#10 – Autumn!

Internet photo

I have a friend who said that she only sees October as the month when everything is dying. To me – it’s a PARTY! All the colors are out like Halloween costumes, and all the wood smoke and leaf burning is like incense wafting skyward. Wonderful leaves to scuff through that sing a whooshing sound as you go along like no dirt road can do during the summertime.

I don’t know if it has been the release from the heat, the fun of another school year of information for my hungry mind, or even new school supplies and clothing that made autumn so welcome in my life. Probably all of it.

All of the plants and trees begin showing their produce at this time of year, too. So many things yield their identities with the fruits, nuts, berries or even just fluffy seeds become visible and also add their colors. Busy wildlife gathering it all in (squirrels!), and even pelting me with some of it at times made for some hilarity for me as I enjoyed traipsing through forests or weeded prairie fields as a child.

All of the sturdy harvest foods begin replacing the fragile produce of summer, and it tastes so good because it was cooked inside the cozy home. The family gathers like they can’t stand to do during the summertime because it’s too dang HOT unless you’ve got a/c. Give me the cool, brisk, bountiful, and sassy AUTUMN days anytime! 

#9 – Good Healthcare!

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This year is nearly over, and I have done less than I expected as far as expressing my thankfulness; but I have honestly been gaining ground on things to be grateful and thankful for.

Good healthcare is sometimes a desperate challenge for some of us in my age group within my country (the USA); but I have to say that I have been able to obtain some great care this past year. My Primary care physician is focused on caring for those over 50, and it’s been a HUGE blessing for me that I found her. She listens to me, and then tells me what is significant that I missed seeing as significant. She chooses my medications based on her understanding of my aging process as well as my lab results. She’s just been a big difference to the doctors I’ve had before, lemme tell ya.

This year has been an ordeal for me in the health area, though I had been working on improving it most of last year. I have been dealing with shortness of breath for a long time, and my doctor decided to push for a lot of tests by a lot of experts. She was concerned that my troubles were more than asthma, which we had been working hardest to resolve.

So I am grateful for the discoveries. First: I have a healthy heart! There is no heart disease currently messing with me (relief). That took several tests to determine, and there was some reason for concern since I have been obese with high cholesterol (my body makes bad cholesterol, even if I am fasting) for most of my life.

I still have no sign of diabetes! Also very good news (don’t hate me, please).

After a discussion with the pulmonologist, who complimented me on my faithful use of the CPAP, he decided that – it is my asthma that’s causing the trouble. There are a couple of tests he’s going to do, but they are all about how my asthma is working me over.

I am one of those people who didn’t get an asthma diagnosis until my adult years, and I just don’t always know when to use my rescue inhaler, though I am good about using the nebulizer when I feel persistently breathless. What I wasn’t doing, was resorting to using the rescue inhaler before, during or after exertive activities. Instead, I’d sit down and work on recovering. From now on, I’ll keep moving but use the inhaler before, during, and after any exertive activity. That will allow me to rebuild muscles and stamina that I’ve lost during this fight for air. There’s more testing ahead, but nothing to be worried about – just looking for better options and coping mechanisms that will allow me to keep active more than I have been doing.

So, I just want to say how thankful I am that I haven’t missed any significant time from work (just some PTO time for the tests) during all of this, too. Working from home is such a HUGE blessing, since I had less traveling to do just to make the appointments.

I am my sole provider for income, with a widow’s pension that is insufficient for my basic needs unless I apply for governmental assistance. So my job is important for my independent lifestyle. It also provides my really good healthcare, which is slightly less costly than Medicare would be, and covers more than Medicare does. That means that though I am eligible for it, I am better off staying with the plan my employer offers me.

At 67 years of age, I have out-worked all of my 8 parents before they retired, and none of them were lazy about their work habits. Life just beat them up harder. I’m beyond grateful for God making it possible for me to work beyond 60. It keeps me engaged with mental stimulation as well as making my life work well at my age, and with my needs.

I may have been too busy to write about my gratitude, but certainly still counting my blessings during this time!

I’ve Arrived!

Stock photo from internet

I feel like I finally arrived in the 21st century! I have moved away from one town to another. One of the complications is that I don’t have a bank facility very close to me. All of them are about 5 to 10 miles away. This isn’t much of a problem, until I have a paper check to deposit or cash.

I got a refund from the insurance policy I cancelled because I found a different company is cheaper. I really didn’t want to travel to the bank to deposit anything that small.

My younger son has an account at the same bank as I do, and I saw him take a picture of a check and it was deposited in his account. So, I went to the phone app, and figured out how to do it. Woo Hoo! No gas used in this action, but the money will be deposited and available as it usually is: on the next banking day (in this case, Monday).

I don’t know why I waited so long to grow this skill. I’m fairly tech savvy and I have no inner resistance to it. I think it was just convenient and fool proof to go to the local remote site and use the ATM on my way to the store when I had one very close to home.

I just had to tell someone, without coming over as boastful or weird. I’m just old and tickled that I managed a younger woman’s skillset.

#8 – Grateful for COFFEE!

I am SO grateful for Coffee in my life.

As a child born after WW2, coffee was a major part of the adult rite of passage that was ubiquitous to the US. Children were not allowed to have a cup of their own in most homes. Or, they’d get a mostly milk form of it. Mornings always started with the smell of the coffee brewing that let you know that someone else was already up and making things ready for the day. It was a comforting smell to kids like me.

Coffee was a part of social gatherings, too. You smelled it at church events, in restaurant dining rooms, and at family gatherings. It was always there – the smell and offering of hot coffee. You learned to provide for coffee drinkers even if you didn’t care for the brew. That pot of coffee wouldn’t last very long at any gathering, and eventually we learned how to use thermoses in pretty carafes to serve it when another pot was brewing.

While my parents always drank their coffee black and simple, I enjoyed mine with milk and sweetener, and still do. My former husband would drink no less than a pot a day, and on really busy days at home he’d drink more than that – especially if he was working in cold areas. It was his favorite way to warm up.

My oldest son still enjoys the smell of fresh brewed or fresh ground coffee, though he doesn’t often enjoy drinking it. It’s just a smell of stability and good things happening. He admitted that he’ll dawdle in the store aisles if someone looks like they are going to grind some coffee beans.

Another reason that many folks my age drank coffee was because a cup of coffee was cheap and refills were free. So if you were going out with friends to just chat and visit, but you didn’t have much money, you could order that cup of coffee so you could join in the outing. It’s the only reason I learned to enjoy a cup. My beverage of choice for a morning was cola, to my husband’s horror when we first married.

There are a few in my generation who have continued to use some form of soda pop for their morning hydration, but I’m a solid coffee drinker, now. It just seems to set the tone for good things in a day. I feel ready to take on the complexities of anything when I have a good strong cup of coffee at hand. I also feel comforted and comfortable when I am enjoying some coffee with someone else.

I thank God for coffee because it allowed me to be present when I felt like I couldn’t enjoy life much, as a poor teen. Later, it allowed my husband and I to sit for hours in coffee shops just dating each other on a shoestring. All of that gave me great memories of robust goodness through my adult years.

Eventually, special brews arrived (Hello Starbucks), and then to my astonishment, cold coffee versions as well! I’ve enjoyed some of them, and still do, so they aren’t all that bad. Some of the instant cappuccino versions have even been enjoyed from time to time as well.

But nothing makes me feel like everything is good like a drip brewed, robust and strong (but not bitter), cup of coffee with milk or half and half stirred in with some sweetener. The Keurig types were tried, and just don’t have the same flavor for me. So I’m back to the drip kind, and I have my own favorite grind and brand, of course.

 There’s just something about the goodness of a cup of coffee that is just at the right temperature for gulping.  It makes me feel like God is near, and all is right with the world and my mindset when I enjoy a hot cup – anywhere.

#5 and 6 – Revisiting Thankfulness for my Home and Work

As I mentioned earlier, I have moved closer to my family. This meant crossing state lines though the distance was only about 20 miles.

So, I had the fun of trying to get new plates for my car along with a new driver’s license when I first arrived, as my plates were expiring. Try doing this under pandemic considerations and it gets really tricky. I had to use my “Senior Walk in” card, to some of the sad faces of young folks trying to get their first license by appointment only. I will only say that I was desperate not to get a ticket when traveling to see my doctors in Wisconsin.

I made the move with trust that God will ensure that I can continue working from home rather than driving the typical 90 min to my job from this new location. I wanted to be closer to family, and I needed a bigger home to enjoy. Getting a retirement benefit made that all possible.

So, here is where I thanked God for my home in Wisconsin. That’s so you can compare pictures.

I thank God so much for the new home, but I have to admit that I am dealing with some of what Simone Biles is right now: disorientation. She has it impeding her sense of air space (aka “the twisties”). I have it impeding my sense of routine space.

I’m not sure what routine to follow some days, and I don’t have comfort zones set in just yet. So I am losing energy just trying to find a “typical day” in this new life. I guess I’m redefining myself a bit, too. There are new nice people as neighbors, and a different kind of lifestyle for shopping and outing options. Add in more family contact and it’s a whirling mentally baffling blend to respond to.

This is a good problem! But, I have to admit it’s still a drain on my mental processes, and I am doing my best to find routines that build me up enough to enjoy the breaks from routines more.

Having explained that much, I just want to take the time to Thank God for this new home!

The little sign in the heart frame says “Welcome”

My Patio: I LOVE having a patio, and I guess it shows with the way I’ve decorated it. The flowers were a Mother’s Day gift from my firstborn and his wife, and I was dubious about it’s ability to endure my care as a non-gardener. It’s proven to love me and just flourished! The bench holds toys and charcoal as well as providing a nice casual spot to plop. The table and chairs (aluminum, not cast iron) have allowed me to watch fireflies dancing in the evening, while I’ve enjoyed a book and a beverage, or even a meal. Skeets are blown away with a fan I didn’t have on the porch when taking the photos. The little sign hanging in the heart shape says “Welcome” and faces the parking lot.

I just want to add that I get a lot of gifts with flag themes, because I share a birthday with the US flag: June 14th. So I have a few things on display in that flag theme for that reason ONLY.

My Living room: Here is where I enjoy chatting with visitors, reading or even watching TV. The grandson’s toys are on the left, facing the doorway to the patio. I am decorated with a summery yellow theme at this time, and I love how bright it all feels.

I love the ceiling fan and how it helps me cool down faster than just using the ac. The coat closet is deeper than the usual closet, so it works for both the coats and some storage as well.

The windows bring in all the fresh air and light, but are high enough that there is still some privacy from persons walking to and from the parking lot. My former neighbor noticed how quiet this home is from sounds above or next to me. This place was built in 2002, and is very solid.

The dining room area is to the front left, and you’ll get to see that next.

#6 – My Job: This is where I work and where I enjoy sitting down for a meal by myself or with company. I can also set up my sewing machine here, or work on painting a picture if that’s what I want to do! I only had a counter to use as a bar before, and I just hate clambering up on a bar chair (I’m only 4’10”). So I would sit and hold my food before I moved here. And as for the painting: I painted those two pictures at two different Paint and Sip outings, and I’ve been bitten by the painting bug ever since. I’m working on having seasonal pictures to change them from season to season.

My grandson and I are enjoying a few meals with conversation, now that we have a dining area. Imagine that! He also loves having a place to play with playdoh and kinetic sand without so much worry about it spilling or falling on carpeting. Me, too!

On weekdays, that corner with the computer is is where I work. It’s a nice and handy corner that allows me to see out a window or even have music on the TV channels playing. I also like being near the coffee corner behind me.

Most of all – when I want to take a break, I can walk away from my “work” and relax. That’s a perfect option for people who work from home like me, but don’t want to put their offices in the bedroom, or work in a closet. I am right where I can answer the door for deliveries, too.

Back to #4 – My Home: The kitchen is behind the “job site” and has a peek through wall so I can continue to visit with my visitors (or peek at the TV) while I am working in there. I have a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, along with the fridge and stove (all electric). I brought my own microwave. I honestly love working in a kitchen that can be left to wait while I visit with guests and no one sees the mess, chuckle.

I didn’t do much to look like a magazine spread, so pardon the “I LIVE here” look.

I enjoy how fast everything cleans up, as everything is conveniently located for cleaning and usefulness.

It’s as if God made sure all the right things are where I need them to be, and I honestly believe that’s what happened.

A nice and peaceful resting place.

And now, just a peek at my bedroom before we close. Please excuse the clothing I am sorting through for a rummage sale on the end of the bed and top of the chest there.

I use the armoire for my folding clothes, and have a walk in closet across the room from it. There’s a window to the right as well.

This is my favorite place to rest, and do a starfish sprawl at night in my double bed.

The chair on the left is a convertible, and changes to a bed when my grandson comes for a visit. He’s gotten quite good at folding it back up in the morning!

So – my new home is a joy for me, as is my workplace and work.

Dealing with Delays in Life

I have again failed at being diligent with my blogs. I’m more frustrated with myself than anything else. So, I’ve got some explaining to do.

I found out that I have been in a depression cycle about this time last year. I wish I was more blasé about dealing with life changes than I am, but my father’s description of my personality being ‘intense’ was clever and on point. So I was able to get some help from my wonderful geriatric centric doctor, and have a better outlook on life as a result. I am careful about taking my Venlafaxine every morning.

I’ve had some bad dandruff problems for many years, and I finally got an appointment with a dermatologist about a year ago. We tried some simple things (AGAIN), and then a very expensive topical that my insurance made much more affordable. I try not to talk bad about a healthcare plan that takes good care of me; but the US really needs to address the disparity in healthcare coverage for all of its citizens. I hate to think of someone who couldn’t get that reduced cost that I have.

Anyway, even the topical wasn’t sufficient, so I now have the diagnosis of scalp psoriasis, and began taking Otezla, which has some warnings about weight loss (YAY! I need that), and depression! I found that I fell back into a numb funk, and had to pace my medicants so that there was less disturbance. This all happened at the same time that I was moving to a new home, so I’ve been really distracted since April with that move and all that followed.

I also have the wonderful blessing of taking care of a 6 year old grandson for an overnight visit every other Saturday to Sunday evening. My son has to work on Sundays because he works at a resort as Maintenance Supervisor. His manager takes the Saturdays. So at the age of most Great Grandparents, I am doing the grandparent thing, with joy and great exhaustion, chuckle. Toss in some chronic health problems that make me a ‘spoonie‘ and I just have to surrender to a limited list of things I can do in a day.

I’m still going to resume my list of thanksgivings very soon. But for now, I’m going to shout about how good God has been for me in all of this.

My new home: I went from a tiny apartment of 580 sq ft, to a bigger place of 750 sq ft! The rent is higher, of course, but not so very much higher that I can’t afford it. I have a garage as I did with the last home, but I also have my own washer and dryer here, instead of a shared coin laundry. I cannot tell you guys how much that blesses me! Not having to worry about someone else’s construction soil still residing in the washer when I take a turn is a big deal for me. I was pulling a white bra out with mud on it after washing! I love knowing I can wash a small load and reduce the water without paying for a full load of laundry, too. It’s also wonderfully convenient to wash something when I want to, rather than when I get the coins, or while waiting for someone else to finish doing their weekly wash, or having to dodge through the weather to go to the laundry room. Now, I do laundry in my nightgown if I want.

The other benefits of being in this new place are that I have deeper closets, and an area to place a dining table so I have a place to seat guests for a meal, instead of using folding tables that have to be set up and put away. Add the banquet room (available for rent), the indoor pool, and work out room for no cost, and I’m in renter’s heaven! I want to point out that the complex has families of all kinds and includes pets. So I’m not in a Seniors Only space!

I also have a spot that is just for the work hours that doesn’t invade my leisure places. This is really good for my mental health, as it means I can “leave” work for breaks or when I am signed out for the day.

As the previous tenant was here a long time, they renovated the apartment before I moved in. All but the clothes dryer are brand new appliances, and the carpeting is new along with the ac and ceiling fan in the living room. I have a private and spacious patio that I enjoy using when it’s not too hot (It’s been a really hot summer here in northern IL with most days in mid 90°F).

My neighbors are friendly and take good care of their homes, too. Add that I am now closer to family, and that I have enjoyed more visits with some of them than I did before the pandemic, and perhaps you can understand that my life feels surreal in a good way. I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury here, and in the mind set of “don’t pinch me, I don’t want to leave this dream”. This steals energy from me, and I tend to get a bit brain fogged by the evening hours as a result.

I am getting a Social Security Widow’s benefit from my late ex-husband’s benefits. Since we were married over 10 years, and I am not currently married to anyone else, I am eligible and add it to my job income. Since I am at full retirement age (66 made me eligible, but I’m 67 now), I will not suffer any restrictions on what I earn.

When I was informed that I am finally restored to a 40 hour work week (starting this week), I am over the moon with happy feelings. When the pandemic smote the land, I was reduced to 34 hours a week, and it was decided that I should work them in the later morning, coming in later rather than leaving early. I’m so glad to be back at work in the early hours even if it means a longer day. At least I don’t have to drive for an hour on the highways (58 miles each way) each morning and each evening, now that I am allowed to work from home. That saves me money on gas as well as energy for personal tasks after work!

So I’ve been really distracted with the changes in my life as spring segued into summer. I’m finding a more consistent stride and I’ll be better about making updates. That’s my intention at least.

Life is good! I sure hope you are in a good place, too, dear reader.

Aging With Some Grace

I’ve been reading a fantasy series called The Adventures of Maggie Parker (4 books) by Martha Carr and Michael Anderle and it’s been very entertaining. I’ll say no more than this: it’s a free read if you are a Kindle Unlimited member. If not, the books are reasonably priced in either paperback or Kindle versions.

I’ve read the first three: The Magic Compass, The Gnome’s Magic, The Elemental’s Magic, and am reading the author’s notes at the end of the third book. Martha Carr is in her early 60’s and as a person who is at the right age to be her older sibling (67 in four more days), I like what she’s been saying about her lessons in life’s journey in her author notes.

“I have a team who help me out these days. At some point, it’s a necessity. Plus, I wanted to change my old belief of ‘if I can do it, I should be doing it’ to something saner,” she wrote.

I have been learning that same lesson in the past few years. I get help to do big projects in home cleaning or organization. Sometimes, I get help decorating for the holidays, too. Lately, I’ve even gotten groceries delivered (Thank you Walmart+), instead of going there for a pickup order and bringing it all into my home by myself. Now that the pandemic is almost over, and masks are being left home by most shoppers in my area, I have been feeling a bit guilty about continuing to use the Pickup grocery service. That inner guilt trip that she spoke of, “if I can do it, I should be doing it.”

My quality of life is better when I don’t do it just because I can, though. I have more time for making a well-balanced meal, or to get a much delayed haircut. Am I lazy? I don’t think so. I still take care of the household chores, the laundry (that I can do myself with the machines in my new apartment, thank God!), and work a full time job with the administrative chores for an engineering team – from my home, thanks to the pandemic showing us that I can work from home in a reliable and responsible fashion. So I am not going to be compelled to return to the office, not even as a hybrid employee. Since work is more than an hour away, I’m grateful. I moved closer to family as a happy result. But – I digress.

I have long felt pressured to do what I can, and if I don’t, then I will lose some kind of badge of honor. Sometimes I have pushed so hard, I made myself sick or fell down on the work, and had to get help to recover. That’s not very wise, for sure. So, now I just schedule some help before I’m in trouble, and ignore the hissing of that voice in the back of my head. The only thing I want to win is a high quality life. Getting appropriate help, and offering a reward to that help is the right way to go. Sometimes I’ll barter a service, sometimes I’ll offer something else like a gift card or money that can help someone who has very little.

I always try to ask God for the right help to be available, or help me to know about a service that is available. While I might pay for services in my situation, I know that my birthmother was able to get someone to help her 20 hours a week, and it was paid for via Department of Aging, which is a Federal program. So if you find you need help but can’t afford to pay for it (and you live in the US), find out about the Department of Aging services in your area. See what they can do to help you. It helped my family not to have to be my birth mother’s servants when we went to her place for a visit. Instead, we could just visit!

When the caseworker is asking you questions about ‘what you can do when…’, my advice to you is what I told my mother after she lost her help for several weeks thanks to her answers to their questions. She told them about her best days when they asked what she could do. I told her that she needed to tell them about her worst days, in order to get the help she needed to live those better days, though. No lies necessary. Just tell the truth about your worst days, and you’ll get the help you should get.

Tell yourself the truth about your worst days, and be honest about needing help, too. Then, you can live out some of your best days more often.

From Those Who Aren’t Moms This Weekend…

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the USA. I wrote this many years ago, but it’s still where my heart is.

When my husband and I got married, many of our friends and siblings were also marrying within the same five year time period.  More than a few of those friends announced pregnancies soon after the wedding.  So we went from bridal showers and weddings, into baby showers and stories of Lamaze classes and childbirth experiences in about two year’s time.  Some of our unmarried friends were also getting pregnant, so we joked about how there was a lot of that “Egyptian Flu” going around (“nine months and you’re a Mummy”).

As time went on, we wholeheartedly celebrated each healthy birth with our friends, and enjoyed holding the new babies.  We mourned some still births and miscarriages with some friends, too.  Always, we let those new parents know that we welcomed their children in our home by having a collection of toys for them to play with when they’d come.  I had a sister with babies I’d borrow now and then, who lived in the apartment just below me. I also helped raise several younger sibs, so I had experience with kids. My husband had a daughter born to his first very brief marriage, so he had some understanding of life with babies as well. He was really great with dealing with those inconsolable crying babies, too. 

In spite of all of that, we rarely saw our parenting friends outside of activities or events like cookouts at their parents’ homes, church events (if they went to the same one we went to), or meeting them at some store or holiday event.  No matter what we said or did, no matter how often I’d call and chat with them, these people somehow decided we weren’t people that they were comfortable socializing with outside of their own homes. It’s not that I minded going to their homes; I just wanted to be a hostess once in awhile, too. 

After awhile, they were even too busy for having us visit their homes. I was beginning to think that, for reasons I wasn’t “getting”, that they just didn’t want to socialize with us anymore. I would have asked directly, but the one time I did ask “Is it us?  Did we offend somehow?”, I got a defensive reaction that was more like an attack. She sharply retorted, “You don’t know what it’s like to have no time to clean for company!”

“I don’t come to visit your house, hon.  I come to visit you.” I responded, carefully not mentioning that I knew she was having other friends over from time to time. She didn’t trust that I guess…cause it made no difference. I tried to tell her that I wanted to help if she’d let me, but that friendship died quietly after that conversation.

The other portion of our distressing social changes, was that we weren’t getting pregnant. We were trying; but it just wasn’t happening. I thank God that I never experienced multiple miscarriages, like some of my friends had. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of going from the euphoria of baby preparations, to the grief of knowing that life had died for unexplained reasons that can’t be remedied. After three years of marriage, I began carrying around a certain stuffed animal that was just the right size of a swaddled newborn. My arms needed a baby to hold, and I felt weird for doing that.

When we were married for four years, I finally went to a doctor to see what might be wrong. My husband had a baby by his first wife, so the problem clearly wasn’t his. The doctor checked me over and said that it was probably a variety of things that kept us from being a fertile couple. He was warm, nice, and encouraging that “someday” I might still manage a pregnancy since it all seemed to be healthy and well. 

I couldn’t afford the more intensive testing, so we just had to let it stand with his exam. Then he handed me a pamphlet that I wish I still had.  It was titled something like “200 reasons the human body can’t reproduce”. With all the teens getting easily pregnant when they didn’t want to be, it really did help to know that conception was more of a miracle than routine results for sexual activity. This was back in 1978, so it was just as the abortion debate had crescendoed into legalizing the procedure, and I was devastated. I knew that it would make it that much harder to adopt a healthy baby for a family with little money, but lots of love and desire for one. We would just have to come to terms with being childless.

During those years, we kept seeing that we weren’t considered a “family” as long as we were childless. All “family” activities were for groups of people who either had parents living with them, or were parents themselves. For Sunday School, we didn’t fit with the college-aged people, since we were married. Most of their conversations were of how to live as single people and dating.  We didn’t need that temptation when we were feeling unhappily married some days!  We also felt old when we were with the single twenty-somethings who were still living with parents and didn’t know what the trials of living on a tight budget were like. When we’d find some childless couples we thought we’d enjoy, either they soon became parents themselves and that mysterious detachment would once again separate us (even though we’d all mentioned that it is unfair when that happens before they got pregnant!); or they would move away. 

I know with Mother’s Day approaching, and Father’s Day only one more month behind it, that there are people right now, who are also dealing with being marginalized because they are either single adults without children, or married and childless. And they are reading ads about how a “mother found the secret to whitening teeth” – which seems to impart that only a MOTHER is able to really find good remedies for things in life. Or only a FATHER has the wisdom and strength to offer a younger person’s questions and problems. I am sorry that it happens that way. I want to hug and hold each of you, and let you know that YOU are important and have valuable gifts to give in life, even if you aren’t a parent. There honestly is so much more to life than breeding.

We all know that many people who are parents, aren’t any better people for having working wombs or fertile semen. So why is it that we segregate our social contacts apart from these people who can still enrich the lives around them?

To the caring friends and family members, and to church leaders who know they are guilty of not considering the childless persons: you can change that.

Right now.

Today.

Friends and family: You can accept their invitations to come to their homes, and just let your portable children learn how to enjoy some time in a new environment. Have the kids bring some toys, and let them show them to the new grown ups.

If you have a sink full of dishes, let the friend wash them while you diaper the baby and get them fed without feeling defensive or offended, please. Visiting friends just want to make YOU more comfortable and enjoy their company, too!  Let them help where they can, and don’t assume that they are criticizing you. They could do that just fine without getting hands in the dishwater, LOL.  Befriend them, unconditionally; so they can learn how to return the favor.

Accept their offers to help, too. Somehow I wasn’t allowed to do much by my other parenting friends; as if I couldn’t cook without onions if you’d just tell me that you want it that way.  Let friends bring you contributions more often. 

Childless people need to have the exposure to see life through a child’s eyes: share your children’s views more.  Don’t fuss about your house being clean enough.  I come for fellowship, not home inspections; ’cause being single or married and childless is sometimes just a lonely thing to deal with.

When we FINALLY got pregnant, I vowed to NEVER exclude a childless friend from our lives. I would walk behind my babies and let them show me what was in their reach when we visited childless homes, and it only takes a half hour of fun chat while I did it. Usually, the childless friend would come to my home more; but I always did everything I could to accept any invitations from them for visits. 

At church, I always speak up for “family” events to have activities for persons without kids.  C’mon church leaders! At least ONE event for the single folks who are part of the church family!  Let there be one for married people who ARE still a family, even if there are no kids. 

There are a few parents whose kids are grown and flown out there who also want some activities that they don’t have to find grandkids to enjoy.  I know that we need to lift up families with children because it’s challenging for them to find safe places to be social.  But it’s just as challenging for the single adults and the married without kids to find safe social activities TOO!

I know you will all do your best to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day honoring your parents.  But reach out to the other folks without kids, and let them know that they are important, too.  Even if they come without charming and demanding miniatures. 

Where I’ve Been – Moving

I was going to be better about posting some of the things I am grateful for, and one of them was my home. I love living here, and will miss it greatly when I move in May.

When I first came to my current apartment, it was a place to heal. I was rebuilding my life as an independent adult after living with my son in his apartment. I’d lost my job and then had to leave before I got evicted from my rented condo at that time in November of 2013. The weekend after my godson suddenly passed away. So many hurtful things that year.

In 2014, while living with my son and working at Walmart as a cashier (but only allowed to work for 33 hours a week so I couldn’t be a full time employee) I was deciding I had to move into my car within a couple of weeks if my son didn’t find a job. Yeah, he lost his job just before I moved in with him. Like I said, so many losses.

Just as I was discussing how I had to leave with my son, I got an email that led to my getting a very good job. It’s the one I am working at now, and I’ve enjoyed this adventure SO much! That year brought my son into several jobs so that he could meet his financial needs, and then a surprise pregnancy brought us all into a brand new world of infant needs and supplies! So he moved to be with Mom-to-be, and I moved here.

The first year was all about finding sanctuary – without being able to build one. I collected things I wasn’t sure I’d need and just huddled at home when I wasn’t going or coming from the job as well as working 56 miles away. Family was 50 miles in the other direction, so I couldn’t really consider moving closer to work. Plus, I had a lot of bills to pay, and now needed to get my health stable. I had some issues that had gone unattended in the many years I’d been without health care while working temp jobs.

The second year was getting better health, and embracing becoming a grandma. I settled into a more familiar stride in life, and began to build more of a home rather than a “flop spot”.

The third year I ended up with surgery on my knee, and doing what I could to keep my home clean and neat. It was really hard, though.

The fourth year, I hired help to clean my home, clean the carpeting, worked on my asthma a bit better. I was able to save some money and bought furniture that made life more enjoyable for my grandson to come over for overnight visits. We made so many good memories together!

Last year, I was doing even better with the health issues, and finally able to do more by myself than to hire help for projects. I was able to afford to rent a garage and have been thrilled to have one for the first time ever in my life – and I’m 66!

Then the pandemic hit, so I used funds I was saving for a trip to buy a better computer desk as well as a laptop computer. I was happily able to work from home near the end of April, and the long commutes were no longer something I had to deal with! My health kept improving along with my lifestyle. New storage furniture was bought and used, and there was a lovely cozy home to enjoy with or without my grandson visiting. I was finally enjoying life rather than just plodding along. The job made so many good things work out in my life that hadn’t been working before.

As time went by, and it looks more like we’ll be able to stay at home and work our jobs, I realized that I am still very inconveniently far away for my family to ask for help (whether it was me or them). So I thought and prayed and finally decided not to renew my lease this year.

I found an apartment nearer the family, and it will be a bit bigger (this place is only 580 sq ft, new place has 750 sq ft), with more amenities. When I arrived at full retirement age (per the Social Security Administration), I could claim full widow’s benefits, and that gave me enough funds to pay a higher rent. Once I actually retire, I may have a bigger benefit from working beyond my full retirement age, depending on the wages I made from now until then. I’ll probably retire at 70 if not before, if the job lasts that long.

So, I am planning a move, now! My sons are confident that they can move me in one day, and happy that I am on the first floor where I am leaving and where I am going. I have no heavy appliances or furniture to speak of, and I’m a good packer after having moved many times in my life. So I’m looking forward to the new stride and more social contact once the pandemic considerations can be lessened.

I’ve had family members come down with C-19, and thankfully all have recovered well and without prolonged health debits. We’ve all been as careful as possible with masking, good hygiene, and staying home as much as possible.

I am so grateful for free grocery pickup services!! On my sicker days, it made a HUGE difference in my life and ability to keep a stride going.

So, I’ll do what I can now that I finally found the right place to move to. The search was very distracting and I’ve been Zooming with family members since we can’t visit so much. These have been happy distractions, along with childcare for my son with my grandson every other weekend.

Life is full! Life is good, and I am a bit abashed to admit that I am thriving during this time. I guess I needed a year to rest and heal more than most. I’m honestly looking forward to the new home with a garage, washer dryer in unit (full size machines), dishwasher, and more kitchen counter and storage than I have here. There’s a work out room, pool and a banquet hall if I want to have a birthday party for someone special next November, hehehe.

I hope that all of you are safe and careful. I have friends I care about in Texas that have been working on getting through their challenges, and so far they are doing better than they feared. They’ve been melting snow over firewood outside for clean water, and they have small tents in their homes on the beds to keep warm. They charge their phones in the car, but they don’t go out on the icy roads unless it’s someplace very near and done very carefully.

I know that COVID is still a concern, but so is this unusual weather pattern here in North America. Be careful and make jokes that don’t fall into the hurtful places, k? Sure we can have fun about stuff out of the ordinary, but no taunting those who don’t have what you have to manage this kind of weather, is all I’m asking.

Bless you all, and stay safe, please. Keep helping others to make it through, as I know you are doing.

#7 – Hail to the Crockpots!

I really want to thank God for my CROCKPOTS.

It’s a bit of tease that I should own more than one, but there are solid reasons for needing each of them.  The first reason for the second one is that it’s perfect for taking to a pot luck or just to a friend’s home when we’re each providing a part of the meal.   That crockpot is decorative and the top can be secured so that it doesn’t leak even soup broth, so it gets to be on display on top of the cupboards.  The second one is my standard for everything else.  It has a simple timer, so I can set it to cook a pork roast in the morning for 8 hours of low, and then it will automatically shift to “warm” for about another 2 hours. It’s bigger than the other one, too.

I work from home now, but when I had to go to the office to work, a crockpot made a day that had me beat and tired turn into a wonderful night. Since it took me an hour to get to work, and an hour to return, the 10 hours I was gone could be very tiring, especially if the weather was bad for driving or I had a stressful workday.  Coming home and smelling a meal that’s ready to eat is like having a hired cook!  I could change into comfy clothes (or get out of winter wear) and make the side stuff in a matter of 10 mins or less, and have a hot meal within 30 mins of arriving home.  Wow! 

By the time I’d eaten and had some time to check Facebook and some relaxing coffee, I’m ready to put the rest of the meal into portions with some going into the freezer and at least one (maybe two) into the fridge for work and tomorrow’s meal. Nice!

I can make nearly anything in a crockpot, from baked chicken (stuffed!), to casseroles and desserts. I favor the meals that I can make while I’m gone (8 hours or more) over the ones that are done in 4 hours or less.  Those I might save for the weekend, or when it’s a holiday to stay home. Now that I am working from home, I might try some of those more often, but I’ve usually just chosen to use my oven since it’s right there and browns things up nicely. But I still enjoy making a meal in the crockpot and getting the whiffs of deliciousness it as it gets close to being done. Yum! I like to use it when serving family some food, too. We have more time to visit and the food is certain to be hot and satisfying for our dining pleasure.

I eat healthier when I have a crockpot resulting meal, even if it’s leftovers.  As a single person, I really need some help getting good meals going, and the crockpot does that!  So for today – it’s “Hail to the crockpot!”  Hurrah!

Final Note: I know some of my family folks really love their Instapots and the other brands that mimic them. My son with a child especially likes being able to make a roasted meat meal while his son does homework or takes a bath, and then having it to serve and save for another meal later.

If I had a family, I’d probably buy one, but it’s just me here, and I like to keep life simple. I’ll probably never learn how to use one or buy one at this point in my life. I certainly enjoy the meals I can look forward to when someone else uses them, though!