Sunday, April 22, 2018

It's Official: We're Cute

I'm a petite woman.  When I was pursuing a career I worked hard to present myself as powerful and strong.  It required a big voice, lots of gold jewelry and high heels.  At six foot, three - Dave never had this problem.

But now, for the last couple of years, I've noticed people, from time to time, commenting on how cute we are.  I don't know what to make of it.  I guess it's a compliment but as all of us get older people sometimes treat like us like toddlers.  I did that myself a while back.  A man in my church died, one I've always thought of as a sweet little old man (kind of cute.)  When I heard his eulogy I was reminded of what a great man he was. 

I wonder if anybody ever tells Jimmy Carter he's cute. 

It happened to us twice on our trip to Tampa last week.  Dave said it was my hat.  But I don't think so.  It's more likely my shoes.  I've been wearing the very same Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars for about 35 years.  Well, I don't mean the same shoes, just the exact same style.  And I don't need a Youtube video to learn the (current) correct way to lace them.  I do it old school. 

But now a new thing is happening.  People comment to another, usually younger, person about how cute we are.  When we were at the Columbia Restaurant on Thursday a woman came up to our waiter and said "Aren't they the cutest couple?"  I remember a time that this would have driven me over the edge.  I just smiled. 

Another time, several months ago I was in an airport with my son.  A woman admired my shoes and, even though I was standing right there next to her,  said to my son, isn't she cutest thing in those shoes?

My son, who knows exactly how I feel on this subject, but who is apparently no longer afraid of me, said, yes she's cute.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Are Stairs Dangerous?

Dave and I use the stairs.  In our eight year marriage we've climbed up and walked down many lighthouse stairs, including the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse stairs twice.  At 175 feet, this lighthouse is the tallest in Florida.

But climbing stairs can be a bit hazardous when stuff starts happening in our legs and heads and other places.  It made me sad and scared the bejeebers out of me when my younger, healthy friend fell down her stairs and now, three months later, is still recovering.

Ponce Lighthouse stairwell

Climbing stairs when you have "issues" is dangerous.  But refusing to climb stairs is worse.  

Using the stairs is a great way to stay fit and release stress.  When I used to spend hours and days in the hospital with my husband, Ken, using the stairs helped save my sanity.  That's one of the reasons I'm taking a balance class.  I don't want to quit climbing stairs but I don't want to be stupid about it either.

This past Thursday the class was primarily about the stairs.  Our leader, Claudia, had some excellent suggestions.  One was to realize that it's not going up the steps that usually causes a catastrophe.  It's going down.  If you stubble going up you can catch yourself on the next steps.  If you stumble going down - you're toast.

So Claudia gave us some pointers such as staying erect rather than pitching forward and stepping on our heels rather that our toes.  When Dave and I left our third floor class this morning we took the stairs as usual but I tried Claudia's tricks and they worked.

She also gave us pointers on how to use the stairs when one leg/foot is stronger than the other.  She said you always ascend the stairs with your strong foot first but you descend the stairs with you weak foot first. And a good way to remember this is:

Strong to heaven
Weak to hell


Friday, April 13, 2018

Miracle of Systems

Systems - a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole.

We are in a season of time when our government is wanting to shut down many of our systems and safeguards.  Maybe some of this is needed.  I don't know.

A while back I read an article quoting Bill Gates that gave me a little different spin on the concept of systems.

Bill Gates believes the world is getting better, and at a faster pace than most people think.  Despite the crazy stuff happening every day, I, personally believe this as well.   He quotes Hans Rosling, in his book, "Factfulness,"saying that it's easier to accelerate progress if you know how far we've already come.

This was bought home to me this week when my book club discussed "The Children's Blizzard," a book about the blizzard of 1888 that killed hundreds of people, mostly children trying to get home from school.  Part of the problem was that that we didn't have an adequate weather forecasting system  in 1888.  But, of course, it was better than in anytime in history up to that point.

And, of course, part of the tragedy was caused by bad human decisions.

Rosling in his book,  lists several instincts most of us have that slow down our moving forward; for instance, negativity, fear and blame.

Bill Gates says we can also be bogged down by our instinct to worship a small group of heroes rather than to recognize the evolving systems that have been set in place that enable us to continually move forward.  As an example he uses the amazing scientist,  Jonas Salk.  Yes, he developed the polio vaccine.  But a system was in place to help him do that and we're on the doorstep of eradicating polio altogether thanks to the coordination of efforts by health workers and governments around the world.  In other words, systems.

I, like Bill, believe this is the best time in history.  And, despite some temporary setbacks, will continue to get better.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Balancing Act

As you know, I had a bad fall a while back.  It got my attention.  But I don't want to become a recluse like Nora Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and never leave the house again.

Falling down is very dangerous.  Staying inactive is even more dangerous. 

Yesterday I started an eight week (two hours per week) class on balance.  The quote above is from this class.   A couple of years or so ago, after my first bout of Meniere's Disease,  I was sent to "balance" rehab for five weeks and at the end the therapist and I agreed it did me no good what-so-ever because, basically, I didn't need it.

But now I do.  So when Betsy, our Parish Nurse called and asked me to sign up, I did.  But I was dubious.

What a surprise!  A dozen or so of us met with our instructor, Claudia, to participate in this class called "A Matter of Balance:  Managing Concerns about Falls."  It's an evidence based, government program.  "Evidence based" apparently means that it works and they have the evidence to prove it.

Anyway, the first session was fun and informative.  The two hours flew by.  If you're prone to falls, It's not about staying home and watching TV.  It's about overcoming fear and doing what you want to do.  So it looks like this class will about getting on with this one wild, beautiful life I've been able to hang on to so far.

Hope so!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ben Franklin's Conversation Club

While reading my New Yorker this week I was reminded of Ben Franklin's conversation club called Junto.  Early on, Ben was concerned about civility in conversation so his solution was structured chitchat.  He met with like minded friends at a Philadelphia ale house.

The concept was simple:  You gather a small group to talk about big ideas.  Of course, Ben wasn't the first person to do this.  Since the beginning of time, people (mostly men) were sitting around camp fires discussing big ideas.

The difference is, Ben's Conversation Club is still going strong.  You can look up Ben Franklin's Circles and either join a group or start your own, using his 13 Virtues as discussion topics.

A few times in my life I have started my own small group of people who want to gather and talk about big ideas.  It needs to be a small group so that every person can participate and it always is a small group because not many people want to stick to discussing big ideas in a positive way.

But when we do, good things happen!

I've not been able to convene this group in a while due to life getting in the way - but I miss it. When we do meet again maybe we can use some of Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues as discussion starters.   Here are some samples:

Silence - Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.

Justice - Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting benefits that are your duty.  

Tranquility - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 

Humility - Imitate Jesus and Socrates


Sunday, April 1, 2018

From Darkness to Light

I haven't been myself lately.  Lots going on with friends and family.  And my health is precarious.  It's fun to talk about getting old and dying when you feel good.  When you don't?  Not so much.  And, like most of us, when other people I love are suffering,  it's "Katy bar the door!"

So on Friday night I was tempted not to go to our church "Tenebrae" or "dark" Good Friday service.  This is an ancient Christian service that makes use of diminishing light symbolizing the events from Palm Sunday to Easter.  It's all about death and hopelessness.  It ends in darkness.  The music is magnificent but, for those of you who don't do religious services, think of it as the saddest opera you've ever seen.

We went.  But it was tough.  Saturday was an introspective time.

But today was Easter!  And it was all about Easter.  We had our annual Easter brunch in Forum, about 60 of us.    I didn't feel well.  It didn't matter.  My friend, who has been ill for at least ten years, appeared as Mary Magdalene and reminded us that she was the one who discovered Jesus was missing from the tomb.

Yes, it was a girl who saw him first!

The entire morning was a glorious celebration.  We attended the last of five Easter morning worship services.  It's clear to me that some of us have to acknowledge the pain of Good Friday before we can even begin to appreciate what Easter is all about.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mr. Rogers Would Be Proud

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. - Fred Rogers

Mr. Rogers is back in the news!  We're celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  He's getting his own postage stamp (along with King Friday) and Tom Hanks is making a documentary about him.

When we hike through Rollins College as we did yesterday there are lots of reminders about Mr. Rogers.  He was a graduate and life long friend of the college.  

Remember Eddie Murphy's "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood on SNL?  

I don't know why but there have always been urban legends about Mr. Rogers.  Some of them silly like he was a sniper in the Marines and he had to wear sweaters due to his many tattoos.  And some of them just mean spirited questioning why children needed to be loved and respected.  By the way, Mr. Rogers did not ever advocate spoiling children.  Quite the opposite.

I can't help thinking about him this weekend with young people across the country taking to the streets and being brave in demanding justice and a chance to live out their lives in peace. 

A few decades ago I attended an event where Fred Rogers was speaking to a large group of senior citizens - people far older than I was at the time.  I wondered what message he might have for these folks.  

It turned out to be the very same messaged he had for small children.  "I like you just the way you are..."  I know for a fact that many of these people were inspirited that night to continue to do amazing things with their lives. 

Just like these young people are doing.