Sunday, June 19, 2022

30 Day Reboot

It’s that time of year again.  The time when I begin to feel a bit restless and in need of a change.  I don’t feel stuck, just a little less interested in my usual routine.

Time passes so quickly that I forget to stop and reassess where I want to be.  All of those things that I thought about doing so many months ago, but never did, now don’t feel so important or interesting.

Being retired, I don’t have the commitment of work and yet my life is full and busy and for that I am grateful.  Now, I am ready for something new.

Time for a Change

I have to be careful when I’m feeling this way as I have a tendency to make radical changes, like moving houses or even leaving the country.  I don’t need to go to that extent if I can just find some new ways to revitalize my outlook.

What I have learned is that all change actually happens from within and that is where I need to start.  So, I have created a personal challenge that will help me to reset my perspective and allow some fresh ideas to surface.

Be Easy About It

What I am looking for is a gentle shift, not a huge leap.  Some way of opening up to some new things without having to throw out the old. 

One thing I will do more of is meditate.  Spending just 10 minutes a day, sitting quietly is so simple that I forget how much power there is in reconnecting with my spirit.

When I do that, it seems that I feel lighter, and more creative ideas come to me. 

Do What You Love

Something that never fails to soothe my soul is to go out in nature.  No matter what the weather is, I always love just walking in a park.  I go during off hours so I can be alone and just experience the peace.
 
This year, I started a small vegetable garden.  It has been so satisfying to care for the plants and watch them grow.  It is a lovely reminder of the cycle of life.

Have Fun

Part of the process for me is to remember to have more fun.  I have always been a very serious person so light-hearted fun is pure joy when I can let myself feel it.

Over the years, I have found that I enjoy many things but don’t often incorporate them into my daily life. 

Whether it is turning up the music and dancing while I’m cleaning house or cooking some new exotic dish, it doesn’t matter.  Just being playful is key to feeling happy.
 
Minimize Negative Influence

It is helpful for me to reduce outside interference in order to make sustainable changes. 

The big one for me is my phone.  I live alone so it is easy for that to be my biggest connection with the outside world, but it has become less of a tool for communicating and more of a time warp of senseless activity.  I catch myself scrolling through a flood of information that I don’t want or need in my life.

I remember when a phone was just a phone, not a mini computer.

Television is another intrusion that I allow far too often.  I don’t need the constant input of bad news and excessive advertising. 

Maximize the Positive

It is easy to go through the day without stopping to think about how I am really feeling.  Every day there is an opportunity for me to look for the best things in the world around me. 

Something as simple as a friendly check-out clerk at the store or a lovely yellow butterfly on the bush in my yard.  Life is as wonderful as we let it be.

Many years ago, Bing Crosby sang “Accentuate the Positive – Eliminate the Negative”, that is my new mantra.

I can’t wait to see what delightful things I will discover on this new journey.
 
Do you feel a need for change at different times of the year?  What do you do when you are craving something new?  Share your stories and join the conversation.

Published on Sixty and Me

Sunday, June 5, 2022

A Moment of Joy

 You never know when something will happen that will surprise and delight you.

As I was walking through the parking lot, on my way to get groceries.  I smiled at a woman loading her car with hanging baskets of wilted petunias.

Just as I passed her, she called out to me.  I turned to see her waving me back toward her. 
 
Not sure what she needed, I walked back over.

Smiling, she said something in Spanish and handed me one of the baskets.  

I understood enough that there were no more, and this was for me.  She said "water" and then motioned big growth.  

Her daughter watched us as we tried to communicate.

It was a moment of pure joy.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Monday, March 14, 2022

Emotional Decluttering in my 60s

As I look back on my life, I can see all the events and circumstances that brought me to where I am now.  I am grateful for every situation and relationship that helped me to grow into the woman I am today. 

What I have realized is that some of what I have been holding onto no longer serves me and it is time to let it go.  Just like that closet packed with clothes that I no longer wear; it is time to clear some of the emotional clutter.
 
Letting go can be difficult but when I look at the benefit it brings, it becomes easier. 
 
It doesn’t happen all at once. 
 
Just like sorting through that closet, I needed to take my time and try some things on.  How does it feel?  Does it work for who I am and what my life is about today?  If so, I will happily keep it – if not, I have to release it.

I like the philosophy of Treasure or Toss in decluttering and it helped to ease some of the emotional discomfort I felt about this process.
 
One thing I seemed to have accumulated a lot of over the years are unhealthy relationships.  Those interactions that, no matter how hard I to try to fix them, they never get better. 

What I have discovered is that abuse comes in all shapes and sizes (physical, verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual).  Running the gamut from unkind and disrespectful to controlling and manipulative, it all has the same outcome – pain.

Replace what you don’t need with what you do want.

In the beginning, everything felt like a loss.  Now, I look at what I have to gain in the process.  Once I removed the anxiety and discomfort, I found peace and clarity. 

Gently, I began sorting through my feelings.  I evaluated each situation carefully and asked myself – does this bring me joy?

The answer isn’t always clear cut, relationships are complicated.  But if I am serious about improving my life then I need to prioritize what I give my time and energy to.

Aging clarified what is most important in my life.

After turning 60 I no longer felt like I had forever but, in many ways, it felt like my life was just beginning. 

What I didn’t want to do was to waste one moment being unhappy.  Life can be short or long, but it is all very precious, and we have to make the most of it.

For me, that means taking the time to appreciate all of the wonderful experiences I have had and letting the rest go.
 
Clearing what no longer fits feels like creating space for what is yet to come - more joy and satisfaction at this beautiful time in my life.

Did your outlook on life and relationships change after turning 60?  What impact has aging had on your relationships?  Share your stories and join the conversation.

Published on Sixty and Me 2/27/22

Sunday, March 13, 2022

What I Didn't Know About Ireland

                                


As an Irish American, I grew up thinking that I knew certain things about Ireland.   Of course, I had always heard how beautiful it was and how friendly the people were, but I was surprised to discover that there are so many things that as Americans we don't really know about Ireland.

Here are just some of the things that surprised and delighted me during my travels to the lovely green isle.

Top o' the Mornin 

I've never heard an Irish person say this in over 20 years of traveling there.

Corned Beef and Cabbage is not the national dish

The most common or traditional meal I found all through the country is boiled back bacon (pork), potatoes, cabbage and a lovely parsley cream sauce, it's just like the country boiled dinner my grandmother made when I was growing up.  Corned beef and cabbage developed in America due to the cost of food and immigrants living in the same communities with some who did not eat pork.  


Irish Bacon is not the same as Canadian Bacon 

It a gorgeous slice of pork loin (rashers) that I adore!

St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday to honor their patron Saint

Until 1970 pubs were required by law to close for the day.  Irish immigrants in America began celebrating in remembrance of their homeland and it has evolved into the green madness we know today. 

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate countries

Although they share a border with the South, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.

Pubs in Ireland are truly Public Houses

They are a place to meet, gather and conduct business.  You are as likely to find a hardware store or linen shop in the same building.  I even found one that had a mortuary on the other side.  Many have become more of a drinking establishment, but you'll still find many true pubs throughout the country.

To say that the Irish are heavy drinkers, is not a fair reflection of the culture

I found drinking to be more of a social activity, and many prefer tea or soft drinks over alcohol when they are out.  My favorite was black currant juice mixed with water, very refreshing.

Having said that, there is a very healthy respect for the black stuff

During my travels I would often see Guinness mini coupes driving through the country to inspect and service the tiny pubs in the towns and villages.  As a woman you are more likely to be offered a glass instead of a pint when you order a beer, just tell them you want a pint, and you'll get a smile and a wink.

We've all heard of Irish Wakes 

I was very moved to hear the story about families having American Wakes for their loved ones who were emigrating to the US - they knew they would probably never see them again.  

Christian - Pagan - Ancient Celts

As I trekked up the Hill of Tara, I was surprised to see a very modest statue of St. Patrick and all of the surrounding monuments and symbols to honor their ancient pagan history as well.

Cherish the History

That is something very unique about Ireland - they don't remove something just because it is old or seems out of date.  A lovely caretaker I met at the Kylemore Abbey gardens explained to me that anything that thrives there stays there. 

Taxi drivers are more like professional tour operators 

They will give you great information about the local area.  It will also be the most interesting conversation you will ever have.  The Irish are very well informed about news and world events and love to chat with travelers about all of it.

How lovely and social they are is not a myth 

If they ask you about yourself, it isn't simply to be polite - they really want to know.  When I lived there, I was told early on, to allow extra time when you go out so you can chat with the people you meet along the way.  

The Irish have an incredible, irrepressible, independent spirit

That is perfectly displayed on the Painted Doors of Dublin.  At the same time, they have a deep love and loyalty to their country, like singing the national anthem at the end of the night after drinking and dancing.  That is something you would never see at an American bar.

They are the warmest, kindest most generous people I have ever met, and the countryside is absolutely stunning.  

If you've been there, then you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, then you must see it for yourself to understand the true beauty of this very special place.

To say I was charmed by Ireland would be a tremendous understatement.  It's not only the home of my ancestors but has become the homeplace of my heart. 






Sunday, January 30, 2022

12 Years

It's hard to believe that 12 years have passed since I began this blog.

I remember being very nervous to actually publish my innermost, private thoughts and musings.

At first, I was hesitant to even post what I was writing.  I couldn't believe that anyone would want to read about such simple things.

Then little by little, with a lot of support and encouragement, I began to share my thoughts.

I was astonished at the warm and wonderful reception I received.

My deepest appreciation goes to all of you who have supported me in this grand personal experiment.

Wishing you all love and joy!




Saturday, December 18, 2021

Christmas Magic

It was just a few weeks until Christmas and I could hardly wait.

We had moved into our beautiful new house, and I had my very own bedroom.  No more sharing with my annoying younger brother.

Mom was busy decorating and getting ready for the holiday.  I’m not sure I had ever seen her so happy.  She finally met someone who treated her well and even liked us kids too. 

Buzz was a kind man, quiet and gentle with a warm smile.  Walking in with his dusty work boots, exhausted from work, he was never too tired to pick me up and give me a huge bear hug.

We were living a life I could never have imagined.  There was so much food in the house we had to put another refrigerator on the back porch.  We didn’t have to worry about moving in the middle of the night because we couldn’t pay the rent.  Life was very good.

“You are not going to start another project this close to Christmas” I heard my mom telling Buzz.

He was always working on something.  He built a new patio with a rock garden for mom in the summer and a mini playhouse for me and my brother.

Despite her protests, he began working.  

It was unusual for him to be doing it inside, but it was winter, so I didn’t think much of it. 

Mom was beside herself with the mess.  She had worked so hard to clean and decorate the house.  He had even pushed the Christmas tree off into the corner.

I was surprised and confused when I came home from school and saw that he was actually tearing down the living room wall. 

He and mom almost never argued but this was different.  There were pieces of wood and sheet rock everywhere.  I was happy I had a room to go to where I could stay away from it all.

As the days passed, mom accepted that this was going to happen whether she liked it or not. 

Just a couple of days until Christmas now and I was more excited than ever.  This was our first Christmas in the new house.

Behind the canvas tarps, Buzz worked away, he looked like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.

He even enlisted my brother to help with his “secret project”.

I was a little jealous that I wasn’t included but I kept myself busy playing with my dolls and reading in my room.

Finally, it was Christmas eve.  I knew this year would be special, but I had no idea how much. 

After dinner, mom sent me and my brother to our rooms.  “We have something to do before Santa comes, so you have to stay there until we tell you to come out” she instructed “and no peeking” she nodded to my brother.

Presents, it must be our presents we both thought. 

When she opened the door, she told me to close my eyes.  Gently guiding me, we walked into the front room. 

What I saw when I opened my eyes was the most beautiful fireplace I had ever seen.  

That is what Buzz had been working on.  Whoever had lived there before had covered up the fireplace with a wall.

It looked like something out of a fairy tale – the fire was glowing with twinkles of light reflecting on the hearth.

Under the tree were two boxes, one for me and one for my brother. 

We didn’t usually get to open any gifts before Christmas morning, so this was another unexpected surprise. 

My box was not wrapped, so it was easy to just open the top.  As I did, up popped the most beautiful little gray kitten in the world.  I immediately began to cry, as I carefully lifted her out of the box.

“Is she really for me?” I asked in disbelief, petting her gently. "I think I'll call her Thumbelina because she's so tiny" I said.

My brother grinned at me and began opening his package.  It was a toolbox with real tools to build things, he was thrilled.

Mom smiled and watched quietly as we laughed and played.

Buzz reached down from his rocking chair and lifted me, still holding the kitten, into his lap.

It was truly a magical Christmas.