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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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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I hope you dance…

October Sunrise – Kim Smith 10/23/2022

There are few things in this life so soothing to me as a dark quiet house just before dawn, steaming mug of coffee in hand, a blank page before me. A day begun in peace and solitude generally turns out pretty okay, because it’s all about attitude and it starts on the inside.

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Fall makes me think about school, and school makes me newly appreciate children with their optimism and natural joy. For them, life is real every second.

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We can remain childlike if we never forget the important things…

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We can ask childlike questions…

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We can stay childlike about history…

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We can stay childlike in our hopes and dreams…

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A timely reminder for the adults in the room…

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If we so choose, we can keep a childlike spirit until the end of our days. We simply have to remember how to dance…

I hope you dance.

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Things… they happen

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Couldn’t find it on my bucket list when I went to cross it off, but I finally earned a decent shiner in my lifetime, and it was so easy to do! Almost made it home from my walk Monday afternoon when I stubbed my toe in the driveway to our building and went down. I don’t remember the fall, just the solid impact and the aftermath. Once my senses returned I was trying to see where all my stuff was… little shoulder bag with essentials, my glasses, my walking pole, the tiny hearing aid that flew across the pavement… when a svelte young businesswoman drove slowly out the drive, looking at me turtled up while deciding to do nothing. It felt precisely like somebody was looking but not seeing. I was a bug on the sidewalk. Fortunately, a woman likely in her 60s hopped out of her car and tried to help me get my feet under me. Due to my suddenly messed up right side we were having no success, when a man in his 50s strode over and carefully lifted me under my arms so I could stand up, gathered my detritus for me, and saw me to the door. Those two people have obviously lived long enough to know everybody’s gonna need a hand sometime, and they made all the difference. I actually feel kinda bad for that lovely young woman… Karma never forgets and this mama’s heart wonders what the cost might be. Oh well.

So yeah, that’s how that was. My cheek swelled about 3″ beyond its limits, with the outline of my ruined glasses showing like a roadmap, and now we get to marvel over the beautifully changing fall colors on this canvas of a face, starting with livid purple. It’s been necessary to show myself in medical offices, making sure everything still checks out, and I have a disclaimer: Be advised that if you indicate Kim and say “I’ll bet HE did that, right?” I will look you in the eye and ask why you’d say that. “Do you hit YOUR wife?” It strikes me as an old-white-man thing to say and I’ll call you out. An old white man with Dr. in front of his name asked me that question on Tuesday, but the right words hadn’t yet formed in my frontal cortex where expressive language resides. Come at me again, you old fart, with your not-humor, I’ve got your answer right here.

Here’s the truth: if you’re a woman and you ask me that same question you’ll do it tentatively, softly, with eyes downcast, and you either know me really well or not at all. If you know me enough to trust me, you’re asking for yourself, things have happened, and you need someone to tell. And you know Kim would never hit me, but you need an in. If you don’t actually know me, you don’t know my husband either or you’d have the answer already. If you’re a man and ask me, something in you is damn proud of him for supposedly asserting his rightful authority over a clearly insubordinate wife. I’m not having it, Mr. Cellophane, sit down. And don’t speak to me again without authorization.

Okay… all better now.

Anyway, if you’re either brave or a masochist, here’s what it looked like Tuesday morning:

By evening, gravity was carrying it all south down to my real wrinkles and I have a kind of wondrous scary pirate vibe going now. No more pics, and I know you’re thanking me. My medical-everything friend Regina told us to go to a Mexican grocery and get arnica gel for the bruises. She broke her orbital socket last summer so she knows… and she’s right. It works. Not fast enough that I won’t shock my hairdresser out of her boots today… but I can see a difference already.

I have a love/hate attitude toward the new boots I was wearing when I fell, but I’ll put something on and get back on the horse today, walking to my haircut and home again, before an excess of caution puts me back in my comfy chair to stay. Cannot, will not, have that.

You know why I write about getting older?

  1. Barring circumstances, everyone goes there.
  2. There’s no cure for it.
  3. It gets realer and realer.
  4. If I can scout ahead and warn you of some of the pitfalls, well… one is glad to be of service.
  5. This is a part of life to be enjoyed, if possible, rather than discounted as “just getting old.”

Don’t fear life, it goes on. Never let the bastards wear you down, compadres. Your horse is waiting…

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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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Keeping things manageable…

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Up at 5am on a Saturday because it was time to crawl out, I guess. My brain leads a life that diverges from what shows, and it loves to think in quiet darkness while morning caffeine gradually permeates my person. Kim’s out trekking Mass Street from end to end, so it’s totally silent all up in here and conducive to slipping down rabbit trails.

Fall is memory season, with everything drawn in vivid color so as to really stick good, and events of a lifetime come at us in a rush. We’re simultaneously children, hormonal teens, the exhausted sandwich generation, and plain freaking old, so it all hits different and too fast for a healthy sifting. I end up feeling blindsided every year by the onslaught of memory and emotion, stretching back to my birth into a family clan. If I get to live as long as my grandmothers there’s a book I have to write… after everyone I’ve ever known is… you know, gone… but as the 3rd-oldest grandchild in the dynasty, I thought all of it was forever, and that the love, trust, and sense of belonging would always be there. That’s the child talking… the adult part of me knows nothing is forever. But oh, how we wanted it to be.

Relative to this morning’s musings, I think all death, human and otherwise, should take place in the fall. Winter’s too miserable, summer’s too hot, spring breaks your heart forever… so fall it is, everything finished and neatly tied up before the snow flies.

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I’d never really put this thought into words before, but when I read it, I knew that I knew, and that it was okay.

Therefore…

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We all do this, thereby hurting each other in lasting ways.

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There’s no way on this green earth to meet anyone’s standards but your own, so be kind, be goodhearted, and live your life.

Pollyanna says…

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We haven’t seen chaos like this in our lifetimes, making it hard to accept that it’s our turn in the barrel for a while. But history shows that this doesn’t last forever, so we can’t forget how to really live. Happy fall, happy sifting…

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Making way for the advents…

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It’s a magical world outside my windows this morning… leftover raindrops, kaleidoscope leaves, dogs happily taking their people for walks, dark blue skies carrying rain on down the line…

Fall seems like the ultimate dichotomy, with everything bursting out in glory just before the death and darkness of winter. But we can’t be fooled or depressed, the seeds of spring lie in silence and their time to shine always comes ’round again.

The autumn season is full of melancholy, even without the memories we attach to it, and then hot on its heels come The Holidays, DUN-da-da-DUN. For an oft-depressed introvert, Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day looms like a darkened maze to be navigated, but here I still stand, living and breathing, so it’s been survived before and will be again.

All of life, now, requires a certain level of preparedness, a considered mindset going in. The guardrails have mostly been obliterated from human interaction, leaving all of us to feel our way through the minefields and try to come out whole on the other side. The old traditional celebrations bring every feeling to the surface, all of it requiring patience and wisdom to deal with as it comes at us… and we aren’t always successful in that. And let’s face it, we weren’t that great at it in what we thought were the best of times, so a bit of self-kindness is called for since all the dynamics have changed.

The above is for my fellow introspective “feelers,” a miserable condition we share because we can’t help it. The Holidays will no doubt be as sweet and beautiful this year as always, and if any of it brings us angst we simply won’t tell anyone, no worries, The End.

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Fall, football, follies, and forays…

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Stopping in to say hi after a quintessential fall weekend which included pep rallies and parties, Jayhawk Football Homecoming, a snazzy flyover from the Air Force base, a big car show downtown, a PickleBall tournament on new courts, and perfect weather. The KU community is reveling in the fun of having an amazing football team for the first time in about fifteen years… brings new life to the town and gives the basketball team a little breathing space.

For me it was a reflective couple of days, enjoying the beautiful weather from the balcony, absorbing the vibes from a quiet remove, glad to know it’s all going on out there without my help. And yes, I’m still lazy no matter how good I feel. Sometimes when it’s all noise and action out there but quiet and peaceful in here, reflection leads to realization… and one such awakening has been that no matter how much we talk, generally only a small portion gets translated into comprehension. So… maybe… fewer words in every direction for maximum impact? Talking is a chore anyway, the older I get, I can do with less of it!

Bring it, I’ll deal.

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Ourselves. We have the power to change US. That implies great freedom… what if I were responsible for ONLY ME in terms of choice and control? It’s called reality and I’m loving it more and more. This isn’t my world, I just live in it, giving it my best shot on my way through, end of story.

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Because you’re faithful and patient, I save things to share with you. Enjoy…

Focal seizures make me have to sit or lie down wherever I am, so I relate… and animals are simply the best.

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I live in my own head so much it makes me questionable friend material… but I keep trying. Friends, family, other connections…

I fully relate to this.

*

And on a related note, if you live anywhere near my world…

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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…

*

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!

*

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.

*

*

*

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

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We all know…

***

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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Do not fear to go to the end of your thoughts…

*

Have you ever wondered how the heck people spend their hours when they don’t get up and go to a job every day? Probably not, you’re too busy working your ass off! In this particular household, to reduce it to its essence, one of us stays as active as humanly possible and the other lives in her head a lot. It works out.

The athletically-inclined partner walks before sun-up, plays at least three hours of PickleBall, rides his bike a couple of times on purposeful jaunts, and finds any excuse to move his molecules. Every day. The more introspective half of the equation flies under the radar most of the time, entrenched in an activity known as “puttering.” It’s complicated. Despite a lifetime as a farm girl, she wakes up slowly. Coffee and silence are all she cares about for the first hour, which starts at 6am, while her drowsy molecules debate what will actually be done today, if anything.

Then the caffeine hits, and she’s making the rounds.

  1. Delete most emails since last night. ✔️
  2. Catch the online news headlines. ✔️
  3. Look at Facebook notifications and post Pollyanna stuff more than bitching and moaning. Trying hard here, I mean it. ✔️
  4. Switch to Twitter and flaunt the freaky-flag for a soul-cleansing while. As a Midwestern child, I was raised to be nice in all circumstances. (That’ll be in the book, too.) So in these years of “Start winding it down a little, baby,” Twitter is the therapist I need – no judgement for being real, and I’m selective with my following/followers. Feels almost safe there, bwahahaha!! ✔️
  5. Slip into the Tevas, grab my phone, ID, and walking pole, and hit the streets for at least a half-hour while the town wakes up. ✔️
  6. Come home, pour another cup, and enjoy the rest of the morning guilt-free. The things that keep us operational will get done today… everything else is gravy. It’s all still loading, so no checkmark yet…

So yeah, life at this stage can be pretty boring, terribly lonely, a little baffling… or we can use our human powers to make it better than that, by a lot. We’re basically ants with awareness, therefore feelings, so every 24hr cycle is a balancing act between our lack of control over our environment and our knowledge that we’re real, we’re here, and there are things we can do to make it better for everybody… after we finally learn to love ourselves.

***

This poignant letting go that we call “fall” is prime time for introspection, even for those who don’t ordinarily lean that way. It’s so stark, that fall from grace when the luscious leaves turn brown and crunchy underfoot… it scares us a little and makes us too conscious of our tentative ant-like status here, just as we’re heading into the cold and dark again. We can’t handle the universe, it’s on its own, so our assignment is to deal with what touches us on a personal level or threatens the existence of other humans. That’s enough for any lifetime…

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