Letting go

It took me well into my seventies to finally, grudgingly, concede that yes: I was aging ..but not elderly.  Not yet.  After all, I could still swim a mile, keep up with the 40 year olds in my Yoga class – most of the time. My mental faculties seemed intact; I maintained a blog – played the piano – was at least as computer-savvy as my kids. My grandchildren were still in primary school – some of them anyway.

People said I looked young for my age.  I felt young.  To reinforce my mindset, movie stars, book authors and TV personalities offered endless advice about how they stayed young and beautiful, and therefore how anyone could.  Media ads inundated us with products guaranteed to make us into super-active, beautiful, deliriously happy retirees. Memory failing?  Arthritis pain?  Chronic fatigue?  Sexual malaise?  Pills for that, lots of them.  Wrinkles? Creams for that. Or surgery.  So what you’re a little “older.”  No worries.  There’s an App for that!

But there were these nagging signs, milestones, I couldn’t ignore. My husband’s failing eyesight now prevented him from driving; we were a one car family for the first time in our 40 year marriage.  Less than  half of my high school classmates were still alive, and many that were, lived with debilitating, often painful and humiliating  disease.   Lately friends had been insisting they had told me something; I just didn’t remember.  It was getting a little harder to walk apace my 40-something friends.  Gravity was making a frontal assault on key parts of my anatomy.  Walking in high heel shoes was high adventure.  Bedtime was getting earlier.  I needed a knee replacement.  

Unacceptable!    Clearly I had missed something: the right foods, supplements,  exercise, meditation technique.  Maybe I should go to a health spa, get some “work” done.  I’d talk to my longtime friend and confidant; we’d figure this out together, like we always did.  “Super-retirement”  or a reasonable facsimile thereof,  was surely possible.  I just needed a strategy.  

 But incredibly, my friend didn’t have a plan. In fact, she seemed not a little exasperated with me.  “Aging,” she told me with a sigh “is a process.   A process  of letting go”.

Not what I wanted to hear.  At. All.

In my gut I knew she was right, but I wasn’t ready to accept it. It was probably true for her, but it didn’t have to be that way for me.  I embarked on a  mission to “fix” the situation, to make my husband’s landing softer, to keep up with the 40 year olds at the gym, to make excuses for my forgetfulness, delay my surgery.   It was pretty ungraceful. It felt like holding my finger in a dike that threatened to crumble any minute. 

I’m not sure what life event eventually penetrated the thickly insulated layers of my denial. Probably it was a series of  little losses. A friend’s hospitalization, needing help with something that used to be routine, the growing number of medications in my pillbox.  It took what it took.  But slowly the stark light of reality broke through.  And surprisingly, it was not the downer I expected. It was a relief.

It took awhile, but these days I smile at the money grubbing commercials promising the fountain of youth in return for hard earned retirement dollars.  The famous personalities attributing the result of their cosmetic “work” to  exercise, good food, or their favorite potion.  Accept the door opened for me by the 30something. Do the exercise and eat the foods that work for me. Hang with my peers.  Admit I forgot – and make  notes. I’m no longer backing into the future.  I’ve found the shoes that fit and can finally move forward.

 Because letting go is not giving up, it’s just moving in a different direction. 

Daily Gratitude: HOPE

Today I am grateful for hope.  

It is hope that stills me, bars my descent into despair.  It is the bedrock that steadies me against the storms of confusion and anxiety.

     

Hope is the pathway to love, the balm for pain.

                                       It is the sister of trust,

the child of  faith.

                                                                                 Hope is the  promise of joy.

 

Daily Gratitude: Motherhood

Today I am grateful for motherhood; for my own mother, for the opportunity to be a mother, for the lessons learned.

Motherhood is the most challenging of relationships, diametrically opposed and inextricably linked. The older I am, the more I regret my unkindness to my own mother and the more forgiving I am of the unkindness of my children.  Maybe that’s just the way of things.

CoVid-19: It’s not what you think

If there is one thing we can all agree on about this virus, this may be it.  We just don’t understand  CoVid-19.

Even with my  background as a biochemist, I have trouble knowing what to believe about CoVid-19.  In spite of all the hard work and the progress our scientific community has made,  there are still more questions than answers. This virus is not like any we’ve seen before.   CoVid 19 just doesn’t play by the rules; in fact, we don’t know what the rules are.

We tend to think of infectious disease as following a linear, or deterministic pattern.  In other words, if I have the virus and I infect three people, then those three people infect three more, etc.  But there have been instances in which many more people contracted the disease than the model would predict. The  most well known example is that of the  61 member choir practice in Mt. Vernon, Washington on March 10 in which 53 contracted the virus and two died. Conversely, other gatherings of similar numbers, venues,  climates, and age groups did not produce this high rate of infection.   https://bit.ly/3cQcwgJ   

It now appears that the virus can  spread in clusters, some think by “super-spreaders” who are especially efficient at  spreading the virus.  But there is no way to know what makes someone a  “super spreader.”  There may be some as-yet undetermined characteristic that makes an individual especially infectious.  Or, it could be that there are not “super spreader individuals”, but “super-spreader events”  where  people are singing, coughing, exercising, etc, especially in close, poorly ventilated spaces.   https://bit.ly/33BnnYF 

Think of the virus as second hand smoke. The  closer you are, the more you inhale. So there’s no guarantee that you won’t inhale the smoke if you are  6 feet away, especially if you are in a poorly ventilated space and/or the smoker is coughing, talking loudly, etc. Similarly,  even if you are outside, fresh air won’t protect you from the spray of virus from the shouting fan next to you in the bleachers.  We can easily distance ourselves from the offending smoker.  However, unlike the smoker, the infected person may be asymptomatic, have tested negative a week ago and is now positive, or be in the first few days of the incubation period.   The CoVid positive person can look and feel perfectly healthy. 

It is true that the death rate is low and some groups are more likely that others to have a serious infection.  But recovered patients are experiencing long-term damage to heart, liver and lung as well as damage to hearing and cognitive function. Some of it appears to be non-reversible.   https://mayocl.in/3nqPTUL

And there are so many unanswered questions.  Can you get the virus more than once? Are there in utero effects?  When will a vaccine be available and how effective will it be? What will be the effect of seasonal flu on the virus?   

No one knows.  But  I do know what to do. Sadly, just as there’s no magic diet, my  only way forward is the one I know so well; masks, social distancing and hand washing.

 I am SO tired of this whole CoVid scene; the masks, the social distancing, the confinement.  But the virus is not interested in my opinion.  This is not a well-behaved virus.  

 

It breaks my heart to think about the holidays this year. But like the Fauci’s we’ll be joining our family on Zoom.  https://bit.ly/3nGPEVP