Tag Archives: aging

Evolve

The organist and vocalist were late. I hated my dress. I had little say in the flowers. Yet, there was a smile on my face. I was following in the footsteps of those young women who had gone down the aisle before me. No, not my bridesmaids — the women who followed in the footsteps of their mothers and their mother’s mothers before them.

The person who walked down the aisle that day so many years ago seems like a completely different person from the one who writes here today. I had different beliefs, even though my values have remained the same. We base our beliefs on myths and facts  that updated as new information becomes available.

Values are the things we find important, and although the priorities of our values may shift with time or age, they typically remain unchanged. I value love, but I no longer believe marriage is the only way to secure it. Does that help explain it? Life doesn’t grant do-overs, but it does grant start-overs, and we are all encouraged to grow and evolve.

barbara-billingsleyJune Cleaver and Mary Scott were my role models. June Cleaver was a fictional character on a black and white television show where men came home from work expecting quiet children and dinner on the table. June was known for her impeccable dresses and tidy pearls.

20580367823_243881f7c6_zMary Scott was my grandmother. She was a non-fictional character who watched me while my mother worked. She was known for her jet-black hair, slight frame, and dainty gestures.

Both June and Mary believed it was the woman’s duty and privilege to run the home while their husbands worked. Their homes were always as tidy as their skirts by the time their spouse returned home, and they knew how to get a steaming dinner on the table at the same time each day. Boy, did I have a rude awakening!

It’s hard to talk about how I might have done things differently if I had a the chance. After all, I might have had different children, or no children at all. I’d have waited. I’d have learned more about myself. I’d have considered the impact my choices make on the world, and my life. But life doesn’t give us do-overs. Fortunately, it does give us start-overs.

Is it time to update your beliefs? What myths might you hold as truth? What facts must be updated with new information? What are your values? Do you need to reprioritize them based on a change in your life, age, job, or family?

My children are waiting for marriage and children. I’m proud of the choices they’re making. If they do decide to do either, they’ll have so much more to offer their spouse and/or children. They’ll have a better idea of how to live with other people. They’ll have a better grasp of their own values and beliefs, and not rely on ones borrowed from their parents, grandparents, or fictional t.v. characters.

It’s okay to change your beliefs. It’s okay to realign your values. It doesn’t mean you’re a whole different person. It means you’re evolving.

Peace . . .

Evolution

Evolve.


Wisdom is Less of a Gift than a Purchase

Personification of wisdom (in Greek, "Σοφ...

Sophia, the Greek personification of wisdom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I’m asked why I blog.

First and foremost, I blog for therapy.  Unlike a diary, it forces me to choose my words wisely.  Where a diary will take any abuse you want to give, my public blog requires I treat my thoughts with respect.  And in doing so, I find an appreciation for “life and all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.”

I blog for posterity.  It’s something to leave behind.  I don’t believe in a supernatural afterlife.  Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to hang around watching over my loved ones eternally.  In a recent mishap, I accidentally and unavoidably caught a glimpse of all the pictures on the Rebel’s phone.  Trust me when I say I don’t want to watch over them from above.

I blog to pass along a wisdom.  Ancient cultures sat around the fire listening to lore from their elders.  While I do have plenty of advice to share around the fire, most of it involves the perfect toasted marshmallow or the dangers of wielding hot pokers.  Besides, who has time to sit around a fire listening to their elders anymore?  Anything like that gets shared here as “Lore” for those who find it valuable enough to read.

Lady wisdom (2)

Lady wisdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure at what age one becomes an elder, but I think I’m growing into it as gracefully as possible.  That is, kicking and screaming, my brittle nails shredding on the door frame of old age.  My daughter, the Romantic, reminded me that I once announced I was going to age naturally and embrace it — gray hair, wrinkles, and all.  Yeah . . . I was thirty-something and knew nothing of disappearing collagen or finding coarse, white eyebrows reaching out like odd antennae over the tops of my bifocals.  And so this thing of wisdom that comes with age is less of a gift than a purchase, dearly paid for with my declining condition.

Perhaps there is a responsibility to share what has been so expensive to attain.  Maybe I want to spare my children and readers the pain I’ve born.  After all, the suffering of my children is two-fold; once for their pain and another for the remembrance of my own mistakes.  Or maybe I just want to give you a shortcut, a life hack, so you can surpass where I have been and finish farther ahead.  Whatever the reason, sharing lore is clearly a primal need, present since men acquired the ability to speak.

English: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock form...

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation in Wadi Rum, Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The elders of my youth have all passed away.  They, too, shared the experience of their years.  Some of it I remember, most of it has probably been forgotten.  The truth is, I gained less of my wisdom in listening than I found in living.  The toddler learns more from touching a hot oven than from being told it is hot.  Riding a bicycle can only be mastered after falling.  We learn to guard our heart once we know how deeply it can hurt.

I’m told there is occasionally wisdom in my words.  If you find it here, it is yours.  If you want to keep it, however, it’s going to cost you a couple of wrinkles and maybe a white antenna eyebrow.  But I guarantee it will be worth it.

Peace . . .

 


The Expectations of My Inner Child, or lack thereof

sc001a13aeIt’s that time of year again when I look at where I’ve come and where I’m headed.  When I think of the tumbling towhead of my youth, it seems impossible that I am the same person.  I sometimes think of her and wonder if I’ve become the person she had hoped I would.

The girl I was held high hopes for humanity.  She rescued injured birds from the middle of roads, and abandoned kittens, despite her severe allergy to cats.  She believed that everyone possessed a beauty and a kindness if you looked hard enough.  She appalled an unjust world that would deliver babies into poverty while others flaunted wealth.  She believed in the abundance of love, peace, and food, if only the obstacles could be removed.

She was no saint, and neither am I.  She had plenty of lesser values and unlearned lessons.  She had fears, and pride, and selfishness that all abide in the adult she became.  And as I look, I realize how much I am still her — for better or for worse. Bark

If she had known where we would be today, I’m not sure if she would have chosen a shorter path or ambled along the one I’ve taken.  Yet, this is the place in which we find ourselves, my little inner child and me, and we are quite happy.

I’m glad she held so few expectations.  It allowed me to stop and contemplate a bug along the way, or touch the bark of a tree.  Had she held me fast to some appointed destination, I’d have taken such a wider, paved road and missed the little things along the way.

The future is a mystery — like trying to depict a figure in the shadows.  But the little towhead I take with me suggests I hold no expectations for the crone I’ll someday be.  Together we will mosey down our untrod trail looking for the tiniest of creatures to share our time.  And someday I can say I found my way to an older age, and I’ll be so much richer for it.

bumble

Happy birthday to me, and of course,

Peace . . .


Go Into the World . . .

UntitledThere is a quilt draped across the back of my desk chair.  It’s just a small lap quilt, the kind I remember from nursing homes.  The fabrics are old-fashioned prints, woven from cotton.  The simple squares are sewn together in random sequence.  The layers are tied with yarn at the corners of the pieces.  I don’t even know who made it.

It is, by all standards, a quilt of no distinction at all.

Given to the University of Minnesota by a quilting group, it was made to keep oncology patients warm.  Diminishing weight and the treatments they endure leave cancer patients extremely cold all the time.

UntitledWhen I first saw the quilt, my father sat at the kitchen table, where all memories of my father lead.  He wore a thin grey goose-down jacket.  The stocking cap Mother knitted sat high on his head.  The quilt lay across his lap and over his slippered feet.

The strong, firm man of my childhood was now frail, thin, and weak.  His face produced a genuine smile that visually drained precious energy from his body.  I noticed the quilt immediately.

“Where did you get this?”

I hugged him then walked over to do the same to my mother.  She explained where he received the quilt, and we all agreed how very nice it was.

UntitledAs the weeks progressed, my father was never without his quilt.  And now, as I look at it these twenty-four years later, I imagine it wise and gentle.  The threads woven in purpose.  The pieces cut with precision.  Love somehow supernaturally layered between patchwork and batting and backing.

For decades the quilt sat neatly folded on my bedroom shelves as a reminder of the care my father received during his last months from so many faceless angels.  It is a steadfast message that we just never know when the good we do will affect the lives of others.

Recently I brought the quilt from its place on the shelf and rested it on the back of my chair.  When the temperature dips down, as it can in Minnesota, the quilt comes out to lay across my lap and over my slippered feet.  It reminds me, as I work diligently at my job, to do well.  But more importantly, it reminds me how lucky I am to be in a position where I can do good.

Untitled“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

― Minor Myers

Peace . . .


The Gift of Now

"Seize the day" (Horace, Odes) Franç...

“Seize the day” (Horace, Odes)                                                  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like most parents, I recorded every first of my children’s early years.  There are pictures of first trips to Grandma’s, first steps, first solid food, even taking their first poop in the toilet.  A post by Emily at The Waiting, reminded me how easy it is for the lasts to slip by unnoticed.

Do you remember the last time you were picked up and cuddled?  I have four children, and found myself searching the dark corners of my memory for any recollection of the last time I lifted each of them into my arms.  There is none.

We acknowledge the achievements, the going-forwards, the milestones of where we are headed and not so much where we have been.  Maybe it’s because we don’t appreciate the significance of what we leave behind until it’s gone.  Or maybe it’s because we just never realize it’s the last time . . . until it is.

Firsts, like lasts, are not eloquent or refined.  The last step we take will most likely be much like the first — feeble and clumsy.  Each brings with it a demonstration of progress.  But one is a beginning and one is an end.  One is noted and one is forgotten.

Humans, unlike animals, carry the burden of understanding time.  We romanticize a past we strain to remember.  We grieve its loss.  The future is hope and wonder, even amidst uncertainty and trepidation.

Between the first and the last is the present.  It is the center.  The now.  We forget to stop and live in this moment.  And this one.  And this one.  Each tick of the clock is another gone by.  The present moment is as steadfast as time is fleeting.  Always here, for better or for worse.

A moment in the present is not reliant on memory, nor hope, nor wonder, nor dreams.  There is no uncertainty or vagueness.  The instant you are in right now is as real as anything is ever going to be.

If we could know the last time we were picked up, or rode in a pedal car, or fit in the shopping cart seat, that it was our last, would we have enjoyed it more?  Would we have whined less?  Would we have grieved the loss?

Probably not.  Children don’t perceive the elapsing of time.  A baby lives in a constant state of “now,” his only concern if he is hungry, wet, or sleepy.  Eventually, he will understand time by experiencing it — what is a minute, an hour, a year?

Maybe this is what allows children to move forward at the speed of light.  If they knew all the wonderful things they leave behind — naps, strollers, wagons, wearing pajamas in the middle of the day and yes, being lifted high above someone’s head — maybe they would want to stay children forever.  Maybe the lack of grief is what allows them to grow.

. . . And maybe our grief of the past is a gift we are given that allows us to relish the present.  It permits us to cuddle their round little bodies one more minute, or stop and watch them as they nap, or slip into their world of imagination, or pick them up just once more before they are too heavy and we too weak . . .

Peace . . .


. . . and then what happened?

 

In the book of my life, each decade has a chapter.

 

Table of Contents

  1. The Child
  2. The Teen
  3. The Young Adult
  4. The Mother
  5. The Self

Ah yes!  I loved the chapter about the SELF!  That is the chapter when you finally make sense of all the chapters that came before.  And after that I had so much insight and confidence and lust for life, I couldn’t help but think . . .

 

“Oh. My. God.  The 40s were so awesome.  I cannot wait to see what the 50s bring!”

And I eagerly turned the page without looking back.

 

. . . Only to find myself transported, via tractor beam, into a space vehicle.  My brain was taken out, probed, implanted with alien “stuff,” rewired and pushed back in my head like grade-school homework in a backpack.

 

Uncanny things are thought to happen at night ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is the only explanation I can come up with for what ensued.  I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and I didn’t recognize myself.  There were bags.  Under my eyes.  On my hips.  On my stomach.  There were hairs in places hairs had never been before, lacking pigment of any color.  My nails grew ridges and shredded in the winter.  My ankles swelled.  My joints hurt.  The sleep sucked.  My metabolism slowed to the speed of tar pitch.

 

That’s when I realized this chapter wasn’t going to be an easy read.

 

And I have this sense of urgency — the knowledge that time is running out.  There are places unvisited.  There are classes untaken.  My story line hasn’t even been sorted out yet.  Anyone who has come this far knows two things.

 

  1. The first 50 years passed in the blink of an eye.
  2. Time flies faster the older you get.

 

I drove by the local arena the other day.  All the schools hold their spring graduations there, and the police were directing traffic.  The following conversation took place:

 

Me:  Gee, I sure am glad I’m done going to graduations.  The long-winded speeches . . . the crowds . . . finding a place to sit on an uncomfortable bleacher . . . trying to find your kid in a long row of like-dressed kids . . .

Me:  Yeah, but you’re probably going to have to go as a grandparent.

Me:  I’d forgotten about that.  And it will be even more uncomfortable to sit on the bench, and harder to hear the windbag giving the speech.

Me:  Will I even be alive?

Me:  Well, even if I got a grandchild miraculously today, that would still be 18 years off.

Me:  (Doing the math)  Ohmygosh.  Yes.  I will probably be alive in 18 years.

Me:  Am I ready for that?

Yes, I was alone at the time.  But these conversations occasionally crop up when I’m not, too.  Bubba doesn’t care.  It gives him a break from speaking.  Once again I digress  . . . 

In 18 years, a child can grow from a helpless infant into a young man or woman.  How young am I, then, to have just as much time to write an epic ending for this old book?  What a thrilling twist of plot to be abducted by an alien vessel!  What transpires?

The objective is to make this story of mine more of a can’t-put-it-down kind of book — the kind you finish and wish you could keep reading, rather than the long drawn out chapters with an ending that doesn’t make sense.  But then, we are each the author of our own life, aren’t we?

What will your page to read today?

Peace . . .

 

 

 


I Want to be Old Enough

“Ohmygod, Mom . . . ”  says any one of my children interchangeably.  This is how I know I have said/done something eccentric/old-fashioned/embarrassing/inappropriate.  And I, quite proudly will smile and say, “What?”

Years ago, working in the coffee shop of a popular book store, I saw a little old woman with a pleasant smile, hunched over a display.  She wore a cap on top of her freshly dyed auburn hair.  This was no ordinary cap.  This cap had bill on the front and was hand-crocheted in the brightest hot-pink yarn ever made.

Old People Crossing

I watched her for a minute, and then told my young coworker, “That is what I want to be when I grow up.”  She looked amusingly at the small-framed woman, now shuffling off to another table, and then back at me.  “I want to be old enough to wear a hot-pink crocheted hat in public, and have everyone go on about their business like it is a perfectly normal thing to do.”

Elderly people do and say the most astonishing things.  Why, a couple of months ago, I saw one stop in the middle of a four-lane road, put his truck into reverse, and despite the vehicle behind honking like a banshee, backed full-throttle into it.  It appeared he had missed his turn.  Stopping to give my name and number as  a witness to the accident, the old man exited his car with a “Whoops!” look on his face and a shrug.

"Grampa" Simpson

“Grampa” Simpson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During their later years, Gramma and Grampa said some horribly embarrassing things while we were in public.  You see, Gramma had a very weak voice.  And Grampa had a severe loss of hearing.  They remarked on politics, drug use, the decline of America, the uselessness of the next generation, and even old people.  That last one always confused me.

You could see it coming.  Gramma would zero-in on the “poor soul” wearing a tie-dyed shirt or bell bottoms, then discretely lean over to Grampa and say the offensive remark in his ear.  She’d say something like, “You know those young people are all smoking the marijuana these days.”  Then Grampa would look at her like she had two heads and shout, “Eh?”  (They were Canadian by birth.)  And that was my cue to put down my fork and duck under the table.

My own mother told a completely inappropriate joke at the Christmas Eve table one year.  I responded, “Mother!”  and my son echoed, “Gramma!”  She upped the ante by replying, “What?  You think your grandpa and I never did it?”  Mom was a good fifteen years older than I am, so I have time to hone my skills.

Today on our morning run to get coffee (Coke for Bubba), treats for the dog, and little donut holes so good we call them deep-fried crack, the following conversation took place:

ME:  That guy had a sticker on his car that said Take me to Regions Hospital.  Is he sick?  He’s driving. . . can’t he take himself there on his own?
BUBBA:  That’s for if gets in a wreck.
ME:  If he gets an erect?
BUBBA:  Yes, that’s for if he has an erection that lasts more than four hours and he needs to talk to his doctor . . .

I’m not quite there yet, but I think I’m getting closer.

Peace . . .

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