Say Yay!

Ok, full disclosure…I am no spring chicken…hell, I am not even a Gen X-er. So I offer a ditty, compliments of my husband…

Say yay to the gray

lines are signs of the times

wrinkles be damned

I am still who I am

While sitting in a seminar hosted by a delightful millennial about use of BookTok for authors, a woman about my age commented no one on TikTok was going to look at her old face. I had to admit, I had wondered the same.

After tracking the woman down in the ladies room, we and another not-Gen X-er (displaying beautiful waved, long silver hair) chatted about cultural perceptions of gray hair, along with face wrinkles and chest lines. Mostly, I espoused my current irritation with the woman’s required upkeep of youth. If one positive thing came from the pandemic, surely it was women embracing their gray hair. We were made to rip off the bandaid but the inner beauty emerged.

As I started down the path to gray my husband, who is an extremely broad-minded man, balked at my choice. With a sudden awakening I realized dying my hair was such an implicit bias. My bias was thinking I had to maintain the facade of youth. His was holding women to a different standard. Neither of us expected a man to dye their gray hair. Only positive adjectives get attached, most often, distinguished. Women, it’s frumpy, tired, old, letting herself go.

I am here to say…YAY to the GRAY! There are women my age who have not grayed, but is Nancy Pelosi is one of them? At the age of 82 does she really still dye her hair?? If so, I say, “As a leader in the United States House of Representative, you show your power, now show your gray!”

Do I still cringe when using the magnifying mirror, oh god yes! I also talk myself off the ledge with greater and greater ease. Wrinkles be damned, I am still who I am.

What are your visions, biases, fears, beliefs on the physical aging? I would love to discuss.

If you like my writing, I invite you to peruse my other posts and subscribe. Feel free to share. I follow a theme until it bores me and move on. You may also enjoy my novel, Whispers for Terra.

https://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Terra-Nancy-Houser-Bluhm-ebook/dp/B0936YS5GK

Not my photo, not my hair but love it!

Isn’t something better than nothing?

Drop by drop is the water bucket filled. (wise author at bottom)

Walk with me to my way-back machine….While in my 20s at a wedding, I was talking with a passionate new dentist. I was not much of a flosser in those days… a couple days a week. His words? Don’t even bother, I wasn’t doing a bit of good. That made NO sense. I continued on my merry way; two days became four, then five, and now it just feels grimy to go one day without flossing. Maybe habit became obsession…but I have my teeth.

Isn’t it better to exercise 2 days a week than none? Isn’t it better to save some money than none? Isn’t better to clean periodically than never? Isn’t it better to use less plastic than use all plastic? In my world, a resounding YES!

I am too lazy to research, but based on my know it all perspective, habit forming can take a long LONG time and require many re-starts and adjustments. If it’s important to you, never berate yourself for tripping off a path or taking the low road. After a month of out of body experiences, observing how easy it was to grab plastic, my reaches ARE shifting. It is now easier to grab the glass container. It’s easier to grab the foil. I still have not re-embraced beeswax, but never say ‘why bother’. Oh! A friend gave a good tip… if using wax paper or beeswax…putting a rubber band around it, holds it in place better.

Keep walking, keep trying, keep forging on….

Abe Lincoln said- Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

Buddha is worth repeating- Drop by drop is the water pot filled

I would love to hear about habits you are trying to embrace or things that have worked for you.

Photo by CocaKolaLips on Pexels.com

We didn’t get here overnight…

How in the heck did we get to this plastic wasteland? Were we hoodwinked by marketeers? Are we zombies going through our day? Did it start out good and go bad? Was it a perfect storm?

Like so many things, it started out with a benefit and went south later. In 1862 when Parksine, the first form of plastic, was invented as a replacement for ivory and turtle shell for billiard balls, it was an incredible day for elephants and turtles!!

Fast forward to the late 1940s. Plastic was around, but it wasn’t part of everyday use. People had become extremely efficient with re-use and minimal waste while conserving for the years of WWII. Projecting myself into the era, I wonder if I’d been weary from sacrificing, and ready for whimsical? How do I respond when someone offers me something that eases any part of my work day? Something I had no idea I wanted. How do I respond to that thing I didn’t know I needed, but truthfully, does an effective job?

Thus the perfect storm was created. Something that diminished the need for ivory, served a noble purpose, eventually morphed into someone seeing more opportunities. Enter plastic wrap and the single use plastic bag.

People were accustom to recycling, repurposing. They weren’t seeking a different way but in the 1950s, ad campaigns created a need, drove a need. It’s true, we all love trying new things. Follow that up with another market for oil, followed by the greed god waking, and here we are. We are some crazy level of addicted to single use plastic. Our landfills can’t keep up.

We are made to feel we need to adjust our behavior. When I wrap my half eaten apple in plastic, I am the problem. We can, and absolutely need to stop being zombified plastic consumers, but let’s also turn our attention to the producers. The oil companies, which spur the production of plastics, need to adjust their creation, or at minimum, recycle more of it. Sure some plastic gets recycled but that is also asking us, the consumer, to fix the issue, not the producer. Possibly, if we the consumer, ‘just say no’ to plastic then they can’t sell their wares; we force their adjustment. However they, the producer, can do the right thing too. They can say yes to the planet and ‘just say no’ to the profits.

Many consumers are doing our part. The producers can do their part.

Photos from presentation by Eco-Cycle from Boulder Colorado.

Ya Gotta Start Somewhere..

They say that which you focus on expands. Apparently I messed up and have been focusing on plastic expanding in my life, not out! I have been trying to cut and gut plastic from my household use, really I have. I remember PB&J sandwiches being in wax paper bags in elementary school. I gave bees wax paper as gifts a couple years back. Wax anything is just not as ‘perfect’.

I am taking note of my plastic use more. That’s something, right? After eating part of an apple, I wrapped it in plastic and THEN noticed, “Oh crap, I used plastic.” So yeah, ya gotta start somewhere! Caring, noticing, re-thinking… it is starting.

I wrote the beginning of this post about 2 weeks ago. I am here to say I AM shifting away from my plastic use without an output of so much energy. Yippee!! 🎉👏🏼

I encourage all of you to keep trying to cut the mindless plastic use. Plastic is amazing for somethings. Then there are those things I use it only from habit. The function is no better than can or glass. Definitely the ‘single use and toss’ items need to go. I will not be purchasing items.. ok trying to not purchase items… that are unlikely to get recycled and carry the recycle numbers 3, 6, or 7. You keep gutting where ever you can.

Just like this little guy below…..start from where ever you land.

Never as easy as it sounds….

Two days in to July. Easy so far, given we haven’t done a.single.thing….However, as we emerge into the world, to the grocery, restaurants, it will get harder. Remember I mentioned my niece who does day 28, well turns out she also does day 17 except when traveling. As we shared space for a few days, I noticed she practices many pro-enviro things.

That brings me to different approaches…. I have a friend who is definitely the plastic police and I say yay for her! She probably makes multiple people a day think about this issue. Me?? I am more an easy-does-it sort of woman. I do get on my soapbox for people buying plastic throw-away water bottles over and over. I see absolutely no need for that. Plus, Nestle is just a glutton for Great Lakes water. For Earth’s sake, just get a fricking reusable water bottle! Even if it’s plastic and you wash & use it over and over…better than 2-3 a day in the landfill. We gave out Nalgene bottles, filled with little treasures, years ago as holiday gifts.( Geeesh, true confession, we probably put little plastic airplane shot bottles in some. This stuff can be daunting!)

Back to the easy-does-it approach… consider picking 2 things on here you can do but don’t do now. Equally, as much as I am an easy-does-it, I am rarely a cold-turkey-type. (There was that one time we spent 2 days as slugs on the couch after getting all sugar out of our system.)

Our first commitment: we will be doing our damnest to stop buying supplements in plastic bottles. Many come in glass bottles and I think they are more consistently recycled. Please correct me if wrong… It may not sound like much effort, but if you saw how many supplements are in our cupboard, you would be applauding. 👏🏼👏🏼🎉

Second: Nearby Evergreen ReFill sells bulk detergents. I take in my (yes) plastic bottle and they refill. First I need to know what their product is…I am picky. They also take empty toothpaste tubes and dead pens. https://sustainevergreen.org/our-programs/zero-waste/refill-station-zero-waste

One more thing I should consider is finding out where the heck I can re-cycle Amazon plastic delivery bags. I know I can somewhere. I have saved a few in a… er, uhm, plastic bag. 🫤

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

If you decide to take on even 1 change, I would love to hear what it is! It’s a process folks!

If anyone has an idea how to stop doing day 24, the plastic garbage liners….I am wide open.

OK next post….who’s really to blame for our plastic crisis.

When we were so proud….

Remember when we were all buying plastic bottles that were PBA free? We felt we were helping our bodies, helping the environment. We were proud. Alas it was short lived. As is needed, the environmental ante has been upped. Poor turtles with a straw in their nose got our attention, as did all the sea life with 6 pack beer rings around their neck. The ante continues and jury is out for how prepared I am.

I have taken the NoJulyPlastic challenge. 5 days remain to watch and consider where I need to cut more. It’s coming off a wonderful but plastic pathetic traveling weekend. At home we use a great deal of glass containers and wouldn’t consider tossing a can or jar into the trash. Maybe we are the only horrible people out there, but when we travel we are very irresponsible. It’s not that we couldn’t bring home our beer cans, or wine bottles but if a place doesn’t have recycling set up…it’s a gonner. Yes, I felt guilty about the plastic trash bag left in the hotel room with glass and cans, but yes I walked away from it.

We reuse most of our plastic….probably too many times and god only knows what we leach into our bodies from them. 30 years ago I washed my plastic baggies for reuse and hung them to dry on a wooden rack. I lost my way in laziness somewhere in cross country moves but we do reuse some.

If you look at the NoPlasticJuly calendar the 28th day seems particularly difficult for me to imagine ….no plastic tampons. One of my very conscientious nieces informed she uses a cup and feels it captures more… so yay my hero niece.

I do believe the youth are ready to save the world if a some old farts would just get the hell out of their way.

Watch for the next plastic dilemma post ….Who’s really to blame?

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Raising Parents

I remember the first time I felt I had slipped into an alternate universe. A universe in which my siblings and I were parents and my dad was the child. Not because my dad had lost his faculties; he had every last one of them. Rather we found ourselves questioning the wisdom and safety of his choices.

While living this alternate universe, I also worked at a Skilled Nursing Facility where I watched families struggle with the question of how safe their parent was to return home; from their perspective. Very often the parent was sure they were.

It was in those meeting I reminded myself and the family members, our parents are adults. Just as I had been allowed to make choices that made my parents cringe, so did my father. How I spent my money, where he chose to live, who I chose to date, where he chose to drive.

Dad had the right to make choices that worried us. My dad questioned the wisdom of my getting into a car with my boyfriend having 3 other boys in it. I questioned his wisdom of driving without peripheral vision. Turned out I was safe, and he was careful.

Much life was lived between those 2 car events, but the underlying fear of the wait was ageless, timeless. I advised families that as children of parents we adore, we can’t be sure every moment will be safe but we can cover as many bases as we can; arrange to avoid as many worst case scenarios as we can. My siblings were amazing it it.

Just as my mom had a sleepless night when I decided to stay with a friend thinking it was too late to call (decades before cell phones), I knew I would lie awake worrying my dad may slip on the way to the bathroom lying in pain until found.

We came to a place of peace. Dad could make decisions, and we might worry. Dad could make decisions which might have a bad outcome, but he had made it, as an adult with choices.

Written in honor of my wonderful father who passed many years ago.

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It could be yesterday…

June 4th… one year of acclimating after North shifted to another realm. Our neighbors hear him howl, still. Zoey, our 14 year old dat (not a typo), was born in June but we have no specific date. Henceforth, her birthday is June 4th. She continues to do her best being our watch cat.

We realized that when we lost our other malamutes, it wasn’t long until someone (ahem..Jon) was perusing the malamute breeder sites. This time the sting held on longer because we were committed to going it with Zoey only until we knew where we would land after this adventure. Playing dog grandparents is pretty sweet though. Love ’em, snuggle, give lots of treats and go home. No pills, no poop detail, no diarrhea clean up. Otis and Jasmine are special grand-dogs.

Zoey still gets a wild hair, thus the overturned garbage, but mostly she is a good sleeper by day; meowing with sundowners, by night. Our lives are mostly like this:

By day-“One of you humans- follow me to the bathroom, turn on the faucet. Now.”

By night: “Meowwwww.” “We’re up here Zoey. Same place we are every night.” “Meow, meow, meow, Oh! I wondered where you went, my tub is dry.”

Give your pets and extra hug from me. 🐶🐴🐠🐖

Check Your Privilege

Many people are confused by, or triggered by, what it means to be privileged. Check your privilege they say. Just to push that social experience of not talking for a week, I decided to experience the laundromat. Of course I have been to laundromats; I mean, I went to college. I have returned periodically for extra large items. The last time I was at this laundromat though was to wash my 130lb dog since they also have room for that and he qualified as extra large.

Back to today’s privilege check- as I was reacquainting myself with the process, I learned there was no ATM, the changed machine only likes 5s and 10s, not ones or 20s, and one has to bring their own detergent. Go figure. To top off the joy level, the laundromat lost power with 5 minutes remaining in my cycle.

Naturally the quality of this adventure was due to my level of familiarity, or more precisely, the lack of. But in a manner that has no relationship to social justice, what I experienced today was my privilege. My husband and I have carved a life that affords a pretty washer and dryer. It also affords me time to sit, write and wait for the power to return.

My take away- privilege can be found in places we aren’t use to hearing about. Sometimes privilege is its own reward. Sometimes it’s the reward for planning, for managing circumstances, which result in rarely needing to spend hours in the laundromat.

Sometimes privilege is something you benefitted from but did absolutely nothing to achieve it- you merely stumbled into it through the birth canal. You have this cash flow because you were born a trust fund baby, you were born into a family that can travel while saving for your college, or being of a race that never worried about mortgage red-lining, or white supremacy.

I think it’s ok to pat yourself on the back when you experience privilege because of your own fortitude. However, it may be even more important to discern when you merely stumbled into it by a birthright. Whichever privilege you experience, recognize others may not have that privilege and check your judgement after checking your privilege.

Epilogue- when I subsequently needed change for drying and the machine was ’temporarily out of order’….I knew I could go down the rabbit hole of ’time is money’ and will consider a dry cleaners, but that’s another day.

Emerging from the Cone of Silence-finale

The alarm sounding at the end of 168 hours was glorious! But hey, at least this hourly countdown was not as horrific as James Franco’s cutting his hand off in 127 Hours. Hmmm…what other number based connections can I make….OH, it was not as titillating as 9 1/2 weeks, much more interesting than 21 Grams.

We know the passage of time changes based on the fun-factor of the activity. Quite frankly I can’t believe it was only 168 hours ago that my voice ghosted me! Apparently, I like the shit out of talking; I suppose that makes sense being a speech pathologist.

The other day, before parole, and believing I could navigate without encounter, I ventured into the grocery store. If you are ever on voice rest and go to the grocery store, be assured of two things.

First– you definitely will see someone you absolute love but haven’t seen in YEARS and they will strike up a renewing conversation to which you nod and smile and make them laugh because you use the TEXT App and they feel awkward. Couldn’t help but think of Dan Fogelberg’s Same Ole Lang Syne, just without all the conversation.

Secondly– the chatty grocery clerk will think you don’t care one bit about the wildfires in New Mexico because you didn’t extend the conversation. We know that’s not true. It does cause me to pause to consider how often I judge someone’s ‘why’. We really don’t know a stranger’s story.

As was my wondering on day one, I am neither a blabbering idiot, nor peaceful as shit. Relieved, and thankful to have my ‘voice’ back. The speech pathologist believes the adage, “Physician, heal thy self”, and is implementing voice therapy guidelines. But I will carry forward awareness of what’s important to say and what is dribble.

A final meaningful thought about this experiment was how fatiguing it was to not speak. Any time we alter a pattern, remaining cognizant uses tremendous cognitive energy , my psyche was doing double duty. (Don’t talk, I want to talk, don’t do it, but I want to, oops I talked). Take away- have compassion when someone is in pain-physical or mental, have compassion when someone is distracted due to life being turned upside down. Have compassion for others but for yourself too.

Thanks to all who have followed me on this adventure beneath the cone of silence. Glad to fling it away and begin singing like Adele once again.

I leave you with a little Dan Fogelberg in the grocery store… it’s the bitter sweet aspect that resonated in the grocery store.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmVXYOJzAJM