As I’m approaching 50 I’m realizing there are quite a few things about aging that no one tells you. I’ve heard plenty of talk about the way pounds creep on with middle age, so I’ve tried to keep an eye out for that. And I’m pleased to say that I actually weigh a few pounds less than I did a decade ago. However. While there may be less flesh overall, things have moved. My waist is not so trim as it once was. My hips–what IS that extra layer there?!? Upper arms are, um, softer. My chin isn’t quite so firm as it once was. Even my hands are more . . . well . . . gnarled. No one told me my body was going to readjust. Even my teeth have moved! My dentist told me it’s common among folks my age. Seriously?!? But my body isn’t the only thing to shift. It seems my attitude has as well. The upshot being that I don’t mind all this readjusting as much as I would have expected. As I look around at others in the vicinity of my age, I see that what I’m experiencing is what you might call common. It’s just that I hadn’t noticed it in anyone else until it started happening to me. Which just might mean that women younger than me don’t notice my shifting while women older than me ignore it because they’re too busy […]
Over the weekend Thistle and I headed out for our usual hike. It was a rainy Saturday, but dogs don’t much care about a little wet and neither do I (so long as it’s just a little!). There was only one other car in the parking area and it belonged to a family with two dogs. They didn’t know the trails and I did, so we headed out together for an impromptu hiking party. Poking around in the woods with kids and dogs is always entertaining. They see things adults miss and they’re much more willing to stop and investigate. Which made hiking a trail I’d been on over and over again a whole new experience. At one point we stopped to check out a spot where the creek runs down a sort of rock slide. The older of the two girls threw sticks in the water for Reba—one of the dogs. Which meant Reba was faced with a quandary. She really wanted that stick, but she’s not a fan of water. She’d wade in ankle deep and stretch her neck to reach the stick, snatching it and running back to land. Most of us had moved on down the trail when the eldest daughter came running to join us with Reba by her side. “Reba faced her fears!” the girl crowed. “She went all the way in the water!” Then the girl added, “Well, by accident.” Reba’s desire to […]
The summer after I turned 30 I was stung by a couple of yellow jackets. And ended up in the emergency room with full-blown anaphylaxis. After seven years of allergy shots my doctor decreed that my resistance was, “as good as it gets.” Turns out they don’t give you a card that says, “CURED.” So, “good” or not, I still get a little nervous when I’m stung. As I was last Wednesday. It was just one, grumpy spring wasp. But still. Several co-workers hovered, watching to make sure I wasn’t reacting (much appreciated!). I took my Benadryl, grabbed an ice pack for the sting, and waited the requisite 30 minutes–the likeliest window for a reaction. That is a LONG 30 minutes. And I joked about how I try to see getting stung as God’s way of keeping my allergy shots up-to-date. Because during those seven years of shots? I was getting shot-up with venom every six weeks. And apparently my schedule now is to get stung every 12-18 months. Which made me think about how we learn to stand strong in the face of suffering. It’s usually by suffering. I’ll confess that my goal in life is most often to be comfortable. Happy is good, joyful is better, but I’ll take comfortable any day. And when I’ve been stung by a wasp I am NOT comfortable. My first reaction is to reassure myself that I’ll be fine (as I swallow […]
This past Saturday I had a chance to travel to the 1700s French & Indian War at Ft. Dobbs near Statesville, NC. Friends of mine are reenactors who planned to attend the War for Empire weekend with their Dragonfly Traders tent. Lorraine offered to outfit me. Well, YES. I’ve been to living history events before, but always as a visitor. […]
For a long time now I’ve assumed, based on Matthew 17:20, that my faith is pretty pitiful. Not even a mustard seed’s worth. That scripture suggests that if my faith were as much as even a BB-sized seed, I could move mountains or cast mulberry bushes into the sea. And I can’t. Goodness knows I’ve tried. It’s long been a […]
A friend and I were talking recently about our families–mostly the senior ladies in our Appalachian families–and how they can take a single word and communicate a wide range of meanings. The perfect example is the word, “well.” Depending on the accompanying tone and expression, “well” can express a variety of messages. Here are a few: Well. (Short, clipped, with lips pinched.) An expression of disdain suggesting that you can think that if you like but you’re completely wrong. Weeellll. (Smiling, drawn out, sly sideways look.) I know what you’re getting at you devil, you! Well. (Blank expression, flat tone.) I never would have thought it of you, but there you have it. Well-ell-ell. (Laughing with a jolly expression.) Aren’t you the cutest thing I’ve ever seen? Well. (Downcast eyes, soft voice, a little breathy.) I guess that’s all there is to say about that. I don’t suppose this is exclusive to natives of our mountain region, but it’s surely been perfected here. And it’s one of my frustrations in writing. It’s so hard to share the full range of meanings on the printed page. I often end up editing out a slew of “wells” that really don’t convey what I’m after without the finer nuances of body language. Which is frustrating. But oh well.
You’ve probably heard the advice to live like you’re dying . . . because you are. And it’s true, so far as it goes. We’re all going to die one day. One day. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Or do we? I have a friend who has a fatal illness. She’s already lived longer than the doctors thought she would. She IS living like she’s dying. And it isn’t necessarily what I imagine when I think about living as though my time here were short. I visited her recently and she made an observation that really stuck with me. It was about how we say we’ll do things, “for the rest of our lives.” As in, “You’ll need to take this medicine for the rest of your life.” Or, “I’m going to wear this ring for the rest of my life.” Or, “I’m going to live here for the rest of my life.” Well sure. But that assumes the medicine will be helpful right up until the moment you take your last breath. Unfortunately, medicines stop working. It assumes that the ring will always fit and you’ll always want to wear it. Grandma gave me her engagement ring when she could no longer slide it over her arthritic knuckle. It assumes you’ll be able to live in the same place until the end. Which would put a lot of assisted living and nursing homes out of […]