How Old??

Why I refuse to be old… or maybe I am…

 

My birthday is this week and while it isn’t a “big” one… it certainly isn’t a “little” one either.   When my mother was this age she was a widow with 4 grandchildren.

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When I look at this photo now… I can see that her face doesn’t look too wrinkly, but she was definitely grey.

 

I do now have a few grey hairs… those I’m mainly blaming on the stress of taking on being a primary caregiver of my mother.

 

What does a 54 year old look like these days?

Image result for what does 54 years old look likeMichelle Pfeiffer is 54 in this photo… she looks great.  A few crows feet around her eyes, but otherwise, I’d say she looks 40.  She also has great makeup which probably covers other things.

 

 

 

 

Image result for what does 54 years old look likeA random google search tells me this woman is 54.  She definitely looks more what I think of when I think of over 50.  Some wrinkles and showing age.

 

this one too:  Related image

 

I’m not certain how a 54 year old is supposed to feel and/or look.   I do not think that I look OLD. Maybe I do and I’m just fooling myself.   I do not think that I act old.  In fact, I know that is true.  I have more stamina and energy to do things than some of my 40-something friends (whom I dearly LOVE!).

 

It could be because I still have  a teenager at home… but I also have a 25 year old.   I have friends that are my age (or younger) that are already grandparents.  I’m fine with not being a grandparent yet.   We waited till almost 30 to start having kids, there is no rush for my children to produce offspring yet.

 

I do not like short hair.  It seems that all the old ladies have short hair.  YUCK!   I think that lends itself to making you look older.  Maybe it also makes you look more mature?  I don’t know.  I do not see myself with short hair EVER.  Yes, I generally have it in a pony tail or a braid, but that is better than so short you can’t do anything with it.  Even though, I actually don’t do anything with it.  😀

 

Inside, I don’t feel 54.  But then again, I’m not sure how 54 is supposed to feel.   I know that I have an innocence about me – have always had that – maybe that is why I feel younger.   I know that I am often treated like I don’t know what I’m doing… am clueless… need someone to give me advice… but I really don’t.  While I may come off as innocent or needy, I’m not.   If you really know me you know that I can very clearly stand on my own two feet and take care of things:  raising teenagers, be in charge of a major home addition, become a primary caregiver for my mother, lead a Girl Scout troop, plan a trip for that GS troop, make wonderful afghans, run a household… just to name a few.

 

I also don’t do harsh chemical face washes or makeup.   Who needs makeup?  Even when I worked as a teacher and did wear a tiny bit of makeup, it was sweated off or wiped off quickly.   Makeup just makes me sweat.  Yes, people have tried to tell me there are wonderful types of make up that are light and blah, blah, blah… not interested.  I have better things to do with my time than spend time putting on makeup.  If you can’t like me au natural, then move on.

 

So, on this eve on my birthday… what is old?   Old is something I’m not.  At least not completely.   Yes, I have a few grey hairs.  Yes, I might have a laugh line or two.  Yes, my joints might ache.  Yes, I find it hard to get out of a low sitting car.  Yes, getting up from the ground requires extra effort.

Yes, I will still be going camping with the scouts.  Yes, I will hike and stomp in the mud and play in the rain with them.  Yes, I will climb 4 flights of stairs to move a child into college.  Yes, I will play on the raft in the lake.   Yes, I will play cards and board games with you (within reason).  Yes, I will climb the 178 steps to the top of the lighthouse.   Yes, I will walk on the beach with you.  Yes, I will pull my hair back into a pony tail every day.  Yes, I will use the circular saw, jigsaw, and drill to fix things around my house.  Yes, I will lay flooring in 2 different houses.  Yes, I will find fun new patterns for afghans and the yarn to make them.

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I am going to refuse to be old.  I am going to live based on how I feel on the inside.   I’ll let you know when I am old.  Tomorrow will not be it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Unlimited Funds

Sitting here thinking… just thinking… it is H-hour at the house right now… which means, my mother is in her room taking a nap (hopefully).  Daughters #3 and #4 are working at camp… #1 is working… #2 is enjoying a summer exploring the Appalachian Trail.

 

What would you do if you had unlimited funds?

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Beyond the expected:  pay bills, pay off houses…

 

Would you travel?

I might… though probably not a ton.  I am a homebody and a penny pincher, so even with unlimited funds, I would most likely still prefer to stay home and be economical.

 

Would you donate to charities?

I supposed I should say yes to that.  However, I don’t really have any charities that mean a lot to me, so I can’t definitively say that I would donate to a charity.  We would certainly continue to support our church.

 

Would you take care of family?

Of course.  I am doing that now, on limited funds.  However, that doesn’t mean I would do everything and pay for everything for my kids.  They need to learn how to get along in this world and be productive members of society.

 

One thing that I think I would do is “pay it forward.”  So often I see someone or some situation that needs help and I think:  “I wish I could help them out.”  For example, yesterday at Walmart, the person in front of me did not have enough cash, and the ATM wasn’t working.  He was buying cat food and cat liter and some other stuff (I couldn’t see all if it).  His total was over $40… so while I did contemplate blessing him and paying for him, I thought that was a little too much.  I might have paid for just the cat supplies if that was his total bill.  He ended up leaving and, I assume, going home to figure out how to get money.

 

Another thing I would do is bless my friends.  I try to do that now, but with unlimited funds, I would be able to bless more of them… not huge gifts, but  little things that might  make them smile.

 

What are the chances I will ever have unlimited funds… ZERO!   But I do have a great imagination… and wonderful yarn skills.  🙂

 

Is there something different you would do with unlimited funds?

 

 

 

Mental Load

This week, I read someone else’s blog that really struck home with me.

 

The main take away I have from it is:

 

“The mental load means always having to remember.  The mental load is almost completely borne by women. It’s permanent and exhausting work. And it’s invisible……  What our partners are really saying, when they ask us to tell them what needs to be done, is that they refuse to take on their share of the mental load.”

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Here is the link to the full article.

 

Of course, this isn’t true in 100% of relationships/marriages.  However, I do agree that my mental load is so overwhelming that I probably can’t even remember it all to regurgitate it here, but I’ll give it a go.

 

(in no particular order of importance or urgency)

  • constantly thinking about and dealing with my mother’s meds & diabetes & diet
  • remembering my mother’s schedule and appointments
  • remembering my children’s schedule and appointments- all of them, even though they aren’t all living at home – mentally, I keep track of them all… for example:  Is this a late night for Abi or an early morning?  Will I have to stay late and put mom to bed?  What about the dog?, What does Liz need for her hiking trip?  I need to make the strawberry roll ups for her try. , When is Lydia going to be home?  Is she working?  Is she with friends?  What can she do to help with the addition?,  Does Esther have after school activities today?  What time do I need to pick her up?  Can she find a ride?  Why isn’t she practicing her horn?  Did she contact the French teacher about her grade?…. and on and on….
  • what food will I prepare for each meal
  • do we even have food in the house to prepare
  • what is my schedule?  who is picking up who and what time
  • what do I need to prepare for scouts next week – there is a whole lot of detail in that one:   shirts (find them), labels, bottles, games, vests, food list, final details for Savannah, who still needs to turn in a health from, who hasn’t blogged, what reservations need paid, who do I need to call and check on the reservation, is all the money deposited, I will need to contact the bank to tell them about the vacation, games for the road, supplies from here, packing …. and on and on…
  • household details like:  I really should wash the dirty clothes,  I need to paint my room, I need to wash and paint my mother’s room, mail that box that I promised a month ago, clear a path through the house….
  • which leads me to all the details of the construction:  paint – do I have enough?, what color am I doing in Liz’s old room?, we need to get the walls washed, we need to get them painted, we need to get the carpet pulled, the subfloor coated with water seal, the stairs need painted, the carpet runner put on them, the trim painted, the boxes moved, the floors mopped, the window screens replaced, the closets set up, which stone for the fireplace, … and on and on…
  • then there is the fun stuff that I have going on too… the yarn crafts:  next part of the Citrus Explosion Afghan, what am I doing for a border on the temperature afghan, I need to finish the ends on the dino afghan, who else wanted what?, who is getting which afghan?….  and more…
  • and what about the animals… is there food, does the dog need out, should I do something about Jupiter’s eye, where is Dinah, don’t forget to feed the outside cats…
  • not to mention the things I cannot find because of the construction:  where is my swimsuits, those GS t-shirts, the aloe, the labels…

 

There is so much more going on that I can’t even remember it all now… like writing this blog has been part of the mental load for a couple days…

 

A friend of mine told me a few days ago that her brain was “mush.”  I told her that brain mush was my specialty.  She told me:  “You function quite well!”   HAHAHAHAHAHA    I don’t really… or I do only because my brain, for some reason, keeps these things swirling and I am able to do them/take care of them at just the right time.    I really feel like I am not keeping on top of anything, but I guess I must be… or at least enough that everyone is still alive and fed and getting where they need to go…. however, don’t talk to me about when was the last time I washed my dirty clothes.

 

 

Normal?

What is normal?  Are you normal?  Am I normal?  Is anyone normal?

 

Normal:  conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

 

I have tried to be normal… I conformed to most of the expected standards of a typical “good girl” growing up in the 60’s-70’s.   I did the usual things… school, band, Girl Scouts.  I had the typical family – 2 parents still married to each other, dog, cat, 2 little brothers.   We drove a station wagon or a VW van… or for those brief moments when I became NOT normal, I drove a VW convertible bug.   I went to college… I worked at summer camp… I was certified to be a lifeguard… I fell in love… I got married…

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Is normal even a thing anymore?  I sit here thinking that I just want my life to be normal again.   I want my house to be in order, my kids to be happy, my mother to be in her own home doing her own thing…

 

My “new” normal is not fun.   My new normal began over 10 years ago… I didn’t like it then and I like it even less now.   I don’t like change.  I had/have dreams and they keep getting suppressed.   My new normal now includes… taking care of my mother 8-12 hours per day (soon to be 24/7).   My new normal does NOT include being involved with the youth at a church doing music and VBS ministries.

 

I understand that some things change with time… as much as I would love to go back in time to when the girls were little… they grow up.  I am OK with that.   They are doing great.  Despite all the changes, they are resilient and they are making their own marks on the world and establishing their normals.

 

I keep saying to my family, “In my mind, when the house is done, everything will be in order around here.  Mom’s room will be such that she cannot get into things we don’t want her messing with.  She will be able to move about and fiddle with everything in her room.”   In my mind, I can do it.  In my mind, this house can once and for all actually be organized.  The problem is… the other people who live here don’t share this same vision.  My normal… expected normal… newest normal… is NOT their normal.

I know that I am actually NOT normal… but I don’t think anyone really is… which maybe means that abnormal is really normal?   Everyone is unique, that is how we were made.   If everyone was the same, life might be easy, but it would also be boring.

 

Is it normal to grieve my mother and father and grandparents daily?  Is it normal to cry almost daily over hard things and silly things?  Is it normal to wish for easier times?  Is it normal to long for happier days?   Is it normal to want to be held and loved daily?  Is it normal to be so crippled with the weight of this life that all you want to do is play with yarn?   Is it normal to still be sleeping in your living room for 4+ months while you wait to get construction complete?  (NO, THAT ONE IS DEFINITELY NOT NORMAL!!)

 

As isolated as I feel most of the time, I also try to remind myself that I am normal and how I am responding and dealing with the “hand” I’ve been dealt and the “normal” I am now living, is probably normal for just about anyone going through this.

 

This is one reason that I spew so much on Facebook about what I am going through.  I know that I cannot be the only person facing these issues, even though I feel like it.   If I spew my angst and grief and anger and frustration, maybe someone else will feel less alone.  They will know that they too are “normal” because someone else feels the same way.

 

I also know that some people have unfriended me because of it… that is fine.  Probably, my rawness is something that they don’t want to read and deal with.  For many, FB is just a light and easy way to connect with the world and play some games.  It is fine, if you have hidden me and unfriended me.  (you won’t see this either)

 

This is also the reason that I have hidden and blocked some people on FB.  I found their comments to not be helpful to me and to actually cause me more anxiety and angst.  I would rather just hide them than live fearing what they would post next.   Their posts weren’t necessarily negative, but they were certainly not helpful and got to be more than I wanted to deal with.

 

So… normal… I guess I am somewhat normal… for me.  I am normal for a 50-something woman, caught in the sandwich generation, dealing with a mother with dementia, teenage and 20-something daughters, 4 cats and one dog, a husband, and house construction.  How normal can I really be?

 

Frequency of Fun?

It is pretty clear that if something isn’t fun, you try not to do it very often.  You only do it if you HAVE to… dentist:  every 6 months, Gynecologist:  once a year, Mammogram:  once a year, taxes:  once a year….

 

But what about if something is fun?  How often should you engage in that activity?

Once a quarter?fun

Once a month?

Once a week?

Twice a week?

Once a day?

 

It depends, doesn’t it.

Once a Quarter – this would probably be those things that cost a bit of money or extra time to do.  Like taking the Girl Scouts camping.  There is the cost of the campsite and then all the preparations and food.  Once a quarter is more than most troops do, but something I really like to do with my scouts.  We might not be able to this year due to their High School Schedules.

 

Once a Month– would this include things like movie night?  Dinners out?  Cards with friends?   Things that might require some money, but not a lot of planning time.  I can’t think of anything specific that we do once a month.

 

Once a Week – what would you do once a week if you could?  This could also be a meal out.  When we lived in Cambridge, we ate out every Saturday night at Brightons.  What good memories we have of that time.  That was the first restaurant for at least 2 of our babies.  What else might be once a week?   Maybe a hike or bike?  Maybe a visit to Grandma?  Writing on your blog?  What about a backyard campfire and quiet night under the stars?   These things probably cost very little, if anything, but are nice little respites during the week.

 

Twice a Week – what is so fun that you might want to up the frequency a bit?  What would you up the frequency of to do at least twice a week?  If you could, would you eat out twice a week?  Would you take the time to exercise – hike or bike – twice a week?  Would you call someone on the phone more regularly and visit with them?  Would you sit and read a book more frequently?   Twice a week isn’t much, but for some things, it would certainly be nice and would probably improve your overall wellbeing especially if it involved exercise or human interaction.

 

Once a Day – WOW!  Is there anything that you would love to do once a day??   Is there anything that you should do once a day?  Maybe those hikes?  Or reading?  Or visits?  Maybe a shower?

 

Is there something that you would like to do more frequently than you currently do?

 

If money is an obstacle… then you might just have to be happy with once a month or quarter.

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What if it was entirely free?  What if it included human interaction?  What if it would make you feel good?  What if it would help your health?

 

What would you have to give up to increase the frequency?  Probably some of your own selfishness, is my guess.  If it involves others, you will have to think of them and work it out so you can connect with them at the appropriate times.  Won’t it be worth it??  Fun is good!  Free Fun is even better!  Free fun with someone you love and who loves you and it might improve your health is the best!!

 

What kinds of things do you do with regularity?

What kind of things would you like to increase in regularity?

Lemonade?

I am tired of “making lemonade.”

Who ever came up with the saying:

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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

 

They really should have been more creative.

 

I am terrible at making lemonade.  I take things way too personally.  I know that is one of my character flaws.  I know that I am not able to let things “roll of my back”  (there is another euphanism that I can’t handle).

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I just internalize things (because I do not have someone to whom venting is a regular and useful thing).   I also internalize and keep my mouth shut because I know that I have a tendancy to be blunt and that gets me in trouble and makes people not like me.  However, when I keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to speak unkindly, I am then deemed stand-off-ish and unapproachable.   I just want to be liked and included.

 

I can’t win for living.

 

My life seems to be a series of disappointment after disappointment.

 

I would just like something encouraging to happen soon!

 

Yes, I know that the people that disappointment me aren’t worth the anguish it is causing me.  I know that in my brain…. tell that to my heart.    I know that there are people who do care about me and do not actively disappoint me.   I am just struggling today with so much disappointment weighing me down.

 

The sun did come out this morning after that wonderful thunderstorm.  I’m sure that I will find my joy again… I hope that I will find my joy again… it seems elusive right now.

 

Do you disappoint others?  I’m sure that I do.

Today, make it a point to encourage someone instead.

If your life is full of disappointment (as mine is) try and find something positive about the day to focus on.  I will be focusing on a new piece I am crocheting and it is turning out nicely.    It will not remove the disappointment, but it will distract me for a while and that is good too.

 

 

 

 

Physical Beauty

Let’s be real.  We all want to be considered pretty or beautiful… heck some of us would even settle for cute.     🙂

 

As much as we don’t like to admit it, we do make an initial impression of a person based on their physical beauty.  Yes… we do judge books by their cover…   We are human beings.

 

Of course, “it is what is inside that counts”… we have all heard that and we do believe it.  We know that someone can be physically beautiful but can be a terrible, ugly person.  The reverse is also true.  Someone could be not very attractive and have the best heart and be the most loving and giving person ever.

 

Then why do we yearn for people to compliment us and tell us that we look nice or that we are pretty?

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Do you remember when you were 10 or 12 and you asked your mother:  “Am I pretty?”  Your mother probably replied the same as mine:  “Of course you are!”

But did you really believe her?  Afterall, you look at yourself in the mirror everyday and don’t see it.  She HAS to say that, she’s your mother after all.  Is she really going to tell you that you are homely?

 

Seeing ourselves as physically beautiful has a whole lot to do with self-esteem.  When you feel good about yourself… when you are feeling confident… when you are feeling loved… at those times, when you look in the mirror you think:  “yeah, I might be beautiful.”  However, when you are exhausted from the stress of life and things haven’t been going your way, that is when the mirror says to you:  “nope, just my same old homely self.  No one thinks I’m pretty.”

 

Do you tell others that they are beautiful?  Do you say it enough?  Is there a point where you could say it too much and it not come across as sincere?  I believe there is.  Telling someone they are pretty/beautiful needs to be a sincere statement.  I shouldn’t just be “something you say.”  It needs to come from your heart and needs to be truthful.  There are times when you just really don’t look beautiful and if someone says that you are, you know that they are just being nice and are not being sincere.  In that case, it becomes hard to know when they are being sincere with their compliments.

 

Yes, yes… inner beauty can shine through and even coated in mud or pimples or sweat someone can appear beautiful to you.  They should, if you love them.   Still, do you tell them they are beautiful at that moment?  Probably not.  There are other ways to compliment them and encourage them.

 

However… IMHO (in my humble opinion), when someone says:  You look nice…  You look pretty…  etc.  It is meant as a compliment to your physical beauty.   At least, that is how I take it.

 

Saying things like:  You are nice… You are fabulous… etc.  Those statements would be more about the inner beauty.    Which is, in the end, more important than the physical beauty but…

 

Still… we love to hear it don’t we.

 

You are beautiful.

You look nice in that outfit.

Your hair looks nice today.

You should wear those jeans more, I like the way they make your butt look.    (LOL!  OK, don’t say that to anyone but your significant other.)

You are pretty.

 

Maybe you will be able to encourage someone by reminding them that they are pretty.

Maybe you will help build up someone’s self esteem so they can be a better parent, friend, mentor, teacher, human being…

Maybe you will just make someone smile and giggle a little bit.

 

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Not to brag but… I do have VERY PRETTY daughters!   ❤