BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Month: July, 2017

Oh the shame…

Vulnerability.  Low self-worth.  Shame.  These are the feelings I work hard to suppress.  Every. Day.  Just about the time I think I’ve outgrown those fears – when I feel stronger, brighter, more mature, more confident – a wave rolls in.  What the hell?

Recently, on our vacation trip to Vegas, I got a good dose of insecurity and self-loathing.  I was doing just fine – smooth sailing, minding my own business and from out of nowhere came “Jacob”.  He was a handsome young man, well-dressed, friendly and handing out free samples in front of a little store in the mall.  Free foot lotion samples.  Lovely.  He introduced himself then asked me to come into the store where he could give me a treatment that would help the dark circles under my eyes.  I would like to make those disappear, wouldn’t I?  My husband and I reluctantly walked into the store.  Foolishness!

Jacob was a well-trained salesman – speaking in a calm, soothing voice, with a thick middle eastern accent; he recited facts about aging, skin, the products he was hocking.  He was well-versed about skin care, how the skin breaks down, the layers of skin, blah, blah, blah.  At that point, I’m still feeling okay.  He puts his “miracle” cream under one eye – all the while talking to my husband and I – some small talk and some sales rhetoric…within minutes, the dark circle under my left eye IS lighter and the skin IS tighter.  Tada!  (Side bar: I’ve seen videos about this product on facebook – it really does work!  But here’s the rub, you don’t use it during the day–only at night.  So the benefit of the fact that it holds your skin tighter is lost on the wee hours of the morning as you sleep!  Minor detail Jacob neglected to mention!  SUPPOSEDLY, using it every night for one week will show improvement and then you just do a maintenance treatment of once a week…jury is still out on the actual “noticeable improvement”!)

Jacob promises to fix the other eye as well but, in the meantime, he starts to pitch a face peel product.  Using the inside of my wrist, he shows how the peel very simply takes off the first layer of skin and makes the arm SO SOFT and with a little moisturizer it is so much more incredibly soft than the other arm!  Imagine if that was my face!?  Tremendous.  Now, he starts to introduce the topic of cost…I am normally a hard sell.  I do NOT spend money on frivolous things like face creams (which explains why I have such dark circles and wrinkled skin!).  Let the manipulation persuasion begin!  The tactics were covert and indirect — passively demeaning.  Here are some examples:

  • You are a mother aren’t you?  How many children do you have?  You always sacrifice your needs for your children, don’t you?
  • Why wouldn’t you want to look better?
  • These products won’t change how you look, you will just look like you used to look 10 years ago.  Same you, just the younger version.
  • If you spend this amount, will it take away from your house payment or other necessary bills? (In other words, are you too poor to buy this?)
  • Why wouldn’t you spend this amount on yourself?  Don’t you deserve to feel better about yourself?
  • When we are finished here, I’m going to give you a free treatment to help you get rid of your jowels and your loose neck skin.
  • If you could choose, which would you improve first – your eyes, your jowels or your neck?

Just about the time I was ready to get up out of the chair, he would say that he needed to fix my other eye so that I wouldn’t look lopsided and he would do that BUT…..and then he would launch into another tactic.  An hour and a half later and two FREE treatments under my belt, my husband and I finally walked out of there! And, as much as I hate to admit it, I did buy some of the product.  I spent FAR TOO MUCH money and bought stuff that, while it will last 2 years (woohoo!), I may never use??  Oh sure, I have good intentions but, like anything, you lose interest after a couple of weeks.  Since I did spend what I consider a small fortune on this stuff, I will use it come hell or high water!

The final outcome is that I am upset with myself for falling for the malarkey.  Jacob played on all of my weaknesses and I fell for it.  Yes, I hate my dark circles, jowels and turkey neck – OF COURSE I DO!   When I walked into the store, I was feeling fine – knowing that I’m aging but being okay with it.  When I walked out, I felt that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.   Do I look older than I thought?  Is it THAT noticeable to everyone?  And on top of that, I felt SICK at having spent that much money for LOTIONS AND PEELS!  For heavens sake!

The shame of it all followed me all that day.  That night, I told my husband I was going to return everything for a refund.  I was livid and ashamed that I had been so easily manipulated.  My husbands response was  not to worry about it…I didn’t return to the store (frankly, the thought of returning was equally humiliating!).  The whole episode has nagged me ever since.  I’ve been using the product and I don’t doubt that it has improved my skin (wishful thinking?) but I am bothered by how easily I lost my confidence – it only took a matter of minutes and I felt like I was a teenager again, worried about being judged for my gangly appearance and pale face with bug eyes!  I consider myself a strong woman and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t walk out after the first 10 minutes (which was my first instinct)!

After I got home I sheepishly looked at the receipt and was surprised to find written in bold letters on the customer copy, “NO REFUNDS”.  Tells you something, doesn’t it?  I’m not the only person who had buyers remorse — obviously, it was an issue or they wouldn’t print it directly on the receipt!  No money-back guarantees….  I learned my lesson.  When approached with free samples – a strong but polite “NO THANKS” will serve me well.

I am aging.  I have dark circles under my eyes, laugh wrinkles, jowels and a turkey neck — my belly is jelly, my triceps are saggy, and my legs are cottage cheesy.  Such is life.  No amount of money, lotions or fear-mongering can truly change any of that.  And why would I?  I’m here, vertical and happy to be such.  Can’t get any better than that!  If wishing for something different makes you feel bad – stop wishing for something different.  What is real?  What really matters?

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For both of us

Recently, I have been missing my mom – which is unusual because we had never been very close.  I’ve been thinking about the way she used to be — about 10 years ago when she was still delivering the mail and stopping by on a whim.   She would call fairly frequently just to fill me in on gossip or ask something about the kids.   In those days, she was a gadabout.  If she got bored, she would jump in her car and drive to some unknown point in the valley or to a neighboring town.

Every Sunday, she played the organ at the country church.  For a time, she would regularly come to our house for dinner after the service.    We had a small family discord and she stopped coming over and rarely called.  As time and her dementia progressed, we lost contact until the memory loss became a safety issue.  By then, when it was time to step in and arrange for her care, she no longer remembered the discord but the disengagement of recent years only made matters worse.  I feel deprived of the last few reasonably normal years of her life before the dementia changed her into a stranger.

As I said, we were never very close but the dementia has forced into grim reality the realization that we have lost any possible opportunity to be close. Looking back into my childhood, I wished for a mother who would talk to me, tell me things, hug me and tell me she wasn’t angry with me.  That just wasn’t meant to be and, now, it truly never will be.  Having to let go of that hope and wish is hard.   It makes me sad for both of us.

Mom remains in a memory care facility.  She has lost a lot of weight and she no longer recognizes anyone.  Her biggest pleasure is when my sister brings her cinnabons or something from McDonalds.  She still walks loops around the hall with her walker and she hasn’t fallen for a couple of months (knock on wood).  It isn’t easy going to visit her – in fact, it is very difficult.  Her face is sallow and her eyes are vacant.  She rarely makes eye contact and only grunts as a response to most questions or she repeats the question.  Somewhere in that shell is a woman who had 4 children, cooked on a wood stove, chopped wood, taught children how to read, delivered mail, played the organ and acted as eucharistic minister in her church.  She was also a woman who wanted to go to college but couldn’t because of financial constraints, a woman who loved her family but always wanted something more – a woman whose true dreams and desires will never be known.

I miss having her around and I wish that things could have been different – for both of us.

Vegas baby

Road trip.  In our retirement, my husband and I like a good road trip.  He loves to drive and I don’t mind riding.  I have an iPad and my crocheting to keep me busy – I will play games, read, email, crochet, until I get tired (then I take a little nap).  SOMETIMES we will chat, but not often.  Periodically, we’ll ask each other the age old question, “What are you thinking about?”.  For me, the answer is usually the kids or something I recently saw on the side of the road.  For him, it is a calculation of miles vs speed and estimated time of arrival – or traffic.  We are very comfortable together and while we are not fireballs of activity when we travel, we do have our own kind of fun and enjoy each others’ company.

Of course, one of the best parts of a road trip is returning home where the coffee is dark, the scrambled eggs are soft and traffic is non-existent.

We’ve just returned from our anniversary road trip – to Vegas of all places.  When we arrived, it was 109 degrees!  Lord, that is hot!  Of course, every casino, hotel and store has air conditioning and you can go up to the pool any time you like.  We discovered it is best to go at 9 am when it is only 90 degrees!    Also, the pool opens at 9 and there is only a handful of people there – you can have any chair you like and you don’t have to fight for a corner of shade!

Normally, I love the heat and, as usual, I had to wear a sweatshirt and warm yoga pants in our hotel room — too cold for moi in the breezy and somewhat arctic air conditioning!   I know this about myself so I did bring jackets to take to restaurants – turns out, I never really needed them.  When it is THAT hot, the cool is a welcome reprieve even for someone who normally can’t tolerate the cold.

Vegas in July also brings LOTS of people on vacation!  We weren’t the only ones who thought we could endure the heat.  Every race and nation was represented in our little adventure.  So many people, vehicles, noises, flashing lights — talk about sensory overload!  People trying to navigate the buses, the pedestrian crossings, the casinos, the menus.  If you are an observer (a.k.a. people watcher), you will get your fill in Vegas.

Here are my observations:

  • Vegas is the place to wear your best slut costume (if you are female) and your cargo shorts with full pockets (if you are male).
  • Everyone is in their own little world on the streets but at the craps tables – they are all best of friends!
  • Hardcore gamblers sit at a machine and fill their ashtrays…a lot of gamblers are also smokers.
  • Rarely do you ever feel judged in Vegas.
  • There are buffet meals everywhere!
  • To be a barmaid, you must wear a push-up bra and a scoop neck shirt to show cleavage.
  • You must be prepared to say NO multiple times to multiple sales people – if they offer you something for free — just say “no thanks”.  Free means either you sit through a 2 hour presentation for a timeshare or you are cornered into buying some very expensive face cream!  They are on every corner; in every nook and cranny!
  • So much money exchanges hands in Vegas.  I was just amazed.

There were other observations but I realized as I wrote them that I was being a bit JUDGY – so I kept them to myself.  All in all, we enjoyed our trip.  It is always fun to get away together.  We talked about how we met and how much we still love each other.  That was the highlight of the trip and made everything worthwhile.  Here’s to another 31 years!

The gift of peace

My mother-in-law passed away peacefully on June 10.  She was in hospice care for one week.  I hope she has gotten back to her bridge club.

Funerals are difficult and no one likes attending them.  It is a time to say goodbye; to show support for family or friends; a time to reflect on the life and times shared with the dearly departed.  Depending on the person, a funeral can be very personal or very religious or very long or very short and not so sweet or a combination of all the above.  There can be music, prayers, readings, masses, poems, speeches, fire and brimstone, tearful goodbyes.

My family lost four important members in a 4 year succession.  We learned a lot about funerals and how to plan and implement a decent, respectful and personal service.  There are so many details that you just don’t know about – so many choices to make.  What type of service?  Where will it be held?  Who will preside? Will there be a viewing?  Casket or urn?   Flowers? Special program for the service? Who will write the obituary?   Where will they be laid to rest? Who will be pall bearers?  Will there be a reception afterwards?  Where will it be held?  Who will bring food?

These are all details that people have to think of when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.  For some of us, having something constructive to “do” actually helps.   For others, it is overwhelming.  It is a very emotional and raw time.

In the case of my mother-in-law, she requested a full catholic mass.  She belonged to a large church and the priest did not know her personally.  The service was typical of a full mass and because the priest knew nothing about her, he read her obituary during the sermon portion of the service.  He mispronounced her name and the name of her home town (Butt? Montana).  He had not read through the obituary beforehand so it was read in a choppy manner and it was hard to understand.  It was supposed to be a celebration of her life and it really wasn’t.  Fortunately, at the reception afterwards, the family held a more personal service in remembrance of their mother.

There is a saying, “Funerals bring out the worst in people”.  Families have broken apart in the aftermath of a funeral – the loss of a loved one and the arguments that ensue.  Past hurts come to the forefront and the battle over material things can be a detriment to most families.   Wars are waged and lines drawn in the sand over grandma’s crystal gravy boat or the diamond dinner ring.  It just isn’t worth it but it happens frequently.  Having a will is very important for legal reasons but it is the responsibility of the survivors to deal with division of property and personal items with consideration for each other and in honor of the memory of the departed.

I realized after my dad’s funeral that it is important to think about, and to make known, what your wishes are prior to your death.   But it will save your family a lot of stress if you also plan what you want as a final goodbye.  I have a file titled – “when I die” and it talks about what I want for a service.  It is not overly specific, just little tidbits.  Songs I like, that have special meaning to me; things I feel would be nice to say about my personality; my feelings about religion; how much I love my kids,  grandkids and my husband.  Most importantly, I have included my wishes that my children stay close – rely on each other – no matter what.

I’ve heard it said that it is morbid and depressing to think and talk about those things.  I don’t feel it is because it provides clear instructions for your loved ones and saves them the stress of having to wonder what you would prefer.  It can be as specific or generalized as you want it to be.  In truth, there are so many things that we don’t know about each other and that we don’t normally share.  I’m certain that my mother, who now has dementia/alzheimers, had no idea that she would never have the chance to say the many things that she was saving for “someday”.   There are so many things about her that we don’t know, she never shared, and now there is no one to ask.

It is sad to think of your final days, your final resting place, leaving those you love behind.  None of us knows WHEN that will happen, but we do know that it WILL happen.  To provide a means of saying a final goodbye and of saving your loved ones from that difficult process is truly a gift.  Your final wishes conveyed in black and white will give all of you peace.