RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: December 2014

What If Tomorrow Never Comes?

For some time now I have been feeling my own mortality. I don’t know if it’s the increasing stiffness and aches and pains, or the multitude of wrinkles that weren’t there a few weeks (or has it become years, now?) ago, but I’m feeling the aging much more than I used to.

Then I made the mistake of visiting one of those “when will you die” sites which said I’d die when I was 61 (I think I did it when I was 59!) and I was pretty freaked out. But 61 came and went and I’m still kicking, so I don’t know if I am on bonus time, or it was a bogus thing (ha! Much more likely bogus! Duh!)

Anyway, I’ve been trying to remember that none of us are guaranteed ANY amount of time on this earth. Only the good Lord knows, and He’s not tellin’.

That’s part of what is driving me to do as much traveling as we can while we can. I’ve been telling Mr. Tattered for awhile now we’re just one doctor’s visit away from learning that we won’t be doing any more going, and he’s finally embraced the concept.

Today we got the news that a friend of mine from Mt. Shasta, a man by the name of Tom Moore, had passed away in his sleep. My understanding is that they are surmising he had a heart attack. He was 62. My age. He was trim and athletic. He may have had a family history I was unaware of, but from the looks of it, he was the picture of health.

I’m sure he had lots of things he was looking forward to.

And now he’s gone.

I’m not even sure how to process it.

It is not feasible to live every day as if it is your last, as good as that sounds. You’d never get anything done. I would certainly not spend it cleaning house or going grocery shopping, or making repairs. And in life, those things need to get done. I wouldn’t even spend it traveling. I guess I might have a piece or two of cheesecake, spend time with my family, some “private” time with my husband. Most of the things that seem so important right now would not get a second thought.

Even if we want to spend the bulk of our lives doing all the things we want to do before we die, most of us are not independently wealthy. We have to have the money to raise our children, save for retirement.  Being able to spend large amounts of money on travel when our families are young is not feasible. It takes saving for many years to have that that ability.

So how do you balance living for today and saving for living a great tomorrow when there is the chance that tomorrow might never come?

I’m not sure I know how to answer that. Or that there is “AN” answer. I’m guessing it will be different for everyone.

We took a chance and spent the early years of our lives scrimping and saving and planning for the future. We had fun, but we watched our pennies. In doing that, we set the groundwork for a comfortable retirement.

Along the way, we’ve gotten lucky. We opted to defer gratification and save for the tomorrow we wanted, and so far that’s worked for us. It could easily have gone the other other way. One of us could have died way too early. We’ve been able to retire early, and have gotten a head start on the tomorrow we saved for. We have no idea if we’ll be around long enough to do all the things we want to do. All the things we saved for. But we’re going to try.

Even before today, we’d heard the stories about people waiting too long, and not being able to do the things they wanted to do together. We already knew we needed to be living the lives we wanted to be living. We’d stepped up our travel plans, made plans for a little house remodel, and when we’re not traveling, we spend as much time as we can with our family.

We’re as ready as we can be for whatever is to come.

Today doesn’t require a change in direction for us, or even a change in attitude. We’ve taken care of  what we can control. Today just validated that we are heading in the  direction we want to go.  We’ve done a lot. We have more planned. If tomorrow never comes, we will have had good, full lives. That’s about the best any of us can hope for.

 

 

 

 

A Creature of Habit?

I love to write.

I had forgotten how much until I started this blog. And I didn’t start the blog to write, so much as to provide a forum to some day sell my art. The writing was a  by-product. Now, as time has gone by, the desire to sell my art has subsided, and sharing ideas has has become my focus, and once again, writing is a by-product; the means of sharing them.

When I sit down to blog, it’s normally because I have something I want to say, but sometimes what comes out is way different than what I intended.

Today is one of those days.

Today, I intended to share one of my mechanisms for coping with the lapses of memory that seem to come with aging. Routines. And boy do I have a lot of them.

One, in particular, is my “when I get up in the morning routine.”

It has evolved over time, because I am part of a team, and it annoys the living %#^& out of my teammate when I leave the bedroom in the morning without “shutting down” all the things that make sleeping easier for me. Confused? I mean, what can you need to sleep? The answer for me is, “lots.”

I need it cool to sleep in my post-menopausal state – windows open (yes, even when it’s 30 degrees outside.) And I need air movement, so the overhead fan is on, but it doesn’t make white noise, so there is an additional fan to provide sound. All these things are only needed at night, so in the morning they need to be reversed – returned to their daytime state. Can you tell it’s getting complicated?

To make matters worse, I sleep with my cell phone next to the bed, but I can’t hear it from the living room, so I need to take it with me.

Left to his own devices, none of these things would be necessary. He would be sleeping in a quiet room, at a comfortable temperature. But, as his contribution to a harmonious relationship, he freezes and accepts the use of extra energy resources. Restoring the room to its original condition once I get up (hours later) is my my responsibility (and rightly so.)

Sometimes Frequently I was forgetting to do one or more of these things, and since a) I hate being nagged reminded, and b) (contrary to popular opinion) I don’t LIKE annoying the man, I developed routines to assure that I did all the things I am supposed to, every day. And then I don’t need to be reminded, and the man doesn’t get annoyed. Win-win.

So, my routine. I wake up. I throw some clothes on (yes, I sleep nekked – post menopausal, remember? I just can’t take the heat. Sorry, probably TMI, huh?) close the window by my side of the bed, pick up my phone, go around the bed and close the window on his side. Turn around, walk to the low table on the opposite wall and turn off the little fan, make a right, turn off the overhead fan, proceed to the bathroom, set phone down on counter, and have a seat on the throne. Do business, get up, use hand sanitizer, pick up phone, leave bedroom, go into kitchen, pour a cup of coffee my loving barista has left for me, walk blindly to my recliner, plop down, and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while I check in with the world on-line. Whew!

I do the same thing every morning. Every. Single. Morning. Mostly. Some mornings, I deviate. Like yesterday morning. I woke up and had to pee like a race horse, so I dispensed with all the preliminary stuff and headed straight for the bathroom. And my whole morning was shot to hell. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but my routine was disrupted, and I forgot to close the windows, and I left my phone by the bed.

As I sat connecting to the world, my teammate returned home from HIS ritual trip to the gym a little out of sorts. I had, it seemed, not heard the phone when he tried to call to see if we needed anything that was not on the list at the store while he was there, AND, I had left the windows open.

Now, a case could be made that neither were earth-shattering occurrences. BUT. I got reminded, and I created annoyance, neither of which I enjoy.

Which SLOWLY brings me to the initial point of this post, which is, as we age, it is important to stick to our routines. To become creatures of habit.

Dead silence in my head. Really??? I am so addle-brained that a slight deviation from the routine caused me to skip two things I need to do in the morning? That is unacceptable. I need to re-think this. By being lazy and falling into routines, if something happens and the routine is interrupted, things that should get done, don’t get done? Not good.

I have come to the conclusion that the routine I have developed to insure that I do what I should be doing to maintain the peace has caused me to succumb to “lazy brain.” I cannot always control the variables that will affect the routine, so I need to use my head to remember to do the things I need to do without relying on the cue of what I JUST did did to remember the next step.

So, now I need to shake things up, do them out of order and see if I can manage to still get them all done. Maybe I can make a game out of it. See how many different combinations I can come up with of doing all the various steps. And I wonder why I am a sack of nuts.

Good grief, I can make life complicated!

 

 

Looking At Christmas A Little Differently

One of the biggest problems I have at Christmas is reconciling the secular, commercial Christmas with the religious Christmas.

On the one hand, I’ve always thought of it as a religious holiday, and I have very specific feelings about how I’d like to celebrate that, but they are totally at odds with the fun, secular parts of the season, like Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, Christmas decorations… And truth be told, I REALLY don’t want to give up the secular stuff.

nochristmastree.125w.tn

So this year, about the time all the annual screaming about the “war on Christmas” began, and I started seeing the suggestions on Facebook that you “share this post if you refuse to say Happy Holidays” I decided to investigate the origins of Christmas and see if I could come to terms with it all.

I had already decided in my mind, that with the exception of employers who have the right to tell their employees how to greet customers, no one is MAKING anyone say Happy Holidays. Yes, many companies have opted for the more generic “Happy Holidays” on their bags, cards, and in advertising. Not everyone who celebrates Christmas is Christian. Not everyone sees it as a religious holiday. It appears to me that Christians brought this upon themselves by attempting to co-opt the holiday for themselves, rather than let it stand as it had always been, a holiday with room for everyone to celebrate as they see fit. Some people must have complained, and some companies have taken it to heart. It is driven by the marketplace. Free Enterprise. Capitalism. Remember that? There are no government mandates.

Me? I say Merry Christmas, unless I’m talking to someone who I know does not celebrate Christmas, in which case I say Happy Holidays. If someone wishes me Merry Christmas, I’m thrilled. If they wish me Happy Holidays, I’m still thrilled. How can you be so narrow minded as to get upset because someone is wishing you well, but not using precisely the words you’d prefer to hear? I often hear people ask why Christians get such a bad rap. Well, can we start here? Why do we have to make a big deal about something so insignificant? Did I miss the part of the Bible where Jesus said “thou shalt wish all men Merry Christmas?”

Which takes me to my next point. Celebrating Christmas is NOT Biblical. I can’t find a single reference to it. Yes, Christ was born. The story is an amazing one. And I believe it happened in much the way the story is told. But it didn’t happen on December 25th. Shepherds would not have been tending their flocks out in the open in December. There is no reference in the Bible as to WHEN the event took place.

Moreover, the early Christians did not celebrate Christmas. When “the church” decided to begin celebrating it in the 4th century, the approximate date of the winter solstice was chosen. Whether this was done to tweak the pagans, I have no idea. The roots of most Christmas traditions can be found in pagan celebrations.

Additionally, it was the time of year when it was cool enough to slaughter animals with less fear of the meat spoiling in the heat, the beer and wine was ready to drink, and the farmers were coming into the season of the year where they had time on their hands. Perfect time for a celebration. For excess.

Even in this country, the Puritans forbade celebrating it into the 1600’s. In those days it was a public display of rowdiness more like what you would associate with “carnevale” rather than a religious event. You could be fined for participating.

I guess a case could be made that if Christians were REALLY celebrating a non-secular Christmas, there should be no tree, no decor, no presents (except those being given to Jesus) and certainly no Santa…

There is little mention of Christmas in New England before the 1720’s, and by the end of the century there were several “types” of Christmas celebrations – some religious, some displays of excess. Benjamin Franklin is credited with attempting to rein in the excesses, calling for “mirth with moderation.” Nowhere were there the trappings of Christmas today, and it was not a family oriented occasion.

Family celebrations didn’t begin until the early 1800’s, and then with the introduction of Christmas trees and Santa Claus that commercialization began to be seen, as well as a resurgence of the religious component. And the battle was on. It is nothing new. It is just getting uglier.

So. Where does that leave me?

I’ve given it a fair amount of thought. What I have decided about my Christmas dilemma is that I am going to embrace both parts of “Christmas” as well as Hanukkah and Kwanza and whatever else anyone celebrates this time of year.  Personally, I am going to celebrate the birth of Christ, and I am going to celebrate the joy of gift-giving and feasting (with maybe even a little “excess!”) I am going to live the spirit of the religious portion of Christmas throughout the year. And I am going to accept and embrace everyone’s right to their own piece of this time of year, to celebrate or not celebrate as they choose.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year!

As always, your comments are welcome! I encourage dialogue in my world, whether you agree with me or not.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Yeah, we celebrate the secular Christmas, with a Christmas Tree, The Elf on the Shelf and Santa Claus.

But, in honor of the birth of Christ, we also have a birthday cake for Jesus every year, on Christmas Eve. I like to find a fun, new cake every year. We’ve done trains, a variety of trees and a simple cupcake one year… (I don’t remember why that happened!)

This year I discovered the Wilton gingerbread cookie tree and decide to give that a whirl!

The set comes with nested stars that stack to form a tree.
HBJesus6-w

The gingerbread cookie recipe that comes with the set is pretty darn good, and makes enough cookies for the tree with a bit left over for just regular cookies, if you are so inclined.

You cut out two of each size…

HBJesus5-w

And bake them and let them cool.

HBJesus4-w

Then you frost the cookies and stack them, offsetting as you build up.

HBJesus3-w

Once I got them all stacked, I decorated the tree with a variety of cute little sprinkles, and added a gold star and a candle.

HBJesus2-w

The kids could hardly wait to blow out the candle, sing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus and dig in.

HBJesus-w

But I think the gingerbread taste was a little strong for them. They liked the fudge a LOT better!

Now I need to keep an eye out for next year’s cake idea! And, note to self, not gingerbread!

 

Pickles (aka Daddy/Daughter Bonding)

Earlier in the year, we were having dinner at Mother – a vegan restaurant in Downtown Sacramento.

They had been “pickling.” There were darling jars of pickled vegetables lined all around the restaurant. They made sweet decorations as they “aged,” to be used in various meals later in the year.

Mr. Tattered mentioned that he would like to try his hand at pickling some day, and my daughter chimed in that she’d like to, as well.

Months later, as I began putting together my Christmas buying plan, I remembered the conversation, and headed to Sur la Table, a local kitchen shop, to see if they had any supplies. And lo, and behold, they had a whole section, including water baths, recipe books, pickling spices, and tools.

Mr. Tattered can be VERY difficult to buy for. He has everything he wants, and if he doesn’t he buys it, leaving little for us to get him on occasions such as Christmas. He’d kinda forgotten about the pickled veggies, so it was the perfect idea!

He was VERY surprised, and the two of them just lit up! YAY!

Well, today was pickling day.

They divided up the shopping list for  veggies, and a few incidentals, and it was on!

pickles2-w

 

pickling-w

They decided on cauliflower and beets for their first try!

pickles3-w

 

pickles4-w

 

pickles5-w

 

The house smelled wonderful – garlic, ginger and onions…

pickles6-w

The best cooks cook with wine, right?

pickles7-w

 

pickles8-w

 

pickles9-w

 

This first try is for refrigerated pickled veggies. In seven days they’ll be ready to taste. We can hardly wait.

But the best part was the daddy/daughter bonding. It’s a wonderful thing! I’m pretty proud of myself for remembering…

IGNITE!!!

I LOVE that word. Just the thought of it is, well…igniting me! I feel energized in a way I haven’t felt in awhile now!

How can that be? How can a simple word – no action, no nothing – make such a difference?

It’s all in the tremendous flexibility of our brains, the miracle of a shift in attitude, the POWER of words.

I’ve written numerous times about the power of changing your attitude. How a small shift in the way you look at something can completely change the way you feel about it.

Well. Exhibit A.

I have been feeling pretty lethargic lately. I have been unable to get myself enthused about much of anything. I’ve even just about phoned in Christmas this year. I’ve been on auto-pilot, in slow motion, drowning in a sense of “why bother?” I’ve had a hard time prying myself out of my recliner since we’ve been home, and I’ve been “doing” about as little as I can get away with. In the meantime, unfinished projects have been accumulating to the point where “complete” and “finish” were vying for my OLW for 2015.

But they weren’t quite right. I knew the basic CONCEPT was a good one for me to focus on, but we’re talking about THE word that would set the tone for the whole year. Neither were lighting my fire. And really, although the unfinished projects were a symptom of my deeper issue, the underlying problem is a lack of passion.

Then the word IGNITE came on to my radar screen, and all of a sudden I’m feeling the stirring of (dare I say it?) passion. Yeah, passion. Excitement. Instead of wanting to hide away, I’m wanting to DO something.

Last night I pulled out my journal from 2014 that has been woefully ignored, and caught up 2 sections – logging the prompts from both Documented Life and Journal 52. AND, I pulled out the paper that I used to make my monthly calendars for 2014 and put it with the things I need to pack for our January trip (to make NEW calendar pages for the new year!) so I can work on them onboard ship.

journal-w

AND, I gathered up the materials I needed to help the kids make an ornament for their teachers for Christmas. I had convinced myself there just wasn’t time to do them, and the supplies were about to go on the scrap heap with the tons of others. But NO! I didn’t do it. With just a little effort, I made it happen.

teacherorn-w

 

teacherorn2-w

Woohoo! It’s building! I can feel it!

The “to-do” list I keep in my mind where I don’t have to look at it every day is finding its way onto an ACTUAL list.

Now it’s possible I’m just having a manic day. I do that sometimes. It will take a series of days like today for me to completely accept that this is real. But real or not, it feels WONDERFUL, and maybe that will be enough to MAKE it real.

How are you coming with your word? Has it found you yet?

 

A Change In My OLW?

So, I’m minding my own business and a post comes across about a VERY expensive class on getting your art business going. NO! Don’t panic. I’m not even CONSIDERING that! Perish the thought.

BUT, the name of the class is “ignite.”

And I LOVE that word.

I am set on the concept of complete/finish for my OLW for 2015, but I’m not loving either of the words. And I can’t come up for another word that means the same thing that I do love. And I hate to settle for a word I don’t love. So, I’m trying to convince myself that if I were to “ignite” it would propel me into completing/finishing things I have started, so would be in keeping with the concept, but be a flashier, more fun word. It feels like a reach to me, but, hey, it’s my word, and I could make it work however I want, huh?

I’ve signed up to do Ali Edward’s support class for the project. Which, to be candid, doesn’t mean a lot. I signed up last year, too, and never even looked at it. I have a reasonably good excuse (don’t I always?) The plan was to combine Documented Life Project, Journal 52 AND One Little Word into one cohesive journal/planner. BUT, I got hung up on what style I was going to use to decorate the journal, and week after week went by without making a decision. Before I knew it I was SOOOOO behind I gave up. Well, not completely. I ultimately figured out how I wanted it to look, got pages base coated and ready to be written on.

dlp6:29-w

I even had a mid-year hallucination that I might yet go back and get caught up. But alas. I ran out of year. Truth be told, I did some work in it today. I STILL haven’t been able to admit to myself that it isn’t going to happen. Heeheehee!

The bad thing is, I have the same fantasy again this year. But. Now I have IGNITE! Such a powerful word. I wonder if it will be powerful enough for me to start this project and actually follow through?

I have one pretty big thing working against me, and that is that I will be gone the whole month of January. So unless I can get my act together quickly enough to take supplies with me on the cruise, I won’t get anything into the journal until we get home. It’s deja vu all over again…

I’ve got about 2 weeks to get this figured out. Well, I’ve already figured out that I’m going with “IGNITE” as my word. Now I have to figure out if I’m going to One Little Word on its own, or if I will attempt, once again, to make it a combination project. AND I need to see, if, as a part of this year’s project, I’m going to go back and try to do last year’s. I suspect I’m crazy to even consider it. But then crazy is my middle name.

%d bloggers like this: