Accompanying Your Friend to the Hospital

I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.

– Marie Curie – Physicist and Chemist –

 

As a medical provider having accompanied a friend to the hospital today for a routine procedure, here are some observations and tips. We can always get a better understanding, even if we’ve been around the block a few times. Learning is a forever-process. 

**Because most people may not have an idea what is going on in the hospital, have an advocate or family member with you to help you ask questions, to question what might be going on (if it feels wrong, it may well be), to speak up on the patient’s behalf (maybe you’re the one who will potentially change an adverse outcome or maybe you are not intimidated by the physician), or to help you remember the discharge instructions or something the doctor said. 

**It is beneficial for people of any age to have a living will and a medical power of attorney. What would you want done for you or on your behalf if you could not speak for yourself? Make the decisions before you can’t make them. 

**Find out in advance about what to expect as far as what is needed after discharge, such as not being able to drive for 24 hours, having medications ordered and filled prior to the procedure (so you’re not running around afterwards to take care of this), and making arrangements for any additional help you might need. 

**Find out in advance what the charges will be for the procedure, surgery, test, or appointment. Know your insurance benefits; it’s a contract between you and the insurance company. Make sure you get things in writing. It’s an eye-opening experience when a patient is told they will owe a big fee at the time of the services, and who is going to back out at that time? Planned procedures are just that – planned. Costs should be discussed, and patients have the options to make some decisions around this issue. Most people have limited budgets, and today’s out-of- pocket costs are sometimes cost-prohibitive to patients and families. 

**If you’re the advocate or family member, a procedure that is planned for a one-hour stay can turn into 5 or 6 if the doctor had an emergency or if there are other delays. Be prepared to either be there, or talk to the staff about leaving and being available to come back to be there when it is time to leave. Bring work, food, a book, or anything to stay busy and to pass the time without feeling like it was “wasted.” Take a walk around the hospital campus. The person you’re accompanying will likely feel terrible for the wait. Let them know that you were productive and that it was welcome time to stay focused or get something done. 

**If you’re there with someone who’s older, give them time. They usually process things a bit slower, and being in the hospital can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. The same goes for someone who’s overwhelmed or stressed about their diagnosis or condition. Give them a break with simple instructions and avoid medical jargon if you happen to be knowledgeable about the condition etc. 

**Unless they ask for you to do this, try not to speak for them or over them. They have to have some control. Don’t be the one to take it. Ask for permission to help them. 

**Be ready for anything – I had a lovely conversation with an 86-year old volunteer who had been working there for over 16 years. Her husband had just joined the volunteer team after a stroke — she was orienting him, and hearing them interact was hilarious. Let them yak your ear off – I think we need to treasure our seniors’ stories or they will be lost forever. 

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What suggestions do you all have for either helping a friend or family member, or for making it easy on the caregiver or advocate? 

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Post 15 of 30 out of 30 days of blog entries. 

 

 

Out of the Shadows: Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum

“I have not always chosen the safest path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I’ve learned something important along the way: I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart. 💖 I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.”  ■  Steve Goodier  ■

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Over a year ago, I started on a bit of a different trajectory which involved learning some new skills way out of my area of expertise. Reaching deep and overcoming some fears of being a novice again. Of wanting to try something new and actually taking the steps to do them. 

So here I am a year later with many new experiences under my belt and with working through challenges that I had not imagined for myself. Of looking my fears in the face and taking the actions that revealed to me that I can beat the fears.  

I have heeded the call of my heart most of the way. And no, the path has not been safe, and the boundaries, well, while they’re expanding, I feel like I have gotten more to the edge vs being centered and grounded somewhere. 

The constant “grind”…

  • Of always feeling like I have to level up.
  • Of adding one more platform.
  • Of making one more piece of content.
  • Of pursuing one more avenue.
  • Of responding to one more post. 
  • Of making sure everything is just right.
  • Of learning one more piece of information or task to get you ahead.
  • Of thinking of one more way to teach someone about lifestyle changes. 

Today, I thought about just taking a break for a bit and letting things just “be” where they are. For a while. Rest. Enjoy. Breathe. Let the music play. Let me just do what I want to do, and not what I HAVE to do. Flow through the day. Balance things. Really practice some minimalism and not be a hypocrite. 

Because in all the “business building” and coming out from under the shadows and learning that I am doing, I feel like I am contradicting myself with the precepts of living a more simple lifestyle. 

    Sometimes, it is enough.

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Rx: Regroup. Listen to my heart. Walk to the beat of my own drum. 

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Post 14 of 30 (nearly) daily posts to get things rolling in blogging….Today, I had to use this to really focus:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pJheICAck4

 

 

4th of July and Immigration**

**A little off topic and not about health or wellness, but it came up in conversation the other day with a foreigner, so this is a timely occasion to write about it.

On this 4th of July, we think about our freedoms. We think about food and friends and celebrating. We think about having the day off to do what we want. We love this day, hopefully, because we live where we live by choice.

But what about the reason for Independence Day? Do we take this seriously? Do we honor those who served and who continue to serve to maintain those freedoms? Do we tend to take our freedoms for granted? What about all of those trying to immigrate—do we understand why they want to be here?

As a naturalized US citizen and having gone through the immigration process, I do not take any of this immigration debate lightly…on both sides of the issue.

Patriotism and immigration are not really “party” issues. They are human issues. I feel for the families, but also know that there are legal ways to go through the process which may not be financially feasible for many. It’s a process which, back then, took many years – first temporary residency requirements, then permanent residency requirements, then the process toward citizenship. I think it took nearly 10 years to know I was here “for good.”

I had to go through the painful government red tape of becoming, first, a temporary resident, then a permanent resident, and then a citizen. Having been a US government employee and knowing the quirks of Department of Defense regulations currently in some of my military work, jumping through the hoops of government regulations and laws can be a rough process to navigate.

I was pretty young, maybe 15 or so, when I started going through the process. The process has certainly changed over the years, and I understand why people who want to immigrate to the US do so without following this process. I’m all for the government controlling this and maintaining oversight, but having a bit more information about the process may make us a bit more empathetic about what people and families go through to try to live in this country.

By the way, our process is not a lot different than trying to become a citizen of other countries who have restrictions and stringent laws about this as well.

I recall the whole ordeal to be quite the demeaning and difficult process until I sat in front of the judge amongst many others in the US Court House.

I had to get HIV tested. No choice. I had to get tested for syphilis. Seriously, of all things, syphilis! No choice. I had to get tested for pregnancy. No choice. By the way, I was admittedly a late bloomer, so these tests were essentially irrelevant and a waste of money, but you’re herded through with everyone else….and there are “protocols.” And yes, you can get syphilis and HIV from other sources, but really, what would they have done to anyone testing positive for these as a minor? Kick out the minor and let the parents stay? It just never made any sense to me. I was subject to a medical examination by some doctor who was probably trying to meet a quota in some occupational health center (as dirty and filthy as they come and in the worst part of town) who did not know anything about my medical history (I have none but that’s irrelevant, and it certainly was not verified through a records check, etc.). And oh, we had to pay for all these tests, the mandatory medical evaluations, and the entire immigration process.

Let’s see, what else? The immigration facility where we were “processed” at the time was a huge building in South Phoenix. If you know anything about South Phoenix, you will know that this was an area of cheap land at the time. We were herded amongst others who were also going through it…French, Spanish, Eastern Indian, Middle Eastern, Africans, etc.

Some of the things I remember: Everyone looked anxious. And the waits were always long. And quiet. Everyone was on their best behavior. And armed officers were everywhere. I think feeling like a criminal or feeling like you were doing something wrong is the emotion that would be appropriate labels to describe it.

The employees were, well, government employees. Burned out, not there to provide any customer service as we know it and expect it, and really couldn’t care about the people in front of them. I recall having to write the sentence a couple of times. A plain English sentence. Try to write a sentence in front of some immigration officer who will make a decision to kick you out or keep you in! You will look at the sentence, and it will look wrong. Even after I had two degrees and finally was about to go for my US citizenship, still, that darn sentence. Can you write an English sentence? Did you go to school here? Demeaning. Look at my GPA. Look at the transcripts. I speak English!

I am sure there are people who are getting naturalized today. Pledging allegiance to one country and giving up the rights of citizenship to a native country does not come without pains. And they have been through a lot. They made the choice. They stuck out the years of waiting and hoping and filling out forms and being interviewed and investigated and praying it would finally end. They went through a bunch of stuff that was worth it to them to be here. To work here. To worship or not to worship. To raise families here. To hopefully contribute. To hopefully not have any regrets.

I am very proud to be an American. Today’s a great day to reflect on that.

Out of the Shadows: Keep On Keepin’ On

I’m just back from the high country of Arizona – specifically Flagstaff – where I was doing a little dog and house sitting. I got away from the desert heat and was surrounded by trees, was in the altitude, and was able to have doors and windows open without A/C use. The time away from my usual surroundings give me time to take on some new challenges as I am not distracted by the usual. The change in scenery also allows me to reflect on progress and on what still needs some work.  

Over the past couple of years, I’ve made a lot of significant, albeit gradual, changes in my life that are leading me to what I believe is constantly a better version of me. It’s amazing how a few tweaks in our lives can make a significant difference, both mentally and physically.

A few months ago I watched the documentary, HEAL, which supported the quest I am on as I have some cancer genes in the family which I am hoping will not get turned on if I can help it. HEAL (not an affiliate link, by the way) is a great rental if you want to learn about how stress and our mindset affect our bodies and how the power of the mind can also help to heal us in many ways.

I believe you don’t need to radically change your entire way of existing in the world to make a lasting and potentially significant impact on your health. Some people succeed with this, but I have found in my years of nursing and medicine that most patients do not operate this way. I also tend to do better with making small changes, testing the water, and then going forward. You have to know yourself and do what is right for you.  

I’m sharing one tip in each of these categories which may not be earth-shattering, but maybe they will be of help to those who are struggling to start with that “one thing” that may lead them down to better health and well-being. I know my patients think that they have to make huge changes and feel this is quite overwhelming so they fail to get started altogether.

My opinion is to just take it one step at a time. These are my own views and changes, and they may not work for everyone (and if you’re changing anything that may affect your health, definitely speak with a healthcare provider first to make sure it’s right and safe for you, and also, you may have a health condition that may require drastic changes, so heed the advice to talk to your doctor or medical provider…). I also want to make the disclaimer that “change” – yes, your own change – can alienate some people in the process as they are not ready to see you make the changes or move on to a better you. Know that you’re doing the right thing for you, and that is what counts….  

      Relationships: I have let go, truly let go, of those who bring negative energy into  my life. While I realize that I am also part of the relationship and some of it may have been me, I needed to do this, and continue to be selective. Honestly, when they don’t add anymore but subtract, one has to consider their tribe. And yes, this included family with whom I don’t share any longer. Harsh, I know. But I’m a big girl, and I know what feels right and wrong. I have zero regrets…only maybe to say that I wish I had done it sooner. Time for putting on the “big girl” (or big guy) panties, right?!

     Work/professional: I recognize now after some years of trying to fit into a routine office setting, fraught with confusion, massive noise, and harried interactions, that I do not belong there. It stifles me. I smother under the gossip, the chaos, the pressure for more and more productivity to make someone else money, and the potential compromise in the kind of care that I want to provide. I am doing my own gig, making less income, allowing me to explore other avenues, and am much happier. Working the “rote” 8-5 which actually never ended up being “just” those hours, is not for me.

     Nutrition: When I was younger, I allowed myself to be okay with eating what I wanted and not worrying about disease. I was only worried about weight and came from a family who policed food intake, forbid snacking, and controlled what happens at the dinner table. When we were kids, we also had to finish our plate. No longer. Now I feed myself about 90% wholesome, nutrient –dense foods, and I do what feels right for me at the time with me controlling what’s going on my plate and in my mouth.

     Physical Activity: I push my body a few days a week, and pretty hard, with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and weights. I do enjoy this, and I know it’s good for me. The rest of the time, I do activities that are complementary, like hot yoga, walking (love to walk and could walk miles and miles every day), and biking. Nothing fancy; again, I do what feels good. I stop when I am “done.” I am prone to overtraining symptoms (primarily lack of sleep, mood issues like irritability, and fatigue), so I have to monitor this carefully.

     Self-care: I say no. A lot. And I feel no guilt. I make self-care about everything a priority. I think that self-care is knowing what you can tolerate, what makes you thrive, and what gives you motivation. Filling the tank and trying to keep it pretty filled (or at least aware if something is depleting me) most of the time are the ways to keep going through the muck and challenges of the day.

     Spirituality:  I am working on this. I have attended formal services but don’t attend any now. I think there are other things that connect you to a higher deity, like meditation or just spending quiet time, practicing some gratitude.

     Connection: Animals, nature, candles – I allow myself to enjoy some simple, cheap pleasures to take some deep breaths while trying new candles all the time, to connect to animals who don’t demand a lot of me (I dog-sit a lot and love it), and to rejuvenate with the outside. Easy. I think there’s nothing better than trees, mountains, and water.

You’re always on the path to a better you. If you don’t like the path, change it. If it doesn’t feel right, change it.

Allow yourself to absorb and learn what you need to learn to grow. You’re always leveling up and expanding you. You’re never stuck; you’re testing the waters. The beauty of being a human is we can change our minds and change our lives. It’s cool that it works that way. I think we stay in place until we’ve learned lesson and until we are ready to move on.

Some final tips that I find useful include these:

  • Create magic in your world, and let this look the way you want it to look. It’s your world.
  • Be intentional with creating some boundaries.
  • Be focused with the intentions you set and then avoid the distractions that lead you down the rabbit hole.
  • Be ok with taking the time it takes to finish what you need to accomplish, to be satisfied with the results, and to move forward. 

What are you doing for yourself?

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Entry 11 of 30.

Photo: Mt. McKinley, AK (south peak)

Thoughts on Becoming Minimalist

On a hike today, I had a go-around in my little brain about what it means to become a minimalist. Hiking or walking always gives me that – the ability to solve some problem or allow me to come up with ideas (There is actually some research that supports the fact that arm swinging during these types of activities facilitates problem-solving, cognition, and creativity).

What does it actually mean to become more minimalist?

People have divergent ideas about what this might mean to them. For those who have not started, they may think it’s a radical idea. For me, yes, it is about getting rid of stuff. Purging the clutter and the hodgepodge of unused items in the house.  Getting rid of computer files or stored emails. Getting rid of cable and bills that are requiring me to potentially trade more time to pay them, taking away from time that I can be doing things that I value. Avoiding buying anything not absolutely needed for a purpose or to give some level of joy. No longer accumulating items that I can access in other ways, particularly books or music. Not storing anything for the “what if” situation. Avoiding the excesses of food or consuming foods that are counterproductive to achieving and maintaining a healthy body. And yes, choosing not to continue with specific relationships.

Our stuff and even the evidence of our accomplishments (diplomas on the wall, initials behind our name) give us a degree of comfort, sense of achievement, and status. Our stuff tends to define us. But note the words we tend to use to describe the activities we need to do to make progress. The “getting rid of” and “being without” concepts are inherently negative, and we will resist these. We fear the changes that this lifestyle of “less” might mean. Will I still be worthy? What will my friends and peers think? What if I need that object that I have chosen to toss?

What if we reframed the whole idea of less as an opportunity to fill our lives with more?

More things that fill us up. More things that clearly give us satisfaction. More people (or at least quality people) that inarguably add value to our lives, who build us up, and who don’t suck us dry. More situations that give us courage and the confidence that allow us to help others because we’re not weighed down by the confusion and disorder in our own lives. More time to create what we want to create. More time to actually DO the things we know we can do vs spending more and more time in school or courses to reach some level of mastery when we’ve really already achieved where we need to be to make a difference. More food that is healthy and that fuels us to be the best we can be without disease or ailments. More chances to say yes to opportunities that open doors and help to contribute to causes that mean something. More money in our pockets to spend how we want.

I think minimalism isn’t about denying yourself anything. It’s about opening up doors that you cannot see opening when you’re surrounded with the clutter and chaos. It’s an acceptance (not resignation) to embrace what you have and value and that you are not defined by what you own.

 

 

 

 

Out of the Shadows: On Blogging

Just some thoughts about learning about blogging on this Friday night. Although I have other things to blog about, I’ve been reading and learning about the whys and the motivations for blogging for personal and professional reasons. Although I have written school papers for grad school and college in the past, the “blog” is a very different gig. Kind of like journaling for the public, although I don’t often journal, and when I do, it’s mostly lists and phrases and gibberish about things or ideas my brain needs to get rid of so, maybe not a journal at all but a notebook of ideas that I may follow up on in a year.

But back to the topic.

There are a lot of experts out there with different advice about optimizing your blogging time…wear a headset with music so you can immerse yourself and just write write write. Give yourself a period of time and go with it. Don’t force it. Stay on topic, and become the master of a niche. Others say get into a quiet place without interruptions. Some recommendations talk about exercising before the task to clear your head so thoughts will just fall onto the page. Having content for a few weeks in advance is also mentioned.

I never knew there was so much too it. I thought I could just write down and do it. But then there are other questions….Who am I to have a blog? How much to reveal? How preachy do I sound if I am trying to relay health-related tips? Will people read it? Will it be one of those blogs no one reads? Who even cares about what I have to say? I read others’ stuff, but who wants to learn from me? Will I make a difference? Will I “reach” people? Who are those people? I don’t understand monetizing a blog, so who would want to pay me for anything and how do you even accomplish that? Do I promote it on other sites and when? At what point will I feel “ready” to tell people about my blog? Do I want my friends to be reading this, or would I rather have perfect strangers read it?

It’s just a weird phenomenon that in 2018, we are all blogging. We want to be significant in some regard, and we want to be heard beyond the boundaries of our current situation. We want to make a difference and touch someone with our words. We have something to share, and we hope that beyond our professional and personal settings, we can relay a message to some soul who is ready to receive it.

It’s scary to admit that it is something that is a big step to take. Vulnerability. Novice. Imposter syndrome. Again. 

I have read others’ blog pieces and admired the words on the page. Most of them just flow. My challenge is to overcome the block in my head that I need to stay under the radar and just start to write, tweak it a bit, don’t agonize until it’s “perfect,” and then let it go.  That’s also why I called the blog “Out of the Shadows.” I think it the concept of “out of the shadows” signifies major changes. It means not being invisible in a world where we’re all meant to somehow make a difference and stand out, and that it’s ok to do that. It means making a contribution –no matter how small or how big — instead of just being a taker. It means destroying the boundaries that are constructed, getting out of operating in a safe zone at any age, and making room for something new.

Stepping things up for professional reasons and also hoping to gain something personally – well, that’s long overdue. Although I have taken lots of chances in other areas, “putting myself out there” into the media has not been one them. That’s not good enough anymore in today’s business world, knowing that use of the various platforms need to be maximized to your benefit, to reach the people you want to reach, as well as to add value to a community.  And we have so many ways to do that now – blogs, social media sites, podcasts, lecturing, or one-on-one.

Maybe there’s something greater in store when I keep going…just around the next bend of that path I’m on.

So on I blog.


 

Blog entry 9 of 30.

Photo: Mountain Biking at Brundage Mountain, Idaho

Feedback welcome. Thank you. 

 

Level Up: 10 Simple Tips to Live a More Vibrant Life

A few life hacks that I’ve learned in my over half-century of being in the world…I adjust where I need to make changes, so this, like me, is a work-in-progress. While this is not medical advice, hopefully these can be helpful to you as you choose to thrive every single day in this short life we get to live! 

 

1. Make sure you take care of you first. If you’re not healthy, if you’re stressed, and if you are not fulfilling your purpose, you won’t be any good to anyone. Be okay with making yourself the priority, and lose no sleep over this. Quit feeling guilty about taking time for yourself and making sure you’re filling your tank every single day. 

2. Move every single day. Sitting is the new smoking. A sedentary lifestyle will affect mood, muscle mass and strength, weight, and overall metabolism. Step it up! Incorporate walking, gardening, playing with your kids, housework, shopping, and creating opportunities for any increase in movement into your daily routine. Your body will love you now and will love you in your future years. You can change this at any point in your life – just start

3. Commit to choosing fresh and unadulterated foods. Look at more plant-based options and less meat overall. Ditch the diets; they are not the solutions. Restrictive diets can contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and if your macros (the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, & fats) are off balance, you’re compromising your overall physical health, mental well-being, and vital metabolic functions including those that make your brain work, that allow your body to make hormones and those help you burn the foods you consume. Choose foods that make you feel good, that fit into your cultural and family values, and that you can follow. Opt to choose healthy foods instead of always focusing on the elimination of some food item you label to be “bad” for you. This just creates more anxiety and fear around food. Make small tweaks along the way to move toward more healthy and wholesome ingredients as well as how you might prepare them. If you get off the path, change your course and refocus. Try growing your own – eating out of your garden is so rewarding (if I can do it in the AZ Desert, you can do it where you are!). 

4. Every day, engage in some spiritual activity – prayer, meditation, yoga, a formalized church community…whatever works for you. The trick is to stick with what you’re doing and make it part of your daily or weekly choices to connect you to something bigger than you that gives back in spades without asking

5. Stay connected to a circle and socialize with a community who empowers you, supports you, and lifts you up…I call this the vitality tribe. Be the same resource for them. Ditch the naysayers, the doubters, and the saboteurs. We all lose a few people in our life when we “level up.” They will eventually catch up. Or not. Look back only to see how far you’ve come with efforts you’ve put forth alone as well as with the help of your vitality tribe. 

6. Balance your work/rest schedule. Give yourself enough hours to rejuvenate and have uninterrupted sleep. Sleep is healing, both mentally and physically. Sleep deprivation has been shown to contribute to mental health issues, physical maladies, accidents, and decreased work productivity. 

7. Choose work that is fulfilling to you. While your work may pay the bills, if it robs you of your spirit, you may want to reconsider what you’re doing or add something that helps make up the gap and reenergizes you. Keep learning. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Be okay with being a novice and feeling the imposter syndrome that you may feel when you’re in a new arena. If you stick to it and apply yourself every day, you will soon become the expert. 

8. Disconnect from social media, TV, and useless noise at least one day a week. Simplify everything! We don’t need to be in front of the mindless chatter, the bad news, and the constant advertising, all of which can ultimately make us anxious and feeling a sense of lack. Living the life that is in front of you – not for purposes of posting on social media about them – will make you a lot happier and more connected and engaged to who and what is front of you. And while we’re talking about social media…it’s notorious for making you subconsciously compare yourself to the next guy, so getting away from it empowers and enriches your experiences without worrying if you’re “good enough” or keeping up with the masses. 

9. Change your perception about the problems or closed doors in your life. When something doesn’t work out, be certain it can lead to better doors and opportunities. Allow the lessons of closed doors – the ones you choose to close or the ones that are seemingly closed by someone else – spurn your growth and exploration. I am also learning this, but know that these “things” happen for you, not to you. It’s a process to learn and appreciate the difference…

10. If anything in your life is not working, or you’re not feeling it, change it. Know that you have the power to engineer anything in your life at any time and that you are in charge of the path you create. You’ve got this! 

 

Out of the Shadows: When Things Don’t Go Well, Be Like the Dog

When things don’t go so well, like today, it’s easy to want to retreat. To hide. To seek shelter in the shadows again.

There will always be stressful, less-than-desirable events in our lives. That’s just life. What do we do?

This afternoon when the dog I am watching took a siesta in the bed of herbs, I had to laugh. Reframe the day. Just let it go. Get upset at the dog? No. Here’s an animal that seeks the best in each moment, suns herself, isn’t worried about crushing the herbs, and is oblivious to everything around her except being right in the moment and with the ultimate goal of only feeling good and getting her needs met. No anxiety. No stress about the next thing that will happen or not happen. Why can’t we do that?

Interestingly, a few times when I checked into social media today, posts about magic…creating magic, being intentional about making magic, finding magic in the day, and seeing magical things happen floated across my news feed. A subtle message, and each post by someone else, but I heard it and paid attention to this common theme for the day that was overpowered by these negative, albeit temporary, vibes.

When I took a walk tonight with the moon in all her glory, I had to say STOP. Just. STOP. I took some deep breaths and just expressed gratitude for all the good things going on. And there are so many. The crap always blows over. When we let it ruin the moment, we lose. Why do we let the few thoughts destroy our peace, robbing us of precious time and letting us worry and ruminate? I was ok when I returned back home, but breaking that cycle takes some work, doesn’t it?

Tomorrow I start again. Be in the moment. Create magic. Be magic. Stay focused. Say thank you for the good things.

Be like the dog in the herbs.

 

Blog Day #8 of 30.

 

Out of the Shadows: A Letter to my Younger Body

Dear Younger Bod,

Where did you go? I miss you and all you had to offer. You were with me for so long…and man, did you give me some fun times!

But I want to make a few confessions to you as I sit here in front of my mirror and check out…well, your successor. She’s here now in all of her might and has seemingly and magically appeared and evolved as a friend who I’ve come to know quite intimately over the last 10 or so years. A stranger who has worked her way into my life of 52 years. I hope she’s not going anywhere soon, though…I think I will keep her around for a bit. I’ll introduce you to her, but let me first say a few things.

I’m sorry that I critiqued you constantly. For years I thought you weren’t good enough. I didn’t think much of you, at least lovingly, and I was constantly trying to change you when you were just fine. I must have been such a nag. Having me look at you like you weren’t good enough must have been hurtful. I sure didn’t appreciate you the way you always deserved. I also know that I probably didn’t take care of you as well as I should have, selfishly and ignorantly thinking I had youth and years on my side. I should have listened to mom! I am sorry for that.

I loved how you gave me the best eye lashes ever! Such a gift. Your lashes were the envy of the masses, girlfriend. Just a little mascara, and you lit up the room, both plain and adorned with mascara and color. Now, well, my new friend is a little stingy with flaunting the lashes like you always did, and it seems like she demands a bit more mascara, and that is IF I actually imbibe in that luxury with her.

Yikes, and can you say wrinkles? Thank you for giving me lots of good years without the map of life….I guess I had to earn them, right? A thing that mom warned me about. Moms just know, you know? Mom knew you were going to give me lovely reminders in my later years about the eye cream, wearing sunglasses to avoid squinting, and well, just plain taking the bitch-face off my face! But you know, the new sista, I think she wants me to know that it’s okay to have lived and be living a life of laughter, tears, fears, worry, no sunblock, not enough sleep, adventure, the recklessness of youth causing scars, sunburns, wearing my heart on my face…and she’s brought me proof of living and has definitely left her mark. A free engraving or colorless tattoo on my face. A few road tracks and “11’s” in the big scheme of things – I think we will survive it together. I give her lots of TLC now to maybe make up for the neglect and just plain carelessness with which I tended to you, love.  

You didn’t give me nails but that has never been important, so that part I am not bitching about. You know I’ve always been a simple, no fuss, dig-in-the-dirt sort of girl, and breaking a nail has never been my modus operandi. I think that she is giving me much better nails because I’ve learned to fuel her with better foods…she’s eating well, I’ll have you know. I really appreciate that she can still grow them without pits, grooves, or splitting. Small miracles.

And the hair! First you gave me toe-head blond, then you transitioned to some kind of weird light brown, and then you presented me with grays. I remember when you sent me your first gray. I was at a car wash checking out my forehead, and there you were. Eeek! Gray. Disgust. Fear. I call the grays the “new friend from my future,” and I do have to admit that sometimes I hide you temporarily. Each time you bring them back, I ask if I should just let you do your thing and see what happens to my whole head if I let you loose to do your thing. Will you go crazy on me? I am sure I will find out one day when I let the hairdresser go…not quite ready for you to do your thing there…yet. But soon, I am sure of it.

The new friend, well, her outlook is insightful and wise, yet her vision is a bit flawed and no longer 20/15. She makes me wear readers, for Pete’s sake, and I cannot go anywhere without them. Can you say “read this at 5 feet away?” She lets me do that, but no chance when it’s inches away. The nerve of her. Luckily, she is still only requiring the 1.50 power, but man, she makes me turn lights on now every.single.time. And sometimes I even have to increase the font sizes so she cooperates and lets me get my work done. But I am good with it because she’s introduced me to a whole new fashion accessory that makes its appearance in many colors and forms and is literally found wherever I go…car, office, kitchen, bedroom. What’re ya gonna do?

And why did you never warn me about crêpey skin? What the heck! She requires so much maintenance with this. Who knew? Thanks for letting me live in some really good skin for so many years. The price to pay for a life in the sun and doing life “ad lib” on the boat, on the mountain, in the pool, in the tanning booth, and in the sun. Dang girl, I beat you up! She’s helping to make me look a tad closer to my age, and in many regards that has its benefits as far as credibility in my profession. I’m good with it (like I have a choice unless I take her for a trip under the knife which is not going to happen). The new look she’s given me – I call it the look of wisdom and experience. Do you like that? She’s helping me cope by giving me insights about not stressing and not caring as much and being okay with right now and just letting that stuff go. Most of the time.  

One last little thing you never had me deal with – jeez, a little stomach roll? You never made me deal with that! We really cannot figure out where that little thing came from….hmmm. But she’s making me be friends with it (well, you know those friends we “tolerate”), and we continue to work on it a lot ‘til we can obliterate it. She’s made me have some come-to-Jesus moments about the importance of a good diet to a make sure we keep that sucker at bay and so I can zip the jeans without too much trouble. I never appreciated how much food you let me eat with not too many issues. Really, she’s got me on a tight rope to keep things in check, but I think you understand that there are more important things in life so I won’t take too much more of your time belaboring that point.

The new friend. Meet her. She’s the older version of you. The mature one. The one who has some stretch marks, wrinkles, and some sagging in a few places. The patient one. The more accepting one. The one who I now hold sacred. The calmer one. The one who has more boundaries but who has let me do more things for myself than I ever did with you. The one who doesn’t have the need to be right all the time. The one who executes more and ruminates less. The one who is learning not to judge…most things. The one who is going with the flow. Mostly. The one who lets me keep hacking away at keeping her thriving and figuring out life. The one who is okay with setting boundaries. The one who’s not living with guilt for every little mistake, flaw, or perceived failure. The one who will grow with me until I croak (literally and figuratively). She’s here to stay, young sista. We are getting to like one another. We gel, you know? As imperfect as she is, she’s the perfect one for me right now. 

Thanks for getting me here, young one. We’re good. 

                                              Love,

                                              Me  

 

Photo: Mohave National Preserve 2014

Blog 7 of 30 out of 30 days of practice. Constructive criticism welcome. Learning to laugh at myself and loving trying things…drop in the comments if you can relate.

Thank you. 🙂 

 

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