Lessons Learned: Winter Now & Then

I had to laugh on Sunday morning when I found a snippet that I wrote a few years ago on wintertime. I wrote how I used to love wearing socks outside in the snow without shoes. I liked the feel of the sponginess as I walked. During middle school (Junior High) I would walk the half mile to the bus stop without a hat because I didn’t want to mess up my hair. I wore platform shoes and skirts without thinking about the cold or ice. My neighbor, who walked with me, wouldn’t wear a hat either. He would leave his house with wet hair. His hair turned to frost by the time we got to the bus stop. Out snowmobiling, we (the girls) would have to take off our one-piece snowmobile suit to go to the bathroom in the woods. On one day when the wind chill was minus 100 degrees (Fahrenheit), a friend put burning coals under his car to warm the engine so he could get out of the house and see friends. I’m not saying that was a brilliant idea on his part, but he wasn’t going to let winter get the best of him.

I would say that I had the same attitude. Even when I froze my bare skin, I wouldn’t think twice about it. I remember how my ears, fingers, toes, and thighs would burn from the cold. I’d sit by the radiator to try and warm up. My limbs would ache as they came back to life. And then I’d do it again, without thinking of the effects or how I could prevent it. Winter was winter.

Now, I’ll still go outside without proper shoes, but only to get the mail. However, I do have my fur-lined boots to keep my feet warm. I will not wear high heels in the snow or on ice. I’m still not keen on hats, but I will wear earmuffs and a scarf. If it’s really cold, I will wear the hood on my coat. I am happy now to have a car with all-wheel drive tucked into a garage at home. I like the comfort of getting in the car without scraping a thick layer of ice off my windshield or having to pray that I’d make it up the hill as the back tires are spinning and going nowhere. And if needed, I’m okay with changing plans until the temperature rises above zero. I’m not a snowbird yet, but I keep thinking about warm days with plenty of sunshine.

After reading my snippet, I realized how I can’t forget the fun to be had in the winter months. Experiencing the cold can be invigorating and enjoyable. There’s nothing like putting your face up to the sky and letting the tiny ice pellets stick to your skin or to feel the breeze as you tube or ski down a hill. My husband wants to go out and create snow angels. I think I’m gonna have to do that. Winter is winter.

Lessons Learned: To Dream

What an appropriate day to talk about dreams. Having a dream allows us to think positive, have a healthy outlook on life, and create optimism. Whether the dreams are pure entertainment or ones to make into reality, we need them.

Pure entertainment dreams are those we would like but may be far-fetched. For example, you’ve always wanted to be a rock star, up on stage belting out tunes and playing every instrument with perfection. However, if you can’t carry a tune or keep up the beat this may be a stretch to accomplish. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t fulfill the dream. You can still dream it in your head which can lift your spirits and stay positive.

The dreams that you want to become a reality can be personal, worldly, small, and large. Have all. For the personal dreams, think about how you can fulfill that dream on a small scale. Take the rock star example above. You can turn the music up in your living room and sing your heart out and play air drums without anyone watching. You are living out the dream for yourself.

For worldly dreams, think how we can make the planet a better place to live. If that’s too large, think of your area. Envision how you can help someone else and how respect and kindness can go a long way. This may mean a rude awakening for some, but it gets the motivation going. Actions and speech can help others and change attitudes for a better way of life. Small steps can turn into big steps.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Lessons Learned: The Good and Bad on Turning 50 Part 2

Here is the second part to my blog from January 7th. Yes, we’ve come to the good. My experience on turning 50 so far has been more positive than negative.

Good #1: I like the fact that I can plan the second half of my life different from the first half. I’m no longer building myself into “somebody” because I know who I am. I’m comfortable in my skin, and I don’t have to try to impress. I can take the classes that I want, I can enjoy my kids at a different level now that they are adults, and I can enjoy weekend nights at home and confess that I like it.

Good #2: I’ve enjoyed building a strong list of firsts (see my blog “Put down Your Guard, Lift up Your Shirt” from October 29th) to start 50 right. I lifted my shirt to a catered 50th birthday party, I had boudoir pictures taken to give to my husband for Christmas, and I enjoyed taking a pole dance class. I did all three with my best friend, which is funny because my husband had wanted me to get those pictures taken and try pole dancing, but I wrinkled my nose at him. My friend, however, asked and I was right on it. She didn’t have to twist my arm.

Note One: Going with friends to share the experience is better than going alone.

Note Two: My daughter, after hearing about the two events, told me that I couldn’t hang out with my friend anymore!

Good #3: I’m wiser. Being at the hump or maybe on the downward slide, I think more about life and what it means. I understand that each person is here on earth for a reason. I have to respect what happens and know that there is a purpose to the events that take place…whether good or bad. I have to take every day as it comes, learn from it, and appreciate it.

Overall, I’m looking forward to what the new year brings with being 50. I’m excited for my book to be published, I can’t wait to travel, and I can wear my wrinkles with pride. I’ve earned them.

Lesson Learned: The Good and Bad on Turning 50 Part 1

Now that we’re in the year 2013 and I’ve experienced being 50 for a few months, I thought I’d share some insight to what I’ve learned so far. I have both good and bad to blog about so I tossed a coin to see which one I’d write first. Heads, I’d write about the good; tails, I’d write about the bad. Tails won. Today I’ll write about the negative aspects of turning 50 – my perspective. On a note, I will put some positive insight into the blog as well. Next week will be the good.

Bad #1: My body parts aren’t the same. Should I say more? I notice the wrinkles and the saggy skin. I hear and feel my bones snap when I exercise or when I get up after sitting too long. And hot flashes are a common occurrence. Yippee skippee.

Bad #2: I just had an aunt who passed away on Thursday. Jeanette was a vibrant woman who looked after those she cared about. She learned a few months ago that she had leukemia and started chemotherapy. I talked to her after the first two treatments in November and she seemed fine. In fact, my aunt said she felt great and that she was going to play 500 (cards) with her friends in the afternoon. In a matter of days from our conversation, she turned from a busy and happy person to bedridden and sick. Her death came as a surprise.

With her death, I wonder how many more unfortunate surprises will strike me now that I’m 50. An old high school classmate died last month of cancer. A friend just learned she has cancer and this is her second round of it. My co-workers have parents and spouses battling cancer. I keep wondering WTF? Why am I hearing the word “cancer” so much?

I then wonder when will it be my turn? Will I battle cancer, a stroke, or heart failure? Will I be lucky and stay strong, keep my wits, and live to be 100? I wish that I didn’t have to think about it, but that’s not the case. Now that I’m “up there” in age, I continue to hear more and more of friends, relatives, and acquaintances dying. I’m not looking forward to losing people in my life. And I think of my parents, how their entire circle of friends and relatives are slipping away. I’m sure they wonder why they’re the ones staying on (especially with their health issues). Grim thoughts, huh?

As I continue on, I know that I can’t give up or wait for disease to happen. I know how important it is to stay positive and appreciate life more than I have before. My outlook has changed as I realize how life is precious. I will move ahead and continue to achieve the goals and dreams that I want. I will change or make new goals. I will continue to grow (in wisdom not weight). And I will appreciate those I know and care about. I will value spending time with family and friends. Laugh, love, hope, wisdom, goals, dream, and wrinkle cream are all good words to live by as the second half of my century begins.