Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Falling back into a routine

At my new age, it takes longer to recover from big events.

I had a wonderful birthday and truly appreciate all the great messages everyone left on my blog. It was lovely.

It seems most blogs are now full of either election related content or cheers for NaNoWriMo. For those who plan to participate - best wishes to you. With only 4 days in November with nothing on the calendar, I have to pass this year. Can't you do this in January - the calendar is much clearer then and the weather more conducive to staying inside and writing? Lynn Viehl has some excellent advice on her blog today for those who are participating.

I was in Eastern Washington last weekend which means a trip through our beautiful mountain passes. The pictures are from Highway 2 that goes over Stevens Pass.

The fall colors are spectacular this year. The golds and reds are vibrant and the leaves shimmer on the trees.
I took these pictures while driving through the pass at high rates of speed. Aren't digital cameras great? Stopping and getting out of the car would be required otherwise.

Next week I'm off to Hawaii and our annual conference. Because I'm in charge of all the arrangements, it's a lot of work - but it is Hawaii! And, I'm going to spend some time with Pat Wood on Orion. Have I told you lately how much I love my job?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just a phone call

That would have been nice.

My 60th birthday was spectacular – as close to perfection as possible. But a phone call would have been nice.

My day started with a phone call from my favorite 7 year old (the son of a co-worker) singing Happy Birthday and telling me he loves me. Sigh!

At the office, my cubicle was decorated to the hilt. To get into it, crepe paper and balloons had to be moved aside. My bosses and co-workers took me to lunch at a very nice restaurant, made me wear a silly hat and sang as I blew out candles on the cake. I received expensive presents from my bosses and wonderful presents and cards from everyone – then another cake for the whole office (about 50 people) about 2:30. No phone call yet.

Left work at 3 and was greeted by 4 friends at home who took me out to dinner and then home for more cake and presents. There was a wonderful card from my little sister, Dr. Anonymouse with a very generous gift card. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my little sister?

Saturday was another day of celebrating with friends and off to another dinner. Still, no call.

Sunday, Dr. Anonymouse called to see if I was still alive from all the celebrating and to fill me in on her news. Couldn’t talk too long because my contractor was getting ready to leave and I needed to go over some things with him. But no other call.

It’s Tuesday. I’m 60 + 4days now. Life is settling back to normal. My friends, by blogging friends and my little sister made my birthday fabulous.

My mother and older sister forgot.

Just a phone call. That would have been nice.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wisdom of the Aged - Part III

On change

A wise woman once told me, “You can change.” So, I did! It’s harder than hell but it can be done. The most difficult part is convincing people you’ve known for years that you have actually changed. Many people don’t like change and don’t deal with it well. They cling to the past as if to a lifebuoy, afraid of what’s ahead even if what’s behind was worse.

People try to keep you in the past, or continue to make references to how you were instead of letting you move forward. It isn’t always malicious. They may not realize what they’re saying or how they’re acting is hurtful. They haven’t come to terms with their past experiences and allowing you to move forward would force them to deal with their own issues. I understand this and am happy to have found a way out of the maze. I try to live in the present, not the past or the future - to live every day as if it’s the only day that matters because it just may be.

Changing is a constant struggle and requires unwavering attention and introspection. Sometimes to accomplish it, you have to distance yourself from your past. You have to put space between yourself and the memories of who you were. Sometimes that space requires a physical move – far away where you can start fresh without all the people around to remind you of how completely you screwed up your life. It can be emotionally isolating but also liberating. It requires making a decision about what’s most important – placating other people, or making yourself happy.

I don’t blame anyone for my bad choices. That’s the easy thing to do and shifts responsibility for my decisions to others. Once I left home my decisions were all mine. No one forced me to do anything. Some people influenced me more than others but no one controlled my mind. I accept full responsibility for everything that happened to me. I live every day with the knowledge of my past mistakes but I don’t suffer from them anymore. I learned from them and moved on to a much happier life.

I don’t see myself as selling out for not taking my family and others to task for what they did or said to me years ago. I see it more as me taking back control of my life. They no longer have the ability to make me feel bad or inadequate because I won’t let them. They have no more power over me and what I do or how I feel. My choices in life are no longer dictated by what they might think or feel about me.

People who aren’t content with themselves will never be content with another person. Dragging another person into my issues isn’t going to solve them. It’s just going to make two people miserable.

I haven’t forgotten anything from my past. That’s both a problem and an advantage of having a good memory. I remember everything – good and bad, funny and sad, except for a few hours in Haiti, I remember it all. I remember the situations, the emotions that accompanied them and the pain they caused. However, I no longer feel the pain or suffer from the memories. I learned how to put the pain away and replaced it with the comfort of knowing I not only survived it, I grew and prospered.

I’ll never forget. I don’t want to. It keeps me humble and in touch with what’s important. I’m not just a survivor. I thrive. I made a conscious choice to live my life happy. I may be temporarily affected by what people say or do but I have no intention of allowing anyone to permanently change my choice to enjoy life.

I did some pretty stupid things in my past but don’t do them anymore and I don’t allow others to make me wallow in them either. Holding on to memories of how you were wronged is not going to make things right again. Forgiving (or at least forgetting) will. We have to move forward and leave the wrongdoers in our past where they belong.

Choices can be proactive or reactive. You can live life from the outside in, always focusing on external things to provide you with stimulus and meaning, or you can live life from the inside out by giving external things stimulus and meaning. You can live by your own decisions or you can live based on the decisions of others. You can live your dreams or you can live the dreams of others. It’s your choice. You have to define yourself not allow others to do it for you.

I haven’t resolved all the issues in my life, but most things that were so important and urgent 25 years ago are now either non-issues or under control. I appreciate life and have something a lot of people who had cancer or any serious disease will never have - the opportunity to continue working on my issues and looking for solutions.

I have hope for the future and a present full of good friends, a wonderful job, several “families” and a darling dog who thinks I am the greatest – especially when I give her treats. And best of all, I no longer aspire to be a drama queen. I’m very fond of my easy, comfortable, low trauma way of life. If I wasn’t me, I might just envy me!

I have lots of love in my life but not the love of my life. That’s okay. One of those unresolved issues is a fear of relationships. I don’t want to be a hotel again and I don’t want to check into any more hotels. I have too much self esteem now to do that again. There’s a real difference between being alone and being lonely. I recognize the difference and am happier alone than I ever was in a relationship. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up the idea of finding true love, just that without it, it’s still good.

Writing this gives me another opportunity to maintain my perspective. I can focus on the fact I had this health issue – cancer - that overwhelmed me and redirected my life for over twenty five years, or remember that the health issue was my catalyst for change and brought me where I am today. What an interesting conundrum. Did I have the disease, or did I allow it to have me? Or, both? And does it really matter?

Life should be a blessing. Always maintain your perspective. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Never give up hope. You can change.

Happy Birthday to me!

WooHoo! Let's Party!

Welcome to my 60th birthday party!

Here's what greeted me when I arrived at work today!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wisdom of the Aged - Part II

More random thoughts.

I’m a simple low maintenance person who considers blush, mascara and lipstick a lot of makeup. My hair is wash and wear and to the chagrin of my hair stylist, I sometimes cut it myself. In fact, I have to change stylists occasionally because they get tired of trying to fix my self-inflicted mistakes.

I don’t look my age unless you get up close enough to see the lines and wrinkles. I smile and laugh a lot so they’re fully visible. No botox for me! Those lines are badges of honor for a life well lived and lessons learned. I’ll age gracefully – unless they come up with a pill to reverse the process – but I only want to reverse it physically and back to about age 25.

I don’t wear makeup on weekends unless I’m going somewhere. Jeans and t-shirts or comfy sweaters suit me just fine. I like being nondescript in stores because salespeople rarely bother with me. This is one time I’m happy to be the invisible woman.

I’m not a born shopper – except for shoes. I usually go into a store with something specific in mind, purchase it and leave. I don’t wander around a store and just look with no purpose in mind. Several friends are serial shoppers and they wear me out. It’s a concept to which I cannot relate.

I’m not in love with my cell phone. People who never lived without one don’t quite understand this. They think if the phone is off their life will stop. There’s such a thing as being too connected. I don’t need to share my every thought with someone as soon as I think it. The important ones will wait and still be there later.

I learned not to make any definitive statements about what I will or won’t do because they usually come back to bite me in the ass. That’s also why I no longer make New Year’s resolutions.

When people ride in my car, I turn off the radio because I like to converse with them, not just mention things in passing during commercials. When alone with the radio on I like all kinds of music, although I never learned to appreciate rap or heavy metal. When I’m driving down the interstate during rush hour with the radio blaring, singing at the top of my lungs and dancing in my seat, other drivers tend to give me a wide berth.

I like to talk to people who are deep thinkers and well informed because they challenge me to see alternate sides of issues and look at life from a different viewpoint. It may be a cliché, but I like to think outside the box and appreciate people who stimulate me to do so. When I’m tired, or my brain hurts from too much thinking all day, shallow thinkers are great. Then I just nod and smile and appreciate the respite.

I’m still doing drugs, but now they all come with prescriptions from my various doctors. Instead of buying them from dealers off the street, or growing them in my closet, I purchase them at Walgreen’s and pay a deductible.

The older I get, the more I get right but my choices seem to be less bold. Twenty years ago I moved every couple of years. Now I’ve owned my house for fourteen years and plan on staying there indefinitely. I used to be a job-hopper but now am happily entering my tenth year at the same company.

I am spiritual, though not part of any organized religion and don’t go to church on a regular basis. But I’m firmly convinced there’s a higher power into which I can tap in times of need. This brings me great peace. I believe someone watches over me, protecting me from harm and preventing me from making any totally irreparable mistakes. I’m glad they’re there and hope they hang around as long as possible. I listen to my intuition and trust it to move me in the right direction or keep me from being downright stupid.

Religion is a very personal thing and evokes deep emotions. Because of that I try not to discuss it with other people. If someone is searching for an answer I steer them to information that will help them discover their own path because the one I’m on may not be right for them. The result of being forced to make a choice that doesn’t ring true is usually chaos.

I live my life at a slower, quieter pace than many people. I think it’s the rural country girl in me trying to return to her roots, but not willing to give up all the conveniences of city life. I appreciate what I have and realize the difference between a want versus a need. Every year I get rid of more stuff and somehow, never miss it.

Occasionally I have moments of great clarity. They happen at the oddest times and always fill me with peace. They seem to be occurring more often with age. I realize, at that very point in time, I am right here in the present. My past and my future don’t matter. I get a peaceful feeling, forget all my worries and fears and enjoy the experience of just being.

I’m not prefect – not yet! I still talk myself out of doing things before giving them a chance to happen. I can have an idea, build it up, and make it progress into something wonderful, then come up with all kinds of reasons why it won’t work. Therefore I don’t even try it in the first place because I’ve already decided it was doomed before the start.

I can be discouraged and have a hard time shaking off criticism or negativity. So much of it was dumped on me in the past; it’s difficult not to focus on it. I’m moving beyond the old patterns of discouragement and criticism and when things seems overwhelming, remember the old saying, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” There are signs in my cubicle at work and office at home that say, “I will not be discouraged!”, to remind me to focus on the positive and good in my life because there’s so much of that now.

I don’t drive looking in the rear view mirror. I may glance at it occasionally for perspective but what’s in my field of vision is what’s most important. The present is precious and a great gift. Learning to appreciate what’s here and now is a difficult but invaluable lesson. And I don’t worry too much about the future – plan for it but don’t worry about it.

The final bit of wisdom comes on the big day - tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wisdom of the Aged

In anticipation of my big day on Friday, I'm sharing some random pieces of wisdom gained from years of making mistakes.

Random Thoughts
Life is a series of choices. Unhappiness and misery are a choice. I deserve all the misery I experienced because I chose it. I also deserve all the good and happiness because that was also my choice. I no longer feel sorry for people who have the intellectual capacity but aren’t proactive in their own situations. I can certainly empathize with them but I don’t sympathize with them.

It’s more important to be happy than to be right. I didn’t consider how detrimental my stubbornness was to my happiness, and how hurtful it was to others. In examining my actions sometimes the things about which I most needed to be right were not really important.

The world is filled with love and happiness and we will find what we’re looking for when we know what we want. This was a difficult concept for me because since early childhood I’d never known real love and happiness. I had no idea what I really wanted and how it was supposed to look and feel. There was no role model to go by. There was no list and no rules to guide me. When I learned to look for the good – I found it.

Every person we meet is a reflection of ourselves. We learn something from them all, and the briefest encounters or the longest relationships provide opportunities for growth. Since I didn’t particularly like a lot of the people I met, it was painful to think they were personal reflections. The most irritating part was that many of the people I disliked kept hanging around. When I finally realized the only way to make them go away was to actually learn the lesson they were here to teach, they gradually started disappearing.

Everything that happens is either from love or from a call for love. All the negative feelings - anger, fear, hatred, envy, etc, - are just a call for love. We can see things differently just by looking at situations and people with unprejudiced eyes. Instead of reacting to the negative feelings with more negativity, if I look at it as a cry for help from that person, it’s easier to tap into the love inside myself and return love to them.

You need to have something that takes you outside yourself - a safe place to go where people don’t care what you do, or how much money you make, or how many mistakes you made in your past. It can be an organization, a sports league, a theater group, a book club, a sewing circle, a hiking or travel group, or you can volunteer. It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gets you away from the TV and computer once in a while and creates an opportunity for you to interact with other people.

You have to put yourself out there even if you occasionally make a fool of yourself. And if you do make a fool of yourself don’t internalize it. Laugh along with everyone else. Most people truly want you to succeed. There will always be a few negative, unhappy people who’ll gossip behind your back and make a point of exposing all of your flaws. But most people enjoy sharing in your success. It’s important to just do something.

I learned sometimes you have to take a chance and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

When I screw something up, it’s best to immediately admit it and find a solution.

All my diverse jobs and experiences provided me with a wonderful perspective about what’s important in my working environment. The route I took was filled with potholes – all of which I stepped in - but I don’t regret the journey. Some people are lucky. They know what they want to do in life right away and they pursue it. They find their bliss and follow it even if they have to make sacrifices along the way. The rest of us use the trial and error method. I know people who worked all their lives and were never happy. I learned it’s not easy to give up the security of a job - no matter how bad it is - to follow your bliss, but it can be very fulfilling.

There’s a right exercise for everyone. You have to find what works best for you and stick with it. Eventually, doing it feels so much better than not doing it that it becomes second nature. And, walking from the couch to the refrigerator and back several times a day does not qualify as an exercise routine unless your couch is at least a half mile away from your refrigerator. You don’t have to join a club or buy fancy equipment or exercise tapes or DVD’s to get exercise – you just have to get your butt off the couch and move. It’s important to take care of your body and your health. The older you get, the more things are prone to fall apart, but you can postpone that by taking care of yourself.

Plants can be a lot like the people in your life. They can enhance it, or detract from it. There’s nothing more depressing than a bunch of slug slimy sticks or more beautiful than a bed full of lovely flowers. We can’t be afraid to change our gardens occasionally.

I don’t have a “best” friend anymore, but I have lots of good friends for which I’m very grateful. People come and go. Some stay longer than others, but it’s a natural cycle and when one person leaves another comes in to fill the void. I no longer get upset or melancholy when I lose touch with an old friend. I’m just thankful I had them in my life at all and know I’m all the richer for having enjoyed their presence.

Being part of a family is important, even if it’s not the one into which you are born.
Sometimes the families you develop with others based on common beliefs, interests or activities can better provide you with things you need to nourish and sustain yourself. Learning to be thankful for friends and families you choose to have in your life is a mutually beneficial experience and well worth the effort. Friends are very important. They fill the spaces of your heart and keep you from taking yourself too seriously.

People may not do things the way I think they should but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. There’s usually more than one way to accomplish goals. The roads taken may not always be the straightest and most efficient routes to the destination, but sometimes the scenery is just as good or better by straying from the interstate.

And some common sense - My old VW convertible had a black interior. When I lived in Las Vegas, I learned black is not a good interior color in the desert heat. With the windows cracked open, the ever present sun shields in place and a white towel draped across the steering wheel, you could still roast a turkey in the interior of your car on a summer’s day.

More tomorrow!

Friday, October 3, 2008


Fighting it! Thank god for Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup!