PATIENCE IS NO VIRTUE

sky waiting on the chair

Honestly, I could take a few lessons from my dog. Sure, some are obvious, like:

  1. When you first get up, always S-T-R-E-T-C-H.
  2. If someone enters your house unannounced, BARK!
  3. Snooze often and anywhere.
  4. Lick the hand that feeds you.
  5. If someone throws you a bone, FETCH it!

But others are subtler like, “Wait patiently.” She does. I do not. Nor have I ever been patient, particularly with myself. I am driven forward with an inner angst that has remained un-squelched for 62 years. What good has it done? Not much. Being impatient has cost me time, money and stress, whether in speeding tickets or simply making dumb, impulsive decisions.

You’d think at my age I would know better. You’d think I’d have figured out that of my 62 years, probably 60 of them have been spent WAITING: in the doctor’s office, the post office, the line at the restaurant or the bank.  Everything is a wait as if reality is just out of reach, put on hold by some operator who has yet to connect you.  Waiting…for the check to clear, the light to change, the pot to boil or the shoe to drop.  Probably the ONLY thing I have NOT been impatient for was the birth of my first child. Why? Because I knew exactly how long that wait would be!!!

sky waiting outside

But Skylar does not need to know such things. She waits patiently for me to get my coffee in the morning before we walk. Then, she waits for me to unload the dishwasher before I feed her. She sits patiently on the couch whenever I leave the house and jumps with excitement and a wag of her tail at my arrival. All her waiting is an act of simple grace and ease.  Not mine. I do not snooze when it suits me or distract myself chasing butterflies (though I probably should do more of both). At day’s end when hunger grips me, I do not merely nibble at a bone to appease the pangs but lunge instead for the icebox.

Patience is not a virtue. It is a necessity as crucial as breathing. Without it, we succumb, sometimes by our own hand.  We humans must work at it, but Skylar?  Just look at her: a thousand words worth waiting for.

waiting on the porch

THE SECRET OF LIFE

Originally posted on Agelessly Aging :

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Met an 18 year- old today who knows it. He was sitting in the lifeguard chair while I swam laps. Never seen him before. Here he was overlooking a pool full of old, white-haired ladies but he just seemed happy up there. He even gave me a big smile and a wave as I was leaving. So, I stopped to talk to him. Turns out he graduates from high school in a few months and has decided to go into the service. Figures it will give him some good training and then help pay for his college.

“Ah, to be young,” I said as I left.
“I really LIKE being young,” he replied.

I stopped for a moment and thought about that. I know a ton of kids his age right now who are scrounging around for phony ID’s and trying to be older than they are. I also know…

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“…AND THAT’S THE TRUTH!!!”

mermaids

Every Tuesday and Thursday this gaggle of girlfriends suits up and hits our local pool. No, they don’t wear bikinis or flaunt tattoos or pierced navels. They don’t need to. All of their valuable assets lie inside and they’ve been hard won over time. By my calculation when class is full, there are almost 1,000 years between them.

mermaids1

Some shuffle slowly wearing knee braces. Canes, crutches and walkers aid others. A few arrive with caregivers. Gracefully, if not painfully, they bear together the weight of many lifetimes: husbands come and gone, children raised, grandchildren born, surgeries too numerous to mention and heartaches aplenty. One by one, they enter the water and then, as if by magic, they become effortlessly floating mermaids!

I am awed by the transformation that occurs before my eyes as I do my own laps. I cannot help but stop and listen to their laughter or pause to see them synchronized in a delicate ballet of swaying arms. They giggle like schoolgirls when someone tells a clever joke. I catch snippets of recipes, the death of a friend, the struggle with a husband’s Alzheimer’s and lots of bubbly chatter about the grandkids. Their skin is wrinkled, their bodies shrunken and bent over but they are SO beautiful I cannot take my eyes off of them.

I have imagined each of them as young once. I can see the shy debutante, the tough tomboy, the loner, the femme fatale and the crowd pleaser among them. Under their white hair and thin skin, I see blondes, brunettes, redheads, lithe bodies, big-eyed smiles and voluptuous lips. Age is an illusion we take far, too much on face value.

I contend that as a society we are now more tolerant of African-Americans, Hispanics, homosexuals, white-collar criminals, and drug addicts than we are our elderly! It should be Politically Correct to revere them, not scam, mistreat, ignore or abuse them.  They are the survivors and memory-keepers of a time gone by and they should be treasured—not honked at when they are too slow crossing the street.

Most of my mermaids are the same age as Lily Tomlin, 75, Jane Fonda, 77, and Gloria Steinem, 80; three women who figured prominently in my growing up years. Funny thing is, all three are forever etched in my mind as young. So, too, should we look upon our elders. As Edith Ann often said from her big, rocking chair on Laugh-In: “And that’s the truth!”

WHY I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE ’20 SOMETHING’ NOW

silent crowd at starbucks

Take a good look at this picture of a group of 20 somethings at Starbucks this morning.  I watched and photographed them for several minutes, during which time not one of them looked up or even acknowledged one another.  Welcome to 2015.  I would not want to be their age for anything right now.  Why?

1. I wouldn’t be able to talk to my friends as conversation now is done primarily via thumbs. (The last time I actually used mine was to hitchhike).

2.  I would never feel the heart-palpitating anticipation of waiting days for handwritten letters from someone I love.  (Instead, I could ‘hook-up’ or ‘break-up’ instantly via Facebook.)

3. I wouldn’t be able to get the 6 o’clock News in one, nicely, digestible, half hour. (It would bombard me 24/7 on Twitter.)

4. I couldn’t say the bill ‘got lost in the mail, ‘ as it would be sent directly to my Inbox.

5. I couldn’t have a wild time at that private party knowing it would stay private. (By morning, my hat dance routine would be viral on Instagram.)

6. My boredom tolerance would be zero, my curiosity likely non-existent and my sense of allegiance to country, place and home not even a memory.  (Now, thanks to politicians and lawyers, I can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance but can read Lolita– just not the Bible– in class.)

7. Most anything I say would be politically incorrect. (Now I would either have to pretend to like everybody– no matter how wacky– or simply remain mute.)

8. I would neither be able to remember nor mourn my innocence. (Thanks to the Internet it would never exist.)

9. My moral compass would be all screwed up. (Instead of making a bowl of popcorn for the movie, I might well, ‘smoke a bowl’ instead.)

10. I would likely still be living with my parents! (My college degree wouldn’t get me a job and even if it did I still couldn’t afford to live on my own.)

It seems that a sense of gratitude has now been replaced with a sense of entitlement.  Many of my friends say they wouldn’t want to be younger simply because they have, “Been there.  Done that.”  Truth is I haven’t been ‘there’ or ‘done that’ at all.  And I sure wouldn’t want to be there doing it NOW. 

HANDS DOWN!!!

Alberta Hands 6-2

My grandma used to say that you could tell a lot about a person just by looking at their hands. Once, she was asked to be the “palm reader” for our church group’s fundraising fair and was quite the hit. As a kid, I thought maybe she had magical powers. So, I asked her to teach me how to be a palm reader, too.

hands

Turns out there was no magic, she was just a good observer of people. She taught me the difference between weak and strong handshakes and how you could tell if someone worked hard or hardly worked. Long, lean fingers showed artistry. A thumb with a waistline indicated self-discipline. She even said that someone who walks with their thumbs inside their fist are, ”not their own person and feel controlled by others.”

hands1

By looking at the palm itself, she said you could discern even more. A strong, deep Heart line showed emotional expressiveness but a wavy, broken line might mean impulsiveness in love. One who made a living with their mind as opposed to their body would have a long, straight Head line. Lines that were weak, faint or broken could mean ill health, a change in career or move across country. Even the mounds at the base of the fingers had a story to tell. A puffy one under the ring finger might mean the person was given to depression. Pretty fascinating stuff when you’re a kid.

 hands4

Funny thing is, I still look at hands to see what I can learn about someone. And while palmistry is hardly an exact science, there are many clues the casual observer might miss. Are the nails short on one hand and long on the other? Guitar player! Are they bitten down and chewed to the quick? Nervous Nellie. Are they laden with jewels or tattooed on the knuckles? Draw your own conclusions.

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Most of all, I try to make mine stay active because Granny also warned that, “Idle hands are the Devils’ tool.” So, whether playing scales, peeling vegetables, walking the dog, folding laundry, gardening or typing, these ten guys are most always on the move. Wouldn’t want to be a ‘tool’ for you know who. Above are some of the hands that I encountered today. What story do your hands tell?

GO GET ‘EM BOYS

tennis captain

I feel sorry for boys. Salon Magazine, (December 7, 2013) writes, “Adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships.” (December 7, 2013).

Even science says that once men retire, unless they’re still involved with team sports, community groups or meaningful activities with others, they just lose their connections. It may be the main reason that of all the nursing homes I’ve visited over the last some 50 years, the percentage of men compared to women is miniscule. Why? They die younger. Why? They don’t have friends.

Perhaps the hidden message is that they have no reason, ‘to hold on.’ Consider this: two thirds of all nursing home residents are female. In some areas, that number even reaches 80% according to the NY Times (“The New Old Age,” January 30, 2012).

So let me share this: I am grateful for the women in my life; the ones who laugh, cajole and commiserate with me; the ones who encourage me to be my best self and truly care about the ups and downs in my life. They are a blessing beyond measure. I wish my husband had the same support network.

I wish ALL men had the same potpourri of wonderful, wild and deeply concerned human beings in their lives. Friendships like these go beyond time and distance. They persevere and give you hope as the days dwindle shorter.

In the last 17 years, I have played tennis with hundreds of women. The two pictured above are on my latest team. The gal on the right is our captain. She has come to EVERY match I’ve ever played and cheered me on, every, single time. Once, she even drove out of her way to buy my coffee as I entered a 3rd set after several hours. That is devotion. That is love. That is as good as it gets in this brief, and very, short lifetime. May every man find a friend as good as that.

FENG SHUI ME!

garage sale

 

Our house is on the market. Having personally boxed up our homes for 19 moves in the last 35 years, I do not plan to pack one, single item that I don’t have to. In fact, the last two moving companies I’ve used have actually asked me if I want to work for them. Why? Because I can look at a room and tell you how many boxes you’ll need and even how to square it in the truck.  

This time, though, I am not taking those 3, very tall glass vases, large ceramic planter, golf clubs, bicycles, steam iron, extra coffee machine, sewing machine, popcorn popper, candlesticks, 250 books, CD’s and yes, cassettes. They’re gone!! Craig’s list sold off the fire pit, leather recliner, stereo system, 3-drawer office file, two desks, 4 office chairs, extra printer and 3 outdated computers.

I didn’t stop there. I removed all the ‘top shelf’ items in my kitchen cupboards: dishes, pots and pans, the Le Creuset set and silver bowls and trays from Great-granny. My huge rolling pin, which flattened many a circle of dough, was next. I’m on a roll.

Next stop? Bedroom closet. Good-bye belts, suspenders (from the ‘80’s), scarves, handbags and jewelry that I haven’t worn or used in at least 30 years. Adios stockings, Good Will ‘finds’ and Granny’s mink coats. (They went to consignment.)  Au revoir stained T-shirts, freebies, and even a red and white, striped shirt that I last wore in high school!

I paused, though, at the size 7, white, leather tap shoes. They brought back fond memories of my shuffle-ball-change days. However, I’ve been wearing 9’s for the last 22 years! Some aspiring Eleanor Powell will love these. But I’m keeping my yellow, cotton, dress with the wild pattern. My husband says it looks, ‘hideous.’ He’s right, of course. It’s a Jackson Pollack gone wrong and I absolutely love it. When I put it on I feel young, light and literally float through a room. That’s how I feel right now walking through the house!

By my count, I have lightened our upcoming move by at least 1,000 lbs. and several hundred boxes. There’s an old saying: a man with only one watch knows what time it is.  A man with two is never quite sure. Well, trust me, I know what time it is now.  Wanna feel younger? Move!!!