Hope you had fun on New Year’s Eve. I had a very tame New Year’s Eve. When you get to be a woman of a certain age, like me, tame is okay. I’ve already done my share of partying. My last real New Year’s shindig, MC Hammer was singing “Can’t Touch This” over the speaker. Stop laughing.
My partying days are long gone. Last night, for instance, my “partying” consisted of watching Kathie Lee and Hoda on TV pretending to have fun at a New Year’s party. Whoop- di- doo! I went to bed at 10:30. I figured New York would drop the ball whether I was watching or not.
I was sleeping peacefully until a boom woke me up around midnight. A neighbor shot off some fireworks, or my husband was reacting to the mushroom puffs he’d eaten earlier in the evening. Either way, excitement was definitely in the air, at least momentarily.
Have a Happy 2017 that’s full of life, laughter, and love. God Bless and Party On…
“…There will be no more…crying or pain…” Rev. 21:4
I’d like to introduce you to my two new best friends. Say “Hello” to Mr. Heating Pad. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. He’s soft, warm, and doesn’t talk too much. Not exactly a bosom-buddy; more like a butt-buddy. In fact, we’ve been together so much lately, you could say we’re attached at the hip. My second friend is not as soft, but always seems to come through when I’m really hurting. Meet Ms. Ibuprofen. I always seem to feel better when she’s around.
It all started the day after Christmas, when, without any warning, I awoke to pain only a champion bull rider should experience the day after being thrown to the ground by a black bull named Tornado. But, instead of riding a bull on Christmas Day, something even more horrific happened to me. I got older. In spite of my best efforts to act like a kid at Christmas, my body wasn’t buying it.
The reality of getting older is the pain we’re feeling today, was actually caused by something we did many years ago. I remember my grandfather saying one day, “If I’d known I’d be living this long, I’d taken much better care of myself.” At the time, I didn’t know what he meant. Now, his message is painfully clear.
So, here’s a partial list of the injuries I’ve endured over the years. There was the groin injury in my twenties, the result of an overzealous aerobics instructor. And, then there’s the professional masseuse, so impressed with my flexibility that she lifted my left leg next to my right ear. I found out later she was a scout for the Cirque D’ Soleil. After that, there was the skiing accident. The first of many skiing accidents. It was the first day of our vacation and happened on Robert Redford’s lovely Sundance Ski Resort. I should have stayed home and watched The Way We Were on video, instead. Fortunately, I’d only torn a few ligaments or tendons in my knee, a mere flesh wound. So, no surgery was necessary.
My husband, in his infinite wisdom, decided to go on another ski trip the following year. This time I was able to enjoy the trip, except for the last night. He decided he wanted to go night-skiing. I have trouble skiing in the daytime, so don’t know what he was thinking. Falling off at the beginning of the ski lift should have been my first clue. But no, I had to get back on and try again. This time, I rode to the top of the mountain alongside a rookie snowboarder. We both made it off the lift, then, Wham! She slammed me into a wall, where I heard the sickening sound of my knee snapping. The trip wasn’t a complete bust, though. I got to ride in a bone-sled pulled by ski patrol going a hundred miles per hour down a snow-covered mountain at night. I was strapped in so tight, thankfully, all I could see was the stars flying by as we made our way down the length of the ski run. The highlight was being shoved through the square in the door of the emergency building just big enough for the bone sled to fit through. I now know what a pizza feels like being slid off a paddle and into a brick oven, except I was freezing.
Which brings me back to today’s pain. Evening is when the pain gets worse. I start moaning like Randy on Christmas Story when faced with eating a plate of meatloaf. Know what, Randy, I’ll trade ya’.
The other day my mom told me she’d called a company about a spin-brush toothbrush she’d recently purchased because there was no way to extract the toothbrush from its package without causing major injury to her person. Mom has arthritis in her hands, so opening jars and other lids can present a challenge. Still, she has developed methods for dealing with this. In fact, that’s one of the reasons she married my father–his strong grip. One of many reasons, but at this point in her life, having a husband with a strong grip is definitely a plus. Still, she has figured out all sorts of ways to overcome the limited flexibility in her fingers. When encountering a difficult package, mom whips out her trusty scissors or rubber grip, and can usually negotiate the product out of its plastic overwrap–called shrink-wrap. However, no matter what method she employed(short of diffusing fireworks), this toothbrush wouldn’t budge. Using a finger bloodied in the heat of the extraction battle, mom wisely called the company. The cheerful voice on the other end of the line asked, “How can I help you?” “Well, I’m having trouble getting my new toothbrush out of its package without needing a blood transfusion.” “I’m sorry for your trouble, we’ve had lots of problems with that particular brush. Let me send you a coupon for another toothbrush that’s easier to open.” Within a few days the company did indeed send mom the coupons. Sure enough, the new toothbrush was much easier to retrieve. And, thankfully, no blood was shed during the process.
I’ve had my own encounters with shrink-wrap and other plastic coverings, most notably DVD covers. How do you take those things off without damaging the contents, or your fingers? I’m still trying to work out the mechanics of this maneuver. By the way, it should be noted that whenever something is shrink-wrapped, the label usually reads, “Sealed For Your Protection.” Based on my and others’ experiences, this surely means you’d be better off never purchasing/opening the product in the first place–unless you’ve made a sizable contribution to your personal blood bank account, and have an experienced paramedic standing by. Perhaps, “Enter At Your Own Risk”, is more accurate.
Not again–my son, Zach, seems to have a knack for hurting himself during the holidays. Four years ago, during a New Year’s Eve Party, right at midnight, he jumped for joy in celebration. Let’s just say fireworks weren’t the only ones popping that night. I guess his left knee wanted to get in on the “popping” action, too. A doctor’s visit, and MRI a week later confirmed that Zach had torn his ACL, and would need reconstructive surgery on his knee. My son really likes to start the New Year with a bang!
So, this year, Zach was having a blast at a Christmas party. While kicking up a storm dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe, Zach yet again heard that distinctive and all-too familiar “pop”, only this time it was coming from his right knee. I figured he wanted a matched set. As soon as he limped through the front door into the house, Zach announced, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I had a great time, and won a Marshmallow Toss contest. The bad news is I think I tore my other ACL.” Within a couple of days we were off to see the same orthopedic surgeon who’d done surgery on his left knee. As soon as Dr. Boone saw the X-rays and felt the knee, he said, “Damn, Zach, you tore the other one.” After a moment, he continued with his usual dry tone, “So, what else do you do at TU (long pause) besides bad dancing.” And, with that, everyone in the exam room, from nurses to interns, was laughing hysterically, including Zach. And, that’s one of the many reasons I’m so proud of my son. He never complains about his lot, and, unlike most people, Zach’s able to laugh at his own foibles. That, to me, is a real sign of maturity.
So, tomorrow, bright and early, we’ll be heading to the hospital for Zach’s second knee reconstruction. Please pray for us, and pray for me, especially, that I’ll learn to deal with life’s ups-and-downs with the same positive attitude as my son. Zach, never stop jumping and dancing for joy–just try to be a little more careful next time! Love, MOM
Watching the CMA’s this past week reminded me of how much I love country music. Here’s how that love began…
Boring. Dull. Dowdy. Not the most flattering descriptions. A couple of years ago, that’s who I was. On a typical Friday night, clad in an oversized robe and sweatpants, trough-sized popcorn in hand, and mesmerized by some news drama, there I sat alone watching TV in our bedroom. I was about as sexy as a cafeteria lunch lady. Meanwhile, my husband, nearly as exciting, would be lying across our definitely inappropriately-named “loveseat”, watching one of his favorite manly shows, like Ice Road Truckers, mindlessly chomping on plastic-wrapped faux meat products he’d purchased at the convenience store on the way home from work. But something happened which disrupted our routine. My husband announced that he’d be working in another state for a few months, with few visits home. The first week, nothing much changed, and my normal Friday night routine continued except, I started to miss my husband. Then, I caught the CMA’s on TV. Those country girls with their perfect makeup, beautiful hair, and gorgeous dresses, were absolutely stunning. I started thinking, what if instead of lamenting my husband’s absence, I used this time to remake myself, and hopefully reignite the passion in our lackluster marriage.
Shortly after my epiphany, I received an e-mail about continuing ed classes at a nearby community college. Curious, I perused the offerings, and one in particular peaked my interest. Country Line Dancing. Sounded fun, no partner needed, and hopefully I’d benefit from some much-needed exercise. Please be kind, but the last time I danced, it was to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Disco helped me get in shape in my twenties. Perhaps, country line dancing would do the same for me in my fifties, albeit a little slower. Nervous and excited at the prospects, I signed up for the class. Before signing up, the only “country” I knew was gastronomically, as in chicken fried steak smothered in black pepper cream gravy. Delicious on the lips, not so much on the hips. Once I signed up for country line dancing, I not only ate all things country, I was into all things country, from purchasing a cowboy hat and boots, to listening to country music whenever I got the chance.
Walking into my first country line dance class, expecting more of a Blake Shelton look-a-like, white hair, sparkling blue bespectacled eyes, and slightly pudgy belly, my teacher looked more like a beardless version of a department store Santa. In fact, if he’d had on a red suit I might have jumped on his lap and given him my Christmas Wish list. However, his wife, also in the class, might have objected. Still, he had a friendly and warm presence, and once he began dancing, it was apparent that his talents were not limited to gift giving. This guy knew his stuff. And, it was actually comforting to see a “regular Joe”, or, Santa, in this case, who could dance. I figured if he could do it, so could I!
Twenty people showed up to the first class. Most were menopausal ladies, like me, along with a couple of brave men, one young, the other closer to my age. The young man, looking about my son’s age, wanted to learn how to dance to impress the young girls at the honky-tonk. The older gentleman, quite admirably, wanted to impress his wife with his new dance skills on their anniversary. Lucky girl. Class was only supposed to last an hour. But, we were having so much fun, we went over by thirty minutes. After a good deal of sweat, from rampant hot flashes and exercise, and tears– of laughter, we completed our first class learning two dances along the way.
What a blast! I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so invigorated. From that first class, I was hooked. Unlike some folks in my class, I didn’t pick up the dance steps so quickly. So, to prepare for my next class I’d practice–a lot. My instructor posted dance demonstrations on You Tube. Of course, the more I practiced the better I got, which gave me more confidence. And, my jeans, always tight, began to loosen. Yee Haw!
During the course of my lessons I learned a whole new vocabulary, too. Wobble and Tush Push held new meanings for me. For instance, I learned that Wobble was more than what a Weeble toy does, and Tush Push, unlike when you’re constipated, can actually be a fun activity– both providing great opportunities to shake my booty.
I was having so much fun that the time flew by. Soon, my prodigal husband would be returning. Wearing my new tighter fitting jeans, tucked into my tan, fringed cowboy boots, I welcomed my husband home with my best southern charm. My husband had left behind Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies, and come home to Elly May. Okay, maybe not exactly Elly May, I am in my fifties, after all. But, country line dancing had infused me with passion and excitement, and it showed in both my appearance and behavior. Noticing the change, my husband was eager to know what had happened to me. Instead of telling him, I let my feet do my talking, and demonstrated some of my best country moves. Well, one thing led to another, and let’s just say we ended up enjoying some long overdue southern comfort, if you know what I mean.
When my husband finally unpacked his bags, to my surprise, he pulled out a fairly new pair of size 14 black and red cowboy boots. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one learning country dancing while he was away. Turns out, my husband was learning, too! We’d become such different folks, that my husband said it felt like we were cheatin’. Oh, that’s another part of my countrification–a made-up word that fits. When you talk country, you lose the final “g” in words ending in “ing”. So, lying becomes “lyin'”, cheating becomes “cheatin'”, you get the idea. I highly recommend country line dancing. It’s cheaper than seeing a marriage counselor, and a lot more fun. And, if you’re lucky, you might just end up doin’ the Cupid Shuffle under the covers with your favorite cowboy.
At 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, clay turns into fine china, carbon dioxide turns into diamonds, and, give or take a few degrees, middle-aged women, like me, turn into human microwaves, just shy of spontaneous combustion. Welcome to the wonderfully warm world of hot flashes, ladies!
Even before menopause, I was entrenched in an offensive known in our home as the “Great Thermostat Battle”. Always chilly, I would sneak stealthily down the hall and, with a magician’s slight-of-hand, turn the thermostat up to a more balmy level. Meanwhile, my hottie husband, displaying less finesse but more bravado, followed closely behind, turning the dial down, to a temperature only a popsicle could love. Naturally, now that I’m in meltdown mode, my hubby’s cooling off, so, the battle continues. Peace talks are, however, ongoing. You don’t stay married for as long as we have without them.
In order to win this “Cold War”, I’m determined to embrace my hotness, go with the flow, even if it is a lava flow, and, like carbon dioxide, become the precious and sparkling gem God created me to be. Approaching life with grace, humor, and a great air conditioner, I can beat this heat. Besides, there’s nothing hotter than a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin, whatever the temperature. And, that’s pretty cool.
While waiting for a doctor’s appointment, just prior to my fiftieth birthday, I read an article in a health magazine titled, “Over Fifty, Proceed with Caution.” Choosing to ignore the ominous warning on the cover, I dived right into the article, unaware of the “terrors” ahead. One of the first items I read was how women 50+ can expect to gain one inch around their waist every three years, without so much as an extra potato chip in their diet. Oh, say it isn’t so. Already thick-waisted, ( I believe apple-shaped is the correct term), I found this tidbit of information quite alarming. According to the article, I’ll have to call out a search party in order to locate my waist in a couple of years. In fact, that’s something I have in common with Scarlett O’Hara–no, I don’t have a seventeen-inch waist, but I do have a waist that has “Gone With The Wind”. According to the research, and given that my grandmother lived to be almost 102, I can expect my waist to grow to roughly the size of a tire–an airplane tire. Being a wise shopper, I have already begun preparing for the coming girth by stocking up on elastic whenever it’s on sale at the fabric store. Just because I have a big waist, doesn’t mean I have to be wasteful.
In addition to cornering the market on elastic, another delightful effect of turning fifty is the loss of most of my eyelashes. Apparently, we are born with three rows of eyelashes. By the time we’re fifty(that seems to be the magic number) we lose two of those rows. They just fall out. That certainly explains why more mascara ends up on my eyelids than eyelashes these days. To resolve this, I’ve contemplated wearing false eyelashes. With my fifty-year old eyesight, however, the eyelashes would probably end up on my cheeks, instead of my eyelids. Not exactly the effect I’m looking for.
Not only eyelash- deprived, hitting the half-century point often results in a slower metabolism. After fifty, our metabolism hovers somewhere in the neighborhood of your average tree sloth‘s. Basically, the only way that I can maintain my current weight is to cut my caloric intake from 200 to 500 calories per day(I guess that means the leftover Halloween and Christmas candy are out), while simultaneously training for a triathlon. And, speaking of the tree sloth, they have one major advantage over us human sloths. Their elimination schedules are in sync with their slow metabolisms. Meaning, tree sloths climb down trees but once a week to “do their business”. Ironically, we human sloths “go more” the slower we get– and, at the most inopportune times. Nature inevitably calls at 3 A.M.
So, aside from purchasing my underwear from an airplane factory, my eyelashes from a costume shop,( or, in the alternative, settling for scary naked eyes), and being jealous of tree sloths, I am negotiating the aging process as gracefully as possible. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of becoming a woman of a certain age is the ability to laugh at myself, which is supposedly good for my health. In fact, I’m down right hilarious. Considering the amount of laughing I’m sure to do at my own expense in the coming years, I should be very healthy, indeed. Besides, it could be worse. If I were a dog, I’d be over three hundred and fifty years old in human years. On the other hand, in doggy years, I’m a young pup!
Are you aging gracefully? If so, how? Let me know…I need all the help I can get!