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Aging. . . and appreciation

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For Thanksgiving we had the pleasure of spending the day with my husband Jim’s Aunt and Uncle.  Both in their late 80’s, and married 63 years, they have been in failing health recently.  And, not realizing it yesterday, I woke up this morning knowing I learned a valuable lesson from them.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working in a nursing home.  My goal while I worked there was to help people have a great quality of life.  I always appreciated the residents as people with amazing history.  But, after spending time with our Aunt and Uncle, I realize the residents were only shells of who they once were.  Still functioning, still alive, but not the same.  For the residents in the nursing home we were their caretakers, and they were dependent on us.

So, yesterday, while spending time with them, in our Aunt and Uncle’s home, I realized they were so lucky.  Lucky to have been in such good health for so long, lucky to be together for 63 years.  Lucky to be independent, which is truly a gift. 

And, not that I didn’t see it before, but it became increasingly apparent how finite life is.  In their case, at 87, how many good years are left?  How many more years can they live on their own, cherishing each other and the precious time they have together?

That same question does go for each and every one of us, too — every day is a gift.  Did you ever see the movie, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas“, when his heart melted and he found appreciation?  That is how I feel.  With this Thanksgiving, I found appreciation.  For my family, for my husband, for my children.  I realize how important it is to recognize their individuality.  So, maybe my kids’ grades aren’t perfect, but they are healthy and happy and pursuing their way in life.  They are their own people, truly individuals, sorta fun to be around, and I am proud of them. 

Life is a learning process.  I feel a little sad that it took this long for the “wakeup call”.  And I appreciate my visit with Jim’s aging relatives to help me along.

Do I expect to relish in this appreciation every day?  I’m sure not — I’m sure things will get me down some days, or the work stress will take precious time away.  But I will strive to stop myself if I become overwhelmed, or exhausted, and reflect on the good things in my life. 

My goal?  To smile.  My desire?  Just to have a nice day.  Every day. 

And, my hope for you, too.

Weekend plans for a recovering Boring-A-Holic

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So, it’s Friday.  People are supposed to have weekend plans on Fridays, right?

I had gotten an invitation for Friday night for a wine and cheese party.  A get-together with old friends.  My husband is going to a retirement party and I’m going to be alone.   I said I probably wouldn’t go.  He’s making me.  After all, I’m supposed to have fun and talk to people.

After that, a friend who has a band is playing in a local bar.  I don’t go to bars.  Ever.  I’m supposed to go out, so I’m going to pop in and listen to him play.  By myself.  Something I’ve never done.

A friend invited me to coffee Saturday morning.  And, on Sunday, we’re supposed to go on a teddy bear run motorcycle ride.  A little cold out, but that should be fun, and rewarding, because the teddy bears are given to children.  On Sunday afternoon we’re going to our cousin’s for an adult only (no kids) Thanksgiving dinner.  More conversation and friendship.

This is kind of amazing.  I rarely have anything nice on my schedule.  My normal weekend is mostly spent at my desk at work, then food shopping, cleaning, and just being tired.  No play.  No fun.  And, on Mondays, I drag myself into the office exhausted because I’ve had no break.  Maybe this upcoming Monday will  be better — at least I’ll have something to talk about “around the water cooler“!

So, where could all these activities come from?  Maybe someone, somewhere, knows I’m trying to become un-boring.   That’s great, because planning fun stuff when I know I should be doing work stuff is difficult.

The weekend is here with the promise of being different from the others.

Time to play.