Sight vs. Vision

Ever notice how life changes without our permission? No matter how well we plan, how disciplined we are, life can change in an instant. The only real constant in life is change.

Some months ago, my eyes started getting fuzzy.  At first I noticed keeping score at my granddaughter’s softball games had me filling in the wrong box on the score sheet or having difficulty tallying hits, runs, or RBIs. I blamed it on the bright sunlight or the fact I had forgotten my hat. But, that didn’t explain dealing with the same issues on rainy days.

Although my handwriting had never been worthy of an A+ in penmanship, it had always been readable. I didn’t write much anymore having become dependent on my computer. Banking online had virtually eliminated the need to write checks, except for a few here and there. Those few had my words slanting up and down, above the lines, below the lines.

The changes didn’t make sense as I had recently had my eyes examined and was sporting new spiffy red glasses.

My frustration spilled over into everything I did. Trying to read street signs or judge distances became a problem so I stopped driving. I was annoyed that using my computer was becoming increasingly difficult; I cut way back on my computer usage.

The final straw was when I could no longer read a book, even the ones in larger print. Increasing the font size on my Kindle was of little help. My blurry vision just got worse, and worse.

I scheduled an appointment to get my eyes checked with a new doctor. She was upbeat, friendly, about the size of a pencil, and looked about fifteen. I liked her immediately. At the end of her thorough exam, she said, “You have a cataract that desperately needs to be removed.”

Her next comment surprised me. “Which eye would you say is your worst eye?” My reply was immediate. “That’s easy, my right eye.”

She looked at me rather strangely, saying, “My exam shows your left, the one with the cataract, is much worse.” So she did some scans; took some pictures.

Thirty minutes later, she showed me photos of her finding. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and a growth filled with fluid and blood attached to the back of my right retina. If she had never asked the question, I would never have had a clue.

Two days later, I spent the afternoon at the Cincinnati Eye Institute (CEI) for a battery of tests and heard the ophthalmologist’s confirmation of the diagnosis of Macular Degeneration in both eyes.

The only thing I knew about Macular Degeneration was people with the disease could end up going blind. My mind swirled with questions, and a bunch of scary thoughts.

The ophthalmologist took time to patiently answer questions about the disease and discuss various types of treatment. He prescribed special vitamins and a monthly shot directly into the eyeball to stabilize the growth attached to my retina and slow the progression of the disease.

I learned about the forms of AMD, wet and dry. About 90% of people diagnosed have dry AMD. Early AMD usually starts out as dry, but in about 10% of cases it can develop into wet AMD. I had the disease in both eyes, one was dry and the other was wet.

My mouth opened saying, “Well I always try to do things in an interesting manner.” Sometimes I make the dumbest comments, but the doctor smiled, telling me he liked my attitude.

Although I had been at CEI for over four hours, it seemed in the blink of an eye I was diagnosed, received my first shot, handed a card with appointments for recurring shots and sent home.

After reading the information from the doctor, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye condition that damages the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision.

I soon realized there really was nothing much I could do. Accept the doctor’s finding. Pray. Turn the whole thing over to God and let Him take care of the situation.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me, “Don’t ever feel too sorry for yourself because you can look in any direction and see someone much worse off than yourself.”  Her words had seen me through a lot of rough spots and saved me from numerous “worry wart” sessions.

After several months of shots and cataract surgery my blurry vision is improving.  The growth attached to my retina is nearly gone, for now. The swelling and bruising is slowly disappearing. I no longer look like I’ve gone a few rounds with Muhammad Ali or George Foreman. (Sorry these were the only boxers I could think of at the moment.)

I am anxious to order new glasses in a few weeks. New glasses will mean reading the stack of books patiently awaiting my attention, resuming writing my blog, and outlining some thoughts for a new book. New glasses will mean I can drive again. Although, I have to admit I will miss my chauffeur with the bright brown eyes that twinkle when he smiles. Who am I kidding; I’m not giving him up, not after 53 years.

Only downfall: the shots in my eyeball will continue indefinitely. They are a pain, literally, but I can live with them.

Getting older has opened my eyes to see that life just goes on, with or without our permission. It simply is what it is.

Life is every-changing. We cannot control our destiny. However, we can remain optimistic; never losing sight of the beauty and the joy that surrounds us.

Trusting God is in control and feeling His presence all around me; my heart is full of gratitude for the awesome life I have been given.

Ending on a Positive Note: God never promised life would be easy, but He continues to provide strength and guidance to get us through the rough times.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths before you and be steadfast in all your ways.”

Proverbs: 4 25-26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Choices, Faith/God, Life Changes, Sight | 2 Comments

Remembering Where You Come From

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Graduation signifies the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another.

The first time I was totally aware of the meaning of that statement was when I graduated from high school.

June 5, 1963 came so quickly. It didn’t seem possible our graduation day had arrived. But there we were marching across the high school track to the football field, through the junior honor guard, walking past our parents seated in rented wooden folding chairs , marching in time to the processional played by the high school band.

As we filed onto the stage built just for the graduation ceremony, we were happy everything was going as we had rehearsed it. After hearing stories of girls at past graduations walking right out of their shoes when heels got stuck in the grass, my friends and I were happy to hit the stage with our high heels still intact.

The sign to be seated was given and the class went silent. Even the rowdy students were on their best behavior; no one wanting to embarrass themselves in front of school officials, their parents, and friends.

Suddenly it became real. High school days were over. We were really graduating. A chapter of our life was closing, never to be reopened.

The graduation ceremony included the usual speakers reminding us of the highlights of our four years at Norwood High School and describing what our futures might hold. All too soon, we were standing one row at a time, walking across the stage when our name was called to receive our diplomas from the Board of Education president.

Then standing as a class, we completed our last official act, switched our tassels and it was over.

Afterwards, happy graduates milled around, smiling, and laughing. Flashbulbs flashed as cameras captured images of graduates posing with family and friends. Parents were proud and some of our mothers cried. We didn’t understand their tears.

Looking back on that night, the keynote speaker’s comments remain a blur. I wish I had paid more attention to his advice. Bet his talk shared some wisdom that might have helped me somewhere along my way.

Flash forward to 1986 when the keynote talk was my responsibility. The ceremony was no longer held on the high school football field. An increase in graduating class sizes had changed the venue several times; otherwise the format hadn’t changed in the twenty-three years since my graduation. The only obvious changes had transpired in my life. Marriage, motherhood, building a career, and trying to live a good life had kept me busy.

I wrote and rewrote that speech, struggling for weeks to find the right words to inspire and offer helpful advice to the Class of 1986. In the back of my mind, I wondered if anyone would be listening. Would the graduates be more aware than I had been? Would they know a most important chapter in their lives was ending?

Would they understand that after high school, classmates go their separate ways, scattering into the next chapter of their lives; some to college, some to the military, some moving away while others stayed close to home? Classmates marry, have families. Some are never seen again. Never return for class reunions. Some never step foot in their old high school ever again.

As president of the board of education, I had the honor of awarding diplomas to the Class of 1986. While serving on the board, I also had the pleasure of presenting both of my daughters with their diplomas. What special memories.

Another big jump forward to May 25, 2017 when my husband and I attended our granddaughter’s high school graduation at Deer Park High School. The graduation once again, came too quickly. It seemed our granddaughter went from five to eighteen at warp speed.

Watching her sing in the Senior Chorus at the beginning of the ceremony, I cried as they sang For Good, a beautiful poignant song from the Broadway musical Wicked—the untold story of the Witches of Oz. It fit the moment perfectly.

“It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You’ll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend:

Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a skybird

In a distant wood

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

But because I knew you: have been changed for good.

After the song, the graduation format unfolded with the usual components; the same familiar words. This time I listened more intently to what the speakers were saying. I find the older I get, the better I listen.

I especially related to the words of the keynote speaker and hoped the young people on the stage were listening. Richie Schueler, a proud native of Deer Park and Class of 1996 graduate of Deer Park High School had an impressive life resume. He was an engaging young man who spoke honest, insightful, and inspirational words. It was obvious he had immense pride in his Deer Park roots and attributed the foundation of his life to the community he grew up in. He seemed to be telling my high school story.

His words about the advantages of small high schools; having the opportunity to know everyone in the class, or maybe even the whole school, resonated with me and my memories of Norwood High School.

He asked the 2017 grads to take a look around at their classmates, to recognize after thirteen years together their life was about to change drastically. That night might be the last time they would ever be together as a class. He encouraged them to follow their passion, work hard, and never forget where they were from, and to proudly go and show the world just what a kid from Deer Park could do with their life. He then closed with their traditional school motto: It’s always a great day to be a Wildcat!

Then standing as a class, they completed their last official act. All together, they switched their tassels, marched out with big smiles on their faces and it was over.

Once again, I watched as graduates happily hugged their family and friends, and posed for lots of photos, this time photos were taken primarily with cell phones. Hugging my granddaughter, I told her we were so proud of her and her many accomplishments, but also proud of her eagerness to begin college, her next chapter. Happy she was so excited to be on her way to her future.

I sought out the keynote speaker to offer my congratulations on his wonderful words. As he thanked me, he laughed saying, “That was the hardest speech I ever had to write. I really struggled.”

“You ever have to do one of those talks?” Laughing, I answered yes and told him of my own difficulties to find just the right words. We both agreed it had been a proud moment in our lives.

Norwood and Deer Park are similar; both small schools, both filled with tons of traditions. How exciting to think of the graduations happening all across the nation with millions of graduates, parents and grandparents experiencing similar emotions, going through comparable traditions at their respective high schools.

Traditions tend to create a common bond among fellow classmates because high school is a special time. Classmates together in the same place learning to take baby steps to discover who they are, learning to make their own decisions, discovering new interests, learning to trust, and beginning to find their way.

Life after high school takes us in different directions, down different paths. Experiences after high school help polish and hone one’s goals, one’s skills, and one’s determination to succeed. Smoothing out the rough edges while we are figuring out what kind of person we truly want to become. Those experiences help to define our life.

High school graduation has always been a significant moment. As graduates everywhere close their first chapter and get ready to embark on an exciting next step, I hope they remember the foundation they received from the schools and communities they grew up in.

The carefree days before I graduated from Norwood High School remain inside me. Those years were some of the best years of my life. They helped prepare me to think for myself and to maintain an open mind as I ventured into a very diverse, complex world.

Reflecting on my life, three things stand out. Remembering who I am, where I come from, and what I believe.

Wishing all 2017 grads good luck in their future endeavors and hoping they will influence their world with good by remembering where they come from.

Ending on a Positive Note: The graduation photos and posts all over Facebook for the last few weeks have energized my spirit; given me new hope for the future of this country, this world. A new batch of bright, energized young people beginning their next chapter is cause for celebration.

 

Posted in Choices, Family, Graduation, Inspirational, Life Changes, Relationships, Value | Leave a comment

Memorial Day – Picnics and Parades?

After stopping to schedule my next appointment at the doctor’s office last week, the young lady handed me a card confirming my appointment and said in a cherry voice, “Have a happy Memorial Day.”

Happy Memorial Day! The words didn’t go together. Memorial Day isn’t a happy day to be celebrated. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and gratitude. Isn’t it?

I’m old enough to remember when Memorial Day was always on May 30th. Maybe that adds to our confusion about the true meaning of the day. Somewhere along the way, Memorial Day became a three-day weekend.

Today, the long Memorial Day weekend has become the unofficial start of summer. Picnics, backyard barbecues, the Indianapolis 500, mattress ads on TV, baseball games, and if the weather is warm enough, a dip in your neighbor’s pool. Some see it as just an extra day off work.

There’s nothing wrong with picnics or relaxing with friends. But, some seem to have forgotten we should take time to remember who paid the price for our relaxing day or that extra day off work.

As a young girl living in the country Memorial Day, or what my parents called Decoration Day, had a meaning that was a bit more special. Every year, families got all dressed in their Sunday best and headed for Mill Springs Cemetery in Nancy, Kentucky.

I don’t remember a parade, just speeches about war and patriotic songs being sung. Serious faces and snippets of conversations and tears about losing loved ones, a brother, or a father in the war. It was never referred to as World War I or WWII, just “the war.”

Daddy told me the site of Mill Springs National Cemetery was originally a Civil War battlefield. Today the cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. One of the first National Cemeteries created, it still receives burials today. It is one of the oldest National Cemeteries still in operation.

Many smaller towns and communities still have parades with the high school band marching and playing patriotic songs. A color guard usually carries an American flag and flags representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Along the parade route, excited little kids wave small flags and grab the wrapped candy tossed from the elected officals’ cars to those who watch from the sidelines.

In the early 1960s, as a majorette, I marched with the Norwood High School band in an annual Memorial Day parade, down Montgomery Road ending at Victory Park for speeches about the importance of remembering those who had died to protect our freedom.

There were always representatives from the local community, usually a few older men dressed in partial uniforms of the various U.S. military forces; veterans in a shirt, or a jacket covered with military emblems and maybe a few medals. Whatever they had left or maybe what still fit.

All veterans of different wars, they marched proudly. Their faces somber as they stood as straight as their bodies would allow, saluting the bronze plaques in Victory Park of the veterans who died in wars before Vietnam.

Today, I witnessed another small town parade in the community where we now live. Not much different from the parades of my teenage years. A color guard opened the parade, elected officials still threw wrapped candy, and little kids still waved flags. There was not one, but two bands. However, there was no patriotic music, just a drum cadence. I miss  the music.

People of all ages lined the parade route; some sitting in lawn chairs, some standing, some putting their hand over their heart as Old Glory went by, or saluting as the veterans rode past in the back of a pick-up truck. The veterans still had somber faces, still wore their uniforms with pride.

I wondered how many minds were thinking about lost loved ones. The husbands, wives, sons, daughters, grandchildren or friends who had served their country, but maybe had never returned from the war they had served in.

Today’s morning TV was filled with images of Americans observing the holiday by placing flowers and flags flapping in the breeze on the graves of fallen soldiers. By the end of the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people will have visited cemeteries all across America to pay their respects.

I started to end this blog by looking up the number of those who have died serving their country but stopped, knowing the number would be way too high. It would hurt too much.

In the past few weeks, I have attended celebrations with my family, special occasions such as a sports banquet, dance recital, a granddaughter’s 16th birthday, and watched my oldest granddaughter graduate from high school.

How many men and women fighting for MY FREEDOM would have loved to have been present for just one of those special occasions involving their own children? How long has it been, for some military moms or dads, since they have hugged their children or kissed them good night? I can’t even imagine what life must be like for the kids who miss their moms or dads every day. Just wishing and praying they were at home or on their way home.

Every year, I watch the National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, D.C. Last night the show was hard to watch. I didn’t cry, I sobbed. Instead of just saying nice, appropriate things about our service men and women to make us feel patriotic, or maybe to ease our consciences a bit, they chose to tell stories about true American heroes. Real-life stories about injury, death, and people trying to pick up the pieces of their forever changed lives.

Stories about real-life service men and women who are still struggling to find their way back to an old life, before war. A grown woman told of the heartbreak of losing her father (when she was eight) while he was serving in Vietnam. Another story was of a young husband and father, severely injured in an explosion, who struggles daily with difficult rehabilitation. He will never hug his children again. Never walk again.

All of the stories were so moving, filled with bravery and courage. Stories such as these should be incorporated into history books so our children and grandchildren can gain a better understanding of the horrors of war. Wars are more than names of generals, dates, numbers. Wars do irreparable damage that change people and the world we live in.

This Memorial Day, let us be grateful to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for  America’s freedom. It is a debt we can never repay. As Americans, we owe it to our all–voluntary military to appreciate what the true meaning of Memorial Day is.

Ask any Gold Star family, they can tell us what it means. It’s about the men and women who have given their lives for this country. Special men and women who died to make it possible for us to live in freedom.

Starting today, my prayer list will include praying for our service men and women every single day (and their families waiting at home). I invite you to join me in praying for their safety. To honor and respect our veterans, and those who still serve.

Ending on a Positive Note: Wars can’t possibly be the answer. There must be a better way to settle our differences. There must be a way for us to learn to get along, to find peace. As the song that closed last night’s concert says, “Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me.”

Posted in Gratitude, Holidays, Value | 2 Comments

Special Women’s Retreats

Yesterday, I did something I hadn’t done since April 2011, I was a guest speaker at a women’s retreat.

Occasionally I receive requests asking if I still do speaking engagements saying I was recommended by a friend who heard me speak some years ago, etc. Since my speaking business has been non-existent for seven years, I am always caught by surprise that people would still remember me. I guess it pays to keep the same phone number for so many years.

I don’t know why I accepted this time, except I liked the lady who contacted me and my signature talk was exactly what they wanted for their retreat. Part of me was curious to see if I was capable of doing a presentation seated since I can no longer stand long enough to deliver a 45-60 minute talk.

So glad I accepted. It was a special time. Their theme was a Recipe for Life. The ladies were delightful making me feel right at home as if I were a friend instead of the speaker.

Retreats are a special treat for a speaker. They are an opportunity to see women taking time from busy, hectic schedules to unwind and enjoy time with their friends. Watching as they talk, laugh, and spend time refreshing and renewing their thoughts and minds. I loved that not one cell phone rang.

In one-on-one conversations, a couple of them shared painful experiences when they were going through dark times; some I could relate to while others were things I haven’t experienced yet. I was deeply honored to hear their stories and thank them for their trust.

I couldn’t believe it had been seven years since I had done my last retreat representing my small speaking ministry focused on living a life in balance. 2011 seemed like an eternity ago, when speaking, blogging, everything was put aside so I could care for my daughter after her diagnosis of stage-IV cancer.

Seven years ago, I found other speakers for my upcoming commitments, except one at a retreat where I was the only speaker scheduled to speak four times during the weekend. I already had the talks prepared and wasn’t sure I could find a replacement on short notice, so I did it. The ladies at that retreat also welcomed me as a friend and blessed me with so much love and support. I still am in contact with several of them today.

As I refreshed my talk for Saturday, I was pleased to see that I had remained true to many of the changes referenced in my talk but realized there are still many more that await my attention.

However, I have learned one important thing. I no longer try to do what only God can do? Try to control the uncontrollable, stop the unstoppable, or fix the unfixable.

I often hear people ask, “If God is in control, why doesn’t he change this, or do that, or make this thing better?” I honestly don’t know. But, I have found time and time again that He is trustworthy and faithful. He knows what we need. Knows how our stories end. That’s good enough for me.

I love speaking, making people laugh, but an engagement requires a lot of preparation, strength and stamina. Not sure that is what I should be doing at this stage of my life. Think I’ll let God tell me what He wants me to do.

Which is exactly what I encouraged the women to consider adding to their Recipe for Life on Saturday, since God knows how to combine just the right ingredients to meet all of our needs, no matter what our situation.

Ending on a Positive Note: Age brings the wisdom of allowing God to put your life into perspective. It’s amazing what He can do if we just get out of His way.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your path.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Posted in Faith/God, Life Changes, Life Lessons | 4 Comments

Looking for Good

Some years ago, I began to intentionally look for the positive things in my simple, everyday life. I found saying thank you for small kindnesses or letting people know I appreciated them for doing their job well, was very rewarding. Sometimes, it’s hard to spot optimism, but you can find it if you look for it.

I do most of my shopping online because health issues make it difficult to actually shop in person. Online doesn’t always produce a positive experience, but I am slowly weeding out the stores where I have encountered a bad experience. As my shopping outlets are shrinking, some are gaining my trust. Those stores have made it easier to find products I like, easier to maneuver ordering and return policies. And, make it easier to accept shopping online as my new way of life.

Whenever a customer service experience goes well, I thank the young rep (most of them are young these days) for making my order experience go smoothly. If there is a follow-up survey after the experience, I always take the time to complete it. It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes and time is the one thing I have plenty of.

However, it’s impossible to do doctor visits online. This time of year brings annual visits to several different doctors for a mammogram, ultrasounds, scans, etc. Doctor visits are difficult and usually leave me exhausted.

I try to be punctual for appointments and have my insurance card (and co-pay) readily available. I try to smile, answer questions, and be pleasant with the staff. This week proved to be a bit of a struggle as I encountered several folks who were just downright rude.

I try to overlook rudeness, if possible. I remember having bad days when I was working; days when everything went wrong. Often, we can be rude without even knowing it, I’m sure my life has found me guilty on many occasions.

However, this week one incident sort of got under my skin. Checking in to see the doctor, a young lady was extremely rude to me and to everyone who came in after me. I noticed that most people came through the door with a pleasant expression on their face, but after a few minutes of being treated with no respect, they became irritated. Many lashed out in frustration with anger in their voices.

After seeing the doctor and stopping at the check-out station, the same young lady didn’t even look at me before she said angrily, “Is May 6th okay?”

Trying to keep my cool, I explained I would need to schedule the ultrasound before making an appointment with the doctor. The reason for seeing him was to follow-up to learn the ultrasound results.

It was obvious she wasn’t listening. After repeating my words three times, I stopped talking.

After an awkward pause, she looked up at me with a blank stare. I then said, “Miss, I don’t mean to be impolite, but you are not listening to what I am saying. I must schedule the ultrasound before scheduling the doctor appointment.”

She was angry. Her face was a dark thundercloud; filled with such pain that I somehow knew she wasn’t angry with me.

Her name tag read Susan, so I quietly said, “Susan, obviously you are very upset. I’m sure this isn’t the way you normally do your job. I’m sorry you are having such a bad day. I’m going to say a prayer for your day to get better.”

Susan sat and just looked at me. My mind was whirling, thinking I had said too much, gone too far. I could see Susan was struggling. Her eyes filled with tears. Finally focusing, she leaned forward and whispered, “I am so sorry. Of course, the ultrasound should be scheduled before the doctor’s appointment. In fact, why don’t I schedule your ultrasound and call you back to confirm the date?” I told her that wasn’t necessary, but she insisted.

In the parking lot, I sat for a few minutes praying for Susan; asking God to guide her through the issues that were causing her such pain. I prayed she would find peace in her life.

A thought occurred to me that if I could fill out a survey, I could take a few minutes to pray for people like Susan, even when they didn’t know I was praying. That thought made me happy and is certainly more productive than getting angry.

The next day, Susan called to confirm the ultrasound appointment just as she promised. As we wound up our conversation, she said, “Yesterday was really a rough day for me. Thanks again for your kindness in helping me get through it.” 

Whether we approach someone with positive or negative expectations, they will often (not always) tend to move toward fulfilling our expectations. Seeing positive possibilities in others will encourage them to bring out the best in themselves.

Look for the good in others, and you will likely find it. But encouraging them helps us grow and creates more positive thinking in our own lives.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Ending on a Positive Note: Sometimes God gives us the right words to say to help someone who is struggling with something we don’t understand (or need to understand). I am amazed at God’s faithfulness when we put our trust in Him.

Posted in Awareness/Action, Choices, Faith/God, Life Lessons, Positive Thinking | 2 Comments

Breaking a Habit

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

-Warren Buffet-

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Have you ever tried to give up something you love?

For years, I tried to cut back on my favorite soft drink but was never successful. Knew I was drinking too much, but it just tasted so good. The problem was I had one at lunch, had another in mid-afternoon, another one for dinner, and one more in the evening. It had become a habit.

Habits become like second nature to us. They’re not so easy to break.

Think about all of the things we do each day without thinking. Habits that are like second nature. Our habits start when we get up in the morning and don’t stop until we turn out the lights and go to bed.

Talking to friends or colleagues would often bring good advice, well-intentioned, but frequently didn’t fit into the structure of my day. It was hard to stay motivated, difficult to think about reasons to change.

There are even self-help books proposing ways to change or break a habit. Books with suggestions such as making a plan, writing it down, starting small by eliminating one (Coke) a day for a week, analyzing when and why I was doing what I was doing.

Often I would make a note on my calendar in big block letters, STOP DRINKING COKE and it worked until I just forgot, second nature kicked in, I ordered a Coke without thinking.

Articles I read tried to convince me anything that could clean dirt and grime from the hubcaps on my car couldn’t possibly be something one would want in their body.

Sometimes I just decided to change which is the most crucial part of the process. But, unless you are truly ready to change, you will probably have trouble following through.

Happy to report I haven’t had one single drop of Coke for eight years. Want to know how I did it? It was easy.

All it took to go “cold turkey” was losing my sense of smell and taste!

In May 2009 checking into the hospital to have a small procedure done, I had no issues smelling or tasting. Two days later was released not being able to do either due to a severe reaction to a medication.

Some months later, I did regain most of my taste, but it was gradual. I was surprised to discover Coke tasted gross, sort of the way I imagine motor oil might taste, so I only had a few sips before giving it up for good.

Since I had no control over losing my taste, it was easy. Who really craves drinking motor oil? Oh, I still enjoy a soft drink with pizza or Skyline Chili. The only difference is nowadays it is white, never a cola. Today, water is usually my drink of choice which is a good thing.

My loss of smell is more difficult. After eight years, I occasionally catch a whiff of a simmering pot roast, someone’s perfume or aftershave, or a hint of my granddaughters’ shampoo when they give me a hug. Most of the time, there is nothing.

I took my sense of smell for granted. Never realized how much I would miss the wonderful smells that surround us every day until they were gone. Flowers in the spring, fresh-baked cookies, clean sheets right out of the dryer, or the fresh clean smell in the air right after it rains.

I’ve never liked coffee so it seems odd that the most frequent smell in my little world is Tom’s coffee brewing now and again in the morning.

Still have lots of habits; some good, some bad. Plenty of those need to be altered. Some may be out of my control. Others will require discipline.

So what have I learned from this experience? I have discovered life is what it is. Aging is teaching me it’s okay to cut myself some slack and learn to live the best I can with the cards I have been dealt.

Ending on a Positive Note: Life is so short; it seems a waste of time to concentrate on things beyond my control. I miss the smell of everyday life but am so thankful for the many other blessings I still can enjoy.

 

Posted in Gratitude, Letting Go, Life Changes | Leave a comment

Timing is Everything

“Everything is hard before it is easy.” -Goethe-

Life has been a little crazy lately, so my blog is short this week.

Tom and I are approaching our two-year anniversary of living with less. We are convinced we made the right decision to downsize and get rid of many of our things.

We don’t miss anything that is gone. We sold some, gave away more, and kept enough to fill our small two-bedroom apartment. We have what we need. We know we are where we belong. Our building is filled with nice people just like us, trying to grow old gracefully.

Yesterday, I was reminded our lifestyle is not for everyone. We made a choice that is working very well for us but obviously is not so easy for other people.

At the doctor’s office yesterday, I had a brief conversation with a gentleman struggling to find answers for a dilemma in his life.  For once, I didn’t initiate the conversation. He just started telling me he was trying to convince his wife to move from their house to a condo. He commented, “It is becoming difficult to keep up with my yard work. I’m ready to downsize.”

His comments were quite familiar. Tom and I had that conversation about 2 ½ years ago. Listening to this fellow, I’m just grateful we had arrived at the same place at the same time.

This guy was ready to move to the next level and his wife wasn’t. He wanted simple. His wife liked their current lifestyle. My heart went out to them.

As I listened to him listing pros and cons, I realized he was just speaking aloud a conversation that been swirling in his mind for some time. When he asked my opinion, I told him the truth as I knew it. “You and your wife will know when the time is right.”

When he asked my advice, I replied carefully, “Take it slow, be honest, talk (not argue), and treat each other with respect.” Making rash decisions never seem to work out well.

Hopefully, he and his wife will listen to each other and find a compromise that will work in their life. Life is hard, but treating the person you love with respect and kindness is always the right thing to do.

Ending on a Positive Note: My heart is full of gratitude that Tom and I are almost always on the same wavelength. I am reminded that much of life is working through the small details, but the right timing helps.

Posted in Awareness/Action, Choices, Family, Letting Go | 4 Comments