Category Archives: Aging

Alphabet Soup Challenge: U is for Unexpected

Don’t you think that with age many of us handle the unexpected circumstances in our lives better? I think it’s a result of having more time here on earth than others. We’ve simply had a larger number of unexpected things occur in our lives. We’re wiser.

And I think that is awesome.

Not that when a curve ball presents itself we don’t freak out a little. We’re still human after all.

It’s just that we’ve got experiences behind us that tells us we’ve gotten through some shit. We’ve survived. Heck, sometimes we have even thrived after the unexpected invades our realities.

I had two unexpected pregnancies. In the span of two years. I feel like an idiot when I tell people this, but it’s true. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all played out.

I was on the pill when I got pregnant both times. First pregnancy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, we (as my mom would say), didn’t have a pot to piss in; but we were newlyweds in love. We made enough money between the two of us to pay our rent and buy groceries and we had the love and emotional support of both sets of parents.

Then, after living in Texas with our baby girl Amanda while Hubs took graduate courses in meteorology and did some student teaching for a few months, I missed my period. Scared out of my mind, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. As Clark Griswold would say, I was more shocked than if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.

Decisions had to be made. Staying in Texas would have meant that Hubs would have finished his Masters and put himself in a position to work at his (then) dream job: Professor of Meteorology at a major university. With people, the guy has the patience of Job, so I was confident he would rock that career path. The flip side, however, is that I would have to apply for Medicaid (we were poor, young,and dumb and had no health insurance at the time) for myself and baby Amanda. Then we’d be there in Texas, knowing only a small handful of people (and not very well), raising two babies under 2.

The decision we made was to move back to Minnesota. Where we’d have the support of two loving sets of grandparents to cope with this unexpected turn of events. The guilt I felt (in hindsight, this was wasted energy as it does take two to create new life) for “making” Hubs quit grad school to move back to Minnesota and find employment in his field lasted for years.

However…

While the three of us bunked with his folks and his teenage sister in (thankfully) a 3 bedroom apartment for a month or so, Hubs managed to get a job with a private weather forecasting company and we found ourselves a nice two bedroom apartment.

After Rabbie made their arrival during that hot as hell summer, Hubs got connected with a supervisor in the National Weather Service who hired him as an “intern” (a position that no longer exists) making $18,000 per year. This was sooo exciting! At the time. $18,000 to us in the early 90’s felt like a pretty good darn chunk of change. Only thing was, we had to move to International Falls, Minnesota. The “Icebox of the Nation”. Another unwelcome and unexpected thing.

Nevertheless, we made the best of it. Struggled, stressed out, but we pressed on as a team. As a family.

And now, here we are, married for over 30 years with two great kids in their 20’s and a smart as heck 6 year old grandson. Living in Colorado and as ready as we can be for whatever unexpected thing comes next.

What unexpected circumstances have happened in the course of your lives that changed everything? Please share in the comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://designpress.com/inspiration/32-fascinating-greys-anatomy-quotes/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: A is For Aging

I think it’s funny that when we read the word “aging” we picture older people. Maybe you think of your parents who are in their 70’s or 80’s. But really, we are all aging. Babies, kindergartners, 30 somethings. All of us who are alive–we are aging.

What’s the big deal? Even more importantly, what’s the alternative?

This is the alternative

As I age beyond 50, I see many benefits. Sure, there’s the drawback of not being able to as quickly recall names or past events. The drawback of seeing little gray hairs sprouting in my eyebrows and along my hairline. The drawback of more aches and pains and possibly some arthritis.

However, if I knew 20 years ago what I know now about how edging closer to senior citizen status would feel for my spirit, I wouldn’t have dreaded it.

Because I’m 53:

I have a lot of funny stories about mistakes I made when I was younger. You know, the shit I survived.

I am much better at self-care because I have developed more self-respect.

I communicate more directly, as I now know that it’s better in the long run if I ask what may be perceived as a stupid question instead of assuming the answer and acting upon that assumption.

I am less fearful of failure.

I am more accepting of my personal faults.

I am more willing to ask for help; not seeing it any longer as a sign of weakness, but rather an acknowledgment that what I’m trying to achieve is more likely to become reality if I enlist the help of the right people at the right time.

I’m more accepting of my limitations and more comfortable saying “no” or taking a break from an activity that is stressing me out.

Those are some monumental benefits, right? I don’t believe in actively fighting the aging process, you see. I believe in embracing it with the right attitude and keeping in mind what the alternative is.

So, fellow upper-middle-agers: what did I miss? What benefits have you experienced from aging?

***Header image courtesy of https://sixtyandme.com/quotes/

Reflecting on a Remarkable Year

Remarkable. That is the word I would use to describe my 2018.

In 2018, my Dad passed away. My brother in law did as well. My mom’s health declined. Our oldest spawn went through a hellish year with her possibly soon to be ex and we did our best to provide her the support she needed. Our grandson celebrated his 4th birthday here with us in Colorado, and started Pre-K in September.

He gifted us with this original creation, which Hubs and I found in our half-bath upon coming home from driving them to the airport to fly back to Wisconsin after our wonderful visit.

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These nine little rocks shall remain atop this candle for all eternity

 

Our youngest spawn continued on their quest for self-improvement.  Continued using their artistic gifts. Deeply contemplated their spirituality and became more emotionally intelligent and mature. I’m very proud of both our spawn.  As 2018 comes to a close, I am cautiously optimistic about their futures.

In 2018, Hubs and I had lots of company and did a good bit of travel ourselves. We continued to engage in our church life and participated in community activities. In 2018, Colorado began to truly feel like home to us, and not just an extended pit stop on our journey as married empty-nesters.

While Hubs continued to practice regularly on his yukelele, his one and only New Year’s resolution (Yay for Hubs!),  I continued to blog. Some experiences I wrote about on my blog, and some I didn’t (see note above about the spawn). For better or worse.

2018 was my first full calendar year as a blogger. I published 49 posts in that 12 month span of time. During this magic week between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve had the time and energy to read and contemplate every single one of them. I thought it’d be a worthwhile exercise for me; a way to gather some insight into how things went on the whole for my blog this year. To start plotting my blogging path for 2019, make some decisions about topics I should continue writing about and topics that may not need to be covered going forward.

This blogging thing continues to be a work in progress, just like me.

Below, in no particular order whatsoever, is my subjective reflection on the top 10 published posts on Pollyanna’s Path in 2018. Meaning this isn’t entirely based on the number of likes, views, or comments each post had. It’s also based on 1) if I thought it was brave, 2) if I thought it was cohesive, and 3) if it revealed my heart.

This post was me essentially whining about my struggles as a blogger. Surprisingly, it got the most likes of all the posts I penned in 2018. I think perhaps I struck a chord with my fellow bloggers with this one. I also made mention of the new Facebook blogger’s group I had just joined and got gutsy and asked for comments, for which I was (gratefully) rewarded. I think the take-away here is that I need to do a better job of compelling readers to comment in 2019. I am open to suggestions on how to do that, fellow bloggers!

I think that this wacky post was the one I enjoyed writing the very most this year. I had such an interesting experience that day at the “Metaphysical Fair” and I wanted to take a shot at telling a true-to-life humorous story. And now that I’ve reviewed this post, I know that in 2019 I simply must have a session with a medium (not necessarily involving Tarot cards this time).

My most emotionally vulnerable post this year was written by my heart. I was so raw and struggling to make sense of my feelings and what our family had just gone through as I wrote that. However, the process of sharing tidbits about my Dad, the things that made him who he was to me, was cathartic.

Once in a while, because I am truly a “foodie”, I am compelled to share a recipe along with personal anecdotes about my relationship with the food I love, as I did here. Going into this process of evaluating my posts from 2018, I thought it likely that one of the topics I would cease to write about on this blog going forward into the new year, would be food. However, I have changed my mind. Cooking, eating, and sharing recipes is part of who I am in my real life, and having a platform to write about all things food (when the mood strikes of course) is just too hard to say no to.

A few times in 2018  I got brave, like I did here. I have yet to see this movie, truth be told. Now that it’s available on Netflix (or is it Amazon Prime?), I will surely see it before long. I like the creativity of this post but more importantly, I like that it was both a bit ballsy and 100% honest.

Speaking of being honest, I did not follow through on any of the activities mentioned in this post. I am such a slacker. Nevertheless, it garnered a decent amount of likes and it felt good (not in a comfy way by any stretch, mind you) to actually for the first time, make mention of fictional characters I intend to write about some day  in 2019. I’m crossing my fingers that this blogging community will hold me accountable on this one!

My sweet, loving, hard-working, honest-to-the-core, and greatly missed Dad inspired this post. My intention when publishing this one was to inspire my readers to quit being so darn hard on themselves. And this funky retro sign with this simple but so important sentiment hangs on the wall in our office, right underneath my vision board (note to self: update this thing in 2019).

This post is one of my personal favorites. I was thrilled when I realized that it actually was well-received enough that another blogger included it in one of their posts! That is something I get a kick out of with this blogging thing-putting out a message, in a humorous way, that encourages people to do something positive! Like donating good, non-or-not-too-expired-and certainly unopened food to those in need.

I don’t think I realized until now, as I’m winding down my “Top 10” blog posts for 2018, just how much my Dad meant to me, how much he inspired me. This post is another tribute to him, and one of the favorite posts I have ever penned.

It’s  important to me as a blogger, and an almost 52 year old woman, to have a good attitude about aging. To be real about it and embrace it. To not let your age put limits on life’s pursuits, whether it be re: your career, your hobbies, your sex life, the way you dress, whatever it is. That’s why I wrote this post about the women I know who inspire me on the daily.

My personal hope for 2019 is that I will grow my blog, make new blogging friends, and surprise myself (and the world?!) with my ability to tell a good story.

Happy New Year, blogging community!

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When I grow up

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I’ve gotten to know a lot of people since moving to Colorado with Hubs almost 2 years ago. I’m appreciative of this. I’m especially appreciative of the older women I have come to know, as they inspire me to strive for graceful, healthy aging. Like the women I volunteer with each week at the food bank. Or the women with whom we attend church.  And the women I work with along with the female senior citizens I serve in my job.

These women I’ve come to know don’t seem to let their age impede them in any significant way. They generally seem to take life in stride and their feathers are not easily ruffled. They have a strong sense of self  and understand they still have the ability to help and inspire others. Their ages do not define them, which I believe is how it should be. They embrace the lives they have and do not wallow in the physical or mental changes that aging has foisted upon them.

One 80 year old lady I know gives me the impression that who she is now is who she’s always been. She is open-minded, witty, and her fingers and toes are always immaculately manicured.  She once expressed a combination of confusion and frustration when a client referred to her as “cute”. She recognized this was an ageist statement and rightly took offense to it. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another older woman I know is exceptionally loving and caring. She never had children, by choice, which makes her a rare bird in her generation. However, that doesn’t prevent her from looking out for people younger and less wise than she, as she has the ability to embrace and appreciate one and all. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another female senior I know is a fun loving social butterfly.  She readily strikes up conversations with anyone and peppers them with “dear” or “dear-heart”. She is a snappy dresser and tells great stories about her life as a wife to a Vietnam vet and mother to her now grown children. She recently visited Disneyland with friends and their teenage granddaughter and shared stories about how she and the teen rode almost every single ride together in the park. What other almost 80 year old woman do you know who does that? I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another woman I’ve come to know here is savvy and smart. She takes no shit from anyone. You know where you stand with her. She is not a word-mincer, which is a quality I sort of envy. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Yet another lady I’ve gotten to know, at our church, is adventurous. She travels frequently with girlfriends she has had since she was in college in the 60’s. She is big-hearted and a great listener. She happily donates her time and money to causes she believes in, but she is never showy about it. One time at church, I asked for prayers for someone I love very much who was experiencing a lot of struggles in a personal relationship. This wonderful lady called me a couple of weeks later to check in and see if things had improved with my loved one. I also want to be like her when I grow up.

Then there are the two retired women, who I believe are sisters, who come into our food bank at work about every other week and donate several bags of just purchased food. They look over the shelves and ask me questions about the types of foods our seniors seem to especially enjoy, so they know what to buy at the grocery store the next time. They do this out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. I want to be like them too when I grow up.

I also have a food bank client with bright blue eyes that do not betray her age. This lovely lady once struck up a conversation with me about cooking, which is a common occurrence when running a food bank, and promised to one day bring me her recipe for pork green chili (a Colorado staple). Lo and behold, a couple of months later, she gifted me with her handwritten recipe for this tasty dish. I think I want to be like her when I grow up too.

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Not so sure about buying that lard, though!

The thing is, we are all aging. Day by day. There’s nothing besides death of course, that is going to stop this process. I think that we all have the ability to choose how we are going to age. Some older women are preoccupied by their health problems, or the health problems of others, and seem to be stuck in a never-ending loop of worrying what illness will strike next. This negatively impacts their relationships and their quality of life.

However, these dynamic, older, and wiser women of Colorado that I’ve been fortunate to come to know give me hope and inspiration for my future as a female senior citizen.