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

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

Friendship

Confession … I watch four of the “Real Housewives of … “ shows. I have for years. It has been a guilty pleasure. I think it is funny how ostentatious the shows are, the jewelry, houses, vacations and sick and sour friendships these women have.

The shows have been good for many of the women’s bank accounts. The shows have become platforms for skinny brands, skin care, prepackaged dinners, toaster ovens, and a plethora of clothing lines.

Yes, I know it is edited, set up and who knows about scripting? Although I don’t think that a writer writes the dialogue, I think situations prod the women into combat.

Cutting to the chase … if any of my friends talked to me like these women talk to each other, there is no way in hot dog heaven, that I would be friends with them.

If my recollection serves me, they have called each other whores, bitches, liars,tramps, fakes, phonies, sluts, etc. Feel free to add to the list.

The biggest part of air-time is spent seeing if someone will apologize for a transgression that can be, 1) you didn’t make a casserole for me when I had a face-lift, 2) you didn’t tell me that you went out with a guy you both met at a bar while dancing without you underwear, 3) you were flirting with my son, 4) you left my sleepover and stayed at a hotel, 5) your dog plooped on my rug, 10 times.

And there are degrees of apologies. There is the unapologetic apology. “I am sorry if you felt like I played fiddle-fart with … (the man half of them have fart-fiddle around with. Or I don’t owe HER an apology, she owes ME one. Or the apology that is not SINCERE or not on camera.

And then the hug and promise to never stoppe to said behavior, again, only to repeat the transgressions repeatedly.

My lord of lingerie, who in their right minds would act like these women? And to think, many of them have daughters,who see this stuff.

Made for TV friendships, that is what they are. Cameras roll, checks written, catfights begin. It appears that in U.S. television lands, nice is boring.

Don’t these women know that friendships are precious, difficult to make and hatred to maintain over theme? They, just like a garden, need tending.

How many friends, real friends do you have? How long have you had these friends? Are you open to new friendships or content with the friendships you have? Have you ever let a friendship go? Why?

I have a few long term friends. I love my friends. We have laughed and cried through our tricky lives, marriages, divorces, deaths, children problems, and our own insanity. And when I say laugh, I mean that we crack ourselves up. We have similar sensibilities to laughter.

Though I moved away from them, I still count on talking to them and seeing them when I can.

I have some friends that have come in and out of my life, I might have met them at a workshop or event, and we “clicked”, but they aren’t a constant in my life.

There are friendships that I have where I doubt we will see each other, again. We write to each other. The words are meaningful and insightful. We care very much about how the other is doing.

I have some new friends, like new plants in my garden. They add color into my life and I enjoy spending time with them. Our roots aren’t as deep because we don’t have much time in our histories, but it is delightful to learn about them and share our new lives.

Many of my friends are my age, or near my age, but not all of them. I have some friends who could be my kids.

I would never talk to them like these “Housewives” talk to their supposed friends. Seriously.

I hear the word, “apologize” more that I ever wanted to while dealing with Samsung. I don’t want to deal with that word with my friends. We are all old enough to know what is proper and kind and what would hurt one another. Oh, yes, inadvertently, we step on feelings, but vary, vary rarely. The good and nice and kindness of our relationships absorb an occasional blip.

I have left some people behind … let them go. What I discovered is that appearances might have been friends, but it is easier to say you are friends, than be one. Friendships should make you feel better, not worse. I have been dumped by people that I thought i was friends with. Distance, timing, different roads traveled, and belief systems, sometimes just happen.

Women’s friendships seem to be different than men’s. I am not sure if they talk about the same thing as women friends talk about. I am not sure if they have penis talk or talk about whether they are getting forgetful or that they made a tasty casserole.

Oh, I have an orbit of friends that float around online. Are they friends? Not really. Not in the sense that they would show up at my door to help. But they are a community of people that make life more interesting and fun.

I think one of the hardest things in life is getting so old that most or all of your friends are gone. I have seen it happen.

But I also knew a woman who died nearing her 101st birthday and she had lots of friends. She was smart. She gathered friends 40-years her junior, and made herself loved by all ages. That was a talent and a gift.

The Real Housewives of Timbuktu might have money, fame and travel to exotic places, but are they real friends?

I don’t think so.

And that is where I come out ahead.

Susan

La Ploop

It is a mountain morning here in Clover. Cool, clear and chipper.

The backyard and outside are inviting. If I try, I can imagine that I am in Cades Cove, one of my special places. It would be nice to be there, but I am content with being here. Today, I don’t want to run away from myself.

The birds are skirmishing and I want to tell them to settle down, things will be all right. They might not be what you expect or desire, but they will be fine.

Yes, both feet are under me. The darkness of recent events with Nick have passed. Other situations are still in flux, but they will have to figure themselves out without me sorting them out. I have tried, trust me, but it is time to step back and return to my own life and things that I can control.

Good Grumpy Old Men, I can sound like I am picking lint out of navels.

Life involves a certain degree of naval lint plucking, doesn’t it? You feel washed by other people’s problems and forget things like boundaries and the fact that each person makes his or her own decisions.

Living other people’s lives is exhausting. Sometimes, I have to figure out the difference between support and enabling.

Winston was looking for his buddy, Tucker, when I took him out. Tucker’s mom stepped in and took care of The Boy, when Nick decided on joy-riding in an ambulance and partaking of hospital cuisine.

I have wonderful neighbors. Thought I felt alone last Friday, yes, a week ago, today, I found out that that we weren’t. Offers to help day or night, have been givenIt made me feel so much better. Several delicious dinners have been provided. And words of comfort have flowed.

The leaves on the trees have stilled and the birds are quiet. That makes my thoughts go in a different direction.

The Boy has come out to the porch with his tennis ball. Now he is staring at me.

We are just being.

I read Brad Pitt was having a heck of a time with Angelina Jolie and I read that Ben Affleck stopped at Jack in the Box on his way to rehab. Dennis Shield, Bethenny Frankel’s on again off again boyfriend died of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.

Messy lives. Money. No money. Fame. No fame. Money. No money. Hearts are broken at all levels. Bad decisions are made. People treat people they love or loved, like shit.

There really is no figuring life out, is there? As soon as we think aha, something happens and we, say, “What the hollandaise?”

OH, there is Mr. Woodpecker. He excites me. And there he goes. Skittish. Must have had an emergency on his branch.

It is a random thought, but I hope I don’t outlive my mind.

I am trying to decide whether to give people who brought us dinner and sent treats, my homemade sals or chili sauce. I know they will get a card with one of my paintings.

Back to my neighbors. As you can imagine, Nick and I miss a lot of parties and things because he doesn’t feel real chipper. I think people understand that. But even though we aren’t able to make a lot of things, they make us feel that our presence is missed, and I think that is lovely.

There are 3 goldfinches at the feeder. Nick just came out to sit. And he left.

You know what got me though the last few days?

The little things. My hot tea. Checking my propagation bins. Figuring out where to move which plant to get better light. Dead-heading some flowers. Talking to my neighbors and seeing their eyes full of concern. Knowing that the kids are back in their own lives. Having lunch with my daughter-in-law and laughing about stupid stuff.

Yesterday, I made myself laugh. I decided, after listening to a French song, that French people don’t poop. The ploop. I must go la ploop. And eat a baguette.

My toes have straightened themselves out. For the time being. Oh, ploop, the ugly birds arrived in a group.

But I clapped and they are gone.

A week ago, I thought that life as I knew it had ended.

I love it whenI am wrong.

Susan