I am going to enjoy life after 50 if it kills me!

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The U-Turn in My Easter Weekend

I love my dad.  He’s 83, lives two hours away (a safe distance for both of us), and he called me Saturday, as I was headed to the local sandwich shop to meet my daughter for lunch.

Me:  Hey!  How ya doin'”

Dad:  Not so good.  I fell yesterday and broke my hip.  I’m in the hospital.

Dad:  Hello?  Are you there?

Holy cow. In the next hour I managed to cancel lunch, get my daughter to take care of my dog and fill my grandson’s Easter basket, pack a bag and get on the road.  As I left town, I realized I didn’t know what hospital my dad was in.  How many could there be, right?  Several, actually.

My other daughter called me while I was driving and offered to search for me.  I love my daughter and Google, in that order.  In a little while she called back with the name of the hospital, address, directions, and my dad’s room number.  I really love Google, so you can only imagine how much I love my daughter.  And her sister.  Equally.  And their brother.  Equally.  I’m serious.

I walked into my dad’s room to find him in bed, somewhat surprised to see me.  Like I’d wait a day.  C’mon, Dad.  He was not in much pain, unless he tried to move his leg.  He also scraped up his arm, so he was bandaged from elbow to wrist.  But other than that, he actually looked pretty good.

Surgery the next morning went off right on schedule.  He broke his hip right at the top of his leg, where the ball part of the ball and socket is.  He now has a shiny new metal ball connected to his leg.

When they wheeled him back to his room, he opened his eyes, said, “Am I walking?”, grinned, and closed his eyes again.  That’s my dad, and I knew then he’d come through surgery no worse for wear.  A couple hours later I told him I’d stay until he got tired, so he dropped his head, feigning sleep, and began to snore.  Yep, he’s gonna be fine.

While sitting in a quiet hospital waiting room, I realized how blessed I am.  It could have been a horrible outcome.  Even at 53, I still look for his humor and guidance every Saturday when I call him for our weekly phone date.  I’m glad that date will be kept for awhile longer.  Because as he likes to remind us, to know him is to love him.

I hope your Easter turned out as happy as mine.

Time Flies, Even if You’re Not Having Fun

I believe my last post was August of 2012.  So I’ve only been gone… what?  Seven months?  That’s not long in the blogosphere, right?  Well, in school years, that’s been ALL of it so far.

Long story short, I have a very challenging class, thrown together weeks after school started when one of our fifth grade classes was cut.  The original group gelled very well, but the poor kids who got split up and thrown into my class never got a chance to feel like they belonged.  It also put together students who had been purposely separated  before school began because of problems between them.

That, along with an ailing principal and lack of direction made things very difficult.  Our extremely poor test performance last spring meant we had people from the district coming in and lots of people wandered in and out of our rooms.  I came to dread going to work each day.

But now it’s almost April, we have a new principal who has new ideas, and we have eleven weeks of school remaining.  By no means is my life easy, breezy, but I can see sunlight in the distance and actually smile more at school these days.  And once, again, I’m telling my students that I love them – ALL of them.

So, it’s time to begin moving onward and upward again.

Image

I’d Like a Clutter-Free Classroom, Please.

I’d Like a Clutter-Free Classroom, Please..

My Teacher Bag

My Teacher Bag.

Onward. And. Upward.

Since I began working a second job seven hours during the week, and now a third job for four hours each Saturday, the carefully plotted and planned structure of my personal life has crumbled around my feet.

The third job is very temporary, and the second job will end by June, but I really don’t want to wait that long to start living in some sort of normal fashion.  I love writing for my blog, and I miss it very much.

Sooo… I’m blowing the dust off my blog and adding a little structure.  I love structure.  Structure is very good for me.  Let’s try this.  My goal is to post three times a week:  Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Tuesdays will fall under the topic of “Onward” – places I’ve been, places I’d like to go, or perhaps places that aren’t physical at all.  Thursday will be “And”, as in a little of this, and a little of that.  I’ll be rounding out the week with “Upward” topics on Saturdays – living life better as a 50+ year old!

I Found My People

Last Saturday, despite the incredible amount of work and responsibilities pressing down on me, I got in my car and took off.

Well, to be honest, I had the GPS set.  I’m just not that spontaneous.  I headed north to meet my daughter in the little town of Barberville, Florida for a festival she was attending, volunteering for, and camping at.  I am butchering the name, I think, but it’s something like the Barberville Pioneer Festival of the Arts.

Barberville High School

I had originally agreed to camp with my child for the weekend.  However, the week leading up to the weekend was the most ridiculously exhausting of my school year.  Field trip, bus duty, workshop, tutoring, report card conference night – AARRGGHH!  So I promised my daughter I’d drive up for the day, not realizing at the time that it would take me almost three and a half hours to get there.  I am an idiot.

Had it not been for the fact that my child was waiting on me to bring her some much-needed stuff in the way of note taking supplies and a Coleman lantern, I probably would have backed out.  And that would have been a mistake.

The place was crawling with interesting characters.  The “folkies” who had their guitars, banjos, fiddles, washboards, and the like; the “period folks” dressed in old pioneer garb; the crafters, the beekeepers, the quilters, the weavers, and on and on.

My daughter volunteered in the musical “petting zoo”.  Instruments were available for anyone to pick up and shake, hit, or strum.

dulcimers waiting to be strummed

One of my favorite parts was listening to the jam sessions around the park. There were anywhere from 3 to a dozen or more musicians gathered here and there playing fiddle tunes and old folk songs.  The largest jam session included a man playing a washboard, an autoharp, and a bass in addition to fiddles, banjos, and guitars.

Hard to see, but this was part of the big jam.

 

I’ll leave you with a few more photos of this wonderful event.  I plan on attending next year for the weekend and hope to spend more time with the artisans and musicians who so graciously and unpretentiously shared their crafts.  I haven’t spent a day that relaxed and happy in a long time and I felt like I was finally among a group of people who shared my love for the simple, but most beautiful things in life – a pretty melody, a little history, and a thing of beauty made by human hands.  Many of those participating were my age and older, which reminded me that it is never too late to start doing that which fulfills you.  In fact, I met a lovely couple around my age who just starting playing a year ago.  Now they’re moving onward and upward!

boiling down sugar cane

beeswax candles

winding rope

To Facebook or Not to Facebook

courtesy of fourteencreative.com

For those of us of a certain age, Facebook seems to bring about strong reactions.  My brother refers to it as “drinking the Koolaid”.  I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Of course, I’m right and my brother is wrong, but that’s to be expected between siblings.

Actually, I’m sure both of us are a little off.  Well, I know we’re “off”.  But that’s another topic altogether.

I came across this link this evening which supports the use of Facebook among middle-aged people.

One of the benefits stated is that you can reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with and I can attest to this.  One of the greatest joys I’ve had recently has been reconnecting with people I went to elementary, middle, and high school with.  I was a particularly shy, unsure child, and it’s great to get to know these people again as a confident, outgoing adult.  We recently spent two days commenting on a fourth grade class picture one of my classmates posted.  It led to great stories about teachers and classmates from long ago!

Another benefit for those of us baby boomers who graduated from college and headed for adventures that took us away from home and family is that we now have a way to stay in touch with the family and friends we left behind.  I have watched my great-nephew grow from baby to toddler to little man from 1500 miles away.  And now I’m witnessing his beautiful baby sister transform from a newborn to a happy healthy baby girl.  My daughters and I have regular conversations, both by phone and by Facebook, whether we’re in the same town or a thousand miles apart.

Facebook has also provided me with an amazing network of colleagues, some from work, some who are family, and some I’ve met through other family and colleagues.  What a great support system  to have!  We share our experiences and I find myself relieved to hear others with the same stresses and triumphs as mine.

If God and I are on the same page, I plan to retire and travel extensively in an RV sometime in the next decade.  This will take me away from my children and grandchildren for months at a time.  I am counting on Facebook, or whatever social networking giant is in place at that time, to keep me in regular contact with my kids, my grandkids, and my local friends.

Like anything, Facebook has its downfalls.  It can be a huge time suck.  If you friend everyone who knows someone who knows you, you can end of with hundreds of “friends” who are total strangers.  And if you aren’t diligent about your privacy settings, strangers will have access to information you never meant to share.

Having said that, TV is also a huge time waster, going to parties where you know one person just so you can say you mingled with lots of people is just as ridiculous, and people who leave their cars and doors unlocked, or fail to shred sensitive documents before putting them out in the trash provide dangerous access to themselves every day.

All in all, I think the benefits make Facebook worthwhile for those of us over 50, especially those of us who have moved a time or two.  I keep in touch with people across the country.  In fact, during our little Facebook elementary school reunion, I had a two-day long conversation with former classmates living in New York State, California, and Japan!  Not bad for a service that is free to use for as many minutes or hours I’d like, twenty-four hours a day.

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