I am in my 60’s and I believe crafted words, music and kindness are as necessary as breathing and food. I have been reading and writing since I could talk and published my first poem in a kids magazine at 7yo, got paid my first check in 4th grade ($50 lots of money for a kid in the 1960’s), and while living with my Mormon foster parents my poem was a winner in the New Era writing contest, and somewhat ironically that is probably one of the few published pieces you might get if you Googled me. That and a few book reviews from freelancing with the Alibi in New Mexico.
Although never my official job, I continued writing for money, even saying on a talk show interview that I was a “print whore” because if you’d pay me, I’d write it. I was a single mom trying to get by, but my honest statement shocked everyone, or maybe it was how I said it. I wasn’t invited back which suited my pseudonym, fly under the radar style, which is pretty impossible in this century.
There is no such thing as a brief biography for my big life. I have traveled the world, however Australia and Antarctica are still on my bucket list. I was a smart, resilient risk taker who knew “any what can be done with the right why. I have been an author, ghostwriter, journalist, critic, painter, poet, Mother, retail warrior, barista, bookstore associate, every kind of restaurant worker, secretary, drove a forklift in a grocery warehouse, and my last job was as a Nurse for MGA helping to transition babies on ventilators from the NICU to home. It was my bliss. I am a Nana and a breast cancer survivor. I live with serious MDD and PTSD. A lifetime member of the VFW, I am a veteran of the Navy then Army, first woman in my field for both. I have a 100% service connected disability which has exacerbated over the last 5 years to the point I live at Thunderbird senior living, need a Service Dog to maximize independence, misplace words and faces and require my own Home Health Visits. It also means walking, typing, communicating and memory and I are not quite the friends we used to be.Although completely fictional, I take the ingredients of my own experiences and those of other people and blend them into my Novel ‘The Clouds in my Head.” I was always told my head was in the clouds, so I guess that’s how they got inside. LolMy genre is what I like to call Silver Lit, you know like Chick Lit for the Social Security set. Like Chick Lit the main focus is on personal growth and relationships between people. There is romance, laughter and tragedy and hopefully enough reasons to read to the end as Magna, my protagonist faces changes in herself and the world around her. Oh, did I mention she also has a service dog who is a perfect co-star.
Starting Nano this year felt like the first time I jumped from a plane, I hadn’t written creatively since 2017. When my legal pads and black pens didn’t work anymore and my sentences struggled to make sense, I said I couldn’t write anymore. But silencing myself was not the right answer. As a tool to combat depression, I took a deep breath and dove in. I used Word dictation and it’s editing tool to write this year. Sometimes when I went back I didn’t know what I had originally said and would have to piece it all together again. All the things Id joke about before I depended on for this year’s novel. Detailed notes on each character, mini biographies. Timelines, though I made it easier on myself by containing my novel to Nov 1 to Nov. 15 2020 as the stories time frame. The election figures into the story.I am an official Plantster. I set up the framework and then let the characters speak for themselves.
With the Winners promotion I bought a digital program that I hope will help me polish my novel before enlisting a professional editor and publishing.
So I got my first grade and comments from fellow students in my Coursera Poetry. Here is the first draft of the poem.
All the Soles of Destiny
Skin against warm grass, mud squishings and
wiggled toe trenches in tide pulled sand.
Sensible second-hand saddle shoes constraining,
shaping toes and expectations, always more can’t than can. Then
Summer sneakers, pristine canvas for running feet
Swift escape, joyful jump; and proud, tall stand.
Sturdy soles, traction built for tumbling gravel, steep slick rocks,
Waterproof, firm support; securely tied over thick wool socks.
More mud, more almost misses, more adventure. More always planned.
Narrow heels, with steel nail core, for swishing hips
Painfully pointed. Patent black like coffee carried with tight smile lips
Tip tapping, tip tapping their errand beat; there and back three city blocks.
Tanned inverted skin of sheep
Stuffed full and pouring over with tired, swollen feet,
propped on metal supports between the wheels now in Lock
To only be traveling or trapped at the whim of another’s hand.
Both Sides Now
Six days from this post I am hosting a FaceBook Tupperware party. Hardly what would be expected from a MLM shy eco-girl. But then, I rarely live up to, or down to, expectations AND a wise life is lived in a multi-colored world. However much I seek or preach a simpler life, I try to avoid being simple. Maturity is teaching me that a happy life, a well lived life, a life that leaves the world a bit more for having been lived, is a life rife with failures and compromises.
I set out to make 2020 the year without plastic. I prepped in 2019 by replacing my shampoo, body washes, dish soap with bars. My counter cleaners, sanitizers, hand wash are in glass bottles either from Blue (tablets that come in paper packaging) or made from essential oils, white vinegar in a glass bottle, vodka in glass bottles, isopropyl alcohol in a glass bottle, etc. I use wax paper and rubber bands rescued from produce and VA med refill packages to cover food when it won’t fit into one of my many glass containers. Metal straws, reusable cups, reusable shopping bags, ocean plastic trashbags, white washcloths in a basket instead of paper towels; the list of changes is even longer, but my point is not to enumerate the ways I changed my habits or brag of my commitment to eco-stewardship. What I want to establish is the fact I am committed to leaving a livable earth to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
So, the question is then, with all this plastic purging, why mid-year am I giving a Tupperware party. I will answer in a paragraphed list.
- Pennywise and Pound Foolish, or how one piece of loooooong use plastic replaces huge resource use. I have a long green plastic piece of Tupperware from 198? that was meant to hold carrots or celery in the crisper with a bit of water to extend their life to weeks instead of days. A very important piece to own in the days that soups, lunches, salads, meatloaf and even jello contained nutritious and crunchy bits of these very cheap staples. This same container has been a spaghetti holder, waterproof document holder, Barbie container, Matchbox Track and car container, sock drawer organizer, and currently in a cupboard with my dry goods standing up in it so I can just pull it out and pick my bean, rice, or quinoa for my Foodi feasts. Think of all the resources saved by this one sturdy bit of plastic. So why Tupperware now? Reason one – I have never thrown out a piece of real Tupperware. I have gifted them to new householders, repurposed, or resold every piece of real Tupperware I have ever owned. The footprint of a one piece of Tupperware has replaced a beach worth of resource trampling, and they are BPA free. Compromise.
- Fresh is Best: Whether you are lucky enough to garden and raise your food, or like I do, depend on InstaCart and Senior Residential Dining to meet your nutritional needs, Tupperware products are designed to reduce single use or “only a few uses” storage choices. So here is where my “failure” came into play. (Brief background for any reader who is unfamiliar with these couple facts-I am a disabled mature female veteran who has a service dog and a walker, can no longer drive and lives in an Senior Independent Living Community-not safe to just live alone but still can dress and feed ourselves ;-). I was wasting food. Wax paper and glass bowls let everything taste like everything. Fresh produce rarely comes in single servings; head of celery, a melon, a squash, pint of berries, etc. I am wasting a lot of food and everything wasted has a footprint. Food must be planted, watered, harvested, packaged, shipped, stocked, shopped before I even get it. That is a lot of carbon footprint compared to small serving size plastic that will easily outlast me. Glass is heavy and slippery. I have tried and broken nearly a full set of Costco STURDY glass on glass storage containers. So I label my no plastic in my fridge a failed experiment, or as I prefer to think about it, a learning experience. As to that rather expensive set of glass on glass storage, I have two of the six left and the lids do make lovely little trays. Failure
- The Great Outdoors: Tupperware has an entire range of no plugs required prep products for cooking in the great outdoors or just reducing how much electricity I consume. Just Cool.
- What Counts is What’s Inside: With all their amazing prep and storage I can easily make my zucchini noodles, veggie sausage, and Hawaiian Ice without electricity, or cutting my little fingers. This is AWESOME!!!!!!! All of those right now require me to buy prepared ones. Which of course includes lots of ingredients and packaging that I don’t want in with the things I do. I have been trying to find one of these machines for awhile. Guess what’s on my shopping list! And once again, when I do the full eco-math. I am helping more than hurting. Compromise
- The company has a project, movement, or community called “No Time to Waste. Check it out at and take the pledge www.sustainability.tupperwarebrands.com
So that is why I am having a Tupperware Party. My BFF was having a party and invited me. So instead of immediately defaulting to my prejudices of “NO MLM,” “NO PLASTIC” and holding my eco-party line, I decided to think.
I knew I was looking for solutions to a lighter way to carry water in my service dogs saddle bag, a better way to stop wasting produce and leftovers, easily portable reusable silverware and straws, and needed my answers to consider the needs of the many as well as my own.
The invitation had been issued. I opened my mind about half-way and did some research. Talked to my friends to see who still had, used their Tupperware. The oldest piece in use here is approximately 60 years old. The longevity and policies of the company made me rethink my absolutism.
Next barrier to Tupperware is that I am a feminist and I know the history of the company and how the woman who made Tupperware what it is, was robbed of her idea and forced out, I know MLM’s are notorious to over-promising to new primarily female sales staff and under delivering. I can be pretty rigid and holier-than-thou in some of my long held liberal beliefs. Ask anyone who really knows me. So this was a tough one.
MLM’s are not ideal, often the bottom tier actually lose money. However digging a little deeper, due to the primary focus on product sales, an excellent product and a secondary focus on recruitment, the average hourly income of Tupperware reps is comparable (in my small research sample) to minimum wage jobs but most of the work hours are done at home. Not booking this party will not overturn the mysogony of the company history or their original model, but the company has actively addressed their current policies to address social concerns to the point I will give them a B-. As to weekend jobs offering better wage, opportunities or benefits; that answer is no, and a whole other Blog.
The more I researched, looking to justify a negative response to Tupperware, the more I saw the really big picture. The more I weighed my available choices and the consequences, the more convinced I also became that a few lifetime pieces of Tupperware were actually meeting my ethical goals.
Yup, why I am hosting a Tupperware party boils down to ethics and values. I believe in kindness, gratitude and compassion to everything and everyone. That is my core, my bottom line. This ethic is the source of my Anti-racist, Feminist, Eco-warrior agenda. When I looked at both sides, and did my research; I realized, that for me, supporting a kind, young woman who needs a bit more income while decreasing my overall carbon footprint and greatly reducing the trash I am making was the choice that correlated with my values. I am grateful I did not listen to my knee-jerk response because now I know that having this party will help me make the world a kinder, cleaner place while providing me with my needed solutions.
Not everyone will agree with my conclusions, nor do they need to agree, or should they. We determine our own core values. With core values in mind we need to research our choices and keep an open mind. We must educate ourselves in the range and scope of the consequences of these choices. Even with the same values we may come to different conclusions. And that is good, too. Perhaps this is a needed wisdom, this looking at both sides now, in much, much more than just whether to have a Tupperware Party
“WE KNOW THE WAY – Translations
We are voyagers
summoned by the mighty gods
of this mighty ocean to come
we take up the good challenge
We know the ways of the sea
we look to the stars and other signs
to find our way
to discover new lands
to make our home
there is land up ahead
a bird in flight to take us there1
this beautiful land
the place i was looking for
we will make our home.
My dog is boarding while I try and recover from my second root canal. My depression is kicking my butt so my house is at its worst. I feel like the pilot on a plane that has lost navigation and one of it’s engines and we are heading straight for the Rockies. Well maybe I exaggerate a little when I don’t feel well.
I really picked the wrong month to give up FaceBook.
I really am jonsing for my FB serotonin hits. So many things I want to tell the silent universe that fakes human connection but holds so tightly to the belief that every LIKE heart promises I am heard.
Also exactly the reason I gave it up for January. Time to actually build some real time connections with snail mail, real conversation, putting my phone down and leaving the safety of my room where as yet I don’t feel as home.
Any way, my word of 2020 is Transform.
To big a word to unwrap on a day like today. But here it is in digital black and white, the word the universe had gifted me, Transform.
Below I share another New Year’s Tradition (Shhhh, I know it’s the 4th, not the first. Procrastinating may or may not be one of the things I Transform.)
Annually, at minimum, I have employed a sort of musical tarot since the days of the first MP3 players.
And today’s listening (reading) had the cover of “We Know the Way”
My cross or conflict was “Some of My Best Friends are Preditors”
Not reassuring at all that my final outcome card is Ohio Express’s “Turn to Straw”
So now back to my regular scheduled programming of trying to clean my house, plan next week, and make way through a wobbly day without any falls.(Right!) Maybe I will watch Airplane right after I watch Moana.
The mountains whisper
and the rocks sing vespers
praising the cactus lessons of compassion;
sheltering webs and owls an unexpected side effect of its
army of merciless spears
Protecting water core.
Praying for the predators to eat
And speaking safety to the prey.
Sacred voices sweet and clear, like boy sopranos,
Imperceptible to the prisoners of steel and duty
Tasked ears focused, filled with babble of rubber tire rhythm,
Always rolling forward without pause.
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.
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.”
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, 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…..
“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.