How Weird Is That?


I woke up very early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. What woke me was a dream I was having. I was teaching a class of first year college students (do they still call them freshmen?) and we were discussing who the real protagonist in Romeo and Juliet was. I had a list on the board, The fathers, the prince, Romeo, etc., ending with the Friar. After a minute everyone got a wrong answer so I told them it was the Friar and launched into a dissection of the history of England, the anti-Catholic sentiment of the age and how Shakespeare used his plays to promote the propaganda of first the Queen and then the King of England against the Catholic church. I won’t go into the entire lesson, it is one that I taught several times during my teaching days.
 
One way I kept younger kids, meaning teenagers, awake was to compare the feud between the families to modern day gang wars and how the warring factions of the government today were much like the war between the King of England who was also the head of the Church of England and the Catholic Church in other countries and the Catholic Kings. The kids ate it up with a spoon.
 
After waking up, I lay in bed contemplating Romeo and Juliet and other Shakespeare plays where the bias was blatant if one knew the history of the era in which it was written. Personally, I like the comedies best because he used outright parody of the pomposity of the gentry versus the vitality of the commoners to poke fun at everyone from royalty to the servants, merchants, and country bumpkins. He walked a close line between mocking and sneering and lecturing against the unpopular ideals of the King and his Lords.
 
What I find interesting is that after all this time, I remember all the details of the lesson, history, and play and could stand up in front of a classroom and give it again with a few peeks at the play to get my quotes right. How weird is that? No really, I wonder how weird it is.
 
Anyway, now I have Shakespeare on my mind. And I really, really miss teaching.
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Listening To Him Sleep


I lay in bed listening to my husband sleep. I started thinking about the life we have shared over the nearly fifty years we’ve known each other. It hasn’t always been an easy partnership. Life has a way of making things difficult, painful, and sometimes, sad. We have loved long and hard, and sometimes, nearly hated each other just as much as we loved. We grew from young teenagers madly in lust with each other into adults who raised our boys, drifting along with, and sometimes away from, each other. But here we are, growing old together, still holding hands, still dancing in the kitchen to love songs, still laughing with and at each other, still loving each other. We still have dreams, ideas, and travels ahead of us, and we are all too aware that it could end in one last heartbeat of either of us.

Recently, my brother introduced me to a new singer, there are several songs on the album that I like, one, however, made me reach for the hand of the man I love. “More Of You” by Chris Stapleton. The words reached right into my heart and made me cry. In the past two years five of my long time friends and my mother have lost their partner or husband. Every one of them was a sudden, unexpected loss. All but one of these marriages was a long time relationship of between five and sixty years plus years. I have known these women for many, many years. One raised me, and the rest of us became close through friendship that led us together through good and bad, happy and sad events in our lives. Now, late at night they don’t have the blessing of lying next to the man they love listening to him sleep. It makes me hurt for them. And it makes me feel even more blessed than ever to know that the love of my life lies next to me.

I know as I look at him, sleeping and mumbling in his sleep, I hear the music and the words, “I fall more in love with you/ Than I’ve ever been….”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCcby6SVbJE

“More Of You”

When I think of you and the first time we met
And I heard the sound of your sweet gentle voice
My heart took me over and gave me no choice
And right then I knew

[Chorus:]
It makes me want more of you
Again and again
I fall more in love with you
Than I’ve ever been
From the moment you wake me up
Till you kiss me goodnight
Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you

When I look at you now that years have gone by
I think of the memories that time can’t erase
And all of the smiles that you’ve brought to my face
Your love’s been so true

[Chorus]

When I leave this earth you’ll be holding my hand
And it gives me comfort to know you’ll be there
And I’ll thank the Lord for the love that we share
You’re heaven to me

[Chorus]

Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you

A Blank Page


There is something about a blank page that bugs me. It doesn’t matter if it is on my computer screen or a real piece of paper, it screams out for something, anything, to be written or drawn on it to make it unique.

When my kids were little, paper was a way to keep them entertained for all of two minutes while I made a bathroom stop. A notebook and pencil in my purse or diaper bag was a must to hold off boredom in places like restaurants and church. As they got older, we used paper and pencils to write words, and draw pictures to go with them. Sometimes, if we were in an appropriate, and sometimes not appropriate, place we would make paper airplanes, or fans, or anything we could by folding paper. It was a useful tool.

Then, when my kids were teenagers, before we all had text messaging, they left me notes on the fridge, the front door, in my car, and sometimes, on me, to remind me of things they needed or places they needed to be. I did the same for them and for my husband. Notes became an every day way of communicating in a busy teenage household.

But always, through the years, writing down my life was a part of my daily routine. I filled pages of paper in journals telling my story. Then I started writing down imaginary stories, always trying to write something that would teach, lead, or entertain others. I wrote letters, by hand, and notes saying Thank You, or You Are Invited To An Event, to others. I wrote love letters to my husband, and letters of appreciation and admonition to my children and grandchildren. I wrote the histories of my ancestors, and reams of papers for college courses.

Today, I still write every day. Sometimes it is just a blog, sometimes I work on a book or a short story, sometimes I just write an email, a response on social media, or to my elected officials. Like reading every day, writing is as much a part of my life as breathing. I can’t imagine being unable to do either.

So, today, when I was faced with a blank page, I thought about how important it is to write things down. Because once you are gone, and your children are gone, who will remember what you said, how you though, or the feelings that filled your life? This is your chance to put down the words that mean something to you. This is your time to tell your own story, opine on your ideas and dreams, and your time to say what you really think about any and every subject that comes to mind.

Every personal story is important. Without personal accounts of events, real history will be lost to the ages. All that will be left is what the professional politicians had to say, or the media of the day had to say, not what every day people had to say about a moment in time. Daily grind events are just as important as life changing events. And in the future, some many times great grandchild will sit in wonder reading what you really thought, did, or felt in your life. It will amaze, thrill, and surprise them with the turn of every page. Write it down. Inquiring minds will want to know.

A blank page is an opportunity. Don’t waste it.

Broken Memories


A Valentine for my husband of 46 years.  In all the years of pain, loss, joy, and happiness, we have fallen in and out of love many times.  Today, we have found each other again. And this is what came to mind today. I love you old man, I always have, even when I got lost in the sorrow.

Broken Memories

Memories of your arms

holding me, hands touching me

reaching for you, touching

broken memories.

Memories of laughter

sunshine days, warm nights

gentle loving,

touching broken memories.

Memories of joy

memories of contentment

careful words, giving

broken memories.

Memories of loneliness

memories of emptiness

memories of needing you

lost in broken memories.

Memories of growing old

lost and alone

finding you in my heart

mending broken memories.

Reaching for your arms

touching your love

finding warmth

leaving behind broken memories.

I’m a Mess


For the past seven days, I have been writing a story. It has taken over my life. I looked at myself in the mirror today and laughed. I was wearing my pajama bottoms and a ratty old t-shirt, a sweater three size too big, and socks. My hair was standing on end, I had no make up on, and I looked tired.

I am obsessed with my characters, who have, by the way taken over the story and are doing what they want. They made me cry twice, and they got a bit, um, racy a few times. Whew! Holy Cats!

My house is a mess, my laundry needs done, my dog wants attention, and the cat stopped talking to me. I can’t have a conversation with my husband without my mind wandering back to the story. He is cooking dinner or we are eating take away, because I keep going back to the computer every second I can. I haven’t talked to anyone, except the once a day visit to Facebook. I am a mess. And I LOVE IT!

I have made it past the magic chapter ten, all the way to sixteen. I am at 60,703 words and going strong. Happy dance! I am not ignoring my blog, well, not much. But people, I have to tell you, I haven’t had this much fun in ages. I had to force myself to stay off the computer all weekend. Me, the one who just isn’t that into being online etc.

Just wanted to check in. Gotta get back to my story. Big things are about to happen. I finally got them in the same room… never mind – its complicated. Later people.

“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”


“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people my age tend to simply stop. They stop doing fun things, they stop being involved, they stop thinking and growing intellectually. They just stop. Then they sit about and complain about how boring life is, how hard it is to do things they used to do, how much they wish they had done such and such before they got too old. They are failing to thrive in the late years of their lives. And there is no excuse for that- period.

I know, things are a bit harder to do when knees hurt,backs don’t want to bend, and the body gets tired much easier than it did at the age of forty. We all have to slow down,but that doesn’t mean we have to stop. It may take longer, but there is no reason not to at least try.

Years ago there was a movie entitled Cocoon followed by another, Cocoon Returns. If you haven’t seen them, I suggest watching them at least once. It starred a lot of “stars” who were getting quite elderly. All stuck in a nursing home, waiting to die, fussing at one another, etc. Until things change due to a visit from the aliens. Look, I know it is really a sappy story, but what I loved about it was the willingness of almost all of the elderly folks to embrace that which was different. If their youth didn’t return, their joy for life certainly did. And, at the end of the day, their inaction became action, and their lives infinitely better.

Another movie I loved was Driving Miss Daisy, a stellar performance by one and all. Again, another character that defies the tendency to just sit down and stop. Fried Green Tomatoes is a fantastic film. Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy were great together and the flashback between Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson is equally dynamic. At the end of the day, we are still not sure which woman Jessica Tandy was as the elderly friend of Kathy Bates. Ambiguity saturates the film, while turning Katy Bates’ character from a meek doormat into a woman filled with confidence. And, of course, the character played by Shirley Mclaine in Steel Magnolias is just like I want to be when I get old.

I see many older folks off and doing things all over the world. They travel, explore, serve missions of compassion – regardless of sore knees and aching backs. They move, act, and they live every minute of every day. That is what I want to do too.

When our youngest son went off to college, my husband and I decided to work our way around the world. Eight years later, we finally returned to the US. As we were raising our granddaughter, she went right along with us. We lived in London, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, and only came back to the US due to health issues and the awful Socialized Medical care in NZ. We traveled all over each region and were enriched many times over by our experiences.

But I was in my forty’s when we did that. Now I am sixty, and it is going to become more difficult to do some of the things we did. So, we chose other things to do so we could travel. A cruise or four, a road trip across the US, and our big adventure this year is to travel across country by train. I don’t hike for miles any longer, but I sure can sit and enjoy the view from the train.

So there is no excuse not to thrive, people. Just get up, take a few steps, find a hobby that fulfills you, volunteer as a surrogate grandmother to rock babies at the hospital. Volunteer at the schools or libraries to help kids with their reading skills. Go help out a nursing home if you have a talent like playing the piano. There are a multitude of things you can do to overcome the lack of inertia and sedentary inaction. For me, being with my grandchildren is one of my greatest motivators. I write, I hang out on social media sites, I keep up with friends and work on my family history, and I am planning on taking art lessons. I have always wanted to learn how to paint. That will be so much fun!

So, you are old, so what? Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. Just because your body is starting to creak and moan, it doesn’t mean your brain isn’t functioning. (Unless you have a serious condition, of course.) With all the medical miracles out today, most of us will live well into our eighties or nineties.

I have a friend who is ninety-eight. For the several decades, she has traveled the world following the performances of the operas of Wagner. All on her own, she would jump on a plane and off she would go to Italy, France, Germany, or any place in the world that the operas were being performed. What an amazing lady

who just kept on going like an Eveready Battery. She is running down now, but she is still in control of her life and decided to go home until the end of her days. It is heartbreaking, but at the same time, what a life she has had! Even now, she keeps busy with doing her family history and chatting with her friends and family.

Even if you are homebound, unable to walk, unable to drive, so what? There are a million things you can do to keep your brain healthy and busy. Never just stop and wait to die. We all have a finite amount of time here in this life. I could spend it worrying about death, or I can just get on with living while I am still here.

The more we let inaction rule our lives, the less likely we are to live a long life. Not just because our bodies need to move to function well, but because our brains atrophy at an alarming rate. Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. But it is only you that can take that first step. I can’t wait to become a feisty old woman who says exactly what she wants to say about everything.

Come on people, get up, find a cause, reason, purpose, or passion to fill your life. Go on!

 

No New Year Resolutions.


I have no New Year Resolutions, not a one. I stopped torturing myself with those things ages ago. Every year I would start out with a list of things I wanted to do. Most were self serving, like losing weight, and some were grandstanding, like I will not let others tell me what to do. Of course, they were destined to fail, leaving me feeling like an idiot. I mean, how can one be so stupid as to always let themselves down, every year, on a regular basis?

After failing so many years in a row, I finally realized that I was simply setting myself up to feel like a loser. I hurt my own feelings, and made myself mad at ME, all for some stupid non-tradition that is encouraged by popular demand. Why? I don’t know, maybe it was just a desperate attempt to fit in, to succeed, to find something worthwhile about myself. But it always worked just the opposite from what I planned.

So, a few years ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to give in and make impossible resolutions about my life. Because, you see, life doesn’t stick to a plan. It has a way of making its own path, and we are pretty much along for the ride. I can’t control life around me, only myself. Most of the time, life around me is on a whole different page than I am at any given moment! How can we resolve to accomplish anything in a measurable way when it comes to feelings and thoughts? If it is something concrete, for instance, completing a course at school, going to the gym, or getting a promotion, perhaps we can make a plan. However, you might get sick, and miss a lot of school. You might be too tired, busy, or bored to go to the gym after a week or so. You might be downsized at your company and have to start your own business to survive. There is no getting around it, no matter your resolve, life just keeps happening while you plan. And it almost always throws a spanner into the works to muck everything up.

Now that can be a good thing, making you move outside the box and do something different and new. But, it means that you will have to forsake your resolutions – again – and if you are emotionally tied to those resolutions, it can make you pretty miserable. Or not. Depends on how much you have invested yourself in the process and plan. I suppose, one should be flexible with resolutions.

I know many folks out there in the world managed to stick with a resolution come hell or high water. No matter what life throws at them, they stick to the plan. But, have you ever wondered what would have happened if you went out to your friends dinner party instead of going to the gym? Maybe you would have met the love of your life, or, if already with the love of your life, maybe you would fall into romance all over again. You see, your choices always have a possibility of at least two outcomes. If you stick to the plan, you know exactly what will happen. You will be tired, smelly, and sore from a workout. But, maybe the second or tenth outcome, well, it might be magical enough to change your life forever.

Now, in my crazy life, I no longer set myself up to fail. Because I have finally figured out what a New Year means. It isn’t a do over, remake, new start, or second chance. It means that you get to change course, learn from last year, and make a choice to be flexible in all that you do. All the New Year does is to make it easy to switch paths, change gears, explore something new, or simply stop always doing and just be. A New Year is a date on the calendar. Nothing will be any different on the first of January than it was on the thirty-first of December. All your problems will still be there, the difference being, that after the holidays, time with family and friends, maybe you have a clearer vision of your life.

No New Years Resolution means I am not locked into a plan. I can do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and with that flexibility, I cannot fail. I can only move forward, just like the path in front of me encourages me to do. Happy New Year everyone, I hope you find it magical.

Cinema Passion


Some people go to the movies because they are bored. Some people go because the kids are driving them crazy and it is too hot to send them outside, or they refuse to go outside. Some people, especially teenagers, go to hang out with friends and to see the hottest, new movie. Not that they actually watch the movie with all the socialization going on between them. Some people go to the cinema out of habit, and some because it is a particular genre they enjoy. There are some people who actually go just to be entertained. There is, however, a breed of cinema goers who are in a class all their own.

These are the people who have a true passion for movies. Some of them are passionate about certain actors, making it their business to know all the statistics about each and every one in every movie they see. They can recite chapter and verse about all their favorite actor’s parts and quote, line for line, the dialogue from their favorite scenes. They are fanatic about every detail of the character, and will argue endlessly about what scene in what movie was the best scene for the actor they adore.

Another group passionate about the movies is the technical fanatics. They love to go to the movies and pick apart the special effects, point out the obvious continuity flaws, pour over the scenes and pick out tiny mistakes on the set, or, in some cases, huge flaws. In this group is the sub groups of Sci/Fi technical fanatics who have read every book in a series, like Lord of the Rings, and love to note what scenes have been left out, combined, or changed beyond all recognition. They are passionate about the story, but also the way in which technology was used to create the movie. They will sit and watch the credits to the bitter end to see who did what in the movie.

There are people who are passionate about the whole movie experience, regardless of the genre or the technology. These are people, of which I am one, who have grown up in the cinema all their lives. Going to the movies is as much a part of who we are as anything else in our lives. Some of us can quote favorite lines from movies, know every word to every song from the musicals of our youth, and have favorite actors, but aren’t fanatic about them. Children of the cinema love the ambiance of a large screen, dark auditorium, and the expectation of the movie bursting on to the screen with sound and color. We are the people who get annoyed at the whisperers, bag rattlers, ice crunchers, and crying kids because it ruins the show for us.

The children of the cinema have certain rituals that must be observed. Buying the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, and sometimes candy are an important part of the process. We can hardly wait for the previews of coming attractions so we can plan for future cinema experiences. We wait with excitement for a new movie to come out so we can find ourselves involved in a new story that will make us laugh, cry, jump in fear, or feel romantic. The cinema is an escape, a place where we can leave our worries of real life behind and live in a fantasy world for a few hours. Knowing, however, that soon we will be back to dealing with life as usual.

Even leaving the theatre is something of a ritual. Waiting for the final credits to roll, the last note of music to fade, we gather our detritus, and depart as the lights come up in the room, are all part of the encounter. Children of the cinema blink in the bright lights of the lobby as we make our way out into the real world, already dissecting the movie, and comparing it to others that we have seen as we plan the next sojourn into the magic that is our passion.