#700! Woo Hoo

Here we are, boys and girls, at blog post #700! WOW! Thanks for being on this crazy ride with me. We have learned a lot together, and I suspect there will be more in store for us. Cartney will move into her dorm next week, and after she experiences the first two weeks of classes, she’ll work on our illustrations. I’m excited!

How are you doing with your 2200 Squats in August Challenge? I’m hanging in at 71 per day. It’s really making a difference in my strength, too. As we age, the muscles we need to be strong are in the hip area. It’s what helps us stand from a sitting position. Most elderly people sit too much. I’ve had episodes of that myself, specifically the nearly nine months in a two-year period I had a cast on my left leg and couldn’t put weight on it. Hard! Not fun at all.

In taking Mom to the doctor yesterday, it really shows she is having a hard time getting up from a seated position. And it takes a bit to get steady once she stands up. Her balance is not good, partly because of her hearing/inner ear issues. I wish she’d go to using a walker full time. She gets wound up if I suggest it. I’ll have one of my brothers tell her. She’ll do what they say. Always!

The weather has been extremely hot here, very humid and high heat indices. Not fit for man nor beast! Days like these, I think of the homeless Veterans who weather the extremes in weather. They are often ignored, judged, and forgotten people. We work to help them from afar and are proud of our friends at the VFW Post 2503 for their generosity. It is something we look forward to, and as long as we have new ideas for raising funds and goods, we will reach out to our brothers and sisters. As we’ve said before, there, but by the grace of God, go I.

My friend Sherri Steiner and I worked on a project of our own to help raise funds for Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. I purchased guitar picks with their logo on it, and she volunteered her time and materials to make 100 pairs of earrings. At $10 a pair, our goa is $1,000. That would help five people learn how to cope with their terrible memories. We will sell them at the Post, 8904 Military Road, Omaha, NE. Anyone else want a pair? Text me, call me, email me. I’ll get them to you! And Thanks, Sherri, you made this possible!

Picks before their transformation into earrings.

The Post supports this group who work with Veterans who have diagnosed PTSD. They are eligible for free guitar lessons. When they complete ten lessons, they receive their own guitar. How wonderful to hear them play! We are becoming acquainted with them as individuals and people and enjoy them a lot. Getting involved in the community is rewarding. Try it, you’ll like it!

If you know a Veteran who is diagnosed with PTSD who would be interested in this program, get in touch with Guitars for Vets Nebraska’s Peggy Ullom. She can get you the info you need. Musergic has a healing power, I can attest to that. As a kid, “In My Room,” was my favorite song. It expressed how I felt about having my own space. That was one advantage having three brothers. Music has always been there. Through good and bad.While my dad was dying, I listened to “Leader of the Band,” by Dan Fogelberg. My father was not a band leader, as Fogelberg’s was. My father led our family, loved big band music, jazz, and Sinatra. He always told me “Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll get your Bachelor’s Degree yet.” He didn’t live to see me graduate, but I know he watched as I crossed the stage.

Think about how you can give back. Find something you can support with your time or donations. Chances are, you can find something worth your time. Do that this week. Your life will become fuller. Time to go read and plan some more. Take care, be safe, and we’ll see each other tomorrow!

Today, I Give You . . . Allergies!

I cannot believe the mess of cotton from the Cottonwood tree in the Wetland behind our house. Last year, more big clumps were on the tree. I don’t remember it looking like snow! The asthma has kicked in but not badly. More like just very tired. Wanting to sneeze, but nothing is there. Did you ever start to sneeze, your mouth opens, you grimace, then nothing. You kind of feel like a dork, and there you are. Looking like a dork, not sneezing. Note to self; take the rest of your allergy meds. OK?

We’re going to an outdoor concert tonight, Ken Sitler opens for Jimmy Weber. They did the same two years ago, pre-pandemic. It should be a great show, and we look forward to havng some of the world’s best gelato afterwards. No worry, I already did my 71 squats and 22 wall/doorway pushups. I’m down! 71 sink squats are more than 50, which were pretty easy. These are harder. But remembering our Veterans and helping those with PTSD is worth the temporary inconvenience. Join me, and think abour our veterans while you do these squats and push ups.

Sorry folks, that’s about it for today. These allergies kind of kicked me! I had a nap already, and it’s not getting better with itchy eyes. Hopefully see you at the concert tonight! And of course, see you tomorrow!

The Beat Goes On

No matter the year, the time of year, life and its beat keeps going on. And on. If we like it or not, it does. Things we don’t want to happen do. We cannot stop it. Since this long awaited year began a few days ago, we have learned of three families who have had someone pass away. There are those who will say terrible things about 2020 and the “curse,” but that’s not right. It’s life. It’s our human experience. We lose people.

One was a man in Ohio, who dated a friend of ours. Even though the relationship ended, there is still a feeling of loss. You feel bad for his family, and for his former girlfriend. Losses that are sudden are difficult. I believe he was in his 70s.

One was the mother of my good friend. She was about 90; I believe. They lost her a long time ago, to dementia. It is a blessing, yet there are still feelings and a significant loss. I believe once you lose both of your parents; you become orphans, regardless of your age. Sure, you’ve been on your own for decades (hopefully) but you still can see your parent(s) and talk to them (Lord willing). It was another sudden loss, even in these circumstances, you want to say goodbye.

The last one was tougher to hear about. A young 47-year-old man, a friend’s son-in-law. I haven’t been able to verify yet, but I think he just married her daughter last fall. They worried about having the wedding during COVID. If this is true, it’s a wonderful thing they did. Life is so fragile. You just never know. Now, his wife and children are wondering what, why, and how? This is hard to witness and experience.

So what can we do? We can learn to just be there. We don’t have to do anything but listen. Don’t offer platitudes of, “He’s in a better place,” “She is so much better off,” or “God only gives you what you can handle.” When your grief is huge, those things do no good, except alienate your friend from you. Any comment of, “Let us know if you need anything,” is most often to no avail. I’ve rarely called anyone to help. Most of us don’t. If you call and offer something specific, “I’ll bring over some lasagna,” “Let me pick up paper products for your families to use,” and perhaps one of the best things is call them after everyone leaves. Everyone else goes home after the funeral and resumes their own lives.

A person who has just experienced loss cannot resume their life as it was. I know if I outlive the Babe, there will be something HUGE missing from my life. From our bed, to our couch, to our dining table. Experience tells me I will live through it; experience also tells me I don’t want to have to feel all of it. But you have to. The more you feel and talk about, the sooner you will heal.

When our dad died, even though we knew he wouldn’t live until Christmas that year, it was still a shock when he died. He died on December 7, 1988. What a day of infamy for our family! In less than a month, we experienced Christmas and his birthday. A lot to cope with. Mom is a rather stoic person, and she would not talk about anything about his dying. She didn’t allow us to talk about him in her presence, so we all were quiet. It was very dysfunctional and all four of us grieved in terrible, destructive ways. Some turned to more drink and more drugs. Some isolated ourselves to insulate against the pain. The pain went to other people because of that.

This is a topic no one wants to discuss very frequently, and it’s one that should be part of our education. You should know how to do your income taxes and learn how to grieve. How the adults in a child’s life handle grief is what the children will mimic as they grow older. Break the cycle of stoicism and silence. We can only learn by what we observe. Let’s be mindful as we continue into 2021. All the “bad things” about life remain with us, despite new goals and a refreshed attitude.

Learn to Deal. Don’t sidestep. You need to meet it head on. You’ll get through it better. You’ll help yourself and others by talking. Telling stories is healthy and necessary. Your stories are how your loved ones will live on. It’s our duty to talk and listen. I hope my kids will talk about me, and I hope it’s good!

My friends at the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, are an excellent source of information about grieving. They have books, materials, workshops, and support for those of us who grieve. They have an impressive story, check them out. It is a treasure for when we need it.

As I remember my friends and their losses today, I hope we all are kind to each other. I hope we are all patient with each other. I hope we are loving to each other. Forgive old wrongs. It’s ok to stay away from someone toxic, forgiveness can have boundaries attached. We can learn how to do that.

This year will have its share of joy, kindness, loss, change, love, and whatever we put into it. Leave out the negatives. Kick hatred, malice, gossip, meanness, and nastiness to the curb. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be how you want to be about. It will make all the difference in the world. Thank you for being here today. I’ll see you tomorrow. Blessings.