REGRETS…..I HAVE A FEW

One of my friends gave our group a reading assignment: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.  Many of you have probably read it.  It has been on the best seller list forever.  I am late to the party, as usual!

I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m not giving away the plot, but the book is about regrets (such as the road not taken) and the chance to make things right.

I don’t have a ton of regrets, although some of the mistakes and decisions I have made along the way were doozies! But I do have one big regret. 

I regret that I wasn’t kinder and more patient with my mother, particularly in her later years.

Most people who knew my mother might describe her as a tough customer!  Her glass was ½ empty at best and her default mode tended toward judgement and criticism.  I was often her target and she didn’t mince words.

As a result, I tended to avoid spending time with her and wasn’t very kind or patient when I was with her.

It took some therapy after she died to forgive her and realize that her leg was ‘caught in a trap’ for as long as I remember.

Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by at tree.  As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared.  You are frightened and angry.  But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap.  Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain.  This applies to all of us.  When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of a trap.  The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.

Tara Brach

My mother did have some wonderful qualities.  She fully supported my marriage and loved my husband.  She was delighted when my then young stepdaughters called her, ‘Grandma Mae’.  And when our daughter came along, she loved her to the moon and back. And she also loved me in her own way, she just had a tough time showing it.

I’m going to Hawaii soon. My mom really wanted to go to Hawaii.  I feel bad that I didn’t take the time or make the effort to take her there.  It wouldn’t have killed me 😊!

My mom’s been gone for almost 30 years, so I can’t rewind the tape.

I’ll leave you with this:

Just because she’s your mom and she’s going to love you forever, no matter what – you can’t treat her just any old way and think it doesn’t matter. Don’t treat the person who loves you the most….the worst. Don’t take her for granted.  She may not let you see it, but your shortness, impatience and harsh words make her steal away to a quiet place and cry. Her heart hurts to understand why you seem angry with her.  She will not always agree with you, but she will always love you.  And it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how old she is, treasure your mom.  You’ll never have another one.

Unknown

Allene

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AGING GRACEFULLY – SOLO STYLE

I was chatting with a couple of my girlfriends recently. Somehow, we got on the topic of age differences in spouses.  My dad was 12 years older than my mom.  They asked me how old my mom was when my dad died? I was shocked when I remembered that she was ONLY 72  –  too close to my own age for comfort! She seemed so old at the time.

By the time my dad died from colon cancer, Mom already had a history of breast cancer, a heart attack, and coronary bypass surgery.  She also cared for my dad at home until he died.  I know she wanted to do some traveling, but poor health quickly caught up with her and she wasn’t able to spend her later solo years the way she had hoped.

Fast forward to 2023.

I have a number of single friends who are my contemporaries.  They are all healthy, able to travel, and are 100% engaged.

My new friend is a great example.  She has been widowed for almost 20 years.  After she retired from her tech career, she was a ski bum for a bit and is still an avid golfer.  She moved to our neighborhood recently from another state and has jumped into life here with gusto.  In addition to golf, she goes to the gym regularly, and we are walking buddies.  Speaking of walking, her dog also keeps her moving. She recently took an art class and is always on the lookout for learning opportunities.  She is on the board of our home owner’s association and active in a local women’s club.  I can’t keep up with her 😊!

Her son and his family lives nearby and she sees them regularly.  But, she has her own life here. While she makes frequent visits back to her former haunts, she is fully engaged in this community.

I follow Cindy Hattersley Design.  Her recent post, Can You Change Your Life At Any Age?, was a keeper.  It brought my new friend to mind. Cindy linked to a great Healthline article with 13 tips for aging gracefully – it is a ‘one stop shop” blueprint with everything I needed to know on the subject and is worth a read:

  1. Be kind to your skin
  2. Exercise
  3. Mind your diet
  4. Mental health matters
  5. Stay physically active
  6. Lower your stress
  7. Quit smoking and decrease alcohol consumption
  8. Get enough sleep
  9. Find new hobbies
  10. Practice mindfulness
  11. Drink plenty of water
  12. Take care of your mouth
  13. See a doctor regularly

Maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

My friend follows these tips to a tee (pardon the pun). I best catch up!

Allene

O-T-T-O

Like many people I know, we went to a Man Called Otto, starring Tom Hanks, last weekend.  I was a reluctant Otto goer.  I saw the original 2015 movie, A Man Called Ove, a few years ago and loved it.  I thought this might just be a sanitized version of a gem.

However, it was a rainy day and my husband thought a movie was just the ticket.  We watched our Seahawks lose to the 49ers in the wild card playoffs on Saturday and my husband was ready for something uplifting.

So, off we went and I am so glad we did!  We both loved the movie.  Tom Hanks was priceless, as were all the other characters. The story generally followed the original movie but was updated with an American twist.

I’m not going to reveal the plot or the ending, but I am going to give it 100%, despite Rotten Tomatoes only giving it 69%.  But please notice the audience score of 97%.  I’m on Team Audience for this one😊. And I think the movie appeals to all ages.

For me, there were some takeaways from the movie:

  • Routines can keep you going, even during difficult times.
  • Love comes in many forms, including the love of a cat.
  • Don’t hold a grudge.
  • Don’t give up on a friend!
  • Speaking of friends, cultivate friends of different generations and cultures.
  • Profound change is possible (but don’t count on it)

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book the movie is based on, A Man Called Ove:

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

Fredrik Backman

“We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

Fredrik Backman

It is difficult to admit that one is wrong. Particularly when one has been wrong for a very long time.

Fredrik Backman

Have a good week and, if you can, go to the movie😊.

Allene

SPRING TEASER

I met my first friend in Seattle earlier this week.  It was one of those amazing days that can come our way in January. The temperature was in the 50’s.

As I drove up I-5, the sun was out and the skies were so blue.  When I got off the freeway, I had a spectacular view of the snowcapped Cascade Mountains. 

We always meet in the Mount Baker neighborhood near Lake Washington.  The grass was green (note, we always have green grass in the winter) and kids were playing in the nearby park. 

The day ended with a glorious pink sunset.

The day reminded me of why I love spring in the Pacific Northwest.  Spring is a mercurial season here, but when it is sunny, green, and the flowers are blooming, it is tough to top.

As I write this, rain is in our forecast for the next several days.  So, we will be back to our typical January weather pattern.

Speaking of rain and flooding, poor California!  They have been in for it and more atmospheric rivers are heading their way.

We lived in California during the 90’s and I worked in local public health.  I clearly remember the floods of 1995.  Here is a link for more information on that event.  I spent a few nights in Monterey County Emergency Management Center.  I remember trying to figure out how to drive home the next morning. The highway to our house was under water due to the Salinas River flooding. The scenes brought to mind what the aftermath of a nuclear attack might look like ☹.

While we have floods here, nothing really compares to what can happen in California.  I think that is particularly true after a long drought.

And it sounds like 2023 is one of the worse years for flooding in California in recent memory! At least 17 people have died so far.

For some goofy reason, I keep thinking about the 1972 song, ‘It Never Rains in Southern California:

It never rains in California
But girl, don’t they warn ya?
It pours, man, it pours

Albert Hammond

We have dear friends who live in California and are concerned about them as well as everyone there who is experiencing storm after storm. The pictures and stories are devastating.

It can stop pouring anytime!

Allene

CHEERS TO FRIENDS!

I read the New York Times on a regular basis.  Last week, they had a 7 day Happiness Challenge focused on building stronger connections.  Suggestions included:

  • Assessing your social universe
  • Scheduling an 8-minute phone call
  • Chatting up someone you don’t know
  • Expressing thanks
  • Reaching out to people at work
  • Putting plans on a calendar

As luck would have it, my week pretty well lined up with their suggestions. 

I had Mystery Zoom with my MT friends on Thursday, we had a new friend over for my husband’s (deadly) martinis on Friday, and I met up with 2 friends on Saturday – one a long-time work friend and the other one of my fellow Montana Chicks for coffee.  Today I have a walk scheduled with a friend and I have my monthly meet up with my first friend tomorrow.

Whew! 

Now I don’t normally have that many daily/weekly connections with friends, but it was ‘friend time’ for sure. It was a fantastic week on all counts!

On a somewhat related note, my husband is trained in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  He came across this great article describing type as a preference with strengths and stretches.  So instead of saying I AM AN INTUITIVE THINKER (NT), my preference is Intuitive Thinking (NT). 

Note: the article: Don’t Box Me In: What is Personality Type Really? is definitely worth checking out if you are into or interested in MBTI.

Two of my friends I saw last week also happen to prefer the Intuitive Thinking (NT) type.  I was curious to see how common that type is in women and found this:

The majority of females in the U.S. are Sensing Feeling (SF) types. They make up approximately 56% of the population. After that, Sensing Thinking (ST) females make up the next highest group, at 19.8% of the population. Intuitive Feeling (NF) females come in third at 18% of the female population. This means that at 6.1% of the population, Intuitive Thinking (NT) females are an extreme minority. In a group of 10 females, you’d be lucky to find even one NT!

Susan Storm

With those odds, I consider it quite amazing that I managed to find 2 girlfriends who are also NT’s!  I love all my friends but I must admit, at times, it is somewhat validating to be around other women who also prefer Intuitive Thinking instead of always being a bit of an outlier 😊

Allene

MAKE A COPY

As 2023 gets underway, I came a across an article that interested me: 10 Healthy Traits That Are Key To Your Psychological Well-Being.

The 10 Traits are based on the Big 5 Personality Test. The Big 5 Traits are:

  • Conscientiousness – a measure of a person’s aptitude to ‘doing the right thing’
  • Agreeableness – how well people get along with others
  • Openness to Experience – creativity, innovation, the ability to ride out turmoil
  • Extraversion – how easily individuals mix and interact with others
  • Neuroticism – emotional stability

I am a sucker for personality tests and am still a huge fan of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.  My type is ENTP in case anyone is interested.

But, back to the 10 traits of a psychologically healthy person:

  1. Openness to Feelings – trust our emotions and are open to the feelings of others
  2. Straightforwardness – cultivate authentic and genuine relationships
  3. Warmth – generate intimacy and connections
  4. Positive Emotions – freedom to enjoy positive emotions
  5. Low Levels of Angry Hostility – anger and hostility are detrimental to relationships
  6. Low Anxiety – with too much anxiety we limit ourselves and avoid situations
  7. Low Depression – flexible thinking and can see shades of gray, not just black and white thinking
  8. Low Vulnerability to Stress – face life with resilience
  9. Low Impulsivity – grounded and in control of our actions and reactions
  10. Competencefeeling competent is feeling like I am OK

I’m going to spend a few minutes on ‘Competence’.  For me (and my NT personality), feeling competent is highly desirable! 

My competence was put to the test recently. 

I must admit, I am not particularly detail oriented and neither is my husband.  That lack of attention to detail has come back to bite me more than once.  When I was working, I was fortunate because I was often surrounded by people who focused on the details.  In retirement, not so much😊.

Note: ENTP women are not really good with details.

My husband and I both use several tricks to track details, but a slip can and does happen.

As is true for many of you, November was open enrollment for making health insurance changes.  We decided to add dental coverage which required several (IMO, unnecessary) forms.  I filled them out and sent them in WITHOUT MAKING A COPY ☹, a rookie mistake! When I recently checked our status, I had been enrolled in dental insurance, but my husband was not.  I had no copy to confirm I had enrolled him or to file an appeal if necessary.  Fortunately, a friend made a connection and it got sorted quickly.

I know I can’t always count on a friend to bail me out so I need to keep working on my ‘attention to detail toolkit’. 

I have rare moments of competence

Peter V. Brent, The Desert Spear

Allene

ordinary time

Ordinary Time is a term commonly used in the Catholic Church.  I imagine other Christian denominations use it or something similar.

What does Ordinary Time mean? Why is Ordinary time called “ordinary”? When is Ordinary Time in the liturgical year?

Although it might come as a surprise, Ordinary Time is not called “ordinary” based on its level of importance. The origin of the name Ordinary Time comes from the Latin word ordinalis, which means “numbered.” Ordinary Time, which occurs between Christmas and Lent then again between Easter and Advent, signifies a numbered (or ordered) list of Sundays that anchor our daily lives in the Catholic Church.

The Religious Teacher

Based on that definition, this year Ordinary Time begins after Epiphany on January 8th and ends at the beginning of Lent on February 22. It will start again after Pentecost on May 28th and last until Advent begins on December 3rd.

I like the idea of ‘ordinary time’. 

I’m getting a jump start on ‘ordinary time’ this year. On January 1, our seasonal decorations came down, along with the lights.  No more festivities are planned for a bit and I am going to slow down and savor ‘ordinary time’. 

Each year I look forward to the holidays but I also look forward to the return of ‘ordinary time’ come January.

By some miracle, I’ve managed to stay somewhat focused on healthy eating and physical activity through the holidays, but I want to step it up a notch.  ‘ordinary time’ allows me the space to do just that!

I also just enjoy the ordinary things that anchor our daily lives. 

I am grateful for and look forward to:

  • waking up and having a cup of tea,
  • meditating (2023 intention),
  • a morning walk,
  • some chores or errands,
  • reading in the afternoon,
  • and watching an old movie or British series with my husband each night. 

It may sound boring but ‘ordinary time’ works for me as January gets underway!

Allene

22 IN MY REAR VIEW

In my younger days, I used to obsess over New Year’s resolutions.  I wrote each one down in detail.  In hindsight, I had far more resolutions than I could ever begin to manage and they quickly went by the wayside (usually by mid January).

I usually don’t spend much time reflecting on the past year, but I came across this post about taking a personal retreat in December.

I was somewhat intrigued and decided to do a ‘retreat lite’.  But before I do that, I want to reflect a bit on our world as 2022 comes to a close.

We’ve had heat domes, smoke events, ice storms, and killer winter storms.  COVID has waxed, waned, and is waxing again.  Gas prices went up and seem to be going down. The stock market is a daily mystery.  And then there were multiple mass shootings and the list goes on and on!

Of particular note:

  • The courage of President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine
  • Speaking of courage, the courage of Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, to defy most of their party and stand up for democracy by serving on the January 6th Committee
  • Speaking of democracy, the results of the midterm elections were reassuring
  • Speaking of the midterm elections, the humble and hardworking Patty Murray was elected to her 6th term in the U.S. Senate
  • And finally, passage of the Respect for Marriage Act

Former Sunday School teacher here. Protecting marriage equality isn’t a threat to anyone’s religious liberty – it’s about our government treating every citizen with equal dignity.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Now back to my ‘personal retreat’.  The categories suggested in the post are: finances, heart, soul, health, travel, personal, family, community, home, and work.  Since I’m doing the light version, I am going to review travel, family/friends, books, and health😊.

Travel:

We finally did some traveling this year!  We went to Kauai in March, the Netherlands and Italy in May, Montana in June, Vancouver, BC in September, I went to Vail in September, and we made it to Victoria, B.C. in December.  

Family and Friends:

We saw all our grandchildren, except our oldest (age 21) at least once.  We were able to catch up with our daughters and their husbands too.  Everyone is just really busy! I saw almost all my Montana girlfriends at least once.  And I was able to catch up with my work friends.  My first friend and I have a monthly lunch/walk date that we keep faithfully.  And I am happy to note I made a new friend, one of my goals for 2022.

Books:

I read up a storm this year.  I just counted and I read 114 books in 2022: 49 of those along with my Montana Mystery Zoomers.  I read the Agatha Christies’ Tommy and Tuppence series and all her personal favorites among the many books she wrote over the years. 

Health:

I just celebrated my 70th birthday and this hasn’t been a bad year in the health arena.  I have lost 22# pounds over the past 12 months and recently had a normal cardiac stress test.  My recent endoscopy was also normal.  My only real set back is my diagnosis of macular degeneration.  I walk every day, but boy is it hard to get in the routine of picking up weights for a little strength training.  And my meditation practice is hit or miss.  So far, we are COVID free (that we know of), but the last holdouts seem to be dropping so I’m not holding my breath. 

Thanks for indulging me on my ‘retreat light’ and thanks for taking the time to read my posts.

I’ll see in you in 2023.

Happy New Year!

Allene

ALL WILL BE WELL

This declaration that “all manner of thing shall be well” does not eliminate misfortune, sickness, or death. It is pointing to what all the respected wise ones say about the ability to find peace, and even joy, in the eye of the storm — to come to trust that there is something that transcends chaos and impermanence.

Julian of Norwich

I first heard this saying in a Louise Penny book: The Madness of Crowds.  In that book, the phrase was used in Canada during the pandemic as an affirmation.  It was used again in her recent book: A World of Curiosities, during a particularly tense home invasion. 

This declaration was put to the test during our recent ice storm.  One of our dear friends was stranded at SeaTac airport enroute to see her family in Eugene, OR.  Her flight was canceled and she was stuck, as were thousands of other people.

She was able to reach us and found a cab to bring her our way to spend the night and come up with a new plan.  Due to the weather, all flights were canceled and rebooking wasn’t in the cards.  The trains were fully booked long ago. She tried rental car companies, and most had no cars available or were not willing to rent for a one-way trip.  Moreover, the roads were pretty scary and driving would have been a white-knuckle experience ☹!

My husband came up with the idea for her to take the Greyhound bus (!) from Tacoma to Eugene.  She was able to grab one of the last 2 seats.  Before I go further, I want to reassure you that she was at her daughter’s home in Eugene by 2:00 AM Christmas Eve 😊.

I must admit that, at 70, I never expected to put one of my closest friends on a Greyhound bus! But it was the only game in town.

We had quite a 24-hour adventure and a lot of fun in the process.  We drank tea, talked up a storm and watched Love Actually.  My husband made an amazing beef stew and she had a bowl before heading to the Greyhound bus stop.  We kept our sense of humor and made the most of this unexpected time together.

I think one of her lessons learned was to bring a power bank to keep her electronics charged.  Amazingly, the bus had outlets so she was set! 

And here are my lessons learned:

  • Turn my phone on – you never know when a friend or family member might need help
  • Keep fresh sheets on the guest bed
  • Have good food in the house so we can whip up something for an unexpected guest

And we both learned that ‘All will be well’ 😊

I know many people are traveling in challenging conditions this weekend.  Hopefully, everyone will stay safe and have a good friend to call if they get in a jam.

Merry Christmas,

Allene

SKIPPING THE TREE

This year, for the first time in as long as I can remember, we didn’t put up a Christmas tree. 

I grew up with a Christmas tree every year, tinsel, and all.  Today’s collage photos are from my childhood Christmas with my friends (note the photo on the right the year my first friend and I were into wearing black wigs ☹). A tree is in every photo.

I had left home by the time my mother stopped putting up a tree.  It just became too much work for her, although she continued to put out indoor holiday decorations.

I didn’t consciously decide to not put up a tree this year.  I always put the lights and tree up on Thanksgiving weekend so I have 4+ weeks to enjoy them.  This year, the lights went up as planned, but not the tree.  We live in a SMALL house and had a family gathering the first weekend in December.  We don’t have room for both a tree and a room full of people, so the tree lost.  Then we did a little traveling and just had a houseguest. 

There went much of December and I decided it was too late to go through the ‘work’ of putting up a tree for such a short period of time.

Before you wonder if I have totally gone Grinch, I haven’t:

The outdoor lights and wreaths are in place and the Santa windsock is flying.  The lights are down a string, but still seem to do the trick.

Indoors, I have strings of battery-operated lights, 2 poinsettias, and a windowsill with lighted Glassybabies.

And we finally got our Christmas cards in the mail on Monday.

Note: Is it just me or are fewer Christmas cards arriving every year?  I think many of us share pictures and updates on social media during the year and cards seem a bit redundant.

My intention wasn’t to simplify the holidays, but not putting up a tree certainly made things easier. Here is an article on simplifying Christmas.  One of their suggestions is to focus on the tree and skip the other decorations.

My friends tell me that not putting up a tree this year is probably a ‘slippery slope’. 

I must admit that my favorite things are the outdoor and indoor lights and the poinsettias.  To me they are plenty festive!

Time will tell if this is just one year without a tree or if this is a ‘treeless’ holiday tradition in the making.

Maybe this is not the Christmas to ask for everything we want, Linus.  Maybe this year we just need to be thankful for what we have.

Christmas with the Clauses

Allene