Pain

The past three weeks I have thought a lot about my friends.  Don’t get me wrong, I think about my friends much of the time as they are an integral part of my life and I could not move from day to day without them.  But recently I have focused on several of my friends who suffer from ongoing pain.  An old saying reminds us to “walk a mile in my shoes” to gain a fuller understanding of what someone else feels.  I have lived that advice, to my dismay, for weeks.

I have no idea what I did to my back.  When I went to the Physical Therapist for the first visit, I literally could not stand up straight or walk without excruciating pain.  After three weeks I am upright and walking slowly, but better.  However, I want it gone NOW. Ask anyone who knows me and you will know for sure that I like being in control.  While I have good days and bad, and I can sometimes walk a bit faster, or stand a little longer, this is not enough for me.  I want to rewind the clock and regain my normal.  This new normal is totally unacceptable.  I want the pain gone. Period.

I am sure my hero friends who endure pain every day echo these sentiments. It is difficult to comprehend what they deal with constantly.  I wish for them what I am so adamantly working towards for myself.  I want the pain gone…NOW.

My wonderful Physical Therapist reminds me how much progress we have made in three weeks time.  I get that….but I hate having to ask people to do things I was able to do before the three week nightmare.  I hate sitting around most of the day and canceling fun things I had on my calendar because I hurt.  Did I mention that I cannot do any exercise, except my PT assignments?  Not even yoga which I sorely miss.

So, my thoughts and prayers continue for my dear friends with feet that don’t work correctly, who suffer with Fibromialgia, have cancer, hip or knee replacements, or experience pain on a daily basis for any reason.  I totally get it.  I know how much it hurts, I know how hard it is to let others assist, I know the disappointment when you have to call to cancel, or the aching when you choose to work through the pain to accomplish the task before you.

My Mother always said that there was no use to complain because it never made anything better. She was right! I did not mean this to be about me, or to bore my readers with complaints.  I just want to share that you never know how someone else really feels until you have a similar experience. I pray everyday that this will be gone soon, and that my friends with pain will find relief as well.

Thanks to all my friends who have helped and worried about me despite all they have to do in their lives, or dealing with their own pain.  I have, because of you, also learned to let you help, and that everyone should have people in their lives who care as much as you do.  Here’s to less pain in the world!

cheers-drink-group-544961

 

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Random Thoughts of Daily Joy

I just finished Maria Shriver’s book, I’ve Been Thinking.  For some while now, I have been trying to stop daily and meditate, or at least acknowledge the blessings in my life, but I stay on the go so much this idea is still marginally elusive. Her book was both enjoyable and helpful.  I used it as my meditation each day until I completed the book.  Now, I find myself stopping each afternoon to rest and reflect.

My thoughts are often random and sometimes rambling, but taking time to do this seems to be working.  I feel calmer and more focused afterward and I pay closer attention to things that are important in my life, or interesting and worthy of my contemplation.

Today I focused on the things, besides meditation, that brings calmness and joy into my everyday life.  Nature is one. I love to sit on my patio and read, or just soak in the sun or listen to the birds.  Even if it is raining, I open the deck doors and sit inside listening to the rain and the other sounds that I can hear in the quiet.  I think about being a little girl and sitting in my mother’s lap next to the side porch door watching the sky get dark and the rain blow in through the screens. Thoughts float to the cold wintry season that just passed which definitely makes me thankful for this warm soothing Spring.  I evoke all of my senses to soak in what nature is offering and my soul relaxes.

On any given day my granddaughter settles in as my joy and meditative focus for the quiet moments I just sit.  She is far away and sometimes it helps to spend time with her in my head.  I hear her laughter and her voice calling my name….Nana…Love you Nana.  What a wonderful way to spend my time of peace and reflection.  I think about books we love to read over and over.  My heart races as I almost feel her arms around my neck.  My gratitude for having her come into my life is beyond words, so I sit with these thoughts and thank God for sending her to brighten my life and sooth my soul.

I tried to use food, which is always on my mind, as a point of focus one day.  This was clearly a mistake, as all that came from my brief mental excursion into the world of food was that I became distracted and went to get something to eat.  I do clearly see that my connection to food is more emotional than other topics, and hence not very productive for meditation.  I have, however, tried to use this revelation for good.  Now I brew a cup of tea prior to sitting alone for my meditation which seems to calm both my body and my stomach.  I am grateful that I am honest about my food issues and hope the continued meditation will help me address food differently.

Friends are often a meditation I look forward to.  I acknowledge the value I place on my friendships and how each enriches my life. My mind float to times shared with different ones and what the experience brought to my life.  Recently I have had friends who have lost loved ones and their pain and sadness are thoughts I spend time on as I sit still and think.  My mind plays out over and over the words I have shared, wondering if they did harm or good.  My heart hurts with theirs.  I pray for strength that will help me and my friends.  I list mentally the many ways my friends enrich my life and how grateful I am for each one.

I tried an online meditation app for a while.  It was helpful in demonstrating simply how to calm my mind and how to deal with those thoughts that float through as I try to stay focused.  I actually enjoyed the short auditory calming sessions but when I came to the end of the trial I chose not to purchase a packet of guided meditation sessions which were offered.  I am trying to apply what I learned to my personal, self-driven meditations.  I have not ruled out the possibility of returning to the guided offering at a later date.

My mind wanders during my attempts at meditation, and my list of rambling thoughts is lengthy when I find the time to sit calmly and quietly to meditate.  I am sort of new at this, so I am not sure if that randomness is acceptable, but it seems to be working,  I guess it is a personal issue.  So my thoughts as I end this excerpt from my life is that I think it is important to take time to rest, reflect, and rejoice.  Also, I think meditation has both physical and mental rewards. Life is full of joyous things and loving people.  I like the idea of spending time with them each day.

 

“The thing about meditation is…you become more and more you.”

David Lynch

 

Supportive Cast

I had a mother who set a high standard for me in life. She taught me to show empathy to others, and to spend my life finding ways to support those around me who needed help. When I was a preschooler, she and I would make coffee and take it out to community workers who came near our house on cold blustery days to repair the potholes, or check the water lines under the street. She showed me compassion when she befriended a new neighbor who had MS and needed a friend. She was the original volunteer at my Elementary School, doing whatever was needed from tutoring to serving in the cafeteria. She treated everyone with kindness and respect. I watched, I listened, and I took to heart the life lessons she laid before me.

I have, as I have aged, figured out that, mostly unconsciously, I have passed those life skills on to my daughters. They are both kind, intelligent, and socially conscious of the disparities in our culture. Yet it is they who are now teaching me how to reach farther.

I spent their young lives entrenched in community groups, a career of working with children living in difficult lives, counseling, and supporting everyone who needed a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to help them up. Not until recently,however, have I realized that they were actually paying attention, and that those actions had made a positive impression.

The realization here, for me, is that whether or not I was the influence, they have both far exceeded my small life contribution, and they are just getting started with many years of service in their futures. One lives abroad and works with Refugees for an outstanding non-profit which makes positive changes around the world. She and her husband adopted my grandchild from Ethiopia and brought love and caring into all of our lives. She spent time in the Peace Corps, worked with local agencies in the US to offer assistance to new immigrants who faced resettlement here. She writes grants to better the lives of human beings she doesn’t even know, and speaks with passion for human rights.

The younger daughter is an Artist with much more than a flair for color and design. She started at an early age questioning and wondering about poverty, homelessness and human rights. She use to tell me “no one should have to live like that”. I agree. Her focus has brought unusual but impressive avenues for public service and volunteerism into her life. Using her art and her sincere interest in justice for all humans, she has spent time in institutions such as Bellevue Hospital and Rikers Prison offering her love of life and desire to help others through programs of art, public speaking, and debate.

Obviously I am proud beyond words of all of the hard work and loving kindness my daughters share with the world, but it is the personal impact on me that I am so intrigued with. They have now turned the tables on me. I am now challenged with revisiting my outreach to undeserved populations and community service. They have helped me remember why giving back is so important, and how enriched I felt when I had service as a part of my life. I think I am up to the challenge, and am on a quest to find a cause or place that beacons me to get involved.

I love that they are both so aware of the need for giving back and serving others. I love the fact that they both continue to find ways to get involved. I love that I have finally realized the effect their decisions and actions have had on me. I love them more each and every day.

Mirror on the Wall…

Staring into the mirror, I can clearly see that I am old….older…oldish. Whatever. The years have left brown spots, crow’s feet and furrows so deep you could plant corn on my forehead. That one long black hair is curling around my upper lip, dipping down into the pocket there where my mouth begins. Yep, I’m old.

I freely accept this fact since I know when I was born. But I have never felt old. At least not in the way so many people toss that word around, bombarding those of us who have reached fifty plus years on the earth.  As long as I don’t look in the mirror, I can continue to not think of myself as old, but it’s the brain in my head that keeps me from trying to relive my youth or try to camouflage the facts. Getting old is a given, doing it with grace and humor is key to success I think.

Contemplating this concept leads me to some observations I have made of other women my age, as it is way easier to see someone else’s flaws and behaviors than one’s own. I just don’t get some of the things I observe. I am often in a quandary as to whether to laugh or cry when I see my aging sistas do really stupid things!

Let me say at the start of these comments, that I am definitely not known as a fashion guru. Clothes hold little interest for me. I buy what fits and what I like….then I worry every time I leave the house as to what others will think of my chosen outfit. Ha!

However, recently I was at a social event that required a dressy casual costume. As I stood on the sidelines watching the dancing, my eye caught a glimpse of an attractive woman, about my age, who was wearing a black mini length dress. She was appropriately dressed…..had she been about 25 years younger! Ha! Actually, I have, to be honest, I have seen a few older women with mini skirts on that could actually pull it off, but they are the exception.  While this particular fashion statement does not have to come across as trying to look too young in what you chose to wear, in this case, it was that plus she exposed more than the imagination might have suggested as she rocked and rolled around the dance floor. Pretty tacky from the sidelines.

While we are discussing clothes, I will revisit the concept of trying to look younger than you are and reliving your youth with what you choose to wear… An odd concept to be sure. However, I have, on occasion, when I come across these women tell them how nice they look, or that I like their outfit. Sometimes I actually mean it, other times I am avoiding hurting their feelings. Old women in bikinis, painted on jeans and a bare midriff just is not a good look. I want to yell across the room, “Did you actually look in the mirror?”

Old age brings with it many challenges. I love to watch old women who are out enjoying a meal together. When the bill comes, they act like they have never dined out before, and that someone is out to cheat them. Splitting the bill equally, or asking for separate checks can speed things along and avoid calling such attention to your bad manners and eccentric ways. Then there are the ones who have forgotten what good food tastes like and head for the “blue plate special” or “early bird special” every time.  I think the restaurant people created those two dining concepts, and the early dinner time which accompanies them, to keep old women out of their restaurants when normal diners arrive.

Gossiping is something I have never understood at any age, but the problem with gossip and old women is that they are declining in their hearing and the comments resonate around the space they occupy loudly enough for others to clearly hear. I know I will lose my hearing abilities eventually, but hopefully not in the same space of time where I completely lose my mind. Old age does not diminish the need for some social decorum.

I can’t seem to let go of the dressing issue…but then this could actually be labeled as a social/cultural issue instead. I am just not clear on that point, as I don’t understand the need for older women to all dress the same. There are those who wear the same color hats to outings, and some who don matching T-shirts with slogans, or the ones that arrive with the same scarf tied neatly around their necks. Is this a “safety in numbers” issue? Why, because your birthday makes you old, is it important to look just like everyone else you go out with? Individuality, people!!

Maybe we need some old people legislation. Perhaps all of the lobbyist for aging can create a list of old age do’s and don’ts that can be sent to all women over along with their first Social Security check.  I am not sure it would cut down on the conga lines and fake nails with cotton candy pink polish, but it couldn’t hurt. Rave on my sistas!!

 

 

 

Calling all Drivers

Road rage is a fairly new issue at the moment, but I can surely understand how it developed. There are a few things I need to say to my fellow occupants of the highways and byways.  First, if I leave space between my car and the one in front of me (the suggested two car lengths per the State Vehicle Department handbook) I have left it as a safety precaution for ME…not an opportunity for you to swoop in and cut me off by taking the open space for yourself.  This causes me (and everyone behind me) to slam on breaks. I can perhaps understand your disregard for MY safety, as you do not know me at all, but how about your own life, and that of your children or spouse who might be in the seat beside you?  Dumb ass!

I admit I like to drive fast. I love to be on the open road where there is little traffic, or alone late at night when others sleep and the road is clear of cars and lines of backed up traffic. I roll down the windows and feel the air rush past me as I sail down the road.  This can, in case you don’t know, be accomplished without exceeding the posted speed limit. Thus begs the question… why do you feel the need to weave in and out of traffic at neck breaking speeds even when the traffic has obviously slowed and there are red lights all around you?  Your death wish may become mine or someone else’s if you continue.  Slow down!!

Where I live, the guidelines for the driving test teaches that if you are at a stop sign waiting to enter the main road in front of you, and someone is coming from your right and is turning left into the street you are on, you must remain at the stop sign and yield the right of way to the other driver.  However, it seems that being first, and almost taking off the front end of the other person’s car, is the accepted procedure. What’s up with that?  Where’s a cop when you need one?

Music is life. I listen to music all day if I can. I enjoy lots of different types of music, and I try to respect the music of others even if it is something I do not generally like.  I think I may learn to like it, or at least find something I can like about it if I try. The problem is, there are some drivers who, I assume, want me to listen to theirs while they are driving, even if I am enjoying my own in my car.  I have a real problem with the jerks that think it is OK for my windows to shake with the base they are booming, or the racist or threatening lyrics are something everyone subscribes to.  This occurs at stoplights, in front of shopping locations where they have stopped, left their cars running and gone inside, and as they speed through my neighborhood for a short cut to wherever they are going.  Grow up!  It is not all about you.  Listen to your music….so only you can hear it!  Then everyone else can do the same.

Being old, I would like to point the finger at young people on these issues.   While they do stand out, I have encountered plenty or forty plus drivers who fit the bill on many of these points.  That leaves me in a quandary as to why there is so much disrespect and disregard for the rights and safety of others. Some how we have mislaid our social graces and personal pride in treating others the way we would like to be treated. Enough!  Time to take a deep breath and become aware of those around you. It is not all about you!!! We all have to occupy the same spaces on this earth, and we need to calm down. Life is too short and too precious to always put your self first and endanger the life or well being of others

Yield!

 

 

Distance Drums

I did not realize how strongly I would feel about being a Grandmother. (NANA) I have spent years sharing that joy with my friends and loving every minute. They never made me feel intrusive or as an outsider. Apparently my involvement was welcomed.

Now I am a Nana, and know the true joy of hearing her voice and seeing her beautiful face. Only problem is she lives on the other side of the world. That eliminates daily contact due to work schedules, and time differences. I miss reading to her, babysitting, and watching her change day by day. Missing milestones is hard. When I do get to see her she has grown and changed so much it is like a new little person.

There is an upside, however, as I do get an online video call once or twice a week when available. While that could never be enough to a Nana, it has to suffice for the moment. When she calls me Nana and kisses the screen, my heart melts, and the not having is blurred.

I cherish every sound, every song, every screen kiss. Being her Nana is the most wonderful thing in the world. I hope it is enough for her to know me and love me forever.

Can You See?

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Over my lifetime I have sung these lyrics thousands of times. The words have historical importance in my life, due to my patriotic upbringing, and have always produced an emotional twinge as my heart fills with pride at the first note. But never, until last night, have they ever brought me to tears.

The 2016 National election was a devastating blow to me personally and, I feel to my country as a whole. To have someone who represents nothing I stand for step into the White House is, in my heart, a travesty. It is painful to listen to the rhetoric and watch important laws and policies which ensure civil, women’s, and human rights being discarded in a cavalier manner.

As sad as I have been over the passing days since the tides shifted on the political stage, not until I stood in an audience with my hand over my heart and joined the singing of these words did the impact truly slam against my soul. Tears streamed down my cheeks as we all sang out, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.  I do not feel free, and fear for many brothers and sisters who may feel the taking away more intensely than I.

I want MY America back. I want to see that Star Spangled Banner wave over a strong, free, united America. It is time to stand up and give these words back the strength they deserve.