Aging Gracefully

I have no concept of that sentiment except ‘don’t complain’. Who among us would welcome aging’s insults? Perspective is a different story. I’d much rather have the perspective I have now than I did at twenty, though I thought I knew all there was to know of any importance.

And we do know a lot at twenty. We’re not idiots (unless we actually are); we’re just inexperienced.

I made some colossally poor decisions in my teens and twenties – choices I would make differently now – and some I wished I had then, but that all goes into the experience bucket. Those poor choices helped me grow and make different choices. I don’t know if they were ‘better’ choices, but they were more helpful, often.

Choosing therapy was a good decision. It has taken the better part of my life to use half the wisdom gained through good therapists (along with how to spot a terrible one – or even if a therapist isn’t a good fit, or if I could go no further with them).

So many decisions were fear-based, and there’s no do-over, so I have to live with that. Some non-action turned out in my favor – by grace – or luck, so I’m grateful.

I’ve been seeing more of my selfish, self-seeking behavior and it stings to know I’m a shitty human sometimes, but I’m still alive so I can change.

I hate aging, but I’m grateful for my relatively strong body. I have to work for it, and sometimes I skip work-outs, but forgiving myself is important because being an asshole isn’t going to make me feel or do better.

I quit alcohol six months ago. It’s kind of incredible that much time has passed. That was my only goal then, but I’ve since slowly gotten into a recovery program as well – although I still loathe the cultish vibe but recognize that for some, it’s recovery or death. I have only to look at my parents’ history to know it could, and likely would, have gotten worse for me had I not quit.

I know alcohol addiction is ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful’, to quote AA literature, as well as understanding that I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and my only remedy for continued sobriety is to work with others wanting sobriety.

Alcohol also contributes to aging quicker. Sugar is the real culprit, so I have to cut down on sweets if I want to cut down inflammation, which contributes to aging.

It’s tough to see my once smooth, collagen-filled skin starting to look like droopy lizard hide.

So, embrace it, the gurus say. I might, eventually. It’s still fairly new though, so I’m in the mourning phase. Now I’m supposed to become a sage, or crone – realizing that my intellect is still keen, and could be for the rest of my life, barring disease or accidents – and true power is more of the mind than body. Still, I don’t like how menopause has wrecked my libido, or how my skin is thinning, or my hair, once vibrant strawberry-blonde, is now fading & becoming white streaked.

Acceptance is not approval and is the first step to freedom. I can’t be held captive to something I make peace with, but it’s a process, and anything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it.

Graceful I’m not; aging I am.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Walk Away

Walking Away NEU 2009

Mental health is stopping the ruminating or trying to change my outsides to sooth my insides. I’ve been here before, I recognize that tree!

This cycle comes around every few months, when I get the bright idea to pick up spiritual texts thinking I’ll come off better for it. I clearly never have. I come out swinging every time – so maybe I’m a minion. Except, I wish ill on no one except the deserved. Who are the deserved? Rapists, child molesters, murderers, deceivers – those who knowingly take advantage of others.

Liars don’t bother me, unless it has to do with the above unforgivable acts. Murder isn’t nuanced here. Some people would consider killing in self-defense murder. I don’t. To me, murder is killing for pleasure.

Spiritual texts often say that good works without faith or belief in god are worthless. They’re not worthless to those they help. If an atheist helps me it’s worthless? How ridiculous is that?!

If that atheist helps me for their own gain, that’s unfortunate, but I still got help, so why should I care about their agenda – unless they try to hold that over me somehow.

I consciously chose to live several years ago. I knew I was on that precipice, and after I chose living, my life improved greatly once I started eating well, exercising daily, and doing what I could to quell my negative voices.

Unfortunately I’ve lost sight of that in the last few years, but I remembered again. Maybe I won’t always live my best, but if I can let go of a punishing god, I’ll do better again.

My atheist friends tell me the bible, and all spiritual works, are fairy tales meant to control the population, but I’ve remained agnostic because I fear retribution for not believing – so the control aspect has partially worked on me.

I just need to walk away from those damaging beliefs and live my best life.

Kindness, love, help, care, and concern are important to me, but so is holding people accountable for their actions. That’s why we have laws, judges, and juries. I’m not alone in that belief. But I also believe in mercy.

I wouldn’t be a judge because I’d worry that I’d be convinced to be merciful only to have the exonerated person commit the same crime again, or worse, as has happened many times.

We live in a harsh world. We follow base desires rather than adhering to our nobility. Spiritual works call us to our highest selves, but all too often we turn it into a game of whose version of god is best, and ironically condemn and kill each other over it.

For me, finding peace means keeping what works and dumping the rest – and then trusting that I’m not damned for that.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Body Positive

I never really thought much about my body except for the flaws I saw and felt – or the flaws others ascribed to me, or worse, that I assumed they ascribed to me by ways others (mostly men) have responded to me, but that may have had little to do with me.

I had decided I wanted to live several years ago, coming from the brink of suicide – and I wish I could say from that resolution on it’s been clear skies and calm seas – but what has stayed with me are many overt and subtle ways I treat myself, and my desire toward self-care and love.

I’m of two minds here, as I sip my delicious mocha (made by me with left-over brewed coffee from this morning, high quality hot chocolate mix, dry powered-milk, and close to a tablespoon of half and half.)  I understand that the sugar is not good for me, but the drink warms my insides, warms my hands as I hold the mug, enlivens my senses through touch, feel, taste, and enticing scent, along with the four Trader Joe’s, Triple Ginger Snaps, and a quarter cup of unsalted cashews…

What is the measure between how much shit am I putting in my body, vs. how much the satisfaction increase my happiness?  I feel I’m snacking fairly healthy – understanding I’m likely eating GMO wheat, and refined sugar, along with the maligned dairy products of the half and half, powdered non-fat-milk, and the butter in the cookies.

I’m more conscientious about what I eat – and I’ve always been careful – and I try to find non-GMO products, but even organics can have GMOs in them if the seeds were GMO but grown organically.

Balancing mental/emotional well-being with best-practices for physical well-being, especially being impoverished, is a tough job.  This time of year (cold winter) I love comfort food, and my body would like a thicker layer of fat as nature intended, thank you very much, so my habits are a constant challenge between healthy eating and feeling consoled through food.

Paying mindful attention to my body is a great help in feeling better.  I usually just towel off after a shower, put on lotion, brush my teeth, get dressed, and go, but being mindful about this ‘chunked’ process has had some positive effects.

It’s silly to anthropomorphize my limbs, relating to them as though they have a separate life without me, or maybe just feeling like I need to appreciate all that still works well in my body, but as our largest organ, I notice how often I’ve taken my relatively sound, healthy, skin and my limbs for granted, and this new mindfulness toward my body’s individual parts leaves me feeling more connected to myself, and with less pain.

That could be the drugs, though.  Hmmm.

Kidding!

I do PT exercises for chronic pain, and that does alleviate about 80 – 90% of my daily pain, but when depression kicks in it’s tough to engage in what’s good for me.  I always feel better when I’ve exercised, so it’s worth pushing through my Eeyore persona to channel Tigger.

If you start trying body mindfulness, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.  Cheers!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

One Of Those Days

I woke up sad.  Like someone close just died sad.  I can’t seem to connect today, have no interest in talking, but I thought maybe writing would help, and I’m sure there are many folks out there who can relate.

There’s nothing wrong, and life is going on as it always does.  Nothing happened, nothing’s coming up, and as far as I know, no one I’m close to has died.

My gratitude list includes my health, my senses, my friends, my lover, and the beautiful area I live.  I’m safe, I have food, and clothing, and shelter.

The sky is blue, the grass and trees are green, the lilacs are blooming and a clipping sits in a vase on the counter where I can inhale its lovely scent.

There is work at home I’ve been intermittently doing, and I’ve been exercising, but I’ve also been tearing up all day, the sense of loss hitting me intensely, then subsiding.

I’m staying away from social media where I will only feel worse, and I’m doing what typically helps on days like today, but I’m still battling surging emotions that make me wish I could go home – the longing for some existential comfort I’m failing to find in myself today.

Perspective is knowing this will pass, and believing I’ll get through it.

I’m trying to find a reason I feel as I do, but maybe the answer is that I’m human, and some days suck – no matter how hard I try to make it better. I don’t need to wallow in my feelings either, but maybe I can just accept that this is how it is today, and with luck, I will feel glad again sooner rather than later.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

I’ve been waiting a long time for this one…

I used to think my life wouldn’t be complete or fulfilled without a husband, but I’ve come to understand that I’ve only ever needed myself.  Once I started making better choices, loving and accepting myself, and focusing on my life, other parts of my collage started to be fulfilled:

I thought peace and happiness would come from what I attained, or achieved, or especially, through someone else.  In fact, most of the turmoil I’ve experienced in my life was because I tried to get others to give me, or do for me what I needed to give to, and do for, myself.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.