Tag Archives: aging

Acknowledging feelings

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A few minutes ago I read that Glen Campbell died.    Now, I was a bit young for his music, (or was so into John Denver that no one else compared!) but I remember my parents loving his music, and when I hear his music, it lifts me up, makes me perky, happy.     So when I reacted with tears to his death, I was a bit dumbfounded.  First off, I’ve been told no one can cry on Prozac.   PLEASE!    I beg to differ!  I remember being at a drive in movie with my parents seeing a movie Glen Campbell starred in.  I had a bit of a crush on him from the movie.   But why am I so emotional about his passing?  It isn’t as if I knew him.  But I have been reading on his battle with Alzheimer’s for a long time, and while I’m grateful for him that his battle is behind him, I’m trying to decipher my own emotions.

Calling Dr. Freud!!!!!!!  

My dad is older than Glen, and my mother just a year and a half behind him.  I’m sure these facts are related to my reaction.   The stories I would read on his battle with Alzheimer’s reminded me of a girlfriend who was a student of mine when her mom was whisped away for years to this disease, and later, her dad.    What was impressed upon me was how loyal and loving this woman was.  She was a role model for me which I’m afraid I fall short on, when it comes to caring for parents.  I do what I can, I really do, and I think I’m a good daughter, but my dad lives hours away, my car has 271k miles on it, and currently uninspected.   When I see my dad, I see his aging, and the pain on his face from knee problems.    It’s very hard for me to see this.  But I know I’m not original to this difficulty, nor am I alone.

And I suppose some of this has to do with accepting death, and perhaps my own.   Don’t get me wrong, while I have freedom right now from the dark and potentially dangerous thoughts of a depressed mind, I see changes in myself, too.   It’s not just my parents who are getting older!

So now I’m listening to a playlist I made of Glen Campbell’s music, I’m working on a pet portrait that looks a hell of a lot better tonight than it did last night, but I’m keenly aware that life can and does change on a dime.     Something today that may seem insufferable, is cast aside with the wind when serious illness or injury occur.     The old adage “when you have your health, you have it all!” is so true!

I’m going to honor these feelings of sadness, and acknowledge the fear of losing my parents, or another sibling, or friend, and try to steer clear of dwelling.   Life is so short, precious, and it’s easy to lose track of what really is important in our lives.  Loss, death is inevitable.  Also I’m very sad (yet happy for my neighbor) that the sale of her house closed today, and she’s on her way down South.  I’m really going to miss her….

RIP Glen Campbell, your music reminds me of my parents when they were much younger, and parents to five children and having serious illness strike my oldest sister at the young age of 6.     Prayers for his family, as they say goodbye, once again, to their husband, father, friend.

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My dad

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In a couple of months my father will turn 81.  My father, a Navy vet who served his country, sent home money to his parents to help raise his younger siblings.  He is one of six children, the second oldest.

He and my mother had five children together.  Their oldest, my sister Karen, took ill at the age of six with meningitis. From that diagnosis she spent months in a coma, came out of it with the ability to only move her eyes. Intensive rehab brought her back from that, but she started seizing, (Seizure disorder) having numerous grand mal seizures a day, which reared her paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, walk. The seizures slowly and continually kept taking from her.

My father became an apprentice, and learned to be an incredible carpenter.  He did this so that he could build a home for us.  He (and my mother) built two beautiful homes. He worked more hours in one week then I’ve probably ever put into a job in a month, and I don’t consider myself lazy.  A very meticulous carpenter, and a house filled with four other children, weekend runs to pick up my sister and bring her home and back, proved difficult for everyone, including Karen.  The more seizures my sister had, the more it took from her.   I cannot imagine having a child and having such an awful thing happen to her.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like having made the decision to turn your very ill and medically needy daughter over to the ward of the state.   I remember judging my parents.  Asking them “If I get sick, will you send me away, too?”   Now I cringe at the very thought of asking that.  I cringe at the slightest thought that they could have chosen better.  Who the hell am I to ask such a question?   How much their hearts must have hurt.  But responsibility of four other children, and having worked night and day to pay off medical bills that today would have been covered by insurance, my parents made a difficult choice.  A choice that I believe was right for Karen.  A choice that I now believe gave me and my siblings, a more “normal” life.  If you can define normal.

My father has a wonderful sense of humor.  My whole family does, really.    And no matter whose company I am in, it is with my family that the laughter is the strongest, loudest.   I learned at a very young age that laughter heals.

My father became a plumbers apprentice and then went on to work for a company who sent him (foreman) and his crew many hours away, which they drove back and forth each day.  My father made a good living.  We always had a balanced nutritious meal on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and even “space” of our own.  We never needed for anything, and were taught that it was because of my fathers hard work, that we had the good life we had.    We also were taught that we lived in the best country in the world, and that our freedom is due to the many men (and now women) who served our country, many whom never made it home.  It’s sort of ironic how the man who gave most of his life to a job for his family, had at one point became invisible, absent.  But working for this company enabled him to give his children a good life, a good start.   His absence was only because he was working to give us this.  The company didn’t appreciate him.  They offered his little for pension.  But he kept going, day after day, for his family.  I know not how to live so selflessly.

He was our loudest fan at softball games, my brothers hockey games.   I always knew I was loved, and while I didn’t agree or like some decisions he made, including ending a 27 year marriage to my mother, I humbly have long since realized, I have no right to judge him or her on that, either.  What do I know about

He and my youngest sister, Darlene, were particularly close.   He admitted to the three of us remaining children last year “Okay, okay, Darlene was my favorite!”   He looked at us like it was an awful thing to say, only to find the three of us bent over laughing.   No shit, Sherlock!   The truth is, they were great buds.  They fished together, they did so much together.  It is nice to look at pictures of the two of them together.   The way Dad looked at her, she was “it”!   And this is not to imply he doesn’t love us, or look at us with swelling pride.   They had something very special.     I remember sitting next to my sister when she made the phone call to dad to tell him that her cancer treatment wasn’t working.  She said “I’m so sorry dad”.    I recall a conversation she and I had, one of our last and she said “You know Donna, he came to every ball game of mine”.  She was talking about after my parents split.  “He would get there late from work, but he always came”.   I am teary eyed thinking about her smile when she said that.  For whatever he didn’t do right (you know what I mean), being her loyal, faithful fan made it ALL right.  My sister was an old soul.  There was and would never be any jealousy there.  She was ALL OF OUR favorite.

I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing of late.     I do not know what it is like to be my dad.    I know what it is like to watch him age, lose physical and mental strength.  I sometimes have to look away so he doesn’t see my tears.  And yet, I know how very fortunate I am that at the age of 53, I still have both my parents.

I always thought I knew it all.   And for a long time I chased “his approval” foolishly.   That ended about a decade ago when I was unpacking my van, having been travel teaching.  He was helping me.  I pulled out a new painting and he looked at it, didn’t say anything, just looked.    I was tired, disappointed that he didn’t respond the way I wanted him to.  “Am I EVER going to do anything that makes you proud?”  I said with the sharpness of a razor.  I will never forget his expression.   His jaw lay on his chest.  It was that very moment I learned, my dad would probably never shower me with the compliments the way I once wanted him to, but he was proud of me.  And the chip I had on MY shoulder that day, hurt my dad.   “Of course I’m proud of you, Donna.  I love your artwork, I think you are very talented and I’m proud of all of my children.”   I have not, nor will I ever again question his pride for me.     I am SO over judging my parents on anything.  Thank God!   And now, I am working on doing the same for myself.   The crap we get into our heads!  It’s static!    It’s all just frigan static!

It’s funny as I age and realize just what an ass I have been in my life.  I’ve put my parents through some major worry, particularly when it comes to depression and mental illness.  I remember my second hospitalization.  My sister was with me at the phone.  She had brought me a teddy bear, I named him “Arthur”.  I think I was 24.   “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m in the Brattleboro Retreat.   I am getting help for my depression”.   “You have to pull yourself up by your boot straps Donna!”.   Of course I took that wrong, and he, being the age group that he was, wasn’t as educated on mental illness as he is now, 30 years later.     I was so hurt and angry.   Now I know, in HIS head and heart he was fearful.   My father “pulled himself up by his boot straps” over and over and over his entire life, to give to his children.    His heart, his head spoke from his experience in life, to hide the fear he had of what I would or have done to myself.  He wasn’t judging.  He was saying the only thing he knew to do!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me all these years to figure out how intelligent both my parents were and are.  And as I watch them losing ground, I am fearful of losing them.    I’ve been single for over a decade now.   My dad has always been there for me, to help me in any and all ways he can.   “I’m sorry, Donna, that I was focused on your brother’s education, and not yours.   I ignorantly thought that you girls would be taken care of, in marriage”.      There was once a time, and probably too long a period of time, that it angered me that I was raised with this mentality.  That the only way I would have a home is to have a husband.   But that has long since passed.   I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for marrying children, two of them!  I am responsible for where I am in my life.   If I had to do it all over again, I would have sought out college.   I know I could have made better choices for myself, could be financially secure, but I’ve also come to realize that even that isn’t as important as being a good person.   Doing my best, day in and day out, and living within the morals that I was raised and were taught.    The day I bought my house out from my ex-husband was one of the proudest days of my life.  I AM responsible.   I AM who I am because of the stable childhood I was blessed with, I learned the importance of family, and while I have no children or even husband of my own, I sometimes think about how difficult it is to keep my head above water.   I take pride in caring for and giving my animals a wonderful home.   And that is NOTHING compared to what my dad gave.    I am the strong woman I am today BECAUSE of my experiences.    I understand, now, why at the age of 30 when my 10 year marriage ended, how come that was so hard for me.  Because I felt like I was nothing without someone.    Oh my god have I grown.  Thank God!    And for all the things I thought my mom or dad did wrong, they did TWENTY TIMES that right!

I’ve watched my parents bury two daughters, their oldest and their youngest.  No parent should have to bury a child, but sadly, well, too many do.  I’ve watched both my parents battle cancer, and seen the anguish and hell it brought them to watch their three remaining children battle it too.     My dad has not had an easy life.  Like all of us if he had it to do over again, I’m sure he would have made some different choices, but my dad?  He’s only human.   My dad has led a good, honest life.  He knows what it is like to work hard for your family, to start over, and he will always remain “our father” in worry for his children.  My dad, what a great human he is!  He is visiting with my sister right now in NC.  I know he chose fathers day visit to mask the fact that I am his new favorite!   🙂

I have been blessed in life with an honorable man as my dad.  He really is my hero.    I am very grateful that I have had 53 years with my dad.   I am the good person I am today largely due to the good person my dad is.  Thank you dad.  I love you and you will always be my hero, and I, your little girl.

How did I get this age?

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While gazing out the window today through the brilliant green branches that hover near, I thought about time. How time eludes me, how slow it goes when times are tough, and how quickly when they are good. Yet still, even after the storm passes it seemed to pass at a very fast pace, just not as quickly as when all is well, flows smoothly.
Have you ever turned on the television and seen how your favorite actors or actresses have aged? Or on facebook see posts of gadgets that you used as a child and they are now “Remember when”? Looking at your family, your friends and wonder how the heck did they get old when I am still young, spry and have elasticity in my skin? But seriously, I looked down on an 8x magnifying mirror the other day and almost had a heart attack. Who is that? Who is that woman in my rear view window?
I think of myself as in my 30’s, only with more aches and pains. Last night I looked at single men in my age group on Match dot com and couldn’t believe how old they looked. How is it possible that I am 52? How? And yet no matter how old I get, my sister will always be 5 years older than me! Saving grace.
I have on several occasions been asked “If you had it to do over again, what would you change?” Well, for one, that BIG hair in the 80’s! I wouldn’t have gotten married so young. I would have waited until my 30’s, or even 40’s. I would have gone to college to be a graphic designer or fashion designer. It comes natural to me, but without proper training, well. I needn’t say more. I have sketches of sweaters and vests I plan to make this Fall/Winter. I have a book that chapters have been written and rewritten, and still… unfinished. I have paintings that are 75% finished, not many, but a few. I have blogs in draft form that I never published, edited, followed through. Sometimes I think that by not finishing all of these things, most certainly the book I’ve been writing for years and years, that I won’t die before I do it. A twisted sort of thinking that God will not take me before I finish these things. HA! Who am I fooling?
Now, as I sit here writing this, looking around at how my living room is decorated, with solids, plaids and florals, I wonder…Does my home reflect my age? Or more? Does my home look like an 80 year old woman lives here? Does it reflect my artistic abilities? The settled life that I lead? And on the flip side of this, what does my future hold? Will I finish the projects above or find myself living my dream(s)? Or a better question, will I jump off the cliff into faith and chase them?
Obviously today I am reflective. I am grateful for how things are today. As imperfect as they are, my life is good. Of course there is always room for self-improvement and even some material things, but my life doesn’t nor has it revolved around such. I say I don’t measure success in material form, but if I didn’t, would I want more? Is it wrong to want more?
So now I shall go put the freshly washed sheets on my bed. I will put on my 2.5 reading glasses, settle into a good book, which surprisingly to me is the Bible. I have tried over the years to do just so, but could not understand or interpret it and now it suddenly makes sense. I will plaster my legs with arthritis creme, and hopefully fall asleep for a lengthy, restful period of time. Before I close my eyes for the final time, I shall thank and praise God for my life, for my family and friends, all that I have, and my health. I will ask for guidance for what I am supposed to do tomorrow, and for strength and fortitude to face something I must face tomorrow… and when and if I wake up in the morning, I will give praise for another day, another opportunity to work on my unfinished projects, plans, another opportunity to expand my horizons, to spend time with those I love, for another opportunity to see childhood toys in antique shops. I will not look down on an 8x magnifying mirror tomorrow, I will however honor the skin that shows aging and give thanks for the anti aging creme that I love and sell. I will honor my aches and pains, put a smile on my face, walk through the challenges with my head held high with the grace of an aging woman, not the emotions of a child…and I shall make the most of this day. Have a great day!

Variety, the spice of work!

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Whether my mood has been affected by the gloomy weather we’re having or this is depression trying to lay it’s lead blanket on me, my attitude and thoughts are aligned with the weather.  I’m doing my best to ward off this feeling of defeat.

I needed to replace my Aveeda body lotion, so when I was at Walmart I did so, only after grumbling that the price was now over $1 more.  My nighttime ritual is to plaster my body with lotion just before I crawl into bed.  Excited that Aveeda had changed the cover from a pump to a squirt, I proceeded to rub it in.   What the heck did they do, change the formula too?  The consistency was totally different.  I had taken Benadryl and quickly fell to sleep.   This morning I woke up with my face stuck to the pillow case and my body to the sheets.  What the heck?  Well, I had purchased BODY WASH.   My morning shower required no further soap!    There were suds everywhere, including bubbles in the air!  This incident is worse than the bleach in the refrigerator and the milk on the floor in the bathroom from a few weeks ago.   Sometimes the things I do scare me!

My work consists of several venues.   I design in decorative painting industry, needlecraft industry and recently started in beading.    I try to go with the flow of creativity, though sometimes deadlines dictate my work schedule and medium.   The past few days I have felt a shift coming.  This mornings actions confirmed this when I found myself putting away the beads even before I was reminded of a magazine deadline.  It’s time to reacquaint myself with my paintbrushes.   I’m looking forward to this but of course cleaning off my paint table will be a chore in itself.  May the force be with me!

It’s nice to have a variety of mediums to work with.   I find that I am gentler on myself, not beating myself up if my skills in one area seem to travel South.  For instance, when I find myself, not purposely, having brushes fly out of my hands, it’s time to move to something else.   When the yarn gets bunched and knotted and I’ve spent an hour untangling it, it’s time to move to something else.   After I’ve lost 3 needles and found myself bleeding from pokes, it’s time to throw the broach I’m working on across the room!   Okay, I didn’t, but I thought about it.

I’m recalling a time when Cabbage Patch dolls were the in thing.  Acquiring them for Christmas was next to impossible.  A friend of mine asked me if I’d make one for her great niece.  Okay, I can do that, as they sold the patterns and the cabbage patch doll heads at the local textile mill.    The doll was coming along nicely.  It was time to put the head on.    I had a full strength needle that was about 4″ long and was using this to sew the head on the doll.    This meant working it through the plastic.   I had stabbed myself so many times with the needle that my anger got the best of me and I threw it across the room against a wall.  Coincidently my then boyfriend and his friend walked in just as the doll slammed against the wall and fell to the floor.   He picks it up, brushes her off and said “I guess we’re not ready for kids yet?”

My mom was once a seamstress, making prom and wedding gowns for pay.   She would sew on our kitchen table which was in front of a sliding glass door to our back yard.   One day, while working with chiffon, our Black Lab, Cinder Poo (Pooey) saw something out back, he plowed through the area she was working right through the screen, taking along with it the sewing machine and gown.   That day my siblings and I stayed scarce!

Sometimes I remind myself when I’m having a hard day, or something happens, like yesterday that makes me feel defeated, that one day I will be able to look back at it and laugh, or impress myself with the strength I had to get through it.   Don’t you find this to be true?   I also find that as the course of life naturally happens, the gift of perspective comes to play.   Most of the stuff I used to fret about I wouldn’t today.   Unimportant!

Hope you have a great weekend!  Hope the sun comes out here, and I hope that my smile returns to my face!

Bob Dylan Unplugged….in the bose…. yup….This will surely turn me around!

 

 

 

 

 

Pace of life

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As true to form, things can go from a slow almost still pace to full speed ahead.  Just a couple of changes in my and my loved ones life and I find myself somersaulting with things to do.  It reminds me of shopping, there are several others too.   You look, the checkout isn’t busy, you look a bit more and then head to the checkout where now droves of people now stand.  How did that happen?  How did everyone in that store decide to check out at the same time.

Lately my mind has been a sieve.   Short term memory is almost non existent.  How is it I can sing songs from the 70’s, 80’s verbatim but cannot remember what I was doing or said I would do 5 minutes ago?  I am frustrated.

The season is opening with ants, fleas and ticks.  Joy, oh joy.   I’m chasing away these tiny disgusting ants that have appeared on my counter, pulling ticks off the dogs and saw the first trace of fleas yesterday.  Not good.  So not good.  Ticks are rampant here and there is also a local (within a mile of me) case of rabies.  Not good either.     It’s so much easier to stay huddled in my home, blind and immune to what is going on outside but that just isn’t life, is it?

I’ve yet to see the residential blue birds whom rent space in 3 of my birdhouses every year.  I have, however, seen lots of yellow finch.    My quince bush is budding.  Soon the hummingbirds will be flocking to it.  I love to watch them.    I hope there will be another family of bunnies underneath my shed for my eldest cat, Jennifur to play with.  She is a friend to all species.   One summer becoming part of a
“skunk” clan, babies and all.   Every night I would hold my breath as I let her in…praying that she had not been sprayed.   When we had chickens she hung out with the chickens.  She’s a funny cat, an old lady.  17 or 18 year old Maine Coon who is much smaller than norm but fast?  This cat scoots around so fast it’s hard to keep up with her.  However, when she does nowadays (and she’s only been out a few time since the glorious end of winter), she limps for hours after.  We’re all feeling our oats.

As I told my sister the other night, this German Shepherd puppy is mighty smart, by far the fastest running dog I have ever seen, full of piss and vinegar, and I sometimes wonder “What have I done to my life?”    I’m assured by others that she will make a wonderful loyal companion, she’s still a puppy and needs to be trained.  I am rolling my eyes asking myself again “What have I done to my life?”  An absolute love, sweet, not a mean bone in her body I know myself, there is no way I can abandon her.

It’s a dreary damp rainy day here in New England.   The sound of rain is currently only available from the outside traffic disrupting it’s embedding the road.   Today will be a nice day to turn on the fireplace, “To light a fire” with my fingers on the gas switch! 🙂

The weekend is soon among us.   I love the energy in a bank, grocery store, and good ole Walmart when a weekend commences – excitement, motivation, laughter.  It’s quite different from the Monday morning mule.   

Have a nice weekend, be sure to find something to laugh at.  If you are amidst challenges difficulties, hold strong, it really is always darkest before the dawn, and if you have travel plans, be safe.

Hugz,

Donna

On loss

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My uncle died this morning.  He was my mom’s youngest brother and only living sibling.   His life was far from easy, having been in a very bad automobile accident in his teens.   I have been thinking about how hard it must be to be the last survivor of your siblings.    I do not have a death wish, but I do not care to walk through the pain of losing my surviving sister or brother.

It feels like I have lost 20 years of my life.   I find myself reflecting back to what seems a couple years but reality, now 10, 15, 20.   My parents are in their 70’s, my dad will be 80 this year.  The older I get the “younger” the years become.   I remember thinking I would never make it to 21…31…41…51 and I’ve surpassed all.

My parents found relief when my oldest sister, Karen died 2 years ago next month.  Karen’s life, like my Uncle’s was not easy either.  I am so not “up” on what is politically correct, both severe handicaps, both experiencing brain damage.    I heard the same relief in my mom’s voice tonight as I did when Karen died.   I know it is that she can die knowing he is okay.  She had promised her mother that she would watch over him, take care of him.  My mother did her very best.  My Uncle wasn’t always an easy person to get along with.   He could become belligerent, defensive when there was no threat to him.   Because of his mental and physical challenges he, like my sister, were in harms way of others.  I remember too well, the gifts we bought my sister, only to have them stolen from staff who were taking care of her.  Pitiful.  What kind of person could take from the handicapped?  Pitiful, may God be with them.   My Uncle, too, was manipulated many times over in his life.   Very sad to think about but sadder to think of the person(s) who did so.

My mom was with him, holding his hand when he passed.   I can’t help but think about all the defensive actions he took against a woman who loved him, who was only trying to help him, because he was persuaded by the greed of others.   I can’t help but think that when he opened his eyes this morning, my mother was the only one with him, he understood her efforts.   I can’t help but think how he felt when upon opening those eyes he gave her a great big smile.

My Uncle could squeeze the poop out of a buffalo nickel.   At one point when he was getting food from the local food bank, he sold the huge bars of cheese for $4.   When my mother found out she was aghast.   How could he do that Donna?   We laughed.   We found this out one of the many times he was in the hospital.  My mom gave his neighbors some of his food so that it wouldn’t go bad.  A male neighbor said to my mom “You mean, I can have the cheese for free?  I don’t have to pay $4?”    You couldn’t blame him, however.  His limitations played a part in his entire life.   When we were talking today we shared this memory and once again, laughed hysterically.  What’s worse?  He selling the cheese or the man who didn’t know it was available free to him as well and paid him $4?

I remember my Uncle fondly.   I remember as a youngster being “afraid” of him because it was obvious he was different.   I think back on that now and feel sad, yet I was just a kid, what did I know?

A couple of years ago he had a broken hip (?).   My mom wasn’t able to do for him as much as she did because she, too, had physical limitations at that time.  I would go to my Uncle’s, pick up his grocery list and try to pull the $20 bills out of his hand that he didn’t want to let go of.    He still owes me $60 from the last time I went.   I had forgotten this, my mom hadn’t.   Again, we laughed.

I saw him 2 weeks ago when I was leaving a doctor’s office and he was walking in.   My mom and he looked so much alike.   He, of course, had more hair on his face.    I kind of chuckled when I saw that he was finally wearing the new glasses my mom had arranged for him to get a few years ago.  He wouldn’t wear them.  He wanted to “save” them so he wouldn’t have to buy another pair in his lifetime.   As comical as I find all of this, I also saw the pain, the anguish some of this caused my mom.   She only wanted to do right by him, and she worked hard to do so.   I think she did great.  There were times when her patience was truly tested and she had to walk away to maintain composure.   She loved him.   He was her kid brother.   As difficult as he was, as stubborn as he could be, she loved him.    She really did love him.

When I think of some of the things my mom has had to endure in her life I am in amazement of her strength.   A strong willed personality, a strong intelligent woman, it doesn’t settle well within me to see her aging, to see my father aging.   I realize how fortunate I am to still have both my parents, I also realize if they die before me I will feel like an orphan.  I depend on my parents moral support, their advice.   I guess you know when you’ve grown up when you realize your parents DO and DID know what they were talking about.   Ahh, if I only knew half, now, of what I thought I knew then.

I will go to bed tonight envisioning my sister’s welcoming my Uncle on the other side.   He loved all of us kids and was particularly close to Karen, my oldest sister as he spent a lot of time with her when she was little.  My mom and he lost their mom too young, but older than many.  I suppose we all think of those we have loved and lost that it was too soon.

With teary eyes I just looked up into the sky to see if there was a particularly bright star.  My heart is in my throat at the moment as I think about life, as I think about death.    I’m not afraid to die, I am, however, afraid of losing others.   I barely made it through the grieving process with my sisters, with Jim.   Yet, death is a part of life, just as birth is.   The old adage “there are 2 constant’s in life…. death and taxes”.    I

I meant what I said earlier.  I do not want to be the last sibling to die.   I don’t know what is in store for us, for me but I hope that I will not live through another siblings death.  It will be hard enough accepting my parents.   One of the three of us will be the last to die, it’s a fact of life.  Not easy, but a fact of life.    My girlfriend lost her mother unexpectedly and quickly a few months ago.  She is a mother, a grandmother.  She struggles still.   I’ve said before, I don’t think we ever really heal.  I think that times teaches us how to coexist with the pain.   I’ve watched my parents lose their oldest and youngest daughters.  My heart hurts at the thought of it.   That has to be one of the most painful things in life, losing a child.    It must truly suck.  I think sometimes that my mothers strength was not only out of need, but faith.   Like my Uncle, my mom’s life hasn’t been easy either.   There are times I want to smack her, but those times are few and far between.  I value her opinion, and trust me, she is more than willing to give it!  I value her advice.

Rest in peace Uncle Hank.  I want to believe you are reunited with your parents, your brothers, your nieces.   You deserve to be walking in the house of the Lord, it’s time to rest, the dense path you carved through your life has come to close but you will not be forgotten.   I will always laugh at some of your antics and smile at the thought of you.    Rest in peace….  ♥

The journey to wisdom…

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Another day that I feel was wasted with sleep, rest.   Shaking my head.   Tomorrow will be better.. .tomorrow will be better.   The antibiotic seems to be working however, I feel better.  Not so much that someone punched me in my face but more like a baby swinging their head back and getting me.    Softer…

I have been contemplating my life, my life accomplishments, failures, and more.   Sometimes I look at my life and think I’m the luckiest person in the world, I do what I love for work, I love my family and many friends, I’m surrounded with furries, I live in a beautiful part of the world where I get to often see nature’s creatures.    I can look at my designs in art, jewelry, needle craft, and read my writing and think “Damn girl, you’re doing okay”.     Other days, not so much.

On these days I have to remind myself that I should not measure success by way of my bank account.    I would barely get a few feet.  I’m not materialistic, though I love nice things.   I want my home to be a reflection to who I am, and offer warm comfort and welcome to guests.   I’m told that I have succeeded here.   I think about the unfinished mural of Tuscany in my kitchen, the hole in the wall to fit the stackable into it’s new location upstairs, the broken and old windows that offer no insulation, and the many other things that I know and some days, is all I see.   I have to look further.    My home, my body, my life is a work in progress.    If everything were to be put in proper place and fall together, wouldn’t that be boring?     Sarcasm (to tear flesh)……

Have been thinking about something and last nights conversation with my bestest girlfriend took this even further.    I, we are forever changing, growing.    We may watch a movie one day, and then years later watch the same movie and see it’s message so differently.  Why?   Because we are not who we were the first time we saw it, therefore we have grown, evolved from there.    It’s like driving the same road for years and then one day seeing something, sizable, that we had never seen.   It happens.    Instead of getting flustered with why we didn’t get the goodness, the message we are getting from it now years later, perhaps we can look at it as if whatever we saw then, was what we were ready to see?

Hindsight is always 20/20.  I enjoy asking people this question “If you could go back and do it all again, what would you do?”  You may be surprised to hear “I don’t want to go back”.   I feel that way.   But I can dare to look at the things I would have done differently.   Not failure, or regrets, just knowledge.  There is a difference.   Knowledge comes from truth.     No one goes through life without missteps.

As I mentioned before, I am trying to look at my life for what it is.  I recently have been getting my will together, and making known  my end of life choices, and realize on days that are difficult, that I have not all I need to live an unfrustrated existence, I can easily whip myself into self loathing, feeling bad about the decisions I once made that reared me where I am today.   Which feels like rubbing my nose in it, in a cruel manner to self.   What good does this do?  And also, is it accurate?   This is where self doubt is a good thing!

I sat with a woman yesterday who was trying to help me in one area of my life.  Tears started to fall down my face and she said “What’s wrong?”  With my eyes looking outside into the woods I said “This is not where I expected to be at this point in my life.  What have I done wrong?”   She looked at me, smiled, and kindly said “Did it ever occur to you that you are not doing anything wrong?”     Her words startled me.  “Um, NO!”     Flooding back are the words from close friends who have encouraged me through my life and the challenges, and the highs that comes with it.   Why am I so quick to blame myself for everything?   Why am I so quick to think that I am not “good enough”, something that I have learned once was the center of my being, ruling me, proving to myself and others the validity of those two words.  I am happy to say that I no longer have this belief at my core.   It still hangs around, surrounding my feelings, and there are days I can roll my eyes, push them off, and other days I begin feeling caged within them.    My girlfriend Pam has said to me on numerous occasions, “Why do you think you need anymore purpose than who you are right now?”   I don’t know.  I guess maybe I don’t!

I listen to my mother, colorful creature whose hard exterior covers a woman who has withstood much pain.  My mother is a highly intelligent woman.   At 52 I can finally see that! 🙂 ♥    Oh if I only knew half, then, of what I thought I knew now!    She is more intelligent than I am, and gives very good sound advice.    At 52 I do not hear or view her words as personal.  I listen, don’t always agree, but give her the courtesy of sharing her wisdom.   We can learn so much from our elders, from each other.  We just have to shut our mouths and open our ears, our eyes.  Something I forget to shut my mouth!  :0  We hear talk of others “he is an old soul.”   My youngest sister I would describe as an old soul.  Why?  Well, for one, she observed a lot.  Would watch with her eyes, listen with her ears and put the kibosh to blurting out whatever stupidity may have come out merely from age, lack of knowledge!   Not me, open mouth, insert foot.

So now I’m thinking back on this day of rest.  Was it a wasted day?  No, I’m healing, I need sleep to get beyond this illness.   Did I accomplish what I wanted to?  No.   Is that okay?  Yes.    Now looking back at my accomplishments I can view them with much kinder, softer eyes, perhaps even gently!    I may not like where I am today, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like myself as I do.

What does this mean?  What does this leave me with?   A choice.   Is what I do not like in my life worthy of change?  If it’s shunning me from self love, of course it is.   What, then, do I need to change?   I can, and I do, ask the advice of trusted others.   I can work through my feelings, my thoughts and get to a point where I am looking at myself reasonably, whole, not just negative or just positive boasting.   I can then pray or ask my higher power to guide me, help me to become who and what I’m supposed to become….knowledge and go about my day more open minded, more grateful, more observing than lashing, judging.  I believe many of us are our own worst critics.   I can be closed minded, judging myself unmercifully.   Does that make it true?   Ahh….. Nope!  Because feelings aren’t facts and our thoughts may not be truthful.

Here lies, then, the conundrum….   How do I decipher what I “know” (wisdom, six sense) and what I “think” I know?  Should I not listen to my inner voice warding me of peril?  Of course I should listen.   Should I not listen to my gut instinct, which is telling me to stay away from this, or that?  Of course I should listen.    I do think, however, when I start to bang myself around, subjecting myself to self judgment and loathing… perhaps I should THEN question, heed my own words.

The older I get, the more intelligent I get.  Unfortunately, however, I can’t always remember!   Ain’t maturity fun?  I am looking at life as a journey to wisdom.   I will not do everything perfect, and something I may dwell on today may become insignificant tomorrow, I may look back on things I would do differently, having given the chance… but when I start to beat the crap out of myself?  It’s time to put the stick down and walk away.  It’s useless, it’s abusive, it’s unproductive…. and chances are, I have not all the information to pass judgment on myself.   Perhaps what I am thinking is NOT fact?  That means, it is also is not knowledge.  So why do it?

I’ll leave you with the most valuable lesson I have learned ….  Life doesn’t revolve around me…. who knew?

 

How “embarassing”…..

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While getting out of my car at Walmart I look down… What is that?  Oh, it’s tarter sauce from the fish filet I got at McDonalds.  (I only eat these and infrequently)  Three big gobs, and evenly spaced between each other…. NO!   As an artist I want non patterned, free floating things in my life..    A woman and her child walked past me as I was wiping it off and the little boy said “Mommy, that girl made a big mess!”    I laughed, yes, yes I did.     I head to the bathroom to hopefully wash it out more.  I had noticed on the way there that my sweatshirt wasn’t as comfortable as usual, it was irritating and tight on my neck.  Well, I had it on backwards!  So the good news was, I flipped it to correct it. If you approached me you wouldn’t see it, but if you walked behind me you would say “How the heck and what the heck did she get on her sweatshirt?  I wonder if she knows it’s there?”

This reminded me of working at Basketville (BVille)  as a Floral Designer.  I loved that job.  BVille offered $25 bonuses for suggestions that were accepted.   Carly, a woman who had incredible vision and intuition, suggested that they paint a “Yellow Brick Road” from the door to the restrooms, as that was the most popular question asked.  When the buses would come in, we designers (who were in the back of the store) would be approached and asked the infamous “Where is the restroom?”  It got to a point where we would look at them as they approached and just motioned in the right direction.    One day we put a sign up… “Restrooms” with an arrow in the direction.  We got in trouble for that one, the owner did not like it and said it was rude.    Yah, we were in the back in a corner where men would come and wander and feel comfortable passing gas there.   We would be at the counter watching and it was as if we were invisible!   But I digress.     One day a well dressed woman came out of the bathroom with a trail of toilet paper behind her.  The younger kids (and there were plenty) were laughing, running to each other to ensure they all saw it.    The manager, a handsome, kind, sweet and thoughtful man, came over and asked me “Do we tell her?”   I walked over to her and told her “Ma’am you have a tail made of toilet paper!”  NO, I didn’t, just kidding.  When I told her she was so embarrassed but thanked me profusely before and after she corrected it.    Humans…. we are perfectly imperfect.

Then there was the time that I went to work with two different shoes on…. do you know that you can now buy socks purposely mismatched?  It’s a trend, so I don’t care that the majority of the time I have mismatched socks, but shoes???? Really?  Also mismatched earrings, but that is like art to me!  I design, make and sell jewelry that is mismatched.   Then there was the time I went to Michaels with my bestest.  As we walked in I said to her “Strange, I must be losing weight as these pants are so much looser, making them less comfortable”.   As I walk to another aisle, I lift my shirt and there were my pants, unzipped, unbuttoned!  Frightfully that was only a few weeks ago, I can’t blame it on youth.

I know I’m not alone when I go to the dentist.  Before I go I am in my car looking in the rearview mirror to see if I have any boogars hanging out.  This, of course, usually rears me the vision of hair coming out my chin.  (Shaking my head).   And what about when you are out and about and you have to go #2?  I sit in the stall waiting for the person in the next stall to flush, taking advantage of the sound to flush out the obvious!  Or worse, at a friends house and suddenly you need to get to the bathroom quick?  Yep, it’s embarrassing.  Well, when I went to Los Angelos last December my roommate brought this tiny little can of “Poopourri”  …. it works, put a couple drops in the toilet before you go and no odor.    Still, there is the sounds……   And here you sit, wondering why you are reading this disgusting blog!

I remember well the day I was at Olive Garden with two friends.  We, as always, got to laughing hysterically.  This was the first time I laughed til tears ran down my legs…. Oh joy!   Yes, this is a part of aging, this is a part of being perfectly imperfect.

So now I will sign off.  I will not worry about the stained spots on my sweatshirt, the hairs on my chin, the boogars in my nose, nor will I sit on the toilet and shake my leg waiting for an empty restroom to “go”… I’m home.  I’m in my womb, in the privacy of my house where I can do anything I want and whatever I want without worry of what others think.   If I do something stupid, I smile and laugh at myself for the stupid things I do.    I must say, however, after eating baked beans at a friends house, that evening, hours later, I scared the crap out of my dog who was sleeping beside me.   Ran so fast downstairs!  Not sure if it was the sound, or the smell.   Need to put pineapple in your beans, people… makes Hawaiian music!

Have a perfectly imperfect day, you human you! 🙂

My tree of life………..

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In the coziness of my small little abode, the fireplace providing penetrating heat to my tired body, I am grateful tonight.  Grateful that I own my own home, even with as much work as it needs.   I grew up believing that the only way I would own a home is to marry.  Well, guess what?  Not the case.

One of the proudest days of my life was when I went to the bank and closed on my house.  I bought it out from my ex-husband.   It’s where I have done my most growing, actually maturing.  I have been here 25 years, moved here in my 20’s.  Upon moving here we sold the large acreage of land we owned, finding it too expensive to build on (had to put in power, a very long drive, etc.).   From that piece of land I dug up a small maple tree.  Well, it wasn’t even a tree then it was 4 or 5″ tall, very fragile.   When we moved in here it was planted in the back yard.   This tree now stands 40 (?) feet tall, I call this my “Tree of Life”.    Many a night I would go sit out under that tree, pondering whatever, wherever I was at the time.   I have lit candles underneath that tree, I have buried the ashes of my beloved furry children, and above that resides perennials, a memorial for those I loved (and still love) who have since passed.  

It has stood strong and grown with me, offering shelter not only from the sun but also rain, sleet, snow.   I love this tree.   There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at it and smile, either out my kitchen or porch window(s), or as I drive into my yard.   A few years ago the heaviness of a snow storm broke off a fairly large branch.   As I picked up the pieces, bringing them to my burn pile I remember thinking “How ironic”, or was it?  I, too felt like I had one of my limbs broken off,   I healed alongside this tree.  Afraid that it was going to die on me, it proved to hold its own and heal, and continues to stand tall, healthy and proud.   

Today I went and visited a dear friend.  It is a couple hour drive and a beautiful drive at that.  We have been having unbelievably beautiful weather, while foliage is passing it is nonetheless beautiful.   I love New England, I love Vermont, I love where I live.   I hope I can always afford a home here.   My hometown isn’t home for me, though it is settled only 25 miles away.  This small town which probably has more cows than residents, this small house which has provided shelter and many times like the safety of a womb, this is my home. 

I love being home! 🙂

Yes we have no bananas!

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We have no bananas today!   Remember that Harry Chapin song???  Yes, we have no bananas, bananas in Scranton, PA!  And for the very few of you in the world that haven’t heard… I was kissed at 16 by Harry Chapin!  I stayed after a concert for him to sign his poetry book, which he did.  He told me I was beautiful and he kissed me on the lips…. Oh yes, didn’t I just think I was something!

So tonight I was surfing the internet and saw the heading “Date Seniors over 50!”  Wow.  I am going to turn 49 in a couple of months, am I REALLY just one year off from being a senior citizen?  Holy Pits, Batman!    There are a couple tragedies here.  First, when exactly was the prime of my life, and second, I did not even know it!!!

It’s funny, I do not FEEL like I am a year away from being a “senior”.    Physically I suppose I have days that are better than another, but when I hear myself or my friends referred to as “seniors”, suddenly my aches, my pains do not feel so bad!    Recalling a time back in the late 80’s when I was struggling with clinical depression.  Surprisingly I had become pregnant (Rare chance that it would happen…female problems).  I had major concerns about the antidepressants I was on.  One of the choices they gave me was “shock treatment”.  Let me tell you, that awakened me to the idea of exercise, proper diet and quickly! 

At almost 49, I feel like I am the best I have ever been in my life.  Perhaps not physically, but certainly mentally (with the exception of the cognitive problems I’m having… oh my, I guess I AM a Senior!).  My experiences have shaped me into a person with much knowledge, capable of deep compassion, empathy, sympathy, kindness, loyalty and more.  Well, um, I should be all of these things now, I should be wiser, smarter, full of knowledge… I’m almost a senior!!!!

Yes, we have no bananas today, bananas in Scranton, PA.  Who is to say that this moment of my life isn’t my prime?  Hey, it’s a matter of perspective.  Overripe bananas have sex appeal too!!!!