I Will Always Want More

When I can no longer run or walk well,

I will always want more.

When I see more years behind me than in front,

I will always want more.

When there is more silver than brown in my hair

I will always want more.

When my speech slurs and my hearing dims,

I will always want more.

When loved ones and friends leave my life,

I will always want more.

When I can no longer have a cat in my life

I will always want more.

When my last breath comes and then goes—

I will always want more.

The Transformative Power of Turquoise

I can’t remember the last time I bought my own towels. When I had my first apartment, my mother gave me her old towels as she was updating the bathroom and had bought all new towels. I used those until they wore out, and, years later, Mom obligingly gave me her castoffs (yep, those were the “old new” towels). I never thought much about about it; I mean, a towel’s a towel, right?

I was doing the wash one evening recently and, while folding the warm laundry, I took a good look at my ragamuffin collection of towels. Some were tan, some were lime, some were pink and some were a faded red. All of them had ragged edges, were thin with use, and many had bleach spots.

Now our bathroom is tiny and needs new paint, a new floor and a new toilet, sink and vanity. The primer on the walls is light beige, the hand-me-down shower curtain was tan and beige (with bleach spots too) and the bath mat was beige. Blah.

We are not ready yet to do the floor and paint the walls yet as we are shopping for a new toilet, vanity and sink. So I did the next best thing to a total bathroom renovation: I changed the shower curtain, bath mat, baskets and towels.

I bundled up my clean old ratty towels and took them to our local SPCA for the comfort of the animals there. Then I headed out to find a “face lift” for the bathroom. I bought a gorgeous shower curtain with a wild and pretty design in turquoise, lime and blue. I bought turquoise plastic baskets for my makeup and hair stuff. Then I treated myself to six luxurious bath sheets, six hand towels and six face cloths in glorious turquoise.

This alone makes the bathroom look great. My next plan is to paint the walls in a soft lime. The Crankee Yankee found a nearly full box of beautiful light wood laminate flooring at the dump (where he is a frequent flyer member there), and it will make a perfect floor.

So while we still need to install the new appliances in there, I feel I have at least started the bathroom “face lift.” It is amazing how just accessories can change a room, even a bathroom.

I found a wonderful web site called “Empowered by Color,” and it says this about the color turquoise:

“This is a color that recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. You only have to focus on the color turquoise, whether on a wall or clothing and you feel instant calm and gentle invigoration, ready to face the world again!”

Now considering all the time spent in the bathroom, isn’t it a plus that my adding all that turquoise in there will do all that? If ever there was a room in the house that gives us “calm and gentle invigoration,” the bathroom’s the one.

The color turquoise also reminds me of the elderly woman I mentioned in a previous post who went shoe shopping with her daughter. Her daughter found her mother admiring a pair of bright turquoise platform heels, decorated in crystals.

“Mother!” cried the daughter. “What in the world will you wear those with?”

The mother looked up with a smile and said, “Defiance!”

So there—I was defiant in our bathroom and I couldn’t be happier. Yay for the transformative power of turquoise!



Surrender to What Is

I recently read this quote by *Eckhart Tolle:

“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you.”

It struck me right to the heart; why are we so often fighting with the life we’ve been given? Why do we complain about those things that are uniquely ours; body, mind, appearance, background, family, home, etc.?

Take for instance the death of a loved one and how it affects us. We may view it as a personal assault against our senses, even though we know that we all will die some day. The realization that this precious person in our lives is now unavailable to us is a tsunami from which we can’t rise; or so it seems.

We are suddenly adrift, and every carpet we have walked on is yanked out from under us. The world is different because the one we so loved and lost is no longer in it. How will we survive such a crushing loss?

As with any great life event, some of us will seek the company and warmth of friends and family. Others of us will wall ourselves off and suffer in silence like a wounded animal. We feel we can’t trust ourselves to be around people for fear that we will fall apart and never regain all the pieces again.

Some of us will lean on humor to get through. The more laughter, we think, the better. But when the laughter is over, the pain is still there; stubbornly and painfully there.

So after reading this quote, I feel a great relief in simply surrendering to all that is part of my life. My too-busy mind wants to say, ‘wait, wait! There’s too much to do here! I have plans! There are all these things that need to be done! Who is going to do them if not me?’

But here’s the thing: those things that need to be done will get done, one way or another. There are so many things that we can simply put down and say, ‘I’ll deal with this another day. Not now.’ And we can also stop running and just breathe.

We can simply let the issues in our world flow over us and past us and accept where we are. There is a great and soft power in simply surrendering to what is, and letting our worries go. In the peace and calm of surrender we will find the right answers.

We will also find that even the death of a loved one is part of who we are now. We can stop running from this pain by surrendering to what is. If we need to cry, we can. If we need to laugh, we can. If we need to be with people, we can. If we need to be alone, we can.

Saying ‘yes’ to life with all its good and bad, ups and downs, life and death—is allowing life to work for us and not against us. It can be as easy as just taking a breath.

*Eckhart Tolle is a German-born resident of Canada, best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose. In 2011, he was listed by Watkins Review as the most spiritually influential person in the world.


Your Way, My Way

As I am recovering from a successful knee replacement surgery, I am grateful for the Crankee Yankee’s help. I am progressing nicely; using a walker to get around, and doing the recommended exercises to strengthen my knee.

It’s all going well. The Crankee Yankee has been endlessly kind and helpful, and will fetch me anything I need in a hurry.

However, we find that we have to adjust to each other’s routine prior to my surgery. The Crankee Yankee manages all outside work, and can tell you at a moment’s notice where the extra set of scissors is, how much more stone and concrete we need for the retaining wall for the garage, and all other carpenter-y, outside-y work there is to be done.

That being said, I know all the indoor-y stuff that I manage each day. For instance, the Crankee Yankee had no idea where we keep the spare toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, etc. He has no idea where all those bottles of water come from that I keep downstairs so that I can fill up water bowls for the strays and other wild life we feed each day.

I keep several rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues in the box on the top of the stairs going down to the basement. This is so I don’t have lug everything upstairs when I run out of toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues up the stairs each time we run out. In his view, all that stuff just magically appears.

Same with me: I go outside to see that all the corn stalks have been pulled up, the stone for the retaining wall is right where it should be, the tools are all in order and where they need to be, and the Crankee Yankee knows to a single nail where everything he needs is. It’s impressive. But the outside work is his kingdom, so to speak. This is his area; his “office.”

My “office” is the kitchen and all things in it, the bathroom and all things in it, the supplies downstairs, and I can tell you in a heartbeat where every can of corn is, how much toilet paper and paper towels we have, and so on.

It is only during times when our roles have to reverse out of necessity, as well as working both of our “offices”that we realize how much we depend on each other. Funny, isn’t it—I view it as a test of a marriage (and friendship) when you can laugh at yourself, thinking, ‘I am not an island all to myself.’

This is a kind and gentle smack on the back of the head from the Divine to keep our egos in check. Things like this keep us humble and thankful, and remind us that we are not alone, that we are meant to love and cherish our families and friends. Mostly it is a reminder that we are loved and cared for, whether or not we are in a relationship, friendship or living courageously and fully with ourselves.

The Pleasant Surprises of Retirement

As September looms, it brings an anniversary of sorts: around this time last year I left what turned out to be my last job. It, like many changes in life, turned out to be the right thing at the right time; my mom had gone into home Hospice care. If I hadn’t been out of work at that time, I would not have been able to help my parents. Once I left that job, I could concentrate on what really mattered—my family. Suddenly I became a retiree.

What exactly does it mean to be retired? For me it was a change in attitude more than anything. I discovered things about myself I didn’t know existed—for example, I found grace and solace in helping my dad take care of Mom. I also found that I didn’t miss that job one bit; not even a little. I realized that, after decades of claiming I was a real “people person,” it turns out that I really wasn’t. The jobs I liked best where those where I could hole up and write my technical manuals alone and in peace.

Leaving the job, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. From the time Mom went into Hospice until the day she died (a scant three and a half months later), it was a gift and a pleasure to be there with her and my dad and to help out. Just being with them at this time was incredibly precious.

These days I find myself busier than I could have imagined—with this blog, with visiting my dad, with friends, and of course more time with the Crankee Yankee and our four cats. I started reading again (after Mom’s death I found I couldn’t settle enough to read for several months), and later on, I began making jewelry again—something that also came to a full stop while Mom was ill. I have inherited my mom’s considerable bead collection, and have been inspired to make more styles of jewelry than I would normally have done. (Between you and me, I think that Mom is inspiring me!)

I also find a lot of pleasure in harvesting from our raised bed gardens: cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, broccoli, chives, basil, parsley and oregano. This year we planted corn for the first time, and it is now taller than we are. Tiny ears are forming; we can tell from the silky tufts of corn tassels. Our sweet potatoes are spreading their vines so thickly that you can’t see the soil. Our brussels sprouts already have little buds all along their stems; the promise of delicious roasted garlicky sprouts for the fall!

Perhaps the biggest change is having time to do as I please. It’s been decades since I had that freedom, and it’s a real pleasure. If I feel like sitting on the porch and reading all day, I do. If I walk away from my housework for a day, who cares? It will eventually get done. If I don’t make that lasagna I promised, then we’ll just have leftovers. Big deal.

There is also the possibility of becoming involved with new things, new people, new projects, new ideas, new ways to honor the gifts I’ve been given. While I was working crazy schedules at my various jobs over the years, I never imagined how refreshing retirement could be. Also, after years of collecting stuff, I get a lot of pleasure in giving a lot of it away.

Funny, isn’t it, what we keep and what we can let go? I am finally getting to the ‘letting go’ part, and it’s surprisingly fun. For example, that intricate silver bangle I just had to have years ago? I’m giving it to a friend this year. Just the thought of her getting enjoyment out of it makes me happy.

It’s an old saying that we spend half our lives accumulating stuff, and the other half giving it away! But what you don’t get until you are retired is what a joy AND freedom that can be.

So call me a retiree; so what? I now fully embrace it, and I’ll take all those senior discounts, too, thanks very much!