Saturday, February 25, 2012

50 before 50

I made this list several years ago - sort of a bucket/project list of things I wanted to do and the goal was to do them before I turned 50. Then I lost the list when our computer went down about a year and a half ago. I couldn't come up with many in my head - shows you how important they were.
THEN.... while cleaning out some files, I came across a print copy of the first 36. Woo hoo I was so excited! Then I read the list and realized I was not very far along. So anyway, I am revamped to get started on my very own bucket list and have renamed it 60 before 60 - that gives me another decade to work on my things. AND I plan to get them all into the computer and saved to something external in case of yet another computer failure.
So the one thing that I can cross off my list is clean and organize the craft room - cuz that's how I found my list to begin with.
Here's a few things I have accomplished or plan to accomplish before I turn 50:
1. plan an awesome birthday trip with some of my favorite people - in the works for April
2. submit photo to a magazine - thank you Bon Apetit for finding me
3. have 20 readers of this blog. Well I have 12 "followers" and I know of many more who read it but don't "follow" so I am quite sure at least 20 people read my blog ....when I actually get around to writing.
4. organize craft room - awesome what you accomplished when you have to get ready to sell your home
5. organize the office  - yup - see above
6. track down a long lost friend or relative (search for birth mother begun and in process)
7. Cook something completely new - experimented with many new grains and new vegetables
8. Sort and purge holiday decor in attic - yay sold my surplus wreaths and swags and bows to the church this past Christmas
9. Write a cookbook - wrote one for Christmas gift for kids of all our holiday favorites and "must have" recipes complete with pictures of making many of these as children
10. Second cookbook is in the works - thanks to my work on the CSA blog
11. Bake something completely new - made olie bollen - a favorite dutch treat and working on perfecting donuts. Not good when another goal is to lose weight

So how about 11 before 50 - not too shabby - 20% and I still have 2 months before "50" so who knows what else I might accomplish............. feeling empowered at the moment

and next blog we'll talk gardening...because I have begun and my little seeds are sprouting

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lessons Learned...

...on Growing Older
Call it what you will but it is the one reality in life that comes for all of us...we grow old. It seems like a hot topic lately with many of my friends - not necessarily about themselves, but thinking through plans for their parents. My brother has a Master's in this topic and he tells me that the average age of the person who moves into a retirement community is 81 - not the 65 that most of these places are planning on and hoping for - altho there are those who do. But most older folk just want to stay in their own home as long as they can. I have been surrounded by this in my family lately with my mother (84) deciding to move to a retirement community and my aunt (83) in a nursing home. Here are a few lessons I have learned as I observe this stage of life and talk through the many ramifications with friends and family.
"Growing old is not for sissies" - I can not tell you how many times I have heard this - about turning 50! But seriously, there is much truth in it. Our bodies wear out. Few things work right and many things do not work well. Take hearing and sight - and they are the easy ones. Perhaps you have trouble reading the fine print and hearing higher pitches (feminine and childish voices) - now imagine not being able to focus on large print and not hearing at all without your hearing aids. It is not for the wimpy but you better get used to the idea - lots of things are going to change and its frustrating. So LOOK at the older generation when you speak and speak loudly and clearly if they ask you too. Stay engaged - there is still plenty to be heard from our elders and much wisdom to soak in from them. And by all means - offer to read if they need or want that kind of help. It is lovely to hear the human voice. Be the eyes and ears.
And along those lines - LISTEN - they have stories to tell from days long ago when they were younger and busy and the stories are grand - even if you've heard it before - so listen - you'll learn things in a new light and by the way - this generation was "Green" long before ours even came up with the term. If you are wise you will LISTEN.
We slow down " I'm not feeling so sure on my feet anymore she confessed, I'm afraid I'm going to fall when no one is around to help." We can't help it - our steps lose their spryness at some point and it becomes harder to get from point A to Point B in the manner to which we are accustomed. And then there are those impatient young people stepping around us or speeding past. Take your time young man, enjoy the moments now because you are strong. Shuffling becomes canes, become walkers, become wheelchairs, become needing assistance to get places. Take your time young lady, Take your time young man, take your time. Slow down and enjoy a more relaxed pace, you who are so confident and steady on your feet."
All that "stuff" we have surrounded ourselves with is just that - "stuff"  - you know it's true - that saying that you can't take it with you. I have a friend (young) who took one look at all the work ahead of him at his parents house that he went home and cleaned out his filing cabinet. Whittled it right down to the essentials and that which would bring a laugh to future generations (a picture here, a paycheck stub there) It certainly gave us a good laugh to think back to what we first earned out of college - and how "rich" we thought we were. And then I think about cleaning out a home that a loved one won't be returning too. Each little momento is a memory - something that meant something to someone at one time. But the story is lost and so it becomes "stuff." And all those valuable things - valuable to whom? Makes me think twice about how much and what to pack as I move to a new house. Don't worry kiddos - you'll get first dibs. And let me tell you the story behind that funny little ceramic dog with the broken arm and the fly attached to his paw. That little dog sat on a shelf at my grandma's house for as long as I can remember and longer. I was pleased to receive it when their estate was divided and I treated it as a true reminder of that big old farm house and their home later in town when they "retired." But then one day my young rambunctious son threw a ball - yes in the house - and hit that dog right off the fireplace mantle. I cried (and probably yelled at him) but a little glue put him back together even though he had a crack. So he sits high up on a shelf now and I still think of my grandparents every time I see it and now I think of my son too, and how he was all boy (and cute to boot). So I keep the silly china dog that's not worth a nickel but I give you permission to toss it when the time comes, if you can.
Being alone does not always mean lonely Now I am probably not expressing this well and maybe I have it all wrong but don't assume that alone means that they are lonely. Visits and chats are great - but it needs to be on their terms and to meet their needs. I have seen visitors turned away by "now is not a good time for a visit" - this a completely legitimate statement. We say we understand that but we don't always understand being sent away - for now. So if you can't plan ahead or make an appointment, when you drop by, at least be kind of enough to say - "I'll try again later then, if that's ok" And be sure you do!
And along those lines - sometimes it's ok to just sit with someone. It was hard for me to learn that my presence was comfort enough. I didn't have to talk, or tell stories, or do something. In fact if she wanted to nap or needed to rest it was perfectly legit. and so she drifted off to sleep and woke again later and we resumed our delightful conversation - and we both had a little rest :)
And on the opposite page - I can get so annoyed sometimes at listening to those long phone calls again -didn't we just talk about this a day or two before? But on the other side of the line is someone who needs to talk - who needs to hear a human voice, who needs conversation spoken to her as a love language. If now is not a good time, say so - but be sure to put that time on your schedule because this one's not about you but about someone who needs YOU - (speaking to the choir here)
There are so many more things I've learned these last few months with friends and family. Just listening to the process from various age vantage points leaves a wealth of information. but I'll close with this and if I shared it before I apologize for the repetition but it's a life lesson in my book and one I learned the hard way by being "too busy" for too long before being invited on this journey.

We had faced a long day of hard tests at the hospital. She said to me - "I am wasting so much of your time" to which I replied, "But have I brought you any comfort by being here?" "Of course" she answered, "I wouldn't want to do this without you." To which I quietly leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Then it has been time well spent."

If you are blessed with an elderly person in your life, or even those not ready to think of themselves as elderly, I challenge you to spend some time and make a memory - you'll be so glad you did!
Thanks for reading through my chatterings. I know I am not telling you anything new, yet it seemed appropriate to share.
"Playing cards with Grandpop"