Thursday, December 29, 2011
Every year, I make all sorts of RESOLUTIONS and by mid-January have bailed on most of them. I think the deal is that instead of planning small changes that will build up to what I want, I basically say, "Tomorrow I'll get up and BE SOMEONE ELSE ENTIRELY!!! :D :D :D " and it hasn't worked yet. By the end of the month - and frequently the day - I'm the same old me.
Another thought - and if I mentioned this before, please forgive me for repeating - is that after three years of having people I thought would live, die and money I thought I had, vanish and houses I thought would be valuable, sell for 1/3 their prior assessment, I have a sort of learned helplessness. When bad things happen, even if I could do something relatively simple about them such as calling a plumber, I just shrug and think, "Oh well, there goes the hot water." I haven't had more than warm water since about June - I believe we need some sort of filter. The water is too cold for the dishwasher, so I boil water on the stove for rinsing after hand washing. It's just like camping! Only....I just put in a new kitchen four years ago....and it had a dishwasher, instant hot water from a teeny little extra faucet, lots of hot water, a faucet that switched from stream to spray with a toggle switch, and a hand-soap pump on the sink. Now they're all kaput and I just roll with it. This doesn't even make sense to *me*, and I'm pretty flexible.
So instead of a bunch of resolutions I know I'll never carry out, I'm just going to make some suggestions to myself that might make life a little easier:
- water problems? Call a plumber.
- weight problems? Think about what you eat and move about a bit. If I don't want to eat something, I probably shouldn't buy it at the store.
- exercise issues? Just do it. Seriously - just put in a tape and do it. Lock the dog in the other room if she feels she must participate.
- no money? Maybe look for a job. (?!)
- house looks like a tornado hit it?? Put a couple things away or work steadily for half an hour here and there, instead of planning these marathon cleaning sessions that exhaust and overwhelm.
- can't get dressed because nothing fits? Buy some clothing. Ditch the old stuff. Realize that you can't bring back the past simply by dressing the part.
- overtired? Take a nap - the world won't come to an end and I won't die
- need to make some kind of decisions? Make lists. Read a book on the subject. Talk to people. Don't just sit and fret.
That sort of thing. The sort of actions that probably come naturally to lots of people. I think they even used to come naturally to me.
The second problem is that, when I do sit down and make a list of all the things I need to accomplish in a day to meet my goals (work on writing, exercise, maybe see a therapist, meditate, plan meals, clean, buy cat food, work outside, walk outside, tile the sunroom, don't forget to relax!, etcetcetcetc) and try to fit it - as recommended by so many organizational people - in my day planner on the little hour lines, I realize that I can get it all done only if I give up sleeping altogether (and that destroys resolve #37, which was to get a minimum of eight hours sleep [but a maximum of nine]). Oops! Forgot to schedule in "give back to the community." Wait! Forgot to schedule cooking and eating. See what I mean? Yeesh. No wonder I just give up and decide to keep up with the Kardashians from the safety of the sofa instead.
So this year, instead of planning all these drastic changes and/or assuming (on some sub-conscious level, I guess) that I have no control over anything anyway, I'm just going to try to do a little bit better. (Somebody gag Yoda before he says that thing about, "There is no 'try', only 'do' or 'not do'") I won't nag at myself because I almost never drink the eight glasses of water per day - I'll just have a small glass now and again when I'm in the kitchen. I won't insist that I have to do yoga *and* cardio *and* strength train every day or else do nothing - I'll give a shot at just getting one done.
Let's think a little about good ol' King Lear:
No, I will weep no more. In such a night
To shut me out? Pour on; I will endure.
In such a night as this? O Regan, Goneril!
Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all—
O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.
if I read (and recall) Shakespeare correctly, he's just spent an entire Act obsessing over the crimes of his daughters, and he is now out of the house in a howling storm. He's still insisting that he can bear anything, that the gods (he'd spoken to them earlier, asking for this and that, and had never received answers) and his ungrateful daughters can hurl at him what they may - he'll endure. It's a weird form of self-pity, and just as he starts to think about it, he bails on the sentence because he knows darn well he doesn't have a frank heart and never gave all; to think about such a thing, to search the Self in that manner, is the way to madness.
But it's the rational Lear that is really mad - the one that thinks that he has everything, can control everything. As he sinks deeper into madness, we see him lighten up a little and begin to think entirely differently: by the time he is entirely without reason, his new reasoning becomes simpler and a lot more full of freedom.
(Okay, I'm stretching a metaphor here and those of you who know Shakespeare are shouting about how there's a lot more to it than that, and I agree. Just go with it, okay?)
My point is simply that it's time to stop thinking of myself as a victim of circumstance on the one hand, and as someone who can control every detail of every day on the other. Like Lear in his madness, maybe I can use a little creativity and freedom actually to build a decent life instead of dwelling incessantly upon the old one and my misconceptions, misfortunes, and failures - both real and imagined - in it. Face facts, be creative about solutions, be flexible about outcomes, be free.
And isn't that what the whole New Year's deal is, after all? The freedom to create a new future, unburdened by the past.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
and I'm fine, as I had expected.
See, my Dad died of colorectal cancer, so when the doctor told me I should have a colonoscopy at age 40 (sixteen years ago), I did. The experience was pretty unpleasant but I was totally clear so they told me to go home and come back in ten years.
Ten years came and went. I told myself all sorts of things I knew were lies even as I was saying them: "I'll get it done as soon as X" where X is anything that isn't happening immediately. I managed to put it off for another six years before I finally got the "perfect storm" of health insurance, a ride to and from the hospital, and the mindset to prod myself into doing it. I scheduled it, and once you do that, you have to follow through because the paperwork and scheduling is a big deal for all involved.
Revelation: much has changed in the last sixteen years! One no longer has to chug a gallon of vile stuff while sprinting to and from the bathroom - I cleared out my colon with OTC products and the 68 oz beverage of my choice (for me, Lipton Citrus Iced Tea.) The anaesthetic was a breeze (although the last time I was awake enough to watch on the video as they scoped, which was kinda cool.) One minute I was there and the next I was done, and it wore off very quickly.
They'd removed two polyps, one quite large. The doctor said he doubted very much that either was cancerous, but you never really know until you get the labs back, which I did today. I have to get another colonoscopy (known in younger circles as "butt cam") in a year, but I don't even dread it this time. I know it'll be no problem.
So don't let your fears and/or embarrassment get in the way of getting this test done, even if you don't have a family history. It honest-to-God is not a big deal. As a friend of mine once remarked, "You think you're so special, but to the doctor you're just another a$$hole." Truer words were never spoken.
Now do it!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Mostly when I wake up, I go through the usual list of things - what day is it, what time is it, what's the weather like, what do I need to accomplish today, etc. Today, though, was different . It began yesterday when I was at the library during children's hour and listened in on their songs. So today I awoke with a couple questions - feel free to postulate answers.
- in the first scenario, a predetermined number of monkeys are jumping on a bed. Then, they are all seen to be lying down. The smallest of the monkeys insists that the group roll over and apparently this results in a larger monkey being pushed off the surface of the bed onto the floor. This act is repeated until all the monkeys have fallen to the bedroom floor. But wouldn't you think the monkeys would get back up on the bed?
I'm willing to believe that monkeys are jumping on beds. But when, and why, do they all lie down? Wouldn't monkeys sleep in a sort of pile, rather than lined up like forks in a drawer? And why would the junior member of the tribe be able to order the other monkeys to turn over, especially when it causes a presumably older and more powerful member of the group to be expelled from the bed? You'd think, too, after a couple rounds of monkeys falling off the mattress, that they'd stop obeying the wishes of the youngest monkey.
- Next question: Bunny FooFoo. He is seen hopping through the forest, harassing the local population of teeny rodents by "...scooping up the field mice and bopping on their heads." Why would a rabbit do this? One would think at first that the idea would be to render them unconscious so that they could be consumed, but rabbits are herbivores, so it must be out of sheer maliciousness. And why are the mice in the forest? Shouldn't they be, by definition, in a field? *FooFoo*??
And what about the fairy that comes to remonstrate with the bunny? In some versions of the song, s/he is concise in criticism, and the song ends, but in others, the fairy gives the rabbit three chances (apparently everything in fairyland comes in threes) to overcome his habitual abuse of the mice or else FooFoo will be turned to a goon. He fails, and is transmogrified, and the song ends with, "Hare today, goon tomorrow." My feeling is that FooFoo was intentionally set up, so the fairy can be clever with the spoken ending.
- One of the few songs geared towards small children that I actually enjoyed was from an episode of Veggie Tales, when one of the vegetables - can't recall which one right now - is looking for his hairbrush. Why a vegetable needs a hairbrush is never adequately explained, but I'm willing to overlook this. The vegetable goes on to sing: "Oh where is my hairbrush? Oh where is my hairbrush? Oh where, oh where, oh where oh where oh where (there may be more "oh where"s in there) is my hairbrush?" This song was taken up by my family and used ad nauseum, substituting whatever article was misplaced at the time: car keys, wallet, back pack, etc. Any two-syllable object was fair game.
I've done my best with the illustrations, but they don't give you a lot to work with here at SP.
We now return you to our regular programming.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
A couple days ago, I ordered two cord of wood to be delivered to tide me over til I get mine chunked up and split, and the delivery guy dumped it in the middle of the driveway instead of the carefully cleared spot next to the furnace. I was on my way into the house to call them to come back and move it to where it belongs - about 10-15 feet away - when I thought, “Wait a minute! When did *this* happen?”
What happened to this woman:
and when was she replaced by this woman:
and even though it says in my Gallery that this is at my heaviest, I think I put on about another fifteen or twenty after that.
I can list the tragedies, but unless you are living through it, it just reads like Life. Rotten Life, perhaps, but Life nonetheless.
The first photo is maybe 5 years ago, when I was working daily as a landscaper. I would - not happily, but I would - without hesitation shovel stone or wheelbarrow dirt for eight hours a day. I was about 150 and muscled up. And now I’m *telephoning* someone to move a pile of split wood ten feet??!? WTF???
What happened to ME?
I gained the weight almost imperceptibly - maybe a pound a month. The problem is that I did that every month for five years. I justified it by being too busy taking care of others to care for myself. “Being good to myself” took the form of another two fingers of Laphroaig scotch, or another slice of meatloaf with gravy, and resting whenever possible. A lot of the inactivity was unavoidable - sitting in medical/legal offices or spending precious hours with the bedridden loved ones - but there had to be moments I could have used to at least maintain my fitness; I just didn’t take advantage of them.
I realized that I had not only gained weight and lost muscle tone, I’d lost the idea that I had any control over what was happening in my life. People I wanted to live, died. Houses I wanted to keep, I was forced to sell at a loss. Children I wanted around forever went on to live their own lives (which is certainly what they *should* do.) I think I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Damn, not good” but somehow thought it was beyond my control, just like everything else. So I’d “try”, but I didn’t really get anywhere because I didn’t expect to.
Just this past week, I’ve been taking a hard look at that attitude. I’ve been making myself write, walk the dog, eat three reasonable meals, do One Minute Yoga, pay bills, take animals to the vet, and count steps with my armband. In other words, I’ve been responsible - to others and to myself. I think I’ve finally figured out what “Being kind to oneself” means - not causing your own imminent destruction by overindulging in every poor habit available and using stress as an excuse, but by supporting your body with love.
I may still call to complain, but I threw the wood over to the spot by myself, one piece at a time. I think I’m on my way back - to me.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Here's the link to PUDLCRAZY's original post:
I absolutely agree with your sentiments here. When I was a child, we were put outdoors after breakfast and basically not let back in until supper time - you were fed a PB on white bread sandwich at whoever's house you were near at lunch time. If you were thirsty, well, most houses had hoses. And this was year-round, in suburban Philadelphia. If it were raining, we were told we wouldn't melt. The only time we weren't outdoors was when it was sleeting, and even then we were probably out briefly.
If we were "stuck" indoors, we had to entertain ourselves somehow - board games (which I was at least twelve before I realized weren't "bored" games - things you did when you were bored and that were boring) or standing on your head (one broken arm, here, from that particular game.) People had television sets, but other than Saturday early morning, they weren't considered things for kids to use.
My daughters asked me what we *did* outdoors, and honestly I can't remember. I know we didn't play games per se, like baseball. I remember we did a huge amount of hunting for turtles and frogs and salamanders (then put them back, because none of us had aquaria or anything). Mostly, I think we just were outside, in woods or fields, seeing what we could see. And we were allowed to go as far afield as we wanted, as long as we got home in time for supper.
Now, of course, it's not safe to allow children to live the way we did as kids. If a parent didn't see a child from early morning until supper time, in all likelihood the police would be called, and lunch has to be arranged as a "playdate" hours or days in advance. No one would think of feeding another parent's child without asking.
When my daughters were 8 and 10, my husband and I decided that the area in which we lived didn't have enough play space for kids - as you say, it was always an organized adult-led trip to someplace to explore. The neighborhood was also doing a gradual decline in terms of safety. That was when we picked up and moved out to the country in central NY, where they could take a dog and a friend (or just a sister) and go explore to their hearts' content. We could do this because of the business we owned (a small, independent trucking company - we could live anywhere within reasonable proximity of major highways) and probably isn't feasible for most folks.
One idea that might fit more families is this: we took the children camping every opportunity we had - that was how we spent not only our longer vacations but also any weekend we could manage. As a result, they haven't seen anywhere near as many museums as I wish they had, but they did get to see a lot of outdoors "up close and personal." You can visit museums anytime, but childhood outdoors comes only once. Stay in a tent or trailer instead of a motel.
We also made sure that everyone had a decent bicycle and arranged ways to transport all four bikes to biking places so we all got exercise and outdoor fun. The Rails to Trails program offers excellent opportunities, but here again, it's adult organized and led.
I was a Girl Scout leader, so we did as many camping trips as I could manage to arrange, and any nature-themed activity I could come up with - and there are plenty, if you use your head and your local library for suggestions. There are books full of outdoor or nature-themed activities for kids.
If you're the type that can put up with it (and I was) one way to keep kids tuned in to nature is to have a variety of pets - feathers, fur, scales, fins, shells, you name it, we had it at one time or another (except tarantulas *shudder*.)
I loved TRULYVISIBLE's idea of scavenger hunts outdoors on her property.
One artist I know had a big house in Philadelphia and also had five boys. She turned her center hall, with its eighteen foot ceilings, into a small basketball court. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't quiet, but to my mind she had her priorities straight. Her boys grew up getting exercise and having fun.
On birthdays, don't give a video game - give a badminton set, and be willing to play, too (and likely be humiliated.) Look in the National Geographic catalog for gift ideas that focus on outdoor learning and play. Also - and I hate to say this - we have to be "good examples" and walk outdoors instead of on our treadmills, be willing to play frisbee and fly kites and all that good stuff instead of sitting here Sparking.
Now that we can't just pitch the kids outside the way our parents did, I think we need to be willing to devote a little more of our time and energy into coming up with ways for them to play outdoors. I'm sure it would have been much easier for you, PUDLCRAZY, to show slides (or whatever one does now) of igneous boulders than to take all those kids out to experience them, but you went the extra mile and got them outside. It's not automatic for kids to want to go outdoors anymore - not with the siren call of the computer and tv - so I think parents and teachers have got to take the initiative to take them out and show them how much fun and freedom there is to be had outdoors.
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