Genesis 1: 26; “And God said. Let us make man in our image….”
Genesis 1:27; So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” KJV
2. A dream begins with an image.
The American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.) defines the transitive verb form of the word dream as “to conceive of or imagine.”
The intransitive verb form of the word dream is “to have a deep aspiration.”
3. I was formed in my momma’s womb by ADONAI.
Psalms 139:13b “You [God] knit me together in my mother’s womb.” TLV
Isaiah 49: 5a “So now says ADONAI, who formed me from the womb….” TLV
Jeremiah 1: 4 and 5a “The word of ADONAI came to me saying: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you….”
Dreams, in the sense of having deep aspirations, begin with an image or a vision. Dreams such as these require hard work and dedication to manifest into reality: There is no magic bean to produce Jack’s beanstalk.
Therefore, because I am made in the image of God, that dream conceived and imagined, and aspired to by God’s forming of my body in my mother’s womb, I can safely conclude that I am a dream come true!
Health experts say sitting is the new smoking, meaning consistently sitting long hours is just as detrimental to one’s health as is smoking. I have spent the last five years sitting on my fanny an awful lot while pursuing a higher education. Since graduation, binge watching my shows seems to be more enjoyable than cleaning out the pantry. Consequently, me ol’ belly button has moved.
I used to be an active person. In a far-away past I had always found ways to move that was enjoyable to such as walking trails, riding bicycles, or aerobic stair stepping routines via VHS tapes in the 1990s. I even started taking backpacking camping trips.
My outdoor, fun-in-the-sun activities came to a screeching halt in 1999 due to severe burns. Although healed, being in the sun became physically painful. It’s akin to having a sunburn and stepping outside under the UV rays.
Yet in my pre-burn youth I never did like going to the gym: For one, I couldn’t afford the fees. So, in inclement weather I found plenty of ways to stay fit. I’ve been known to walk in circles inside my house––I had a house conducive to doing so––until I reached a mile or jumped rope 45 consecutive minutes or danced around for a pre-set time allotment. Ah, those were the days, my friend!
The kids were always commanded ––yelled at––to stay away from Mom during these times. A daughter and I were reminiscing, and she surmised that it was because I didn’t want them to see my red face! I didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t that but my sense of “me time” was being invaded. (Sorry, kids, if you happen to read this.) I’ve concluded this is why I don’t fully enjoy going to the gym––chalk it up to my introvert tendencies. (And yes, my face does get very red.)
But I digress.
Over the years, I have participated in Yoga, Zumba, and aerobic classes, none of which I have truly enjoyed doing as a group. But my all-time favorite gym experience was at the local YMCA: Drumming. These routines entail pounding sticks on a yoga ball while dancing around. I suspect I loved it because I sometimes play the drums and I do own a drum kit. I’m the one air drumming and crashing cymbals while everyone around is strumming riffs at air guitars or singing-into-the-spoon.
In the few weeks before the required Stay-at-Home orders went into effect, I met with a personal trainer once a week to work on strengthening my core. I was blessed too find one to come to my home once a week until COVID19 showed up in a fast and furious way.
I’ve kept the routine going sans trainer; but I decided I needed to get the whole body moving. So, I dug out the plastic aerobic step system from storage. Two days later (yep, I tend to procrastinate), the search began on YouTube for a routine to follow and I was delighted to find an original Susan Powter video.
In the early 2000s, I was faithful to Powter’s “Lean, Strong and Healthy” aerobic stair stepping video. I thought she was pretty cool although I never figured out exactly what insanity she wanted to stop. I was too busy huffing and puffing and blowing the house down to give a rip.
It was from Powter that I first learned a more proper posture that promotes better results in working the core: pull your belly button in as if to touch the spine. Within two minutes upon my reunification with my old friend Susan and the “Lean, Strong and Healthy” routine, I began to wonder if I still had a belly button and if so, where is it?
As it turns out, I do have one but there is muchmore distance to cover these days until it reaches the lower spine. Still, I did my best to bring a meeting of the twain––obviously much easier when I was 50 pounds lighter and a tad younger.
This pulling-in-the-belly-button-to-spine activity helps open up and lengthens the spine: It’s especially therapeutic for those who have been under the influence of gravitational pull longer than some. It’s good to practice throughout the day as well and helps relieve back pain.
Many people’s social lives revolve around faithful gym attendance like some society’s neighborhood pub serves as a social center. My introvert-self is quite content to step up and practice my belly-buttoning-pulling-in routine in the happy and sometimes bored confines of my home.
For the curious or like-minded souls check out Powter’s video:
NOTE: The music as well as the video quality really sucks. One pet peeve to video routines is the music. Sometimes it reminds me of porno tunes––so I’ve been told; please, don’t ask. So, I muted the sound and streamed my Amazon Music workout playlist to a Bluetooth speaker. Things really got a-movin’ and a-groovin’ to Lover Boy’s “Lovin’ Every Minute of It.”
It’s obvious that as the crisis of COVID19 looms over the globe, we the people have put our normal lives on hold. Life as we know it has paused. The hardship of this unprecedented time is unfathomable; for everyone. Yet, I have observed a few personal benefits since Shelter-In Place (SIP) orders were established.
I never thought I would see the day when one buys five years’ worth of toilet paper, leaving the rest of the community with none. The plus side of this marvel is that I visualize the astonished expressions on my great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren’s faces when I regale the tales of “back in the day.” I’m confident they will be googling to verify that Granny’s story was not the crazed rambling of an old woman.
I am, by nature, a homebody. My only so-called social outing these days is the essential business of buying groceries. Staying six feet away from fellow customers is no problem for me because my innate need of personal space is just about that. Also, bringing a bag from home means I must bag the items myself, saving me from the idiot check-out person who places a loaf of bread and dozen eggs under the weight of a gallon jug of milk.
On the plus side of SIP, I have only burned through ¼ tank of fuel in the past 3 weeks or so. Another plus is that I have had less laundry to wash because I dress in my stay-at-home clothes (que images of sweats and ratty t-shirts) rather than rocking business attire. Due to my having the nature of an introvert, I have truly enjoyed free curbside-pick up when ordering items online from local stores. I wonder why I haven’t been doing this all along until I remember the convenience fee attached to the total bill.
I also have much more time available to declutter the house, write, enter the rabbit hole of Ancestry.com, shred oodles of piles of snail mail, learn a few software programs purchased and downloaded many moons ago such as Scrivener.
You may have picked up on the “time available” verbiage in the above paragraph. My busy pre-stay-at-home schedule often had me lamenting if I had more time, I would clean out the garage, the pantry, etc. This season of SIP illuminates the great self-revelation that behind those excuses, the reality of “I JUST DON’T WANT TO” is starkly exposed.
The bald truth forces me to confront me. As we ogle each other, one of me vocally gives permission to sit on the couch and stream movies all day. While the other me simply wags a finger and the inner monologue says tsk, tsk, tsk, what about that to-do list?
Even though I have strongly suspicioned that particular character flaw exists within for quite a while now, I can no longer deny I have a problem. It is not that I’m totally lacking in self-disciple. For the past few months, I have managed to complete a list of five things I do daily. I say this flagrant revelation is a benefit in the fashion that one must lance a wound before healing can begin. But perhaps the biggest roadblock to getting things done is that of procrastination: I can happily talk myself into the wait-until-tomorrow phenomena.
I once bought a self-help book on how to stop procrastinating. I kid you not that in the 14 years I have owned that book, I have yet to read further than the title page. I imagine a group akin to AA in which I introduce myself “Hi, I’m Janet and I’m a procrastinator” followed by a group reply, “Hi, Janet.”
And the dance begins. Should I give myself permission to do nothing but watch movies and binge serial shows (all the while visualizing a wagging finger and hearing tsk, tsk, tsk) and wave the flag in surrender to the screen? Or wait until I finish all items on that supposed list, the list that has turned into a short novel?
Tada! I have found the perfect strategy. (Turns out, I am also great at compromise with inner conflict.) I will watch an episode; check an item off the list––after completion––of course and repeat. By the time the SIP order is lifted, only a small number of things will be checked off the list and I will be lamenting once again that I just don’t have time to do it all. And it will be legit.
In my last post I wrote about completing a daily gratitude list of a minimum of 20 items. Some things that I am most thankful for show up repeatedly, such as indoor plumbing. (See previous post for the reason I don’t take indoor plumbing for granted.)
Why purposely practice an attitude of gratitude? As it turns out, according to the Psychology Today website, author Amy Morin, claims there are seven scientifically proven reasons why one should practice gratitude. Gratitude improves one’s physical health, mental strength, psychological health, opens the door to more relationships, build’s self-esteem, reduces aggression and builds empathy. Interestingly enough, thankful people sleep better and longer.
For the past couple of weeks, gratitude for garbage collectors has cropped up on my list a couple of times. This also ties to my childhood, country living days when our household was responsible for hauling our trash to the local landfill (or the dump as we called it), burning it, or sometimes Dad would even bury it. That’s country living.
In my country-living days, we children were responsible for getting trash outside of the house. Once outside, getting it off the property was up to Dad. There was a special, sturdy barrel for burning. Once, a can of hairspray escaped our notice and it exploded sending shards that hit my younger sister near the eye. Dangers abound with this method. Some things were burned inside the woodstove, our only source of heat.
Things that couldn’t or wouldn’t burn were piled up until a pickup truck bed was filled. Then it was off to the landfill. The few times I rode with Dad were father/daughter bonding moments until he began backing the truck to the edge of the stinky gorge. Panicked cries of warning––“Stop, Dad! You’re going too far!” and “We’ll fall in!” –– were met with chuckles. It didn’t occur to me that Dad didn’t want that to happen anymore than I did.
I know some city dwellers who opt out and carry away their trash to the local waste disposal site thinking it will be cheaper. Tally up at least twice monthly trips at an expense of about $27 a load, it works out about the same amount of money as the city charges for curbside service. Not to mention garbage sitting around stinking and attracting vermin for weeks at a time. EW!
I’m thankful that all I need to do these days is collect from the house, toss it a bin and wheel it out to the street curb and wait for man and machine to haul it far away. Besides, I don’t quite trust myself to stop the truck before it rolls into the reeking ravine.
A few days after the turn of the new decade, I made a commitment to myself that I would beginning the first few minutes of my waking hour to write 20 things I am grateful for.
Somedays I struggle with coming up with new and different things despite the fact that I have many, many things to be thankful for. I have, however, noticed a recurring theme: several times a week I am thankful for indoor plumbing!
As I began to explore why this may be, childhood memories began to stream like a Hulu Original through my mind. Memories of creeping down a set of very steep stairs with no railings in the dark of the night and sneaking out onto the grass to take care of business.
I grew up in the country. My father, with the help of relatives, built our first home. It was small but was adequate for our family of five. Although we had a washroom with a concrete floor, sink and shower, there was no indoor toilet. But my father happily provided our very own outhouse.
The problem was that it was located about 150 yards away from the house and around the side of the barn. There are no streetlights, of course, in the country. I thought it––and I still do––very unreasonable to oblige a young child to trek unaccompanied in the dark to the facilities. If the occasion arose, I simply refused. Thus, the short journey.
While I cannot recall being afraid of the dark as most young children are, I feared the country critters that reigned in the night, like a skunk or racoon, or possibly an escaped cow. (I had an irrational fear of cows.) Without even a flashlight to guide my way, it was even more scary. Then there was the possibility I would stumble and fall in! EW!!
Having to endure the use of the outhouse for the first nine years of life until we got a “real” bathroom indoors, it’s no secret why I am continually thankful for indoor plumbing.
Non-profit and faith-based organizations rely heavily on the work and support of volunteers to bring relief a struggling population within local communities. But a recent study of older adults ––55 years old and over––gives evidence that the volunteer who is consistent in volunteer work for two years or more also improve their own health.
An independent study released on Feb. 5, 2019, by the Corporation for National and Community Service reflects that after a two-year check in, volunteers claim they are less depressed, healthier, and feel less isolated than before serving as a volunteer. According to Senior Corps, more than 200,000 serve through the Foster Grandparents Program (FGP), Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and/or the Senior Companion Program (SCP).
Deborah Cox-Roush, Director of of Senior Corps, writes ““I’m thrilled with the release of this independent study because it confirms what we have long believed to be true: Senior Corps volunteers are not only improving the lives of others, they are also improving their own,” … “These volunteers are feeling healthier and less depressed. What’s also exciting is they say they feel less socially isolated, which we know has important health benefits. Along the way, Senior Corps volunteers found a sense of accomplishment, opportunities for personal growth, and chances to form meaningful relationships.” https://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2019/volunteering-helps-keep-seniors-healthy-new-study-suggests
I chose to volunteer through the RSVP in Redding, CA. In November 2019, I began volunteering at the Mercy Oaks Senior Center where Senior Corps services are offered through Dignity Health Connected Living. Although I have only just begun, I can report that my personal sense of well-being and fulfillment in life has improved. I feel less isolated in general. I am making new connections and have been reconnected with long-time acquaintances.
Loneliness and physical isolation in all humans, especially in seniors, has a detrimental effect on health. Humans need social interaction. According to Hara Estroff Marano, “Psychologists find that humans have a fundamental need for inclusion for group life and for close relationships.”
According to WordPress statistics, I posted here two times in 2019. For someone who recently graduated with a BA in English with a Specialization in Writing, that fact is utterly abhorrent. The truth is that my inner monologue has been saying things such as “I don’t have anything to say that is worth reading.” It reminds me of the Seinfeld sitcom that often was self-described as a show about nothing.
It’s true that this is a personal blog with a handful of followers. It is also true that I have been tossing to and fro seeking solid ground since graduating. I don’t know who I am if I am not a student. Because I was not in the typical age bracket of most college graduates, I face a different challenge of who I want to be when I “grow up” or what job can I get with the degree I worked so hard to achieve. I have had jobs, children, husbands, grandchildren and now I have great-grandchildren.
The summer months of 2019 found me in the kitchen making jellies and jams, breads, pies of all types; at the sewing machine making aprons; and traveling short distances to a beach; or visiting daughters and grandchildren. In short: floundering. One would think that at my age I would have found myself by now without that proverbial European backpacking trip.
Alas, it is not so. It seems that as new seasons of life roll around, I must begin anew. Sure, some roles are the same: I’m still a mother, grandmother, etc., but as my family’s life -stages change, I must adapt. For example, being a mom to adult children is far different than being a mom to young children.
Adaptation does not happen overnight: Sometimes we flounder in the process. That’s where I have been––in the floundering stage. I am beginning to equalize and find balance in my new role as a non-student. I recently began volunteering at a local Senior Center that has helped me find meaning, fulfillment, and purpose outside of my family.
In the past few weeks (21 days to be exact) I have been taking a closer look at my dreams and goals that I want to transpire in my remaining years. One goal is to revive this blog, even if it’s personal with a handful of followers. And yes, even it is a blog about nothing.
The families were leaving, and I was informed by unanimous consensus I was to send a screenshot prior to all purchases for their children. My four-year-old self’s inner monologue screamed, “You’re not the boss of me.”
Instead, I shouted that I wasn’t in an assisted living home yet and asked, “What’s next? Taking car keys away? Don’t forget who will be having to taxi me around town, if that’s what you’re thinking!”
I stopped just short of threatening to have an appointment every day when I remembered the party scheduled the next day and abruptly changed my tone to be as sweet as Royal Icing on a sugar cookie. I reminded them to drop the littles off at 4:00 p.m. They weren’t sure if that would happen.
“But we always have a Mad Hatter’s Tea party on Christmas Day,” I implored, “Since you were knee high to a grasshopper. It’s a thirty-something-year tradition.”
They weren’t convinced. I slammed the door. I heard engines roar and tires squeal.
Four o’clock Christmas Day came, and grandkids filed into the house, all in smiles and costumes appropriate for the Mad Hatter. But I suspected their attendance had more to do with quiet time and free babysitting––their parents looked quite disgruntled and no one spoke.
“Don’t mind them,” Holliss, a precocious child, piped up and hugged me with the strength of a baboon and within a split second I was cocooned in a group hug, “You’re the best Gram ever. Parents just don’t understand.”