Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Taking Charge of My Health

If you know me, you know I'm a big girl.  Not tall-big... round-big.  I've been fighting it my whole life and a couple of times, I passed by "normal".  The first time was as a teen and an anorexic.  The second time was while I was dating my second husband and we were ACTIVE all the time - riding bikes, climbing, hiking, walking... ALL.THE.TIME.  When I got pregnant, that was pretty much all she wrote - I couldn't get rid of the extra.  I tried dieting; I tried exercise; I tried, well, everything.  And I was tired.  So I got bigger and bigger.

I'm always shocked when I look in the mirror.  The outsides sure don't match my brain's image of myself.  I forget that I'm as big as a house until I look in a mirror - and I rarely look in the mirror.  I don't buy clothes, so I don't have that guide much either.

I turned 53 this year.  I wanted to go visit my grandmother in Wales while there was still time (she's 96), so I took my husband and son and introduced them to my favorite place on earth.  To do that, I had to fly, which is pretty uncomfortable when you're as big as I am.  And while we were there, I found I was limited in what I could do because my body hurt so much.  No problem going UP hills, but coming down made my hips scream.  I couldn't climb the mountain this time.  I had to wave goodbye to my guys as they set out to visit the cairn on top.

That trip made me realize something.  I might be 53 years old, but I can still change my life.  So I've started.  I'm blogging about that little adventure over at 53 And Change.  You can visit if you like.  Just be nice, okay?  I've said enough mean things to myself already.  It's time for a change.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Posts are coming

I suddenly feel like there is a lot to write about.  Boredom.  Aging and Alzheimers.  Maturing children.  So much has been going on that I rarely feel like I have time to write - but I realize that some of this stuff just needs to be put down before my head explodes.

Probably after this weekend...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yes. I'm a Nerd.

Today is April 23rd - Silence Day.  In the spirit of things, I show up at work with a couple of hash-marks on my arm.  As the day goes forward, a few more show up.  Then a few more.

My supervisor emails me - "Should I be concerned?"  Other people wonder but don't ask, and one asked me if I was being marked up for surgery and wow-what-kind-of-surgery-would-that-be???  On FaceBook, there were lots of "likes" and comments for me and for other people who also showed up with hash-marks on their bodies around the world.  Mine were quite tame.  It was obvious to me that not all the world is a fan of Doctor Who.

This got me to pondering fandom.  What is the allure?  Why do some things catch our imagination so strongly when other things you think would - don't?  What do we get out of it?

I realize, now that I'm actually thinking about it, that I've been a fan-girl for most of my life.  It started with a show called Star Trek.  Dashing, fearless Captain Kirk - leading his courageous crew on a five year mission in space, while removing his shirt and getting the girl every chance he got.  Alien Mr. Spock was his first officer; a Scot was his chief engineer; Russian navigator and Japanese pilot.  His communications officer was a black woman.  Very forward-thinking for the later 1960s... 

There were many versions of Star Trek - different casts, different uniforms, different ships.  My mom was a huge fan of "The Next Generation".  I liked, but couldn't stick with "Deep Space Nine".  "Enterprise" may be worth a look, but I haven't gotten around to it, and my family watched the entire "Voyager" series last year but tried to stretch it out because it was so good.

And then there were the movies...  with the original cast, then later with the Next Generation cast - and finally, a prequel to the original series that was probably the best prequel I've ever seen.

Star Trek fired the imaginations of people everywhere.  Adventure, romance and GADGETS!   A lot of the technology we have today was dreamed up for Star Trek and made into reality by scientists and engineers inspired as children by this show.  Not a bad legacy for my first fandom.

Star Trek lasted a long time, but then came Star Wars!   I actually can't remember the first time I saw a Star Wars movie - though I do remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theatre.  I don't think I actually became a fan until I had my son, whose fascination with robots and armor and space ships was catching.  We watched the original three movies over and over again and saw the next three in the theatre soon after release.  I know it's not cool, but I confess that I love ALL of the Star Wars movies.  We've had posters and Lego sets and shirts and figurines - if it was related to Star Wars, we owned it, including our own R2-D2 (yes, that one in the video is ours - and that's Z asking the question).

Harry Potter has been a favorite since he was first written.  When my son was born, my aunts in England bought me paperback copies of the first two books and sent them to me for him.  I read them to him before he had any idea I was reading.  His early lullabies were the sound of my voice reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  He grew up enjoying HP, but I loved all the books and all the movies.  I was heart-broken when JK Rowling decided she was done with Harry.

And I was thrilled to hear the rumor recently that she might write another book featuring those same characters as grown ups.  I don't know if this will happen or not, but I really do hope so!

Then there are the Avengers.  I'm late to this party, really only got here for the movies, though I know there are comic books.  I've seen most of the Avenger movies now and am looking forward to the new one that comes out next week.  My son and his friends are going and I asked if I could come too.  This was greeted by a sigh and an eye-roll, but he said I could come if I sat far away... 

Not long ago, another comic book franchise came out with a movie - Guardians of the Galaxy.  I'd never heard of them, didn't know what to expect, but I really enjoyed the movie and if another came out, I'd go see it.  Not sure that qualifies as fandom though.

My love for Doctor Who does!  Again, late to this party, but I'm the one dancing on the table.  I haven't see the classic ones - I began with the reboot at number 9 with Christopher Eccleston and Rose.  Everyone seems to have a favorite Doctor and if pushed, I'd say Nine, but really, I love them all.  All the companions too.  And River.  I was thrilled to actually be in London when the 50th Anniversary episode aired.  I sat in my grandfather's house with the British Whovians in my family and thoroughly enjoyed the moment.

So... fandom.  Is it a phenomenon that pulls misfits together?  People who are part of a fandom seem to be regarded as "other" by the so-called normal people.  I don't know if that is true across the board, but speaking for myself, it gives me something in common with other people.  I've never been very good at making friends.  I have some, but I guess I'm not the kind of friend one calls up to hang out with.  I'm good at problem-solving and listening, but a night out drinking or dancing?  No one calls me for that - and I'm kind of glad.  I don't enjoy those things much.  I'd rather hang out with people who want to play board games and eat pizza and have conversations. 

Perhaps the thing about a science-fiction fandom is that you DO think differently.  I have ideas that don't fit in with what the world regards as normal, but in my own little fandom all things seem possible.  It's one of the things that makes me want to write, those ideas.  Would anyone read?  I have no idea.  Maybe my family would...  That would be them in the next picture.
The right way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Just a Few of the Women Who Inspire Me

When I was growing up, the most artistic person I knew was my mother.  She would tackle things like photography and oil painting and once she'd mastered it, she stopped doing it.  The only exception to this was sewing, which she did until her eyesight  wouldn't let her do things like threading the needle.  Her work was always awesome.  Being a mother to six kids, I'm sure she needed some kind of outlet, an escape from the craziness of mothering that many kids, but she couldn't go far, so her outlets were artistic.

I never thought of myself as being particularly creative.  The only thing I really felt like I could do was write.  Give me a blank sheet of paper and tell me to draw something and I'd still be sitting there a half hour later trying to come up with an idea.  Give me the same blank sheet and tell me to write something and I'd have both sides filled up and ask for more within 10 minutes.

These days, I'm trying all kinds of things.  It's not that I have more time on my hands - I don't.  It's not that I suddenly feel like an artist either.  But as my circle of friends on FaceBook widened, I realized that I am attracted to creative people.  Some of them were "friends" before FaceBook - blog friends who would post about this or that, but WITH FaceBook, I've come to realize just how daily their creation is.  They always have a paint brush or a crochet hook or a wooden spoon in their hands - not just during great gasps of inspiration.

Thanks to these wonderful women, I've been inspired to do things daily myself - and I'm trying everything!

Christine started out as a blog writer.  She would bring me to tears on a regular basis and I wished I could write as beautifully and movingly as she did.  Once she felt like she'd said what she needed to, she stopped writing that blog and I missed her so much!  Then I found her on FaceBook and I absolutely love what I see her doing these days!

Loved this and bough it

I love these.  I've asked her to make me an oval ring for my Mother-in-Law.

Lisa has moved around a lot and done some traveling.  Her hands are always busy though!  She knits some beautiful things and seeing her stuff made me want to try my hand at crochet again.  She's also a wonderful photographer!  Her blogs and FaceBook page are full of her marvelous pictures.  

A beautiful picture - timely for Easter season

This blanket is just amazing

Karisma is also a master of the yarn arts.  She crochets and knits and makes beautiful tiny things for babies as well as hats and sweaters for bigger people.  She also has an amazingly green thumb and a lovely garden that she harvests to feed her family.

I admit this makes me a little jealous of her skills!

I wish I had her green thumb!

Memory has been a watercolor artist for as long as I've "known" her.  She comes by it honestly - her father was also an artist of some renoun.  She has her own style though and it really speaks to me.  She was my first artist that I bought art from and I still love my painting.  In recent years, she married a wonderful man and they opened a restaurant together.  Now, in addition to painting, she cooks and sings at the restaurant. 

I just love her style

I bought this one - perfect for my bedroom.

It's probably a good thing I live far away - I'd eat at her restaurant every night!

Pattie is also a painter.  She caught my eye several years ago when she donated some work to my tv station.  It was displayed in the lobby and I just loved her chickens.  Dad had just started keeping chickens and I wanted to get him one for Christmas.  It was not to be - then.  Now I have several of Pattie's pieces and every time she tries something new, I love that as well.  She's local, so I've actually met her and spent time with her.  She donates her time to our public radio station, and often she donates some of the proceeds from her art to various animal rescue agencies.  She loves animals and it is very obvious in her work.  I have a set of pictures she painted of my own animals and I love them.

I want one of her owls someday

Not the exact chicken I gave to my dad, but close!

Pet portraits - Pattie is pretty famous for those!
There are more women out there who inspire me every day to be more creative, more spiritual, healthier and happier.  If I wrote one blog post about all of them, you'd never get away from me.  So I'll start with these four remarkable, amazing women.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

And thank you, Christine, Lisa, Karisma, Memory and Pattie.  You have no idea how much I treasure each one of you.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Life, Death and Getting Older

My birthday was Wednesday.  I'm 53 years old now.  This is not a bad thing - in fact, it's a very good thing!  I look at every day, no matter what is going on, as a blessing and I'm here to witness it.

It's been a year of loss.  My friend Alison.  My father-in-law Roy.  My Korean "Sister".  My uncle.  There have been others... friends gone far too soon or in some cases, exactly at the right time.  I've been thinking about all of these losses and when my uncle died unexpectedly, something finally clicked and I made this:

I must have been loving quite a lot this year.

It also reflects how I really feel.  I'm not sure when this shift happened but I feel quite calm about life and death and all the things that happen in-between.  Is this because of my faith?  Or is it one of those things that happens when you reach a certain point in your life and no one tells you about it? 

Whenever it's my time, I know I'll be ready.  I will have done whatever I've needed to do and will greet my next adventure with enthusiasm.  You have no idea how freeing a feeling that is.  I feel like I can really live now because I'm not hindered by fear.  Well, except for heights.  That still bothers me a bit.

We went to the farm for dinner last night to visit with New York cousins Carol and Ed and to celebrate my birthday as a kind of side-bar.  Mom gave me a gift - a book called "642 Things to Write About".  When I opened it, I laughed and asked if she was trying to spur me to do more blog-writing again.  And she said "Yes!"

So here I am, Mom.  Writing again.  It's probably about time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Saying Goodbye in all the ways

The world has changed since I was a much younger woman - massive changes even in the last 10 years.  Once, blogging was the new frontier - the it thing that hip people did.

For me, it started with an email from my mom's cousin containing a link to someone's blog.  I didn't know what that was, exactly, but I clicked on it and before long, I had a bunch of blogs that I liked to read.  It wasn't much of a leap to start my own from there.  I didn't think that anyone would ever read it, but before long there was a faithful little troop of followers.  Blogging seems so intimate.  Pictures and stories about our lives and the things that go on around us.  My blog would probably be classified as a "Mommy Blog" since a lot of what I wrote about was being a mother, my son, and our family.  Being a mom was a new experience for me (as opposed to sister or daughter or wife or employee), and one I was pretty sure would never be repeated.

Then came FaceBook, with it's quicker, hipper mode of communication and blogging started to fall away for a lot of people.  I admit that includes me.  My postings here are sporadic at best, whereas I am a nearly daily presence on FaceBook.

FaceBook can seem superficial and blogs are more personal and in-depth... but FaceBook does have a place.  When news needs to be spread as quickly as possible, FaceBook is the way to go.  Chances are that the people who need to know are also your "friends".  You can make it a private message so it's not on other people's feeds or you can announce to the whole world.

Never is this more apparent when there is a death in the family.  The private messages go out first (if you aren't on the phone-call list), then once "enough time" is perceived to have passed for people to get their messages, someone will usually post something kind of vague and innocuous to the newsfeed and the people who weren't called or PM'd find out.

That's how it was when my uncle died a couple of weeks ago.  I got a call and was asked to notify some of the others.  Inevitably, someone doesn't get the message or a call doesn't happen and they FIND OUT ON FACEBOOK.  That used to be a terrible thing, but I think now it's become just another mode of communication.  What follows is a wonderful outpouring of condolences and support and in turn, we, the mourners are able to widely and publicly acknowledge our loss and comment on what a wonderful person the dearly departed was.  Weirdly, this cycle is quite satisfying to the soul.

I loved my uncle very much.  He was always friendly and supportive and happy to see me.  Time in his world moved differently from mine though.  His time was fairly laid back and loose.  Mine is full and always busy.  There was no such thing as dropping by for a short visit when it came to him - a half hour cup of coffee easily turned into 3 hours of conversation.  I loved the times I could actually do this, but as life got crazier and crazier, they happened less and less.  So I have regrets.  That I didn't see him often enough; that I wasn't able to spend enough time with him.  There are stories to tell about him - like when he and Dad (nicknamed Laurel and Hardy) managed to sink a sailboat. 

Or the beautiful aquamarine he gave me when I was just 12 and I carried with me my whole life until my husband asked me to marry him.  I am not a diamond girl, so for an engagement ring I asked him to put my aquamarine in a setting for me.  On the day he died, I went and got it out of my jewelry box and looked at it.  It is still beautiful and my weight-loss goal is to be able to wear that ring again.  That has always been my standard - but it has more meaning to me now.

There are things about him I'll always remember...  the smell of his pipe when I was little, that he was the reason we ALWAYS had rutabaga at Christmas and Thanksgiving (which I do not care for), that he was game for almost anything, whether a long chat or playing dress up with wigs - when we were all adults!  He loved woodworking and gardening and flying and all things Puerto Rico (including his wife). 

I'm always going to miss you, and I'm grateful that I knew you.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye, 2014

This is one of the rare years when goodbye is rather enthusiastic.  It's not that it was a terrible, terrible year (though parts of it were), but that there was not a lot of positive to set it apart.  The days rather plodded from one to the next.

I am not alone in feeling this.  I'm not sure why it seems such a global feeling.  The economy seems to be doing a bit better.  Gas prices have dropped.  Yes, there is conflict out there, but there is ALWAYS conflict out there. 

Locally, we seem to have shootings and stabbings on a near-daily basis.  It reminds me of when I first moved to Oklahoma and was so shocked that there was murder done every day and reported on the news.  I really felt I had moved to the wild, wild West - but really, all I had done was move to a place that was a little ahead of my own home town in that regard.  People are more connected with each other but more disconnected with the present.  This is never more evident than when driving around town.  I am beginning to think I'd like to give up driving and rely on my bike, my feet and the city bus.  Driving is no longer pleasurable to me because there are too many people who drive right through the red lights or into my lane.  I feel like I'm going into battle every time I get behind the wheel of a car and just trying to stay alive until I reach my destination.  I don't even live in Atlanta or New York or London where the drivers are even crazier.

Celebration seems beyond me - at least the kind with cheering and waving of arms and loud, crazy laughter.  My celebrations this year have been quite tame, devoid of glitter and cheer but full of thought and reflection.  Is this a function of getting older?  Or is it because of the things that have happened to me and to my loved ones this year; that the crazy enthusiasm has been replaced by a tamer sort of gratefulness?

So tonight I will bid farewell to 2014.  I won't make it to midnight or hoist a glass of champagne as confetti rains down and fireworks go off.  I'll be asleep in my bed, dreaming of a better tomorrow and making plans to see that it is, indeed, better.