When Bitter is more than Sweet

It’s a bittersweet day at the Rhoads house.  After 8 years of having Alma’s family closer than/better than neighbors, they move into town today.  Of course we support their decision and wish the best for them.  At the same time, I’ve been crying for days now.  It’s like losing Alma all over again.

How do we deal with these times of bitter change that don’t feel sweet at all?  I ask because boomers face more and more difficult changes as they age.  Knowing we traverse an expected transition does little to ease the angst, however.  Surely something moves the sweet into the bitter?  I mean, I’d love a sweetbitter experience over a bittersweet any day of the week.

So what helps?

  • Of course, counting blessings tops the list.  I am grateful we enjoyed so much time with these precious ones.  And hopefully out of sight doesn’t mean we’ll be out of their lives!
  • Crying helps.  Wait! What?  Yes, it’s okay to grieve loss.  I feel Alma very close these days.
  • Self-indulgence is permitted.  One day I have got to give up sugar again, but I still comfort myself with little treats.
  • Find new interests.  We’re working on that.  Easier said than done, because while we are a pair, we are still two very different people.  Writing helps me a lot.
  • Figure out how to survive without help.  Really?  Alma did 90% of the upkeep, and we see no viable solution here.

So, three out of five isn’t bad, is it?  The only problem is that we’ve been mired at this stage for months now.  How long do these transitions last?  Is there ever really a cure for a broken heart, broken dream, broken life?  We wear smiles.  We stay busy.  I write a lot.  But underneath the veneer little changes.  The bitter still outweighs the sweet, and this day more than most.

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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!

If You Are Breathing, You’d Better Be…

Few things in life are really one and done.  Most professional fields require continuing education for certification.  Even entry level jobs like flipping burgers have bosses that change things around and require adjustment.  In short, if you are breathing, you’d better be learning something!

When I was a teen, I thought my graduation was the end all of great achievements.  Then I went to college.  I figured out very quickly that high school had been a fish bowl preparing me for a full-sized aquarium.  I graduated college and felt elated for about 24 hours.  I worked in an ER and the skill sets of a good ER nurse were not a part of nursing school.  My field required constant education.  Then I changed fields.  Eventually I retired into a whole new world of breathing=learning=income.

It only took me 60 some years to figure out that life=learning.  Stop acquiring skill sets and find yourself kicked to the curb.  Now more than ever, I love to soak up knowledge.  My new book is about to be released and instead of kicking back on a beach enjoying the waves, I spent the weekend at a conference learning how to hone my skills.  Never.  Stop.  Learning.  If you are breathing, you’d better be learning something!

Threads…How NOT to Unravel the Threads of Your Life

Let me begin by explaining my innocent foray into the world of quilting.  Grandchild #1 came along, and in the rapture of it all I unwittingly made a baby quilt.  Of course seven grandchildren later, I felt rather accomplished at completing my eighth quilt.  By then I found myself knee deep in twin quilts as they grew into bigger beds.  If I could connect the quilted thread from the first to the last finished quilt, I imagine it traverses the United States.  A good, strong thread cannot be overemphasized when it comes to holding together the fabric of our lives.

But more tenuous threads actually connect the designs warming the heart and hearth.  We may exert too much tension on those threads, forgetting that delicate threads can break the hearts within our families.  Arguments.  Unkind words.  Controlling behaviors.  Manipulation.  These seam rippers tear apart a carefully hand sewn family.  How to avoid these destructive habits?

  • Talk often and before disagreements arise.
  • Look at situations together, not separately.
  • Speak circumspectly.  Choose words carefully rather than in the heat of the moment.
  • Listen.  Listen to what is said and UNsaid.
  • Offer no ultimatums.

Jobs come and go.  Friends may wander into and out of our lives, eventually moving on.  Family ties span years, and hopefully, generations.  Their design either create a pleasing pattern or a disruptive jumble of conflicting colors and shapes.  Meant to be firm and lasting, bind your families together with love and wisdom.  Unraveled, we lose the fabric that warms us.  I know it’s summer right now, but it’s a cold world out there, folks.  Stay warm!quilting

Quilting Tips:

  • Evelyn Burns is a genius.
  • I use the same basic patterns to simplify the process.
  • Freestyle quilting intrigues me, but that’s for another lifetime, lol.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.  My grandchildren will look at it someday, with all its flaws, and say, “She was old.”  I can live with that.

Q

 

What can Boomers Learn from Road Work?

A crumbling infrastructure lies dotted with askew orange cones and mounds of dirt.  Evidence of badly needed repair starkly reminds us that patience and unavoidable delays exist as part of travel.  Because I like to go places, I usually curl up with my book or drag out my knitting and endure it, but today I reached for my ever-handy pad of paper and a pencil, feeling thoughtful.  My husband/chauffeur cranes his head out the window to figure out the delay and pounds the wheel a time or two before he accepts the inevitable.  And it leaves me wondering: in our life’s journeys, what kind of restructuring takes place and how do we respond?

Many of us find the well-worn paths in our lives need resurfacing as unfolding seasons and new challenges signal us to slow down.  Ponder these changes.  Participate in the process.  Staid patterns require chipping out the concrete of being set in our ways. Cherish the memories but let go of the past. God’s graders level out imbalances where we let pleasure absorb time meant for reflection.  Adjust with more time in the Word.  Too often we allow ourselves to get rutted in paths of least resistance. Re-examine assumptions, set goals, remove from the calendar everything extraneous.  Pot holes of doubt now make travel through dark times more difficult.  Add more prayer time to the daily routine.  We need those orange cones of humility to remind us we remain a work in progress.

The mandate before us is to participate in the demolition.  Live with patience.  Accept change gracefully.  Remember we may feel 45, but the mirror unfolds the truth.  As we age our daily lives need resurfacing in accordance with allocated days and dwindling energy, so we can focus on things that matter.  We need to pour out from our lives the stories, testimonies, wisdom and faith that leave a blessing for our children and fellow travelers in their own journeys.  We either embrace the process or time marches forward without us.  Period.

The cars before us now zoom forward and I lay my pencil down, but with a resolve to increase my daily Scripture reading, set goals, adjust my activities, pray more often, and write down stories for my children.  How will you participate in the process?

now we are old and beautiful

Banning Blemishes

Whether the bane of adolescence still dots the landscape of your face or you want to embark on self-improvement, blemishes never feel welcome.  We look at furniture, and scour the surface looking for blemishes that either add character or decrease value.  That summation really says it all.

We subsist in a surface value kind of world.  Blemishes rarely add value, unless they’ve been added with chalk paint and stain.  The shabby chic crowd seem to prefer these self-inflicted blemishes on their furniture, but a scratch on a modern piece nixes the sale.  They aren’t really blemishes in the chic world we admire, we think of them as art.

Blemishes, sadly never garner an ounce of respect.  The first inclination when one surfaces, either on the face or in one’s life, always, is a grimace.  Only with practice do we learn to appreciate the story and then the meaning and finally the value in a blemish.  A story too horrific to talk about leaves a scar on the soul, but realizing the truth learned and survived gives new meaning to that blemish scarring the heart.  Growing grace for grace equates with living and learning, and I’m all for that.  I just also believe in accepting the process.

blemishes

The face, particularly, remains a canvas where we eliminate blemishes.  I’m right there with you on that!  I tried this new Posh product on a thirteen-year-old grandson whose face was dotted one morning with all kinds of pimples.  One application.  That’s right.  One application of a dot on each one brought noticeable improvement.  By day’s end each one was drying out and many faded completely.

You can find this amazing product on my site, at www.madaboutposh.com.  Look at COLLECTIONS, specialty face.  And as for the blemishes in your life.  Either learn to assign new meanings or embark on self-improvement.  I love art, though, don’t you?  I’m a shabby chic lover at heart.

Boomers Need Change less than their Children need Remembrance

If you’re staring at the gaping maw of 70, change is no stranger in your life.  I first discovered the insignificance of science when I learned that the human body has 48 chromosomes.  A few seasons later I learned that the normal human body has 46; the original data came from studying individuals with Downs syndrome.  And just like that, it hit me!  Science is fallible.  These all-knowing researchers spout their hypotheses like little gods wielding truths, but their “truth” changes with each new discovery.  As a population of oldsters, we doubt just about everything and believe in conspiracies everywhere.  Eschewing the establishment became a way of life for many of us.

I bring this up because I see with growing alarm the idolization of knowledge, an infatuation with innovation, the marriage of our lives with technology.  We boomers remember the mighty pen and paper; we still write in cursive, for goodness sake!  We came in peace, but have been met with the constant and utter destruction of simple pleasures.  The unfolding of a crisp newspaper with well-written support of profound truths has supplanted by sensational snippets on Yahoo masquerading as journalism.  A simply brewed cup of coffee now requires a dictionary at Starbucks.  I still haven’t mastered the art of brewing Folgers in a Keurig machine.  I admit I meet each new change with dismay, no doubt a sign of my age.

But I firmly believe the nobility of science will one day cause the downfall of our way of life, and where will our children be then?  Listen, I read One Second After, and I believe it!  Pass on your anachronisms.  Your children may need them sooner than they think.  Bill and I often lament the loss of knowledge when Aunt Grace and Uncle Paul died.  They knew so much about surviving on the land, and we didn’t harvest that knowledge responsibly.  Mom and Dad died knowing things about living through the depression, little quirks we found charming, but now we really wish we’d .paid more attention.

So my message is simple.  Be strong in the face of ridicule.  Wear your age proudly.  Relish being out of step with this plastic world surrounding us.  Our quirks may one day save our children’s lives.  Remember how to live a simple life.

embarassing

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.

 

Percutaneous Absorption of Selenium…What? Longevity. What???

Brazil nut harvests are diminishing, which requires protecting the trees throughout South America.  It makes Brazil nuts a prized commodity.  Most folks could care less…until they realize why this simple nut grown in pods, harvested with machetes, and transported to a location near you is an antioxidant of growing interest.

Selenium just recently got promoted from being lethal to a non-toxic, beneficial, and then necessary element for the human body.  Oh yes.  It supports everything from heart health to testosterone production, and a host of needy body parts in-between.  It enhances metabolism of fatty acids, which makes it an important antioxidant in conjunction with Vitamin E.  Joint lovers, listen to this!  It serves as an anti-inflammatory agent as well.  Amazingly, longevity diets include healthy portions of selenium because it restores youthful elasticity of the skin.  And where do you get it?  Well, meet the little-touted but mighty Brazil nut!

Studies offer conflicting reports on the efficacy of percutaneous absorption of selenium, but it nevertheless stars in its namesake, Brazilian Bombshell, a Posh body butter.  Yup.  Pharmacists use selenium to treat folliculitis (hot tub syndrome) and some yeast infections.  It combines with sulfur to treat dandruff.  But in Posh, the essential oil of the Brazil nut creates a wonderful fragrance.  It wafts over me when I apply it, and I close my eyes, smelling a beach.  It’s just that wonderful.  And selenium?  What a great bonus!

Do I want elasticity of the skin?  Well, yeah!  Am I interested in longevity?  Well, yeah, I’d love to be around for my grandchildren’s weddings.  I didn’t think I liked the taste of Brazil nuts, but chopped up and added to things, they aren’t half bad.  Better yet, I like absorbing its benefits through my skin.  Long live Brazilian Bombshell, the Posh-lover’s favorite!!!  (You can find it at http://www.madaboutposh.com and clicking on COLLECTIONS, body.)

braz bb

Boomers Unite! Make Mondays Great Again!

I’m starting a new revolution.  Forget Peace and Love.  Ignore the rude world of politics.  Boomers, join my new movement, which I call Make Mondays Great Again!  Monday is my favorite day of the week.  I know, I know, some of you, with stones in hand, prepare to destroy such heresy here on the spot, but bear with me.

Monday got stigmatized long ago by people who hate their J-O-Bs.  Pure and simple.  Let me list the dazzling facts surrounding Mondays for you proselytes.

  • Mondays symbolize “new beginnings with no mistakes in them,” as Anne-with-an-E stated so poignantly.  I know, she thought she was talking about tomorrows, but I’ve got her covered here.  She meant Mondays.  Truth.  Everyone starts over on Mondays, each allotted an equal chance of weekly greatness.  Gotta’ love it! Vote for Mondays!!
  • The madness of insane weekends disappears on Mondays.  Weekenders, be they hip hop night-life lovers or Sunday go-to-meeting devotees, all end Sunday feeling just a little on the whipped to well done side of the platter.  Gotta’ love Mondays!  Inhale.  Take a deep breath.  Smell the fresh morning dew.  Vote for Mondays!!
  • Mondays begin in third gear.  Everyone stumbles out of bed, reaches for the joe, and tiptoes into the week.  That laid back entry, as opposed to the Tuesday being thrown to the wolves dynamic, just makes me smile.  Gotta’ love Mondays.  Yes, vote for Mondays!!!

So, Boomers, unite!  Spread the word.  Hang posters.  Write editorials.  Let’s Make Mondays Great Again.  If Monday is your Nemesis, think of joining me.  I make Mondays fun!!!

Rosie