Is it cold in here or….

pexels-photo-209241.jpegSomething strange happens to me whether I am at home or at work.

This occurrence startles me, throws me off balance and seems so foreign that I am taken aback by it.  Likewise, my family is shocked by this event, as it is so atypical for me.

Ask anyone who knows me well or has spent significant time with me, and they will deem this as peculiar and very uncharacteristic.

What abnormally strange experience might this be?  I’m cold.  I actually wore two sweaters to work today and the temperature was in the 40’s.  This does not seem normal to me, but it’s more normal than how I used to be.

For a period of at least 10 years, no matter the season of the year, whether I was home or away, no matter how I was clothed, these two words would suddenly explode from me, “I’m hot!”  It was like someone quite unexpectedly turned up my thermostat to the boiling point.

Hot flashes ruled my life.  They dictated my style of clothing, the temperature of my home, and whether I slept at night or not.  They ruled me like an iron-fisted tyrant sometimes keeping me a prisoner in my own home.  They disturbed not only my nighttime rest, but my life and the life of my family.

They forced me to sleep with windows flung wide open even on frigidly cold nights.  They compelled me to douse myself, head first, into a sink of freezing water.  They coerced me into carrying a thermos of iced water everywhere I roamed.  They propelled me, dressed in flimsy summer nightgown, outside onto a snowy porch in the middle of winter.

During summer vacations, they so strongly intimidated me that I slept in the hotel bed closest to the air-conditioning unit blasting air cold enough to form icicles while my family shivered under as many bed covers as they could muster.

Hot flashes caused me to banish sweaters, high-necked shirts, scarves, socks and an assortment of other too hot for comfort clothing.    Warm woolies, comfy sweat suits, fleece-lined slippers sat forlornly forgotten and unworn in my dresser drawers and closet.   I scoffed at blankets and quilts and hats and heavy winter coats.

All because in a matter of seconds, I could become a hunka-hunka burning menopausal maniac.  There were days and way too many nights that I was convinced I would spontaneously combust and my family would find a pile of ashes instead of me or at least I could emit enough heat to cook dinner without my stove.

Cancer surgery ended the crazy cycle of hot flashes over five years ago, and now that I’m released from the grasp of the beast, I am sometimes shocked to feel chilly.  I now quizzically ask, “Is it cold in here or is it me?” instead of frantically sticking my head in the freezer.

Instead of tearing off restricting heat-inducing clothing, I’m wearing scarves, turtleneck shirts and even sweaters, sometimes two!   At night, I grope for the bed covers – even the downy comforter – and nestle into their warmth instead of flinging off a thin sheet to cool down a dripping, sweaty bonfire of a body.

Now on cold wintry nights, I sleep with bedroom windows closed.  I’ve become re-acquainted with hats, socks and slippers, fleecy sweatpants and fuzzy blankies.  And it’s strange, but oh, so wonderful to be a shivering, chilly me instead of a raging, sizzling, sweltering, oppressive horde of hormones.

So as I shiver a tad under my blanket, still dressed in two sweaters, socks AND slippers with the heat of my laptop warming me a little, I am ever so thankful to be on the other side of menopause on this 15th page of Chapter 3 in my book called Opportunity.

I’m also quite certain my family likes the new me – calm and cold not flaky and fiery.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Video gaming…those were the days?

play-fun-blocks-block-591652.jpegRemember when.   Is everyone who passes the half century mark programmed to utter those two words?

Today on Page 27, Chapter Two, in my book of Opportunity, I’m contemplating that.

With more than half of our lives over, is that why those of us who cross over the big five-o threshold tend to look back at the past instead of forward to the future?

Recently I ate lunch with a co-worker who is just a few years younger than me and we started talking about “the good ol’ days.”

At first, we discussed restaurants and stores long gone from the main street of my hometown and then we delved into childhood reminiscences.

Most of our conversation revolved around those two words, “remember when.”  Remember when the drug store had a soda fountain counter?  Remember when there was a five and dime store?  Remember when you could eat at the snack bar in that store?  Remember the candy counter?

My friend remembers her grandma taking her to the “five and ten” (as we called it) where she allowed my friend to pick whatever candy from the big bins that she wanted and she would happily go home with a ¼ pound of goodies.  I also remember salivating there as a kid surveying all the candy and salted nuts you could purchase.

In the middle of the wooden floored store stood a wide staircase that led downstairs to where the magical toy department existed and the pet department where you could buy not just fish but tiny little turtles too.  I know because I had two of them.

I was one lucky little girl because my oldest sister worked at the five and ten store while she was in high school and sometimes I was the lucky recipient of a treat from there.  I especially recall receiving packages of cut-out dolls.

Life was a whole lot simpler back in the day.  Children played with simple toys.  We didn’t have electronic gadgets that blinked, beeped or lit up like a Christmas tree.  Computer games, video games…non-existent.  A computer was something mentioned in science fiction books.

Indoor play consisted of items like jacks, yo-yos, pick-up sticks and cut-out dolls – cardboard folders with a flat cardboard figure (mine was National Velvet) and sheets of paper clothing that we cut out with our scissors. The paper clothes had tabs on them that folded down on the doll to keep the outfit on.

A package of cut-outs could keep me occupied for a long time.  I loved playing with them so much, I would even make my own from the huge Sears and Roebuck catalog.  I would cut out an entire family, their clothes and a household full of furniture and appliances all out of that one catalog.

But a large segment of my play time was spent outdoors.  My neighborhood girlfriends and I even set up elaborate Barbie doll arrangements outside under the trees or on the front porch.  We ran as we played different versions of tag, we jumped rope, we rode our bikes, we swam in their pool.

We made up our own games and imaginary playtime scenarios.  Sometimes we played secret agent, sometimes restaurant, sometimes house and we did it all outside.  If it wasn’t raining we were outdoors.  If it snowed, we couldn’t wait to be outside sledding, making snowmen, building snow forts and engaging in snow ball battles.

Hours of very inexpensive and simple fun.  All accomplished without a computer, an expensive game system or TV.

When today’s children reach their half-century marks in age I wonder if they will sit around and reminisce, “Remember when we stayed inside all day with our noses stuck to a computer screen or the TV playing video games.  Those were the days.”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Time may change me, but I can’t change time

blogIMG_3498Time has changed something significantly.  And I think it’s me.

When I was younger, the day designated as “fall back day” (at least that’s how I grew up remembering the time changes in Daylight Savings Time – “fall back and spring forward”)  never seemed to affect me much. 

Who wouldn’t want an extra hour to sleep in on a Sunday morning??  That meant you could stay out later on Saturday night!

But the older I get, the more my sleep rhythm (or sometimes lack of one) doesn’t want anyone messing it up, whether we’re saving an hour or not.  Saturday night I had difficulty getting to nighty-night land, but chocked it up to the reality that when I turned in at 11:45 p.m., my internal clock said it was 10:45 p.m.  So no wonder, my mind told me, you’re not really sleepy yet.  Well, a few tosses this way, a few turns that way, and I probably didn’t nod off until well after 1 a.m. (which my brain said was midnight).

It was relaxing and restful to wake up Sunday morning and realize I could take my own sweet time getting ready for church.  No hustling and bustling, in and out of the shower in a flash, trying to straighten the hair when it’s still a little damp, grabbing a bowl of cereal and a few sips of hot tea, and rushing out the door to arrive at worship on time.  Instead we had so much extra time that hubby and I ate a hot, cooked breakfast, something we haven’t done in awhile and we arrived at church with minutes to spare.

All day though, I felt like I couldn’t stay still; I wasn’t content to stay home like usual on a Sunday afternoon, reading the paper and working a crossword puzzle, maybe watching a little football with hubby.  I didn’t even want to sit still long enough to write an entry for this blog!

Instead, my body and mind wanted to launch into hyper-drive. Go to the grocery store and have a shopping marathon there, yes!  Put all the groceries away and want to climb back in the car to go somewhere else?  Yes!  So hubby and I headed to a local mall, where we thought we’d grab a bite to eat for dinner and use a gift card we’d been given for Olive Garden.  However, waiting for a table was involved.

Did we want to clutch that vibrating device that informs you that you are next to be seated?  No!  We didn’t want to wait.  I can’t explain why, I just felt like I was stuck in fifth gear – overdrive – for some reason, which meant no waiting!

At another restaurant, we were seated immediately and ordered from the menu in no time flat.  An hour later, we possessed full bellies and satisfied appetites, but I still wasn’t ready to head home.  Instead, we did a bit of Christmas shopping.  Kids, wait until you see the suprises in your Christmas stockings this year!

Spinning my wheels all day like a hamster on his exercise spinner,  I thought I’d be tired and definitely ready for the comfort of my bed.  Hubby, who never has problems falling asleep, started nodding off on the couch long before bedtime, most likely due to the fact I ran his legs off all day.

He actually turned in early.  Sometimes I really envy his ability to fall asleep so easily.  I stayed up, watched TV, checked out the news, and then decided I really should try to catch some zzz’s myself.

Didn’t happen, at least not for a while.  More tossing and turning ensued.  I stared at my clock, and realized it did not display the correct time.  Got up, changed it, then accidently hit the button that turns on the radio, scared hubby who mumbled, blinked at me, then rolled over, and promptly returned to dreamland. I think I may have finally succumbed to the Sandman around 2 a.m.

Of course, I had to work today, so I needed to arise early.  My morning was screwy.  A series of mishaps occurred to threaten my arriving at work on time.  There was spilling of liquids, wrinkled shirt to be pressed, dropping of lunch items, flat iron that got plugged in but not turned on.  Just stupid little but highly irritating things.

As I scurried into my office, I tripped and almost fell on the concrete walkway, and of course, that meant spilling my travel mug of hot tea.  When I placed my lunch in our office refrigerator, I dropped it (again!) and knocked over several things already on the shelf – made enough noise that my boss probably wondered what the heck I was doing in the kitchen.

Walking to my desk, I noticed my wall clock needed the hour turned back, and of course, as I stretched to reach and take it off the wall, the picture hanger, which holds the clock in place, fell off the wall and behind my desk, back in the no-man’s land where the convolution of computer, printer, telephone, and electrical cords all weave in and out in a huge mess of cable.

Couldn’t reach it, so I crawled on my hands and knees and tried to inch it out with my ruler (no pun intended).  I did have the presence of mind to lock the door which I was crawling in front of because I had visions of my co-worker arriving and smacking me silly with the door as she opened it.

So here’s the deal.  When the time changes, so do I.  I become a little off-kilter, out of balance, and it takes a few days for my body and mind to right itself.  I blame this on aging and not being able to adjust to changes as easily as I once did with a younger body and mind.

As I was bemoaning to myself and getting cranky, this thought occurred to me:  no matter how bad your day is, someone else out there in that huge, wide world is having a worse day than you.  My days of feeling “a little off” are nothing compared to the sufferings others have.

My “bad day” today was like a quote I once read, “You know it’s a bad day when you put your bra on backwards and it fits better.”   A little odd, funny even, but not earth-shattering.

I don’t pay too much attention to motivational speakers, but one of them wrote this: “The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.” (Dennis S. Brown)  Well, Mr. Brown, I do agree with you.  I realized this morning after I loudly said “I quit!” and my boss looked at me with shock (I meant I surrendered hopes of having a good day) that I needed an attitude adjustment.

And shortly after giving myself an attitude check, I received an email from a young friend who works with me.  He was a couple blocks from home on his way to meet with me at work, when another driver ran a red light and plowed into him.  Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt, but his car was; he had to walk home.  It’s safe to say my friend was having a bad day, but that’s life, no matter how old or young you are.

“There are good days and there are bad days, and this is one of them.” — Lawrence Welk, Musician and Television Host

And tomorrow, God willing, will be another “one of those days.”

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

It’s about time

pexels-photo-129571.jpegTag lines.  They define,  designate,  and identify us.  Some people have M.D. after their name, some have Ph.D., but all of us have a title of some sort.

We begin with the name Baby, toodle into Toddler, and gradually grow into Child.  Next comes the tumultuous title, Teenager.  If both parents and child survive that one, we arrive at Adult, although Young Adult is now bantered around.

Some of us situate ourselves at Single; some of us mosey into Married, where we willingly take the qualifier Wife or Husband.  Then the cycle begins anew, but this time we become Parent of the Baby, Toddler, Child, and Teenager.

A new set of names works its way into our language then.  Empty Nester.  Sandwich Generation.  Middle-ager or Baby Boomer as my generation is tagged.  At some point, hopefully, we become Mother-in-law and Father-in-law, usually followed by Grandparent.  But ultimately, we become the Elderly.

It occurred to me recently that I have worked my way through most of that list and there aren’t many categories left to place a check mark beside.   This happens when you pass the big Five-O, and start sliding toward 60.

I was rudely reminded of that last night as hubby and I met with a nice gentleman who discussed long-term care insurance with us.  Talking about the possibility that one or both of us may need such a thing if a lingering illness should arise made me want to hyper-ventilate.  “I’m too young to be thinking about long-term care!” my mind screamed as my face hid behind a pasted-on smile while listening to his presentation.

As much as I think I have embraced my “fifty-something-ness,” I guess there’s still a smidgen of denial there.   This morning I’ve been pondering my current state of life.  What are the tag lines that define me?

It’s true I am an Empty Nester.  I think that for some of us, this stage of life comes in two phases.  The first phase is when your teenagers/young adults start heading off to college.  Hubby and I experienced a period of ten years in that phase.  Our oldest daughter went to college in the year 2000 and our youngest child, our son, graduated from college in 2010.

Stage one of empty-nest-hood is a quasi-phase, I think.  Even though one or more of your children moves out of your home to attend college, they still return for summers and/or school breaks, so they aren’t yet fully supplied with wings to fly completely out of the nest.  Most of the time, they still rely on you for food, a washing machine and dryer, a room in which to retreat, and probably monetary funding as well.  So relationally and economically, they still are your dependents.

Empty nest stage two arrives when your children actually and literally move out of your home, either through career launching or marriage.  As difficult as stage one may have been, stage two is gut-wrenching and liberating coinciding together.  Emotionally, it is difficult to let go, to watch your child’s attempt at solo flight without your assistance or interference.

The empty nest also can be quite lonely, especially if you realize you’ve lost connection with your spouse during those difficult years of parenting.  The absence of a brood of teenagers/young adults makes your home a chilling, quiet place.  But hopefully, you find a new sense of direction with your spouse and that leads to liberation.

As each child spreads those wings to fly, you cheer him or her on and rejoice in the freedom that flight brings you.  It can be an exciting time for them and you.  When adult children launch careers (or get married) and become self-sustaining, we parents experience more financial freedom and more time to engage in all those things we relegated to the back burner when we became parents.

Since our son (our youngest) just graduated from college this past spring and moved to another state to launch his career this summer, hubby and I have been attempting this adjustment into empty nest, phase two.  The finality of this stage is what makes it so daunting.

All three of our adult children have proven they are quite capable of independence.  As their mama, I’m oh so proud of that, but at the same time, I must deal with the anguishing hard fact that they don’t need me like they once did.  That’s why this phase is so gut-wrenching, especially for those of us who were stay-at-home moms.

Many empty nesters wear the sandwich generation label at the same time.  This generation describes those of us who support college-aged children and at the same time take care of aging parents.  Our sandwich generation days came to a close when my father, the last of our parents, passed away.

I think that is yet another reason I struggled so considerably – my final stage of empty nesting was arriving at the same time as my sandwich generation period ended.  Double whammy.  So I engaged in a “Who needs me any more?” period of mourning, until I realized that just because they don’t need me, doesn’t mean they don’t love me.

So through prayer, patience, and positive thinking, I’m casting off the mourning veil; I’m coming round the bend (but not going off the deep end!).

The late Erma Bombeck, whose writing I think was hysterically funny, once said, “When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.”

Well said.  It’s about time I accept the label and the challenge that comes with it.  Hence, I do hereby accept the office and title of Empty Nester, and on those days, I’m tempted to mourn, I’ll read this passage – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:  “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;  A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away;  A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate;  A time of war, and a time of peace.”  (New King James Version)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Dancing in September

pexels-photo-707697.jpegDo you remember the 21st night of September?”

For those of you too young to remember, that’s an old disco song performed by a group called Earth, Wind and Fire.

For some reason, songs really stick in my brain and I can recall lines from songs better than remembering what day is trash pick-up day.

Speaking of trash, some of the songs being played on the airwaves today should be relegated to the trash bin if you ask me.  I often wonder what will happen when the younger set becomes the older generation.  Will they look fondly back to their “golden oldies?”   Will they wistfully listen once again to today’s songs and reminiscence about days gone by?  You know, songs from Lady Gaga and Eminem.

Many of today’s hit songs would make a well-seasoned pirate blush, that’s what I think. Songs from yester-year are mild and tame in comparison, but even better yet, they are tasteful.  Even in the rebellious years of the 60’s and 70’s into the me-decade of the 80’s, most songs did not have foul language in their lyrics, let alone sexual language too crude to even think about.

Call me old-fashioned, but give me the real oldies – songs from the late 50’s and 60’s.   My sisters were in their teens in those years and  songs from that era are filed away in my memory bank because I heard those songs a lot back then.  My oldest sister would have “pajama parties;”  we call them sleepovers today, except back then no one would ever think of inviting boys to a sleepover!

Sis would set up her pink and grey record player, with a big stack of 45’s waiting near by to be played during the party.  Yeah kids, record player.  Songs were recorded on vinyl discs called records – small ones were 45’s and they had one song recorded on them.  They were played on a contraption which had an arm with a stylus (needle) inserted into it.  As the record revolved, the stylus picked up vibrations off the grooves in the records, which magically emitted music from the record player speakers.

So Sis would invite all her teenaged girlfriends and they would dance to the records, eat snacks,  and just have fun all night, I assume.  I was never allowed to stay up for those parties because I was just a youngster of four or five.  The pajama parties were usually held in our basement, and I would sneak down the stairs part-way, sit on a step, and watch with envy as the girls danced, laughed, and squealed at their fun.  My sister would shoo me back up the steps, but sometimes one of her friends would take a shine to me and let me come down to dance awhile.  I not only remember the parties but the songs on the records they played.

Songs like “Cathy’s Clown” and “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers, “Soldier Boy” by The Shirelles, “Papa Loves Mambo” by Perry Como, “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone, “The Monster Mash,” “Leader of the Pack,” and the list goes on and on.  Simple music from a simpler time.

My adolescent years took place in the 60’s and early 70s’s.  The music from that time is also ensconced in my memory.  The first record I ever purchased was “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits.  I listened to typical teenage fare back then and graduated to songs by Elton John, The Doobie Brothers, and Chicago in my college years.

And then the disco era hit. By then hubby and I were married and starting to settle down.   The songs from the late 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s are scattered in my memory.  I was too busy producing and raising children to listen much to popular music, but I do “remember the 21st  night of September…Say do you remember, ba dee ya, dancing in September, ba dee ya, never was a cloudy day.”

If I wasn’t still sick with this nasty flu bug, I’d get up and dance.  No energy though.  Fits of coughing would ensue.  So I’ll just watch this little guy boogie on down.  Come on, get up and boogie with him, you know you want to!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Here’s your sign!

blogdscn6840“You know you’re getting older when your back goes out more than you do.”  [Ba-dum-bum]  Even though it can be comical to everyone else, getting older is no joke.

I’m discovering this as I glide along, albeit unwillingly, on what I refer to as the “down slide” of my 50’s. 

For those of you who don’t get my drift, that means I’m on the second half of that decade counting down to the 60’s.  And I don’t mean on the golden oldies chart.

I used to get a charge out of watching comedians do their spiels, but as I age, I find that not too many comedians make me laugh any more.  Most of them are too vulgar or just plain old not funny.

Comedian Bill Engvall usually does make me laugh though – heartily – out loud.  It cracks me up when he tells a story about something so blatantly obvious and then retorts, “Here’s your sign,” in that down home accent of his.

So today, I’m borrowing his trademark.  If any of these pertain to you, well…..here’s your sign!

You know you’re getting older when:

  • the only time your phone rings, it’s either a telemarketer or your doctor’s office reminding you of your next appointment.
  • you care more about whether your hair color covers all your gray than how silky your hair feels after dyeing it – actually, you could care less what color it is, just cover the gray!
  • you purchase a car not because of how it looks, what color it is, or even based on its performance, but whether you can climb in and out of it easy enough.
  • you find yourself wondering if you need to get your hearing checked after your daughter informs you, “This is Ken’s Mom’s chili recipe,” and you repeat, “King Kong’s chili recipe????”
  • you keep turning up the volume on your TV but telling your kids to turn down the volume of their music.
  • you find yourself falling asleep on the couch at 7:30 on a Friday night watching “Wheel of Fortune.”
  • you talk about someone you know who is in his 70’s and you refer to him as “not that old.”
  • the only numbers you seem to remember are your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
  • bathroom habits take on way too much importance (enough said!).
  • you go to the mall to “walk and talk” not to “shop till you drop.”
  • you have sleep issues because you either fall asleep at inappropriate times or can’t sleep when it’s bedtime.
  • your doctor gives you embarrassing pamphlets to read “just in case” and when your nosy daughter incredulously inquires, “Do you have incontinence?”, you respond “Duh, North America!” because you thought she asked,  “Do you have any continents?”
  • your daughter thinks either A. you are losing your hearing,  B. you are losing your mind, or C.  you’ve lost both.
  • your medicine cabinet never lacks Tums or Mylanta.
  • you can’t remember where the cat is, then hours later, you must rescue her from the trunk of your car, which is parked in a city parking garage near your daughter’s place of employment (true story!).
  • rolling out of bed in the morning is more of a procedure than an action.
  • hubby asks you to remind him of something important and you BOTH forget.
  • you are invited to a party and you show up the day after it’s over.
  • you not only can’t find your car keys or cell phone, heck, where is the car?
  • you think an exciting evening of entertainment is when there’s something good to watch on TV.
  • you can’t eat or drink anything with caffeine after a certain time of day or you’ll be up all night, wide-eyed, but probably not bushy-tailed.
  • the oldies play on the radio, you remember all the songs and sing along,  but you can’t remember what you did yesterday.
  • you start repeating yourself, you start repeating yourself, you start repeating yourself…oh.
  • you convince yourself that you have some rare disorder and when you show and/or describe your symptoms to your doctor, he says, “Nope, just a sign of aging.”
  • you still refer to your twenty-something children and their friends as “the kids,” and they are all have better paying jobs than you do.
  • your “get up and go” got up and went, and you didn’t even notice.

And finally, “you know you’re getting older when you know all the answers but nobody asks you the questions.”   You have to realize you just might be older than dirt.  How do I know?  Look in the mirror.  Here’s your sign.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Excuse me while I go train my brain

blogDSCN6801A crossword a day keeps the memory lapse away.   That’s been my motto for the last few years.

When you’re young, you can not wait to be an adult.  The older you get, the more you longingly reflect on the “good ol’ days” when you had more energy, more hair, less weight, and a mind like a steel trap instead of a sieve.

After I passed the threshold into the big five-oh decade, I found I was becoming more and more forgetful.  It was a different kind of memory lapse than what I sometimes experienced as a young mother trying to hold down the fort while hubby was traveling away from home out on the work battlefield.

One day back then my very wise mother informed me, while I was bemoaning about my forgetfulness, that my lack of memory was because I was too stressed and my calendar was too full.  She was right, as always!

Since becoming an empty nester,  stress didn’t seem the culprit to my ongoing lack of recall.  Oldest daughter suggested I work on crossword puzzles every day because she had read that doing so benefited your memory.

Easy enough to do, every day a crossword and a word search puzzle are printed in my daily hometown newspaper.   So sharpened pencils and erasers in hand, I made crosswords a practice in my daily routine, usually every evening.

At first, being unable to complete them frustrated me.  You might say I was puzzled, perplexed, bewildered, baffled and even a little bamboozled by these brainteasers.  But I consistently improved at them and my ailing memory started recuperating.

Apparently puzzles of all kinds are good stimuli for our brains.  Whether you prefer crosswords, word searches, Sudoku, anagrams, jigsaw, riddles, or logic puzzles, you give your brain a good work-out.   Go brain!

Even the Mayo Clinic reports that crossword puzzles help you stay mentally active and keep your mind sharp.  Evidently our brains require exercise to stay fit just like the muscles in our body do.

I don’t know who said it, but I’ve read that “Unused muscles go flabby, but an unexercised brain simply goes stupid.”  I’ll second that!  On more than one occasion, my brain has rendered me stupid.

But I’m not convinced I will buy into the latest trend which is, according to a report by a New York television station,   frequenting “brain gyms.”  You can actually find a “brain trainer” and pay him/her a fee to um…train your brain.  Uh, huh.

I think I’ll just stick to my daily puzzles that my newspaper provides.  It’s cheaper,  I don’t have to take my brain to the gym, or try to find brain-sized workout clothes, and I’m not letting anyone mess with my mind.  Enough people try to do that already!

I’ve read that the famous author, mathematician, and logician Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice in Wonderland, was fascinated by puns, acrostics, anagram, riddles, mathematical games, and puzzles.  I’m wondering if perhaps he didn’t stimulate his brain just a wee bit too much though.   He did compose such things as this in his poem “Jabberwocky:”

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Sooooooo……..I’ve persuaded myself into thinking that since I probably stimulate my brain adequately with crossword puzzles, word searches, and writing this blog, I can most likely forgo hiring a brain trainer.  My personal brain gym can be right here in the privacy of my own family room.

Now I really must go because blogging has put me behind in my other regimen of brain training – there’s a stack of crossword puzzles waiting to be solved on my coffee table.   Brain, I’m gonna pump you up!

One last thought though.  If I start blogging about the time I was  “scandufulous and jampifed” or that my cat did “flumdiferously  woobleate”  you’ll let me know,  won’t you??

Because Lewis Carroll, I am not.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Rambling About Retiring

blogScan_0170429 (21)Dreaming of retirement?  Apparently you can make all those dreams come true if you read articles about retirement.

But most of them address only the financial aspect of this stage of life, it seems to me.

My mind’s been roaming and roving around on a tangent about this milestone in life because I have a friend who recently retired.  What sounds like bliss to the rest of us, who still must endure the daily grind, isn’t exactly idyllic to her, and she is struggling with the day-to-day aspect of retirement.  I know she will eventually discover her way on this path because she is one smart cookie.  But for now, retirement is a considerable adjustment for her.

I remember when my father retired.  My mother, who was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker extraordinaire, confessed to me that Dad was driving her nuts!  He was accustomed to a job that kept him “on the go” all day; Mom was used to her daily routine at home which did not involve jumping in the car at the drop of a hat to “go somewhere.”  It  took some time, but soon they adjusted to this new phase of their lives.

I’m the “baby” of my family, the youngest of three sisters.  My oldest sister and brother-in-law just retired.  They closed the doors of their business with finality and for now are traveling around the country in their RV and enjoying time with their children and grandchildren.  They are deliberating about spending winters in Arizona and perhaps heading back here to the homeland for summer time.

My other sister and brother-in-law are also living the “easy life.”  After years of hard work, they are taking pleasure in this time of relaxation and respite.  They keep busy with hobbies, interests, and friends and seem content doing so.  They have a first grandchild due to make an entry into the family near the end of this year, so they will be morphing into grandparent-hood shortly.

My hubby and I are not approaching retirement age quite yet.  Matter of fact, the economic prognosis in our country right now makes retirement for us seem like an almost unobtainable goal, remotely existing in the distant future.   I just researched a government website for information on when you can retire and take full social security retirement benefits.  For most of us baby boomers, the magic age is 66.  For my hubby, who is only one year younger than me, it is 66 plus two months.  Of course, you can retire earlier if you want, you just don’t receive full benefits.  Hubby and I pessimistically think by the time we are ready to retire, social security will be insolvent, and we’ll probably get nothing.  Sounds dismal, doesn’t it?

I suppose that’s why a good portion of retirement advice dwells on finances.  But it also occurs to me that many of these article writers assume everyone wants to live “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”   Do they all suppose we want to sell our current homes and retire to some exotic island where we can purchase a villa — smaller of course than what they think we own now, but way more expensive?  They must believe we desire to travel “around the world in 80 days” and then do it again every year after that.

Of course, I believe if you have the money, the inclinations, and good health in your retirement years, why not live it up?  You deserve to enjoy that period of your life.

But if you are anything like me, you might just want to live a simple life instead.  Sure, throw in a couple of fun trips to wherever you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  But for the most part, enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests.  Enjoy spending time with your family.  Enjoy friends.  Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise.  Learn something new.  Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.   Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

There’s a wacky study, performed by some psychologists from one of those places in academia, that says retirees do not find their happiness spending time with their children and grandchildren.  I say,  “Bunk!”

Naturally, I don’t adhere to the belief that your progeny should provide your only source of happiness, but I do think we gain much, much joy from our family ties.  So I don’t think retirement should be time for complete self-absorption.

To me, retirement is your time to spread your wings and fly if you can.   But also ground yourself from time to time with those you love the most on this earth.   This Mama is hopeful that once retirement comes for us,  the empty nest will still be open,  waiting to be filled up from time to time with young birds’ visits and maybe someday, grandbaby birdies too.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Girls – even older ones – just want to have fun

shadow-jump-girl-boots-615347.jpegThursday, 23 March 2006

Ya know, one day you’re 18  and can’t wait to graduate from high school, go to college and jump right into the “real” world. 

Then the next thing you know, you ARE thrown into the real world and get run over by a bus    — in other words, reality slaps you right upside the head!  But hey, you’re young, so you just pop right back up and get on with it.  And then all of a sudden, you’re 50 and you can’t pop right back up from ANYTHING! 

Yep, I’m feeling OLD today!  I’m not particularly fond of crawling out of bed and creeping along at the pace of a turtle because I am too stiff to move any faster.  I know, I know, I need to exercise more.  Yeah, yeah…right. 

 But honestly, why do some people who don’t exercise one bit seem to be able to run and jump and play even at the ripe ol’ age of 60-something or even 70-something?  My bones say no way, forget that running, jumping, skipping part.  Heck, my body doesn’t even want to go up the stairs! 

What’s up with that?  Every time I go up my stairs lately, my knee kind of wants to give out on me and I feel this weird weakness/pain/tightness in the back of my knee and leg.  So I did what everyone with a computer does, I googled knee and hip pain (cuz I think my problem is coming from my hip or possibly my back). 

Whatever you do, if you have a medical problem, DO NOT look it up on the internet!  Everything you read there just scares the living daylight out of you!  Now, I’m starting to feel like my hypochondriac daughter.    Sorry, punky!

So yeah, I’m getting old and I have the body to prove it.  And my son — MY BABY!!!!!  — will be graduating from high school and going away to college.  Waaahhhhh — poor mommy!

Okay, enough with the tales of woe. I think I’ve just realized that maybe I’m not going to have any fun anymore once my birdies fly out of the nest for good. 

See, my husband’s idea of fun would be reading a good book or going to a museum.    But my idea of fun is like my house is now, usually buzzing with activity, my kids’ friends come over, they have parties, there’s always some sporting event to go to or whatever. 

Like just last weekend, we went to my son’s senior all-stars basketball game.  The teams consisted of senior players from different high schools in our area.  It was really fun!!  Not only did I get to watch my son play on an awesome team for the first time in a looooooooong time (they won like 113-89 or something), but I also proudly watched as he accepted a hot-shot co-ed competition trophy for shooting the most baskets with a girl partner, AND I got to see a famous professional football coach in person.

Yep, a very famous head coach of the world champion football team….coach of the Super Bowl Champions…yeah, THAT guy.  

There he was just sitting on the bleachers just like a regular ol’ person, proud dad of his daughter, who was playing in the girls’ all-stars game.  And he stayed until half-time of the boys’ game following the girls.  So yeah, he stayed and watched my son play. 

Who woulda thunk it?  Famous football coach watching my son play basketball.

So when my birdies fly out of the nest, will there be any more opportunities for famous people to watch my kids play sports?  Nope! 

Will I see any more famous celebrities?  Nope! 

 Will my house be full of young and fun people? Nope!  

And I will be an old geezer walking along at a turtle’s pace or sitting in my rocker.  I protest!!! I still want to have fun!!                                                  

©2006 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Comments (5)

Well, I think you’re probably gonna be stuck with me until I get married, so the fun times will continue for another couple of years, at least!!

And I agree that looking up symptoms online can be scary. I’m kinda convinced that I have a brain tumor, no thanks to Google.

3/24/2006  sunflower

You’re right. I know nothing about cars.

4/13/2006 sunflower

Over a month has passed… I hereby declare it Time For You To Update!

4/24/2006 10:21 PM  sunflower

Happy Birthday, Old Girl! 🙂

6/2/2006 sunflower

Look who’s talking, woman who never EVER updates her blog!!

10/31/2006 sunflower