Present Tense

The Funk….

tunnelThere are times when life carries you along as if you are royalty in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage. You climb in, wearing your beautiful royal robes and off you go. It’s magic. And then, there are the times when every minute of every hour of every day is a slog. It just happens.

Events conspire to bring that fancy carriage ride to a screeching halt. Death, disappointment, jobs, health, money, kids, relationships, hormones, mortality.

There is a tipping point where the tough stuff outweighs the good stuff and once you slide down, it’s very difficult to climb back up.

Several people have commented that I haven’t been writing much. That’s true. I haven’t felt as if I have anything to share. I have no words of wisdom or insight or encouragement. My carriage is broken and it has been for some time.

I feel like I’m in a partially self-imposed dungeon. My strategies for coping have been few and far between, even though I KNOW what I need to do, I just can’t quite seem to find a rhythm. Meditation, vigorous exercise, yoga, better diet, walking, reading; all have worked in the past. This time, I can’t seem to find a routine that sticks.

Since my dad died in April, 3 of my friends have lost their fathers. So much loss in such a short time brings one’s own mortality to the forefront. You start doing the math; only so many quality years left and really nobody knows how much time we have and personally, I’m feeling just a little panicky and terrified by that.

Logically, I know that spending this time brooding about it is a complete waste. Life goes by so quickly; we all think we have all the time in the world, particularly if you’re under 50. We don’t and it usually takes losing loved ones to really slam that home.

So, there you have it. I’m in right in the middle of a rather debilitating existential crisis. And rather than bore you with it, I’ve been silent and probably not a whole lot of fun to be around. My coping mechanisms suck and I’ve dug a deeper hole.

A dear friend of mine just turned 50 and she wasn’t looking forward to it. I told her that 50 brings a couple of reactions: “Holy shit, I’m 50…over half my life is over” or “Holy shit, I’m frickin’ 50…I no longer have to please everyone”. She has chosen to focus on the latter, while I’m completely mired in the former.

So, off I go. Hoping the planets begin to align my way and that I can shift back into kicking ass and taking names for my sunset years. Be well. Life is short.

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , | 26 Comments

The “New Normal”…..

dadI’m struggling to accept my dad’s death. I know that’s normal, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Loss is part of our human condition and we all have to accept it in our own time.

He died suddenly about 2 and a half weeks ago and it’s been such a whirlwind of wrapping my mom in warmth and security and working to get her out of the house and into an assisted living facility that I haven’t had any time to really grieve or mourn my dad’s absence.

I don’t feel guilt for that; it’s absolutely what my dad would have wanted of us. He was completely committed to my mother and once said that when she died, he wanted to die the next day. The best laid plans, right?

He was taking care of business right up until the moment he died doing lawn work in the back yard and since he raised 4 competent, pragmatic children we knew that he would expect us to step up and take care of the business at hand. So, we did.

Now, I’m thinking about him; about how I can never again pick up the phone to commiserate about our miserable Detroit Lions. My husband can’t call him for apple growing advice or get his opinion on fixing our crooked screen door. During the chaos and bustle immediately after his death, his absence was noted, but now it’s settling over me and I’m feeling the finality of his death.

I started writing this blog several years ago as I began my journey to learn to overcome bad habits, non-productive worries and ultimately let go of my need to control everything. I’ve come a long way on that path and I think that my progress helped immensely in the past few weeks. But now, how do you let go of your dad?

I feel like if I do that, he’s really gone; like a puff of smoke, he will dissipate and no longer be real and that makes me feel awful. But, I also know that I have to allow the realness of his death to sink in. Yes, there are many happy and funny memories, but he’s not here and that feels like part of me has vanished as well.

My dad was over 93 years old and from all appearances, strong and healthy. It almost seems like when someone lives that long,you start to think that maybe they’ll never go. We all marveled as my parents lived into their 80s and late 80s and then into their 90s. I’ve waited so long for the call that one of them was ill or dead, that when it came, I couldn’t grasp that it actually happened. My dad, in particular seemed immortal.

So, now we learn to live with what people call the ‘new normal’, which is code for ‘this situation sucks, but you’ll have to accept and adapt’. And that’s the truth. All of us do it everyday and sometimes it’s a huge sea-change to your normal and sometimes it’s a minor zig zag.

My struggles are no different than anyone else’s. It’s life. It’s why we all have to learn to let go of our fantasies that life can ever be anything other than random and painful. As the Buddhists teach us, we all suffer together as part of the human race. We lose everything that is dear to us and we all die. It’s so obvious and true and yet, we fight it because we hope it can be different. It can’t.

I will hold my dad in my heart and my mind and love him that way. I will look at the faces of my siblings, nieces and nephews and see him in them. So many of us have his eyes and his silly sense of humor. We all love ice cream and pie.

He was able to see our little farm last fall and we have some of his tools and implements that will help us nurture and foster our land and our crops. He hated to see anything go to waste and we will honor him as we plant and harvest and care for my mom. We’re okay dad; you did good.

April 27, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

I’m at that age….

I’m not sure at what age you realize that you’re getting older.  I suppose it’s different for everyone and for most of us, we really never quite feel it happening.  But, it does.

I’m at an age where I feel great, but I know and accept that I’m no longer young.  Emotionally and spiritually,  I’m morphing and growing in a productive direction.  But, then I look in the mirror and see a middle aged woman gazing back at me; which doesn’t exactly freak me out, but I do on occasion wish I was seeing my 30 year old self.

Lately, there have been rumblings around work about a need to sound ‘younger’; to appeal to a younger demographic.  To not seem so old; to try and channel my inner 30 year -old.  You know what?  I don’t want to.

I don’t want to dampen what I’ve learned over the years; it was a hard fought battle to grow up and see things through the eyes of experience.   I don’t want to edit my perspective to appear younger and hipper, when I’m not.  Young and hip is overrated, by the way; my goal is to be older and hipper…or a hippie.

As I said, I’d love to have my 30 year-old body, but my 30 year old mind, sensibility and immaturity have all been buried, never to be revived.  I’m finally at the age where I am seeing that as you get older, there is a cultural bias that I’ve most certainly taken part in as a young whipper snapper.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘older and wiser’ for as long as we can remember, but until you get there, you don’t fully understand it.  And I should add that I’m certainly not fully there; I’m not as wise as I will be in 5, 10, 20 or God willing, 30 years.  But, I’m older and it’s most certainly starting to define me, at least to others.

I don’t want to be the old lady that preaches about how my extra years have given me extra insight (even thought it’s true).  I don’t want to turn into one of those older folks who constantly tell you how long they’ve been on the planet (I’m 53 years old).  But, it is increasingly frustrating to feel as if you DO have some wisdom and insight and experience and knowledge to impart, but the older you get, the less the younger folks want to hear about it.

As a ‘civilian’ this really doesn’t bother me; as a media professional, it’s harder to swallow.  Fortunately, I’ve seen it coming and I’ve planned for the day when I outgrow the demographic that we are charged with attracting and appealing to.  It’s okay; I’m probably happier and more at peace than I’ve been since I WAS 30, but it’s kind of sad that our culture doesn’t prize wisdom and experience as much as we prize youth and beauty.  That lament is certainly nothing new and none of us say it or think it until we’re over 50.  It’s just that  I’m at ‘that age’ where I’m seeing that older people can fade into invisibility, thanks to this cultural bias against “old people”.

I began to internally disengage from my public persona a few years ago.  I didn’t do it consciously, but maybe I was sensing that getting older could mean I would begin to lose value, professionally.  Accepting that I have changed and morphed and possibly outgrown that persona has been a fairly easy transition.  We all evolve in our relationships to work, other people, and our families; it’s inevitable and it’s probably easier if we anticipate it and accept it.

I’m flying back to Michigan to visit my 93 year-old parents in a couple of weeks.  At their age, every minute is precious and for the first time, I plan to sit with them and ask them what they’ve learned; what they can teach me as I approach the sunset.  They’ve taught me plenty, through their guidance and example, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never looked them in the eye asked them to teach me.  This time, I will.

January 26, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 16 Comments


We’ve been going through a bit of a transition in our house regarding our plans for the future and it’s required a lot of physical, emotional and psychic energy over the past month or so.  It’s taken me a while to process my feelings about how life will look going forward; to stare my fears and anxiety in the face in order to grow and evolve.  We all come to forks in the road where we need to choose a path. I’m working on doing that from a place of wisdom, rather than fear; a place of growth, rather than stagnation.

I was corresponding with someone that I consider a mentor about some of the choices I’ve been struggling with and he told me that the problem with getting older is that sometimes we make choices based on fear; fear of shaking the status quo, fear of losing what we’ve worked so hard to accomplish and accumulate, fear of making the wrong choice.  He reminded me that I’ve always been one to make bold choices and now is certainly not the time to suddenly start making decisions based on fear of the unknown.

Because, let’s be honest:  life IS unknown.  No matter how much planning and scheming and plotting we do, it’s a crapshoot.  Giving into fear makes no sense because in the end, we all get whipsawed by fate.  Adaptation is a better guiding principle.

I have a dog tag necklace that has one word on it: Fearless.  I wear it to remind myself to speak, act and live a fearless life; I’m good with that.  As I get older, I’m trying to embrace that concept more and more. I know way more now than I did 20, or even 5 years ago and I’m emboldened by that.  It’s a shame that we don’t value and revere the wisdom that our elders can pass along.

As a kid, I would cringe and shut my ears every time my mother uttered the words “I’m older and wiser than you”. In fact, I ignored the sage advice that usually followed that statement for a very long time, much to my detriment.  I’m finally starting to understand the whole ‘older and wiser’ concept because it’s true.  I’m morphing from being irritated by older people AND younger people, into reverence for the old and their life experiences and amusement at the young and unwise.  I know what’s it’s like to be young and stupid and I can’t wait to be older and wiser.  Acceptance, adaptation, fearlessness; those are my new buzzwords.

I’m reading a book by Richard Rohr, called “Falling Upward: A Spirituality For theTwo Halves of Life” and his premise is that the first half of our lives is all about building our container, while the second half is for filling it up.  We work hard to build a life, a career, a family and we end up making a lot of sacrifices that can sap our souls.  The key is to get to the place where we can finally enjoy and fill that ‘container’ that we’ve spent so much time and energy creating.

I’ve built my container; it felt a bit crowded with extraneous stuff, so I’ve spent the past few months purging it.  Much of it has been a physical purge of possessions and junk, but it’s been equally about purging expectations, both mine and others.  I’m purging the past to make room for the future.  My container was full of a few too many moldy leftovers.  Things I was afraid to throw away.  Not any more.

Acceptance.  Adaptation.  Fearless.  Moving forward.

August 26, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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