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, wonder....call 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 ones....as 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, which....yep....got 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.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waltdisney132637.html#hzvO8k6iiCqCflTa.99
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waltdisney132637.html#hzvO8k6iiCqCflTa.99

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.