Ageing – the secret no one talks about

There is a lot of information circling around about the effects of ageing – it isn’t a mystery. – the key is in accepting it with grace. Realising the truth in what  one elderly neighbour once said to me, that ‘getting old wasn’t for wimps.’ This  from an indomitable woman who was undergoing hip replacement, had already had knee replacement and was battling the effects of Parkinson’s disease – no, this woman was no wimp.

But I have come to realise that ageing isn’t just about bionic joints, tena lady products and false teeth – there is a psychological and emotional element to it, that no one seems to talk about nor as with myself (or my friends) appear to be prepared for.

Recently I have been having an ongoing conversation with a dear friend – she has been struggling to raise a new online business and despite the fact she had appointed herself a business coach to help motivate and organise her – she was struggling. But not in all the usual business orientated ways – and this wasn’t something her coach had addressed with previous clients, in fact she was hard pressed to understand the issues my friend was battling. I however, felt deeply connected with my friends’ woes – I understood her issues first hand.

My friend is complaining about finding it hard to feel motivated because she feels at 55 she has far more yesterdays behind her than she has tomorrows  to play with and whilst that might seem obvious numeric logic – the key is, it is that actual moment when your ever shortening future really becomes a reality to you, it’s like having  a blinding wake up call.

Suddenly you wistfully look back over all those opportunities that slipped away, those wasted projects and the disgraceful wasted time you have squandered because it seemed that there was  ‘always tomorrow’,

The fact is, that whilst women’s magazines can claim that 50 is the new 30 – once you get passed the big 5-0, you start to creep toward the bigger 6-0 and the door is wide open for reflection on what has been; regrets start to filter in and panic bubbles up that there is little room to manouvre in this shortened future line.

It isn’t that this becomes an enormous preoccupation, but it quietly nibbles at the edges of your consciousness – and it becomes something to dwell on. should have done that differently or I ought not to have done that or why did I waste time.

What has struck me and my good friend is that whilst we are well aware of the mid life crisis – we weren’t expecting this emotional crisis that seems to have started as a gentle swell of uncertainty and become a tsunami of regrets and anxiety.

I personally have come to the conclusion that reviewing my past and regretting decisions is pretty pointless and have suggested my pal take the same view- a bit like a history book, the story can’t be rewritten.

In terms of my future, well yes I can’t deny the clock is ticking fast, and having grandiose plans and schemes like I did when I was 20, may well be a dream to far – I don’t like it, I would dearly love to wind my clock back, give myself a few extra precious years to play with – but that is silly. Better still is coming to terms with my life, making the most of my time now, enjoying the here and now.

A bit new agey perhaps, but there is no point in panicking life is suddenly too short, no point in over planning a future I can’t possibly deliver on – the key, is having joy in my here and now and live it to the max.

 

 

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Accepting Death

My Mother phoned me last night.

My Father is ill. He’s 78, just this week. And he isn’t hale and hearty, far from it.

My Father led a raucous youth -and looking back as a little girl, I can only remember him with cigarette in hand or a pint of something. That was the 60s for you.

By the time he reached early 50s – he was having a triple heart by-pass.

Over the years there have been a few set backs, medical interventions, but he has lead a good retirement – played golf & bowls and learned Tai Chi. Spent time with Mum in the their garden and generally enjoyed a relaxed and happy retirement.

Lately, he hasn’t been well.

Initially given 15 years with the by pass – he has done very well – he is 20 years post op.

But his heart is failing him. He knows it, we know it and more importantly his medical team know it.

He has been passed around from one set of docs to another over the last 6 months and in that time, there has been noise, talk, tests but nothing has been done  – and he has steadily deteriorated. They are now all but admitting out right there is very little to be done for him

I’m not even convinced he has the physical strength to undergo any difficult surgery even if they felt something could be done – and they aren’t!

I have thought a lot about how I personally might face my own death, but in my thinking, it is always a long way off in the future, something I can ponder academically. But for my Father, the reality of his death is by his side – he is beset with issues every day, dizziness, pain, indigestion, palpitations – the effects of a defective heart are making themselves so known to him – he can’t escape the ‘in your faceness’ of what everyone now feels is his imminent demise.

And I can feel the panic – not just in him but my mother too. She isn’t a flakey sort of woman, but even she is feeling the strain of the constant worry – would it be today? tonight?

Just last night, trying to arrange a not so future family event, I could feel her real prevarication  – what if? hung in the air.

Speaking the truth – being up front and not speaking in euphemism – always my preferred way to deal with matters, suddenly feels way way too blunt, too harsh, too uncaring. They are already panicked witless.

But where is the peace and acceptance  – the going lightly to your good night? There is none of that. And I find myself googling the ways in which people might expire from heart failure, so better able to help my Mum in the event. And some of the stores are frightening.

I think I imagined peaceful sleep and then gone.

But instead, I am confronting a frantic and painful struggle to the end.

And at 78 I would like for them something altogether more calm.

I wish they were more spiritual people, that they might glean real comfort from a belief in something, but in being salt of the earth types – their understanding of life and death is altogether more salty – and frightening. And for once, I can find nothing comforting or useful to say to either of them.

 

A-hunting-we-will-go

Moles.

Those cutey little gentlemen in black velvet.

We have one in residence.

He has obliterated my lawn.

We aren’t avid gardeners, and I suppose my ambivalence to actually dealing with him left our garden wide open to tunnel heaven – and as more and more hills of soil appeared all over the lawn, and spilled on to the path ways; I realised he wasn’t going to play fair and stick to the bottom of the garden.

Push something stinky down the tunnels I was told – so we tried parmesan cheese, they hate that apparently. Not this one!

So my sister said she had read that dog poo forced down in to the tunnels would work – but honestly I couldn’t face the idea that I had turds submerged all over the garden.

It is starting to become quite anti social – it’s the middle of winter, the ground is soggy and my dogs go padding around the lawn and are endlessly trailing mud back in to the house because the lawn is all but decimated.

My husband isn’t feeling the love

We have a mole hunter coming with traps this week.

I have read that Moles don’t hibernate, so since Xmas the mole hills have flattened and I was hopeful he had gone – I actually asked him to leave and so for the last month or so – he appeared to have done just that.

But the mole trapper said that we likely have a new mole – that the mole we had before Xmas has died, because he would expect new mole hills each day, so the lull in mole hill production only to have suddenly re started again, suggests to him a new resident has moved in.

He also suggests moles once established can be difficult to get rid of – if we trap this one, new ones could come along.

I have a feeling I am going to be burying those turds before long – to discourage another one!!!! Gross stuff.

and they are so very very cute

Feeling bad 😦

 

 

 

Upcycling – a feel good activity :)

So despite the flu virus and a cough that won’t quit – I am back in the land of the living and have started to make good on my decision earlier this year to up cycle my house, room by room.

The starting point for this marathon upgrage, Room 1 is actually my daughter’s bedroom and was perhaps the easiest to accomplish – it is the only room that doesn’t require any painting. So it was simple  case of making the small changes that would make the room look like it belonged to her finally, instead of it looking like she was squatting in her elder  brother’s bedroom.

She inhabits her elder brother’s room who has now made the permanent move out of the nest. Her room was full of stuff he just couldn’t be bothered with – and there was nothing in there that stamped her personality anywhere.

So we sat and chatted – picked out new bedding and curtains, and we looked at colours she liked and checked out a few things she found interesting

and we changed stuff.

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Lampshade kits – what a great idea? And so easy

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Well this old drawer set was hidden away, and pretty much we thought we might just get rid of it – but it is a useful piece for odds and sods and there wasn’t anything physically wrong with it – and so I made up these  revamped panels to match up with the lampshades – and suddenly a dull and lifeless piece became a little feature, and suddenly felt integral to the room- really easy upcycle.

So the cushions here were the original driver to the choice of fabric for the lampshades – these took some effort to make – they are much larger than they look in this photo and make what was a pretty dull and limp corner of the room, something just a bit different. Big and soft – these are actually lovely cushions.073

The Flu Jab

Last Monday I woke up with a hot heaviness across my chest, by lunchtime I was back in bed and I haven’t moved since.

Last Wednesday night, I thought I might gasp my last but somehow managed to hang in there and saw another sunrise.

A bit dramatic? Actually no. Nothing about last week happened for dramatic effect,  I just had to lay and endure what appeared to be unending pain and misery.

Today, over a week later, I weakly managed to get to the shower, wash my hair, put on clean clothes and sit upright on the sofa -it felt alien to be back in the lounge amongst people – the land of the living.

Me in particular, but my husband as well really has taken a hit this winter with various viruses. But this was a bad one.

My youngest son took a photo of me midway through my marathon of misery last week – I was horrified when I saw it – I look to have aged 20 years and again I’m not saying this for effect – I look awful. And today feeling so much better having had a shower , the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror might have felt better but she looked hollow eyed, sallow – like a dried out husk.

I was just pleased to feel normalish – what I looked like could be worried about later I decided.

BUT – I was brought up short by my sister. She has for the last 8 years, gone along for the autumn flu jab – and apart from minor sniffles – never had anything more serious since.

I on the other hand can guarantee myself a couple of doses of something miserable every year. But this one, this was a league above and beyond what is ‘normal’ and I feel scared that I could have to endure another such bout this century.

I felt my age.

I felt that getting better was going to be difficult this time

I didn’t feel resilient

I don’t know why I have always shied away from the flu vaccine. Stupidly I thought it was something only really old people needed, and we all know the gazillion strains for flu virus there is – why would this thing work?

But my sisters stats sat there as some sort of testimony and as I thought about it, I really am always texting her saying we are ill with some bug or other wheras she’s been bomb proof.

Whatever deep secret distrust I have harboured about the flu jab – no more.

I have reached my personal crisis point – I can’t face this again. Its too late for this season, all I can do is hope I have had my quota and wait for the sunshine

But come Sept this year – I am going to be first in the queue.

 

Giving….and meaning it.

Today I gave away £50.

Ok that’s not a huge sum, I realise that. But it is truly £50 I don’t actually have spare. All January I have been hemming and hawing over spending £60 on a much needed pair of curtains for my daughter’s bedroom and I have held off, trying to find the right time to part with the cash. So those curtains are now going to have to wait another month. That’s another month of indecision as to whether I have chosen the right pair!

I generally don’t give money to charity. I have in the past, I’m not mean and sometimes I am moved (usually children and animal charities who make me cry!) enough to give one off sums. But charities usually leave me feeling ‘off’. They are all so worthy, there are so many, and they would all bankrupt me to each get a pledge.

And I am angered at how much I see hived off by big charity administration – and I end up thinking – yes laudable, but I need my money. I don’t wallow in spare sadly!

I mentioned a few posts back that I was reading a book which I had asked for as a Christmas present – Matlock the Hare & The Riddle of Treffapuggle Path by Phil and Jacqui Lovesey – and I loved it.

I loved it so much,  I gladly used a christmas Amazon voucher to purchase the next volume – Matlock the Hare and The Puzzle of the Tillian Wand – which I am reading now. These are good sized books it has to be said, and it is lovely to have proper illustrations – I haven’t read a grown up book with illustrations for as long as I can remember – and I love these illustrations, I really do.

I found the book series and the talented pair who write/draw them quite by chance on instagram – I am now an avid follower, Jacqui Lovesey’s illustrations are great and I have promised myself one of my own to hang in the house when I can afford it!

Jacqui works quite hard on social media – working to bring their combined talents to people’s attention and I can see that it is a hard road to hoe.

I see vacuous and frankly stupid instagrammers with thousands of followers – and then there are whole swathes  of the truly talented, who work so hard to get their work seen. And it isn’t just traditional artists, but crafts people, small scale wonder workers – and I find myself really really irritated at how the world seems celebrity obsessed, and these people with vast sums of money at their disposal actually have limited talents at best who just seem to attract more and more for being ever more crass.

Matlock might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But there will be others, completely over shadowed and hidden from us, all desperately trying to get out there.

All January, the Lovesey’s have been campaigning on social media about a crowd funding project they are launching (have launched) today – to bring a new book of art work out in to the light. Funding is to publish the book.

Part of my new years resolution to myself has been to concentrate on the small, to do small things that bring me pleasure – I don’t want to have my life cluttered with junk – both physical (like my house I talk of) and mental ( stresses that make me feel ill). I am doing brilliantly at the minute surrounding myself with activities that feel good – and in turn I am feeling pretty good too.

One thing I have instigated in to my new ‘small pleasure mean a lot’ routine for myself, is to try and go to bed a bit earlier each night and read a small while  – and the Lovesey’s books have been my companion each night since Christmas. I’m sleeping better, and each night ends nicely, calmly and with some  happiness. It is amazing how much better I am since doing this.

When the crowd funding project was announced, I was curious – I checked out the Kickstarter site to see what it was all about. And I was impressed with how modest the amounts being asked for were. Amounts that in themselves I could see would be beyond most people just being able to produce without help, but small enough not to discourage people from offering a helping hand.

This morning the first thing I found myself doing was checking out their kickstarter page to see how they were doing, and in the back of my mind I think I already knew that I was intent in giving them something – I wanted to give. Not for the rewards – actually the Loveseys are incredibly generous, giving out little things to backers. But honestly, I wanted to give them something to help them achieve something lovely- bring a beautiful book to light, but also because in reading their books and enjoying them – I wanted to give something back.

Giving £50 is practically unheard of for me – part with £50 and have nothing tangible to show for it??? Really?

I feel really happy.

 

Planning Room Changes

I want to give my house an injection of personality I said last year and this has become one of my goals for 2017. And I want to do it without spending a lot of money- for me this means some up-cycling, hand making, and somehow taking account of the function of each room and maintaining some simplicity at the same time – I don’t want to clutter back up, having worked so hard to de-clutter over the last few years.

Personality without clutter.

Apart from a small post Christmas purge of things on shelves and  hidey holes that we no longer need, pretty much I have pared the house down to it’s heart, it’s core.

I looked around with a critical eye this weekend and overall I like where I’ve got to – I realise that not everything that is lying around my house is clutter to be dumped – some of it is genuine stuff that doesn’t have a proper home  – and that means storage.

I don’t just want a corner full of plastic tubs  where I can bung stuff – I want things to reside stylishly. When I looked at the house, I saw it was ‘lived in’ and ‘messy’ in places and I can live with that – but I realised it would be a whole lot less messy if everyday items had an accessible home – storage that allows us to retrieve items easily.

I also can’t allow myself to run away with jobs ad hoc – I have to have a focused approach to what is going to be done, that means running contrary to my usual approach of just jumping in feet first – no, this time I need a plan.

So my plan entails doing one room at a time – starting with my daughters bedroom first, we started this weekend re arranging her furniture in a way that suited her best, rather than just living with it as it all went in to the room when we first arrived – she likes these new changes.

And we have started listing up what we intend to do in the room – hers is the only room in the house practically that doesn’t need decorating; she’s inherited it from her brother who has now left home and he had decorated it just before he left – so we have a blank canvas to work on.

But before we start her bedroom in earnest, the issue of storage for all the homeless items around the house has to be addressed.

  1. My craft projects. Honestly, every single room, bar the bathroom had a basket or bag of something that I was half way through. Promise number 1 then, I will not start any new projects until all the ones presently on the go are completed.  And the crafting materials need to be housed – I have already decided that I will organise my materials – balls of wool (dozens of them); raw fleeces (at least 3); paints, dyes, felting tools, sewing tools – and I have already made space in my utility room. This has made a huge difference to the house generally and I am very pleased with this
  2. Post/leaflets/paperwork – this is always dumped on the island worktop in the kitchen – it’s a large area that gets littered with everything that has no home and I want this addressed. The worse culprit for this is my hubby –  despite claiming to be tidy, he will be reluctant to use any storage if it isn’t an easy to use solution so this is going to have my attention first because I think this may require some capital expenditure.
  3. Electrical leads, charges, cables, defunct gadgets – I could do with this being looked at properly, to decide what can legitimately go and what can stay, this isn’t my area of expertise and largely not my stuff, so for now just to move it all away, I have made a draw available to for it all, so it isn’t left loitering around various rooms  – this is a akin to hiding the problem I know, but for now at least it is tidy. I will have to get the men in the family to find time to deal with it properly. It has amazed me how much of this kind of stuff we have, and the difference having a place to store it all makes.
  4. Not a storage issue, but a money issue –  I only have a set amount of disposable income available per month, and this month a good proportion of it is going to be eaten up paying a pest controller. I have tried to deter Mr Mole moving in to our garden myself – using an array of efforts gleaned from friends, neighbours and google – but to no avail, he has  run completely amok all over the lawn, which has practically been destroyed, it looks such a mess and worse the dogs keep trailing mud in to the kitchen, since the grass has been replaced with mounds of soil there is  precious little I can do to stop this happening and it’s started to get us all down. ~Sadly, because I don’t like the alternative really, the mole has got to go. I’m miffed too because I would prefer not to be spending money on this kind of thing, but we have really drawn a blank with him and the damage is now pretty substantial.

On the whole I feel I am bucking my usual trend of being a disorganised thinker when it comes to the house, and I am very pleased with where we are going.