BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Aligning stars

Sometimes, the stars just align.  I tend to fret and worry — old habits die hard.  Usually, there is something during the course of a day that will spark a fear and fan the flames.  I am an over-thinker.  But this weekend was different.  It was very pleasant and joy-filled.

On Saturday, we had a family dinner.  Everyone was there except my oldest daughter and her boys – but then they live 7 hours away.  Quite a drive just for dinner!  Usually, when we get together, there is tension of one kind or another (maybe it is just me overthinking?), but this time it was really nice with no overshadow of angst.  We visited and watched the youngest grandson play, as he went from window to window looking for the “horth” (horse).  We put his snow clothes on and took him outside to play in the snow.  His uncle pulled him on the sled and it was precious.

A little later, his cousin arrived and we all welcomed him with big hugs.  The house filled with small voices and big giggles as the cousins played together and the adults greeted each other.

Our dinners are potluck, so we worked together to get dinner on the table and it was delicious!  The room then filled with big voices and funny banter.  Afterwards, we all gravitated to the family room to watch the two boys run and play.  It was like having dinner and a show.

This was a family dinner that I will remember although nothing monumental occurred.  I can’t even remember what we talked about – but it was just a fun gathering.  We enjoyed each others company and that was most pleasant.

Then, the next morning, I Facetimed with my daughter and two grandsons. They were eager to tell me about their trip to an indoor trampoline park and were so animated and happy.  It was wonderful to see.  I love it when they want to tell me every detail (the youngest one could barely get a word in edgewise but, as always, he acts so happy to see me and that is priceless).  I have missed them and it was good to see their smiling faces.  My oldest grandson has been a little distracted in the last month when we’ve talked – so it was great to have him anxious to talk and tell me about his fun adventure.

Yes, sometimes the stars just align.

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Jello

I have been dreaming about my mother every night for the last several nights.  In the dream last night, she still had alzheimers but only the early stages.  She could still talk and wanted to drive again.  She was heavier and more mobile in the dream and I kept losing her in the crowd.  Right before I awoke, I had just found her in Target and was horrified to realize that she had driven her car there.

In the dream, she was also angry.  Not at anything in particular, just slamming doors and scowling.

I have also been dreaming about my dad – sometimes he and mom are together, other times he is alone.  In one dream, he was living in a foreign country and I was trying to get him to move back home.   The odd thing about dreams of dad is that he never speaks.  I just know what he is thinking – without him talking.  Odd.  Perhaps because what I miss most about him is the sound of his voice and being able to hear him talk.

We lost my dad 15 years ago.  He had heart surgery and developed infection.  It was sudden and unexpected – truly shocking and heartbreaking for all of us.

We have been losing my mom for about 3 years now.  She has been slowly fading from view.  Losing her is no less heartbreaking but not shocking – just exhausting.  Mourning her loss carries a daily dread that you cannot escape.

It is hard to remember what she used to be.  Maybe that’s why I keep dreaming about her — trying to grasp some semblance of what she was.  It is like trying to hold on to a piece of jello.  It is difficult to hold without squeezing it through your fingers and the warmth of your hand causes it to melt and seep through the cracks, no matter how you try to seal it in.  You can’t stop it from melting but you can’t let it go either.

blah blah blah

As I sit and watch the cursor blink, I can hear the furnace running, the microwave beeping and my husband shuffling around the kitchen, making scrambled eggs.  Any moment now, he will call out to me that “breakfast is ready”.  My window reveals a cloudy sky and dark yellow grass with the twinkling of hazy orange yard lights.  It is not quite dawn.  The mountains look black against the clouds and there is fresh and bright white snow at the top.

It is the dead of winter.  The trees are skeletal, standing with their arms open wide – waiting.  In every direction, there is mud, ice, water and the smell of old, damp grass.  There is a threat of snow and we all lie in wait as the snowline moves further and further down the mountain toward the valley floor.

Across the way, a cow is bawling.  It is calving season.  Despite the brown and gray and cold – new calves are being born.  Within minutes they are up on unsteady legs, walking and nursing.  In a few hours, they will be running and playing.  New life, among all of the dead and slumber of winter.  It brings hope for spring.

We all have breakfast; me, the cows and calves, and the magpies.  As dawn arrives, I see that there is green grass among the brown and yellow.  The skeletal trees are waving in the breeze.   The snow is coming and we continue our vigil for spring.

Ramblings

I slept through the blue moon and lunar eclipse.  In my defense, I thought it was going to happen on Wednesday AND it was very cloudy here.  Turns out, it was on Tuesday.  I did see the full moon in the morning on Thursday and it was gorgeous — so I’m just going to be grateful for that!

It is always good for me to take a vacation away from home and my normal routine.  Otherwise, I would never notice how narrow my world has become.  I always return feeling rejuvenated, with plans for completing tasks and projects that have been too long in my queue.

There are things I would like to learn. Here’s one: how to paint my fingernails.  At almost 60 years old, I still can’t manage painting the nails on my right hand without also painting the skin around the nail.  I know it takes practice but geez – in the meantime, it looks like one of my grandsons painted them for me.  Maybe I should use that as an excuse!  I can accomplish painting my toenails but that’s because I can’t really see them from afar.  Looks great from my viewpoint!

I also would like to learn how to caulk things.  Our house is now 12 years old and there are places – inside and out – that need to be re-caulked.  It is something that I should be able to do — doesn’t look all that difficult.  But just like my nails, while I’m figuring it out and trying to perfect the skill, it will look like one of my grandsons did it!

As for projects, I have a bazillion photos in boxes.  I really need to go through them, sort them and write, at the very least, the year they were taken.  I started that project the year I retired and haven’t gotten back to it…  I am sorting them into individual boxes for my kids.  If I do this now, they won’t have to when I pass.

As for my goals — I want to stop watching so much TV.  It is a difficult habit to break, especially in the winter.   It is cold, gray and there are worlds of adventures to WATCH.  So — walk more, watch TV less.  Read more — watch TV less.  Write more — watch TV less.

I will also work on paying closer attention to my surroundings — so I don’t sleep through the next blue moon, lunar eclipse or zombie apocalypse.

 

Escaping winter

Aloha.  Just returned from my first visit to Hawai’i.  It was quite an adventure.  We stayed at a very nice resort in Waikiki.  The weather was divine.  It was around 77 to 81 degrees with 70% humidity.  My hair curled up like Shirley Temple!

We did a fair bit of sight-seeing and people watching.  There was a lot to see in both realms.

Manoa Falls

 

Walked to Manoa Falls in the drizzling rain (you get wet but you really don’t get cold!).  The falls were beautiful, the trail was muddy and there were a lot of people.  Many people who do not read signs, have you ever noticed that in your travels?  There were signs everywhere and ropes barring entry into the area of the pools but people crawled over the ropes and went swimming in the pools anyway…  Maybe they didn’t speak/read English?  Except, the bright red circle with a slash through it is pretty universal.

Also noticed that a lot of people will not make eye contact, even though you are face to face and have to side-step each other on the trail.  Being from Montana, where you speak to almost everyone you see, we would say “hello” or “good morning”.  Most people responded in kind and were very friendly – with a hint of surprise in their voices that we would address them.

 

 

Pearl Harbor – Arizona Memorial in background.

The Mighty Missouri Battleship

We also visited Pearl Harbor.  It was a full day and very interesting.  Highly recommended — lots to see. This is a great historical sight.  I knew very little about Pearl Harbor other than movies I have seen in the past.  Plan for a whole day if you want to see everything.

 

 

 

 

Sandy Beach – lots of huge waves for body surfing (although we did none of that!).

Notice the curly hair…it was straight before we got to the beach!

Sandy beach was a place described as “large waves, perfect for body surfing – a place where the locals hang out”.  All true.  There is a lifeguard on duty who makes an announcement about the danger of the waves and advises that only “experienced” surfers can go in the water.  I can see why!  It was amazing.  My husband and brother-in-law only dipped their toes.  As advised, they watched the experienced surfers get bowled over instead.

We walked to the Diamond Head Crater on the warmest day.  Great views and LOTS of stairs.  Plenty of people as well but, for the most part, everyone is very courteous on the trails.  For $1.00 admission, it was pretty impressive!  Bring water!  (Sorry, only have one photo — none of the crater?  How vain am I?)

At the top of the Diamond Head crater. Quite a walk – lots of stairs – but well worth it!

 

We had some great meals and believe it or not our favorite place was Kelly O’Neils — an irish pub that had happy hour for most of the day.  Fun people and really good appetizers!  Our best meal was at Chuck’s Cellar – a little out-of-the-way restaurant with GREAT food.  I am not a seafood fan but the steaks were to die for!!!

Will we return to Hawaii?  Possibly – and now we know a few things that we didn’t know before: No need to rent a car – at least not in Waikiki.  We were wise to go midweek – fewer people.  Take an earlier flight home – even though leaving at night on the red eye gives you more time to play, you still have to check out of your hotel and that limits the things you CAN do on your last day.  Lesson learned.

Kelly O’Neils Irish Pub – great music!

Falling

We all fall down.  In one way or another, at one time or another.  Sometimes, it is literal — we may slip on the ice or trip on a step or slight elevation in the sidewalk.  Other times, it is metaphorical — we get tripped up by a life event or tragedy.  It may be the loss of a loved one, either through the breakup of a relationship or a death; the loss of a job, a home, a car; long or short term illness or injury.  Most of us fall down more than once in a lifetime.

I’ve had several falls, some were big and I stayed down for awhile.  Others were minor stumbles and I didn’t go completely down, I weebled and staggered but remained on my feet.  One of my biggest was in college.  I fell madly in love with a guy – threw all my eggs in that basket and then discovered the basket upended in my lap.  I was down for the count.  It was about three years before I finally began pulling myself together.  As I look back now, I am wondering what I did during those three years?  I fell into a self-induced ruse of using food as my solace/punishment.  What a vicious circle that turned out to be.  Lots of self-loathing, loneliness and depression (and, of course, weight gain!).  But I also lived a reasonable life during that period of time.  I had a couple of decent jobs and made good friends.  I rose up from the ashes eventually.  And what did I learn?  Life and love is not in the bottom of an empty ice cream carton.

I had a dream about that old boyfriend the other night.  In the dream, he looked just like he did in college – tall, gangly, blonde hair, blue eyes, big nose.  In the beginning of the dream, we were laughing and talking.  Then as more people from college entered the scene, he began to ignore me – just like he used to do.  As I awoke, I had that old familiar feeling of regret.  I didn’t regret losing him or the life I now have without him – I regret not standing up for myself at the time.  I wish I had told him to kiss off back in September of 1977 when I realized that he REALLY wasn’t into me.  But instead I fell headlong into the fantasy that if I just waited in the wing, he would eventually love me.   I let myself believe that he was “the one”.  I fell WAY DOWN.

I learned a lot on that fall; how to be aware, how to listen to my instincts.  How to push denial aside and let veracity drive. It was still a few years later, and a few more falls, before I learned that I was not destined to be a doormat.   I could speak and expect to be heard and understood.

Many times, in re-telling the story of my disastrous love debacle, I would say that I lost three years of my life because of it.  In truth, I gained three years of grit.  I found my inner voice.  I learned how to fall down — and roll.

 

Selfish me

After making such a production over the state of my hair…I am happy to report that my hairstylist was able to cut it into a cute style and I will be traveling unencumbered by either a hat or a bag over my head.  The relief I feel is palpable which is rather ridiculous and vain.  First world problems.  Things could be so much worse.

No hats for me!

First comes the comment: “Be grateful for what you have.”  Then, “Other’s are a lot worse off than you.”  Shame, shame.  Guilt abounds.

My mother came from an era when you were taught to be humble, quiet, self-effacing.  As children, we were told never to brag or be too prideful.  Always think of others who are not as lucky as you.  Put others first and yourself last.  She never said that specifically – it was more by her example.  This is what most women observe and absorb from other women, mothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances – from society in general.

I have mixed emotions about being ashamed of wanting to feel good about my hair and letting something like that dominate so much of my focus.  I can feel the shame bubbling right at the surface and the other side of me (the selfish side?) wants to shout, “just shut up!”.

Selfish me wants to have nice clothes, cute shoes, attractive hair, nicely painted fingernails, pretty bras, underwear that feels silky and looks sexy.   Selfish me wants to buy pretty jewelry and matching accessories, including belt, purse and jacket.  Humble me rarely allows such things.

So, I fret over my hair.  That doesn’t mean I’m not sorry that some people have no hair and that some people have it so much worse than I do….

It isn’t JUST hair…..

I have a great hairstylist. (For the sake of privacy, I shall call her Susie.)  Nine out of ten times, she is spot-on with the cut and style I ask for.  Last week, was that one out of ten times it just didn’t work out.

I am amazed at how obsessed I am with the state of my hair.  I think about it all day.  Every time I pass a reflective surface, I look and am horrified.  I have a follow-up appointment tomorrow to get it “fixed” but until then I am sick with worry.  What if I am doomed to look like Betty Rubble forever?

In one week, I will be going on vacation.  I cannot be seen in Hawaii with this hair.  I have a backup plan – a hat perhaps?  Which is another blog altogether because I don’t look good in hats either.  There are women who can wear hats — even plain old baseball hats — and look charming.  I’m not one of those.  If my hair was long, I could just pull it up or throw it into a ponytail – but no, it’s short.  Shorter than I had intended when I went in for a little trim.  I need to be able to style my hair and feel good about the resulting appearance as I go out the door and into the world.  I’m fairly certain that no one cares about my hairstyle but I DO.

I am confident that my stylist can cut it into a cute pixie — I’ve been scouring pinterest for example photos and possible styles.  Truth is, I was confident she could trim it into the style of the last photos I brought in….now, I am having doubts.  What if this wasn’t a fluke?  What if I need to find a new stylist?  Horrors!

Deciding to find a new stylist is right up there with deciding to find a new gynecologist – you have that same level of trust and loyalty.  I’ve been going to this stylist for about 10 years.  She only works part-time and has limited appointments available.  I went to someone new once and felt as though I had committed adultery.  The whole time she was cutting my hair – I felt nauseous.  Then, who should I run into on that very day at Target?  My regular stylist!  Not only that, the new stylist did a horrible bit of butchery and I had to go back to Susie to get it “fixed”.   But she took me back and my transgression was never mentioned again.

So – I will trust “Susie” to be able to make amends and somehow transform this hideousness into something a little more manageable.  Wish me luck.

And no, this is not me, but this is what I feel like……Image result for bad hair day hairstyles for short hair

 

A mother’s tears

Kevin said, “I didn’t have an UNhappy childhood.”

Mom (Rebecca) with tear filled eyes replied, “It wasn’t as good as I thought it was.”

This line struck home with me.  Of course, my eyes were filled with tears also.

The quotes are from the series This is Us on HBO.  If you haven’t seen it, you should give it a look.  The series is about adult triplets raised by two loving parents.  The characters struggle through day-to-day life issues and there are flashbacks to their childhood to show the connection with the struggle.  I like the show because there are so many real-life, true to life, obstacles.  The characters have flaws that don’t just miraculously disappear when brought to light – as in real life, the struggle with those “demons” can be endless.  And, of course, despite it all, the characters love each other but everything isn’t “perfect”.

Meanwhile, back at the quote from the mom – this is something I think most mom’s eventually feel.  We want to believe that we gave our children a happy and wonderful childhood.  We remember working so hard to try to ensure that they would have wonderful memories of holidays, family dinners, campouts and vacations and that they wouldn’t need counseling when they get older.  Or Rehab.  We tried to pay attention to every little thing, all the little nuances of their personalities, trying to anticipate any problem that may arise.  We tried to plan fun activities that they might enjoy; dance, sports, band, choir.  We tried to teach them to be confident, to believe in themselves, to feel good about themselves, to be strong and have courage in the face of bullies and any other adversity.  I can remember very clearly trying to remain conscious of all of those different things that I knew to be important for a happy childhood.  But, alas, it wasn’t as good as I thought it was.

So, it brings me to tears.  It looked so different in my head than it actually played out.  I don’t think my children had an “unhappy” childhood.  Lord, I hope they had happy moments, good memories that emerge unsolicited like a sliver of light at sunrise. I know I do.  When I see a little child with a doll, or in cowboy boots,  or a little girl with curly long hair, or a smiling child with bucked teeth, or without teeth.  When I hear little kids laughing and playing together – or fighting and not playing very well together at all.  I remember rocking each of them to sleep.  I remember sitting in the stands watching them play a sport or at a band concert.  I remember each and every graduation, each heartbreak, each triumph.  Through the lens of time passed, things are so golden with just a small blurred edge — like a hazy dream.

Naturally, I can’t help but think of my own childhood.  I think of all the things I felt I missed, the things I needed from my mother that were never quite within my grasp.  I have no doubt that she made the same efforts that I did, felt the same anxiety and desire for things to be perfect.  Maybe she came to the same realization – that things weren’t as good as she thought they were either.

As Rebecca said to Kevin, “We had our happy moments together, I just know it.  I feel it in my soul.” To which Kevin replied, “I hope so.”  More tears.

Type A

Type A personality.  If you knew me in high school or college, you would never have guessed.  I wonder, is it possible to grow into a Type A personality?  According to most of the articles I’ve read, the personality type is inborn and does not change.  Perhaps it was just lying dormant until I hit my late 20’s, early 30’s?  Up until that point, I was quite laidback (bordering on lazy) and flitted between different dreams and goals — hoping that someone would make all my decisions for me, tell me what to do.  Basically, hiding.

I had some successes during my early years but gave up fairly quickly if things didn’t look like they were going to end perfectly.  “Unfortunately, because they are so passionate, and because true success takes patience, any sort of early failure easily discourages them. They are likely to pack up and change careers in a heartbeat.”  For example, in high school I loved playing basketball and had true potential.  I went to college specifically so I could continue playing.  I also enjoyed college and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, initially.  Then, after a few small “failures”, I began to lose desire, fear disapproval, and eventually became ineligible and flunked out of school.  The sad truth is not that I couldn’t do the work, but that I wouldn’t.  (If I could have one “do-over”, that would be it; to go back to school and finish.)

After that, I flailed like a fish on dry land for several years.  In my mid-twenties, I got a job as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and “bing”; it hit with full force – Type A transformation.  Over the years, I have become more and more controlling, rigid and impatient with inefficiency!

The theory describes Type A individuals as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics”. They push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.

I could easily have become a workaholic except that I had four kids and I just didn’t have the time or energy.  I left the job at 911 because I needed a “day job”; one that would provide more time for my children.  The jobs I’ve had since being a 911 dispatcher were often simple jobs that I made more complicated by trying to achieve something greater than just answering the phone and taking notes at meetings.  I struggled with the inefficiencies of typical office politics and idiocy.  “They have trouble understanding the stupidity of others. They don’t believe themselves to necessarily be exceptionally gifted or genius. So why is it that they are competent when almost everyone else seems like a moron?” 

Those jobs were just a means of earning an income — certainly not a “career” and by no means anything with status or potential for greatness.  Working beneath your ability is difficult when you are Type A — so you perform your duties to the extreme, above and beyond what is necessary.  You feel abused and belittled; unfulfilled.

Fast forward to retirement.

“If you have a Type A personality, transitioning to retirement may be especially difficult. After you retire, you will no longer have an impressive job title or management responsibilities. Job status will no longer matter. You will be on the same level as any other retiree. You are more likely to feel lost or adrift due to a lack of purpose, structure, and responsibility.” How to Successfully Retire If You Have a Type A Personality – Dave Hughes

The good news?  Because I didn’t have an “impressive job title”, my job status hasn’t changed much since retirement.  Yes, I do feel adrift sometimes but I also feel free from the drudgery, the frustration and the anger.  There is freedom to choose my direction.  Retirement isn’t just rolling with the flow – although there is an awful lot of that!  Type A’s need a plan, a list, a goal – no matter how small.   The difficulty comes in letting go of the time management structure.  There is so much time and every moment of the day does NOT need to be plotted out.

When I first retired, I was so thrilled to have all of this time to write to my hearts’ content.  I could write another play, a memoir, a novel!!!  However, writing as a type A can be difficult.  I will spend hours searching for topics.  I will spend two thirds of that time in an internal battle over whether or not I should be writing at all.  If it isn’t done perfectly, it isn’t worth doing.  Blah, blah, blah.  Can type A personalities also have OCD and ADD?  I wonder…

Quotes in italics are from the article: The 25 Things That People With Type A Do – Paul Hudson