Let’s get a physical

It’s that time of year again..

Time for my annual physical..

It seems like every year the questions get more difficult..

Do you still have your monthly cycle?

Are you experiencing hot flashes?

How are you sleeping? I’m not! 

Is that why I am so tired all of the time?

You might also notice increased moodiness and irritability as your estrogen levels start to drop… Is that even possible??

Are your parents still living?? Have they developed any new health problems?

Have you noticed any changes in your vision?? Do you mean having to purchase reading glasses since someone started to make the print smaller on everything!!?!

How much coffee are you drinking??

Wait…Aren’t you going to ask me about my alcohol consumption and whether or not I use tobacco or take illicit drugs??

She must have forgot.

Are you still running?? Do you have problems with your joints?? Is your carpal tunnel acting up?

Are you feeling anxious or sad?? Why, yes, I am starting to feel that way now…

That’s funny, I was feeling just fine before my physical…

 

The second half of the weekend roller coaster ride

After church on Sunday, we went to visit our old friends Harv and Kate. Our old friends as in friends that are in their 80’s and not as in old friends we’ve known since the 80’s.

Harv and Kate invited us over under the guise of having us share our adventures in Thailand with them. They have been all over the world but have never been to Thailand. Despite being older than my parents, we share many common interests with Harv and Kate including traveling, sailing, singing, theater, the love of the outdoors, and being hard core intellectuals.

Once we arrived, I noticed in sheer panic that I forgot my phone at home. During this time, I missed the call from my friend Jen preparing me to see her with her new cancer diagnosis later in the evening at our children’s band concert. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Harv and Kate said that they had a surprise for us. We weren’t going to be eating lunch at their house as expected. They said they were taking us on a mystery date. Kate said that one time Harv took her on a mystery date and they ended up in Missouri. Wait! What? I got a little nervous when we started heading south. Not to mention that Harv went through a couple of stop signs.

Now Harv and Kate are by far the happiest married couple that I know. Although they have been married longer than I’ve been alive, they act like a couple of newlyweds. They said that they often plan surprises for each other to keep their relationship alive. Maybe Paul and I will have to start doing that.

Soon we arrived in a small town to a hole in the wall bar/restaurant/theater/art gallery/hotel that was 150 years old. Harv and Kate surprised us with a dinner theater show that Harv and Paul performed in together years ago. We had a marvelous time. When we got back to their house, they wouldn’t let us leave until we saw Kate’s drawings, they watched our son’s solo and ensemble performance, and we set up another date to tell them about our Thailand experience.

That set us on the road with just enough time to grab my forgotten phone on the way to the concert. I didn’t have time to call Jen back.

Arabella, my mom, Alex’s girlfriend, Paul, and I attended the concert that evening. We saw Julia sitting by herself and invited her to join our crew. Our other old friend Vince showed up. He sat down next to Julia. He asked Julia if she was married. She replied, “Not happily”. Her husband never attends their children’s events, just like my dad. Julia told Vince that it was so nice that he could come out to watch his grandson perform. Vince told her that he wasn’t related to us.

That can be the awkward thing about unconventional friendships…people always think we are related. He is not your dad?? No, my dad takes no interest in my life and Paul never had a dad. At this point, we don’t even bother explaining all of this anymore.

Paul invited Vince over to our house after the concert to watch the video of Alex performing at S&E. That was before we ran into Jen, before I found out that she has terminal cancer. I cried all the way home. I cried while Vince was at our house watching the video of our son perform. I cried myself to sleep. I was still crying when I got to work the next morning.

For so many years, I stuffed my feelings. I don’t remember crying when my grandma died. I told myself that she was still alive. For years, I crammed all of my bad feelings in some back closet of my mind. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel. After a while, I could no longer pick or choose what feeling I put behind the door…all feelings got locked up until I became completely numb to life.

After awhile I got sick of living in the empty void. Eventually I opened the closet door and all of the old junk of emotions came crashing down on me. I sorted it out. I processed it. I dealt with it and lived to tell about it. It was only then that I started to live again.

This time I told myself that I was going to deal with my feelings. If I’m sad, I’m going to cry. If someone can’t handle me crying because I found out a close friend is dying, then why would I want that negativity in my life??

But I didn’t cry in front of Jen, in front of her husband and children, in a public place. There is nothing I can do to heal her. But I am going to her house later on this week to see if she needs anything to make her last days happier.

So there you have it…I have a new friend with lupus, an old friend (15 years) with cancer, and 3 old friends in their mid-80’s.

Just because our time with others may be short doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t forge relationships…because, who knows? Nothing is guaranteed in life. Might as well start living every day to its fullest.

 

 

Reading the fine print

I have been lying to myself.

I’ve been telling myself that everyone my age is old, except me.

Here are 3 things that happened this week that shattered my illusion that I have been drinking out of the fountain of youth:

1). I went with my best friend to the wedding store to pick out a mother’s dress for her son’s wedding. All of my friends stopped getting married and having babies a long time ago. Now their children are starting to leave home, get married, and graduate from college. Before we know it we’ll be grandparents.

2). I bought a pair of reading glasses after visiting the eye doctor. I can’t see anymore like I used to. All of the little images on my phone are blurry. I can’t make out the scribbles on receipts or read the fine print. Why is everything so tiny?

3). My husband started walking. This one really hit me hard. My husband was a runner before I was. Now he decided that he would rather walk because it is easier on his joints.

But on the flip side, I finally figured out what I want to be now that I am older. I want to be younger.

 

Old friends

Paul and I stayed out late last night.

This may sound weird, but Paul and I have several really good friends that are in their 80’s. It is scary, really, becoming close friends with people of that age. I wonder why they like us so?? Are we but little birds that they have taken under their wings?

Sometimes people just seem to come into your life for no reason.

We started becoming close friends with Vince a couple of months back. We jokingly called him the mafia guy. He has a lot of connections. He seems like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. He can be upfront and intimidating, but has earned a lot of respect. Mainly, though, he is entertaining and people like him. When his wife passed away last year, I’ve never seen more people attend a funeral.

Vince lovingly took care of his wife (who was wheelchair bound since we met them several years back) without complaint. After she passed away, I wrote a letter to Vince saying that they were the perfect role model of how a marriage should be. I didn’t really know much about his life at the time.

I think most old people have their life together, and most of them do at their age. But I have this stereotype that they have always had their lives together. After we started to get to know Vince, I realized that I didn’t want a marriage like his. It was awful.

Maybe everyone’s life is majorly messed up but they keep it hidden away. Everything looks perfect on the outside.

Am I the only one that struggles with my teenagers? Am I the only one that is depressed when I have so many things to be joyful about?

We can’t show the world that we are hurting. We also feel like we can’t share our joys because other people are without. So we hide behind this mask of normalcy.

I am okay. How are you?

I think the truth is that only a few people will open up that door for you to see what is really going on inside. Then you can really see all of the colors in bright hue.

I hate small talk, but hardly share with people the real me. (Except, apparently, with all of you)!! It seems easier somehow to write about it. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have control over what I tell you. I never shared my full story with anyone except my husband. But here I am. My life is an open book. But if you knew me in real life, no offense, I probably wouldn’t talk to you about any of this.

How are you? I’m fine. Not much is going on…nothing new. I wish I could tell you..

We also have plans later this month to get together with Harv and his wife. They, like Vince, are in their mid-80’s. Last year Harv was having some health problems and sold his sailboat. He ended up finding out that his health issues were related to a reaction from a medication he was taking. He is in good health now, but his boat is gone.

Perhaps it is strange that we have more plans this month with our elderly friends versus friends our own age. What is the attraction?? They are real people. They are ready to talk about their lives. There is so much knowledge to learn from them.

But why do they like us??

Why should age matter?

Does it matter in a friendship??

The hardest part for me is that it is going to hurt so much when we lose them.

What’s next?

This year my husband is going to be 50.

We recently went to Thailand to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to do that anymore…have a reason to travel.

Our first trip out of the country together was an extended weekend in Jamaica for our 10th wedding anniversary. It wasn’t worth all the time traveling to get there late on Thursday night and head home Monday morning. We didn’t know much back then. My husband was 40 the first time he was on an airplane.

For our 15th anniversary, we took our second trip out of the country together to St. Lucia.

Our third trip out of the country was to Thailand for our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to have a reason to travel anymore if that is something we both want to do.  It shouldn’t just be for big anniversaries. Things change. We couldn’t go before. We didn’t have the money. The kids were little. We just started a business.

Now we have financial security. We will have an empty nest in 3 years. We will be thinking about retirement within the next 10 years.

My husband will be 50. We love to travel. We have the next 10 years to do all the traveling we can before we start thinking about slowing down. Paul’s only parent died in her 60’s.

We want to get away every winter. Next year we are planning on renting a catamaran to sail around the Caribbean British Virgin Islands with friends.

I want to visit all of the continents. I’m not sure about Antarctica yet. Wisconsin winters are bad enough. I’m serious about doing this. It was scary at first. I worried about flying, being uncomfortable, not liking the food, etc… Everything new is scary at first. But if you take the first step, you’ll want to start running.

I don’t want to just visit the continents. I want to immerse myself in it. I really have a passion to learn foreign languages. I would like to be fluent in Spanish and German. I love photography and writing. I might look into what it would take to be a travel writer. I could easily write something like I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.

The time to do this is now. I can’t continue to watch the years slip away. I don’t want to look back in regret. It’s time for a second wind. I want to finish this race strong.

Animal Kingdom’s peculiar animals

…the herd is taken over by a younger male gorilla…the older male loses his family and remains alone…the staff member says as she waves her hand towards an older gorilla that we are gazing at. 

Two little boys (~6) slide in next to me by the gorilla display. 

Boy 1: That gorilla doesn’t look very happy. 

Boy 2: That is because he is an adult. All adults look sad. 

Boy 1: I think he is a female. 

Boy 2 turns to me and asks…Hey lady, is he a female? What do you think?

I turn to the boys with a smile masking an inward chuckle. I tell them that the gorilla is an old male. Look at his white fur. He is simply old and tired. 

The boys, satisfied with my answer, thank me and walk away. 

The old gorilla looks my way. I bet he thinks how peculiar the humans are that parade by on display. 

Competing against the clock

My birthday is coming up in a few days. To celebrate, I am going to do my first Half Ironman. It just sounds so wrong. Maybe what people say about me is true…overachiever…workaholic..

Would I have more fun sitting on the couch watching a Netflix marathon instead of doing an actual marathon? Probably not!

I really don’t like the taper week. When you are used to working out an hour or three at a time it is physically hard to take it easy. I have to push myself to sit still. My mind is restless and my body is antsy. I want to run off the nervousness inside.

Last night I had my first pre-race nightmare that something was wrong with my bike. The seat was too low and I couldn’t adjust it. I had to bike through crowds of people, but couldn’t seem to make the pedals work right.

To tell you the truth, I am terrified of doing the Half Iron. More terrified than turning another year older. I feel like I am racing against time. I am not competing against you, nor me. I am competing against the clock.

I talked to some others over the past few weeks…I used to run marathons when I was young like you..That implies that someday this will all end.

The sands of time slip through my fingers… I never thought that I would be old. I never thought my kids would grow up. I always pictured us stuck in time at the perfect age. The age when we first met and fell in love. The age when our kids were little and had full confidence that we had all the answers.

It is horrifying to let go. My son got his motorcycle license yesterday. My daughter left for college last year and said that this is her last summer she plans on coming home. They are doing adult things like holding down a job.

When the terror sets in about what I am about to do…a Half Iron…I think back on all that I have already accomplished…3 marathons…WOW. If I fail miserably, I still have accomplished more than most people I know.

When I start feeling the horror of my lack of control as a parent, I have to remind myself that I have teens that are growing up to be wonderful responsible young adults.

As I turn another year older, I think about how much I’ve learned and how much more life is in front of me. If I look back to where I came from, it is pretty amazing that I got this far.

Midlife is getting old

Sorry to have possibly scared a few new parents yesterday with my talk about raising teenagers. I usually am more confident in my decisions. As the kids get older the decisions seem to be so much more difficult…As the old saying goes…Bigger kids, bigger problems..

How can I not be nervous? The decisions they make the next few years will be some of the biggest in their lives. They will decide who (if) to marry, if they want children, where they are going to live, their career path…pretty much everything that will effect the rest of their lives.

That is scary as a parent…letting go…letting them make their way..watching them learn lessons the hard way..

I can’t seem to relate to new parents anymore. I guess that is a clear giveaway that I am getting old..

Paul asked the other day if I missed having young children. “No” was my reply. Some of my friends are grandparents.

It has been a year full of changes so bear with me. I am entitled to go a little crazy every once in awhile.

My oldest daughter left home for college, then less than six months later Paul lost his mother. Together we lost our first parent and our oldest left.

We can see how the decisions our parents made in their young years effected the whole direction of their lives for good and for bad. Now we are seeing what path our children will take.

Within the last six months I also lost my last ‘great’ and now my parents attained the status of oldest living relatives. And I thought my parents were old when I was a kid!

This whole midlife thing is starting to get old. The kids are starting to leave home while our parents are starting to age rapidly and die.

I want to enjoy every single moment of life that I can.

This morning I awoke to the news that the baby of my neighbor’s daughter passed away unexpectedly. Last year my neighbor lost his wife and she was only 45. It just doesn’t seem fair. I feel such sorrow for the family.

It also makes me appreciate the blessings I have. It makes me want to squeeze my kids tight. Although I am not too sure they would like that.

I am doing the best that I can. I am trying to make the best decisions that I can for my kids. That will have to be good enough.

I am trying to grasp life and enjoy what I can now because this is as young as I am ever going to be.

What I truly want for Mother’s Day

What I truly want for Mother’s Day…

Baby, I want to hold your tiny hand in mine one more time.

I want to gather you back into the safety of my nest.

I want to be able to kiss your owwies and take away your pain.

I want you to still think that I have all of the answers and that the world is a good and magical place.

I want to sit you on my lap and read your favorite stories…I can’t seem to remember the day it all ended.

I want to laugh off the people that say it goes by so fast as I hold a crying baby in my arms.

What I truly want for Mother’s Day…

Mother, I want to see the excitement in your eyes as I give you my scribbles on a piece of pink construction paper.

I want to see the beauty of your young face and the natural color of your hair. I don’t want to see signs of you slipping away from me.

I don’t want to think that this could be our last year together like last year was for my husband’s mother.

I want to think that the little things I do or say give you lasting happiness more than flowers or a card someone else wrote on this one day of the year.

What I truly want for Mother’s Day…

Grandma, how I long to hear your voice again…to hear you sing like a bird…to tell you that you gave my daughter your gift. I want you to fully understand the influence you have had on my life and how that impacted my children.

I want to smell fresh cookies as I walk into your house and know that you made a special batch just for me.

I want you to answer the phone when I call.

I long to see your house again, the way it was before the new people moved in.

I want to smell your sweet perfume, even the scent that remains in the half empty bottle is beginning to fade.

I wish you could walk alongside of me on this journey again..

This is what I truly want for Mother’s Day.

This girl on the train

  

Sometimes people like a story of great tragedy, drama, and suspense. But not today, people, I’m on vacation. If you could call taking a few days off to run 18 miles a vacation, that is.

Last night, my husband and I stayed overnight in Milwaukee at The Brewhouse Inn and Suites. Only in WI can you stay at a hotel that was once a brewery. Across the street is a microbrewery that was once a church. We spent most of the evening at the bar and grill next door. We happened to be there eating during trivia night. The trivia turned to 80’s bands. I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I had that tape back in the 80’s”. A young guy at the next table said that his mom did too. His mom?? As we looked around the room, we were the oldest ones there. Seems like we are either the oldest or youngest in the crowd lately. Ah, midlife…but still no pending crisis. 

It was a warm evening when we pulled in, probably the warmest of the year around 70 degrees. But today it is snowing at home. 

Before we left, my husband and I renewed our passports. For the first time, I listed my adult daughter as an emergency contact instead of my mom. It was a sobering experience. Paul’s mom passed away this year and she was younger than my mom. By the time it is time to renew my passport again, my mom will almost be 80. Yikes! 

Paul and I are planning on taking a trip for our 20th anniversary next winter. Twenty years doesn’t seem that long. Where did the time go? Then I look around at my closest friends, only one couple has been married longer. My two best friends have been married half as long on their second marriages.

At first I wanted to plan a trip to Bora Bora. But apparently February is their rainy season. The last thing I want to do is spend tons of money and be stuck indoors. Seriously, we are not newlyweds. 

This summer over our anniversary we are planning on going sailing for a week. I would like to sail to Washington Island on the tip of Door County. Believe it or not, I have never been there. I told my husband that wherever we are exactly at the time that we got married, we would do a little vow renewal. I am going to present him with a new wedding band since he lost his second at the theater. The first he broke fishing. Hobbies! 

I can see us pulling up to some beach somewhere decked out and asking a random stranger to participate. My husband exclaimed how spontaneous that was of me. Seriously, I am planning it all out right now!

Right now this girl is on the train. We left Milwaukee this morning and are heading to Michigan so I can do 18 miles of trail running with my cousin. It is supposed to be cold and rainy for the race. At least it won’t be snowing I guess. 

This is my first time on an Amtrak train. I did ride the subway in Chicago and a few old trains at museums. Please Europeans, stop laughing. 

I did see some Amish people waiting for the train at a table nearby. Their eyes were glued to the big screen TV behind me. I chuckled inwardly as they watched a pharmaceutical ad with their jaws dropped. Everyone else in the room did everything not to watch the commercials. I love people watching.

Here’s to the start of the racing season. Here’s to 18 miles of grueling trail running in the muddy rain. Here’s to our first long trip on a train. 

I’m going to try to not worry about the kids or work. It’s time for adventure..