Sunday morning musings…..

It’s a quiet, calm Sunday morning and I am struck by the moment. This moment. Which is all that we really have – this very moment that we are in. Nothing else is guaranteed or promised. Just this one precious moment.

I sit here with so many feelings. I feel gratitude. For my life, for all the choices (great and not so great) that have led me to where I am now. Each one brought me to now. Even those choices that I can look back upon with regret. Each challenge taught me something, even though I may not have been excited by the lesson at the time (understatement there….). Each is a piece of me.

I think about those pieces of me. I have thought that others, of course, cannot see what I see when I look in the mirror. Or when I look at a photo of myself that only captures a momentary frozen image. Yes, I am sometimes shocked when I see the age related changes in the mirror. I wonder why I would be shocked. I think that this partly has to do with the fact that I see not only what may be reflected back to me, but the history of all the images that I have seen reflected back to me in the mirror through the years. I can still see the little girl that I was, the young woman, the midlife woman, and now the aging woman in her later 60’s. All those parts of me are still there. I see who I am and who I have been. It is harder to see and imagine who I will yet become, and yet I now get glimpses….if I have the courage to look.

I can relate to so many others. Younger women (I have been there), women of my own age, and even women that are older, as I listen to their experiences and begin to more deeply understand what they speak of when they talk about their own lives and their own aging processes. I am so grateful that they share with me, as I am grateful when others listen to my story.

No one is just the reflection of what may be seen in the mirror, or what you see with a brief glance and then quickly categorize based on that glance. There is so very much more.

I am an older woman. I am a retired social worker. I am an artist, a writer, a playful soul, and at times a deeply sad soul who has been immersed in the grief that is an inevitable part of life and even more so as the aging process continues and the losses accumulate. I have been married, have been in other relationships, have been hurt and have unintentionally hurt others based on my own issues and insecurities. I can be quiet, introspective – and I can also be outgoing and long for companionship and deep listening. I can laugh easily, and I can cry easily…..more so as I get older.

I find that I feel more sensitive now….I can barely keep driving when I see an animal on the road that has been killed by a car. I can’t even watch commercials produced by the Humane Society…or commercials of children who are hungry or thirsty…. of commercials of the earth being destroyed and along with that, so many of its inhabitants from all species. My heart feels as if it will break. I cannot seem to contain the pain of the world. Especially lately.. It feels like too much.

I am aware of the need to find our own tribe. I reach out to others who I am pulled to, and begin to see where the connections will be made. I am more careful with who I spend my time with. Time is precious. I wish others well, but I now see that there are those who feel nourishing to me and those who feel draining. I don’t have time to squander. It’s quite liberating to let go of the guilt that has been associated with this for so long.

I am working to nourish myself more these days. As women (and some men, of course), we have been raised to nurture and give and care-take. I have done this, and am glad to offer this, but not to the exclusion of myself. I am beginning to more deeply understand the need to take care of myself, or there will be nothing left to give to others. We need to listen deeply to ourselves, to give ourselves the space and quiet and time to do this.

And so, on this Sunday morning, I am grateful. For life. For this moment. For each of you who may read this and possibly relate. Thank you for taking the time to read this – for hearing a piece of my story and of who I am. You also reflect who I am back to me…..a reflection that I cherish and appreciate.

Conditional compliments and “just kidding” comments…..No, thank you. I’ll pass.

I’ve been thinking lately (always a dangerous thing…..!) about things we get used to and accept without thinking or because we don’t want to appear too sensitive.

First of all, I am often told that I am very sensitive….to which I reply…..thank you so much. Although it may not have been intended as a compliment, to me it very much is. I am grateful for my sensitivity. It helps me to listen better, to understand better, to try and tread more lightly in the territory of others’ feelings and experiences. My sensitive nature is a gift, I believe. It made me a better social worker when I was still working, it makes me a better friend, partner, human being. If I am not sensitive to things that may hurt (at times, unintentional, but not always), then I will not hear another’s pain and experience. I will not, indeed, be able to hear my own inner voice and experiences. That, for me, would be a huge loss. So, I say to others in response……thank you if you think I am sensitive. Truly. It is my intention. I want to be sensitive to hear who you are and what is going on with you. And I would love the same from you.

So, as I continue to think about this….(there I go again!!), I think about comments that I have sometimes had some kind of inner reaction to, but not paid attention to. Until now. Comments such as “You look good for your age.” So…..I look pretty awful for another age? I only look good to you because you expect me to look differently due to my age? Please understand….I really don’t judge others when they say this, as I think it is with good intentions and a wish to express a positive thing to me. I appreciate that, I really do. But…..but…..it is a conditional compliment. Why not the comment…”You look good.” Or even, “You look particularly nice today.” I had a dear friend once say to me….(and he meant it with love) “You are an aging Italian beauty.” Hmmmm… I have no illusions about my age and that it shows and that I certainly look different than I did in my youth, of course. But, I wonder, what is the purpose of needing to remind me of my process of aging? Why the condition before or attached to the compliment? Do you think that I am unaware of my age and need to be reminded? I find it so very interesting. We even to it to ourselves. I participated in a group not too long ago (aimed at improving intergenerational communication) and one older participant referred to herself as “older that dirt”. I laughed and followed along, calling myself the same when it came my turn. It was not until another participant objected to this that I became aware of how easily I slipped into this pattern myself.

I also have a reaction to someone saying something that could be seen as hostile…..and negating my experience of it by saying “I am just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?” And of course it is often seen as a fault if you cannot take a joke. I disagree with this. No, I would like to say (and intend to more and more), I cannot and do not wish to “take a joke” at my expense. My father, wise man that he was, said “There are no jokes….pay attention to what people say and what their intention may be…” Indeed. What is the need to tease, with hostility (there is a difference between loving teasing that is between those that are close and who do not tease with comments that are below the belt, versus those who tease in areas that they may even be aware are touchy areas for us.) What would be the purpose of that kind of “teasing”? What does that do to our relationship? For me, it can reduce the trust and willingness to open up more sensitive areas of myself, for fear that they may then become the subject of jokes. No, thank you.

As I continue on this aging journey, I become more aware of sensitivities (and am so grateful for that), both in myself and others. Isn’t that what helps us grow closer to each other, to be able to share these with a trusted friend and have the trust held sacred? I am not suggesting that there is not much to laugh about with aging, as there really is. But, there is a way and time to use humor and to talk about it – to encourage the openness and honesty about it and be able to share some of the struggles and yes, at times. to laugh about it. A sense of humor is essential. Essential. But, I think we need to be careful when it crosses a line – when it comes at our own expense. That is where I draw the line more these days. Aging seems to be one of those areas where we can learn more sensitivity. Have we not learned that we don’t say “You are pretty strong…. for a girl…..”, “You dance well…. for a guy….”, “You are good at math… for a girl”, and other things that we had to learn to become aware about. So, maybe it’s time to look at this attitude toward aging. Can you see me without that label or putting me in that box? Can we learn to really see each other, really hear each other, understand each other more deeply and individually? I hope so. We can learn, share, and love so very much more if we are allowed to be free from all the boxes and labels. No kidding.

The Resiliency of the Human Spirit

I am in awe today of the resiliency of the human spirit. I listen to what people have gone through or are experiencing right now, and yet – they are still living, still striving to make sense of things, still wanting and trying and hoping and if not moving forward, at least working to not move too far backwards.

I know that so many have struggled with so much this past year and a half. This pandemic has taken a toll. Yet I see families getting back together, emerging from the isolation and from the hiding and now smiling and laughing and reaching out to hold and hug each other. That spirit to live and love has not died. Not by a long shot.

And I see in myself my own process of grieving this past year. I live alone, have no family that I am in contact with, and so my furry companions become my family. I am so very grateful for them. This past year, I have had the painful experience of losing three kitties. Two were 17 years old and had been with me since they were kittens, and the third was a 12 year old kitty that I adopted when her owner died. I thought we were both grieving at that time and could perhaps bring each other some comfort. She became very ill, and after many visits to many vets, I lost her after 4 months. My heart was broken again. I retreated from the world for the most part. I simply let myself go deeply into the grief, not being sure that I could find my way out at times, yet believing that I would at some point get through enough of the grief to be able to feel like I could breathe again and start to rejoin life.

So here I am. I am deeply sad and missing my sweet furry companions. I am not ready to bring another pet into my home yet….I need some time to re-center and find my inner home again.

I find that I have been wanting to paint again and have been doing that for several days. There is something very healing about the time that I spend painting….I lose all sense of time and am completely in the moment. I am working on a painting of a stag that has come to visit me on the back of my property each and every time that I lost a kitty. I need to paint this stag – he has been a special visitor and I want to honor that and honor the visits. Something felt very special and almost sacred about them, about him.

I wrote in my journal today after not having done so for some time. And I am writing this post for my blog, to reconnect with myself, and with any who may read what I have to write. I’m glad that you are here.

We are amazing, we humans. We live, we age, and we lose….more and more as we age, I find. As I have written before, grief becomes a more frequent companion as time marches on….We lose dear ones – family, friends. We lose our definition of who we were as an employee once we retire. We lose the social structure that work may have brought us and we have to redefine ourselves. We lose relationships. We lose some of our physical functioning…..we perhaps move more slowly, may not hear or see as well, and many other age related changes. And yet, we persevere and we live. We live.

I am still here. I have lost pieces of my heart, both human and the furry kind. I have lost pieces of myself over the years, and yet I find that I discover deeper pieces that have been there all along, but that I may have been too busy or distracted to attend to or listen to. I may be older, but I am still very much here and very much alive. Perhaps I define being alive differently now – defined more by all the internal dances and emotions and stories….and perhaps more by each encounter with another being that I now can attend to more deeply and with more time. To really see. To really hear. To really experience. To really cherish each moment….

Each moment becomes more precious to me as I sense that there are fewer of them ahead of me than behind me. But, that does not rush me into a frenzy of action with pressure to do more and accomplish more. Rather, it quiets me and helps me to be more still….and to be more able to notice life around me and life within me. To get to know, once again, the spirit and soul that I have always been, but not always focused on. I am grateful to have reached this stage of my life. And I want to live each moment that I may have left with that awareness and gratitude as much as I can. To breathe into each moment. Pain, grief, sorrow and joy, happiness, peace …..all are part of the canvas of my life. I want to welcome them all and feel them all. This is what being alive is, after all. The will to live is strong. The resiliency is deep, until we reach our own individual time to go. But let us not go before our time. Let us embrace each moment, let us embrace each feeling (even the bitterly painful ones) – let us live while we are here. I appreciate being able to write this and to any of you who may take the time to read what I write. Thank you You are also part of the canvas of my life.

The heavy emptiness of grief…

I am here once again with my ever frequent companion of grief. It’s a heavy feeling, yet there is an emptiness in that heaviness….to yet another loss. My heart truly aches. My soul aches. I don’t understand death.

If you have read any of my previous posts (and thank you, if you have) you will have already read that I lost two kitties last year….both 17 years old…within 6 months of each other. Then this past January, even though I had not thought I would get another kitty or pet for a while, I adopted a 12 year old kitty named Squeaky whose owner had died and who needed a new home. I thought since we were both grieving, we may be able to offer each other some comfort. I live alone, and an animal companion offers me such solace, comfort, and a sense of not being alone in this world. We had a bumpy start – she was terrified and would hide up high in my closets (I would even feed her there just to make sure that she was eating) until she got more comfortable and came down to explore.

And then she got sick. Very sick. A multitude of medical problems that would be long term and very difficult….for both of us. The very kind vet at the emergency clinic talked me through this, and so this past Monday night …(driving to the clinic at midnight after getting yet another call from the vet about Squeaky’s condition not getting any better…. the fateful drive that no one wants to make happened…) we “put her down”. (I find that an interesting term to use for the process of ending her life, but that will most likely be another blog down the road). I held her, I talked with her, I petted her, I thanked her, I poured all the love that I could into her …..and I let her go. And the pain is so very deep.

I have quarantined myself yet again (not for any pandemic this time, but for my own personal need to isolate) and am deep in the grief process. I miss her so very much. To lose three kitties in one year is excruciating. I don’t want to compare my grief to others’ pain (and I know so many people have had such deep grief this past year) as I don’t want to minimize this. Loss of a pet (our furry companions are so much more than that) is very real and needs to be honored and respected as its own very unique form of grief. I am inconsolable at times, and I let the tears flow. I talk to her, should her spirit be around. I told her to go find her original mom and dad, and to go be with them. I knew that I could never take the place of them, but Squeaky and I grew to love each other, I think, in our brief time together. I firmly believe that her grief and loss was too deep for her to recover from. I believe this about my second kitty who died 6 months after his companion died – his health had been fine until the loss.. he was so sad and so missing his 17 year lifelong friend.

I wish I could offer words of wisdom here, but at the moment, all I can offer is my truth – my pain and grief and deep, deep sadness. This is where I am today. And it is where I need to be. I know that this will pass, and I will reach a different place inside me (although I know that I will always miss my furry friends and always hold them in my heart). I am not there yet. And I don’t need to rush to get there. I think that this is something that I am learning – that I need to be where I am right now, to feel what I do right now, to honor and respect the process and whatever time it may take, and to simply breathe my way through this. To befriend grief yet again….and say, “Sit down, here, beside me. I see you. I feel you. I accept you. I am listening. Teach me what you will.”

Still lost…..still alive…..still breathing….

I haven’t written much for a while, and I miss it. I stop myself and I don’t really know why. Some may be the self questioning of my words and what I may have to say…..some may be that it can be hard to write from a dark place (where I feel that I have been for a while now). So I distract myself….with tv, with food, with games on my phone (a friend introduced me to Words with Friends and I have become somewhat addicted…) I continue to navigate retirement (I cannot believe that his has been a year since I retired!) People ask how I like retirement….what I have been doing. Oh, the eternal pressure (within) to somehow validate my existence and prove my worth by doing….

The pandemic has allowed more quiet time (which is not uncomfortable or unfamiliar to me) and less expectations of being the happy, traveling, fun filled retiree…..

I am grateful to be retired. It was time to leave that job. I gave enough…..having been a social worker as my career. I do not regret it for a moment, but I am done with that.

So, who am I now? I like to write – and hope that this becomes more a part of my life as I continue on this path. Because I have things inside that I need to express. I like to paint, and recently started a new painting and am grateful to have begun that. I was taking voice lessons for fun, but stopped that for a while dealing with a sick kitty and many visits to the vet. We still don’t know exactly what is going on with her, but I also realize that I need to keep living my life. So I will start singing again.

That perhaps this is yet another lesson of aging – to keep living one’s life even with all the challenges and setbacks …..including age related changes in ourselves. I go to the gym, but now my goal is to keep flexible and functional as long as I can ….very different than the goal of my younger days to look fit and attractive. It’s not that I don’t still wish for that in some ways, but I am more realistic and hopefully wiser these days. At least I like to think that I am. My hearing is not what it used to be. I will need to deal with this. It’s so interesting to remember saying at times that I was tired of listening to people all the time. Be careful what we say to ourselves…. I find myself not wanting to drive at night as much, as it is a bit more difficult for me to see then. How much do we push ourselves to keep doing things and how much do we adjust and find new ways to keep going……I don’t know the answer to that, but will keep working on that with each new issue.

And yet, there is still much life and passion within me. I want to honor that, even if it is expressed differently than before. I am still here. I am still alive. And I have the “me” from all the ages that I have been still deep inside me. They don’t go away, they simply make room for each new facet as the years continue to go by. The team meetings within grow larger with more members each year.

We , each of us, have so many stories within us. I want to hear the life stories of others on the path with me. I want to keep sharing my own story. And so here I am, with gratitude, writing. – even if lost and not knowing where I am going – but still writing and expressing and feeling and living. I am still here – I am still alive.

Elephant lessons

I am very lucky to be able to volunteer at our local zoo I am on the Behavior Observation Team….We track behaviors to make sure the animals are doing well and if there is anything unusual or different going on that needs to be attended to. I observe the elephants. These big, beautiful, sacred creatures. We have three elephants at our zoo – we had four but sadly one of them died over a year ago. We all feel the grief still. So we have two females and one male. I get to observe them all, depending on which elephants are on the exhibit at the time . Our male can sometimes, in his youthful exuberance, be frightening or annoying to the females – so they are on the exhibit at different times.. But they can touch each other and interact across at the fence, which is lovely to behold. Elephants can greet each other by putting their trunk in each other’s mouth as a way of saying hello. I feel in awe of these animals. They have a majestic quality to them, and we can learn much from them. They are huge and wrinkled and saggy – and yet are loved by so many who come to see them and call them beautiful and amazing. They are themselves, and do not pretend to be anything that they are not. They eat, play, sleep, rest, and do whatever they are called to do at the moment. With no apologies needed. And we are mesmerized by them. My shift is for two hours, and it goes by so quickly. I am amazed at how the average time spent at each exhibit by guests is two minutes. Two minutes. I feel that I am only beginning to know them and I have been doing this for about 7 years now.

I show up for my shift…in whatever state that I may be in at the moment. As of late, my mood has been one of sadness and grief about several losses that I have had….and also about a sick kitty (an older kitty who I adopted in January after her owner died) I had lost my two 17 year old kitties recently, so I thought we could grieve together and offer each other some comfort. I don’t know if she will recover from this. I may face yet another loss. She also teaches me about resiliency, the spirit to live, the drive to survive. And how unique each of us is. She cannot be like my previous kitties. I cannot be like her previous owner.

And I start my shift at the zoo….watching, observing,, recording. I soon become lost in their world. The present moment and what is in front of them, and me, right now. All else fades for a bit, and we are in a meditation together. I like to think that they now know me and recognize me……who knows? For moments, I forget all else except being with them in their world. I feel blessed to be so honored as to witness a life being lived moment by moment…with beings that share this earth with us….that we, as humans, have abused (killing them for their ivory tusks.. …training them to do silly tricks for a circus (thank God, no longer)…riding them and training them to be ridden …most of the time the training is not kind). And yet….they go on. They go on and live their lives. They carry on. Majestically. Sacredly, Beautifully, I have come to love them deeply. How can you not fall in love with someone you observe for hours and hours?

I am humbled by them. Maybe I can learn to love myself ….saggy, wrinkled, and less than what our society deems as perfect. Maybe I can let go of some of my worries for a while and simply be. Maybe I can just breathe and live and claim my space on this earth. No more, no less. Maybe, just maybe, I can be myself. And that can be enough……Maybe…..

Writing from within the darkness

I am deep in the process of grief yet again. I still mourn my two kitties who died within 6 months of each other and right after I retired….when I had hoped to spend more time with them as we all aged together (they were 17 years old and had been with me since they were kittens). I don’t talk about this too much to those who don’t have pets or perhaps don’t understand the connection that we have with our animal companions. But, for those that do understand, you know what I am writing about here.

I miss their furry little bodies next to me during the night….the purring that brought me such comfort, the warm body that I could reach out and touch…..life touching life, connecting heart to heart.. I live alone, have no family – so, and especially during this time of the pandemic, these fur babies have been my family, my lifeline. I miss them more than words can adequately describe. I have previously written about feeling lost during this time of my life, and this remains true still.

I adopted an older kitty whose previous owner died (in January). And now this kitty is not well. I am working with the vets (and so is my checkbook) to try and find out what is wrong. No answers yet. She seems sad to me. I live alone, and perhaps she needs more activity and people around her, since her previous owner had caregivers coming and going and providing activity and interaction. Perhaps the grief is too much for her. I firmly believe that my second kitty’s death was from the deep grief of losing his lifelong companion, which left him open to the cancer that invaded his liver and finally took him. Perhaps this little kitty cannot cope with the loss she has sustained. Perhaps I cannot comfort her adequately.

I wanted to write from the light as I worked my way through this darkness. But I really don’t know when that will happen. It’s not happening now. And so I write from the darkness. From the deep sadness and loss and the hole in my heart. I don’t know what to do. Maybe there is nothing to do, but to keep walking through this until I get to whatever the other side is. Maybe there is no other side, but only a learning to live with this grief as a more frequent companion as I continue to age, and ask what I can learn from it. What I can learn to help me keep living intentionally and consciously and fully.. It hurts. I hurt. That is part of life. It is not all of life, and I believe that there is still joy and light and love….but right now, I need to acknowledge that dark place and give it its due respect and space. And so, grief, I am here. Teach me what you will. I am here with you.

Lost….a step toward finding myself yet again?

I have felt lost in the world as of late. I have not been writing as much, have not felt focused, have wondered about my purpose, life in general, everything. I don’t have an answer to what causes this, really. I can make some guesses….the state that the world has been in, the aftermath of retiring and trying to redefine myself, the ageism I feel (most frighteningly within myself at times – the questioning the worth of anything that I might have to offer and even questioning my own worth in this world at times.) It’s a difficult part of the road to have to navigate.

My belief has always been that in order to grow through to the next step, we have to face whatever is going on right now directly and walk through it. Easier said than done. How does one walk through what feels like quicksand with no sense of direction? I have always been directionally challenged, but this particular form of it comes with no GPS, unfortunately.

I have loved writing, but have difficulty sitting down to do that – wondering what the purpose is or if anyone will even want to read anything that I write? I enjoy painting, but then wonder if my paintings will just end up in the garbage when I am dead and gone. And even though I enjoy taking singing lessons just for fun, I find myself wondering why I am doing that or if I am being silly and foolish. Oh, these negative voices within are a formidable enemy.

So, how to befriend those voices and work with them….To hear the fear, sadness, loneliness, depression, feelings of invisibility and aloneness (even though I am one who craves and thrives on solitude – the pandemic has pushed those edges…even for me). To have the courage to hear and speak with those voices and feelings so that I can address the feelings underneath and yet keep moving forward.

I thought that the book that I wanted to write was about the experience of women aging. But, as I ponder this more after talking with a book coach (I signed up for a few sessions with a book coach to see what help I could get) and hearing the feedback that she felt that the book was about much more than that – that it will include that piece for sure- but that there is more to it…..so, as I think about this, I begin to have some thoughts….

Thoughts like …..the book may be about what I am experiencing and feeling more at this stage of my life. How do we, when we no longer have the distractions of work and goals of accumulating….how do we live as we now more directly face and look into the face of our own mortality and eventual (now closer as we age) death? How do we live knowing that we will die? I have no children (by choice), so I don’t really have anyone to remember me…..but even with children, I don’t really remember my great grandparents….so generations later what will be remembered by anyone? Does that matter? Or does it matter more how I live my life now ? Is it to simply experience what is happening right now, do what good that I can (because that is a value of mine) with what I have, and enjoy what I can (because I do believe that life should be enjoyed)…? To write and paint and sing because it feels good to do those things? To go for walks outdoors. To take drives to be out in nature? To keep living consciously and intentionally. To cherish each meaningful contact with someone? To cherish even the pain of the consciousness of eventual death …to allow that to help me appreciate each moment of life even more?

Maybe….being lost can be a good thing?

A dose of vaccine – a dose of poignant reality

I got my first COVID vaccine this week. I am grateful.

There are lessons and messages everywhere these days, or perhaps I am simply more open to receiving them. I looked around at all of us receiving the vaccine ….the looks of fear, relief, hope, fatigue at all that we have gone through. A strange bond and connection among strangers. This I expected, in a way.

What I did not expect was the dose of reality that came with it. I looked around at all of us, and was struck at how this was a group of older people, over 65, receiving the dose. And I was struck that I am now among them. I do not feel 67 on the inside, but clearly I am that age. I did not feel a part of this group. Is that denial of my age? Is it that I do not feel the same age on the inside as on the outside, as what my driver’s license states? As the lines and changes in my body remind me of at times? How did I get here? Where did all those years go? I remember my father jokingly saying “Who is that old man in the mirror?” I now understand much more what he was saying.

It is a strange feeling. An almost unreal feeling. I struck up a brief conversation with the woman behind me in line waiting at the hospital for our vaccines (6 feet apart, of course). I was amused and a bit chagrined and saddened to hear her quickly tell me that she was waiting in line for her elderly parents….as if to make sure that I knew that she was not yet old enough to be in this line, to be included in this group. As if this would be a shameful thing?

What an interesting time of life. I feel in some ways more alive than ever, as I get closer to the end of my time, whenever that may be. I feel more grateful for each moment, for each feeling (some are more fun than others….), for each breath, for each day that I get to be alive. I cry much more easily these days, feel more sensitive to everything around me. I am grateful for that as well, as feelings are such a gift that being alive gives us. I feel sadness at losses (and they come quicker these days – losing friends, family, pets….) I feel sadness at the loss of my youth, of my delight and anticipation of the future. And yet, and yet….I feel such connection to the earth, to all that is around me. I feel such depth inside me, such intensity of experience, such sweetness of memories and appreciation for new ones created still.

I have been taking voice lessons since my retirement. I want to learn to better express my voice….spoken, written, and sung. The latest song that my voice teacher has begun working on with me today is “Autumn Leaves”. I told her that I would probably be moved to tears by and during this song. Her response – that this was a great thing and to be cherished and allowed. Indeed. Indeed we can cherish the autumn leaves as they fall….with their glorious colors. We, too, have glorious colors in our own autumn. I want to embrace this time and let my colors glow…..until it is time to let go. But, for now, I am still here….still glowing….still alive….With things to say, stories to write, and songs to sing.

When to accept, when to defy….

I am thinking these days of all the various aspects of aging. There are parts that we cannot help, that are part and parcel of changes that aging brings. Changes in our bodies, in our memories, in our senses. There are losses – of parts of ourselves, of friends, of family, of partners. And more losses as time goes by. Losses of singers and movie stars and people that we grew up with. Losses of what and who we have known the world to be. And the changes go by so quickly. So very quickly.

And yet, there is something that I notice can be attached to these changes that I need to really look at and tease apart. They are somehow attached to each other automatically and yet need to be questioned…

I am retired from the career where I spent such a huge amount of my time and life. I am not, however, retired from life.

I am older and my body is not what it was. My body is not, however, ready to call it a day in any way. I still want to move, to be active, to be passionate, to be so very alive. I still love to walk, even though I need to map out my hikes in terms of where the restrooms are all located..! (I now know at least one reason as to why they are referred to as the “golden years”!)

I forget names and sometimes why I walked into a room, or perhaps the thing that I was just going to say. My friends and I laugh about this. I do not forget, however, who I am and what I believe and stand for, and what I value and believe in. I do not forget how I got to where I am and all the lessons along the way – some of which I can share in hopes of helping someone else along the way. If they will listen.

I feel losses more deeply, I think, and appreciate each moment more, even if more of those moments may hold sadness. Sadness, although uncomfortable, is also a gift. The gift that reminds us of our humanity and capacity to feel, to understand, to resonate deeply within ourselves and then also with others. And I also feel those moments of gratitude and happiness more deeply as well, having more of a sense that these moments are numbered and that I have less of the road ahead of me than that which I have already traveled.

I cannot defy aging and the changes that come along with it. I can, however, defy the messages that get attached that may not be true and that serve to quiet and deaden us before our time. I am still alive. I am still here.