Friday, September 27, 2019

This morning I had a rare day of truly being up before the birds.  Cosmo, the cat, decided that we were lie-abeds by staying there past 4:30 AM.  My Oldtimer, bless him, got up to see why the cat was so tortured, but it was too late - I was awake, and got up at 4:45.  After my usual morning routine of “bisquiting” the dogs, checking the litter box, and making a large cup of coffee, I was on the patio to greet the day - in the dark!

I’ve been out early numerous times, but the hummingbirds are always out to greet the day with me.  Today I even beat the hummingbirds.  No birdsong to enjoy - just the early morning commuters, and the trash trucks positioning themselves to start working the neighborhood at 7:00 AM.  I realized how much I take for granted, being able to work from home, starting my day with a cup of coffee on the patio, while the commuters are already on the road, and the outdoor laborers start their day before the sun rises, to beat the often-unbearable heat.

Now, as of 6:15, the sun is brightening the clouds (we have clouds today!), the hummingbirds are chittering nearby, the finches are trying to work the hummingbird feeders, the grackles are zooming overhead.  It won’t be long until I get a morning “caw” from the raven who stops at the electric pole behind our fence almost every day.  Looks like a lovely day.

*Photo at top is the brightening sky above me. Photo at bottom is from yesterday - my little buddy hummingbird, who loves to sit on the bare sticks near my chair.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Self Care/Self Image

Preface - I've written - and deleted - this post at least a dozen times in the last couple days.  It's been tough trying to sort my brain and express it all.  Tonight, after watching the movie "Poms" I decided to just lay it all out here.  Maybe it will encourage other women of a certain age.  Here goes:

About two weeks ago, I left for a visit to my hometown, the place I spent the first 45 years of my life, on a fairly indulgent vacation.  I descended on my daughter and her family - in the midst of a total kitchen gut and renovation - and made their home my base of operation.  Operation "it's all about me!"

I've tried explaining to a few people the way my brain is - or isnt - working of late, and have had a few pooh-poohs, and a whole lot of  "I don't know what to tell you."  Short version... I've been dealing with being triggered during the presidential election, some intensity on the job, some hyper-awareness that I have now achieved the same age my mom was when she died.  That last one has been brutal, despite everyone's assurances that I'm healthier.  All of a sudden, life really is short.  It's too short to carry around low self-esteem, and the baggage of personal issues.

First motivator for the trip - my 50 year high school reunion.  For over 50 years, I have retained a stiff-necked and outspoken pride about the often-maligned high school I attended.  We've already lost about 60 in the class, and despite being an introvert (who is often not recognized even by people who know me well), I decided to put myself out there, walk into a room all by myself, and attend.

Second motivator for the trip - my granddaughter's ninth birthday.  I've missed too many of these milestones with my far-flung children and grandchildren.  As much as I'm trying to be frugal, I need more visits with my children and grandchildren. In fact, this was my second trip this summer to visit my children - I had a week at the NC beach with my son and his family, who always make me feel treasured.

Third motivator for the trip - my Minnesota daughter has opened her own boudoir photography studio.  I wanted to have a session with her.  After listening to her tell me about the shoots she's done, and the women she's met, I finally understood the idea of this type of photography being empowering and bold.  I need to be more bold.  (There's way, way more to all of this than I'm writing here, but trying to explain it is what has kept me from posting.  Suffice it to say - it really is all about trusting your body, taking a leap, and feeling empowered.)

Fourth motivator - through her work, my daughter met a Reiki practitioner; she experienced some incredible healing.  I was going to have a session.

The reunion was phenomenal.  I didnt get to visit with nearly enough people, but there were at least four that I never really knew or talked to in high school, that I sat with and had long getting-to-know-you conversations.  I got to talk to one person who was gracious and kind, even though the last time I saw her, I was not kind.  I got to relive old jokes, hear about favorite teachers, and listen to a speech by our foreign exchange student that confirmed for me that our much maligned high school truly was an extraordinary place, that we came from a unique and good place.

My Reiki healing was incredibly moving and revealing.  I received great guidance for self care, and guidance about paying attention to both my spiritual and health needs.  I've put several things into practice already, and am seeing the difference.

Finally, the boudoir shoot.  I was so nervous, I was almost sick.  I told Bekah (my daughter) that one of the things I hoped to get from the session was to see myself through someone else's eyes.  She took an extraordinary amount of photos.  I tried to justify it all to myself saying I was going to gift the photos to my husband.  Underneath it all though, I knew I was doing it just for me, and that was ok.  How often do women of our age do something just for themselves, really?  When I was about to go to my gate for my flight home, I hugged my daughter and told her the one word that overwhelmed me about the time I spent back home was "grateful"  I can't tell you how intensely grateful I feel for the wellness and boost to self-image I acquired over my long week of self-exploration, for the family I have, and the friends - new and old - that became part of my life again.

The photos?  I've ordered an album of 17 of them, and a canvas print of one.  I have only shown my husband one - the one I'm about to share here - and will probably keep the rest just for me.  They are incredible, in my opinion, but I'm going to treasure them privately, at least for now.

The emotion, the gratitude, the absolutely stunning healing I received from everything from the reunion to the reiki will stay with me for a long time.  Seeing myself through someone else's eyes - invaluable.  Boudoir shoots - what a gift.  I would encourage every woman my age to do it for themselves - don't leave all that luscious self-esteem for the younger generation!  (And if you haven't' seen the movie Poms, do so!)
Photo by New Light Boudoir, Lake Elmo, MN

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Book Review - Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner

My reason for posting a book review here is simply because I think that all the women I know, my age, would be as moved by this book as I was.

My online review elsewhere read:
Right now, I want to sit down with Jennifer Weiner, look her in the eye, and tell her 100 things. I want to take her hand, to make sure she hears what I say, and tell her how she captured my growing up era. I'm a baby boomer; we all have stories we want to share, and we all think our stories are the most important. Maybe they are.

I finished this book not five minutes ago. The tears aren't dry yet. I don't do a book synopsis but let me just say, this covers it all, from the perspective of two (fictional) sisters just a titch older than I. It's simply but extraordinarily well done. It's been four years since the last Weiner book, and I can see why. This has to be a true labor of love.

To Jennifer Weiner - I know I can't take you by the hand and tell you my 100 stories, so let me just say this, as simply but deeply as I can... thank you.

The depiction of drug use, as well as sexual abuse will be hard for some readers. I had to power through a couple spots; it was so worth the effort. 

It is also notable that my daughter - daughter of a baby boomer - was equally moved by this book.  Here is part of what she said about it:

"This book was exquisite.  I have so many feelings, and just cannot seem to find the words for them.  My mother grew up in the same generation as the main characters of the story, and I feel like Jennifer Weiner did such an amazing job of capturing that era.  I feel like I have a better understanding of my own mother, who I have always been very close to, her struggles, what it was like to be a child of the 60s, with Depression Erar parents and societal expectations pushing her one way, while movements, peers, and the world seemed to be pushing another."

Looks like my daughter is a better reviewer than I!  Also, just in case others are as slow on the uptake as I am, I read an interview with Jennifer Weiner, which caused me to take a closer look at the title.  It's more significant than I realized, because of the pun...  Mrs. Everything, OR "misses everything."

Thanks to Net Galley, and the publisher, Simon & Schuster for the Advance Reader Copy.  I also purchased a final edition, because this one is worth owning.