Monday, May 31, 2010

Jack 'n Diane

Today is my 52nd birthday – it was two years ago today that I proudly wore my tiara with the declaration, “50” on the front of it and celebrated by having 50 girlfriends join me for lunch at my favorite restaurant. A lot has happened in the last two years – some good, some bad, but through it all, I still feel pretty good about “being in my 50’s”. Sure my body isn’t what I’d like it to be. Some of that I can change, but some of it is simply a matter of aging. It’s also true that my brain gets a little rattled sometimes and I know people look at me differently – I’m now often considered “older”. But, overall, being in my sixth decade is pretty cool.

Last night we stopped by Michael John’s performance again – well, we’d planned to “stop by”, but ending up staying for all of it. Anyway, one of the songs he regularly sings is Jack ‘n Diane. As I listened to the words last night, on the eve of my 52nd birthday, I had to disagree with the line, “Oh yeah, life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.” I mean, here are two American teenagers making a statement like that – heck, they probably thought that line applied to anyone over thirty. As someone more than two decades beyond thirty, I can certainly say that I haven’t lost the thrill of living. How sad would that be? No, there’s a lot of thrill left: places to go, people to see, things to do, lessons to learn, beer to drink…(that last one’s for my daughter-in-law). Will I still feel that way when I’m seventy or eighty? I’m not sure, but I know a few people that age that are wonderful examples; who give me hope and show me what is possible. No, Jack is, I hope, simply wrong.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

House at Pooh Corner

Last night we went to the Sunriver Mall for an outdoor performance by our friend Michael John. Michael is a musician with a flair for singing songs that touch our hearts or make us laugh. Last night he sang House at Pooh Corner, a song made famous by Kenny Loggins. This song always brings a tear to my eye and last night was no different (thank goodness for sunglasses). But last night the lyrics resonated with me more than usual:

Christopher Robin and I walked along
Under branches lit up by the moon
Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore
As our days disappeared all too soon
But I've wandered much further today than I should
And I can't seem to find my way back to the Wood

I’ve been struggling with the effort to find the “old me”, to regain a sense of myself as person filled with joy and last night I realized that I had let myself wander much further than I should have into stress, worry and despair and I really need to find my way back to the Hundred Acre Wood – to a quiet life of joy, friendship and adventure. Thank you Pooh (and Michael).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ooh, Ooh!

Two days ago on Facebook I declared, “Ooh, ooh, I gotta new attitude!” and I’m happy to report that the new attitude is still hanging around. I’ve been trying for months (and especially the last three weeks) to change my attitude back to the positive, happy frame of mind I am used to, but up until now, I haven’t been successful. What’s different this time? Well, I found inspiration in some surprising places.

First, my whine, whine blogs and status updates on Facebook brought in a slew of comments and emails that were so encouraging and that helped me to remember that we all go through tough times and we do come out okay on the other side. Second, this past weekend I finished reading a book that my friend Jill gave me the day after my surgery. The book, The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life by Kathy L. Patrick, is a combination memoir, book list and inspirational self-help. Kathy’s upbeat attitude, her self-described Queenliness and her penchant for wearing a tiara reminded me of myself. I read this book thinking, Wow! That sounds like the “old me”; I want to be that “me” again! And then, third, I found inspiration in the most surprising place of all – in me! Sunday evening I read back through some of the blogs I’d written in late 2008 and early 2009 when I was caring for my ill and dying mother-in-law (another tough time in my life). I was amazed by my perspective and the calmness I felt throughout that time. I was surprised to remember how much I liked the slower, quiet pace forced on me by having to be with my mother-in-law 24/7. While I’ve been happy with the amount of work I’ve been able to do during this surgery recuperation period, I forgot to look at this quiet time in a positive way. Heck, I’ve forgotten to look at life, in general, in a positive way. Hearing from friends, reading a book that sounded like the “old me” and then reading words actually written by the “old me” helped push my attitude right back in the direction from where it originally came. Ooh, ooh, I think I’ve rediscovered my old attitude!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I am Presently Struggling with _____________ (fill in the blank)

My husband has a new exercise video in which the director admonishes against saying, “I can’t,” as in “I can’t do pull-ups.” Instead he suggests saying, “I am presently struggling with pull-ups.” With the stress we’ve experienced this past winter, with my foot in pain and inaccessible for walking, with a generally poor attitude, I feel like my use of that statement would be, “I am presently struggling with… everything.” This kind of attitude, this negativity, this whininess is so against my normal outlook that it adds to my struggle. I feel as if I am wallowing in a murky mess of pain, fatigue, discouragement and self-pity. So, while I’m not expecting any miracles or immediate attitude turnarounds, I’m trying to keep the word “presently” in mind. All of this: stress, pain, immobility, is a temporary situation. I am presently struggling; I will not always struggle.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Hard Needing Help

I’m not very good at accepting help, even though, over the years, I’ve told others that they have to learn to accept help when it’s needed. I’ve told my mom, my mother-in-law and friends that we all do what we can to help others in need and then, when it’s our turn to be the one in need, we must graciously accept the help of those who offer. I’m normally the caregiver, the helper, but now, following surgery and unable to walk for five weeks, I must be the one to accept help – it isn’t easy and I’m not very good at it. However, what I’ve found is that the help is not only very necessary, but when it’s offered, I’m so appreciative – even as I butt my head against the need for assistance. The friend who checks in with me regularly and offers up ways she can help, the neighbor who brought a real homemade dinner for our family, the friend who is doing more than her fair share of carpooling, another friend who has her hands full with her own family’s needs, but still offers her help, my family who constantly checks in with me – “Do you need anything, Mommy?” “What would you like me to bring upstairs for you?” “Do you need fresh water?” “Can I give you a ride for errands?”

I find myself humbled and grateful for these offers of help. It’s not easy accepting, but I’m learning to graciously say, “Yes. Thank you.” And, I’m also learning that those forms of help that I most appreciate are not huge or onerous – the small things really do mean so much and I think that after this experience, I can be an even better caregiver and friend until it is, someday, inevitably my turn to again be the one accepting the help.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Running Girl Wannabe

I think of myself as an active, healthy woman, yet during the last week and a half I have felt old and tired. A week ago this past Wednesday I had foot surgery to repair a bunion. I now have a plate and screw in my foot along with two incisions. Beforehand, I’d spoken with many people who’d had bunion surgery and, while there were varying reports of pain levels and recuperation, based partly, I believe on the type of bunion surgery, I felt that I was pretty well prepared mentally for how this would affect me – hah! To begin with, the pain the first day was worse than I’d anticipated, then I fell during the night trying to use crutches to get to the bathroom by myself – silly me! And my throbbing foot has meant that I’ve spent most of my time these past ten days lying on the couch with my foot propped up on a pillow. My brain hasn’t been ready to read (or write), so that has left television as my only entertainment. I swear I’m beginning to feel my brain cells numb with every minute the TV is turned on. So, today I decided to force myself into a better place. I decided that I would start the day out by getting dressed, doing my hair and make-up and spending more time in my office being productive – throbbing foot be damned! As I was picking out jewelry to accessorize my basically sweatsuit-type of outfit – it’s all that will fit over my foot, but at least it’s not pajamas – I spotted a silver necklace in my jewelry box that I haven’t worn in ages. It’s a pendent of a woman running that I received as a finisher’s “medal” for Vancouver’s first Girlfriends’ Half-Marathon 2-1/2 years ago. I’m signed up to run (or walk, we’ll see…) this same half-marathon this October with my daughter-in-law, but right now, while I’m hobbling around on crutches, the reality of being able to do that seems like some kind of distant dream. But, given that I’m trying to make today the beginning of a new attitude, I decided that was just the right piece of jewelry for me to wear today. I’m hoping to have an outing to the grocery store today (woo-hoo, it’s sad when that’s an exciting proposition). I’ll probably take along my little knee scooter or else I’ll use the motorized scooter at the grocery store. Either way, I'm hoping that my “running girl” pendant will help me feel younger, healthier and full of hope.