Category Archives: aging

18 days……

I think our capacity for life increases right along with our waist line as we age. That’s got to be it, right?

If you had told me six months ago that I would be getting up at 4:50 every morning to get to a full-time job 25 miles away from my nice warm bed, I would have had some choice words for you. It had been over 10 years since I had been in a regimented schedule, one that took me away from my morning sanctuary on my outside patio, complete with pot-bellied stove, visiting birds, coffee, and my newspaper.

But life plays tricks on us. That doesn’t seem to stop, either, as we age. I wish I could tell my young friends otherwise; but let’s look at the rainbow side of this equation.

I am finding new reserves of adaptability and calmness in the midst of this new challenge, and I can’t help but think that my acquired wisdom—the knowledge gathered and stored like a squirrel’s stash of nuts for the winter—is supporting me now.

I have always had issues with depression in the morning. Every day. EVERY. DAY. It is a miracle that I ever kept a job of any kind, if it required rising before dawn, moving with purpose, and getting somewhere on time. I think that’s the definition of most jobs, right? Throw in doing all of that as a single parent from the time my daughter was about 4, and then showing up to face a roomful of teenagers who didn’t want to be there, either, and it’s a miracle to me now that I didn’t allow the depression to win.

But, we do what we have to. That was the mantra in our house, one that my now-adult daughter lives by, too. You just do it. You get up and you move. The depression always lifted after an hour or so, something I came to understand and accept. No thinking allowed, simply face it head on, step into it and then come out the other side. Where the sun is shining again and life doesn’t look so dreary and hopeless. (And stay away from the telephone to call in sick; I would never have gone to work at all if I had succumbed to that quotidian instinct!)

A few months ago I found myself in need of temporary work to escort me through the transition to semi-retirement, something I never believed I would be able to do. But, life also surprises us in other ways, too, especially if we trust ourselves and the organization of the universe. When I was offered a financially sound opportunity to move me through that transition, I embraced it, even though it requires that I witness the sunrise each morning from my car. On the Interstate, in bumper-to-bumper traffic. With no time to read the paper before I go.

It is a struggle. But I am pulling from all those years of “just doing it.” In this case, I know there is a specific end in sight—18 days, give or take—which will make the not doing it any more that much more delectable.

We tend to cherish even more that which is taken from us….and then returned.

“Happiness is not the absence of problems,

it’s the ability to deal with them.”

― Steve Maraboli

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The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

You’ve heard the term “needy,” right?

It makes my skin crawl now, to think of myself as needy, but I was. Maybe you have been accused of the same characteristic and don’t have a clue what was meant, someone spitting the word out as they walked (ran) away from you. I had suffered a serious blow to my ego as a woman and as a person worthy of love. Because of that devastation, I needed constant validation, I needed love, I needed attention, I needed, I needed……

I know people today who are in constant need, yet they have no idea why people scurry away from them like roaches when a light is turned on at night. So, let’s educate these folks…..since they need someone to do that, I’m sure:

You ALWAYS need something. You seem to be incapable of tackling a project, a situation, or someone else’s need without assistance. You cannot make a decision, something as simple as what to order in a restaurant. And you are exhausting to be around.

I recently asked someone to enlist a neighbor to help take my trash out to the curb each week. With working full-time right now, it is a task that would be best done by someone else. In fact, last week that monstrous bin the city insists we use did NOT get pulled out, so I have two weeks’ worth now. The plastic bags filled with this week’s garbage are now on the ground encircling the bin like supplicants surrounding a wise sage.

So, the person I asked to take care of this for me informed me when I got home from a long day at work, fighting traffic and construction that seems to never end, that a young man in the neighborhood was approached with this proposition. But rather than nail the deal down and make it happen, I was told that I must talk to him to finalize the arrangements. Really?? Now I’m involved after all, when what I needed was YOU to help me.

“How will he get the gate key every week?”

“When do you want him to take the bin out: in the morning or in the evening?”

“How much money do you want to pay him?”

It’s almost as if these people are afraid to make a move without high level clearance. I’ve had bosses like this. They were so fearful of the senior command chain that they drove the rest of us crazy with their indecision and inability to move forward without specific permission to do so.

I have come to understand that needy people are actually seeking  attention. If you are engrossed in a good book or taking care of your own projects, they are no longer your focus. One way of drawing your attention back to them is to put lots of needs in front of you. They also lack any confidence in their own ability to make decisions.

“Should I park here….or there?”

“Which way would you go from here?”

“How does this [enter any conceivable device here] work?”

“What kind of [enter anything here] do you want me to get?”

We all need help on a regular basis. It’s a good thing to be able to understand our limitations, our strengths and weaknesses, and then occasionally turn to those around us for assistance. But with these people our attention is constantly being dragged back to…..them. We can’t concentrate or get anything done that we have on our TO DO list, because of this unending stream of needs being dumped on us.

Each of these questions is innocuous in isolation (which is where we will want to be soon), but after enough time and dozens of questions, we realize that the true intent is not the get specific answers. The real motivation is to get our attention, and to put the burden of the decisions on someone else. No one can point to them later and say, “It was YOUR doing!”

Unfortunately, my personal way of dealing with needy people is to become deaf while appearing to hear all, to be somewhere else mentally even though my body is right there soaking up all that poisonous need.

And this is unfortunate because we all know what happens when the sky really does fall, right?

It’s a minefield out here…..

It’s a dilemma. My mind is that of a woman of 40, maybe even less, but my body tries to betray me whenever I’m not looking. I’m not looking because I’m appalled at what is happening to it, with wrinkled and droopy skin, veined hands, and other signs too personal to discuss here. (Yes, there are things that even I won’t talk about.)

My dance instructor wants me to incorporate sensual hand movements at certain places in a routine and all I can do is giggle. Yes, I can still giggle like a girl but don’t ask me to do that with my arms in a rumba, OK? It’s not “seemly,” as my grandmother would have said, probably when she was the age I am now. If I laugh at it, I can just imagine what those on the dance floor with me are thinking. And, let’s face it, my instructor is not even 40, with an agenda that requires him to encourage me to do such ludicrous things. Cute, but unaware on a personal basis about what many of his students are facing either now or imminently.

I have a fear of not recognizing a boundary between the way I feel and the way I look. I feel young, probably younger than I felt when I WAS young. Transformation can happen at any age, and it did for me about 15 years ago. Not sure what prompted it, but let’s face it, I used to be boring. Smart, but not much fun. Today, I’m a hoot, but it’s a dilemma for me to be this really young soul entrapped in a body that betrays me on a regular basis, even though I take good care of it.

It’s not bad for a woman in her mid-60s, but no one but me ever sees ALL of it anymore. I know what’s under the clothes and those shape-shifter things that merely push skin into strange places and requires great strength to peel off. Needing to use a restroom while having one of those things on is a recipe for disaster. Believe me. Another betrayal.

I have no solution for this dilemma, one that I’m sure many women face, at least if they are interesting, vital people at all. Where is the line between staying young and presenting oneself as ridiculous? It is a great fear for me, and I’m not sure there is anyone I can trust to be brutally honest about this. We live in a society that reveres youth above all else, with little respect (or actual disrespect) given to anyone over 50 or so.

To maneuver between the two worlds—aging and a youth-drenched society—is a minefield. I don’t know where all those landmines are hidden, but I know they are there, just waiting to explode if I make a misstep. It won’t be pretty.

Older women know who they are, and that makes them more beautiful than younger ones. I like to see a face with some character.

I want to see lines. I want to see wrinkles.
Naveen Andrews

Say what??

Do people under the age of about 30 know what it means to JAYWALK? A local flashing traffic sign—one of those huge monstrosities that screams to be noticed—warns passers-by (most of whom are in cars, which makes the message moot, right?) “NO JAYWALKING!”

And I wondered if most people today even know what that means, especially in a city that lacks adequate mass transit. We live in our vehicles; we’re not out jaywalking or participating in other equally nefarious activities.

Which made me think about other terms that have fallen out of use or have taken on a different meaning. Like….

**dial a phone?
**consider the source?
**lose your marbles?
**knuckle down?
**pardon me?
**the devil is in the details?
**like a broken record?
**be kind—rewind?
**ride roughshod?
**by dint of………?

No wonder the generations often don’t understand each other.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place at all.” George Bernard Shaw

Parts A, B, C, and D: It can’t be!

 There isn’t any funny way to say this. And I’m not really laughing too much myself right now.
I applied for Medicare the other day.
Oh, my……
How did this happen? I’m about 25 in my head, complete with fantasies of all kinds as well as a full work load and an active life.
I can remember (yes, I DO remember most things) when any discussion about people over about 45 resulted in an inner shudder, thinking about all those OLD folks, decripit and wizened gnomes who could hardly get from armchair to the potty much less from the gym to a country bar. (Fill in the blanks as to why I chose that comparison, which only extends my point.) To be 65 must be practically dead, for pete’s sake!
And now, here I am, a few months shy of that dreaded year myself.
Oh, my……
The application process wasn’t bad, once I opened all the envelopes that had been arriving in my mailbox for months now. First, I had to read long enough to get into the zone of bureaucratic lingo, you know the one where they use 25 words to say something that really only requires about 10, and includes enough acronyms to sink an alphabet? But once I was there, and knew the difference between Parts A, B, C, and D, I went onto the official website and registered in about 15 minutes. I do think they need some nursery rhyme-type jingle to aid in retaining it all, though. It works for little kids, and I’ve heard tell that senior citizens often revert to the behavior of children, so maybe it would help? Just a suggestion……
There isn’t any way possible I can be eligible for Medicare, though. There just isn’t. This is going to take some getting used to.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
  We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it. ~ Frank A. Clark

No one warns you…..

OK, what’s with the chicken skin? I’m serious.

Nobody warned me about this, just like they never warned me about the Independent Fives when my daughter was growing up. She was the sweetest two year old and never terrorized anyone at three, either. But a little prima donna emerged when she was five who simply didn’t need ME anymore, thank you very much, a blonde dynamo I didn’t recognize. Anyway, someone stores all this information in a virtual vault somewhere, and then snickers gleefully when we topple over into a chasm of some personal ignorance we didn’t even know existed.

One night I was reading in bed, holding the book up so my arms were subject to gravity a bit. And there it was: Chicken skin hanging from my forearms, striated and loose and pale, and just plain disgusting. I might as well have been holding a dead fowl over my head; you know how it looks when you take the wrap off before you put it in the oven for your Sunday dinner?

Nobody tells you these things.

I put my book down and the skin returned to its un-disgusting shape, smooth and….well, normal. If I raised my arms up again, there it was: Loose, flappy skin marked with long lines like someone had driven furrows into my arms with a knife or something. And the thing that is so maddening about this is that the rest of my arms are in better shape now than when I was twenty. OK, maybe thirty. I’m buff from hours of working with free weights in the gym, and the underarm flab is gone, so this stuff hanging from my arms isn’t due to being out of shape. That’s the scary part of the whole discovery. Does that mean that I’m stuck with arm poultry for the rest of my life?

If I allow myself to think about it long enough, I have to admit that I probably am. Stuck with it, I mean. I’m not a Hollywood star with unlimited funds to do whatever it would take to get rid of this drooping flesh. There must be a way…..although, we don’t really see those stars when THEY’RE laying in bed at night, so I’m not sure. Maybe I can hire some paparazzi to look into for us.

Just consider yourself warned. And lay on your stomach when you read at night.

“If we spent as much time feeling positive about getting older, as we do
trying to stay young, how much different our lives would be.”  
Rob Brown