New Year Grandma with a Tic in My Eye

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better person. – Benjamin Franklin

I’m still trying to come up with a New Year’s Resolution by December 31st that won’t finish wiping me out. The ones I made last year turned me into a gum-smacking grandma with a tic in my right eye.

You know how it is when you think you’ve arrived? For instance, let’s say you’ve lost five pounds and now it’s time to celebrate with a cup of hot chocolate, marshmellows on top, and a delicious doughnut – or two. Or three, or four. Come on, this is a party, let’s celebrate. Whee! Next day you get on the scales and – what? You’ve gained five pounds? On one doughnut? Or two, or three, er four doughnuts? Geez! Life isn’t fair.

That’s the way I was feeling a short while ago. Although I’d kept my resolution from last year not to smoke another cigarette, I’d become addicted to nicotine gum and had to break that habit, so I quit the nicotine gum habit by switching to sugar free Dentyne. And I will not–I repeat, I will not quit my Dentyne gum.

As if quitting smoking and quitting nicotine gum was not enough, I also made a retroactive resolution (not a good idea, retroactive) to go on a tight budget in order to replenish my savings account slush fund. It had sprung a leak while I was chewing all that nicotine gum, which cost as much as cigarettes and one motivation for quitting smoking was to save money. I had saved even more than I thought because the cost of cigarettes had gone up another dollar a pack. The only problem was I spent it on comfort food, rewarding myself for all the stress I was going through from quitting everything, including spending money, and the next thing I knew I was not only broke, I had to go on a diet.

As you can imagine, by this time I was really in a black mood. I was so tired of all these restrictions I almost threw my bathroom scale in the dumpster and would have if I hadn’t thought of something better. I moved that little circular thingamajig at the bottom that corrects the scale. Ole! Down five pounds.

Now, this morning when I got on the scale and looked at my weight a wise-guy sitting on my shoulder snickered while he added five pounds to the number I saw. I started to wallop him one, but the nicest thing happened. The sweet angel who sits on my other shoulder told me not to pay any attention to him, that he was the last of a dying breed who doesn’t realize he’s become defunct. He’s now sitting in a trash heap along with my bathroom scale.

In following Ben’s advice, I’ve won a battle against some of my vices, and I believe I’ve stayed on good terms with my neighbors. If I don’t begin the New Year as a better person, at least I’ll be healthier, if you don’t count that darn tic in my eye.

Don’t Send me Your Snow

This is such fun I don’t know if I’m going to get anything else done now I’ve started blogging. Yesterday I had to stop for awhile as all the trees on my block had sent their October leaves directly to my yard. I only have two trees whereas my neighbors have nine. I counted them. Yet only a few leaves litter their yards! Therefore, it was their leaves I was mowing and blowing and raking yesterday! I won’t complain as one must get along with the neighbors but they’d better not send their snow over here this winter or I might have to say something.

My laundry has piled up too. The hamper was full two days ago so now a pile of dirty clothes sit on top of it. I keep meaning to stop and sort them, put a load in the wash, but I keep thinking of things to write about. I wake up in the mornings about four-thirty and my mind is buzzing with things I want to say.  The thought that keeps recurring to me is how we need to make our outsides match our insides.

For most of my life I thought if people really knew me they wouldn’t like me, which might be true, except now I don’t care. That’s the nice part about getting older, things that used to bother me appear unimportant compared with the joy of being myself.

It took a long time to get to this point. I remember the first time I truly realized someone didn’t like me. Oh my, it hurt! Why didn’t she like me? What was wrong with me (or her) etc? Suddenly it hit me. Nobody has any obligation to like anyone else. And it was okay. I was free to not like her too (so there!).

But I only speak of the fear of being disliked because it makes us afraid to let others see who we really are. In fact, it makes us afraid to become who we are truly meant to be. It stifles our development, limiting our choices to the safe zones. Beyond this zone that everyone apparently agrees on lies the danger of being different, of not being “normal”. And this is the root fear at the bottom of the whole thing, this fear of not being normal. But the opposite of normal is not, as one would think, abnormal. No, normal means average and its opposite is exceptional.

So dare to be different. Dare to be yourself, inside out. Dare to be exceptional. You’ll be glad you did. But whatever you do, don’t send me your snow this winter.  I think my yard is already littered with leaves, this time from trees on the next block.  I haven’t counted them yet.  I’ll do that when I walk Winston, and I’ll let him pee on them.

Don’t Quit Living – You Ain’t Dead Yet

Dedicated to my doctor, who gave me twenty more years

Where do I start?  Just the facts, Ma’am

Facts:  Last year I was sixty-seven years old. Although some of my older friends call me a spring chicken I was thinking of how close sixty-seven is to seventy and seventy to — well, none of us know how long we’ll live but as we age we recognize that time is growing shorter. I had to make a decision on my house and was filled with anxiety. I had one of those variable interest rate mortgages, low interest to start with, but jumping higher each month. Should I sell the house and move to an apartment? Should I refinance in order to get a fixed rate that wouldn’t keep going up? At my age? I finally stopped and asked myself “If I knew I would live at least five more years would I refinance and keep my house?” Since I really did not want to move to an apartment, the resounding answer was yes!

Shortly after I had refinanced the house and the question was settled I had an appointment with my doctor for a checkup. I have moderate diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I was on medication only for the blood pressure as I’d told my doctor I wanted to keep my numbers down without medication for as along as possible. Well, he told me that with my risk factors I had a fifty percent chance of having a stroke or heart attack within the next ten years, but that if I went on the cholesterol medication the risk would be reduced to twenty-five percent. I agreed to the medication.

Three days later I quit smoking, since I also knew smoking was one of my risk factors. I know this time I will not go back to the habit, as I have done before. Because, on my last visit to the doctor for a checkup in July, he gave me twenty more years!

My glucose numbers were still not excessive so my doctor said “If you keep the numbers this low it could be twenty years before you need medication for your diabetes.”

Twenty years! I had gone from a probable five more years to a possible twenty! I was very excited. Since I’d always had a positive outlook on life, I never realized I’d been giving myself old age messages. It had started with the five year decision, which shows how I have to be on my guard about what I think about. I could think myself right into a squeaky old rocker on the front porch, just sitting there watching the world go by and missing out on the rest of my life!

I perked right up. If I could really live twenty more years or thereabouts I would still have time to get things done that I’ve always wanted to do. It wasn’t too late after all. I may be getting older and slowing down, but I haven’t come to a standstill. I’ll take better care of myself.

I’ve increased my walks with Winston from fifteen or twenty minutes to thirty or forty-five minutes a day. I monitor my glucose more closely and count carbs more stringently. In so doing, I’ve also taken off five pounds that had been gathering around my middle.

And I started my blog. My daughter had told me some time ago that if wanted a blog she would help me set it up, and now the idea appealed to me. After all, I have plenty of things to say yet, and perhaps plenty of time to say them. If it turns out I don’t, I’d still rather be blogging when I go than sitting on the front porch in a squeaky old rocker watching the cars go by.