Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quote for the Week from my cousin, Eugene Rosen

I am a Boston fan but watched all of Jeter's last games, minute by minute. Derek Jeter defined baseball in the richest manner...a slow ballet performed by boys at heart guided by rules and the bright sun shining over them.  I would like to hear from Mom and Dad, who are Hall of Famers as well. They guided their son in a manner that led to thousands of bright choices over his life, including baseball.  With Bob Marley's song, "so much trouble in the world these days" echoing often in my heart these days,
Derek Jeter was a celebration of the goodness of life and the goodness that is possible in each of us.  Continue your journey, Mr. Jeter, and I will watch and learn from you.  And to Mr. and Mrs. Jeter, thank you for the gift of your son.

Isn't it wonderful to have an athlete who is a role model.  TZ

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tip #8 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

Grief is stressful--so much pain, so much loneliness.  Widowhood is stressful--so many details to attend to.  So what can you do? 

Pamper yourself.  Give yourself permission to take 30 minutes a day just for you.  What did you enjoy "before?"  Do it again. Do it for yourself..  Do it for today.

Soak in a bubble bath.  Read a beach book.  Take a walk in a park.  Visit a museum and lose yourself in a painting.  Browse in a bookstore ( a real one for a change, not online).  Plant a garden in one pot. Catch a fish.  Watch a sunset.  Buy a birdfeeder and watch birds.

Or if you want to be more daring, try something new--could be something small you've always wanted to do but never took the time for.  Make a bucket list (I did that the year after my husband died, and I've done most everything on it.)  Volunteer, perhaps somewhere that focuses on your spouse's illness. Read to children at a library or elementary school, or be a volunteer tutor. 

From somewhere, your late spouse will be cheering you on.

Take care, and stop by next Thursday for Tip #9

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quotes for the Week...for Cats

From A Cat's Little Instruction Book
Leigh Rutledge, who is not a cat himself but share a home with 28 of them so must have learned a lot
1.  Never worry about medical or cat food bills.  Someone else will pay them.
2. Never eat raw meat or stale leftovers.  Always ask yourself, if it isn't something that humans would feed their kids,  why are they feeding it to you?
3. Learn the difference between a pair of shoes and a litter box.
4. Be astonishingly mysterious.
5. Remember, meow and the world meows with you; hiss and you hiss alone.

P.S. My cat swears by these instructions, and whose recommendation would be better than one from another cat?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Joy of Walking

Many of my readers know I've dealt with severe pain in my hip and leg this summer.  I'm much better but until this week I couldn't walk far, like from the car into the grocery store, without getting a backache.  Last week I had a pain shot, which is supposed to kick in...or not...after about 5 days.  Today I tested it out by walking through Galleria 4.  Doesn't sound like much, but for me it was like a miracle.  No pain.  I hope this will last. 

 A gentleman with a cane passed me because I'm still pretty slow.  I wanted to catch up with him and ask him whether he walked the mall often and how far and whether his cane helped, but he zoomed by before I could stop him.  I have given in and purchased a cane from Fashionable Canes (Yes, there is such a place).  I will use it in the airport next week when I fly to Atlanta to visit my sister's family.

Today was a test, but it was so pleasant, I will go back next week and try walking Galleria 1, which is longer.  I liked window shopping.  I haven't been able to walk through a shopping center in several months.  Fortunately for my pocketbook I went early before the stores opened.  It wasn't crowded and noisy, which was good for my spirits. Funny how such small things can make you happy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tip #7 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

You don't have to do everything at once.  Yes, there are some essentials:  probate, death certificate, social security, life insurance (and please don't forget to change your beneficiary).  But there are lots of things you can do a little at a time.  I couldn't bring myself to open a mass of sympathy cards at once so I opened a couple each day.  You don't have to write all the thank-you notes at once either.  Again, I did a few at a time.  But please do them eventually.  When someone has been kind and sympathetic during your tough times, they deserve a thank-you.  A friend recently remarked that no one sends thank you's any more, but I do...and not by email; I actually send a real honest-to-goodness note.

You don't have to get rid of all your spouse's clothes at once.  Packing up things s/he used to wear can be painful.  I waited two years...maybe a bit overlong, but you have to do these things when you feel able to tackle them. In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion admits she could not bring herself to get rid of her husband's shoes; she imagined if she kept them, he'd come back.   I kept a few of my favorite things of his, but now that I'm downsizing, I have to let them go, so I took pictures.  The one thing I've saved was his shabby brown bathrobe.  On cold nights I wrap myself in it and imagine that even after nine years it still carries his scent.

 I'm not going to admit how long it took me to change the utilities to my name, but it was pretty darn long.  I've finally changed them all...except for TV/internet/phone/fax.  Comcast would not allow me to change them by phone and their nearest branch office is a good hour drive, so all those are still in my husband's name.

One of the first things I bought after my husband's death was a shredder; still,  I spent a year going through my husband's extensive files. 

And please don't pick up and sell your home and move to another town or even a smaller place until you've settled down enough to tackle a move sensibly.

Take care, and come back next week for Tip #8.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quote for the Week

When nothing goes right, go left.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Football and Domestic Vioence

When you look at this picture, are you surprised that so many football players are involved in domestic violence?  First Ray Rice, now Adrian Peterson is charged with beating his four-year-old child with a switch.  Some of the pictures of the little boy show huge welts and broken skin.  Of course we hear more about football players because they are famous, because they are our heroes, right?  We don't hear about the guy down the street who punches his wife. 

Football players are paid millions of dollars to play a game that's all about slamming the opposing players to the ground.  (Fortunately, they don't get to stomp on them afterward.)  We applaud those guys for being as rough and tough as they can.  I'm not being critical of other fans.  I'm with 'em.  I love to see the opposing quarterback sacked or the wide receiver shoved out of bounds before he can catch a pass.

This week's pre-game article in the Houston paper mentioned that one of the guards has "the nasty attitude coaches love." After all that praise for doing what they're paid to do, we expect them to go home and do what we tell kids to do--use their words instead of their fists in a domestic argument.  I don't know--maybe that's hard for them.  Some of them--I'm not generalizing to all of them--may cone from backgrounds where tough guy behavior is the norm.  Peterson's lawyer said he was only disciplining his child the way his father disciplined him.  But that's no excuse, is it?. 

And the NFL needs to get on board and discipline these men who are acting like animals and lashing out with all their strength.  Maybe anger management needs to be as important a part of football training as tackling and running plays.  What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tip #6 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

Have you had The Conversation?

Of course you've had lots of conversations, but this is one you may have avoided.  It's a conversation about one of the last taboo subjects in 21st century America.  Death--yours.

Yes, you probably have a will and an advanced directive and possibly a medical power of attorney, but have you ever sat down with your family and talked frankly about
how you want to be cared for at the end of your life?  What if you're unable to participate in decisions as death nears?  How will your loved ones know what your wishes are?  Will they make the decisions you would have chosen?  What if the time comes and your family members don't know...because you've never told them.

This was exactly the situation that Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman found herself in as her mother neared death and could no longer speak for herself.  She did her best for her mom but made it her mission that other families would not have to go through the uncertainty and confusion she did.  She started The Conversation Project to encourage older...and even younger...people to call their family members together to talk about end-of-life issues.  You can find more information about the project at www.theconversationproject.org

I had my family meeting before Goodman's project got underway, using The Five Wishes, available from www.agingwithdignity.org and I think it's the better of the two.  You can download a copy of The Five Wishes at their website.  You fill out the form, answering the 5 questions about how you want to be treated as death approaches..  You discuss this with your loved ones.  Then they fill out the same forms, answering the questions as they understand your wishes.  Finally you go over their responses together to be certain they reflect yours.  If not, further discussion is warranted.  Each of you keeps a copy of the 5 Wishes forms so all of you are on the same page "when the time comes."

I did the 5 Wishes discussion with my two adult children.  When I first suggested it, they said, "Eww, we don't want to talk about that.  I said, "Well, my birthday is coming up and that's what I want for a present."  So they showed up, reluctantly, one Sunday morning, we had "the discussion" and afterward my daughter said, "That wasn't as bad as I expected."

I think these talks are among the most important you will have in your lifetime.  If you have elderly parents, you can initiate the discussion.  If you're the parent/grandparent, then you suggest it.  Don't do it at the spur of the moment.  Plan a time when you can all be together and when no one feels rushed.  You can't give yourself or your parent a better gift.

Take care, and stop by next Thursday for Tip#7.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Quote for the Week

This quote is courtesy of Dr. John Strohlein, who told me he stole but wouldn't say from where.
                       "The windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror."
So think about the future, folks.  The past is over and done with.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall in Texas

It's fall in Texas.  No matter that the thermometer reads 93 degrees, no matter there the leaves won't turn until Thanksgiving, no matter that early morning doesn't bring the slightest hint of cool air--in Texas fall means football.  Friday night lights are blazing again while my granddaughter's high school team (no longer named the Redskins) are taking the field.  Across the state in towns too small to have a college team, high school football is king.

College football is on TV.  The Aggies are a team to watch, even without Johnny Football, even though we hate them for abandoning us and the beloved Thanksgiving game with Texas and moving to the SEC.  The Longhorns are embarrassingly bad.  I dread the October weekend when I have to watch a University of Texas game along with my nephew in Atlanta.  No one is a more rabid Longhorn fan.  I imagine he's already depressed after the team was trounced in their first game by BYU.

The city is ecstatic today.  The Texans won their first NFL season game after losing 14 in a row last year.  J.J. Watt, our city's hero, blocked a point-after-touchdown kick, something the commentators couldn't believe because such a thing almost never happens.  Will the season be better than last year's?  Couldn't be worse.  We're all crossing our fingers.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tip #5 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

My husband was a pack rat.  He was an organized pack rat, with an elaborate system of files that I didn't understand.  Had I not pitched a fit before he went into the hospital for a stem cell transplant for his leukemia, I might have spent months searching for his will, his life insurance policy, the title to his car, his business papers and everything else I needed to know after his death.  Even then, I still spent months going through his files, filling my recycling bin and refilling papers I thought I should keep.  I decided this would not happen to my children after I die.  I assembled all my important papers plus burial plot information, people to call, passwords, funeral plans, safe deposit box key and whatever else I thought my children might need to lay their hands on immediately.  Then I bought a little kit, which I labeled When the Time Comes and put it in my study.  My son and daughter know exactly where it is and what's in it.

I think this is a good thing to do, after you lose a spouse or when both of you are still healthy and death is some vague event "in the future."  Life is fragile. You never know when you will need those papers, so keep them handy and available to those who will need them.

Take care, and I hope you'll stop by next Thursday for Tip#6.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quote for the Week

"If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then is an empty desk the sign of?"
       Albert Einstein

I chose this quote because it reminded me of the day my high school Latin teacher picked up my messy loose-leaf notebook and said to me, "A muddled notebook shows a muddled mind."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Books of July

I've read some interesting books this month.

A beautiful book, the best I've read this year so far.  Parallel stories during World War 2 about a blind French girl and an orphan German boy and their experiences during the war.  A+ for sure.

I was so looking forward to this book in his series about Israeli spy/assassin/art restorer Gabriel Allon, but I was disappointed.  About midway the story suddenly changed and I felt like I was reading a different book.  I'll go back and read some of his earlier books which I've heard were much better. B-.

When I noticed an excerpt of this book in Texas Monthly, I was intrigued.  Being a graduate of UT and a native of Austin, I remember the shooting from the Tower in almost the same way I remember other milestone days.  The book follows three people who were on campus that horrific day so I expected it to be a deep psychological novel, but it really wasn't.  The story was superficial but after a while I got interested and the final third held my attention.  I'd give it B+

The story of a young woman from an Orthodox Jewish family whose husband disappears and leaves her chained to the marriage because only men can divorce.  One day she stops on the street where an artist is selling his work.  He paints her picture, and this starts her on a new life.  She opens a gallery, eventually finds a lover and  ignores the restrictions of the Jewish community.  The author's descriptions are lovely, the main character only moderately likeable.  B+

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