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.

 

 



Where Am I?

Have you heard about Texas weather? When we told people we were moving here they said, “Well, clearly you aren’t moving for the weather, so why are you moving?!” It’s 8:30 pm, I have a sinus infection, Steve is on a plane hoping to get into Dallas/Fort Worth tonight from a biz trip. It is thundering, lightening and what I cannot reconcile is that it’s 92 degrees and HAILING! How is that even possible? How can it hail when it’s 92 degrees! Could it be 32 degrees High in the sky when it’s 92 down here?? (Notice I unconsciously capitalized high as if something supernatural is going on.)

I can hear the hail smashing against the the skylight in my kitchen. This is also tornado weather, something brand new to me. Tornados are a “warm weather event” I’ve been taught. Lovely. So I stay awake with my sinus infection, two dogs freaking out about thunder, my husband on a plane circling around, still trying to get my arms around what the hell is Texas….


They Are Wild!

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Shauna in His Pool
A keeper at a Florida zoo who was the senior “big cat” keeper and was known as the “cat whisperer” was mauled and killed by her favorite tiger a day or two ago.  This happens way too often.  She was in the friggin’ cage with him.  Wrong!
There are zoos that are “protected contact” and then zoos that are not.  Protected contact means that you only interact with a potentially “killer” animal through some kind of protection.  For example, at the Dallas zoo, the keepers are very intimate with the gorillas and chimps but always through heavy mesh fencing.  Because of that, there is no way the keepers could be harmed by the animals.  The Dallas zoo also adheres to protected contact with lions, tigers, mountain lions, etc.  We are a protected contact zoo.
Gorillas are not “killers,” they are very gentle by nature, but because of their size and strength they could crush a keeper with an affectionate hug.  Chimps on the other hand can be very aggressive and as cute as they can be, especially the babies, they are very dangerous. I am a huge believer in protected contact because our keepers at the Dallas zoo don’t get killed and never have and keepers at non-protected contact zoos have.
I get it.  I know what happens.  Keepers in non-protective become somehow immune to the fact that the animals they love and the animals they believe love them are wild animals.  They begin to believe that their bond with the animals is something very special and different.  They think the animals love them.  And they might be right!  But they are WILD!  They turn on a dime.
I think keepers who love their  animals might lose sight of this.  These animals hear or see something out of the corner of their eye and they attack whatever is in front of them.  I’ve seen chimps do this.  Thats what happened in the recent killing of the keeper.  Everything was fine until she turned her head and the tiger heard or saw something that was upsetting and attacked the first thing she saw, and someone she probably otherwise loved.
All I can say is “Siegfried and Roy.”

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!!

 

 

 

 


Let Them Die

Seventeen elephants who would have starved to death in Swaziland, Africa have been rescued and sent to three zoos. Five for Dallas, six for Sedgwick County zoo in Kansas and six for Omaha zoo.  Unless it’s an extreme circumstance, which this was, it’s illegal to take animals out of the wild and put them into captivity.  This has taken the three zoos 2 years to pull off and they’ve had fights and lawsuits with animal activist organizations because they wanted it to stay “natural”. (Translation: let them die…..no kidding.)  All zoo employees and volunteers have been prepped and coached for the likely event of demonstrations or even riots.  So far nothing, which is surprising.  Our elephants arrived Friday night after a long and arduous journey then ate heartily and drank lots of water (horrible drought in Africa) and slept well.  They are in quarantine for at least a month but the five are together.  Our existing elephants were stomping their feet and trumpeting because they could smell or sense new elephants.  The “introductions” of our four elephants with the five new ones will take months with lots of careful observation and consideration from their keepers.  Animal personalities and hierarchies matter a LOT, and you can’t force anything.

At the volunteer meeting on Saturday, our CEO, who’d had five hours of sleep in the previous five days because of some “big grey things” spoke and presented a slide show.  He said he was very nervous about the transport of these gigantic animals and wanted to stay in touch with staff accompanying the elephants on their journey.  He was tripping over his words and getting choked up.  He was so relieved that the elephants had successfully been transported and arrived safely at our zoo.  Our CEO said one male ate all his food, drank all his water and was asleep before some of the females even had the nerve to leave the crates they had been in on the plane.

The photographs he shared on a slide show were unnerving.  We have an elephant named Jenny and she is 10,000 pounds.  That’s five tons, am I right?  Imagine 17 elephants being loaded into (very comfortable and elephant friendly) crates, lifted with a crane and somehow moved into a 747 aircraft.  Imagine being the pilot of that plane taking off with that kind of weight.  Let’s be conservative here in this calculation.  Let’s say each elephant weighed a mere 6,000 pounds….that would be 102,000 pounds!  I can’t, for the life of me figure out how a plane takes off at all, much less with that kind of weight!

I’m thrilled to say the Dallas zoo now has 9 gorgeous African Elephants!

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Our Four Girls Who Will Soon be Nine!



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!


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…..

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I Just Don’t Get It

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Okay, so this definitely falls squarely into the category of things I simply do not understand about Texas. Somebody’s got to help me out here. Chicken and Custard? What? You dip a piece of chicken into custard and then take a bite? Or, you have the chicken for dinner and the custard for dessert? I just don’t get it.

Here are some other fast food business ideas I came up with for Texas that make about the same amount of sense:

-Chicken & Oreos

-Steak and Peanut Butter Cups

-Shrimp and Peppermint

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