Saturday, December 27, 2014

Me and God......

“The deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reason power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.” 
Albert Einstein

So many folks believe they own God. Not only do they own him, they know what’s he’s thinking, how he wants things done, and how to find him.

These proprietors of God expect to be his lone spokesperson, as well as the sole arbiter of your behavior and mine. They point to a weighty tome or tablets as their blueprint, insisting that he transmitted “THE PLAN” upon which their edicts rely, the many rules for knowing and following God. There is an overlay of a belief that morality flows only from that source; that those who aren't lock-stepping behind them cannot possibly live a principled, ethical, life replete with love for others. 

Never mind that the whole PLAN was written by flawed folks like them—and me, too—even the part about how this plan got to us in the first place. By humans simply relating how God delivered all this information through flaming bushes, or entrusted to a sinner (again, one like you or me) who went to a mountaintop, or storytellers writing the tales down. There’s a lot of room for misinterpretation about who God really is and what he wants, when mortals are in charge of the details.

God and I have been compatriots at various points in my life. Once even in a highly ritualized way, complete with incense, candles..... and mere men who came to presume they WERE God. We had a falling out, though, and went our separate ways. It seemed to me that there is a whole lot of evil he could take care of if he got more involved. So, why doesn't he? What’s up with the “hands-off” approach to beings he supposedly created and loved so much? Why leave us hanging over--and tumbling into--the abyss so often? 

And the default position of “As humans we can’t understand why God does what he does. We have to trust Him” has never convinced me that God can get away with being complicit in children being tortured, for example. It certainly isn't the "free will" of those innocent victims that’s to blame, is it? Nonsense is nonsense even when formalized in celestial language.

Plus, many so-called paths to him insert an intermediary between the two of us, the creator of vastness and I. Did he set us up in a beautiful idyllic Garden only to distance himself from us as soon as we messed up? We are needy people and he seems to take a lot of coffee breaks.

Today, we talk. We cry on each other’s shoulders when we need a friend and everyone else disappears. We can have disagreements about how things are going, yet friends do that, don’t they? But we operate on our own terms. No intermediaries—human or mythical—are necessary. I’m thinking that the creator of the Universe doesn't need any help understanding my heart. He (or maybe he is a she, just to throw in another incendiary device to the conversation!) has taught me a great deal about loving and serving others, about living an ethical life, about savoring the moment and appreciating what I have right now instead of living in the past or the future. The Universe--or God or Allah or "the right path" or whatever we choose to call it-- has taught me that I don't need to know. I can simply sit in awe and accept and learn.

This is a relationship, much like all such relationships: complicated, messy, perplexing, and very personal. 

It works for me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday-Induced Happiness?

Halloween barely takes off its mask these days before the Christmas music begins. Glittering trees appear overnight in malls and retail stores, almost as if required as part of November 1st. Maybe all those saints decreed it or something.

We complain about this rush to Christmas, but have you noticed that a warm fuzzy blanket of good will descends at the same time? Maybe this is why we grumble, but we don't object too vehemently. (The one aberration here is the chaos that ensues on Black Friday--or maybe even Thanksgiving Day--but that's a topic for another day. Plus, some people are just crazy, no matter the season.)

People are kinder during this time. I've even had strangers step aside for me as we both approach a common check-out line. Whoa!! In July, they have shoved me out of my planted position in that same line as we purchased our fireworks. Creating a few more, actually. 

We smile more at each other, wishing the mailman, the gas station attendant, the bag boy a cheery "Happy Holiday!" or "Merry Christmas!" And we all seem to mean it. Movements to fill various voids for others in need pop up in front of stores all over town. People who don't give a penny to a pauper any other time of the year do so now.

The roads are not only less populated as vacations begin, our traffic-induced tirades and stress levels diminish, too. Perhaps some of the smiling that began in those areas already mentioned spills over to our vehicles, too. (Unless two of us are eyeing the one remaining parking space in the back 40 of the mall, then all bets are off, of course.)

Twinkling lights, beautiful music, gracious attitudes and helping hands--maybe we could stretch this season from one end of the calendar to the other. Even those of us who are not religious constructionists can identify with this holiday of Ho-Ho-Ho Happiness. What's not to love about peace and goodwill? Isn't that what we all want, no matter what shape our star is--or even if we have no star at all?

“There's more, much more, to Christmas Than candlelight and cheer; It's the spirit of sweet friendship That brightens all year. It's thoughtfulness and kindness, It's hope reborn again, For peace, for understanding, And for goodwill to men!”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Wild pitches.....

Curve balls. Stolen bases. Wild pitches.

Life's analagous relationship to sports comes naturally, doesn't it? It's one reason I love to watch competition on the field of play. (Another one is the fact that I can watch huge, muscular men in tight uniforms, but that makes me sound creepy, so let's move on.)

As we age, we learn never to leave the room until the game is over. Even if the home team is down by 10 at the beginning of the ninth inning. Wellsprings of strength can be tapped, the tide turns, and there goes the scoreboard, reflecting what no one would have thought possible mere minutes before.

Much like our lives. Just when we think we have everything under control, here comes that wild pitch, knocking us out of the batter's box--or even to the ground. But, like the player knocked on his butt in the dust, we must get up, too. Unexpected events demand fortitude, courage, and faith in ourselves, a surety that grows the more innings we play.

Recently, I lost a contract that provided 95% of my income. Luckily this isn't the first time I've had to dodge a ball. My teeth rattled when I hit the ground, but I got back up and dusted myself off before the next pitch left the pitcher's glove.

This kind of assurance is only attained over the course of time; time and the resultant knowledge that we are capable of facing and handling whatever life throws at us. When we are young and new in a game, every curve ball or wild pitch seem like a catastrophe. The experiences, however, can lend us cumulative strength as we mature.

As long as we pay attention over time, learn to trust ourselves, and above all, stay in the game.
“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records."

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The headliner........

You should be the headliner in your own life.

Just picture it: Your name in lights!

Yes, you. The woman with her arm draped over the frig door, contemplating one more meal for the hordes who drift through your house (some of whom actually live there), eating, traipsing dirt into your living room, dragging dirty sports paraphernalia behind them like aliens stuck to their backsides. And then eating again. That arm is actually holding you up, isn't it? Your energy is gone, your food, too--and so are the dreams you once had for yourself.

To write.

To sing.

To paint.

To dance.

To soar.

But you refuse to add your own name to the calendar. Everyone else's lives are there, dates marked in red. The kids, your spouse, your family, his family, the pets. But not you.

"I'm not sure what [person A] will need on Friday, so go on ahead to the art show without me. It's OK."

"No, I can't plan anything with the [girls' night out group, the sorority, the reunion planning committee]; the cat has a vet appointment."

"Sorry......I can't."

"Not sure....."

"I'd love to go, but....."

Goals? Dreams? How about just one night out to do what YOU want to do? Do you even remember what that is?

 What's wrong with using that red pen to schedule an art class, a writing group, a hot bath behind a locked door?

No one else will do it for you. They're too busy eating.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. 
― Mae West

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Advice Column you will never read anywhere else......

"Dear [Advice Columnist]:

I am a senior lady who dates senior men. Here are some of the turnoffs; bad hygiene, dirty nails, sloppy clothes, bad table manners, and expecting sex right away. I've experienced all of these. Ladies get prettied up and smelling good, but end up with men who don't care how they look or smell and think it's OK. It's not"

Signed: [Senior Lady]

Advice columns make me a bit crazy. Well, usually it's the answers that fall so far short, so here's how "Dear Deborah" would respond to this woman's conundrum. (Notice that Senior Lady isn't asking for advice; I think she's got senior men all figured out by now and is probably enjoying an evening out with the girls.)

Dear Senior Lady:

We feel your pain. Telling men to "pay attention to their hygiene" is like telling a child to "be careful on the playground." Men and children share many characteristics, so let's be more specific, shall we? Here's an open letter to men that covers some of your concerns, dear Lady.

Men, go look in the mirror. If you wear glasses, take them off and get real close to your reflection. See those nose hairs, the ones long enough to braid? SNIP them! I hear they even make a handy little razor designed just for that purpose, so get it out of the drawer where you threw it months ago, and use it! EVERY time you go out, especially if you plan on taking a woman out......anywhere! But even your co-workers don't want to look at wayward nose hair. Trust me on this one.

Now move on up to your eyebrows and then over to your ears. Do you see the strands that stick straight out from your forehead or ears, like the needles on a compass pointing the way?  This is why no one looks you in the eye while you're talking; we're so distracted by the forest of hair sticking this way and that, we can't concentrate. You need to tweeze, cut, or otherwise shave until everything is neat and tidy, and where it belongs. We're begging you!

If you have gained or lost weight for any reason, go shopping. Cinching up the waist on your pants with your too-large belt or fastening your 36" belt underneath your now-40 inch waist isn't fooling us. You will find that women aren't as obsessed with body shape as are men, so we really don't care what size your waist is today; we WOULD like you to wear the proper sized clothes to fit that body, though.

Remember the table manners your mother taught you (or maybe it was an aunt or dad or a bossy sister, but somebody probably mentioned it once or twice)? Those rules are still in effect, even if you've never married at all or have been divorced for 20 years (which could prove my point here) or newly widowed and looking for companionship. We don't want to either hear you chew your food (just because you're hard of hearing doesn't mean WE are, but that's a topic for another day) or SEE that food in your mouth at any time. Ever. I'll wait to hear the rest of your opinion on global warming until after you're finished chewing that last morsel of the great casserole I brought you. I promise.....

Now, back to you, Senior Lady. You indicated another problem concerning sex, but there is even more difficulty than you have apparently had occasion to encounter, since you haven't gotten past all the bad hygiene yet.

They may WANT sex right away, but that desire is simply a remnant of long-lost days, the ones when they were sowing wild oats like a wheat field hit by an afternoon wind storm. Desire doesn't translate to much these days. Those little blue pills don't help most of these men, sweetie. Sorry to be the one to deliver this news, but they take so much other medication that, unless you want to have paramedics burst into the room at a very inopportune time, they simply can't participate in the fun anymore. (The men can't participate, not the paramedics although some of those guys are very healthy looking as they jump out of their ambulance, and I bet THEY can.....but, I digress.) And, yes, there are alternatives, but they also tire really easily, so it's back to dreaming about the paramedics, I'm afraid. It's all just a source of frustration for us.

I wish I could be more encouraging, Senior Lady, but it's been said that men and women are from different planets. I would add, in different galaxies.

And there is a reason some women are called "cougars." I'll leave it at that.

"Men will treat you the way you let them. There is no such thing as "deserving" respect; you get what you demand from people.. if you demand respect, he will either respect you or he won't associate with you. It really is that simple.” 
Tucker Max

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Balls with edges.....

There doesn’t seem to be a gender or age component to this particular oddity, the one involving the ball that refuses to bounce.  I sat next to a 20-something young woman recently who caught the ball and then let it fall with a hollow “THUNK”  on the table between us, its jagged edges preventing it from returning to me.

Then there was the strange man I sat next to at a party. (I could call him a stranger and be right either way.) He was a great catcher. Superb, in fact. But that ball, the one I kept trying to get into play, caught on the edge of the plastic chairs we were sitting in every time. I finally got tired of bending over to pick it up off the dusty ground, so just left it lying in the dirt. It got real quiet then between the stranger and me. (I guess he didn't bring any balls of his own.)

This happens so often that I play other games with it. (Might as well; I’ve got a silly looking ball in my hand, right?) I’ve sat at a dinner table and tossed the ball to the person sitting across from me, and then watched as the “catcher” has a wonderful time with that ball. I wait, I smile, I wonder, “Will THIS be the person who knows how to throw this darn ball back to me?” Only to watch in disappointment as he puts it down by his water glass. It won’t roll—remember, it’s got edges—so it just sits here. Mute. Silent. Dead.

I do this several times with the dinner guests until I tire of the game. At that point, the only sounds drifting around the table consist of the clink of silverware or dishes being passed. And all the balls sit on their edges, simply because so many people have forgotten how to play.
Or converse.  The art of conversation seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur. This is one issue that can’t be blamed strictly on texting, either (although texting certainly hasn’t helped anyone actually “talk” to others). I have observed and participated in sad scenarios like this one for some time now:

“Hi, this is my first time here! I’m Deborah. What’s your name?” I lob the ball into play.

“[Strange man says his name.]”  THUNK. The ball just found its first edge as it drops.

“How long have YOU been part of this group?” I pick the ball up off the ground and try again; I hit it back across the net.

“Oh, about a year! I started coming after I moved here, and didn’t know anyone.”  I wait, but then Oops!…the ball falls to the ground again, another edge notched into its surface.

“Where did you move here from?” I’m nothing if not persistent, so back across the net goes the ball.

“California. My grandchildren live here, so it’s been nice to be closer to them.”  CLUNK! It sits there again, lonely and quiet.

“How many grandchildren do you have?” I know, I know…why am I still trying to get the ball back, you ask? I agree; this is getting pretty tiring.

All I can say is that I really enjoy meeting and talking to new people. I've found I even enjoy more now than when I was younger. We all have such great stories and experiences—at least at last recollection we did—and these shared experiences can bring us together in some very important ways. Regardless of our age, or ethnicity, or gender, or place of birth we are more similar as humans than we are different. We might even learn something from each other.
But we have to talk to each other to find that out, right? I’m exhausted most of the time from stooping over to pick that silly ball up. So, for those of you who need concrete lessons, let’s start that “conversation” between strange guy and me over again:

“Hi, this is my first time here! I’m Deborah. What’s your name?”

“[Strange man says his name.] Is this your first time here?” 

“Yes, it is! It seems like a nice group. How long have YOU been a member?”

“Oh, about a year! I started coming after I moved here, and didn’t know anyone. Did you meet  a group member somewhere or did you just find us on line?”  

“Actually, I met Susie at a networking meeting last week, and she invited me to come tonight! You mentioned that you moved here; where did you move here from?”

“California. My grandchildren live here, though, so it’s been nice to be closer to them. Do YOU have any family in the area?” 

“Yes, I do. My daughter lives here and my mother lives with me. I don’t have any grand children yet. How many do you have?”

And the ball bounces on, no edges to catch on anything at all! The ball stays in the air more than it drops and it’s a lot more fun to play the game.
Conversation doesn’t have to be a mystery. It simply involves showing a little interest in the person on the other side of the net. Enough to throw the ball back at least once in a while.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I think I found him!

I think I may have finally found the one for me! Let me tell you a little about him:

He basks in my attention.

He sits patiently as I soak in the hot tub, keeping me company, since he isn't comfortable in the warm water.

At night, he snuggles as close as he can get to me, eyes on my face until he drifts off to sleep.

As I write, he often seeks my hand, just a touch to remind me that he is nearby.

If I leave for any length of time, he is waiting for me patiently when I return. No questions asked.

He doesn't offer advice or criticize or whine. He simply accepts me totally, flaws and all.

He doesn't point things out in my house that need fixing (meaning I should fix them, for heaven's sake, what am I waiting for?) or sigh heavily at something I say or do that he doesn't understand. I don't think he knows how to roll his eyes.

He is playful (although he does have to be in the mood, but do I).

He doesn't expect me to visit his family. In fact, he is remarkably free of what people our age label "baggage."

Would you like to meet my "perfect" man?  Meet him here!

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is.”
Jim Morrison

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dancing Fool......Encore!

 “Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”

Easy for Rumi to say. Last Saturday, I was wondering why I had agreed to such a foolish thing.

WHY did I agree--no, VOLUNTEER--to learn a choreographed waltz and perform it in front of friends, family, and strangers? Who did I think I was: Julianne or Katarina or Cheryl on Dancing With the Stars? Those folks spend untold hours every week learning their dances. I was contained to two hour long lessons a week to learn the intricate patterns and steps my instructor put together for us.

Saturday was THE day! I loaded my clothes into the car and went to get my hair done. Everything has to be BIG in performing, so those are the directions I gave the young woman who sat me down in her chair in the salon: BIG hair, please. Well, that's fine if you've got a lot of hair to get BIG with, but I don't. (Remember? It's one of those aging things we have talked about before.)  I had to settle for hair that was.....well, nicer than I could have done myself. Aging teaches us to be realistic, if nothing else.

Nerves get me for about an hour each time I've done this (yes, I have done it before, don't ask me why I didn't learn not to volunteer again), but then excitement takes over. I finally get to show my family and friends exactly why I keep slipping away to a dance studio, only to return an hour or so later a totally happier person. Transformed. Transfigured.(Everyone likes it that I go do me.)

Performing, though....that's transformation of a different sort. I had to learn to move BIG (to go along with the hair, of course), to exaggerate putting that arm up into the air, to hold that pose longer than seems humanly possible, to keep smiling no matter what.

Like when I unexpectedly and for no apparent reason, cut a move short and ended up turning the wrong way. I can recall standing there thinking "How the heck did I get HERE??" But I kept that smile plastered on my face, turned back the RIGHT way to get back to where I was supposed to be, and made eye contact with my instructor/partner. His look said, "Just keep going!" We knew what had happened, but as it turned out, no one else realized anything was amiss at all.

The afternoon was magical, mistake included. As I've gotten older and bumped into more walls than I care to remember (or admit) and made hundreds of mistakes, the lesson has been clear: don't ever stop...... and whatever you do, keep smiling!

Dance on!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shock and awe.......

 “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
Douglas Adams

As a woman who is aging to perfection, steeped in the wine of time, I am still often shocked--well after I thought there was nothing left to rattle me--as well as in awe of the vagaries of the human race. Some things I know.......

  • New jeans with holes up and down the legs, hanging on the rack in the department store, must be an attempt to make us look mindless. 
  • When we were 16, a boy who was even 5 years older was taboo. That chasm was huge and not to be crossed on penalty of irate parents, scandalized neighbors, and the law. By the time we were 25, those 5 years had shrunk and they no longer made much difference. In fact, they added a bit of texture to a relationship. But I bet you didn't know that the same 5 years stretch again at the other end of the age spectrum, causing all kinds of mischief for us in our 60s, 70s, and older. Take my word for isn't pretty. Because.......
  • of all ages want younger women. They just do. The problem is that those men hanging onto the right end of the timeline have difficulty keeping up with a woman younger than they are. In many important ways. And men younger than that same woman aren't interested, because--remember?--they want someone younger, too. Where does that leave me? I'll tell you where: women of a certain age who want a full, true relationship are stranded on that timeline, searching both ends of the spectrum. Alone. 
  • Which leads me to this: I should have protected, nurtured, and cherished some of my earlier relationships so I wouldn't be stuck on this darn timeline at all.
  • You can enjoy gospel or religious music without believing a word of it. There's just something joyous about it, isn't there?
  •  I refuse to listen to any song that has the word "chainsaw" in it. It's just not right.
  •  Why do many men refrain from using poor grammar until AFTER you've become invested as a couple? Maybe it's a sign they are truly comfortable with us, their new love. I could stand a little less comfort. Please.
  •  When a man agrees in advance to "talk about things that bother us" as you launch a new relationship, his mouth is merely moving.

That's what I least for now!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's all about "the pick".......

Marriage is not about age; it's about finding the right person.
Marriage is not about age; it's about finding the right person.
"Marriage is not about age; it's about finding the right person."
Sophia Bush

Oh, so correct.
I have finally come to understand that it's all about "the pick," whether it's marriage or any other long-term relationship.  Once you have thought about who YOU are and what you want in a partner, the search is on. But it's critical to have that  dialogue with yourself first.
This is where I always made my fatal errors, at least fatal to the longevity of my relationships. (Heck, if you add them all together, I have a great track record!) I am seduced by the fancy trappings of courtship, by the attention..... by the "sell." I should have been more thoughtful about what happens after the shiny gloss fades, who I wanted to stand next to me when the world hands out an unexpected hardship, a job loss, errant children, all of the chaos that slithers under the front door just when we think we have it all.
I realize now that I had no explicit instruction on how to do this. The sad part is that now that I have learned it, the window of opportunity for me to build a long-term, steadfast relationship with a partner has slammed shut. Hard enough to  break the casement in the process. That time can never be swept back up in the dustpan to be used again. Never.
And that IS sad.
I won't ever know the joy of sitting shoulder to shoulder on the couch to look at pictures (yes, real glossy photographs pasted in a scrapbook) of our wedding day or our first car, first pet, first child, first grandchild.
I haven't built a history with someone who stood by me when that health scare struck (the one when I drove myself to the hospital for the biopsy). There is no shared frame of reference for not making the same mistakes with one child that we made with the first one. When one of us loses the ability for physical intimacy, the option of walking away isn't an option at all. The " pick" laid the foundation. And then it's about making the commitment  more than words.
I know two young women who are currently planning their weddings. I wish someone had told me all of this when I was 22, fresh out of college and about to marry. For the first time.
If someone had, maybe I would be getting ready to celebrate my 43rd anniversary.
Instead, I'm back at "the pick."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Shades of truth......

The opposite of "the truth" is a lie.


The older I get, the more maturity I acquire, the less I believe this.

Life used to be so precise for me. It was either right or it was wrong. White was reflection of all colors, and thus the opposite of black. Simple. Clear cut.

Not so much any more. I now view beautiful shades of pearl and silver, gray and slate, all shouldering their way into the space separating black from white on the spectrum of experience. But life is also overflowing now with paint cans of uncertainty.

It's rather disconcerting. But it forces me to listen more closely, to observe others more humanely. The truth told by one person and contradicted by another might still represent the truth. It doesn't mean that one of them is "lying." I have found that it very often means their personal experiences of the same event were vastly different or that time has molded their truth into a protective cover, one that was necessary for survival.

This happened to me recently. I heard one story, then a completely different version of that "truth." I pondered. I chewed on it. I stewed.  And then I thought, "What difference does it make to me right now, other than the fact that I simply must know 'the truth'?"

Do I really? Does it matter to my life today? Or is it all simply more drama?

Both versions painted shades of the truth for the people it encompassed. It serves some purpose for them. And even if I am one of those people, I have my own truths, too, my own recollections of how things unwrapped themselves within the context of my life. Eternally unique.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” 
Oscar Wilde    


Sunday, March 30, 2014

An apology? Nope......

Things fall apart every once in awhile. They just do.

Being able to accept that is a huge step in our maturation process. Plus it keeps us sane when the magnetic force field of our lives shifts a bit and we are tossed off balance.


Yes, young reader, this will happen consistently and repeatedly over the course of your life. Those of us who have aged a bit--to perfection, of course!--know this. "Perfection" is an ideal, we all know that, but aging towards that ideal means, by definition, that we adapt and adjust to new directions when that compass starts to show us another way. Instead of resisting, which comes in the forms of whining, complaining, and giving up.

Those aren't options for me. It's taken me some time to get where I am, but I'm doing better every day! Which gets me to my point....finally.

I had high hopes for this year, especially with my quest to seek out new adventures every month. I enjoyed that two-year process a few years ago, and it brought me great joy in a number of ways. Then I took a year off and missed it. Or thought I did. When I started again in January, I really thought I wanted to get started.

And then the grind started. What did I want to do THIS month? I have to do something, I told myself, because I told all of you that I was started down the yellow brick road of adventure again. If I was behind schedule, which is what happened, the whole thing started to weigh on me. I was BEHIND--and those of you who know me personally (I hope that's all of you by now, even if we've never actually met face to face) --know that I don't like getting behind in anything. (Yes, something else I'm working on!) It just puts my life under duress and I don't need that stress.

So, I've put the "new thing every month" journey on hold for now. I do more things that are outside my zone of comfort on a regular basis anyway, and that may have been the whole reason for doing it in the first place.

I've gone back to dancing, which was one of my first "new" things, and that brings me great joy, more than I can begin to describe here in this space right now. But I'm not going to beat myself up about the rest of it.

After all, I'm aging toward the perfection of acceptance.

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

No filters.......

As we mature, we tend to filter less. And I think that's a very good thing.         

  • When did a group become a "cohort"?
  • Why is my phone now a "cell"?
  • And why does my home have multiple cells but no phone of its very own?
  • Why can't I buy a digital camera anymore but intersections have lots of them?
  • Why does my gym offer CHAOS as if its a good thing--AND I have to pay to have more of it in my life?
  • My daughter's wallet was stolen recently and it never occurred to me to ask if there was actual money in it.
  • It doesn't seem like a wise decision to force taxpayers to use garbage receptacles that are bigger than most people, much less when those bins are filled to the brim and thus immobile.
  • Why does my credit union attempt to socially engineer my choice of vehicle by designating parking spaces for fuel-efficient cars--especially when they financed the car I am not allowed to park in front of their building?
  • Since when can't I be trusted to safely make a left turn on my own?
  • Do we really believe more signs and longer crossing times will remedy stupidity on the part of drivers who plow into pedestrians?
  • How come telemarketers call my phone (oh, CELL) and then refuse to speak for several long seconds? Didn't THEY call ME?
 “Progress has not brought about universal happiness...”
Adam Leith Gollner

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Putting it in context........

I recognize context better now. As a younger person, I had never  faced some experiences that have now happened to me multiple times in the course of my sixty-plus years. We learn from those experiences, at least  if we're paying attention.

Driving to the mountains of North Carolina from Florida for the first time should have been a piece of cake. It's only 8 hours or so, and I once drove from Florida to Colorado in a little over 48 hours, so no worries. Right? The only problem was that we arrived after dark. An unknown location, at the top of a mountain ridge reached only after putting the car in 4-wheel drive and inching up a narrow, one lane road to the top. The person who owns the cabin told us "It's the sixth cabin from the top of the ridge" and it was very dark that night. (Go ahead; think about that for a minute. I can see your face now.....)

Put that trip in context and I've never tried it again. We leave home in the morning one day, stay overnight along the way, and then finish the trip the next day, when the sun is still out and I can see well enough to navigate up that ridge where the cabin is located.


It also raises its head when those who don't have the longevity we enjoy try to pull a fast one on us. We understand context when a 30-something personal trainer makes continued excuses for being late for appointments (for which I was paying him well), with things like, "Oh, I lost track of time" or "I didn't realize it would take so long to get my hair cut" or "Did you know I went back to school? I was studying for a test and forgot about the time." (In other words, he forgot about his customer, completely or simply irresonsibly, or both.) And the excuses always came along with him AFTER he showed up late for every appointment....yes, EVERY one. Sometimes he never showed up at all.

The context is rich with meaning. He didn't call ahead of time to say something like, "My little one is sick today and I have to take her to the doctor" or a similar reason that, within the context of our own experiences in a life replete with them, makes sense and everyone has had happen at some point.

Context matters. And we get much better at putting life in it as we age. We also hold others accountable within the context of a situation, too.

We are old(er) and we aren't to be toyed with.

I now have a new personal trainer, by the way.

Context, context......

“Reality is not a function of the event as event, but of the relationship of that event to past, and future, events.” 
Robert Penn


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Active Master exposed.......

There it is again.

Peeking out a bit.

It's represents one of those "Oh, that won't happen to ME!" things that accompanies becoming an Active Master, at least for some of us apparently.

There are some advantages as we age.

Yes, I have a greater depth of experience to draw from on an everyday basis.

Yes, I've learned to slow down the decision making process, to look at so many angles that had evaded me when I was younger.

Yes, I try more new things than I ever had.

Yes, I have even finally let down my defenses enough to trust my instincts more often than not. And most of the time those instincts are correct.

But can someone please tell me why that bit of pink scalp is peeking through my hair? I may be smarter, more able to navigate the tumultuous waters of life, but I'd really like to do it with my hair.


How can I control my life when I can't control my hair? ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I know not what I do.......yet

It's that time again!

The one where I do something I've never done before.

Each month around the date of my birth (the 28th), I embark on an adventure of some kind, stepping out of my personal comfort zone and into the realm of the unknown. And that's the whole purpose.

As we age, we tend to lose that sense of excitement, anticipation, it what you want, but we kind of collapse into a boring, dreary puddle until it's hard to divine any fresh water in our lives. So far, I've had some great experiences, some truly awful ones, and some that I continue today.

I asked for suggestions from friends on my social media site a couple of weeks ago, and got some good well as some scary ones, at least to me. A trapeze? Zip-lining over alligators? Not sure about those two, in particular. But then there was attending a great mini-conference with Maria Shriver and Martha Beck in Savannah (too late for that one; it was last weekend when I couldn't go), swimming with manatees, acupuncture, hot yoga, some other workout routine whose name escapes me right now, rock climbing. One that's been on my own mental list for quite a while is to ride a bus in my city, and that idea won't go away, so I'm adding it to the master list right now. (I'm sure many of you who live in cities with excellent mass transit systems find this idea comical, but believe me when I say that it's not the same thing in many southern cities at all. I'll just leave it at that for now.)

I haven't decided which adventure to choose yet for the month, but the whole process invigorates me. The process of thinking of things to do and then deciding on one keep my mental systems on "go" and that's a good thing. Carrying the activity out is often physically challenging, and that, too, is a very good thing.

So, stay tuned. By the time I get back here, the latest event will be over and I can share it with all of you.

Be brave enough to live creatively. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can only get there by hard work, by risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself.
Alan Alda

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Liberals and social engineering......

They're still empty. Unused, unoccupied. I know because I checked yesterday.

I found this building a week or so ago, a brand new branch of my credit union in a part of town I only frequent a few times a month. But I had some other business to transact in the area and there it was, so I zipped into the parking lot and searched out the front door.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, it couldn't be located on the first side that faced me--every one of those parking spaces was empty. I noticed all the cars were parked on the other side. That must be it. I kept driving around to another side (front? back?) of the building.

Oops. No door anywhere. Maybe it's one of those new "no building" banks, where all your business is transacted in cyberspace......somewhere. But why would they have this beautiful building then? I circled again, totally confused now.

Oh, there's the door, tucked over there facing--wait--all those empty parking spaces!  As I turned into the first space, a sign stopped me in my tracks: "Fuel efficient cars only." Well, that's open to interpretation, isn't it? I drive a Kia, a small one at that. But somehow I gathered that's not what they meant at all.The space next to it was the same. I drove slowly to the next one: Handicapped.As was the next one. No problem with those at all. There were still two left down there at the end. I was bound to find one soon.

"Van pools only." Both of them.

Are you kidding me? When was the last time you and your coworkers decided to hop into the van and head on over to the credit union to do your banking in a cozy little group? Women often go to the restroom in herds, but banking? That's a new one.

As I told the manager when I finally was able to GET INTO this edifice, I'm probably more liberal than most people walking around. As a matter of fact, as I've gotten older, I've become even more so. I think that goes counter to what happens to most people, but I've never fit the mold in any aspect of life, so why start now?

But social engineering carried to this extreme offends even me. The manager's explanation of being designated as a "Green building" doesn't carry much weight. As I told him, I guess it's a matter of deciding what you want more: a "green" plaque on the wall or customers inside doing business. I'm guessing they will have to make that decision soon, too, because each time I drive by that building now, I make a point of checking out the parking lot: All of those spaces remain empty. Every time.

Or maybe I'm just not aging perfectly this week........

A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dancing fool redeux (2)

I tried. I really did.

For two years. Two very LONG years.....

That's when my ballroom dance lessons (and money for them) came to a screeching halt, through no fault of my own. I found other non-dance related outlets. I danced socially when I could. I tried to forget how dance makes me feel.

But, like a lover that lingers in your heart, no matter that your head has scolded you, telling you it's time to move on, dance refuses to leave me alone.

As the new year dawned, I made the commitment to myself, a resolution from a person who doesn't make them: I would find a way to dance again.

Last week, I walked into a dance studio again, just like I did in April 2011 when I was going to take ONE dance lesson for my thing I had never done before. The day I fell in love with a physical way of expressing music. And I fell in love again. So far, it was one free lesson, but it's a start.

I also found a community ed class where I--and a great friend!--will learn to cha cha. Can't wait.

I've learned over the years to embrace those things I find in life that bring me joy and fulfillment and an escape from all the responsibilities I carry every day. This one has hung around for two years, waiting for me to come back to my senses.

Well, I'm back!

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~Japanese Proverb

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Road trip!

It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.”
  Mark Twain

Do things move farther away the older we get?

It used to be a one-day road trip from my home now to the town where I attended college. You know the one, right? Their football team just won a National Championship. But we'll get back to that topic another day.

It is only three hours away. No problem at all to jump in the car, head west on the most boring interstate in the country and head over to attend a game. When it was over, we'd hop back in the car and come home. There might have even been a stop for dinner at one of those dark exit ramps along the way. Then, it would be midnight or later before the headlights hit the garage door back home, but hey....who cared? That still gave us 5 or 6 hours before the clock alarmed us out of bed--literally--so we could get to work on time.

Nostalgia is painful. 

Here's how it goes today. All because things get moved farther and farther away as we age.

You have to consider the time to drive over there (and the interstate is STILL boring after all these years), PLUS then you must add 4 or 5 pit stops to that itinerary. You discover early on which rest areas have the cleanest, safest bathrooms. They become favorite haunts, much like bars or diners used to be for us. You never pass one by without stopping. And your destination just got a little farther away.

Finally you get there, and parking is the next mountain to climb. It's not realistic any more to park 2 miles away and hike on over to the venue. In the olden days (before we were the olden ones), not only did we walk it, we carried coolers, chairs, jackets, and sometimes children the whole way without breaking a sweat. That stadium is farther away now, right? Now we need to a pay a fortune to park somewhere in the back 40 and ride the shuttle.

Keep in mind, though, that all we have accomplished so far is getting there. The event happens, and it's great. But when the clock on the scoreboard ticks down to 0:00, the reverse of the whole trip kicks into gear. Notice I didn't say "high" gear. That gear got stuck about two hours ago as we waited in line for a restroom in the stadium, much farther away from our seats than it used to be. All those steps, all those (young) people walking and texting and pushing and.....

Someone call and get a hotel room. Please. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Keep moving forward....

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
Walt Disney

I just don't see any other way to do it. The years will march by like soldiers in lock step, one way or the other, whether we choose to vegetate on the sofa or we continue to move forward, open those new doors, and do new things. I choose door #3 instead of the couch.

I'll open one of those new doors every month.That's my commitment for 2014, just like it was for 2011 and 2012. (Read about the idea behind this monthly quest here.) I sat out 2013, at least as far as the "something new every month" is concerned, and I could tell the difference. We really do need that sense of anticipation in our lives to keep the DNA as young as possible, to keep us as fresh and interesting as we can be. It's no wonder we get cranky and grumpy as we age.....we've given up being surprised and delighted by anything unique or challenging.

I spend a lot of time at my gym, mostly working out on my own or with my trainer. I'm not fond of group classes, primarily due to the scheduling, since my calendar is different each day. It makes it hard to pencil in a weekly class that meets at the same time and on the same day, when my pencil's eraser is a well-used tool, frequently finding it necessary to smudge out that class at the last minute.

But my brother teaches a TRX class at my gym every weekend. I've been saying I would attend "someday" for months, so in I went the other day to see what the buzz was all about. 

What does TRX stand for, you say? If you called out the word "torture" you would be close.(Actually it stands for Total body Resistant eXercize. Yeah, they had to stretch that a bit to make it work.) It is an acronym for a total body suspension training system. In other words, torture.You spend a lot of time hanging from the ceiling, performing familiar movements, like bicep curls, sit ups, etc in 3 dimensions.

My brother told me in a short intro before class that it would feel weird at first. Well, THAT was an understatement. It felt a LOT weird, especially when I couldn't figure out how to get my feet in the straps and then flip over without my legs twisting. No one else was having that problem. I still haven't figured it out.

It's humbling to feel so uncoordinated and generally inept. But it's empowering to keep at it and not give up. Do we have to be perfect? I gave that quest up years ago. I'll go back to that class next week, inept or not.

All we need to do is show up for life every day, no matter our age. 

What did YOU anticipate today?

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Have you asked?

Only those who ask for more can get more 
and only those who know there is more, ask. 
Alan Cohen

My mind is like a room with lots of drawers. The drawers hang half open, all askew, with socks and lingerie and scarves exploding onto the floor or sneaking out like snakes slithering away into dark corners. Ideas are much like that, aren't they, as are the things we wish people would guess about us if they would only pay closer attention. They stay hidden for a while, then pop up unbidden (and often unnoticed), and are sometimes forgotten altogether. It isn't any wonder that relationships are so chaotic; how are we supposed to keep up with our own messy drawers much less someone else's? How do we get what we need in life?
Unidentified messy room to protect the innocent

Well, the short answer is that we need to ask.

I'm not a big fan of the New Year's resolutions idea. It has always seemed to be an artificial exercise, most of which is forgotten by March.....or even January 15th in some cases. But, 2013 lived up to its name, at least for me personally, what with that pesky #13 in plain view and all. Not a good vintage.

So, I took some time the other day to consider what to do about it. I could resolve to do all sorts of things (going to the gym more would NOT be one of them) to start off the new year with a more positive outlook. But I don't live in my world alone; there are lots of folks who support (and infringe upon) me.

I ended up with MY LIST OF THINGS I NEED TO BE HAPPIER IN 2014. Not accusatory at all, right? Then I divided my master list into segments by person: what I need from Person A to be  happier, Person B, etc. And, that's as far as I've gotten. (It's only January 2, after all.) I imagine I'll do some editing (to protect the innocent) and then meet with each person to ask for what I need. 

After all, how else are they supposed to know? But I also believe that the ensuing conversations  might be healthy for each relationship. They may even tell us what THEY need from US in the process and soon everybody is happier. Or we can fret and fuss about how we're being treated by Friend C, but never take the honest path to actually share how we feel to that person. What is being accomplished that way? Inevitably, bad things tend to transpire when we hide how we feel and what we think, for fear of rocking the proverbial boat. The boat will sink under its own weight, though, if we don't bail a little of that muddy water with a true heart to heart. They won't know unless we tell them what we need. Then we have to be willing to listen in return.

Of course, one of the segments is reserved for ME. What do I need to do to be happier in the new year? Many adults continue to blame their parents for a difficult childhood; or they blame their teachers for being uncaring; or their siblings for being....well, siblings. But once we hit that threshold of adulthood, we must act like adults and take responsiblity for ourselves. Yes, we need to ask for what we need and want from others, but ultimately it's up to us to take the first step, and then follow through to make the life we want.

We may get more than we ever thought possible. 

And some order just might be brought to those unkempt drawers, too.