Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 148: Idealistically Cynical?

"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul."~Samuel Ullman, poet

The fact that it is Memorial Day weekend and the "unofficial" start of summer has made it seem like it has been months since the big day. But, it has only been two weeks. And, I still seem to be shell-shocked that I am actually 50. No matter how much I write about it and talk about it, it still doesn't seem possible.

Maybe it's because I keep thinking that I am supposed to have so much more wisdom now; that somehow I am a slacker-50-year-old because inside I still feel 23, and lack the maturity I think I should have at this age. I also feel like a complete cliche because this milestone has been (and is) so hard for me.

I know that age is only a number. I have heard that expressed in more ways than I can count in the past two weeks. And, I have also heard "50 is the new 30" so many times that I never want to hear it again. I am a stubborn one, and usually face things kicking and screaming, so I shouldn't be at all surprised that this is how I am facing this.

But, since I have lived this long and have been through so much, I have actually learned some things. One of those things is to actually listen to others who have been there, who have wisdom, or that offer good advice. The quote above is an example of one of those pearls of wisdom that I believe to be true.

There are a lot of things I have lost in my age, but I have certainly not lost my ideals. They are one of the few things that I still have absolute and complete enthusiasm about. It's not that I have not become cynical or haven't had them tested. I am cynical and I have been tested.

It's just that for me to keep my enthusiasm about life, if I stop believing in the things that I have always fought for and that I still think are worth fighting for, then I really have become old, and I really am done.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 144: Sharing Too Much Or TMI Revisited

“I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.”  ~ Oscar Wilde

A week and a half post-50, and I think the big 5-0 celebrations, lunches, and gifts are finally over. I have to say, that the best part about reaching this milestone is having people in my life who want to share it with me and who have been so generous with both their time and thoughtful gifts. I am very grateful for that and feel very fortunate to have such wonderful friends and family (both near and far) that have made this birthday so special.

As I wrote about last week, I have been pondering about blogging beyond the big day, or, actually, pondering what to write about. Since my workload has not decreased and did not stop while I spent the past week celebrating, my time is still limited for this blog. I still have a book to finish, a 20 x 20 garden plot to work on and the Senior Garden Program to plan to work that garden, plus my "regular" writing work (such as it is since all my print publications have folded). But, although my time remains limited, writing this blog has been therapeutic, and gives me a nice break from it all.

And as always, I grapple with how much information is TMI. Believe it or not, there are many things I don't share here. Which probably surprises the people who know me best. I often am told I talk too much, or that I "yammer," and since I got my fancy iPhone last year, am told to stay off of it, that I check into Facebook too often and share too much on it.

But, part of becoming 50 is that I no longer feel like I have to apologize for who I am and for what I like to do. And, if people don't like it, they can choose  not to spend time with me, or, if they think I post on Facebook too much, they can hide my feed or even (gasp) unfriend me.

As Popeye says, "I am what I am." And, what I am is verbal; I like to use my mouth. I seem to recall many  people in my life saying that is a good thing and that talking is good. I find it so ironic that I do talk so much because as a kid, I never talked. I was like a living and breathing statue, and my family was always worried because I didn't talk. This comes to mind another tired (but oh so accurate) cliche: "Be careful what you ask for."

Ah, but again, I digress, and am starting to get off on a rant, or as Dennis Miller used to say (back when he was actually funny) "I don't want to get off on a rant here....That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

One of the things I have learned in my 50 years is that the whole point of being in relationships of any kind, is to share. Otherwise, why be in them?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 138: 4 Days Post-50 And Still Pondering

Well, since the poll I put on this blog overwhelmingly said I should keep going (okay, I think 4 people voted, out of the over 1,400 that have actually read this blog). So, since I am all about satisfying others, I will keep going. NOTE: the poll is on the top right hand side next to this post, so you can voice your pleasure or displeasure so that I can make sure I am satisfying everyone. 

For those who read the big 5-0 day post, you know that I went to San Francisco to celebrate the big milestone. This was a wise choice and it was a fun trip. I always have fun in San Francisco, I never tire of it, and I never run out of new places to discover and new things to do there, and I love to see what's new at some of my "old" favorite spots too.

I have been to many places around the world, both big and small, and no matter how many other places I go to, San Francisco remains my favorite city. It offers the best of both of my favorite things: a vibrant, bustling city with great architecture, museums, music, good food, etc. but it is equally full of natural beauty, from rocky beaches and the Bay to plenty of trees and open spaces including the incredible Golden Gate Park. 
Union Square from 31st floor of St. Francis (where we stayed)
San Francisco Ferry Building, a foodie haven

As I wrote about here last month, when you think you want to do something and you have the opportunity to do it, do it because that opportunity rarely presents itself again. I thought of this on my birthday, a lot, because one of the things I have pondered throughout the last 27 years is how I can actually make the move to live there. Had I done it when I was 23 and unencumbered, I would not still be wondering "what if" at 50. But, now, there are many things that make relocating difficult.

But again, I digress. I have been 50 now for 4 days and I am still adjusting to the sound of that big number and pondering (there's that word again), what to write here and for how long. So, I thought while I sort through it all, I would share some photos of some of the things I saw in The City in celebration of my 50th birthday!

Went to great crafts, art fair next to City Lights Bookstore in North Beach

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden
Went to Giant's Game at AT&T Park on my actual birthday, it is a stunning park, can see Bay Bridge and Bay in background (and my Giants won on my b-day too!)   

Treated myself to Club Level seats, best move ever!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 134: I'M 50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarcastic? Me? Not buying I really feel this way?
Okay, if I did this right, you will be seeing this post on my birthday, Monday, May 14. That means that I am now 50 and am celebrating the big day in the City By The Bay.

And, if it is early in the day, I am in Golden Gate Park sipping tea in the Japanese Tea Garden, or strolling through the De Young Art Museum, or browsing through the Strybing Arboretum. Or, I might be on the rooftop garden at SF MOMA, or having dim sum in Chinatown. Or, maybe strolling through the Ferry Building Marketplace, the Haight, or having pizza in North Beach. And, if it is the evening, I am watching the Giants beat the Rockies (I hope), and after they do, having a drink to celebrate it at Lefty O'Doul's.
I am not sure yet how 50 feels (but no doubt I will write about it here). My hope is that I will feel a lot like Sally O'Malley does here (if you haven't seen the video, or know what I am talking about, watch it!): "I'm 50! Fifty years old! I like to kick and stretch. I'm 50!!!! Fifty years old. Fifty years old!"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 133: Two Days From 50 & Running Away

The big day is now 48 hours away and I am getting ready to go to the airport to fly off to San Francisco. I figure if I go to a place where I always feel alive, maybe I won't feel so o-l-d come Monday!

And for those who thought they might dodge a bullet, I have finally learned how to schedule blog posts ahead of time, so I have written one for Monday. Oh yeah, you ARE living the dream.

But, I will not be posting "live" since I am leaving my laptop and tablet here and this soon-to-be 50 year old has bad eyes as it is, old or not, and trying to blog on my iPhone is a bit over the top. Instead, I will probably annoy the hell out of my Facebook friends by checking-in and posting photos of where I go. And, I can always annoy others via text or email!

I decided to go to San Francisco instead of having a party or some other celebration because one of the lessons I have been reminded about during this whole birthday thing, is to do what makes you happy as often as you can.

Plus, this way, if I leave town, there's no way anyone can give me a surprise party or something like that! I am taking a cue from this guy and escaping!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 132: Three Days From Fifty & Writing Life's Lessons

The big day is now only 72 hours away. And, because I am going to celebrate it by visiting my favorite city, San Francisco, I have been busily getting caught up with my work. Okay, as caught up as I can, when there's photo gathering and caption writing for a book to finish; a senior garden program to plan; assorted garden classes and workshops to plan; and my other "regular" work.

Speaking of which, I did manage to write my Care2 Healthy & Green Living column, which goes live each Monday. And, since Monday happens to be the big 5-0, I wrote about some life's lessons I have learned the green way.

While my good friend Pablo would like me to write all about the fact that I am now joining the AARP-eligible set, I decided to go in another direction. Maybe you can write about it yourself Pablo since you have more experience being in this exclusive club than I do.

But again I digress (I am sure you will say that is proof that I actually do belong in AARP). So, what are these big, green, life lessons? Well, I can't give them all away here, I need people to actually go to Care2 and click on my posts, it earns me more money.

But, one of them is tread lightly. 

This quote by William Butler Yeats sums it up well for me
 And, here's what I wrote about it: 
Tread lightly. This expression is used to remind people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly by minimizing their impact to the environment. People are encouraged to do this is by respecting the rights of others and by avoiding sensitive or protected areas.
If you think about it, this lesson is even more powerful if we apply it to the people in our lives, so that we minimize our negative impact on them. As I have learned, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn. While we might think we know what is best for others, and even think we come from a place of caring, it is not our place to tell others how to live. Just as we are encouraged not to spook animals by keeping our distance, by literally “treading lightly,” we also need to proceed with caution with our loved ones, and respect their rights, especially when it comes to their sensitive areas.  
As I also write in the post, while there are days when I feel like I haven't learned anything, there are other days that remind me that I have, and often I learn things the hard way. I know that's how I learned this one, and not just from being the one who forgets to tread lightly. But, by being the one who has been spooked by others treading too heavily on my dreams.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 128: One Week From 50 And Getting In The Garden

The big day is now just a week away. When I was younger and my birthday was just a week away, I was always filled with such anticipation. Now, not so much. And, instead of all kinds of pre-birthday preparations, this morning I found myself longing for something that would make me feel calm and centered.

Naturally I went out into my garden. Unfortunately, the thigh high weeds along the back wall did not soothe, but stressed me instead. So, I just ignored that part of the garden and focused on my raised beds.

While that too is still very much a work in progress, at least there are still a few things left from the cool season that have survived and one of my tomato plants is already starting to take off, which surprised me.

As I have written about before, there is something so comforting about a garden. Even though there are aggravating things that can happen in your garden; too many weeds, too many pests, not enough sun, too much sun, etc. it is my sanctuary.

It is the one place that I can go where I can be alone without somebody thinking something is wrong, and it is also a place to express my creativity in a way that I can't freely express it other places.

My garden doesn't care if I am 18 or 50. It never judges me, or grows impatient with me, it only wants me to care for it. And in return for that care, I not only get beautiful flowers and delicious food, but I always get a chance to start over and renew myself. I can't think of a better gift on the eve of my 50th birthday.
Violas in my favorite color

TomatoMania Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes already starting to come in

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 127: Of Moonlight and Memories

While the "Super Moon" was actually last night, for some reason I am feeling "moony" tonight (wow, only 127 days in and the puns are already really bad, this does not bode well for the 238 days still ahead). 
Super Moon, May 5, 2012
I did something today I haven't had the chance to do in a while: I actually worked/weeded in my garden. Not that you can tell since the weeds are still seriously out of control. But, at least I made some progress.

While my weeding is in no way related to the moon (super or otherwise), and is just once again proof of my randomness, there is actually a connection, albeit a slight one. So once again, you can hang in here to see if I get there, or, you can step away from the blog now and save yourself.

As I was weeding, I was thinking that 50 is now just about a week away (one week tomorrow). And, while I have been talking about it, writing about it, and generally just whining about it, it still is hard for me to believe that I am actually going to be 50. But it is a fact.

While coming to terms with this fact, I started to think about all of the "milestones" in my life, or at least, those that make me smile the most. Some of which would really be TMI. While I thought about so many, the one that stood out for me was my first quad dance at UC Santa Cruz. I am sure that popped into my head because I was still thinking about last night's Super Moon and there is definitely a connection between moons and quad dances.

For those who aren't quite sure what a quad dance is. I will explain, but I am sure it is the same at every college. Basically, we literally had dances outside on the quad/quadrangle in front of 4 dorms, usually the Upper Quad at Stevenson College because the Upper Quad was the loudest area. There was always somebody playing DJ, and there was always at least one keg of beer in close proximity, and of course assorted other alcoholic beverages and other substances (which of course were never visible and actually not usually out on the quad).

There was nothing fancy about a quad dance, and yet there was something magical about them. While hearts were often broken, true love was also always a possibility especially when the DJ would crank up what I came to realize was THE theme song of a quad dance: Van Morrison's "Moon Dance."

I still can't think of anything more romantic than literally dancing under the moon to these lyrics with someone:

"Well it's a marvelous night for a Moondance. 
With the stars up above in your eyes.
A fantabulous night to make romance"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 125: Patience: Another Virtue I Do Not Have

This morning I was thinking a lot about the fact that even as I get older, I don't seem to be getting more patient. In fact, I seem to grow more impatient about certain things.

I had always heard that as people got older, they started to become more patient and they just accept things (and people) as they are, even if they are slow or they just don't seem to get it.

Yet again, this is another thing that does not seem to happening for me as I age. And, one of the things that I am increasingly becoming impatient about is waiting for others to get my work or volunteer projects done. This is especially true because (with rare exceptions) I always finish my work on time/within schedule so that I don't keep others waiting. That's not to say I rush through my work to try to meet the deadline regardless of quality. It's just that I have even less patience for people who waste time and money, especially other people's time and money. It is actually one of my biggest pet peeves.

This is what I strive for
I also lose patience and become frustrated because I cannot relax until I know something is completed. I hate the feeling of something hanging out there, over my head. It might be due to the nature of writing and editing, i.e., there’s always a correction that can be made, things can always be rewritten better, and inevitably there's always some errant typo that rears its ugly head after you thought you were all done. 

And, I don't have final say-so, someone else does. After doing this for so long (even when I wrote or produced reports in my prior career), no matter what you write, whoever is the last to read it, be it an editor or, a boss who thinks they are an editor, they simply cannot resist the urge to change or "fix" something, no matter how small. Even if it is to change one word, or to add a comma, they cannot resist.

The other thing that makes it difficult to remain patient is when you tell somebody 3 or 4 times about the same change or the same mistake, and they just don't get it (i.e. 10 drafts of a newsletter because the graphic guy just doesn't seem to get "delete this").

Ah, but again I digress and am now wondering how this post in any way has anything to do with my goal of sharing or discovering something positive every day. It doesn't. But, it is something that I have learned and that I continue to learn. 

Maybe the real lesson is that I just need to be patient with my own impatience, and that because I always strive to be professional and considerate, wasting neither time nor money is actually a good thing. 
And, this is the reality :)!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 123: Just How Much "I" is TMI?

As I was walking this morning I was thinking about a lot of things (yeah, big shock. I know), one of which was this blog and how boring I am sure most people find it. And I was wondering, just how much information really is too much? Or, conversely, how much is not enough?

Not enough? Seriously, why would I even think this? Believe it or not, I have had people tell me I don't share enough on this blog.  My first reaction when people say this is to hand them the number of a good counselor. But, I am told that they love to hear my insights about what's going on at this stage of my life because they can relate. So, I try to keep that in mind when I write.

While those who have known me only in my later years (from 40 on) might think I am always open and share pretty much everything I feel (at least somewhat), those who have known me longer, seem to know me as someone who shares nothing (at least that's what I am often told by those closest to me).

That's not to say that me "yammering" a lot is something new. It's just what I am yammering about is fairly new. I still don't share my feelings easily and often, and, I have to admit that things have to be either really good or really, really horrible for me to just let them flow.

But, over the past decade, thanks to the "gift" that is the Permanent Pause and the "gift" leading up to it, things just seem to come out; often at the most inappropriate times (like when I am at a reunion dinner with my high school peeps, sorry about that ladies, I sure know how to bring a room down).

At this stage of my life I am still learning to navigate between TMI and not enough information, and I will inevitably keep misjudging just how much is "enough."

But, what I have learned is that if you really do have something to say, that you need to just say it. Stuffing it in, ignoring it or thinking that it isn't the right time doesn't work. It will never be the "right" time and your feelings will not go away, they will only get stronger and they may come out at inappropriate times (see comment above).

Just say it. As I wrote about last week, life is short and we need to just do and say as much as we can while we are here. Do it not only for yourself, but for those you care about. As I wrote there, while some things might be hard for them to hear, always wondering "what if" or trying to read your mind is even harder.

John Mayer, "Say"
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all your so called problems
Better put 'em in quotations

Say what you need to say
Say what you need to saaaay...

It's better to say too much 
Then to never say what you need to say again.