An Epiphany of Sorts

The definition used of epiphany is : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event), usually simple and sticking–so says Mr. Webster and the unsung typists who helped him.

My entire life, it sometimes seems, has been based on intuition. I wait for it. Bright ideas based on intuition have led me down many a garden path. But, no complaints here, my life has been varied and beautiful.

Now, strident  voices and painful realities are at the door after the November Elections and especially after the argument over “my crowd is bigger than your crowd” inauguration. Really?

My friends gathered at least a thousand dollars of items for the homeless in Denver and delivered them on inauguration day to spend their time in a more productive way than watching an administration come to power for whom they did not vote. The day after, several women in my circle went to DC for the march and another several groups went to downtown Denver to show their concern for women’s and children issues. The photos from all over the world were amazing, especially for the ones of us who have marched to protest before much world-wide coverage.

My support is with the loyal opposition, but my brain and heart have not connected into what plan I need for myself–until yesterday.

Let me start at the beginning of the day. As you elders know, if you have Medicare you have one free physical each year. Yesterday was my day and at 10:10 am my nurse practitioner, Kate, saw me to make sure I was still kicking. She had mentioned a few months ago when she was doing a routine check of blood pressure, that mental health issues due to election hysteria were almost overwhelming the practice. Yesterday she said the same thing, but in spades. They are referring people to therapy, meditation class, yoga, giving light/short doses of calming drugs and generally just listening to the populations that feel vulnerable. I told her my dilemma about not being sure where my skills should be put and she said, take your time to center yourself and then move forward.

My next stop was to see the staff and Colorado Free University to sign up for a class, and my friend Mary Jean and I were chatting about my opposition to programs that would hurt the refugee family where we had served as cultural mentors. She said the same thing. Wait until you are sure you know how you want to spend your energy. She knows I love to teach, but what and how can this be handled in a group of adults without shouting?

The last stop of the day was the book club at my local library. The book we read was, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Every woman in the room had spent a personal life time of insuring women’s rights and reading this particular book, put the fear of the circles of hell in our minds. Story after story from the various generations in the room of sexual harassment, rape, credit denial after divorce or widowhood, lack of freedom of reproductive rights and fathers and grandfathers and husbands who would not ALLOW them to thrive a human beings. They all have a similar situation now as I do–what can I do, how can I accomplish something and what do I let go?

For me to get to that point will require some quiet time, a spiritual search of myself and my options. Reflection on history, both mine and the various categories of the groups impacted by the change, moving the intuition to the formulation of a workable idea, and a support system of friends.

I can start with listing on paper the feelings I have, the angst that is around me and asking some of the elders around me for advice. The people in my age group have seen huge social changes all  of our lives, but also know that the work for equality that was so hard-won. can slip away too quickly with out us paying attention.

A few weeks from now, a plan will be shared with you all and your imput will be appreciated. Until then the blog will give you some quotes or stories to keep us going until we know where we are going.

Joanna

One last item. When I was out today, I read on sign on a “strip” club that stated if you were wearing a “pussy” hat like some of the women in the world-wide march, they would charge you double the entrance fee…….that would make a great place to picket!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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White Hair in a Bun

Both of my grandmothers were deceased by the time I was five years old, so there never was the stereotype of the time, a short little woman with white hair in a bun, for me to call Gram. I didn’t get to meet her until I was fifteen. The picture above is of Beckham who is almost 1 year old and is Gram’s great-great-great grandson.

In August of 1959, my family moved 20 miles outside of a small town in SW Colorado. My bother and I rode the bus into town for school and entered a culture very different from the one we were born into.

One day, a new friend invited me to lunch at her house which was half a block away from the high school, and there was my Gram. Her name was Emma Bertha Maddox, born in 1882 in Illinois, and seventy-seventy years old at the time of our meeting. She was visiting from the next town over and made lunch for her grandkids while her daughter was out. It seemed like a lot of trouble to cook a hot meal for a group of kids and friends, but she said she had owned diners and restaurants and this little lunch was nothing much. There had never been very many elders around me and it was almost a curiosity to watch Gram interact with her grand kids.

In the Extraordinary Elder class, one of the first topics we discuss starts with the question, what role models did you have to show you how to be old? Until a few weeks ago when the family tree caught my eye, did I remember how deeply this woman impacted my thinking about elders, strong women and being a grandmother.

A few months later into the school  year we met again when she was visiting and by then one of her grandsons and I were dating. After that time, she would always reach up and pat my cheek and tell me how beautiful I was. For a teen-aged girl, far from home and unsure of herself, Gram knew just what to do.

The following year found me married to her grandson and living in the college town where she lived. Most days, after my high school class, I would walk the two blocks to her apartment and have something cool to drink. As the days shortened, the soft lights would be on in her little nest and we would have something hot to drink. At the point of my leaving high school she begin to tell me about what it meant to be a mother and what life changes were coming my way. She would occasionally cook dinner for us and when morning sickness turned into after dinner sickness she would give me soup.

Gram’s daughter, my mother-in-law, must have learned how to be the terrific grandmother she was from her mother. My sons were lucky enough to have one of the best grandmothers ever. It ran in the family. My Gram was important to me in a time that I needed loving care. Knowing that she lad a difficult life that starting with coming to Colorado on a wagon train from Indiana/Illinois, and survived two world wars, a depression, a divorce, working for pay less than men, no anesthesia for birth and the dust bowl era, made my life look like the proverbial piece of cake–with chocolate icing.

The bottom line for all grand children–your grandmother told you that you mattered to her. You were loved and important and always would have her unconditional love.

Spread kindness,

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cube Trays

In my homeowner’s life some of the appliances purchased had the best and shiniest upgrades. As soon as the three or four ice-cube trays had been donated, the ice machine would fail. Learning, after the second time, the ice-cube trays were kept and the need for an ice machine that was temperamental vanished.

Now days, they are in use for individual cubes of pesto, or vegetable broth or organic chicken broth in addition to ice. The original or primary use for an item is good, but an item that can multi task is even better. This human discovery is at the heart of recycle, up cycle, restore, reuse or decorate- it- with -stickers -and- put -flowers- it-movement.

We know that we have too much stuff. We know that there is no need for the boxes of items in our basements or garages. Intellectually we understand the situation we are setting up for our survivors to deal with. So, what and to whom can you recycle your “treasures”. Can you make the distribution of your stuff a game to prove that you are not a horder? Don’t expect money, expect to move to lightness from excess. When you stop by an estate sale and see the hundreds of clothing items in a closet left by a deceased, I hope it makes you a bit sick to your stomach. Our affluence is to the point of being ridiculous and elders who haven’t moved from denial that they will actually leave the earth one day are part of the problem. It took us so long to accumulate, how can we give up our pretties. (See the Hobbitt)

In 1990, the psychologist, M. Scott Peck, wrote a book that was a bit of a shock to the ones of us who still considered ourselves young, or the ones who had never been to an “old folks” home. It is titled A Bed By the Window. I was in my mid forties, recently widowed, and a working professional who needed “stuff”. Up the ladder, more stuff. Larger house, more stuff. The book has an extraordinary elder character who is special.

I still recommend this book for people to wake them up with a wet towel slap across the face. A large part of being an extraordinary elder is to not be in denial. Maybe the book can help you plan your legacy and reputation as the type of ancestor every one wants on the family tree. The other book I recommend is the Velveteen Rabbit. It is a folk tale about how we become real—but not with 30 pairs of shoes in the closet.

The picture above this blog is of an iceberg—supposedly the one that the Titanic struck, but I do not want to pass along fake news. Can you imagine your paltry little ice-cube trays making a dent in that sucker? I can’t either, but I can imagine a granddaughter or daughter in law asking why in the hell did Nana have 10 ice-cube trays?

What can you jettison out of your house this weekend?

Joanna