On we go…

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One down in the string of winter holidays if we don’t count Halloween in our race to 2023. Turkey Day was nice. We skipped the turkey and went straight for our personal list of comfort foods… Kimmers and me, Rita and a friend. Easy to make, satisfying to eat. We raised a solemn toast to all those displaced from their homes and traditional lands so that we might enjoy the bounty of life, and thanked whatsoever gods there may be for the gifts.

Our unseen and much-maligned fellow travelers before us paved the way for the societies and civilizations we now take for granted… while they became invisible as a people. We did that. We disappeared them. I’ve been thinking since Thursday about what it means to be invisible, undetected by the world’s radar. My body has almost recovered from my fall in October, but my spirit will never forget the cool detached appraisal from that impeccable young woman as I lay there like a bug on the sidewalk. She made eye contact but never saw me, and went on her way without a second thought. That’s invisibility… when someone or something simply does not exist you’re under no obligation to give weight to it. I’ve tried several times over the past few days to wrestle a feeling into words, but I couldn’t get a handle on it until a story this morning spelled it out: A thing unseen never has to be dealt with.

So true. In a flurry of pre-New Year housekeeping a while back, I sat here and wrote down some honest thoughts, and then before I could change my mind I hit SEND. I did hear back from the person it was sent to, but nothing I said was addressed beyond “hello.” That’s invisibility and it feels like being canceled. I’m getting used to it out there in public… my white hair and wrinkles announce my lack of viability and visibility everywhere I go… but I’m not so familiar with it yet from people I once knew. Such a strange disorienting sensation, and one I apparently need to get used to sooner rather than later because it’s happening with startling regularity at this point. When you say or write something, attempting to keep life honest and real, and not even an echo comes back… do you still exist?

It’s the dilemma of every older person I’ve ever known. Am I still here? Does anybody see me? Does anyone give a flying fvck? Honest answer: No, the world does not care, get over it and fix it yourself. My inner voice, which becomes louder year by year, has been telling me to go where I’m celebrated, rather than stay where I’m merely tolerated, and I’m sure that’s a solution to keep in mind. I only know that if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.

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The world is so full of anger it keeps us off balance. I talked with someone yesterday who’s running primarily on anger fumes right now, and for good reason. We both know we can’t stay this rage-engaged forever, but sometimes it gets shit done from the inside out, where it matters most.

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We are saved by those who tell us the truth… those who come to us bearing gifts of love and grace and an easy transparency that says “I got you.”

Thankful. So thankful.

A special thank you to my husband as we embark on another cold winter, with its lack of sunlight and sometimes unfriendly weather. I’m forever grateful he knew what to do with the grubby old cardboard box full of broken pieces I brought him.

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Ta-da!

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Drumroll and some horns, please, it’s a breakthrough morning.

Someone asked me years ago what I saw myself doing at age 65. If I recall correctly, my answer was “Whatever I want to,” and then we were off and running again, trying to keep up, losing contact with dreams…

Now, ten years past 65, I sit here at my desk thinking about goals… options… open doors… roadblocks… the stuff of everyday living, and it’s beyond exhausting. Not DOING it, THINKing about it. All this year, on reasonably nice days, I walked and walked and walked. But for a farm girl I’m a big sissy and when the weather turns cold, so do I. And then I sit inside feeling guilty and under a cloud of self-reproach that’s entirely unnecessary and unproductive BECAUSE…

… we determined a few posts back that I DON’T DO MORNINGS, so why do I continue to torment my psyche about it? Here’s what I know, suddenly, having just typed those words… IT’S A COP-OUT my brain employs. By which I mean, “Well, I didn’t make it out to SPL for YET ANOTHER MORNING, so the day’s pretty much shot for that. I mean, it gets dark around 2pm now, so… ” Another approach occurs to me… I could utilize experience and intuition to figure this out and make something work. Not a problem, just a challenge.

GOAL: To walk five days a week. Or, you know… three.

REALITY: When it’s cold and miserable outside, any excuse is legit. Nope, sorry, not today, no can do, blah, blah, blah…

FACT #1: Sports Pavilion Lawrence is, under most circumstances, open to Douglas County residents every weekday from early to late, and they have a snazzy walking track that’s safe, if inevitably boring. But did I mention that if you live in the county, the facility is FREE to use?

FACT #2: It’s been established that mornings are not my personal jam; however, afternoons exist and will have to be taken into the equation if I hope to come out a winner on this.

The track encompasses the interior of the building, on two levels. It’s cozy inside and there are people there. A TODDLER would have shed their inherent laziness long before now, faced facts (see above) and been ON it. Accountability is tedious, but so is DISability, so…

Somebody do what you can to keep me responsible… thx. It’s 15 or 20 minutes’ driving time each way, so it’s not like walking a block down to The Summit to work out. Which I never did even one time when they were open, so there’s that…

But let’s not make this all about me, she said, turning for a profile shot… if you’re a Boomer, you’re sort of an Old, and moving is your ticket to the future. Not as in “Let’s pack the truck and get outta here,” but as in legs, arms, booty, everything well-oiled and grooving to the beat in your head. We can give ourselves a genuine advantage for the crazy golden years, and it’s worth getting totally serious about. Totally. Positive resolutions to us all.

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You’ve always had the power, my dear…

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Have you ever taken note of the way, no matter how far out in the ether we get, life is standing by to provide gentle instruction or yank us into line? It’s uncanny how often I encounter that situation or bring it on myself without even trying.

And have you ever wondered what my blog title means? Twenty years ago I found myself playing for time, and the process has never stopped. Still playing, still breathing, always hoping for more time. And just as there are all kinds of ways to play… music, games, roles, gaslighting… there are myriad more ways to age. I consciously chose long ago to walk willingly into my last set of years and enjoy them in all the ways available, but I have companions who sometimes muck things up for me simply by doing what they do. Old, old companions like melancholy, self-doubt, and depression, whose lies complicate absolutely everything.

For instance, I preach that life is all about change. And then when something in my life changes, I tend to HATE it.

SPOILER: That can be a sign of encroaching crustiness. I’m discovering a list of other indicators, how’s your caffeine supply this morning? Fortified enough to visit my psyche for a minute?

Okay, so…

This blog spot has become more and more about the aging (maturing?) process, which is a no-brainer since I’m now considered an Old.

If you are not yet so designated, time will sooner or later provide you with the following knowledge, and you can save a little angst and hassle by preparing ahead of time:

  • We forget things. Not like appointments or where we left our car keys, but who we really are and how life works, by which I mean it isn’t about us. Very few people remember that we exist at this point… which is quite freeing now that I mention it.
  • The more years we live, the more personal loss we accumulate.
  • The more personal loss we accumulate, the greater our fear of abandonment.
  • The greater our fear of any kind, the more timid the soul.
  • Past the age of viability in the eyes of the greater world, everything becomes a test of one kind or another.
  • The knowledge that we’re failing some of those tests should not be considered a signal to sit down and give up.
  • We do well-meaning things that manage to accomplish the opposite of what we intended.

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I somehow turned into my grandma during these years of crisis and chaos… but did I DIE? Not yet, so there’s still time to learn a couple of things:

Lack of self-respect is self-abuse.

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No matter what it feels like…

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This thought helps restore me to myself this morning… and you can trust it too…

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Whatever gives your life just a little bit more peace… do that.

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Yes, it’s TODAY…

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There was one assignment on our minds when we woke up this morning: VOTE. We could have availed ourselves of that sacred right at any point during the early voting period, but we value the experience of casting our votes in a building constructed in 1873 which has served many purposes and is now an art gallery and event venue built of stone, brick, and heavy timber called Cider Gallery. Its heft and patina speak of the kind of temporary permanence humans seek in life, and that particular spot never fails to renew my hope, here in Free Kansas, that democracy will continue despite all odds.

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After the voting, we went across town to La Estrella for lunch, Kim’s choice and a totally intuitive one. They’re a family business, which when we discovered them consisted of a grocery store and a tiny kitchen/restaurant space. They’re now in a shiny new location, with the grocery store on the bottom floor and an inviting restaurant and ice cream shop on the upper level. The food is authentic to the family’s origins and we can’t get enough of it, but it’s the vibe itself that pulls me in. And today, on Voting Day, it was the place to be. The patrons are from Mexico, Central America and points between, with an eclectic mix of every shade of brown/black/white. At noon on a weekday it’s mostly blue-collar guys grabbing a quick lunch, sharing tables as needed, calling out each other’s numbers including ours, a thread of I-got-you running through the room. The place was packed today and we’re so happy for their success in Lawrence USA. And on this day, when our entire way of life as Americans could well be hanging in the balance, that singular message was a gift… I got you.

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And now we’ll wait for possibly a week or more to know for sure which way things went. That’s a long time to stay curled in the fetal position, so it finally becomes necessary to simply trust the wisdom of the ages…

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And the quest goes on…

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You know how life catches your eye and you can absolutely SEE yourself doing whatever it is, totally visualize it? So you DO the thing, and the moment you step out onto the high wire without a safety harness you wake up from the dream and there you are, naked as Godiva under the spotlights, balance pole missing, and no clue what to do. Working Without Annette is terrifying.

That, boys and girls, was day one at dance fitness class, and it was so much fun I went back for day two! After Tuesday’s initiation https://playingfortimeblog.com/2022/11/02/the-quest/ I flaked off all day Wednesday, didn’t go for a stroll Thursday morning, and cruised into class ready to get my dance on. Knowing how quickly the first day’s meltdown started, I slow-walked my way through the first half-hour, only to find myself in trouble again. Kim and I are still scoping out the various triggers for focal seizure but they include elevated heart rate and body temperature, both of which, as it turns out, that particular class is specifically designed to do, DUH. With fifteen minutes left on the clock, I decided to grab my things and head for the exit, knowing that once the cold wind hit me I could likely make it to the car. Focal seizures, for me at least, have a specific pattern… a head-to-toe sweat meltdown, shaking, dizziness, and hyperventilation, followed by confusion, disorientation, paranoia and crying. I’m sure it isn’t pretty to watch, so all I wanted was the safety of my car, and I knew Kim’s truck was close by and he couldn’t leave without seeing me there. It’s a huge facility, so I didn’t have time to look for him.

He, however, was hot on my trail, drove us home, and we arrived with a greater understanding of the situation than when we went out there. What we’ve learned so far:

  1. I simply showed up too early to the party, lacking a real clue as to the toll extracted by eight years in my recliner. In terms of spinal healing and energy restoration, I need training wheels, even after all the miles I’ve walked in the past year.
  2. A part of me is still the barefoot farm girl always running, the bicycle rider, the cheerleader, the girl who loved to dance even though she kinda stank at it, and although all of that was in the BEFORE time, when my body was still whole, I can SEE it, dammit, so I should still be able to make it happen… but I can’t necessarily still make it all happen.
  3. Kim nailed the obvious… “You know, you don’t DO mornings! This was never gonna work!” That moment when a light goes on and you get an idea how to proceed from here…

DISCLAIMER: I’m usually up by 6:30 or earlier, but I’m semi-comatose until about lunchtime. Parts of my brain are awake, but they’re occupied with writing words on the screen, and coffee-management. Those brain-parts apparently prefer peace and quiet until fully saturated, and are mos def not in favor of bouncing the molecules around in taxing ways before their time; therefore, I’ve made a large note to self:

YOU DO NOT DO MORNINGS

I’ll find what works as the energy reserves return and not worry about it… my body will tell me.

So what’s it REALLY like getting older, you ask?

ANSWER: It’s weird AF. You’re still the same person you always were, with life lessons blended into the mix, but whatever fires the engine eventually starts quiet-quitting. Grossly unfair, but what isn’t?

Here’s a thing to know, right off the top:

I’m the only one who does this to me, but that’s all it takes.

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Never let anyone steal your magic…

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Speaking of magic… this takes me home somewhere and I hope you love it too. Have a beautiful autumn Sunday.

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ADDENDUM: Just as I was finishing this blog post, my computer shut down without warning and I lost all but the opening line. I steamed for a bit, quietly enjoyed my always-healing Sunday omelet, and sat myself down to retrieve what I could from the still-sleepy brain matter. Not saying everything happens for a reason because I specifically do not believe that to be true, but this turned out to be a far better post, so sometimes good things do come from sucky ones. Never, never, never give up. It’s so cute how life’s always directly at hand to provide an object lesson.

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The quest…

*

Did something yesterday that I’ve been looking forward to for months… I started a dance fitness class and omigod, it kicked my butt! An hour of moving everything you’ve got, some of it with weights in hand, with no breaks… I’ve never been so glad for my yoga mat and a cool-down. Found out after class, which is predominantly seniors, that there are people who’ve been taking it for ten years and still don’t try to do all the steps, whereas I jumped out there gangbusters like some kinda old cheerleader and depleted my store of energy and stamina in the first fifteen minutes. Kim was there playing PickleBall, left a few minutes ahead of me, and by the time I got home he had the spa water running and gave me sweet hugs for staying to the end. Full disclosure, I slept all afternoon, something I learned from John… go unconscious until the storm passes over. Got up, ate pizza made by Kim, went to bed at 8:30.

It gives me great pleasure to assure you that life goes on. Got up at 6am, sore spots mostly gone, energy restored to current acceptable levels, so… no harm no foul.

It’s a T-Th class, so today will be Whatever It Is, Judy’s Not Doing It day. And then I’ll attack Thursday’s class with a different plan in mind. First of all, I won’t spend a half-hour on the walking track beforehand (yeah, forgot to tell you about that). And then when the music cranks up, I’ll cruise… just keep something in motion all the time until everything can move at once and feel good about it. You know, sometime in the next ten years.

Life is hard for perfectionists. We only want it exactly right all the time RIGHT NOW, and we’re far more demanding of ourselves than we are of anyone else in the world. No matter how many lessons we get in patience, reality, life… we can’t give up the quest for PERFECT, which likely represents finally fixing ourselves, so no, we’re not quitting.

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Why I strive for bland perfection who could know, but there’s this…

Facts are facts, however…

*

If we’re honest with ourselves, and let’s always be that at a minimum, life as a creature on a planet hurtling through space is not an easy assignment. We’re supposed to somehow inherit perfect parents who will raise us with an ever-unfolding comprehension of our existence because they themselves were raised perfectly, and on and on. The truth is that we find ourselves alone in the world insufficiently clad against the elements, struggling to comprehend quickly so as not to be overtaken and eaten by progress we couldn’t see coming. Nobody really knew to tell us… and so it goes. A Mayfly lives for 24 hours and dies with no unfinished business. A human may live past 100 years and never fully comprehend what it’s all about in the ways that matter… but when we do catch a glimpse once in a while, we know the pursuit is more than worth it.

I’m ready to pursue a restful HumpDay, get over it, and get on with it. I wish the same for you… look your hurdles in the eye and … GO!

Just don’t be this poor guy…

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