Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pardon me, but you stink!

It's funny, but it's not. Not at all. If you're basically a nice person, just how do you discuss the fact that a grown adult needs to shower more often? How do you tell someone that their body odor has reached the offensive point without causing them embarrassment? It's impossible. And yet, it's necessary.

“Pardon me, but your body odor is offensive.” “Could you please improve your personal hygiene habits?” No matter how polite you try to be, it just doesn't cut it, does it? No matter how nicely you say it, asking someone to shower more frequently just sounds rude and will likely make them feel bad.

On the other hand, the rest of us have a right to a stink free environment, whether at home or out and about. So, I'll say it here and address it to no one in particular. For heavens sake, please take a shower at least once a day. Because sometimes you can't smell yourself but for other people, there is absolutely no doubt that it's been a while since you and a bar of soap encountered each other.

Yes, the water bills are sky high and water is in short supply. So, take a shorter shower, but please do shower daily. If not for yourself, than for the rest of us. I implore you!

Isn't it crazy that this issue even exists? Shouldn't fully grown individuals have learned the basics of cleanliness somewhere back in grade school?

And please remember that there are people with severe perfume allergies out there too. You don't have to drown yourself in the stuff. And also, if you're using it to cover up your lack of attention to hygiene, people can tell you haven't showered and your perfume is nothing but a smoke screen. Just saying.

On another related note, who is taking care of the personal hygiene of all the seldom appreciated, but highly valuable seniors who flock to the thrift stores on senior day? If I am to go by the horrific odor that smacked us in the face as we entered the building yesterday, the answer is very clearly, “no one.”

Now, call me crazy, but I figure if retirement homes can go to all the trouble of providing a bus to take these wonderful folks on outing, surely, they can also check to see that they have bathed prior to their trips.

It's not the senior's fault that some of them suffer from incontinence and/or have trouble getting in and out of the tub. But it is definitely under the description of senior care to make sure they are clean and wearing clean clothes, isn't it? Isn't this exactly what people working in nursing homes are paid to do? Why aren't they doing it? Their whole job is supposed to be about caring. They're even called caregivers. I just don't get it.

But it's not just the seniors is it? Seriously, the funk is everywhere. I'm assaulted with it daily. Just how can anyone feel good about themselves when they smell so bad? And how on earth, once you realize the odor is coming from you, can you continue to do absolutely nothing about it? I just don't understand. I also simply have no idea how to address someone with this issue in a polite manner, in order to protect myself from total sensory repulsion.

And yes, I am very sensitive to “bad” smells. But I'm pretty sure this bothers most “normal” people too. So please, you guys, take a moment each morning to wash your bod, change your clothes, brush your teeth, put on deodorant and comb your hair. If not for your sake, for everyone else's. Because pardon me for saying so, but you stink and you need to do something about it. You're losing friends.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Forced retirement is no party

I understand that it looks like I'm having a good time. Sometimes I do. But the symptoms don't magically disappear when I make myself enjoy my life in spite of them. Plus, it would be great if I could be of more help, especially financially. In fact, every time I see a help wanted sign or hear of someone hiring in my field of experience, I seriously think about applying. Then I remember how unreliable I am now and just sigh....

I used to be an asset. Now, I'm a liability. That's a harsh reality to live with. A real slap in the face.

And then, there are those symptoms! Have you ever heard that saying about not wishing something on your worst enemy? Ya, it's like that. I wake up every morning, not knowing what to expect. Will it be a good day? Will it be the day from hell? Or will it be somewhere in between? And aside from that, I go to bed every night not knowing if I actually will wake up. Makes it pretty hard to sleep.

And yes, I do go to the beach sometimes. But my umbrella and my pain come with me. And I can't wear normal swimwear any more because I have overwhelmingly saggy skin and other body issues from constant weight fluctuations and steroids. I know. I do love myself. But this is not your typical aging body. It's much worse.

So, even if I was once a beautiful young thing, which I was and did not fully appreciate, and even if I stayed in shape my whole entire life, which, like most folks, I did not, I will never be a bathing beauty ever again. It's not a self image thing. It's just the cold, hard truth. My whistle worthy days are gone and not returning. I'm now in the “hushed tone whispering” or “blatant finger pointing and laughter from strangers” phase of my life. It sucks, you guys.

What's even worse? I can exercise my little tush off (except that I can't without being in bed for weeks) and... no dice. It ain't happening. I am not going to look better, no matter how active I get. Aside from major plastic surgery, which I cannot afford, the beach body has permanently left the building. And it's not just the beach body. The “ I can manage to look fairly decent in street clothes with a few adjustments” body is long gone too.

And now, back to the “Things I love that I can do because I now have time” category. Yes, I do garden. I will not give up the thing I love most. But break out that umbrella again for sure. Either that or garden before the sun comes up all the way or after it goes down or do a very, very little at a time or all three. Ya, all three is the norm. Plus, forget about in-ground planting. No way can I garden conventionally. No way.

And yes, I do go “hiking.” But I bring a walking stick as a requirement, not an option. And it hurts like holy hell too. And my “can do” mountain climbing is more limited each day. But I know that if I sit all day, this disease will get the better of me. Plus, I refuse to do so until I have no choice. Just like I refused to quit working until I had no choice.

Road trips are my favorite thing in this entire world. But now, my legs swell from sitting in the car and if I'm driving, my hands swell up too. And both ache like you wouldn't believe. In fact, sometimes after a road trip, or another fun activity, I literally cry myself to sleep from the pain. In my recliner because, acid reflux, while I have managed to control the number of episodes, loves road trips! It just has to join me for every single one. Plus, if I know that I'm going to be doing something like that, I have to take extra prednisone for the inflammation. Of course, then, I'm even more nauseated, a bit grumpy and possibly a royal pain to do anything with. Ironic, yes? But this is my life as a forced retiree.

BTW, much love to my peeps for putting up with me.

And that's something else. It really sucks, seeing other people suffer or be limited because I'm sick. And maybe this is a lame example, but my one and only absolutely loves driving up Mount Evans. It's his favorite place to go. I have a fear of heights, but normally, that doesn't stop me. I just do it, enjoy the view and celebrate arriving at the top (and the bottom, whew!” But with Lupus, dizzying heights make me sick, sick, sick. So, even if I could once soldier through, albeit with trepidation, I just can't do it any more. And I'm stubborn. So sometimes I do it anyway. Do now, pay now and/or later.

Do you know what it's like, not being able to do the thing that the person you love, loves most? I know those of you with chronic illness do. It's not a small disappointment. Plus, it's hard on the relationship. And limiting. So limiting! But you compromise. And sometimes, as I said, you do it anyway because you love them. You know you will pay that aforementioned price. That's a given, not a maybe. But hey, they're worth it.

And then, there's that whole “can't” thing. I'm a natural, can do person. I'm a survivor and a thriver. Can't never used to be a part of my vocabulary. Now, it's a given. There are some things I just can't do. Work is one of them. It's horrible to have my choices taken away like that. It makes me feel like a 90 year old. And some days, I have about the same mobility and dexterity.

I also fall asleep at random moments. Now, maybe that sounds good to some of you. But it's highly inconvenient. Even though I stay home, I still have a lot of responsibilities. In fact, all the things that the working people have no time for fall squarely in my lap. Ya, the lap of someone who has days where taking just one step hurts. It's a great place for them to land, right? NOT!

BTW, the reason for those forced naps is that constant fatigue and brain fog are the norm for those with chronic illness. And then, there's the whole “up all night/worshiping the porcelain god or wishing you could” thing. It's not exactly conducive to a good night's sleep. Imagine having the flu 50% of the time. That's about how it is for me. For some people with chronic illness, the percentage is even higher.

I am actually very lucky. Yes, that's right, I said that I'm lucky. Because Lupus has also been the catalyst for much maturation and learning. I even write about it sometimes in my Lupus Love blog. And aside from the fact that most people feel much better than I do, there are a lot of people who feel much worse. Plus, I am surrounded by friends and family who totally get it.

Still, forced retirement is no party, my friends. Don't be so quick to envy people with chronic illness who “get to” stay home all day.

Because with chronic illness, retirement is not about “get to.” It's all about “have to.” Just like your job, but with a lot of pain, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and a million other symptoms nobody wants to have thrown at you throughout the day.

And ya, this is negative, but you know what? It's my party and I'll cry if I want to because it hurts! Especially when people talk about it like it's a vacation.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

It was never ours to take

This morning, I watched two videos of native people from two different countries who made it very clear that white folks took said countries by force. Those countries were already settled and therefore belonged to the natives. I understand fully that said white people have done this time and time again and without a whole lot of consideration for anyone else on the planet. However, I'd like to make a different point as well. And that is, that unarguably cruel and unjustified takeovers aside, countries actually belong to no one at all.

Land ownership is a human illusion. We are territorial animals and as such, we form an attachment to the soil we are born on, live on, watch our loved ones die on and eventually die on ourselves. It's a very natural response. I believe that particular animal instinct insures that we take good care of that which sustains us. However, we seem to have forgotten a few not so tiny little details.

The earth does not belong to us at all. No part of it belongs to us. We belong to it. And our current lifestyle is anything but sustainable, because it's simply too far removed from nature to be viable.

We are a part (and a very small part at that) of the great and astoundingly vast natural world. It's easy to forget that, isn't it? That's because, these days, we have separated ourselves so far from the natural world that we refer to nature as a separate entity from ourselves. 

How many times have you heard someone call themselves a nature lover?

Well, I hope you are too, because you are nature.

We agree and are saddened when Koko the gorilla says she is nature and begs us to save the earth but we have forgotten that we are nature too. Nature is not something we encounter through a trip to the mountains, a picnic at the beach or a walk in the woods. Nature is in us and all around us. We belong to it and we are a part of it, but we cannot own it because it's not for sale and never will be.

Oh sure, according to the laws of man and modern society, we can buy property, put a house on it, live there and call it our own. But when it comes right down to it, it isn't really ours. Folks, so many wars have been fought, so many lives have been lost and so many tears have been shed over possessing this bit of land or that. Isn't it time for us to evolve and realize that no matter where we live, it doesn't belong to us. We are simply a part of it.

Possession may be 9/10th of the law but it's not the law of nature to posses anything.

Ah, but here we are in this comfy little illusion. We feel safe in this fenced off universe we have created for ourselves. But the fences are neither safe nor real. So what can we do? We've created a monster, haven't we? And now, we have to deal with it. What a shame when we could have been happy and free and living naturally, as we were intended to.

There's no one to blame but ourselves. ALL of ourselves.

A wise man once sung, “All we do, crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.” We really are dust in the wind, folks, along with everything we create and possess. So, how about we work on something that will endure? How about we adopt a mindset and lifestyle that will survive the test of time and help us all thrive in the future? 

A real legacy has nothing to do with ownership. A real legacy is about passing down natural truth, sustainable wisdom and a desire to do the right thing for all concerned.

It's time for us to evolve again. Let's get it right this time, shall we? The earth was never ours to take. Ever. It was ours to share. Unfortunately, sharing is apparently not something we're very good at. But perhaps we should work on that. You think?

Can you “Imagine all the people, sharing all the world?” I hope so. Because if not, than sooner, rather than later, there won't be anything left to share.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I'm not perfect, but I'm still growing

According to this photographic proof, I'm almost a ten. Ya, right.

Hey, I'm only 56. Give me time. Ha! So, it occurred to me that my last post on the value of integrity and it's relationship with everyone's favorite friend, happiness, may have seemed a bit self righteous, so I figured I would drop another one on you right away to dispel the notion that I think I belong on a pedestal, simply because I was raised by people of integrity.

I don't. Not at all.

Oh boy, when I look back on some of my blogs and articles, does that ever become crystal clear! Some of them are so badly written and with such misplaced determination that I can barely stand to read through them myself. I have never been nor will I ever be picture perfect. Nope. Sadly, I am condemned to spend the rest of my life as a normal, average human being. Who knew?

Hey, stop laughing. I swear I'm just as normal as anyone. Oh sure, my beliefs are a tad off the mainstream. Heck, some of them have jumped ship altogether. Oh, how I love to jump ship! My favorite thing about myself is that I'm so far out of the box that I have no idea where it is or why I'm supposed to be concerned about whether I'm in it or out of it.

Someone once told me I was way out of line and she was probably right. I don't think I have ever really, truly been in line. But then, conforming to a broken society and having good character are two totally different things, aren't they? You don't have to be a good little soldier to possess integrity. In fact, those two qualities aren't really compatible as a general rule. Mind blowing, right?

And again, I'm not bragging. Trust me, I love myself, but...“I'm not your Super Woman.” (By the way, brownie points if you sung that.) I do, however, believe in working toward perfection of character, even though I know for absolute certain that I will never get there. Well now, isn't that a cheerful attitude? Nah! It's just the truth. No human being is, has ever been or ever will be perfect. No matter what their idea of perfect might be.

Anyway, back to my point. I'm a very opinionated person. Stop rolling your eyes. I am well aware of how obvious that has become. Anyway.... because I have strong opinions and I speak my mind and I'm determined to share my thoughts with anyone who is willing (or unwilling) to listen, I worry that some people may see me as conceited. (Apparently, I also say “I” a lot.) In fact, I just highlighted all the I's in this post and I don't even want to count them. There are way too many.

What? You say that's a sign of being self centered? Hey, honestly, I'm not conceited. I'm just super smart and I know what's good for you, plus this is my blog, right? So, so shut up about the I's and listen. Ha! Just kidding.

My only ulterior motive in life is to do my best to harm no one and make as many people happy along the journey as possible. Hey, I passed a Facebook quiz on it, so it must be true.

However, it wasn't and isn't always true. Because I'm one of those people whose head is not impacted, no matter how many bricks you throw at it. That's a fancy way of saying I'm stubborn as all get out. And guess what? I also have a mean streak if you step on the wrong toe. My pen isn't just poison, it's also sharply honed through years of abuse. All those imaginary conversations with those who have wronged me, where I tell them off and get the last word, have sharpened me like a double edged sword.

So ya, you know that person of integrity that I'm recommending you work toward becoming? I'm not there yet either. I still go off like a steam kettle at times when provoked. I guess some might look at it as not practicing what I preach. And sure, my willpower, humanity, timing or whatever needs work. But I'm getting there.

I may not be the person I want to be yet, but I'm learning. Each day brings me closer to being at least half the person my Dad was. But here's the thing; Even trying to be more respectful, more considerate, kinder and more loving brings me the greatest joy. And that's why I told you to do the same. Not because I think I'm perfect.

It's not about me, nor do I believe that I'm always right and/or the greatest thing since sliced cinnamon bread without those annoying raisins. But you guys, I am very, very happy. In fact, the only thing that would make me happier is seeing the rest of the world happy too. Hence, that last blog, while it may have seemed conceited, well, it was actually all about you.

Isn't it “I”ronic?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When I was seventeen....

Me, at 17.

It was a very good year and so were all the preceding years. It was such a simple time. Not everyone was good, but we were taught that loving and caring for each other was the most important thing we could do. Building character was more important than making money. Spending time with friends and family was a huge part of our life. And we didn't just give those principles lip service. We lived them.

I often hear people talk about “beating kids' butts” like that action were equal to the second coming, but let me tell you, that's not the key to having good kids. It's not the reason we were all, at least seemingly better, back in the day. The reason we behaved is because our parents behaved. That is, they were people of good character and they expected us to be the same. That is, they respected us and we returned the favor.

And the families that played together did, indeed stay together. I came from a very close family. Our home was the hub for our entire extended family as well. Holidays, birthdays or just any old day would find our home filled with friends and relatives. A great number of my family members were musically inclined, so there would be guitars, a piano, and even an accordion. And board games. And party games. And silliness. And laughter, lots of it.

Christmas did bring a few memorable gifts but it wasn't even about that at all. It was about seeing the people we loved. We often had 50 or more people in our home on holidays. There were no invitations. Everyone just showed up with a contribution to the meal, like a casserole or a dessert.

We shared the work too. We cooked together, cleaned up together and in between, we had a great time. The story tellers made everyone's jaws ache from laughter. We reminisced a lot and made new memories to talk about next time.

Our folks didn't bring home the whole toy store every time we had a birthday, either. We had a few simple toys to play with, but a whole lot of love to draw on. There was zero technology, unless you're talking about the color TV that my Dad built from a kit or our “party line” dial telephone. The TV was not automatically on every night either. We just watched what was worth watching according to my Dad.

We were far from desensitized. My folks knew the value of giving us a happy childhood, free from the constant worries of being an adult. The Wizard of Oz was the scariest movie I had ever seen up until I turned 18.

And, you know, you guys, there really is something to be said for letting kids be kids and letting life teach them as they grow. Many of my lessons were learned through experience. I truly believe that's what made them stick. My parents each slapped my face once when I was a teenager truly out of line. That's it. They never, ever, spanked me.

Life and their good example was a better teacher and they knew that. They also knew that spanking was a discipline that only worked to keep you in line if someone was there to do it. Life, on the other hand, teaches you the reason to behave when no one's looking. And as a result, I do.

They were genuinely good people with kind hearts and good intentions. They wanted the best for everyone. Gossip was frowned upon. Religion and politics were subjects not discussed or debated among friends and family. Your vote was your choice and kept private and sacred. People respected the fact that not everyone agreed with them.

People tell me that I'm an extraordinarily good person. It's not exactly true all the time. I have the same thoughts as everyone else when it comes to people hurting me. I want to hurt them back sometimes. I think that's a normal human reaction. But, you know what the difference is between me and some people who do take action on those feelings? I don't do it. But more important is the reason I don't do it.

It's because I was raised to believe that kindness was important. More important then revenge. More important than money. More important than possessions. I was raised to believe in, and with the example of good character, integrity and purposeful restraint from conflict all around me. Because of that, I learned that solving my problems without violence might be a little harder, but the effort was worth the payoff of knowing I was doing the right thing.

My parents gave me something that a lot of parents today have forgotten about. Through their good example, they showed me how to be a person of character, who values their personal integrity over all. They showed me that the true value of a person isn't measured by what's in his purse or her wallet, but by how he/she treats others.

So, when I was 17, it was a very good year. And so were all the years before and so will be all the years after. And if you're out there somewhere, trying to find your happy place, here is the secret. Happiness comes by giving joy to others and being a kind, decent person. You create it. It's all up to you. And you can have that, no matter your circumstances in life. Leave the anger and resentment behind you. It'll drag you down. Create a little happiness instead. It's easy if you try.