HAPPY NEW YEAR!

JANUARY 1, 2017

It is what it is, but it can be whatever you make of it.  For many a new year presents a chance for new beginnings.  New Year’s resolutions represent good intentions. What you make of those resolutions will determine what kind of a new year you make for yourself.

A few years ago I took some acrylic painting classes. I soon realized I would never become another Van Gogh or Renoir, so I decided to take the new knowledge I gained and paint for the sheer enjoyment of splashing colors on the canvas and feeling like a kid again. Before beginning our first class session the instructor brought out a large metal bowl with a striker and asked us to sit in a circle.  As she began striking the edge of the bowl the room resonated with the most soothing, reverberating sounds I’ve ever heard.  An air of calmness surrounded us and when the sounds stopped, we were ready to focus on our painting projects. As I focus on the new year and its blank canvas that is before me I am reminded of another new year many years ago.

The new year of 1937 began in the midst of a turbulent world. The country was struggling to dig out of a recession. The average cost of a new house was $4,100, but to rent a house was only $26 per month.  A gallon of gas cost 10 cents; the cost of a loaf of bread was a mere 9 cents; one pound of hamburger cost 12 cents. A new Ford automobile cost $850.  The average income per household was $1,780 per year. The population was 128,824,829. The unemployment rate stood at 14.3% down from 16.9% in 1936. The unemployed numbered 13.5 million people.

It was the year the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opened, The Hindenburg burst into flames while being moored in New Jersey, and Amelia Earhart vanished from the face of the earth while flying over the Pacific Ocean. Walt Disney released the new movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and John Steinbeck published “Of Mice and Men.”  World tensions were high as Japan and Germany were making war noises.

A young couple living in mid-America with an eight year old son found it difficult to make ends meet.  It became even more difficult when they also found out they were expecting an addition to their family.  Two years earlier they became parents of a baby boy, but lost him at the age of 18 months to a condition that is easily curable today. The father had only an eighth grade education, but he was by no means stupid.  He grew up as one in a family of thirteen children.  After the eighth grade he was out working in the cotton fields to help his parents make ends meet.  He became self-educated and excelled in English and math. He did whatever was necessary to feed, clothe and house his family.

These were my parents and this was the world I was born into in November, 1937.  If there was ever a time a young couple needed a singing bowl, it was certainly during these turbulent times.  Their faith and leaning on each other helped them make it through those tough times.

To say history repeats itself is redundant.  But today certainly seems to mirror those days of 1937.  The U.S. population today is 318.9 million with the number of those unemployed stands at 7.9 million which represents a 4.9 percent unemployment rate.

Today we are given a New Year—a clean slate, a new beginning.  It is up to each of us to paint our new year with our hopes and dreams; then choose the right colors to make those dreams a reality. Perhaps it would also help if we each had a singing bowl with a striker to help us accomplish this task.

REAL GOLD OR FOOL’S GOLD

July 19, 2016

The Mr. began the summer season with high hopes of having his left knee replaced. Yet, here we are in the middle of the summer season, July 10 and he is still hoping. He has been using a cane for some time now and that has helped, but is definitely not a cure-all solution for his problem.

Everywhere we go people ask about why he waited so long to decide that total knee replacement was necessary. Living with me has most likely had some bearing on how he viewed the surgery. Eight years ago I had my left knee replaced and after five years of constant pain was finally told by the doctors that I had a failed knee replacement surgery.

Often the elderly and infirmed are confronted with the notion that these are our ‘golden years’ as we hobble down the aisles of life.  My response has been, “Seriously?” “I’m beginning to think it’s just Fool’s Gold.”  And, when we head out for a doctor’s appointment many questions pop up in our minds: How’s the traffic today? Are there any detours? Can we easily find where to go for the appointment? Do we have all the ID information needed? What is the co-pay? Does the car have enough gas? You know how those little things that mean a lot keep going through your head.

The Mr.’s journey toward surgery hasn’t been easy. At his appointment with the surgeon on June 3, the surgery was scheduled for August 2. That seemed like an eternity away. But, he was told if there was a cancellation he would be first on the list to move into that spot. That call came on June 21 when he was told the surgery was being moved to June 30.

I’m sure his sigh of relief could be heard all over the entire state of Colorado. But, alas another call came telling him there was an emergency and his surgery was being moved back to the August 2 slot. How disappointed we both were. But then, another call came and his surgery was moved to July 5. This time we held our breath and sure enough, another call came to move that date to July 15. Oh, but then another call came the next day saying it wasn’t July 15, but rather July 14.

After all is said and done, we are holding onto the date of July 14 at 5:30 a.m. to be at the hospital in Denver for total knee replacement. This is his golden opportunity to get that knee repaired so he can get on with what he does best: being out in the community helping others with their issues such as obtaining senior housing for their golden years; finding transportation for those who need assistance with grocery shopping and/or doctor’s appointments, and serving as chair of the board for the Weld County Commission on Aging to find answers to other serious issues that face all who are having challenges in their golden years. I’m sure as involved in our community as he is, I’ll be challenged to keep up with him after he gets his new knee.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream.”  The Mr. and I both agree that our goal during these golden years is to stay true to ourselves; keep setting realistic goals; help others find answers; keep dreaming new dreams and loving each other. We will resist the notion that our golden years are only Fool’s Gold. For us they will remain 24K gold as long as we share them together.

 

 

 

DOES AGE REALLY MATTER?

My mother looked at my daughter like she had two heads. Her only granddaughter had just asked her, “How old are you, Grandma?”  My mother looked at me with ‘the look’ that begged, “Haven’t you taught my granddaughter proper manners?”

My mom, being the smart lady that she was, grabbed the question and turned it around asking her granddaughter, “Does age really matter?”  My daughter’s response caught us both off guard. “Well,” She said, “Old people do die, you know.” Mom quickly assured her that she wasn’t quite that old yet and that she planned to be around to witness many of her accomplishments. Fortunately, she was around to do just that with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I strongly believe birthdays are to be celebrated with parties and all that comes with them, including cake, ice cream, cards and gifts– and with great gusto. Life is to be celebrated all year long, each and every day a person lives, but especially on the date of their birth. Party ‘till the cows come home, is my motto for birthdays. Some people say they don’t relish all the trappings of a birthday party. Not me! I’m already planning to celebrate all day and into the night when my eightieth birthday rolls around.

I’ll celebrate with a decadent chocolate cake and Rocky Road ice cream and l might even share this goodness with friends and family.  I also want good wishes and gifts to remind me that growing old is great. After all, I’ll never be eighty again. It’s been said that wishing someone a happy birthday is akin to giving them the gift of happiness. I want happiness to be in abundance on my birthday.  I also want wine—a variety of wonderful wines poured into the clinking glasses when the well-wishers shout, “Viva La Betty”….enjoy life and be merry. Picasso once said, “It takes a long time to become young.” I’ll drink to that! Eighty years is probably a good time to say I’m young….again.

But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. My eightieth birthday won’t be here for another year. I know! It’s a bit early to begin the celebration, but better now than waiting another sixteen months. Think about the significance of that.  In sixteen months I’ll be celebrating my sixteenth birthday for the fifth time. Calculate it for yourself. Sixteen times five equals eighty. Got it?

Does age really matter?  It mattered to my daughter when she was afraid her grandma was getting old and would soon die. It matters when you have to be a certain age to drink alcoholic beverages, obtain a driver’s license, be admitted to certain night clubs, or even register to vote.

And, as we reach that certain chronological age we are expected to function by the necessary rules which all lives should be lived; the basic rules of no name calling, no bullying, rants, divisiveness, lies, bigotry, and no hate speech. By that ‘certain age’ we are expected to know how to ‘play with others’, treat them with respect, dignity, compassion, understanding and fairness; in essence to live by the Golden Rule.

In today’s society there are some who have failed to grasp the lesson that life is to be celebrated with the enduring hope of a bright future for all. In our life’s celebrations and everyday experiences we listen and learn from those around us.  Usually we take them at face value and assume they are seasoned truth seekers who, as adults know and value the rules by which all lives should be lived. It is for this reason alone that I believe age really does matter.

 

CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE

Do we really need a reason to celebrate?  It’s standard procedure to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and special holidays, so why don’t we take the time to just celebrate life?

Everyday life should be celebrated as something wonderful, awesome—even fantastic! Some live their daily life in such a ho-hum manner that they miss the opportunity to celebrate just being who they are at any given moment in time.  For some folks just waking up every day is reason enough to celebrate.

I’m one who usually celebrates life’s little moments in unexpected ways.  The Mr. never knows exactly what might happen at any given moment on any day.  It is my belief that the best picnics are often the ones that aren’t planned.  Sometimes taking time off from the normal routine to have fun and celebrate life is like going on a mini-vacation.

We all need to find ways to celebrate every single day of our life.  Why do we feel the need to wait for ‘big events’ to celebrate when so many smaller ones happen every day?  When we celebrate the small things in life we remind ourselves the importance of our existence.

You can start rewarding yourself by celebrating your personal accomplishments.  Recognizing the positive things going on in your life on a daily basis will increase your awareness of smaller reasons to celebrate each day.  You can reward yourself in small ways such as taking a much needed nap, relaxing with a nice hot bath, reading a good book, or sharing some special time with a friend or family member.

I have to admit that I have had that ‘stuck in the mud’ feeling lately.  You know, it’s like when you feel bogged down with everyday living.  There are probably several reasons for this, none of which I want to accept.  I really think perhaps the winter weather has been taking its toll on my soul.  But, I have acknowledged it and taken the necessary steps to pry my way out of the mud and stand on solid ground again.  I did this by celebrating who I am and where I am in my life’s journey.  Another step has been to realize how many friends and family I have who care about me and that I can share with in my life.  To me that is worth celebrating and something I can honestly say I do with great joy. I was out and about with one of my besties recently and we shared some insights with each other that have proven very beneficial. Sharing these insights has caused me rethink some nagging issues in my life. Good friends are good at doing that.

It’s important to set goals either daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly whichever works for you.  Always set goals that are attainable.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  When you celebrate your personal progress you create more opportunities to stay motivated.  Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying: “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

The Mr. is my life coach/personal trainer and forever soul-mate.  I love it when we’re on one of our jaunts around the area and he finds something that he thinks will delight me. It’s usually some small item he finds that reminds him of something we’ve shared or someplace we’ve been in the past. Sometimes it’s just having him reach for my hand as we walk along a trail or that special smile when he walks through the door.  Celebrating those small moments in life seems to make the trivial things that come along just that–trivial.

 

Celebrate the special moments in your life today.  Celebrating your life, your blessings and your accomplishments is a perfect way to let yourself know just how special you really are.

 

 

A FASHION REVOLUTION

 

It’s always a pleasure to spend time with friends over dinner. Good food and conversation just seem to bind those ties of friendship together. The Mr. and I were having such a dinner the other night when the conversation turned from politics to sports. The guys began discussing the jocks that are tall and skinny vs. the ones that are thick bodied and square. I turned to my friend and commented that according to their calculations I am a box. She countered by saying she must be a rectangle.

Everything I’ve read in women’s magazines indicates that there are about six figure types for us ladies. There is the A frame aka pear or spoon; the H frame; the ruler, V frame aka cone; the oval frame aka apple and the 8 frame aka hourglass. My frame does not remotely resemble any of these figure types. As I’ve stated before I know I’m not skinny and curvaceous, but I’m really not overweight either; I just have dense tissue.  All of this just makes my head spin.  What if we’re on to something here?  This could totally revolutionize the garment industry for women.

Perhaps the six figure types could be reclassified as follows: the box frame aka square or cube; quilt frame aka rectangle; A frame aka triangle; roll frame aka cylinder, tube frame aka can; the egg/elliptic frame aka oval. We would expect the manufacturers to put new labels on their patterns and clothing. Merchandisers would have separate racks of clothes for each figure frame.

Women would purchase patterns according to which frame type they are.  No more having to guess what size you need and no more one size fits all. With this new classification system I would most likely fit into the box category.  I know I would be taller if my legs were longer because I’m only short from my waist down. I’d rather be a rectangle and look like a long, slender quilt instead of a cube. Cubes are so ordinary and have that thick look about them, but being a boxy-square-cube figure type just seems to fit me to a “T-Square.”

It’s been stated that we are what we eat. Most choices in the comfty looking and fitting clothes today are either frumpy or frilly which I find amusing and disgusting.  It’s been said that clothes make the person. That might mean you are what you eat and wear.

By the looks of my boxy figure I must be guilty of eating at least three square meals a day.  If we are truly what we eat, then I must be all southern comfort.  There’s nothing better in this world that a plate filled to the brim with southern comfort food. Summertime fresh veggies from the garden (or farmers market), free range chickens, fresh mountain trout, or river caught cat fish served along with some hushpuppies make my heart sing and my clothes tight.

Have you ever wondered just where hushpuppies originated? Years ago southern men would take their dogs along with them on fishing trips.  After a day of fishing, they would sit around the campfire on the river bank and fry their catch for dinner. To appease their whining, hungry dogs they would mix a batch of cornmeal with water, roll it into balls and fry along with their fish, then throw these morsels to their animals saying ‘hush puppies.’

My Grandma was a “cube” and I have her genes. One of her favorite rhymes was: “I know my heart, I know my mind, I know that I stick out behind.”  She likely heard that as she was binding those ties of friendship together over a plate of southern comfort food while discussing southern politics.

HARD KNOCKS AND SAUCERED COFFEE

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  (Scott Adams, cartoonist)  Yes, I’ve been known to make mistakes once in awhile, probably more than I want to admit.  But, everyone makes mistakes now and then.  Mistakes are so easy to make and so confusing to correct that it takes all the fun out of making one. I don’t recall keeping any mistake I ever made.  I’ve tried hiding a few, but without much success. I believe mistakes just show how human we all are.  But I suppose when we do make one, we should try to correct it (if possible) and go on with life.

My mother was a master at hiding mistakes.  Her theory was that mistakes are made so lessons can be learned.  Most of the lessons I learned from my mistakes when I was a girl came from the University of Hard Knocks.

I recall one such lesson when I was sent to clean up the kitchen.  I decided before cleaning it up I would make something so wonderfully delicious that my parents would rave about how fantastic it was.  My plan was to take the large ten pound bag of flour out of the cabinet and quietly begin creating this spectacular dish.  However, my plan went awry when the bag slipped out of my hand and landed in the middle of the floor causing it to break open sending flour all over me, the entire kitchen floor, counter tops, window sills, curtains, and the stove.

Mom called out to me to make sure everything was alright.  “Oh, yes,” I lied, “I’m just cleaning the kitchen” hoping she wouldn’t open the door and see the mess I just created.  But, she did open the door.  My first mistake was to decide that I needed to make something wonderful and not do the chore I was sent to do.  Second mistake was trying to cover up the first mistake.  That added up to two hard knocks toward my degree!

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Don’t ever try to fool your mother. It’s a no-win situation.  Mothers have powers like no other force in the world.  It’s one of those things a woman has that lies dormant until she has children.  Mothers have been known to move such things as heaven and earth and do so at the same time.

June 28, 1909 a baby girl was born in the small community of Greenwood, Arkansas.  Her parents, Andrew Jackson and Sylvana Sides Boone named her Ima Jean. Her mother passed away when she was six years old. That’s when she taught herself to sew clothes for her two older brothers, her dad and herself.  She also scrubbed their pine floors using a mop made from corn husks.

I remember how she loved her morning coffee. She had a habit of pouring it in the saucer to cool it before pouring it back in the cup to drink it. That’s what Southern folks call ‘saucering’ your coffee. I wish I could still share some of my life’s moments with her. But, somehow I think she probably already knows about them.  It’s those uncanny powers mothers possess– even after they are gone.

This coming Tuesday, June 28 I will “saucer” my coffee before raising my cup in memory of a special mother who is too long gone, but not forgotten. Happy Birthday, Mom.  I’m still learning some hard lessons and I still miss you.