We’ll Be Right Back After This Commercial Message

Please don’t hit the skip button.  Please don’t go make a sandwich.  Please don’t decide that now is the moment to take the dog out for a walk.  Please stay with me while I engage in a little crass commercialism.  I realize that this is not the Super Bowl and the chances are nil that you will enjoy this word from our sponsor more than the planned blog content. Still, you never can tell, can you?  Who knows?  I might come up with a clever talking lizard or a miniature donkey colt who dreams of becoming a blogger one day.  I might even get a celebrity endorsement… if I knew any celebrities, that is. 

Tomorrow, it will be two months until Christmas Eve.  It isn’t too soon to start shopping for your holiday gift-giving.  The home décor stores have been displaying Christmas merchandise for weeks now.  The shop-at-home catalogs that jam my mailbox are becoming more and more festive-looking.  QVC has been hawking partridges and pear trees since June.  Disney World starts their Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties the night after the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party.  I figure, if the big boys are pushing Christmas, who am I to argue?

I’d like to suggest a gift that I am sure will delight everyone on your list. How often do you run across a gift that is appropriate for everyone from your mother-in-law to your plumber?

Please consider purchasing mass quantities of my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by Dorry Curran to give to all your friends and family members.  Just go to Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com or any other online bookseller and get those keyboards smoking! I realize that the focus of the book is retirement and some of your giftees might be several decades away from leaving the workforce.  It is never too early to plan.  Also, while the framework of the book is retirement, most of the content can really apply to anyone who is going through any kind of life transition.  And isn’t that everybody?

Peace on earth, everybody.  Peace on earth. 

Come on, show a girl a little love! For those of you who have already read the book, please give me a plug.  You can share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Happy Shopping!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Overthinking

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living.  Far be it from me to argue with Socrates, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

I think most people think I think too much.  Heck, I think I think too much.  Is that an oxymoron?

I tend to be a little overzealous in examining my own navel.  As I surf the crest of another decade, I think I am thinking more strenuously than is good for me. 

It isn’t that I think I am old.  It is more that I think I can see the dream of what I thought my life would be fading from the realm of possibility.  I thought my life would be a little more traditional (while also being deep and meaningful) than it has turned out to be.  I thought I’d get a romantic proposal and have a beautiful wedding, crammed filled with memorable, sentimental moments that everyone would think back on in reverie as the years passed.  I thought I’d have a family of kind, smart, courageous children, who I would gently rear into successful human beings. I thought those children would go on to restart the cycle of landmark moments and family celebrations, so that I would continue having new magical memories throughout my life. I thought my husband and I would work as a team. I thought we would share a world view and a rhythm of life.   I thought we would think in tandem. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think I’ve run out of time. 

I think most people in my circumstances would have had a moment of clarity long ago and realized that the clock was ticking away any opportunity to create that dream.  At some point, I would have had to blow up the life I had if I wanted to roll the dice on that dream life.  I didn’t think I wanted to undergo a violent overthrow of my happiness at that time.

Truthfully, I still don’t.  While I didn’t get a romantic proposal and don’t have a husband, I have a partner in life who loves me.  Our relationship may not be romantic in the same way as movies and reality television shows, but we do have our own brand of romance and affection in abundance.  I don’t have any children, but I think I have made a positive impact on other people even if I did not give birth to them.  I’ve also had more time, energy, and money to pursue charitable endeavors and fulfilling, satisfying activities in my own life. I may not have another generation of people creating new memories and celebrations for me, but that motivates me to create my own.  I don’t think Max and I share all the same opinions, thoughts, routines, rhythms, and conventions, but I think we do pretty well as a team. 

Still, I have been thinking a lot more about the “what ifs” as I orbit around my 60th birthday. I try not to feel sad about the dream life that will never be because to do so would seem ungrateful in the extreme.  Sometimes, though, I get stuck at the intersection of Wistful and Regret when the light turns red.  I have a moment to pause and consider the scenery of the place I might have been.  Then, the light turns green and I go on with the wonderful life I have.

I do think I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about the other paths that might or might not have played out even more happily for me.  I understand that some people believe in moving heaven and earth to craft the life they want.  I admire them, but I also think that isn’t me.  I think I’m more of a “bloom where you are planted” kind of girl.  I think God put me on a particular path and that He curves that path as necessary, depending on the choices I make.  The choices I make may alter the details of my life a little bit, but the basic journey is going to be the same because that is what God has in mind for me.  

This is a comforting philosophy. I’d like to say I adhere to it all the time.  If I did say that, I’d be lying.  No matter how much certainty I muster that I am living the life I was meant to live, I still sometimes covet that other dream life that is slipping away… no, not slipping away… more like crashing down a cliff in a giant landslide of age!

What do you think?  Do I think too much?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you cane email me at www.terrilabonte.com

Have a thoughtful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Turns Out I Speak Caveman

To all you fine folks who reached out to assure me I am not abnormal after my recent post, “Different” Doesn’t Always Mean “Worse” ( http://www.terrilabonte.com/2019/09/different-doesnt-always-mean-worse/), I appreciate your support.  You are, however, wrong. 

Let me tell you a story which I hope will put to bed all protestations that I am perfectly normal.  Something happened recently that demonstrates the cherry on top of the sundae that is my abnormality. 

I read that Disney World is going to completely renovate and refurbish the Spaceship Earth attraction at Epcot.  Spaceship Earth is an iconic Epcot experience.  It is one of the few original Epcot rides that still exists, 47 years later.  Many people don’t even know that the ride is called Spaceship Earth.  People normally refer to it as the “golf ball” ride or that “ride at the entrance of the park inside that big geodesic dome thingy.”  For the uninitiated, the ride is a slow-moving exploration of the history of human communication.  Currently, Dame Judi Dench voices the narration.  Like many attractions in the “Future World” section of Epcot, the ride is starting to fray around its cutting edges.  Let’s face it, the future becomes the past rather regularly in a 47-year time period.  You may ask, if the ride is about the history of human communication, how does it become dated?  The problem is that this history stopped in 1976 when Steve Wozniak developed the first home computer.

Anyhoodle, when I read that this bastion of Disney attractions was going to be closed for two years to reimagine it, I knew I wanted to experience it for about the hundredth time on my next trip to Epcot.  Max and I went to Epcot the other day, Fast Passes for Spaceship Earth locked and loaded on our annual passholder cards. 

As we began our trip back into communication, there was a scene showing cavemen developing a spoken language.  I listened to the cavemen speaking and kept hearing the word “umboday” over and over again.  In a split second, my mind took a rollicking tour through weirdness and reached an incredible destination.  “Umboday” is Pig Latin for “Dumbo.”  Hidden Mickey Hunters, eat your hearts out!

It is abnormal… no, bizarre… that I had this revelation.  The real question, though, is how my disturbed mind got from “I wonder how we know what spoken language the cavemen had?” to “oh my gosh, that’s Pig Latin for Dumbo!”  It’s creepy, but I can even tell you, roughly, how my mind processed all this.  Here are some of the thoughts that shot through my brain, rather like the data points zipping through the “modern” super computer the size of a building that is featured on the ride:

  • I know Disney did a lot of technical research when they opened Animal Kingdom to make sure the park was accurate and sensitive to the cultures it represented.  Did they do the same for this ride?
  • Wait; how could they research the spoken language of primitive man?  How would we know before there were any written records?   
  • There were no tape recorders, nor surviving eye witnesses, right?
  • Does archeology know anything about languages before the writings on cave walls?
  • On the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride (for those of us with a memory… the PeopleMover), the soundtrack includes an announcer paging “Tom Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow” (Tomorrow… get it?). I heard something about a project or company or character called Yisned (Disney spelled backwards).  Is the “umboday” thing a trick?
  • They are talking about the fact that the world’s body of knowledge was preserved after the fire of Rome because middle Eastern scholars kept copies of most of the books in their libraries.  I wonder if any of the titles on those books shown in that scene mean “It’s A Small World” in Hebrew or Arabic or something.  That would be cute.  They should totally do that in the redesign.
  • Hmmm… “umboday… umboday”… oh wait, that’s Dumbo in pig Latin!

There is so something wrong with me!  I am definitely abnormal. 

I went home and posted my observation on Facebook.  I belong to a couple of Disney passholder groups.  I thought my fellow Disnerds in those groups would get a kick out of the information.  Either that, or they would tell me I was late to the party and everyone who is anyone already knows this.  It turns out that I have never before posted ANYTHING on Facebook quite as engaging as this.  As I write this, over 125 people have already reacted to my newsflash and that number is growing.  

I am sure that many of you are reading this and thinking, “she’s a total loon.”  On the other hand, I seem to belong to quite the flock of loons, given the Facebook response.  Maybe I’m abnormal, but maybe I am also rare and exotic.

Is it bad that I want to go back on the ride to see if I can translate the rest of the caveman conversation?  Just what are they saying about Dumbo?  Maybe… “your children will be scarred for life if they don’t get to ride Dumbo?”

What is the weirdest thought that has ever struck you?  If that is too broad a question, how about the weirdest thing you’ve thought this week?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement @gmail.com. 

Have a weird day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

How Did I Ever Get To Be 60 And Other Mysteries Of The Universe

Do we call a group of flamingos a “flamboyance” because flamingos are such an effective demonstration of the quality we call “flamboyance” or do we have a quality called “flamboyance” based on the name for a group of flamingos?  What came first… the flamingo or the flamboyance? 

“Why does the English language not have gender-neutral third person singular pronouns?  Isn’t it really irritating to have to keep saying or writing “he” or “she” and “him” and “her?”  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to be able to use one pronoun? Since I am thinking it up, I think I should get to create the words.  I propose the words “te” and “ter” in honor of… well, me. 

How can a state claim to be in the middle of a drought when my feet are regularly died the color of my shoes because of the torrential rainstorms I must navigate to get from my car to the grocery store?

How did I ever get to be 60 years old?

Yes, I turned 60 the other day.  I can’t believe it.  I don’t feel 60.  As much as I identify as Tinker Bell, I admit that there is some Peter Pan in me, too.  I never really grow up.  I guess that means I don’t really grow old, either.   At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

I remember asking my father, thirty years ago, “How did I ever get to be 30?” He was less than sympathetic. He responded, “How do you think it feels to have a daughter who is 30?”  Maybe it is partly because I do not have children aging in front of me that I lose perspective about the passage of time.  I know it always jolts me into a cruel reality when I see kids I knew as youngsters “suddenly” graduating, getting married, or celebrating other such milestones.  I gave a baby shower for a friend of mine not too long ago.  That baby now has a graduate degree, is married, and has a baby of his own.  Could it really be that “not too long ago” was actually the mid-eighties?

I have school pictures of my godson and his older brother on my wall.  The pictures date from a time when you could articulate their ages with one digit.  Heck, you barely needed two hands to count the number of years in their ages.  I also have a family picture with them in it from around 2005.  They were two combustible packages of energy throwing themselves into the job of growing up.  I saw them a couple of years ago and they were both taller than I am.  They don’t even look like the same people.

Do I look like the same person I was 15 years ago?  I think I do.  I look older, certainly, but I am sure you could pick me out of a lineup today if you met me in 2004.  I probably don’t even look that different than I did when I was lamenting my 30th year to my father.  Older, wrinklier, and creakier, certainly.  I don’t claim that the ravages of time have left me unaltered.  The point is, I still look like the same person.

I feel like the same person, too.  If anything, I have aged younger in the last few years.  Free from the stressors of work and many of the expectations I used to impose on myself, I am much freer than I used to be.  My heart is lighter and I am much less… well… fraught

I hope to continue on my current anti-aging path for at least a few more years.  I think I can fool my body into believing it is younger than it is.  Some people try to turn back the hands of time with plastic surgery, trendy clothes, or social media picture filters.  I do it by mind control.  I celebrated my 60th birthday at the Magic Kingdom. That has got to count for something!

Where did the time go?  Do the years sneak up on you, too?  Tell us about it!  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a mysterious day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

“Different” Doesn’t Always Mean “Worse”

I am abnormal.  Don’t try to talk me out of it. I am. 

I have no children. I have no grandchildren. I am a 59-year old woman living with a 68-year-old “boyfriend.”   I don’t comingle finances with anyone. For me, the verb “party” is more about ice cream than alcohol.  I am more intellectually-oriented than most people.  That doesn’t mean I am smarter.  I am not.  I just spend more time and energy thinking about things that probably don’t merit the attention I lavish on them.  In other words, I am profoundly dweeby.  I am also a little neurotic. I eat like a four-year-old.  I play like a child. I get giddy about the color pink.

Consider some of my blog posts that you’ve read.  How many adult women spend money to be transformed into Tinker Bell?  How many people believe God talks to them at an Orlando theme park?  How often do you run across someone who names the random wild animals that roam through her backyard?  Don’t you think it is a little unusual for a grown-up to hunt for the Elf On The Shelf every morning in December? 

Go ahead.  I dare you. I defy you to try to convince me that I am normal. 

When I was younger, it used to bother me that I was so different from virtually everyone I knew.  I struggled with depression before I even knew what depression was. A lot of those struggles presented as anxiety over being such an outsider in the normal landscape of life.  I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. I felt powerless to participate in “real life” like other people because I was so weird and abnormal.  I guess it never occurred to me that my life, as weird and abnormal as it has always been, is as real as anyone else’s life. 

I always felt like I just wasn’t good enough to have the life normal people get to have.  Maybe because it seemed out of reach, I craved it more. For a long time, I limited my life because I believed I wasn’t worthy of happiness.  This fable that I told myself damaged many facets of my life.  It destroyed many opportunities for joy.  At other times, I postponed living abundantly, waiting for my reality to change into a more traditional life.  I would regret all this wasted time, except that I think everything I’ve experienced was necessary to get me where I am today.  Sometimes, you have to take a few steps into pain in order to leap ahead to satisfaction.

At some point, I came to terms with my abnormalcy.  I learned to live with it and to be happy in spite of it.  Part of me continued to wish for a “normal” life, but I decided that there was no point in wasting the life I had by living in a pit. I crafted some reasonable facsimile of what I thought of as a “real life.” I enjoyed it the way you can enjoy watching a documentary on television about a place you never get to go.  I tried to fit in as much as I could, always conscious that I was different.  By trying so hard to mask my abnormalcy, I believe I heightened my sense of fear and shame about it. It was like I was living with some deep, dark secret that would shatter my world if anyone ever uncovered it.

Somewhere along the line, things changed.  I think retirement had something to do with it.  When the financial stakes of not fitting in were no longer a factor, I seemed able to embrace my abnormalcy a little more. Maybe it is just that I got tired of waiting to become normal.   I’ve decided that maybe “different” doesn’t have to mean “worse.”  Maybe it even means “better” … or, at least, better for me. I’m quirky and weird and unexpected and kind of cute.  I’m embracing the quirk.  And, you now what?  It’s fun. I can be happy… not in spite of the abnormalcy, but because of it. 

There are still times when my insecurities bulldoze me. Every once in a while, something happens that shines a brilliant spotlight on the fact that I am abnormal. I want to crawl into a hole somewhere.  I feel so exposed, like the world has discovered my deep, dark secret…. that I am not good enough for a “real life.”  It doesn’t happen often, though, and I recover fairly quickly with no permanent harm done.  Most of the time, I like being good old abnormal me and I love my own personal version of “real life.” I’ve noticed that other people seem to enjoy me, as well.  They seem to appreciate being tourists in my abnormal world. I find that when I slip my leash and show the people around me all my authentic abnormalcy, everybody seems to be happier.  I never would have thought of myself as “engaging” when I was in search of normalcy, but now I think I kind of am. 

Retirement is a great time to embrace your abnormalcy.  After all, maybe you aren’t the one who is on the outside looking in.  Maybe you are the one who is on the inside and everyone else is looking in. You might want to open a window and let them in.   

Have you ever felt “abnormal?” How have you dealt with it?  Have you found a way to indulge your own brand of abnormalcy in retirement?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have an abnormally wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Sin City

I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas.  A few weeks before our trip, I saw a t-shirt in a tourist shop in Daytona Beach.  The t-shirt was neon pink and depicted a mug shot of Tinker Bell, supposedly taken upon her arrest for drunk and disorderly conduct.  The idea was so piquant and so decidedly not me, I couldn’t resist the irony.  I bought the shirt with the intent of wearing it in Las Vegas.

I thought that wearing a shirt with picture of a tattooed Tinker Bell arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct would be a hoot and a holler.  Just the fact that I would use a phrase like “hoot and a holler” probably explains why me wearing such a shirt was so incongruous.  I’m about as edgy as a circle.

In addition to the fact that any “edginess” I have is curved, I have always been the poster child for a “good girl.”  I doubt I’ve ever given anyone a single moment of real trouble in my life.  I have great respect for the rules.  Some of you may remember the tv show “Welcome Back, Kotter.”  There was a goody-goody character on that show named Judy.  Whenever the rowdy Sweathog kids got one over on her, she would wail, “Mr. Kotter!  Mr. Kotter! They aren’t following the ru-wells!”  Even as a teenager, I remember feeling uncomfortably aware that I was more like Judy than I wanted to admit.  Even now, I tend to sit quietly at my oar, not wanting to rock the boat.  I wait for the “walk” sign at intersections even when there are no cars in sight.  I don’t cheat on my taxes.  I have never smoked or taken drugs, except for those prescribed for me in meticulous compliance with the law.  I’d rather eat ice cream than drink alcohol any day of the week.   In purchasing the t-shirt, I felt like The Rebel Without A Rebellious Streak. 

Then, I went to Las Vegas.  I was prepared to release my wild and crazy side.  When the day I planned to wear the t-shirt came, I felt oddly embarrassed.  Given that women all over the street were wearing clothes much more embarrassing than my tipsy Tinker Bell shirt, it surprises me that I felt any anxiety at all.  I’m not sure why I was embarrassed.  I think I expected some smirks and sardonic looks. After all, I would think it would disconcert the average random Las Vegas passerby to come across me in that shirt.  I was a pudgy, bespectacled, almost-elderly, and obviously unhip tourist wearing sensible shoes… and a t-shirt seemingly designed for a college spring-breaker.  I was a walking contradiction. 

In reality, I generated almost no reaction.  A few salespeople with ulterior financial motives complimented me on it.  Other than that, no one appeared to notice it.  I figure I’m either edgier than I ever knew or everyone was too hungover to appreciate the irony of the situation. 

I wore my shirt, proclaiming Tink’s drunk and disorderly conduct.  However, I don’t think I lived up to my shirt.  Even though I was in Sin City, the most disorderly thing I did was leave shopping bags strewn around the hotel room.  I did have one glass of wine while eating what is touted as “the world’s best meatball” at Martarano’s Restaurant.  However, I think the size and density of the meatball prevented any possibility that I would get drunk. I screamed like a rebellious teenager at a Beatles’ tribute show.  I lost about $30 a day to penny slot machines.   I had a great time in Las Vegas, but I do have to say that, all and all, it was pretty tame. 

Clearly, Tinker Bell was framed. 

Do you have a wild and crazy side?  Tell us about it!  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a rebellious day…. When you aren’t following the ru-wells!

Terri/Dorry 😊

up close picture of Terri in shirt showing a tattooed Tink mug shot for drunk and disorderly conduct
Here I am… up close and personal in my Tinker Bell mug shot shirt.

Terri in drunk Tink shirt next to Hershey kiss character
Obviously, I am a menace to society!

Terri outside Hershey World in drunk Tinker Bell shirt.
I didn’t even buy any chocolate. Pixies just get a bum wrap!

Sisterhood

I once had a friend who told me she felt sorry for me because I did not have a sister.  She was very close to her own sister and could not imagine how I got through life being my parents’ only daughter. 

It is true that there is something very special about a sister relationship.  Knowing each other and loving each other and growing through life together is a source of great strength and joy.  God gave women sisters to be companions on the journey.  When one sister falls, another is there to laugh… and then help her up.  When one sister goes through an experience, good or bad, other sisters rejoice with her and mourn with her.  When a sister is going down a dark path, it is a great blessing to have another sister shining a light and suggesting a different direction.

Yes, sisterhood is a wonderful thing.  My friend had it wrong though. I do have sisters.

I have a sister who saw me through a painful divorce.  She stayed on the phone with me for hours at a time, listening to me cry and despair of ever being happy. As the years progressed, she supported me in everything I’ve ever done. She helped me build confidence and joy in myself. Without her, I don’t know that I would have lived beyond age 30.

I have a sister who listened and observed and figured out the best things to do for me while I struggled through my mother’s decline and eventual death.  She just knew what I needed and provided it.  She is also absolutely the best person I have ever met at knowing the exact right thing to say all the time. 

I have a sister who came to me for career advice, blossomed because of the conversations we shared, and included me in her joy when her efforts bore fruit.

I have a sister who walked with me on my road to reception into the Episcopal Church and continues to support me in my faith.  She respects me.  She understands me.  She loves me. 

I have a sister who let me help her when things were difficult for her.  Instead of pushing me aside when she was mourning, she allowed me the honor of doing something for her.  In letting me take something off her plate, she gave me the satisfaction of helping and also showed me that she loved me enough to let me close.

I have a sister who went with me when the Disney Fairy Godmother reimagined me into an aging, chubby Tinker Bell.  Not only did she go, but she enjoyed it and could not imagine why anyone would think it weird. 

I have a sister who is willing to gently tell me when she thinks I am doing something wrong… and also convinces me that I am lovable in spite of the unlovable action. 

I have a sister to whom I can say anything without fearing that I will be judged, misunderstood, or hurt because of it. 

I have a sister who, while my ego and sense of sanity crumbled during a few particularly painful interludes during my work life, could always convince me that “it’s not you; it’s them.” Without her, I think I might have experienced a psychotic break with reality. 

I have sisters who make me feel like the joyful child I used to be.  I have sisters who make me feel like the carefree teenager I never was.  I have sisters who admire the adult I am today.  Often, all these sisters are the same people. 

These are just a few of my sisters of the soul. It is true that I have no sisters by birth, but I am abundantly blessed with my sisters by selection.

Who are your “sisters?” Are they by birth or selection?  What makes the relationship so special?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Hug a sister today!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Greying Of America… Or At Least Of One Particular Head In America

Some time back, I proudly declared, “as long as I had a checkbook, my hair would not be grey.“ (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/11/the-anti-frump/) I have been coloring my hair since I was sixteen and I could not imagine a time when I would be abandoning that practice.

Recently, something happened that made me question my stance on applying toxic chemicals to my head.  My scalp started to itch. 

If I am absolutely honest and face the facts, it was happening for several months.  I go to the hair salon every four weeks or so.  I’d come out of the salon, feeling sassy and stylish, but also scratchy.  At first, it only lasted a day or so after my salon visit and I didn’t notice it much.  I thought it was a fluke.  As the months progressed, the itchiness seemed to last longer and longer.  It also seemed to get more intense, urgent, and severe.  I scratched my scalp like a dog with fleas bites her coat.  The discomfort was getting harder to ignore.  I thought about what could be causing the issue, but didn’t think about the hair coloring.  I’d been coloring my hair so long, I almost forgot that it was an unnatural process.  I was also doing a keratin treatment to make my unruly hair more sleek, straight, and manageable.  While that wasn’t anything new, it was certainly newer than the hair color. I decided to try discontinuing the keratin treatment to see if that solved the itchies.  It did help a little, but I was still scratching more than socially acceptable when it was time to go back to the hairdresser. 

I realized, with growing horror, that I might be having a reaction to hair dye.  As I said, I have been dying my hair for years with no apparent ill effects.  Still, I know people can develop allergies over time.  I scoured the internet looking for a solution.  I talked to my hairdresser.  There did not appear to be any remedy except to swear off coloring my hair.  I found that idea so distasteful, I could barely talk about the possibility.  My hairdresser sketched out an exit plan for me to stop the coloring with the least amount of angst, but it boiled down to her proclaiming, “no matter what, it is a process.”  You see, if I stop dying my hair, not only do I have to deal with my real color (which is presumably two shades greyer than “old”), but I will have to endure many, many months of the oh-so-attractive “skunk look” that happens when my roots become visible. 

I told my hairdresser that I wasn’t ready to stop coloring my hair just yet.  For one thing, I was getting ready to leave on vacation and I figured I could put my head through the chemical wash again in order to ensure one more batch of vacation pictures in which I did not look like something the cat dragged home.  It was in the back of my mind, though, that I would probably have to start that “process” my hairdresser so appealingly described at some point in the near future.

As it turned out, my itchies disappeared.  I am not sure why it got better.  I changed conditioners at home and went back to using the heat protection cream I discontinued using some months ago.  I’m not sure if that was the solution. I typically was most itchy right after the salon, where they presumably coated my hair with every luxurious potion known to woman given the price I was paying. Whatever the reason, I am pleased to report that my scalp is no longer itchy. 

The whole episode did start me thinking, though.  What was it about the notion of going grey that was so repellent?  Why was I willing to suffer constant, desperate itching… to say nothing of whatever other health risks I undertake when I let toxic chemicals seep into my skull… simply to avoid it? 

It isn’t that I think gray hair is intrinsically unattractive.  I see woman all the time who have gorgeous silver and gray locks.  They still look polished and youthful by taking good care of their hair. It isn’t the fact that my hair has always been the only aspect of my looks to which anyone could remotely apply the term “pretty.”  I never felt that some reasonably attractive hair could overcome the general unattractiveness of my appearance.  Being vain about my hair would come under the heading of “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”  I can certainly leave the deck chairs be.  It isn’t even the months or years of “skunk look” during the growing out phase that terrifies me.  That is a self-limiting condition and will eventually pass.

I think what really bothers me is that, if I stop coloring my hair, I won’t look like “me” anymore.  It is not that I am afraid that the person in the mirror will look old.  I am afraid the person in the mirror will look unfamiliar.  Will I think about myself differently when I see the grey hair?  Will I behave differently?  Will other people see me anymore or will they just see grey hair? 

I know that the answer to all these questions is probably “it depends.”  I think the answers are probably at least partially within my control.  Maybe I should not be spending so much time wondering about whether these things will happen and spend more time on figuring out how to prevent them from happening.  The truth is, I am the same person whether I have brown hair or grey.  If I want the world to believe that, it is up to me to do some marketing of myself.  More importantly, if I want to believe it, it is up to me to develop a sufficiently strong sense of self to withstand the greying of my hair. 

When we discussed this subject before, many of you mentioned that you were fine with your grey hair.  Did any of you “go grey” after years of coloring your hair?  What obstacles or difficulties did you face?  How did you overcome then?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a silver day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

A Poem

I’m off the grid; I’m off the trail.

I’m not in the hospital or sitting in jail.

I’m out and about, thinking of you.

I’m on an adventure and enjoying the view.

I’ll return to the blog, please don’t you fear,

So come back next Wednesday to read what is here.

If me disappearing has got you all shook,

Just go to Amazon and buy my book!

Yes, please!  You can order a paperback or electronic version of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by Dorry Curran at Amazon.com and other online booksellers. 

Regrets

My mother’s birthday is tomorrow.  She died about two years ago.  I thought I had been mourning her death in a pretty healthy way, moving through stages of grief appropriately.  I felt that I was moving forward towards wholeness.  I thought the worst was pretty much behind me. 

I think I was wrong. 

Those of you who have been traveling with me know that, when my mother died, I experienced a wide variety of emotions.  I tried to feel each one instead of pushing it aside so I would not create a dark prison of grief within myself.  It has been a difficult, painful process, but also satisfying in that I feel like I’ve mourned with a certain amount of courage and integrity.

The one thing I thought I was spared during my mourning was the problem of regret.  When my mother died, I felt fairly satisfied with my role in her last years.  I believed I had done my best. I thought I was able to let go of any self-loathing about what I “coulda shoulda” done. 

Once again, I think I was wrong. 

It seems I do have regrets. Big ones.  But I think I have just been too afraid to face them. They are menacing.  They are terrifying.  They are threatening to start building that prison of grief. It might be time to show them the light of day. 

I first became aware of the regrets around Mother’s Day this year.  Some of you may remember my story about the day I stopped holding my mom’s hand and vacated the room when family came to visit her roommate (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2019/05/hug-a-mom-today). I think that memory opened the door to my regrets.   I have been regretting that day ever since.  I’ve been regretting it so much, it hurts. I regret that I didn’t just stay in the room and hold her hand when the other people came.  I regret that I didn’t hold her hand more often.

There are other regrets, as well.  Sometimes, I even regret things that I was absolutely convinced were the right thing to do when I did them.  For instance, I regret not being with my mom when she passed.  I was always sure my mom did not want me there when she died.  Now, I wonder.  It would have been difficult to tell when the time was coming, admittedly.  She had been slowly leaving me for so long, it was hard to know when the door was finally going to close.  I had been through the “it may be just a few days” phase several times.  Apart from staying at the nursing facility full time for several weeks or months, there would have been no way to know the critical moment.  During those last few days, which I didn’t know were going to be the last few days, the hospice nurses thought she might be getting close.  She died in the very early hours on a Saturday morning.  When I saw her on Friday, she drank a whole can of Ensure… after not eating anything for days.  My hospice angel said that it seemed that maybe she wasn’t ready to go yet.  Less than twelve hours later, she was gone. 

In some ways, that chain of events should reassure me that my mother’s intent was to die without me there.  On some level, she may have been trying to fool me into believing I could go home because it wasn’t time, even though she knew it was.  It doesn’t really matter whether I am right or wrong about the way I interpret her actions.  I still regret not being there.

I regret that I was not able to figure out what my mother was trying to say a lot of the time.  I tried so hard, but I failed much of the time.  I resorted to trying to interpret her nonverbal cues and I will never know how good a job I did of that.  I am sad because I don’t know if I advocated for her properly because I wasn’t sure what she wanted or needed. 

Then there is the biggest, most shameful regret.  I regret that I did not have her at home with me.  I regret that she lived in a nursing home.  I know there are a lot of good reasons she was there.  She was bedridden.  She needed extensive wound treatment and medical comfort care.  She was incontinent.  Her cognitive and communicative abilities were impaired. She needed twenty-four hour a day assistance with activities of daily living. It was good that she had a network of loving people who genuinely cared for her and attended to her needs.  I was with her just about every day, but, if she had been at home, it would have been only me with her.  She always responded well to the caregivers who visited her room and made her laugh.  I’m not sure I was up to making her laugh, much less taking care of all her needs.  I don’t think I honestly could have taken care of her at home.  Let’s be truthful. It was all I could do to make it through that time when there was a whole team of people caring for her.  Still, I regret it bitterly.  I feel like I should have been able to care for her at home.

Truth be told, I have hit a rough patch.  I am in a bit of a dark place.  I have woken up crying several times over the last few nights.  In the shower this morning, I couldn’t draw a deep breath.  My heart felt ready to explode.  There was a dead heaviness in the center of my abdomen.  All I wanted to do was scream, as if by pushing sound violently out of myself, I could also dispatch the pain.  It is even hard to write this because it hurts so much to realize how much more I wish I was. 

As I said, I have been struggling with these feelings of regret for several months now.  I work hard to manage them.  I’ve found a few strategies that seem to help make things easier to endure.

First, there is prayer.  I have found that laying my grief and my regrets at God’s feet is the best way to unburden myself from it.  Not only that, but prayer has helped me find other ways of dealing with the regret.  For one thing, I know that my mother is in Heaven.  Her heart holds no regrets.  She experiences only joy and love.  She has long since forgiven me for every weakness, failing, and misstep.  Secondly, instead of wallowing in my regrets, I try to invest that energy in doing ordinary things with extraordinary love for the people I still encounter in this world.  It is sweetly satisfying to use a little of the love I have for my mother to brighten someone else’s life.  It is part of her legacy to me. 

Still, all my strategies don’t always work. Some days, I run smack into one of those grief prison walls and I just give up.  It hurts. Today is one of those days. 

Have you experienced feelings of regret after the death of a loved one?  How do you manage those feelings?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a regret-free day!

Terri/Dorry ☹

These are flowers I had sent to my church this week in memory of and thanksgiving for my beautiful mother.
The memory flowers at the feet of the Madonna and Child