Always Always Land

Many of you probably remember my dilemma over whether or not I should give myself permission to run headlong into my second childhood and get bippity-boppetied. Everyone who knows me was kind of dumbfounded that I would even hesitate over this opportunity. It was a bit surprising, even to me.

The night before my date with the pixie duster, I got a text from a friend asking if I was excited. I responded that I was, but, to be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt. I was happy and looking forward to it, but I don’t know that I could really say I was excited or enthusiastic or anything like that. In fact, I had a kind of flat feeling about the whole thing. There was something blocking me from completely letting go and getting giddy.

It took me awhile to realize what it was. My mom should have been there with me.

My parents called me Tinker Bell from the time I was born. My mother called me by that pet name my whole life. It was a special thing between us. We enjoyed a lot of great experiences together. Many of the adventures we had after moving to Florida involved trips to Disney. I pushed her around Epcot on a regular basis. She especially enjoyed the flower and garden festival. One of my all-time favorite memories of her was when I took her to see the Osborne Christmas light show at Disney Hollywood Studios. We were so happy that night. We visited Tinker Bell together in the Magic Kingdom and I have the photo to prove it.

It just seemed to me that, if I was going to go get tinkified, it didn’t make any sense that my mom wouldn’t get to share the experience. I realized that my hesitation about the experience had never been about spending the money or looking silly. It was really all about not quite knowing how to revel in this specific experience without my mother.

After I had this epiphany, I consciously decided my mother would have loved that I was being tinkified and she would want me to enjoy it for both of us. I decided to throw myself into the experience, whatever it ended up being. I would feel whatever feelings came up and I would just let the day unfold however it was going to unfold. I wasn’t going to try to form any expectations or manage the process. I was just going to live it. I was going to be excited.

I did make a couple of preparations. For one thing, I had two very dear friends accompanying me. I called them my “pixie posse.” They volunteered to come along and observe while I was still deliberating about whether or not to do it, long before I realized why I was so hesitant. They wanted to come with me to enjoy the day and to support me. I’m sure they were thinking it would be a fun outing for all of us. On the day of the tinkifying, I leaned into their love instead of wallowing over the loved one that was missing. I also wore my “mom” ring. Right after my mom died, I bought a silver and diamond ring sculpted into a heart formed by two angel wings. I wear it when I am going somewhere or doing something that I think my mother would especially enjoy or when I really, really want to feel her close to me. I knew my tinkifying trip was going to be just such an experience. I was documenting this whole experience on Facebook, so I posted a picture of the ring with an explanation of its meaning.

The day turned out to be wonderful. I did feel waves of momma sadness often during the day, but I’ve learned that sadness and pain don’t have to be the same thing. These waves didn’t hurt. I just surfed them when they crested and rode them to the shore. Then, I paddled myself back out into the happiness. For the most part, I spent the day feeling joyful, playful, free, giddy, and excited. I was Tinker Bell. I was rocking the Pixie Hollow world. When I saw the pictures, I felt pretty for the first time in my life. Not just pretty for me, but pretty… full stop. Momma would have loved it. It occurred to me that this is the way my mother saw me every time she looked at me.

When my brother read my Facebook post about the “mom” ring, he replied that I should keep the ring on always because my mother loved doing stuff with me. He also reminded me that Momma is with me all the time, in everything I do. I believe he is right. She was with me at the pixie dusting and she is with me in Always Always Land.

What have you done to make sense of living when a person you love has died?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a thoughtful day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

P.S. I’m sending an extra special portion of love to those of you who might be having a difficult time facing the holidays with loss weighing on your heart.  It is hard, I know.  As a friend of mine tells me, it is important to learn how to be happy and sad at the same time.  I wish and pray for your happiness to find a place in your heart.

Shopping Season

I’ve been shopping. Imagine that. And it isn’t just Christmas shopping, either.

In addition to the other pratfalls in my keystone cop tour of New England, I seem to have lost about 30% of the wardrobe I brought on the trip.  It went missing somewhere between Maine and Massachusetts.  I am sure the jeans, three blouses, two bras, and one sock are enjoying their extended vacation in one of the many lovely inns we frequented in our travels.

I think it was probably all that moving from one hotel to another practically every day.  Despite my best intentions and organization techniques, it doesn’t surprise me that some of my clothes did not find their way back into suitcases.  As I pointed out in my blog on October 17th (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2018/10/twenty-two-and-a-half-winks/), I am not a great sleeper.  Max is an even worse sleeper.  We are both even more inept at it when we are on vacation.  Neither one of us slept much ‘during our New England trip.  Nearly every morning, we had to pry ourselves out of bed in the wee hours to get ourselves and our luggage ready to board the bus.  This meant functioning (or disfunctioning) on about four-and-a-quarter winks on a pretty regular basis.  In my sleep deprived and harried state, I am sure that some clothes that I intended to transfer from my overnight bag to a laundry bag in my suitcase just decided to stay in bed.

I am not going to dignify the disappearance of the single sock with a comment.   Heaven knows, I lose single socks regularly in my own clothes dryer at home.  The fact that I lost one in New England barely ripples my radar.

The other missing articles of clothing are a bit more significant.  The loss was a bit disconcerting, but the up side was that I had an entirely acceptable excuse to go shopping. Replacing the bras was not a huge problem.  It was pretty easy to walk into one store and simply buy the same size, style, and brand I lost.  The jeans were tougher.  The missing jeans were not new or particularly expensive, but they fit really, really well.  I am mourning that loss a little.  Sure, I could walk into any department store and buy more jeans, but finding a pair of jeans that actually fits my bizarrely shaped backside is rather like hunting the elusive unicorn.  I have learned that I cannot really hunt for a pair of jeans like that.  I must be patient and wait for the jeans to find me.

I have been out shopping several times, maintaining the fiction that I am only trying to replace the three blouses that got lost on vacation. However, I find myself running into the same problem again and again.   As I roam the department stores, my eyes keep lighting on true autumn clothes.  I keep pulling sweaters, jackets, and corduroys off the racks.  As I view myself, in the safety of an air-conditioned fitting room, draped in cool weather weight fabrics in fall foliage colors, I have a hard time not purchasing those garments.

It must be a conspiracy.  It is freakin’ Florida. There is no autumn.  Why do they even display such items?  Probably because I am not the only one who hauls out the cozy the instant the mercury drops below 90 degrees.  I have lived in Florida almost four years.  You’d think I’d learn my lesson. Florida may be in the same time zone as the Northeast, but it is certainly not in the same clothing zone. Yes, it may get cool enough to don a sweater for an hour or even a day, but the weather is just teasing.  By the next day, the mere thought of wool will be enough to send my sweat glands into overdrive.  I have numerous articles of clothing in my closet that I have worn only once or twice because the climate in Florida just won’t cooperate.  Just because I am no longer sweating while actually in the shower does not mean it is sweater weather.  By the time we have our eight days or so of winter and it is chilly enough to justify something heavier than a t-shirt, it is usually January or February.  By then, autumnal-colored clothing doesn’t seem quite right either. 

At least, before I went on vacation, I could tell myself that I could at least wear those seductively cuddly clothes in New England.  Now that some of those clothes apparently decided it was too hot to return to Florida, I truly have no excuse to buy a rust-colored corduroy skirt and three sweaters.  Yet, I did.

Heavy sigh.  Please, somebody stop me before I buy yet another article of clothing that it will never be cool enough to wear.  I clearly have a problem.

What do you feel compelled to buy that just isn’t practical for your lifestyle?  How do you resist these urges?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a warm and cozy day!

Terri/Dorry

Extra, extra… read all about it!!!  My book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement  is a suitable gift for all occasions.  Besides being entertaining and informative, it is rectangular and easy to wrap! Perhaps you would like to visit https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076 and order a copy or several.  If you use the promo code terri , you will get a 15% discount.  You can also order at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com, but the promo code will not apply.  

Heads Or Tails

I am a truly gifted worrier.  When I was working, people used to marvel at my seemingly endless capacity to fret.  I used to tell them that I believed God gave us all talents and He expected us to develop them.  My talent just happened to be worrying.  Colleagues, annoyed by my incessant hand-wringing and brow-furrowing, often suggested that it was time I got another talent.  Well, I think I may have finally found one. 

Recently, the women’s group at my church held their annual bazaar.  The bazaar is quite an undertaking.  I’d say it is the social event of the season in Episcopal circles.  Hours and hours go into planning and producing the bazaar.  Virtually everyone in the parish has some connection with some part of the event. 

The bazaar is also a significant rainmaker for the church.  Although we refer to it as the “bazaar,” it is really a three-part event.  There is the traditional bazaar facet of the project- selling crafts, homemade goodies, and used “stuff” that ultimately migrates from the donor’s garage to the purchaser’s garage.  It is a good thing that other people’s junk is much more appealing than our own junk.  Most churches would go broke if people didn’t donate their old stuff and other people didn’t buy it.  The second facet of the bazaar is the turkey-themed lunch.  That’s right, a week before Thanksgiving, we earn money for the church by selling turkey sandwiches.  As improbable as that sounds, it seems to work.  There was a lot of gobbling going on.   

The third facet of the bazaar is the grand auction.  People donate some higher end items- a week at a timeshare, a baseball signed by a famous player, an original watercolor painting of the church, a homemade dinner party, or something of that ilk. Volunteer auctioneers monitor the bidding and sell these items for, usually, much more than their intrinsic worth.  It is good clean FUN… and it raises a lot of FUNDS. 

This year, we had a 50-50 raffle at the grand auction intermission.  Now, most 50-50 drawings I’ve seen are pretty simple.  You buy a ticket for some amount of money, someone draws a ticket, and the lucky winner goes home with half the proceeds of the 50-50 pot.  We gilded the lily a bit with our 50-50 event.  Instead of buying a ticket, you bought a pair of plastic sunglasses.  When the time came for the “drawing,” there were no tickets and, in point of fact, no drawing at all.  Instead, the leader had us play a game of “Heads or Tails.”  He asked us to stand and then to choose to place our sunglasses either on our heads or on our behinds.  Then, he flipped a coin.  If you had made the wrong choice as to where to place your sunglasses, you sat down and were out of the running.   

We played several rounds of this game, with more and more people plopping their tails back into their seats each time a coin was flipped.  I did remarkably well and became the object of unwanted attention.  The attention was also unmerited since there was absolutely no skill whatsoever involved in making the correct choice as to where to anchor my sunglasses.  I was kind of uncomfortable standing there with everyone looking at me to see if I would choose heads or tails.  Given that I wasn’t that keen on anyone staring at my butt, I was tempted to always go with “heads.”  Luckily, I did not give in to temptation.  I just randomly chose heads or tails each time until only two people were left.  The other guy chose heads and I accepted tails.  I won. 

I tried to bid on some items during the sale to give back at least a portion of my winnings, but I was outbid each time.  There was something in the air- probably charity and goodwill- that was inducing people to pay over $30 a person for a spaghetti dinner.  Since I wasn’t as good a bidder as I was a “heads or tails” chooser, I walked out of the auction $162.50 richer. 

It looks like I have indeed discovered a new talent. I will have to work on developing it.  Who knew that knowing your head from your ass could be so much more lucrative than worrying?

What’s your hidden talent?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative,  you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a heady day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Jingle all the way over to:

https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076 

and order a copy (or a few) of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement .  It makes a great gift!  If you use the promo code terri, you will save 15%.  You can also order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but the discount code will not apply.   Ho, Ho, Ho!!!

 

 

Giving Thanks

By now, most of you probably know about my “Thankful Thursday” project. When I was working, I used to send an email to my staff every Thursday, listing five things for which I was especially thankful that week.  Then, I invited anyone who wished to participate in this “feel good” moment to visit my office at an appointed time for cookies or donuts or something of that ilk.  The price of admission was simply one “thankful.”  If the employee wanted to ingest any of the empty calories I was providing, he or she had to tell the assembled group at least one thing that gave him or her the gratefuls.  It was a fairly successful way to spread a little sunshine and goodwill towards all. For more information, you can check out http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/06/thankful-thursday/#more-81

I began the practice again when I started my Facebook page.  Each Thursday, I publish a Thankful Thursday post, listing five thankfuls and inviting others to chime in with their own good vibrations.  Of course, it is a bit harder to share junk food on the internet, but I do offer “virtual donuts” and “virtual cookies” to those who wish to share a thankful with me.  I kind of love it.  It is so interesting to hear what kinds of things inspire gratitude in others and I love the “warm and fuzzies” I get from purveying positivity.

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, it seems even more appropriate than usual to take a “Thankful Thursday” moment.  Here are the five things for which I am especially thankful this week:

  1. I am thankful for my merciful God who gives me life, love, and light every day in every way.
  2. I am thankful for… oh wait… I don’t have to be thankful for anything else. It would just be redundant….

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17

I’m wishing you all a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving. I don’t have a specific question this week.  I am thankful for any comment you would like to make.  Please leave a comment to share your perspective or email me at terriretirement. 

Yours, with a heart full of grateful,

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: The holiday gift-giving season is almost here.  You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

 

Pixie Dusted

Well, after months of deliberation, I did it. I got bippity-boppitied. I realize that sounds faintly salacious, but if you have been journeying with me, you’ll know that it is kind of the opposite of salacious.  If you haven’t been reading along, you might want to check out  http://www.terrilabonte.com/2018/08/bippity-bop-or-not/ and http://www.terrilabonte.com/2018/09/bopworthy/.  

My pixie posse and I set off to the Grand Floridian Resort, ready for a glitterific adventure.  My friends were going to watch while I transformed into Tinker Bell right before their very eyes.  After my tinkifying, we planned to monorail our way over to the Magic Kingdom to visit the Princess of Pixie Hollow herself, then have a nice lunch.  When we pulled into the parking lot at the Grand Floridian, we knew we were in for a good day.  We encountered the Cinderella pumpkin wedding carriage, with its six white horses, carrying a beautiful Disney bride towards the wedding chapel. Sparkle alert, already!  How can that not be a great omen? 

When we entered the salon, I felt my blood pressure rise a bit.  I bleed sparkle and I think my circulatory system was leaping in joy from all the glitter in the atmosphere. My giddiness level increased.  I was excited from the top of my short, flat brunette hair to the white pom poms on my green fairy slippers.  For someone who struggled so long and hard about whether or not this bippity-boppetying was a good idea, I was all in. I’m not sure how I managed to sit still and not flitter fly all over the salon.   

Andrea was my own personal Purveyor of Pixie Dust.  She was sparkling so much, she didn’t need a magic wand to complete my makeover!  She made me feel special and magical and adorable every minute I was with her.  What is even more interesting is that she made me feel like she was having every bit as good a time as I was having.  I mean, I realize this is her job and she wasn’t making me a Tinker Bell twin for the sheer fun of it.  Still, she certainly acted like having me as a client absolutely made her day.  I think I am, by and large, a pretty pleasant person, but I can’t think that there is anything that special about me to inspire such delight.  Maybe we were all smoking the pixie dust!   

Andrea started with my hair.  I was concerned because my hair is pretty short and I couldn’t imagine a Tinker Bell makeover without the Tinker topknot.  Andrea brushed aside my worries.  All she needed was faith, trust, and pixie dust.  However, Andrea didn’t stop with the bun.  She had an idea that I could look like Tinker Bell, but with some special Terri pizzazz.  Using lots and lots of hairspray, she changed my hair to sculpting material.  I ended up with my topknot, but also with curls and tiny Tinker Bell bows all over my head. I can’t even explain all the interesting special effects Andrea crafted from my hair. I said I looked like a combination of Tinker Bell, Cindy Lou Who, and myself.  I know such an odd mutation is hard to picture (which is why I am including photos), but trust me when I say it was very effective and fetching.  It was exactly what I wanted, but didn’t know it.  The final step for my hair was a liberal dusting of glittering pixie dust.  For those of you who know the whole Tinker legend, you’ll understand that I was very pleased to see that the sparkle was BLUE pixie dust.  For those of you who don’t understand the implication, you can go watch the movie Tinker Bell and The Lost Treasure.  Let’s just say that, without blue pixie dust, the world would be a very different place!  Or at least my world would.   

After the hair came make-up.  Andrea turned me away from the mirror, so I could not see what was happening.  My pixie posse watched, fascinated, cell phone cameras in hand, as I squirmed in anticipation.  They cheered me on, but I wondered if they were just being nice.  I heard them cooing all kinds of amazed noises, but “amazed” can be good or bad.  People coming to the salon to ask questions, make appointments, or check in for their own treatments stared at me.  I kind of stopped conversation.  There was one lady at the counter who was so transfixed by what was happening on my face, the receptionist had to keep asking the same questions over and over again before she answered.   

There was one debate during the make-up process.  Should I have false eyelashes or not?  Before coming to the salon, I thought I would skip the eyelashes.  I thought they might be a bit over the top (yes, apparently I did think there was such a thing as “over the top” when having a Tinker Bell makeover) and, for some reason, they kind of read “villain” to me.  Andrea also seemed to be on the “no eyelash” side of the aisle, as she thought the lashes they had were pretty extreme.  However, my pixie posse believed that I might as well do the eyelashes.  One pixie partner said they would look good in the pictures.  Another reminded me that I probably wasn’t ever going to do this experience again so I should just go the full Monty, as it were. The girl staring at me at the reception desk was also on Team Eyelash.  She kept mouthing, “do the lashes” at me.  I finally succumbed to peer pressure and I am very glad I did.  Andrea found some mid-length lashes for me, which were plenty long enough, believe me.  In fact, when I put my glasses on much later in the day, the lashes were pushing them down my nose.   

I never knew I had such big eyes.  Andrea was able to fit at least four colors on my eyelids.  All of the colors sparkled, of course.  She picked from a huge palette of eye shadow colors, all of which were brighter than anything ever witnessed in nature.  Of course, the highlight of my lids was the sparkly Tinker green that might as well have my name on it from this day forward.   

When Andrea turned me around, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was amazed…. In the best possible way.   I have never, ever looked that good.  Yes, I looked like I belonged in Pixie Hollow.  Yes, I looked like I was Tink-inspired.  But I also looked like some version of me… a me completely liberated from expectations, care, and responsibility.  It was like I was channeling Tinker Bell, as well as looking like her.  Yet, I was still very clearly myself.   

When we went to visit the original Tinker Bell at the Magic Kingdom, she and I had a wonderful pixie meet-up.  I’ve been to see Tinker Bell many times in my life, but I believe we bonded in a new way on the day of my tinkification.  Part of me is still with her in Pixie Hollow.  My friends and I took pictures with Tink.  We enjoyed being childlike, living in the magic.   

I loved having this experience.  I loved having my friends with me.  I can’t imagine doing it without my pixie posse.  They encouraged me to immerse myself in the experience and celebrate. We celebrated together.   We celebrated our lives, our love of Disney, and friendship.  These are some wonderful things to celebrate.   

When I went home that night, my heart was still smiling.  When I removed the remnants of Tinker Bell, I was a little bit sad… but not too much.  Even without the make-up, I still had the pixie dust… on my scalp, on the floor of my bathroom, and, most importantly… in my spirit! 

Thanks to Andrea, my pixie duster, for Tinkifying me in a way I never expected.  Thanks to my wonderful pixie posse partners, Nancy and Kathy, for being my fairy godmothers.

Pre-tinkification

Tinkification in process!

Those eyelashes

!

Andrea, the Purveyor of Pixie Dust

The finished product- my Pixie Sister and me!

The pixie posse!

So what do you think of the new me? Do I look like I belong in Pixie Hollow?  Should I just grow up?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative,  you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a glitterific day!

Terri/Dorry

 

Changing Leaves

It is not a coincidence that fall foliage is the same color as the sunset.   

I learned something about the changing leaves during my recent trip to New England.  Autumn leaves are simply breath-taking.  We describe them ubiquitously as “vibrant.”  Merriam-Webster’s first definition of “vibrant” is “pulsating with life.” Despite that perception of vitality, the changing leaves are more about death than life.  The process by which leaves change colors is not as much about creating something as it is about destroying something.  Time’s weathering strips the tree of the chlorophyll that allows the life-giving green color to flow into the leaves. It is scarring that robs these trees of green… of life. The colors we see during the autumn are the “real” colors of the trees.   The fall leaves are the essence of the tree, all that is left visible and beautiful in the aging process.   

Before my mother’s illness and death, I never used to think much about my own mortality, nor, by extension, my own aging.  I never felt terms like “old” or “elderly’ or “senior citizen” applied to me.  Even when I retired, which is probably our cultural definition of “aging,” I never felt myself to be “aged.”  I saw my retirement as simply compensation for fulfilling a contract. I knew that there was an age qualifier on that contract.  I simply chose to concentrate on the fulfillment of 30+ years of hard work that I promised to complete for the government as opposed to the number of years in my age.   

After my mother died, I think that changed.  Suddenly, the idea that I will die within the foreseeable future came sharply into focus for me.  I began to lose interest in dreams because it seemed like nothing really mattered- I was going to die anyway.  My gut turned over and threatened to escape whenever I contemplated life events and opportunities that I will likely never get to experience or experience again.  I will never be a parent.  I will never get to live in an environment, like New England, completely different from anything I have ever known.  I will likely never see some of the places I have visualized going.  When I start thinking about major purchases, like cars and computers, and vacation trips, it disturbs me greatly that I can see the “lasts” in my future.  I am getting nauseous just writing this.  It feels really terrifying.   

I am only 59. I am sure some of you are wondering what right I have to be so morbid at such a comparatively young age.  I don’t know, but my mother’s death seems to have been the catalyst that reminded me that my life, like every other life, is limited. I still feel some futility and impossibility when I look at the future. 

I think this is the scarring talking.  I am a Christian.  I believe this life is fleeting for all of us, regardless of our age.  I believe that the life to come will be eternal and eternally joyful.  There should be no terror in contemplating that future.  Still, it saddens me to think of what I will be missing.  When I was younger, it always seemed like there was plenty of time to start again.  There was plenty of time to pursue my dreams.  There was plenty of time to travel the world.  There was plenty of time for new experiences.  It saddens me that I now see that there is not plenty of time.  As the song from The Lion King says, “There is more to see than can ever be seen and more to do than can ever be done.”  

I am pretty happy with the priorities I have set in my life.  I’ve had wonderful experiences and beautiful relationships.  I always have joy somewhere in my heart. The problem now is learning to accept that I won’t have everything and to believe once more that whatever life I have left is valuable and meaningful and rampant with possibilities…. even though that life is going to come to an end.   

Just as the trees are losing their green, I am losing my youth in this autumn of my life.  Still, autumn is pretty wonderful.  The mosaic of reds and oranges and golds and browns is certainly more interesting and more eye-catching than the landscape of green.  My own landscape is more colorful, more interesting, and warmer than it was in my youth.  I don’t have to concentrate on the fact that my snapshot of the world is fading.  I can concentrate on the beauty that snapshot captures. My activities and dreams are not moot because the chlorophyll is dimming.  They are still precious and wonderful because they are made up of the stripped-down, primal essence of the beauty that is me.   

I’m trying hard to avoid dismissing the joy of my life because the day will come when that joy will cease to exist. First of all, I may not know what joy will look like in God’s kingdom, but I know it will be there. Secondly, I think we were meant to experience our lives fully, not ration some happiness “for later.” Thirdly, gifts are gifts, no matter when they arrive in our lives.  An awareness that those gifts are finite can increase our appreciation and enjoyment of them.  Also, the timing of those gifts can make them even more precious to us.  After all, we do not mourn the loss of the green when we gain the beauty of the fall foliage.   

Yes, the colors of the autumn foliage are the same colors as the sunset.  They do represent a loss. However, they are also brilliant and joyful and lovely.  They beckon me to immerse myself in life and create joy.  Fall is a time when I can experience some things I can experience in no other time of the year… or of my life.  

You know, the colors of the autumn foliage are the same colors as the sunrise, too.  And that is not a coincidence either.

How do you think about death?  Have you experienced any losses that have also helped you gain a richer perspective about life?  Are you living a sunset or a sunrise? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a colorful day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

 

 

 

 

Trick Or Treat

I went trick-or-treating.  Yes, I am 59 years old.  Yes, I thought it was appropriate.

Some friends and I went to Disney World to participate in Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  This is an extra admission (of course, because why wouldn’t we pay another 75 bucks for the privilege of spending a few hours at a park to which we have already laid out hundreds of dollars to buy annual passes?) event that celebrates the holiday most people observe on October 31.  Disney celebrates that holiday on numerous select evenings in the Fall… starting in August.  In Florida

Let’s just be clear.  There is nothing like a crisp autumn evening creeping into a spooky, chilly night when the sun goes down early and the harvest moon spreads an icy hand over the earth.  And this was nothing like it.  We went in mid-September. The sun didn’t go down until nigh on eight o’clock.  “Crisp” doesn’t really exist in Central Florida.  In September, the weather is more accurately described as “limp.”  There is enough humidity in the air to drown a goldfish.  Disney has to pipe pumpkin fragrance into the crowded streets because real pumpkins would rot on contact with the atmosphere.

When a friend called to ask if I wanted to go to the event, I hesitated.  I’m not much of a night owl.  I rarely go out after dark.  My bedtime, forged by years of rising at zero dark yesterday for work, is ridiculously early.  I don’t get up super early anymore, but I also don’t seem to go to bed any later than I did when I was working.  I just don’t seem to have any endurance for more than twelve hours or so of activity each day.  I also don’t like driving late at night.  When my friend said she would drive, I decided my stick was stuck way too firmly in the mud for my own good and I agreed to go.

I’m kind of glad I did not look the event up on the internet until after I committed to attending. When I did look at the website, I noticed that the party went from 7:00pm until midnight.  For a “not so scary Halloween party,” that seemed pretty scary to me. If I had known the witching hour for the party actually was midnight, I might not have gone.

I am a grown woman.  It really shouldn’t be a problem to stay up past the end of prime time.  Since I had committed to go, I tried to let the whole “I can’t stay up too late” thing go and just chillax.  I didn’t quite succeed.  About a week before, I broke down and texted my friends to see how late they intended to stay.  I was relieved when they shared that they planned to stay until after the fireworks, which I figured would be over by about 10:30.  That would mean getting home around midnight, which is still later than I’ve stayed out in years.  However, somehow leaving at 10:30 seemed MUCH more doable than staying until midnight and I was able to manage my irrational anxiety about actually seeing the moon in the sky.

The evening of the party was…. SURPRISE… hot. And humid.  I was wearing a black polyester t-shirt with orange witch-hat-wearing Mickey Mouse heads all over it.  Given the weather, I fully expected that the pattern would infuse my skin and I would have Halloween Mickey Mouse heads more or less permanently tattooed on my body when I peeled the shirt off at the end of the night.  The park was also pretty crowded.  I thought that the idea of paying the extra event admission was, at least in part, to minimize crowds.  I thought wrong.  The other thing I noticed throughout the evening was that there were a lot of people in those crowds who weren’t behaving very nicely.   I go to Disney fairly often, so it isn’t like I have no experience with theme park manners meltdowns.  I have to say, though, that I have never heard so many impatient, rude remarks as I did that evening.  I think a lot of people had been park-haunting in the heat all day before the party even began and desperately needed a nap, preferably one in an air-conditioned room.

The trick-or-treating portion of the evening was pretty fun.  There were candy stations all over the park.  I have heard tell of people collecting enough candy in a single evening to stock a small store.  I’ve seen pictures on line showing serious hauls of five pounds of candy per trick-or-treater.  My friends and I can go to Walmart and buy candy, so we were not that interested in schlepping around the sweet equivalent of a five-pound free weight the entire evening.  We just visited the first candy station.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that our treat package of candy was…, CHOCOLATE!  It was even more impressive that the chocolate remained formed into bars and had not melted into chocolate goo.  I had figured that hard candy and jolly ranchers would be the order of the evening, as I just didn’t see chocolate holding up to the weather.  Go figure.  Must have been a little pixie dust magic!

The lines for rides and character meet-and-greets were not shorter than regular Disney waits.  In fact, I’d say they were longer.  We went on the Haunted Mansion because, well, we were celebrating Halloween… and there was some pretty cool entertainment outside in front of it.  We also went on Pirates of the Caribbean, which was a fantastic surprise because Disney had changed some of the ride details and had incorporated some live pirates into the mix.  We tried to watch the show and the parade and the fireworks and we saw a little bit of all three events.  The crowds were so large, it wasn’t really possible to really see anything.  I fancy it was a bit like being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  You aren’t going to really see anything more than a few inches away from you, but you still have an exciting, electrifying experience.

In fact, the entire evening was sort of like that.  We had a really fun time, but not because of any particular entertainment.  It wasn’t about the rides or the shows or any of the normal Disney daily delectables.   The event is called “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party” and the emphasis is on the party.  There was music and people and energy.  It isn’t so much an evening at the Magic Kingdom as it is a happening.  The most fun was watching the people in costumes, getting carried away by the mood, and enjoying the fine art of play.  And doing it all with friends.

So, thanks to my friends Babs and Kathy for pushing me out of my comfort zone and into the shadows for a not so scary evening!

Have a boo-tiful Halloween!

What do you have planned for Halloween?  Is your celebration different now than in an earlier time in your life?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com. 

Terri/Dorry 😊

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

The Power Of Passion

This week, I am going to write about passion.

Calm down. I’m not talking about that kind of passion.

I’m talking about the passion that fires the engine of positive change. I’m talking about the kind of passion that motivates people to reimagine and push beyond the societal boundaries that no longer serve the society. I am talking about the Robert F. Kennedy kind of passion that doesn’t look at the world as it is and ask why but imagines the world as it could be and asks why not.

It was my book club that recently started me thinking about this kind of passion. Two of our books in the last cycle were stories of real life women whose passion forced dramatic and painful metamorphosis. The changes were ultimately creative and necessary, but the passionate lives that inspired those changes could certainly have been seen as destructive and dangerous in their time. The books were Desert Queen by Janet Wallach and Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.

Desert Queen told the story of Gertrude Bell. Bell grew into adulthood in the first part of the twentieth century. Despite the suspicion with which polite English society viewed education and independence in women at the time, Bell fought for an education. She spent her adult life collecting new experiences. She became a renowned archeologist and prominent field researcher in the Middle East. She was instrumental in trying to forge and maintain a delicate balance of power and competing interests in that volatile region after the first World War. Historians sometimes refer to her as the female Lawrence of Arabia.

Testament of Youth is Vera Brittain’s memoir of her education, experience as a field nurse in World War I, and, ultimately, her crusade for pacifism. It chronicles her romance with the young man she loved and admired more than anything else in the world. He left a life of study, achievement, and potential to become soldier. Like many young men of the WWI generation, he died before he had a chance to build a life.

While the two books focused on two different themes (the development of the Middle East in the case of Gertrude Bell and the achievement of lasting world peace for Vera Brittain), both books demonstrated the passion with which the respective women pursued their causes. They lived and worked in roughly the same time period. It was a time period during which the world granted little respect for women who lived with the type of passion that is a combustible fuel for change. Both had to snarl and claw and outwit their way to their achievements. Both had lasting impact in the development of women’s rights. In some ways, the books are less about the Middle East and pacifism than they are about the power of independent, intelligent, strong women…  and the richness and wonder the world deliberately refused for centuries in resisting the contribution of such women.

Despite my admiration for both Bell and Brittain, I have to say that I didn’t particularly “like” either book. I found myself feeling distinctly uncomfortable while reading the books. It took some reflection to figure out that it wasn’t the books I disliked,  but the characters.

That’s right. I didn’t like Gertrude Bell and Vera Brittain. While I respected their accomplishments and admired their strength of character, I just didn’t like them. They came across as strong to the point of being strident, confident to the point of being arrogant, brave to the point of being foolhardy, and single-minded about their beliefs to the point of exclusion of all else… including personal relationships. I am happy that they helped create the world I enjoy today.  I just didn’t find them all that appealing to be around, even in the pages of a book.

The stories of Gertrude Bell and Vera Brittain caused me to wonder if it is possible to be an agent of positive change with a gentler, defter, less corrosive… maybe less passionate… touch. Maybe the answer is no, especially for a woman and especially for a woman of their time. Maybe the only way to get the status quo’s attention is to bash instead of tap.

I’ve wondered about this before. I think about some of the women I’ve known whose achievements I admire. The women that I see as remarkable in what they have accomplished are filled with passion. Honestly, I usually don’t find them all that pleasant to be around. I wouldn’t say that they believe the ends justify the means, but I do think they are okay with some collateral damage in pursuit of what they believe is the common good. They are able to accomplish great things, but people tend to get hurt by the shrapnel. They do value the people around them (or, frankly, they wouldn’t have those people around them), but believe that everyone has the same burning passion towards the goal and forgives any incidental relationship damage. I think they almost believe that the relationships are stronger because of the drama they undergo in the pursuit of the goal.

Part of passion is swinging wildly on the branches of unimaginable highs and crashing to the depths of unbelievable lows. Me, I like being part of the pursuit and working with others to achieve a goal…. but, at a certain point, I like to return home from the jungle.

That may be the nib of it. People are just different for a reason. Even back in the middle ages, physicians believed people were governed by their different “humors.” They believed that a person’s health and disposition were comprised of blood (sanguine), yellow bile (choleric), black bile (melancholic), and phlegm (phlegmatic, of course). They assigned an element to each of these humors. The choleric humor was fire. People with an overabundance of the choleric yellow bile were thought to be filled with fire, heat, and aggressiveness. The phlegmatic humor element was water. People with an overabundance of the phlegmatic humor were thought to be cold and staid and predictable. Maybe the passionate change agents of the world, filled with fire and bile, do have to have a certain edge and single-mindedness that phlegmatics like me lack.

On the other hand, one of my personal heroines is St. Therese of Lisieux. I think anyone would say that St. Therese was passionate about her faith. She said that she could not do great things but could do small things with great love. Perhaps she did not do great things in her lifetime. However, in the centuries since, her life has touched the hearts and changed the souls of millions.

Perhaps there are different paths to passion and perhaps that is why we are all different. Our world needs all of our passion- no matter what that passion looks like- to focus on creating something wonderful. We can all contribute to that “something wonderful” in whatever way God leads us. In my case, I think that He has made me phlegmatically passionate!

What do you think? Who are your personal heroines and what does passion look like in their lives? How has passion motivated you to be the person you are? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a passionate day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Twenty-Two-And-A-Half Winks

I have a friend who routinely sleeps her way through flights from Honolulu to Washington DC.  I am in awe of her.

It isn’t that I get nervous flying or anything like that.  It is just that I’ve always been a terrible sleeper.  For as long as I can remember, sleep was hard work.  For something that is supposed to be an automatic physiological process, it certainly alludes me. Even when I was a little girl, I couldn’t just close my eyes and sail sleepily off to the Land of Nod. My mother used to dose me with Tylenol the night before the first day of school on a regular basis.  I am not aware that Tylenol has any anti-anxiety or sleep-inducing properties, but she swore by it.  I never had the heart to tell her that it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference.   

What my mother did get right, though, was her intuition that I had trouble sleeping because my brain just wouldn’t shut off.  My mind often manufactured strange sights and sounds emanating from my closet.  I reran the activities, anxieties, and mistakes of the day until the soundtrack screamed inside my head.  Even when I did sleep, my brain tended to stay half alert.  That half alert portion of my mind would entertain itself by telling itself stories… usually not very pleasant stories.  Hence, it was common for me to wake from any slumber I did get, completely convinced that the dreams I had been dreaming were real.  As a child, I sometimes had night terrors. I would awake screaming and crying hysterically without knowing why.  Once in a while, I would even sleep walk.  Even when I grew up, I would sometimes wake to find myself curled up on the floor with no memory of how I got there.   

Understandably, the night terrors started training me to not sleep.  I would be awake all night with some regularity. As anyone with even occasional insomnia knows, the worst possible thing you can do is to lie there in the dark thinking.  I knew that instinctively, even as a child.  I tried counting sheep like in the cartoons, but those sheep always seemed to live more interesting lives than I did.  My imaginary sheep, instead of just leaping the imaginary fence as I counted them, would talk and wander off on adventures.  I tried praying, but this would often end up with me thinking a great deal more than was conducive to sleep.   I tried reading with a flashlight under the covers until my parents confiscated the flashlight.   

Neither of my parents ever had a difficult time with sleep, so they were a bit perplexed when I tried to explain what I experienced.  My mother employed two strategies when she found me awake at some inappropriate hour.  First, she would simply tell me to “stop thinking and go to sleep.”  When that didn’t work, she would haul out the Tylenol.  At least dosing me with acetaminophen made my mother feel better, even if it didn’t get me any more shut-eye.  

As an adult, my sleep never really improved.  I came to accept that there were no monsters in my closet, but the real-life monsters in my head were still there.  In times of particular stress, I stopped sleeping completely.  I remember once, after my ex-husband left me, I didn’t sleep for five nights in a row.  After some persuasion, I allowed my doctor to prescribe some sleeping medication.  I then accused her of giving me placebos because the sleeping pills didn’t seem to help.  Sleep deprivation does tend to make one a bit irrational. She swore up and down that the medication was real, but I still am not sure I believe her.   

I did eventually start sleeping again, of course.  The overall problem continued, however.  When an interaction with a customer did not go well at work, I could pretty much count on spending the night trying to retool the conversation instead of sleeping.  There were lots of times when a simple phone message from a difficult person was enough to bar the door to Zzzzville for me.  When my mother was ill, it was rare that I ever slept more than 3 or 4 hours a night.  I tried all the home remedies.  I tried to go to bed and get up at the same time each night. I tried turning my clock around so I couldn’t see the time.  I tried relaxation exercises.  I tried getting up and doing something calming for awhile when I did not fall asleep after twenty minutes or so.  Given that criteria, I was up doing “something calming” for most of the night.  I took over-the-counter sleeping pills.  What I didn’t do was put my phone in another room so it wouldn’t have been as easy for me to maniacally google every thought that came to my mind, in a vain attempt to find the answers to unanswerable problems.  Again, sleep deprivation does tend to make one a bit irrational. 

Since my mother’s death, my sleep and lack thereof has pretty much returned to my “normal.” Towards the end of my mom’s illness, my doctor prescribed a new kind of sleep medication.   Its formula is designed specifically to shut down the “awakeness” of the brain.  It is wildly expensive.  Also, the pharmacist acted like I was asking him for heroin when he filled the prescription.  I took the hint and only take it when I have gone several nights in a row with no sleep.  It helps a lot. I am also finding that my recent journey of self-happiness is helping.  As my brain gets more practice at living in the moment and saying “yes” to things I want to try even if they are outside my comfort zone, I seem to be able to say “yes” to sleep a little better. 

I will probably never be a talented sleeper.  When most people get their forty winks, I only get twenty-two-and-a-half.  But I’m trying not to let that fact keep me up at night!

What helps you sleep?  What techniques can you share that may help me increase my wink production?  Did you notice a change in your sleeping patterns when you retired? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@@gmail.com.  

Have a restful day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

Rising Above

All of you who know me IRL (and, by now, probably most of you who know me only through the blog) know that flexibility and rolling with the punches are not exactly my strong suit. I really prefer a life where things are planned and scheduled. I like to know what will happen and when it will happen. Uncertainty causes me great anxiety. When things don’t go as I expect, I can go off the rails pretty easily. I can think of numerous times in my life when plans went awry and I was left, gob smacked and paralyzed because I couldn’t figure out what to do next.

On my recent trip to New England, life wasn’t playing by my rules. In fact, it might have been the most troublesome trip of my life.

We were delayed for 4 and a half hours trying to get out of the Orlando airport. There were three different mechanical issues that delayed us… each discovered right after the previous one was resolved. Not only did our plane experience multiple problems, those problems could not even have the goodness to happen concurrently. We “almost” left about four times before we actually did make it off the ground. We loaded and unloaded the plane multiple times.

When we finally got the second (or was it third?) safety check, apparently poised to actually get the airplane into the air, there was a further problem. One of the disgruntled passengers was on the phone to the airline headquarters, negotiating at the top of his lungs to get a travel voucher for his trouble. He refused to stop yelling long enough to listen to the safety instructions or hang up his cell phone for take-off. The rest of us were ready to pounce on him. If he had not finally shut up and apologized to the flight attendant, I think we would have had to go back to the gate AGAIN to have him removed from the flight. Had that occurred, I doubt he would have made it to the parking lot without serious injury.

By the time we got to Boston, I had put aside this sketchy beginning to our trip. I was ready to have a good time.

Unfortunately, the travel gremlins did not get that particular memo.

During our sojourn, I tripped over a step in Bar Harbor breakfast room (take note, all you who objected when I said I am an exceedingly clutzy individual.) I remained upright, but a bottle of milk on the buffet table did not. I managed to spill the entire serving carafe of milk on the (carpeted) floor. The food on my plate went flying across the room, with considerable less delay than our plane from Orlando. The bus we originally boarded in Boston did not have a working microphone system, so the poor tour director had to wend her way down the aisle repeating her spiel every few seats until we got a new bus a few days later. We were two hours late getting to New Hampshire because of traffic related to a small-town fair that is apparently attended by the entire population of Maine. Our bus driver nearly missed a stoplight in Massachusetts and slammed on the brakes, sending people and water bottles tobogganing down the aisle of the vehicle. In one hotel, a fire alarm went off at 4:15am, requiring us to evacuate and stand around in the cold in our jammies for an hour. We arrived back in Boston to the city’s first ever hotel strike and the resultant picketing and catcalling. Finally, on the last morning of our trip, as we were packing to leave, the fire alarm squawked. It was a sign from God to go to the airport, even though it was a couple of hours before we intended to leave.

Yes, this certainly qualifies as a candidate for the most troublesome trip ever.

And yet….

It might also have been the most wonderful trip ever.

How could this be? Simply put, I fell in love with New England. And maybe, just maybe, I am learning that a beautiful gift packaged in bedraggled gift wrap is still a beautiful gift. And New England was a mind-expanding, life-enhancing, oh-so-beautiful gift. Everything bad that happened was just the bedraggled gift wrap. I rose above it. I chose to live in loveliness and lovingliness.

I loved the fall foliage bursting with color and warmth and magic. I remember my mother once saying “when you see one tree, you’ve seen them all,” when I asked her how she enjoyed one of the tours she and my father took. For me, it was more like- “if I see one tree, I want to see them all.” I rode, hour after hour, drinking in the landscape as I stared, mesmerized, out the window. I didn’t even blink very often, for fear of missing even a slight smidgeon of miracle. I developed a sort of involuntary gurgling noise that became Max’s “exceptionally beautiful fall foliage early warning alarm.” Whenever he heard me emit my gurgle, he knew to turn to see what was delighting me.

I loved the rocky coastline of Maine- wild, free, and powerful. I loved the food- the lobster and the popovers and the gingerbread and the cheese and the apple cider donuts. I loved the ever-present autumn decorations- pumpkins and mums and cornstalks. I loved the beautiful paths to nowhere- except more beauty- that swirled around the rivers and meadows and forests.

I also loved the serendipity. I loved the way the air smelled and tasted. I loved the quiet, dignified sunrise over Bar Harbor. I loved that Max tried to ring the church bell in New Hampshire by swinging on the rope. I loved meeting a “local” artist who, before living in New Hampshire for about 10 years, had lived about a mile from where Max and I lived in California. He had been the illustrator for the California newspaper that both of us had read most of our lives. I loved the whimsical statues of bears and moose we saw at nearly every stop. I loved the soothing jacuzzi in the ski lodge in Vermont. I loved meeting the little welsh corgi “saleslady” in a souvenir shop in Newport.

Yes, it was a wonderful trip and I am still smitten by New England. I know I will likely never move there. I don’t really want to rebuild my life again. As Max kept reminding me, within a couple of months, the many colors I so fancied in the fall forests will be replaced by one color- white, white, and more white. While I think I could do better with cold than with the Florida summer heat, I don’t have any experience with managing snow and ice. I know I get antsy if I have to go more than a day or two without getting out of the house here in Florida. Winter in New England might give me terminal cabin fever. I have a great life in Florida. I am sure my life is easier than it would be in New England. I have an active life, with plenty of fun things to do. I have wonderful friends who I don’t want to leave.

Still, when the time comes for God to bring me Home, I hope we make a brief detour for a few decades in New England. In the scheme of eternity, it wouldn’t be much of a delay and I think my soul was meant to have a New England life.

I have to apologize for the pictures.  I wanted to share some, but they don’t do justice to nature’s beauty.  Also, I can’t figure out how to get them to line up the way I want them to, so you might have to tilt your head a bit!  Please don’t throw your neck out!  

What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a beautiful day!!!!  🙂