Technology Zooms and We are Getting Old

When I was a kid, we had a telephone attached to the wall in the kitchen.  It had a flexible cord on it so you could only walk so far away from the wall.  The phone also had a dial with numbers.  We would use one finger and place it in the hole that corresponded with the number we were dialing.  We then turned the dial for each number.  Somehow, we were able to communicate with the world through that phone.  Back then, we didn’t have to dial an area code.  I guess our world was a little smaller.  Just to reference what I am talking about, think of the song that says; “8675309”.  We were privileged to even have a phone.  Not everybody could afford to have this contraption on their wall.

The world has changed and so has our communication technologies.  We moved forward in the evolution of the phone by getting rid of the dial and making it a push button.  It was so exciting that we could punch those buttons so much faster than dialing.  Still, the phone was attached to a cord to limit our movement while talking.  But, the wheel was set in motion.  The telephone was taking on new qualities that blew our mind away each time something changed.  The phone was still a permanent structure in the home, either anchored to the wall or sitting on a side table.  If you weren’t home and someone called, they would have to call you back later.  There was one other way to communicate via telephone when you weren’t home and that was the telephone booth. There was a slot for dimes, pennies, nickels and quarters.  We would place a dime in the slot and dial a home telephone number.  If the dime didn’t cover the time frame that we were using the phone, an operator would interrupt and tell us to place more money in the slot.  Otherwise, we would be cut off.

Then a new revolutionary idea was introduced.  We called it the bag phone.  This phone was mobile and plugged into the lighter compartment in our car.  It was amazing.  This was considered a new safety measure.  We no longer had to find a telephone booth and get out of the car to call someone if we had an emergency.  We could make our calls from the safety of our own car.  The connections weren’t always the greatest but if you were alone and traveling within a reasonable distance, you could get help if you needed it.

From the time of the bag phone until present the telephone has morphed into an unimaginable contraption.  Our lives will never be the same.  The problem with this upsurge of fast-moving changes is that humans don’t always evolve as quickly as technology does.  The telephone is no longer a telephone.  It is a computer with a camera.  It has maps and talks to you.  You can talk to it and it answers back.  It thanks you for stopping into a McDonald’s Restaurant. How did it know I was in Mcdonald’s?

The smart-phone world is getting more crazy by the minute.  The changes move at lightning speed.  But, as we age, our minds no longer move at lightning speed.  Aging people struggle with all the new technology and get frustrated.  But, I have to say, it can be quite an entertaining experience watching us old folks traverse into the unknown.  For example, my boyfriend is 64 years old.  He has had a flip-phone up until two years ago.  Now he has graduated to a smart-phone.  He doesn’t know what to do with it.  But, he likes that he can say “ok google” and command it to text something or give him the score of the baseball game.  The smart-phone is smarter than he is.  I also have to admit that it is way smarter than myself too.  Last week, he tried to use the camera on the phone.  When he turned on the camera he could only see himself.  But he didn’t want to take a picture of himself, he wanted to snap a photo of something else.  He stared at the phone wondering how to make it flip the lens to take a picture of the outer world.  In his logical aging mind, he decided to turn the phone around and try to look through the lens from the back of the phone just like you would look through the lens using an old camera.  The fact that he even was brave enough to tell me this story had me rolling on the floor laughing.  He just couldn’t figure it out so I had to show him the little icon that switches the lens from selfie to outward camera.  I couldn’t keep this information to myself.  I had to share this hilarious story with everyone I came in contact with.  While sharing the story with my brother, who is also in his 60’s, he told me a story of his own.  My brother was at work and a customer called from overseas, needing help with a machine maintenance problem.  My brother informed him that he would take a picture of a particular machine part and send it to him and they could figure out the problem over the phone. After my brother took the picture, he sent it immediately to the customer.  He followed up and called the man to see what his thoughts were about the picture.  The customer stated that he indeed had received the picture.  He told my brother that although it was a very good photo of him, he really wanted to see the machine part.  My brother didn’t even realize that he took a selfie and sent it instead of the machine part.

My mother is 87 years old.  She has a flip phone for emergencies.  When my sister offered to get her a smartphone, she got scared and said, “No, I don’t want to learn how to use those things.”  The other thing about aging is the fact that after a certain age it is very hard to read from those tiny screens on smartphones.  That is one reason that my boyfriend liked the idea of moving from the flip phone to a smartphone.  He likes that he can talk to the phone to text or call people, simply because he can’t see the tiny numbers and letters on the phone.

My final thoughts on the subject are this:  Just because we are older, we are not stupid.  But, our minds do move at a slower pace than when we were young.  New technology is a scary thing for older people.  Most people are afraid of change but the speed at which these technological changes happen is even more frightening to those of us who are moving along where age is concerned.  If you take anything from this post, please be patient with those of us who can’t text at lightning speed like me.  One letter at a time is all I can do.  Slow and steady is the name of the game.  At least we are trying to move along with the pace of the ever-changing world.

This Woman

This woman, who is my mother, was born in 1931.  She began working when she was 8 years old picking beans on a local farm.  At the age of 15, she quit school to work in the fields full time in order to support her family.  She married at the age of 17 and went on to give birth to 8 children.

This woman, my mother, along with my father raised the children in the most modest of means.  They only had one car.  To make ends meet, my father worked during the day and my mother worked as a waitress at night.  This woman didn’t sleep many hours each night because she would arrive at home around 3 am and have to be up at 6 am to prepare lunches and get children off to school.

This woman lived in a rural setting.  The food store was 4 and a half miles away.  She gathered her small children and they walked to the grocery store because she could only afford a taxi one way.  That is how the groceries made their way into our home.

This woman’s life was very hard but she was always a devoted wife and mother.  She was our plumber, painter, window washer, landscaper, fixer-upper, maid and cook all rolled into one.

This woman had to stretch the budget so she became very creative in the kitchen.  When there wasn’t enough money to buy meat she would create a fanciful dish out of mashed potatoes and vegetables.  She placed the mashed potatoes in the center of the plate.  She then placed a piece of toast cut into four triangles into the potatoes to create sections.  In each section was a different vegetable.  She dipped the tops of the toast into red beet juice to make it look pretty.  She made homemade bread, starting with the flour and water and yeast, she kneaded the dough out on our kitchen table.  She punched the dough and rolled it and got a full workout while doing so.  Then the dough would rise for about an hour and she would continue the kneading process two more times.  After the third rise of the dough, she would knead it out, form it into the baking pan and put it in the oven.  The aura of fresh bread could be detected as we rounded the corner on our way home from school.  Using the same method of rising dough, she also made homemade pizza using seven cookie sheets.  There weren’t any leftovers.

This woman continued to raise her children who were still living at home through the heartache of losing my father when he was only 48 years old.  She was 45 at the time.  Still, a young woman left on her own to continue the life that she and my father had created.

This woman is now 87 years old.  She is full of life even though her body moves just a tad bit slower.  She still creates beautiful gardens that she lovingly tends to each day.  If she is not gardening, she is inside the house crocheting beautifully handmade afghans.  Her mind is complete and sharp as a tack.  Her sense of humor and ability to not get offended makes her the best of company.

Mom's afghan

Mom the gardener

This woman, my mother, is my best friend.  I admire her strength and courage to move forward no matter how hard her life became.  She’s tiny now, white-haired and looking fragile.  But looks can be deceiving.  She’s got the spirit of a 17-year-old girl and the strength of a lion.

 

What’s Under the Cover?

Recently, I’ve been hanging around with some awesome ladies.  Some that I have known a while and some new friends.   There are the elderly ones, those of my own age and some younger.  Once again, I become an observer of people who are not what you see visually.  You can look at a person and see an old woman and leave it at that.  But, after taking the time to listen, you find that you can never judge a book by its cover.

For example, I’ve met this wonderful woman, who I have seen before and known her only as a friend’s mother.  I assumed she’s mother material just like all mothers.  Now she’s older and that’s that.  After spending an evening with her, I found her to be spunky, strong, independent and hilarious to be around.  She has lived a hard life of sorts, raising three daughters as a single mother.  She’s worked her whole life in a time when women were considered lesser than men in the workplace.  Now wait a minute, I should say in a time when it was even worse for women in the workplace than it is now.  It still isn’t equal in my opinion. She recounted stories of her working days of how men tried to undermine her because they didn’t want a woman in her particular position.  She’s a soft-spoken woman so you would never think that she would stand up for herself.  But in her soft-spoken way, she handled these men with the might of a warrior.  She put them in their place and would not accept being looked down upon because she was female.  She’s had to be the strong one her whole life and she knows that there are times when men will take advantage of the unassuming old woman who just walked in the door of a car dealership.  They are eventually sorry for their mistaken assumptions when she tells them exactly the way it’s going to be.  They never saw that coming.  The treasures that she has lived need to be shared.  Younger people need to hear her stories because they don’t have a clue about how good they have it now.  It’s so refreshing to see the elderly and realize that were young once, they have lived a life and yes, they know about all the stuff that we think we should shelter them from.

I have a friend who just became a grandmother for the first time.  Her daughter is a hard-working young woman and is just returning to work after being out on maternity leave.  My friend shares the ‘goings on’ of the new young family.  Her son-in-law is not as prepared as he thought he was to be a parent.   The baby was born premature so it has been even more difficult these first few months than with having a full term pregnancy.  With that being said, the mamma has to go back to work and schedules have to be rearranged.  The daddy will need to take a more active role with the baby.  But, as my friend relays to me:  “I think he’s got a screw loose.  He doesn’t have a clue.”  My friend is the easiest going person with a great sense of humor.  The young family is preparing to go on a ‘vacation’ to visit daddy’s family.  As they prepare and begin packing the car, the son-in-law seems not quite up to the task and states, “I am on vacation.”  I had to laugh when my friend told me this story because her eyes got so big as she was telling me this.  Both of us were shaking our heads and almost simultaneously said, “Doesn’t he know there is no vacationing from being a parent?”  Oh My, mister, mister has a rude awakening coming.

A new friend of mine who is around my age, in her fifties, has a remarkable sense of humor and a glorious soul filled with love.  She is the true example of, “When life gives you lemons…”.  When situations get difficult and stress is riding high, her mind just grabs out of thin air the funniest responses.  She told me a story of when her mother was in the hospital after an accident.  She and her sister were in the waiting area of the hospital for several hours.  They both would go in and out of her mother’s room and check on her.  As they were sitting there, someone came out to let them know how their mother was doing and out of the blue, she said, “What are you talking about, our mother is in the room down the hall.  She’s been sleeping this whole time.  We have been checking on this woman because we heard of her troubles and thought we would just wait here and keep an eye on her.”  Of course, she was joking but the attendant didn’t understand and noted how wonderful these two women were for waiting and attending to a complete stranger. This woman makes everything fun and she makes everyone that comes in contact with her feel like family.  She is the most hilarious person to be around.  When I am around her we laugh and giggle and share off-color silliness throughout the day.  This is how she is every day.  I just love being around her.  It’s funny to watch younger women around her respond to her humor.  There’s a younger woman in her 20’s that works with her.  A young person at first doesn’t know how to react to a woman in her 50’s with such a sense of humor.  The younger ones think the 50’s crowd is old and stuffy and that we don’t know what’s what in the world because they are young and they have created everything new.  Hahaha, the joke’s on them because we are the ones who really know how to have fun.  The 20-year-old is now getting used to the silliness and is enjoying every bit of it.  Hopefully, she will realize that us old folks do know a thing or two or three.

I have friends of all different ages and each age group and individual friend has so much to offer this world.  Sometimes I think we should put blinders on when we meet people so that we can’t make a judgment by what we see.  Too many people are missing out on real, meaningful relationships because their vision is so short-sighted.  There are treasures out there but I think we have to close our eyes, open our ears and our hearts so that we can feel the abundance of love that everyone has to offer.  Love comes in all different forms.  The story of a person’s life is a gift of love, knowledge and a new way of envisioning this life.  Grab the jewels and keep them with you forever.  They will enrich your life to the fullest.

 

This Morning’s Ponderings

My family woke up to a beautiful, calm and sunny morning.  We live near the bay so we decided to grab McDonald’s and go sit down at the dock and eat our breakfast. Sitting by the water can be contemplative.  We sat in silence for a bit as we ate and then we chit chatted.

Between my observations and light conversation these are the things that came to mind:

We were talking about the tide.  Today it was high but we discussed how last week when we came it was a moon tide and at high tide, the water was exceptionally high.  This took my mind to ponder the power of the moon.  I began to ramble the following; “Don’t you think it is amazing how powerful the moon is?  The moon has power over all of the water on the earth.  The moon has power over the big water that seems so uncontrollable.  You laugh at me every time I get excited about the full moon but look how cool she is?  Family looked at me and just shook their heads because I get so emphatic about such things.

There is a large diving bird with a long neck that was floating out on the water.  These birds are known as Cormorants.  They float on the water and then they dive deep into the water looking for food.  The amazing part is how long they can stay under the water.  We were watching him dive under and speculating where he would come back up at.  Once again, I rambled.  That’s what I do.  I can’t help but find wonderment in the little miracles of life.  I mean, here is a bird that flies but he can also dive deep into the bay.  I think that is really cool.

We sat and soaked up the morning sunlight and the very slight breeze.  The morning salt air was so refreshing.  I always look around and see who’s coming and going and this morning was no exception.  The first thing I noticed was all the old men lined up on the dock with their fishing poles.  I love listening to the old men discourse about using the right bait and tell silly stories back and forth.  Somehow I find it gratifying to hear them banter.  There seems to be treasure in their conversations.

Step-daughter and I walked along the dock, peeking over to look at the water.  It’s intriguing to watch the water move.  You never know what you might see swimming by.  I always try to envision what’s going on down below.  Are the crabs swimming beneath, what kind of fish are coming in with the tide?  Today it seemed that the old men were fishing for blowfish, a kind of fish that inflates it’s body when alarmed.  And of course, that leads to another mesmerizing observation for me.  I could go on all day about how fascinating nature can be.

We joined step-daughter’s father to observe and soak up some more delight on this fine morning.  A mother came walking with her three young sons, probably around the age of 8 or 9, as she pushed a stroller with a little girl of about 3 years of age.  The three little boys each had a fishing pole and a net.  They were all barefooted.  When I saw this vision of a family come to the dock, a huge smile grew across my face.  In the world we live in today, it’s an unusual sight to see children enjoying kid stuff.  The three boys immediately cast out their fishing poles into the water.  They weren’t worried about having the right bait or what kind of fish were biting this time of year.  They were simply living in their moment of glory, doing the things that memories are made of.  I watched the little girl climb out of her stroller and walk from one boy to the other while her mamma just sat back and watched.  It was truly a magnificent sight to behold.  Immediately, my rambling began;  ” I just love watching kids be kids.  I remember when I was little, I never wore shoes in the summer.  I was always barefoot.  We used to climb trees and play in the dirt with our hot wheels cars, my sister and I.  It gives me great satisfaction to know that there are still the little pleasures of life being enjoyed by these kids.”

A simple but beautiful morning at the dock digs deep into my soul and gives me the satisfaction of a spiritual revival.  I feel invigorated after our visit this morning.  My soul feels at peace and satisfied.  I love watching life being lived in the simplest ways.  My heart is so full I think it could burst.

Enjoy your day, your family, and find peace in all that you do.  It feels amazing.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me

Watching the little child play is heartwarming.  This time around, I am allowing a child to be a child for as long as he wants. That was my mindset back in those days. The first-born child wasn’t given that luxury.  I was young and rigid and only knew what I knew as a new parent.  I expected so much out of him.  I loved him more than life itself but I placed responsibility on him that far exceeded what a child should have to do.

The second-born child lived free and easy.  He still had responsibilities, but more appropriate for his age.  I was in a better place too, in my life.  Happier than I had been when the first-born came along.  A bad marriage can do that to a person.

A second marriage came along when my second-born child was three.  We had a new family and happier times.  We had more of a family atmosphere.  We did things as a family and it was so refreshing to realize a new life with new possibilities.

Along came my third child.  This child was more challenging than the first two.  Very strong-willed, smart and stubborn.  This one was also given responsibilities but she would decide, at her discretion, whether she would comply or not.  Whatever mood hit her at the time.

All three children were very different from each other.  It only makes sense.  I was a different person each time I gave birth.  There was 5 years difference between each of them.  Three children born and raised together with three very different personalities.

Today, they are all grown and each has moved in their own direction.  The first-born has a wife and four children.  He’s a very quiet and contemplative person. They live in the neighborhood that he grew up in.  It makes my heart smile to know that there was something special about his childhood that he wanted to stay in the same place and raise his children there.  The second-born has a wife and two children.  His path has been a bit more complicated.  After serving our country for many years, he now lives in the southern part of the United States.  He’s got such a great sense of humor and although he doesn’t live close by, he holds onto family traditions very dearly. He wants things to be the same for his kids as they were for him as a child. My third child is recently married and currently serving our country in the armed forces.  She is the most independent of the three.  She moved south also.  She built a life of her own, on her own terms and is set on a path of determination to reach a career goal within the time frame she planned very carefully.  As independent as she is, she likes to create traditional holidays.  She likes to make all the traditional foods that she grew up with.

I am very proud of my three children.  All so different and yet in some ways, very much the same.  All three cling to family traditions more than I thought they would.  All three are friends now that they are adults.  That is something I wasn’t sure would come to fruition but it’s true.  I love all three with every fiber of my being.

Raising children is not for the faint of heart because they don’t stay children.  They become pre-adolescent and behave in more difficult ways to handle.  Then, they become teenagers, which is not my favorite life stage at all.  Those days are stress riddled with all kinds of grown-up situations, yet still children in adult bodies.  Finally, adulthood where they strike out on their own and make their mark in the world.  Sometimes, their mark isn’t easy for a mother to watch.  They all have their own bumps and rollercoasters to deal with in their lives.  But, as a mother,  I’m still riding those rollercoasters with them even though they are not my lessons to learn.  We are tied together forever and every situation in my children’s lives will always affect me.  That’s just how mothers are.

I am thankful to have become a mother.  Throughout struggles, trials, tribulations, celebrations, graduations, grandchildren and everything in between, I have grown because of my children.  I thank each and every one of you for the gifts that you are in my life.

Timing is Everything

 

 

Timing is a funny thing.  There’s bad timing which creates chaos and good timing which creates opportunities.  Then there is the perfect timing which can easily change the outcome of a situation from disastrous to excellent.

I’ve always taught my kids that if they are with the wrong crowd they can be guilty by association.  When friends make bad choices and you find yourself at the wrong place at the wrong time, you may end up dealing with consequences that weren’t yours to own.  I remember a young teenager who got into a schoolyard fight.  The fight began between two other kids and this teenager didn’t need to get involved.  But, he chose to take the fight to another level and turned the whole thing into a drastic mess.  He chose to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and then he chose to become a part of something that was way bigger than he was.  The fight between the first two kids was over but he created and escalated a new fight.  The victim was seriously hurt and the teenager found himself in jail.

I gave a gift certificate to a young woman for Christmas.  It was for a ceramics studio.  I thought it would be fun to do something together.  After Christmas, we finally went to the studio to enjoy the day and make our ceramics.  We had so much fun that day.  I was trying to decide what piece I wanted to paint, I have a hard time making up my mind, so the young woman was very patient and helped me.  She is very knowledgeable with ceramics and she patiently guided me through the process of picking paint colors and explained to me how the colors must be laid down in a certain order to achieve the correct result.  As we sat and painted, we were conversing with the owner of the establishment.  She took notice of the knowledge and patience that the young woman had given me.  After many hours of painting, the owner came over and handed the young woman an application for employment.  At that time, the young woman was having some struggles at her place of employment.  This opportunity showed itself to her at the right time.  The young woman was open to a new adventure and so she was hired to do a job in a field that she loves.  Surely, this is an example of very good timing.

A woman I know recently had to have surgery.  Everything was in place.  The date was set on the calendar, the pre-testing was finished and the surgery was set to occur.  The night before the surgery, her doctor called her and stated that he was reviewing her pre-testing results and he was not comfortable doing the surgery because there was a greater risk than they had first thought.  He didn’t want to jump into the surgery without further investigation.  The woman went through some additional testing and she and the doctor came up with a new game plan.  Although very serious, the surgery was done in a more non-invasive way, which led to quicker healing time.  Other unplanned things occurred in this process and led to a life-saving intervention. My friend was definitely at the right place at the right time for this situation to happen.  If she had been anywhere else when the complication occurred, she would have died.   If the doctor had not initially reviewed her case, the risk to my friend would have been catastrophic.  All of these steps placed this woman at the right place at the right time.  She had faith and everything turned out better than if she had planned it herself.  Sometimes we don’t know what’s in our best interest and things change suddenly and unexpectedly.  For my friend, this gave her a new lease on life.

When plans change suddenly, it’s best to go with the flow and see where the path takes us.  Timing is everything.

Kids will be Kids

 

 

 

The other day, I was sitting in my car in the driveway,  waiting for it to warm up.  As I sat there, I noticed two kids around the age of 8 years old, walking to school.  I noticed that neither one of them had their hoods on, even though it was very cold outside.  As I sat and watched them, a few things occurred to me.  It seems uncommon to watch children actually walk to school these days.  More often than not, parents are driving their kids to school if the kids aren’t taking the bus. If you live within a certain proximity to the school, your child is assigned as a ‘walker’.  Most of these ‘walkers’ get rides from their parents.  As I watched these two little ones, it felt very refreshing to watch them walk to school together, on their own, without parents hovering.  It made me smile to see something that took me back to my childhood.  How can children learn to become independent if they aren’t even allowed to walk to school alone?  It’s only a block or two away.  In my mind, I find this very sad.  I watch as parents indulge their children at every turn.  It is not abuse to expect your child to walk to school if they are assigned as ‘walkers’.  The simple act of walking to school, or to walk to their friends house seems to be disallowed.  The result of this indulgence by parents will enable a child to grow up and expect even more from those around them.

It’s a bigger issue here than just allowing children to go outside by themselves.  You rarely see children playing with neighborhood kids anymore.  The parents take the kids over to their friends house and pick them up.  God forbid, they require their children to get any physical activity whatsoever.  This is creating a self indulgent society for the future and we wonder why “kids” in their 40’s are still living at home with their parents.

Anyway, as I sat watching these two children, I mentioned that they didn’t have their hoods on even though it was very cold.  At that moment, I watched two 8 year olds actually think for themselves and lift their hoods on because they felt the cold.  Imagine that.  They were capable of making a good decision even without the parents hovering over them.

Being the observer of these kids for just a few moments, gave me great insight.  First, it warmed my heart to see them doing what all kids should be doing and that is walking to school by themselves.  In this society today, we live in fear of everything and we are passing that fear along to the children.  Living in fear will only create hardships.  I would love to see the children living in love, being open to the world around them.  Instead, they are holed up in their homes, playing video games and afraid to talk to people face to face.

The second thing that I realized was that without any prompt from a parent, they instinctively put their hoods on when they felt cold.  Children are smart.  They know when they are cold or not.  Parents have taken away these small lessons of children thinking for themselves and making their own decisions by insighting fear into everything and not allowing these children the space to evolve into full functioning adults, one step at a time.

Two small children gave me a bountiful gift that day.  They gave me great joy by watching children be children.  I smile when I see children playing ball in the street in my neighborhood.  It’s not something you see too often anymore.  It’s so sad to know that kids aren’t being kids anymore.  I’m even more sad to know that it’s happening because of parents’ inability to cope with their own fears and challenges.  It’s creating a cycle of sadness, dependance and self indulgence.  I can only pray that there are still those families that are willing to ‘live on the edge’ and allow the kids to be kids and learn the things that life can teach them in simple daily activities.