country move. I hear a lot of talk about being brave – living the life you want to live – just doing it – what’s stopping you – and on and on. Sounds good when you’re twenty, or thirty, or even forty. In fact, I did just that at fifty. It’s a little more complicated these days. A little more important not to walk away from a good job and an affordable home. Insurance. Family not so far away.  It’s a little more complicated these days to wander off to a whole new place and take on the unknown.

And yet. . . . . . . .  This place hasn’t been healthy for me. As a matter of fact this place has been really hard. There have been so many traumatic events in the last decade that no matter how I look at it, I can’t separate them from this place.  Not that moving here was the cause of anything – but maybe because here can no longer be separated from those things.  Deaths. Divorces. Critical Illness. Financial disaster. Terrifying weather. Serious depression. It’s been a lot on all our plates – my children and mine.

My entire life I’ve been an advocate of fresh starts. I’ve never seen a flaw in beginning again in a new place. Sometimes you need to brush off the cobwebs and move on. Not like running away, but more like running toward. I’m ready for a fresh start and a new place, but for now I need to hang on. I need to push through every day and try everyday not to give in to the exhaustion that drives the things that make it worse. Eat right. Exercise. Take vitamins. Do the right things and hang on, because it’s never about just choosing the wrong foods – it’s about peeling the onion layers, one after another, till you can find the heart of the problem, then layer by layer working back to a healthier, happier space. In a little while I’ll be up for it, and will start again.  It’s what we do, right?

 

Debatable

I watched the candidates go at each other the other night at the “town meeting.”

downloadCan we please just start over? I’ve never felt so discouraged. For years it’s seemed like it’s made little difference beyond the cost of gas and groceries who was elected. In my quiet little middle class life the days go on pretty much as usual. I know! I know! In the bigger picture who we elect has a profound impact –  but honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever really felt like serious damage is about to happen, and I’m worried for my children and grandchildren.  But that’s enough. I don’t really want this to be a political space.

In the meantime – I’m happy to say that my Youngest Child got away with a near miss from Hurricane Matthew. She lives just two blocks off the beach in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. We spent a tense weekend waiting to find out just what the damage would be. The YC had evacuated inland a bit and after watching the news and some powerful videos,

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Photo from ABC News

we were both pretty convinced her house had been flooded. Happily for her, by late Saturday she discovered that though the water had come close and the streets were a mess, she was one of the lucky ones.  The same good news came from nephews and a niece, and various friends. Many prayers of gratitude.

20161006_073656Here in the Middle we are on our usual Autumn roller coaster. (Is it Summer? Is it Fall? Is it Summer?) Today I wore a sweater for the first time this season.  Yesterday it poured down rain and the temperatures dropped into the 40’s and 50’s. In another day they will zoom back up into the 80’s, only to drop again a couple days after that. This is Fall In The Midwest.  As you all probably know by now, I’m a lover of cold weather, so each chilly day is a smile-maker for me.

Hope you’re having a good week, too, filled with lots of blessings!

 

 

Taking Care of Ourselves

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I tend to think of myself as a fairly unruffled person. Nine times out of ten, when I say something doesn’t matter or isn’t important it actually isn’t, in the sense of rocking my world or my psyche or my mood or even my day. I’m inclined to give things that disturb me their fifteen minutes of fame in my awareness, then I want to put them down and move on. Sometimes I’m surprised when an issue continues to habitate my mental space and I need to take a deeper look to get it sorted out.

Like everyone, there are things that instantly piss me off and things that can sit and simmer for a long time but usually a few minutes to a couple of days is all I’m willing to invest. I really do make a conscious effort not to dwell, dredge, or feed the negative energies. That said, neither am I an overwhelmingly joyful person. I may be missing the boat, but my personal happy space floats on the bay of calm contentment. Please don’t mistake that for “settling.”

I believe joy is something that comes to us in moments and afterwards we live in the glow of it for a while until either the next joyful moment – or trauma – shows up.  It’s in the glow that we find space to catch our breath and relax and rejuvenate and my happiness lives in the quiet peace of knowing everything’s OK for a while. It’s there that I’m able to take care of myself. I write a little and knit a little and watch the endless shows that nature provides. I just saw a fluttering of yellow leaves puffed out of the tree line by a wayward breeze. The other morning I felt the seasons begin to shift. I give myself this time, and to me it’s sacred.

I do other things for myself. I see a chiropractor now and then. I try to eat well and take my vitamins. I try to recognize my strengths and limitations, but mostly I try to live in that balanced zone between being too busy and doing nothing at all; between over-the-top excitement and the depths of despair. My happiness is that place where I’m able to move through my days with a graceful serenity and it happens quite often.  It happens at work when I can do my job at a steady pace without being crowded. It happens when I make good food choices so that I’m not being bullied by cellular gastronomy pushing and pulling me in a thousand directions and moods. It happens when I’ve gotten enough rest and can stay clear on my boundaries and limits. It happens when I give myself enough time to ponder the issues and events that are going on around me.

Does anybody do that anymore? Ponder?  In our world of designer tea and guided meditations, does anyone ever take the time to just sit and think about something to discover how they actually feel about it?  Here’s my thought: we (I) take hands full of pills – prescriptions, vitamins, herbs and supplements – and they are fabulous aides to our health and well-being, but how often do we Just. Take. Time?  Time to smell the roses. Time to dance. Time to love, to breath, to laugh, to sleep.  Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that to everything there is a season and a time. It’s a gift we shouldn’t refuse.

I’m an advocate of time. Can’t afford it?  Don’t have it? Can’t find it?  I get that. It’s hard and usualy there isn’t enough, but it’s out there and sometimes the cost of a little time is a lot less than the cost of doctors, therapists and yes – even suppliments.  I know there are a million ways to approach this whole discussion, but I believe, with my whole heart, that we might discover that a little bit of time here and there is almost as good as chicken soup.

Can you find a few extra minutes in your day and if you do, can you keep from filling them up? Can you find room to take a breath? I hope so and I hope you find healing in those moments of quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Time

I’ve been off work this week taking a lovely little “stay-cation.”  You know those – days off where you just stay home and relax.  I’ve been napping and reading and watching my birds and it’s been very nice and very unremarkable. Just the way I like it. I gave some serious thought to trekking off to somewhere new and exciting but the truth is, it’s just too hot. It’s too hot here and it’s too hot just about anywhere I could get to in the few days allotted me, so, for now, I’ve been pottering about at home.

I finally finished knitting the green socks and have made significant headway on another pair. (Plain vanilla, 3 X 3 rib on cuff, for my knitting friends out there.)

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I vacuumed. A lot. (ok – well maybe that hasn’t been the best part…….)

I’m watching the bird feeders. It’s the time of year when all the Spring babies have fledged (left the nest) and are starting to feed on their own. The feeders are full of these gangly, clumsy, awkward teenagers. Bad hair, bad tempers and no sense of style.  Right now most of them are molting and the poor things look absolutely ragged. For those of you that have been here before, you know that my bird pictures are compromised by having to be taken through a screen door, but even with that I think you can see what a fluffy, drooping mess these little guys are at the moment.  The little ugly ducklings waiting to turn into beautiful swans. I remember that stage. Do you?  If we can get through the galaxy all the way to Mars, couldn’t there be a better way to get through puberty and 7th grade?

This is a sparrow and a cardinal.  The little sparrow sat there for a long time before slowly tipping forward till his head bumped into the wire mesh of the feeder. I swear he just dozed off. The cardinal is molting and the most red on him is his beak. Maybe he’s a she. It’s hard to tell at this stage.

Speaking of 7th grade, school started here today. Sure seems early to me.  Like many of you, I remember when school started the day after Labor Day and ended the first week of June. Of course, I mostly went to school in Florida where we didn’t have to consider snow days. My first four years of school were in northern Illinois, and I don’t remember snow days there, either – but I was shorter then.

One thing that’s been fun has been having time to run errands and actually browse around a little bit. In my real, non-vacation life I function in “run-in-run-out” mode. Get the task done and move on to the next one, right? It’s nice to have time for a leisurely stroll up and down isles even if it is just the grocery store.

I head back to work on Friday – just in time for the weekend. Didn’t I plan that well?  This is what happens when you have to use those vacation days before time runs out. As I said, it’s been remarkably unremarkable, but sometimes that’s just what we need to regroup our energies, isn’t it?

What would you do with your days off? Are you an adventurer? Are you a napper? Are you a catcher-upper?  What is your idea of vacation heaven?

Rule Number One….

 

No Rules – Just Better Choices.

This is the conclusion I’ve come to recently.  Do you ever fret and worry a thought or an idea for weeks on end and then one day finally come to a place where you’re ready to just lay it down and move on – or away?  That’s what I’ve been doing.  For a long time now I’ve been slowly working on getting healthier.  Not that I’ve been ill, I’ve just been noticing a lack of energy and an increase in “ailments.”  Now and then I’ve looked around and wondered what happened.  It would be a lot easier to embrace my age if it weren’t always getting the better of me.

In my head, I’m still 28 and wondering when I’m ever going to be a grown up.  The rest of me is telling a different story.  It’s been a rough few years and I suppose like most women care of self has given way to care of others. That and I’m actually kind of lazy. Lately though I’ve been making plans. I’ve been thinking more about things that I still want to do and places I still want to go and there’s not a single thing that wouldn’t be better if I were healthier,  meaning the usual loss of some weight and gain of energy.

I wish I were very, very wise and could tell you the magic formula for doing this, but I’m not. It’s true that after a certain point everything becomes a bit more difficult. Weight wants to stay. Muscles want to relax. Will power and common sense want to take a vacation and there’s a part of us that just wants to be left alone. Then, when we think it’s all becoming just a little too much, the first thing we do is make a list of everything we are going to change.  Eat this. Don’t eat that. Walk 50 miles a day. RUN 50 miles a day. Join a gym. BUY a gym. Only eat celery. Never eat pizza again. You know the list. We all have one. A list of rules to Whip. Us. Into. Shape. Ho Hum.

You know what’s coming.  The minute we make a rule, the first thing we do is break it. Oh dear. Failure already.  Ok, next rule. Brake it.  What an idiot. Next. I can’t do anything right. Next. This is too hard. Next. Where’s the chocolate? Been there, done that.

It’s not just about health, either. We do it with everything we decide needs to be changed. I know there are volumes written about the human psyche and just what it is that makes us resist change so much. Why do we get so locked in to that comfort zone?  Because it’s comfortable!!!  DUH!!!!  That is until it’s not.  We all know that change can be a really good thing. Do something different. Go someplace different. Do SOMETHING to make our lives a little better or easier or more fulfilling.

20130801_105334Personally, I want my morning routine to be a little calmer. I want my days to start with prayer and morning pages and a stillness that can see me through the long workday ahead. For months I couldn’t seem to make that happen. Old habits kept getting in the way. Lay in bed 10 minutes too long. Turn on the TV for the morning news then stand there mesmerized by it. Whatever it is, it’s getting in the way. The sameness of daily routine. Every time I want to change it…well, see above.

And now I’ve worried it and chewed on it long enough.  What if there were no rules? What if there was no one standing over me wagging a disapproving finger. (You know her – she lives upstairs in the back, just behind your right ear.) What if it wasn’t a mistake to eat that slice of pizza or ice cream?  What if it were just a choice. Today I chose fudge, tomorrow I choose celery.

I have things I want to do and it bears the question, “What’s stopping me?”  Not the rules. Those kind of rules don’t mean anything.  Besides, we’ve already got all the rules we need. There are ten of them, and they have served us well for thousands of years.  Instead, I want to try to make the best choices I can about everything I can – and sometimes I won’t – but that’s OK, because little by little, I bet I start making the better choices more often than not.

They say it takes three weeks to develop a new habit. However long it takes, I’m going to plug away at it. If I eat that pizza, I’m going to enjoy every bite, and next time I’ll have a salad. I’ll turn the TV off and read, or go for a walk. Unless there is a show I especially want to watch. I’ll set my alarm 15 minutes earlier and that should give me time to stretch and get my eyes open, without causing a rush in the morning. No rules – no grand blueprint. Just the choices I want to make to start on the road to where I want to go.  Just little things – just one at a time.

Want to come along? I think it will be a nice trip.