Type A or Type B


I realized this morning that I literally had no idea what the date was. I used to be on top of things like that, I had to be with my full organizer and insane schedule of things to do and take care of in my hand. The more I thought about it, the more I realized something odd hand happened to the Type A, over achieving, overly committed, organized person I used to be. I was, heaven help me, turning into a Type B, laid back, unworried, unorganized, uncommitted person. The very kind of person that used to drive me crazy when I was the real me. How could I allow that to happen? How did I become such a slacker that I had no idea what the date was, even if I did know the day of the week? (As a Tuesday, I didn’t have dialysis, so I knew it was Tuesday – or a Thursday – or the weekend.) GASP!

When I was involved in Scouting, then in college, then working, I was always organized. I had things planned weeks and months in advance – all carefully written in my organizer and calendar. I had lists of things to do, lists of things to buy, lists of people to contact, and lists of when my lessons were due and papers needed to be turned in before exams were scheduled to be completed. I was never late to any event, and always prepared for my school work. I would sit down with each syllabus from each class and write everything down at the beginning of the semester. I would bookmark each and every story or article I had to read for each class – color coded no less – with the date written on each post it note. I was the champion of organization.

When it came to cleaning and organizing my house, I had a set schedule for each room and what had to be done when. I spring cleaned and fall cleaned every closet in every room in my home, every year without fail. I would shop for groceries once a month, and planned out every single meal I was going to cook ahead of time. I would have lists for those meals for the fresh things I would need every week, and I kept a running list of things I ran out of so I would always know what to buy at the grocery on those weekly trips. I knew, at one glance, what needed to be done next, and I kept the laundry just as organized and set up to be done efficiently and quickly. I was the one woman dynamo who kept my family just as organized. Until my boys became teenagers and I decided they just had to fend for themselves since they wouldn’t cooperate with my schedule. That worked too.

Yet, somehow, somewhere, over the past ten years, I lost my organizer, I quit working, I got sick, I got well, and I got old. I learned to stop over planning and allow life to happen on its own schedule. Then I realized that it didn’t matter if I was organized or not. Because I had no schedule, my closets would still be there to sort when I got healthy or determined enough to clear them out. I decided playing with the grandchildren was more fun than cleaning house or grocery shopping, or even cooking. And one day, BOOM, I became a Type B personality. It is shocking, it is hard to accept, but here I am, nonetheless. Now the only thing I schedule are doctor appointments and dialysis. In fact, if I didn’t have those things to go to, I would have NO social life at all. I guess I will learn to settle into my new normal eventually. It is a bit uncomfortable, like too tight jeans, right now, but I will stretch into the fit and learn to relax about everything as I continue to age.

Life is too important to do it at a full out run. I wonder how many things I missed because I was too busy looking ahead instead of enjoying the moment. I can’t go back and fix that, but I can change how I do the future. So this Type B, laid back, unorganized old woman is going to spend more time with my Mr., listen more to my children and grandchildren, and do more fun things like paint with my great granddaughter and write stories from my heart. And when I occasionally panic over losing the Type A part of myself, I will learn to laugh at myself and go do something totally unimportant, like have a cup of tea and a cookie.

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Downsizing


We are getting ready to retire at the end of the year. Since we will be moving to a new home, we have started packing unnecessary things. We are constantly saying things like: What’s this? When did we get that? It’s not yours? I don’t know? Why would we need anything like that? I know, I didn’t buy it. Which kid did this belong to? Should we keep it, sell it, or toss it? Wow, this is cool! Does it still work? Who bought this stuff? Hey, that’s a keeper! I forgot all about this!

Downsizing is a new fangled word for getting rid of junk and clutter when preparing to moved. All of the above comments are the things we mutter while clearing out all the accumulated things every household seems to collect over the years of living in one place. None of it is planned, it simply happens as time rolls by and the family grows or shrinks, we redecorate rooms, or move things around and run out of space for items over time.

When we start going through everything we have collected, on purpose or through neglect, it is amazing the things we discover. So far, I have only started with my bookshelves and it is surprising the things I keep finding. It makes it really hard to get anything done when I keep stopping to read from books I forgot I had or haven’t read in years. If it is this hard to get through the bookshelves, I can only imagine what is going to happen when we get to the garage and attic.

Last weekend, I cleared out my closet like I do every year, twice a year, to get rid of things I haven not worn over the past season or two. I also cleared out the clothes I can no longer wear because they are too large. Some of the things were hard to let go because they have special meanings attached to them. For instance, the dress I wore when the Mr. and I went dancing at the Rainbow Room in New York City, and and the out fit I wore when we went sailing on The Flying Cloud in the Caribbean the first time. Both are many sizes too big, and I will never wear them again, but it was hard to let them go.

I noticed, today, I have many keepsakes in my craft room from our travels, from my children and grandchildren, and from my own penchant for collecting things that I am unsure we will have room for in the house we are retiring to in the new year. I don’t think I can get rid of them, especially the things from my boys and my grandchildren. I mean, how can I toss out the handmade paperweight my son made for me when he was a teenager, or the painting my budding artist granddaughter made for me when she was eight? I have no idea how people do things like that. I would sooner toss out my dishes. And that is just the stuff in my craft room. I have as much in my office, more in my bedroom, and even more in the living room – and that is not counting the art on the walls.

The Mr. and I are veteran collectors of everything from music, art, and books to gizmos, curiosities, and did I say books? All of that has found homes in various rooms in the house. We are also preppers, so that means our spare spaces are filled with all sorts of items in preparation for any disaster. The garage is filled with gear, including a generator and a multitude of tools and boxes of “just in case” items. Because we love to decorate for various holidays, our attic is stuffed with boxes and boxes of those decorations. I know I have sixteen boxes filled with Christmas decorations for inside and outside the house alone. Those are not going to be left behind or sold, because we will still want to decorate our house when we are retired and some of that stuff is impossible to replace since it came from abroad.

We are obviously stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have lived here for eleven years, longer than we have ever lived anywhere since we got married. I used to be an expert at moving, we did it on the average of every three years. I never collected anything bigger than a thimble. Now I have too much of everything, and a house big enough for all of it. The new place is almost as large, but configured far differently – with fewer, if larger, rooms. I guess I will have to bite the bullet and just learn to let go of things that don’t have an emotional connection. But I want to go on record stating that I hate downsizing. It, quite frankly, sucks.

Worrying


I saw a meme on social media that basically encouraged the reader to remember back to the days when they had no worries and simply played barefoot in the sunshine. I suddenly realized that I never had days like that as a child. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t worry about things in my life. It was, I think, a built in reflex, like breathing. I even worried in my sleep, come people call them nightmares. Now I wonder, is that normal, or is it something specific to me?

I can remember always worrying about being late for school, even though I don’t remember it ever happening. I was always afraid I would have to walk into a classroom late and draw attention to myself, making me open to ridicule and teasing from the other students – and heaven help me from the teacher. I worried about failing subjects, I worried about making a mistake, and I dreaded, above all, making myself a laughing stock. Nothing upset me more than for other kids and adults to laugh at me.

I worried about forgetting to do things, or doing things and messing it up. I worried about homework, chores, and taking care of things that were my responsibility. In fact, I still worry about those things. I worried about doing something or saying something that would upset other people. Even worse was trying to express myself and messing it up. So I just didn’t say anything to anyone most of the time, even if I did know the answer to a question, or had a different opinion than others. That has completely changed now, I say what I want, when I want no matter what others may think. But, back when, I was always self conscious and fearful of consequences, so I simply didn’t speak up.

I worried a lot as a young wife and mother. I worried that the Mr. would fall out of love with me and in love with someone smarter, prettier, sexier, and more interesting then that plain old boring girl from nowhere Oklahoma. I wanted to be everything he needed in a wife, but always felt insecure in my value as his wife. I was always aware that his parents never thought I was good enough for their son, and it made me both angry and frustrated. I always worried he would believe the gossip and idiotic nonsense spread around by those who didn’t want me in his life. But somehow, we found our way back to each other time after time.

I worried that I wasn’t a good mom to my boys, fearful that they would be bratty little monsters around others and fingers would be pointed at me for being a bad mom. I worried about their health, eating habits, and all the other things mothers worry about when trying to be a positive influence on their children. I worried when my oldest started driving and hanging out all night with his friends, I worried that my youngest would follow in his footsteps, but he never did. I always worried that I would lose one of my boys, and when we did, it nearly tore us apart.

So, no, I don’t remember playing in the sunshine without worries, because I have always been a worrier, and that hasn’t changed much over the years. Only now I worry about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I worry about the Mr.’s health, I worry abut being becoming decrepit, I worry about my mother living on her own at her age. I worry about the state of the country and the America haters who wont’ live elsewhere, but still hate what we stand for as a country. I worry about money, health care, and getting old. And I still worry that the Mr. will find someone prettier, smarter, more interesting, and younger that he will fall for. Silly of me, but it is a bad habit left over from years of worry. Folks say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” I always look at worry as a way to be prepared for what ever might happen. Then I am prepared for the worse, but joyful for the positive things that happen, no matter how much worry I put into it.

I wonder, am I too old to play barefoot in the sunshine and learn to leave the worry behind for a few blessed moments in time? Now I will probably worry about that too.

The Farmer’s Market


Every Saturday morning from spring through late fall, there is a Farmer’s Market on the court house square in Hernando, Mississippi. We try to attend as often as possible. It isn’t a huge market, most of the sellers are local men and women who grow fruit and vegetables on their land. After awhile, they recognize buyers who turn up regularly.

It is a rather eclectic group of people. There is one man who sells fresh milk and eggs, but you had best be there early since he always sells out in the first two hours. The lemonade and fried pie guy has delicious products. We always buy lemonade, pies not so much since the Mr. isn’t all that fond of fried pies. I love them, especially the peach, but they are a no go on my diet. Darn it. The man who does sharpening for knives and anything else that needs a sharp edge is both affordable and super friendly. He does a great job, my kitchen knives have never been sharper.

There a several ladies who sell their home canned goods. I have never had better piccalilli, and the jams and jellies are delicious. I especially like the blueberry jelly the elderly couple who are always on the north side of the court house sells. They also make pickled okra that runs from mild to super hot. I get the medium because it is hot enough to be spicy but not so hot as to take the hide off my tongue.

Last week, we bought Addie a butterfly plant complete with caterpillar that had hatched that day. The vendor wrapped the plant in one of those wraps that will keep the caterpillar from getting away and still let in sunlight and made it easy to water. Once the caterpillar hatches into a butterfly we can let it go and re-pot the plant so it will attract other butterflies next spring. Addie is avidly watching the caterpillar for growth every day. There are several vendors who sell plants for gardens, flowers, and herbs at the market. Each one seems to specialize in different areas. We enjoy talking to them as we wander by.

There are a few hippy dippy types who specialize in things like soap and honey and lemon based products for the home. There are always a few folks who only sell holistic products, and they seem to do a booming business with the young mothers who are all about that sort of thing. And the vendors who appeal to the older folks are mostly down to earth farmers who simply sell good vegetables at a good price.

One of the charming things about the market is that most of the stalls are family operated. Kids from about nine and older help out. The Mr. always engages the kids, asking them questions about how the food is grown, if they helped harvest the product they are selling, all sorts of questions that sometimes stump them. He will buy from the kids who are the most informed and willing to talk to him. They can’t be a good salesman, or woman, if they aren’t willing to talk to the customers.

Among the vendors are artisans of all sorts, from bread makers, to candle makers, to pottery makers. It is always interesting to see what they have for sale. My favorite is the knife maker. For several years, I had looked for a knife that wouldn’t fall out of my hand when I used it. I have arthritis issues that makes it hard for my fingers to bend properly. Not only did he have what I needed, he was willing to make it so it fit my hand perfectly. Best of all, it was affordable, came with a sheath, and was as sharp as the knife sharpening guy could make it. A true artisan was at work that day.

The one stall we always stop at is the one operated by the local animal shelter. Every week they have kittens, puppies, dogs, or cats for adoption. I have to force myself not to take a new pet home every week. It is especially hard when they have kittens and puppies. We stop and love on the animals, then keep on going. One day, though, I know I will weaken and end up with a new pet. The Mr. won’t like it, but he will get used to it. He always does. I love the Farmer’s Market, it is a family destination.

Planning The Future


Addie wandered into my office holding her favorite baby doll. She needed help with the tiny buttons on the dress it was wearing. As I helped her we fell into conversation, as we always do.

Addie said, “Nana, when I grow up I want to have two girl babies.”

I said, “What about having a boy baby? It could happen you know.”

A: “Nope, I don’t want a boy baby, they are messy and loud. Besides, I don’t like boys.” (She is six.)

Me: “Well I had two boy babies, and I loved them very much. You might feel the same way.”

A: “No I won’t. I only want girl babies.”

M: “Keep in mind that you need a husband to have any babies. To do that, you will need to love him too. Just like I love your Papa.”

A: “Oh, yeah. I know that.” Long pause. “Well maybe just one boy baby, because my husband will probably want one since we will have two girls. But the Dad can take care of the boy, since I have no idea how to do that after they are little babies.”

M: “That would be a good compromise. But I bet you will love your boy baby as much as you will love your girls. Any baby is hard work, but it is worth every minute of your time and effort.”

A: “Oh I know that, Nana. You worked hard to raise my Grandpa Arron and Uncle Riley. and my Mommy, and now you work hard to raise me. I want to be just like you when I am a mommy.”

Me: Blinking back tears. “Oh Addie, I love you very much. I simply want you to be who you are and do what you want with your life.”

A: “I know, Nana. You will always love me all my life. So will Papa.”

With that, she wandered off to change her baby doll’s diaper. I heard her singing a song to rock it to sleep. In so many ways, I see her copy behavior she has seen from me and her Papa. It warms my heart and fills me with hope for the future, and she will eventually soften her attitude on boys. At six, all little girls find boys hard to understand. They are loud, dirty, and messy, but that is all part of being a boy learning to be a man. Just as she is a girl learning how to be a woman. Today she wants to be a mommy, tomorrow, she may want to be a unicorn or a fairy. Either way, we encourage her to discover her imagination, grow as she wants to grow, and love her no matter what. She is our angel baby, and one day, she will be a mommy who knows how to care for and love her children. She makes us proud every day.

Annoyed


I know each facility for dialysis will be different in the set up, room size, and people. I get that. But today I was annoyed beyond reason when the nurse spent the majority of her time with her face in her phone texting away. Bells would go off, patients were getting antsy and uncomfortable, but she would do the minimum and go right back to her phone. My machine, I called him Clyde, was done and practically screaming the fact for a full five minutes before she put her damned phone down and came to get me unhooked. No apology, nothing, I guess I was disrupting her busy social life on line. When I sarcastically apologized for bothering her, it went right over her head, and she replied “Oh, that’s Okay..” ARRGHH!!! SO vexing.
Clyde did a good job though, and other than being tired, I feel okay. No lasting aches and pains, and the headache went away as soon as I had something drink and a Tylenol. But that nurse’s lack of attention to her job really rankles. I think all personal phones should be banned when they are on the job. Just saying.

New Normal


The newest adventure in my crazy life is Kidney dialysis. I am supposed to be in Italy, but a case of bronchitis led me to kidney failure bad enough to need emergency dialysis. That mean the insertion of a catheter into my heart and a week in the hospital as they pulled over seen liters of water from my body. That was two weeks ago.

Now I am booked at a dialysis center three days a week for four hours or more a day. It is an out patient center, and we all have turn up for therapy. The center has a few offices up front, but the room for dialysis patents is one huge room. There are around sixty recliners, each with its own dialysis machine next to it. I usually get either number 48, 49, or 50. I call my machine of the day Kevin. They do the hard work, so I figure they need to be acknowledged and greeted every day. The nurses think it is funny. I take it seriously.

Once in the room, we are weighed for water gain. Then the nurse takes you to the chair. While they are getting set up with our Kevin, we are allowed to take out our gear. I take a blanket, because they keep it COLD in there. I take my Kindle, my coloring book and pens, Mp3 player and headphones-and a small snack since I get out after 8:30 in the evening. They have a TV screen above each station with limited stations, so I can watch that if I get bored. I generally don’t bother to turn it on.

Later appointments mean there aren’t a lot of people in the room. Most people nap, so it is very quiet. Most people don’t talk to each other, just with their nurse and aide. The later it gets, the more the medical people talk to each other. I find it interesting to listen to their stories, gossip, and frustrations with difficult patients. It is easy to see who likes whom, whose personalities clash, and those who simply avoid each other. It is even easier to see who is there because they love their work and who is there just marking time until they can move on. Fortunately, my team – always the same people, love their work and it shows.

What makes me sad are the patients. Some are so fragile, and it is clear they are getting near the end of their lives, versus people like me who are just starting out on this journey. I have a good chance for reversal of issues, and if not, a transplant. While they don’t talk in the dialysis room, they too greet each other and talk in the waiting room. They all come on the same day and see each other every time, so they share information, hints, tips, and ideas. They even make sure to greet me and welcome me every time I get there. They haven’t become super friendly yet, but this is the south and it is only a matter of time.

Most of the patients are elderly, the youngest is probably in h is forties. Some are very fragile, and most are brought in by family. But what you won’t see is a pity party or whinging. You will hear them laughing, talking about family, and sharing about their religious beliefs. Being forced to use dialysis as a way of survival brings our lives into a new normal that causes a whole new way of balancing everything, No matter if we go through outpatient dialysis or do the at home program, that means being positive, accepting that it is what it is, and that the machine keeps us alive one more day.

It is exhausting and leaves me tired. I can hardly walk at the end of a session, but it will get better as I adjust to the new normal for my body. Meanwhile, I am sure to greet Keven, 48, 49, or 50 each time, follow the rules, and learn to live this new normal of my crazy life, and keep moving forward. Italy will still be there in a few years, and so will I.

A Girl and A Horse


On Saturday our Addie had a great day. She is quite horse mad right now, and wants riding lessons. Its a long story, but the other grandparent with whom we share custody, isn’t keen on the idea. To help Addie learn about horses and have the chance to be around them, we try to get her to events that will give her hands on experience.

The woman who trained our granddaughter and her horse in the hunter/jumper events put on a program for her younger students called a play day. The girls got to groom and bathe a small horse, lead and ride a horse, and play together in the outdoors on the farm. It was, as Addie said, “Totally Awesome!” And for my husband and myself, brought back happy memories of her mother learning horsemanship from one of the best trainers in our area.

There is something magical about being around horses. I know they seem huge, and they can be scary to little kids, but give them a minute or two with a horse sniffing them, nuzzling them, and kids just fall into love with the animals. There is nothing more sweet that seeing a child reaching up to hug a horse, and the horse all but climbing in their lap to hug them back.

Horses are wise, gentle, ornery, funny, goofy, spirited, and stubborn, just like people tend to be. A good match between rider and horse is a beautiful thing to see. It seems girls are more drawn to ponies and horses than boys, and it isn’t unusual to see a young girl out in the pasture with her best friend lying across his back and telling him all her troubles.

We used to live near a stable and on Saturday the parking area was filled with cars, trucks, and trailers as a gaggle giggling girls between six and womanhood took lessons, competed in events, cared for their horses and spent time making friends and enemies. Between the horses, dogs, people, teachers, and competition it was a noisy, joyous affair.

Girls learned responsibility, and how to work hard because their horses needed them to be able to understand and be aware of problems. Horses learned to work with the girls, treating them with gentleness and making them earn their respect. Having a horse is a lot more work than most people expect. It is an every day responsibility, and there is always something to take care of, be it making sure they horse stays healthy to keeping up with the maintenance of the animal. Brushing, shoes, trimming, checking for sores, cuts, making sure their teeth are in good shape, it is always something. Then there is the equipment that requires care. A good trainer will make sure the girls know how to keep their saddle and bridal in good condition, how to choose the right bit for their horse, and how to get their horse ready to ride.

Some girls have full board horses, where farm hands feed and water the horses, and clean the stalls for them. Personally, I think it is important that a horse owner take care of their own horse every day themselves. Nothing like cleaning out a dirty stall to teach a child hard work. Hauling in hay, grain, and water gives them a chance to understand horse nutrition and health. Overseeing the horses makes them more than a weekend owner, it makes them understand the needs of their horse and how to relate to him better.

I always get a kick out of watching a girl learn to make her horse do as she asks instead of doing what he wants. It gives a girl courage to face down a stubborn 1500 pound animal with nothing more than grit and her 100 pounds of determination. I have seen girls take a jump and go head over heels off a 16 hand horse, just to get up, brush off the dirt and climb right back on to try again. No tears, no self pity, just hard core determination to learn how to do things right. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

So, our Addie isn’t taking lessons, yet. But she is learning her way around a horse and how to care for one from the hooves up. One day we will watch her compete like her mother did, and bring home a blue ribbon. But the point of competing, to us, isn’t the winning, it is learning how to cope with losing, and still getting back on her horse and trying again until she conquers everything ahead of her. And until then, she will have fun loving on horses every chance she gets. I love being a Nana.

Old Lady Rant


Warning: Old Lady Rant

I was in the grocery today. I was standing in the produce section, picking out grapes when a kid ran into me with one of those child sized shopping carts. It hurt when the little )(*($!! jammed his cart into the back of my legs. I turned and told him so. His father, who was pretty much ignoring his spawn, said, “Oh it was just an accident.” “Really?” I said, “Accident or not, it still hurt.” Dad got indignant, “Well he didn’t mean to hurt you, he couldn’t have hit you that hard.” “So, it was okay he ran into me, because it wasn’t a purposeful action, and it didn’t hurt me all that much?” Dad shrugged, meanwhile the kid is tearing around pretending his cart is a race car. “No apology? Your son is allowed to hurt other people and not even apologize? Really? So, I guess if you run into someone with your car and injure them, no harm, no foul because you didn’t mean to and you need not apologize.” About then his spawn ran into one of the displays. Lucky for the little )(#*%#!! nothing got knocked over. I can only imagine how much the Dad would have sued the grocery for if his spawn was hurt. He never answered me, by the way.

That was only one of the times a kid with a child sized cart nearly cause a disaster while I was at the store today. I was walking along headed toward the dairy section when a brother and sister, each with one of those damned carts came running from a side aisle at full speed. I barely got stopped in time, and had I been in one of the motorized chairs, I would have ran them over. No apology, just a dirty look for getting in their way as they continued down the store at full speed, running into each other with their carts – on purpose. No parent in sight, and lots of people trying to dodge their stupid game. I am writing to the grocery owners, those damned things are dangerous, and so are the carts. They should be banned. As should the parents who don’t make their children behave.

Hope For The Future


Recently we attended the Kindergarten program that our great granddaughter’s school put on. It was cute, the kids were great and well prepared, and they all sang their hearts out. As I looked around, the gym was filled with parents and grandparents cheering their babies on. This was a big event for many because it was either their first, or their last, child to do one of these programs. For grandparents, it was a joyful continuation of family, tradition, and community. Applause couldn’t have been louder for the most famous artist in the world. It was their kids up there doing an outstanding job.

Those little children, five and six years old boys and girls, are the future of our country, families, and communities. In the year 2031, they will graduate High School, hopefully, and move on to adulthood. As they go to college, trade school, military, or simply working in one of the many blue collar jobs across the country, they will make up the men and women who will carry on our traditions. Some will make a good life, some will fall to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and violence. Some will turn to crime as a way of life, some with struggle, and some will sail through life without a problem. All of them will have to grow up, mature into the men and women on whose shoulders the responsibility of freedom, strength, and leadership fall.

When we looked at them standing on those risers, all so small, we see our little babies, filled with hope, excitement, and the desire to do well, performing as their teacher asks them. In the years ahead, they will face bullies, struggle with learning, work to become their individual selves. They will fight with others, stand firm as loyal friends, and fall in and out of love with someone. It will be an uphill battle to learn to listen to their conscience instead of their friends who will lead them into trouble. They will have to find their path to faith, religion, and beliefs in God, or not, and they will have to believe enough to stand firm in the face of those who would hate them just because they dare to think for themselves. It will be hard, but thankfully, it happens in small increments of time, over a long time, so they can focus and learn what they must at the moment.

They were all so small, so cute, in their excitement. We watched our great granddaughter as she sang her heart out, proud of each word she uttered. When she saw us afterward, she threw her arms around us and nearly shouted, “I love you!” This is our third generation of children to be part of raising. The feeling we had when our first child was in a program still holds firm today. We told her how proud we were of her, how she did a great job, and how we applauded her efforts. She beamed with joy, practically dancing in her happiness. In her, we see the future, and we pray we can help her on her life long journey. We also pray for all the other children on that stage, that they may have loving parents, security, and a firm belief in themselves and their value to the world. God Bless them all, the hope for the future.