Stretching the Apron Strings

No one tells you how hard it will be when your child moves away. I don’t know if that is the hard part or if it is the process just before the actual move.

August 1, 2012 is the target date for McKenna’s move to San Francisco. I go back through time through my life until I am her age preparing to leave the nest. It is not a fair comparison.  The relationship between my mother and I had at that time was quite different from that of my daughter and I. Still I can remember how very excited I was moving away from home and starting MY life.

I’ve been watching McKenna as she stretches the apron strings. At first she picked fights with me until I called her attention to it. We chatted about the whole leaving home thing, how it is natural to feel the need to be in charge and push me away. So things changed. Still I feel her pulling away from me. It’s the things like sharing a blanket during movie time and having long those long talks. Sometimes I look at her and wonder if her heart aches as much as mine. Then I realize that stretching the apron strings is a natural part of this process. And most importantly…She is running towards her life, not running away from me.

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Taking Stock

There is nothing like a cool shower on a hot summer day. While I’m combing out my wet hair I look in the mirror at myself in all my glory. Face…Not as many lines as most 55 year olds. Body…Post infertility and post baby…I know that was hard on my body and that the hormone weight is harder to lose. But losing weight is definitely in my future. Legs…Still look darned fine. 36″ inseam with thighs and calves rock hard. Top of thighs are somewhat flabby and rub together. I must watch those fire danger days as my thighs rub together when I walk and I could spark. Skin…dry and dull. I am keeping a bottle of body lotion next to my chair in the living room so I can moisturize while hanging out.

I met with a health coach the other day in preparation for starting a restricted diet. I get one meal a day with meat (no beef) and vegetables. However, the other five meals are the  barriatric type which are powdered and need to be mixed with water or some other liquid. The order is placed and I am committed. My husband has also decided to join this journey with me as his health is at stake. My only concern is that my health coach not counsel me on migraines because that is what drove me mad with the last coach I had. My migraines are not related to water and salt! After 43 years of migraines I know what the triggers are and have been that route already.

Knowing that I am starting a diet next week causes me to really think about my feelings about losing weight. I’ve done it before, losing 30 pounds in 2010. I gained some back but am still down ten pounds so I know what I am in for. Part of me wants to run out and eat everything I love and won’t be eating on this diet. The other part of me knows how stupid this is as I would only add to the amount I want (and need) to lose. So I compromise and eat summer fruit like watermelon, peaches, pineapple, and bananas. I think this is what I will miss most. No fruit or dairy until I meet my weight loss goal.

I remember when I was younger. I could lose ten pounds in nothing flat with relatively little effort. I look back at old photos and see a rocking body on a tall girl with legs that go on forever. I had no appreciation back then. I got the attention that my daughter gets now and I somewhat mourn that young body that disappeared somewhere inside of me. now I see photos of myself and I draw back in shock and anger. I look so much fatter than I do in my mirror. I vow to never again be in front of the camera promising myself that I will be the photographer and not the subject. I hear the voice of a famous comedienne saying “If I’d have known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

I remind myself that it is never too late to start taking care of myself. I wonder why I haven’t. Is it because I was unable to stop and do just that while working when bowled over by a migraine? Was it because I didn’t feel worthy and gained weight because I didn’t know why I wasn’t worthy and thought that fat would give me a reason? Was it when I felt betrayed by my body when I couldn’t get pregnant? Was I eating my feelings because I felt unable to express them? And the answer is…All of the above! Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Yes, I AM A WINNER!

My Life’ Mission Statement

A disagreement with a family member, a request for a reality check and life line ignored, and a big ache in my heart has inspired me to think about what it is that I really want for myself in the third act of my life. I think this covers it.

Wandering the Garden

I have felt a little lost on occasion since retiring. My sleep patterns changed and I became out of sync with the rest of the world but in sync with myself. A friend suggested that I create some daily rituals. I gave thought to her suggestion.

The need for routine came with the birth of our daughter. We created rituals together during the many routines that made up our days. For years my life became routine filled with rituals until I retired and my daughter got her driver’s license. Gone were the daily trips to work, school, theater, driving McKenna and her friends. Oh, how I miss it…once, maybe twice a year!

Going from a state of tight structure to semi-structured to no structure hasn’t been easy. Mix in a some chronic migraines and pain and I found myself with no structure AND a fear of commitment. Afterall, not everyone understands migraines let alone 43 years of them. They get a little upset when you cancel plans. They think you are a flake, a wuss, hypochondriac, faker, or weak. It’s seems so much easier to just not make plans.

So I make plans with myself. I awake whenever I wake, rather from outside influences or on my own. I fill a large glass with ice water, grab my camera, and step into the backyard. I am immediately struck by the loud volume of bird songs and I stop in my tracks to search for the choir. At first look I see only the structures and vegetation. At second glance it is as though my eyes have focused and all I see are birds. There are birds everywhere.

I have a large planter along the back fence and a container garden. There are six types of roses, geraniums, petunia’s and others plants amongst the seeds I recently planted. The seeds are various strains of sunflowers and wildflowers. I don’t know if they are germinating or are weeds growing since I’m not familiar with these plants! I’ll wait…

I pull the greenery I know are weeds after watering all the while keeping my ever watching camera eyes (some days I see only in pictures) open for photo ops.  I just can’t help myself as I take pictures of the flowers and insects, both of which I have plenty of photos already. But I just can’t help it because I am seeing with my morning eyes that are fresh and ready for radiant, colorful input after slumber. And nature is always changing. A single flower never looks the same two days in a row.

I trim the roses, fix the trellis, and check on my newly planted clematis. One of the three plants seems to be dying. Good thing I got them at Lowe’s with the one year guarantee! I’ll give it a few more days before I pull it.

After I finish my garden chores and feed the fish I drift over to the rocking recliner swing. My dog, Corbin, always wants to join me and he stretches out. I rock one leg side-to-side to set it swinging and relax, soaking up the morning sun. I close my eyes and feel the always present delta breeze caress my cheeks and tousles my tangled hair. Ah, it is good to be alive and living in this moment. Thank you, Universe! I begin to feel the sunshine and what promises to be warm day and have finished my glass of water. Time to head inside and see what the day brings. Before I do that though, I pause to survey my back yard with all of my senses. I listen to the birds, see the colors of the flowers and nature’s bounty, smell the orange tree blossoms, and decide to have breakfast since there is no taste to my water. Then I have an epiphany.

Retirement has granted me the opportunity to become more like the flowers as I relax and find my way. I notice that like a rose tightly budded opening into a fragrant burst of  beautifully painted velvet petals I, too, have bloomed into a newer version of myself. I feel better after my daily ritual of wandering the garden.

Life Review

Life Review

April 30, 2012 by Sally  | Edit

Many years ago I watched a movie about a man who dies and reviews his life. Different scenes from his life were projected back to him followed by discussion and heavenly judgment. I recently decided to conduct my own life review. The first thing I learned was that I have been on a continuous life review for decades…just not consciously. The second thing I learned was that this process is as wonderous as it is awful.

Reconnecting with classmates has been essential to this process. I joined Facebook and am now in touch with many of my grammar and high school friends and acquaintances. It has been quite an experience getting to know many of them all over again as an adult. And through the process of sharing old family pictures, school pictures, photos of our children, grandchildren and life adventures, they have shown me their perspectives of me.

Being the inner critic that I’ve been, I take it all in and then wonder…Am I better a version of me now or do I have some work to d?. Of course I have work to do!  And it begins with examining both my negative and positive life experiences.

However, at this very moment I am exhausted and having difficulty with focus. Oh, fiddlydee. I’ll think about it tomorrow while I plant some May Day flowers.