A structured week

For the past few months I have been in a funk.  I have kept putting one foot in front of another, but there I’ve been.  Just walking along, bumping into walls, letting life happen.  In many cases, trying to force life to go more my way than life usually wants to do.  But it was a force on others.  Not keeping my focus on my life, but allowing the events of other’s lives to decide my emotional bearing.  

I fall into this hole when I feel that those I love have lives which are spinning out of control.  Usually, they are my children.  My grown children who are able to make choices and pay their own way.  Still, the worry has taken a toll on my health and my happiness.

How do we keep from falling into these holes?  Sometimes, rarely, I can see the great big black hole right before I dive in headfirst.  Other times, I dive and go under over and over before I realize I’m even in the hole.  I find that if I’m pursuing my life, with determination and focus (which includes a calendar with to do things to follow through with), I do better.  If I exercise, I do better.  If I eat right, I do better. 

Its been a tough couple of months.  But I’m still walking.  And doing so with more awareness of my life.  I am keeping my head held high and my eyes on the path.  I can’t look any higher than that right now.

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My Sock Basket

Laundry completely defeats me.  If I had a choice between a live-in housekeeper and a valet, I would choose the valet.  I cannot stay in front of the laundry.  And now there are only two…wait…three people living here.  My youngest son is in “the college graduate seeking a job” role for now, but he does his own laundry.  Mostly.  Errant t-shirts and socks show up here and there and I study them for some kind of identification.

Therein comes the sock basket.  I know of no one else who has this, but in our house its a genetic code to have that basket.  Installed next to the washing machine, here all socks come to rest before being reunited with their partner.  However, try to find that partner on any given day, and the search is futile.  I must have close to 24 of the same style of socks (work out style), and yet the search for one to match the one I’m holding can take hours.  Okay, precious minutes that feel like hours.

Once in a great while (twice a year, maybe), I take the basket to the floor in front of the tv, and I sort.  I throw away the ones that have grown threadbare or crusty (I don’t even wanna know what causes that), and finally the partner-less.  Where did the other sock go?  I do subscribe to the belief that socks run dryers – are actual fuel that keeps the dryer (or maybe it’s that sneaky washer) to keep going.

Several years ago, when my middle son was attending USC (Columbia, SC), I was visiting.  His very organized suite-mate came through complaining that he had lost a sock.  I sat there with wonder on my face.

“How do you know you lost a sock?” I asked in obvious innocence.  He looked back at me with an emotion that bordered on incredulity.

“I can’t find it.” That was it.  He couldn’t find one sock right at that moment – he appeared to be holding 3 or 4 pairs – which meant that one very sock was gone.  I thought how lucky that one sock was to have him as the feet it served.  My son, of course, laughed, and remarked that at our house we never know if we do or don’t have socks.

How did I become a victim of sock hell?  I tried getting rid of the sock basket a couple of months ago.  While searching for my matching workout sock, I found that someone has created another sock basket in my laundry room.  It is actually the dust cloth and wiping cloth basket, but there they were.  I shook my head, and left them there in their nice basket bed.  

A Perfect Pocketbook

Is it really that difficult?  Can no one out there create the perfect pocketbook?  Or at least, set up a design service so that you can pick and choose what you want?  Is my perfect your albatross?

First, I don’t want it to be so big I am lugging a suitcase but so small I feel like I’m 6.  I need organization.  Pockets that withstand constant use.  A pocket for my phone, a pocket for pens that will keep them in the pocket, a pocket for keys, a pocket for assundry other stuff.  Its a “pocket” book, for god’s sake.  Okay, some of you call it a purse, but that always sounds so – ummmmm – old to me. My grandmother had a purse.  Okay, she had a purse when she was my age, but it didn’t look like a pocketbook.  Maybe a pocket for my future IPad.  And one for my date book, which I won’t need once I have an Ipad.

I need structure.  One that won’t simply collapse on the floor when I set it down.  Not a box exactly, but a firm bottom. Isn’t that what we all want?

I need one that is organized.  If everything falls to the middle in the ever-yawning hole of even the smallest pocketbook, that does me no good.  I can spend what feels like 20 minutes searching in a small pocket book for a set of 5 keys.  That is absurd!

I need a makeup area.  Finding my compact in the midst of an extremely oily moment can take hours.

I don’t want a lot of bells and whistles.  I don’t want a pocketbook that screams “look at me”.  I want one that says “Here I am and I didn’t spend my monthly grocery money on it to be here” look.  No shiny coral colored alligator.  Where are those alligators, anyway?

An elegant, organized, structured pocketbook with plenty of pockets that make sense and hold up.  In an elegant color that won’t make me look like a teenager-wanna-be (what???).  In an elegant reasonable price which will allow me to buy two if I’m smart enough and can afford it so that I don’t beat the same on up everyday.

Is there no one out there with such a purse?

See your path in front of you ~

During one of my earliest trips to Hilton Head Island, I spotted a woman on a bike.  She was wearing a yellow bikingtop and heather grey biking shorts.  Her socks were bright white, but I don’t recall her the color of her shoes.  Black, maybe.  She had a luxurious long grey pigtail down her back.  Tanned and fit, I guessed that she was in her 60’s.

I have maintained that image ever since then.  Perhaps 18 years ago.  I saw what I wanted to be physically at that age. I wanted to be fit.  I wanted to be biking.  A fit and strong woman riding her bike on a beautiful day in a lovely environment inspired me without having seen her face nor heard her voice.  Although I have lost my fascination with Hilton Head (another stoplight??), I have not lost my love of biking.  At some point in my life, I decided that if I took good care of my legs, they would take good care of me.  Even with the feet problems I endure, my legs are strong and vital.

I believe that if you see it ahead of you, you can get there.  If you can imagine it, you can attain it.  If you believe it, then “it” will become real for you.  The universe hears and responds.  I believe that I can stay fit for the remainder of my life.  The amount of miles I can ride may change from year to year, but that hasn’t yet been the case.  I rode 14 miles yesterday, and plan 20 today.  I’m 56 years old.

This is what I find curious.  I see women who apparently spend time and money on hair and nails.  They are completely finished with color and sparkle on the outside of their bodies.  But they are 30 lbs overweight.  Or 50.  I have to wonder if they took those hours which they spend on hair and nails – or a portion thereof – and applied them to walking, or Pilates, or biking, how much better could they improve their lives and their health?  How much better would they look with the glow of regular exercise?

Start slow.  Start small.  But start.  Walk to the mailbox, walk around the block, go to the park with your dog, walk. Walk.  Walk.  Cut down slightly on portions.  Notice eating habits after 9 PM or 8 PM or whenever you realize that eating is just about a habit or emotional need.  Give your body the attention you offer your hair or nails.  I think that the delight you will see and the health you will create will add great satisfaction to those lovely nails and that gorgeous hair.  You don’t have to be an athlete.  You simply have to decide what you want to be in 10 years.  Or 20.  Look ahead, find that image that inspires you – a realistic magazine photo, a picture of you in a fit condition, a cartoon – find something that inspires you.  And go get it.

Dang, this is not what this post was supposed to be about.  I’m going to get my nails done.

Sometimes life changes moment by moment.

Last week I struggled mightily with an emotional challenge.  My oldest son, who has had (if I may understate it) an extremely difficult two years mostly based on his own actions, was expecting a baby.  This baby was not going to arrive into this world with much aplomb from my family.  There are missing legalities, which includes a legal divorce from wife #1.  Additionally, this baby was being born into a relationship that was barely older than her incubation.  I was also experiencing flashbacks to my first marriage to the father of this son who mistreated me in equal measure.  There were too many similarities and the pain was boiling up from a long-buried wound.  It was a difficult week.

Yesterday, on a Monday, we had an employee whose grandmother was at death’s door.  This young lady, who is the oldest daughter in a group of 11, was called to be with her grandmother because her own mother was out-of-town.  A few hours after this happened, another employee learned through a phone call that her sister had died unexpectedly.    The emotions were all over the place.  I walked out to a flat tire, which was a very small difficulty in comparison, but was an added problem.

Then I got the text.  The baby was on her way.  I continued with my evening plans before heading to the hospital, where I faced both my son and the mother of my soon to be granddaughter.  I also conversed with another son who was also dealing with many struggles in regard to this birth.  Once I knew the mother of my son’s partner was on the way, I headed home.  To fight my way into sleep.

At 4:40 AM, I received a phone call that the birth was soon.  I gave my good wishes, but did not get up to head to the hospital.  Physically and emotionally wrought, there was no way I could manage to do so.  So I tried to return to sleep, only to dream of huge roller coasters and fearful slides.  Doesn’t take too much to figure that dream out.

When I managed to stagger from bed after 8, I saw an email.  Time of birth, weight, length.  Picture.  I stared at the picture and felt nothing.  I claim to have a ton of maternal instinct, but this little red face and a head full of black hair did not raise in my heart any feelings of love.  I felt frozen.  I laid my head on the bed and cried.

I decided I could not go to the hospital at that moment.  I would need some support and a feeling of backing.  My husband offered to go with me at lunch time.  I took the offer.

Once I stepped into the hospital room, I saw her.  Lying there in the bassinet, eyes open and appearing to be gazing (which we know newborns don’t do), I asked if I could hold her.  I picked her up and gazed into a most beautiful face.  A calm face, an adorable body with long fingers and toes, and the most gorgeous skin tone.  I was enraptured.  So was my spouse (her step-grandfather if there is such a thing).  So is my son.  For now.  I hope it lasts.

Babies are transformative.  They can take us above the petty emotional upheavals to the miracle of life.  I knew I would fall in love.  I was terrified of falling in love.  And she did nothing to make me do so.  It is just the manner of babies.

My sister reminded me that as a child I  had a few people in my life who loved me unconditionally simply for who I was.  No connection with family dysfunctional actions, no despair over what I didn’t have, simple and gracious appreciation of who I was.   I don’t know what this little girl’s life will entail.  I have no idea where she will live next year.  But she will be loved by me simply for being.

Sometimes life changes moment by moment.

The Loss of a Great Lady

On Saturday afternoon, I attended the memorial of Jean Howorth.  The service was a combination of solemnity and celebration as family members and friends recalled what a loving woman she was.  We danced at the end – a large circle of people who held hands and sang or hummed the song. 

Jean was 90 years old.  She had suffered the loss of 7 inches of height due to arthritis, and in November, she had surgery for cancer.  I don’t know what kind, nor do I think it matters.  What Jean also had was an irrepressible spirit.  When she attended the Fellowship (GUUF), she was dressed to the teeth.  Makeup, jewelry, fashionable clothing.  At least as fashionable as one can be at 89 years of age with a walker and at last, a wheel chair.   For her memorial, she asked that her jewelry be laid out on a table and that anyone who would like a piece, to take it and wear it in memory of her.  I have bronze and brown pearls.  They aren’t real.  Yet they are so real.

When I began coming to this group over two years ago, she reached out to me.  The headstrong 55-year-old woman coming alone to find a spiritual home that would fit.  Or fit better.  Any fit at all would be better than what I had experienced.  She held her hands out to me, and told me what a lovely smile I had.  That she liked my words when I felt like sharing with the group. 

Jean had an aura that surrounded her.  An aura of compassion and love and interest in her fellow traveler.  When asked how she felt, she replied something like, “Except for the fact that my feet don’t work, I feel sensational.”  I’m paraphrasing but not by much. 

I’m struggling through some life issues now that I have because I’m healthy and alive.  I want to me more like Jean – to embrace the world because it is beautiful.  To think in terms of gratitude and not lack.  To be able to say, “I’m sensational.”  I don’t want to fake it, but I want to seek it.

Here’s to you, Jean.  You were truly an inspirational woman – beautiful, intelligent, curious, strong even in physical weakness, capable of teaching me every day living cues.  I will miss you.  I didn’t know you very long, but I cared for you deeply.  Wait, and we’ll talk when I get there.