Climbing Back on the Wagon ~

I fell off the wagon about a year ago.  No dings, cuts or bruises, but it’s been painful nonetheless.  What wagon?  The gym wagon.  And, let me just say, it has been hard as hell getting back on.  Oh, I still walk an hour or so every day, but somehow I do not seem to be able to walk myself the three short blocks to the gym.  We were so close, my gym and I.  But our love affair has dimmed.  We’ve lost our spark.  I’ve cheated. I’ve been seeing others.  Yep, I had a fling with Jazzercise.  I’ve combed the listings for Parks and Rec.  I even flirted a little with the weights that sit patiently behind the door in my office.  None of these relationships stuck.  Maybe I’ve been looking for LUV in all the wrong places.  And now I’m watching the hubs build a steady love affair of his own with the gym.  My gym!   I feel a wee bit like the jilted lover and I do not like the feeling.  Not one bit.  Oh, I’ve got excuses…LOTS of them.  I work full time. I have social and philanthropic commitments.  I have to write my blog.   It’s hot.  I’m tired.  I’m bored.  My shoulder hurts.  Something else hurts.  The classes are full.  The list is endless.  And a complete load of horse puckey.

There’s more than a little irony working here as well.  You see, I’m the woman who started going to the gym seven years ago and loved it so much I studied for and became a personal fitness trainer.  I know better.  I’ve taught others how to get fit.  And still, I sit.     Watching my buffness slowly (thank God!) turn into mushness.  Waiting for some magic spark of energy.    Here’s what I now know for sure.  I’m pretty much all in or all out.  No halfway for me.  And lately, I’ve been all out.   Hubs always says “a body in motion stays in motion.  A body at rest …well you know.”   Every now and then the Old Guy nails it.

Fellow blogger, Andrea Mee Maurer,  posted a while back about Matt Cutts’ TED talk Try something new thing for 30 days.  Andrea was smitten with the idea and committed to blog every day for 30 days.  Love the idea. Loved every one of your posts.  Andrea, you and TED have inspired me!  I’m going to use the 30 day plan to get my butt back into the gym.  It’s not something new, but I’m going to use the next 30 days to re-acquaint myself with my triceps, biceps, lats, and quads.  Re-kindle my love of sweat.   Regain my passion for sore muscles. Remind myself what I loved about Yoga, Zumba, Lift and Sculpt in the first place.   Oh, I know it won’t be easy.  But it is time.   I guess I sat around long enough  that the I magic spark I was waiting for finally found me.  Don’t know.  Don’t care.  I’m going with it.

Day One starts tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Have you seen my glasses?

Or my car keys, or my book, or, or, or…   Oh yes, we’ve entered a new era at Casa Sims.  The one where you can’t remember what you did two minutes ago.  Like where the hell did I put my car keys because they certainly are not in the special car key compartment in my purse where I always put my car keys.  Except, apparently not this time.  So, the search begins – feel around in the giant purse I use because it holds all of the important things I must carry with me at all times.  Pull out the seemingly endless stream of tiny paper receipts, semi-used but still good in an emergency napkins, glasses (several pairs), wallet, phone, camera + + +.  It’s all there, but not the keys.  Search some more.  Upstairs.  Downstairs.  All over the house…no keys.  Try the purse one more time.  Voila.  They were there all the time.  Hiding from me in the one tiny corner I missed.  Hubby gets that certain smile on his face but keeps his mouth shut.  Smart man.  He knows.  It’s the same thing with the glasses.   Keys, glasses, glasses, keys.  Lost then found.  Only to be lost again.  Repeat daily.

Then there are the new and interesting conversations.  They go something like this…
Hubs, sitting in his recliner chair watching TV:  “What’s the name of that guy I like?”
Me: “What guy?”  Hubs:  “You know, the one on that TV show”  Me:  “What TV show?”  Hubs:  “The one with the guy I like.  I don’t remember the name …”  Me:  “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about!”  Hubs:  “Ok. Nevermind.”  Rinse and repeat.

It gets even better when we are both on the same wrong track.   Off we go to the grocery store.  Hubby and I.  Park the car.  Walk into the store having an animated conversation.  That’s when we suddenly stop, look at each other and, in unison:  “What was it we came in here for?”  I kid you not.

Is it just us or does this happen to everyone at some point?  Does grey in your hair automatically lead to mass dropping of functional brain cells?  Maybe…a little.  But I’m convinced that all this forgetfulness is Mother Nature’s not so subtle reminder to slow down.  Pay attention.  And for God’s sake, find our sense of humor.   Because it is funny.   We can’t control getting older.  Like it or not, it’s out of our hands.  But we can sit up, slow down, pay attention, live the details of every moment and savor the things we do remember.  Laugh out loud.  At ourselves.  Laughter is medicine.  And quit worrying about not finding the car keys.    The time to worry is when you can no longer find the car.

Now, where did I put my glasses?

Girl’s Night!

Why do women live longer than men?  Simple answer – girlfriends.  Women nourish other women.  We spend time together talking, laughing, sharing and sometimes crying – it raises the endorphins (good happy juice) and reduces cortisol (the bad stress hormone).  Throughout history it seems women have banded together in groups of some sort.  The kitting circles and quilting bees of the past have become Girl’s Night or Spa Day of the present.   Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family...  I agree wholeheartedly which is why, when the call came out over email a week ago “Time for Martinis with the MAM’s?” everyone in our little group replied with a resounding YES!!  I was so ready for a little girl time and apparently I was not alone.

This particular group of crazy wild women have been meeting every few months since the late 90’s when we all worked at a certain high tech company just a few miles south of Portland.  It all started innocently enough…interoffice email…Hey, I need an attitude adjustment lunch, can you go?  Sure!  What time?  NOW!  Oh, Okay, I’ll drive.  Back then, attitude adjustment came in the form of a couple of frosty Margaritas and several bowls of chips and salsa at a local chain restaurant – not a dining star in sight – but it got the job done and we were back in our offices feeling much more relaxed for another afternoon of meetings at the “meeting capital of the world”.  For a couple of us that evolved into swilling several glasses of wine before attending drawing class in the evening.  She’s a fantastic artist.  I needed liquid refreshment in mass quantity to put my inner art critic into a semi-stupor.  It was fun.  It was still girl time.

Today, it’s kinda more like old girl time, but after we get past the first few minutes of hugs and comparing wrinkles, sags where nothing had sagged before… (I won’t bore you with the rest), we forget that we are two retired, one about to be retired and one who hopes to be able to retire sometime in the not too distant future 60-somethings and we become those same wild and crazy gals who still get looks and laughs from other tables for our sometimes bawdy behavior.  But, really having this kind of fun is serious business.  It soothes the soul, recharges the batteries, lowers the blood pressure and brings back that girlish glow by the end of the evening.  In short, it’s just what the doctor ordered.  I’ll drink to that!

And, here’s one I forgot to tell last night … You have reached the breast self-examination hotline.  Please press 1 now.   Now press the other one.     

Sisters ~

I come from a very small family so I’ve always envied friends who have a big extended circle of brothers, sisters, aunties, crazy uncles and cousins, lots and lots of cousins.  The idea of a family reunion so big that you actually have tee shirts made and you get to circle the wagons at the lake or the family compound in the woods and tell stories, and play games, and eat and drink and laugh and eat and talk, talk, talk sounds like a really big juicy slice of Heaven to me.  For me, this year’s reunion arrived in the form of my one beautiful sister who came all the way from Saipan and stayed with us for three weeks.  We’re a small but mighty family of two and our bond is tight.  We don’t have the tee shirts. (That’s a great idea for next time.)  But, just like the Big Ole Family Reunions I’ve dreamed about – here’s how our own little get-togethers go:  We eat (a lot because we try out every new place since her last visit).  We laugh.  We drink tea  (twice daily trips to my Starbucks where now everybody knows her name too).   And, mostly, we talk, talk, talk and then talk some more.  Hubs, keeps asking “What is there possibly left for you two to talk about?”  Answer – A LOT!  Every now and then, we widen the circle and let the Old Guy join us, or a friend or two, and the kids of course, but mostly these reunions are “all about us” and they’re pretty close to perfect.

We’re very different, my sister and I.  The paths we chose.  The places we’ve been.  The way we see the world.   She lives on the other side of the globe and I’m just starting to dream about being a world traveler.  My sister has a heart as big as Saipan, where she currently lives.  I’m the cranky one with the cockeyed sense of humor.  But, when we’re together, all that slips away and we’re the “Devitt Sisters” again.  We’re each others sounding board, cheerleader, mirror and spark of inspiration.  There’s a nourishment that comes every time – we’re the only ones who remember when (well, mostly I’ve forgotten and she reminds me) and we both know where the skeletons are buried – but nobody’s telling.

So here’s to families in whatever form they come and to reunions large and small, but mostly here’s to the bond that some sisters are so fortunate to have created and here’s to my own special sister.  I’m so glad we had this time together.

Same time next year?  Maybe we’ll even get Devitt Sister tee shirts made.

Two for the road ~

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

Don’t you love this photo? When we were married nine years ago, it was on the front of our wedding announcement with the heading “Let the Adventure Begin”.

This couple looks like people I’d like to hang out with.  Swap stories and share a laugh or two over a bottle of pretty good wine.  To me, they look like perfect partners in crime and in life.  Whether you are a duo on the Road to Zanzibar or the Road of Life, traveling with a partner can be tricky business.  One of the things I love about my hubby is that we travel well together.  I’m very grateful for that, but since we’re about to ramp up for our own Two For the Road adventures, I got to thinking about what makes a really good team.    Basically, at least for me, it comes down to just a few very important traits.

Here’s what came out tops on my list ~

Everybody needs a Yes Man, a partner who says Hell Yes or Why Not to whatever crazy idea you come up with.  Someone who is all in for a good time or an adventure and doesn’t sweat the details.  When you say “Just shut up and get in the car.”  That’s exactly what they do.  They might even roll down the window and hang their head out to feel the breeze.  Oh, wait.  That’s the dog.   He’s always ready to jump in the car.

Someone who is calm during your storm.  Like the time a few years ago when Amtrak cancelled our train with no warning – just taped up a hand printed paper sign “No Train Today”.  No train?  Really?  I’m on a five day vacation!  I need the train TODAY!   That’s when you need a partner who stands back calmly while you throw an earth-shattering-all out-but-still-lady-like-bitch fit after the Amtrak service person says, “Ok. So, do you want to cancel now or do you want to come back tomorrow?”  and, then said partner calmly steps up, takes your arm, and says “Let’s go find a Happy Hour and come back in the morning”.  Happy Hour?  Ok.  I love Happy Hour.

The guy in the rose colored glasses.  On those days when you are less than your shining best – let’s just call it major-ass cranky-pants and your partner looks over and says  “Have I told you today how crazy I am about you?”  Whoa!  Hello Dolly! Just the right words at the right time.  Well, rightbackattcha Big Boy.

A comedian and a straight man.  You know, like George and Gracie, Lucy and Ricky, Will and Grace.  Every great comedy duo has an instigator, the comedian with the cockeyed point of view and the straight man who makes it all seem funny.  They are a finely oiled machine.  They play off each other.  They give as good as they get.  They make each other laugh.

And, finally, you’ve gotta be a switch hitter.    A great partnership works when you can switch roles easily and as often as required.  When you’re at the end of your rope – he’s just getting his strength.  When he’s too pooped to participate, you slow your frantic pace and stop to smell the roses.  It’s a balancing act and it works best when each person is tuned in to the other, to the moment, to the goal at hand and to the bigger picture.

And so, nine years later, I say – Let The Adventure Continue.  We’re two for the road and I cannot wait to see where the road will lead us.

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something we must always remember.  We are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.  But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… we’ll always be together.”  Christopher Robin

Living La Vida Cheapo ~

We’re looking for ways stretch our retirement dollars and have a few more grand adventures while we’re at it, so living in some place like Nicaragua or Mexico (yes it’s still safe), or Panama or even Spain are very intriguing possibilities for living the good life for less.   This recent article in the New York Times is full of great information on the benefits and pitfalls for people who want to explore the option of retirement living outside of the United States.  It looks like there are several interesting locations where you can live for less than $1500 a month – if you are willing to live more like a local and less like a gringo.  Really, why else would you go there?

And, yes, that’s a big pile of chickens lying out in the warm air on the table.  No, we didn’t buy one.   But right after we shopped at this gigantic outdoor mercado, I paid 5 pesos for two squares of toilet paper so I could use the public restroom.  It’s all just part of the adventure.

Life is Short ~ Wear Your Party Hat

Did you know that if you wear your birthday tiara into Starbucks on your birthday they’ll give you a drink on the house?  I didn’t either, but on my last birthday I decided I was going to celebrate with the world and wear my party hat all day long.  And, since every day pretty much starts at Starbucks for me, there I was at 7am – no make-up – but sporting my shiny purple birthday hat.  In addition to the free tea, I got some very interesting looks and had a couple of great conversations!  You never know what good things will happen when you’re wearing a purple tiara.  Try it.

The first time I saw the poem, When I’m An Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple, I was only 39.  It struck a chord with me.  Probably because I was such a conformist back then; the thought of being an outrageous old woman really appealed to me.  Well, HELLO Dorothy!  I’ve arrived at the age of freedom.  I can wear any damn color I please because I am no longer driven to please.

Here’s my favorite part of the poem ~ Warning by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

and learn to spit.

These days I’m celebrating life because I know that no matter how you count it, I am closer to the end than the beginning.  Somehow, knowing that has opened me up to finally living fully in the present moment.  Celebrating what is and whatever is to be.  I’m going  to wear my party hat every day and stock up on birthday candles well I’m at it.  Because, if there’s an opportunity to light a candle and stick in my morning pancakes to celebrate a beautiful sunny day – I am all in.  And, I’m going to learn how to spit…

By the way, these folks really know how to rock a party hat!

Go get your own hat and Party On…