There’s Always Room for Waiting

I have lived my adult life thus far as a relatively healthy person.  I don’t take any daily medication, I have neither a disease nor any ailment for which I regularly see a doctor.  I generally get a cold every other year at most,  and I’ve never been “sickly” and rarely feel unwell.  It was curious and interesting to me last winter, shortly after I turned 48, that my body began to behave in a way that was not “right.”  Things that were normal and natural and easy to deal with were becoming wonky and annoying and not at all manageable.   After a few doctor appointments, ultrasounds, a biopsy, my first MRI, and two blood tests,  I learned in September that there was in fact something of a mutiny going on inside of me, things were most definitely not right, and I was going to have surgery shortly after my 49th birthday.

So the morning after my daughter arrived home from her blissful two weeks in Bora Bora for her honeymoon, and my two weeks of Super-Nana duty and child care was over, my boyfriend drove me to the hospital to have an adventure.  My surgery turned out to have some unexpected complications and I will tell you that my boyfriend’s face was one of love and relief when I finally awoke.  I had a magic button attached to my wrist, and my nurse told me to hit it every time I woke up, and that sleep was the best remedy for healing, so I spent my first 14 hours after surgery in a drug induced haze.   My surgeon was very sorry for the complications and my discomfort but I felt I was getting very good care, and I was grateful.  My first week home was more uncomfortable and stressful than I had anticipated but it was manageable.  Today is day 15 and I feel more “me” than I had anticipated in such a short time.  Before my operation I had read some dreadful accounts from other women of their own experiences on a forum I found on the internet, so I knew some women have pretty horrible recoveries, and I feel like mine is going quite well.  While I still have occasional intense stabs of pain across the bottom of my abdomen from this 11 inch gash across my body that looks something like a magician’s ‘cutting a lady in two’ trick gone awry, I feel better than I expected to.  I was able to slowly walk upstairs yesterday to do my online banking and here I am today, upstairs, doing one of the things I love best, typing.

Relaxing, or doing nothing,  is not something I do particularly well, however last Monday afternoon, at day six, when my first batch of staples were removed I assured the surgeon that I was doing nothing more strenuous than walking down my hallway.  On Monday at day 13, when the last of the steri-strips were removed I assured the surgeon that I was doing nothing more strenuous than walking the children to and from the bus stop.  I am allowed to drive starting Monday next, and the Monday after that I can resume “regular physical activity but lift nothing heavy until I see you after Christmas.”  So the doctor and I  made a “deal” that I will follow his orders, and I take this job of mending and healing very seriously.

So I am waiting to be back to “normal”  but this experience has changed me in a way that I was not expecting.  There is not a normal anymore.  My connection to the phases of the moon is now gone and my interconnectedness to the universe, something uniquely special to the female body, is gone.  It’s a strange feeling.  I feel like what was normal before is perhaps not what I want to be normal now.  Did I have an anesthesia induced epiphany on the operating table as the giant alien-like mass of ick,  that 31 years ago grew and housed my perfect daughter, was removed from my body?  Maybe.

I am waiting to be fully healed and know that I want to be a person who cares more about her wellness now, both of my body and of my mind, than I used to.  Some of you might laugh and think, “DUH? who doesn’t?!”  BUT, I really never put much effort into wellness.  I just joked that I have a family full of good genes and winged it, but I feel pretty strongly now that I need to navigate my future differently, make better choices with what I do to, and put into, my body.  Am I going to give up drinking, no, but I am not going to drink as much. Am I never going to eat devil’s food cake or a TastyKake lemon pie again, no, but I am going to have sugar more sparingly than ever before.  Am I going to give up steak or never have tacos al pastor again, of course not, and I won’t say that I will never again buy a Wawa soft pretzel when I buy my coffee, but I am determined to make this next half of my life one where I care a whole lot more about this vessel where my spirit lives than I cared before.

I am waiting to be able to sit up, lie down, roll over, or stand up without “feeling it” and that’s okay.  I am waiting to be able to button and zipper a pair of jeans, although living in yoga pants and long cotton skirts these last two weeks has been very cozy.  I am waiting to be able to lean down and kiss and squeeze my granddaughters without being so careful of my middle.  I am waiting to sleep close to my boyfriend and not flinch every time I move from my back to my side, and to sleep on my belly again will be a joy.  I am waiting to be better but more importantly I am waiting to be better than I was before, and there is always room for that.



Loving or Loathing, it’s up to you.

There are several reasons I voted on Tuesday, two of them live next door to me.  There are several reasons that I felt sad on Wednesday, two of them live next door to me.  I am angry, I won’t write scared, but I am in many ways, angry though in more, that my young granddaughters may very well suffer, and suffer mightily, by our country’s future policies towards equality, women’s reproductive rights, and environmental protection, now that we have a president elect who chose a backwards thinking gay conversion therapy promoting and seemingly homophobic vice-president, has said in interviews and in the debates that he is not pro-choice and does not want to support planned parenthood and will put a conservative judge who is also not pro-choice on our Supreme Court to possibly reverse a 44 year long right to choose, and who seems to think that climate change and global warming are some sort of smoke and mirrors trick played on us by liberal scientists and environmental protections of our water and our air are part of some sort of tree-hugging agenda.  I believe that these policy changes which may be implemented by this new administration coming at us this winter will be taking us tumbling 40 years backwards over the next four years!!!  It was not anger and sadness on Wednesday that the side I voted for did not win, as much as that the candidate who did win, has said nothing in all six debates that I watched, that spoke to me, that resonated with my soul, that sounded remotely to my ears like anything that mattered to me about the future of this country where we live and in which these little girls will grow up to be women…I don’t care so much for ME anymore, but I care a lot for THEM!

So my heart has been heavy. News and social media stories filled with so much negativity, division, anger, and hate, that I can’t really stand how it has made me feel.  Ill and stressed actually are the first two feelings that come to mind.  This being said, I feel like there is too much negativity in my life right now and through no fault of my own…so I am taking a few steps back from social media and am going to focus on all that I CAN CONTROL.  Raising good humans into beautiful good people is something I can control.  I am helping my daughter raise her children; every day I am the one who gets them on the bus, and many times a week I am the one who gets them off the bus, I am involved and invested and interested in their lives, and the conversations we have about what matters, to me and to them, what life is like for them now and could be for them later, are the important conversations that are going to help shape the kind of women they grow up to be.  This is my power, this is my voice, they are our future.

It’s my wish and more significantly I suppose, my obligation, to help raise them into women who choose inclusion and equal rights for all, over exclusion and inequality, to believe it matters how we treat our neighbors, both in our community and between our oceans, to think it matters very much how we tend to the planet we live on and how not to waste natural resources that won’t magically reappear when more are demanded, to understand that judging those who are less fortunate, or less financially stable, or let’s be blunt, less lucky, is not showing human kindness or compassion, and teaching them that the words “and justice for all” does not mean for only the wealthy and the privileged.  These conversations are important for the betterment of us ALL.  These girls are the future and the way they are raised could likely make a difference someday in the future of our country.   YOU may not care what the future of America looks like, but I suspect your children or your grandchildren will ultimately care very much.

So to say that there is much that is not going “right” in my world right now is true, BUT,  there is much going on in my life right now that is in fact fabulous.  I can love life at the moment or loathe it, the choice is mine, just three letters make all the difference.  I have decided that the only way to handle how I am feeling over these last couple days is to zoom in on what matters most to me, my role in the lives of these two little growing girls, and just marvel at the marvelous.  Focus on what is right instead of what isn’t, and you will find, as I did, a much clearer picture of the world and your role in it.  By this I mean that you can dwell in all that is shitty and mediocre or scary and bad, or you can dwell in the wonderful of every little amazing bit of every minute of your day.

Thanksgiving will be here soon and feeling grateful for anything, feels good.  Start there.  Being THANKFUL for anything that makes your heart sing, feels good.  We can be grateful with whatever good we have, however small it might sometimes feel, or we can be grumbling and annoyed with whatever is not good, however big it might feel.  This is something of a social experiment, a dare perhaps.  I dare you, in fact, I double-dog-dare you, to dwell for just today in every little amazing bit of your day.  I think if I can help generate some peace in this time of unease, I am doing what I can.  Guess what?  Despite what you might think, I am willing to bet that when you get into bed tonight, you will have an overall feeling of peace as your head hits the pillow.  Loving, loathing, gratefulness, or grumbling…we control what we think, and peace on earth starts right between our own two ears.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

So…it is here and now, the first day of the last year of my forties.  I have never been a person who cares much about her age, or the age of anybody in general, but today, this morning, I am thinking about time; time I have left, time I have wasted, time I have treasured, time I wish I could do over, time I regret…Remember how much Hook hates the sound of Tick-Tock Tick-Tock Tick-Tock??  The warning that the crocodile is near?  I feel a little bit like that today; life is happening, time is flying, and I am thinking about the reality that I am in fact more than half-way through my life, and what am I going to do about it, if anything??  The answer is probably nothing different.  My father has always used an expression that ‘you have to be ready to go‘ and I really do strive to live “pure-of-heart” in that way; no need for confession, cleansing, forgiveness…trying to do right all the time so that I never have to apologize or feel bad that I’ve acted wrongly.  Kind of strange to live like I am always ready to die, but I think it makes for an easier way to be a human on this planet.

I am alone here in my loft this morning, thinking and writing.  My boyfriend is still in Connecticut after performing two shows last night with his band,  my daughter is on her honeymoon in Bora Bora and still has more than a week of paradise adventuring to go, and so I am currently playing my 14 day starring role as both Momma and Nana, in addition to all the other parts I play, to my granddaughters, and here I sit, contemplating….nothing in particular is on my mind, I’m not feeling rueful or melancholy, just reflecting I guess, in a quiet recognition that this is the first day of the last year of my forties, and wondering if it matters at all?  Is it any different from any other birthday or year?   Tim Burton says that “every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not necessarily in that order” and I like how that makes me feel…like it matters not that maybe I started in the middle instead of the beginning, or that I had an end long ago and am working backwards to something new and different…there are women my age with children in elementary school, my grandchildren both have friends who have moms who are my exact age, so their beginning, middle, and ends have been vastly different from mine.  When many of my friends were seeing the world and having parties and dating and being “wild” if you will, there I was keeping house, working full time, going to college full time, and raising a human…so my now, my desires for the life I want to experience “now,” could be more in keeping with the experiences that my friends had twenty or thirty years ago…so there is no defined end, middle, or beginning to any story…we all have our own unique narrative and I suppose all of us might have done things at one time or another that were very much out of the order of the norm…and that’s okay with me, I like being on the less crowded side of the mean anyway…

I could write that I have a bucket list, but that isn’t true.  I have wanderlust for sure, and I’ve traveled so little, that just about any place I get to go that is new to me excites me, but I’ve not got one of those detailed lists some people make, that might include jumping out of an airplane, running a half-marathon, or walking on burning coals.  That sort of Type-A thrill-seeking adrenaline rush ‘wish list’ is not my thing, or at least I never felt that it was.   I honestly got more delight than I think I ever could have imagined, driving to Buffalo with my boyfriend last month, and getting diverted with the gps onto long, winding, and hilly country roads, and seeing one fabulous red worn down barn after another, and the wondrous changing colors of the leaves on the trees.   I honestly felt more joy and pure happiness, than I think I ever could have imagined, helping my daughter with the decorations and details of her dream wedding and watching her get married to a man who treats her like a queen.  There are actually many things in my life that are “more than I think I could have ever imagined”  so I guess more than anything this morning I am feeling lucky.  I think that if we all just took a little more time, and made a little more effort to “notice,” there really are so many of those joys and gratitude inducers that are more than we thought we ever could imagine, in every single day.

My little business is truly little, and I am not “successful” by most anybody’s standards, including my own frankly, and while I earn enough for me to live, I don’t earn any to save, or to create the life I always imagined I would be living at this age.  But…worrying too much about what I will do for a job as I grow older, where will I live when I have to sell my house because the property taxes are just not affordable, how will I pay for anything if I can’t work,  just makes me sad and very stressed, and I don’t like to feel sad, and I certainly don’t like to feel stressed, so I try not to think of any of those things, and strive to do that whole ‘living in the now‘ business and being thankful for whatever fills my soul and my presence in the present.  When I really think about life and living, and only about myself, not comparing myself to my neighbors or my family or my friends, all of whom are far more successful than I by society’s standards, I notice that I have more love and more laughter and more beauty in my days than I probably deserve, yet, here I am, getting it, day after day.  Sure there are some presents I might like, but honestly nothing I need, and frankly, when you live in a really small house like I do, you find that ‘more stuff’ which you accumulate, and don’t actually use or need, is just clutter, and there is no “gift” in that…Honestly, this morning I got to thinking that despite my longings for travel, and wishing for some things to be different than they are, my reality is such that if I had to name right now what is missing from my life, or what things I would wish for when I blow out my candles tonight,  the answer is nothing…and I don’t know that a person could ask for more of a birthday present than that…to need nothing…that’s a gift in itself…