Aging ain't for sissies. Neither is chronic pain.

Posts tagged ‘middle age’

Weight a Minute

As a woman of a certain age I struggle with my weight. In the interest of full disclosure I don’t go overboard trying to control it but I’m not a total slacker either. In my attempt to juggle middle age and fibromyalgia I now juggle a third ball and that is weight management or better yet, mismanagement.

In my quest to control my weight without actually having to make an effort I stumbled upon the perfect routine. It’s called “I Forgot What I came In Here for” and it’s the best exercise you will ever get.  All you need to get started are middle age brain cells.  (In my case I have the proper aging cells in addition to fibro fog, a byproduct of fibromyalgia.  It offers a wide array of cognitive difficulties such as short term memory loss, difficulty carrying on conversations, attention problems, misplacing objects (and people and dogs if one is not careful), mental confusion and more.)


The exercise routine works like this: let’s say you’re in the kitchen and realize you need a paper clip from the office which is at the other end of the house. (Why you need a paper clip in the kitchen is beyond me but who am I to judge?)  So off you go and as you enter the office you suddenly realize you can’t remember why you are there in the first place and that your need for something from that room has been replaced with a sizable but empty thought bubble.  Sighing loudly, you go back to the kitchen but upon your return you remember what it was you forgot (aha!) so you head back to the office only to arrive utterly clueless as to why you are there instead of in the kitchen where the spaghetti sauce is boiling over.

Lather, rinse, repeat.  Several times every_single_day.

If you really want to get your heart rate up and burn some carbs try this same exercise when you are upstairs but what you need is actually in the basement.  Thirteen steps and a landing later you cannot remember why you are in the basement.  Try as you might, the something you needed from this little corner of your world is not coming to mind.  Back up you go!  And then back down again because finally you remember what you went down there for in the first place.

In my attempt to not be an over achiever I’ve learned to use the reminder method to prevent too many extra trips in one day.  I repeat out loud exactly what I’m going into the other room for until I get there.  “Paper clip, paper clip, paper clip.”  As long as I go straight to the paper clips I’m fine.  If I deviate one iota of a second from my goal to retrieve what I came in there for I have to turn around, go back where I started and do another set of reps.  It’s all in the planning people.

So if you’re like me and need to let go of a few pounds this summer don’t use your body, use your middle age brain.  It will let you down every time.

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Anxiety Doesn’t Age Gracefully

When I was younger I mistakenly believed life would somehow become easier as I got older. I could not have been more wrong.

Once I hit my 50s it seems anxiety has become more of a companion than I would prefer and I’ve struggled to figure out why. I’m older now and wiser too so I should feel more confident and less afraid, right? Perhaps finally accepting that I have more time behind me than in front of me has exacerbated anxiety I’ve carried for so long. I know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be but I think the pressure I put on myself to “get over it” is a big part of the problem as well.

anxiety

I’ve been spending time lately identifying my anxieties and fears for what they truly are and trying to unearth their origins. I figured if I did this I might be able to work through some of them. I can’t say that I’m over them or they are gone but I’ve learned a few things that make my fears and my worries less monsoon-like.

storms

First I had to be honest with myself and admit I have issues with trust. It stems back to when I was very young and right or wrong, good or bad, I have carried them with me my entire life. This includes a lack of trust in God. I believe strongly in a higher Power but I don’t totally trust it. I think the problem lies in how I perceive the world around me. Because the world appears to be going to hell in a hand basket it makes it hard for me to believe in a loving God. That is, until I take the time to be completely aware that I only see the world through a small lens and this is not enough to make a judgment call regarding trust toward a Power much more vast and mysterious than I can ever know.

mountain

I also have a thing about control…I want to control everything in my life. This has pushed me to live more rigidly than I need to. I think deep inside I believe that if I can control everything (EVERYTHING!!), down to the most miniscule speck of whatever is in my life, then I will be safe. This is so not true! But sometimes I can’t convince my head of it.

demons

In the context that I’m speaking, the opposite of controlling everything is letting go. I’m terrified to let go and just live. Why? I guess I’m afraid I’ll get hurt (umm, been there/done that), disappointed (yep, that too), let down (uh huh, it’s happened.) All of this has occurred even while I’ve tried to maintain total control. It makes no sense and the whole flippin’ deal is exhausting.

So…what if letting go signifies truly living? Letting go obviously doesn’t mean a lack of pain in life but releasing all the crap will open up room to let in an abundance of joy and fun and excited anticipation too. We have to look for it and trust that we are worthy. Because we are.

Control is prison. Letting go is freedom.

I don’t know what it will take to set all my fears free, to let go and really live, but I won’t give up. I won’t quit. Every move I make to release my demons, my need to control and my lack of trust is a step toward freedom. Life truly is too short not to be lived.

Don’t Fence Me In

I can’t remember a time in my life when I felt comfortable setting boundaries. There was a part of me that believed I was obligated to help anyone who asked me even if it was to my own detriment. I believed I was not worth more than the way I was treated. I believe I wasn’t good enough. I believed what I was told about myself.

Now I don’t.

So…what changed? I don’t think it was any one thing but a combination of things. Watching life intersect with death. Facing the fact that all the time we have is all the time we have. Sometimes the only way to make the best of this time is to set a boundary or three.

Boundaries tend to piss people off. Too bad. One of the good things about boundaries is they help you weed out who has your best interests at heart and who doesn’t.

take_crap

The truth seems to piss people off too. If I have learned nothing else recently it’s that the truth really will set us free. Truth is liberating and boundaries assure that our liberation is not short lived.

We’ve heard it all before…”life is short!” “Live life to the fullest!” “You only live once!” There is truth in every one of these sayings. There’s another truth and that is we cannot live fully if we don’t set boundaries. Without boundaries too much crap can get in and stifle us. Life is not meant to be lived this way.

Setting boundaries is completely outside my comfort zone. It feels weird and awkward yet strangely right. I have 54 years behind me. It is unlikely that I have 54 years ahead of me. I want to make the most of whatever is left. Maybe this comfort zone hasn’t been so comforting after all.

comfort_zone

Harmony

Every year I put a hummingbird feeder on a hook attached to our deck. Usually I am organized enough to have the feeder up before the birds arrive but this year I missed the mark. I happened to be outside when I heard an old familiar humming emanating from behind a hanging basket. “Hello! I’m back, where’s the grub?”

Fred and I get a lot of pleasure out of watching hummingbirds. According to Professor Google the hummingbird is the smallest of all animals that have a backbone. Their wings beat 60 to 80 times per second and they have a heart rate that can reach up to 1,200 beats per minute. A hummingbird has no sense of smell but they can rotate their wings in a circle therefore they are the only bird that can fly forwards, backwards, up, down, sideways and hover in midair. During migration many ruby-throats, which is what we have at our feeder, make a 2,000 mile journey between Canada and Panama including a 500 mile non-stop trek over the Gulf of Mexico. Busy, busy.

During their four to five month visit to our area they spend a lot of time at our feeder. The thing about hummingbirds is they are quite territorial. And mean. In the mornings I sit under the canopy of our deck and watch the show unfold. Two or three hummingbirds will hover in our crepe myrtle tree and wait for their first victim. As soon as another hummer comes to partake of the rich nectar they buzz in at an alarming speed and proceed to dive bomb their intended target. Needless to say said bird takes off like a bat out of hell. Once their mission is accomplished they turn on each other. There is much wailing and gnashing of beaks as they bump, push and otherwise bully each other in midair. They make quite a bit of noise for such tiny birds. Many a time they have brought their brawl under the canopy and dangerously close to my head. I have visions of Fred coming home in the evening to find me still on the deck, in shock with tiny beak holes peppering my forehead.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird at our feeder

I feel sorriest for the male hummers. One no sooner appears and the females lose control of their faculties and kick his sorry butt to the curb. No wonder hummingbirds don’t mate for life.

Sometimes they are much braver and simply perch on the hook that holds the feeder and wait for someone, anyone, to fly in and try and get a drink. They fluff out their feathers to make themselves look bigger but in reality it makes them look fat, out of shape and in dire need of a good grooming.

Watching the hummingbird equivalent of an epic world war in my back yard this summer left me more than a little surprised when I witnessed something different. A female hummer was perched on the hook when another approached. Expecting the same kick-ass approach that had been so prevalent all summer I was shocked to see the second hummer perch next to the first one. Holding my breath for what was sure to be a fight to the death I was slowly calmed by what I observed. These two females who had been hurling bird-like obscenities at each other all season were suddenly in synch. They quietly sat together, rubbed beaks gently and watched the world go by. It suddenly seemed so normal, so much more normal than the near constant fighting.

This change in behavior threw me off a bit. How could such harmony coincide with so much animosity? Perhaps I was wrong in my thinking. What I saw as animosity was really survival. What I saw as harmony was actually the way it was supposed to be when they weren’t fighting for the food they needed. Everything really was the way it was meant to be by nature.

Mother Nature is a beautifully complex, intricate system with a remarkably simple outcome. Animals fight for what they need in order to survive but they also rely on each other for the same purpose. Strength in numbers and all that. It’s survival and companionship melded together. It is the ebb and flow of nature, the yin and yang, the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s the way things are supposed to be.

I’ll miss my little hummers when they fly south for the winter but what remains is a certain insight. That in the midst of chaos there can be found harmony. I have to work (and it is work) to cultivate the things that bring harmony to my life and weed out that which does not. We are not built to be in overdrive all the time, our wings beating 80 times per second, flying in circles up, down, forward and backwards. Nature is our built in quiet time, our time to nurture ourselves so that we have the strength to fight for what we need and the balance to foster our relationships. It is, I believe, the way things are meant to be.

Taking Stock

So I’ve been doing a little personal inventory.  I’m amazed at how much I’ve changed over the years.  It’s funny how you don’t realize you’ve changed until…well…you’ve changed.  Things that used to matter so much to me in the past just don’t anymore.  Things that didn’t concern me back in the day now play a more prominent role in my life.

Am I happy with the changes?  Yes and no.  I’m happy that I don’t worry about certain things as much as I used to.  In the past I worried myself silly over what people might think of me.  I was very much a “yes” person; saying yes to just about any request for fear that someone would think badly of me if I said no.  Now?  Not so much.  If somebody is going to think badly of me simply because I choose to say no then it’s on them not me.  It’s not that I want people to go around thinking I’m an ogre or anything but I would like them to accept me for who I am.  Take it or leave it, like it or lump it…I yam what I yam.

I’m happy with the fact that I can let things go more easily, especially things I disagree with.  I don’t have as many hills to die on as I used to.  I have strong beliefs and I stand up for what I think is right but I don’t shove my beliefs down anyone’s throat.  I am better at agreeing to disagree than I’ve been in the past; in other words I don’t feel the need to have the last word in everything.  Go me.

I think I’m better at meeting people where they are as well.  It’s not my place to push people toward where I want them to be.  I’m certainly no expert in telling people where I think they should be at any given time in their lives.  Shame on me if I even try.

One thing that’s changed about me that I don’t like is that I focus more on my regrets than I used to.  I know it doesn’t do any good and it won’t fix anything but I do it anyway.  I also worry more about the end of my life.  I’m going to be 50 this year and I think my thoughts on these issues are part of the process of realizing just how limited my time here on earth really is.  It is disconcerting and something I have to fight in order not to get depressed.  I think a greater consumption of chocolate would help with this.

I pay more attention to the world more now than I did in the past.  I seem to absorb more of the…I don’t know…pain that’s around me.  Pain from people I don’t even know but whose stories touch me.  It causes me to pray more, that’s a fact.

As odd ball as this sounds I find I enjoy pretty things more than before.  I used to be all form and function; everything being black, white, brown and gray (such as my clothes, hair etc.)  If it didn’t have a function then it had no room in my life.  If it was too crazy with color then it wasn’t for me.  I’ve changed in this department.  More and more I like pretty things; not expensive things but pretty things.  (I’ve become quite enamored with the color yellow; the medium to pale shades.  I can’t quite bring myself to wear the I-am-a-screaming-yellow-school-bus hue though.)  Anyway, I want to feel pretty.  I think most women want to feel pretty and feminine.  Femininity does not equate weakness or submissiveness or any such nonsense.  It’s simply part of being a woman.  It may not be for every woman, and I say to each his own, but for many of us feeling pretty and feminine is fun.

I need more sleep than when I was younger.  I hate it but I need copious amounts of sleep to function.  Trying to tell my body differently results in a very crabby Terri.  Boooo.

I think I appreciate the people in my life in a deeper, more meaningful way than ever before.  Time goes by so fast and I’m at a point where I don’t want to miss a minute of time with those I love.  I don’t want to waste my time on trivial things.  I don’t have that much time to waste!

In taking stock of how I’ve changed I can see that most of the changes have been for the better.  I have a long way to go and a short time to get there (can you say Smokey and the Bandit?) but I’ll do what I can with what’s been given to me.  I am greatly blessed and I see it every day.  I know I’ll continue to change and evolve and I hope I can keep a positive outlook.  The way I look at it, if I get enough sleep I will not become a crabby old lady who hates change and the color yellow.

Let’s Chat

I haven’t written anything lately because I seem to have developed a case of writer’s block.  I thought maybe if I got on here and chatted it might break down the wall that is stifling my creativity.  I wonder if they make a laxative for writer’s blockage.  I could take it at night and by morning all the crap would be purged from my brain.

I finally had to stop watching the news.  I don’t want to live with my head in the sand but there is a limit to how much bad news a person can listen to.  I mean seriously, how many stories of politicians caught with their pants down do I want to hear?

Remember my post about decluttering?  It was a slow start but we’re working on it.  We cleaned out an area of our basement that included, but was not limited to,  boxes of old bank statements from 1993.  Really?  Even my husband thought that was a little over the top.

I had my hair colored and this time I splurged and went to the salon instead of doing it myself.  I now have blonde highlights and really like it.  So does my husband.  The dogs didn’t even notice, the brats.

I appear to becoming more absent minded when it comes to my techie toys.  I thought I had turned off my iPod but apparently used the wrong button.  When I went to use it the battery was drained and I cussed a blue streak.  I got out my Kindle to read a new book but had failed to turn it off the last time I used it, thus the battery was drained and I cussed a red streak.  I really need to learn to use the *&# %*@# off buttons.

I spend more time on my laptop mainly because of my new addiction…Africam.  It is a cool, live webcam of wild animals at a preserve in Africa.  You can find it at http://www.africam.com – trust me, you’ll become addicted too.  I keep my laptop running all day with the webcam open to the site so I can watch the animals in real time.  (My friend A and I talk on the phone while watching the web cam several times a week.  Do we need to get a life yet?)  If you become addicted be warned, you might see some nature type things happening in the romance department.

I’m watching American Idol this year and think that judge Kara is far too full of crap and that’s saying a lot considering she sits next to the king of criticism, Simon Cowell.  Enough said.

Well…I’ve chatted but have no idea if I still have writer’s block.  Time will tell.  In the meantime I will peruse my gardening books looking for the next big thing for my flower beds.  I’m not sure how I will fare in the gardening department this year.  It might interfere with my web cam time and we can’t have that.  🙂

If You’re Easily Bored, Don’t Read This

Sometimes nothing exciting happens but I want to write about it anyway.  Don’t ask me why as there is no method to my madness.

Fred didn’t have to work yesterday so we went shopping.  We did more window shopping than anything but it still counts as shopping as far as I’m concerned.  Being that my snow boots went belly up I needed a new pair and Fred needed new work boots.  Like I said, nothing exciting.

First we went to the mall.  It’s been so long since we’d been to the mall that it’s been totally renovated since the last time we visited.  The first thing I noticed is that most of the stores are high-end stores now.  Way out of my league considering that a person needs maximum moola to shop in them.  I was still able to find a kick-butt deal on snow boots so all was not lost.  I’ll be able to trudge through the 12 to 18 inches of snow we’re expecting this weekend without my toes freezing off.

I’ve wanted to find a pair of small diamond stud earrings so we decided to look in the jewelry store.  Apparently I live under a rock.  I had no idea just how expensive diamond studs are.  The salesman showed me a pair of tiny studs for over $2000.  I thought I was going to have to change my pants.  I played it well though and pretended like it was chump change.  I told him I was doing some comparison shopping (which I was) and got the hell out of Dodge.  I have to wonder if he wasn’t on to me what with the profuse sweating and all.

We looked at several other places but the cost was so far out of our range that it gave me indigestion.  I’ll figure out an alternative plan some other time.

After lunch we headed for the grocery store.  As I mentioned we are expecting a big winter storm.  From the sound of things it’s going to get ugly.  Of course this means there was no bread at the store.  There were, however, other important staples one might need to tide oneself over during a snowstorm…popcorn, ice cream, coffee and copious amounts of chocolate.

Snow events around here tend to leave us feeling a bit isolated on our street.  We live in a small town and there is no snow plow.  When we first moved here I witnessed a guy on a back hoe plowing Main Street.  Seriously.  We are usually snowed in until the county decides that maybe those of us on the hill might actually still be alive and need to get out.  My husband and neighbor use the plows on our ATVs to plow as much of the road on our part of the hill as they can.  It’s a win-win situation – they get to play in the snow and we can get out of our driveways.  Of course we can’t get far because the rest of the road leading into town is impassable but it’s the thought that counts.

There is also the issue of digging out the back yard so the dogs can do their business.  I told Fred that I was not shoveling this time like I did during our last big storm.  Instead he can bring our ATV (which we affectionately call Brutus) to the back yard and plow out areas for the pups.  Otherwise our whippet Flurry, who has white hair on her legs and back, will fall in the snow and we won’t see her until spring.

Flurry - my little snow bunny

Anyway, I digress.  All in all it was a good day, minus the call I had to make to our new mail-in drug prescription company.  More on that another day.

So if after reading this you are still awake, I commend you.  You are truly a glutton for punishment but I appreciate you.  Now it’s time for me to finish preparations for our big snow event and milk the cows on my Farmville game on Facebook.  Good times.

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