Changes And Letting Go …

I SPENT A LARGE PART OF THIS WEEK looking up and verifying words in the dictionary and thesaurus. Why? Because, I’m trying to figure out how to explain my reluctance to discontinue a medication I’ve been taking for years. Looking for words to express myself. To justify my reasons for not stopping the medication … or to finally get a grip on why I should stop taking it and then follow through.

I justify continuing it with “it’s benign—won’t hurt me to continue” … and at the opposite end, “it’s so blasted expensive … just stop taking it—it’s not doing you any good!” I’ve been on this see-saw of emotionally rationalising this one way or the other for quite some time and it’s exhausting. Honestly.

Also, I feel like I can’t explain it so you’ll understand—which is childish, really. It was started as an experiment, to see if it helped my memory. It did, but only a little. After a year, the doctor said I could stop … but also said I could continue it if I wanted (since there were little or no side effects). And because of one little thing he said so long ago I chose to continue it—fearful of stopping it. I’m hoping I remembered it wrong … if it really is working, and I stop, my memory might regress. Restarting the drug is always an option, but I’d be starting at the regressed point, if that makes sense (the drug slows the progression of memory loss, not improve it). I saw him a while back and he would not admit to saying that. So, is it because new information has proven that theory wrong … or did I hear it wrong from the get-go?

Well, for years, I’ve taken it—my “security blanket”—wondering if I stopped, would my memory worsen or would it stay the same? Memories can be precious—whether they are those of past delights, of errors made that you don’t want to repeat … or simply of what you did an hour ago; to be able to draw on your memory to engage in conversations with friends … so, seeing what Alzheimer’s  did to my dad (an extreme example, I’ll admit), I am reluctant to knowingly do something that might jeopardise my memory.

Recently, another doc had me trying another simpler (more natural) method to improve my memory. He thinks I may have a deficiency due a lousy diet, which certainly makes sense when you look at my longstanding lopsided meals. I’ve been trying so hard to make sure I get enough protein and keep carbs and fat down that I’ve forgotten about vegetables—colourful greens and oranges and yellows—that have carbs but are so very important (“good” carbs). Oh, yeah … plus the fact that I love my breads, pasta and cornmeal mush and … so many other things that are not so healthy. To give me a “boost”, he put me on a folate supplement. Hmm. I think it may be working. Slowly—but it is working. I’m also working towards increasing my veggies (sadly, not the potatoes, which I adore)—which is harder than it should be. My busy (aka: rushing around) lifestyle makes that a bit more difficult, but now that the “busy” season is over, hopefully things will improve.

So, back to this expensive, useless medication. I’m down to the last couple weeks of pills and I’ve promised myself I’m going to stop. I’m not panicked about it, but … well, maybe a wee bit anxious. But, I am hopeful that the changes in diet will bring me back, at least a wee bit, to a more normal memory and I won’t have anything to worry about in stopping the medication.

As the days dwindle down towards Christmas and the end of the year—and to my need to make that decision to change—I wish that this coming week or two turn into an amazing experience for you and those that are special to you.

May joy and peace find a place in your life (and mine …).

I’ve Been Pondering … Deeply | Part One

OH, YOU KNOW ME … WHEN I START TO THINK—well, that can be dangerous at times. Have you ever thought about something for a long time, but feared voicing the thoughts? I mean, saying them out loud? It’s different to keep the thoughts in your head … or even write them on “paper”. Well, at least for me … for some reason, something happens when I voice thoughts. It changes the purpose. The circumstances.

I put a voice behind a thought a short time ago … and now I cannot get it out of my head. I love to travel. You already know that. I write about it all the time. I love Europe, Ireland, Scotland and … well, simply the idea of being over there, planning for the next adventure … then experiencing it. I love it enough that I’ve seriously contemplated purchasing a someplace to lay my head when I am able to visit. I put a voice to that several years ago. I actually started looking … seriously looking. Every time I was over there, I looked with the intent of finding something. I’ve talked to realtors, looked at ads, thought about consolidating into two small abodes so I could bounce back and forth whenever I could make it happen. Over the last year, I realized there were a few huge obstacles: 1) the cost of purchasing something—even renting a flat … or a room—would be very steep. 2) as long as I had critters, it wasn’t going to happen. My forever critters. I cannot justify giving them up just so I can travel for extended periods—nor put them into quarantine (“jail”) for months on end just so I can take them with me. And there’s no way I’m going to leave them behind to live abroad. All of that would be too selfish. Lest I forget my loving pet sitters—I cannot impose on them for repeated long stretches of time … so I figured, I could wait till the pets passed over the Rainbow Bridge. 3) then another realization hit me … as I wait, my health seems to be deteriorating to the point that these transcontinental flights are taking a heavier toll on me with each trip … what shape will I be in once I am pet-free?

I’m already contemplating moving up to business class so I can more comfortably make this next trip. That’s a heap of money spent just to get across the Pond. That in itself is a huge negative for me. I like to make the air fare and room as inexpensively as possible so I can use my funds to explore. So, another thought started pinging around in my head—one I kept stuffing, because I didn’t want to consider it. Logic and common sense kept dredging it back up. The thought I recently voiced was to make this 2016 trip my last trip abroad. Once voiced, the idea grew. Stop flying across the pond and instead, put my time and effort into visiting places within the confines of this continent. I didn’t like the sound of that at all. “Confines…” was the key word. But I cannot make it go away.

I love traveling so much—and the draw of Ireland and Scotland is strong. I just don’t know. It’s hard to imagine not traveling. In a way, I’m in mourning … it saddens me thinking that 2016 will be my last foray traveling abroad—traipsing amongst the trees and trudging up hills with hidden secrets … and experiencing the ancient ruins of our past. The States—and that which lies north and south of me—may be old, but Europe and the British Isles are ancient. I have fallen in love with ancient. I adore ancient. It pulls my mind away from the present, planting me deep in to the past of oh, so long ago. My imagination seems more alive as I wander over there. To think that I won’t be visiting any of these lovely places anymore leaves a huge hole in my heart.

What am I to do with this quandary?? My heart is aching over it. I cannot see a resolution in the near future, yet … I really must decide.

Chop-Chop

FUNNY HOW, WHEN YOU THREATEN your hair with a drastic cut, it suddenly starts to mind…this happens nearly every time I decide to play with my hairstyle.  The usual reason for a change is due weather, difficulty in managing the existing style — or just plain ol’ because.

I’ve had all sorts of cuts.  Short, long, some in between, permed, coloured (only once — way too high maintenance for my liking).
This last time around, my goal was to see just how long I could grow it.  That simple…no other reason.  I started short, with bangs and a perm.  It grew, and grew, with only occasional “prunings” to keep it looking nice.  Slowly, most of the perm disappeared.  All that’s left now is a curl on the last two or so inches.  I seemed to have found the ‘terminal length’–about six inches shorter than when I was in my late 20s.  It’s been over two years now. It’s not going to grow any longer.  I find that interesting…apparently, getting older means less ‘grow power’–at least for me.

I’ve enjoined the long tresses, playing with variations — all up, down, pulled back…both partially and completely.  But, my shoulders have not appreciated all the time spent brushing out tangles & playing.  I’ve been frustrated with the all-day drying (nope, not much for hair dryers & that’d be even more raised arms…shoulders would just love that) and I’ve found it up in top of my head more and more lately.  Not a style I like very much.  Easy, but…eh.

So, it is time for a change.  And the timing is good, indeed.  I need an author’s photo for my book jacket.  What better than a fresh new cut to help liven the page (insert large grin), right?

As I said earlier, my hair decided to behave extra nice, trying to sway my decision.  It worked for about two days.  It left me wondering if I should leave it as is.  But, no — my resolve steeled, I held fast to my plan — I am ready for the change.  Tomorrow is the day.

It helps that I have an incredibly intuitive hairdresser that I’ve known since before the dawn of time.  I have no qualms about going in and announcing “Barbara, chop it all off!”  She knows me, she knows my needs, and most importantly, she knows all the quirks of my hair, cowlicks and all.  I trust her implicitly.  I’ve had hairdressers in the past that have cringed, asking, “Are you sure?”  I know what I want…don’t mess with my mind!  I’ve already dealt with my hair messing with my mind — I do not need a hairdresser doing the same.  And if it doesn’t work out the way I plan, then, I’m glad my hair grows like the proverbial weed.  I’m pretty easy that way.

So tomorrow, a new style will emerge, preparing me for my new journey in life as an author.

Then, I set up the appointment for my photo shoot.

I’m getting excited.

Bah Humbug…?

I HAVE BEEN A CURMUDGEON this last month.  Yes, I know, euphoric as I worked on (and achieved) my word count for NaNoWriMo, but a curmudgeon none the less…

I’ll even go as far as to say, a “Bah-Humbuger”.  From me, that is saying an awful lot.  Me. The ever-cheerful, always optimistic individual…to be down, anti-holiday, anti-social, well…let’s just say, where the heck is the real me hiding??

Okay.  I have to admit, aside from the NaNo project, there hasn’t been a lot of positive things going on in my life — that I could focus on.  There are always positives in our lives to focus on, if we try.  But I didn’t want to try.  That would require effort and I simply had no energy to try.  Pity party, anyone?

I desperately needed an attitude adjustment, and today was the perfect day to begin.  I started my day, as usual — greatly needing coffee, doing the things that are required of me first thing, then went back upstairs to dress.  My bed beckoned me, so without even a second thought, I acquiesced…no, that’s the wrong word — there was no reluctance.  I fully supported the idea, so on the bed I flopped.  My cat joined me, trying to snuggle in as I pulled covers over my head.  Go away.  He did.

Then, for some unknown reason, I decided to do something I haven’t done for almost a month.  I did a few of my “bed exercises” — micro exercises, really.  My version of situps…simply engaging the muscle because of back issues.  Then, since that felt so good, I stretched out my legs.

It’s funny how the simple act of moving can engage the brain.

I was then up, wandering into my “exercise room” and opened up my DOAC (that’s short for Dinosaur of a Computer) and cued up my Christmas music.  With the music blaring, I found myself even more energized & began a short stint on my archaic Aerobic Rider, and then sat on my exercise ball for a bit, to engage the back muscles with micro movements.

As I exercised, I bemoaned that fact that I have not, over the last four or five years (…or more), been able to find one story that I use to read to my daughter every year at Christmastime.  There were many stories, but this one, though fictional, has settled firmly and is planted itself deeply into my mind.  Some day, I will find the book and rejoice.  Until then, I can only think about the ideas presented in the story.  A creature from Santa’s Village, thought to be a bumbling fellow, somehow was given the responsibility of bringing back to the Village the beautiful rainbow that represented God’s Promise.  There were many adventures as he went to retrieve it and he succeeded in finding it, but when he was almost home with it, in his excitement, he dropped it and it broke into millions of pieces.

Crying, everyone admonished him for destroying God’s Promise.  But wise, old Santa was overjoyed with an idea.  He instructed everyone to pick up all the pieces and to put them on the Village Christmas tree.  The beautiful blues, reds, yellows, oranges and purples adorn the tree magnificently.  God’s Promise, sparking for all to see.  This is the story of how we acquired the lights for our trees to herald the season.

So, every time I see those little glitters of light in the night on rooftops, in windows and on trees, it awakens something deep inside me, reminding me of God and his gift to us.  Yes, that particular Promise, in the form of the rainbow, was a promise to never destroy the world again, but because of that, we are now able to enjoy the most magnificent of all gifts that He has ever presented us.

A gift that is with us today, and forever.  Through the giving up of His only son to us, He gave us the gifts of Grace and Forgiveness, so that we could forever be part of His family.   Princes and Princesses, Children of God.  Such a blessed gift that no one should take lightly.

But to receive these gifts, we must ask.  He will  give them freely, but you cannot expect to be given them without first asking.  And that asking requires a mustard seed of faith in Him (but that’s another blog entirely).

This is the season of giving.  Stop for a moment.  Be at peace.  Why are you frantically scurrying around to find the “perfect gift” for your child or spouse or loved ones?  Isn’t there a better way?

YES.  For both family and friends, the very best gift is the gift of giving.  Why not give a gift of time or money to charitable organizations in the name of your friends and family.  There are so many wonderful organizations that are begging for help so they may help others in need.  Make your life less crazy so you can enjoy the season, and put a light into the life of someone else.  Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Second Harvest, any of the soup kitchens in your area, ordinary families asking for assistance through local churches and organizations — believe me, they are there!  Simply open your eyes, ask around, Google your favorite cause.

Remember the reason for the season and give.

May this Christmas and those ahead of you be a blessed, peaceful time for you and your family.

Peace and Joy to you all.

Balancing Act

IT’S ALL about balance.

Balancing activity with stillness, give and take, spending and saving…my ever-growing “List”, with freedom to do whatever, whenever…I could go on and on.

The point?

Life can fill up every corner of your being, leaving your Life full — but with things that don’t matter.  As I navigate through Life, there are always choices. Sometimes I make good ones, sometimes…well, I could have chosen better.   Much better.

How does one choose which path to take?  For me it really is fairly simple–but, only if I am listening.

Balancing the things I want to do with the things that should be done.  With emphasis heavily on ‘should’.   If I am listening then the decision is easy.  If I listen and decide to ignore, then usually things go wrong. Terribly wrong sometimes.

So, if I do not take the time to listen — to quiet myself in this busy world of our, then quite often I miss what is being said to me. Lost treasures, gems of wisdom that fall to the wayside.  I know I should.  I plan to. But there are so many times I forget, plan it for later or just blow it off when I am so overwhelmed with everything that is going on.

Precisely the time I should be craving the quiet-time so I can bring everything back into balance. Stupidly ignore the signs, the whispered thoughts in my mind, the gentle nudges that try to guide me in the right direction.

Right now I am struggling with balancing my God-given common sense of what I need to do with my desires to just keep moving forward with my life as if nothing is changing…

Life is a bit overwhelming right now.  Even trying to find the right compromises to keep it in balance seems overwhelming.  And trying to find that quiet time, so very important, is hard because, apparently, I am deliberately avoiding it.  I, one who never shrinks from confrontational situations, find myself making excuses to put off even thinking about what needs to be done because it will, no doubt, involve some very major life-changing decisions.  Ones I’m not ready to make, apparently.

To complicate matters — or is it just to delay the inevitable longer — the writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo begins in less than two days.  I am excited and fully committed to completing this, but these two things in my life are not going to work harmoniously together.  I’m very sure of that.

So, either I must make my decision before November 1st, or put it out of my mind as completely as possible for one month.  As a true Procrastinator, I think I choose the latter.  Besides.  That gives me time to discover that very important quiet place that seems to be eluding me right now.

Hesitation, Lost Opportunities

I FOUND MYSELF torn this morning.  Torn between responding and returning to the comfort of my bed.

As my cat snuggled in, purring like crazy, we both heard a weak, plaintive meow, broken by silence. Then another, and another.

Possibly a kitten in distress?  But, I have heard my three-year old cat make the same kind of sounds, so I wasn’t sure.  As we stood at the window sill together, staring out into the darkness, I tried to discern where it was coming from. Under the overturned canoe, the crumpled up tarps, or perhaps simply somewhere in the vast expanse of bushes (some of which intermingles with poison oak)?  Was it even in my yard?

Did I dare step outside into the dark, cold and damp?  I was willing, and almost grabbed my slippers and robe, then hesitated.  I was recalling the recent skunking of my dog–did I want to chance an encounter with that creature in the dark?

The meows came further and further apart as I wrestled with my thoughts. Would it still be calling out when I went out so I could locate it?  Would it come to me?  What on earth would I do with it when I did find it?  And what about that skunk?

By the time I made my mind up, there was no more crying out to help me locate the tiny thing in my large yard.  A proverbial needle in a haystack.  My hesitation made any further investigation in the dark futile.

Now, I wait for daylight, to see if I can find it, dead or alive.  My cat remained vigilant, standing watch at the window.  But after awhile, even he left his post.  Maybe it moved on.  I’m also waiting for a reasonable hour so I can call my neighbour, to make sure they can account for their two kittens.

All of this, too late, if the kitten was in distress and needed help when it called out.  I will feel awful if it was one of theirs and I did nothing.  Even if not theirs, I could have helped. Why wasn’t I willing to step out of my comfort zone?

What else do I agonise over, delaying decisions where timing is of the utmost importance?  Lost opportunities, saved lives…