Statistics, Studies, Realities

This is really absurd. I have written three opening lines for this post, and they all mentioned the weather, even though after the first time, I said, no, I am not talking about the weather. But each time I tried, a weather reference came through my fingers.

But I shall open with the fact that we love Skip’s bagels and omelette. We went there for years before we moved, and continue to return there each time we come back. We bought a dozen to take home and freeze.

Where we live, bagels aren’t the thing. There is one restaurant that has them, but they are not Skip’s bagels.

Do you like bagels? Just curious.

I was thinking about God and hearts and love and friends and disappointing people and accepting some decisions that must be made. Oh, I also thought about a conversation I had with a friend at my grandson’s basketball game.

We chatted back and forth with one eye on each other and the other eye on the game. It was a life discussion. It encompassed many topics, including health and eating and expectations and even death.

Boing. Boing.

She brought up a good point. She is in her early 60s and I was turning 67 the next day. She mentioned that we had both had good runs, full-life runs. And at this point, she really didn’t want to deny herself the pleasure of things she liked. In moderation.

Both of us have gone through breast cancer. She had more advanced case and had to go through so much more than I did. More surgeries and treatments and after-treatments. She is a trooper.

So, she knows of whence she speaks.

So, I have been thinking about things such as, is there ever a point that we throw caution to the wind or say, ok, no matter what others say, this is what I want to do, consequences accepted? Or, simply put, as Ol Blues Eyes crooned, are we going to go out singing, “I did it my way?”

There is living and there is LIVING.

Is length of time the most important part, or is the choice to live the life we desire, more important? Do we live by studies and statistics or by desire, thoughts, and, without other people’s or companies’ guidelines.

Do we live in the statistical grid or go about the life we see in our own mind’s eye?

This might be why I took my sweatshirt off on top of Jellico Mountain.

There is so much data that is massaged and manipulated to try to make us adjust our behavior. Within my life, I can’t tell you how many times studies have been done, exalted and then a few years later, proven to be wrong.

Boing. Boing.

We should do this. We should do that. Studies say that we should do this, statistics say you should do that.

The really came in my face, yesterday, when I watched one of my medical documentaries about Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

A doctor who specialized in cancers in the female organs, who was wonderful, well respected, tops in his field and wonderful with patients, died a few hears after this episode had been filmed. He was 47, out running, and dropped dead from cardiac arrest.

I was gutted when I read that.

I can let things like that stick in my craw. It is more valuable a learning aspect than a study or statistic made up by people, groups or a company or organization, that most likely, has some sort of agenda.

So, my mind goes here and there and I finding myself in mental discussions with myself … and I ask, what is the way? What is the path of life, at this time of my life?

Does the Big Plan of life fade and be replaced by the one day at a time, mantra? One moment at a time? One life in a day?

If I die today, is this that place I want to be? What more do I want from this life that has already been, in time wise, toward the end of its run?

The statistics say that there are years left, but what if today is my last run? Have I done what I wanted and needed to do, said what I have needed and wanted to say?

I have a half smile on my face as I write this. I am smiling at the life I have lived, the questioning look is about the life that has yet to unfold.

Susan

Experience Is Portable

When we moved to my new beloved South, I threw out big box after big box of newspapers and magazines where my articles appeared. It was a virtual history of my world, my life, in writing. It was also a history of my writing timely pieces. I recall the first one published that had national scope, was about Elian Gonzales, the Cuban child who was sent back to Cuba.

Why did I do it … throw them away?

Because, sometimes, the baggage, even accomplishments of your past, must be let go to make room for future growth.

I do have copies of some of the pieces on a computer, but by no meas, all.

My kids didn’t want them. That was a lot of paper. And it was my take on life and not theirs. They are here to tell and write their own stories.

As I went through to lone box in our garage the other day, along with the Stars and Stripes, I found a newspaper artle written about me, not by me. It was from one of my previous lives, you know, a chapter of this one that was long ago.

There was a time when I sculpted people into puppets. Yep. And I do not like puppets. They are a notch beneath clowns. But I used them as a tool.

The firts year that Winterfest at Kings Islan opened, they put out a call for artists and craftspeople to have booths in the Festhaus, where people ate and a show was presented. To this day, if Nick or I hear the song, “Food glorious food,” we groan.

Weird thing happened, they seemed to like my work and invited me. So I sat in the lower level of our trip-level in Mason, and inhaled clay dust and sewed puppet outfits.

That hwole Chritsmas season, from Thanksgiving until New Years, I was at a booth at the Festhaus, schlepping my puppet people.

Because they were unique, the pr man from Kings Island, took a liking to them and had photographers take photos. We became friends and would have lunch for years. He was a good man.

Somehow, Ohio magazine got wind of them and shot theym and they appeared on their cover for unique gifts. There was a blurb about them in Cincinnati magazine, and that is how The Bob Braun show found me. I was then doing workshops with kids, using making puppets, to teach communication skills.

So, I was asked to bring a couple of the kids, make a puppet of Mr. Braun, and appear on the show.

When I told my mom, here comment was, “It s too bad you gained your weight back. That was a real boost. I was 6 ft. tall and weiged 155.

Oh, to weigh 155, again.

I was also asked to make puppets of Robert Taft’s family. He was governor of Ohio. Carl Lindner was another one I was asked to do and Willard Scott was created as Carmen Miranda. That one, I did for the heck of it, sent it to him, and never heard a word.

I didn’t like doing the workshops with kids. I had to haul a lot of stuff. And frankly, teaching a group of kids isn’t my thing. I just couldn’t let them know that. But I am fessing up. I love teaching workshops with adults, especially women.

I remember at sign0ups for the workshop, one mother, a snoot, said, “My boy doesn’t need communication help. He talks all of the time.”

Uh-huh.

Some people don’t understand that communication is more about listening than talking.

Making the puppets went well with my solitary-isn, personality. No, I am not a total lonaer. I am a leader, too, if I am in a group. But I find that that s more perfomance art for me, an energy expender, where creating alone, and being able to learn at my own speed, quickly, is what I like.

I didn’t know all of this at the time. I was young. I didn’t have a clue as to who I was, which made me sort of lost. My energies were spent having and raising children. That, I loved.

My kids, all small at the time, would be given a hunk of clay and they would sit with me and make a puppet head (or creature). They have always know that I was a clayhead.

Bob Braun was very nice to be with. He knew how to do a show and make his scared guest look good. They people in the audience didn’t bother me, but those cameras and lights were something I hadn’t experienced.

My foray into people puppets only lsted a year or so. For me, life has been about learning and practicing and then moving on and taking that experience with me.

Experience, not boxes of newspapers. It travels much lighter.

Susan

To Be or To Do? That Is The Question

The word for today is peristalsis. That came to mind about 4:30 this morning. I decided that I like the movement of the word, which is similar to its function.

Rejoice. Hallelujah!

Our internal glory, our place of joy, enlightenment and growth sometimes gets lost in the whiskers of life, changes and problems.

There are times when reassessment is in order … when things shift and what was … now, isn’t.

One of the interesting things about life, that I have found, is that not once in our lives, does time stop. Oh, yes, it seems to stand still, of we wish we could hold a moment in time, but we can’t. Time moves.

Our lives move, too. From birth until death.

Some humans work at planning their lives. One of our earliest forays into conversation is when someone asked us, as a child, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Another version of the question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?

To a young mind, those questions seem the same. As children, I didn’t distinguish the two questions.

But now, I see them as very different. One is occupational and the other is our soul, beliefs, values and, well, who we are.

After having a lifetime of professions and titles for what I “do”, the stage I am in and on, is an extension of the question “What do you want to be?”

It has morphed into who I have become.

Many of the things I have done, occupation-wise, study-wise, experience-wise ,by choice or demand, has evolved into who I have become.

An interesting thought to me is that one of my occupations, took hold so much and gelled so deeply into me, that it actually has braided over to be part of who I have become.

Writer.

There have been times when I have struggled. Just being, and being who I am, I felt, wasn’t enough. Simply being myself, without “doing” wasn’t enough.

I should do this. I should do that. Perpetual motion of the mind, placing more value on the what I do, versus who I am. Maybe it is or was an earning my keep thing. Perhaps it is societal rumblings and expectations. I have often felt that I needed to earn my right to life.

I look at the walls of my house, the art, the things that are around me and I see many things I have done.

In a way, they are me. But in a way, I can separate myself from them and not really recall making them.

When I think back to my occupations, the days I was in the workplace, I was never any of those occupations. They were skills. I did them to the best of my abilities for you I was at the time, but none of the occupations was me. Marketing director, sculptor, real estate broker, software company CEO, workshop teacher, etc … I did them all, but they weren’t me. With each, there came a point when I said, no more.

But in each one, I learned and what I learned, I put through a sieve, and brought onboard the parts that I would build into who I have become.

Why do these thought matter to me, now?

Because once again, the last four months or so, my life has taken unexpected turns.

Years ago, when I was in real estate, a friend who had gotten into the business because I had, dais, in a very distressed and exasperated way, “Why are there always so many problems?”

I laughed, looked at her and said … “That is wat we are paid to do … solve problems.”

She said that from that moment on, she got it.

And then, she quit.

That knowledge, that nugget, that life is often about solving problems, and releasing those you can’t solve, to a higher power, is something that plays out over and over. And I have to remember that when my blueberry basket gets tipped over.

There are times, such as recently, when I have had to dive under water with my eyes open, and do the breast stroke. I might not see clearly, but I must do it.

As humans, we often have to swim through uncharted emotional, fearful, uncertain waters. But in doing so, our muscles get stronger. We become stronger than we knew we could become.

After initial shock and a bit of flailing, I find that I get in a rhythm. The opposing currents subside andI get in a flow of the new and strange. And for a while, I have a new normal.

The new normal rarely lasts. Even life doesn’t last. But the ride, this wonderful ride, with its twists and turns and earthquakes and whirlwinds, when there are days that we wonder how we will get through, and times we wish would last for ever, is a real trip.

And for that, I say, Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Susan

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

I really wanted Shirley Winters to drown in that movie, “The Poseidon Adventure.”

I am a pretty peaceful person, but there are some characters in movies and TV shows, that I just want to die.

There, I said it.

If I have to explain that I don’t really want that person dead, but the character dead, it is time to get off of the train.

I just like the title of that song. It is in effect at the moment. There’s got to be a morning after.

And there is.

Even as of yesterday, I thought, okay, garden time is over. I just looked at it with rather dead eyes and said, eh, where is the joy? Is it done for the season?

And then, when the bottom appeared to fall out of my life, I felt numb about the garden. Things were dying from heat and exhaustion.

And that is how I felt. I was in recovery mode for my back, and then, voila, the 48 hours portion of the program.

It rained last night. Only a quarter inch, but that brought things back to August life. I think plants like August about as much as I do.

Now, here is the deal.

I can either look at the 48 hours episode as another reason to dislike August. Look at it as poor us, look what we, (Nick) had to go through, or, I can say, aren’t we the lucky ones?

Nick still doesn’t feel “well”, but he is so much better. He jus drove The Boy, to school. He wanted to.

Oh, before I forget, thank you all for your wonderful prayers and stories in your comments. I read them all. I still don’t feel as thought I can answer each one, as it takes me back to a weird place that I am still trying to stabilize.

And oh,listen to this , two neighbors brought over dinner last night. I didn’t know that both were making dinner until it was probably too late to say no. But what fun it was to have two meals, and the thoughts that our friends wanted to help. Yummy.

But back to where I was trying to move forward.

The way I see it is, yes, we have lots of zigzags to deal with through this. Life doesn’t stop with other situations, but the key is, Nick is alive. He was carted home from the hospital, way better shape than he was bounced in. (He said the EMT ride was really bouncy)

As I sat in that hospital room, it didn’t escape me that people don’t always leave a hospital sitting up in a Subaru. Instead of coming to our house for barbecue, and thanksgiving, many families are sitting at tables or on sofas or in cars, making funeral arrangements.

So although August has its issues, this episode is not going to make it a land mark month.

Here is the question. What is the new next to normal? Doesn’t something most likely shift after something like this? Or do things go back to the way they were, and if that is the case, doesn’t that mean we didn’t learn form them.

I believe we must take something from every situation. It could be something positive, or it could be something that you have learned to deal with another situation in the future. The fact that we get through them, with our nerves a bundle and faith tested, must be seen as growth. It can be a growth of the spirit, faith, confidence, and learning how to do some mourning while we are alive.

We do mourn when we are alive, don’t we? Don’t many of us put ourselves in thoughts of how am I going to feel if a loved one dies? Haven’t you played that out?

I have. I think it is because I have this notion, that if I have it happen in my mind, it is practice, so I won’t be so stunned if and when it happens.

Really, doing so, for me, just causes moments of agony and grief. Is it that I am mourning the thought of loss?

You know, practicing?

It really is folly if you think about it. Nothing is going to prepare me, really prepare me for the death of a loved one.

We/I, have talked about being strong, rising to the occasion and acting brave. But I think loss of someone you love, will bring me to my knees, and there is nothing wrong with that.

As long as I learn how to get up.

I am back on my porch this morning. I didn’t come out here right away. I sort of made myself do it. I don’t want the summer season, my summer of gardening, to end on a kaboom. I wanted to face it.

I wanted to walk in the garden and look at the flowers and plants, bot living a dead and all stages in between, and know that we are all part of that plan.

Yesterday afternoon, I marveled at my two lemon plants that I am growing from seed. Each is about an inch and a half high. Fragile. They are learning how to live. I cut some other stems from plants and brought them into the house to see if I could make them grow. Seeing life start again, and again, and again, is important to me right now.

I suppose our time will come when our time comes. It most likely will come in a way that we might not have expected.

As I listen to a bird squawking loudly, I suspect he is saying, just go out and live you old buzzard. Flap you flabby wings and fly, Don’t get too close to the sun, but try to fly like you are on an eagle’s wings.

Susan