Time…

Time has been on my mind lately. How quickly it passes and it’s gone forever. On one end I have my mother who is in her eighties. With every passing year, she comments that she’s surprised that she’s still around to see this new year, surprised to make it yet another year as her birthday comes. On the other end I have my teenager who has her whole life in front of her. She’s not worried about running out of time, but she’s feeling anxious about becoming an adult and moving out of the cocoon -like protection of home. And as for me…I see my mother getting older and know that my time is limited with her and at the same time, I see my teenager getting closer and closer to graduation and know that she’ll be moving out of the nest to go to college soon. It’s sad and exciting at the same time.

There was a morning when I had to leave much earlier than normal and it was still dark when I arrived in the parking lot at work. As the sun came up I started snapping pictures of it. I realized just how quickly time is passing as I took pictures and saw the differences in the sunrise in just a matter of minutes.

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when I first got into the parking lot…

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just a moment later…

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not more than five minutes, in fact it was probably less…

it’s awesome when you sit back and think of how quickly the earth is spinning and how fast time is passing. It’s not something that I want to dwell on but I don’t want to forget just how precious each and every moment in life is.

Soak in the beauty around us, cherish the moments with our loved ones, and most of all never be afraid to try new experiences. Just live and live with happiness and joy in your hearts.

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Fifty Two Life Lessons

My fifty second birthday is peeking over the horizon at me. Just a few more days and it’ll be on top of me. It’s truly amazing how quickly the years fly by. Especially once you have kids. There was a time when I thought being fifty was ancient. It was so far down the road and quite frankly I just never really envisioned myself being in my fifties. That was where my parents resided. Then one day I wake up and realize with a shock that I’m there. I’m officially middle-aged.

The interesting thing is – I don’t feel like a middle-aged person. I still feel and think like I did when I was younger. I still enjoy running and being active. I still find amusement in the stupidest, little things and delight in beauty around me. Somehow I always associated middle age with boring, dour looking folks who have long outgrown fanciful things like dreams and playing. At least that was how I always saw my parents and their friends, or maybe that was just how the younger generation sees things. But, being in my fifties really isn’t bad at all.  I’ve learned a lot of things along the way and actually look forward to learning more as I get older. Every stage in life has its own level of learning and it’s not about getting old, it’s about learning and growing mentally and emotionally.

Since I’ve been doing some reflecting on life, I thought I’d try to come up with 52 life lessons that have worked for me. In no particular order… I’m just typing them up as they come to mind.

1. Smile. Smiling does wonders to change a mood. People respond positively to a genuine smile, and that positive response goes a long way in boosting your own mental state. I don’t mean walk around grinning like an idiot every second of the day. It’s just that we all have a choice… we can choose to look at the good or bad aspect of situations. Those who choose to dwell on the good things tend to be much more approachable and easy to be around.

2. Don’t marry just for the sake of getting married. There are literally billions of people on this planet. Life is too special to be wasted being with someone that isn’t quite right for you. When you meet that perfect match, you’ll know it. If you haven’t, at least have fun meeting people along the way. There’s nothing wrong with being alone when you’re comfortable and at peace with yourself. Being married to the wrong person and trying to make it work, only adds stress and unhappiness along the way. Too many times I’ve seen (I was one…) where people meet and say that they can work around the differences and change the person. Trust me, it’s not easy to change the core of who someone is.

3. Exercise. Okay, I can hear the groans already. A lot of people think exercise is overrated. It’s not. It truly does create a more positive state of mind as well as better health. I’ve gone through periods of exercising and not. Whenever I went for a while without a regular workout regime, I started feeling bad both physically and mentally. My physical feeling would be aches, pains and a feeling of being too heavy. The discomfort that I felt with myself only brought my mental state down. Then I would get back into running and always, without fail, I’d feel that boost of confidence. That positive energy would start flowing through me again. Our bodies are just like any mechanical thing we may have such as cars. If you don’t take your car in for regular tune-ups and make sure the tires, oil and other things are changed or maintained on a regular basis – it’s going to break down on you and quit. Our bodies are basically the same way. They need to be maintained and treated well to carry us through our lifetime.

4. Play. Always make time for playing. We work and spend much of our time trying to save a little money, pay bills, maintain our homes, cars and take care of our families. It’s incredibly important to make time for fun. Otherwise your mind is going to get so bogged down with responsibilities. Make time to let loose, go somewhere new, experience something fun. Just get out and clear your head of problems and really enjoy yourself.

5. Choose your battles wisely. If you’re going to get into an argument with someone, at least make sure it’s a worthwhile battle. Otherwise it’s wasted energy. If it really isn’t important and about something that isn’t going to affect your life and surroundings, then just let it go.

6. Learn something new whenever possible. Take a class, read, explore…you’ll be a much more interesting person for it.

7. Make time for animals in your life. They can teach a lot about unconditional love.

8. Try new experiences. I went snow skiing for the first time in my life last winter and had a fantastic time. I don’t want to find myself sitting in a wheelchair at eighty wondering what it would have been like if….

9. If you have kids, give them the absolute best you can. Prepare them for life and give them the tools needed to succeed. And love them unconditionally.

10. Think before you speak. Who among us hasn’t been quick with our mouths only to regret the words coming out. Maybe this is something that has to be learned over time, but it’s very true that our words can sometimes cut deep.

11. Be sensible about your finances. Money isn’t everything, but it’s nothing to brush aside either. Find a good balance where you have enough money so you don’t have to worry about your next meal or how you’ll pay your bills, but at the same time don’t let money run your life.

12. Leave a place better than when you arrived. Pick up after yourself, get rid of trash, etc. None of us want to live in a dumpster so why would we just leave trash laying around?

13. Make time for books and movies. They’re great for relaxation and entertainment, but don’t make them a focal point of your life.

14. Enjoy good food. Be open to trying different dishes and flavors.

15. When in love, love with all your heart. If the love fades then let it go and move on. Know that nothing is forever and sometimes the universe knows what we need at certain points in our lives.

16. Laugh often and laugh loud.

17. See the ocean at least once in your life.

18. Go to the mountains at least once in your life.

19. Possessions are there to enhance your life, not to encumber it. Be willing to give things away when they’ve outlived their purpose. Life is not about things, but about experiences.

20. Always treat others the way you would want to be treated.

21. Never underestimate the power of sleep. A good night sleep will do wonders to boost morale and lift spirits.

22. If you see something beautiful, stop and take it in. Don’t be in such a rush that you miss a great sunset or the glitter from the sun dancing across a lake. We’re not going to be here forever so don’t take beauty for granted.

23. Take care of the older generation. They’ve been around a long time, they deserve to be respected and cared for. These were people that were our age at one time. Always remember that we will all get to that point at one time or another and treat them how we would expect or wish to be treated ourselves.

24. When doing a job for someone, do it well. You wouldn’t appreciate paying someone to do something for you only to see that they’re putting in a half-assed attempt. Do your job well and to the best of your ability.

25. Get crazy once in a while. Let your hair down and don’t be afraid to look foolish. As long as no one gets hurt by your actions, it’s good to let loose.

26. Create something. A picture, poem, story, garden… anything. Just put something together and watch it grow.

27. Nothing’s perfect. We live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people. Accept these imperfections and learn to see beauty in them.

28. Cry. Don’t be afraid to cry and show your emotions.

29. Show appreciation whenever you can. People usually respond amazingly to a simple but genuine “thank you”.

30. Take vacations. Even if you don’t have the money to travel someplace exotic, a simple drive to the beach or countryside can rejuvenate ones soul.

31. Take time for inner reflection. The world we live in is so fast-paced and hectic that it’s easy to lose touch with yourself.  Step back once in a while to take a breather and meditate. Gather your thoughts and center yourself.

32. Nothing is permanent. Sometimes someone or something that was so good for us at one time can become a source of anxiety or frustration after time. If this happens, it may be time to step back and away from that source. We don’t all go down the same paths in life. Paths intersect for periods of times and then they may divide and you find yourselves going down different paths. It’s okay to move on. Don’t hold on so tightly and refuse to let things flow.

33. Enjoy a good glass of wine.

34. Accept change. It’s inevitable in this changing world we live in. Why fight it?

35. Dress up and wear something incredibly sexy once in a while.

36. Take lots of pictures. Going back and looking at them usually puts a smile on my face.

37. Don’t procrastinate. Easier said than done, I know. But taking care of things right then and there reduces stress in your life. You’re not constantly thinking of the things that need to be taken care of when they’re done on the spot.

38. Accept people for who they are. Too many times, especially in relationships, people will find something that they’re not 100% happy with and place their focus on “fixing” that imperfection. It doesn’t work. Determine if it’s an imperfection that you can live with and leave it alone. If not, move on.

39. Eat sensibly. What we put into our bodies does have an impact on how we feel. Maybe not immediately but over time…  You wouldn’t put dirt into your gas tank, would you? It would muck it all up. Our bodies are the same way.

40. Give what you would like to receive. I’m not talking about things. I’m talking about love, gratitude, respect…

41. Don’t follow the crowd. Too often the crowd is doing things only to be accepted or to be popular and often that entails things that we may not be in agreement with. Step back and be true to yourself.

42. If you see someone being bullied or pushed around, stick up for them. Let them know they’re not alone and let the aggressors know that what they’re doing isn’t cool.

43. Spend time with a baby who is discovering the world for the first time. Seeing things through their eyes really puts things in perspective.

44. Dream. The day you stop dreaming is the day you stop living and start just existing.

45. Enjoy getting older. It may not be so much fun to see the wrinkles on the face, but really, they’re an indicator of what a person has been through. The wisdom and knowledge gained from all those years should be embraced and revered.

46. Think about the choices you make. Your kid wants to go out and play with you but the house needs cleaning….  choose the playtime with the kid over cleaning. Cleaning can be done anytime, but the playing with the kid will be gone over time.

47. Treasure the people in your life. You never know how long they will be there so enjoy every moment you can with them.

48. Bullying, stalking, threatening actions are not cool.

49. Splurge once in a while on yourself. I have a hard time with this one. I tend to want to save my money and time for my mother and daughter that I tend to forget about myself. But when I do something for myself, it’s a great morale boost.

50. Don’t be self-centered. People who are able to forget about themselves to focus on other people or tasks tend to reap more than those who spend all their time thinking of their own desires.

51. What?? We’re not done yet????

52. Live, love, laugh and just enjoy the hell out of this life. Be kind, have fun, get crazy. We only get one shot at this, why not have fun while we’re here.

Happy birthday to me!!!!  Cheers!

One of THOSE Days…

I try to stay positive. Think good thoughts and embrace things as they come….. (blowing raspberry)

Today, I’m just not feeling it at all. I’m not getting the validation from my bosses that I’m doing a good job, I’m not feeling appreciated, my running is falling steadily by the wayside because I keep getting pulled in so many directions. My daughter has decided to become a gourmet cook overnight and I’m eating way too much food and way too late at night because for some reason she always starts her cooking late. I get home and there’s vacuuming. laundry and cleaning to be done. And I’m watching one of those bridal reality shows where the bride is pitching a fit because daddy won’t fork over more money for her wedding. (blowing more raspberries).

I wish I had a daddy to hand over money or a husband who wanted to provide and take care of his wife instead of the man I married who voiced his resentment many times over the years we were married how he thought it was totally unfair that women have a choice whether to work or not. Funny, because the way I remember it, I didn’t have a choice. If I really wanted to nit-pick;  he actually didn’t work for over a year and worked part-time for another 3 years during that time while I worked two jobs. So, who was it that really had a choice??

This bride show – she’s fussing now because her daddy has vetoed some of her expensive choices for the wedding and she’s being a baby about it. My sixteen year old has more sense than that! The girl is in her early twenties and she’s going in for Botox??!? Either I’m really living out of the loop or I wasn’t smart enough to manipulate people around me to my advantage.

I know I’m rambling on here. It’s just been one of those frustrating days that’s been piling up on a series of similar other days.  So, I’m going to vent, get it out of my system then get up tomorrow and take one of my long hike/runs and it’ll clear my head. I’ll be back to my normal positive self in no time. For right now though I think I’m entitled to blow off steam.

Have a great Friday night everyone. Tomorrow is always a new, promising day.

Life is Beautiful…

I’m around some people who don’t see beauty around them. It makes me sad when I hear them talk about suicide or being depressed. I’m not bipolar but I have had very close experiences with people who are and it’s really tough to see them go through these extreme lows.

Please, if anyone out there is interested. It’s such a precious place we live in. There’s so much beauty surrounding us. It may not be right next door but it’s definitely on our planet. Use your imagination…dream… let your mind go places that you may not be able to go physically at this moment.

I believe in the power of positive thinking. I think that when you feel that things are possible. They really can be. There’s no limitations except what you place on yourself.

I, myself, plan on traveling. I just have to wait a couple of years for my daughter to graduate school. Then I can just pick up and go. Possessions are nothing. Life, love and experiences are everything.

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A perfect rose…

 

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Skiing at midnight…

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Kayaking through the mangroves…

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A beautiful Autumn sky…

I don’t even have money to travel but yet, I can have these experiences. So if I can convince anyone that life is beautiful around the corner….I’ll be happy.

 

 

Mental Images

Everyone has a mental image of themselves. I think we see who we really are in our twenties and that image gets burned into our brains. Twenty years down the road, we look in the mirror and see this older version of our mental image and wonder who it is.

My mother and I were talking on FaceTime the other day and she made a comment that she didn’t like the way she looked in her little box. She said that she looked so wrinkly and old. Then went on to tell me that she went down to the local  drug store the next day to look for some wrinkle cream. I tried to tell her that she was beautiful for an 83 year old woman, but then realized that I too have looked at myself in the mirror and wondered where that middle aged woman came from? I remember myself as a young, smooth-skinned with a slim and taut body so who is this person looking back at me now? I mean, realistically I probably look pretty good for 51, but my mental image is one of when I was much, much younger.

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My mom and I.

Thinking of my own experience in the mirror, I guess I’m not surprised that my mother felt that way. If our mental image of ourselves gets burned into our brains when we are in our twenties, then imagine how it must feel to look back at an eighty something year old in the mirror. She’s a beautiful woman. Not beautiful in the  conventional  sense that society adheres to, but beautiful for a woman of her age. Everyone who meets her are amazed that she is in her eighties. Doctors who check her out tell her that they hope to be like she is when they get up there. But despite all this, she still feels that she looks awful when she actually sees herself on camera.

It doesn’t help that our society is so youth oriented. Older people get pushed aside by the younger generation who think they just have it all and it really does make us feel worthless and old when we really should be celebrating the wisdom that we’ve gained over the years, the experiences that have shaped us into who we are today….

I choose to feel good about myself. I was young once and remember the feeling of invincibility. Of being young and strong with the whole future staring me in the face. Now that I’m here facing the latter half of my lifetime, I realize that youth is fleeting. Being young and on top of the world only lasts so long before the next generation comes along and shoves you out.

And that’s fine… I know what they’re feeling, I know how fleeting that feeling is so they deserve to feel good and strong for however long they can. The true test of how one handles it comes later when the realization sets in that they’re no longer on top of the world but perhaps sliding down the other side of the mountain. I’m okay with it. I enjoy the experiences and wisdom that I’ve gained over the years. I’m not so overly concerned with how I look, how I appear to others, and whether or not I’m sexy enough, smart enough or even fun enough. I’m really okay with who I am. I just want to experience things before this last half of my life goes by. I want to travel, have fun and learn new things. How I look….eh… I want to look good, who doesn’t? But, I want to look good for myself. That’s the biggest difference. Looking good and feeling good for myself rather than for others.

It’s the image that I have in my head that needs to be replaced so that when I look in the mirror there isn’t a little voice saying ” What? Who’s this? The person I know, doesn’t have lines, droopy eyelids, or gray hair.” Well, I do and little by little, I’m learning to accept and love that person that I see in the mirror today.

My Tiger…

Tiger is the cat that has graciously allowed me to be his mistress. I share my home with three of them actually,  Tiger was the first one  after my divorce. Him and I coming together was sort of an accident, but one that I believe was destined to be. He’s unique, special and just one hell of a cat.

I’ve always loved animals, my ex – not so much. So after my divorce I decided that it was time to bring a cat back into my life and also to give my daughter an opportunity to interact with a pet. I fell in love with a little kitten that was in a box with a bunch of others on a street corner. He was the quietest of the bunch and sat apart by himself. Unfortunately, he may have been sick and that would explain why he was so quiet. I only had him a couple of days before he died on me. I didn’t even have a chance to get him to a vet for a check up. Well, when I came home and found him like that, I took it to the vet. Why? I don’t know, there was nothing a vet could do for him, but I really didn’t want my daughter to find out that her first pet of 2 days died. Don’t ask me what I was expecting by going to the vet with a dead cat, but I kind of think it was destiny because that’s where Tiger and I met.

At the vet’s office, I brought the poor little kitten in and explained what had happened. Knowing in the back of my mind that they’re probably wondering what the heck was it I wanted them to do?? Bring it back to life? Sure would have been nice if that were possible but…   Anyway, back to the story – Weeping, I explained to them that this was my daughter’s first pet. I’m pretty sure they knew that I may have been the one hurting the most over this. I get far too attached to everything. One of the girls working there, came around the corner holding another kitten. She asked if I wanted to take this one home. She placed him in my arms and stood back. I looked at him and he looked at me. He immediately started wriggling and meowing in protest. He wasn’t particularly pretty. He was yellowish and wild looking. They explained to me that he had been found a few weeks prior with 2 other siblings – abandoned.  Hurricane Charley had just come through our area a couple of months earlier and wreaked havoc. We had downed trees everywhere, flooding, etc… the place was just a mess. Apparently, he and his siblings had either been born as wild cats or they had been left behind somehow and they were found amid the rubble. They told me that the other two had already been adopted out and he was the only one left. Dubiously I looked at him as he stalked around the room. Each time I tried to pick him up, he’d complain loudly. Definitely not a cuddly kind of cat. I wasn’t going to leave him behind though, not after hearing his story of being a hurricane survivor.

Tiger and I went home and the next few days was definitely a learning experience between all three of us. I’ve had lots of cats in my lifetime, but Tiger taught me that he was his own cat. He didn’t conform to anyone’s expectations of what cats should be. It didn’t take long before we bonded though. He turned out to be a really fun cat. He fetched. Yes, ‘fetched’ like a dog would. I bought him a little stuffed kitten to play with and quickly found that he absolutely loved for us to throw it for him to chase after. Not only did he chase after it but he actually brought it back to us for it to be thrown again. He talked. No, he didn’t say words, but he mewed his response to everything. If he liked something, he’d give us a little “rrrr” in the back of his throat. If he wasn’t happy, he’d produce a loud, gutteral “maiwww”. That’s the only way I can describe it. He didn’t “meow”, he made noises from deep within his throat and they would come out loud. Sometimes, I could hear him walking around just maiwwwing away. It just felt as if he were communicating with us all the time.

As the months went by, his yellow colors deepened into a gorgeous auburn shade.

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He still hated being held. Hated it with a passion. If anyone picked him up, he might tolerate it for a few seconds before he’d start squirming and meowing in protest. However, despite that particular aversion, he was a very loving cat. Just on his own terms. He’d follow us all over the house and always stayed in the same room as we did. He showed his love and affection by rubbing our legs or nuzzling us with his face. Curled up beside us on the sofa to sleep, purring the loudest purr I’d ever heard coming from a cat. Everything had to be on his own terms. He just didn’t like us picking him up.

There was one side effect from his being in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley’s mess and that was he developed some respiratory problems. At least that’s what everyone has agreed on. Those first few months, I noticed that he sneezed a lot. The vet would treat him for his sinuses, which would let up temporarily then return. After many trips to several vets and finally one specialist, they determined that he may have contracted some kind of bacterial infection in the mess left behind from the hurricane. We never found out for sure because they started quoting me figures in the thousand dollar range just to find out what might have been wrong. I don’t have much money and certainly not to spend a thousand just to “find out what the problem is”… not to mention fix it. He’s not in pain. He’s a very contented and happy cat. He can’t smell and goes into violent sneezing fits, but other than that he’s fine. So I wasn’t going to mess with it any more.

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I mentioned earlier in this post that I had 3 cats. Well, the second cat came into the house as a result of Tiger. My daughter had a lot of stuffed animals (a lot).  I worked and she went to school and whenever we came home at the end of the day, we would always see some of her stuffed cats in various parts of the house. Tiger seemed to know how to pick out the cats from the other animals. He’d bring them out to keep him company while we were gone. So I decided that I needed to get him a companion.

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Bandit.  He’ll get his own post later. For right now, this one is your introduction to Tiger, one of the most unique, fascinating cats I’ve ever met.

Countdowns

Life is one big countdown.

No matter which way you look at it, we are all counting down toward something. A fellow blogger commented on one of my vacation posts and mentioned her upcoming trip and how the planning for it was just as exciting as the actual traveling itself. I started thinking about how much I love the months and weeks prior to a vacation. The anticipation of going someplace fun, planning for it, preparing…  Knowing that the trip is still ahead of me and dreaming of what could be, may be, will be. It just fills me with excitement. Much like when I was a kid looking forward to Christmas morning.

Christmas – another countdown. The list making, planning and dreaming of what may be coming on that morning. What child hasn’t eagerly marked off the days on a calendar leading up to the day Santa arrives? As parents, we still countdown to that day only in a slightly different way. We plan out the shopping for certain individuals on our lists, coordinate with relatives on the cooking, determine what needs to be done and when so that everything is in place for that day. Then there are the other holidays, birthdays, various events that we all have to look forward to throughout the year.

Not only do we countdown to vacations, events, and other exciting things, but we also have the negative countdown. For me a prime example of that would be actually getting to the vacation and mentally thinking okay, we have a week, 3 days, 2, 1 more before we have to return home. I know that I try hard not to dwell on the fact that a vacation is always so fleeting and that there’s only so much time to experience what the location has to offer, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

As my brain was delving along all these different forms of countdowns, I thought of the biggest one of all, which would be our lifetime. The countdown of our lives to when we move on to our next big adventure.

Right now, I need to get to sleep and I’m looking at the clock thinking okay if I go to bed now, I’ll have at least six and a half hours of sleep before I have to get up. Tomorrow is Friday which means after my eight hours of work, I can finally be free for the next couple of days. Ugh – No wonder we get so stressed and frazzled all the time! We’re constantly checking and counting the years, months, days and hours to something.

Talk to you guys in another 24 hours….