Words of Advice

Apologies for the absence. Lots going on lately – but in a positive direction, I believe. For now, read this great article about women in their “later years” who get it. Awesome.

I’ll be back soon. Promise.

https://www.manrepeller.com/2017/06/women-on-aging.html

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Written while I Should Be Sleeping

The panic, it comes without warning. 

Like a tornado, uprooting me from the bed

and depositing me down the hall on the floor of the bonus room. 

Once again disoriented. Terrified. Uncertain of what I will find when the light comes. 

So many things to worry about. What’s next for tomorrow? I feel as if all that’s been built has been destroyed. 

I am completely helpless. So I do something I don’t usually do. 

I pray. I call out the name of the “big almighty one”, whoever he or she is. My eyes are filling with tears, and it’s hard to see these words I’m sending out…

“Please make it all be okay. I can’t take this anymore.”

Hoping that someone else will hear them through the storms of my mind. Someone who’s made it to morning. 

Recalculating Route

About two weeks ago, I received a call that I wasn’t expecting. “You didn’t get the job.” 

The person who called, my would-have-been-boss and a woman who I considered a mentor, threw me the biggest curve ball I’ve ever had in my career. I was waiting for her to laugh and say, “Just joking. When can you start?” But that never came. 

I had been waiting for this opportunity for nearly a year and had visualized myself in the role. In fact, she was the one who told me about it. I could feel, hear, and see myself in it. Although my vitae contained everything that was “required” and “preferred”, and I felt good coming out of the three-hour interview… I didn’t get the job. 

I was (and am still) heartbroken. This job would have allowed me to do some “ghost writing” for speeches and presentations, interact with alumni groups, work with strategic planning and policy development, and be a part of one of the fastest-growing academic units at my alma mater. And, in all honesty, it would also have offered a much-long-overdue salary increase, which would have boosted my retirement income. 

All kinds of things are running through my mind… what did the chosen candidate have that I didn’t? What did I do to screw up the interview? Did my current boss play a part in this decision? And the big one…

“What is wrong with me?”

It’s hard going back to work and watching her walk past my door on the way to a meeting with my boss. She and I used to exchange waves and smiles; I heard her the other day and couldn’t look up because of the tears welling up in my eyes. 

Why the hell does this failed job interview hurt more than the others? 

Maybe it’s because I felt supported in the process and reassured by many that “this job was me to a ‘T’.” I didn’t go into it with an overconfident attitude – I was authentic and honest. Guess that wasn’t enough. 

So now, I need to refocus. Big-time. Get real clear on what it is I want to do…

and freakin’ go make it happen on my own!

Sit through the webinars, take the classes, meet like-minded people, maybe even apply for a grant down the road. Figure out the “big work” because that obviously ain’t it, right?

When one door closes, sometimes you just need to have a sit-down on the porch steps, rest a bit. Refocus and recalculate that route (btw, I hate when the GPS says that to me). 

And also know (and learn to believe) that there’s not a damn thing that’s wrong with me. 

Finding My Golden Lasso

Today is the day I go for the colposcopy. I didn’t sleep well and am trying to fight off those damned panic attacks. 

There are several things I fear in life: heights (where there are no protective barriers to keep me from falling off the edge), snakes, getting the gas pedal stuck and having no breaks.

And anything gynecological. 

You’d think that after having had 18 staples put in to seal up an abdominal hysterectomy and a catheter the length of the Mississippi River, this would be a piece of cake. Well, I wasn’t awake when all that happened. 

It feels so invasive. So impersonal. I always have to tell my doc that I don’t handle these types of things very well. It makes me feel like such an idiot. But some scars are hard to heal. 

So, I sit here in my “front porch meditation room/office”, drinking from the Wonder Woman cup. Would be so nice to be able to take my golden lasso and wrangle this fear into submission today. 

And as long as I don’t drive off a bridge because the gas pedal gets stuck or I don’t step on a snake in the parking lot on the way to check in, then I guess half the battle has been won. 

Icing on the Worry Cake

Disclaimer: This is some highly personal stuff here, so bear with, please. There’s “language”.

So far, finding fifty has been rather uneventful.

That is, until I received a call from my GYN’s office the other day, telling me that my test results showed atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS). They want me to come in for a colposcopy next Tuesday.

Shit.

My world as I know it stopped when I heard those words. “Undetermined” means “cancer” to me, and who the hell knows what torturous experience this colposcopy thing will turn out to be?

Let’s go back a bit, shall we?

A year ago, I decided to return to see the GYN who performed my hysterectomy back in 2005. I felt like I wasn’t getting any relief from the numerous practitioners I had seen since experiencing the onset of “the change”. Surely she’d look at my file and recall the angry uterus and whatever-the-hell-else-was-lurking-in-there that she’d helped exorcise from my body. Maybe not. After all, it had been almost 11 years.

She ended up recommending that I begin using a low-dose estradiol patch. At first, I was scared because of the stories I had heard, linking estrogen therapy to breast and possibly other cancers. I even told her that breast cancer ran in my mother’s side of the family. Her feeling was that there was a “low risk window” for me for the next 5-7 years, and that such a low dose would be okay. So I started using them. My panic and hot flashes and (some) fits of rage all but subsided in about two weeks. Life was improving.

Then, this past February, a call-back on my mammogram for a second scan of something that wasn’t in my right breast last year. Inconclusive. Sit in the little closet with my tie-front shirt and wait for the doctor to bring me in for an immediate ultrasound. I feel like throwing up. I tell him about being on the estrogen patch. He says “Hmmm”. Still inconclusive. Come back in six months and let’s make sure it was just a fluke. So now, I wait until August.

When I went in for my annual GYN last month, I told her that they had a six-month callback on my mammogram screen. Immediately, she told me to go off the patch. I felt sick – like my one source of stability as I knew it was starting to crumble. She wanted to make sure that everything was okay with the call-back in August and then we’d see what to do.

So, a few minutes after that consultation came the test that eventually resulted in the phone call about the colposcopy.

Now, I’m sitting here writing because I need to share this with someone, anyone, who might have been in my shoes, or close to it. I don’t need criticism or a pat on the shoulder.

I feel so fucking alone right now.

In the past week, I have spent lots of time, deep in my own head, going back over all of the decisions I made as a young adult – some cautious, others not so much. Some just plain stupid. Regretting opportunities on which I passed and wondering if I may receive news soon that gives me a very short amount of time left to consider ever pursuing them again.

That “bucket list” shit just got real.

I don’t realize that people have been talking to me because I’m “somewhere else”. Right now, there are so many things I regret having done or not done. Most of all, I regret that I didn’t love myself more. Appreciate myself more. Realize that I was worth more than what others thought I was.

I’m a consummate worrier. And this, friends, is perhaps the proverbial icing on my many-layered worry cake. It goes way back to my childhood.

Holding my breath until Tuesday afternoon and hoping that all will be well. Thanks for letting me share this. Will be back in touch soon – hopefully with good news.

Mother’s Day #39

This marks the #39th Mother’s Day I’ve had to celebrate without Momma here.

To all of you who may be having a difficult time with Mother’s Day, do something special to take care of YOU. If you’re like me – never had kids of your own or are a stepmom – STILL take special care of yourself.

I’ll bet your mom would want that. I know she would

Me? I have mixed feelings on this day, partly because of all the posts and pictures of women with their moms.

I suppose sitting here writing is my way of feeling close to Momma, without having the photo on this special day.

So, today, as with every other day, I say, “Thanks, Momma, for teaching me the important lessons in my young life about what matters. Kindness. Creativity. Expression. Dancing to Soul Train. Helping others learn. Wearing those crazy loud patterns just because they make you feel good. When I do these things, I know you’re always right here beside me.”

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Listen to the Trees

This morning, while walking the dog down our dead-end road, I found myself outwardly verbalizing the long list of “I gotta do this and that” for the day. Pretty soon, I felt my chest beginning to tighten and my head jumping into its usual “spin cycle” of overactivity. Anxiety had joined me for the walk. Again. 

And then, the trees spoke to me. They said, “Hey, you ain’t gotta’ do anything.” 

I swear to you, I heard them. 

So I stopped, took a deep, long breath, and did absolutely that. Nothing. 

I think even my dog was proud of me. 

See, there are some of us who spend way too much time in the “gotta’ do” or “should do” realm that we lose ourselves… and the moment as well. I am one of those who constantly struggles with this. Hopefully, by sharing this observation, I hope I will be able to change this pattern.

Go out in the early morning, when the sun is just about to rise. Take your dog along, or simply go alone. Get real quiet. 

And let the trees tell you what you need to hear. 

No Time for Bullshit

I’m spending this Sunday morning at the car wash – it appears a little mouse needed to take refuge in my vehicle during the harsh blast of winter weather we’ve had of late. And as those little fellas do so well…well, let’s just say the car needed to be cleaned. Thoroughly. 

Anywho, I’m passing time here, reading a few chapters of The Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau. It’s a timely read for me, as in the past few weeks since turning 50, I’m questioning my happiness all the more. 

The current chapter is about hobbies versus quests. It’s about the realization that our lives aren’t infinite, and we must realize that it’s important to live our lives the way we want to… RIGHT. NOW.  

“…what if you decided there’s no time for bullshit – or regrets – far in advance of the end? What if you vow to live life the way you want right now, regardless of what stage of life you’re in?

To truly live without regrets, pay attention. Ask yourself hard questions and see where they lead. Do I really want this job? Is this relationship right for me? If I could be doing anything, would it be what I’m doing today…or something different?”

The Happiness of Pursuit, page 67

Pretty heavy stuff here. Back to work. 

The Brewing

img_2125Well, two weeks and three days ago (I think the math is correct), I “found” fifty. It was an unremarkable experience, quite honestly. The clock ticked 3:57pm on Saturday, December 10, and the earth didn’t shake. I was somewhere, immersed in an intense session of antiquing and consignment shopping with my best friend. Blew right by without notice.

Over a year ago, I told you all that the blog would end on that eventful day. Truth is, I’m not quite sure I’ve found fifty. I think it’s finding me. Ever so gradually. And that’s a good thing.

So, as I sit in another eclectic coffee joint, typing this note on an iPhone (apologies for any typos – can’t see a damn thing these days), I believe I’ll continue to brew up some more thoughts and share as time allows.

“Brew up” — get it? Good to see my sharp sense of humor didn’t leave along with my forties. Yuk-yuk.