Thursday, Nov. 23: It’s just been announced that the biggest Black Friday deals will appear today, Thanksgiving Day! I don’t know why we talk about Black Friday as it is really, “Black Thursday extending into Black Friday and the Black weekend.” Wears you out just trying to say that. I marvel at people who get up at an ungodly hour to get the privilege of standing in line, regardless of how good or bad the weather is, to get really “unbelievable” merchandise.
When I was a little girl, my mom and I went downtown because Marshall Fields was having a ” bargain-basement” sale. I’m not sure how it happened, but we became separated. There were all these gigantic people around me. Some were fighting over merchandise and most were stepping on me. I was frightened because mommy had disappeared and these mammoth creatures pushed me one way, then another. With no mom in sight, I started screaming through tears, “MOMMY, MOMMY!” We were finally reunited, but the memory of that event lives on. Perhaps it’s a form of PTSD, but at the mention of a “sale” I’m reduced to panic and dread. I would rather go through a root canal without anesthetic than participate in a Black Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Sale. Each year we hear about fights breaking out and people being injured (sometimes severely) at stores. Mind you, all this occurs at a time of the year in which we commemorate a harvest festival by the Pilgrims — way back in 1621 — a time of thankfulness.
My experience of course was “pre-mall.” We are now entering a “post-mall” era and the good news is rather than fight the crowds we can surf the web! But Thursday, I’ll be preparing a turkey with yummy sides while my home becomes filled with the aromas of Thanksgiving. Rather than searching for gifts, I’ll be arming myself with gratitude. After all, it is Thanksgiving.
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is, a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem
One of the things that started me on my “Year of Yes” quest, was listening to conversations with my friends. Most of us are beyond the 50-something years and I’ve observed that our discussions have changed over time. That’s natural as our lives have changed. However, I find some of the changes disturbing.
Do you recall your thoughts when you were younger? They were all about the future. They started with what was happening at school, then we dreamed of getting a driver’s license, wondered what college we might attend. As we grew older, they morphed into career planning, marriage, becoming a parent, plans for vacations or a new home. There were so many things ahead…things to do, places to go.
What I’m hearing now are stories of our latest medical tests , plans for a CT scan or MRI, and what medications we are taking. OMG! All that is important, but is this all there is?
I made the mistake of stating this opinion to someone and was met later with, “I know you don’t want to talk about anyone’s health…” Obviously I worded my comment incorrectly. Of course I’m interested in the health of my friends, it’s just that I think there are other things to think about as well. Of course, there’s always politics but after the last couple of years who wants to increase depression or anxiety. Think Van Gogh’s “Scream!”
I can just hear someone saying, “But when you’re young you have your whole life ahead of you.” That’s true, but even if you’re “as old as the hills” you still have your whole life to look forward to — it may not be as long as it was when you were 20, but it’s still sitting there in front of you.
It seems to me we’ve forgotten how to dream. Do you want to visit the Amalfi Coast? Do you want to have more serenity in your life? How about a cruise?
As I begin my Year of Yes, one of the first things I’m planning is to develop a Vision Board. Have you ever done that? First it takes some thinking. Ask yourself open-ended questions like:
“What can I do to make my life more meaningful?”
“Where do I see myself in 1 to 5 years?”
“What makes me truly happy?”
“What’s most important to me?
Then gather some things together: poster board, magazines, postcards, pictures, scissors, glue stick, quotes that propel you to move towards your dream, colorful pens and pencils…heck, if you’re an artist, paints will work as well. The point is put together a picture of your dreams. It can be about one dream or many. Create your “dream” picture, then place it where you see it every day. Let it become part of your existence.
Are you interested in creating a Vision Board? I’m planning on having a Vision Board Party. At the moment, I’m thinking about February 19 in the afternoon. I’ll supply some finger-food and magazines, etc. Bring your poster board, more magazines, pictures, supplies, your imagination and dreams — then expect to have fun. Of course an RSVP is important so I’m ready for everyone.
I am an avid TGIT (thank God it’s Thursday) person. It starts with Grey’s Anatomy, continues with Scandal and ends with How to Get Away With Murder. As I write this, all three shows are on hiatus till after the first of the year. And we are left with cliff hangers or even worse shock (OMG, Wes is gone!).
“But,” you ask, “what does that have to do with a Year of Yes?” If you love TGIT, then you’ve heard of Shonda Rhimes, the creator/producer of those shows. In my mind, Shonda is very strong, something like one of the gladiators in Scandal. At least that was my opinion until I saw her thought-provoking Ted Talk, in which she explained her year of saying “Yes” to things she found intimidating (Shonda can be intimidated?). She found her life was all work. Ok, it was work she loved, but it was ALL WORK. Where was the love? Where was the joy?
Sometime after watching the Ted Talk, a new book was advertised on Kindle — “A Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person,” by Shonda. It went into greater detail about her year of yes. From childhood on, Shonda performed mostly solitary pursuits (like writing). She never wanted to speak in public — yet she gave a Ted Talk. She never wanted to be an actor but appeared in an episode of The Mindy Project. Good grief, she never wanted to be interviewed on live TV, and she does that as well.
She and I both love story telling, have vivid imaginations, but that is where similarities end. I enjoy public speaking, I’ve always loved performing. Yet, her book SPOKE TO ME and I questioned, “Why?”
My year 2016 started with a heart attack. As a result, my focus has been on my health. However going out with friends, engaging others – you know, living life – was diminishing. I visited my brother and sister-in-law recently, and suddenly blurted out “I need an adventure.” They just stared at me. Adventure? Where did that come from?
When I was in my 20’s my best friend asked, “If I can get a job teaching in California, will you move there with me?” It was February in Chicago. It was 19 below zero. I started dancing around singing, “California here I come!” After several exciting years living in the San Francisco area, I moved to Miami. My new home had beaches and scuba diving but I was longing for more. I started looking for a job with an American company in Europe, where I envisioned myself spending each weekend traveling from country to country. That was interrupted when I met my husband. I opted to stay in Miami.
After his death, wander-lust returned. I was off to the Big Apple. I figured, “if I could make it there …” (you get my drift). What is it about February and living up North? Back I came. Always looking for new opportunities, I worked in logistics — first managing all products Burger King, later managing aircraft parts for an Army Foreign Military Service contract. I also worked in Out Placement, Computer Training and Sales of On-Line Computer Programs. I’ve worked for large Corporations, and small companies. I even had my own company. Unlike most people, I like change — even welcome it.
Now I found myself disinterested in the “sameness” of things. While many of my friends seemed to enjoy a slower pace, I did not. And then I read Shonda’s book. It filled me with a desire to say Yes to things I find intimidating and it gave me permission to say No to things that prevented my trying them.
If I was going to have an adventure, I was going to step over the precipice of change alone. I must admit, it is a little scary…but exciting and compelling at the same time.
Do you want to tag along on this journey? All aboard! I’ll be reporting on my experiences throughout the year.
It’s Oscar time. Do you recall some of those acceptance speeches? Winners, I’ve heard, aren’t supposed to speak more than 45 seconds.
I thought about this due to a recent “win” of my own. In my case there were so many people working in the background to assure my victory, I figured the music would start playing before I’d get through half the names on my list.
My award is for a little drama entitled, “The Road to Recovery.” Hillary once said, when it comes to rearing children, ”It takes a village.” The same could be said of all those who help you recover from a traumatic health event. I rarely got last names of the many I encountered, so for my “recovery acceptance speech,” I’ll just use first names. That being said, here is Sharon’s acceptance speech:
“Oh my God, I can’t believe this. I won! There are so many people to thank. First of all, I have to thank my directors. Yep, most people have 1 director, I had 2. Dr. Rosa Garcia and Dr. Ramon Quesada, without whom recovery might not have been possible. Then there is my Emergency Room RN, Johanna. She assured me that while the diagnosis was not what I wanted to hear, recovery was more than likely.
“Thank you to Lauren an RN, who replaced Johanna as shifts changed in the ER. While readying me for a trip to the Cath Lab, Lauren continued to give me assurance. It was about this time I met Samuel, a Cardiac transport worker. What can I say about Samuel? I was clearly distressed so he started a conversation. ‘Who is your cardiologist?’ When I said it was Dr. Quesada, he said, ‘Wow, you’re lucky, he’s outstanding.’
“In the Cath Lab, thank you to Peggy, an RN whose sense of humor and uplifting personality were so helpful. Thank you to Patty an RN, who explained that while I would be awake for the procedure, all would be OK. Then she gave me an intravenous ‘cocktail.’ There were so many others in the lab busy preparing for the cath. Someone introduced me to a ‘pizza board’ (well that’s what they called it) and soon the procedure was over.
“Thank you to Juan an RN who found extra blankets — I was freezing. He and Samuel took me to my room. More relaxed, I heard Samuel saying, ‘See, I told you everything would be OK.’
(music starts playing)
“OK, OK. Let me finish. I didn’t think directors would visit you early in the morning, but there was Dr. Garcia the next morning.
“For the next couple of days, I was surrounded by so many caring people. Brittney my RN, who put up with my incessant questions (what can I say, I’m a Type A personality and a control freak as well). Monica, Ashley, Fernando, Abigail and Cachaundra all monitored my blood pressure and EKG, every few hours. An especial shout out to Abigail, who I scared half to death when she came to take blood in the middle of the night. I awoke with such a start, I almost hit her. Thanks also to Tammy from Housekeeping who was so cheerful and genuinely happy at my improvement
“Thank you to David and Lina from Cardiac Rehab who took me for short strolls around the floor and explained just what Cardiac Rehab was, and what to expect once enrolled in the program.
(music gets a little louder)
“Wait a minute guys. Don’t you realize I might not be here if it weren’t for these folks?
“Thanks to Mike who brought me food (which actually tasted good) and thanks to the unseen folks who prepared it as well. Thank you to the people in the various labs that I never saw, but monitored my health constantly.
“Finally to the Producers, Baptist Hospital. I have no idea how you acquired such a fantastic team — each had a combination of professionalism and empathy that was to say the least, outstanding. Somehow you did. I’m sure I’m forgetting some names, so please forgive my lack of memory. Thank you all.”
Have you ever felt you were “walking on air?” I had the experience early this year.
January came with new health insurance and a new doctor. As expected a number of diagnostic tests were prescribed. Baptist Hospital was offering a nominally priced CAT scan for a special study they were conducting on people who were smokers or former smokers. Since I fell into the latter category, my doctor recommended it. “What the heck, why not?” was my response.
At my next doctor’s appointment, she noted there was a ‘lesion’ that looked suspicious. She had discussed the results with the radiologist and they recommended I see a breast surgeon. “But,” I said, “my mammogram didn’t show up anything.” The CAT scan won.
The surgeon performed an ultrasound and as I watched the screen, a big black spot appeared. It was not in my breast but a lymph gland.
“OMG!” I was officially experiencing “high anxiety.” A needle biopsy was scheduled for the following week. After spending the longest weekend on earth, I had the procedure. As he probed the area, I heard the doctor say, “Boy is someone going to be happy.” It had aspirated! I looked at the screen and the large black spot was gone.
As I left his office I experienced that sensation of “walking on air.” I didn’t walk — I floated to my car — my feet never touched the ground!
THE CAT FAMILY
Everything changes but somehow remains the same. Last year at this time I had 8 kitties. However my dear boy Ashley passed away in February.
A few months later, Clouseau, came home with a little girl. He said in French (of course), “Maman, je l’ai trouve un petit chat. Son nome est Gabrielle. Puis-je le garder? (rough translation: I found a little cat. Her name is Gabrielle. Can I keep her?)
I looked into those pleading eyes and said, “Non!” My resolve lasted about 5 minutes.
Initially, it was perfect. He played with Gaby and stopped tormenting the other cats. The vet noted she was a bit older than I originally thought. Time for neutering. Poor Clouseau, looked everywhere for his lost love? Soon it was time for her return. As he waited at her carrier door she exited. She had a cone protector around her neck.
Clouseau took one look at her. As he ran away. I heard him exclaim, “Argh … quel est ce. Elle est un conehead etranger.” (Argh … what is this. She is an alien conehead). He’s now talking divorce.
THE GOLDEN YEARS
Yes, “the golden years” are upon me. You know, those years full of lovely trips, spending time with friends, taking up new hobbies and not having to get up at the crack of dawn. I’ve found however, whether by habit or just having to get up in the middle of the night for a potty run, I’m still up by 5 am. As for the gold, that’s to pay for fixing or replacing body parts that apparently were not designed to last for more than 70 years.
As I write this, I have just had cataract surgery. Pre-op is not just those few minutes before surgery. It is the culmination of heightened apprehension which begins the day you find out you are going to have surgery and concludes when you enter a very sterile room where a smiling nurse asks, “how are you?”
I wanted to say, “I’m scared as hell and let me out of here.” What came out (in a childlike voice) was, “Fine.”
A Valium brought my blood pressure down to something less than frightening. All went fine. I was so good they gave me a cookie! So far no one has mentioned “co-pay.” But I know they will.
JUST CALL ME PREZ
As most of you know I’ve been active with my Toastmasters Club and this year is no exception. In July I became president and now I’m busier than ever.
Might this be a new beginning for me? Should I consider taking on “The Donald?”
Just a short note to my friends who still ask, “What happened to you? Where’s your blog?”
No, it didn’t disappear, I just got busy doing other things. Yet I am resolved to start again, and should begin within the week.
The real issue for my hibernation is, I had no idea how busy I would be when retired. Think of the word, ‘ retire.’ Does it mean get to work? No, quite the opposite. I’m always busy. What with technology, I even have post it notes on my computer screen admonishing me to do this, do that, get busy, go to a meeting, go to the doctors (the latter seems to be high on the list of retirees). I can never complete what I have to do in a day and then it slides over to the next day which is already too full so some things just don’t get done.
If you were a workaholic in your previous existence, chances are you will continue to treat aspects of your life the same way. Conversely, if you were a couch potato before, you might well become twice baked before you know it.
I was the former and the blog was my new job. It started to “un-fun” me towards the end of last year. My new plan is to start out with a blog appearing every 2 weeks instead of weekly. If something strikes my fancy — well you may see me more frequently. But the workaholic time schedule is in the past. In a previous post, “Life is what you make it,” I noted “it’s not the company schedule, it’s my schedule.” So, I’m taking my own advice and being selfish with my time.
A friend e-mailed me last week. “We haven’t seen your blog for a while. What happened? You were sending one every week.”
That is (or more accurately was) correct.
Things are beginning to catch up with me. I started a great on-line class called Writeriffic. As you might guess, it’s a writing course. What comes with writers’ courses? Writing assignments. I’ve been trying to keep up with them and forgot I also signed up for an editing course. I just finished lesson one. Unfortunately, the class is up to lesson three.
The Miracle Mile Toastmasters Website is finished, but posts need to be added to the blog page. Only four to go.
Thanks to my instructor in Writeriffic talking about ‘The Artist’s Way’ 12 week creativity course, I thought, “let’s take that as well.”
Suddenly, anxiety started to build. I heard voices (yes voices, and take that smirk off your face) that were saying, “You haven’t started to write your blog this week. Do you even have a clue what you’re going to write about? When are you going to do it.”
Here’s what happens when anxiety sets in — my mind goes blank. It rebels, and says, “I don’t want to think, LET ME ALONE.”
By Friday, while looking at an empty computer screen, I realized something had to give. The creativity course can wait till after the holidays and I’ll get to the blogs after I catch up with my classwork.
As the whiney little voice started questioning again, I responded, “I’m retired damn it,” and in typical Scarlett O’Hara fashion announced, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.”
To my readers, I’ll be returning soon. Hang in there.