Category Archives: Aging

06Nov/16
road trip

The Road Trip

sometimes all you need is a full tank of gas and a good friend…or two…

road trip

ready for a little adventure…go on a road trip…

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I think sometimes all we need to fix whatever ails our soul is a road trip. I love spending time with friends. I also like to see new places and experience things I have never experienced before. Doing all of these things together at the same time can sometimes be life changing. It all depends on who you brought along for the ride.

I’ve heard it said a time or two that it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s who you have beside you on your journey. I don’t know who said it but they were right. I don’t care if you are going on a road trip or just life in general, the people who are beside you on your journey can truly change your life. And having the “right” people with you can make all the difference.

Just this past week I went on a “road trip” to Virginia. A friend and I rode there together to a mutual friends house and stayed there for 3 days.  Our friend has a beautiful house in a lovely setting with a creek and woods behind it, which lends itself to wonderful sunrises and sunsets. We hiked, went sight seeing, visited wineries and of course we went out to eat. It was a wonderful time, beautiful weather and so much fun. But all of that aside, it was the two friends and the time we spent together that really made the trip special. It was the time we spent talking about our lives and the things going on in our lives that made this trip what it was. Amazing.

I loved visiting the wineries and doing wine tastings. We all enjoyed this and each of us liked different wines. I think friendships are kind of like fine wine. Sometimes the friendship has to sit a bit, has to age until it is ready. Ready to be what it was meant to be. This weekend showed me our friendship was ready. To have friends that you are able to share your deepest thoughts with and not be judged or fear it will be passed along to others is a rare thing these days. How many people can truly share their deepest secrets and not be afraid of how it will be taken or that one day you will have it come back to haunt you?

If you follow me(and you should, by the way) you know I write a lot about friendship. The reason why is because of how much I value the friends I have. Having lost so much family has made me value them even more. We all need friends. Some people only have one or two and that is fine. Even one true friend can make a difference in your life. I am blessed to have so many wonderful friends in my life. People who continually lift me up and help me through the hard times. I only hope I give some of that back. If I have given one small amount of what has been given to me than my life has been worth it.

After a long day of hiking and walking in the cool fall air we would sit at my friends kitchen table and chat about the things we did that day. Someone would bring up something funny we said or did and we would bust out laughing. This was the best part of the day. There we were, sitting there together eating apple streusel out of the bowl together and laughing. I looked around the table and fully realized what I had in these women.

As I drove home from my friends house I thought about the 3 days we spent together and I smiled the whole way home. What I gained from this trip can not be measured by how much fun I had in Virginia, and don’t get me wrong we had a lot of fun. What I gained from this road trip was how much my life had been enriched by simply spending time with these girls. I have spent time with them before, but I felt something different this time… something had changed. Maybe it was the one on one time we had together or maybe it is the fact we are getting older. But it felt like something had shifted. We are more like sisters than friends. We are joined together by something that can’t really be explained. Nor does it need to be.

Everyone should go on a road trip with a friend.. or two. Have you ever and where did you go?

” A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.” ~ Tim Cahill

 

 

22Sep/16

Mom Never Told Me…

but I really wish she would have

maybe she just couldn't

maybe she just couldn’t

I don’t know if was all moms back in that day or just mine, but my mom couldn’t talk about things that really mattered. I don’t know if she couldn’t or if she just wouldn’t, all I know is that she never told me these things. I wish she would have.

  1. Mom never told me life was so hard. It all seemed so easy for her and very rarely did I see her struggle or have bad days. She was always “up” and seemed genuinely happy. The only time in her life when I really noticed her getting depressed or having any kind of a bad day was after the death of my father. I know she had to have bad day and some terrible times in her life. I just never saw them or heard her talk about them.
  2. Mom never told me how difficult it was for her when I left my hometown of York, PA and moved to Maryland. Even though it wasn’t that far, I knew to her it was. We lived very close to each other and were together all the time. This move would change that. But she never spoke to me about it. Only when my own daughter moved to Vermont did I know how my mother must have felt when I left.
  3. Mom never told me she read my diary. I know now she did. How else did she know everything? How did she know I was going to do something before I even did it?
  4. Mom never told me about sex, or the consequences of having sex. Oh, yes, we had “The Talk”, but all she did was ask me if I knew how men and women had sex. And then made me explain it. Out loud. When all I wanted to do was ask her, “why do you need me to explain it, don’t you know?” But I knew what would happen if I said that, so I told her how people had sex. It was once of the most embarrassing moments of my life and it didn’t really accomplish anything in my opinion. Maybe if we would have really talked about how I should wait until I was in love and also a real man/boy that cared about you would wait until you were ready. Maybe if she would have talked about this in some depth, I would have waited and not wound up pregnant at 15.
  5. Mom never really told me how she felt when she found out I was pregnant. We didn’t talk about it at all. I was told I would get married to the young man and that was that. I would have liked to talk about it. I had so many feelings that I needed to share with her and felt like I couldn’t, since the subject was pretty much ignored. So I talked to my friends who were also 15 and they couldn’t connect with me on any level about this, so basically I dealt with it myself.
  6. Mom never told me how she felt when I told her we were getting a divorce. She just said she was sorry we couldn’t work it out and stay together. No motherly advice, no telling me about similar instances between her and Dad, or how to get through the difficult times I knew she had to experience. She just was sorry.
  7. Mom never told me about how she met my father or her wedding. I always wondered how they met, if they met in school or afterward. He went in the service right after graduation so I wasn’t sure when this had happened. I wanted to ask but thought if she wanted to tell me she would have. And maybe I wouldn’t have the questions I do now about the wedding and why it was so secretive.
  8. Mom never told me her hopes and dreams, what made her happy and what she would have done had she not married at 18. I knew she loved to paint portraits and that she worked for a while in my uncles gallery. I did ask her once if she wanted to ever paint again and she said no.
  9. Mom never told me about how it felt to grow older. She didn’t tell me how it felt to lose her beauty and how it made her feel. She was a beautiful woman and men always commented on how pretty she was. I wonder how she felt growing older and seeing the aging face looking back at her in the mirror. I would have liked to talk to her about this. It would help me with my own feelings on aging.
  10. Mom never told me how it felt to lose her first born child. She had a baby before I was born and it was stillborn. I know it had to hurt her deeply. She was only 19 so I’m sure it was a very emotional thing to go through. I am also sure it was one of the hardest things in her life and stayed with her always. You carry a child for nine months inside of you. You get to know that child and love it. How does a 19 year old girl deal with that loss? Since no one talked about such things, she had to go through it alone. If she had talked to me about it later in life when I had my own children, it could have maybe helped me to deal with the death of my own child and could have maybe helped her too.

We never talked about feelings or any thing that really mattered back when I was growing up. My grandmother did. She shared many stories of losing a couple of her children and the loss of my grandfather. I tried many times later in my life to get Mom to open up and talk about something, something she cared about. Even when Dad passed, she didn’t talk about her true feelings. Not with me at least. I’m not sure she did with anyone. All of my attempts to get her to share something… something that mattered to her was met with a cold stare and a change of subject. I remember one time in particular after Dad had passed, we were at lunch in the mall and I simply asked what do you want to do with your life now. she looked at me like I had two heads and said, “this sandwich is really good.”

I wish Mom and I could have shared more and talked about things. I talk to my kids about feelings and our hopes and dreams. Sometimes we talk too much.(can you really) But we share our feelings, we get them out and that is healthy. One thing I know for sure, being a “Mom” isn’t easy..it’s hard. I get that now!

I leave you as always with a question and a quote. Did your parents talk to you? I mean really talk to you.

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” ~ Cardinal Mermillod

 

 

25Aug/16

Are You Ashamed Of Your Body?

Are you afraid to show your flab?

Me with my arms out in public..

Me with my arms out in public..well, I am in a cave…

I have been thinking about this for awhile now. I had lunch recently with a few friends and it was a very hot day. I mean extremely hot and also humid. I couldn’t decide what to wear to go to lunch. I usually wear a sweater of some sort to cover my flabby upper arms. But instead, I decided to wear a short sleeve top…the one I have on in this photo above. Yes, I chose this picture and yes, it is dark, you don’t need to see the ugly details. But this made me think, do we really worry so much about body image that it forces us to wear something we feel uncomfortable in?

We of a certain age, are not young anymore but that doesn’t mean we still can’t be fashionable and also comfortable at the same time. Every time I wear this top I get compliments. Not sure if the compliments are for me or the top? But it feels good to wear it and not be sweating and uncomfortable.The first time I wore it at lunch with my friends they all commented on it and it started a conversation about how all of us were trying to hide those body parts that just weren’t how we wanted them to be anymore. I was happy I wore the top to lunch. And also I was happy about how freeing it was to do so.

What does this say about us? Has the fashion world made us all into someone who is so afraid of showing a little flab that we drive ourselves crazy and deny who and what we really look like? I was always in shape, I ran, I exercised and ate somewhat healthy. I wanted to be what I thought I was “supposed” to look like. I really don’t think that this was the case in our parents and grandparents day. They were all different sizes and shapes and I don’t remember anyone ever making a comment on how they looked. I also don’t remember any of them saying, “oh, I hate my arms” or “look at this muffin top I have.”

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” ~ Dr Gail Dines

I think the younger generation is even more aware of their body image than we are. Kids in elementary school are asking each other if they are fat. What does this say about our priorities? How do we go about changing this and can we? Yes, we need to be healthy and I am not saying we should just all be what we are and not work towards being a better version of ourselves, but it shouldn’t be to the extreme. And there shouldn’t be shame if that doesn’t happen. We don’t need to be made to feel bad about how we look. We have enough other things in our lives that make us feel bad, we shouldn’t have to deal with that too.

I have recently seen celebrities and athletes being shamed on social media for adding a few pounds or posts stating they must be pregnant because they have a little bit of a stomach. Looking at the pictures makes me angry, because these pics are not at all of someone who looks pregnant, it is someone who is healthy and not a skeleton. I hope we can get to a point where we stop shaming each other and learn to embrace our bodies, flaws and all. I hope we can help the younger generation see it is ok to not be a size 0.

We don’t have much time here on this planet so we all need to try to be as healthy and happy as we can and enjoy our lives. Most of all we don’t need to spend our time worrying about whether of not to wear something we love or if it shows a little flab.  I recently read an article that said, “you will never look like the girl in the magazine, the girl in the magazine doesn’t look like the girl in the magazine.” Embrace your flab and enJoy your life. Let’s let it all hang out! Well maybe not all of it…

“I love my body. I’m very much ok with it. I don’t think artists are ever the ones who have the problem with their weight, it is the other people.” ~ Kelly Clarkson

My question for you today is this, do you hesitate to wear something if it shows some flab or shows a little bit more tummy than you want to show? Please comment below and let me know your thoughts…

And thanks for your support!

 

 

 

28Jul/16

10 Things To Do For Someone When They Lose A Loved One

And I am speaking from recent experience here…

angel watching over us

angel watching over us

In the first couple of days after you lose someone you love, you can’t think or make even the smallest decisions. It helps to have people around you that can do these simple tasks for you. Friends and family call and ask what they can do to help but we don’t know what to say, we don’t know what will help. Our minds are numb, filled with so many things and thoughts that sometimes we can’t even do the simplest task. We don’t know where the checkbook is or where we put the pen to write the check or thank you cards. I have lost many people and I know many people who have lost someone close. I will never again think a card is enough.

Here are some things that someone did for us and it made all the difference.

  1. Just do something. Anything. Don’t ask what needs to be done. Look around, think about what your friend or family member may need done and do it.
  2. Prepare food or buy a meal or just bring a bunch of food by. People have freezers. Don’t worry they may have too many people dropping food by. Don’t just do it for the first couple days, keep doing it. Call them up and invite them to go out for lunch, coffee, brunch. They may not go but they will be grateful you asked. Ask again in a few weeks.
  3. Make calls for them. Think about people they may have wanted to let know and they may not have, you can do it for them so they don’t have to. It is hard for them to make these calls, you can help so much by doing it.
  4. Do small things for them so they don’t have to worry about it. Mow the grass, weed the garden, take the dog for a walk, do their wash, shop for groceries. All of these things are such small things but will mean a lot to the person, believe me.
  5. Be there in the weeks and months following the service. Everyone calls at first and stops by and then..nothing. Grief doesn’t just stop overnight. You shouldn’t stop either.
  6. If you have some area of expertise offer your assistance. If you are an electrician and they need wiring done, do it for them. If you are a lawyer and they need some advice, give it to them…for free. Whatever your specialty is, I’m sure you can help in some way to make their life less stressful at this time.
  7. When you talk to the person, tell them a story about their loved one that is special to you. Something they did or said that you remember that has really stuck in your mind or how their loved one has affected your life. I have heard so many wonderful stories the past week that have truly made this time much easier. If you send a card, write something in the card, make it personal.
  8. Don’t ask us to make a decision. About anything, even something as simple as what to make for dinner. We can’t.
  9. Listen. Just listen. Sometimes that is better than any advice or words of condolence. We just need to talk.
  10. Call, stop by, email, text..often. Just let them know you are there for them.

I would add one thing that really helped me and that is to make us laugh. Something so simple yet so healing. I didn’t think I could laugh at this terrible time in my life, but my friends and family made me laugh. And give lots of hugs..hugs really are the best medicine for a broken heart. People have hugged me so hard I thought they would break my ribs. But it didn’t hurt, it helped.

At some point I will write about this loss. I can’t do it yet, it is too fresh, and the wound is still open.

“Grief is like the ocean, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ~ Vicki Harrison

 

15Jul/16

I Just Give Up!

Some things that help me when I feel like giving up

I give up, no really, I'm done

I give up, no really… I’m done!

We all have times in our lives when we feel like giving up. And for some reason it seems like the older we get the more life piles on our plate. Sometimes it just gets to be too much to bear and we feel like giving up. Recently I have had a bunch of things happen in my life and it really does seem like it is all too much. And I started doing the “why me” and “what did I do to deserve this” thing. How do I go on from here? How do I move forward? I remember my mom saying many times that she just wanted to run away. I never understood why she said that..I do now.

So this morning when I woke up I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and look at what was really going on. I resolved to have a different way of looking at my life and all that was happening around me. I have chosen to not let my circumstances define me any longer or how I was going to react to the situations affecting my life. Because really that is all we can do sometimes. We can’t change what is happening but we can change the way “we” react to it.

When life keeps handing us lemons, do we make lemonade out of them or just let them sit there and rot? I decided to make some lemonade. I know, it is so cliche but it really works. Here are some of the things I came up with to keep moving forward and not give up.

“Never, never, never give up” ~ Winston Churchill

  1. Help someone else who is going through hard time. Volunteer or join a group working for the good of your town. It truly makes you feel better to take the focus off yourself and put it on someone else.
  2. Turn off social media. It doesn’t do us any good when we are feeling sorry for ourselves to see all the ranting and raving going on in the world. Some one is going to say something that makes you feel even worse. So take the day off. Unplug!
  3. Smile – I have heard this so many times, but it really does work. force it if you need to but do it!
  4.  Laugh…watch a funny old movie or call someone that always makes you laugh. Laughter is always the best medicine.
  5. Do something just for the fun of it. You remember that right? We used to have fun. Think of what you once enjoyed doing and do it again.
  6. Exercise. I know you don’t think this would make you feel better but it really does. It boosts your mood by releasing endorphins. And it makes you feel good just because you did it. Admit it, you feel good about yourself when you exercise.
  7. Spend time with happy people. People that lift you up and bring you JOY! If you can’t spend time with them at least talk to them on the phone, through email or a text.
  8. Get outside and enjoy nature. Go for a walk. Look around at the trees and the the plants growing. Really look at them. Hike to the top of a mountain and scream as loud as you can(make sure no one else is around first).
  9. Spend time with little children. If you have small kids of your own or grandchildren they are the best thing to perk you up. They always look at life a little differently and make us see the good in the world.
  10. And finally, believe there is good in the world and search it out. If you can’t find any that day, then be the good yourself!

These are just some ways I try to beat the blahs and come out on the other side. Shopping is another thing I love to do and it always makes me happy, especially if I find a bargain. And living in the present moment helps, it is really all we have. When we live in the future we are fearful and don’t know what it will bring. When we live in the past, it is sometimes too painful or we wish for happier times with someone who isn’t with us anymore. We have to learn not to beat ourselves up when we feel down and are at the point of giving up. No one ever feels happy all the time. There are some people that always seem to have this smile plastered on their face and I wonder what is really going on there.

We all have times when we just want to sit in our pajamas all day, eat ice cream, watch sad movies and cry.(I may or may not have done this a time or two). But we just can’t let it become a habit. Don’t hide away from everyone and everything that could make you happy again. Let people help, you never know who will be the one that steps up and makes your day. But people can’t help unless you let them know you need them. People are always amazing me… in good ways and bad. But more often than not, it is good.

I have to tell you, I didn’t even feel like writing today. Last night I was supposed to write my weekly post and I just didn’t have it in me. I asked myself, what can I write about? I felt like I had nothing left in me that I wanted to share. So I just went to bed. Then I woke up today determined to not let all I am going through define me and my life. I decided to write about how I was feeling because that is what I do. I share my feelings in my writing and I feel so much JOY when I hit the publish button. So that is what I did. Thank you for always being here to listen and for telling me how much my writing affects you. Find the good!

As always I leave you with a question and a quote.

Do you ever feel like giving up? What do you do to keep going?

“I am going to keep having fun every day I have left, because there is no other way of life. You just have to decide whether you are a Tigger or an Eeyore.” ~ Randy Pausch  (I love this quote!)

 

07Jul/16

What Are You Afraid Of?

My Top Ten Biggest Fears…

fear...

fear…

If we are honest with ourselves, we all have a fear of something. When I was a child I didn’t have many because I knew my parents were there to protect me. As I grew older my fears changed along with my age. As a teenager my biggest fear was how I would get to the local dance joint and then how I would get home afterward. Oh, to be young and that is the only thing you have to fear. Life seemed so simple then and most of our fears at the time were simple as well.

As we age the fears are bigger and many of them can’t just be brushed aside. They are too real. We are getting older. We have lost people we cared about. We all are facing our fears every day and the best we can do is to try and enjoy our lives every single day and not have any regrets when we take our last breath. Ok, I don’t want to get too mauldlin, so lets get to it, below are my top ten fears…

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” ~ Marianne Williamson

  1. Not having done everything on my bucket list. I have so many things I want to do yet in my life and I hope I have the time to do them all. I really need to start ticking more of them off the list. I have a lot left to do.
  2. I fear my hearing will get so bad I won’t be able to hear the sound of my kids and grandkids laughter. I know I would survive not being able to hear. I have problems already that cause me to miss many things people say. My hope is that I don’t lose my hearing totally and can’t hear the sound of laughter. There is nothing like that sound, especially when someone you love is the one laughing.
  3. Living too long and being a burden on my kids. I have seen this happen time and time again and don’t want it to happen to me. I want to be able to make my own decisions on my life and not have to rely on my kids to make them.
  4. I worry I will get dementia like my mother. I try to keep my brain active and constantly do new things. I am hoping that this will help. I saw what she went through and I don’t want my kids to see me go through that. I always wondered if she was really still in there and was trying very hard to tell us she was. It makes me sad to think that was the case. I always tried to let her know I understood how she felt.
  5. My fear I will die alone. I am not afraid of dying. I just hope I am not alone. As we age we lose so many friends and family members. It seems like at least once a week or more someone I know dies. I have already lost my immediate family.. my parents and my sister. So my wish is that I will continue to have the people I love around me as long as I’m here.
  6. Another huge fear of mine is that I will run out of money. What happens if I live till I’m 90, Will I have enough money? Will Social Security run out? Will I have to get a job when I am 80? It’s a very real concern.
  7. I fear I will never fall in love again. I really like being single. In fact I love it. I truly enjoy my independence and being able to do what I want, when I want. But I loved falling in love. The excitement of a new love is one of the all time great experiences in life. I fear I will never feel that way again.
  8. Losing my ability to drive. If I want to go somewhere I don’t want to have to rely on someone else to take me. I want to drive myself(my daughter would beg to differ, because she drives us a LOT, but I know I can if I want to) I think this is one of the biggest fears of most aging adults. And one of the hardest things for us to give up.
  9. Not being able to live in my own home. This home doesn’t have to be my present home, but I want it to be MY home. It could be an assisted living place of residence. I really would like it to be my own home. I know my mother didn’t want to leave her home but she had dementia and we were constantly worried about her safety. She told us constantly she wanted to be in her own home. And now I understand that.
  10. And finally I fear that the monster that resides under my bed will really truly eat my leg off once and for all if I forget and allow my leg to hang over the side of the bed. (I had to lighten things up a bit)

I don’t dwell on these fears but sometimes as I start to fall asleep they do creep into my mind. I know I am extremely blessed with good health, a loving family and many wonderful friends. I know people my age that have many of these fears and others. Some people fear losing their looks or their once slim body. I gave up on worrying about that quite a while ago. I exercise and try to take care of myself. But I can’t be worried about what I used to look like and why I don’t anymore.

Life goes by so fast. We shouldn’t spend our days being fearful. Yes, we do need to acknowledge our fears, we can’t just ignore them. But then we must try to move past the fear and find joy in every single day. Our fears are going to be there, but maybe  we can learn how to keep them from sabotaging our happiness.

What are your biggest fears?

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt