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Why this journey?

Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.

I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now!  How different my whole life would have been.

You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.

I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.

The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.

So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.

Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?

All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.

All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.

Life is not boring

Last week was stressful. At my age any medical issue makes you immediately think “this is what will take me out!” The system for getting medical issues resolved is wonderful here. Saw a nurse practitioner on Monday. Got results from that on Tuesday. Heard from a referred physician on Wednesday and had an appointment on Thursday. I had to wait til the next week to get some testing done but now know that I have several small kidney stones. I haven’t had any of those for 50 years! Oh well. That’s life.

Knowing what is wrong has relieved my stress and now I just need to move on. The hardest part about most medical issued is the not knowing. When you have discovered the problem then it is easier to accept and keep going.

Life is never boring.

and life goes on

I’m feeling more comfortable where I am but life keeps giving me lemons and not letting me make lemonade out of them. Now I am dealing with some medical issues that will most likely be fine but still have to be dealt with.

That is the important thing. I’m grateful to be alive. At my age life will continue to be a challenge but I’m still here and I will love and grow and learn and change until my days are done.

CTE and sports: a continuing decision (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy)

I have just watched a most interesting film called “Concussion” Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu the doctor who discovered the injury incurred by hitting heads in football. Ever since this began to be talked about I have been scorned by many football lovers who don’t want to believe there is a serious problem.

Having managed head injury cases in my time as a nurse I know how devastating they can be and understand why many who end up with this problem called CTE end up committing suicide.

I have frequently told football enthusiasts that we should go back to wearing the original helmets football used. When playing with these the players were not told to bang heads like the sport does now.

At least now those who choose to play football know the risks. I still do not approve of small children being taught to charge hitting heads together. They are not able to make a decision for themselves. The parents should but many won’t hoping to see their child go to college on a sports scholarship. Many they should switch to soccer. While there is some evidence that injury can occur it seems to be less of an issue.

Will Smith and Dr. Omalu

A fun flaming misstep.

It is hard to realize that it has been so long since I have written. I don’t know what is wrong with me that I can’t get organized.

I have been thinking a lot about my life with my husband and the various stories he shared with me about his growing up. His father was a colonel in the Army and he was on Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He remembered things about that day even though he was only four.

One of my favorite stories let me know that he was not an angel when young. One day he waws playing alone and was bored. He decided that it would be fun to make paper airplanes and throw them out of the upstairs bedroom window. That was fun and he watched them as they drifted down to the lawn below. However, after a while just watching them float down began to pale and he thought of how he could make it better. Finding matches elsewhere in the house (being careful to not get caught) he sneaked back upstairs with lots of paper and matches. Lighting the paper planes he watched happily as they drifted down in flames. Having been a very dry season the grass was quite parched.

He watched with joy as one of the planes caught the grass on fire and the fire began to spread. Realizing that this might be a problem took his attention away from the next plane he had lit that was still in his hand. In panic he dropped the plane catching the drapes on fire. He stood dumbfounded trying to decide what to do. A glass of water from the bathroom put out the drape but there was still the fire growing on the lawn. Racing downstairs and outside he found his visibly upset mother putting out the lawn fire with the garden hose.

Reluctantly he shared the problem with the drapes and faced the wrath of a woman whose husband was currently in Arabia. He had plenty of time to reflect on this incident in the time he spent restricted to his room.

Since my husband was a rule follower, careful and meticulous it was fun to learn that he had a streak of choosing danger in his make up.

Moving Ahead

Because of covid we had to postpone my husband’s funeral. Now we have it planned for June which is the time that my family can come. Today I sat down to plan the service. After working in churches most of my life I do know what my husband would want done. I will do my best to see that he has full military honors since that was a large portion of his life. He was a graduate of West Point and lived his life according to their motto “duty, honor, country.” I want his being put to rest to reflect his life.

You would think that this would be the hardest thing to do but it was a sort of closure to me without all the emotional baggage that day will bring. Since I am so familiar with the liturgy it is good for me to think about the words and make good decisions about how to best honor him.

This has been a good days work and one that is comforting in some ways.

NOT an old folks home

Today I have managed to pull myself away from the TV and tamp down my anxiety. The weather is beautiful and I intend to sit on my balcony and enjoy the fresh air. Life is always challenging and I am not the only one to freak out at times.

I have been asked to sit on a committee for Health and Wellness and I will soon find out how much importance is placed on the input of the committee and if it is worth being on. It’s like living in a very strict HOA (community with rules) and takes some time to understand how things work and how to get possible things done. The trick is to not expect the impossible. After all, funds for things are not limitless.

This is why living in a retirement community is like living in a dorm in college (bad side) or being on a cruise ship (good side). There are benefits and losses. We just have to decide what matter the most.

Thoughts for the day

I seem to keep disappearing from here. I don’t really understand why it is happening. The days here seem shorter even though I am doing very little. I end up going to bed early and not thinking about writing.

The past two weeks have been different. For the first time in a long time I have been quite anxious and without access to the medicine that helped me before it is more difficult to handle. I miss my doctors and still don’t have all the specialties I need. I have pulled back into myself and just don’t do the things I really need to do.

Thank God my daughter is doing well following treatments for her breast cancer. That is a blessing.

I think I was naive to think that I would be able to transition to a different life without so much pain. I am strong but things did pile up. I know that I am much better but do tend to have episodes of feeling the loses. So many memories crop up and remind me that time has passed very quickly. It continues to do so.

I have found new friends and they are wonderful but I still miss the ones I had from 1976 to 2020. We have so many shared experiences. I will be building new memories with the ones here and that will help to fill in the blank spaces.

Life moves very quickly. We do have to cherish every moment. We have to live in the now or we miss so much.

Texas Celebration

Today is Texas independence day. Not being a Texas I had to think about independence from what? Then I remembered it was Mexico and that Texas had once been a country. No wonder they are so aware of their history and feeling separate from the rest of the states.

It has been different living here. I was born in Washington DC and grew up outside of Alexandria, VA. Virginia has a long and well loved history. People who first arrived there are called FFV’s (First Families of Virginia) but in my experience I have never seen such emotion and connection as I see with the locals here.

Later today I will be going to hear a band and dinner will be BBQ (of course) and I am sure it will be fun. There are some good things to be said for being Texan.

Crisis and Hope

I am working hard to get back into the habit of posting. I know that I am doing too many things to keep myself from thinking about the changes in my life and the world. Posting is such a good way to vent feelings and share hope.

We have been through so much and now there is another war to think about. So many people are at risk and they did nothing to deserve it. Hitler started by just hopping into Poland and then kept going. I know so little about Putin and how much his personality could influence what happens next. In WWII we learned too much about how one person’s mania can destroy so much. Let’s hope we learned enough to do what works to end it.

After several plus years of dealing with a pandemic and now war it is so easy to get depressed. We are in a fragile condition emotionally. I don’t know there are very many people who have not suffered some deprivation since covid began. Most of us are not at our best to handle a new crisis. We have not yet recovered from the last one.

However in the midst of all of it we have to trust that somehow things will change. We cannot turn away from hope. It is the lifeline that we cling to and a gift from God. Over all the catastrophes we have endured throughout history we are still here. I pray that we will be able to push away the darkness and let in the light.

Hope! Continue to hope but don’t forget to “act as if” we can change things. We cannot sit by and do nothing. Small acts of hope and love matter. Act!

Being Vulnerable

Being vulnerable takes courage. It is difficult to open ourselves to the potential that we may be hurt. Interestingly enough, both physical and emotional pain are experienced in the same part of the brain. Emotional pain hurts. If we have been hurt before we are fearful of going through the same experience. That is why we so easily ignore the opportunity.

Disclosure of our intimate selves is scary but when when we do a whole new level of friendship and/or love is possible. Yes, we could get hurt but we could also receive so much more than we lose.

In this uncomfortable world we have today the potential to touch with openness, love and friendship can make a tremendous difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out and let others in. It can change things.