October 24, 2009

Hearts, toes, and potluck.

Whew, what a week! It started with a visit to my doctor for chest pains, an abnormal EKG, and then an emergency room visit where all tests were normal. Lucky me, working for trauma surgeons got me into an ER room without waiting, so that was good, but then they wouldn't let me out. It didn't help that when my boss-docs stopped by in their scrubs after surgery and I asked them to get me out, one told the nurse, "Don't listen to anything she says, don't let her go home, she's (and a finger motion circling his own head) kinda crazy - and we have power of attorney so don't let her out." Ha, ha. Finally, a hospitalist doc stopped by to say I could go home if I'd show up the next morning for a stress echo test. Did that, turned out slightly abnormal, and I kinda panicked. My mother died of heart disease so I'm quite aware of what happens. And I'm not a good patient, I admit. In my job, I've always taken care of patients but this being a patient sucks. I got in to see the cardiologist two days later (again, it's who you know in life, isn't it?) who wasn't too worried but put me on some meds to prevent the irregular heartbeat so I'm not so distressed anymore. How do my sick patients do it! Such angst!

And a Wow meeting was this week, after a six month hiatus, and I was really looking forward to the potluck and the noisy spirited women in my house. The night before the meeting, I was cleaning the front room, moving furniture, and dropped the ottoman on my toe. Yow! It was beyond pain! It bled everywhere! And I sat down, put a package of frozen peas on my foot, and the horror subsided. Doesn't hurt anymore, but I'm just wondering how this toenail, in six pieces, will grow out. Oh well.

So Thursday night, the ladies showed up, food and flowers and gifts in hand, and it was delightful. The dinner was delicious and the ladies upbeat and cheery. After dinner, we gathered in the room with the killer ottoman to answer the question, "What did I do this summer?" Interesting answers, very interesting. Several ladies suffered serious health problems, but are recovering well. One finally moved her business and is enjoying increased customers in her new location. Several went to Las Vegas, one for vacation and one to gather with family from other states. One joyfully bragged about her new granddaughter and the engagement of her son. Two have been enjoying singing in the musical I wrote about recently and are both helping fix up a condo one bought. One is a few months from retirement and just bought a rental house in Arizona to increase her income. One, ending a three-year cycle of death and loss, is now enjoying rebuilding the house her mom left her that burned down, but dealing with the feelings for the contractor who caused the fire. Only two of us took big trips, but the others mostly stayed home, having a quiet summer with friends and families.

What was most surprising to me was that several of the ladies talked about being in relationships with men who are less than satisfactory, less than attractive to them, and men they like but aren't passionate about. Before the meeting, when thinking about what to say about my own summer, I realized how much I enjoy living alone, how I'd enjoy a fine man in my life, but still appreciate being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. And not missing the drama that can come with a romantic relationship, wondering what he means, what he wants, what I want, etc, etc. These ladies are holding onto men that are not right for them, men who don't treat them well, men who are cheap and disrespectful, men who cause them grief. After so many years single, it's hard for me to comprehend these fine women choosing to settle, choosing men who don't brighten their lives or treat them like queens. But I do understand not wanting to be alone because I felt that in my early single years, that need to be wanted and loved, that need to feel connected and desired.

I guess it shows that I'm content with myself. That I've learned to enjoy my company and learned to enjoy solitude. And that's good. But I want my friends to be happy, to live joyful lives, to surround themselves with friends and mates who adore them and appreciate them. Still, I can't make their decisions, but their choices show me how far I've grown. And I appreciate that.

October 19, 2009

Why, why, why?

I get questions. This one is from one of my Wowettes, an attractive and fun woman in my group, who writes:

I'm frustrated with myself. Maybe you have an answer. Why do men call your cell number and not leave and message; and then immediately call your home number and not leave a message? Not even a "Hi". Why waste their time and mine? If they wanted to call - don't you think they would say something? Please give me your opinion. Thanks for your help. Or, if you can, give me a "reply" to this guy. Obviously he is under my skin and it is annoying why he just can't say something!

I admit I used to wonder about the "why." Why do men not call? Why do they talk about sex before meeting? Why don't they have manners? Why? I used to have a friend who would call me about something a guy said or something he did and ask me "What do you think he means by that?" She would have already asked a bunch of her other girlfriends and would tell me their opinions and ask what I thought. I figure we could make 1000 guesses and still not know what the guy meant anyway. Even if she asked the guy himself, he might not even be aware of his actions or the meaning of them - or be unwilling to tell the truth, for fear of seeming insecure or stupid or whatever guys think. There's just no way to know.

So, dear Wowette, the answer is....drumroll....It doesn't matter. It might not mean anything. He might just be shy or macho or not like your voice or really like your voice or not be comfortable leaving a message or might be afraid to say the wrong thing or be pissed off you weren't there or be married and changed his mind or one trillion zillion other options. But, it just doesn't matter. It means nothing. It tells you nothing about him. Nothing. Guesses are just guesses. At least he is trying to reach you, isn't he?

After many angst-filled conversations with the girl friends and many hours spent obsessing about what he means, I just let go. He called and he didn't leave a message. So what? If he is really interested, he'll call again and again until he reaches you. Or he won't. It means nothing. What is important is what you find out about him during your conversations. What matters is WHO he is really, in person, and in actions. I give you the advice my to-be-son-in-law gave me years before he married my daughter, when we were in college together (him in his 20s and me in my 40s)after taking a final exam and starting to think I should have studied harder, I should have changed an answer, etc, etc......he said, "Let it go." I can't tell you how many times since then this has helped me relax, have more peace, be calm and peaceful. That's right, just let it go. It means nothing. Really. Let it go.

October 17, 2009

Being, doing, going.

My daughter is in the process of being laid off her job of fourteen years. She's in her late 30s, has a successful husband, and their family can survive well without her income. She's in transition, making a big change, and thinking about what to do next with her time. She's busy, has a nice circle of friends, and the children are doing well in school, so there's no issues creating drama that would prevent her moving on to whatever she wants to do. But what should she do?

Life really is a series of changes and transitions. Just growing older each year and seeing the world from a the changing perspective of our increasing age is change. Some of us marry and some of us divorce, we change jobs, we move, and we make new friends or lose old ones. Our jobs change, our careers shift, and we are constantly affected by what we see and hear about what's happening in the world. We get sick and we get well. We watch our friends' lives change, we have children or grandchildren, prices go up and our income buys less, and life is never quite the same from one day to the next. Even if our routine stays the same, we as people, we as individuals, are constantly changing.

And for me? We took on a new doc in the office three years ago, everything shifted, and I'm still reeling from what those changes caused. I stopped having singles parties and I stopped dating. I made a few new friends and a few others moved on. I'm still a mother and a grandmother, but those I love are constantly changing and growing, so that affects me, too.

The issue is still always "what should I be doing?" Should I date again? Should I go back to school? Should I do volunteer work? Should I take different exercise classes? I've spent the past year or so kinda sliding along, learning to cope with my job, enjoying my time at home, having occasional dinner and movies nights with my women friends, spending time with my grandchildren, taking a few trips, and yet I still ask myself if I should be doing something else, something more.

I have encouraged my daughter to think less, to just enjoy the extra time and space in her life now that she is not working. I want her to just "be." To hold still, breathe deeply, and really go-with-the-flow. Let the world move her to and fro a little. Let life surprise her with what comes to her without her having to figure it out. Allow each day to unfold easily. Be available to whatever comes next.

Even as I suggest she just let go, let things happen, I sometimes think I "should" be doing more, seeing more people, going to more events, being more busy. But, after a lifetime of being a single parent, going to college and working full time as an adult, keeping my own house, being a grandparent, tending to an ailing parent, being very-very-very busy for many, many years, I am having a hard time just sitting still and allowing myself to do nothing. To watch TV. To take walks. To sit outside and feel the sun on my skin. To read novels. To just be and do whatever or do nothing and feel like that's enough. What is it that makes us feel like there's some scale somewhere that we must measure ourselves against to prove that we're productive enough, that we're participating enough in life? Who judges this?

So, for now, I'm going to take my advice for my daughter and give it to myself. That, outside of meeting our personal needs, there's no standard to follow, no yardstick to tell us we're doing enough or being social enough or having enough nights out. It's OK to do nothing. It's OK to coast. It's OK to just....be.