A Bully For A Boss

“I’m not sure why he isn’t on your ‘list’, but this medical student is scheduled to observe Dr. Banks in OR 4 this morning, and he needs to get a locker, scrubs, and sign-in with Dr. Banks.”

The scheduling nurse looked at me like I had just spoken Greek to her; nevermind, I knew everything was in place, and soon she would too.  Our surgery had all kinds of power-flinging subservient paper-pushers and she was no different.

As I turned to our student, my division director came up behind him, and I, of course, said good morning. He looked up at me from his clipboard, and then flipped through a combination of expressions which was almost comical, beginning with ‘what the hell are you doing here’, to ‘someone else should be doing this’ ending with ‘oh, I guess you’re scheduling the Fellow surgery students’.  Paaleeese.  Just let me do my job and lose the Hollier Than Thou attitude.  

But the truth is, he had me trembling in my boots.  I knew what I had to do, and did it plus more, and for some reason, it just didn’t matter.  I could do everything just as he requested, and it would still be wrong.  He was the kind of person who yelled at others in his office and in the hallway.  He’d throw surgical instruments across the OR and pens in department meetings.  

He was a bully.  He treated people like dirt. But only certain people; the ones who knew he was incompetent and incredibly poor at managing people, teaching students, and creating a successful division. 

I’ve seen other ‘bosses’ treat people like this also.  It’s nothing new.  I’m sure everyone who reads this is thinking of someone they have known who fits the bill and description perfectly.  It has taken 2 years and several therapy sessions to accept I have PTSD.  I work from home now (love it!!) and have him as well as 2 other ‘bosses’ to thank for my wonderful career.  

But it was the most difficult and degrading experience (s) of my life.  

Just because it may have been an accepted practice in the past, doesn’t mean its okay to do.  #MeToo needs to have a sibling named #WorkToo. 

I felt isolated, wrongly-accused, and helpless.

One of my co-workers at the university called me a few days ago with this news – two of our colleagues were on the brink of mental collapse.  One lady was on Family Medical Leave Accrual (FMLA) and the other lady was using her sick leave before going on FMLA.  The gal who had called me was my only link to sanity before I gave notice; she was now facing the same pressure and repercussions that I and our 2 colleagues experienced.   

It’s a plague in my most recent workplace.  And HR is a ghost in the background.  I had worked in 4 different divisions at this university medical school/hospital and saw the same thing happen to co-workers in each.  I could see the handwriting on the wall; I had been marked and it was just a matter of time.

But what about the person who has worked in the same division for years?  The people have come and gone, and the younger and more aggressive ‘leaders’ are assuming the positions of the patriarchs.  It’s not just a matter of being degraded and humiliated any longer; it’s a war room with ‘newer and better’ chomping at our heels as well as accepting lower paychecks for less experience.

As sad and discouraging as this scenario is, it was this original conversation of this group of women at the university.  It was hard for us to get together to discuss and support each other face to face; my solution was to provide a supportive, upbeat, positive social site for women our age to converse, get to know, and believe in each other.  We had all been sequestered to our own ‘island’ within the hospital, but with a site, we could have a safe place away from the pain.  

With all of this said … I really want to hear from you.

I want you to know this is a safe place where you can come and experience support, camaraderie, and non-judgment.  No one here will tell you what you should have done; no one will pass along rumors or dream-up lies; no one will be anything other than an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.

Please, send your story in the Reply below.  All conversations will be private unless you request group suggestions or (with your permission) a topic article addressing a common-thread of conversation.

This past week was a tough one for me.  If it was for you, please share and know someone on this end is listening … me!

Most sincerely,

Capri

xo

 

“I had no where to turn. I’d seen 3 collegues terminated for ‘reasons’ which had nothing to do with their job performance.  And now, it was my turn to be thrown to the gallows.  I felt battered, betrayed, and falsly accused.”

Capri Bailey

 

 

Scared or Excited?

As I write copy for a large financial planning firm, I’ve been aware of the stock market and financial occurrences on a regular basis.  I don’t have a lot of money to invest, so whatever I do ‘risk’, I do so with intense research and experienced advice.  With the current buzz on a pending recession, I and most of my friends, are getting a bit nervous.

It All Started with the Change of Command

Certain elements which have shown the lack of intelligence in Washington DC set us off.  K, well, I should probably speak for myself, but I know I am in confidence with my ‘tribe’ when I speak for the whole.  Comments about women, in general, would turn us against the ‘element’, let alone the irreverent stance toward the environment or the insanity of internment for immigrants.  Whether your opinion, the ‘trade wars’ have been detrimental to the well-being of many US industrial and agricultural markets.

Haunting and Daunting Past

For me, I’m suspicious of large financial institutions.  A pending recession sends chills down my spine – I was taken in 2008 (lost most of my pension in my medium risk pension) when I lost my job, needing to declare bankruptcy to keep my home; my mortgage company had ‘promised’ a loan modification when I lost my job, but it hadn’t been approved before another branch of the same bank foreclosed and purchased my home on the auction block.  I can’t tell you the devastation I felt, single mom, lived in our home for 9 years, facing the possibility of losing it because one branch of a bank wouldn’t ‘talk’ to the other.  It was maddening.

My parents also lost their retirement in mutual funds investing. No one was unaffected.

 

Retirement and Our Future

After speaking with several people who are ‘in the know’ and a pending recession and the good or the bad, I am a bit more relaxed.  Actually, the financiers who are in the middle of it are fairly excited.

“It presents opportunities which otherwise, aren’t available.”

Well, I believe this may be terrific for someone who has the margin to risk buying growth stocks or maybe a hot trend trade.  For me, I’m suspicious of large financial institutions. But little ol’ me, putzing around trying to make a nickel here and there and squirreling money as if it’s my life on the line (isn’t it?!!!). I fear to invest $15,000 in an agriculture venture outside the country or buying growth stocks for lack of trust in my own emotions.  

 

Me or a Financial Planner?

So, I’ve taken the steps toward enlisting a financial planner.  The company I write for is an extremely trusted ally of mine (I’ve purchased many programs from aa associated company) and quite frankly, everything I’ve read from them makes sense to me.  I’ve concluded, with some suggested financial help, the following path (also seconded by my go-to resource, AARP).

Go with what feels comfortable for you. It’s your money, and if you are concerned about your well being, then read, read, read! By doing this alone you will gain knowledge and satisfy your concerns, whether you take action or not.  

If you feel you can tackle this on your own, or just want to make sure you pick a great planner, take these steps:

 

Investment Investigation

 

  • Do some research into articles of money which are important to you.  Pick a few from the group, and read further articles from your sources.  Of these resources, pick one or two and contact them with your concerns.  You can also request a trial portfolio to see where your money would be invested and the returns/risks you may expect.
  • Also check out self-investing websites, if you are confident enough to go it on your own.  These would include TDAmeritrade (Scottrade) or Yahoo Finance.
  • There are many other resources you can read up on, including Investopedia, Simply Wall Street, or Yahoo Finance.  Most have a free trial period so you can see if self-investing is the path for you.

 

You Can Do This!!!

No matter your path, feeling better about finances and our futures’ stability is on all of our minds.  Some things are out of our hands, but some things are smack dab in our laps.  Take some time for you and your well-being, and brush up on retirement options, recession outlooks, and possible choices to avoid a set-back.  You’ll feel better about all the ‘doom and gloom’ talk while also knowing you are current and making wise financial decisions!

xo

Capri 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering

with

Direction

 

  • Recognize this – You are justified in taking time ‘off’ and for yourself.  Just like the oxygen masks on the plane ‘secure your mask before securing others’ If you aren’t there to complete the task, it won’t be completed!
  • Make sure your time off is exactly that – time off.  Don’t clean the house when you should be going to the store just because You want a clean house.  Though a clean house is wonderful, it isn’t time spent on loving yourself, it’s a diversion, just like shopping for the household.  Get a massage, go for a walk in nature, or treat yourself to a movie. You pick.
  • If you are in a destructive situation, step back, analyze why you are the one in pain. Schedule some time to inventory your feelings and desires, then decide for yourself, or with someone else, how to get to a ‘safe place’, either by changing the situation or re-evaluating your understanding. Also realize, no one else can do this for you, so construct a positive path which will lead you to a better place

 

A Path

I’m Grateful I Walked


Never Enough Time …

On my way to work, the morning was typical, just like all the rest, alarm, coffee, shower, more coffee, feed the dogs, iron a shirt, pet the pups bye-bye, and unlock the car.

As I backed out of the driveway, however, something felt different.  I thought it was the cool, overcast day, giving a breather to those of us with hot-flashes and yard work.  But I didn’t think that was it, there was something more.  Something mystical, something just beyond my grasp.  But, as most things ‘unusual’, the feeling was gone, and I was in traffic and pollution before I knew it.

I turned the corner to pull into the parking terrace when my car began to ‘chug’.  I couldn’t describe it to the tow truck guy any other way … “It felt like gas wasn’t getting to the engine.  I thought I had run out, truly, but remembered I had just filled it up the day before.  The gauge said ‘full’ too.”

As I watched this burly young kid (okay, he was probably about 35, but a kid to me!), I realized I was stranded.  The bus didn’t come anywhere near work and my kids were both out of town.  I’ll need to just walk home, I suppose.  Thank goodness it was a cool day; the walk would serve me well.

I finished work, gathered my stuff into a department tote, and set off in comfy shoes I had stashed from the winter before.  I left a bit early, so I could get ahead of the traffic rush and not breath fumes most of the way home.

The cars hadn’t read their script, however, and I felt the heat with each passing engine.  As a second old truck’s tailpipe bellowed a strangling carbon dioxide lung-full, I decided to abandon the direct route and opted for a hopefully, more clean path through the gully.  It was well worn and offered respite from the traffics’ deafening hum as well as the gases which gagged even the hardiest of lungs.

I found the trail’s path only a few feet ahead and dropping onto the soft peat of the trail, I  felt like I was slipping into a cool, enveloping pool of tranquility.  The green from the canopy branches filtered the light, giving off a surreal vision of fog and mist.  As the temperature dropped, my muscles relaxed and my shoulders began dancing with my melodic pace.

Each step was therapeutic.  The birds began singing and realized I hadn’t heard their song in ages.  The small stream which dipped in and out of sight from the path gurgled and sputtered over the stones and the low hanging branches.  The smell of wet bark and fresh moss rose around me.  It was as if the entire show was being assembled and performed just for me.

Then … I stopped dead in my tracks.  What had I been doing for the past five years?  When was the last time I had been in nature, and when was the last time I felt alive, really alive?

I took the kids camping a lot, but that was ages ago.  I also took the pups for walks and romps in the park, but it wasn’t the same as this.  This was for me.  I was the person in the middle of this ballet and it was for me.  No body and no thing to be responsible for.

As I continued on, I began looking for details … caterpillars on leaves, ladybugs on blossoms, and skeeters on small pools in the stream.  I swear, I saw the trees breathing, in, out, in, out … the shadows keeping their secret to those keen enough to notice.

A turn in the path showed an end to my symphony, so I decided to rest on a  partially hidden bench, stealing just a few more moments amongst the bracken and branches.  I didn’t want the magic to end.  I wanted to continue down the path of discovery and wonder; to explore the feelings I knew as a child.  The feelings I had felt every day of every summer of every year of adolescence.  This brief walk within the arms of mother nature felt like home.  And I didn’t want to let go.

I could hear the clicks of bicycle gears approaching, and tried to bring myself back to the present.  The rider dismounted his bike and began walking down the path toward me.  As I looked up, I noticed his eyes were closed and his face was raised to the treetops.  He too was experiencing the sanctity of the moment, the melodious song, and serene peace of our surroundings.  There was nothing special about this place and there was everything special about it.  I wasn’t the only one needing a bit of rejuvenation between responsibilities and the drudgery of the outer world.  Owing family, owing bosses, owing reality; everything, but what I should be owing … my own inner peace and tranquility.  

Our eyes met briefly, and his glance ‘spoke’ of what I was feeling … this is a safe place for each of us … and all of us.

And it won’t be the last time my car is left to its own devices while I focus on mine!

 

AML,

Capri

 

 

 
Hi All!!! 
Wow, spring sure has hit hard, hasn’t it?  Wait, spring, winter, summer, back to winter, and then spring … my bulbs are going crazy right now!
I’m going to do something different today, as I’ve been struggling a bit with ‘attitudes’ of sorts.  I’m not sure if the hormones are kicking in full-strength, or if it has something to do with taking care of my dad, but the last 4 weeks have really taken a toll on my ability to pull myself ‘up’.  Living my 5th decade has proven to be a bit of a challenge!
Considering this, then, I thought I would enlist three of my closest comrades to write a few thoughts down, just to get the ball rolling for the new season.  I’ve also been composing the FREE e-book, which will be out in a week, for you all to enjoy, so concentration towards it will steal a bit of my time.
And with that, here are my writing wranglers, with their take on … well, anything!  Have a great first week of May!!!
Capri

Genevieve DuBois Collins

This is a wonderful opportunity to share with you the love I have for a women’s forum, specifically for 50+ ladies!  I associate with many groups in my world nowadays; I have a knitting group, a book group, and a luncheon group, which just happened to begin in elementary school!  We all gather with our known likes and similarities and then explore our differences as we do whatever it is that brings us together. 

The thing I’ve noticed about having these groups is this; aside from the commonality which brings us together, many other things can force us apart.  In my knitting group, for instance, someone brought up the matter of politics.  Half of us looked up from our projects with a look of horror on our faces!  The other half just kept on knitting, as if nothing were said or the sky hadn’t fallen in.  Without a word, I felt our group split, taking sides with one, the other, or none at all.  What we had relished as a precious and committed ‘team’ was now split in opposition.  No, wait, many didn’t realize they were in opposition, simply by not committing.  

Afterward, as I was walking home, I realized the glamour of the group was lost. I will return, of course, but have learned a side of my companions I did not want to know.

I have had a bit more contention in my book group, as it almost asks for commentary and opinions.  Justly so.  But we each get a chance to pick ‘our book’, thus giving each of us a spot in the center for all to openly, but kindly, regard our choice of entertainment (or a waste of time, so one says – often!).  I expect this from this group, though.  But if anyone was to say I had picked the wrong yarn for the sweater I had just knitted, I would be abashed and hurt.  Because it is out of context for that group.

Now, here, at My Second 50, all is open, all are honest, and all, hopefully, are in support of each other as a person, and nothing else.  We recognize our shortcomings, we recognize our doubts. We recognize our pain, and we celebrate our happiness and love.  But I expect that out of this group.  I hope to hear of someone losing a battle, and someone else likening an experience, and the two developing a kinship around a commonality.  Here, anything and everything can be common.  Loss of a spouse, the joy of a pet, the frustration of a child, or hopelessness of an illness.  We are a group, we have souls, and we expect nothing other than to listen, dream, cry, and laugh together.  I love this group, thank you so much for letting me be anything I want to be … when I’m here!

-Ginny

Kimmie Hanson

I live in a three-story Victorian home, built in 1896, the year, actually, my grandmother was born … in Holland.  I have a husband of 42 years and two beautiful children, who each, now, have a child of their own.  My daughter has a boy.  My son has a daughter, and their spouses seem content in their parents spoiling them to no end.

Last weekend, they came to visit my beautiful home, all six of them.  The kids (8 and 6) slept in the attic, complete with sleeping bags and flashlights, their parents spent their time in the two other bedrooms on the second level, able to hear every move they made from the giggling of voices to the dropping of books.

As grandparents, we stuck to our digs on the main level, less noisy, less intrusive, conveniently adjacent to the kitchen, which is always the busiest room in the house.

As our able and kind lab kept track of everyone’s whereabouts, I shuffled meals and dishes as my husband rounded up toys, put them away, and brought them out again when requested.  Clean, rinse, repeat, once every few hours, depending on the snacks and hiding of the toys.

As was always a favorite game of my kids, we devised a treasure hunt for the little ones.  While parents took the kids to the park for a bit, we wrote notes, hid clues, made puzzles, and tired our dangdest to come up with brain teasers which would be challenging, mostly to our own kids! 

As the hunt began, eyes grew wide and smile’s turned into contortions, figuring out the next spot where the clue would be found.  We had a couple of scraped knees when the little ones knew the clue would be in the clubhouse in the garage rafters; and another bump on the head when my too-tall son tried to climb the attic stairs a bit too fast.  Alas, everyone found their ‘goodie box’ and tea was served on the front porch, complete with tea cakes and blueberries.  Our dear lab fell asleep even before he laid down …

As we waved goodbye to them Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but have a tear in my eye and a catch in my throat.  Children give you a chance to love as you’ve never loved before.  And grandchildren offer you the chance to share that love and new found joy in ways you’ll never know until you experience it. 

With all the chaos and havoc our earth and lives endure now, with no promise of betterment, I’m hesitant to encourage anyone to have children.  But when I see the joy and love our family experiences, woven with the grief and uncertainty, I become selfish and am grateful I have the intuitive and curious angels that I do and will strive to leave them a world as good as I can make it.

Did I mention we slept for two days straight after they left?

-Kimmie

 

Phoebe Tate

I am facing ten boxes, three garbage bags, and two pairs of big curious eyes, after much groaning, bending, sorting, and tossing out of crap stored under my basement steps.  The big curious eyes are from my two dogs, who made every trip up and down the stairs I took, but after about the tenth turnaround, found a corner on the landing and waited for me to appear with the goods. 

The boxes and bags are what’s left of the twenty or so cartons of ‘important things’ my family had collected over the past 20 years.  I sifted through clothes, mine and my kids, shoes, kitchen items I’d replaced, keeping the old ones for the kids when they moved out (did they take it? No, they wanted new dish towels!!!).  Heaps of documents for shredding took up two boxes, while one large bag was set for recycling.  There was a desk, two chairs, three pairs of roller blades (kids and mine), and camping gear I wouldn’t even be seen using.  

Where did all this reorganization energy come from?  I’m looking down the cavernous throat of the realization I will be cleaning out my parents’ house within the next 5 or so years.  This is the time my father has given himself to come to terms with the inability of keeping a 2800 sq. ft. home ‘going’ and perhaps moving into an adult living community.  He recently condescended into letting two cleaning ladies come after he has cleaned mind you because he doesn’t want them to think he is a slob.   Next will be someone to mow the lawn.  Then another to clean the pool.  The pool he hasn’t swum in over 10 years.  This will probably happen about the same time he decides he doesn’t want to drive any longer.  Then the two cars, not one though he is the only one to drive them, will be available to sell … probably for parts.

Did I mention my dad is 89?

I remember my mom saying she never wanted to leave me with a bunch of stuff to clear through, so maybe it won’t be too bad.  She was very organized and has all of her things sorted, labeled, in files or given away.  Daddy had his own business, however, and keeps on thinking someone will want the office equipment; the IBM typewriter, the Xerox copier, and the rotary dial phones.  

Then the reality of what was really happening set into my head: we are saying goodbye to an era. We are tallying up the usefulness of an item and tossing it or keeping it.  We’ve been called hoarders and we’ve had sleepless nights, hoping someone won’t see our boxes of children’s clothes or stacks of records and DVD’s.  We’ve seen people labeled with psychic disorders and cower in recognition (on a much lesser degree of course).

With all this contention and alarm, let me make several things perfectly clear.  I’m keeping my grandmothers crocheted bedspread and table cloth.  I’m keeping my little girls’ Easter dress I made and my son’s sailor outfit he threw in the garbage.  I’m keeping the navy blue patent leather shoes my mom bought me when we had lunch in the Tiffin Room and went shopping in the now torn down Auerbach’s Department Store. I’ve layered my old toe shoes in tissue, stored safely back in the steamer trunk left from who knows who, long ago.  And Daddy’s trumpet?  It’s there too, right next to mom’s playbills with her name in the title role from Broadway.

-Phoebe

 

Well, I’ve Been Gone Awhile…

After leaving this website in the hands of its owners and realizing they were a bit more involved in their lives than they had anticipated, I’m back to managing the rhetoric and resource. Though hearts and hopes committed to pursuits of grandeur, life and love possessed the most promised of pledges. It is with great compassion and ownership that I will be flagging videos, creating posts, taking pictures, writing blogs, and blowing our horn in every way possible, once again. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms!!!

Though we haven’t had any obvious energy online, those of us behind the scenes have kept the emotion of My Second 50 alive – in coffee shops, on gondolas, and with family surrounding our souls. Conversations have continued within the pages of books and on sidewalks of schools. Tears have been shed embraced in hospice and concerns have been voiced on the steps of capitals. Our thoughts are singular, but our focus is combined. We are aging women who have dreams of our own and lives to begin living – now.

We are often a strong league in numbers, but sometimes feeble in the confines of our own minds. When the hormones are raging or disappoints rank too high. And why do these things usually hit home at the dead of night?

In the past year, I have traveled, grown, lost, and loved. I’ve realized my ‘sisters’ are the strongest part of me. I’ve seen many of them vulnerable and frail one moment, and turn around and knock down steel barriers the next. Some carry pain I will never know, others mask hardship without a clue to their frailty. Many of us exist with a lump in our throat and a brief hesitation to begin the day.

And with all this emotion, disguised or free-flowing, we carry on.

In witnessing these amazing feats, I fall silent. Too often I battle with times of insecurity in my responsibilities and expect more of myself than ever before.

I am not unusual.

I have moments of elation and hours of thought. I try to stay upbeat, but it is winter in the Rockies, and sometimes the days close in with grey and gloom. I blame the weather, but are the storms inside my skin?

Once again, I am not alone in these feelings.

That is when I reach for My Second 50, and it’s ladies to redirect me.

You all are light and hope. I’m so honored to be, once again, in your midst with words and welcome. Pour that cup of coffee and let’s tally onward …

xo

Capri

 

Take The Initiative

  • First and foremost, listen to your body
  • Secondly, don’t put off what you should do today
  • Thirdly, keep trying, don’t give up, we all have setbacks- it doesn’t mean defeat
  • Fourth, have fun, put a smile on and get outside

POSITIVE ATTITUDE and YOUR BODY


Happy Mind, Healthy Body: Can One Affect the Other?

 

 

As each of us moves through our day, there are occurrences when stress, anxiety, or nervousness affect our ability to function at our peak performance level. Granted, asking our body and mind to kick out 100% velocity 24/7 is a bit much, but all in all, it is generally what we ask of ourselves. Getting reports completed, keeping meetings and schedules current, and satisfying those around us who ask the utmost of our abilities takes a toll. Both mentally and physically. Not to mention the daily demands of our personal lives of paying bills, raising children, and keeping our homes operating efficiently.

Picture this scenario and replace yourself with a car. The engine is asked to travel at 80 MPH, throughout the entire day. It has hills and valleys to travel through, periodically needing service. Gas, oil, and levels of coolant can keep it running on a current level, but it will also need additional maintenance; repairing the transmission, replacing a leaking oil pan, or fixing a ripped seat should be maintained also. These things take time, money, finding the right mechanic, and hardest of all, the realization of it needing to be done.

 

While our bodies are not as clearly understood as a red flashing oil light or a flat tire, we usually have a pretty good idea of when we need ‘maintenance’. Eating, for example, is a pretty easy need to realize. But even this common and necessary practice can be misunderstood. If we fill up on empty calories or toxin-filled foods, they wear down our ‘engine’ and extra tasks need to be performed. Exercise, diet re-evaluation, and even surgery contribute to the doctors’ game plan of what will keep us moving through life happy, well-balanced, and capable of handling life’s’ ups and downs easily.

 

When the red oil light does come on, however, and generally we can all figure it will happen at some time, the anxiety levels rise and our body goes into survival mode. How do we cope with this mentally? Do some cars fall apart at the bottom of the valley and park at the side of the road to rust away? Are others taped and glued together to make it to the next garage to be fixed and made better, later? Physical mishaps can be dealt with, but even a car needs a driver to determine that something is wrong. As is our psyche, and we are dependent on it to get us into the ‘shop’ to fix any problems which may arise.

 

If our minds are at the breaking point, however, what happens then? If we have been operating at a full capacity for months and years and our bodies say ‘whoa, I need oil’ do we listen, or do we keep on pushing ourselves until the engine seizes up? Having a negative or overwhelmed mental state can harm the body much more than just needing to enlist in an exercise program. It can defeat our environment, causing us to reduce work efforts, forget important family needs, and basically, shut down the communication between mind and body.

 

Keeping our psyche healthy and happy is, and should be, a major concern of a nurtured and balanced lifestyle. Each one supports the other, making our bodies capable of handling the anxieties and burdens we put on it daily. In other words, we need to stop and smell the roses on a scheduled and realistic level.

 

So what now? If you are feeling unhappy, nervous, or ill, see your doctor. Discuss your concerns and devise a path for you to get back on the road of positive feelings. If you feel good currently, great. Keep up the good work, but don’t rely on youth or caffeine to get you through the day. Make sure the fuel you are putting into your body gives you the happiness and positive attitude you need to face your job, your community, and yourself with a bright approach to your day and your life.

 

If you aren’t sure how you feel, ask a close friend their opinion of your attitude. Do they think you are optimistic or pessimistic? Do they view you as wanting to try new things in life or hovering in the background, afraid of what change may bring? Remember, these stresses will eventually take a toll on your body, whether in small doses of having a headache or irritable stomach, or large doses such as heart disease or cancer.

Bottom line, listen to your body. Deep down, you know what you can do to make yourself a healthy and happy person. Do the analysis and step up to the plate. Your mechanic and fuel can only do so much. It is up to the driver to pull the car into the gas station or call the mechanic. And no one wants to drive a broken down and unpredictable machine.

 

Keep On Truckn’!

xo

 

Me, as a Mom


     My first memory was falling out of bed.  The bed had a huge sunken spot in the middle, and apparently, my parents thought I wouldn’t roll out.  The first of many assumptions gone awry.  Without delay, my mom was scooping me up in her arms, asking over and over, “Are you okay?  Are you okay?”.   Of course, my mom was perfect, she was always there.  With memories such as these, how could she have been anything else?  Through all the bike crashes and bloody cuts, broken hearts and misunderstood boys, she was there, with concerned love, a gentle touch, and cooing assurances.

     Little did I realize during these days, she was training me to be a good mom; well, at least the best mom I could be.  Distracted by a divorce, a dysfunctional boyfriend, and way too many part-time jobs, I did do my best.  But as I look back, I realize I wasn’t the mom I thought I was.  Despite my participation, they turned out spectacularly.  I had little trouble with either of them, my oldest a kind and intelligent boy, and my second, a surprise of an adorable and independent baby girl. 

     Though I would love this collection of thoughts to be about my momma, it won’t be.  The wound is still too raw.  I lost her about 2 years ago, not realizing she was my cheerleader, my safety net, my best friend, and my confidant.  So many stories we’ve shared, and you may hear a few here, but this will be focused on my motherhood.  My path.  My cancer.  Please realize though, all of these words and events are based on the love, teaching, and caring I received from her.  I could never have handled the hurdles and challenges without her strength and guidance.  Perhaps that is why I feel so alone now.  Yup, you won’t be hearing too many stories focused on her.  My laptop would seize from the onset of a saline sea …

     Music was a large part of my growing up, and so, it became a huge part of my raising my kids.  I wasn’t aware of this at the time, again, but now that I hear them sing along to the music I play when they visit, I see they were more influenced than I thought possible.  They know all the lyrics and can actually tell me the words I think I’m singing, instead of just the sounds I thought they sang.  Perfect example …

      “with the birds, I’ll share this lonely view” 1

Instead of my version

     “widabur dal sherzee a lonely blue an”

     And the really funny thing is, they thought I knew the words and was singing them exactly as they were written.  Ha!  Proof being if you sing loud enough, you don’t need to know the words!

     The first 17 years of my life were protected; I was shielded from heartbreak, illness, and pain.  I never knew sadness beyond two weeks at Girl Scout Camp or my dad’s failed attempts to quit smoking.  I thought I was untouchable and resilient, but more than these things, I just didn’t know any other way.  Didn’t everyone have a life like mine?

     I married young, to a boy I hardly knew.  Married for 3 years; it was 4 years too long.  After the heartbreak of his 5th girlfriend, I relinquished my hold, realized I had failed, and moved on with courage and foresight.  As much as I could possess at the ripe old age of 22.

     Within a year, I met my children’s father, though it felt like an eternity until love-struck my heart.  We married quickly and lived a wonderful existence for 5 years.  Deciding to begin a family, we welcomed our sweet boy and stepped into adulthood with a convertible backpack, 3-position car seat, and an overpowering feeling of inadequacy. How could something so small demand so much responsibility? Because he looked so helpless, that’s how.  He consumed my every thought, when I was with him and when I was away.  I was incredibly fortunate to have a mom who offered to watch him while I was at work.  This is where I use ‘mom’ and ‘god-sent angel’ in the same sentence.  Which have the same meaning for me.

     When our little girl was born 3 years later, I quit work and stayed home with the kids.  These I believe, were the best years of my life.  I hesitate to say positively, as each year with them now proves to be incredible; I marvel at their intelligence, vision, and compassion each time we’re together.  Where in the world did these two amazing people come from, I’ll never know.  Because I certainly had nothing to do with it.

     Five years later and two years of counseling, my husband and I agreed to divorce.  Painful details and hearts are broken, so I won’t elaborate.  We are still good friends, and he comes over every Thanksgiving to drink all my scotch.  I do love a home full of happy and inebriated people!

     My two children and I moved into a small little cottage after a couple of years of condo life.  I found a full-time job at the local high school so I could still be on their schedule and have almost all summer off too. And pay the new mortgage.  After another year, I was able to go back to college and get my BS in Marketing.  Soon, we all found ourselves studying together.  My son and I raced to see if I could finish my degree before he graduated from high school.  Wow, don’t the years just speed by?

     Up to this point, everything progressed like a 1950’s sit-com.  Well, aside from the divorce.  We had bumps and such, but always talked and worked our ways through them.  Those two children helped me with lame boyfriends and horrid professors as much as I helped them through fractions and friends who ignored them in school.  

     One a brisk day at the end of summer, my son and I were gathering up junk to put on the curb for the dump pick-up.  I had begun a new job at the university and was struggling with the learning curve; as well as not getting along with the boss.  As I said, struggling.  Add to that, I had found a lump under one arm and was told I should have an ultra-sound done of the mass.  One thing led to another, and my flat-chested girls were scheduled to have a surgical biopsy done.

     I had received the results on the day my son and I were stacking the junk.  I finally got up the nerve to talk to him on one of our passing trips.

     “Ren, I got the results back from the biopsy today.  I have breast cancer.”

     He took me in a giant hug (he’s 6’4” tall, and I’m 5’6” – I hit him collar bone height) and said,

     “This isn’t what’s going to get you, mom.  You’ve been through lots worse than this.”

     I thought about it for a minute while standing there, covered with dirt, crying into my son’s belly button.

     “Yea, but who’s going to want a gal with only one boob?”

     “Well, maybe a guy with only one testicle?”

     Surely, I wouldn’t care if the man I loved only had one testicle.  Then why would a man care if I had only one boob?  Well, we don’t have to get into that one right now …

     So, life progressed from there.  I’ll save the second part of the story for another day.  You should know, though, I made it through two surgeries, 5 years of tamoxifen, lord knows how many mammograms and MRI’s, and am still here to tell the tale.  Me and both flat-chested girls.  And neither one is drooping … yet! Both my kids have been by my side through thick and thin, hot flashes, mood swings, insecurities, and all, and even now as I listen to the quiet in my little cottage, I wonder, how did I ever get so lucky?

     Kids are fine, one in college and the other rich as sin.  The days gently roll by as I write my way to my second million. Currently, I have three dogs who keep me occupied, entertained, and continually wondering how in Hades did I end up with 3 dogs?!  Yup, that will be in the next post also … and yes, they are much harder to ‘raise’ than my two children ever were!

     ‘Till next time, have a beautiful spring day!

xo

1 Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Scar Tissue’

My daughter

Independent & Astute Fine Artist

My son

Handsome & Sensitive Biochemist

 

We Just Added

Pinterest! 

 

Yea!  It’s taken me way too long to get a Pinterest account up, but I  hadn’t the time to grab some photos for a proper and welcoming attraction for you all.  Lo and Behold, I have finished off some great boards, stuffed them full of beautiful content, and have it ready for your browsing.

I particularly like the Places to Travel board, as I believe the four walls are closing in on me. There is also a board on Projects To Try, Garden Ideas, DIY Gift Giving and Kids Corner for projects to do with your grandkids. If you haven’t been bitten by the Pinterest bug, don’t feel left out.  Actually, it may be a godsend, as when you do begin, it is easy to get lost in its oblivion. All of the pictures, projects, file folders, and recipe cards can be ditched, as they can be ‘stored’ on Pinterest.  Well, maybe not the recipes, but there are plenty of new ones to collect, especially on healthy eating, something our doctors keep mentioning at routine visits!

 

There are also plenty of lists which have been gathered for those of us with good intentions, but little time to do anything more than writing a Post It note to ourselves.  Several are in the Travel folder for itinerary suggestions and packing hacks, as well as Events and Celebration organization ideas.

Check them out and please let me know how you like them.  If you have any additional boards you would like to see created, contact us below and we’ll get more content posted.  Pictures will be added daily (as I’m kind of a nut for Pinterest) and future board ideas include Wedding & Events, Retirement Abroad, and Entrepreneurs.   

Thanks as always, our readers are the best!!!

xo

Contact Us

 

Early Spring Flowers

The weather is easing up and the days are getting longer … yes, my faith in nature has been restored! The dogs are staying outside longer also, bringing in mud instead of snowballs.  It’s ok, I’ll do the trade-off.  Winter does not show my best side, not because of the snow so much as the short days. 

This year I did keep thistle seed outside my window for the Gold Finches. They have made a world of difference in my attitude and outlook.  Bright little streaks of yellow on the grey days can make a huge difference.  Their song in the winter seems a bit more bright, instead of the melancholy two-note trill.  Perhaps they brighten each other up!

As I was leaving my home yesterday, a neighbor was walking his sweet lab.  She is older and moves slow.  We were able to get in quite a few topics of discussion before she was ready to move on. Among solving all the worldly problems, he noticed a speck of color in my dull and rotted leaf yard – the tiniest of daffodils were up and were lifting their little heads to the sun!  Yea!  As I looked further, I found the bulbs were all poking up, not blooming, but defiantly making a stand in the rotten fall muck.  Imperial Crown, Grand Emperor Tulips, Angeliques, and Bright Spirit Daffodils, all about 2 to three inches high and looking as sturdy as can be.  I do love bulbs!

My eyes scanned quickly around, checking to see if my standbys were blooming, and sure enough, there they were – little violets on my cobblestone path – Early Spring Flowers!  I have three kinds now, the basic dark purple, some lighter pink, and a new one with purple speckles on white. 

My neighbor was a bit surprised and said he was immediately going to go check his yard for any signs of life.  We’ve swapped plants and cuttings through the years and have found our tastes are very similar.  In a neighborhood with its fair share of Yard Snobs, it’s nice to know someone else appreciates my common but faithful violets!

Happy Spring everyone!

xo

 

Older Kids

March 12, 2018

I Miss Them Being Young…

As I move into my later years of my career and approaching retirement, I, like many of you, have a bit of time on my hands.  It gives me time to reflect, appreciate, and look forward to more time with the people I love.  At the top of that list are my children.

Consider the word … children … I smile and cock my head just a bit, as they aren’t ‘children’ at all.  My son is 29 and my daughter turned 26 today (perhaps the reason you are being subjected to this reflective writing!).  What used to be squeals and giggles from the back seat have turned into thoughtful errands and longer hugs.  Age does have its great advantages, and this is one of the top two!

I’ve been going through some hard times this past two weeks with my dogs, one in particular, which have tested my strength.  I’ve always been able to get through the emergencies and necessities with clear thinking and resolve, yet Monday, I could hardly move without feeling my stomach roll and my reflexes jolt.  Each time my ‘pup’ moved, my blood pressure would jump and my heart would stop.  I was paranoid, scared, and isolated.  Well, at least that’s how I felt Monday.

The next day, unexpectedly, my daughter came in my back door and took me from Panicsville to the Calm Isle of Nigh.  And it wasn’t even that she solved my problems, or that we took much time in talking about my fears.  She settled me by just being here. 

By listening, answering with care, and showing her love for me, gave me the strength of millions, just as I used to have consistently.  I wasn’t even aware this was happening. 

I was raised with this strength.  My momma had it, and so did her mom.  My aunt had it too.  They were a solid and self-sufficient group of Dutch women who were rarely defeated, moving forward with logic and intelligence with each challenge.

When I lost my momma in 2015, it was devastating; still is.  Now, though, I have accepted I won’t see her next week.  What I haven’t accepted is that my best cheerleader is gone.  I look for her support constantly.  My dad is still with me and I see him often, but he isn’t the unconditional support momma was. 

Now, is it fair that I am asking that of my daughter?  Because, I sure put her in that position on Monday.  She knew just what to say and how to say it, and I found myself falling into the part of the ‘cared for’ instead of the ‘caretaker’. 

It’s not hard to hide, I was raised with my parent’s protection.  The mom picks up the child from the bike crash, soothes the heart from a dashed love, and discredits an over-bearing boss.  Today I am that person and will continue to wear the hat for many years. I’m back on my horse, coming to the rescue when needed, make no mistake.  But after Monday, I realized, as I did when my ten-year-old son fixed my computer and humbled my intelligence, that perhaps I have lost some integrity with their admiration.  Check that, I have lost some integrity with my own persona and vision of who I am.  They would say I am still the strong and dependable ‘mom’ they have always known.  I hope.

On a foundational parental level, we instinctively know we have the right answer; we know our answer is the right one.  And we know we’ll always have time, patience, money, and most of all, experience to fall back on for all our children’s needs.

My son and I made a deal two years ago, before I went in for wrist surgery, his birthday present (s) to me would be the gift of me being able to call him, any time I need, for help around the house.  You know, hanging the panels for the barn doors, moving the bed set from the attic to the basement, and answering my questions about charging the battery and storing the convertible.

Where I used to be the captain of a well-run ship, I am now part of a supportive and smart team.  The summer after we lost my momma, I took the kids to Italy.  It was our first trek to Europe and I hadn’t traveled in over three years.  Needless to say, I was nervous and paranoid.  But, those kids took charge when we got there, and we had the time of our lives.  My son downloaded maps in the morning, and my daughter listed the sites.  We all had bucket list things to see and do and we accomplished them with smiles and laughter.  I even stepped up to the plate once or twice, saving an intensely searched out mask from loss and mastering the train schedule with ease.  Our transitional experience of mother to child, and I didn’t even realize it.  I just thought I was emotional and distracted and they were learning how to navigate in a foreign country.  The surety of it continuing is inevitable.

How naïve can one mom be?  But also, how lucky?!!!

xo