“Purpose, It’s that little flame that lights a fire under your a**…”

Avenue Q is a musical gem of NSF Muppets whose catchiest bits of wisdom have been playing in my head all week. From “What Do You Do with a BA in English,” through “It Sucks to Be Me”  and completing with “Purpose” then totally skipping ahead to “Everybody is a Little Bit Racist.” Yup, that is my soundtrack this week, although nothing about being me actually sucks today.

Life is going along very well. I am almost settled into my studio apartment. I have friends who come by to see me and have made some lovely new friends in here.  I mean it still takes forever to write a blog,  I find keyboards help me write my blog. I only use text to talk for short comments, as sorting out what I was trying to say from longer text to talk translations is hilariously not working anymore. But since I have made some med changes my sequencing has improved, my ataxia less severe, and my pain from neuropathy is consistently below 5, not to mention I have a BEAUTIFUL new walker with laser lights and a metronome.

So with all this awesome in my immediate circle, why am I singing these songs? Well a potentially life altering shoe has dropped at my retirement community. Thunderbird has been owned and managed by the same people for quite a long time. I knew something was up as strange men in suits kept showing up looking like FBI rejects. Today a small letter was tucked in everyone’s letter box informing us that Senior Lifestyle Corporation has purchased our home.

So today has been a real good day to sing “It sucks to be Me” in my head while smiling and nodding at the contest of new ownership “Total Disasters” and “Unfortunate Events” being told and retold in every common area. The racist thing is just a total hot point here right now. And the purpose, well, that’s my new top priority, figuring out a why to make all these changes and broken expectations into another work of art.

All that being said, now go listen to these songs and see if they don’t bring a smile to your face tomorrow as well.

As for me, just letting you know I am still here and holding my own, while holding one shoe, counting my blessings and whistling in the dark.

I messed up tonight, I lost another fight, I still mess up but I’ll just start again

Nobody learns without getting it wrong…..

Life is more difficult to negotiate these days. The ground and I had to stop meeting like that, so now I have a walker. My full time job these days is not caring for others as a nurse, but instead a nurse fills my mediset to help me keep from hurting myself with my memory problems.

I am trying hard to care for myself, negotiate the multiple systems in place to “help” me maintain my independence. Besides no longer working, I no longer drive, I no longer read, think, talk or understand at the ability I expect of myself. Everything takes longer than I expect and my best is often not good enough, fast enough for people waiting, not knowledgeable enough for people asking, not coherent enough for those listening and writing and deciding my future.

So yes, life is more difficult to negotiate these days, and when I face a new loss, like today, I get sad and irritable. Thanks to a good helping of Cognitive Behavior Therapy I have tools to help cope with the grief, acknowledge the anger, and accept my powerlessness over external things, instead of being depressed, hopeless and helpless.

Do I cry, yes. Do I write how unfair life can be in my venting journal, yes. Tools to cope are not magic wands that make it all peaceful in my head and heart. My tools of humor, persistence, courage and compassion don’t suddenly transform this shit in my life back into a feast; but processing loss, change and anger provide the fertilizer in which my next great moment will grow.

But more than just trying to live longer, I am still striving to live out loud.

In the interest of trying everything, I am trying prescribed adaptive sports. I still paint, still keep this blog. Still play music. Still cruise FB, Pinterest, etc. I am more likely to leave an emoji than a full fledged comment these days, and recently I thinned my media friends list again so that I can pay more attention to those most important to me without being overwhelmed, but I am proud to stay in the cyber world where change happens at the speed of light.

It’s not that I am great at any of it.

But then failure has always been an option for me, hence a life bigger than anything I expected. I would rather try my best and be last than stand on the sidelines and wonder if I could.

“Look how far you’ve come…..

I won’t give up, No, I won’t give in, til I reach the end then I’ll start again.”

Namaste folks.

Off to sleep so I can get up tomorrow and keep making those new mistakes…

And I totally think Shakira should sing at my funeral party. Don’t you?

Me at my last triathlon, to inspire me to do my first adapted one before I can’t!!!

What goes up, must come down…..

What goes up, must come down, spinnin’ wheel got to go round

I joke about how similar living in a larger senior community is to high school or junior college social dynamics, but there are a few differences. In high school mean girls could remember every detail of your most embarrassing moment and the exact whys and wherefores of your current placement in the pecking order. Here, few remember anything, so they just make it up as they go along.

Today when asked why I was moving out so soon, I was shocked and my reply was my current resolve to not leave until my soul did.

I also learned through my rather despicable habit of eavesdropping that I am here either because of my drinking problem or possibly a stroke; having let myself go quite terribly for someone who says they are a nurse. (Nope, not even close, FYI)

It is truly amusing to not be hard of hearing here, and I love to sit in the library out of line of sight. Unfortunately or fortunately I never get invited to these women’s discussions. I guess because I told them what my mom always said, “(S)He who brings a bone, always takes one.” Luckily for all concerned. Mean girls of any age are the exception not the rule. Still, they amuse me.

Another wheel spinning through my mind today is funny answers to hilariously inapropos questions.

One example is asking “Are you OK?” in reference to anything chronic, long term or with obvious signs you are absolutely not OK. Currently what this looks like is someone I previously knew runs into me with my walker here in an Independent Living Facility.

“Hello, its really been a long time, is that your walker? Do you live here? Are you OK?” Her voice rising with greater concern and incredulity with each question.

What I think, “No, I thought I would travel 40 miles west, sneak into a senior facility and steal walkers. Gotta leave now before the person I stole if from reports me.”

What I say, “Yes it is, and yes I do. How are you?”

Anyway here is a fun little story, feel free to use it the next time someone asks you if you are OK, when the current situation warrants something more along the lines of “How are you?” or “May I bring a casserole around,” or other signs of compassion.

I start with, “You remind me of my friend. One day we were walking down the old railroad track in Noank and we saw what looked like a foot.

‘That looks like Joe’s foot’ I said.

‘Oh my goodness, it is Joe’s foot!’ they replied. A little further along we saw torn pants and a leg.

‘Is that Joe’s leg,” I cried.

Oh my Goodness, it is Joe’s leg,’ my friend said.

We walk a bit farther and see an arm and a bit of shirt.

“IS that Joe’s arm?”

“Oh my God, it is Joe’s arm!”

Then I see a bloody neck and severed head. “Is that Joe’s head?”

“Joe! Joe! Oh My God! Are you OK?”

Here is hoping you are OK. And if not, that the wheel will turn quickly. Not much else to say. Blood, Sweat and Tears are my soundtrack today, and I am just riding the spinning wheel of life and staying ahead of the wave.

And laughter shows me the colors that are real.

This post has taken me almost two weeks to edit and post, which leads us to the next one…..

Lady comes to the gate dressed in lavender and leather…

“The embroidery of your life holds you in and keeps you out but you survive…”

“Albatross” by Judy Collins has been a favorite of mine for half a century. If you have never really listened to it, I recommend you at least read the poetic lyrics, her voice is not everyone’s taste (definitely mine.

I have been listening to Judy a lot lately. Not by design, but happenstance. I can never make decisions these days so I push random and let the little digital hamsters in my Kindle decide my playlist. Apparently they think I need more Judy, Josh and Barbra this week. Quite OK with me. I have been painting and they are perfect background.

Musical musing asides, I actually started this blog to talk about my 2018 word. I need a little help from my friends. It’s February and I still don’t have my word for 2018.

I pick a word each year and use that word as a spring board for personal growth. I have tried on at least a dozen, none have felt right yet.

Any suggestions?

Love is but a song to sing; Fear’s the way we die

(New Blog Post: Take 30 something…)

If I give myself credit for effort and time spent, I am blogging every day. If I measure by my visible output, what you see, I am a failure.

Funny isn’t it how perception is everything and nothing.

I love words; their power and majesty, the weapon of choice for budding dictators and wise teachers; their subtle color and sound when spoken by poets and lovers.

I am afraid of saying the wrong thing, afraid of saying the right thing in the wrong way.

Sometimes the one brave thing a day I do is getting out of bed and still trying to just be.

Today, it was facing down and identifying my own emotions.

My emotions are many, tumultuous, contradictory, and sometimes even unpleasant and even then still mine. I readily admit to anxiety. However, I rarely own my anger and generally squelch my fear. I make it a general rule to do one thing a day that scares me. And I don’t understand the purpose of angry displays.

Maybe its a little late in my life to be really learning this on a ‘gut’ level, but Fear and Anger have their functions too. They tell me I am stuck in one of those tiny mazes again where I need to consider a new option. They tell me I have taken on too much, or that I might be in physical danger or maybe that I need more personal boundaries.

What they don’t mean is that I need to be less compassionate. What they don’t mean is that I need to be selfish or cruel.

Perhaps it is time to adjust my perception of myself and measure myself on intention and effort, not just visible product.

Love is the song I will always sing, because fear is what kills us, kills democracy, kills hope. Learning to still love myself as unconditionally as I love my brother, is hard, and frightening.

But as always, love will win.

It’s a lesson too late for the learning; made of sand, made of sand

Lyrics change meaning in altered circumstance. I found this song on repeat on my inner soundtrack, not in reference to a lost love, but instead to both my memories and lost life and you new friends struggling with dementia as well.

So many things still to learn, but the learning takes a drawer of spoons these days.

I haven’t stopped trying. I am taking Tae Kwon Do. I started a new support/coping skills group at the VA mental health as well as an eight week course on moving and balance from the PT department. I use my new breathing machine at night. I read, slower and with frequent need to reread. I paint. I knit. I work to write, to play my video games, follow Lego instructions.

I can no longer drive nor take the bus. I can no longer safely cook or babysit my grandkids because I cannot think quickly enough or stay focused enough to do either safely. Alone I get too easily lost or baffled. In stead of minutes or hours to make a post, knit a scarf, read a few chapters; it takes a couple days. And even then the mistakes slip in at higher rates.

It has been a year since I acknowledged something was wrong.I am still grateful. I still strive to be kind and useful. I still laugh regularly and face my challenges.

I cannot control what is happening to me, but I can continue to choose how I respond.

“Going away with no words of farewell, will there be not a trace left behind…”

Holding on to who I was, what I could do, is like a fist full of sand.

To all my friends and readers and to the self that is slipping away I sing “I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind, you know that was the last thing on my mind.”

Have I done any good in the world today…..

Recently a friend’s Facebook post asked others to examine how they think. Not what was on their mind, but how their mind presented information about their day. Some people think in pictures, some in words, some hear their own voice, some here an entire radio play with parts, some have a movie in their head; humans usually have more than one approach to information processing, but usually one predominates. Me, I have a soundtrack.

My Blog post titles are all lines from my current top 40, usually ( but not always) the first line of the #1 spin of last week. OK, really the last few hours if I blog daily, but the point is, if you are my age, and process like me, the last sentence ended in Kaycee Kayson’s voice. Why?

The things we expose ourselves to repeatedly form branches in the tree of our head where the flowers of thoughts, feelings and actions grow.

When life is hard (because it is sometimes), I become sad, grief is real and settles when least expected. Like most people my age, I grieve multiple types of loss – people who have died, faith in past paradigms and their accompanying dreams, fractured future plans, and people who are absent through choices, theirs or mine.

I also become incredibly frustrated. Sad seems to increase my craving to control the things I can’t. Things like when, how and who gets cancer; the unfair distribution of wealth in our nation; meanness, gossip and judgement about myself or others by others; how many flying food induced clothing changes I have to make in a day; that I can’t drive…. I won’t continue, I only did this free association train to demonstrate a fact I have learned.

I notice that when I focus on my frustration I slowly circle into smaller, prettier, and more selfish concerns, until the world becomes all about me and my problems. The spiral gets tighter until I am consumed by anger; impatience, and may I even add hate, with and toward things and people, grows to a destructive perfect storm.

However if I focus on my choices through kindness, gratitude, and usefulness, the things I can’t change are still there but damage is mitigated to myself and others.

Because life isn’t fair and really, really bad shit happens to really, really good people (see “unfair”) I have learned what my top 10 songs need to be when I am in the eye of a hurricane.

Today I am on my third shirt because my hand is busy marching to its own drummer today; my first friend here (closest to my age, similar health) 911’d out and probably won’t be back; I still don’t know where my bed is; most troubling someone I deeply love and their child I also think is wonderful are going through something I can neither help with or change.

So my top 10 playlist repeats in my head. #10 on the list is Ella Fitzgerald’ s version of Wonderful world. It is also the first line in yesterday’s blog. I hear the songs of my soundtrack in particular versions and voices, not necessarily the best known, and really unsure how my brain picks the performance to add to perma play.

#9, is mine and my sister’s Suzanne and Diane singing a hymn together a decade ago.

Perhaps tomorrow I will tell you another, or maybe not, all I know is I am now off to do some good in ways I still can.

P. S. Today’s post went easier than yesterday’s. I started at 7 am, finishing editing at noon. Probably still needs more editing but posting as is!

Namaste