Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gettin Off At The Next Exit

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I am completely, head over heels in love. From the moment I backed between the orange cones in an abandoned parking lot, the beeping of reverse serenading me, as the seductive smell of diesel fuel wafts through my open window, I am completely smitten with driving the bookmobile. I never dreamed it would be this fun!

I practiced for about an hour and then took to the open road and I’ll never be the same again. Because the BoMo has a short wheel base and an automatic transmission it is surprisingly easy to drive. Kids wave as you drive by, you feel like a rock star. The biggest challenge can be turns. Bumps in the road cause a delayed response, much like an antebellum hoop skirt rippling past it’s wire cage. You learn to brake often and make wide turns to avoid the curb. My only real fear was the reality of parking it in a garage that was designed for a much smaller vehicle. There are literally just inches of clearance on either side of the garage door that houses BoMo. There are scrape marks down the side of the bus (and the garage) to prove it. It takes three of us to park it. Yikes!

I had, up to this point, heard every horror story of parking it in said garage, before I had even taken my maiden voyage. Two brave library souls position themselves in the back of the garage and hand motion you in. Not only is the garage too narrow, but the floor slopes, so the bus tilts to one side and you have to make allowances for that as you pull in. Hey no problem!

I was so busy watching the hand movements of my brave navigators that I didn’t have time to be nervous. I magically pulled it in and regretfully shut off the engine. I could hardly wait to drive again! I am actually going to get paid for this. Yes, it is very cold and drafty in the winter, and very hot in the summer, but the joy that fills the spaces between these four fat tires is worth it. Every day is a different adventure. Just this week a four year old stepped up to me and asked (with complete innocence) if I was old. I said without hesitation, yep, much older than you. He then asked me if I was going to die soon. I pondered a moment and then said to him “I think I have a few good years left in me” and he shrugged and scampered off the bus. His teacher assured me that he has been asking every adult he sees this question. Whew. I was worried that I needed to touch up my roots sooner than later.

I have taken over numerous story times and am feeling more comfortable with singing songs with body movements and have been having a blast with a fun array of hand puppets (my inner ham is thrilled) that appear very real to my wee ones. Ahhh magical thinking. This job couldn’t be more perfect for me if I had designed it myself.

And on that note…I have decided to retire from writing this blog. My energies are needed in other areas and I really don’t have the drive to endure in the blogging world. I am not a serious writer but I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed my time here. It has been a cathartic and healing experience. I look forward to keeping up with all my favorite blog writers and humbly thank all those who encouraged, and supported my amateur efforts in sharing my thoughts. My best and fond wishes to all of you.

Smiles!

Marsella

Let The Stories Begin!

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I am home watching the snow fall. My bus driving lesson was cancelled and I am a bit disappointed, if you must know. Then I heard there was a twenty four car pile up on the interstate, and I am grateful to be curled up on the couch. It has been a wonderful week of adventures. Pulling books for story times, learning all the nooks and crannies of a new library, while inhaling that intoxicating smell of paper, aged by the loving strokes of hundreds of hands, hearts, and minds, overhearing priceless conversations. And that was just the first two days!

My first ride on BoMO concluded at a newer housing development. We were surrounded by cookie-cutter, beige boxes. That is where boring ended. We pulled up, Dave the bus driver set the break, then walked me through the opening of our library on wheels. We set upright, all the display books, and fired up the generator. On went the two laptops (one fore and aft) and the wireless, put a sandwich board sign out front, with neon orange cones around the exterior of BoMo, and we were ready for business.

Before a breath could be taken, the door gets flung open by our first three foot customer, an older sister following in her wake. I introduced myself (I’m the new kid on the block) and we were off and running. Girls do love to talk! Dave (a grampa type,) is a veteran of this stop, and he starts a familiar, teasing banter with both girls. I ask them what kind of books they like to read, as they wander from station to station, easily distracted, but ,you can tell this is a beloved home to them. They are both instantly drawn to the iPAD. But, then so am I. So much to experience in this small, cozy space.

This location has wireless issues, so one of our library tech guys shows up to test our connections. Dave and Tom Techie bury their heads in the laptops, so I’m on my own with the girls. Unanimously, the girls decide to make a yellow-chick craft project from a paper plate. All the pieces are pre-cut and ready to go, housed in a little tote, along with glues sticks, tape and googly eyes. A new girl wanders in looking right at home in her pajamas. It appears this is a current fashion trend. What other limits are there to push, besides going naked?

As I attempt to glue tiny yellow feathers on the plate, with a glue stick (it doesn’t work), I overhear banter between Dave and p.j. girl. They are having a conversation about her choice of clothing and with complete innocence, she says “You wear flannel boxers, to sleep in right”?

I can’t see Dave’s face, but I feel his horrified reaction. “Noooo!” he vehemently denies. I start to chuckle. At the other end of the bus Tom Techie quietly announces… “I have Star Wars pajamas.” I start to giggle with the girls. I am secretly impressed he would admit it in mixed company. I am giddy when I acknowledge I am actually getting paid very well for this! I pinch myself, as I realize this was just the first day.

I am loving a new book titled The Little Book Store of  Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch. It was a refreshing change from The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler,  which is a fictional, sad outline of the walking wounded after the Holocaust. People who find they can only limp through life and relationships, after they survive the war. It’s poignant, haunting, and a different view of the horrors of the Holocaust. It starkly explains the exhausted weariness seen in the eyes of the survivors. A life spent trying to stay numb while breathing, and it’s devastating effect on the ones who love them. Multiple generations of loss.

The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap is a charming, humorous journal of the work (and denial,) it takes to run a book store in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I fell in love with this town in Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series. If you haven’t read her books yet you are in for a treat. I adore the Italian spinster star of this book, who finds out she isn’t who she thought she was, while discovering passion beyond her dreams. These are wonderful books, but I thought Big Stone Gap was fictional. so I was excited to see this new title pop up. That it’s about a real book store is a bonus. I have to read it.

Having a harder time with Great Expectations, about the lives of Charles Dickens’ offspring. Mr. Dickens is the only one that I find interesting. Poor kids, I think they found that out too. More stories to come.

New Adventures Start Next Week

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I am finishing up my last week with my current employer and preparing to start my new job next week. I was told that I will be learning to drive the book mobile the end of the week. Normally I would be terrified by this kind of news but I am a bit excited, truth be told. No one is more stunned than I, at this revelation. I guess staring down one fear after another in the past year prepares you for adventures that you actually want. That hasn’t happened to me in a while. Bonus material.

We had a day of summer weather, warm and breezy. I was disturbed to hear a fire has started (already) in our foothills. It’s way too early for that, and the prelude to water rationing that is surely on it’s way. I wonder what the golf courses will do? I also wonder what drought ridden countries would think about the amount of water it takes to keep golf courses green, or swimming pools for that matter. The word drought changes how you look at water consumption, to be sure.

I have been catching up on some reading, I had five books come in this past week. I just finished The Orchardist and was sweetly surprised at how it pulled me in. Some of the chapters are only a paragraph or two, and I liked it. The story revolves around quiet and contained Talmadge.  He spends his life caring for his Pacific Northwest, isolated orchards of apples and apricots at the turn of the century. This book sneaks up on you. The author, Amanda Coplin, makes a stunning debut, with her layers of complex relationships, in this story of loss and redemption. Talmadge never really resolves the mysterious disappearance of his only sibling, off the mountain where they were raised. His need to care for two wild-child women, who seek shelter on his property, change the course of his quiet life forever. This story is disturbing, compelling, and one that I couldn’t turn away from, even though I wanted to at times. It has a meandering quality that makes you want to see what is around the next bend.

I have just started The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler that is very promising, about a woman in the aftermath of WWII who steals someone’s identity and then, next, a wonderful book by Robert Gottlieb called Great Expectations, The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens. Mr. Dickens fathered ten children, but wasn’t the most ideal dad. His own childhood and notoriety (remember Norman Rockwell?) got in the way.  None the less, he left a priceless legacy of literature, full of unforgettable young characters. I couldn’t resist this one because of my thing for Mr. Dickens and his brilliance. His passionate, sexual nature make things more interesting. I’m enjoying it so far. It does however, take away some of the mystique and romance from the man, kind of like when I read the biography of Charles Schultz. Seriously. Do I really need to know that depression inspired Schulz’s altar ego Charlie Brown? Being the arm chair psychologist I am? Most definitely, and I think a bibliophile does too. We want to know everything!

It will be interesting to see how I keep up with blogging with my new job. Of course, I don’t have to spend hours changing resumes and applying for jobs. At my last library job, books inspired me to write regularly, but this will be a little more demanding. We shall see won’t we? Thanks for coming along anyway.

Do You Hear Fireworks?

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I do! That is because I just found out I got the library job I wanted, after a year of discouraging setbacks and working at jobs that don’t pay a living wage. In fact, I think I see fireworks too! I am humbled, thrilled and grateful! I was SO sick of looking for jobs, sending out resumes, designing cover letters and filling out applications that I know human eyes would never see. I was tired of selling myself, feeling insecure, and trying to convince myself I was not a loser because I was under-employed. And I was really tired of complaining about this!

Funny thing though… it wasn’t until I started believing I was valuable and letting go of outcomes, that things began to turn around. I know that sounds like a cliche, but it turned out to be true. In January I had gotten accepted into a retraining program with a generous grant towards a bio-medical certificate. I had done this type of work early on in my career. In the midst of this class I realized I was no longer willing to fake it, no matter how well it paid. It was an interesting  course and I loved the instructor but hated the culture and started to feel sick every time I looked at the syllabus. Finally I told my counselor/mentor that I had decided to drop the class. I wasn’t being true to myself. I made the decision out of desperation and fear but it was the wrong direction for me to take. The day after I dropped the course, and withdrew from the program, I was sent a job profile for the library district position (that just hired me), at almost double what I have been making, including benefits!

I decided to apply (on the deadline) and used a friend, as a reference, that I knew used to work for this library. It was an easy process and I felt relaxed and confident. I got an interview within days! After I received the job offer I called my friend to thank her for being such a great reference and she told me that she hadn’t had time to contact them. I had gotten this on my own merits. That is the real miracle.

It has been almost a year since I left Iowa to return to my beloved Colorado. My detour to Portland was part of this process and I couldn’t have gotten to this acceptance of who I am, with out my time there. I want to thank all my wonderful friends, family and bloggers who have encouraged me in the last year and cheered me on. You have inspired and challenged me, and I am so fond of you.

This is not the job I expected to end up with, but I am happy to experience another part of the library world. I am beside myself with excitement that I will be talking about books again with people of all ages. So I have to learn to drive a 25,000 lb bus?! This is my own little library on wheels, that I get to share with communities who don’t have one in their back yard. Something I take for granted. Think of the excitement? Think of the adventures? The stories you will hear?  Starting with learning to park said bus in it’s long, narrow garage. I’m trying not to think about that yet.

I know all my insecurities won’t magically float away because of this job. I have been healing old wounds in the past year and learning to look at myself in new ways- like giving myself a break, cutting me some slack. Geesh, women can be hard on themselves! This experience goes a long way in reminding me that taking risks is a good thing. Not easy, but good.

“The Wheels On The Bus”

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Remember bookmobiles? They aren’t as common now, but they still exist. I got a close up of one recently.

I applied for a job at a small library and actually got an interview! I made the decision to seek out library jobs, even though they are dwindling. It’s in my blood, and I feel too passionate about reading to do otherwise. I know there’s a library job out there for me. I  might have to get creative and work more than one job but it will be worth it. Heck, I am doing that now.

This turned out to be a job driving and working out of a bookmobile most of the time. I first thought it was a combination library/bookmobile support gig, but found out that I would be part of the outreach team, travelling to different locations to deliver story times and books. I won’t always be in the library. The one on a concrete foundation anyway.

I also was asked to audition. They let me choose a book from a pile on the table, and I picked “The Seals On The Bus”.  I’m an idiot! I picked it because of the cute cover (with seals) before I realized (with horror) that it was actually another version of “The Wheels On The Bus”.  Not only did I have to sing it, I had to make animals sounds! Geese and seals to name a few. I was really getting into the voices, when they interrupted me, to tell me I had to hold the book up so they could see it too. I felt like such a dork. We all laughed. You need a sense of humor for this job, hopefully I passed?

They were a four person team, of very nice people, and the interview went well, but you never know what they really want. This could be an adventure of epic proportions. Learning to drive (and back up) a bus full of books? Jumping, skipping and singing with little kids? Working in temperature extremes and doing bus maintenance? I found myself holding back a giggle when they asked me that. Not what I thought I would be doing, but I am game. If it’s books, or reading, count me in. I can always get one of those scarves with the sponge on the neck you can freeze. for the heat? I’m more worried about the heat than the cold.

During the interview they asked me if I liked talking about books. They found out when they asked me about the last two books I’d read. I had a hard time shutting up. One of them asked me to repeat the title of a book so they could write it down. I had to have passed that test. I’ve been learning a lot about myself, what is really important to me. It is easy to settle when you are fearful about the future. I don’t want to make decisions based on fear or desperation any more. It’s like sawing off the limb you are perched on.

This library named the bus “BoMo”. I love it. Whether I get offered the job or not, it was a wonderful experience. I had fun and it was a  reminder that I have a lot to offer. I feel ideas bubbling up as we speak. I wonder if they would be willing to back the bus up for me?

Contentment

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This is the first day I’ve had for doing absolutely nothing…if I choose.  I realized that I have been super stressed because I’ve had no time to do nothing, or even string together blocks of time for thinking of doing nothing. My soul took a big breath today and I feel relaxed for the first time in weeks. Went and saw the epic Lincoln, with my besty, and am feeling content.  By the way?  Sallie Field is brilliant, and David Spade more than held his own with over the top performances by Daniel Day Lewis and cast.

Sallie Field as Mrs. Lincoln

My daughter will be returning here to live, two weeks hence, and I can’t help but be happy to have my kids nearby again. I know due to the vagaries of life, that this is temporary, and I plan to enjoy every minute of it…whether they like it or not.  I deserve the contentment, it’s been hard earned.

I’ve read three books this week, always a barometer for how in sync I am with myself. Reading isn’t just a hobby for me. It’s necessary for my well being. Oxygen for my contentment. My poor copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog has been lying neglected while I read the four books that came in for me last week. The wonderful character of Flavia de Luce didn’t let me down in her latest mystery. She is acerbic, brilliant and precocious as ever, and more than holds her own with all the adult characters parading through her English village. She is someone I’d be delighted to meet, because she is so very interesting, along with her trusty side-kick Gladys. Not easy to do with an eleven year old. She was seven (going on 70) in her debut in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, but is standing the test of time brilliantly. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful series by Alan Bradley.

My next read was Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, the powerful and amazing story of a doctor who has a near death experience (NDE) and is forever changed. For those of you who find the fundamental Christian movement as terrifying as I do, you will find hope in this story. It is a simple reminder of what the afterlife is, and should be, (based on the unlimited love we are constantly told that exists in God’s heart for us) and what unconditional love must  feel like. I love the message he heard when first arriving. Paraphrasing, you can’t do anything wrong here. Wow, what a concept! I get overwhelmed with the do’s and don’ts and expectations felt here on earth. There are surprises in this book I don’t want to reveal, but for all those people out there spiritually confused or doubting, this book will give you lots of  food for thought. I love how he reconciles science and the afterlife. We are taught they are separate but he discovers otherwise, and shares the message. This won’t be the last we hear from Dr. Eben Alexander, and I’m glad. This is fascinating.

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society is the perfect book of imperfect characters, to offset the seriousness of life. Take a middle-aged wife and mother from Boston who’s moved to a small Florida town in 1962, (who is about to emancipate herself via Betty Friedan) and throw her in a convertible with a young gay man, and a black woman yearning for college: mix and stir with a paroled wife who murdered her husband, the town librarian and a divorcee, among others, in the conservative segregated south, and you have a molotov cocktail of drama and hilarity. I adore this book just half way through. It is bursting at the seams with everything but the kitchen sink.

Last but not least, calling to me in the wings is Kate Morton’s newest book The Secret Keeper. I fell in love with this storyteller in The Forgotten Garden, a book I couldn’t put down. It was also a huge hit in our book club. So there you have it. The reasons I never have to worry about what to do, when I want to do nothing.

Ahhhhh Books!

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The cure for what ails you! I have a back ache today. Caring for the elderly can be bad for your back. They think because you are so much younger than they are, your back is made of granite. Walkers are heavy to drag in and out of a car! I came home from work early and decided it was the perfect excuse for spending the evening in bed with a heating pad and books. I’ve been reading “Life Below Stairs, True Lives of Edwardian Servants” by Alison Maloney. Alright, I admit it! Downton Abbey spurned this curiosity with the life of English servants. Were they really that mean to each other some times? Yep. They definitely had their own class system, come to think of it, I’m beginning to feel like a servant myself. World War I changed Britain’s working class world forever, kind of like the electronic age is changing ours now. Interesting read, but it can’t compete with the arrival of the newest Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley.

I’ve gone barmy over this 11 year old amateur sleuth with a macabre passion for chemicals, some of the poisonous variety. She even has a creepy laboratory in her odd families Gothic estate in a rural English hamlet… of course. I was half finished with The Elegance of Hedgehogs, when I received an email that Bradley’s fifth  book, Speaking From Among the Bones, was in. Bradley’s superb characterizations made this decision a no-brainer, and it bumped everything else off the list. I’m starting it soon, so I can see what hilarious torture Flavia has planned for her two older sisters.

I also just received Miss Dreamsville And The Collier County Women’s Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth so Hedgehogs will get bumped again I’m afraid. No renewals for books with a waiting list, but that is what makes it so much fun. The anticipation of waiting.  I do wish they didn’t all come at the same time, although I think I can live with this problem. The alternative is much too horrible to contemplate.

Jon Stewart hosts author Ellen Schultz

I finished Retirement Heist but found it very upsetting. It makes you damn mad, but helpless as well, at the knowledge of so much greed and irresponsibility by employers, with very little solutions. Schulz’s book blows the whistle loud and clear though, and maybe Americans will wake up to what is happening in this country with our retirements and benefits.

Well, my book is calling…what back pain?

The Mysteries of Plastic Bags

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My week didn’t go so well. Ever had those bad kind of weeks that never seem to end? I did figure out, very quickly, I was working too many hours and it was affecting the quality of my work, thoughts, patience, driving, judgement etc. A case in point. Yesterday I forgot a client I see Friday mornings. Oops!

How automatic garage doors are supposed to look without cars stuck in them

My car was in the shop and I borrowed my friends cute little Prius while she was out of town. I am backing out of her garage when I hear a THUNK. I look in the rear view mirror and see half the automatic garage door in my sites. Because of the roof lines on the cute little Prius I couldn’t have seen the door coming down even if I had wanted to (and I did) so I am not sure I could have stopped it. I am still trying to figure out how it happened. Like it matters now. I just don’t want to be seen as the dope who gets her car stuck in an automatic garage door. Too late.

What a normal garage looks like when a car is parked inside, with an automatic garage door.

So now, not only have I forgotten a client, but I may have permanently screwed up my friends garage door, on a house she rents, from a very picky land lord. Great. But her dog is doing great!

The kind of garage door I remodeled.

Thankfully there was no damage to her car. Just me…emotionally. It was a wake up call that I am heeding loud and clear. I am behind on my class work so I lessened my available hours this past Wednesday, but it doesn’t start until next week. I realized all the extra time I am spending in the car driving from one address to another, in heavy traffic is adding to my mental fatigue. That’s what I am calling it. No snickers please.

Two of my clients are in their nineties and they can’t hear well. I find myself speaking loudly a lot now. I am talking to myself more too. They tell me how to do everything. And I mean everything!  How to fold things, how to say things to them, how to clean things, how to do laundry, how to change sheets, how to make a bed, how to spell. Yep. They even tell me how to spell. I try not to laugh, but sometimes I have to tell myself how lucky I am to have survived as long as I have without their directions. When one was telling me how to empty a basin of water in the sink I looked at her, and said very loudly…”did you know I birthed two kids and raised them to adulthood”? She didn’t get it, or she didn’t hear me. It’s kind of cute that they think I am young and helpless.

I know it’s because everyone is bossing them around (their own children) and telling them what to do, so they are passing it on. It’s o.k. most of the time. I understand. Today I got a serious lecture on why I shouldn’t put wet wipes in a plastic garbage bag. It could seep and they might get in trouble for throwing it down the garbage shute. If it were my family I would most probably look at them (with a hand on my hip) and say “Are you serious??!!” But instead I quietly try and explain why the plastic bag won’t seep (because the damn wipes are already dried up) because it’s in plastic,and how would they know they were your wet wipes?! Then I ask them why they are  going through the garbage?! Then I remember they can’t hear me. That has it’s advantages. I usually just do what I want, they can’t follow me in their walkers. I feel like they have eyes everywhere though. It’s kind of creepy. It’s like they know you might try and scam their plastic bags.

Next time I better bring my own plastic bag. They keep track, so they can reuse them, over, and over, and over. I know it is a good thing to recyle plastic…or not use it. This is recycling at it’s most annoying. When they ask me if I brought the tattered Wal Mart bag back from the recycling bin (picture a deer caught in the head lights) I always say yes now. Hope they don’t start counting them.

My favorite ninety year old and I went out to lunch for Mexican food after her doctor’s appointment and I felt sorry for the waitress who got very detailed instructions on how to properly heat her coffee up before delivering it. She explained to the waitress that they don’t know what a hot cup of coffee is in Colorado. Evidently they only know in California, where she is from. Then she grilled ( no pun intended) her on how their chile relleno’s were made and was the family that owned the restaurant really Mexican ( I already had told her they weren’t) and did she know that the only real authentic Mexican food was in Texas? I just smiled very big at the waitress. Thankfully they were the best relleno’s she’d ever had. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Texas! And I made sure the waitress got a good tip, seniors above 80 tend to tip like it was 1948.

I honestly like these people, and really enjoy them (when I am not mentally fatigued), but I can’t help but think this would make a great reality show. They have no idea how predictable they are and how entertaining and refreshing they can be. Is it the era they came from? ( and not all 90 year old’s are like this, I know) Will we all end up in some version of here? Better start saving plastic bags.

Growing Old Ain’t For Sissies

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There is not enough time in the day…or week for that matter. I am having trouble managing my time. I am behind in my schoolwork already. I work for a company who provides companions for seniors in their homes. It is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had but not one that provides good pay ( it is outrageously expensive, so go figure) or benefits. It is the perfect job while you are in school however. You can pick and choose your days and hours. The only challenge is I’ve been having a problem saying no. There is so much demand for this kind of service. More clients than caregivers.

Plus, evidently the word is out that I am good at this and there  have been personal requests for my time. Flattering, but even more challenging. I acknowledged this as I realized I worked close to 80 hours in a week. Some of the shifts are overnight which quickly add up. I only accept hours that I can sleep part of the time. I am not a night person.

I have met some remarkable people who have charmed my socks off as well as extremely difficult ones that would test the patience of any saint. Saintly I am not. I am an observant person and am astounded at the lessons I am learning. What it is to be old in our country and how I want to be treated. I get a birds eye view of family dynamics between parents and their grown children. In many cases, even though there is great caring and concern for the aging parent, there is also great impatience and intolerance. I have seen, overwhelmingly so, how the adult children become the nagging parent. The seniors don’t want to lose their independence while the offspring want to ensure that nothing can happen to the beloved parent they must begin to say goodbye to, so they begin to challenge and change their environment. The parent fights it. Sound familiar? Throw in unresolved emotional issues and it’s adolescence all over again.

We all know it is easier to be kinder to strangers than our own family. Familiarity does breed contempt. Civility is sometimes the cost of facing the immortality of our parents. I think it is a kind of distancing that starts to happen in preparation for that final goodbye.

When you are 90, you don’t see or hear well, unless you are incredibly lucky. Even my clients with hearing aids find it difficult, but it still drives their kids up the wall, like the parent is personally trying to annoy them. Communication breaks down even further. I know of one person who is convinced their parent is developing dementia but the reality is they can’t hear well even with an expensive hearing device and they are extremely frustrated that they are misunderstood. It contributes to being helpless and feeling out of control. Little things become very important. How you fold a towel, where you put something. They resist any kind of change because day by day they are losing the very life they have created over decades. We must develop a more respectfully inclusive culture for the elderly in this country, starting with our youth. Aging is denied, surgically removed or enhanced, and refuted and rejected in our culture. No wonder the young revile aging.

I have seen seniors’ worlds shrink from a busy, useful life to a recliner in the corner of a room, and a t.v. remote on a night stand. How does one make that transition? Many of my clients tell me their grown children make them feel useless and childlike. It is easier to take care of a child in some ways than to negotiate with an adult when you have the demands of your own job, family and life on top of it. It is true that some elderly want to be dependent and some can’t help it because of illness and decline. The thing we forget though is that we will one day be in that same position. I find myself asking how do I want to be treated?  So far I haven’t been able to translate that to positive behavior when being behind a senior driver. I’m working on that.

The more we honor that person for what they brought into the world, the more we can honor them in how they leave it. All of my clients love to talk about the past because it is what they are most valued for. They felt important. I realize through observing all of this that I have to be responsible for my self care as a caregiver. Caregivers are the first to get sick when they don’t practice this very important rule.

I have a favorite client that is from Argentina and has lived in this country since her twenties. She is ninety and is a breath of fresh air. Her health is failing but not her spirit and I look forward to every minute I am around her. I also see that her independent spirit is a pain sometimes to her two children. One is accepting and validating of their mom’s feistiness, and the other is not. That is because one is a bit too much of a caretaker (and like their mom in temperament), thus takes on too much, and the other lives farther away and is more distanced from the daily stresses. How they each deal with their mom can cause friction between the siblings. Codependency, old rivalries and resentments flourish in these situations. There are always exceptions to every rule; situations that are challenged by financial concerns for both parties. It is not easy.

The aging population is growing exponentially in our country but yet, we have very little training or education on what that looks like. All of a sudden, as a result of a stroke or a fall, things can change in an instant. Your relationship with that parent changes forever. I have begun to talk to my kids about this. The more I communicate to them now, the more they will be prepared for it. No parent wants to burden their children with this but it is a reality none the less. Yet more reason, to be personally responsible for our health. Physically and otherwise. Self care.

I have begun a book Retirement Heist, How Companies Plunder and Profit From the Nest Eggs of American Workers by Ellen E. Schultz, an award winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal. This book will forever change the way you see employers as the overburdened carriers of healthcare and pensions. It will make you sick at the amount of propaganda we are spoon fed for the profits of companies at the executive level. Executive profits and greed are growing more massive by the minute and we are paying for it. It’s not a good time for me to be reading this, but I can’t put it down. Knowledge is power. I’ve also got The Elegance of the Hedgehog in the wings, by Muriel Barbery.

Who Am I?

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I found out this week that I am officially getting a grant for a retraining program. It’s a good thing, because I started the certificate program last Monday. During class, I couldn’t help but feel insecure. It’s been over twenty years since I worked in the pharmaceutical field and the landscape is not familiar anymore. To make matters worse the only other female in the class is a chemical engineer, and she SOUNDS like one. Our homework this week is to post a paragraph on our technical background. I refuse to date mine. There comes a time when we all bluff our way through. Resumes come to mind. But who am I really going to be? I don’t want to bluff anymore.

My friend reminded me that this woman is also unemployed (not working in her chosen profession) too, and was laid off.  There is nothing like unemployment to level the playing field. It is happening all over our country and there is a huge shift happening concerning education. I had to make a decision whether to finish my degree. When I found out my credits wouldn’t transfer (yeah…like English composition and math change all the time) and I’d have to start over, I quickly decided not to. The loans would cripple me. It’s times like these though, that I wonder. Is it about ego?  I am very smart, worked in the science field without the benefit of a science degree and read voraciously. Why then do I feel like an illiterate hick when I get around people who have degrees? That is one powerful piece of paper! I find I work twice as hard to prove myself, which gets old really fast. Let’s face it, part of getting a college education is all the crap you have to go through to obtain one. Bureaucracy and navigating the FAFSA, not to mention the financial-aid office should get us an honorary one. Plus, I already have paid off numerous student loans!

This is what is called living life on life’s terms and it’s not one of my favorites. I know I am smart enough to hold my own in this course but I don’t like feeling like I’m not, so I’ve decided to change those. Feelings aren’t reality. Hmmm, where to start? I’ve got some new homework.

Ironically, a new client that requested my time, has been a huge champion. She sees things I don’t. It’s made me look at myself differently. I always thought I had high self-esteem but as soon as I lost my security blankets (relationships, food) I deflated like an old balloon. It was surprising and hard to navigate, but I am getting there. My friends are wonderfully supportive and loving but sometimes I wonder what they see? They don’t have any trouble telling me, but I have to be able to see who that person is. That is where my education has to start. It is deep spiritual work. I have lost almost fifty pounds and with each dress size I change, I discover this person I didn’t know was there. She’s a stranger of sorts, someone I am getting to know.

It has been an insanely busy week and it didn’t help that I made a mistake in my checking account and the soda I bought will cost me about $100. The waves of shame and abuse that rose up brought me to my knees. Old messages that aren’t true. I made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, but some of us were taught to punish with them. Messages that were given to me, that I am giving back. I guess one is never too old to lighten up? I sent FH a birthday card this week that says “Wisdom comes with age…wouldn’t you rather be stupid”? Not on your life!