Saturday, April 14, 2018

PRIORITIZING SHOULDS

Aging has taught me to prioritize my shoulds.   My mother was big on what I should do.  A few of her concepts were good.  Having a job, paying my way, eating healthy, and being organized have served me well.  What Mother didn't have on her "Should List" for herself or anyone else was nurturing  a passion.  Three things have always sparked a passion in me - writing, photography, and animals.  I was fifty before I rearranged my "Should List" and put these closer to the top.  Once I did, I was on a roll.  I returned to college, studied writing, poetry, photography, and went on to a wonderful writing career.  Now it's a new chapter of poetry and photography to honor and enjoy animals, spirituality, the oneness of all life.  I am thrilled to have my framed poems and photos displayed in a local pet shop.  Next goal - veterinary offices. Here's one of my favorites.
 
CRITTERS ALL

HOW HUMBLE THE LINKS BETWEEN ALL LIVING BEINGS.

BEATING HEARTS, EXPANDING LUNGS, PAIN FELT AS STRONGLY AS PLEASURE.

FEAR EXPERIENCED AS DEEPLY AS JOY.

TWO-LEGGED, FOUR-LEGGED RESPONDING TO KINDNESS, DESERVING OF LOVE.

EACH BREATH, EACH WHIMPER ENTWINED AS ONE SPIRIT.

ENHANCING THE ENERGY PROPELLING THE UNIVERSE.

A UNITY OF SOULS, A SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH.

AT DAY'S END WE ARE CRITTERS ALL.


                             
                                                  Best wishes from This Old Girl.
 
                                                                        cmkstudio2@gmail.com


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

THE MAGNIFICENT QUIET

Thirty plus years ago I lost a child.  Losing a loved one is a very personal experience.  I don't think anyone can really tell us how to deal with loss.  We all muddle through in our own way.  What I do think is worthwhile is sharing the journey.  I have attempted to do that in The Magnificent Quiet, Losing a Loved One-An Open Letter.  Here's the title poem from that piece.


THE MAGNIFICENT QUIET

 NO ROBINS SING, NO DISTANT BARKS

  THE FROGS IN THE POND ARE STILL.

COLOR BECOMES VIBRANT AND LOUD

ORANGE SUN, PURPLE LILAC SWEEPING YOU IN.

ONE WITH VERDANT TREES,

BLUE SKY, TAWNY BROWN DIRT.

FORSYTHIA BLINDS WITH BRILLIANT YELLOW

AND YOU ARE EVERY RED FLOWER,

EVERY GREEN LEAF.

A DRY, SILENT BREEZE STROKES

EVAPORATING TEARS, TIGHTLY EMBRACING YOUR SPIRIT.

AND IN THE BRIEF MAGNIFICENT QUIET

YOU ARE ONE.
 
I experienced this magnificent quiet shortly after my daughter's death.  Eventually I understood. 
 
 
 
Here's link to this piece
 
Best wishes from This Old Girl.

Monday, April 2, 2018

HOW LONG COULD IT TAKE TO WRITE SLEAZE?


I was first published at age fifty.  I’d had some success as a photographer, but starting a writing career as an older author was a challenge with that urge to play catch up, to make up for lost time.  Back when I was starting out a talented writer friend (a few years my senior) was becoming more and more disenchanted with her day job.  She was a very successful Realtor, but wanted to be a very successful full-time writer.  I knew where she was coming from.  At the time I, too, was still tied to a day job far from my calling.  We were both published writers, but our royalty checks weren’t paying the bills.  Over coffee one day my dignified Realtor/writer buddy made a suggestion.

      “We’re not getting any younger and we’re also not getting noticed.  Why don’t we collaborate on a steamy romance novel?  How long could it take to write sleaze?  We’d be full-time, in demand writers and in the money before the ink was dry.” 

Obviously, this gal had a quirky sense of humor and, apparently, so did I, because I agreed.  The plan was to each write an initial first chapter and then compare notes and pick a solid direction for our sizzling project. 

 
 I stared at the blank computer screen for quite a while.  I lit a passion flower candle, poured a glass of wine, finally conjured up an almost sensual sentence.  My palms were sweaty, breathing labored, heart pounding.  I wrote another one.  The nausea was building.  By the third sentence I was lightheaded.  I hit delete, ran to the bathroom and scrubbed my skin raw in a hot cleansing bath.  Think I would have had a cigarette if I still smoked.  My almost writing partner was not disappointed.  When I shared my feeble attempt at smut, she admitted to signing off on the idea after typing her first three words.  We had both come too far in personal growth to get derailed by false pretenses.  What we wrote had to be the truest form of who we were.   And while we’d likely never be wealthy writers, we felt rich beyond words for having fought and won a tough inner battle.  We had followed our hearts and heads to some voice of maturity that didn’t cave in to an overnight sordid success story. 

 
My Realtor/writer friend is gone, but I continue to write; still creating the good stuff that takes forever and that, I hope, adds to the life and health of the community.  The older I get the happier I am with the choices I make and the books  and articles I author.       

 
I like to think that aging cultivates living simply, graciously, and spiritually. Developing our art in these interesting senior years when there are memories to investigate, experiences to honor, and talents to uncover is a limitless project.  What a wonderful time to explore and grow, to step back and see with an open heart, to revel in possibilities waiting to be shared.  

 
What artistic talents are waiting for you to identify, to nurture, to age into?

*****
One of the projects I wrote in these my grandma years is the novel Dearest.  It's all about mimes, magicians, puppeteers, a wayward clown, a prominent doctor, and a missing bracelet.  If you were ever into magic you might remember popular magician and former Dean of American Magicians Jay Marshall.   He was my father-in-law. 
 


 Link to books www.carolemarshallstudio.com

 Don't forget my Aging in Good Spirits articles available here https://form.jotform.com/63478274474972

 Best Wishes from This Old Girl.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

OATMEAL WITH WILLIAM


Wrote this short piece a while ago.  I've switched from eating regular oatmeal to gluten-free rolled oats (see 2/16/18 blog - A Life Changing Diet), but the sentiment of the poem remains the same. 

     OATMEAL WITH WILLIAM 
 
EAT MORE FIBER MY YOUNG DOC’S RULE

GOOD FOR OLD GUTS, CHOLESTEROL TOO.

I BRING BERRIES AND OATMEAL TO THE MORNING TABLE

BUT THE MUSH ISN’T CLOSE TO A NEW YORK BAGEL.

HALFWAY THROUGH THE ORDEAL WILLIAM JUMPS ON MY LAP

AN ABUSED RESCUE KITTY SAFE NOW AND RELAXED.

HE SAVORS THE OATMEAL LEFT IN THE BOWL

LICKS MY FACE IN A THANK YOU AND CURLS INTO A BALL.

APPRECIATIVE PURRING VIBRATES STRAIGHT TO MY HEART

AND AGAIN I’M ENLIGHTENED BY FOUR-LEGGED SMART.

SO I’LL LET THIS OATMEAL THING GROW SOME ON ME

THROW IN GINGER, CINNAMON, A SLICE OF KIWI.

AND AGE LIKE SWEET WILLIAM, A GRATEFUL OLD SOUL

CURLED IN A BALL WITH LOW CHOLESTEROL.

William
 

Best Wishes from This Old Girl. 


Link to articles for aging in good spirits 
 
Marshall Studio books www.carolemarshallstudio.com



 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

THE GIFT OF HELEN


 

This is a true story.  It happened in Connecticut many years ago.  Sometimes I get caught up in the annoyances of aging and let the good stuff, the valuable lessons slip to the back burner.  More often my spirit is revived by recalling the beauty and necessity of simplicity.   I live in the Pacific Northwest now, but New England will always be home and Helen will always be remembered.
 
*****


 She slipped in the door quietly.  She reached her right hand down to the burlap bag that was hanging from a piece of clothesline pulled taut across her torso.  Her long, gray braid fell across her shoulders.  She rolled her fingers around the silky threads dangling over the top of the sack and, one by one, gently pulled out ten ears of corn, placing each plump, green ear along the length of the mahogany reception desk.  The old woman, wrapped in a shabby, brown coat and wearing muddy work boots, was in our medical office for her yearly physical.  On subsequent visits zucchini, potatoes, and green beans appeared.  And every fall juicy apples from her orchard rolled out of the sack.  She was a lifelong New England farmer and remained a patient of ours for a number of years.  She brought fruits and vegetables for everyone on staff whenever she had an appointment.  But the food bounty shared paled in comparison to the extraordinary treasure of her presence.  Her name was Helen and everyone connected to our Connecticut family medicine practice who came into contact with the woman longed to be like her.

 
Odd things happened when Helen walked into the office for her appointments.   The chatter in the waiting room stopped. The staff went from high speed scurrying to slow, easy steps.  A palpable calm came over the room. Helen always smiled, not a big toothy grin, just a pleasant smile that seemed more for her than for show.   Clear, emerald eyes danced to the soft tones of her voice.  An unassuming “good morning” brought everyone on staff (including the doctor) to her side.   We fought over whose turn it was to take her vitals and who would assist in her exam.   And not one of us got antsy or annoyed when the waiting room grew packed while the doctor deliberately took forever with her visit.  When she left, everyone in the office was a little calmer for the rest of the day.  The moments of unexplained composure continued with each of Helen’s appointments, until her health declined and she was admitted to an extended care facility near family.   Several weeks later, I was in New Haven having breakfast with a girlfriend who worked as a nurse.  She had just gotten off a double shift.  “You must be exhausted,” I commented.  “Not really,” she said.  “I actually requested to stay on through the night.”   She explained that a very ill patient in the skilled nursing home had taken a turn for the worse.  The woman was so loved that the doctors, nurses, and aides all clamored to be with her in the final hours.  She had slipped away during the night with the entire staff at her side.  “We wanted one last moment in Helen’s presence before the mystery was lost forever,” said my friend.  “Everyone wanted to be with her, be like her, and yet no one knew exactly what that meant.   What we did know was that her existence was special.  Helen was a soul beyond the norm.”  Listening to my friend, I was unable to speak.   But I understood the magic.

 
While Helen wasn’t interested in computers or other modern-day gadgets, spiritually it seemed to those of us who met her that she was light-years ahead of the world.  Some said Helen was a gift.  She owned a serenity that had nothing to do with anyone else, yet everyone gleaned a calming moment from her, soaking up her quiet aura as if it was liquid gold.   Being in the company of Helen was akin to entering into a state of relaxation.  She replaced the bombardment of life with a tranquility that took a person deep into themselves to the experience of a breath softening, a heart slowing, a mind escaping the mundane to rest for a time on the mystique of a woman who stopped the nonsense.  She exhibited the very real possibility of being able to be at peace, from the inside out, with one’s place in the universe.  Her presence connected one living soul to another at a level unrecognized in a driven society.   Many believed she was not of this world.  How often it was said that Helen was an angel.  How often I wondered if a person had to be born that way. Or did I simply not know where to begin?  Today I do my best to work on the Helen lessons.  Her teaching by showing not telling reminds me that I can experience my own path of harmony in a turbulent world.  At any given moment I can stop, inhale the magnificence of life and my connection to it all and exhale a silent thank you.  I have a remarkable teacher on my shoulder.  Doubt I’ll ever get to her level of personal peace, but what a privilege it is to try.  What a gift to have known her.  May we all replace, at least for a time, the bombardment of life.  Let us reach deep for that inner serenity waiting to be experienced and shared.   With love and gratitude for my encounters with an extraordinary woman, I pass the gift of Helen along to you, dear readers.    

Best wishes from THIS OLD GIRL.

Books from Marshall Studio www.carolemarshallstudio.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

CHOOSING AN AGING ATTITUDE

Did you happen to catch the two elderly ladies on TV the other night?  They had been lifelong friends and were celebrating their birthdays.  They walked regularly, keep themselves neat and trim, and were social.  When asked about their longevity, one shared with a smile that she had a beer and potato chips every night.  These gals were clearly happy.  Both were turning one-hundred-years-old. 


When I was getting my writing career going, I worked part-time as a fitness trainer in a hospital wellness program.  My favorite exerciser was Mac.  He was small and frail, his pulse was close to impossible to detect, and his blood pressure was quite low.  Mac was one-hundred-years-old.  On one particular day in class he wobbled some getting up from the chair, leaning with both hands on his walker for support.  He concerned me, so I linked an arm through his and applied a death grip to the underside of his forearm.  Mac smiled and patted my other hand that was tightly attached to his upper arm and we shuffled toward a stationary bike.  I adjusted the seat, helped him climb on, and secured his feet on the pedals and hands on the bars.  He pushed one foot down and the pedals and handlebars began a slow rotation.  His leg and arm muscles quivered.  I stepped closer.  His body stabilized and he pedaled a little harder.  I was worried.  What if a foot slipped off the pedal and he fell?  What if he passed out?  What if his hundred-year-old heart just quit? 

     “Tell me how you’re feeling, Mac,” I asked in an insistent voice.

He grinned and pedaled faster.

     “How hard do you feel you’re working?” I quizzed.

He winked, raised both thumbs up, and began to sing.

     “On the road again….Just can’t wait to get on the road again.”
The others in the class howled with delight and Mac continued on with his Willie Nelson tune.  I knew right then I wanted to age happy. 

One of the major components of good aging boils down to the daily practice of opting for happy, choosing a good aging attitude no matter the terrain.  I don't always do this well.  Sometimes I choose to whine - like when I had to get hearing aids.  But then I realized I could chat with my little grandson without saying "what" all the time and I decided to be happy about that.  I learned from my association with older exercisers that the issues we encounter through the aging process aren't in control of our attitude.  

Back to the woman who said she had a beer and chips every night - well, in my opinion her happy attitude speaks volumes about her long life.    

Cheers from THIS OLD GIRL.

Aging in Good Spirits articles and hardcopy books available on this link  https://form.jotform.com/63478274474972
(articles downloaded to your email)
 
You can read more about Mac and the wellness program in my book Maximum Fitness-Minimum Risk, A Simple How-to Wellness Guide for Folks with Heart Disease, Diabetes, or COPD.  Original hardcopy available at above link.   Updated ebook version available www.carolemarshallstudio.com 




  
 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

HE'S NOT ON THAT LADDER BECAUSE I'M OLD


I wrote the following piece a few years ago.  Thought I'd share it here.  Keep up those good spirits.  

 

 
One of my wonderful sons is relocating back to the Pacific Northwest and is temporarily staying with me through the moving process.   I love it when a son comes home, even if it’s temporary.  I’m blessed with three great guys and I enjoy spending time with them.   I also like to kid them about their graying temples and their own children quickly becoming adults.  But until yesterday, I didn’t give much thought to any one of them noticing my aging.   Since I raised them to be considerate and respectful and to pull their own weight, I figure the son who is temporarily home helps me carry bundles from the car, paints my patio, and totes the garbage to the curb because he is and does all of the above.  

 

So, yesterday I’m in the backyard playing with the dog.  I throw the ball, he runs madly to fetch and bring it back.   Forgetting my own strength (I do workout everyday), I lob the ball high and, not for the first time, it lands on the roof of the house.  The dog’s whining brings my son outside. 

     “His ball is on the roof, right in the rain gutter,” I say.  “He always whines pathetically until it’s back down on the ground.”

     “What do you mean by always, Mom, you’ve done this before?”

     “Every once in a while,” I reply.

My son hoists the ladder that happens to be right there in the yard, braces it open, and starts up toward the ball in the gutter.  

     “What do you do when this happens and I’m not here?” he asks. 

     “I do just what you’re doing,” I say.

I might have heard a little grunt of disapproval from climbing son, but I can’t swear to it.  My hearing’s not what it used to be. 

     “Okay, Mom, no more climbing up ladders for you.  I’m settling close by.  You can call me now for these things.  Did you hear me, Mom?”

Like I said, hearing’s not what it used to be.  And didn’t I raise him to be polite and considerate.  Good to see those traits come out; cause the boy isn’t on that ladder because Mom is old. 

*****

 Aging well articles (see earlier blogs for info) available on this link  https://form.jotform.com/63478274474972
(articles downloaded to your email)

Best wishes from THIS OLD GIRL.
www.carolemarshallstudio.com