What should be taught?

The day I received the diagnosis of arthritis, I mailed a package. In and of itself, this fact is not very blog worthy. I mailed the package at a store which has a counter for the post office.

There was a young man, an employee of the store, that took my package. He inspected it and told me he could not read my handwriting. Specifically he could not read cursive. He needed me to translate what I wrote. I knew my cursive was not bad because back when I was in grade school my mom made me copy out of the encyclopedia (which for many years I worried I was guilty of plagiarism) so I wouldn’t have the cursive chicken scrawl of my dad. Since then no one ever said my cursive was illegible. In fact, most people said my handwriting is pretty good for someone who is left handed.

Young people are not being taught cursive in school anymore and now some of those children who weren’t taught are in the work force can’t read mail. How scary is that? I lamented to my best friend. I felt like I aged 10 years in just one day. She said someday no one will be able to read the documents our country are founded on such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. As if anyone is going to read them anyway. Someone must carry on the ancient art of hieroglyphics. That in and of itself is rather scary to me. If only a few are left who can read and translate they can have the power to make it say whatever they want it to say with no one the wiser. History is already being ‘changed’ because we don’t like it. How are we supposed to learn from the mistakes our country made when it was young?

My best friend also said alphabetizing is no longer taught in school, something we learned in grade school. She said she volunteered to hand out the baseball uniforms for her son’s baseball club. She had some high schoolers help her and they had no idea how to put the uniforms in alphabetical order by last name. First you start with A… Gone are the days of massive card catalogs at the library. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the library to find something out. That used to be the only place we could go to find answers. When is the last time you looked up a word in an actual dictionary or looked up something in an encyclopedia? Is alphabetization still something that needs to be taught?

Are there skills you think should be taught in school or removed from the curriculum? I always thought everyone should have some basic skills such as simple car care, budgeting, how to fill out forms such as taxes, how to balance a checking account, basic cooking, repairs etc…

One thing I found frustrating when my kids were in school is that they taught math differently. It was the same problem with the same answer with a different way to do the work making it almost impossible for parents to help their kids if needed. If something works, why fix it? Do we need countless useless updates? Is that really progress? I guess I am a stick with what works kind of person. Don’t change things for the sake of changing things.

Back when I was in high school, I took a class called shorthand along with a classroom full of girls. I should’ve taken typing instead. But shorthand was the rage. We could take notes super fast in little scribbles like on the doctor’s prescription pad. Oh wait, do doctors even do that anymore?? What a waste of time that class was. I even thought so at the time. Do you even know anyone who writes in shorthand anymore? If so, I bet no one can read it if some people nowadays can’t even read cursive. It took as much effort as learning a foreign language without the benefit of learning one. I think that’s one class we can ax. (It was probably already axed 20 years ago).

These are just some of my basic observations and thoughts without being an educator. What are your thoughts? Are there things no longer taught that should be taught? Are certain classes outdated? Should we change things that are tried and true for the sake of progress?

Life lately

I started having bad dreams again, nothing too terrifying. Last night it was the wild animals. I spotted a bear in the distance that wanted to get inside of my house. Then there were the dogs. They snarled and clawed outside my door if I tried to lock them out. It was horrifying to let them in, but if I did they ran through my house then were gone.

Sometimes I feel memories clawing through my mind. Memories I want to repress, but the more I do the more they nag me swirling endlessly awaiting connection. Incomplete memories, a camera, the fish tank upstairs that I don’t remember being upstairs, other things…

My therapist asked if remembering would change the way I feel about myself. I said it could go one of two ways. I could be more bitter than I already am. Or I can think I survived more than I thought I could with a certain courageousness.

My therapist asked if it would change how I felt about my parents. I said I didn’t think so. I will always view my mother as weak. She always seemed to protect the wrong people. My dad, I don’t even think all my children would even attend his funeral. He never made an impact on anyone’s life. Oh, I stand corrected. He never made a POSITIVE impact on anyone’s life. At this point, what would it matter?

I did learn something new about my dad. When my brother Luke called he told me about some things my dad did to him that I didn’t know. But the new details weren’t upsetting as much as my brother calling me to vent. You see, Luke is the strong one. Most times I think he is stronger than me. He rarely calls to vent. He said that time wasn’t healing his wounds, instead they are oozing and festering. I feel sad he can’t escape the pain anymore than I can.

Then Arabella came to visit for a few days. She lost her job. She is never to work on time and has a tendency to not get along with her managers. It is hard not to get wrapped up in my worry for her.

Then my mom came over. She didn’t sleep well the night before and emotionally was a big mess. I can’t help but feel some of it is her own fault. She has had several therapists tell her if she doesn’t like her life, she should change it. They tell her she should leave my dad, but in the end she always leaves the therapists who tell her that. My brother Luke said if my dad dies my mom will either wake up and realize she was in a bad relationship all along or she will immediately find someone else just like him.

I think about that a lot lately, my parents dying. My mom is in a really bad head space right now. It wears on me. Then I am worried about my daughter and my own aging. My doctor appointment is less than two weeks away. My therapist said I should focus more on my wisdom and insight versus the aging process. She is right. I might not have all the cards I want in my hand, but it would be smart to play my strong suit.

My therapist also said I have an extraordinary amount of stability for everything I have been through. I sometimes wonder…shouldn’t I be crazier? I found her words to be very encouraging. Yet I have to be careful. Last week I read the whole childhood portion of my book. I thought to myself, what a bit pile of shit. I got into a ferocious mood. I have to take writing and reading in small doses. I can’t do it when I am under a lot of stress. Writing has been healing for me. But it also can be the sword that cuts open my wounds if I am not careful. Having nightmares and a hard week with family is a good time to back off a bit.

I have not be happy lately. I feel as if I have been neglecting this blog. I am going to try to write more even if I don’t have anything to say.

A breath of fresh air

For a few days, we had weather that was nice. By nice I mean temps in the 50’s with no snow, rain, or ice. I’ll take it, I guess. I was able to get some yard work done, raking out beds and picking up sticks. Paul was out chopping wood. It felt nice to get stuff done. But not really as I felt sore and sneezed and sniffled like crazy with allergies. I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.

I went through all my clothes, summer and winter and everything in between. I got rid of a huge pile, not necessarily to be a minimalist though I do prefer that to clutter. A lot of clothes no longer fit me. I felt sad to part with my favorite shorts and jeans. Clothes that have been favorites for decades from thinner days. I don’t know about you, but I have clothes that are just too good to wear. It’s almost to the level of sacred. I rarely, rarely wear them because they are just so special. Then I lament I don’t wear them enough. I know I will think about it next fall when I pull out the winter clothes that are no longer there.

My mom came over to visit today. We worked on a puzzle. For a while, all has been well. The kids are all okay as far as I know. It’s quiet, lonely, and boring without all the problems I’ve had over the past couple of years. It’s funny because this is all I wanted during the stressful days. But now that I have it, I don’t really want it because I feel stagnant and unmotivated.

What is there to write about? Should I make a post telling you that mom and I worked on a puzzle. To make it more exciting, I will tell you it is a bicentennial puzzle my mom gave me from her house actually from 1976 back when I was two years old. It’s so old it actually might be worth something. LOL! It contains political pins to vote for people I’ve never even heard of before. It really makes me feel rather sad about the passage of time.

Yesterday was my grandma’s birthday. If she was still living she would’ve been 97 years old. She was a beautiful person inside and out, one of the best people I’ve ever known. I wish I could preserve all the cherished memories with her and pass them down to my kids. They barely remember her. I can’t give them the memories of her that I have though. Some day I’m afraid all she will be is a name and a date on a genealogy chart. You see, she wasn’t famous. She was a farmer’s daughter with only an 8th grade education. She never drove a car. She was quiet. We could sit in silence for hours and be at total peace. I’m afraid she will be forgotten.

The rains are starting. It’s going to rain through tomorrow with over an inch of rain expected. Then it is going to be cold and windy as winter again. Maybe we’ll get more snow. What we had on the ground just melted. It was nice to get a breath of fresh air, but I seem to want something more than that.

The old normal, part 6

Before COVID, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. How things have changed.

Back in the day, I used to go to the gym three times a week for at least an hour. In the summer, I would run the streets. I did countless marathons, a half Iron, and a 50k. When I first started blogging I wrote about training for my first marathon after reading a marathon training book written by a blogger. At the time I thought I could run a marathon and I could write on a blog, and I did. I even have running in the title of my blog. Over time this blog has morphed into something more than that.

I always thought I would be a runner. I didn’t often see a lot of older runners competing in races, but when I did I thought to myself that will be me someday. Running helped me burn off a lot of my anxiety and stress. I worried a lot about becoming injured because I didn’t think I would be sane without running. I know I have posted before if I couldn’t run someone would need to check on me because I would not be okay.

Then the world changed. When COVID hit my gym closed and all the races I was planning on running got cancelled. Not long after that, I had a 10 day bout of colitis that knocked me off my feet. A month later it was hard for me just to put the laundry from the washer into the dryer. I thought I would never be able to run again. I was able to but I lost most of what was left of my endurance. Then I started to experience joint pain which made it all but impossible to run without being in pain.

I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be a number of things or it could be nothing at all. I have an appointment scheduled with a specialist in May. My doctor thought the joint pain could be related to colitis. I recently read stress and trauma can cause inflammation like I have. Or maybe I overused my joints by all my long distance running. I also saw it could be a symptom of perimenopause. Or maybe I’m getting arthritis like some of my other relatives did. I started noticing bumps on the knuckles of my fingers. But until I see the doctor I’m just guessing.

I started doing low impact workouts but I find them to be frustrating because it doesn’t feel as if I am doing anything. I had to take a step back because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I miss running, I really do but I don’t feel like I will not be okay without it anymore. I don’t need to beat the hell out of my body anymore. But I don’t want to do nothing either. I’ve gained some weight. But is it realistic to think I’ll always be able to keep a youthful figure as I age?

Sometimes now I run into people from my running days. I’ve been asked what race I am training for. It’s hard to admit I am much more of a walker now. For 15 years I identified as a runner. Now it’s just another area of my life I don’t know who I am anymore. But one thing I can say for sure, I can live without running. I am okay. I never thought I would be saying that. Now it’s time for something new. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

The old normal, part 4

One of the things I missed most during COVID was visiting the elderly. Something I looked at with fondness before started to fill me with fear. What if I’m sick and I don’t know it and I end up killing someone?? It’s still hard to erase that fear from my mind.

Last weekend, Paul and I were invited out to our friends new apartment followed by a show at a local community theatre we haven’t been to before. We had a wonderful time. After the show, we went back to their place and visited some more. By the time we got home, it was after midnight. We were exhausted but our friends assured us they were not and didn’t want us to leave. Our friends Harv and Kate are in their upper 80’s.

It’s unusual for sure, but Paul and I have several friends we hang out with that are almost 90. When COVID came around, we pretty much stopped hanging out with them which is sad because they are not getting any younger. I really missed our time with them and didn’t like the new feelings of fear I had towards our friendship with them.

My daughter Angel was helping out a family by caring for a woman in her 90’s over COVID. She also had fear being around her. But nothing either one of us were afraid of happened. What did end up happening was totally unexpected. Angel was going for a walk with this woman when the lady tripped and fell breaking her leg. She has recently recovered.

One thing I did notice though, although there is still some fear involved with maintaining relationships with the elderly, the elderly are so unbelievably lonely. They need contact with other people to be healthy. I’m really looking forward to visiting with them again.

The old normal, part 1

I’ve experienced a lot a change in the last 5 years. It started with the death of my mother-in-law from cancer back in February of 2017. We went through a period of grief and loss.

Within the last 5 years we went from having three (up to four with the foreign exchange students) teenagers living in our house to being empty nesters last month.

Paul and I went from running a business to selling our business that I worked at for 10 years and he for 20. For a period of time, we were retired. Then Paul started a seasonal business. He also started a new career different from both businesses. So there were several career and job changes within the last 5 years.

With the selling of our business, we experienced a socioeconomic change. We moved into a different house in a different town. Our youngest daughter changed schools. We are attending the third church within five years. New house, new neighborhood, new school, new church.

I went from being a marathon runner to not running at all. I was diagnosed with colitis and started developing health issues. I started to notice aging more than I’ve ever experienced it before in my adult life going from my early 40’s to my late 40’s. My siblings started to develop health issues.

I found out about the crime my dad committed. It tore up my family. Then COVID came into play and tore up whatever family unity was left. My dad will be 75 in a couple weeks and it kills me that our relationship never amounted to anything. Most of my family went from tolerating him to despising him. My mom is teeter tottering back and forth between leaving my dad and staying. She moved in with us for awhile. She is experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety.

It’s been two years today since my youngest daughter tried to kill herself for the first time. That has been a huge struggle and change in my life, having a daughter go from quirky to being so mentally ill she might die.

Then there are the other little changes, but changes nonetheless. Losing a family pet. Buying a new car after my old car got totaled. Not to mention a global pandemic that changed everyone’s life.

I am struggling with all the change. The new me doesn’t even recognize the old me anymore. What happens now?

What happens when the pandemic ends? Do we pick up the pieces where we left off and start a new old normal?

Fortune cookie wisdom #47

The will to do, the soul to dare is yours for the taking if you prepare.

I always thought I was really good at planning and preparing for the will to do and the soul to dare. But now I think it takes much more than that.

I was planning on touring Europe. I had prepared for the trip. I had a passport. I had my airline tickets. I was ready to check that continent off my bucket list. Then COVID hit and all the preparations were for naught.

I was planning on signing up for another 50k. I picked the race I wanted to do. I was really excited because part of the course included a water crossing. I was training. I was prepared. But then COVID hit. The race was cancelled. My gym that I visited three times a week over the winter for years closed. I got hit hard ten days with colitis and haven’t been the same since. I can’t run anymore without being in a lot of pain. I couldn’t even help my daughter paint her house without having joint pain. I wasn’t prepared for that.

There is a part of me that thought my kids would stay young forever. Through many sleepless nights, I thought that. I thought that through the temper tantrums, the busy school age running, and through the tumultuous teenage years. I didn’t think about them growing up and leaving home. Somehow I found myself not prepared for that part of parenting. A part of me doesn’t even know who I am anymore since that part of me is gone.

I wasn’t prepared for aging. It’s shocking to see my hair turn gray without any hair color. My neck is starting to look like the neck of a rubber chicken. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my mother. I look like a granny; too young to crack out the cardinal sweaters but too old to dress like I am in my 30’s. I had to break down and buy bigger pants since I haven’t been able to workout like I used to. I always thought those things happened to other people, not me. I am close to 50. Why wasn’t I prepared for this?

Sometimes it’s very hard to take a good look in the mirror. I don’t want to admit my best years in health and in looks are behind me. There is not a damn thing any of us can do about it. I do feel childish in feeling insecure about it. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. I have all these crazy middle age female hormones coursing through my body making me feel like an adolescent again, but I’m not. Doesn’t seem fair. But, that’s life. Sometimes I just have to laugh it off and say oh well. I’m right where I need to be.

Ready or not, here life comes…some things you just can’t prepare for even if you have the will and soul.

Fortune cookie wisdom #46

You will always have good luck in your personal affairs.

When is this supposed to start again??

Sometimes I wonder if this is all there is. Just me waiting for the other shoe to drop stuck in an endless loop of meaningless tasks. Cleaning the house, just to watch it get dirty again. Why don’t things stay clean and orderly? Why is life so messy?

I have been on edge and out of sorts lately. There has been so much change in my life lately. I wish I could tell you that I embrace change, or like it, but I don’t. I haven’t been sleeping all that well and last night had a nightmare I was watching my cat drown.

In the mornings and at night sometimes, my cat stares out the window. I wonder if he is waiting for our dog to come back. We used to sit their together staring out that window at night waiting for the dog to come in for the night. Today I washed the remaining dog nose smudges off that same sliding glass door. He won’t be coming back. I vacuumed the rest of the pet hair from the rug he entered eternal sleep on.

Yesterday my daughter and her fiancĂ© bought a house. This weekend she will be moving out. It is bittersweet. I got used to her living here for the last year and a half. I know it is time for her to move on with her own life and she is happy. But that somehow doesn’t make it easier right now. I’m not sure what will happen next. This will be the first time my husband and I have been alone since we had kids.

I know I should view this as an opportunity for growth. But it really doesn’t feel like that right now.

So here I’ll be waiting for the good luck….

Update 1/11/22

Sorry if it seems I dropped off the side of the planet the last couple of days. I think COVID finally caught me. Or maybe I caught it? Besides having a fever for a day and severe body aches, my symptoms have been relatively minor. No sore throat, a slight cough, mild congestion, no problems breathing. It started out like the flu and is ending like a mild cold.

Practically everyone I know is sick or has been sick in the last couple of weeks with the exception of my husband. It’s crazy, but my husband in the last 26 years I’ve known him has only been sick once that I can remember with strep. I hope he stays healthy.

We decided to cancel our trip to Puerto Rico next week. They are at a COVID level 3 right now. Basically non-essential travel is not recommended. The government would track us while we were there. We had some friends who got stuck there an extra week because their flight got cancelled. For the money we were spending it sounded a lot more stressful than fun. I booked the trip on Expedia. The hotel is giving us a total refund, the airlines are giving us a credit for around half the cost of the flight. The real kicker is that I bought travel insurance and they said a COVID outbreak is not a valid reason to cancel the trip so we will not be getting a full refund. I am so pissed. What a waste of money that was.

Instead, we decided we are going to go to Las Vegas next week for half the cost of a trip to Puerto Rico. I am hopeful we will be able to go.

I am hoping to do my gratitude list within the next couple of days for the week. I just haven’t been up to much. Not only that, but we are in the process of having to make a difficult decision about our dog. He is 14 years old and is on 5 different medications just to keep him alive. His quality of life has been poor over the last several months and is declining. The last couple of days he has been having accidents in the house.

Today we called a couple of vets that do at home euthanasia. My husband had one call on speaker and I pretty much sobbed the whole time. Why do I feel a tremendous amount of guilt at the thought of putting him down when his quality of life is so poor?? Saying good-bye is always the hardest part of having a pet. I think it’s time, but it’s so hard to let go.

That being said, I’m not sure how much I will be blogging in the next couple of weeks. I will try to do the gratitude for this week and last. Other than that, we’ll see how things go. I just wanted to let everyone know I might be posting erratically.

Goals for the new year

To be honest, I haven’t done New Year’s resolutions in years. But every couple of months I try to come up with some bucket list goals and check my progress on making them happen.

Today I decided to go back to my first blog post in May of 2015. I wrote a list of goals. Here they are:

  1. Write something that gets published. I’ve wanted to write a memoir for the longest time. I am currently working on the second edition of my book. I hope to complete it in 2022.
  2. Run a marathon. I wrote I ran 18 miles that day without stopping. I am totally jealous of myself! Since then I’ve run multiple marathons and a 50K. I just stopped running after doing it for 15 years. Now I want to focus on stretching and yoga. I mean, I haven’t started yet but I want to try to at least maintain if not gain some flexibility. I have been having joint pain and stiffness but I still want to remain active as much as I am able to.
  3. Travel to all the continents. I haven’t gotten too far on this. I did check off Asia since then. If it wasn’t for COVID, I would’ve checked off Europe and Africa too. Instead I have been trying to visit all 50 states. So far I’ve checked off 39 states. I visited 8 states in 2021 and plan on adding another 5 in 2022.
  4. Read the Bible in a year.
  5. Be a lead singer in a band. I still think this would be fun, but I don’t want to do this as much as I did before. It sounds like a lot of work.
  6. Drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. That one was pretty easy.
  7. Get a tattoo. I got my first tattoo this year of an anchor. I am planning on getting my second tattoo in 2022.

I have some other new goals for 2022. I would like to be more bad ass. Ha ha ha. Actually I want to get my motorcycle license. I picture myself on something loud blaring my rock music as I drive down country roads on sunny summer days.

I would like to get half way done with the remodeling project on our garage apartment. I also have a list of home renovation projects. I would like to cross off half of my list this next year on house projects as well.

I also want to continue growing and working on my self-improvement projects. I want to be more accepting of myself as I age. I have always been a go, go, go person. It’s hard to adjust to being a go, go, go slow person. This coming year will be the first full year that all of my children are adults and out of school. I no longer have parenting commitments. I want some time to just be responsible for me. I want 5 years of not being responsible for others. I will not take on any long term foreign exchange students, foster children, or new pets. I will also keep working on the relationships that are important to me.

That’s about it. See ya next year!

Have a happy, happy new year!!!