Damn The Ma’am

Okay, I’m traumatized.  I have been stewing over an incident that happened a few weeks ago. I’ve decided to go public with my story, in the hopes that sharing my experience will mend my scars. Also, if I can save one senior citizen from the tragedy I experienced, the pain of reliving it will be worthwhile.

I traveled to Orlando to see my endocrinologist.  That wasn’t traumatic.  Everything was fine.  He said, as he always does, “You are too healthy to come here.”  I decided to visit a store near the doctor’s office that sells bulk products.  They have barrels of loose goods, like nuts and grains, that they sell by weight.  You simply pick what you want, fill a bag with as much as you desire, and attach a tag with the item number on it.  They always have interesting things. I appreciate being able to buy a little of several different items. 

Still, no trauma.  I filled a few bags with goodies and went to pay. I chatted with the cashier while I dug out my credit card.  My transaction completed, I gathered up my purchases, credit card, and handbag.  My car keys were laying on the counter. 

That’s when things went south.

“Ooops,” I laughed.  “I won’t get very far without these,” referring to the car keys on the counter.  “I just have too many things in my hands to keep track of, I guess.”

The cashier, who looked like she was about twelve or maybe twenty-two (if you squint), smiled at me.  I thought she was going to laugh with me about how easy it is to get scatterbrained when you are busy and have to juggle numerous items.  Instead, she gazed at me with a kind, concerned, condescending expression on her face.  Then, she struck the fatal blow.

“Never mind,” she simpered.  “I just think it is great that you can get out and be active and vibrant as you get older.” 

I wanted to smack her.  I consider it a sign of incredible self-restraint that I did not.  If I had, could you really have blamed me?

I am 59 years old.  I am younger than approximately 24% of our nation’s presidents were when they took office.  Only 10% of the American workforce retires before age 60, so it follows that somewhere around 90% of people my age in the United States are still doddering around at a job.  

When did I get to be so old that going to a bulk goods store qualified as active and vibrant? 

I knew I was getting older, of course.  Still, I didn’t think I’d entered another demographic quite yet.  It is easy to forget your advancing age when you live in a community where the average age is much older than yours.  I look fairly young.  I feel very young.  In fact, I feel younger now than I did when I actually was young. 

I should have known the jig was up, though. It started innocently enough.  When people started addressing me as “ma’am,” I had my first twitch of antiquity.  I always felt that being a “ma’am” was a hallmark of old age.  When anyone called me “ma’am,” I felt vaguely embarrassed as if I had been caught masquerading as someone much more grown-up than myself.  I don’t think I’ve EVER seen myself as a “ma’am.” In my head, I am still that fresh-faced, naïve kid that first stepped into the adult workforce in 1981. That was when people started to call me “ma’am” occasionally.  It always felt artificial.

The “ma’ams” started multiplying when we moved to Florida.  At first, I was able to rationalize them away as being a “southern thing.”  And indeed, it is a “southern thing.”  Everyone female, even a two-year-old, is a “ma’am.”  After four years of living in Florida, I, too, am pretty footloose and fancy free with the term.  I kind of like that people here use the terms “ma’am” and “sir” as routinely as they call perfect strangers “honey,” “darling,” and “sweetie.”  It feels gracious, cozy, respectful, and intimate all at the same time. 

Still, after my experience with the cashier at the bulk goods store, I wonder if there isn’t some insidious connection between the ever-increasing number of “ma’ams” I am generating and my ever-increasing age.  Rather than being a gentle and gentile southern convention, maybe the “ma’am” is a slippery slope to old age. 

I’ll never know for sure because my active and vibrant self might break a hip if I ever slid down a slope.

Have you ever been taken aback by the way someone reacted to you because of your age?  What was that experience like for you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a vibrant day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Public Service Announcement

Most of you know that I published a book last spring.  The book is called Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement.   If you didn’t already know that, I must not have been doing my job publicizing it.  It feels like I’m mentioning it every time I open my mouth. 

Few people are good at tooting their own horn and I am no exception.  I’ve been extremely uncomfortable trying to hawk my book, but I’ve given it my best shot.  That isn’t to say that I’ve given it the best shot anyone could possibly give it.  Considering who I am and where my strengths lie, I gave it my best shot for me.  It is one of those “push pass your comfort zone” kind of things.  I’ll never be able to say that I am an expert marketer or brand developer.  In fact, I am not a brand.  I am just Terri.  All right, I am just Terri and Dorry, if you want to be technical.  Let’s just say that I don’t have the expertise, inclination, confidence, or sufficiently thick skin to promote my book in a way that will make it fly off the shelves.  I’m not good at selling anything, least of all myself. 

Still, I’ve tried very hard to get past my insecurities and weaknesses in this area, so as not to cheat myself out of the complete experience and opportunity on this book publishing journey.  I’ve brainstormed ideas on how to promote the book.  I’ve been proud of myself for following through on many of them.  Some of the marketing seeds I have sown may still bear fruit down the line.  A local newspaper recently published a feature story about me and my book, some six months after I originally contacted her.  I’ve overcome my shyness to talk to people who might be able to publicize my book. I bring it up in the blog and in conversations with people waaaaay more than I feel comfortable doing. 

All this may have been good for my moral fiber and character development, but I don’t think it has really resulted in actual sales.  To be honest, I’ve been a little surprised that the sales have not been at least a little higher than they have been.  Since I launched the book last May, I’ve sold about 100 copies.  I’d say at least half of those have been to close personal friends and family members.  Heck, Max bought two copies.  I’m not demoralized or sad or disappointed or anything.  For me, the act of producing the book truly was the pay-off.  I’d love to have made money or at least broken even, but I was not counting on it.  I look at the money I spend on this blog and on the publication of the book the way some people might look at the money they spend playing golf.  I am spending the money for my own enjoyment.  I just thought, with the blog readership, I might have sold a few hundred copies.  I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty.  This is a curiosity, not a complaint. 

I mention money because I am coming up on my renewal date for the author services I contracted.  I’ve had to make a decision about to what extent I want to continue them.  I pay a flat fee for the distribution of both the electronic and paperback editions of the book. I also pay a fee for servicing returns, since no bookstore will stock a book unless it is returnable.  As you probably know (unless I have completely failed in the publicity department), I also maintain a direct-to-reader sales page (https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076) where people can purchase the book.  The direct-to-reader sales page has the advantage of allowing me to offer buyers a discount on the sales price of the book.  The other advantage is that I get a MUCH bigger royalty from books purchased on the direct-to-reader sales page than I do on books purchased through third parties like Amazon. 

Maintaining that direct-to-reader sales page is fairly expensive, so it doesn’t seem worth the cost.  The vast majority of the dozens of books I’ve sold have been purchased either directly from me personally or from online retailers such as Amazon.  Therefore, I’ve decided not to renew https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076 when it expires on March 26, 2019.  If you would like to order a copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement on that website and get a 15% discount, please do so before the middle of February. Use the promo code terri to claim your discount.

I will still be offering the book on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers for at least the next year.  I am also paying for the returns service for another year because the local Barnes and Noble has agreed to feature me in their next “local author” signing event and the book needs to be returnable for them to order copies.  No one can tell me when that event will be, so I’m not sure when/if this will come to pass, but I thought it was worth a shot.  If any of you live near The Villages in Florida and would like to attend a signing, please contact Ashley at the Lake Sumpter Landing Barnes and Noble.  Maybe that would speed things along. 

At any rate, thank you all for your continued support. I just wanted to let you know that the sales website will be going away in a few weeks so you could jump on the opportunity to order discounted books before it was gone.

See?  Told ya I was bad at self-promotion!

Anyone who has read the book care to comment?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a proudly horn-tooting day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Snakes. Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

Some of you may remember my serpent-related panic the first year we moved to Florida.  You can read all about it at http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/07/the-great-snake-chase/

Time passes.  I have seen a snake here and there over the past several years and we have firmly dispatched all of them- one way or another- to a place (either physical or metaphysical) far away from our house.  Since that first snake, none have made it inside any location within my residence.  They have all been tiny and, I believe, non-venomous.  In fact, they have been basically harmless except for severely increasing the amount of cortisol in my bloodstream.

This all changed the other day when I was out spraying Round-up on the weeds around the house.   Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a colorful strip of evil incarnate poised at the doorway to our lanai.  It was about 16 inches long and made up of bands of red, black, and yellow.  When it realized I was close by, it slithered away towards the wetland behind our house.  I was relieved to see the back end of him without having to actually confront him.  The thing is that this snake was either a coral snake or a king snake.  Both are similarly colored.  Both are found in Florida.  The difference is… wait for it… the king snake is harmless and the coral snake is deadly. 

Since moving to Florida, I have heard all kinds of adorable rhymes composed to help hapless souls like myself know the difference between king snakes and coral snakes.  One popular one is “Red on black, okay for Jack.  Red on yellow, kill a fellow.”  I remembered that one when I spotted the alarming serpent, but I have to admit that I didn’t really understand to what it referred.  I have since learned that the colors mentioned in the rhyme refer to how the colored bands on the snake are arranged. If the red bands touch only black bands, it is a king snake and harmless.  On the other hand, if the red bands touch yellow bands, it is a coral snake and is extremely poisonous. 

It didn’t really matter that I didn’t understand the context of the snake mnemonic rhyme.  I wasn’t getting close enough to analyze the bands of color.  I also didn’t have the presence of mind to process exactly what I was seeing. Also, I don’t think I would have trusted the rhyme anyway. Who relies on something that sounds suspiciously like a nursery rhyme for their personal snake safety?  All I knew was that I had a visceral, loathsome reaction to the beast.  I made a very odd, guttural sound the second my brain registered the fact that I was standing less than 2 feet from a snake.  It was something between a gurgle, scream, and hiccup.  

Later in the day, after I stopped shaking, I consulted Google to try to identify the snake.  Unfortunately, I had not thought to take my phone out of my pocket and take a picture when I saw the snake.  I think I was too intent on not taking my eyes off it for even the instant it would have taken me to fumble around with the phone.  Still, I thought if I saw pictures of king snakes and coral snakes, I might recognize the band pattern on the sinister reptile by my lanai.  Unfortunately, my mind must have been so frozen by fear that it turned off automatically. I had no powers of recall. I did learn that coral snakes have extremely poisonous venom, but they also have an extremely inefficient venom delivery system.  Apparently, a coral snake doesn’t inject venom with its bite in the same way most snakes do.  One source indicated that a coral snake would basically have to gnaw on me like a dog with a bone to kill me.  That was a little bit comforting, but it also left me with a disturbing image burned into my brain. 

In my research about coral snakes, I learned that they are very solitary and reclusive creatures.  I learned that, far from wanting to gnaw me to death, they want nothing so much as to get away from me.  It is the old “they are more afraid of you than you are of them” axiom.  I seriously doubt that, but I get the idea.  The venom can kill a person, but nobody has died from a coral snake bite in the United States since the development of the anti-venom many decades ago.  Many hospitals don’t actually have the anti-venom on hand, but it apparently takes about two hours for the poison to get into a person’s bloodstream.  I guess that is why God invented helicopter medivacs. 

All in all, it isn’t a great idea to get bitten by a coral snake.  Still, I learned that it is unlikely that I will get bitten by a coral snake if I keep my eyes open and don’t go around stepping on them.  Should I suffer a coral snake bite, it is even less likely that I will die of it unless I ignore the whole incident.  I’m pretty certain I would not be ignoring a coral snake bite.  Or any snakebite, for that matter. I tend to be a bit dramatic about such things. 

I don’t know why I have the reaction I do to snakes.  This is an argument I have had with myself frequently. I love animals.  I love interacting with domestic animals.  I even love observing and interacting with wild animals, in a respectful and safe way.  There just seem to be certain animals that I can’t help but loathe.  Snakes, rats, and mice are at the top of that list.  So, basically, snakes and snake food.  I know it makes no sense whatsoever to discriminate between animal species in my level of attachment.   

I know I can’t be the only one who animal loves with such irrationality.  I used to listen to a radio talk show in California that featured two hosts who frequently discussed various absurdities of life, politics, and human nature.  This question of why we react much more sympathetically to some species of animals than others came up now and again on the show.  The hosts agreed that there is definitely a hierarchy of animals, though no one can really give any logical basis for it.  I tend to agree.  The snakes, rats, and mice have to be pretty low on that particular totem pole.

Maybe it all boils down from that fall from grace in Eden.  Genesis 3:15 tells us God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

I’m a pretty passive, nonconfrontational person for the most part.  I’m not usually known for having enemies or crushing heads.  However, when I see a snake, I’m afraid I definitely feel the enmity.

How about you?  Are there any animals that you make your skin crawl?  Why do you think it is that we can coo over a bunny, yet shrink from a rat?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a cuddly day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Fresh Blood?

Every now and again, someone contacts me to ask if I am interested in featuring guest bloggers on www.terrilabonte.com.  I always agonize over these requests.  Sometimes, I am guilty of procrastinating because I don’t know how to respond.  The thing is, I recognize that there might be value in having guest bloggers at www.terrilabonte.com.  I even recognize that at least some of these volunteers may be able to offer more valuable content than I provide.  The problem is that the blog is so personal that I have not been able to release that kind of control over it. 

Still, as I enter my fourth year of writing the Terri LaBonte blog, I wonder if it is time to reassess my position.  Here are some benefits of accepting guest post submissions:

  • If I included guest bloggers, I would not have to worry so much about making sure I had a new article every week.  Not that I worry too much about that.  Being who I am, I almost always have a month or more of posts ready to go at any given time.
  • Most of the people who have contacted me have specific fields of expertise.  Unlike me, they are experts at something.  Maybe you all would appreciate hearing from someone who actually knows what he or she is talking about instead of simply relying on the inner workings of my mind for entertainment.     
  • If I had guest bloggers, I could probably increase my readership with cross promotion.  If they have a core group of readers of their own who follow them to my blog, perhaps those folks will stick around and read my content. 

There is one more serious aspect to consider in deciding whether to accept guest bloggers.  I might be boring myself out of existence.

When I first started writing the blog, a dear friend of mine asked what I would do if I did not attract the number of readers that my research suggested would indicate “success.”  I told him that Terri LaBonte would keep writing as long as she had something to say.  I can’t believe she has been talking for three years.  You would think that I surely would have run out of things to say by now.  Perhaps I have and just don’t realize it.

I need your help to recognize the truth and face it square in the eye.  I am asking for genuine feedback.  Please tell me if you think I am getting stale or repetitive.  Please be honest, but not brutal.  Is it time for the blog to go to bloggy heaven?  Or is it just time for the occasional new voice to infuse the content with fresh ideas? Should www.terrilabonte.com become a chorus instead of a solo act? Or are you content knowing that I am still the one spinning yarns and telling tales?

Thank you!

Okay, time for your thoughts.  Please share your perspective on whether the blog should continue as it is, continue with occasional guest bloggers, or simply fade away.  You can provide your feedback by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.   

Have a thoughtful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Lessons From The Elf

Max and I played Elf On The Shelf this holiday season.  Every morning, he hid my elf, Kringle, somewhere in our great room.  We usually wake up at about the same time, but I take much longer to actually get out of bed so he had plenty of time to find ingenious hiding places for Kringle.  To increase the degree of difficulty, I don’t even have a standard, full-size shelf elf.  Most of the elves sold in retail outlets are about a foot tall, with long squishy legs.  I have the Elf on the Shelf miniature figurine.  Kringle is made entirely of plastic and is about as big as my thumb. 

Every morning, I went on the hunt to figure out where that mischievous elf was lurking.  Given his size and the excessive number of nooks and crannies in our great room, this was not an easy task.  Kringle was an uncommonly good hider. Max proved that he has exceptional elf-whispering skills.  Some days, I found Kringle pretty easily.  Most days, I needed a hint.  On a few days, I needed multiple, fairly pointed hints.  We had a good time and I usually finished each day’s search by giggling and marveling over Kringle’s silliness.  Pot calling the kettle black, anyone?

Yes, it was a silly game, but I learned several valuable life lessons from the Elf on the Shelf.  In this season of giving, let me share my higher elfucation. 

Use all your senses to perceive.

When we search for things, we say we are “looking for” them.  Still, searching is about using all the senses, not just sight.  There were some mornings when Kringle was hiding someplace where I just could not see him.  I had to “see” him with my ears by listening to the clues and with my hands by feeling around on a shelf high above my head.  Sometimes, I even had to use my sixth sense.  One morning, Max completed his elf duty and then went to get his car serviced.  When I got up and began roaming around the living room, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe Kringle didn’t want to get out of bed, either.  I looked in his little velvet pouch and there he was, snug as a bug in a rug. 

We all need smart friends.

My friends may be the best thing about me.  As I have navigated the perilous waters of changing my life, my friends have kept me afloat.  Keeping me afloat has involved a great deal of emotional support, but I’ve also needed all kinds of practical advice and assistance.  Also, without regular reality checks, I would have descended down my own private rabbit hole long before now, never to be heard from again. Who has provided the practical advice and reality checks?  My very smart friends, of course.  Yes, Google is a wonderful resource, but it just can’t provide the warm fuzzies that my friends lavish extravagantly on me. Kringle reminded me of the benefits of smart friends.  He’s pretty smart, too.  He knows the difference between a smart aleck and a wise man. 

Sometimes, you have to take a step back.

The answer can be right in front of our face, but our point of view may be preventing us from seeing it.  One morning, Kringle was hiding effectively between the front legs of the welsh corgi figurine that sits under the vanity my father made me.  I looked all over the vanity and all around it, but still could not see it.  Even after Max gave me some clues that all but pointed me to the elf, I could not see him.  Finally, I realized that perspective was making all the difference.  If I stood directly in front of the corgi. Kringle was obscured by the barrel chest of the figurine.  However, when I stood about four feet away, Kringle was in plain sight!  I wonder how many other problems in my life I could solve if I just let myself wander a bit away from them until the answer is clear. 

The best place to be is close to Jesus.

I don’t really need to say anything more.  Even a plastic elf knows the best place to be is close to Jesus. 

I just couldn’t help adding one more holiday post!  I hope you don’t mind.  I put away all the Christmas decorations and was a bit sad that all the ho-ho- holidays were done.  What do you miss most about Christmas?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a jolly day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂  

The Year Of Me

In retrospect, I think I would have to declare 2018 to be the Year of Terri.  I know it is more than a bit self-absorbed, but I’m afraid that is sort of the nature of this blog.  After all, isn’t it found at www.terrilabonte.com?  The website address should give it away.  Surely, you must be used to reading my endless angsting over the trials and tribulations of my life by now? 

What makes this blog post different is that I am actually celebrating something about my life this time.  In 2018, I gave myself permission to make things all about me.  I have to say I am quite pleased with the results. 

Everyone always tells you that you need to take care of yourself, especially when you are going through a rough time or are immersed in caring for someone else.  They tell you that it will help you be a better caretaker.  They tell you it will refresh you for whatever difficulties you must bear.  They tell you that you deserve it. 

While I understand the benefits of taking care of oneself, I always seem to have practical reasons for not actually doing it. Time is a finite quality and life sometimes seems to have a way of using up that finite quality on more pressing matters than me. 

There is also a stronger, more sinister, and uglier reason for not taking care of myself.  It isn’t that I’m a saint.  I’m not that selfless person who is so committed to the welfare of others that she doesn’t even want to take the time and energy to do something for herself.  It is quite the reverse.  I really, really like to do things to make myself happy.  In fact, the dirty little secret about why I avoid taking care of myself is that I am afraid it would be all too easy for me to slide down that slippery slope of selfishness and become one of those horrible, self-involved, spoiled people who lives for their own perceived entitlements.  I cringe at the thought of that happening to me.  I honestly don’t think I could live with myself if I allowed me to be as selfish as I think I am probably inclined to be. 

When my mother was ill, I was doubly afraid that doing anything for myself would drive me right over the precipice of selfishness.  It was often so hard to be with her and watch her decline, I knew it was taking all my discipline and archived love to journey with her.  I was afraid that, if I stopped for a second, I would never have the strength to be able to start again.

After a year of listening to everyone telling me that I needed to take time off and take care of myself, I finally decided to try living a little differently after my mother’s death.  I decided to give myself some time to indulge my selfishness… to do things I wanted to do, buy things I wanted to buy, behave as I wanted to behave.  To guard against my fear of transforming into an intolerable, worthless human being, I gave myself a deadline of a year. At the end of the year, I vowed, I would make a concerted effort to rejoin the world community and become a better, holier person. 

Then the miracle happened.  I didn’t need to make a concerted effort.

In 2018, I converted to the Episcopal Church.  I went to California on my own to scatter my mom’s ashes and see loved ones. I continued writing my blog.  I published my book.  I hosted three parties, including cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I joined Facebook.   I participated in several fun activities around my community.  I bought two sets of Lennox flatware just because I wanted them.   I took a trip to Texas to see a dear friend of mine from Hawaii who was working there.  I’ve ordered a number of purchases from QVC that weren’t hugely expensive but were more than I would usually spend for such items. I went to Discovery Cove, my “once in a lifetime” experience, for the second time. I spent ten beautiful autumn days in New England.  I got tinkified at Disney World.  I bought a $100 fake fur coverlet because I’d always wanted a good quality faux snow leopard blanket.  These are just the indulgences that I can recall right off the bat.

You can see I had a rather madcap year of pleasing myself.  It is exactly the kind of thing I feared would turn me into a ranting, self-serving, horrible megalomaniac.  It didn’t.

It turns out that “they” are right when they say taking care of yourself helps you do a better job of taking care of others.  Nearly all of these activities that I thought were so selfish actually opened the door to me being a much better, more connected, more empathetic, and more effectual person.  They also, strangely enough, strengthened my Christian walk.

In converting to the Episcopal Church, I really thought I was doing it because I wanted to feel more alive in my faith.  I wanted a livelier faith experience and a stronger feeling of God’s presence in my life.  When I read that now, I can see that my motivations were initially pretty me-oriented.  I wasn’t thinking about how I could serve God and His family better.  I was thinking about how I wanted to feel. 

Despite this initial motivation, my walk towards conversion led me to a much deeper, more intimate, and more service-minded connection with God and His people.  By allowing myself to go down this path in the way I did, I allowed God to bless me with an extra helping of grace.  Also, it opened my heart to becoming involved in ministries.  Without having to “discipline” myself to volunteer after my year of self-indulgence, I organically began to participate.  I deliver meals to the homebound.  I presented a discussion program at a women’s group meeting.  I am slated to help launch a faith enrichment program at my church in 2019. 

Joining more activities in my community has also led me to projects to help others.  One of my new activities raises money for books to support a local early learning and literacy center. 

My walk into the Episcopal Church and joining more activities in my community also helped me be a more secure, comfortable person.  That may sound, again, like a benefit to me.  It was, but it also helped open that closed door inside me that keeps me from doing things that I am naturally inclined to do.  I think I am a fairly empathetic, thoughtful person. However, in the past, I often didn’t act on those feelings for fear of being intrusive or being rejected.  In my new, self-centered persona, I am more able to reach out to others and let them feel my heart. Writing and publishing my book has also helped me grow in that way.

Facebook helped me connect with old and new friends.  I have also been able to use Facebook to reinvigorate my Thankful Thursday project from my working days.  By sowing thankfulness each Thursday on the Facebook field, I think I am brightening life a little tiny bit.  I am also able to spread the love of God in that endeavor.  The whole project seems to be getting a little traction, so maybe the internet winds are blowing the thankful seeds further than I realize. 

In pursuing my fun, friends, and travel activities, I find I am regaining some of the spirit that was always me before sadness quelled it.  I feel better and, as a result, I am a better companion for everyone who loves me.  I love better and, therefore, I am easier to love.

Yes, 2018 was the Year of Terri.  I am hoping 2019 is, as well!

What will you do to make 2019 the year of you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Happy New Year! Thank you for reading!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

PS Why not start the new year right by ordering a copy of my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement? If you enjoy the blog, you will like the book! It is available in paperback and electronic versions. You can get it at : https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076. Use the promo code terri for a 15% discount. You can also order a copy at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but the discount code will not apply.

Always Always Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a thoughtful day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

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

Shopping Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a warm and cozy day!

Terri/Dorry

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

Heads Or Tails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a heady day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

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Giving Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

James 1:17

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

Yours, with a heart full of grateful,

Terri/Dorry 🙂

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