Eat the bear, lest he eat YOU…

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A thing about life is that it stays unfailingly real, provided we aren’t in the business of lying to ourselves. It comes to us hour by hour, laden with the dull and the unexpected, and every day’s “BEST” on our part will look different from the day before. I see myself these days as far less Pollyanna and more Realistic Optimist. Life will do that to us… so each day has to be a stand against cynicism and discouragement.

I know I’m not alone in feeling a little beat up by recent and current events, so here are a few tips for dealing with the effects, the aftermath, and the immediate future.

In pain? Keep going. Fall down? Get up, keep going. Get sick? Get well, keep going.

When the world feels unfriendly and all indicators point to a negative outcome, our self-talk can turn ugly and destructive. A good thing to do in 2023 is NOT THAT.

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Word on the street is that, like all of life, it does get better.

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Don’t we get so tired of crying sometimes, though? Don’t we just finally think “ENOUGH!” ??

End of story.

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Girls, women, friends, it’s my responsibility to let you in on an important secret to the working out of any and all angst in life, no matter what you’re going through… when you’re desperately in need of an ear, a shoulder, positive therapy…

HAPPY 2023 to us all.

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Doing a Vitals Assessment…

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Here we are, boys and girls, middle of Week Two, HumpDay, also known as “just make it up, nobody will notice.” How’s your YEAR looking? Yesterday, mine hosted a milestone when I saw my spine surgeon for my one-month-overdue one-year checkup and received my walking papers, signed, sealed, delivered, they’re mine. “Go your way and be well, my child, if pain intrudes again, call us.” I’ll miss seeing him, this kind, young, very tall, very skinny man who almost-casually handed my life back to me. In giving him shit yesterday about his weight, I learned that it’s the same number on the scale as when he left high school. Big deal, I can still wear all the earrings I had back then.

Last year, for all the reasons, will live in infamy in my head until memory fades. 2022 began in a complete fog of pain and opioids, followed by months of hard work. Somewhere along the way I had a second MOHS surgery for basal cell carcinoma, precisely in the middle of my forehead, thank you Ruth Buzzi for the shining example. Fortunately I had a beautiful Middle Eastern surgeon who uses her skills to safeguard women and our spirits, and I’m no scarier-looking than before. In October I fell, destroying my glasses and nearly breaking my orbital socket. The right side of my face and neck were rainbow-hued for too long, and three front teeth are still numb from that little oops. On December 23rd I tested positive for COVID for a second time (first was before all the vaccines), so 2022 ended in much the same way it started… in a fog of pain but minus the opioids, which I really could have used.

So MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone, hope it was swell. Having totally missed it two years in a row now, I know it all happens whether we’re here for it or not. It’s the days ahead of us that count now, and I’m happy and relieved to have a fresh year to work with. Clearly, time is of the essence as I have a ten-year window to reach this goal:

Goal #2. I’ve already impressed the hell outta 5-year-old me.

That little farm girl is proud of me for growing a backbone over these years of existence, with their never-ending onslaught of real stuff hitting the fan. She’s impressed that I finally found my voice and that I no longer silence it under pressure. She’s living vicariously in the freedom I give myself to be me, and she’s a far happier child than I remember being the first time through.

If you don’t give in, life will try to kick you to the curb, teach you a lesson “once and for all,” and wash its hands of you, so all you can do is hang in and work toward better days, because sometimes life doesn’t know beans. 2022 taught me crucial lessons that will be helpful to have on board going forward, one being that, sometimes, briefly being selfish is the answer. It’s an effective shield if wielded judiciously.

Guard the pieces that comprise the real YOU. Don’t give those away indiscriminately.

I’m taking at least two solid truths forward into 2023. First of all, this… I hope to never lose sight of it:

And its corollary:

I hope 2023 finds me doing the things that make the process of staying alive a better proposition for everyone around me. Happy New Year to you, I missed the last two celebrations but I’m here for it all now. Let’s hold hands and do this thing…

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Standing on solemn ceremony…

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Three mornings from now, it will be a new year. We make such a thing about restarts and clean slates that it tends to crank up the pressure right off the top, making the crispy-clean observance something less than joyful, so this time I’m proceeding on the basis that 2023 is NOBODY’S year, we’re all simply going to stroll nonchalantly to the door, peek through the peephole, open the barrier a crack, read the room, and hang around the coffee machine until the convo starts to sort itself out.

For me, 2023 says less is more. My plan, goal, thought, intent is that if and when the year 2024 shows its face, every drawer, shelf, cabinet, closet, space will have been scrutinized severely and lightened of its load. I feel guilty and heavy-laden if I’m harboring goods of the world for which I have no legit use, especially when I can envision others getting the benefit instead. Excess only adds to my anxiety, and one place that’s due for a purge is the desktop I’m typing on at the moment. Thousands of images, files, and folders must go in the name of mental health. It could happen… bit by bit, step by step.

Random thoughts and admonishments, curated to take us into the immediate future…

Alternatively, I might assign myself the task of adopting more freedom and flexibility.

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Worth keeping in mind during the months ahead…

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Still thinking…

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It’s cold and gray again this morning, which calls for another mug of coffee while I stare out the windows some more. I may be slow getting underway but no worries, all the quiet mornings are belong to ME.

Life hack: give yourself 8 to 12 hours of alone time in the morning to mentally prepare for the day. -Roshan Patel

Three’s perfect but I’ll settle for one.

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I feel this in my soul.

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The deep quiet of winter is a boon to anxious humans, soothing like a weighted blanket. [DISCLAIMER: They give me claustrophobia.] If you aren’t personally acquainted with anxiety, it feels like everything-all-the-time-stacked-layered-and-shredded. Your brain runs from one end of the track to the other without letup unless it’s veering off on a side rail or briefly waylaid by sportsing or digital games. And even then…

I have a cousin who’s more of a sister, and we’ve planned since the last time we saw each other… maybe five years ago? … to spend some time on the phone together catching up again. As mom to many kids and grandkids, phone conversations are her life-blood, whereas in my little world they look a lot like this:

Today holds a doctor’s appointment and a Christmas party, one after lunch, one this evening, so of course I woke up at 6am planning for both because they’re mere hours away with nothing between now and then. It makes no sense… but if reason is what we’re after, we can let that go… anxiety doesn’t provide that commodity. Being a neurodivergent bundle of contradictions isn’t a glamorous assignment but I’ve lived to tell you about it so far, which counts as a win every day, and I hope it gives somebody else a spark of optimism. It’s imperative, considering reality, that we pull together any time we can. Life is hard. The more we know, the better.

It’s likely that between now and New Year’s Day most of us will survive the daily requirements plus all the extras. We’ll drift into a fresh calendar with what passes for optimism, and sail on. And we’ll be happy… because we find the stuff of happiness everywhere, we can’t help ourselves. Anxiety as this girl lives it isn’t worry and it isn’t ABOUT anything. It’s about EVERYTHING. The details, timing, deadlines, other people’s expectations, navigating the ins and outs. If you relate, come talk to me in COMMENTS, please.

Sometimes it would be so Zen to be a bug, not seeing every sight, thinking every thought, feeling every feel… until an errant boot heel ended that pleasant reverie, and I’d be quickly reassessing my possibilities for continued existence. Better to stay in my assigned form and deal with what I know, convoluted and incomprehensible as it might seem sometimes. Where are the people who led us to believe we’d have life figured out by age 40 at the latest? Not here are they? I wonder if some of them had an all-encompassing epiphany toward the end and failed to tell us about it. Wouldn’t it save the generations a lot of work if we simply adopted a generous system of file-sharing?

Being an overthinker isn’t entirely bad:

See, not ENTIRELY bad, amirite?

We’ll eventually figure the whole thing out. Or not.

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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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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…

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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…

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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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Taming the beast…

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Felt cute so I deleted no fewer than 3,000 pieces of mail from my folders before 9am, won’t regret it later. They sneak in by the hour, disregarding every vow I’ve made to limit them severely, but incentive finally arrived this morning in the form of “need to know,” and I proceeded to wreak havoc in all directions while searching for that one elusive document. Found it!! And the only survivors are billing notices and book recommendations, mostly the latter because the picture is gradually coming into focus… the years ahead might include more reading than the rest of my life put together. Part of the “plan” I mentioned the other day.

One thing that has become clear is that the future, which is the present, has to be looked straight in the eye and dealt with. It’s here, it’s now, it isn’t going anywhere, it’s up to us to live it well. Since I can’t imagine a present/future without books, it’s a grace to know there’s an unlimited selection… so far.

My love affair with books started with my mother reading to me… one of my earliest memories. And then my five-year-old legs stepped into the Carnegie Library Children’s Room and I was forever captive to reading. Beyond Kim… and music… nothing shuts down my ever-present anxiety like walking into a book and closing the door behind me. What an incredible thing! Markings on surfaces that possess the power to deliver us to unknown worlds. And what a relief to know that someone else’s thoughts can keep me away from my own for long stretches of time.

For reasons, a lot of which I’m just now understanding, the story of my life has been undergirded by an unshakeable sense of anxiety, go me. I’m surprised, from this perspective, to find that I’ve merely been wounded by the unexpected instead of entirely disabled, and it’s empowering to come at it from this end of the telescope because all my perspectives have changed. If you know, you know. It’s crippling if we fall slave to it. Pretty sure you’ll identify…

In truth, I’ve mostly stuck with it no matter how awkward things got.

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It takes nothing to kick high OR low anxiety into gear, it’s always there waiting for a chance to screw everything up, so it helps to keep this handy:

I’m ninja-level.

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My brain is an unbeliever.

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You feel this in your bones, right?

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Workin’ on it every day and would love to reach a point where I could say the following in complete honesty:

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It would be lovely if you’d share with me your best escape routes when anxiety attacks, the quickest ways to disarm it, the quietest remedies. It’s a constant presence but a terrible friend, so spending less time together would be super. Come talk me down…

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Theatre of the mind…

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She’s up at 6am, sitting in the quiet dark again, mind running… not an unpleasant experience since she’s never been very afraid of herself. Her DH** has already headed across town for a healthy morning of sportsing, while the sky darkens even more just before the sun starts to show its power. This is what she does… she thinks. The thoughts need no jumpstart, they come unbidden as soon as the dreaded wokeness arrives, and often they’re an extension of dreams rudely interrupted before resolution.

She’s hungry, but too rooted in place to go pour a bowl of cereal. She loves the dark but despises the cold… wants/doesn’t want to go walking. Knows she’ll suffer guilt if she doesn’t. She hates the news, but reads it most days because part of the cost of living is to stay aware of what’s coming at us. She has online friends around the world she can share thoughts with, any hour of the day or night… but she mostly leaves them their solitude, the thing she values most. She needs peace and quiet like breathable air; therefore, she can’t complain about the loneliness inherent in that environment… and doesn’t. She’s well aware that we can’t have it all.

A sobering realization sets in right about now on the personal timeline: The older people who told us things when we were younger people? They were right, 100%. At some point you run out of fulfilling things to do. People who once needed you, don’t. Even if you walk for two hours every day (the girl we’re talking about doesn’t), that leaves lots of hours before bedtime. If you keep every scrap of laundry washed and put away, there’s no dust in your house, the bathrooms sparkle, your computer files are organized… all of which is purely theoretical in my case… whaddaya gonna do with the rest of your sweet life, bubbie?

The answer can’t be the copout “I don’t know,” so if you’re in the neighborhood of my Boomer years I suggest you make a plan, because life doesn’t live itself. Now that I’m physically mobile again my body and brain have to have something to do. I love the lack of responsibility and accountability brought on by retirement, but did I DIE?? Not yet, so the same old thing every day (doing a lot of nothing) isn’t gonna cut it. Our grandparents knew real stuff: life is a lonely proposition, we’re pretty much on our own from womb to tomb, and a late-life plan is a definite priority… I’m just telling you these things so you don’t have to hear it from a stranger. If we’re lucky we get old and we’re still the same people with the same need to know things, do meaningful things, make a dent of some kind just by being here… and that takes planning, because the general world doesn’t know we exist by the time we’re this age.

I’m 75 now, the age some of my family members were when I became their advocate, legal and otherwise. Since I’m not old like, you know, they were, I’ve made a plan and I like it, but don’t tell Life… it has a way of messing with the intentions of mice and men. Wherever you are now, I hope you have some kind of schematic for the medicare years that goes beyond keeping body and soul together. Think about what sparks excitement in you, thereby keeping you out of depression, and do that thing. ALL the things. DO ALL THE THINGS!!!

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LIFE, like my bowl of cereal this morning, is too delicious to waste.

**Dear Husband/Darling Husband/Designated Hitter/Dead Heat

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What’s your favorite season and why is it fall?

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Wrote this yesterday before the day turned irresistibly beautiful… before we walked with friends to a restaurant new to all of us and spent a long lunch laughing and cementing friendship… up the street to Sylas & Maddy’s for ice cream… and a nice stroll home, talking all the way. The Muse tapped my shoulder about this post in the late afternoon, but by then I was far too comfy where I was…

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Favorite season? Fall, hands down for me, for all the reasons. In general, it isn’t too ANYthing… too wet/too dry, too windy/too still, too cold/too hot, just friendly, benign, middle-of-the-road weather while we brace for winter. And never have I been more conscious of the letting-go process fall embodies. The bell tolls, bring out your dead!

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Uncertain of our significance in the universe, we hang onto everything we encounter in life… we might NEED this experience, this memory, this bit of detritus we never really understood in the first place! And we do need some of those things, but not consciously. They’re all there, influencing everything we say and do, we don’t have to think about it constantly, none of it is going away. Short of a lobotomy, most of us will remember the significant moments in our lives, both good and bad, until death or the dreaded Oldtimer’s claims us. The goal is to no longer be predominantly shaped by the negatives we can’t entirely forget – life is genuinely not long enough for those memories to be left in charge… they rule from a bad motive and muck up things that would otherwise be perfectly beautiful for us, thus the need for fall housecleaning. It starts from a spiritual place.

Yesterday Kim and I took a drive through the countryside, which in Eastern Kansas this time of year is a requirement. The leaves are getting creative in their death throes, everything looks crisp and clean, crops are ready for harvest or soon will be… and there’s no sense of regret attached to any of it. Earth’s inhabitants respond to the seasons and behave accordingly, humans in ways that are hard to define. Autumn is the dying time so we tend to assign an extra portion of melancholy to its days and miss its true essence entirely… that death isn’t always a downer, sometimes it’s required. Industrious as we may be, the house isn’t clean if the stench of old death still permeates the walls… so really… why do we cling so tightly to things that once hurt us, made us question our right to be here, and still hold the power to ruin an entire day if we let them? I think that was rhetorical…

I love all the sweet, poignant, utterly lovely moments fall brings, leading to the kind of memories that save us in moments of uncertainty and that inescapable sense of being alone.

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If you find yourself overwhelmed by loneliness and questioning your place in the scheme of things, remember…

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Also, and this is very important to me…

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Box it up…

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I had a wonderful conversation the other day with someone whose opinion matters to me far more than most people’s, and it ended up being helpful beyond words. I’m pretty sure I’d benefit greatly from talking to a qualified therapist in order to tie up a few loose ends before heading into what I like to think of as the home stretch, may it last forever. There are memories and emotions that have become dead weight over the years and need to be put someplace manageable. After Sunday’s healing convo, I had a better understanding of how this works, and it’s key: Nothing goes away, so it has to be put into its own box and treated with respect, but by its very nature it can’t share daily life with me because it isn’t life-bringing.

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You’re allowed to love everything that makes you who you are. Please do.

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We all know…

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If pain of any kind keeps you from owning your daily share of happiness, deal with it in the present using what you know at the time, put it in the Hurt Box, and walk away… don’t give it life outside the container. The stuff in the box tends to get quieter by the day if we don’t open the lid, and that’s a mercy.

Peace to you in all things on this crisp fall morning…

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Of wolves and wings and sealing wax…

A thing I like about being this age and out of the work force is that nobody’s the boss of us except death and taxes. When Kim got home from PickleBall this morning I’d downed half a pot of coffee but no food yet, so he made the Saturday breakfast on Wednesday because nobody told him he couldn’t, and I like how that works out.

The downside of not having a CEO is there’s nobody here to ensure that I live my best life except me. Kim’s entitled to carefully-worded suggestions, but I’m the only boss I have and it’s exhausting. I get up by 7am or earlier most mornings, grab a mug of coffee, and sit here for the next hour catching up on news of the world while the two wolves inside me wage a battle over the daily stroll. One wolf’s all about how it’s too hot or too chilly, too windy or too still, you deserve a little break and one day off won’t hurt a thing. The other, the leaner of the two, reminds me how easy it is to break a good habit, how miserably guilt-ridden I’ll be all day if I don’t put my shoes on and go, how righteous I’ll feel telling Kim about where I went and what I saw out there in the greater world.

The wise wolf won this morning’s tug-o-war again, so chalk up another one for health and sanity, she and I have found ourselves out there trekking far more days than not since this past December. And yes, my two Canis Lupii are female, full of wisdom and experience, I only have to be careful which voice I allow through the veil in any given circumstance…

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Rodney Dangerfield had it right… no respect.

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God’s truth. Come visit, we’ll show you.

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If you’re smiling, my work here is done. Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember…

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What we have here… is a failure to communicate!

So far I don’t mind terribly much getting older, there are things about it that are actually almost cool. But FEELING old… out of it… behind… I hate it. Nothing pisses me off faster than trying to do something I knew how to do before technology changed the parameters. I love technology. Technology is my friend. Until it isn’t, and I have to ask for rescue from someone whose otherwise perfectly lovely accent doesn’t play nicely via phone with my hearing assists/brain. And the page he sends me to clearly doesn’t look like the one he’s on because the right questions and blanks are not available; therefore, there’s an impassable hurdle in the form of name/password legalese which I will never get past so I’m hereby resigning from the world and resolving never again to leave the safety of my perfectly manageable home. It doesn’t matter that I can’t get an automatic payment set up online BECAUSE I’M A HERMIT NOW!! I won’t need the thing I’m supposed to be paying for, so stuff it, world!

Sigh. I feel marginally better, thx for listening. On a happier note… and EVERYTHING was on a happy note until that frickin’-frackin’ brick wall… I spent an hour and a half outside this morning, an hour of it walking. Picked up a bagel and coffee and sat in the park again, reading and people-watching. There were at least 50 middle-schoolers, and several adult-types carrying guitars, gathered on the east side of the park, but nothing discernible transpired before I trekked toward home. Looked all squeaky-clean and wholesome, though, at 7:30 on a Friday morning.

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Ope, it was THIS!

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ENJOY THE HECK OUTTA LIFE EVERY DAY!

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Still hanging around, what a surprise!

At 7:00 on a September morn, fog hanging in the trees, a cheese Danish and hot coffee in front of me courtesy of Kim… I’m settling into the fact that today I’m 75 years old. It’s frankly weird to find myself at an age that once sounded unbearably old, life over, stick with your comfy chair, lap blanket, and tepid tea, Granny-Face. But I watched both of my grandmothers live past 95, keeping their minds reasonably intact, and this morning I know you don’t shut things down three-quarters of the way through, so on we press.

When Kim and I got married, I was the reverse of today’s number… 57. A full range of life events has taken place in the intervening 18 years, letting me know for sure that life doesn’t hinge on ages, numbers, or our careful plans. I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be 75 plus a day, and the days will continue to spool out until I reach the final one, whenever it comes.

The gray flannel morning has crept up against my windows, socking me into my quiet corner with only my thoughts for company… just the way I like it. These gentle surroundings are causing me to be highly conscious of a few key factors in making it to this milestone in a positive frame of mind…

  1. After two years of treatment protocols, Kim’s oncology numbers are below zero… success!
  2. With the advent of vaccines, boosters, and a lower transmission rate, John’s work at the hospital is becoming a little safer and more conducive to longterm breathing.
  3. Since Christmas and a spinal fusion via robot, I’ve been without my old companion of fifty years… nerve pain… and I’m walking my tush off on the surrounding sidewalks.
  4. Last week I got new hearing assists with the latest technology… and joy of joys, I can actually HEAR! I’ve been missing so many sounds for who knows how long, I’m having to retrain my ears and brain to tolerate the sheer input of it all and it’s wonderful.
  5. Despite every awful thing at loose on the planet, genuine loving humans give me insane hope for a future that is not dystopian. I texted with two of them this morning… day made! People haven’t called me Pollyanna all my life for nothing.

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Very happy to be a Virgo. Otherwise, I’d have to be someone else entirely.

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