It’s Not The Heat; It’s The Humidity

Summer has different associations for everyone. Some people think of beaches, vacations, school being out, longer days, picnics, or the smell of fresh peaches.  I sometimes think it is my goal in life to change your core association with summer.  When you think “summer,” do you think “time for Terri’s annual whine about the Florida weather?” Yes? Then I’ve succeeded.

The other day, I saw a post on Facebook that said, “Lord, whatever you are baking out there- it’s done.”  It seemed highly appropriate.  The temperature zipped up to the mid-nineties this past week, with little fanfare or buildup. The term “baked” was spot on.  It was more of a California kind of a mid-nineties heat than a Florida heat.  The sun glared. It took little or no time to start to feel hot as Max and I tramped around an outdoor shopping mall.  Strangely, the weather seemed really bearable to me, though.  It was dry and quiet.  The sky was clear and clean.  It was easy enough to feel immediate relief from the heat. All we had to do was simply step out of the sun into the shade. 

The day is coming, any time now, when this will all change.  The sky will darken, the air will sog, and the moisture in the atmosphere will be impossible to escape.  At any given moment, the angry, painful-looking clouds that are obscuring the sky will crack open and furious rain will accompany the heat.  There will be thunder so loud you have to shout to be heard over it.  Chain lightning will be a daily occurrence.  People who try to make the best of things will tell you that the rain is really good because it brings the temperature down.  That may be accurate, but I’m not sure.  The temperature may go down, but the humidity is so heavy you can’t really tell.  In fact, it is sometimes difficult to know when a storm has passed because the rain is followed by steam.  The only clue that the storm may be over is that you no longer have to yell over the sound 0f rain brutally assaulting the roof.  

This past week’s heat has been dry and clean, like a towel fresh out of the dryer.  No one likes a towel fresh out of the dryer being stuffed over her nose and mouth, impeding the ability to breathe.  If the weather gets so hot that you can’t draw air without scorching your lungs, then that isn’t a good thing.  However, I think there is a pleasantness to having that warm towel close to my face.  It harkens back to childhood and safety and helps when I have a sinus headache.  On the other hand, a towel dipped in super-heated water stuffed, sopping wet, into my personal space, is not my idea of a good time. I think we are getting ready to take the towels out of the washer very soon now.  Breathing in dense, wet, terry cloth has absolutely nothing to recommend it.  Breathing the hot, humid summer air in Florida is pretty much like that. 

You see, its not the baking; it’s the boiling that is the problem with Florida summers!

Update:  I wrote this a couple of weeks ago.  Rest assured that, since then, we are out of the frying pan and into the crock pot.  God is making a big tasty batch of Florida soup and I fear it is going to be simmering nonstop until November.  Any suggestions on how to stay comfortable while slow-cooking in a pot of soggy atmosphere?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alterative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Hope you stay out of hot water today!

Terri/Dorry 😊

P.S. I seem to be a week ahead of myself.   When I posted last week’s piece, I was convinced that Fathers’ Day was on June 9th.  I learned I was wrong last Friday.  Therefore, I’d like to wish all you dads a happy Fathers’ Day NOW that the correct day is this coming Sunday.

Daddy

As Fathers’ Day approaches, I realize I’ve written about my mother many times on this blog, but have not shared much about my father.  I don’t like to leave the impression that my father was not part of my life or that I somehow don’t appreciate my father.  He lived his life for me, my brother, and my mother.  I am who I am partly because of him.  He died in 1996, at the relatively young age of 72.  

Like many little girls, I went through a period of hero worship with my father.  I clung to him.  He fascinated me.  He was bigger than life in my eyes, even though he wasn’t a particularly large man.  When I think of him, I think of him singing or making something or teaching me how to do something.  He called me Dooley, for some unknown reason.  For years after he died, I would see him when I was out walking my dog and would hear him call me by that ridiculous name.

My father knew lots of songs and he had a beautiful voice.  He used to sing when we were in the car or when he was working around the house.  Some of the songs were not the most appropriate for children, but I thought they were funny.  Navy drinking songs might be a strange choice for entertaining a seven-year-old, but I didn’t care.  I just loved to hear my dad sing.  My mother always used to try to get him to join the church choir, but he never did.  I don’t think he liked the idea of having to “measure up.”  I think he got a lot of confidence from his family and from his ability to take care of us.  Outside that family unit though, I think he felt somewhat insecure about his abilities.

My father was the oldest of six children.  He was born a couple of years before the stock market crash of 1929.  By the time his siblings came along, the Great Depression had the world firmly gripped in its jaws.  I think most people in the 1930s saw working together as the only way of surviving this financial monster.  Individual hopes and dreams did not mean as much as banding together with family and friends to make sure everyone came through safely.  My father’s childhood and, also, his young adulthood, was structured in such a way that others came first.  He helped raise his younger siblings.  He helped his parents during the lean years. He enlisted in the Navy upon graduation from high school to fight in the war.

 He did not get to pursue a college education or go to drafting school or learn to play the piano.  These were all aspirations that he one day told me he wished he had been able to fulfill.  When the time came in his life when he could have pursued these interests, I think he was too afraid of failing to embrace them.  I wish he had felt surer of his ability to reinvent himself.  It was almost as if he was resigned and reasonably satisfied with what he had accomplished and was afraid that he would fail at a new pursuit.  He felt that such a failure would erode what he already had. I think my father’s life was full of accomplishment and success and there is nothing more he could have achieved that would make him any “more than” in my eyes.  I just hope that now, in Heaven, he is fulfilling all of his dreams deferred.

My father was inventive and creative.  Some artists write.  Some artists paint.  Some artists compose music.  My father’s artistry used a different medium.  He built me a purple baby doll bassinet when I was four.  He built me a playhouse with a fort on top for my brother when I was seven.  He worked with me on a science project when I was nine, building a device that demonstrated how primary colors could be combined to make secondary colors. 

My father kept me safe.  When I proved myself inept at using a pogo stick, he rigged up a rope on the limb of a sturdy tree in the backyard.  He attached the pogo stick to that rope and I was free to bounce without breaking.  When all the other kids at school knew how to swing from one end of the monkey bars to the other, I couldn’t even get from ring one to ring two.  Daddy took me to the schoolyard on the weekend and practiced with me until I confidently flew from ring to ring as competently as any lemur.  He taught me to swim.  He taught me to drive.  He taught me to sacrifice, not just by example but by noticing when I did something unselfish and recognizing me for it. 

When I was a little girl, I think I was my father’s princess.   I think he marveled that I was his creation.  He couldn’t imagine that there could ever be any fault in me, which is why he tended to overreact when I did something that clearly demonstrated that I do have faults in me.  He told me once that he was sorry for sometimes being too hard and too harsh on me when I was young.  He said it wasn’t ever because he wasn’t proud of me.  It was actually the reverse.  He said that I seemed to him to be so wondrous and miraculous, he couldn’t imagine me being anything less than perfect in any way. Therefore, when I did something wrong or churlish or immature, it was a shock and he didn’t always show good judgment or patience in his response.

The very first thing I ever wrote that I tried to publish was an essay about him.  A national teen magazine was holding an essay competition and asked contestants to write about the world’s best father.  I submitted my essay and never heard back (which should have been a clue to my future in publishing).  My father found a copy of my essay and read it.  I remember how touched he was.  I remember him looking at me in amazement and saying, “thank you, Dooley.”

I do think my growing up scared him.  We went through a lengthy period in my adolescence and young adulthood during which he didn’t really understand how to relate to me.  I think the notion that I was moving away from being his little girl made him believe I was moving away from him.  It took some time for us to figure out how to be special to each other in our new roles… father and grown-up daughter.

Even when we gingerly settled in to a new, deeper, more mature understanding of each other, I was still his cherished little girl. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I probably needed the daddy that still saw me as the princess in a tower who needed his protection.  To everyone else, I was strong and in charge and capable.  To Daddy, I was precious and deserved a knight in shining armor.  It was more valuable than I can say to have had a father who I knew was willing to fight my battles, even though I was completely capable of fighting them for myself.

Happy Fathers’ Day! What memories do you have of your father? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Memory Superbloom

Last week, I talked about the beauty of the spring superbloom in Southern California this year.  During my recent trip back to visit my old homeland, I realized that I forgot how uniquely beautiful the desert can be when the wildflowers carpet the terrain.  It was heart-stoppingly gorgeous.  However, I also realized it was heart-stoppingly dangerous, as the flowers will soon fade and die and become fuel for the wildfires we so dread in Southern California. 

The flowers were not the only thing that bloomed on my trip.  Nor were they the only things that can be dangerous.  As I prepared for the trip, I subconsciously steeled myself for the impact of a superbloom of memories.  The southwest is where I grew up.  It is where I lived most of my life.  It is where most of my conscious memories were born.  My family lived together in New York until I was almost six, but I was so young that most of those memories are lost.  The only home where my immediate family formed memories together was California.  My schooling was there.  My career was there. The crucible of maturity that was my marriage and divorce was there.  I raised my fur child there.  I met Max there and we built a together life there. 

Most of these memories are happy ones.  Still, I have learned, over several trips back to California after moving to Florida, that exposure to the site of my memory banks is not necessarily a completely pleasant sensation.  I’ve found that sticking my toe in the California memory banks can be a complicated, confusing experience.  I’ve enjoyed my time visiting California in the past.  It has been wonderful to spend time with my friends and do activities that were part of my entertainment life when I lived there.  Still, there has always been this sort of nagging gray haze hanging over me when I was there.  I put it down to the idea that everything is so familiar to me that it doesn’t really feel like an adventure or an exotic vacation, but nothing is still familiar enough to me to make it feel like home.  It is very disorienting.  I don’t let it impede my enjoyment of the trip.  I just kind of go with it, but it is a weird feeling.

I was more hesitant about this trip than about other ones, oddly enough.  It was not that I didn’t want to go, but I did feel a certain apprehension.  This time would be my first trip back after my mother passed away, except for last January when I went back to scatter her ashes.  That trip was kind of all about her, even though she wasn’t with us in this life any more.  This time, the trip was about Max and me.  In my anticipation, though, I was more afraid of the memories than I have ever been. 

It might have been because we were going to Laughlin during this trip.  Although Max and I used to go to Laughlin now and then when we lived in California, it was more a place that was part of my history with my mother.  We made several girls’ trips there.  We would pack up the car, head east, and spend a few days just hanging out.  We would eat, sit by the pool, go to an occasional show, shop, ride the water taxi on the river, and just bask in some “us” time.  My mother enjoyed Laughlin and she enjoyed being with me.  I think a lot of the reason she enjoyed our trips to Laughlin so much, though, was a real “mom” reason.

You see, my mom always thought I worked too hard, became too tightly wound, and lived at a pace that was much too rapid.  She was probably right, but I’m not sure there was any alternative to any of that while I was still employed.  She was wise enough to know that nothing she could say was going to change any of it.  She had a sneaky little plan to lure me away from that fast-paced world once a year or so.  She would simply suggest a trip to Laughlin. She knew I would agree to take her because I loved her and wanted to make her happy.  In her mind, if I took her to Laughlin, I’d be forced to slow down and ease up.  Manipulating me into spending two or three days with her by the river, living at the much slower pace required by her age and infirmities, was her strategy for nurturing me.  Truth?  It worked. 

Laughlin reminds me how much I was loved. I was afraid that going back to Laughlin would remind me that the love is gone. 

The trip turned out to be great.  For the first time, I did not get that sense of disorientation that I’ve had every other time.  The gray haze was gone.  Nothing felt sinister or wounded.  I remembered the happy times with real pleasure.  For the first time, I felt like I could be part of the California world and the Florida world without experiencing a psychotic break.  Max had a lot to do with that.  He is always good to me, but he seemed to be making it his particular mission to take care of me during this trip… to find ways of delighting me and making the time special. 

And Laughlin was wonderful.  I thought often of my mother. I re-experienced the warmth and joy of our memories together at the river.  As I looked out of our hotel window at the river, I could feel her smiling at me.  I cried once or twice, but I was so happy.  I felt such overwhelming gratitude to have had those times with my mother and to be able to relive them in my mind and heart.  I learned there is nothing to fear from my memories of being loved so much.  That love is not gone, after all.

Is there a particular place that spurs memories for you of a deceased loved one? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a memorable day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Ugly Side Of Pretty

It isn’t hard to remember that Southern California is basically a desert. Much of the topography is chronically brown and dusty. The last ten years I lived there, the state was undergoing a massive drought, so the color palette of the geography was a rhapsody in beige- except for the fire-scarred black patches. Irrigation- water sucked from the Colorado River and the mountain snowpack in the northeastern part of the state and managed by manmade dams and reservoirs- creates a deceptively lush landscape in populated areas like Los Angeles and Orange County.  It can be jarring when one drives through the Inland Empire and over the mountain into the Land That Water Forgot.  The adjective that comes to mind is “scraggly.”  Everything is dusty and bare.  Anything that does actually grow does so in tired, uneven patches of angry-looking brush.  The ground looks like a brown dog with a bad case of mange. 

Yet, there are people who love the desert.  They maintain that the desert is beautiful in its own harsh and primitive way.  My own parents were desertphiles. I never really understood that perspective, I have to say.  We often camped in various “desert parks” (an oxymoron in my book) when I was a little girl.  Hallucinogenic heat by day, cold so chilling you avoided moving inside your sleeping bag by night, and tarantulas in the public restroom never inspired me to wax poetic about the delights of the Mojave Desert.  The desert, in my mind, was always something you endured until you once again entered the world of water politics in an oasis like Las Vegas or Laughlin.  Such places are still desert, but have the advantage of air conditioning, swimming pools, and frozen cocktails.  I like my deserts properly cooled and hydrated, thank you very much. 

During our recent trip to California, we included a road trip into said desert.  We drove from Orange County to Laughlin, Nevada.  Laughlin in a small resort/gambling/water sports mecca on the Colorado River. It is across the river from Bullhead City, Arizona, and a few miles north of Needles, California.  I feel ridiculous attempting to explain where it is by referencing such thriving metropolises as Bullhead City and Needles.  Suffice to say that there isn’t much of anything out there except the river and six or seven hotel casinos.  We like it because it tries so hard to capture the kitschy glamour of Las Vegas in a location completely devoid of glamour.  For as long as I can remember, there has been a hand-lettered sign on the side of the road as you enter a corner of Nevada that proudly proclaims: “BABY FERRETS FOR SALE.”   You just have to admire the pluck of the place.    

As we prepared to climb over the mountains on our way out of Orange County, there was a noticeable lack of brown all around us.  The drought went on for so many years, I honestly forgot that there is a rumored “wildflower season” in the desert.  Old wives tell tall tales of brightly-colored patches of blooms cropping up in undeveloped Southern California areas after a rainy season.  I never put much stock in such yarns because I never truly believed there was such a thing as a rainy season. 

During the past winter, though, Southern California did experience a rainy season that would have worried Noah.  As I drove into the desert, I learned that the old wives did not lie about the wildflowers that bloom in the wake of the winter storms.  It wasn’t just “patches of color,” either.  It was whole hillsides draped in bright yellow mustard flowers.  It was miles and miles of pink, purple, white, and orange ribbons of blossoms running alongside the desolate highway.  The news called it the “spring superbloom.” I’ve never seen anything like it.  The beauty was gob smacking.  I think I drove the entire 280 miles from Laguna Woods, California to Laughlin, Nevada with my mouth hanging open.  I couldn’t get enough of it. 

I couldn’t get much in the way of pictures. I was driving on a basic two-lane highway through the middle of nowhere with no place to stop.  There are no “scenic viewpoints” because, usually, there would be nothing remotely scenic to view.  I did take a picture of a mustard flower covered hill from a Walmart parking lot.  It isn’t great, but try to view it with the eyes of someone who has never seen that hill dressed in any color but brown. 

You would think that so much beauty would make me happy.  Initially, it did.  Then, I started thinking about what comes next.

You see, that glorious beauty foretells a dirty little secret. The wildflowers, gorgeous though they may be, are still just weeds at the end of the day.  In about six weeks, they will wilt and die.  They will leave vast fields of dry detritus in their wake.  The world will not long remember the wonder that was the spring superbloom, but its summer aftermath will lie in wait.  The dead foliage will get drier and drier until it spontaneously combusts.  All it will take is a heated argument or a smoldering look and the superbloom remnants will burst into flames. Wildfires need fuel and the wildflower superbloom is indeed super fuel.  Fire season will harvest the dried, dead superbloom and scar the hillside.

Then, if the rains come again next winter, the newly barren hillsides will saturate and slide dangerously into oblivion.    At first, they will ooze slowly out of their topographically boundaries, dissolving into a trail of goo covering roads and towns.  Then, the volume and the speed will increase, causing a rushing river of muddy destruction.

All that beauty generating all that disaster… hard to believe, although I know it is true.  Pray for the firefighters and first responders in Southern California over the coming months.  They are the ones that will be dealing most intimately with the ugly side of pretty.  They will need all the strength, skill, and luck they can get to stay safe.  Yes, please pray for them.  They will need all the super grace we can summon.   

Do you have any experiences of “the ugly side of pretty?” What are some examples?  What seems beautiful, but camouflages a more sinister side?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can send me an email at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a completely pretty day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The hill in the background that looks kind of light green is actually covered with yellow mustard flowers. Sorry it isn’t a great picture. If anyone has a better picture of the superbloom, please post in the comments!

An Overabundance Of Love

I used to think there was no such thing as too much love.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Maybe what the world needs now is love, sweet love, but I think it can do without any more lovebugs.

Before we moved to Florida, many people questioned me about whether or not it would be inordinately buggy in my new home.   I believe we were all thinking about mosquitoes.  I know I always did picture Florida as having more than its share of mosquitoes.  In truth, I haven’t really noticed much of a mosquito problem.  Yes, I have had a few encounters over the past four years that have left me itchy and swollen and pretty grouchy.  In general, though, mosquitoes have not been an issue.  Maybe it is because I am rarely out after dark, but I have no major mosquito complaints. Truth be told, my issues with mosquitoes are not peculiar to Florida.  I’ve come away on the losing side of mosquito interactions in California, as well.  What can I say?  To mosquitoes, I am delectable…coast to coast!

I have to learn to think bigger when someone mentions “bugs.”  Clearly, mosquitoes are not the only insects that populate Florida.  It is lovebug season and I am a lovebug natural disaster. My car is speckled with dead lovebug guts. I could feel bad about all the lovebug tragedy I leave in my wake, but I really don’t.  I just think the world has more than enough lovebugs and we don’t need any more. 

I don’t think the lovebugs got that particular memo, though.  In fact, lovebugs seem to have only two purposes in life- to mate and to crash into cars… often simultaneously.  For a few weeks each year, the lovebugs swarm all over like locusts in the Bible.  They spin through the air in a frenzy of copulation.   The sky is gray with them.  They fly, two by two, in passionate embraces, towards their doom.  That doom is usually the windshield or grillwork of an oncoming car.  You can see them mating through your windshield and they are obviously pretty into each other because they are completely oblivious to the fact that their love is going to be very short-lived. 

Lovebugs don’t bite or sting or hurt people in any way.  I’m not afraid of them.  They just make me feel icky.  They are so prevalent in the air around me, I am constantly fighting off the disturbing conviction that I may have just swallowed one (or more than one because they are not exactly loners).  Also, their guts contain some horrible chemical compound that eats into paint, chrome, and even windshield glass.  You are supposed to get your car washed immediately when you see the acid rain that runs through the lovebugs’ veins splattered on your vehicle.  I’m sure the carwash places thrive more than the actual lovebugs during lovebug season.  Unfortunately, unless you stop driving completely for two weeks and leave your car in a hermetically sealed garage, you might as well never leave the carwash during the height of the bugginess.

You do hear a lot of complaining about the lovebugs.  They are inconvenient and a bit aggravating.  But isn’t that true of everything, even love itself, sometimes?

Kidding and minor annoyance aside, the lovebugs are not a big deal.  First of all, they are a self-limiting problem.  In a couple of weeks, they will be gone.  If I swallow them, well, I guess a little extra protein isn’t a huge problem.  If their self-destructive behavior in the midst of coitus causes your children to ask awkward questions, I guess it can be a teaching moment. 

Yes, even if the lovebug goo causes some problems with my car’s paint, I guess I can live with that.  What I can’t live with is a world without love.  Maybe having lovebugs take over the planet for a couple of weeks each year is worth it if it reminds us that love is all around us!

What is your experience of lovebugs?  Do you think they serve some metaphorical purpose or are they just plain annoying?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com 

Have a loving day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Hug A Mom Today

I saw a Facebook post the other day that said, “A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.”  So true.

My mother died almost two years ago.  She wasn’t able to physically hug long before that. I can still feel her hugging me.  There is no other feeling like it.  It might be the most powerful energy force in this world.  I think, when God wanted to give us a little taste of how it feels to be loved by Him, he invented the mother’s hug. 

I realized something about physical interaction between a mother and child when my mom was in the various care facilities. Because of her frailty and cumbersome mobility assistance devices, it had been many years since I could easily hug or kiss her.  I was always afraid that I’d fall into her if I leaned over and around enough to get to her.  We talked about loving each other and demonstrated it, certainly.  Still, physical affection, like many other aspects of her physical life, deteriorated more and more as she became more and more infirm.

When she was in the care facilities, it was much easier for me to reach out to hug her and kiss her and hold her. The barriers that helped her balance and move were not necessary anymore because she wasn’t balancing or moving.  There was no need for me to lean awkwardly or worry about falling.   That ability to connect physically was very nice for me and I think it was for her, too.  Being able to reclaim physical affection was a gift we received during her final months. 

I don’t think either of us realized how much we had been missing touch.  One time, I was sitting by her bed, holding her hand, when I decided to leave because her roommate had a whole army of people visiting.  I had difficulty loosening my hand from hers. Although she could no longer express herself well enough verbally to let me know how much she was loving my touch, she was communicating that message by clutching my hand.  Now, I wish I had stayed right there holding her hand; army of visitors be damned. 

You see, a daughter’s hug lasts long after she lets go, too.  I hope my mom can still feel me hugging her now, even in Heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day!  How are you celebrating?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Stage Fright

I recently performed in a play at church about women in the New Testament.   I played The Woman Caught In Adultery.  There were no auditions or anything like that.  Basically, the very talented lady who authored the play just asked for volunteers.  Many of the volunteers said they would be happy to play any part… except The Woman Caught In Adultery.  People even cheerfully volunteered to play Mary Magdalene…just not The Woman Caught In Adultery.  Maybe they had a certain amount of respect for someone who, at least, demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit in a time when there weren’t a lot of career options for women.  The Woman Caught In Adultery seems to have abandoned her moral principles simply for the sake of giving the milk away for free. 

Anyway, I was cast as The Woman Caught In Adultery not based on talent but on my general guppiness. I’m pretty much willing to do whatever anyone asks me to do to help (well, maybe not actually commit adultery), with or without the scarlet letter. In this case, there was no scarlet letter… just a vibrant banana-yellow head scarf.  It is safe to assume that the respectable women in the community would be able to see me coming. 

It was kind of fun preparing for the play.  We rehearsed each Thursday night for about a month.  I enjoyed working with the other women.  I juggled inflection and volume with my lines, trying to ascertain what combination of emoting produced the most effective result. I liked experimenting with makeup. We thought it likely that women in Biblical times would be too busy to just sit around and talk.  The director asked us to each find some sort of hand work we could do while we reminisced about our experiences with Jesus. I taught myself to knit using a YouTube tutorial.  Mind you, I didn’t learn how to FINISH knitting, but I did manage a rather mangled stretch of congealed blue yarn.  I felt quite accomplished.

I wasn’t even particularly nervous about the play.  At least, I wasn’t even particularly nervous about the play until the day before the performance.  Then, the goblins in my gut started dancing around with torches.  My insides felt skittish.  I had a couple of dizzy spells the night before and the day of the play.  None of this is surprising.  What is surprising is that it took so long for the stage fright to set in.  I tend to experience a pretty high level of anxiety just living normal life.  The other surprise is that the show went on and everything went well.  Nobody died.  There was no blood on the floor.  Contrary to all the good wishes I received, I did not break any actual body parts.  I’m not joking.  Between my long robe, ascending a couple of steps, and doffing my glasses (apparently, no one wore glasses in Biblical times…. although, it seems they did wear a rather alarming amount of makeup), I was kind of a danger to myself and others. 

This experience led to me to think about the concept of stage fright.  Can you still have stage fright, even when there is no stage?  I wonder how often in my life I have resisted doing something because of anxiety or fear of failure.  As I mentioned, I live right on the edge of manageable anxiety most of the time.   I can remember times, especially as a younger woman, where I talked myself out of activities and experiences because of that anxiety.  The anxiety meter slipped over the line into the red and I shut down.  I missed out on meeting new people because I was always sure that I was a waste of their time.   There were times I drove to events and then could not go inside.  There were times when going to school on a given day was impossible for me.  I missed a free trip to Ireland because I couldn’t get past the idea of traveling with people I didn’t know very well.  I am sure my career progression was slower and more painful than it would have been if I had been able to check my anxiety at the door.

I’m not sure what has changed over the past few years.  Maybe it is retirement.  Maybe it is maturity.  Maybe it is figuring out that EVERYONE (even me) has a right to pursue happiness.  Maybe it is my ever-increasing awareness that the clock is ticking and I want to make the most of all the time I have left.  Maybe it is the Holy Spirit.  Maybe it is a combination of all those things.   I still wrestle with the anxiety and insecurity, but it is no longer the battle royale that it used to be. Most of the time, I win the battle.  My “play” is going pretty well, despite the stage fright. 

I am learning that, despite the jitters, everything will probably be fine if I step out of the shadows.  Everything might even be BETTER than fine.  In general, nobody cares what I look like or how badly I perform when I try something new.  I’ll either get better or I won’t.  I’ll either enjoy something or I won’t.  I’ll either be a blessing for someone or I won’t.  God will still keep the earth turning on its axis. 

Maybe Shakespeare was right and all the world’s a stage.  If so, that might explain my anxiety. Stage fright is normal, but it doesn’t have to cripple me. 

Have you missed out on things because of “stage fright?” How do you manage anxiety?  Do you find it gets easier or harder to overcome as you get older?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a brave day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Oh, Phlooey!

The other day, I attended a Good Friday service at church and washed the tile floors in my house.  All in the same day.  Without a nap.  This may not seem like a huge achievement.  However, it had been a week since I had been able to manage more than one or two tasks a day, including taking a shower, without spending an hour or two in bed afterwards. 

You see, I flew home from California the preceding Friday.  I also flu home from California the preceding Friday.  After a delightful trip (more about the trip itself in the coming weeks), I came home with the flu. 

In retrospect, maybe I was coming down with it even sooner.  Around Wednesday afternoon during our trip, I lost my appetite.  Losing my appetite is not something that happens to me very often, unfortunately.  I didn’t stop eating or feel nauseous exactly.  I just didn’t feel hungry and nothing sounded appealing.  I put it down to the fact that I had been eating everything in sight since we got to California on Saturday.  I’d eaten more red meat in the first five days we were there, thanks to the accessibility of In and Out Burger, than I typically eat in five months put together.  I figured my body was just politely advising me that it was satisfied, thank you very much.  On the way home on the plane, I felt bone-weary.  I don’t think I read much or did anything to stave off boredom on either of the two legs of the trip.  I kind of just stared into space mindlessly, too exhausted to form an idea.  Oh, I did form the idea that I hated the fact that I had to drive home from the airport through the dark and rain when we finally landed in Orlando.  Again, it didn’t occur to me that I was sick. I figured it was just the travel and not sleeping well on vacation that was creating my lethargy.  When we finally reached Orlando and got the car out of valet hock, I sucked it up and got us home safely. 

I fell into bed and slept for about twelve straight hours.  The next day, I felt okay but still tired and without an appetite.  Saturday night, I didn’t sleep.  At first, I thought it was because I slept so much the night before, but I realized aches in my body were keeping me awake.  I went to the Palm Sunday service that morning, but I was definitely off.  The weather inside my body seemed very unstable and bore no resemblance to the temperature experienced by the rest of the world. I felt exceptionally confused.  I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I can usually find my way to church and recognize people I know.  Not so much on Palm Sunday.  I felt like I had somehow entered a novel or movie in mid-chapter. Nothing looked or felt familiar.  Yes, I did recognize people at church I know well, but there were people I see all the time that just baffled me. 

That afternoon, the chills and aches started the battle cries.  I faced the fact.  I was sick. 

After sleeping the sleep of the dead again on Sunday night, I dragged myself out of bed long enough to call the doctor on Monday morning.  Max drove me to the doctor’s office since it finally sunk in that I probably should not be driving. I was too sick to even get giddy over the fact I had lost five pounds since before I left on vacation (loss of appetite has some benefits!).  The doctor took one look at me and asked, “didn’t you get a flu shot?” When I responded that I had not, she conducted a brief examination.  I left with a diagnosis- the flu, a prescription for Tamiflu, a warning that I was probably too far along in to the flu infection for the drug to do much good, orders to rest, and advice to eat whatever I wanted.  Never, ever in my life has anyone advised me to eat anything I wanted.  It would happen at a time when I didn’t want to eat anything. 

I spent the next several days in a fevered haze of sleep, trashy tv, and not much else that I recall.  I remember telling my brother I had the flu and he mocked me for not getting a flu shot, at my advanced age. 

I’ve never had a flu shot in my life. I have not had the flu since I was 14 years old.  It isn’t that I have any philosophical objections to vaccines or anything.  I just have a philosophical objection to needles.  As a diabetic, I punch holes in myself several times a day to test my blood sugar.  I think I do my duty in the needle department.  I did flirt with the idea of getting a flu shot when my mom was in the skilled living facility because I didn’t want to infect the residents and staff if I got the flu.  I looked at my past history and decided, if it isn’t broken…. Don’t break it. 

Thursday, I got a little cocky.  I did my food delivery route, went to the grocery store, cleaned the kitchen, and went to the Maundy Thursday evening church service.  I did not take my requisite nap between activities. I ended up having to leave the church in the middle of the service, convinced that I would not make it home in one piece if I did not act quickly to get to a bed.  I did make it to the bed and once more set a new personal best for sleeping. 

I’m better now.  I am starting to feel hungry again.  I am still sleeping rather a lot, but I am making it out of bed before the clock strikes “pm.”  I think I may live.

Getting sick on vacation is no fun and is major inconvenient.  It does happen, however.  So far, I’ve been pretty lucky and have managed to get through most of my travels unscathed.  Unfortunately, not this time. Oh, phlooey!   

Do you get a flu shot?  How long has it been since you got the flu?  Do you think vacation has a way of opening you up to sickness?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a healthy day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

PS Now that I have returned to the land of the living, I have a lot to share about my trip.  I will be blogging more about it over the next couple of weeks. 

Facing My Fears

I don’t like to brag, but sometimes you just have to stop and celebrate successes. I’ve conquered my fear of tablecloth origami.

That’s right.  We’ve concluded the Alpha program at our church and I’ve managed to fold and hang the ten tablecloths we’ve been using for our weekly dinners since January.  You may remember that I’ve been taking them home to launder each week, but I’ve steered well clear of attempting the intricate process by which the tablecloths are supposed to be folded and hung in the linen cabinet because I was paralyzed by fear. The other day, I took a deep breathe and faced my fear.  Now, seven round and three rectangular tablecloths are hanging, relatively neatly, in the parish center linen closet.  I may not have done the task perfectly, but the end product is a reasonable facsimile of what it is supposed to be.  I call that a victory.  I’ve vanquished my tablecloth demons!

I do think it is important to not let our fears cripple us.  On the other hand, nobody has to run around doing everything just to prove a point.  

I’ve never been what you would call a thrillseeker.  I’m not going to lie.  I am afraid of stuff.  I have avoided doing some things because I was afraid.  I believe most of my fears are rational.  I admit that some are not.  The thing is- I really don’t have that much FOMO.  I’ve never felt the need to do things like skydive or wrestle crocodiles or stick my hand in a badger’s den just for the sake of it.  I understand that some people like the adrenaline rush they get from doing such things, but I just never saw the point.  I think my body makes quite enough adrenaline on its own without me priming the pump. 

I don’t really think there is any need to do stuff just to do it.  I never got that whole concept of “climbing the mountain because it is there.”  I think opting out of doing something is a perfectly reasonable decision. I remember a conversation I had once with my mother about six months after my father died.  She called me and, in a strained and sob-sodden voice, told me that she was going to a play with a friend of hers.  I knew immediately from her voice that the play was Guys and Dolls. My parents attended a performance of this musical on their first date.  When I asked her about it, she confirmed my suspicion and started crying in earnest.  I asked, since it was obviously upsetting her so much, why she was going.  She haltingly said, “I have to go sometime.”  I pointed out that, in fact, she did not have to go.  It was my humble opinion that she could easily go the rest of her life without ever seeing Guys and Dolls again. 

During our conversation, my mother started to realize that she actually wanted to go see the play.  She wanted to have a fun night out with her friend and she wanted to feel normal.  On some level, she believed that she was missing out on a certain joy in her life because she was afraid to do something that might increase her grief.  For her, I don’t think it was so much the play itself that she was afraid of missing.  She was afraid that her life would be consumed by grief if she allowed herself to hide from doing normal things that she would have done without hesitation if my father was still alive.  Her FOMO over what she might miss in her life because she was afraid of her grief was much bigger and scarier than her fear of facing her grief.  She saw value in facing a risk. Unlike the hand-in-a-badger-den thing, she saw a chance of reward.

So, I guess facing fears is a good thing.  I’m not sure my life is any better because I have slayed the tablecloth dragons.  I’m not sure I’ll ever decide to fold tablecloths again.  I may opt out of tablecloth folding.  But I’ll decide not to do it on my own terms.  I’ll decide not to do it based on my own desire and inclination, not based on fear. 

P.S. After my foray into the world of tablecloth origami, another lady suggested in the nicest possible way that I was doing it all wrong and taught me another way to fold the tablecloths. It seems I was correct in thinking my natural talents do not lie in this direction. Still, I did my best and did not allow my fear to prevent me from trying something new. That’s what is important, right? Anybody? Help me out here!

What fears have you faced and what was the benefit? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a fear-free day!

Losing Myself

You know how people always talk about “finding themselves?” This week, I am off doing exactly the opposite. I am on a quest to lose myself. That’s right. For a few days, I am hoping to lose myself in different surroundings, different activities, and different dining experiences (I’m talking about YOU, In-And-Out Burger!) I am also hoping that, in the process of losing myself, I will find a decent pizza.

At any rate, I’ll be back next week with new content. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. Better yet… if you are pining for me, consider toddling on over to your favorite online bookseller and ordering a copy of my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement.

Have a purposeful day! It is always good to have a goal, even if that goal is losing yourself.

Terri/Dorry 🙂