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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Christmas happens…

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Mid week. Hump day. We’ve almost made it to Santa’s birthday, when an angel comes down the chimney and passes judgement on the snacks provided, taking notes for next year. But first… a special weekend with friends… a bit of family time… and then 2023 shows up all shiny and hopeful. The cycle has faithfully renewed itself each year of my existence so I’m going to assume protocol will be followed once again and we’ll be here for it.

Christmas is a Zen affair in our household. No kiddos around to awe and impress, so after our first two extravagant holiday seasons together we’ve foregone the fuss, skipped the middleman, and celebrated in our hearts without need of trappings. TRANSLATION: We’re lazy heathens no longer full of piss and vinegar for every project. We do, however, have a beautiful poinsettia brought to us by friends which is performing a quite admirable solo gig. There are a few people who know to look out for us a little, and I love it so much because here’s the background: farm kids are trusted with responsibility and expected to sink or swim. Same with farm wives. After all that, when I met Kim I’d been looking after six older people… and then two… and then one. He showed up saying “You’re okay, I got you,” and for the first time in memory my personal safety and future didn’t hinge on my own brave efforts. It feels amazing to realize that someone stronger is taking care of the details. And in that vein, I’m grateful to the friends who “see” us and subtly prop us up as things change. That’s an art because WE ARE NOT GETTING OLD, DAMMIT! so it takes a soupçon of tact.

Current outlook encapsulated:

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So here’s to everyone who takes up the slack… all you real people we depend on in one way or another…

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In every season of life, I feel an urgency to know things, to understand how it all works, to relate my existence to something meaningful… and that’s why I write. My thanks to Caryn Mirriam Goldberg, a past Kansas Poet Laureate, for sharing this quote.

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Whatever the days between Halloween and the New Year mean to you, observe them consciously, absorbing their value, and make good memories.

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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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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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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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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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A poet speaks for me…

The joy found in a cool August morning can’t be laid on too thick… it’s simply glorious. The rush of stepping into another sunrise and striding down the sidewalk, balance pole in hand, everything right with the immediate world for a few precious minutes, cannot be diminished by impending daily-ness. I walked as far as the courthouse this morning before looping toward home… next trip South Park! I saw Dennis scurrying along Mass Street, his arms full of collected treasures… where did he stash his shopping cart, I wonder. As I trekked toward my destination, I noticed two rough-sleepers in doorways on the east side of the street, and outside the Replay Lounge an early riser was singing, dancing, and yelling, so I chose another route home, for simplicity’s sake. Plenty of room for everybody.

I’ve had no success finding the title, but these words from an incredible writer are everything this morning…

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said.. 

A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.. 

Or a garden planted.. 

Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, 

and when people look at that tree 

or that flower you planted, you’re there..

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something 

from the way it was before you touched it 

into something that’s like you 

after you take your hands away.. 

The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said.. 

The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all..

the gardener will be there a lifetime.. 

-Ray Bradbury

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Get out and touch the world today if you can. Leave a mark. And may your coffee, your pelvic floor, your intuition, and your self-appreciation be strong.

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**The occasional reminder that no one sees your name, including me, but your rating thrills my heart. I feel so seen. 😎

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Helpful, honest, happy family = amazing…

I’m sitting in my 4th-floor perch on a rainy Wednesday morning, observing the dog-walkers and the drizzled foliage while I savor the events of the past week. John booked a spur-of-the-moment flight to check in with the parental units, and his timing couldn’t have been more spot-on… we needed to see and celebrate with him. When he was here about this same time last year, life was feeling markedly unsettled for all of us including Auntie Rita… and much positive resolution has transpired since, so we toasted to every bit of it. On Sunday he treated us to a wonderful 18th wedding anniversary celebration at Basil Leaf… Italian food, wine, exquisite desserts, and the best company we could ever want, while we counted our blessings. Life remains good.

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Between the weather and timing, we managed a handful of walks… and the remainder of our waking hours were spent talking and eating, a true Midwest sojourn for Atlanta man. Tomorrow he’ll return to his oncology unit and we’ll resume our exercise routines in earnest, possibly skip a meal once in a while… and life will go on until we see each other again. The days since last Friday will keep my heart fed for some time to come…

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Until next time.

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The world delivers a load of stress to our doors every day. I’m glad real family, however we manage to come by those people, is there to help us handle it all and move on. I fiercely love and need my people.

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Laziness… the habit of resting before you’re tired

How to tell if something has become a habit… when you feel utterly miserable if you miss a day. Kim woke me up when he left for PickleBall, which I assume was around 6:30, and the next thing I knew it was nearly 8:00. When I stepped out onto the balcony the sun and thick hot air made me duck right back inside to think it over, whereupon I decided some buttery grits with toast and jam sounded more rejuvenating… and here we are.

If every day went according to plan, we’d be robots, but missing my morning walk will stick like glue and I’ll be looking for shade toward evening to make up for it. Seven months ago I couldn’t envision ditching the lifetime nerve pain and doing whatever I wanted to do… so now when I pass up opportunities to DO… I feel it. I’m calling that a beautiful thing while I line up the day… there’s usually enough to do.

I remember scorching summers, some total drought-makers, but the current heat wave feels ponderous even when the humidity is below 50%. In an era when all our chickens seem headed home to roost, I’m not holding out false hope for consistently milder weather any time soon, by which I mean I may never see that day again. Good to be old… I got to see most of it at least once. Live with this we will, kids, ’til we die. The human race is nearly inscrutable on every level, but one thing we know about us… even the gods can’t tell us a damn thing because we arrived here knowing it all.

Not a lot to write home about right now, just felt like checking in with everybody. And I saved another little stack of stuff to share with you…

Right off the top, a commentary on the past couple of weeks:

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In that vein, and don’t let on that I told you, but Kim always wanted to invent a Braille halter-top.

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Self-explanatory.

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This one’s just a freebie.

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I like to reiterate the following on a semi-regular basis to keep misinterpretations to a minimum if possible:

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This is critically important, so don’t skim past it…

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And this… shared by a wonderful friend… because I love it.

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Unraveling the threads…

The other day I shared this little story on Facebook and it generated a brief but interesting conversation…

My impression was that I surprised at least a few people in the convo, catching them off-guard with a confessional comment or two… and I’ve thought about it since. We give it all sorts of names and labels… apprehension, disquiet, restlessness, watchfulness… but by any description, anxiety can be crippling. The first two years of isolation after COVID began showed me just how intricately-wrapped I was in the arms of silent worry. That sense of disquiet has been with me since before memory, and the reveal came because the isolation left me with nothing but time inside my own head.

If anxiety lives under your skin you’re likely to identify with some of this…

I’m saving the pertinent details for my bestseller, so on the “how did I get this way” front I’ll simply say for now that LIFE HAPPENS. It’s been extremely sweet to me in certain ways, though, so I’ve had my good moments, stumbling through life, even at times feeling marvelously (and temporarily) in control of my existence. I cherish those times, which are ongoing. But the flipside that we’re not talking about right now never goes away, just hangs out in doorways and dark alleys waiting to trip me up and put me on the wrong side of myself. It takes only a word or a look, an image from the past, a riff of a song, a perceived disappointment… and that other me takes over. I don’t like her at all because all the things I want to be… she isn’t. I keep thinking year by year that we’ll reach a peaceful settlement, she and I… but she’s tricky and has been running the show far longer than the me I really am… the one who’s strong through everything and knows what she’s doing. (For some reason the witchy half of me just laughs when I say that.)

If you’re me, with Anxiety in the driver’s seat, you drag your feet about making plans, even though you want to see the people involved. It’s complicated. You make all your doctors’ appointments for afternoon because you need the whole morning to get mentally ready for it, which includes showering and dressing. Situations encompassing more than four people are anxiety-inducing because despite spending ridiculous dollars on high-tech hearing assists you can’t hear shit… all the voices and background sounds blend together, obliterating consonants from the beginnings and endings of words, which renders them unintelligible. My glued-on but sincere smile and the occasional nod of my head are intended to convey a general sense of understanding on my part, along with the acknowledgment that it doesn’t really matter, I know there won’t be a test, we’re all just being sociable here… as anxiety percolates.

Phone calls are a test of will, mine against the witch under my skin. The anxiousness attached to this one harkens back to the days before I realized I was losing my hearing, I just knew people were talking softer and faster and why was this happening all at once? I’m realizing that it’s really not such a big deal to have a phone conversation, and it’s where these expensive earbuds shine, so I’m on the verge of winning this one. In fact, since breaking out of the prison of nerve pain, I’ve been taking on lots of tiny challenges and winning, which bodes better for the future.

I’ve learned how to be a duck, calm on the surface, paddling for my life underneath, which as it turns out is the definition of adulting. And I’m learning that the world of my thoughts is the true one… as long as I keep them real. When I was little I wondered what people did after 40 or so, when they knew everything. Just read books ’til they died, I figured.

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I don’t know the answer to the question posed in the graphic, but I know I’m a champion at letting things steal my joy. I can break my own heart in record time with conversations that never happened, slights that never came my way at all. It’s crazy.

But never mind, it’ll all be in the book…

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Let’s talk about home and comfort…

Friends will be surprised to hear that I walked to New Jersey yesterday morning. Strolled from 8th to 9th to Connecticut to New York to New Jersey, which kept me on good sidewalks and brought me out at the train station, ready for the return loop home. Went out just after 7am but it was already getting steamy, so 45 minutes’ trekking was about right. This morning I woke up later and it was already breathless outside, so I’ve declared this to be Paperwork Day (why do we still have PAPER work??), while soothing any trace of guilt with iced coffee. Oh, there’s all that laundry, too, of course, good thing I conserved energy right off the bat, so wise…

The days grow ever weirder while that other shoe takes on weight, so here’s some nonsense I saved for just such days…

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I love you, fellow weirdos, we must hang together. Or we will hang separately…

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Thomas Wolfe wrote a whole novel centered around the fact that You Can’t Go Home Again, and someone’s explanation says “If you try to return to a place you remember from the past it won’t be the same as you remember it.” I think it’s the other way around – we can’t go back because the people who never left won’t let us be anything other than the labels we wore then. That strikes me as an important fail-safe… if nothing changes over a lifetime, a society is dying, so home has to be wherever we find ourselves.

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I hope your heart feels at home today.

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The arc… bends…

We’ve made it to HumpDay of yet another engaging week in the life of the USA and smaller environs, including my hideout. After just short of a year’s fast from televised news, I’ve been compelled to tune in to the 1/6 hearings because although history does repeat itself, it happens only once in the flesh. Before I tuned out of news-watching, I was an MSNBC girl, mostly by process of elimination, the same process that took place Monday morning before the start of the second hearing. I was early by fifteen minutes, so I clicked the remote, looking for a spot to land. Tried C-SPAN first, three ancient talking heads droning on as to what the imminent proceedings might portend. Looked at CNN, chose not to stick with the panel in place. Stopped by the networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, moved on. They were all still ensconced in the bubble and squeak of their Hello-America-How-Are-You morning fare, instantly reminding me that there’s a too-casual way of addressing world news. So I settled in with my old friends at MSNBC, remarking to Kim, now home from PickleBall, on the changes since we’d last seen the gang. Nearly everyone looked younger, shinier, more rested, which speaks to the reduced political angst they’re tasked with tracking every day, and it’s clear that things are changing for the better, even when we can’t see it happening. So that’s encouraging, as is the fact that no one can stop the truth. It comes out.

A footnote from the first morning’s hearing…

I watched most of the Watergate hearings in 1973 on a little black & white TV while my 3-year-old played and napped, and the names and shenanigans are still vivid. Shenanigans is precisely what they were, as opposed to the sedition that was being fomented by the Trump administration. In fact, by comparison there is no comparison. The recent series “Gaslit” provided a good look back at the quaint and silly misdeeds of the Nixon administration, and a timely contrast with the treasonous crimes of Trump’s. I can’t wait for the remainder of the current hearings. I assume they’re mostly preaching to the choir, but even the choir likes a good schematic.

Onion Choir agrees

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So yeah, if you’re goin’ back in, might as well dive deep.

All things considered… Russia’s war against Ukraine, racial and political unrest in the US, gun violence off the charts, economic uncertainty [I could do this all day]… our inability to accept each other will end us more efficiently than any of the above. I wish we could get it together, but with age comes realism. I get along with Kim as seamlessly as any experience of my lifetime, but words are as tricky for us as for all other humans and we can mistake each other’s meaning in a heartbeat. In light of that reality, why do we harbor the fiction that the world can learn to get along? It’s an impossible assignment… and yet, what else is even worth fighting for?

The week is not over. Finish strong.

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Time and other variables…

The seasons press on, and just like that it’s 420 again… how time flies when you’re having fun! Quiet morning here, overcast, showers possible, even storms. It’s like silent mood music outside my windows, and sweetly healing, so here are a few of the recent best from my Share-It file…

First a timely reminder. (Aren’t taxes supposed to be a little late?)

Gud luck to ya’…

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I’ve developed a new system, which works in all situations for obvious reasons, and I highly recommend it…

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It’s a fact of life that the world is at war unendingly, despite the intense wish on all sides that fighting could cease. Turns out the military industrial complex owns us and must be sustained at all cost, so enterprising humans have to work at achieving harmony in more inventive ways, such as getting to know each other and learning to appreciate what every person brings to this experience of living. It remains a worthy goal.

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Something the COVID pandemic continues to teach me, and it adds to my sense of peace…

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And this is for everyone who needs it this morning… keep rocking that survival thing.

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A random clearinghouse…

Sounds like a subscription sweepstakes, but it’s merely a semi-regular purge of the rubble that accumulates in the general vicinity of my brain, most of it unrelated and not worth hanging onto. It’s all there though, like eye floaters, drifting around, mingling with the legit workings of my mind, coloring what I still refer to as thinking, and gradually mucking up the works. At least once a quarter it becomes necessary to assess, evaluate, kick a few things to the curb, and remember the good stuff.

  • In the nine years since we moved to NE Kansas, the Royals have won the World Series, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, and this year the Jayhawks are the nation’s college basketball champions. NOW what??
  • Ten years out from retirement, it gets trickier to fill the hours every day and feel productive. Realistically, there are only so many options… but I’ve thought of several just this week so it isn’t a forlorn situation to be in. Walking is first on the list… and I can sit at my piano bench and play again! Since writing is the only real passion I’ve ever attempted to make friends with, maybe I’ll give it more weight and respect moving forward. When you start looking for windows the light shines through.
  • Since the early days of the pandemic, quite a few people I know have been taking advantage of various forms of personal therapy and benefitting greatly. Now that my body is free of nerve pain I think a few conversations with a therapist I’m drawn to could be severely helpful. I’ve entertained the idea for a while, and believe it or not it’s been SUGGESTED to me more than once… what was THAT about, OMG! But I knew that any reference to “picking myself up and getting on with it” … “working past the pain” … “living my life as though I felt well” … “being resourceful, focusing outside myself, helping people who are less able” … and I wouldn’t go back, because I can’t lay my heart open to someone who doesn’t get it. Kinda wanted to save it for a time like NOW, when I can better hear and receive what’s offered to me in the way of wisdom. Counsel coming from someone I have reason to trust, at a time when they aren’t trying to reach me through a wall of pain, could help… meh, we’ll see.
  • Early on, I realized I couldn’t stay in touch with every person I encountered in life and furthermore wouldn’t want to, but I see people doing it. How does that work? Where does that kind of psychic energy come from, what drives the relentless body count? I can’t even maintain the polite minimum with family, let alone acquaintances. There are people all over the world I once fancied myself close to, but in defense of both parties, we barely knew each other at the time. In the case of extended family, the advent of adulthood brought awareness, and with it choices. I choose peace, therefore mostly solitude by default. I don’t make for a good friend, or cousin, or mentor, and I fully admit it’s due to selfishness – I choose personal peace nearly every time.
  • First World nations seem to be plowing headlong into fascism, and why is that? Do people get tired of living well and having their rights respected? Do madmen recognize that itch and rush in to scratch it? The pendulum never stops its arc.
  • It’s good that humans are given a life span longer than that of a gnat, but it’s still far too brief a time for figuring out the meaning of existence, so what are we supposed to do with all these half-formed ideas and incomplete concepts of how things are? It seems like a lot of responsibility for no more information and training than we’re provided, and the failure rate is piteously high.
  • In light of the above, I’m inclined, at this late stage in the game, to adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward absolutely everything. “You go ahead, life, have it your way. I’ll be over here eating what my body wants, sleeping when I need to, observing the world, drawing my own conclusions, and living ’til I die. The whole thing seems not to be so very complicated after all.”

******

So that’s how that all is, thx for listening. A psychic purge, in order to be legit, must be validated by witnesses, and you’re it.

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Life in its third trimester…

Longevity is a thing in my gene pool. My two grandmothers both celebrated their 95th birthdays in their right minds… some of my great-grandmothers lived into their 90s… one of my uncles is 92, in shape like the Marine he was, and still living an independent life. Other relatives have beaten the odds as well… kept their faculties about them… lived long and prospered. I consider that a positive thing, as I enjoy living and prefer to do it on as healthy a basis as possible.

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” -William Saroyan

Since embarking on my 70s almost five years ago, life has changed in both subtle and clear-cut ways. It’s getting easier to stay mellow, partly thanks to the solitude of the past two years, partly due to the changing character of American life, which has taken on a set-adrift sort of feel.

“These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all… “

But in other ways a mellow state of mind is a total reach, so it’s healthier to feel, experience, vent, exorcise… and move on. “So strange, the world of social media. We think we’re negotiating the rapids just fine, and then with no warning we’re hung up on the rocks of somebody else’s bad day. Or our own.” -source unknown

Being misunderstood… misperceived… misjudged, is a fact to be dealt with for the duration of life, but it’s always jarring when it happens. I’ve never managed to solve the mystery of someone else’s misguided disapproval, so I tend to ignore it instead, which works just fine most of the time, but does add to a general sense of social malaise. Human interaction… for as educated, experienced, and sophisticated as we like to see ourselves… still swings wildly between love and hate… peace and warfare… acceptance and exclusivity. We lack the courage of our convictions so we lamely defend them ad infinitum, with less than positive results. When it comes to human communication we’re a consistent contradiction, our facts in disarray, our feelings spilling over, our frustrations fully on display. Everything’s a competition, an opportunity to be offended, a place to stake a claim. It’s exhausting and simply reinforces my reclusive lifestyle… the energy available to me can be better used elsewhere.

Things happen every day to remind us that the world is a cold and crazy place, that values vary among individuals… and the challenge inherent in human existence to care about each other becomes ever more… challenging. Sometimes there’s a sense that no genuine caring is left in the world and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. But when I think about the people I love, and who love me, or at least value my personal welfare… I know I’m inundated by the good life and I’ve never had it better. Perspective is everything.

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