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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Other Side of Sixty

I turned 60 this month.  There, I said it publicly. 
Not too many women seem to want to advertise this birthday but I have chosen to embrace mine.
My husband threw a great party,  Indian food with all the kids and grand kids, then a limo ride to karaoke with more of our friends and family than I have ever seen in one place at one time.

I will always remember pulling away from my house in a very LONG black vehicle and seeing out the back window FIVE cars full of family and friends creeping along behind, then arriving at a large room with a lot of flowers and just about everyone near and dear to me that could make it waiting my arrival. 
The thought did cross my mind that perhaps I had died and no one had bothered to tell me yet.

Then the biggest surprise. My husband Rod started the party off by singing Lou Rawl's "You'll Never Find".  This was a definite first in our 38 years of marriage all the more amazing that he sang it publicly!
The rest of the afternoon was full of funny stories punctuated by our amateur attempts to sing old songs that somehow seemed harder to sing than they did in the shower that morning.  Since most of us are non drinkers,  we stood on our own bravado and could not blame liquor for our inadequacies.

Since I am a person who loves a good joke, most of the stories were about funny situations others have shared with me.  Hearing a lifetime of stories all at once made me realize that part of my calling must be to entertain others, something I have found joy in doing as long as I can remember.

Looking back  to that day, I'm wondering if somehow I have failed to inspire vs entertain those around me.  Perhaps I have dealt with life too casually.
Yet, there was no way to honor someone like me without humor, as it has been the balm that has made the difficulties and tedium of life bearable for me.

Today, as I am forced to my bed with a bad head cold, (too much birthday sugar?),
I am thinking again about how I want my life to be remembered and I am realizing that my goal in life isn't about being remembered as a great person, rather about being part of something greater than myself. If I fade to the background as a greater cause moves forward then I have accomplished my mission in life.

"Lord, give me Your goals and help me keep them in focus on this other side of 60."

Lin Willett  Feb 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

A TV or a Gun Must we choose?


If every incident where a gun saved a life were in the nightly news instead of the criminal stories, would our attitude towards guns be different? 

Every American household used to a gun, now we have TVs and the criminals have the guns.

                 Lin Willett   Gladstone Or.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The "I's" have it...at least until age 20

                                                           
My daughter Erin and I have significant birthdays this year.
She turned thirty yesterday and since I was almost 30 when I had her,  I will be ..., well lets just say it is coming up this February.

These two events caused me to stop and reflect a little on the eight or nine different decades we may live in this life in terms of how we see ourselves and how we relate to others. (I will probably  have to revise the last three decades once I have actually lived them.)

Age 0-10  
 "What am I?"    (human, gender, eternal soul....)

Age 10-20
 "Who am I?"  How am I different from my parents and their
their culture?"

Age 20-30 
 "We are the future and if we have any questions we will
ask the internet or our peers."    

Age 30-40 
 My new identity is "parent", we have little time to talk, even to
each other."

Age 40-50 
"I need wisdom, how did you do this?

Age 50-60 
"I have learned so much now, but few are interested."

Age 60-70 
"I am no longer defined by others' actions or opinions. My identity is in you Lord."

Age 70-80  
"They say; 'There's no fool like an old fool',  Lord, help me not to
become one now!"

Age 80-90
 " My influence is coming near the end.  Here I come  Lord, any day now."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cure for insomnia and hot flashes? Its in your freezer

How can this common item in your freezer cure insomnia, constipation, and maybe even weight gain? Sounds like a cheap scam ad doesn't it?

After two years of trying to stay asleep through hot flashes with sleep aides, hormones, and fans, I finally tried wrapping a hand towel around a large flat container of frozen Blue Ice.
I place it on my chest the minute I start feeling hot. Immediately the flash is quelled and I feel my body coming back into equilibrium. My extremities stay under the covers now which allows me to get back to sleep. When I awake later, I am able to go back to sleep by simply repositioning the ice pack instead of drifting off only to wake up again and again due to more flashes.

 But, what about the other issues; insomnia, constipation, and even weight gain? Turns out the lack of sleep causes a lot of imbalance in our bodies. Fix the sleep and other problems start fixing themselves. I am more alert, ache less, and have fewer food cravings.

 I can hardly believe something so simple could be so effective with NO side effects. So far I have had three full nights of sleep using the ice pack. Give it a try if you have been suffering from night sweats or flashes, no side effects except your husband may complain about your "frigidness."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to Lose Your Cell Phone

When my Mom was my age, the phone was an oblong, beige, plastic machine that hung on the wall in our family room. When it rang, everyone knew where it was and you simply picked up the receiver off the large hook and said hello. Rod wanted me to join him and Pekah our Boston terrier for a walk Sunday afternoon but suggested I might want to grab my cell phone on the way out. That is when I realized, like you probably have at some time, that I had no idea where my cell phone was. I looked in the last place I had used it to look up something on the internet, in my purse, no luck. Rod doesn’t like to waste time looking for things so he quickly called my phone and to our relief it rang quite loudly somewhere there in the family room where we stood. I tuned my ear to the sound and realized that it was quite close. Turning, I listened for the next ring but the sound seemed to be coming from somewhere else in the room. I spun from side to side trying to zero in on the sound. We lifted up couch cushions, but to no avail, my voicemail greeting soon echoed from his phone. We grabbed a flashlight and looked under the couch before we tried again, my battery has been running out lately so I didn’t want to risk it going dead before I found the phone. Finally he convinced me to let him call it again. I stood in the middle of the room determined to focus this time on the direction of the sound, concentrating hard. Sure enough it was definitely behind me. I turned toward the sound only to have the sound appear to echo off another wall. I was beginning to doubt my sanity when Rod said, “Oh there it is” and pointed to my back pocket. Every time I turned toward the sound, it had moved behind me again. Now we know why those first wall phones were too big to fit in our pockets! Lin Willett May 20th 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Pat On the Back

I stood this week in front of cold steel elevator doors thinking to myself, "Five years already since I last stood here waiting for this elevator."
The surgeon who performed our first colonoscopies had released my husband for another ten years but the polyps they found in my insides warranted a five year return.

I hadn't slept well the night before and as I stood there in the silent hall I wondered why.
Was it the fear they would find something worse this time, the vulnerability of "conscious sedation" that allows you to be awake but not remember, or was it the fact that once again I would be paying for the test?

The first test was before health care reform, this one was no longer considered preventative, so it would be subject to my deductible. I like to call these "the cruises I never took" since the cost is comparable.

As I sat in the mauve carpeted waiting room I pondered this.
Quite frankly it had taken a lot of "big girl" self talk to set up this appointment and I wasn't sure why.

My surgeon swaggered in 45 min after the appointment time, all smiles and with no apology for keeping me sitting with no back support on his paper "lounge." After some friendly banter and a cursory poke or two on my belly he led me out to the scheduling office to set up "our date" for the next Monday.

As I walked back to face the cold elevator, I realized that in addition to the reasons I had balked at setting up this important test, the main one was the fear that they would find something and I would have to make hard decisions.
In reality, there were more likely two GOOD outcomes;


They find nothing and I enjoy blessed peace of mind for years to come!
They find something and the chances are that it will be small, and CURABLE vs TERMINAL, so once again I go home relieved.


That is when I realized there was nothing to fear. It is in the procrastination that we give ourselves true reason to fear.

The doors spread open, I stepped inside the elevator and took a deep breath. If only I could reach my back, I would give myself a nice pat.

FOLLOWUP
Home now resting on my couch where I spend much of the night between visits to the bathroom.

A pleasant morning of warmed blankets and nice surgical personel....no pain except for the IV stick which was momentary, conscious sedation just a well needed nap after last night. Juice, cheese and crackers taste so good on a recovery table.

Four MORE polyps found and biopsied. The colored pictures the doctor brought to me in the recovery area show one that looks precancerous, all will be sent to pathology.

Now that I am home I wonder what those previous four polyps from five years ago would have become by this time. Every colonoscopy makes the next one less scary and increases my chances of a good report. My mind is at rest, "you done good girl!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smile, If You Want To - A True Story



"Do you have current ID?" the bank employee asked. I whipped out my driver's license...the one with the "good" picture of me, so good I actually enjoyed slapping it down on counters when asked.

It was a confident, smiling picture, taken eight years ago on a day that I had picked. I was dressed smartly, new haircut, makeup applied tastefully, a day frozen in time, and of course… eight years ago.

The employee frowned. "Uh, did you realize your license has expired?" he carefully asked. "What? No, I am sure it is ok. I haven't received any notices in the mail. Maybe the update sticker came off?"
He handed it back. The date indicated I had been blissfully driving around for the last five months with an expired license.

"I am sorry, but I cannot proceed with this transaction until you return with a valid and current form of government ID. Do you have a current passport?"
"Yes I do", I said, "I will return with it today."

I left the bank hoping I could remember where we were currently storing our passports. I have a history of coming up with yet "better" places to store such documents, and then forgetting where that "better" place was.

I hurried home, now aware of every car that looked remotely like a police car, wondering how I had ever managed to drive around so confidently for the last five months while harboring such a secret.

After successfully finding my passport, I thought the best course of action would be to go directly to the DMV and take care of this matter, lest I get pulled over during this brief criminal career.

It would, of course, mean a trip to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office (DMV), fortunately only a few blocks away, but still one of the most dreaded, yet fascinating places one could spend their afternoon. I say “afternoon,” since I had by now given up any hope of returning to my office.

As I walked into our home, one glance in the entryway mirror told me that any new photos at the DMV would not be the picture of eight years ago. Not only was I eight years older, I also needed a haircut, and a nasty fever blister was in “full bloom” on my upper lip.

There was no time to reapply makeup, and my face bore the markings of an already long day, a day probably not made lighter by an unexpected Friday afternoon trip to the DMV.

No longer a novice at these things, I armed myself with the local daily paper and the Wall Street Journal. Reading would help pass the time and avoid the awkwardness of sitting in those hard little plastic chairs, staring at the people across the aisle, such as an overly tattooed couple talking trivial matters on their cell phones.

The long line at the “take a number” machine was my first clue that this was going to be a special day at the DMV.
Passing up the express line set up for simpler transactions, I graciously waited to take a number in the longer line. Settling in with my papers, I noted about twenty numbers ahead of me.

When the 50s started to be called I “tuned in” for mine. Number 49 responded, number 50, no response....I waited for 52...half poised to rise..."number 53?"

I could not believe my ears! What are the chances that in the last twenty numbers, MINE was the one that was skipped?

Number 53 responded before I could object.

I walked up behind person 53 waiving my 52 and was told that I would have to take my “problem” to the receptionist, (the one who supervised the little number machine with the long line.)

I walked directly to the front of the line. The receptionist instructed me to stand right beside the machine while she yelled out my number between directing other “newbies” to either the fast lane or the little machine spitting out the magic numbers.

Standing there, in front of everyone with someone repeatedly calling out my “number”, I half expected someone to come up and inspect my teeth, or kick my shins for bone strength. That badly needed haircut would have helped, and I don't sleep as well as I did eight years ago. My value was ebbing away by the minute!

Finally, one of the “window” people took pity on me and called me over. Filling out the preliminary paperwork from my passport and social security card, she kindly explained how the state's little reminder postcards sometimes get lost in the mail or people toss them accidentally. I was starting to feel like this was all going to end well, when she pushed my paperwork toward me, directed me to go to the end of the counter, place my paperwork on the top of the pile, and be seated, again.

Confident that I was surely now close to the end, I obediently placed two of the three documents in this world that define I exist (at least legally), on top of a fairly short pile of papers, and then reseated myself in another hard, plastic chair.

A man with a broken nose glared across from me. His face told a story his mouth needn't tell. Eyes simmered with aggravation as he looked from me to the person now being served at the new window, the one talking on her cell phone, while the DMV woman calmly filled out paperwork.

Cell Phone girl continued to talk on her phone for many more minutes, the DMV woman remained nonplussed, evidently determined to keep everyone in order, no matter what the wait.

Broken Nose however, was getting red in the face, his breathing getting noticeably shallower. I hid behind my paper afraid to engage him, quite sure now that the only thing holding him from attacking us all was likely a recent prison release that might be at stake should he misbehave.

Finally, Cell Phone girl finished her business. We all breathed a sigh of relief as DMV woman slowly lifted the pile of paper work, papers that held the key to the rest of our afternoon. Broken Nose let out an exasperated breath, but at least he was breathing again.

Newspaper forgotten now, we all watched DMV woman with renewed hope. However, instead of taking the next person's paperwork, she begin laying out all the documents in a line on her desk, PRE-processing everyone’s forms; ripping, stapling, and finally reorganizing the pile while we all watched in helpless frustration.

By now, everything DMV woman did held us in some kind of victim’s fascination.
When she finally called the first of us forward all I could think of was "get this over with...gotta get out of here before Broken Nose or someone like him goes postal!"

Things were moving along now. Broken Nose leaned forward, ready to leap in the air at the call of his name. Now he was at the window, I was next, things were looking up.

"Linda" she said. At first I looked around me, unaware there was yet another person ahead of me. "Linda" she said more loudly. Then I remembered. She was calling out my "legal" name, not the shortened "Lin" I have responded to for more years than "Linda" ever saw. I hurried forward, cramming newspapers under my arm.

Looking over my documents again, she motioned for me to sit down in the photo chair. "Do we really have to take another picture?" I petitioned. "Can't you just put a new sticker on the back?” "Nope, gotta have a new picture every eight years now. Smile if you want to, look right there at that little blue button."

Flash! went the light in my eyes. She looked at her computer screen, a frown now breaking her stony face. "Sit back a little this time, and tilt your head more this way" she motioned. "Smile if ya want to." she said.

Remembering some of the foolish, almost evil grins that have been documented on other legal documents, I quickly made the decision that a clear-eyed, lips-slightly-parted look might be a more credible photo. My face was catching up with this idea when, FLASH! went the camera again.

Her eyes focused in close to her computer screen. I searched her face for any feedback. A smile began to play at the corners of her mouth. It was the first smile I had seen in all the time we had watched her work. It was not a good kind of smile. Trepidation gripped me, no one else had made her smile!

Her printer began to click, click. She ripped the paper triumphantly and handed me a photocopy of what would soon be on my most primary piece of ID.

I recoiled at the face on the paper. It could have been on any post office wall or police station. Limp hair framed a haggard face. Surprised eyes hung over a droopy mouth. The fever blister looked suspiciously like some kind of meth addict's lesion.

I stared in horror at the visage. "This is terrible picture.” I cried.
Can you take another one?" She stepped back, her eyes boring into mine, the evil smile getting more comfortable now in its place. "Sure honey, IF you want to get back in that line and pay $27".

I looked back at her, she was obviously enjoying this. Was this her idea of a good moment in her small, sad, little world? I stared hard into her face until her smile gave way to uneasiness. The smile began to melt some. I wanted her to feel the uncertainty.

When I was sure I had given her back some of her own medicine, I smiled. Leaning forward I said, "Well, it's not a beauty contest now is it?" and walked away, grateful that Broken Nose's picture was probably better than mine.

In the car I studied the haggard woman in the picture, wondering if the fresh face I saw in my own mirror most mornings was some kind of self deception.

Maybe I had a second life at night, walking the streets in some kind of unconscious state, more dead than alive. I took a deep breath, at least I was alive. I had survived the DMV for another eight years, and had the ugly proof in my wallet.