michelle’s weekly pet share: update to grandkitty’s tale

Forgot to mention grampy’s contribution to the tale of our woebegone grandkitty.

"I'm all ears."

“I’m all ears.”

The kennel in which grandkitty had his smelly accident was exiled to the balcony. And thank goodness there was one.

Imagine spending the night in a studio…albeit an over-sized one…with no windows to open, and a sliding glass door that remained closed for the sake of security, not to mention the cold.

Ppphhheeewww!!!

I would probably have slept at the furthest point away from the crate. Maybe standing up in the shower after I’d scrubbed it thoroughly…top to bottom. Me and grandkitty hiding out…with the bathroom door shut tight.

Fine for me anyway, seeing as how I “go potty”…while everyone else dozes.

Grandkitty’s crate would have been history if I had my way.

Not one to shrink from a challenge, grampy decided he’d save it…somehow.

“Good luck”  I thought. Removing every piece of stuck poop would be some trick.

Lo and behold after moving to our daughter’s apartment, and after the movers had unloaded all her furnishings and left…grampy set about cleaning the cat crate.

Removing the pieces ever so carefully so as not to drop any poop, grampy took some kind of brush and scraped off all kinds of “unmentionables.” (I would have barfed for sure.) And then he took the pieces down to the basement laundry and ran them through one of the commercial washing machines.

Voila!!! Good as new. 

I don’t think grandkitty’s been back in it yet, since he’s not been on a plane since that unfortunate, never-to-be-forgotten event.

…i’m sure you wanted to know what happened to the poor crate…

…right?

………hugmamma.

"Chewing my toes is more exciting."

“Chewing my toes is more exciting.”

"And you'll never get me on a plane again!"

“And you’ll never get me on a plane again!”

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nurturing thursdays: choices…changes…part 2

This is where I come in…

This year I turn 65. The year of Medicare. On the thresh hold to formally entering…old age. 

I’ve been practicing for a while, even telling folks I was already 65. My husband who turned 66 recently, pointed out my mistake. Seems I was rushing him along.

Funny thing. As the years pile up I’ve become more preoccupied with, of all things, death.

Without realizing it, death has become my point of reference these days. Not in a morbid sense, more like savoring the pluses in my life while trying to downplay or diminish the minuses.

So with my daughter as ring master, I’m jumping through the hoops and…going for the gusto!

On Facebook the other day, I saw a photo of my mother-in-law seated with her 7 daughters. They were the picture of health and happiness. She sat shrunken, a shadow of her former, robust self. A quick glimpse of her eyes spoke of a woman growing older by the second. Yes, she looked all of her 80+ years. But she seemed to me, even older on the inside.

Years before my mom died, she fell in the bathroom of a vacation home we rented near the beach on Oahu. Her legs were like toothpicks, bowed from years of suffering the effects of arthritis. She was probably mortified that it took several of us to get her to her feet. Sadness seemed to hover over her like a black cloud in spite of her efforts to smile away her tears.

Both images are permanently embedded into my brain. Old age is not a pretty sight to behold.

For more than a decade now fibromyalgia, arthritis and I have occupied the same body…mine. In recent years I’ve been forced to take a backseat, while they’ve taken to calling all the shots. By late afternoon, I’m totally fatigued. Muscling through dinner preparation and evening chores, I usually fall into bed exhausted, aching from head to toe.

Caring for our dog who has heart disease and chronic neck and back stiffness, has only added to my own aches and pains. I must cajole her into taking her meds morning and night, including forcing a capsule down her throat. I must lift her in and out of the car when taking her to the vet, as well as carry her up and down flights of stairs.

Knowing that we women are often the designated caretakers, I wonder how long I can manage to help those about whom I care, as my own health dwindles. How can I help my husband should his health fail?

It’s more than likely my chronic pain was caused by the statin CRESTOR which I started taking to lower my cholesterol. I alerted the prescribing doctor to the fact that news reports indicated Asian women were susceptible to muscle pain caused by the drug. He’d not heard about it so I remained on Crestor, especially since it did the job intended. Even a subsequent physician, who happened to be female and Asian, ballyhooed my information. Not until a third physician drew blood to measure my C-Reactive Protein number and found it to be 1000+ instead of within the normal range of mid-100, did I stop taking CRESTOR. Only after trial and error did I end up with the one I’m currently taking which doesn’t have the same effect…yet.

In the midst of trying to determine the cause of my chronic pain, the doctor sent me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me as having fibromyalgia. Like the “kiss of death,” I’ve been living with it ever since. Thanks, CRESTOR!

Alternative medical practitioners, including chiropractors and massage therapists, have helped me live a fairly normal life. I’ve done pretty much whatever I’ve wanted to do. But with old age settling in for the duration, quality of life becomes harder and harder to sustain. 

After much reading, discussions with my naturopath, and soul searching,  I have begun the WILEY PROTOCOL natural hormone replacement therapy. 

Not having had the truly bothersome effects of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats, I never felt the need for hormone replacement treatment. But now that old age is staring me in the face and my quality of life is in jeopardy, renewing my body’s resources seems imperative. 

Without hormonal balance, our bodies are going the inevitable route of shutting down. And while that is the natural order of things, I’d like to make the journey as enjoyable as I possibly can. 

I’d like to savor the moments I can still do for others, and with others. I’d like to continue laughing, and hugging. I’d like to feel the excitement of learning new things no matter how old I get. I want to keep on writing, and blogging.

Essentially, I’d like to keep on…keeping on.

So why choose to change things up? What’s my goal? Well I’ll tell you…it’s for quality of life…no matter the quanity of years.

…here’s to living life…the best way i possibly can!!!

………hugmamma.IMG_3370

six word story challenge: youth

Young at heart…Old of mind.IMG_5001

Youth is never wasted…it’s overdone. 

Young maiden chases…young man runs.

Sexy is young…dried up is old.

Young pointed peaks…old sagging valleys.

Youth lasts forever…only in fairy tales.

Young men speed…old men walk.

The young flirt…the old fart.

Wisdom grows with age…stupid youth.

Religion bores the young…and buries the old.

Prejudiced old teaches prejudiced young…both wrong.

The body may age…memories don’t.

…hugs to figments of a dutchess for the challenge at http://www.figmentsofadutchess.wordpress.com

………hugmamma.

…comfort zones…

…stepping away from them.

Nuts (film)

Nuts (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re like me, human, you’re a creature of habit. It’s so much easier to stick with something you’ve thought or done a gazillion times, than it is to risk it all to try something unfamiliar. Of course if we’ve no choice, as when something or someone dictates change, then we rise to the occasion. But deciding to take that leap on our own…are you nuts?!? And the older we get the harder it is to…jump off a cliff…even with a parachute! 

200

200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The oldsters magazine from AARP, spoke to this topic in an article by Ken Budd. “New Adventures, New Risks, New You!” encourages seniors to jump into life without pausing to ensure there’s a safety net. Budd writes

I was struggling to find my purpose. And then a friend gave me some advice: “You only know about yourself when you’re outside your comfort zone.” Without really planning on it, I started volunteering around the world and plunging myself into sometimes scary, always fulfilling experiences. 

Budd goes on to describe his various volunteer escapades, from cooking spaghetti for 42 hungry and eager children in Kenya to “building rock walls in the West Bank or working at a school in China.” Along the way he

was kicked by a horse, scratched by children…lost half a thumbnail after slipping on a slope in the Andes (which felt a bit like an interrogation technique used by secret police)…nearly stepped on a tarantula…forced to drop [his] pants by Israeli security…suffered stomach viruses in China and Kenya…slept on the floor for two weeks in an unfurnished apartment with 18 guys and one bathroom…had a spider bite…the size of a golf ball…

In spite of his trials and tribulations Budd says “And yet thinking about these incidents makes me smile.” The man must’ve lingered in the Kenyan sun too long.

Experts, in this case Susan Biali, a Canadian doctor, wellness expert and life coach, and Cornell University researchers, weighed in on the benefits of risk-taking. According to Biali ” ‘A lot of people see anxiety, fear, and nervousness as a warning that says, “Danger! Danger!” but it’s actually a sign you’re moving forward…’ ”  And the Cornell researchers theorized that of study participants “57 percent…were happier after spending money on an experience instead of on stuff, compared with 34 percent who chose material goods.” The reasoning? We tend to own our experiences whose memories are longer-lasting than an outdated iPhone. Evidently we even tend to appreciate the “lousy experiences.”

It’s no surprise that the experts confirm what we already know in our gut…

…happiness helps us live longer: A study published in 2011 found that happy people were 35 percent less likely to die a premature death than their less content counterparts.

We’ve also been hearing a lot about challenging our brains. The article likens them to gardens for which “new activities are mental manure: the fertilizer for new brain cells.” We’re encouraged to change it up. ” ‘Take a new route to work. Get out of bed on a different side. Brush your teeth with a different hand. It stimulates your brain.’ ”

The experts also assure us more fun if we attempt to break old habits, especially when it comes to long-term relationships.

…a study of married couples in Psychological Science…Spending time together helps, but falling into dreary, moldy-marriage traps–meeting with a tax attorney is not a date night–will not rekindle passion. Try something new!

Budd writes “When my wife and I taught English in Costa Rica, it was exciting to see us escape our usual roles: to watch her play dodgeball and bowl with kids using a tennis ball and soda bottles for pins.” Psychologist Pepper Schwartz explains ” ‘Boredom is the enemy, so creativity is the rejuvenator.’ ” She points to examples of seniors who took a new lease on life…a couple in their 60s who started swapping partners, better known as “swinging” (really?!?)…and another couple who learned aikido, the art of self-defense. Other options include touring exotic locales, or embarking in a joint enterprise, such as a small business or foundation. Schwartz says “try new things and gain new intimacy: ‘Change the mind…and the body follows.’ ”

Finally, Budd recommends we let go of our inhibitions. He strongly recommends we give into our goofball selves.

In Kenya, I tried to say the Swahili word for shared taxi–matatu–instead said matiti, which means…boobs. As in, “Wow, the boobs are nicer here in the city…”

But I came to cherish my stupidity. Every time I felt dumb, I learned something. As Alina Tugend writes in Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong, “the fear of making mistakes is a cudgel that hangs over so many of us,” preventing us from taking risks. So here’s my risk-taking, rut-breaking advice to you: Don’t be bludgeoned by fear. Embrace every opportunity to be a bai chi. [Chinese for “idiot.”]

I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to traipse around the world getting myself into situations that would require all of my 9 lives…were I a cat…and a newborn at that…to survive and live happily-ever-after…let alone to live and tell about my adventures.

I think I’ll take baby steps outside my comfort zone.

  • When I’d prefer to ignore the sunlight peeking from beneath the drawn window shade, I’ll throw back the bed covers and eagerly dive into the day. I’ll will myself to make it to 8:15 exercise class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 
  • When I’d prefer to take our sweet dog for a short walk, I’ll will myself to go the extra mile…literally!
  • When I’d prefer a ginger ale, I’ll will myself to fill up my “tank” with no-calorie…water.
  • When I’d prefer to blog, I’ll will myself to get up off my b–t and do some housekeeping.
  • When I’d prefer to procrastinate with a doctor’s appointment, I’ll will myself to “buck up…and take it like…a man.”
  • When I’d like to sample a savory sweet…a bowl of white rice…handfuls of roasted peanuts…and second helpings of comfort food, I’ll will myself to…zip my lips!
  • And when I’m tempted to let time get away so that the night-owl in me gets the better of the early bird, I’ll will myself to slide under the bedcovers…by 10 p.m. 

Won’t you join me and throw caution to the wind. After all you only live once. So what the heck…go for it!!! Before you know it…

McNinja in mid leap

McNinja in mid leap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…baby steps soon become…tyrannosauras steps…

………hugmamma.   😆

  

reminiscing…2011…up to it?

Taking my cue from fellow blogger, tinkertoot, thought I’d ask of you what she asked of her readers in an October post, http://tinkertoot.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/the-joys-of-learning-something-new-a-challenge/ .

WHAT 2 new things did you learn in 2011, and LIST 5 pieces of trivia that might be of interest to others (or not). So, I’ll begin…

Flash Fiction Forward

Image by marklarson via Flickr

NEW things I learned…

  • Wrote flash fiction at an adult ed class at the local college and…
  • Wrote a book review, uploading it to Blogging for Books’ website and Amazon.com. Sorry to say the time and effort was mind-boggling…almost a week’s worth. Haven’t done it since. But proud I succeeded.

5 pieces of trivia…

  • Bed bug bites are lined up vertically, in close proximity. According to the experts, the bug likes to feed in the same area. Bet you didn’t know, or care to know, that. But if you’re bitten, you’ll know whether or not it was by a bed bug.
  • Clicking the red “x” in an unsolicited pop-up might allow a virus to infiltrate your computer. I know. I learned the hard way…to the tune of $199 paid to TechPro to clean out the whole kit-n-kaboodle.
  • Sleeping on an air mattress for 2 weeks straight isn’t the ideal scenario for someone with lower-back pain. I found out the hard way. Many visits to the chiropractor and physical therapist, as well as back-strengthening exercises have nearly got me fit as a fiddle…nearly…but not quite there.
  • Cats can for sure have human diseases. My Sunkist has renal failure…Sitka has a slow colon…Juneau was pre-diabetic. All 3 are stabilized with the help of pills and special foods.
  • Yard work is for the birds. This has not been a good year for getting out in the garden, what with one thing after another keeping me from it. So it’s literally gone to the birds…bunnies…stray dogs and cats…squirrels…and who knows what else. But I gotta love my neighbor. When I saw her at dinner the other night and started complaining about my lackluster yard, she cut me off with “Your garden is always so lovely.” Well shut my mouth…and I did.

See, easy peasy…as my friend Nancy said about posting an image to my blog. So you take a crack at it. Have to admit it was a brain game, trying to dig deep into all the nooks and crannies, sweeping away all the cobwebs that have accumulated over the year…and some.

Image via Wikipedia

Challenge yourself to remember…new things that have broadened your mind…and trivia that you just hoard. You can use the comment boxes on my post…or create your own post…and let me know so I can check it out. But no stresses, remember…

it’s an easy peasy challenge…if there is such a thing…

………hugmamma.  😉

best gift…ever!

Twenty-five years ago today, my husband and I were blest with the perfect gift, our daughter. Without child for 16 years, we’ve counted our blessings every day since her miracle birth. Because of her we know the joy of celebrating holidays, especially Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Because of her we know what it means to love without conditions, and to sacrifice without expectations. Because of her we’ve come to accept who we are, with our own idiosyncrasies and human failings. And because of her, my husband and I have found a deeper love for one another.

Holy Family: Mary, Joseph and child Jesus

Image via Wikipedia

Life isn’t perfect, it wasn’t meant to be. But being gifted with a child surely put us on a direct path to God, not always an easy one. On-the-job training, trial and error, challenges, compromises, and blending individual personalities into one smoothe-running household, was probably not even easy for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family. But look where they are. Sitting at the right-hand of God.

But I don’t need to look that far ahead to know that I wouldn’t trade being a mom for any other gift in the universe. My precious daughter has brought me to where I belong…to my own, true self. Twenty-five years ago, today, I began my journey “home”…

and i owe it all to my daughter…hugmamma.

THIS IS IT!!!

365 posts published in 7 months…12,113 views…record-setting 303 views today, 2/28/11 

We did it…together!!!

…”mahalo nui loa”…thank you, from the bottom of my heart…hugmamma…

i’ve got a deadline to meet

Regular readers to my blog know that I set myself a task about a month or so ago. By day’s end, today, I will have published 365 posts. That would mean I would’ve written a year’s worth of posts in 7 months. The other part of the challenge was that you, dear reader, help me reach 10,000 viewings at the same time. Needless to say you’ve far surpassed that goal with hits to date at 11, 879! Who knows you might even make it to 12,000, since you’re just shy of the mark by 121 views. 

Whatever the number at midnight tonight, I’m already eternally grateful for your faith in me as a writer. If you were my boss in corporate America, you would have already given me a promotion beyond my wildest imaginings. And so I thank you, with great humility, for letting me into your lives through the written word.

So brace yourselves, especially those who’ve subscribed by email, for  an onslaught…of more words. Tomorrow you’ll get a well-deserved break, I promise…I think.

blest to be writing…for you…hugmamma.

inhale…exhale…2011

Not sure what the holidays have been like for you, but they seemed like a whirlwind to me. I finally feel I can breathe again, deep breaths that is, not short, gasping-for-air breaths. While I got a tremendous head start on decorating for the season, completed a couple of days prior to Thanksgiving, my life seemed to move in slow motion after that. Not that everything around me did likewise. No. It was as though I was in the audience, watching my life unfold on a theatre screen. Much of it was a blur, like going through the motions, mindlessly. Many decisions, big and small, were probably made half, not wholeheartedly. But I made it through the “speed boat ride,” enjoying the scenery that sailed by me as best I could.

Since my daughter returned home in October to recover from health issues, I’ve set my life aside. Moms do that. Nothing seems more important at the time than seeing one’s child happy and healthy again, nothing. Tears come easily when my daughter’s life has gone awry, for whatever reason. While it’s natural to advise her that things will get better, that life experiences build character, that everyone faces challenges, it seems like a never-ending repertoire of blah, blah, blah that moms access so readily. So after two-and-a-half months of it, I’m worn to the bone.

The great news is that my daughter’s feeling great, so great, that she’s returning to work on Monday, a month earlier than expected. So her support system here at home worked fabulously, from doctors and their staff, to family and friends. Even her bosses and coworkers rallied around. It was like circling the wagons in the days of the Wild West, to better fight off the attacking Indians. Well it took a “village” to successfully battle my daughter’s “Indians.”

So our family is counting its blessings as the New Year begins. My husband and I have already begun our healthful regimen, eliminating unnecessary calories and saturated fats, and exercising at least half-an-hour daily. This is not new to 2011.  It’s actually a “renewal,” since we always lose sight of our resolve throughout the old year. Life has its ups and downs, as do our eating habits. But we remain positive, and hopeful.

Recent news from a fellow dancer left our daughter elated. Upon returning to work, she will be learning the soloist’s role in a contemporary piece being staged upon her ballet company by an internationally renowned choreographer. For a dancer, that’s like taking home Olympic Gold. For our daughter, recovering from a health setback, being given the role is tremendous recognition for a decade of passion, hard work, sacrifice, and always smiling while “picking herself up and dusting herself off.”

My daughter’s journey is proof positive that a commitment to hope can have great results. But my advice to her has always been that she should enjoy the process, for even if the end result is not what she hoped for, she will have fully lived each moment along the way. And true happiness is knowing who she is every day of her life, and having no regrets about any of it, including the not-so-good moments.

And so I have no regrets about the last few months, for I did what I do best…mother. Now I must “pick myself up, dust myself off,” and return to nurturing my mind, body and soul, and that of my husband’s. As the old adage goes,“There’s no greater love than that we lay down our lives, one for another.” Doing so for my child is a no-brainer.

take a deep, luxurious breath…and dive into 2011…huge hugs…hugmamma.      

when to “cease and desist,”parenting

Sometimes parenting a daughter who is legally an adult at 24, is like “walking on eggshells,” like “walking a tightrope,” like jumping from a plane hoping my parachute will open. Until a few years ago, her life was still within the realm of our control; it still is to some degree, because we continue to offer financial support. But having lived on her own since she was 19, it’s not easy to reel her in at this stage. Not that reeling her in is necessary. But I’m sure all parents agree that there are times we are impatient to substitute our substantial years of experience, for their paltry few. My husband has no problem restraining himself. I, on the other hand, am usually chomping at the bit. This is not surprising, if you’ve been a regular reader of my blog.

Deciding to give an opinion, in the form of advice, is a slippery slope. Fortunately, I have a huge inventory of words at my disposal to wend my way in and out of a tricky conversation. It’s like fencing, or a game of chess. I move; she moves. I act; she reacts; I react, and so on, and so forth. What usually begins as opposing viewpoints, evolves into an understanding of sorts. She sees my perspective as a concerned mom, and I realize her life is hers to live. And that’s the best I can hope for, an understanding that there are 2 sides to every story. But ultimately this is my daughter’s story, not mine. Wouldn’t we all like to write a happily-ever-after for our children?

Living in an apartment together while my daughter trained as a ballerina, gave us 2 1/2  years to bond, and then separate. I knew it was time to leave her, when the time came. Weaning her from total dependence upon my husband and I, was our daughter’s rite-of-passage. And she was ready to take the reins, even though her future, personally and professionally, was far from certain. In the ensuing years, she has weathered her share of challenges, managing the repair work when her bathroom ceiling fell in, minor car accidents, the end of a long relationship, auditioning for a dance job, career politics, and health issues. We were always available, on the other end of the telephone.

Children grow up, despite our hovering. What my daughter and I have always shared, and continue to share, is a two-way conversation. We’ve never turned our backs on communication, because we know we love each other unconditionally. There are tears and raised voices, for sure, but there are calming words and soothing hugs as well.

So I continue to hover, and will probably do so until I draw my last breath. My daughter will always know where I stand. What she does with that knowledge is her decision as an adult. I can’t live her life, I can only cherish it. So while I won’t cease and desist, I will step back, knowing that my daughter is well equipped to determine the course of her life. I’ll be here when her life takes a “detour.” She will probably seek advice, and I’ll be happy to oblige. As Elizabeth Edwards told Wolf Blitzer of CNN in an interview, “There’s no mother who doesn’t want to put her two cents in.”

for staying involved, hugs…hugmamma.