Encore Presentation- A Beam Of Love

I miss my mother every single day.  Lately, she has been even more in my mind than usual.  A few months ago, a dear friend passed away.  This friend was there to provide some “pinch hit” mothering when my own mother died.  As my friend wrestled with end stage Parkinson’s Disease, it felt like my beloved mother was slipping away from me again.  My mother’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago.  Tomorrow, she will have been dead for four years.  My grieving for my mother is amplified.  It is eating away at my spirit more viciously than usual.  On the other hand, even after all this time, the light of her joy, laughter, and love is the coziest comfort imaginable. 

Because of that succor, I thought I would re-publish a blog piece I posted soon after her death.  Those of you who knew my mom will understand and enjoy remembering her this way.  For those of you who didn’t know my mom, perhaps this re-publication will remind you that, in the worst of times, there can always be joy and love.

A Beam Of Love

In the wee hours of the morning on September 2, my mother found her way out of this life.  After over a year of struggling on her path towards the next life, she fell asleep.  When she awoke, I am sure she found herself in God’s dwelling place instead of in the nursing home.

All my mother’s life, she lived joyously and richly. She squeezed every drop of enjoyment and meaning out of every day.  She was almost always happy.  It wasn’t that her life was always wonderful or exciting or fun.  It wasn’t even that she had a particularly exotic or interesting life.  Most people would say that her life was pretty conventional. She was a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a wife and a career woman and a mother and a friend.   What made her so special was not so much what her life was, but how she lived it. 

My mother had a gift for satisfaction.  She collected fulfillment and meaning in her every action, even the most mundane experiences. When we were out driving somewhere and got off course, she’d often say, “I never get lost; I just have adventures.”  I think that pretty much summed up how she approached life, way beyond just how she approached a road trip. Wherever she was going in life and whatever she did, she was determined to find happiness and pleasure in the process.

She was the kind of person who attracted other people. She was an interesting and interested person.  She was curious about all kinds of things and embraced opportunities to learn.  She relished good, meaty conversations.  She was an excellent listener. She knew how to make people feel safe.  She heard what you said and what you didn’t say.  She heard what was underneath your words.  I don’t believe there was ever anyone who knew her who did not love her.  She constantly sowed love and harvested relationships as she rollicked through her day-to-day existence.  She valued those relationships and nurtured them.  Even in the nursing home in her very compromised state, she radiated a kindness and joy that attracted people. 

On the other hand, she followed her own heart in living her own life.  She did what she believed was right and followed the paths that brought her happiness. She used to say that she liked herself and she liked her own company.  She had a busy mind that was always tooling away happily, creating thought and considering possibilities.  I used to say she was her own occupational therapist because she could figure out alternate ways to do almost everything when her mobility started to desert her.   She owned a home computer before most people did and, even in her eighties, she embraced new technology that added interest to her life. 

She had courage of conviction.  She walked her life with God as her guide.  She held firm in her convictions and relied on her relationship with God to support her in her journey.  She believed in miracles and in prayer. 

She loved God.  She loved life. She loved other people.  She loved herself.  In short, she was a joyful beam of love, illuminating and warming everyone with whom she came in contact. 

Now this beam of love has faded into the next life, leaving this life darker and colder and considerably less sparkling.  The thought of going on with my journey without her physically by my side seems unconscionable.  Considering all the memories we shared, all the things she taught me, and all the gifts she gave me, it is inaccurate to say I will ever be traveling through this life without her.  All that she was is embedded in me and will be with me forever. I want to honor all she was and all that made her beam by carrying on her legacy of loving, joyful living.  

It seems that now I will have to grow towards the joy on my own, without her walking in tandem with me. I don’t know yet how I am going to do that.  It helps to know that she has found the greatest Joy of all. 

Madonna flowers at church on 8/22/21- would have been Mom’s 90th birthday.
Flowers from the altar on 8/22
Happy birthday in Heaven, Momma!

Retirement 2.0

I retired in 2014.  I was only 55 years old, which is young to be retired.  I somehow never connected the idea of retirement, which just sounded like a long-term “staycation,” with the idea of aging.  I know that seems irrational, but I did not feel old or dilapidated or on the downhill path of life.  Physically, I did not feel any worse than I did when while I was working.  In fact, my health improved once I left the ranks of the employed.  Mentally, I had lots of activities to keep my mind spinning around in my skull.  Some would argue I had too many activities spinning around in my skull.  At any rate, I did not feel that my brain power was becoming slower and creakier.  Emotionally, I did feel some separation anxiety over leaving my friends and the life I knew in California.  When my mother’s stroke decimated my world, I suffered more emotionally than I ever had in my life, but that suffering had nothing to do with retirement.  In fact, if I were not retired when the situation occurred, it would have been much more difficult. 

So, retirement never felt like a reflection of my aging process.  I left my job and, for the most part, I was at least as healthy, intelligent, and happy as I was while working.  I congratulated myself that I did not let my career define me.  I celebrated my ability to live vibrantly and richly even without a job.  I looked at other people in my life who retired and immediately seemed to turn from “movers and shakers” to “sitters and steadiers.”  I just did not get it.  I felt a little smug that I escaped that fate.

That is, I felt a little smug until recently. It occurs to me that some time ago- maybe as long as two years ago- I seemed to enter a new phase of retirement.  I did not want to acknowledge it, but I think it is time to draw back the curtain.

I now understand those people who seem to equate retirement with age.  I am definitely in retirement 2.0 now. I see clearly that I am old.  I seem to always be somewhere on the exhaustion spectrum.  There is something in my body that flirts between discomfort and pain just about every day.  I was never the most agile creatures, but I see that now I cannot even do the same things I used to be able to do- things as simple as sitting on the floor and getting up under my own power.  Close friends, who I think of as my contemporaries, are facing serious health challenges that will likely never get better.  Some members of my circle are dying.  There is no doubt that my brain is moving more slowly and cannot efficiently process multiple ideas at the same time.  It is not that I feel like I am leaking cognitive ability like a sprinkler leaks water, but I do notice a sort of slogging tendency in my thinking.  It is like thoughts do not flow smoothly, but get caught and hung up on clogged, corroded, and pitted places in my brain.   

None of these phenomena is very pleasant, but I am also struggling with a piece of retirement and aging that is even more scary.  I am stumbling over my place in the world, grasping to create connection.  When one has a job, especially in a leadership position, there are many connections built into your day.  Forming those connections is organic.  I did not have to try to find connections; they came to me.  Too many of them came to me if truth be told.  Managing those connections could be exhausting, but the lack of them can be soul-killing.  For many retirees, even ones like me who are not exactly alone in the world, the absence of built-in connections can be even more debilitating than physical decline. 

I have worked hard since my mother’s death to find ways of building connections.  I am about as extreme an introvert as they come, but I still knew I would crumble without a small, tightly bound group of people with whom to live my new retired life.  It took a lot of energy to find ways to do this when I was not being randomly exposed to people all day every day. It is not just finding anyone with whom to connect; it is finding the right people with whom to connect and figuring out the right balance of giving and receiving.  I think I am a pretty awesome friend, actually.  I have a lot of love to give and am generous with it.  I do not want to be more trouble than I am worth, though. I know I can be a little needy and insecure.  On the other side of that self-knowledge, I also know that it feels good to give and it is selfish not to let loved ones give to me in the same way I enjoy giving to them. 

My efforts at connection have born fruit.  I know I do have a group of soul-level friends in my community, in my church, and from my past.  I am absolutely secure in that knowledge on an intellectual basis.  I still struggle daily, though, to feel it all the time.  I often feel isolated, alone, and unworthy.

I struggled the most with this feeling during the pandemic.  I took the initiative in finding strategies to advance connection and communication.  It was arduous work partly because I had to create opportunities to connect rather than just react to my everyday interactions. At times, I felt like I was trying too hard to solve a problem that didn’t exist.  I thought I was taking up this “connection flame” for other people. I worried about people who were truly isolated. I wanted to show them that someone cared.  I came to understand that my actions were not just for other people.  They were just as much for me. 

Aging is not easy and sometimes the burden of it knocks me to the floor.  On the other hand, I have learned many new skills during the aging process.  I have learned to be more accepting of myself and others.  I have learned much more about being happy.

I now understand retired people who always are tired, confused, not in good health, or lonely.  I am experiencing those feelings.  My age is catching up with me.  However, I do not intend to go gentle into that good night of aging.  I think the secret is to acknowledge that I am aging and accommodate it to the extent it serves me to do so, but not surrender to it.  When I am tired, I may decide to push through that tiredness to enjoy something I want to do and cut out something that does not sound as fun.  When I have a sore ankle or aching back, I may decide to spend a little longer in a hot shower and go a little easy on the housework so I can merrily traipse around Disney World.  When my brain is moving a little more laboriously than it used to, I may slow down and take on fewer responsibilities so I can succeed without as much multi-tasking. 

Aging is something that is happening to me, but it does not have to define who I am. 

How do you deal with the aging process?  What strategies have you found to increase your satisfaction with life without a job?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a lively day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Sounds Of Discovery

Awhile back, I made my annual pilgrimage to Discovery Cove in Orlando.  Those of you who have been journeying along with me over the past several years know that I originally visited this dolphin adventuring, sting ray swimming, lazy river flowing day resort as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I enjoyed it so much and found it so reinvigorating, I began going every year as a kind of Terri Time retreat.  I go by myself.  I use the time alone to ponder, pray, and play.  Each time I go, I learn something different. 

This trip, my attention focused on the sounds.  I often closed my eyes and let my mind wander around the world of the audio.  I heard the music of the birds.  I heard the slap of water shoes traveling along pathways.  I heard flamingos gossiping and cackling.  I heard tin drums.  I heard people laughing.  I heard the ropes of hammocks creaking as they swayed.  I heard dolphins squeaking.  I heard the fins of sting rays skim through the surface of the water. 

I think some people are more “in tune” with the audial than others.  I have musical friends who I think have long found whole universes in melodies. They say people who are blind discern more information from their sense of hearing.  I have read monks and nuns who live in relative silence can appreciate sounds that most of us never hear. When there is no talking, it is probably easier to hear what God is whispering.   

Since I was alone during my Dolphin Day retreat, I was not talking to anyone much.  I listened and spoke with the dolphin trainer who was facilitating my dolphin interaction.  I talked with a few servers.  In general, though, my day was filled with my quiet.  I wanted to discover what there was to hear besides words.  It was very peaceful. 

I discovered you can hear wind rustling through plants.  It sounds like wrapping a present.  I discovered you can hear pebbles crunch under people’s feet.  It sounds like eating popcorn. I discovered you can hear wet sand squish between your toes.  It sounds like rubbing two pieces of corduroy together.  I discovered you can hear happiness.  It sounds like laughter.  I discovered you can hear God.  He sounds like sunshine feels.

I did not completely forsake words.  As I was floating gently along a lazy river with my eyes closed, I focused on the exclamations of the people around me.  I wanted to learn what they were discovering.  One little boy was clearly exalting in his day of discovery.  As he floated near, I heard him cry, “Mom, Mom…. I see a gecko!”

In the midst of swimming with sting rays, playing with dolphins, and parading with flamingoes, this little boy decided his big discovery for the day was a gecko. This probably was not the kind of discovery Mom had in mind when she plunked down several hundreds of dollars for a day at Discovery Cove.  If it were, I could make millions selling day passes to my backyard.  But good for him!  Discovering joy sounds different for each of us. 

Have a joyful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

What sounds bring you joy and why?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Thank You, MyKayla Skinner

Last week, I was bemoaning the lack of inspirational stories associated with this season of Olympic games. Everything seemed to be depressing. From the opening ceremonies with their emphasis on the pandemic to the lack of spectators in stands seemed to scream “joy void” and I was not having it. I was missing the infusion of powerful human spirit that the Olympics usually provides. I, like the rest of the world, have been hopefully waiting through the past year, for the Olympics to finally begin. I felt a little cheated. I am sure one could say that I have no cause to feel cheated when I have no real skin in the game. The athletes, their families, the economy of Japan, and many other stakeholders have much more standing to complain. You will get no dispute from me. That does not mean that I will not complain… because it all makes me sad.

I asked you all to help me out last week with some inspirational Olympic stories you were hearing. Some of you came through and told me about special moments I missed. That helped. What really turned me around the corner, though, is the story of silver medalist MyKayla Skinner. MyKayla’s story reminds me to never give up on joy, even when it seems that it is long past time to give up on joy.

This is especially important to me, as we seem to be losing ground in our return to pre-COVID normalcy. I have been feeling like I’m done hoping and waiting. I feel like this strange, disconnected world is going to go on forever. I am tired of mourning. I am tired of wearing masks. I am tired of refraining from hugging people. I am tired of navigating the etiquette of COVID. I just feel deflated. It feels long past the time to give up on joy.

MyKayla Skinner’s story would refute that hypothesis, however.

I remember the Olympic trials for the 2016 USA women’s gymnastics team. I remember pulling for MyKayla Skinner, as the decisions about the team were being made. There was something coming through the television screen that connected me to her energy. There was such a longing and such a powerful hope. When she was named “only” the alternate on the most dominating women’s gymnastic team of all time, my heart broke for her. I was sitting in my living room, crying for a young woman I had never met.

I am sure MyKayla cried, as well. I know, based on what I have read, that the road that took her away from the world of elite athletics was difficult for her. How could it not be? However, while I was thinking that it must be the worst feeling to be so close, yet so far away, from an Olympic experience, MyKayla was not giving up the dream. She ultimately decided to try for the 2020 Olympics. Then, the 2020 Olympics were postponed a year. Then she sustained what could have been a career-ending injury. Then she battled COVID. She made it onto the USA gymnastics Olympic team, however. Then, once she got to the Olympics, she was excluded from the event finals because only two competitors from each country are permitted to compete for medals and she had the third highest score of the US women on the vault.

Stuff can always happen, though. I might have given up on joy, but MyKayla did not. She was booked to fly home when she learned that her teammate Simone Biles was withdrawing from the vault competition. MyKayla ended up competing in the vault final and coming home with the silver medal.

Let’s hear it for MyKayla Skinner, generator of joy and poster child for hope!

Have a spirited day!

Terri/Dorry

What reminds you that there is power and joy in the world when times seem dark? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

The Anti-Post

I’m sorry. I did not have time to write a new blog post this week. I have been far too busy watching Olympics and ugly crying.

I am crying sentimental tears for the athletes who are realizing their brightest dreams.

I am crying for the shattered hearts of the athletes who compete, but disappoint themselves and wonder what might have been.

I am crying for the proud parents, spouses, siblings, children, and everyone who should have been at Tokyo in the stands watching their loved ones compete because they can only send support from the other side of a television screen.

I am crying for those athletes who are sitting home, missing their Olympic opportunity because their golden moment would have been a year ago.

I am crying because the opening ceremonies, though stunning, reminded me of the isolation and brokeness the worldwide pandemic continues to force down our collective throats, even now.

I am crying for the people who have suffered and died too soon.

I am crying because I am tired of grief, after seventeen months of mourning.

I am crying for the beauty of the spirit- challenge, endurance, selflessness, love, creativity, inspiration.

I am crying because I feel my own spirit eroding. The Olympics usually fill me with warmth and hope and belief in miracles. I was looking forward to these games as an infusion of positivity at a time when the rock of COVID seems to be sliding down the hill again, negating all the strides we were making towards getting back to our communal life. It isn’t working.

Have an inspiring day, even if I am not!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Okay, throw a girl a bone, please! What Olympic moments have touched your heart with joy? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Flying Lessons

My friend and I decided to take a trip to the beach the other day.  We have both been craving saltwater and ocean breezes.  We decided to hop to it when we saw a day that weather.com decreed would likely avoid rain. 

We ran into a few snags as we made our way to Clearwater Beach, but we were having a good time and enjoying each other’s company.  We stopped at a Christmas shop in route, which is always a plus in my book.  We inched our way across the 10 miles or so of causeway to get to the beach area.  Circling around several blocks several times, we finally found a parking structure.  We drove up, up, and up before we found a place to park.  The elevator did not work, so we climbed down, down, down four flights of stairs to the street level. 

Maybe we should have stayed in the car.

We had not walked ten feet on the sidewalk, when my foot caught on a raised square of concrete.  That was when I learned how to fly.  I am convinced that I did fly.  I was airborne for long enough to have the sensation of soaring across stopped time.  It was like those commercials for paper towels when someone spills a drink.  The film goes into slow motion.  I was flying in slow motion.  I even had enough hang time to realize what was happening, analyze whether I could right myself, and maneuver my body into the most viable, least harmful way to fall.  What is weird is that I even felt kind of graceful.  I am absolutely positive I did not look graceful.

Yes, I did learn to fly.  The problem is that I did not learn how to land.  Nobody told me where the landing gear lever was.  I came down on my undercarriage with more force than a flying machine should.  It took me a few minutes to figure out that I was still in one piece.  Getting up was also a challenge.  Several nice people stopped to see if I needed help.  My friend also tried to help.  All I could see was me pulling all these nice people down right along with me.  I sat on the ground for a few moments and then I figured out a strategy for getting back on my feet.  A few feet in front of me, there were some metal chairs cabled together.  I crawled over to them on my battered knees and steadied myself on one of the chairs as I carefully moved myself into standing position. 

We walked over to the beach.  Before we even set our things down on the sand, it began to rain.  Lesser women would have turned tail and gone back to the car.  Not us.  It is Florida and it is summer.  We waited a few minutes and the rain stopped.  I do not know if I decided to wait because of my fortitude or because I was afraid to face the scene of my unscheduled landing quite so soon. 

Luckily, I did not sustain any significant damage.  I attribute that to my general physique.  Sometimes it is better to be shaped like Winnie the Pooh than like Tinker Bell.  My fluffiness certainly saved me from serious injury.

I do have some impressive bruises on my thighs, elbows, knees, and toes.  I did not do a lot of kneeling during the church service this week.  Jack and Jill, the twin bruises on my left and right knees were not happy about putting themselves under that much pressure just yet.  The bruises look way worse than they feel.  There is very little tenderness now.  I have been wearing a lot of navy blue to match the bruises.  Now that they are starting to fade, I guess I am going to have to clash.  Yellow is not my color.

I am going to try to avoid flying lessons in the future.  Orville and Wilbur might have been Wright, but Terri LaBonte is definitely wrong!

What new skills have you learned since retirement? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have an earth-bound day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Special

I have never thought I was anything special.   In fact, I think I may be the most unextraordinary person I know.  I go through life trying to simply fit in, while still trying to be true to myself.  It is not that I go around martyring myself to other people’s preferences.  I have worked hard in my life to learn to ask for what I want.   If I really, really want something, I will ask for it.  On the other hand, I usually do not feel strongly enough about things to assert myself (except on my birthday… then, I am selfish and self-absorbed!).  It is pleasant to go with the flow.  I often find myself enjoying life more when I ride whichever wave happens by than if I had insisted on putting my choice first.

Even though I truly do not think there is anything terribly unique or wonderful about me, I do find that I blossom when someone else finds me special.  It baffles me…but delights me. 

Let me tell you about something that happened recently.  I must explain the backstory for it to make sense, so please bear with me for a few seconds.

A few weeks back, I went to a lovely outdoor restaurant with a group of friends.  The restaurant was getting ready to close for the summer (remember, I live in Florida where outdoor restaurants sound a whole lot more appealing than they actually are from the Memorial Day to Halloween.)  It was a bit of a zoo due to crowding and we waited a long time for a table.  Also, they were out of most of the menu items by the time we ordered.  When we were finally finished, they were closing the place down.  The food was yummy, though, and the server was excellent.  Besides, there was a friendly German Shepherd Dog roaming around looking for diners to give him hands to pet and hand-outs to eat.  All in all, it was a lovely experience.  As we were leaving, the manager approached our table with eight boxed desserts that were leftover.  She gave them to us. 

I did not take one.  As I explained to my friends, I must carefully consider priorities when eating, especially desserts.  As a person with diabetes, I should not be eating them at all, so it has to be something I know I am going to love if I am going to indulge.  I am a very unadventurous (read picky) eater.  Neither peanut butter chiffon pie nor pistachio cream pie sounded like a certain winner to me.  One of my friends mentioned that they had blueberry pie the last time she was there.  I pointed out, very adamantly, that if there had been blueberry pie, my friends would have needed weapons to beat me out for a slice. 

A week or so later, I was getting ready to run some errands when I received a text from one of my friends.  She said she had a surprise for me and wanted to arrange to deliver it.  I agreed to meet her near her house when we finished our errands. 

The surprise was a piece of homemade blueberry pie.  She was playing bridge with some friends the night before and the friend had made the pie for her guests.  My friend asked if she could have hers “to go” and brought it to me. 

This thoughtfulness of hers tickled me more than reasonable, I suppose.  I was so surprised and delighted!  It was not just that I love blueberry pie (and it was very yummy, by the way).  It was more because my friend remembered me and what I had said in a very out-of-context situation.  The surprise was the pie, but the surprise was also that she thought of me.  My friend seemed surprised at the exuberance of my reaction.  She probably did not think it was any big deal to bring me a piece of blueberry pie.  It was.

The pie is long gone.  The thought will be with me for a very long time, I know. 

The next time you think about doing something nice for someone, don’t talk yourself out of it.  Go ahead and do it.  You may not think it is something special, but I bet the person for whom you do it will think it is special… and it will make you both feel special!

I truly am not writing this to fish for compliments that I am extraordinary and special.  I really am not, except in the way everyone is extraordinary and special to those who love him or her.  I would like to know, however, what you do to make the people in your life feel special and how do you feel when you do it?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Terri/Dorry 😊

Happy Historical Hunting!

Last week, I offered you a concert.  I gave you a list of proud historical dates in the history of the United States and asked you to identify what happened on each of those dates.  Thank you all for playing. 

Because inquiring minds want to know, here are the answers to this historical scavenger hunt:

On this date in United States History…

6/21/1788- The United States Constitution went into effect.

4/30/1803- The Louisiana Purchase geometrically increased the land within the boundaries of the United States.

1/24/1848- Gold was discovered in California.

4/9/1865- The civil war ended.

12/8/1865- The 13th amendment, which abolished slavery, was added to the Constitution.

8/18/1920- The ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was completed.

7/2/1964- The Civil Rights Act of 1964, probably the most all-encompassing civil rights legislation in history, went into effect.

7/20/1969- Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.

7/7/1981- Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to be named a Supreme Court justice.

1/20/2009- Barack Obama, the first person of color to be elected president of the United States, took office. 

Congratulations to Sharon Salcedo, who is our winner.  Congratulations also to our runner-ups, Mary Sorenson and Mary Ann McGinley.  Fabulous prizes will be forthcoming!

What dates or events would you include in a list of “proud moments” in U.S. history?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a historic day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Celebrate!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!  For us living in the USA, Independence Day is an opportunity to pause and remember the beginning of the “American experiment.”  It is a day to celebrate who we are, what we have done, and how we have evolved.  I am glad that we have a holiday to encourage this reflection.  Hopefully, as we remember the day our ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, we also remember that there have been many other dates worth remembering and celebrating. 

Contest alert! 

Below, I am going to list ten other dates that mark occasions worth celebrating in United States history.  This list of dates simply reflects some events that I, in my very subjective opinion, consider to be ten proud moments in our history. The list is certainly not exhaustive.  The list may not even be the most important dates, as importance is somewhat in the eye of the beholder.  Also, important events are not necessarily proud events worthy of celebration.  These dates mark happy days in our history. 

If you would like to participate, please email me at terriretirement@gmail.com, identifying what happened on each of these dates. Please submit your entries by midnight EDT on Sunday, 7/4/21. There is a fabulous prize for the one who properly identifies the most events.  If there is a tie, the entry I receive first will be the winner.  I will report back next week with the answers. 

On this date in United States History…

6/21/1788

4/30/1803

1/24/1848

4/9/1865

12/8/1865

8/18/1920

7/2/1964

7/20/1969

7/7/1981

1/20/2009

Okay… on your mark, get set, GO!  Happy history, everybody!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Warning: Mandatory Annual Summer Weather Whine Ahead

It is that time of year again… time for me to vent about how uncomfortable and inconvenient the weather in Florida can be during the summer.  Summer happens from May through all of October here, so I think I am entitled to rage against the rain.  Last year, we had a relatively mild summer.  I made it to September before I published my mandatory annual summer weather whine.  I fear that will not be the case in 2021. 

You know how people use all those lovely poetic similes to describe weather… a blanket of snow, a blanket of fog, a veil of mist, etc.?  In Florida, we have a blanket of mug.  For almost half the year, our air is too heavy to breathe.  When I was a child in Southern California, there were sometimes smog alerts.  We were encouraged to stay inside and to avoid breathing.  Smog was nothing compared to the liquid-laden air we are expected to inhale in central Florida. 

When I began writing this piece, on June 13, the summer mug descended upon us.  I realize that the calendar says it is not yet summer, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature.  When I went into church that morning, it looked like a beautiful spring day.  Some time during the service, a noise began to rise through the rafters of the church.  At first, I thought it might be our air conditioner, which always starts with an overture.  Soon, however, I realized it was the sound of driving rain whooshing through the atmosphere and pelting the roof of the church.  God confirmed this understanding by sending several huge cracks of thunder bellowing through my cognizance.  Then, lightning flashed through our stained-glass windows.  It was a “thunderwower.”

It is now June 17th, and the rain has not stopped for more than a few hours since.  The respite provided by those “few hours” is not all that relieving because the cooler air that typically appears when the rain cracks the humidity barrier is very short-lived.  It is a constant unpleasant cycle of heightened heat and humidity, interrupted briefly by a thunderwower when the cloudburst cools things off and lances the boil of the water-heavy air, only to find the atmosphere building sog once again when the shower has passed. The weather teases in this way, making us believe that there is going to be a break but the discomfort marches on.  The worst part is that it is already difficult to see the light at the end of the lightning.  It feels like the summer weather will NEVER stop.  I look at pictures of myself at Disney World last December wearing a jacket, jeans, and UGGs.  I cannot quite believe that time will ever come again.

It is not simply the discomfort of the weather that is the problem.  I am one of those people who genuinely enjoys planning the simplest of activities and looking forward to them.  I am not really a spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment kind of gal.  I delight in scheduling fun activities weeks ahead of time. I get excited as the appointed day gets closer.  In the summer, planning and scheduling any activity is a fool’s errand.  Obviously, outdoor activities are weather-dependent.  Even indoor activities are iffy because it is common for the storms to be so bad that one cannot see the road in front of them when driving.   I cannot even schedule a series of back-up plans because the weather is so contrary and unpredictable.  We never know what the skies will bring even a day ahead of time.  Plans are wishes and schedules are fantasies.  This makes me fidgety. 

I am afraid that I am not the most pleasant of companions from June to October.  You know how some people have that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and need light treatment to replicate sun exposure?  I have something like that.  It is not so much lack of sun.  After all, Florida is the “Sunshine State.”  Why it is the “Sunshine State,” I am not sure, considering how much it rains.  Still, there is plenty of sunshine… just like there is plenty of sunshine on Venus.  It is more that the rain, humidity, and inability to look forward to fun activities feels oppressive to me.  My mood feels as heavy as the air.  I try to be self-aware.  I try to force myself to be engaged and pleasant.  Sometimes, I succeed.   

Last summer, I think I was more tolerant of the wicked weather partly because the summer was milder but also because we were in the midst of COVID-19 lockdown.  I could not go out and do things, anyway.  It seemed churlish and insensitive to complain about my life being limited by weather when there was a much more serious limitation stalking all of us.  This year, I am even less tolerant than usual.  It feels like the world is finally opening and the weather is pushing the door shut again. 

I know I am being petulant and whiny. I know that I made the choice to live in Florida.  I know that I like living here for the most part.  I know I am raging about something that would be no big deal to just about anybody who does not live in Florida.  Frankly, it would not be a big deal to most people who DO live in Florida.  I do not care.  This is my blog, and I will cry if I want to!

What do you like or dislike most about where you live?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a whine-free day!

Terri/Dorry 😊