Goal 6: Try new things/explore different interests/be fun/enjoy lifelong learning.

When I was younger I was afraid to try new things. Now that I am older, I long for something new.

When I was younger, I never thought I was good enough or smart enough. But being older, I don’t really care if I make a fool out of myself.

This morning I went to an exercise class for the first time. I was the only one in the front row, all the other spots were taken. Front and center for everyone to watch me make mistakes. But I don’t care anymore. Besides I am old enough to know that everyone else is really concerned about themselves and how they look. If they make fun of me, shame on them.

Everyone has been very welcoming though. I took a strength training class for the first time this week and everyone introduced themselves and helped me set up my equipment. Someone even cleaned and put away some of my stuff. They even gave me helpful suggestions and asked if I was coming back.

I have to admit, I’ve been rather shocked lately about the kindness of other people.

I’ve been trying new things, like exercise classes. I also bought an Indian cookbook. I  tried making a few recipes this week. They turned out okay, although it has been a real challenge to find the ingredients I need.

The most exciting new adventure for me this year has been to start writing a book. I am still terrified about this! I’m not sure how it will turn out, but I keep pecking away at it every day.

I don’t have to be perfect nor do I even need to be good to enjoy trying new things. It took me a long time in life just to learn that.

 

The community theater extrovert

I don’t know what it is about community theater. I become a whole different person. I’m not just talking about the role I’m playing as a character, I’m talking about me as a person. I become an extrovert.

In real life I am not much of a social person. I blog, does that count? You get the idea. I like to keep my opinions to myself. I shy away from the spotlight and become a wallflower. I am moody, melancholy, and not at all agreeable. But at the theater, I am an extrovert on stage and off. All or nothing, baby! My most redeeming social quality is that I have a quick wit. I love to make people laugh. After the evening shows, Paul and I rarely made it to bed before 1 AM.

One night after celebrating at the theater, we had a couple of people crash at our house. One of the actresses confessed that she has cancer and is going through her third round of radiation next week. How could I say ‘no’ to that? Come on over! That night I went to bed at 2 AM then got up the next morning and did the show all over again. That is life as a community theater extrovert I guess.

You tend to meet a whole bunch of eccentric characters at the theater. For a brief time, they get to be someone else too. I wish I could say that all other life stops for awhile during the run of a show, but it goes on. I lost my job during the run of the show. I wasn’t the only one either. A cast member had a funeral to attend out of state. One young girl got her first period and had to reach out to people that were basically strangers to help.

For that short period of time, we became like family and you know how it is with family…some people drive you nuts. Oh, and there is always drama.

There was this new lady that was very beautiful, nice, encouraging, optimistic, and cheerful. She also totally annoyed the crap out of me. Every time she was on stage she would over act and upstage me. It drove me nuts. Back stage she dumped my whole water bottle on my dry clothes. It was an accident so I couldn’t do anything but suppress my irritation. She apologized profusely. When we had only two shows left, she decided that she didn’t like the dance routine choreography and wanted everyone to change it without actually telling everyone who would be on stage at the time. I told her there was no way I would be changing anything.

My husband Paul had the lead part. He had somewhere around 200 lines to memorize. Most of them were a paragraph long. He did a great job. Everyone thought that he had a natural gift for memorizing. Does anyone?? I really want to know. He spent at least an hour a day going through his lines.

There were love triangles on stage and off. Did you know that the theater is also a good place to fall in love? My uncle Rick met someone at the theater for a first date and they are already engaged!

Sometimes things didn’t go as planned. Lines got missed or messed up. Once the curtain opened at the wrong time while a woman was changing behind it. One little girl got hit hard on the head by someone moving a prop. Three other people fell, one while tied up. Many people had sore throats. We wandered around the rest of the week like exhausted zombie versions of ourselves while life continued on.

Then after the show is over, the main characters have to de-role. It is time to say good-bye to the new family. There is a period of sadness and loss after saying bye to a beloved character that almost becomes you for awhile.

For that brief time, everybody loved you. You were someone special, a star. The anxiety of performing is a major adrenaline rush. It is thrilling! Did I mention the costumes, makeup, wigs, and hair primping? Fun!

Then when it is all done, we go back to our normal lives until the next show.

 

New beginnings

Change is hard, but it is time for new beginnings.

With each and every day, it has become easier to adjust to losing my job. There are some positive things about it. I will have less stress from work. Plus I am planning on taking some time off to do all of the things I have been putting off since I didn’t have time because I was working over the past decade.

Just think of all the things I could do with an extra 130 hours a month!

I am planning on spending time with my parents putting together a genealogy record for my family. It seems like yesterday that I was walking around cemeteries and talking to family, since deceased, with my grandma. Next year grandma will be gone 10 years and now is the time to start the process with my parents. I also want to take all of the old family photos and put them into digital format which is a huge undertaking.

I want to write two books, one about growing up with a violent autistic sibling and the other about Paul’s journey from rags to riches. I don’t care if they are bestsellers, I just want the family history documented if only for future generations. Maybe I’ll take some writing classes. At the very least, I will have time to read a few books.

I want to double my time at the gym. I want to be ready to run a 50k.

I want to take a photography class and at the minimum take more photos.

I want to learn how to cook different ethnic dishes. I want to eat healthier. Maybe I will brew my own beer.

I want to spend more time with my children. Alex is doing so much better, but there still have been a few bumps in the road. Arabella wants me to audition for the next community theater show with her. I want to be a better singer and dancer.

I am starting to let things go. My staff and I had a combined 20 years of experience that we used as a team to handle operations. It is hard to hand over operations to a staff I deem as inexperienced. Although it is terribly frustrating, it is nice to hand over all of the resulting customer service issues to them. It’s not my problem anymore.

Today my daughter Angel’s beta fish that she got when she was in high school died. Now she is a junior in college. I flushed the last remaining shred of her childhood good-bye. But I will be able to spend more time with her when she is home and take more trips out to see her when she is gone.

Change is hard, but it is time for new beginnings.

 

 

Ancestry vs DNA

A couple months back I shared my AncestryDNA results.

I was frustrated with it because all of my genealogy records compiled by my great aunt pre-internet, and even the research I did myself, did not match the DNA results like I was expecting. The genealogy records showed a strong German heritage, the DNA results did not.

It was very confusing for me because my records did not match the DNA results. Which records were right then??

Without really realizing it, I had identified with my German roots. After all, I was called a stubborn German by relatives. It’s no wonder why I enjoy German beer and sauerkraut. My grandpa and great aunt spoke to me with German words. Strangers remarked how German I look.

Then when the DNA results came back with 10% German, I felt like I lost part of my identity. It was part of who I thought I was. It was the connection that I had with my grandparents. They are long gone and I am not even me anymore. I lost all interest in genealogy at that point.

Then a couple of weeks back, I received an email from Ancestry stating that my DNA results have been updated. Apparently now I am mostly Germanic European. They were even able to pinpoint the region in Germany from my genealogy records. What??!? How confusing is that?

The good news is that now my records match. Otherwise who would I believe? Science or a long line of family tradition and record keeping?? I was really doubting the family records. There were a lot more questions than answers.

Maybe I’ll dive back into genealogy again. It has been about 10 years since I started digging for my roots online. I bet a lot has changed since then with the information that is available. It would make for a great hobby on a cold winter’s night.

 

 

What’s in your genes?

Last week my son’s Ancestry DNA results came back.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. In fact, I don’t think he is my son.

Well, that might be taking it a little far…

My son is only 7% German. According to my genealogy records, I should be at least 75% German. In fact, just last week someone commented to me out of the blue how German I look. My husband even said that he doesn’t know anyone that looks more German than I do. That was before my son got his results back. Now I’m not so sure anymore..

My son is 27% Polish which definitely comes from Paul. He is also 10% Italian which was also a bit of a shocker. I am going to say that Paul is Italian. Both Alex and Paul look a little Italian to me. Plus Paul loves Italian food, music, and wine. My records do not indicate that I am Italian.

Of course, my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered 4 more Ancestry DNA tests for each member of my family. It was the only online shopping I did while trapped inside 3 days during the blizzard. You should be proud of me! Lol. I was tempted to order the ‘how to speak German’ kit and buy plane tickets, but hey maybe I’m not even German.

Now here is the big kicker…My son is almost 50% British. I didn’t know that my husband was British. My genealogy records indicate a small percentage of British blood.

Last year Paul’s mother passed away. He never knew who his father was. His mother told him some very limited details about the identity of his real father. One thing she said was that his dad’s last name was Wilson. The Ancestry DNA results matched my son up with an unknown 2nd cousin with the last name Wilson.

I’ve opened Pandora’s box. Should I reach out and contact this unknown cousin? I asked Paul what his thoughts were. He doesn’t care either way. Is there more to gain or to lose?? I honestly don’t know. What are your thoughts?? I have been tossing this around in my brain a lot lately…especially since soon this Wilson guy is going to be seeing 3 more close relatives that he probably had no idea existed.

I started digging around in my family tree to try to find my British link. I found 2 separate lines going back to England both with the last name of Wilson. Then it hit me. Oh my gosh, could my husband and I be related?? Is that why my son is so British?? What have I gotten myself into now??

I can tell you one thing, this has really renewed my interest in genealogy.

 

 

 

Out running

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Change is inevitable. It happens each season. This week a cold wind came into Wisconsin and blew the warm falls days and sunshine away. Sadly, I started going to the gym and running on the dreadmill again. I really can’t complain. It has been a warm fall with hotter temperatures than this summer.

Usually we get our first few flurries by this time of year. It makes me remember my grandma. For the first little snowfall she would write the word flurries or put a F on her empty calendar like it was a huge event. I have a F on my calendar too. It reminds me when I need to give my pets their flea medicine. Seriously, what did you think it stands for??

The last time I ran outdoors, I took a few photos to show you how beautiful my running route is. It was probably a good time for a change anyway. People were getting to know my routine which can be a little disconcerting. It was always the same cars that almost hit me. People were starting to actually honk when I wore my ‘honk if you’re going to hit me’ shirt.

I had a great season with huge goals…My first 18 mile trail run weekend, my first Olympic triathlon, and my first Half Ironman. Plus I ran another marathon. I am thinking of cutting back though. I’m not going to decide for sure until January.

Three out of four races, I had to travel far enough from home to need a hotel room. Plus adding in all of the gear and race fees, it can be a pricey hobby. I will probably still race, but will cut back on the amount of races and the longer distances. I also might want to try other things like doing a Tough Mudder. Plus next summer, the local theater is planning on doing the show Cabaret which is heavy on dancing.

Running has a special place in my heart. I spoke to my trainer at the gym this week. I told him that my races went well but I was thinking of cutting back. I told him that I want to run for the long run. Running gives me time to process my life in a healthy way. I don’t want to over train, hate it, or get hurt. I want to enjoy this hobby as long as possible. Plus I want to do other things I enjoy like dancing, cross country skiing, or kickboxing without being locked in an always training box.

I just love to run. Who knows? I might be able to get outside a few more times this year before it snows. Wisconsin is a very beautiful place to run.

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Risking adventure

This past weekend my son went cliff diving. Thankfully, he lived to tell about it. Honestly, it looks like a lot of fun.

My son loves adventure. Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.

A few weeks back my son sprained his ankle at the trampoline park. Thankfully, he didn’t get hurt more seriously. Honestly, the trampoline park sounds like fun. I would probably want to hang out there if I was 17 too.

Despite missing a week of work at his new summer job for a sprained ankle, my son is getting up before dawn to put in 40 hours of hard labor at a flooring company. I can’t treat him like a baby anymore. He is taking a lot of responsibility and working hard.

With his first paycheck, he bought an electric bass guitar. It is so cool. He has the ability to pick up any instrument and quickly learn how to play it. He is being courted by a couple of bands. How exciting! What an adventure I am sure that will be. I wish I could’ve done that when I was his age!

In a few weeks, he will be getting a motorcycle. If my husband was into motorcycles, you can bet I would be riding on the back of it or getting one of my own. How thrilling!

But as a mother, I am not too keen on my son’s adventures. What if he gets seriously hurt or worse??

My husband says we would be total hypocrites if we are adventurous but discouraged it in our children. I suppose our son could spend his life locked away in his room playing video games, but that is probably dangerous too.

I just told you a couple of weeks back how the rudder broke on our sailboat during a race. We spun in circles in rough water and had to come back against the other boats that were coming towards us. That adventure could’ve ended poorly, but it didn’t. It made for a great story and the most exciting race ever.

My hobbies aren’t the safest.

I could drown while swimming or sailing. There is a 1 mile stretch of my running and biking route that are especially dangerous. I’ve almost been hit in that area by idiot drivers a few times. But I have yet to change my route. Last year a pedestrian died on that road. Granted it was dark and he was wearing all black.

This week I was running on the dangerous stretch of road when just under the hill a Bambi froze in the middle of the road about 20 feet in front of me. I knew if I didn’t start yelling at the animal that a car could come over the hill, swerve, and hit me. It could’ve been dangerous.

It was at that moment I realized that my son is no different from me. We want an exciting life of adventure which means unexpected things can happen. We don’t want to get hurt doing it, but are willing to take the risk to do something that makes our lives more fulfilling.

It is time to start letting go and letting him live his own life. That doesn’t mean I will stop worrying or trying to give unsolicited motherly advice!

You probably know which child is giving me most of my gray hair!

Mile 20 of the show

The last time we talked, I was feeling apprehension about the opening weekend of the musical. It wasn’t about stage fright or worrying about whether or not I knew my songs or lines. It seemed to go a lot deeper than that.

The last show that I was in was back in 2011. I was in my mid-30’s and I had some really awesome parts. I built up a rather large fan base. I wore some really beautiful dresses.

As luck would have it, I was the oldest female that auditioned for this show. The part that I wanted was given to a 17 year old. Feeling old bites, especially after being given the old lady parts. In my mind but not in the mirror, I am still young and beautiful. Don’t they see me as I do?

I have been teased endlessly for my costumes. At first I was angry. One of the costumes I wear was owned by a woman before she had bariatric surgery. I was not kidding when I said that I had to wrap the belt around me twice. Over the weekend, I learned to laugh at myself too. Although it is one of my least favorite shows, the cast and director have been phenomenal.

Over the weekend, I had a few moments for self-examination. Paul and I have the same problem, we tend to be the type that takes on too much. Then we get overwhelmed with the choices that we make. I realized that if I ever train for a full Ironman, there are going to be a lot of things that I am going to have to give up or say no to.

Being in a show is a tremendous time commitment. Many people do not know what it is like until they have done it. Not only are there many hours spent on stage at the theater, there are many hours spent at home memorizing lines and songs. Time that cuts into other time commitments.

Stepping back into community theater after a long hiatus hasn’t been particularly easy. I lost all of my fan base. I am not remembered anymore. The director and most of the cast have never seen me on stage before. The ‘good jobs’ people threw at me as they were passing by on their way out the door don’t mean as much…you should’ve seen me in my hay day…It’s almost like qualifying for the Boston marathon…taking a break from the running scene for years…then being complimented on running a 5k.

This show has forced me to face that I am not young anymore…my looks are fading. I know this sounds incredibly shallow. But it has been difficult for me. To be honest with you, most of the positive attention I received as a child had to do with my looks. It met a lot of emotional needs for attention that went unfulfilled at home. I am learning to live with it like a genius slipping into dementia.

Maybe that is why I slowly switched from beauty to brawn over the past couple of years. It is something I feel I have more control over. It is something that I earned versus a genetic lucky roll of the dice. I feel great. I am starting to see a big separation between those who are active and those who are not. There are people my age who are out of breath climbing the stairs. I get a little winded at about mile 18 in a marathon.

People say that I am lucky. But this has nothing to do with luck. I earned it.

I don’t expect to live forever or even longer than everyone else my age. I probably won’t be running marathons at 80. But I do expect to live a full and active life until my last days. I expect to have enough endurance to make memories with my grandchildren someday.

Will I ever do another show again?? Yes, perhaps I will if the timing and part is right for me. But if you ever ask me if I plan to run another marathon at mile 20, the answer will always be no.

A game of chess?

A few months back I mentioned that Paul and I were being courted by a multi-million dollar company that was thinking about buying us out.

It was at that time that I approached a fork in the road. Do I stay or do I go?

I dreamed of going back to school to get my Master’s degree in writing.

I got my hopes up and was disappointed when the deal fell through.

But is it wise to turn a hobby into a career?

Maybe it wouldn’t be good for me to spend so much time alone stirring up my demons. I like to write about a variety of things, so I would hate to be trapped within the walls of a book. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be..

So, I guess you are stuck with me for awhile!

Paul sometimes dreams of turning his hobby into a business as well. He has tossed around the idea of getting his Captain’s license and starting another business on the side. The business would entail chartering sailing trips. Kind of like a bed and breakfast on water. He would cook. I would clean. On rainy days, we could entertain with story and song. I would photograph and write about their adventures. Paul could handle the finances and I would handle the schedule.

After starting a business from the ground up, starting a new business is not that intimidating.

But would the hobby be as much fun if it was work?

I enjoy what I am doing now. I have been working with my husband for almost 10 years now. Working with my spouse has been a wonderful experience 99.9% of the time. It allows us to connect with each other on a much deeper level. I don’t understand why I get so many comments from wives that they could never work with their husbands. It seems so natural to me now. The thought of going off and doing my own thing was actually more frightening.

After the whole deal fell through, this company put out an ad for someone to start a new division of their company. The ad was almost Paul’s resume word for word. The company said that they weren’t going to compete with us. With Paul’s business sense and my distrust in their word, we decided to build a fortress around ourselves.

We are working on achieving the highest level of certification that we can. We are also in the beginning process of buying out and employing someone that has a small business in our field.

Business is booming! We are looking to hire another person to lessen my work load.

Let the chess game begin!

 

A little down

I think I am depressed. 

One of the signs of depression is losing interest in hobbies. What if you just can’t do the things you enjoy anymore?? 

If I spend too much time at work, type a lot (write), shuffle cards, or work jigsaw puzzles my carpal tunnel acts up. My hands ache. I need to wear a brace. If I exercise with weights, sometimes I can’t grasp them. Several times a week my hands just let go of items and I drop them. I’ve dropped my phone several times. Lately, I’ve dropped containers of foundation or eye shadow shattering them into powder so I have to throw them out. I have problems opening lids on jars. 

Sometimes my acid reflux gives me a hoarse voice and sore throat which makes it very difficult for me to sing, another hobby of mine.

I have enjoyed running and competing in races, but now my knee hurts so much that I might have to cut back or stop altogether. 

It seems like everything that I really enjoy doing to deal with my stress is being taken away from me. 

I feel depressed that my daughter will be graduating from high school in a few days. She is a lot like me. We have so much in common and have become close friends. Now she will be moving several hours away and starting a new life without me. I am happy for her, just sad for me.

My relationship with my other two kids sucks. My son is currently failing all of his core classes. He is angry at us or depressed when we give him consequences. The hard part is that he has a brilliant mind, but is too lazy and unorganized to put any effort into his studies. I have no control over this. My youngest daughter and I have nothing in common at all. She takes pride in annoying me and arguing with everything that I say.

Work is stressful. Running our own business, having employees, and demanding customers takes a lot of energy.

My mother-in-law has terminal lung cancer and at best has a few months to live. 

I am starting to see my own parents age in new ways that worry me.

Every organization that we belong to thinks that they are the only organization that we belong to. Everybody wants our time, our money, a life blood commitment. 

My husband and I have both been irritable and stressed these last couple of months. I honestly don’t know how much more of this we can take. Instead of people helping us through these difficult times, they drain us of whatever we have left.

So, yeah, I guess I am feeling a little down.