BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Month: April, 2016

Deprivation or frugal living?

Sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s joy, sometimes it is whatever we want but don’t feel we deserve. Most of us learn to deprive ourselves from a young age. If your family is on a tight financial budget (or impoverished) there are many things you may want and ask for – but never get. You come to believe that all “good” things come at a cost.

Nothing is replaced until it has absolutely fulfilled a lifetime of use. Panties? Only to be replaced when there is no elasticity left or when the size of the holes out measure the actual cloth. Bras? You buy one and wash and wear it to within an inch of its life…then replace it. Shoes? One pair per school year and if you don’t outgrow them – maybe two school years. Clothing? Hand-me-downs from siblings and relatives. If you are lucky, you have an older cousin who lives in another town (better yet, another state) so no one will recognize the clothing from the year before!

To this day, I have a hard time buying something that I just “want” and don’t really “need”. I have a closet full of clothing that I bought BECAUSE it was on “sale”. Most of it I don’t wear because it doesn’t really suit me or has some kind of flaw (vis-à-vis the reason for the sale price). Several times in my life, I have been determined to ONLY buy clothes I like – more quality clothing. Buy less, pay a little more. However, out shopping with a fist full of dollars, I choke-up as I walk to the cash register with the $65 blouse that I know I could find cheaper elsewhere and also have enough to buy a shirt for one of my kids/grandkids. Just. Can’t. Do it. So, instead of having a nice, decent wardrobe – I have a hodgepodge of items that look OKAY, sometimes match and go to good will after hanging in the closet for a couple of years…

When we had to clean out my mom’s house – I promised myself I would learn how to get beyond this fear and the credence in deprivation. She had a FULL closet of pants, shirts and jackets that didn’t fit but she wouldn’t discard. There were notes attached to each item with a pin: “Too small”, “Too tight” or with what size they were. The clothes were from good will, hand-me-downs or things she had purchased on sale. Some of the outfits were very pretty but the wrong size – as she had every intention of losing weight to fit into them. Or they were so pretty, she couldn’t bear to part with them. In her lifetime, she didn’t have a lot of “pretty things”. We took bags and bags of clothes back to good will. Ironic.

Truth is, when you don’t have a lot of spare coin (or ANY spare coin for that matter) you soon find that there are a lot of things you can (and DO) go without: name brand clothing and shoes top the list. Fashion is replaced by basic essentials. When I was very young, I had no idea and couldn’t have cared less about fashion or clothing or deprivation and poverty, but my mother did. As I grew older, I began to understand. The shame was passed on to her by her mother, she passed it onto me and I passed it on to my own children.

In reality, there is no shame in NOT spending money on something that is as frivolous as a $100 blouse or a $200 pair of shoes. Even though there are parts of the deprivation that should and can be changed (for example, the way WE, ourselves, view it with shame) – there are lessons too. In this country, people spend an exorbitant amount of money for things they don’t need all in the name of “style” and competition with their neighbors and friends. Only the best sunglasses, underwear, bikes, cars, EVEN food at the elite stores and the BEST bottled water. Chanel mascara for $30. Oh and let’s not forget dog strollers ranging in cost from $25-$85. It is craziness.

I guess if I had to choose between spending ridiculous amounts of money on frivolous things and having a hard time parting with my money for frivolous things, I’d go with the latter. Of course, I’ve never experienced having lots of money to spare – so how do I know?

Retirement AND dementia?????

As the sun slowly beams light over each peak and ravine, I realize how lucky I am. I feel the warmth of each shaft as it feeds my soul. The sky is clear and blue and wide open. All is quiet. Even the cows are watching the sunrise with reverence.

One of the best aspects of retirement is having TIME. In the morning, I sit at my computer and watch my neighbors drive by on their way to work. I am in my pajamas drinking my third cup of coffee, so grateful… There are days when there are no plans or projects and it feels a little decadent – not having any specific commitment to DO anything. I avoid ever using the “B” word (bored) because there is ALWAYS SOMETHING to do. Walking, writing, cleaning, painting projects, house maintenance of one kind or another.

Recently, I have found that my biggest challenge is maintaining contact with the outside world. I like having this time to myself, I like being alone. I prefer my own company. I don’t know if it is a phase or if it is “normal” – after all what’s normal? I’ve always lived inside my own head but when you work 40 hours a week, or when you have a family, you are forced to engage. I have found that all of the quiet time makes it difficult for me to communicate when I am with someone.

The problem is two fold: first, I don’t have a lot to talk about given that I am not doing much and, second, I have a hard time finding the words to express myself. This causes great angst as my greatest fear is developing dementia. I constantly worry that it is looming overhead – stealing my memory and thoughts and ability to speak. When I write, I can take my time and have a thesaurus available to find the words that sit at the edge of my grasp. I still feel anxious that I can’t think of them on my own but it isn’t as burdensome as when I am trying to have an intelligent conversation and I pause for five seconds trying to unearth a word or phrase while my audience offers suggestions and sympathy. Its horrifying to me.

Naturally, my thoughts turn to my mother. I suspect she felt the same fears when she started to notice the loss of clear thought streams. She started keeping a journal next to her so that she could write thoughts, ideas and news down, in the hopes of not LOSING them. She was in her 70’s when I noticed this difficulty in her speech. I am only 57! Did she notice it sooner? Was she in her 50’s when it began? I can’t ask her.

Most of my peers tell me that they have difficulty with their memories also. Perhaps we are all experiencing the same fears and losses. Since I feel such anxiety, do I AVOID contact in order to avoid having to speak? I wonder…

A dear friend and cousin sent me a book, “100 Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss” by Jean Carper. I shall read it faithfully!

If nothing else, feeling the fear and knowing that dementia is a possibility is proof positive that NOW is the time to write, live and enjoy all the things I can see, hear and feel. Time to hold on to the things I love and let go of the things I don’t.

Exes

I am slowly recovering from my PTSD after seeing my ex-husband. If you have an “ex” you know what I mean. It isn’t anything that is done TO you by that person, it is all the memories that come screaming back into your head.

We’ve been divorced for 30 years. Every time I know I will be seeing him, I think I’m prepared. I’m a big girl. He is not a part of anything in my life anymore. And then I remember that he will always be a part of my life. We have children together. Perhaps it is time to truly LET GO of those deep seeded feelings of angst, resentment and fear. I guess if I CHOSE to end the relationship and accept the consequences – I should accept the consequences. I will periodically have to see him for the rest of our lives.

Previous posts have been about making that choice, how difficult it was and what a relief to make that break. Also, about how hard it was for the kids and to keep them out of the middle of any conflict. You also have to deal with seeing that person and disagreeing with that person over and over again. You have to send your children off with this person for their prescribed “visitation”. They can move to another city or state. You can go for weeks without seeing your children – it can be really hard to talk to them on the phone. You have no control over where they are staying, who they are seeing, where they are going for that period of time. It’s hell. For everyone.

Counselors talk about the best way to handle divorce. There are countless books on the subject. Truth is – no one can control how anyone will react in that situation. One party may be congenial and the other angry. Both parties can be angry and vengeful. Both parties may start the process congenial but eventually resentment wins and runs the divorce ship aground. Enter step-parents and the possibilities for discord are magnified.

If I’ve given the impression that I am judging those who choose to stay in a less-than-happy situation – that was not my intention. I DO get it. Each of us has to make our own choices. Who is to know what is best? We do what is best as WE know it.