Mom’s Last Week

Dad photo

Mom arrived around noon to the room she would live in until she died. She knew the facility, although this was a new room. She expressed appreciation for the photos and flowers I had decorated it with. She thanked the two young men who had transported her by ambulance from the hospital.  She was weak, but knew how to be polite.  It was Friday, September 21.

Her arrival marked the beginning of the end. An end that came nine days later.

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I Have 340 Separate Account Log-Ons

Pixabay: Pixelkult. Free for commercial Use. No attribution required.

There’s a reason people use the same log-on name and password on every friggin’ site on the internet; they do it because every friggin’ site requires we establish an account in order to interact with them beyond looking at their offerings through the internet-window.

You want to come in and browse? Set up an account, create a user name and unique password, give us your personal data, and then—and only then—will we let you in to see our wares.

Imagine if that happened at retail stores? They would have collapsed sooner than their apparent, imminent collapse.

I have 340 web sites that required me to set up an account with them in order to engage.  Really? Did all 340 of them really need me to set up an account? I don’t even know if some of the accounts I have exist anymore. I’m pretty sure my MySpace account is defunct, but who knows, it could still be sitting there.

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Mom’s Final Hospital Discharge

Walk the Goats Photog

My mother died September 30th, one week and two days after being discharged from the hospital, terminal cancer her final diagnosis.

In early September we were talking about her possible discharge home at the end of that month; she was making great progress with her hip replacement rehab, despite continued pain.

We thought we had time ahead of us. She thought she had time.

Then, with a September 15th phone call, our world changed. The resident calling reported mom had terminal cancer.  A day-and-a-half later, I’m back east, meeting with dad, mom, doctors, nurses.

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I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.

Pixabay: 999theone, Free for commercial use; no attribution required

I have a love/hate relationship with stuff.   I own too many things.  Not all of it sparks joy, that Marie Kondo test to decide whether to keep something or eliminate it.

I’ve gotten rid of things along the way, but unless I move and have to do a major purge, things flow into my house at a faster rate than they flow out. Having lived in the same place for nearly 20 years, stuff has accumulated.

The percentage of stuff I use regularly is…small.

Some of the stuff is seasonal, stored until the season rolls around again.

Some is aspirational: those pants I’ll fit into once I’ve dropped 10-pounds.

Some is, if I’m brutally honest, fantastical: am I really going to read Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human or George Lakoff’s Moral Politics?

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Postage Stamps are Little Marvels

Pixabay: AngelaT Free for commercial use; no attribution required

The price of a U.S. first-class stamp goes up January 27, 2019 from $0.50 to $0.55.

If you’re of a certain generation you might ask, “What’s a stamp?”

If you were alive 50-years-ago, when stamps were $0.06, you might grumble about the higher price.

But focusing on the price misses something bigger: the marvel of what you get for the price of that stamp; that stamp affixed to an envelope you can send to a friend 3,000 miles away.

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Road Intersection Lesson #2

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos / 19628 images CC0 Creative Commons

Have you ever thought you’d squeezed every morsel of learning out of some lesson, only to have it say, wait! there’s more!

My Road Rage story was like that. I dubbed the location where I learned to reduce my road rage, mindfulness intersection. After blogging about it I thought, ok, that intersection is dry; I’ve learned all there is.

But life continued. And I realized so much depends on perspective. When I first wrote about taming my road rage, I wrote about it from my perspective: the one pissed off that another car cut in front of me.

My second lesson had me being the cutter.

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Dating and Baggage

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos CC0 Creative Commons

When I was single and dating—a divorced adult with a child and more than one serially monogamous relationship in my backpack—the word baggage was often used.

Baggage: past experiences or long-held ideas regarded as burdens and impediments.

Burdens and impediments.

Not exactly a super-hero word in the world of adult dating. The sentence used to illustrate the word—the emotional baggage I’m hauling around—conjures up Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comic strip; the dirt and dust trailing behind him his emotional baggage.

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Those Pesky Resolutions

Pixabay: geralt CC0 Creative Commons

January 1st. The first day of a new year. That day when we feel the potential of who we think we can be as we write our resolutions.  It’s that First Day of our Big Promise to Quit Something or Start Something.

It’s usually one or the other.  Stop drinking. Smoking. Swearing. Eating ice cream. Start going to the gym. Drinking more water. Reading more.

We choose things that promise we’ll become better, healthier people if we do them. Because, lord knows, if we accept ourselves as we are, how will we ever improve? We need motivation and surely these New Year’s Resolutions will motivate, yes?

Yet we fail miserably at New Year’s Resolutions.

Still we keep doing them. January 1 rolls around and we promise to stop or start various new behaviors and naively act like, this year, we’ll successfully stick to it for 365 days.

Here’s my thought on the New Year’s Resolution Custom.

Stop It.

Just quit.

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Tilting at Windmills

VIVIANE6276 CC0 Creative Commons on Pixabay

I love moments when I see my perspective shift on something.  I tilt my psychological head and, bam! things are suddenly different.

I was driving to the hospital to see mom. The Vermont hills, peppered with farms and cows, rolled before me, small towns and communities rising up and fading away.  The green scenery swaddled me in its splendor; an occasional tree hinted at autumn.

I rounded a turn. There on the hill before me was a display of a half-dozen windmills.

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Emotions [Invisibilia]

Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to get different perspectives on things and explore new ideas. This Invisibilia podcast on emotions is mind exploding. If you like podcasts, check this one out. If you experience emotions, same advice.

Pursuing Podcasts

freeGraphicToday, Pixabay, CC0Creative Commons

If you think you know how emotions work, this podcast will turn your world upside-down.  Enough so that you may find yourself arguing that what’s being presented can’t be possible.

Before hearing this, I had a hope that we have more control over how we respond to things than we sometimes think. It’s one of the reasons I started meditating: to learn to not get hooked as much by emotions.

Yet it often feels as if an emotion takes me over, as if I have no “choice” in feeling something. But what if emotion is the interpretation of a physiological feeling? What if it’s a way our body tries to “make sense” of a sensation? What if we do have control?

That’s the idea this episode presents.

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Road Rage Lesson #1

Alexas_Fotos / 19406 images. CC0 Creative Commons

You know that road rage emotion? That righteous anger that feels good because you know the other driver is an absolute, f’ing moron behind the wheel?

Yeah. That road rage.

Ever hear the quote, “holding grudges is like taking poison and hoping it kills the other person”?

Replace “grudges” with “anger” and…same truth.

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Where Would Mom Be When She Died?

Cindy pictureMy mother died September 30th, two weeks after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. This was almost seven months from her first medical emergency in the spring, when on March 10th, dad rushed mom to the hospital. When they arrived, she was unresponsive. The medical folks revived her. The note I jotted down simply said: “pneumonia?”

That night was the beginning of many months during which mom faced a cascading waterfall of medical issues and curveballs, from surgeries delayed (low blood count) to surgeries accelerated (mom was suddenly a “trauma case”).

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Mentor Cat

ggirl144 on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

“Note the thoughts. Note the feelings. Let them go. Don’t chase after them; don’t resist them.”

“Note the thoughts.” It’s a fundamental lesson of my meditation program. It resonates. It’s helping me be less attached to thoughts and feelings. Not all of the time, but I’m discovering, with greater frequency, a wee bit of space between thoughts and how I act upon them. In that space I’m finding greater clarity and calm. And less judgment. Which, given how active the internal Judge has been in my life, is something I celebrate.

I’m getting it, slowly. Bubba and I have a joke that it takes 19 times of hearing something before we “get it.”  I’m still in single digits on this.

Recently I got lucky and got to watch an element of this meditation idea in action. The “don’t chase” concept was demonstrated by that great spiritual teacher: our cat.

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Ice Cream, Safeway and Letting Go

Dustytoes on Pixabay CC0 Creative CommonsIce cream is the secret to a long and happy life. My dad, an almost daily eater of ice cream is, at 94, my evidentiary proof.  If red wine drinkers have convinced the world of the medicinal argument for their lust, I’ll go with the longevity argument for mine.

So, I eat ice cream, leaning toward anything with salted caramel in it.

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How Many Days Left?

Dazzleology on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

“My mom will be alive for at least six more days. Now five.”

A countdown had begun in my head.

They were unsettling thoughts, this countdown to…what? A renewed chance at life? Or death. I wasn’t thinking these thoughts; they—and the associated fear—were just…there.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t want them.

My 88-year-old mom landed in the hospital multiple times this year, starting in March, when my 94-year-old father got her to the ER just in time.  By summer, after multiple hospital trips, doctor visits and medical tests, they had her scheduled for heart-valve surgery in June; told her she needed a new hip; and informed her she had a slow-growing cancer. It was a layer cake of issues.

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When Birthdays Go Awry

Alexas_Fotos CC0 Creative Commons on Pixabay

My birthday was a fizzling failure. Or a shimmering success. It depends on what lens you see it through.

Breakfast seemed simple: go out and have someone wait on me, bring me exactly what I want, clear things away and do the dishes. Luxuriate in some morning spoiling all while checking out a new café in town.

It was the heart of your typical breakfast rush hour when we walked in, and the place was…empty. Not a single customer. No greeter. No wait staff. Utter silence. Not a good sign.

“They’re new,” I said to Bubba. “Still working out the kinks.”

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Return to Blogging

Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

I fell off the blogging wagon. I’d like to blame it solely on the demise of WordPress’s Daily Prompt, but that’s like saying I eat ice cream only because they sell it at the grocery store. Right. It makes no sense.

I’m back. Taking it slower than before when I was overly ambitious with my blogging frequency. Had I spooled out my posts to date, they could’ve carried me through to today. Instead, I front loaded and then…life got busy and my postings dried up.

I’m looking forward to catching up. Or at least, jumping back in, and seeing what ya’ll have been up to.

I’m also looking forward to getting back to writing about how, so often, I’m of two minds (or more) about things. That hasn’t changed.

 

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay


 

Shopping the Discount

71_Discount2The coupon was for 40% off a single item. A second coupon—same store—promised another $2 off on top. A character was aroused.


She gathered her purse. Told Bubba she was headed out.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“I’m off to shop,” she said.

“What are you buying?”

“I’m not buying, I’m shopping.”

He turned in his chair and eyed her. “What’s the difference?”

“Buying is when I need something specific, maybe toilet paper or toothpaste, and I go out and get it. Shopping is when I want something, but I don’t know what. I wander the aisles until something hooks me. Eventually, something will.  Shopping scratches an itch.”

“Oh,” he said, sounding confused.

“I have these coupons I need to use,” she said, as if that explained everything.  “How often does CVS send out 40% off coupons? With a $2 bonus on top? I gotta use ‘em today because they expire. I’ll walk around the store until I find something, maybe even something we need.  If I’m lucky, I’ll find something we need that’s more than we’d usually want to pay, and can apply the coupon to it; get maximum savings. What I get is less important than how much I can save.”

“So,” Bubba said, with sudden understanding, “what you’re really shopping for, is a bargain.”

Coffeebeanworks on Pixabay Creative Commons


Photo sources: MarcoRoesler on Pixabay; Coffeebeanworks on Pixabay

The Judge and the Dishes

70_Judge+Dishes2_6-14-18

When Bubba and I met, we each had years of experience loading dishwashers. The thing is, we didn’t load them the same way. And since each of us was sure “our” way was the “right” way, we had to deal with some relationship hiccups as we figured things out.

Routine aspects of life give me regular opportunities to “figure things out.” That usually means trying to understand the inner voices that chirp away when, for instance, I see Bubba do something my Inner Judge insists is just not right.

Maybe he’s putting forks into the dishwasher tines-down.

“The tines won’t get properly washed!” The Judge says, absolute in her declaration.

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The Anti-Frown Workout

Creative Magic on PixabayIt was dark on my morning walk as I forced myself to smile.  There was nothing funny about the dark, but I smiled anyway.

I was exercising; not just my legs, but my smile.

“I am not going to become a grumpy-looking old person,” I told myself. I had seen those faces; the edges of lips turned down in a permanent frown. A look at a few Mitch McConnell photos should scare anyone.  I was resolute; this was not going to happen to me.

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