Thanks Chapter

At this time of year, we have to sit back and take note of what we have in our lives and for what we need to be thankful.

CONTORTING

Yes, I have some aches and pains–especially this morning after trying Yoga for the first time yesterday. But, I consider myself very lucky and thankful that I can, at this age, contort myself into various yoga poses–hey, I can do a Warrior 2 pose. The only thing is, I have to fight the stiff neck and shoulders to stand up today. I may never do Yoga again, but I am thankful that I can.

RED MASTERPIECE

Have you seen a huge, full, red leaf tree in fall? For many of you on the East Coast, that is not such a huge event. But here in Southern California, there are lots of palm trees, but not color-changing trees. I am thankful that I saw this masterpiece and that I took time to really look at it and appreciate it. I am thankful that my eyes are still functioning well enough that I can see that beauty and feel such peace when I look at it.

FOUR HOUR LUNCHES

Four hour lunches are something to be thankful about. It is at this time that I recognize that I am also thankful I am retired so I can do a four hour lunch–guilt free. No, I did not eat for four hours, but I did drink in the laughter and happiness and a few raunchy comments that 5 other women and I enjoyed while overlooking the sparkling lagoon. We were free to catch up on each other’s lives and enjoy their successes grumble together about the issues we have in common–usually punctuated with a few jokes and witty comments.

REFLECT

Now, that I am retired, I have time to reflect on so much and take a moment to appreciate all the things I took for granted during my working life.

On this Thanksgiving day, after all the cooking is done, after your stomach is full to the brim, and before you start writing your shopping list, take a few moments to look around you. Look outside. Look inside yourself. You will find thousands of things to be thankful for. Don’t skim through them. Really think about each one. Write several of them down and put them on your refrigerator.

Now, when you have one of those days, you can look at this list and realize, life is a lot better than that one bad day.

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To Your Health Chapter

To My Health

We rarely think about our health, except when we are not healthy. Whenever I feel this bad, my healthy imagination takes me to the worst of places. The word plague has been popping up in so many places lately–news, the books I choose to read, European city tours, and in my healthy imagination. I learned on one of my tours that the filthy water caused and perpetuated the plague. To solve that problem, they brewed wine and beer to drink instead. That is why when you toast with an alcoholic drink, you say, “To Your Health.”

Truckload of Alcohol

Today I feel as if I need a truckload of plague resisting alcohol.
However, as most of you know, if I drink 5 sips of wine I am three sheets to the wind. So…alcohol is not going to help me. Therefore, I have to rely on myself.

Mongo Bug

The bug that hit me is huge and ugly. I feel like a grey haired, whiny, little grandma with a short cane and a long sad face ineffectively poking at the gargantuan virus that is going to swallow me whole.

Visualization

I am told that visualization is the key to getting what you want. If you see it, you get it. Okay. I am visualization a healthy (I paused because I hate to think about my age) 50’s generation grandma–No. That doesn’t work because all I see is a wrinkled old lady in a ponytail, poodle skirt, bobby socks and saddle shoes. She couldn’t defeat this awful bug, besides her bubble gum bubble would get her infected more when the bug breathed on it.

I got it! I am visualizing myself as Batgirl from the 60’s Batman television series. Yes, I have the same hourglass shape that Yvonne Craig had, (look, if you are going to visualize–make sure you look the way you want–not the way you are),and those long legs that slid into 5 inch spike heeled boots. I see myself as tall as she was and I am kicking and punching that scrawny bug to oblivion.

POW! CRACK! ZAMM! ZLOP! ZLUNK!

Holy Headache! I might be working.

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The Beginning and The End Chapter

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As I sat at my desk on my last day as a working professional, I knew it was my beginning day and my end day. Luckily, it was not a very strenuous day. But it had been very emotional knowing I would not be working with my wonderful staff anymore. On that unusual day, a young couple who had met at the school in fourth grade, arrived to take pre-wedding pictures. The school was, yet is wasn’t the same for them. For this young couple it was both the beginning and the end.

The clock ticked loudly announcing the passage of time. My desk was empty, except for my keys. I dreaded putting them in the safe. Once I put them inside, it would be final. It is a little gut wrenching to think that placing the keys in the safe is your final act of your working life. I was sent off with a bang. The staff put on a heartfelt and emotional retirement party that was more spectacular than I could have imagined. But the party was not the end. I still had two weeks to work and finish up and prepare for the new year. (I wanted the new principal to not struggle with minutia when he/she arrived.)

I worked in education for 25 years. For some, that may not seem like much, but I was almost 40 when I started. I had three other careers prior to education. However, this has been the most rewarding career that I could ever have imagined.

As I sat at the desk I could hear the loud hum of the air conditioner, but there were no other sounds coming from the office. There were no sounds of kids screaming with laughter and joy, no sounds from the teachers enjoying their camaraderie and their concern for their students, no sounds from the parents planning their PTA activities and voicing their questions and issues.

I skimmed my hand across the top of my very large desk. A principal’s desk is both power and protection. The heavy wooden chairs that surely had been there since the school opened in 1959, no longer held the little culprits whose infractions were usually easily remedied. As I stare at them, I notice for the first time that they have vertical slats on the back. Many of the students entered my office and looked at me through those slats. Now I realize that from their perspective, entering my office was rather prison-like. Behind the chairs, the apples and the dolphin mascot trinkets still adorned the shelves. It seemed sacrilegious to remove them from the school and take them home.

All I kept thinking was, how do I say good-bye to this school and to the position I held for 15 years. In a few short weeks, another capable individual would be sitting in this chair and dealing with all the issues, trials and tribulations and joy of running a school. How would I go from being frantically busy every second of the day to not having a real job or responsibility.

This is the beginning and the end.

A few minutes later I started taking things out to my car. At this point, it was very real that I was leaving. Once I finished packing up my car, I realized that I’d unlocked the door to the school for the last time. My computer shut down and it went to black.

What if I had left something essential to my life? Would I get it back? I was not talking about a thing–I am leaving whatever POWER I thought I might have earned behind and I knew I would never get it back.

WISH ME LUCK. HERE I GO.

The door clanked shut, the lever was dropped and the tumblers clicked into the place. I hadn’t realized that closing that safe would be so sad. I had just locked up my career. Tears streamed down my cheeks. The custodian who was cleaning the office asked if I was ok.

“I will be,” I whispered. “I will be.”

No Longer Cool Chapter

A car emblazoned with the words SENIOR PRIDE!!!!! on its back window flew by me, I’m sure, on its way to someplace cool, fun and exciting. Remember when high school seniors were the coolest kids in school. During your entire high school career, I’m sure, you dreamed of becoming a SENIOR! Yes, it was always capitalized because seniors had power. Seniors were soon going to be adults and their parents couldn’t tell them what to do, anymore.

A DIFFERENT SENIOR

Why is it that when you become a senior, as in senior citizen we are not painting it all over our car windows? Why are we not the coolest in the community? We do have a little power, maybe a little more financial power than high school seniors. However, most of us would give up a lot to have our parents tell us anything right now.

START A MOVEMENT

I think we need to start a movement! Real seniors need to start marking up their cars with senior pride! I think we have a lot more to show for it than a mere 4 years of high school–actually they think they are seniors with only three years under their belt.

We are seniors with 40 or more years of work and life experience. We survived our own teenage years AND we survived our children’s teenage years. We have gained more knowledge, more patience (most of the time) and wisdom that few want to take advantage of. We know when something won’t work or someone is making a bad decision. If they listened to us, they wouldn’t suffer. Maybe they have to gain the same experience by living it. But isn’t that what history books are for–giving us a chance to learn from our past without suffering through the wars again.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE

Now is your chance to take the challenge and cover your car in paint announcing that you, too, have SENIOR PRIDE!!! I am heading to my car to paint it proudly in purple paint.

The only problem now is that I am having a senior moment and I can’t remember where I put the paint brushes.

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Little Successes Chapter

We all have days when it seems like our world is falling apart. It could be a minor setback in another’s eyes, but in our mind, it is huge. Today’s chapter revolves around my setback. I have to admit that at first I had a bit of a pity party, then I cleaned the house from top to bottom–because cleaning the house feels like you are wiping up the mess that you are in, AND I washed my car. No, cleaning didn’t work.

Food is usually my go-to comfort, but I can’t go there now. Besides, that is another story for another day. We are told that we should take a long bath or go for a walk to keep our stress at bay. Well, who wants to sit in dirty water and I already walked for an hour at the gym at 5:30 a.m.

Two months ago, I bought three new garage door clickers because the old ones were too cumbersome and we were short one for the number of cars we have. These clickers needed to be programmed to be used with our older openers. Since it was such a bad day, I needed to feel successful at something. Now for many of you, this would not be a huge accomplishment, but anything mechanical seems to be a major challenge to me. Yes, I removed the cover of the garage door opener–I had to use a screwdriver to do it. (Are you impressed yet?) Then I pushed the learn button and my daughter pushed the buttons on the clicker. YES!!!! I DID IT! ( I am so proud of myself.) I was waiting for my husband to do it, but it feels so good to do something you never thought you could. That boosted my spirits.

Then, the BIGGER little success of not so great day was that after trying for a week, I was able to get some sort of comments on my blog page. At least I believe I was according to what is written at the bottom of this post page. Again, for the savvy blogger or computer literate person, this is nothing. But for me, it was a huge challenge. I need to bless YouTube and all the people I watched who tried to teach me how to install comments on my blog. I have about four different comment plug-ins (now I am trying to sound savvy) for my blog. Three didn’t work–or at least I couldn’t see them on my page. Finally, I succeeded in installing the Facebook Comments. Yippeee!

Wait a minute. I just realized I have another huge success today. I have a blog. No, not just that I have it, but I created it. It may not be the best, but I DID IT! I guess that is the BIGGEST little success of the day.

My world is still not good, but at least I can say that I had three little successes today! If your day wasn’t so good, what were your little successes?

Redemption Chapter

I flew 5 days after my mortifying experience.  Yes, I was worried I would not keep my footing, but I did.  I also, did not have a carry-on piece of luggage.

That is where the dilemma begins.

I put everything in the luggage that would be transported by Lufthanza,  so I could travel light.  One bag arrived in Dusseldorf, one did not.  Whose was that you ask?  Right, it was mine.  I stayed very calm.  My brain was in a fog from the flight.  I was noon in Germany, but it was three in the morning in Carlsbad–I am not an all night type of person.

I do believe the woman at the lost luggage counter felt sorry for me.  So she mentioned that Lufthanza will reimburse up to 1200 Euros if we need to purchase items.  My husband kept repeating 1200 Euros?  1200 Euros?  I could not understand why he wanted to know.  I just wanted to get to my hotel room and sleep, which was about another three hours from that point.

Once, we got to the hotel, my husband only had one thought in mind. He hurried us out the door so we could go shopping and get reimbursed from Lufthanza.  HE WANTED TO GO SHOPPING?!

Thanks for the clothes.

Thanks for the clothes.

He was a man on a mission.  He pointed to so many items my foggy brain could not keep up with him.  Try this one on.  Try that one on?  I  think you need this.  And that.  To you, this may not sound strange, but my husband avoids shopping at all costs.  Ask my children, before today he would find anything to do other than being in women’s apparel and going through racks of clothes looking for my size.  My arms were filled.  Finally a woman saw me struggling with the pile of clothes and asked if I wanted a bag.  At least that is what I interpreted since she spoke in a very fast German and she handed me a bag.

Trousers for the evening, a jacket for the evening and all that goes with it was what my husband was looking for.  Finally, he realized that I needed underwear.  We got that and European walking shoes because the only shoes I had were flat with no support whatsoever.

In an average store in small town Germany, it is hard to spend 1200 Euros.  We spent a little more than 400, but I am happy I got some clothes.

My bag did arrive the next day.  If this is what I get for a lost bag, I may request that they lose it more often.  Finally, redemption from the mortification of my last airline experience.

 

Mortification Chapter

Babies and old people fall.  Babies fall easy.  Old people fall hard.  Since I am not a baby, I guess that puts me in the old category.

Imagine if you will, a plane completely full with cosmopolitan, savvy, LA bound, passengers.  Most of the passengers carry roller bags onto the plane since very few want to pay the fee for having their luggage thrown around and dumped in the plane and then plopped onto the carousel.

I assure you that I have flown many times and I have seen  smart, seasoned travelers check the overhead bins in the front of the plane for an empty space for their bag, particularly if they are seated towards the back.  Today, I  forgot the seasoning and kept walking towards the back expecting that there would be a place for MY bag.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I was in the last group and there were only eight people behind me, most of them without a bag.

I got within ten rows of my seat and a squat flight attendant came up to me and told me I had to check my bag because all the overheads were full.  That leads to another dilemma.   I am willing–sort of–to pay $25 for one bag.  However, if your bag is over 50 pounds it will cost another $25.  Therefore, I put the heavy electronics in my roller bag.  My breathing machine must weigh at least 10 pounds.  Then I added a laptop, an iPad, and a Kindle.  I think I had one small jacket in it to pretend I was padding the machines.  What I am trying to say is I did not want to check it and get my electronics broken or stolen.  I tried explaining that to the flight attendant, ok, I begged the flight attendant to let me keep it on the plane.  A begging old lady is a pathetic sight on the plane, so luckily–I guess it was lucky– she found a space in first class.    I hurried up the aisle because all the passengers were already seated and waiting for me.  As I pass into First Class, I see these awesome black patent leather shoes attached to very long legs sticking out into the aisle.

The space was at the very end of First Class.  This compartment is half the size of a regular compartment.  Oh, I think I forgot to mention that I am also wearing a backpack that weighs 15 or so pounds.

I study the hole.  I gauge  the height and the force that is needed to get my bag up there.

My gauge was broken.

I swung the bag up and unbeknownst to me, my backpack also caught on the seat behind me.  I lifted the bag, it was much heavier than I thought.  My  aching right shoulder shuddered in pain.  The bag was already heading upward and there was no space to let it drop, unless I wanted to drop it on the head of the man seated below the compartment. I could feel the eyes of everyone in first class staring at me.  With all my might I pushed upward….

Not enough lift, too much drag from the backpack and I tumbled over, ending up kissing the floor of the plane.   I have no idea what happened to my bag.  I think my bag landed on me.  Now, the men in First Class were helping me.

“Get the backpack off her!”

“Don’t move!”

I was listening, but it was at this point that utter mortification set in. I knew every passenger saw me hit the floor.  I wanted to get up and run out of the plane.  I wished I was invisible.  My arm was at a weird angle in front of me.  My head hurt because I think I hit it on an armrest.   I hurt all over.  The floor reeked of smelly feet.   I tasted something that I wish I hadn’t.

“Don’t move,” someone repeated as I pulled myself up.

“The paramedics are coming,” the flight attendant shouted–because old people are hard of hearing.

Oh my God! Please take me away from this circus.

“I’m ok,” I squeaked.

“Stay down,” someone said.

I pulled myself up and a tall doctor-looking gentleman kept asking if I hurt anywhere.  He wanted me to stay on the floor and wait for the paramedics.  What really hurt was my pride.    It would not have mattered if I had a bone sticking out of me somewhere, I would have said I was fine so I could get back to my seat.

“I’m ok,” I repeated. As I turned to go back to my seat.  Black patent leather shoes had my bag in his hand and asked if I wanted him to put it up for me.  I shook my head yes.

Now, I know what it means to slink back to your seat.  My head was hung VERY low.  The only people I saw were the tiny ladies in the aisle seats who were asking if I was ok.  I barely nodded and moved on as fast as I could.  I held my body tight hoping it would grow smaller and I could disappear.

I finally made it back to my seat.  I looked down believing that if I did not see them, they did not see me.  As I sat there, the pain started showing up in various places.  My wrist, my forearm, my temple and of course, my shoulder.

A short, stout policeman came plodding down the aisle, stopped at my seat and shouted, “The medics are coming!”

I could hear the moan from the 200 passengers.  Now this lady was going to make them late for their destinations.

“I’m fine,” I whispered.  “I’m fine.”

I sat staring at my hands fearing that the men in the bright yellow suits would come clicking and clanking down the aisle and start asking all sorts of more embarrassing questions.

“The door is closing,” the attendant announced.

I breathed a sigh of relief–no more mortifying experiences on this flight–I thought.

I have to thank the pilot because he got on the speaker immediately and said that they still have a few bags to load and once those are done, we would be on our way.  I love that pilot because now everyone won’t give me the stink eye when we deplane.

I hurt.  I usually sleep, but who can sleep when you hurt and are embarrassed beyond belief.

Of course, people love to talk about other people’s misfortunes.  I was standing next to the facilities and black patent leather shoes was talking to the flight attendants in the back.  It is disconcerting when strangers are talking about you.  Ok, it is embarrassing as all get out.

“Those old guys in first class just watched her struggle.  No one got up to help.”  He must have sensed my presence because he turned around and stopped talking.  As I left facilities, he turned to me and asked if I wanted him to take down my bag when we landed.

“Yes, please,” I murmured feeling a deep flush come up my face.  “I appreciate your help.”  True to his word.  The bag was waiting on the floor of First Class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Chapter at a Time

We tell our children when they finish college that their life is now an open book.

They get to write the chapters of their life and their future.  They can fill it with fun, conflict, love, struggle, and success as they see fit.

Now that I have reached another milestone in my life, I too have an open book and I have to write the chapters,  one chapter at a time.  That is how Life’s Chapter was born.  We can only live one chapter at a time.  Characters and events drive each chapter.  Will the next chapter be about an interesting character, or some fun or a struggle or a major success?

It is time to a tell a story.  It is time to get writing!