No Worries

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #79: subtraction

This week think about what you might subtract from your life to free up energy – emotionally, physically, or psychologically. Naturally, creative discretion is yours – this doesn’t need to be a personal subtraction; global issues work too.

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drawers

 

Surely the consolation prize of age is in finding out how few things are worth worrying over, and how many things that we once desired, we don’t want any more.

Dorothy Dix

 

A noble cause it is…

To subtract the worry
The wildest of imaginings
Endless admittedly useless
Exercises of the mind.

Avoiding…

The treadmill to nowhere
Leaving one sweaty
Breathless
Exhausted
Back at the beginning.

No Worries! they admonish.

Not so fast.

I’d like to know…
Where it’s that easy.

I’ll just keep working…
To carefully tuck away
One worry at a time.

So far so good.

Already I am lighter.

Resilience

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #64: Resilience

There is a catch to this week’s challenge: I don’t want you to use the word itself, but to illustrate what resilience means to you.

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It is not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Please be careful!  I hold my breath.

I don’t speak  because he can’t hear me…outside two stories beneath my dining room window.

I can see him walking his lively little black dog. Across the grassy area between my building and the road. Painstakingly. Slowly. Steadily. In the snow. In the rain. Blistering heat.  The dog needs her walks.

In one hand he grips a long retractable leash. The other a sturdy cane and plastic poop bags. His body, bent over, lurches to the side as he walks, his left leg immobile in a metal brace. With each slow step of his right foot, he drags the other leg along. At what looks like an impossibly treacherous angle.

Step. Drag. Step. Drag.

Periodically he stops, balances on the cane and reaches down with the green plastic bag. His pup patiently waits, tail wagging…clearly used to the routine.

My neighbor has not always been like this. I met him when we moved into this over-55 community 3 years ago…and he is several decades over 55. All I know is he suffered a brain aneurysm maybe 10 years ago. Lost the use of his left leg. If he falls – and he does – he can rarely get up by himself. Add leukemia to the mix.

However…

He drives. Goes to the grocery store. Once back home, he transfers full shopping bags to a cart. Pushes it to the elevator in the garage. Slowly. Steadily.

He attends condo meetings. Cookouts. Pizza parties. He and his wife traveled to Europe last winter. Back in the day they skied on a regular basis.

He just does what he has to do. Offers of help waved off. Always a smile.

It looks so damn hard to be him.

But he keeps on keepin’ on in ways I can’t even imagine.

 

side yard copy

Ripening

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #63: Ripening

Consider what is ripening in you, or the world around you. Maybe this requires a glance backwards to another time, or a peek into the life of another.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I stumbled upon an interesting definition of ripening…

To develop to a suitable condition for something to happen

I am quite familiar with ripening as it applies to fruits and vegetables. I do play the how many bananas should I buy at a time game so I have one every morning at just the right stage of ripeness.

And when’s the last possible date I can eat those tomatoes left ripening on the counter before they go over the ripening edge into moldy mush? Splitting open and spewing blackish seeds at random. I play that ripening game too.

I don’t like to throw away food. I’m also not a big fan of banana bread…the last edible resort for overripe bananas.

It all has to do with chemical changes. Age. How long before starches turn to sugars. Acidity levels increase. Everything softens. The plant loses shape. Dries up. Eventually caves in on itself rendered inedible.

And…speaking of ripe…

Let’s not forget the antiquated expression about living to a ripe old age….

Hey!

Wait a minute…

I don’t know if I like what seems to be falling into a familiar place here…

1) Chemical changes: Umm, yup. (need I list those? I think not)
2) Everything softens: Uh, yeah…
3) Loses shape: It’s-called-gravity-people!
4) Dries up: See #1.

Let’s not discuss the caving in on oneself part now.

My point in going down this Ripening Road of Realization is to focus on that first definition. I much prefer to consider my aging self as getting ready for something to happen. Something positive. Before I get to the caving in part.

I need a plan…of action.
As well as a healthy energy for that action.
I may be ripe for something, but for the life of me
I have yet to figure out what that is.

slime pond

Presence

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #57: Presence

 

woods presence

 

Do you shop at this store alot?

I looked around and my eyes settled on a woman about my age. Dark hair. Glasses. Head swiveling from shelf to shelf, before meeting my gaze.

Yes I do.

She smiled…Do you know where I can find the cornstarch? I’ve looked and looked.

We were standing in the baking aisle. Clearly the right place.

It should be in the baking aisle. Which is this one.

She thanked me and started to wheel her cart away, giving up the search.

I spotted 4 varieties of cornstarch on the top shelf and called out…I found it. Here it is.

Thank you so much!

She dropped the cornstarch into her cart and added…Now what can I do for you?

What can she do for me?
Remarkable.
To be Clearly Present in a public place…
Seen. Heard. Acknowledged. Offered assistance.
A full circle personal exchange.
Quite Noteworthy.

Interesting thing about these advancing years. Well, maybe not so much interesting as downright alarming and often depressing…is how we become more invisible. When exactly did the page turn to this chapter?

When you start to fade from public view. Even when you are in the public view.

Was it a certain age? A shift in job status? The nest? What?

I am still trying to figure it out. It shouldn’t matter that I can’t walk as fast.
Drink as much. Eat the same. Sit as long. Stay up as late.
As I used to.

Obviously I didn’t pay close enough attention to any warning signs pointing to my impending invisibility. But perhaps there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Except to develop the presence of mind to reclaim my spot. When I’m ignored. Or dismissed. Interrupted mid-sentence. Deemed irrelevant.

After all, as the infamous line from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” repeats…I’m not dead yet!

Maybe if I’d known what to expect, I wouldn’t get as pissed off about it.

However…let’s think positive.

There is the grocery store. Which is a start. Apparently I am very present…not sure why. For random fellow shoppers – of all ages…with burning comments and questions: Is that a good brand of bread? What is the best gluten free pasta up there? Do you know that those detergent pods burn holes in your clothes? I love your sweater, where did you get it? Does that chicken look fresh? That broccoli isn’t too good, is it. Where do you get your hair cut? I can’t find a damn thing in this store since they remodeled it, can you?

And a few days ago…What can I do for you?

I understand about being present in my personal life.
But me, myself and I is not enough.

In the meantime…at least I know where the cornstarch is.

 

cornstarch

 

Flower of the Day – Birthdays & Roses

I don’t believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.

Virginia Woolf

 

My contribution to Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge today is a personal one.

These photos are from the collection:  “Favorite Flowers of My Day”…

A gift from my son 7 years ago….

They arrived fresh, bright and glorious in color.

 

birthday roses 2012

Snug in a vase.

Petals delicately layered…

birthday roses close up

…a sweet long distance Happy Birthday.

 

May photo a day challenge – Layered

 

lights

Everybody thinks that the most important thing in life is cash. It’s not. It’s your health.

So said Dan in a recent conversation.

Dan is our electrician. He stopped by last week to look at our new condo. We needed his ideas about installing a ceiling light in the second bedroom. It could have been done during construction, but we’d wanted to keep costs down. Not smart in the long term. But Dan didn’t put it that way…

“You’d rip up that nice new sheetrock and never get it looking this good again.”

Okay, Dan, you’re right. Skip the ceiling light, but our aging eyes need more light at the flip of a switch. And our aging brains didn’t think it all the way through.

“Try wall sconces” he suggested. “Those would be simpler – won’t damage the walls.”  We agreed to visit a local lighting store and check some out.

One other thing…”We also need some dimmer switches here in the dining area. It gets too bright.” The apparent contradiction of the 2 lighting requests didn’t faze him. Dimmer switches are an easy fix.

“So how do you like living here?” Dan remembered our previous suburban home and recognized the significant life change we had made. He was perhaps 10 years behind us in age and lived out in the country. We now live in a multi-unit condo complex close to a busy state highway.

“I like it…it’s much less work….but I miss the quiet.”

We talked about the unending responsibilities of home ownership and snow removal and such. And why, for various reasons, my husband and I made this move. Entered into a mortgage again. Realized we needed to conserve our strength. I needed to avoid another fall off the deck while removing ice dams from the roof. No more climbing stairs down to a basement and up to a second floor. A shorter commute to work.

As time goes on, our physical limitations come into starker view. And we need to pay attention.

He described a recent evening at his home – windows open – all he could hear were the crickets. He just can’t give that up. As he gets older, it may get harder to keep up with his home’s needs, but…as long as he stays healthy it will be okay.

Same here, Dan, same here.