A Season of Change

I think we made it past another winter.  I had a birthday, and usually that means we are out of danger of anymore snow!  I was born on Mother’s Day, but this was not a year where I got to celebrate both on the same day.  I’m glad, because it still doesn’t seem correct to celebrate both without my Mom.  Yes, I am the family matriarch.  That doesn’t get me anything.  It just means I am getting old.

When does getting old happen?  I never really thought of my parents as old when they were 66 years old, my age now.  They were still active and enjoying life, as am I, but….

There are some really good things about being older, like retirement.  We tried to enjoy the journey to retirement.  We were not among those Americans who refuse to take vacations.   We have crisscrossed the country, just for fun.  We have also traveled to several foreign countries.  Hubby traveled to more countries due to business.

I would like to travel the country again.  Or course, am excited about my home-coming together.  It looks like a building that could become a home again.  We still need a kitchen, and bathroom.  We have selected everything, and we are eager for installation.  Then, we need our stuff back.

There is no doubt things are changing.  There is a little arthritis, bursitis, things that are giving out.  Other conditions, that need to be managed, watched.  We now have a stable of -ists:  Orthopedist, Podiatrist, Cardiologist….  The list is growing.

I am not looking forward to this season of change like I have to other seasons:  starting kindergarten, starting High School, High School Graduation, College Graduation, getting Married, having children, watching them grow and follow along my same path.  Now there are grandchildren following the same path.

The path ahead for us has fewer firsts.  That is what you get for being the matriarch or patriarch of your family.  What is left is to get the most enjoyment you can out of the final season.

 

Me and My Fitness Tracker

It was a shock to learn just how out of shape I was, after all, I could do everything I needed to do without aches, pains, nor shortness of breath.

I was on a diet, and not losing weigh, when I  ran across an old step counter and clamped it at my  waistline.   Even with a neighborhood walk with the dog, my steps were embarrassing low.  I could not believe it.  The evidence was clear.  I barely moved.

Our lucky Boston Terrier, Brutus, got longer walks, and while I built up my endurance, I  got afternoon naps.  Slowly my average step count climbed:  1000, 2000, 3000, to 4000 plus.

For Christmas,  I got a fitness trackerand my steps have increased to 6000 plus steps.  I have a ways to go to reach 10,000 steps.  Frigid weather might thwart my progress at another time, but not at this time.   I am possessed by purpose.

I need to keep walking. Living in a hotel has some advantages:  long weather protected hallways over four floors, a private gym with a variety of workout equipment, a heated saltwater pool, and a hot tub to soothe tight muscles.

Fearing going backwards when I am back in my home, I’ve already formulated a plan to walk in my basement, or a local store on days unsuitable for walking outside.  Plus, the local Y is only 10 minutes from our home.

I am already looking forward to getting back to my classes.  I am planning the purchase of hiking gear, and looking forward to hiking the parks near our home and while traveling with our RV.  I’m hoping I will have a partner for some of these activities, but if Hubby isn’t game, I will look for another partner.

I am worried about my knees holding up, but weightloss and fitness will help keep them working.

My Jolly Christmas

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Christmas is here, with decoratios, presents, finery, and festivities.  What does every festive party have?  Piles of food with cakes, cookies, pies, and spiked eggnog.

The problem with all that jolly fun?  We end up rolly polly.

I’m  obsessed with food lately.  I am obsessed with desserts.  When we go out for a meal I absorb the dessert menu.  I study the pastry shelves at the grocery store.  During fellowship times, I  study the cookie and cake offerings.  Last night I drempt I ate an entire quarter of a chocolate cream pie topped with an inch of whipped cream.  Heavenly!

I log every bite of food.  My thanksgiving plate made people sad.  I admit to feeling less than jolly.  I felt left out.  I felt that way until I thought about it, an realized the holiday spirit isn’t about food.   The holiday spirit is about the people you are partying with.

It is spending time with family, and friends that make us jolly.   And pets.  Those critters that we have brought into our lives that give us unconditional love year round.

With bad knees and  a squeaky voice I will not be doing a lot of dancing with the Lord’s and Ladies,  nor singing with carolers.  I will be focused on those people that I  find myself near.  I will learn what their hopes are for the year ahead.

I will not be deterred  from my goals.  I will plan every meal.  I will log every bite.  I will go to the gym, and share a holiday walk with those I love.

I’m not just losing weight.  I am building a new lifestyle.   A lifestyle full of shared activities, even including shared meals, with the people in my life.  I’ll  be living April’s life 2.0, the new and improved version of my life.

There are still holiday traditions I enjoy.  I have more decorations around my home than in recent years.  I have sent out Christmas card.  I call family and friends.   We enjoy tree and light displays.  We watch our holiday movies, and enjoy holiday shows (The Nutcracker), and enjoy holiday music both secular and sacred.

I love watching my cat, Shadow, taking ornaments off the Christmas tree, or sitting curled in my lap in the Christmas tree glow.

Maybe my diet has opened my eyes to the true meaning of our jolly celebrations.

Natural Inclination

20170428_193504All pictures taken with my Samsung Tablet.

My oldest granddaughter is a mini me.  Her mom, my daughter, is constantly trying to motivate with prompting, prodding, and cajoling her to get things done.  Putting her toys away requires arranging everything just so.  Her favorite giraffes, collected over her 13 years of life, must be arranged properly.

Her dolls must be in the proper dress, their hair coiffed, positioned in a certain way surrounded by accessories.  Her personal items are on display.  Her bed is a beautiful display piece.  In fact, everything she does is done in a slow, studied, deliberate manner.

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As you can imagine, everything takes a lot of time.  Writing a sentence or paragraph for a school assignment takes forever, because she needs the perfect topic and thought to express.

This is not slacking.  This is not being lazy.  Everything she does, must meet the vision of her aesthetic.  Everything must be as perfect as she can make it.  I so want to take this burden from her.  Sometimes, good enough is enough.

This loving, thoughtful, considerate, artistic child, is often moved to tears with the pressure to get things done.

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When she does anything, she does it completely, with no short cuts.

I find myself doing the same thing.  Recently, I’ve been rebelling.  Instead of sorting the forks by kind and size, I just toss them in together.  The t-shirts, normally turned with each one added to the pile so it won’t tip over, are just getting stacked, and they have no room to tip laying in the dresser drawer.  But I will admit, it doesn’t feel right.

You might think I’m meticulous.  No!  I don’t have anyone to motivate, prompt, prod, and cajole me.   It is just too exhausting to do everything to that standard!  Instead, I do nothing, letting the clutter pile up, and things go undone.

I follow the 80/20 Rule for every day chores.  The 80/20 Rule tells us that 80 percent of the work is accomplished with 20 percent of the effort.  The remaining 20 percent, to really get things fully completed, take 80 percent of your time.

When I really want to get things done properly, I give it the entire 100 percent.  (This may be why I have yet to write a book.)  When I finally do set about a project, everything is so nice.

This is a tendency we can’t control.  The best we can do, is not let it control us.

 

(Happy Birthday sweetie!  Thank you for letting me use your room.  Your party was great.)

Protect Your Rights Now

What if I were to tell you that your most basic rights were being stolen from you.  The right of self-determination.  The right to use your time and live your life the way you see fit is being systematically stripped from you.

Pretty scary isn’t it?  But the really scary part is that you may not even realize it is happening, until it is too late.  We are systematically being manipulated into giving up control of our lives to others.  They say our lives will be easier, safer, and more productive.  Our needs will be anticipated and all the rough spots smoothed over.

It may be that the very fabric of our society will unravel if we don’t release our control to them.  You ask, “How can this be?  Is this a joke?  Are you kidding?”

No, I am not kidding.  This is no joke.  This is the absolute truth!

The media you use everyday, to make your lives easier, is actually controlling you.   Do you doubt this?  Remember the movie, You’ve Got Mail?  Every time the notification comes up, they runs to the computer to check the message.  We do the exact same thing.  If it has been awhile, we check anyway.

You've Got Mail Poster

All day long our phones ding, whistle, or chirp with notifications to let us know we have a message, important advertisement, a friend on social media has posted an important picture, or we have a new like or comment on our blog.  We rush to our phones to see what is going on.  Our phone is by our side at dinner, and in our hand when we are talking to someone.  In a meeting, and even while driving, we keep that phone in view just in case.

The apps we use each have features to keep us engaged with them:  a like occasionally, an emogie,  an attaboy of absolutely no monitary value, but panders to our need to belong and be accepted.  As we become increasingly connected technologically to our world, the control of our devices gets stronger.

We develop feelings of anxiety when we can’t check our likes, and heaven forbid our numbers dip.  Even though it isn’t a competition, we constantly check for the validation of another follower, our shares, and our likes across social media.

Knowing of this control by our devices is not enough to break their control.  We must make a conscious choice and make an effort to take our time back.  This technology connects us, and we value that.  We can chose to break the habit of constantly checking.  We can take some time that is technology free.  We do not need to respond to every notification.  We can set down our devices, and use our hands for something else.

Our society will not unravel if we don’t know immediately that we have another like.  In fact, we may feel refreshed, and still feel the connection and affirmation after we get a few other things done.

 

Note:  There were several notifications that flashed upon the screen while I was writing this.  I ignored them all as I crafted this post for you.

Expectations

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Photo by April E. Sutton taken with my Samsung Tablet

Living in close proximity to others takes something special.  Especially the ability to overlook minor annoyances.

Hopefully your neighbors will all be polite, and thoughtfully quiet.  Hopefully neighbors will maintain their little piece of the world.  Hopefully neighbors will be considerate of you privacy.   Hopefully neighbors will properly supervise children and pets.   These are the basic requirements of good neighbors.

Recently, our very good neighbors have been busy with home improvement projects. Their seaside colors and nautical design are not our taste, but to each their own.  Our neighbors long for the beach.  Everything is well maintained.  What more can we ask?

Our neighbor’s most recent project was sorting and reorganizing.   Their new storage is attractive.  But….

From previous experience,  I  have learned our complaints are meaningless.   I don’t want to start a battle after six years of living peacefully side by side.  However,  I am distressed by the pile of trash that has developed behind their storage and just off my backyard.  Adding to my displeasure, is that this pile has accumulated just as we have taken more active measures to sell our home.  Who wants to buy a home overlooking a trash pile?  Even a neatly bagged trash pile does not show off our home to best advantage.

We have offered the use of our pickup truck, and our assistance,  to transport the pile to the dump.  None of us know where the dump is, nor how much the fees will be.  I believe more than one trip to the dump will be required.

I may have found my next dream home.  I am anxious to move on, but we can’t move until our current home sells.  Cross your fingers, send up prayers, and wish me luck.   I need all the help I can get.

Who Needs a Puppy?

I have been a little sleep deprived recently, with our little old lady, Penny, being unable to sleep.  Last night was a very restful night for a change.  I woke early with energy.  There was no early “good morning” slur, but instead a person eager for the day.  A person eager to set about those things that I have been neglecting.  I picked up the household clutter while I listened to the news.

The news has been a source of consternation.  I spend hours better devoted to blogging about The Daily Prompt just trying to understand what is going on and what can be done about it.  I am eternally perplexed at how my friends and I can hear the exact same news so differently.  There just are not enough puppies, kittens, and babies to ease the unrest.

I did however have the best dreams recently.  I dreamt I had a baby, who was just so sweet and content.  Dream analysis says dreaming about a happy baby means I am happy.  The dream certainly made me happy.

The news today has me thinking about how passionately people feel about their lawns.  Lawns are a lot of work, as we tend them with weed killer, bug killer, feed with fertilizer, and spend hours mowing and trimming.  I get it.  After all of that effort, we want our lawns to look nice.

I have neighbors who get really nasty when dogs stop at their house, even though owners dutifully pick up after the dog.   I just feel sorry that they can’t appreciate the love a dog can give in a way a lawn can’t. I have neighbors that fuss when kindergarteners step on the curb edge of their lawn to avoid a hazard, such as a car or freshly poured tar on the roadway where they normally walked to the bus.  Their lack of concern for the children in their neighborhood confounds me.

I have also been the neighbor with a corner lot that the kids, postal carrier, and others would cut across.  Did I scream and curse?  Did I lay hands on them?  Did I pull and fire a gun?  No.

The fact that an off duty police officer could behave in this way, and justify it by saying he was threatened is shocking.  I can see his confusion.  “I’ll sue you,” does sound a little like “I’ll shoot you.”  Yet there was no gun threatening the officer.  Just a boy, defending a girl in his class from a man cursing at her about stepping on his lawn.  I’d say he needs a puppy, but I’m sure a puppy would not relieve his stress over his lawn.

I would recommend anyone who finds themselves in a dangerous confrontation with anybody should not threaten to sue.   Just go ahead and file suit after you are away from danger.

So how did I handle people cutting the corner of my lawn?  I put in a pathway so the postal carrier could short-cut without causing damage.  I told children cutting across that I had no problem with friends crossing my lawn, but friends always smile and wave when they see me.  I had lots of friends smiling and waving at me.

 

 

Night Sounds

The clouds are painted pink, the sky streaks with red and gold, as darkness falls like a blanket over the earth.  The creatures of the day retreat and night creatures stretch to wakefulness with moon and stars their only light, unless reluctant to sleep humankind pierces the dark with incandescence and halogen.

The sound of night can be soothing to us.  The call of frogs in trees and ponds call to each other in the night.  The song of crickets become part of our lullaby, punctuated with the hoot of an owl.

Owls fly silently looking for their meals.   Skunks and possums move silently through our neighborhoods.  Mice scurry in fields, and sometimes our homes.  Bats fly devouring mosquitoes. Moths fly about their business.  Raccoons forage, build their homes, and raise their babies.  Rabbits and foxes and coyotes are also on the move.

While we are dreaming in slumber, the world comes alive with creatures.  If we are awake, we may hear the sound of these creatures normally hidden from our sight.

In the predawn hours, birds of all kinds start their day.  The sound starts genteelly and raises to a crescendo.  Normally, these sounds to do not wake us, but when we are disturbed we don’t understand how we ever thought that nature was a place of quiet peace. Eventually, we arise for another day, and the night creatures go to bed.  We swap dominion of the earth for half a rotation of the earth.

Someday Working from Home will be Common

As a child, most of my somedays were about becoming an adult, and following in my Mother’s footsteps, having a family of my own.  In the 1960’s becoming a mother was the accepted aspiration of a young woman.  Women were talking about careers, and our own mothers were supportive of education for their daughters “just in case.”

Our mothers were not necessarily supportive of our working once children were in the picture.  When I asked my mother if she would be willing to help with childcare so I  could work, the answer wasn’t  just “No thank you,” but included an expression of shock and disappointment that I  had the nerve to ask her to help me shirk my parenting responsibilities.  Mom recommended I take care of my own children, just as she had.

Someday advances in technology will bring many jobs from the workplace into the home.  Are you skeptical?  In 2016 there was a 36% increase in remote job listings.  While computer and IT jobs dominate the at home job opportunities, there are also opportunities in medical and health, sales, administration, customer service,  education,training, and marketing.

Remote jobs, offsite jobs, telecommuting jobs are different names for the same thing, working outside of the traditional work place.

Still not sure these are real jobs?  They are jobs such as transcription, translation, training, teaching, tech support specialists, designers, writer and editor, travel agent, accounting, administration and recruiting.

The benefits for employers include reduced facilities costs, lower absenteeism, lower turnover, and savings of an estimated $10,000 per employee per year.

The benefits to the employee includes 15 days of time saved from commuting, and savings between $1,600 and $6,800.  In addition, 47 percent of telecommuters are very satisfied with their jobs as compared with a 27 percent very satisfied rate of their office bound peers.

Telecommuting doesn’t mean parents will never need childcare help.  Your job will still have all the other requirements of your in-office counterpart.  Telecommuting does mean increased options and flexibility for families, and for employers who want to retain productive workers.

 

2017 Resolution

Between Christmas and now, I totally surrendered to temptation.  The indulgence of holiday foods crossed over into gluttony.  I’ve eaten pie every day for a week.  I’ve lived off leftovers for a week.  I have lounged around the house and done nothing!  I am fat and stupid happy.  All things have their time, and the holidays are over.

I don’t need a scale to tell me I have over done it.  I have enjoyed a period of laziness, after the rush of cleaning and cooking for holiday guests, but now it is time to get back to real life.  Getting back to routine feels good.

For some family and friends, real life invaded the holidays with injuries, hospitalization and even death.  Getting back to find their real lives will take a period of recovery, grief, and adjustment.  For some, real life will be changed forever.

Comfort can be found in routine.  Routine doesn’t need to be thought about, decided each day.  Routine is a well-worn path that we can follow.  All that is required by routine is one small action at a time.  Eventually, we again notice details.  Something calls for attention.  A choice is made.  Time has carried us to a new day.

Some people are concerned that being in a routine will leave them in a rut rather than a groove.  A well crafted routine relieves stress and creates peace, while forging pathways into the future.

Exercising routinely will lead to greater fitness and health.  Reading every evening countless books can be read.  Seeking knowledge routinely  will lead to being knowledgeable.  Regularly writing a few words a day can lead to pages of text. Reaching out to others on a routine basis can strengthen relationships, forming strong relationships.  Instead of a rut, the future is made bright and interesting.

The key is to establish a good routine.  A good routine has built-in flexibility, time for dreaming, time for creating, and time for catching up when routine is inevitably interrupted by unexpected events, like a cat bite infection that lands someone in the emergency room.   Because we have unstructured time built into our routine, interruptions in our routine will not derail our goals and intentions.

With these thoughts in mind, my resolution for 2017 is to establish a good routine.

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Cat bite.

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