BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Month: November, 2014

Sleep

“Thank God for sleep! And when you cannot sleep, still thank Him that you live to lie awake.” John Oxenham (whoever that is?)

Yes, I opened my positive quotations book and this time, I actually opened and read the first quote my eyes fell upon.  As luck or fate would have it, I have been thinking about sleep – “sleeping in” to be exact.  Since I’ve retired, I am sleeping beyond 4:30am (which is when I used to get up for work) but I cannot sleep past 6am.  This morning, it was 5:30.  I can’t really feel deprived because I actually get around 7 hours of sleep.  Perfectly adequate for a woman my age…

When the kids were younger, I used  my early morning hours to write letters and eventually emails.  My children were early risers as well – so I often had to sneak out to the table or my office – so that I didn’t wake them.  I relished those limited moments of peace and quiet.  Now, the early rising and writing are a habit.   My mind fires up the moment I am awake – my creativity and the need to put thoughts to paper are at their peak immediately after I pee.  (TMI?)

I’ve recently realized that I am emulating my mother.  I remember getting up in the morning and finding her at the kitchen table, smoking and writing letters to her family in Texas.  To my recollection, she wrote every day.  In many ways, they were her lifeline.  Instead of writing in a journal, she wrote to her sister, Dorothy.  Dorothy responded in kind.   And it wasn’t like texting or facebook – each letter was 3-4 pages long, handwritten.

When I went to college, I was very lonely.  I’ll bet I wrote, on average, 3 letters a day.  In those days (1970’s), we couldn’t afford to call long distance and there was no email (or computers) so we wrote letters.  I would also receive at least one a day.  In fact, my mom wrote every day, even if it was just a post card.  I hadn’t remembered that until just this moment.  Usually, she would write some snippet of advice or tell me some news from home.  I wish I had saved some of them – maybe I would feel a little closer to her.  I don’t think so – I think some of the letters were what drove us apart.  Age old feelings, once buried, now surface.

I think she cherished her quiet moments alone in the morning too.  The older I get, the more I understand about her.  And the more I wish things could have been different for us.  I will always be sad about that – not having the chance to make amends.  She has dementia and remembers very little of her past.  I do know that she did the best she could do – she loved her children as much as she knew how.  That has to be enough.

What, you may ask, does all of this have to do with sleep?  Perhaps I put you to sleep with all of my rhetoric.

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Tinkering

As part of my retirement goals, I am trying to figure out how to navigate this blog. So this post will mostly be experimental – I want to figure out how to add photos AND to figure out all the little buttons at the top…  Figured out how to insert a photo.

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Little Jack Miller, summer of 2014

Above is a photo of little Jack over the 4th of July.  He loved the pool and had a great time jumping around and splashing.  The photo was taken in our back yard.  He is so photogenic – very cute and very dramatic.

 

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Baby Charlie in October 2014

This is a photo of Baby Charlie.  He is our little elfin magic.  He is also very photogenic – so cute and so happy!

Here are the brother’s together:

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Good brothers

They are both so loving and smart.  Jackie is a great mom.  She teaches them so much and is so loving and giving.  They are lucky boys!

Gratitude

Of course, this will be the title/topic for today. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. It isn’t just about the food – although that is a huge element of all holidays (that’s a different post altogether!).

I awoke late 11:48pm thinking it was morning – my mind geared up and began humming away. I felt rested and refreshed until I looked at the clock! I used the bathroom and crawled back into the warm covers – trying to calm my mind and get it settled back down – just like I would have one of my kids when they woke up in the middle of the night. LUCKILY, I no longer have to go to work in the morning so it wasn’t a huge deal! wink wink (I LOVE being retired!) I digress…

When I did wake for the day – after sleeping in until 6 am – my mind began moving at breakneck speed and I thought of my blog post. I have so many blessings; SO MANY things to be thankful for! So here goes:

I am so lucky to live in this country; to have freedom to do, say, eat, wear, pray, travel, work – whatever and where ever I choose. That’s huge. I am grateful to all of those who have fought for my right to do so.

I am so lucky to live on this land; given to me by my father. It is beautiful here – EVERY day. These mountains and hills, this valley – I spent my childhood here and I hope to die here. I have a beautiful home and a view from my front porch that is unrivaled. It is quiet and peaceful, a great place to retire.

I have a wonderful family. I don’t know how much of that is luck – as much as a gift. My children are healthy and doing well – each going about in their own lives; growing, learning, laughing, struggling. Just as it should be. I have two grandsons – healthy, happy, smart. I have another on the way. Being a grandmother has proven to be an incredible joy.

My best blessing is my husband. We are so lucky to have met all those years ago. We’ve been through hardships and trials just like anyone else – but we truly feel bound to each other. He is the butter to my toast and the frosting on my cake. The whole “soul mate” concept is pretty cheesy but it is real. We’ve known each other for 29 years and we still look forward to seeing each other whenever we are apart – even for a short time. We depend on each other but we are independent of each other – if that’s possible. And we are really looking forward to the next chapter of our lives.

I am grateful also for my siblings. I am proud of them. We had a good childhood – even with all of the difficulties of poverty and the usual family dysfunction. I’m glad we are all living in this valley.

I am also grateful for my mom. I know that she sacrificed a lot for us. She moved to a strange place and fought for most of her life to find her niche. She taught me to be honest and kind – and to laugh. She sewed countless dresses and outfits for me – she made sure I had braces and that I got into college. I believe she wanted all of her children to be happy – but her love language was service – if you needed something, she made sure you got it. She didn’t talk a lot or sit and visit – but I think she wishes she had… The dementia has taken most of what she used to be – but once in awhile, there is that wit and tone of voice, she is still in there.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My husband will cook the turkey and gravy, I will make the potatoes, green bean casserole and jello salad. Three of our kids will be home – we’ll watch football, play cards, have some drinks. I will take my mom lunch and dinner. I will think of Gabe, Chelsea, Jackie, Ben, Jack and Charlie — wishing they were here too. And I will think of my dad. He would have loved all of this.
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Cheating

I had a brilliant notion for how to find topics for my blog. I have a great book, “The Book of Positive Quotations” – my plan was that I would open the book and read a quotation then write about whatever came to mind. I opened the book to the chapter on “Self Control” – I hated the first quote I read. I read several others. I opened the book again, trying to find a better quote and opened to something equally inauspicious (yes, I have my glasses on and I’m using my new thesaurus). I opened the book two more times then realized, this really wasn’t working. This was CHEATING. So, I thought that should be a topic and began looking for a quote about cheating. Hey dipshit, this is a book of POSITIVE quotations. Epic fail for the day, as far as a clever means of choosing a topic. (Although I did come up with a topic!)

When I think of cheating, I inevitably think of my mother. She was honest to a fault. Lessons from her, though I cannot think of a specific event, were of ALWAYS telling the truth. Mom had a hard time with lying or cheating. It was all very black and white in her view.

Cheating to me is like lying. Cheating comes in different degrees. We may cheat on our taxes (risky), we may cheat at games (minor but cheeky especially if playing with friends), we may cheat on a spouse (very dangerous and sleezy), we may cheat on our diet (who doesn’t?).

I have a hard time cheating. If I’m shopping and I find something in my cart that the clerk missed when checking me out – I will go back in and pay for it. If the clerk/waitress/teller, gives me too much change – I make sure to return the money. The few times that I haven’t – I’ve always felt regret/guilt.

Of course, we all justify cheating. I cheated on tests in college. Once in a blue moon, I would leave work a little early. I fell in love with a married man. I shoplifted once (and only once) in college. (What is this now, true confessions?) I guess what I’m saying is that cheating means different things to different people. There are people who cheat but feel justified in doing so. Something that I view as cheating – may seem like small potatoes to someone else. It isn’t cheating if you don’t believe it is cheating? I guess in the end we all answer for our own truths.

I bought a Thesaurus

A thesaurus is my true friend.  I’ve been meaning to buy one for a long time because (especially with my aging brain) there are so many times I am looking for a word and it just isn’t there.  I have always used the thesaurus in Word but then I have to flip back and forth from one program to the other.  NOW I have a thesaurus that I can hold in my hot little hand and use at will.  I used it for the first time this morning…one thing I forgot to consider when making my purchase is the size of the font in the damn Thesaurus!  Thank goodness I didn’t get the pocket version!  So — reading glasses are now required with the Thesaurus.

Ever notice that we seem to avoid the things that will help us during this period of “aging”?  I will not put on my glasses until I absolutely have to – my husband absolutely REFUSES to consider getting hearing aids although he can barely hear a thing!  My mother will NOT use her walker – no matter how hard it is to get up off the couch OR how much it would help her balance.  Why do we resist these things?  Sheer vanity.  It is societal.  Everyone frowns at aging and the aged.  We wear clothing that was meant for “juniors” because it still fits.  Nevermind that it looks ridiculous – a miniskirt at 55?  Not a good look, I don’t care who you are!  And who are we fooling?

I confess I fall into the same category — although I am trying to adjust my thinking.  I color my gray.  I wear jeans that are a little tight.  I have stopped shopping in the junior section but I still can’t bring myself to shop in the older lady stores.  I stick with sporty looking clothes that are comfortable and hide the muffin top and the backfat as much as is possible. I wear bras with extra support and little spandex tank tops to hold things “still” at least.  I’m trying to accept my age.  It doesn’t help when in my mind I am still only 40! (Sometimes, I’m only about 13!!)

I hope that when I am my mom’s age, I will be willing to use a walker if I need it. If I need hearing aids – I will go for it. I know people – mostly women – who feel comfortable in their skin and are willing to live their age. Let that be me too. (A little at a time…)

The learning curve

One of my main goals in retirement is to take the time to figure some things out. This blog program is a prime example. Lord – I start to glaze over trying to figure out all the different choices, screens, arrows and functions. I WILL figure it out – eventually – but it is all by trial and error. In my younger days (like a mere 15 years ago) I was much more proficient at anything technological – but then I had to be as part of my job function. Over the years, I’ve lost that edge. If you don’t use it, you lose it — to be sure!

As we age, I think we let go of some of the things that we fret over. Our brains become overwhelmed and we have to hold the things that we are certain we will need and discard the excess. Its the same for our skillset. In my previous job, I didn’t use the computer or writing skills so now I am extremely rusty. I used to write like a fiend – just sit down and whip out any little essay, training process, letters. Now, I have to actually sit and think and it takes much more effort. That is one of the purposes of this blog – to try to commit to writing and to exercise those old tired muscles.

As an update on the retirement front (also known as cloud nine), I am feeling great. It has been a week since I’ve worked. I can’t describe the feeling actually. Freeing? Relaxed? I LOVE IT. It still feels like “vacation” and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I still feel as though I will eventually be going back. I think that is natural. It will take time to adjust to all things retirement. But I am really enjoying this new found freedom.

On today’s docket, I am meeting a friend for pedicures this afternoon. Until then, I will be crocheting on a project that I need to finish in time for our big family Christmas party. I would be a whole lot closer to finishing if I would stop making minor errors and having to tear out stitches! Side bar: it will take awhile to get over feeling the need to be doing something productive and accomplishing multiple tasks as quickly as possible in a day. Let me out of this hamster wheel!!

The water is wide…

…I cannot get over. And neither have I, wings to fly.” I sat down at the computer this morning and my mind went blank. I decided I didn’t want to write, yet again, about how great it is to be FREE of the obligation of working. What did I want to write about? So I sat staring, thinking of thoughts, thoughts flowing, rivers flowing, cry me a river (stop it, focus!) water flowing and then that song popped into my head and I realized I just needed to start. (The Water is Wide is a song we sang at music festival in high school more than 35 years ago!)

So, water. Water is cold, wet, quenches thirst, it can be warm or cold or frozen. As children, we loved the water. We played on ma’s frozen pond in the winter – we swam in creeks, rivers, lakes and pools every chance we had. We loved swimming lessons at the University Pool. Flathead lake was such an exciting adventure! Especially, once we were old enough to drive by ourselves (and didn’t have to pick bing cherries BEFORE we could go swimming!) We jumped off of bridges into the river in Glacier (foolishness), we floated down the cement irrigation ditch and the Flathead river on innertubes. Good times.

As an adult, I rarely get into water (other than a shower or bath). I hate getting water in my ears – so swimming for me is, basically, dog paddling with my head above water at all times. In addition, at the ripe old age of 56 — a bathing suit is NOT my friend. I am relatively thin but my body has seen better days. My once firm legs are now like jello on a stick. Yuck. My stomach? Well, have you ever made taffy that didn’t set up right? It plops off of the spoon and lands in multiple folds and creases. Yeah, that’s it. I spent days looking on line for a “swimdress” that looked attractive but covered enough of my tremulous body without looking like a woman of the 1920’s. It arrived the other day – lovely color, nice ruffles and gathers. I look nothing like the 14 year old model online. What? In other words, the water isn’t the only thing that is wide.

Aging is difficult. I readily admit that I am a vain woman. If I had money, I would probably have had a tummy tuck and a facelift by now. Oh I fight it – I think of ways to hide these bodily changes. I avoid mirrors. I wear sweats because they are comfortable and I won’t notice the muffin top so much. I find bras that will hide the fact that my right boob is bigger than my left. I make sure that all photos are deleted if more than one chin shows.

I’ve read plenty of articles about aging gracefully: accepting these changes. It requires focus on something other than our external appearance. That’s a tough one. I picked up a magazine several years ago – it was touted as a magazine for “older” women. Lots of articles written by women of a certain age about their careers, marriages, family relationships, etc. etc. The majority of pages in the magazine were inundated with advertisements for make-up, clothing, shoes – all focusing on youth and “looking younger”. I didn’t subscribe to the magazine.

I guess I can just look at all of my experiences and decide that I am what I lived. More later…

A new kind of Sunday

I’ve always disliked Sundays. It is the end of the weekend, the day before you have to work again. You start dreading the end of the day because you know your week will start again soon.

Today is a new kind of Sunday. No work tomorrow. It will feel like my first OFFICIAL day of retirement. Tonight, when I go to bed, I can relax and drift off because tomorrow will be no different than any other day. I LOVE IT! I can’t wait to go to bed! (Slight embellishment).

Last night, we had a retirement party with a group of good friends and family. It was a lovely night. We had good food, a few drinks, a few funny stories and lots of trips down memory lane. What a lovely way to start my new life as a retiree.

Several of my friends are retired, one of my sisters is retired, a few other friends and family are getting close to that end date. It is funny to think about this time in our lives. It is so freeing – welcome to a time when you don’t have an obligation to anyone or anything that you don’t CHOOSE. Its a brave new world. I’m excited and relieved. I feel so very blessed and grateful.

The F you 50’s are going to be wonderful!

P.S. Note to self and other followers…I intend for future posts to be much more creative, fun and of some consequence. Wink, wink.

The first of many – I hope

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This is the view from my desk – I look over the top of my computer screen every morning and watch the sun kiss these mountains. Beautiful. I am so lucky. I live in Montana, in God’s country, on five acres given to me by my father/grandmother. Years ago, this was a hundred acre parcel that my grandparents owned and worked. Now, most of my neighbors are uncles, aunts, siblings and cousins. We own this little section of the valley. This was my dad’s dream, his dying wish. Our only regret is that he didn’t get to see it in person (though I’m sure he’s watching).

If there is one thing my dad taught me, it was to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. There is peace in this quiet, pretty place. It is the perfect place for thinking, dreaming, writing and sleeping.

I have recently retired. I’ve been planning and imagining it for almost a year and a half. Finally, the date arrived; November 13, 2014. My dad’s birthday – poetic, yes? First order of business was getting this blog going. Second, learn to relax. That will take a little more effort. I have been on the run (in my mind) since my first child was born in 1981. Constantly keeping everything going in forward motion. Even after all of the kids grew up and moved out, I still kept going at breakneck speed – keeping my life in order, making certain I was doing all that I SHOULD be doing.

To be honest, I don’t think I can change my OCD behavior. I will always need to keep moving – even if it is just in my head. But I do intend to learn how to give myself permission to just BE – sometimes, just to have peace in short spurts. Until I can learn how to have peace in long spurts.

It begins.