Category: humor


Trying New Things

Painting, gardening and crafts

As I continue to define my role in life as a disabled retiree, I have tried several alternative directions. I have tried tutoring, sewing, painting, care-giving, volunteering, and gardening. Oh yeah, I blog. There just hasn’t been anything that cranks my tractor yet. I know I have a hidden talent that is just waiting to be found.

Tutoring went well and I enjoyed it.  The point of tutoring is to get the student to the point that they don’t need to be tutored.  At first, I got several calls a week requesting tutoring. I had 4 or 5 regular students for 3 or 4 sessions.  Each student became confident enough to end the sessions.  The school hired another math teacher and I quit getting calls.  Guess I was too good for my own good! I even tutored a few adults that wanted to learn different technology. While I enjoyed that, adult students taking private lessons can be truly demanding and required too much babying.

I thought I knew how to sew.  I made pillows and seat cushions.  I even taught a friend to sew.  We made at least 5 summer dresses and tops.  She wears the dresses all summer and they look great on her.  They just look like sacks on me!  I tried to make my great-nieces clothes.  I only saw them wear them a few times.  I suspect their mother made the girls wear them then.  I left wads of elastic in the waistband because I couldn’t get it back around to cut it off.  The seams were too large making the legs tight.  Honestly, I wouldn’t wear them and I won’t even display them here!  And my bloody fingertips became too sore.

 

crafts displayed on a table

Countless hours and burnt fingertips produced an array of crafts to sale.

My latest effort was crafts.  A local church was having a bazaar and you could rent a booth for $20.  Great. I was excited. A friend of mine decided she would do it with me. We spent a week gluing, painting, and tying.  We collected craft ideas and were diligently preparing to sell our first million, or a 100 at least.  I found it very painful. Hot glue and hands that shake or drop things should not be in the same room together. I think I lost the fingerprints on at least two of my fingers. The big day came and we went to find our booth.  It was at the very end of the booths, behind the musical equipment for the band that was playing.  And it was farther from the door than any other.  I think we sold $120 but spent $60 on materials and paid a $20 booth rental.  We cleared about $30 each and I got rid of those pesky fingerprints!

So far I haven’t found my next calling, but I am certainly going to keep looking. The desire for individuality and purpose is uniquely human. As long as my fingers hold out, I am going to keep searching for what I want to do with my life when I grow up!

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How Did I Get Here

I have been spending time lately thinking about how I got to the life I lead today. The only thing I can say for certain is that the 18 year old me would not believe me today. I think I changed into someone else along the way, or maybe it is who I was meant to be.

My journey has been the same one that most people in my age bracket has faced. When we were teenagers we had the world by the horns. We were the greatest generation yet. The “establishment” had created The Vietnam War, civil injustices, and anything else we didn’t like. We were the “anti-” generation (That hasn’t changed apparently!)

As a teenager, I was basically a follower and did whatever everyone else was doing. Thankfully I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole. I was quiet and a little shy. I didn’t join clubs because I didn’t know how to start a conversation. Now I am loud and outspoken. I have actually held a job that required public speaking. I don’t care if opening my mouth proves my IQ.

Fog

Since I started school I have always lived in cities. I grew up walking to the store or taking a short ride to the movies. I seldom stayed home all day. Now I live in an rural county in an isolated location overlooking the lake. While the view is great, conversation is limited to me and me. My huband still works so days can get long. Oh, did I mention I can’t drive due to Meniere’s Disease?

I think I missed something somewhere. How did I get here???

Re-Purposing Myself

Re-purposing is all the rage these days.  Bing returns over 2 billion results for “repurposing.”  We turn used plastic bags into purses, old ladders into bookcases, and even suitcases into chairs!  It seems we can give everything a new start.  What happens when we must give ourselves a new purpose?

A lot of the younger basuitcase chairby boomers are in the position where they have to change directions.  They are the boomers that have lost their jobs due to down-sizing, the economy or health issues. A lot of them worked for one employer the past twenty years or more and their salaries had risen too.  Retirement was on the horizon, but not yet an option.  From a business point of view, I can understand why it makes financial sense to lay-off the more costly employees.  Why pay someone $80,000 when you can get someone young and hungry for $30,000!

Unfortunately employers rarely hire anyone within 10 years of retirement. My friends say company interviewers always ask when you plan to take retirement. If you are honest and say less than 10 years, you can bet you will never hear from them again. One of my friends told an interviewer that he was going to work till he died in order to pay off the debt from being unemployed.  A retired military non-commissioned officer was laid off from his civilian job just after building a new house.  The result was a heart attack.  Knowing that no one would hire him now, he put the house on the market and prepared to re-purpose his self.  Me

I now face my own re-purposing.  What do I want to be when I grow up?  So far I’ve been a daughter, a wife, a mother, a procurement clerk, a typesetter, a secretary, a teacher, a manager, a computer technician, commissioned artist, training manager, certified facilitator, graphic design artist, webmaster, and a host of other things. Not much left to choose from now.   I am not able to physically hold a job so I think for the first time in my life, so I will just be me.

Maybe I will take out my past purposes and play with them now and then. Maybe I will travel, paint, sing, or play.  We are embarking on a new adventure with exciting challenges and freedom.  I say embrace it and take it one day at a time.  Now is such a wonderful time.   Let’s re-purpose ourselves just to live in the now.

Wet cat

Ordinarily I do not write about my family, but the past two years have been a wild ride for our family.  Life has been a tiger that we just had to hold tight for the ride.  Our youngest was in Afghanistan, and our oldest was out of work.  I am disabled and receiving Social Security Disability but still, after nearly three years, considered able to work by my disability insurance company.  We have been building a new house and trying to sell our home of 20 years.  My husband wants to retire but the tiger came in and made that impossible for now.

I have not posted while my son was in Afghanistan as my sacrifice to honor his service.  A Mechanical Engineer with a wife he served for one year, and completed his Master Degree while away.  He is in the National Guard serving when there is only moderate personal gain and much sacrifice.  His poor wife had to maintain the house, the yard, the finances, two vehicles, and take time for her own career while he was gone! All these men and women that serve in the Armed Forces have my gratitude and respect.  They leave their homes, their jobs, their wives and children to fight wars and protect us during those times when we are most vulnerable.

The economy has definitely been felt in our household.  My oldest was out of work.  He went through 12 years of high school, passed all the grades, but could not pass the required exit exam. He has a learning disability which makes passing standardized testing very difficult for him. He tried for 10 years and finally got a GED this year!! He has been hired on a temporary job but definitely a step forward.  I am so proud of them both. They aren’t shy about hard work and rode the tiger down!
Happy-cat
I live with active sarcoidosis and severe bilateral Meniere’s Disease. I do not drive to protect the safety of the other drivers on the rode, so it has been a blessing to have an offspring available.  It has been liberating to have a driver available whenever I needed or wanted.  And I didn’t feel guilty since he was eating my food!  Now that he has gone to work I am once again confined to socializing and shopping through technology. (You can spend a lot of time shopping and money on the internet!)  Most of the time lately I am in too much pain and fatigue to do anything.  With little time to accomplish anything, it is hard to get anything done!  Unfortunately, recent bouts with pneumonia and bronchitis have set me back. I am back on track now and hope to be back up to mischief.

There is always hope in everything. That is what makes us keep riding … the hope of a future!

 

More to come about this year!

Goodbye, Mustang Sally

Old picture of boys leaning against cars.

I grew up in the 60s and early 70s.  Mustangs were THE hot car.  The boys would park their Mustangs, and other muscle cars outside the gym.  They would lean up against their cars in their bell bottoms that fit comfortably  tight, no need to buy boxers for show.

Looking back I am sure some of these boys were just skinny pimply faced kids, but they sure did look hot to us girls when they leaned up against those muscle cars.

When I turned 50, I guess I had a midlife crisis, but I absolutely had to have one of the new retro style Mustangs.  I specifically wanted the pony package in gray with a black convertible roof.  In 2009, I found her.

Mustang Sally

She was on a car lot covered with leaves.  I knew I had to have her.  She went home with me that very day.

On bleak cold or rainy days, she rode me to work safe and secure.  When the sun was out and the day was warm, she would put her top down and ride with the wind.  On those days, I felt young and free riding with my friend.  I would get challenges at red lights and would race her engine just a little to have some fun.  (Never enough to break the law.  Never. Honest.)  Going into drive through service windows were a hoot!

Then my doctor said those words, “You need to use extreme caution driving.”  I began to have vertigo spells where someone would have to come get me.  More words followed that changed my life, “You need to stop driving.”

“Mustang Sally, think you better slow your mustang down.
Mustang Sally, think you better slow your mustang down.
You been running all over the town now.
Oh! I guess I’ll have to put your flat feet on the ground.


All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride.
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride.
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride.”
~Wilson Pickett

Now my old friend, Sally, is going to a teenage girl who will treasure her as she deserves to be treasured. Maybe they will make their own teenage memories.  Memories that she may look back on 40 years later and smile.  Hopefully, they will be memories she can cherish and remember with laughter.  A classic ride driven by a classy young girl.

Take care of Mustang Sally for me, Christina!

Brain Fog

out of orderIt has been over a year since I have went shopping on my own. It has been over a year since I drove myself to the doctor. It has been nearly a year since I went by myself to visit a friend. It has been almost a year since I have done anything unplanned. It has been over a year since I had to think!

Everything seems slowed down, almost like swimming in hard set jelly. I hear people tell me things and react as one should react. Later though I can’t remember them telling me and I have to ask again. I never remember people’s names, but then I never did in the past either. I have a degree in math, taught high school math, and did graduate work in computer science, but I find myself stumped when trying to figure out the difference between two prices. I used to always be elected to keep score during game night. Now I am accused of cheating because I add wrong!

I truly do not believe it is due to any physical calamity, although God has given me a few. I think this “brain fog” is just laziness. I have set and hibernated for the past year.  Am I better physically? Maybe in some ways.  Mentally?  Definitely not. Because of my physical limitations, I have allowed my brain to atrophy. I have not been challenged with true problem solving. I let my physical dependencies morph into emotional dependencies. My brain became a couch potato.

So I need to get off my rear and motivate. I am not sure how to go about it. I know exercise is in order in some format. Balance and fatiguing the muscles are issues. I need to find some way to volunteer for something even though I can’t get anywhere or predict if I will even be able to volunteer on any given day. Crossword puzzles and smartphone games are gwoman holding shopping bagsreat, but lack that charge you get from social interaction.

Recently I did go on a shopping trip with two other friends. I was out of the loop when they began talking jobs, shopping, or anything outside our little group. I quickly tired and began walking slower. How do people do this?

How do you become a healthy shut-in? I do not live near a metropolitan area. My husband would not move to the city. There is no public transportation. My husband works long hours and has to rearrange employees to take me places. I want to get healthier and continue to grow stronger. I want to grow sharper mentally and to continue to live independently. Any suggestions?

Riding the Tiger

Life is like riding a tiger.  It will try to throw you, scar you, bite you and chew you up.  We have been with out my income for 8 months now.  I haven’t driven at all in months and spend most of my time sick.   My husband recently reminded me that we have been thrust into drastic changes before.

In 1994, we sold a rental property and my husband’s business property to the state for a highway.  The state paid residential prices for highway frontage.  My husband could not rebuild with the price they paid.  He was without a job. A male Sumatran tiger  I had just finished college and did not have a job.  Then a real-estate agent knocked on our door.  He had a couple that were interested in our home that wasn’t on the market.  Next thing we know we had sold our home and had no place to live.

I found a teaching position and went to work. My husband took a much needed vacation, raised our two sons who were teenagers, cooked, cleaned and fished a lot.  We built a new house with a pool.

Two years later I lost my job.  I found another, better position with much better pay.  My husband was able to rebuild his store. We not only came out on top but better for it.

We call this “riding the tiger.”  If you can image yourself sitting on a tiger, it becomes clear.  The only thing you could do if you found yourself on a tiger is hold on for dear life.  Unexpected things happen.  Just as being on top of a tiger is unimaginable, so can some of our experiences in life.

The tiger will not allow us to have any control.  I am a control freak and this is probably the hardest thing for me.  The more you struggle to get back in control, the more it bucks and twists.  By struggling for control, you allow the tiger more control.  If you hold on and relax the tiger will slow down eventually.

If you try to give up and jump off, the tiger will attack.  Once you are on the ground, it mauls and tears you apart.  Life can get to the point where you want to give up, but where does that get you?  If you give up and lose hope, you can’t survive till a better day.   Life can be painful and leaves scars.

I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t the tiger that determines how the ride will end.   Each of us determine our own outcome.  We control our attitudes and actions during crisis.  When things get tough, we have to climb on and “ride the tiger.”

I trust in God that he will see me through, but we don’t know God’s will for us.   The tiger may be part of the plan.  Sometimes, we just need to ride the tiger.

You Know You

I recently started having headaches that were becoming more frequent and lasting longer than my usual migraines. One night I was relaxing watching TV, playing solitaire on my laptop, and talking on the phone.  (You know women can’t relax if we aren’t multi-tasking.) I noticed some blurriness so I got off the telephone. Pretty soon, I was just listening to the TV since I could no longer see it.  I became alarmed when I had to shut down the laptop because I could no longer see well enough to tell the numbers or suits of the cards.  About all I could see were colors.

At Kennedy Space Center

I know when I have just done too much and need to relax.

I have had migraines since age 15 and have always had some visual signs before the headache started.  This is very typical of a classic migraine.  These headaches were different.  It wasn’t just having to squint to see or blink to refocus.  I just could not see.  It was as if the my glasses had suddenly become clear fake glasses.   I can’t say that it was double vision because I could not see enough to tell if the image was double.  I could feel my left eye pull and droop.  My husband came in and saw it.  He thought I was just very tired.  I didn’t say anything.  I really was so out of it, I wasn’t thinking.  I fell asleep on the couch at 8:00pm and he sent me to bed.

My eyesight very slowly came back over the next week, but my left eye still seemed to twitch and jump.  It felt like I was only looking out of my right eye. And I was still having more frequent headaches.  I knew this wasn’t normal for me so I called my eye doctor.  After a thorough exam, he said he couldn’t see anything in my eyes to explain it.  No sarcoid granulomas or inflammation.  However, my vision had decreased considerably in the left eye and I wasn’t using it for some reason.  So, he wrote me out a prescription for new lenses which just happened to have to be custom-made.

At my next regularly scheduled neurologist appointment, I explained what I had been experiencing.  I had just had an MRI of the brain last year but another one was required.  Two days before vacation we got the news.  I had another lesion in my brain.  The doctor gently explained that this lesion was close to the brain stem but that no sarcoid inflammation was seen.  With no inflammation apparent, he thinks the probable cause is “small stroke activity.” (His words.)

What does this mean?  I have no idea.  More to come on the neurologist recommendations.  If I had not been aware of what was normal for me with migraines and what was unusual, an MRI would not have been scheduled.  I am certainly seen by numerous doctors, but they can only know what I tell them.  Please, be aware of your body and be sure to tell your doctor of any changes that are not normal for you.

Where Was I

As often happens, I have gotten off track once again.  I have been told that I am flighty, scatter-brained, willy-nilly, and other less flattering adjectives.  Maybe I have Attention Deficit Disorder and was never diagnosed.  Who knows and frankly, who cares.  This blog seems to be a perfect example. Life just has so much to offer and I am interested in it all!  Think of all the things that are out there that we will never experience.

I have been feeling much better and have had greatly increased mobility.  I am on medication that is doing a TKO on my immune system, but the test results have leveled at mildly above normal.  I am gradually becoming accustomed to the medication which is great.  I still get over tired easily and the nerves in my legs curse me for days. The biggest disappointment is the lack of normalcy.  I want that back!

How do I know what is just old age and what is this disease. Somewhere, somehow, I have aged and didn’t know it.  I look around at my friends and think, “Goodness they are getting older.”  I looked in the mirror the other day and, God help me, it was a haunted mirror.  There was a middle-aged woman returning my stare and she looked as horrified as I did!  I must have looked really scary.

Thank goodness I am getting older, but wouldn’t it be nice to have the energy of a three-year old when you are over 50.  I would be accomplishing so much.  My house would be cleaner, my car would get serviced more often, and everyone would be happy.  Right!!

No thanks.  I am glad to be getting older and glad to be able to complain.  If you haven’t got anything to complain about, that probably is not a good thing.

Good News Bad News

doctorGood news! My health is finally beginning to stabilize.  The methotraxate appears to be working and I am finally getting adjusted to it.  I go to the doctor next week so we will see what we see.  The bad news is the new insurance and health care cost are now my ailment.

My husband and I have to each meet the first $2500  as a deductible.  Since I had no clue who my employer would be 3 weeks before the contract changed there was no way to prepare for this.  My husband went to the doctor 3 weeks ago and an x-ray showed a mass in his left lung so a CT Scan was ordered.  Good news is that they think it was only pnuemonia.  Bad news is another CT Scan will have to be done to confirm that was indeed the case. More good news is that his deductible will be met.  Bad news we will owe over $1500.

I went to the dentist today and found out I need a crown.  Bad news is my new dental insurance only pays 50% of the crown or $450.00.  My goodness!!  It isn’t even gold!  Good news is I can use my health saving account.

There was a time when my finances were pretty comfortable.  Now when I should be looking toward retirement, I look for ways to pay our medical bills.  Good news is pretty soon we will both have met our $2500 deductible and won’t have to worry about it till next year.  Bad news is we have to save this year for next year.

None of this allows much room for putting aside extra for those rainy days.  I guess this is the rainy day.  At least I hope so. I seem to be working to pay medical bills. Don’t get me wrong, I want good health for both me and my husband.  But doesn’t it seem like maybe the medical system has us right where it wants us.  We don’t argue about the price.  We just pay it.  We don’t argue about the cost of insurance.  We just pay it.  We don’t negotiate.

The good news is that medicine is so advanced that we are living longer.  The bad news is that every penny we earn goes to pay for it.