Harbingers of Fall

fall medicareThe harbingers of fall change as we grow old…or do they…as my friend Tim would say.  As a child, fall signaled stomping through crunchy leaves littering the sidewalks.  Later I cherished quaking aspen and epic watercolor scenes painted against the skyline.  Now fall’s glory is reduced to the mountain of Medicare offers I receive as unsolicited mail. Sad harbingers of fall, indeed.

How many noble trees sacrificed their lives for this growing mound of rubbish I’m accumulating?  I feel guilty, though my only complicit act was one of aging.  Yet somehow they died because of me and I feel sad. I mean, do people think I’m reading all this?  Is someone being paid to create and send trash?  Let me just say this:  STOP! End the insanity already.

medicare 2First of all, Medicare should be simple enough for failing minds.  Any plan requiring a syllabus the size of a Sears catalog and a magnifying glass is too complicated.  Second, I can’t afford it.  Looking at the proposed monthly premium I need to fork over, I’d better be getting sick on a regular basis to justify the expense.  Third, get your act together.  Half of Congress acts like they are doing me a favor by making me choose a Medicare plan, and half acts like I’m taking food from their children’s mouths by being alive enough to use it.  Sheesh!  I hear a lot of talk about abolishing Medicare altogether.  Just push me over to the side of the road when I get sick and let me die already.  Oh wait.  That’s what old folks homes are for.

Responsible legislation has become an oxymoron in this day of partisanship and lobbying interests.  Mind you, I hold the AARP in this category as well.  I remember a time when all sides sat at the table and hashed things out to a reasonable compromise, but then, I’m almost 70.  I fear our children and grandchildren have few memories of accord in the political arena, and that, my friends, is the tragedy.  Without a living memory of what Congress was supposed to look like, our hope of a return to sanity grows dimmer every year.  What can I do about this mess?  My electoral mandate is a draining of the swamp.  Strict term limits.  There will always be opportunists and self interests, but limiting the amount of damage they do is a step in the right direction.  Will government die with inexperienced politicians?  Look at our constitutional inception with farmers, soldiers and inexperienced statesmen at the helm.  I think they did a pretty good job!

In the meantime, I plan on getting back to my roots.  I’m bobbing for apples, on a hunt for some good crunchy leaves, and going for long scenic drives.  I choose to set my own harbingers of fall, and I like mine better!

Anatevka

Forty-one years is a long time to live in one place.  These days people change jobs and homes and marriages with less stress than this one life-changing decision is causing us.  We are planters, not hunters, by nature; yet we feel anachronistic when we look at the picture-studded walls depicting the epic saga of a life lived all in one place.

As we bravely look 70 years of age in the face, we wonder: Is it time to move?  A practical mind urges us to move.  Alma took care of the ten acres, and with him gone, it’s a burden for Bill.  Finances suggest the wisdom in staying put.  Zero debt is pretty compelling.  Town living is expensive.  Chronology pushes us to move.  How many more years do we have without a major illness forcing us out?  The heart begs us to stay.  All our memories of Alma lie buried within these four walls.  Our home is perfect for family dinners when all the clan comes home to be together.  In the end it will probably be decided for us, because it’s not all about us.  We have Alma’s widow to consider.

I feel like a roulette wheel, spinning round and and round and where will I land?  Nobody knows.  At least nobody living and breathing on this earth.  Pragmatic by nature, I lean toward moving while it’s our idea and we can do the choosing.  The question is simple:  Is there life beyond these walls?  Would anyplace else ever be so sweet?”  Yes, I’ve been humming Fiddler on the Roof.  My biggest fear is ending our days in a place that feels like a motel where we’ve overstayed our welcome, with no home to go to.

We’re setting apart a time for prayer and fasting before we decide, because we simply cannot see far enough down the pike to make a wise decision.  This much I do know: I don’t want to feel like I’m loading a few earthly possessions into a cart and trudging into the unknown.  If I must leave my home, I want to be excited and passionate and already imagining a new life.  But I’m a planter.  Something tells me this isn’t going to go well for me.

When Not to Lose Weight

Admittedly, I began to Shar-Pei just a tad in my 40’s.  My once svelt body developed an unattractive teensy-tiny fold or two.  No amount of dieting or sporadic exercise erased the effect, and I grew accustomed to my new look.  For much of my life I ate with no thought of calories or waistlines, but no more.  I refused to actually count calories, but I looked at them thoughtfully prior to ingestion.

Then this bombshell hit.  Did you know that after age 20…20, mind you, you lose about a gram of brain mass per year?  If you started out with an average 1300 gram brain, that loss of 38 grams might not seem significant, but which 38 grams are we talking about?  The part that remembers where I put my keys?  The part where I keep track of appointments and events?  Both of those vital brain functions began deteriorating a few years back, requiring lists and routines to make me look normal.  As desirable as weight loss may be, I find this disturbing, almost frightening.

I used to subscribe to Erma Bombeck’s harebrained philosophy:  “A brain is like a computer.  It will only take so many facts and then it will go on overload and blow up.”  Our parents had a few phone numbers to memorize.  Now we have landlines, cell phones, work phones, email addresseses, and a few million passwords to remember.  No wonder smoke blows out our ears!  Our physiological computers are blowing up.  Literally.  Or so I thought.

Shar-Pei

Now that I’ve been enlightened about cerebral weight loss, however, I do recommend brain building exercises.  No need to leave your couch.  Crossword puzzles.  Memory games on your phone.  Learn something new.  Remain vital.  Eat a well-balanced diet.  Get enough sleep.  Non-weight bearing exercise, (off the couch with you, after all!  See how I sort of snuck this in there?)  In short, stop this weight loss!

Are Boomers Getting a Solid 8?

Retiring Boomers face a world with fewer parameters, so my question is, what happened to sleep?  Research deems restorative sleep, cycling through all five waves of the sleep cycle, as essential for brain health.  And that’s the big cheese we’re talking about here!  Make way dementia, because sleep’s gonna’ kick your butt!

According to the REST (Retirement and Sleep Trajectories) study, Boomers go to sleep about 30 minutes later each night post retirement.  Their wake times increase by 60 minutes.  In other words, the Boomers’ golden years, on average, appear to be restful.

So why are they napping so much?  Admit it.  You know an aging parent who naps off and on all day long.  Or you’re looking at a retired spouse napping through a program on TV.  Being a Boomer and married to a Boomer, and being part of the burgeoning Boomer population, I know things.  Uncorrected napping threatens to become a Boomer national pastime.  Let’s rule out sleep disorders and chronic diseases.  SeniorHealth365.com sums it up in one word.  Ever watch Never Cry Wolf?  My favorite line, “Boredom, Tyler, boredom!”  That’s right.  Too many Boomers lack meaningful engagement.

In a world crying out for help, opportunities abound.  First and foremost, find a side gig.  Your wallet will thank you. Then start with service to your family, neighborhood, or circle of friends.  And finally, look at our dysjunctive, dysfunctional, disturbed-bordering-on-pathological world, and fix something.  Every week our home rocks with minions who need our love and attention.  They take a lot of time, sap our energy, leave messes in their wake, and we love it!  I immerse myself in a side gig that lends income as well as a lot of pleasure and influence in the lives of others.  Find that purpose in your world and in return, earn a solid 8.  You’ll rest better, I promise.

 

Your Tombstone

I am known far and wide (in my own family) for my potato salad.  True.  Megan said she didn’t like anyone else’s, but she tried one bite of mine and loves it.  Lori agreed.  What a recommendation!  I argued long with my oldest son to be able to serve it on Mother’ Day, and he only conceded when I promised I’d share my recipe.  In full disclosure, I admit everyone over 13 loves it.  Don’t ask the littles.

If you carved your own headstone, what would you etch for eternity to see? I think taking inventory on a regular basis constitutes good mental hygiene.  Here’s what I hope I am known for:

  • smiling with grandchildren
  • super good waffles with sleepovers
  • friendship with peers
  • service for God
  • being a camper at heart
  • ever a mama bear
  • best potato salad known to modern man

Printing this list and taping it to a mirror offers me a daily reminder of what’s important to me.  A Calvinist might consider my barometer shallow, but I freely admit that being a human being isn’t easy.  Some days I aspire to just this much.  No more.  I leave perfection to those better than I.

And my potato salad?  Perhaps it’s time to spill the proverbial beans, or potatoes, in this case.  You can find my secret recipe under any Hellman’s label, but I offer it here for my oldest son, who I am sure never reads my blog.  Megan, don’t you dare write it down and give it to him!

  • 5 pounds red potatoes, boiled and chopped with skins intact
  • one onion, chopped
  • six hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery (which Levi won’t eat so I don’t add)
  • 1 cup Hellman’s
  • 1 teaspoon sugarAutosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

I encourage you, dear reader.  Take stock.  Etch your tombstone onto your mirror (use pen and paper.  It’s easier.)  Be known for what matters most to you.  If you aspire to perfection, go for it.  If you, like myself, just celebrate surviving some days, don’t beat yourself up.  I think every tombstone ought to tell a story.  What’s yours?

What is Truth?

Charcoal.  The proverbial chunk of coal pressed into a diamond leaves centuries of untold drama in its wake.  Now I don’t care if that’s urban legend or gospel.  I like it, so I accept it.  These days truth depends on what newspaper you read or which commentator you listen to on television, so I feel free to believe anything I want.  I believe coal becomes diamonds, and I have no facts to dispute it.  I barely survived chemistry.  Four times.  You have no idea how sad I am to admit that, but it leaves me free to believe the very best about the lowly lump of coal.

What I do know about charcoal, however, excites me.  Did you know that charcoal can, all by itself, pull at least a thousand times its weight of impurities from your skin?  Charcoal serves as a natural filter, lifting toxins from the aggregate form.  In a mask like Cackle Spackle, it lifts oil, dead cells, and debris to clean your pores and make your face squeaky clean.  That just plain makes me smile.

You see, take away the jewel-toned packaging.  Take away the cute name.  Take away the competitive pricing.  What remains cleanses, purifies, detoxifies.  It is a high quality product.  I tried Cackle Spackle, and let me just tell you this: If you are 68 going on 69, you do not need this mask.  It lifted dirt, cleansed pores and residual oils.  Probably all the residual oils I’d been storing up for a rainy day.  Afterwards my skin was D-R-Y.  I need a gentler mask.  Envy This, a caffeinated mask, hits the spot for me.  But masking?  The truth is, everyone ought to mask.  Yes, that means you!

 

What Is A Mother?

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Naturally I have thoughts on the subject.  My own mother died more than thirty years ago, so it’s been a long time since I experienced a mother’s love, a mother’s pride, a mother’s confidence.  Wendy’s answer to Peter Pan makes all of us want to be with our mothers, and of course I miss that.

For me, Mother’s Day is more about being that source of support for my children than being recognized as anyone special.  Their loving attention all year long is more than enough.  I admire my sons.  I believe in their potential.  I am proud of their accomplishments.  I adore the men they’ve become.  By extension, I immerse myself in their children and spouses.

I hope to remembered for the good in my life, but its success is measured by the fruit of my labors, my family.  Are my children God-fearing?  Honest?  Productive yet kind?  That barometer of success keeps me ever on my toes.  My life’s work remains unfinished.

Motherhood is not about conception, because many women serve as mother figures for those around them.  It’s about giving that service day in and day out to the God-appointed loved ones who cross our paths.  That’s why I’m preparing a feast for my family on Mother’s Day, my day to love on all the kiddos large and small who will be coming home.  My slide show somehow leaves out a few munchkins, but the picture depicts the fun we enjoy.  Alma, I’ll miss you dreadfully .  Rest in peace, my Tall Man.  You still occupy a lot of real estate in my heart.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Itty-Bitty Things

Ray Kroc, a founder of McDonalds, is credited with the phrase “getting the itty-bitty things right,” and establishing a school for flipping burgers.  It may be urban legend, but I like the concept.  Human nature takes its cue from a constantly degrading universe, and all too often, failure to set goals results in little failures in the things that matter most.  That ability to choose to do better and be better rests as the hallmark of being a human being.

Stated another way, “good enough never has been and never will be good enough.”  Perfectionism is not a trait anyone who knows me would ascribe as one of my personal qualities.  Nevertheless, in some things, I do set lofty goals for myself.

In business, not in housework.  In cooking, not in baking.  In service, not in play.  I believe I can be exceptional in the things that matter most without being consumed by the insane notion that I can be perfect in everything.  Be exceptional in the things that matter most to you.  Set priorities.  Give the things you care about a lion’s share of your attention and effort.  See a difference.

In a past season of my life I worked as an RN.  Professionalism became a byword in our education and training.  It colored my everyday philosophy of life.  I wanted to be a professional mother.  A professional kind of writer.  A professional business owner.  And I plan on never retiring from that!  Getting the itty-bitty things right, from customer service to working with colleagues forms the basis of my business creed. If this resonates with you, join me!  I’d love to work with you!  Yes, I’ll be 69 this year, but I can use that life experience to leverage myself into a better life situation.  So can you.

join me 2

Function or Form?

Surface.  The skin’s surface memorializes a remarkable tale of our life’s adventures in laugh lines, worry lines, and a myriad of “imperfections.”  Spending a week in Paris, a city where the surface, the presentation is everything, prompted some introspection.

In everything from food to fashion to architecture, the French care as much about the facade as the function.  Grand on a scale beyond measure, the superficial assumes gigantic proportions.  And yet, what I loved most about Paris was all that lay underneath.  Subtle seasonings.  A shower the size of a walk-in closet.  The shape of things.

Life is more about what goes on at the cellular level than what we create as a portrait of ourselves on the surface.  Keeping it basic.  Sustaining health.  Being real.  That’s what I love about Posh.  We talk a lot about “naked face” and achieving a healthy skin that speaks volumes about the state of the body underneath the surface.

Skincare is basic.  Cellular.  Healthy.  Cosmetics are surface, illusory, presentation.  The building blocks of healthy, glowing skin include a good facial cleanser, a weekly mask, and moisturizer appropriate for your type of skin.  Drink lots of water.  Apply sun block.  Covering up my life’s journey is the farthest thing from my mind.  Being healthy and being real epitomizes my life’s aspirations.  Let’s talk…I’ve got you covered, in more ways than one.  (See what I did there?  LOL.)

The Sun is Not Your Friend

How did we slide from shiver to sizzle so quickly?  We left for Paris with snow in the forecast and came home to a sauna.  Spring simply failed to show up.

This weekend we sweltered through five soccer games.  It occurred to me, part way through Saturday, that I own a business with sun block in the moisturizer…and guess who forgot to put it on?  You know, it only works when it’s on the skin.  I learn that lesson again every year, never expecting it to be hot so soon.  I’m a slow learner.

block it.JPG

The bottom line is really very simple: the sun is not your friend.  I know gals love that glistening golden look, but there’s more than one way to get that glow.  Fake it Till You Make It, applied regularly, creates the look safely.

No one thinks melanoma lurks in their future, except me, of course.  I grew up in an age when everyone slathered on sun tan lotion and headed to the pool for the day.  It was like frying chicken on concrete.  I suffered through at least one doozy of a sunburn every year, often two or three.  One year I had blisters on top of blisters, and the doctor wanted to hospitalize me.  I obviously get checked for skin cancer on a regular basis.

But other women, the ones who don’t think they will ever be diagnosed with skin cancer, need to take the threat seriously.  Men have the highest incidence of melanoma as they age, when those years of working out of doors begin to catch up with them.  In short, these two products are perfect for everyone this season of the year!