I am a worrier. Always have been. When I was at 4H camp for two weeks every summer and I didn’t get a letter from my parents, I was certain they had moved and were never coming back for me. I worried if my parents argued that they were getting a divorce. I worried my best friend would decide to be best friends with someone else. I worried about fitting in. About asking for what I wanted. About being too happy because that’s when the boogeymen come out. As I get older the things I worry about have changed, certainly. And the shape of worry is different. Worry is for babies. Fear is for grownups. Every ache and pain is magnified, every palpitation is heart disease. But for me there is a far greater fear. And it is real. The fear of doing nothing. Not losing the weight I swore to lose a thousand times, even though a cardiologist recommended it. Not exercising enough even though, well, you know. Not working on my jewelry even though I used to love it and I have at least one commission and interest in others. This is not a new fear, certainly. It seems I’ve been sticking my head in the sand for as long as I can remember. Giving, as a professor and dear friend told me in college, a great 75%. This morning, my husband asked me to bring him something to the gym. I could have thrown on my gym clothes and worked out a little, but nope. I’m sitting in Starbucks talking to you guys. I know there’s something I need to figure out, but I can’t remember the last time I spoke with my therapist. I’d like to promise you that this is it. I’m going to get my s%#* together and do what needs to be done to make this next chapter of my life the best ever, but I have this, whadayacallit? Oh right fear! I have this fear that I never will. And of course, my inner child worries that all of you are tired of hearing the same things over and over again and are gonna take your toys and find a new best friend. So I’ll take it day by day. Today, I’m going to work a little. That’s all I’m promising for now. Tomorrow? I can’t even promise my head will still be attached. Losing My Mind
Getting older is different for everyone. You can look at two 60 year old women and in one, you see a vibrant, healthy woman, nicely dressed, happy and looking younger than her years. In the other, someone who maybe hasn’t fared so well. Health problems, emotional issues, poverty. Sometimes just the genetic lottery. And this 60 year old looks 80. And sometimes your assumptions about these two individuals is 100% wrong. That beautiful mature woman has lost her husband. She has cancer. She is smiling because she knows there’s a half full bottle of vodka at home. And that older looking woman having a little trouble getting around? Her sweet husband is carrying her purse. And she looks exhausted because she’s been helping her daughter with their first grand baby. And those wrinkles. They’re from laughing. It is so easy to make assumptions on who has the better life. And more importantly what makes a life better. More money, more toys, smoother skin, flatter tummies. I am definitely of the herd. I’ve been losing the same 20 pounds for as long as I can remember. I just bought an Apple Watch. Please. Don’t ask. And when the next iPhone comes out, Imma get it. But I am also more aware of the good that isn’t bought. I’m never gonna be skinny. Or rich. But my sweet husband is carrying my bags. And I can’t buy a car this year because, I’m going to Mexico to see my step grandchildren. And those wrinkles? They’re from laughing. Monster Under the Bed
Every once in a while, we are fortunate enough to see growth and change so profound, it can bring tears of joy to our eyes. Sometimes it is change within us, and sometimes not. I have always loved my brother and my sister both. My sister has lived her life embracing growth and change. My brother, not so much, and me, I’m sorta in the middle. I love to talk about how I wanna grow and change, but I don’t always walk the walk. But this particular story isn’t really about me. My brother has always been the funniest guy I know. Cuttingly funny. But for many years, not easy to get close to. I wanted his approval so much, just because it felt so hard to get. I always knew if push came to shove, he had my back, my sister’s back, even if he didn’t seem to like us much. Then something strange started to happen. It started with someone else’s dream, a theater company in our synagogue, and while I know for certain this little dream has enhanced many lives, for me the blessing is immeasurable. Putting aside the obvious, getting to do what I love, what I had hoped would be my career many years ago, I got to do what I love with my brother. And suddenly we were talking, and he was learning a little from me and the scales tipped a bit. I wasn’t seeking approval; I was doing something I love with someone I’d always loved, but didn’t really know. And as we sang and danced and made lifelong friends, we became friends. And throughout these years, I have watched him smile more, show his heart more, forgive more. My brother always had a rough relationship with my father even after he died, and when conversation about what people should or shouldn’t wear on the beach inevitably turned to speedos, of course we talked about my dad. My brother didn’t roll his eyes, or mutter under his breath. He spoke about my dad with respect, with forgiveness. He was able to see that for all his faults and quirks, my dad was a good man. For my brother, it had finally occurred to him that holding onto decades of anger and resentment was hurting him. My dad is gone. There is no one to sling the arrows at anymore. And the quiver is f#%^*ing heavy. He told my sister-in-law the other day that he was just going to be happy. And the lightness in his step, the smile that is quicker and less fleeting, the brother that has become one of my best friends, that makes me happy.
HEARTS pin. #HEARTSPortWashington
Years ago, when I worked at Red Lobster, (yes, I worked at Red Lobster. I was the Queen of Red Lobster), there would be nights when I would get so in the weeds that I would stand at the line waiting for something, and every synapse would shut down. I just could not figure out what to do next. I was a good waitress, a great waitress, but sometimes I just got overwhelmed. Those were usually the times I would snap at someone and they wouldn’t talk to me for months. I know, hard to believe, right? It’s almost 30 years later and I’m not a waitress any more. I’m marginally better at holding my tongue. I’ve found strengths and joys I didn’t expect. But. I’m overwhelmed. I’m in the weeds. I’m outta gas. See this?
This is the regulator for my acetylene tank. I finally found a place to exchange my empty tank for a full one. Weeks ago. By now, I should have attached this and started work on some commissions. I have not. See this?
Hasn’t moved since I started working on them in November. And of course, there is this.
This is the stationary bike I bought several months ago when my doctor told me I needed to lose weight. The only reason there are no clothes hanging off it is because my cleaning lady was here this morning. Oh, please. Like I’m the only one who has gym equipment that doubles as a coat rack. And didn’t I know that this is where we’d both end up? But I digress. It is obvious I am in a creative slump. I wish I could say it’s the first one. Not. And undoubtedly not the last. So. Here we are. Metal and machine whispering at me, taunting me. Daring me to rise above and create! Move! Break free of the slump, the inertia. Or I could just watch another rerun of Family Guy.
Yes, my loyal readers, it’s almost that time. True, it’s a month away. And I might decide closer to the day that most of what I’ve written is crap and start all over. But what the Hell. Imma start with basics. I’m in Starbucks and they’re playing the Hamilton soundtrack. Sorry, digressing. Went back to WW. (Can’t call it a weight watcher’s meeting anymore. It’s a WW workshop. WW. Wellness Wins. Reboots goin’ on all over the place.). Lost 6 pounds. Bought a stationary bike. Actually used it once or twice. Meditating every night. Although I’m having a smidge of trouble finding a guided meditation that doesn’t make me want to reach into my phone and snatch the instructor bald. The course I’m doing now is geared towards quieting the mind, breaking the cycle of monkey chatter and anxiety. Right up my crooked little alley. And I’ve committed to my therapy. So, good stuff, no? I’m working hard to become the wiser, happier, stronger person that so many my age claim they are. Are they all telling the truth? I’m sure some are and I’m as sure some aren’t. But truthfully, that’s really the issue right there. My real goal while becoming stronger, wiser, and happier is to not give a S$&^*% what anyone else’s life looks life and be happy with mine. That’s it. All of it. That’s all I want. Oh, and to be able to sit on the floor and get up again. Being the impatient little critter I am, I want this all yesterday. And I refuse to call them New Year’s Resolutions because, well that’s just BS. It’s unfortunate that a little health issue has finally kicked me in the head enough to make some really necessary changes. That I couldn’t seem to care enough about myself until now, but whatever gets us where we need to be, right? Now, all of this is great. I’m proud of myself for committing to take care of myself and certainly all of these changes make me feel…hmmm. I wish I could say, I feel great, better every day! But the reality is, it didn’t take 5 minutes to get here and it’s gonna take a little time to get there. And I don’t feel great. Yet. But I’m working on it. And that feels just a little bit great.
Copper and Beads. The Mother of Invention series.
I’m home sick today. I’ve caught this weird cold-y flu-y thing. No head cold really, just a bad cough and a low fever which is making me achy and cranky. The whole thing is sort of weird and makes me wonder if I’m making myself sick. If I’ve created this weird Munchausen thing to keep me safe. I’m sick, but not really badly say your goodbyes sick. Making this even stranger for anyone not living in my head, is that this comes on the heels of a commitment to eat better and exercise after my last physical. How interesting. I can’t go to the gym, I’m siiiick. Uh huh. Uh huh. Ok, now I’ve passed even my own limits of crazy. This is not to say I’m lying when I say I don’t feel well, or that there isn’t a thing going around that I certainly could have caught. But making myself sick just to get out of the gym? That’s ridiculous!!! Except it’s not really. We all know that stress and illness are buddies. Bosom buddies. Yes, even the happiest, most stress free peeps get sick. But it’s not unheard of for stress and anxiety to make one sick. Or worse. A dear friend of mine died when her heart stopped inexplicably. No reason. Except for years of anxiety issues. All I really know is that right now, I’ve got this thing. And next time it might be another thing. How long until I’m really sick. Or worse. Ok. Imma stop this journey right now. It serves literally no purpose. I’m going to continue to eat well, exercise, talk with my therapist and per her advice add meditation to my day. Funny sidebar here. When I started typing meditation it came up medication. Snort. If I’m capable of making myself sick, I’m more than capable of making myself well. So, I have this thing. Just a cold. Nothing to worry about.
I had a physical this morning, and because I have a heart murmur, I was due for an ultrasound. And apart from my leaky little valve, this 12 year old doctor informed me that my heart’s a little stiff. This apparently is not uncommon among post-menopausal women. WTF??? I mean, seriously. What the actual f#%^*? She didn’t seem concerned and said they’ll do an ultrasound every year and keep an eye on it, blah, blah, blah. And I asked not one question. I had my blood drawn. I winced when I got on the scale. I peed in the cup. But it wasn’t until I was home that I thought of all the questions I wanted to ask. So of course, I googled it. Big mistake. Amyloidosis! Diastolic Dysfunction! Heart Failure! Ok, everybody just calm down. And for G-d sakes, step away from Google! One thing I do know, I need to care for myself. I do not need a doctor to tell me that binge eating, yo-yo dieting, lack of sleep, stress, these aren’t good for anyone, at any age. But let’s face it. I’m not 20. And neither is my heart. I will continue to deny that right up until my last breath. But that doesn’t make it any less true. So I’ve started meditating to get to sleep at night. I’ve committed to working with my therapist every week and not just when I feel bad and can no longer fit into my winter coat. And today. I went to the gym. And Imma go tomorrow too. Scouts honor. I promise myself from the bottom of my leaky, slightly stiff little heart.
A Chip of my Heart
One of the things I’ve always had tremendous issues with is my inability to let things go and move on. I’m called out on something at work and I’m convinced I’m going to lose my job. I spend the next 24 hours defending myself, (in my own head, of course), against slings and arrows and people out to get me. I’m convinced I’m never going to find another job and I’ll spend what’s left of my life living in a cardboard box in the subway. I have never learned to let disappointment and envy go either. A few years ago, I got back on stage when my Synagogue started a theater company. It has been such an amazing gift. I’ve been lucky enough to get the roles I auditioned for and it is one of the few places I feel good about myself, my talent, all of the things that seem to elude me in the real world. This year is no exception. I don’t have a huge role, but it is a memorable one and I’m thrilled. But. Due to a rewrite of the show since it was on Broadway, there’s a little part of the show, a mere 5 minute trio that my character was part of in the original script that has been written out. Truly, this rewrite doesn’t make the part any less hysterical, but that bit made it perfect. And I’m surprisingly upset about it. No. Not surprisingly at all. Who am I kidding? I’m pissed. Devastated. Distraught. They wrote out my shtick! I’m beside myself! See where I’m going? It’s ridiculous. It’s 5 minutes that nobody but me gives a sh^%#* about. And guess what? Tearing my hair out isn’t going to change a thing. Except I will then be bald and upset. And fat. Because let’s face it, Disappointment is nothing without a big bag of M & M’s to wash it down with. Not getting exactly what we want is a part of life. If we are lucky, it is the worst part of life. Life is full of spooky stuff, especially as we get older. Stuff that will make disappointment look like a big bag of M & M’s. Ya know, if I go back through the years I’ve been writing this blog and randomly go through a couple, I’ll probably find that I was whining about the same issues back then. Fear, Disappointment, M & M’s, blah blah blah. Now that’s spooky.
Woke up this morning with sheet creases on the right side of my face. Just caught a glimpse of myself in the train window. Still there.
Broken Glass Series #2
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Now it’s been a while since I’ve written, so it’s highly possible I’ve talked about this before. Which, hello, pretty much supports this definition. How many people find themselves in the same situations year after year? Taking off the same 10 pounds. Putting on the same 20 pounds. Spending your free hours torn between creating art and binge watching The Great British Baking Show, until the week before an event when you scramble to catch up. Promising yourself you will start to exercise and breaking the promise every weekend as you watch your significant other strap on his workout gear from under the covers. Putting money into your savings only to take it out again when bills need to be paid and you’ve been living ever so slightly beyond your means. Watching other women you admire and wishing you could be like them and knowing you could if you just applied yourself. Didn’t we all have parents and teachers who told us we could be whatever we wanted if we just applied ourselves? And does it make me a bad person if I don’t f@&*^ing feel like applying myself? If I can’t run a marathon, or climb a rock wall, or hoist myself up off the floor? If I’m not the Broadway actress I hoped I’d be? If I can’t seem to live up to the mantra, “nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”? I hope the answer is no, cause as I write this, there’s a Krispy Kreme donut hanging outta my mouth. Donuts. Donuts taste as good as thin feels, apparently. The real question is if I’m going to keep banging my head against a brick wall, can I live with the headache?
Losing My Mind