I Hate Facebook

I was on Facebook once for about a minute.  I know everyone loves it but I hated it.  Someone told me it is a way to stay connected to the outer world.  What’s an outer world? The twilight zone?  All I saw were peoples photos and comments about seeing a new hot movie, shopping at a new mall or just returning from a trip to the Bahama’s.  Hardly outer worlds.  I saw strange greetings to peoples loved ones on birthdays and anniversaries which in my humble opinion is private stuff.  I tired of pictures of kids winning soccer matches, people running marathons and new babies.  Do you really care about all this with more than a few people?  And if you did care why not meet for coffee or talk on the phone?

I said all this to someone younger than me.

“Nooooo!” she said, “you are missing the point!”

“Really?” I replied, “which point…..outer worlds?”

“It’s a really good way of keeping in touch with….” her voice trailed off.

“People you don’t want to stay in touch with?” I asked.

She blushed.

I rest my case.

 


Prostate Lecture, fun huh?

As I have gotten older I have become an amateur expert on illnesses I have had or people I love have had. I could tell you all about Atrial Septal Defect, a heart disorder that is congenital that is usually found days after a baby is born but mine wasn’t found until I was 36 years old. It is unfathomable to me that all those doctors over all those years missed it. The one who found it was pissed off at all the others. She was a feisty bitch and I didn’t like her, but bless her heart, (no pun intended) she found it. I had it fixed. Not easy. Open heart surgery.  A lot of pain. A lot of drugs. A lot of scars. I could have dropped dead and I didn’t. I’m grateful to the feisty bitch.

Now, someone I care a lot about is having a prostate cancer recurrence. This man asked his primary care physician if he could get him in for a physical at the end of 2013. Of course, every one in the world is trying to get in for their physical while their deductible is satisfied at the end of the year. This man’s physician said no, he couldn’t squeeze him in. My friend said, “Can we at least do blood work?” This request saved my friends life.

You guys, prostate cancer is the number one cancer for men and one in six men will be diagnosed with it sometime in their lifetime. There are no symptoms in the first 2 to 3 stages of the disease and by the 4rth stage you might be toast. Yes, I’m trying to scare you. Like any other cancer the trick is to catch it early. Stage one prostate cancer is relatively easy to treat and has a huge success rate. Stage two, a little trickier but still very treatable with a radical prostatectomy. (Surgical removal of the prostate or other options depending on your situation). Stage three means cancer cells have gone beyond the initial site, maybe into lymph nodes, etc. and that gets into really serious cancer treatment which has serious quality of life implications.  Stage 4 I don’t even want to talk about.

The reason I’m writing this, is that there is this new idea circulating around that maybe a yearly PSA test is not that important. There are organizations that say it leads to false positives and unnecessary biopsies.   If my friend did not get a PSA test in 2013 it could easily be over by now, if you know what I mean. A PSA test will tell you if your PSA is elevated and if you might have cancer! It’s an easy and cheap test! A little blood test!

Men, I warn you, do not assume when your doctor says your blood work was fine that she /he tested you for PSA. You must know what your PSA is, guys!  I have men friends who say their doctors do the blood work but don’t include PSA! WHAT? It’s the number one cancer of men! Why would that not be obviously in every blood work up! I just don’t get it.  But it’s true.  Take control of your health by being positive your doctor is checking PSA.   Have I made my point? One in six! Get your PSA test no matter what anyone says!

Whew, I’m exhausted…..


Young and Old

Aging is not easy but neither is being young. The challenges for each are completely different, but they are both challenging. I remember my mid to late teens and at least through my twenties feeling so unsure of myself, so self conscious, so worried about what people were thinking of me. To hide that vulnerability, I built a façade of a strong, confident young woman that I hid behind and in retrospect kinda seems to have worked. Fake it till you make it, I guess. I wonder, though, how many older people saw right through that disguise as I can see through it in young people I encounter today. It seems like the tougher the outside package, the mushier the inside reality.

I’m 57 and there are things I like about getting older. Wrinkles, achy joints and lose skin are not some of them.

I love not being self-conscious. What you think of me is none of my business. I’m very comfortable in my own skin and I don’t second-guess myself anymore. When I see an injustice directed at me, someone else or an animal, I step in without hesitation. I (usually) do it with tact and caution but I’ve seen so much of it in my life and I have a very low tolerance for it.

I love that women, now that we are older, tend to connect instead of compete. I’m not sure if that is because my attitude has changed or that all of us aging gals have changed, probably the latter, but it’s huge.

I love being at a place where I do not have to wake to an alarm. Ever.

I love the harmless flirting during mixed doubles at pickle-ball. Most of us have been married forever and it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s just fun and funny.

A couple years ago I decided that one of my jobs as an aging person is to help, whenever I can, a young person to feel really good about themselves. For example, a young man, early twenties with mild special needs who was a bagger at the grocery store was one day working as a checker.

“You got a promotion!” I said excitedly.

“I did!” he said proudly.

“That is so awesome! I don’t even know you but I am so proud of you!” I replied.

His wide smile, flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes said it all. I’d done my job.

Another time I was at the zoo and as I was passing the lions at some distance I noticed a group of oh so cool young people taunting them. If people at the zoo litter, I pick it up and throw it away. If they smoke, which they are not supposed to, I look the other way. If they taunt animals, it falls into the “injustice” category and I step in assertively with no hesitation. I made a beeline for the oh so cools but before I got to them a young, sort of nerdy guy approached the group and I could see that he was shaking slightly. He was scared.

“It’s super uncool what you are doing to the lions,” the young man said.

“Oh really?” one of the oh so’s said, “How would you know what’s uncool?”

“It’s cruel,” the twenty something said, still shaking.

“Yeah?” a young woman said. “What are you going to do about it?”

“He already did something about it!” I said loudly as I approached. “He’s educating you people who should know better what’s cruel! Move away from the lions now and if you taunt any other animals at this zoo, I will have you thrown out.” They skittered away.

I turned to the brave young man and said quietly, “What you just did took a ton of courage and I don’t even know you but I am very, very proud of you. Animals need strong, brave people like you and I thank you and the lions thank you.”

“Well, I love lions,” the young man said, “and I can tell you do too.” And then he hugged me. It took my breath away. I was not successful in suppressing my tears as I made my way back to my gorillas.

Nothing is ever cut and dry, is it? Things in life are complicated. I wish I could have a chance to make the oh so’s feel better about themselves because cruelty to animals is a clear indication of not feeling very good about ones self. Surely, I’ll never see them again.

Still, every day, I try hard to do my job.

 

 


Pearls of Wisdom

This is my first post from long ago writings by me.   It made me chuckle when I re-visited these writings from roughly 1983 when I was in my mid 20’s that I had the audacity to call them Pearls of Wisdom.

It was hard for me to record these exactly as they were written 30 some odd years ago, I so wanted to update and edit.  But, for authenticity, I didn’t.  Here, from a 20 something year old are some guidelines for life….

–Being attached to outcomes distorts your perception of what’s happening.  You tend to ignore your intuition or gut feelings because you are absorbed with wishful thinking.  You can have a preference in the outcome but you must be able to clearly see what is happening in the present time to be able to create an action plan to get to where you want to be.

–If you wait to see what is expected of you before you perform, the level of expected performance is set by something or someone outside yourself and vey well may be lower than your own.  If you go for it and don’t put limits on yourself, no one else will either.

–The more you use your brain the better it works and the more creative it becomes,  it is resonating at a higher level and “tunes in” to higher creativity.

–You can’t be happy in a relationship until your happy with yourself.  Two halve’s don’t make a whole; it makes for a fragmented relationship with unrealistic exceptions resulting in resent.  If you are hoping for self confidence as a result of a relationship, your process will be mirrored for you and you will attract into your orbit someone who is hoping to get self confidence from you.  Self confidence is not given and recieved.  It’s way more personal than that.  (Seems a little dramatic now but when I wrote this I capitalized this next part which I will do here in honor of that young girl.)

SELF CONFIDENCE IS CREATED WITHIN YOURSELF BY A PROCESS OF TRYING/STUMBLING/FALLING/MAKING CORRECTIONS/TRYING AGAIN/AND FINALLY SUCCEEDING IN ENDEAVORS LARGE AND SMALL AND ASSERTING  WHO YOU ARE AND COMING TO BAT FOR YOUR PERSONAL BOUNDRIES ALONG THEY WAY.

–I have never seen anything healthy come as a result of an outburst of anger.  It usually only causes pain, fear and confusion.   For the person who is supposedly expressing themselves, it leads to feelings of being out of control and wounded self esteem.

–The older you get, you more you look like who you are.  So people who like themselves have an easier time aging.

–Creativity lies where there are no facades.

–We are not going to enjoy the “more” we get later if we’re not enjoying  what we have now.  Happiness comes from within, not from stuff.

— Work HARD!!

 

 

 

 


Youthful Advice

I’ve got my younger self reminding me of a few things I’ve forgotten over the years which is kinda obnoxious.  I finally decided it’s time to go through VERY old cards, letters, documents  and my own writing and get rid of some stuff.  As a young woman I was incredibly ambitious and driven and I wrote a lot.

I wrote and conducted workshops, seminars and training programs for corporations but I also wrote for myself.  Unlike today, I was very analytical back then, trying (and in many cases succeeding, hehe) to figure everything out.

I’m WAY more laid back now looking for fun, funny and how I can help animals and other people.  In fact, going through all this stuff made me feel exhausted.  I read one document from the early 1980’s about my goals for the following year and it had an entry that said “Rest from time to time.”  Which was VERY unlike me!  It should have been a SMART goal!!  Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely!  “Rest from time to time” is simply not good enough for my old self!!

Now, as my friend Tim will tell you, I wallow with coffee and the paper until 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning.  It’s heaven!  But in many ways, that other life was heaven, too.  Just so demanding.

Why am I telling you all this?!  Well, it’s because as I hold all these tattered and yellowed pages with old fashioned computer fonts in my hands, I can’t just throw them away.  I have to capture them somewhere and my blog will be the victim.  Some of the upcoming posts of writings from years gone by will be longer than my normal short stories.  As usual with any post on any blog, read what you want and move along when you are over it.  I am going to post this stuff in smallish doses and will continue to write about the zoo and other stuff also.

BTW, it’s called The Accidental Texan and my earliest posts were about how much I hate it here.  I don’t hate it anymore.  I have a full life now and there are things here I love.  Lots of things, but mostly my gorillas.

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The buddies laughing and playing.


Love and Pain

I’ve been having trouble with my left shoulder and the pain got pretty bad. I’ve recently switched from tennis to pickle ball and in tennis I had a two handed back hand so naturally I continued to use that technique in pickle ball. The problem is the motion of a two handed back hand in pickle ball is much “tighter” than it is in tennis and it resulted in injury. I knew that is where the problem originated and I quickly learned a mean single-handed back hand but my shoulder still hurt and it has been hurting for a long time.

Finally, I went to a lovely Korean muscular therapist who explained that shoulders are very complex and injuries take a long time to heal. Her work was helping and she told me I should also consider doing acupuncture in addition to the work we were doing. So, I found a lovely Chinese woman with a PhD in Chinese medicine and acupuncture and saw her for the first time last week. It seemed to help a little so I went back today. Today seemed to help a LOT which is nice.

After my treatment as we were sitting at Julie’s desk scheduling my next appointment, I noticed a picture of her with a gorgeous golden retriever.

“Oh my god, your dog is beautiful!” I said.

“She was beautiful,” Julie replied, “and I adored her. I never had children so she was like my child.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“She got cancer, we tried everything, but we finally had to put her down,” she said as her eyes got red and watery.

“That is horrible,” I said, “I never had kids either and as an adult I have had to live through the death of three beloved dogs. Two of them golden’s.”

“Oh, that’s awful,” Julie said.

She went on to describe the day she knew it was time to put Scarlett down. She talked about the vet coming to her house so Scarlett didn’t think they were going in the car to go to the park. She described how she got Scarlett up on her lap in a big bear hug and then allowed the vet to give her the shot. She described what it felt like to have Scarlett die in her arms. She said it was very peaceful but she and I were both sobbing. She grabbed a box of Kleenex….

“I’m so sorry to make you cry,” she said softly.

“It’s okay,” I said, “crying is okay.”

They say one of the most gut wrenching things in life is when a parent has to bury a child. The problem with being a dog parent is that you have to bury most of them.


Bubbles

The other night my husband Steve was stressed and achy so I drew him a bath. I lovingly put in Epsom salt for the aches and a nice smelling bubble bath product for the scent and the bubbles. Bubbles when you are in the bath over age 50 are a really nice idea. His bath was ready and he got in. I hung around in the bathroom with him. We’ve only lived in this house about 8 months and we haven’t taken a lot of baths.

“This bath has a Jacuzzi function, did you know that?” Steve asked me.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Have you ever used it?” he asked.

“No,” I said, “I don’t like chaos and Jacuzzi’s seem chaotic to me.”

“I’d like to try it,” he said.

“Okay,” I replied, “Let’s see if we can figure this out.”

Steve laid his head back while I fiddled around with the controls on the touch screen. Nothing was happening and then suddenly the jets sputtered and sprung into action. And I mean action. The bathwater and bubbles suddenly looked like a gigantic vat of boiling water on steroids.

Then the bubbles began to grow.

And grow.

“Before we knew it, bubbles were rising up from his waist to his chest and then threatening to envelope his face.

“How do you turn this damn thing off!” he shouted over the rising bubbles and the noise from the jets.

“I don’t know!” I yelled back as I was bailing bubbles with my arms and throwing them into the shower.  I had to keep bailing bubbles because they had begun to spill over onto the floor while I had visions of them filling up the entire bathroom.  This was a race against time.

“Try anything and everything!” I yelled, “Before those bubbles cover your face!”  I frantically kept bailing bubbles into the shower.

It seemed like and eternity but he finally did something that worked and the jets stopped. We stood there staring at each other. Bubbles everywhere! In his eyebrows, his hair, my arms and everywhere else.

“Relaxing bath, honey?” I asked. We burst into hysterics. “Steve, I’m going to go get my phone! I need a picture of this for my blog.”

“No, you’re not,” he replied.

Sorry, no photo!


Anti-Social

“It’s a lot easier being older,” my husband said the other day.

“Why?” I asked him.

“It’s easier making decisions. I put more value on my time and what I spent it on so that expedites my decision-making. I don’t spend time with people I don’t want to spend time with or do things I don’t want to do.

I had to laugh. Indeed, he and I are not the most social people. He said that humans are hard wired to be in tribes and groups and that we somehow missed that wiring. We have an inner circle of people we like spending time with, even in Dallas now, but we generally have no interest in meeting new people. Steve works long hours and we also love to spend time alone together.

Shortly before Christmas we were standing on our driveway at our new house in a gated community and a neighbor whom we had not met walked by and said, “Oh, hi! Are you the new neighbors?”

“Yes we are,” I said.

“Oh great! Then we’ll see you at the annual Christmas party up the street!” she exclaimed.

“Well,” I hesitated, “I’m not going to say we are anti-social….”

I heard Steve chuckle behind me. He loves that I’m the more vocal of the two of us and handle these types of things.

“…..but we just aren’t the type of people who like to meet new people,” I finished.

Her demeanor changed slightly and then she blurted “Oh, I totally get that! There is hardly enough time to see the people we already know!”

“Exactly!” I said, “Nice talking to you and have a great evening!”

After that exchange, I didn’t want to say nice to meet you.


Stay Calm and Chive On

They must be chefs I thought as within a couple weeks I saw the phrase “Stay Calm and Chive On” on several t-shirts and bumper stickers. It’s the only thing I could think of to make sense of this phrase. I’m a cook. Here is a lovely definition of a chive:

Chives belong to the same family as onion, leeks and garlic.  They are a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial growing to about 10-12 inches tall. They grow in clumps from underground bulbs and produce round, hollow leaves that are much finer than onion.  In mid-summer, they produce round, pink flowers similar in appearance to clover.

One day, a week or so after pondering this, I was at the zoo in front of the gorillas describing behaviors and body language to the zoo guests. Many people at the zoo glom onto every word I say because they are so interested in gorillas.  On this day I noticed a young man and his girlfriend who were listening intermittently. She had long jet-black hair, a crop top, a nose ring, a belly button ring and a French manicure on fingernails as long as my fingers. He was laced with tattoos, several piercings while a knife swaddled in leather graced his belt loop. His t-shirt said “Stay Calm and Chive On.”

As I was explaining that chest beating really isn’t chest beating at all, but chest “cupping” which causes a popping sound when gorillas engage in that behavior, I thought, I’ve got to wrap this up for now so I can ask that guy what that means!

“Are you a chef?” I asked. “I see a lot of these t-shirts and wondered if it was some kind of Dallas chef promotion.” They both looked at me like I was missing a chip and glanced around self-consciously like young people do when they think an older person is going to embarrass them in front of other young people. She let out something between a gag and a giggle.

The young man looked around nervously. “It’s a website,” he said quietly once he realized no one else had heard my question. “A men’s website.”

“Oh, thanks,” I responded as they hightailed it away from me as soon as they could.

I could have googled it on my phone while I was still at the zoo but I didn’t care enough and I didn’t want to miss any awesome gorilla behaviors. When I got home to my Mac, up popped a website with hot cars, sizzling girls with big boobs in string bikini’s pole dancing, images of “wasted” guys and a wide variety of cool guns and knives.

Here is how the website introduces itself (This is copied directly from the website and pasted below.)

Chive On refers to the mutual understanding between Chivers on how to go about life, regardless of all the assholes, douchebags, posers, etc, who might fuck it up from time to time. it’s also stronger in the sense that it unites people who share similar opinions or tastes or those who just like to see crazy shit as it happens – it’s an underground social network, a family

Alrighty then…..

__________________________________________________________


Loose Screws in Texas

“Bounce it! Bounce it!” a person named Susan was shouting at me from the other side of the net.

“I know the rules, Susan!!” my voice was raised as I whacked the ball as hard as I could back over the net aiming for her head.

I missed her head and the ball flew out of bounds (It surely would have been a home run had I been playing baseball) and I lost the point. I am normally not at all mean spirited but this woman was obnoxious and had been adamantly bossing us all around.

“Susan,” our coach Dave said gently, “if this had been tournament play you would have lost that point for shouting over the net to your opponent!” Susan glared at him menacingly and if looks could kill, coach would be dead.

I have recently taken up Pickle Ball. I wish it were called something else because that doesn’t sound very fierce but it is a fast paced game and a cross between badminton and tennis. The court is one-third the size of a tennis court and much of the game is played volleying at the net. It’s the fastest growing sport in the country because the baby boomers are aging (me) and it’s not as hard on the body as tennis but just as much fun. I am happy to say I am a very good pickle ball player as the skills I acquired playing 15 years of tennis were directly transferable to the sport. It is a very convenient sport if you are the victim of the dreaded Dallas weather of severe ice storms, extreme winds, torrential rain, oppressive humidity and outrageous heat because it is played indoors in a gym.

Dave is a youthful 71 years old, is very outgoing and gregarious, has a charming South African accent and an irrepressible sense of humor. I have so much fun with him. I also have a great time with the other women in our group.

“Dave!” Susan shouted, “You have to quit calling the score! Whoever is serving should call the score! It’s incorrect in Pickle Ball for one person to call the score, Dave!” Scoring in Pickle Ball is very confusing and is the only thing I didn’t pick up immediately and am still struggling with.

“I want him to call the score, Susan!” I loudly interjected, “I’m still learning the scoring!” Mitra backed me up by forcefully saying she also wanted him to call score.

Things were getting really weird and Dave made an attempt to lighten things up and with a delightful smile on his face he said, “Susan, quit bossing me around. You are not my wife,” as he walked away to get some water.

“Thank god I am not your wife. I wake up every morning and thank god I am not your wife!!” Susan viciously asserted.

It was so bizarre and I was realizing this woman has a real screw loose and I couldn’t help laughing as Dave approached me. “Did you hear what she just said?” I said.

“What?” he said. I repeated her comment.

“Do you think she knows the feeling is mutual?” Dave laughed.

As we said our goodbyes and see you next week Susan said she would not be there next week. It was all the rest of us could do not to break into applause.