Author: travelswithmarysue

Images

mirror imageI have been tinkering with a post on how my actual age and my virtual age don’t match.  By that, I mean the image I have of myself, how I feel, and my adventurous spirit do not match the image I see in the mirror or in photographs.  And then….

My Medicare card arrived.  Pause for a breath or two….Assess a life in progress…. Reflect on a government-mandated milestone.  That new Medicare card is just a piece of paper, my new health insurance plan.  I have been paying into the plan for over forty years in hopes that I would live long enough to carry the card.  That time has arrived.  Brush it off and move forward.

How did I arrive at this point?  I found a few photos to demonstrate the process.  Scroll over each image for the captions.

 

As for the future, let the adventures continue…

Image result for what you think you become

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The Rocker

 

If it could talk, the rocker would share stories about how it soothed babies to sleep as they nestled in their mother’s arms.  It would describe grandfathers nodding off in the middle of a conversation.  It wouldn’t talk about the seventeen trips in moving vans, the six different states it lived in, the year it spent in storage or the five times it was nearly left behind or sold.  The rocker took comfort in knowing that in over eighty years it had only two owners.  Now it was looking for a third, an opportunity to create another generation of memories.

Tucked in the corner of a consignment shop, the curves of the wooden rocker beckoned to Samantha; a soft glow created an aura around it.  Samantha was looking for a sturdy chair that would last her a lifetime.  Made of maple and crafted by a master carpenter, the rocker held its form with a straight back and strong joints.

Samantha slid into the curved seat and closed her eyes.  The gentle rocking motion transported her back in time flooding her consciousness with the memories of those who had filled this seat before her.  The comfort of the rocker surrounded her like a warm blanket.

As she continued to rock back and forth, Samantha was given a peek at the future, rocking her babies to sleep and reading to her grandchildren with her soulmate at her side.

Samantha opened her eyes to see a face from her future standing before her.  Kevin, the owner of the shop, asked, “Are you interested in buying the rocker?  Others have tried it out but it didn’t light up till you walked in. We’ve been waiting for you.”

antique-rocking-chairs-2

Groceries

I used to think grocery shopping was a chore, I loathed it.  When I lived in Botswana it really was a chore.  Now I find it an enjoyable luxury, I love it.

perspective 1

BA – Before Africa

Shopping was a series of tasks that ended in nothing to eat on hand.  Does this sound familiar?

grocery listMake a list, cut coupons, sort through previously cut coupons checking expiration dates, load digital coupons to my “card.”

Remember to bring bags into the store, find a small cart vs the large, family-size cart, wander the store to find items, cross them off the list, and load into the cart.

Move selected items from the cart to the check-out conveyor, from the conveyor to bags, bags move to the cart, find the car, and move the bags to the trunk.

Once home, carry bags into the house, unload the bags, and put everything away.

Open the refrigerator and cupboards and there is nothing to eat.

A – Africa

Carry two light-weight, recyclable bags in the backpack at all times.

Mentally assess what will be needed or wanted in near future and prioritize urgency.  Make a list.

sparStop at THE store on the walk home from work, wander the store to find items from limited choices, cross them off the list, and load into the cart.

Move selected items from the cart to the check-out conveyor, from the conveyor to bags, balancing the weight of the two bags that will be carried, one on each shoulder, adding them to the laptop, cross-body bag, and backpack of files, water, and current project notes already strapped on.

Walk fifteen minutes in 90-degree plus weather; the end of the trip in deep sand.

Once home, unload the bags, and put everything away.

Open the refrigerator and cupboards and there is nothing to eat.

Many of my friends in Africa had it much harder.  It was a day-long bus ride to get to the town where there was an ATM to get cash before shopping.  They had to find a friend to stay with overnight.  They could purchase only what they could carry on the return trip home.  If lucky, there was a small tuck shop (corner store) for produce and cold items.

perspective 2

AA – After Africa

Grocery shopping is the same process as Before Africa with a new perspective.  I enjoy shopping now.  But I wondered what it must be like to live in my current hometown, use public transportation, and grocery shop.

grocery cartThen I met a woman in the check-out line who does just that.  She travels 6 miles on a bus that runs every hour.  She has her own cart, fills it with what she wants, and does the whole check-out routine.  Then it is off to the bus stop for the ride home, hoping her timing is such that she does not have to wait very long.  We have all kinds of weather in this state:  rain, hail, sleet, snow, sun, heat, cold, and wind.  Wating might be the worst part of the excursion.

This woman was not complaining.  She seems to take the whole thing in stride.  After working all week, grocery shopping is part of her Saturday routine.

Grocery shopping:  do you love it or loathe it?  I now find joy in every step of the process.  And still, when I open the refrigerator and cupboards, there is nothing to eat.  Some things never change.

Dear Younger Self,

Dear Younger Self,

A life-long journey of self-discovery and self-awareness awaits.  Trust your instincts.  Follow your heart.  The joy is in the journey.

The first sign of inner strength to carve your own path is skipping Mass in eighth grade.  It will feel risky, rebellious, and exhilarating.  After decades of trying to embrace your religious upbringing, forty will be a breakthrough year.  Confident in your spirituality, you will understand how you live your life is more important than any organization you belong to or label people try to put on you.

In your twenties, health issues teach you to take care of yourself and not compromise your personal values for an employer.  This conflict will show up several times.  You will change jobs frequently and move almost as often.

You will make many life choices that give your mother and father heartburn.  Through it all, your parents will provide a safety net for as long as they are in this world.  Their love and support will give you the self-confidence to face any challenge placed in your path.

The easiest and best decision you will make, at age fifty-one, will be to end twenty-four years of living in the Florida sun to return to your hometown in Michigan and care for your parents.   At age fifty-nine, you make the most difficult decision of your life, leaving the Peace Corps early.  Commitment to self will win over commitment to the Corps.

Follow your parents’ examples:  be generous with yourself and possessions, give to the community you live in, and leave the world a better place for having been in it.

As for the future, embrace the wanderlust that drives you.  Live the life you are meant to live.  The joy is in the journey.

Safe Travels!

note to self 3

 

Spring Cleaning

spring clean 4Spring arrived, about a month late.  Sunshine, blue skies, higher temperatures, open windows, people in short sleeves; all signs of a change in the season.  Spring fosters a sense of renewal, an opportunity to sweep away the cobwebs and shoo the dust bunnies out from under the bed. This year, spring cleaning looked very different for me.

spring cleaning chakras

First task:  Conduct a series of cleansing rituals to purge the bad vibes from my energy field.  I drew on my metaphysical background to brush away bad energy from my aura.  That was followed by burning of the names of people and issues dragging me down.  Next, I cleaned my chakras.  Finally, I surrounded myself with a shield of white healing light.

It all sounds a little woo-woo and out there.  But it worked.  The nagging sensation in my belly is gone.  I sleep better at night.  If any of the cleansed issues come to mind, I can see them burning, smoke rising and dissipating.

spring cleaning rokuSecond task:  Learn how to use my smart TV to eliminate cable.  After one year, the new-customer special pricing evaporated.  Monthly charges increased thirty-three percent, for which I received no additional services or programming.  Cable providers really need a new business model, one that rewards loyal customers.

A collateral result of “cutting the cable cord” is a new way of approaching media input to my brain.  A few days in and I have seriously cut down the amount of news I watch.  In today’s environment, a huge step toward clearing negativity from my world.

Third task:  Take laptop in for a good scrubbing.  Every now and then I byte the bullet and have a professional clean my computer. spring cleaning geek squad

Fourth task:  Complete actual spring cleaning.  Move furniture, sweep, and dust.  The good news about having very few possessions is that it takes little effort to complete this task.

spring clean vacuum

 

What are you doing this spring to reduce clutter in your world?

spring cleaning 1

 

Eagle’s Nest

Eagle’s Nest

Safe Zone,[1] Coffee, Food, Folks, and Fun

Anna shook the snow off her boots and waved to Migisi, owner of Eagle’s Nest, as she made her way to the corner booth.  Regular patrons understood the extra-large, corner booth was reserved for the International Relations study group every Tuesday and Thursday morning from ten till noon.  Known as the G-6, the study group represented six different countries, each student a first or second-generation immigrant to the United States.

Dr. Smith, Professor of International Human Rights Law: Migrant Populations class, assigned the G-6 to study and work together on team projects.  They wrestled with syllabus topics of conflict between international legal obligations, domestic politics of citizenship, immigration, asylum, and human trafficking.  Each member brought a unique perspective to the issues covered in class.

Migisi walked over and sat on the edge of the booth, “I thought classes were cancelled today, Anna.  Is the G-6 meeting anyway?”

“Afternoon classes are cancelled, there’s a winter storm on the way.  Administration isn’t ready for a repeat of last year’s fiasco.  Commuter students were housed in the gym for three days during Ice Storm Ilsa.  It was pure chaos, from what I heard.  The rest of G-6 left campus for a long weekend.”

“But you’re here today.”

Anna took a deep breath in and let it out with a big sigh, watery eyes gazed down on the table, “Like the sign on the door says, this is a Safe Zone for me.”

Migisi motioned for the server to bring a carafe of coffee and two mugs to the table.

Over coffee, Anna shared her story.  Words she had been holding back for months tumbled out.

“I came to the United States as an exchange student in my senior year of high school.  My host family was wonderful.  They treated me like one of their own children.  My parents agreed to let me stay in the U.S. to attend university.”

“Last year I married my English professor.  It was a whirlwind courtship with a Las Vegas wedding, no family.  Just the two of us.  It seemed so romantic to a naive girl from Israel.  As soon as I moved into his house, he changed.  He tracks my cell phone so he always knows where I am.  If I change my route or am a few minutes late, he has a fit.  I’m not allowed to call my family in Israel or my American host family.  I have no money of my own and am forced to beg for books, school supplies, new clothes, and shoes. When he has been drinking, it’s even worse.”

“He wasn’t like this when we were dating.  Marrying him was a mistake and I don’t know how to get out.  If he finds out the rest of the group left early today, well, I don’t know what he’ll do.  He knows how to hit me so the bruises don’t show.”

Migisi took Anna’s hands in her own, “Take a breath while I tell you about Eagle’s Nest.”

“Because the Eagle’s Nest is two blocks from the university campus, everyone thinks the name came from the school mascot, the Golden Eagle.  It fits and is one piece of the magic.  Eagles are considered medicine birds with magical powers.

Have you heard the saying, ‘Feathers appear when angels are near?’

Anna shook her head side to side.

“Feathers have ethereal qualities and come to us as sacred gifts from heaven, from our Angels. They fall on our path as a sign from the Divine, sent to comfort us and place us in a state of joy and higher awareness.”

“My name, Migisi, is the Chippewa word for eagle, the symbol for courage, wisdom, and strength.”

“I was married to a controlling man for twelve years.  It took courage and the help of a special place called The Haven for me to leave him and start a new life.  They can help you too.”

Migisi pulled a gold feather from the arrangement on the table and placed it in front of Anna.

“I will drive you to The Haven myself.  When you are ready, place a gold feather on the bar as you walk by on your way to the restroom.”

Back behind the bar, Migisi took orders and served customers while keeping an eye on Anna.

Ten minutes before noon, Anna walked past the bar and left the gold feather next to the cash register.

golden eagle 4

[1] Safe Zone – An area in which a human being feels safe, usually some place familiar, where they feel they have some control over what happens.  A “safe zone” can be a physical place or even a state of mind. A safe zone is a neutral territory possessing no hostile energies. violence is not possible in these places. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=safe%20zone

 

Sargasm

sargasm-word-of-the-day (1)

I set a personal goal to write six blogs in the first quarter of this year.  My mind is blank, and the end of the quarter is a few days away.  So, I Googled “word of the day.”  I was delighted to find a new word to add to my vocabulary.  It seems oh so very useful.

I need to add one more post this week.  Any words, ideas, or topics you would like me to riff on are welcomed.

Go ahead, roll your eyes.  Grunt.  Now you have a word for it.

Shedding

Shedding

 

 

According to the calendar, Spring has arrived.
According to the thermostat, Spring is evolving.
Slowly, daily low and high temperatures increase.
Slowly, shed heavy coats, scarves, hats, gloves.

According to the scale, thirty plus pounds down.
According to my goal, twenty more pounds to go, plus or minus.
Slowly, pounds shed.
Slowly, size markers on clothes drop.

shedding 3

According to the dozens of empty hangers, wardrobe options shrink.
According to the number of wardrobe options, loads of laundry increase.
Slowly, shed unwearable clothes.
Slowly, donate bags of clothes to a local charity.

Slowly shedding old habits,
Slowly shedding protective layers,
Slowly unbecoming,
Slowly evolving.

shedding 1

Stalwart Women of the Pool

Stalwart Women of the Pool

Stalwart women and a few men enter the elementary school
Through the cafeteria door.
Dressed in winter scarves, hats, gloves, and boots, or
A tee-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops.
Whatever the weather, the stalwart make their way.
A brief stop in the locker room,
Shed the outer layer.

pool 10

Stalwart exercisers descend the steps
Tip-toe then gently dip past the sensitive parts.
Warm-up by walking, skipping, and various forms of stepping
From the shallow end to the rope marking the deep end.
“Find your spot,” shouts the instructor.
Shorter people congregate in the shallow end.
Webbed gloves or foam weights
Or no weights at all.

pool 3

Stalwart swimmers include cancer survivors,
Widows, Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers,
Seniors, a few under sixty, all shades of skin, and
A shared desire to look better, feel better,
Improved health and do it in a social environment.

Stalwart women of the pool invite you to join them
Everyone is welcome.

pool determined

 

Haircut

Haircut

My stylist calls me over.  Feeling the cool basin against my neck as I lean back signals my mind to surrender.  Warm water pours down over my head.  All the stress and issues cluttering my mind are washed down the drain as I feel firm but gentle fingers massage my scalp.

Sitting upright, the sound of scissors snipping away, white wisps float down onto the black cape and slide to floor, reminders of time passing:  only four weeks since my last trim, but years since the puddle of hair swept into the dust pan was dark.

Hair blown dry and styled, I put on my glasses, look in the mirror, and ninety-nine percent of the time I say, “there’s my mother.”

hair cut 1 edited

I spent most of my early years trying to be NOT my mother.  But over the years, I learned to appreciate my mother’s best qualities.  I want to be like that woman.

She was kind and generous with her time and worldly possessions.  She never met a stranger, and once in her circle of friends, you were a member for life.

Mom left this world eleven years ago to join my dad on their next adventure.  I doubt a day goes by that I don’t think of them.  Yes, I get hints of my mother every time I look in the mirror.  But the resemblance is most striking on hair-cut day, when my hair is given the care and attention she gave her beautiful, curly, white hair every day.

Seeing her reflection, I am reminded that the best way to keep her alive is through my actions.  Be kind to everyone.  Give of myself.  Share what I have.  Look for the good in everyone I meet.

Mom was so good about dealing with an issue at the time it came up.  I need work on this.

Mom found it difficult to sit still.  If she had nothing planned, she would make up an errand, someplace to go.  My wanderlust is more global, but the desire to keep moving is in my genes.

I do not want to be a clone of my mother.  The best version of me will reflect the best version of her while maintaining those characteristics that are uniquely me.

It is with great joy and anticipation that I go to my hair appointments.  Most of all, I look forward to seeing my mother in the mirror.

hair cut 2