It’s All Good

No matter what kind of a day we have, it’s all good. Everything that happens, whether it is routine or extraordinary, calamitous or exasperating, it happens for our own good. Even today, driving for 16 hours to be with friends in Tennessee, we found ourselves experiencing a myriad of emotions on the road.

We left early in the morning, hoping to avoid heavy traffic out of FL, around Atlanta, and in Knoxville. The interstate was busier than we anticipated for the entire trip. Instead of dwelling on the variances of speed, and lengthy drive, we enjoyed an audio book: GRAY MOUNTAIN, by John Grisham.

The book is about 14 hours long. When we got to our friends’ home, we had only listened to 9 hours. We kept stopping the audio book so we could concentrate on the route, talk about a problem, plan for the next week, or answer the phone. Instead of interstate, we tried driving through towns, looking at the sites. We stopped for a leisurely lunch and dinner, and visited rest stops to walk around & use the facilities.

We stopped listening to the book to answer the mobile phone: a job offer for next month, an update on plans for the weekend, and an immediate family emergency. First two were good news while the last was frustrating. First two will lead to better times ahead. That last one lead to a heated discussion, and some crazy conjecture. It also lead to a solution which means better times ahead.

It’s easy to be reactionary to a frustrating situation – to get mad and vent. To talk crazy. If it leads to a solution, that’s great. But being calm, taking a deep breath, and then looking at the problem rationally leads to the same solution – without getting worked up. I’m still working on that second method. I know I can do it because it’s all good.

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When Life Hurts

Someone I love is in pain. Even though I can’t take her pain away, I want to help. Her daughter is the typical drama queen, ensuring her mother that all will be well, & that she – not the doctors – know what is best for her mother. Her son is concerned, solicitous, & listens carefully to what the doctors say, helping his mother to understand all options. He is the caring diplomat. I must seem like the ice queen – calm, resolute, logical. Everything that is said, and done – concerning her pain – I write down as if I’m a human transcription machine. I share these notes with family members, but they are more confused than comforted. My accounts contradict the updates given by her children – one dramatic and one incomplete. I withdraw, stand back, and wait to be invited back into the inner circle. Let them find a way to communicate and heal.

This pain could have been avoided, with exercise, a proper diet, and without smoking for 70 years. If she had walked that mile a day, or skipped those 10 cigarettes a day, she might have avoided the ambulance ride & now the hospital stay. I don’t say any of this. It’s rude to say it out loud, and no one cares what could have been. This is the way it is. She hurts. She wants relief. She doubts the doctors and doesn’t want their pills. But she listens to the doctors, banters with them, and takes the medication. The doctors leave and she is with her children. She says she’s confused and indecisive. She hasn’t always been this way. For so many years she exuded strength and decisiveness. It’s painful to watch another human being, especially a loved one, change so much. She hurts, they hurt, and I hurt.

We are scheduled to go on a trip in two days. We’re postponing it until she is released from the hospital. In the past it was her daughter whose lifestyle threatened our plans. We wavered only once, canceling plans to help Mom. Once was enough. We learned that we had to live our lives, and that no matter what we did, we could not change this toxic person with whom we would have to interact. We, and she, survived. All of us soldiered on.

Now it’s her mother – his mother – who is suffering, and we must be here for her, with some compromise. We can leave later or come home earlier. But only if our actions impact the situation in a productive manner. Mom must choose how to live her life, as we must choose for ourselves. We love her, and we want to be here for her. But only if it helps.

When life hurts, I thought that love was the best medicine. Or was it? Is it now? It can’t take the pain away, but if she can feel our love, and it soothes her, then perhaps she will feel less pain. No matter what, we will be here for her.

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What do you do all day?

Eight years ago I retired from teaching: 10 years as an 8th grade English teacher, 1 year as an elementary school librarian, 5 years as a middle school librarian, 19 years as a high school media specialist/librarian. When someone asked me what I’d do in retirement, I said I’d travel & tend to my garden, and return to teaching later. So far, I’ve done two out of three, and I’m so busy that I have no time to return to teaching in a school. I thought retirement would be a lazier period of my life.  It’s not.

My husband says I’m so busy in retirement that I need a secretary to keep my schedule straight! Instead I use my iPhone & iMac contacts & calendar to keep myself organized. When my husband & I aren’t traveling, I’m at my local library to teach Tai Chi twice a week & volunteer once a week to keep the audio books in order. When I’m not busy working in my garden, I teach friends and family how to use their Mac products so they can stay organized & in touch with others. So I am still teaching in my own way. Using social media, I keep in touch with my kids who I taught during my 35 years of teaching. Breakfast or lunch dates help me keep in touch with former educators, friends, & family. So little time is available for all that I want to do and for everyone I want to see. It’s a busy life, & I love it.

Retirement means a fixed income, but that’s okay. That biweekly paycheck isn’t there, but I’m lucky to have a monthly pension and social security. If I ever did need additional funds, I’m grateful to have marketable skills. Less is more. So I’m okay. It’s not the money or what I buy that’s important – it’s the people in my life who are my friends & family.

People make every day busy and enjoyable – people I know and those with whom I interact. It’s the memories I’m making now with these individuals who make life worthwhile. Yes, I’m retired from teaching. I’m not retired from life – a life I’m living more fully now than before. And I was living life to the fullest before retirement. Don’t wait until you’re retired to enjoy your life or the people in your life. Make the minutes and the hours count. Be busy. Be alive. Do it now.

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Super Bowl?

You say, “Forty Niners!” I say, “Nevermore!”

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Senior: many meanings

Walked around the Senior Fair today at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.  Most of the people attending were SENIOR citizens, exhibiting their SENIOR status by cutting in line, or blindly grabbing whatever was free and readily available.  I went with two friends who are SENIOR type friends since we have known each other and hung out together for more than 21 years. They are older than me, too, so they are definitely my SENIORs. Afterwards, in the car, we talked about our days in high school, especially as SENIORS and especially since the behavior of these SENIOR citizens reminded us of children. Later, we had lunch with my husband and a coworker. We didn’t ask for the SENIOR citizen discount. Didn’t need it – Wednesday the wings are only 59 cents each at Mugs on Missouri. We headed for the Palm Harbor Library for our Tai Chi class – just for us SENIOR citizens who need help with our balance. The oldest participant is 91, and so I suppose he is our SENIOR SENIOR. Now I’m off to treat a friend to dinner for her birthday. She’s celebrating her 25th, and she has SENIOR status in my eyes when it comes to favorite non-biological kids. I think we’ll have some wine with dinner. That is, if I remember, and don’t have a SENIOR moment.

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Print’s Charming

Yes, it is.  I enjoy taking a magazine to the doctor’s office and reading in the waiting room until my name is called. Having something to read relives the stress when I wait more than 15 minutes. I enjoy leaving this print edition behind, if I finish it, as I hope someone else will enjoy it. I once enjoyed reading NEWSWEEK magazines in print instead of on my husband’s iPad.  My subscription expires in 2015, and I refuse to get an iPad JUST to read the non-print editions of magazines to which I subscribe. I miss the feel of my NEWSWEEK, as I touched the pages, flipped through the magazine from back to front or vice versa, pausing on pictures or words that I wanted to peruse.  The last issue was dated 12/31/12.  How many other subscriptions will cease to exist? Will I be forced to buy a device on which to read them? Yes, it is convenient to bring just that device with me wherever I go, but I am not going to leave it behind for others to enjoy, nor will I tear pages from it to mail to friends who should read what I read. The print edition did not need recharging, or extra care while outside or on the road.  The print was charming. Print IS charming. Alas, I am in the minority. Otherwise, why is this so special?

Bookless Library in TX

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In Memory of a Life Cut Short

I did not know Samantha well. She was a gymnast, a RRHS student, a friend to many. One of my TV Production students was so impressed with her fortitude and grace that he created a 7 minute documentary about her in 2006. Oh! Did I mention that she was paralyzed from the neck down from a fall during a gymnastic routine in 2005? That she continued to pursue her studies, be optimistic about her future, and attempt to lead a normal life? She did not use her frailty as an excuse. She did not let it define her. And now she is no longer here. I learned of her death on Facebook, from a loving friend who was devastated by her quietly passing in the night.  This seemed so out of character for Samantha, who was a fighter when it came to living. She fought for every breath and every moment on this earth. Yet she had a quiet persona, always loving and friendly with all she met and knew. Can you say the same about your life? Do you enjoy everything about your life? Or do you simply breathe and live each day like every other day, or complain that life could be better?

All of us need someone like Samantha in our life. Unfortunately, the one, the only, the best Samantha I knew – Samantha Slusak of New Port Richey – is no longer a living, breathing reminder that life is worth living and fighting for, and in the quiet moment, worth enjoying and loving.  She is now a spirit, and her spirit will continue to inspire me to live life to the fullest. 

Links from Samantha’s past:

Bill Stevens’ Story about Sam in the Pasco Times in 2007

Michael Jones’ Story about Sam in River Ridge High School Newspaper

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