Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller

Photo Credit: Amazon

Amazon Product Description:

Kimberly Rae Miller is an immaculately put together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend and a beautifully tidy apartment in Brooklyn.  You would never guess that behind the closed doors of her family's idyllic Long Island house hid teetering stacks of aging newspaper, broken computers and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room - the product of her father's painful and unending struggle with hoarding.

In this dazzling memoir, Miller brings to life her experience growing up in a rat-infested home, hiding her father's shameful secret from friends for years, and the emotional burden that ultimately led to her suicide attempt.  In beautiful prose, Miller sheds light on her complicated yet loving relationship with her parents, which has thrived in spite of the odds.

I downloaded this audiobook out of curiosity, free with Kindle Unlimited.  It focuses on a mental condition that has been highlighted in the TV series The Hoarders.  The TV series - as with most shows that seek to obtain and maintain a viewing audience - showcases the most extreme cases of hoarding - always escalating the cases with each season.  I watched the show until it began to slip into animal hoarding and the sad state of the hoarder and the terrible outcomes for the animals they kept.  I couldn't watch any longer.  It greatly tore at my heart.  But when I found this book, I was drawn to it as it seemed to focus on the struggle and the love that this family had for each other - while dealing with this affliction.

I didn't expect such a sensitive and touching story.  The author reads this story in the audiobook.  Since it was her own story, I felt comfortable with her reading style. I felt compassion for her as she struggled to pull away from her upbringing while not abandoning her parents. Her supportive love for them was apparent.  The parents love for their daughter was equally demonstrated but it did not overcome the strong hold of hoarding behavior.  There is no simple resolution at the end of the story despite all their efforts, but acceptance, love and continued family loyalty provided a realistic ending to this memoir - something that was missing from all The Hoarders TV shows I watched.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of this mental problem.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Evenings ... I love evenings.

Let me count the ways!

Nobody wants anything from me.

Husband goes to bed around 7:00 pm.  
My grand dogs are early to bed types.  
Even my adult kids hit the sack early
 - mostly because they have to go to work the next day.
  Nobody calls - my friends all seem to be early-to-bed types. 

I control the TV remote.

I get to choose the TV shows.
I can choose Netflix.
I can choose Amazon Video.
I can choose Verizon on Demand.
I can turn it on!
I can turn it off!

I don't have to talk to anyone.

Talking is over-rated.
Silence is golden.
My own company is the best company.

Night time is quiet time.

The world is pretty quiet at night.
Animals are quiet.
People are quiet.
Traffic is less.

I can sit and do nothing and not feel guilty.

I can knit.
I can read.
I can listen to an audiobook.
But I can do nothing. 
I can sit on the balcony and
watch all the folks coming home from work
grateful that I am not one of them.

I think everyone needs a quiet peaceful time during the 24 hour cycle that measures our life ... time without regard to the needs of others.   It is hard to carve out that time when you are younger with demands of job and family.  I was never successful before retirement.  Having it now is a simple pleasure I look forward to every single day.

Do you have a favored time of day
that is just yours without demands?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Big Deep Breath

Its been a busy day.

Last night was the last 'hurrah' for Christmas in our house.  We host an after holiday Christmas party for a group of friends we see monthly during the year for gaming.  Whatever the first weekend in January is after the New Year ... that is the date of this party.  I'd love to dismantle Christmas before the New Year - but I hold off until this event is past.

As I put away Christmas for another year, I like to think of the weeks following as a 'purge' time.  The fact I purged greatly 17 months ago to move into this condo doesn't change the fact that stuff still travels in the front door all the time, and if, on balance, stuff doesn't travel out the front door - the clutter builds.  And it is building and building.

So here is the path I'll travel from one task to another:

  • My hands are all over Christmas decos and because there are still things that never get displayed - they need to be thinned.  
  • Then we move onto the single storage closet I have where Christmas is stored.  Christmas stuff is stored to the back, and I need to pull a lot of stuff out.  Once it is out of the closet - I decide if it goes back in.  That darn closet is next to impossible to step into now. 
  • In 6 or 7 weeks a grandchild will grace our lives.  Room to be made - literally.  I have a guest room/yarn room with a closet.   That space is packed.  Some stuff hasn't been touched in 17 months.  My grand daughter will fit comfortably in my condo when I am done.  
  • For months I have hated opening my two bathroom linen closets.  Again, again, again - if it hasn't been used in 17 months it needs to go out the door.
  • Lastly the kitchen! My pantry is packed to the max.  Reorganize and consolidate.  Because it is such a mess - I find myself buying stuff I already have.  grrr ....  And those kitchen shelves,  generous space for sure ... and because nature abhors a vacuum I filled that space.  Not always a good thing.

See how one thing just leads to another?  I hope I can welcome the spring with a clean slate.  (I can hear the snickers now - 'first day of spring - in which year.')  To my nay sayers ... goals are good. So let's say I pick Spring 2018 to finish - yes, this year.

All these tasks are the perfect winter activity when you are not distracted by all the things that grab your attention outdoors.

When all this gets done - then I can take a breath.  A big deep breath, once again - until the future incoming stuff begins to chip away at my contentment and I am forced to walk this way again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Heel Slide

A major development!!

A major positive development!!

The best kind of development.

I guess the title of this post  gives it away.  No?  Well for those still in the dark, let me share a little bit of the back story on the Heel Slide.

Anyone who has had work done on their knee probably has come up against the heel slide exercise.  Heel slides help you regain your range of motion in the knee after an injury or surgery.  Basically, you lay on your back like the lady in the picture with one leg extended straight, and the other leg is brought to your butt as close as you can.  My therapist, Sarah, instructed me to use a strap around my ankle to help pull the heel as much as possible to the butt with the help of your hands.

Looks simple, right?  It can be, but it can also be difficult - (translation: hurts like hell.).  This woman obviously didn't have surgery - her face is peaceful.  She is not swearing.

So, since mid-May I couldn't do this with my left knee.  I could pull my right knee up to my butt, but the left knee - got about as far as the picture lady is before tears formed in my eyes.

Anyway all summer and fall this self-torture activity was part of my routine.  As I healed my therapist took measurements of the angle my leg made - and the sharper the angle, the more improvement until I was "within normal range for my age."  (There's that "for my age" crap again!).

When I knew I was nearing discharge I had a serious talk with my lovey therapist, Sarah - who by the way has a doctorate in this stuff - and is not a wilting lilly about inflicting pain if it helps healing.  (I hated that part.)

The conversation went something like this:

Me:        "Sarah, watch this."  (I bent my right knee to my butt, I could touch my right heel with my
                right fingers.)

Sarah:    "Yes, Elaine, that is excellent, more than is expected."

Me:        "Now watch this."  (I bent my left knee to my butt.  There was still a great divide between
                heel and fingers.)

Sarah:   "Right - but your flexion in that left knee is within normal range.
               (... for a person of your age - which she didn't say, but I was thinking.)

Me:       "So, Sarah, last night I was watching a Christmas Special with the Radio City Rockettes."

Sarah:    (small eye roll with grin).  "I can hardly wait to hear where this is going.  And ..."

Me:       "Well, I noticed during one of their routines, they could all touch their heels to their butts."
               (It is not important that I explain to you how I know, but trust me on this.  They could.)

Sarah:   "Yes, I imagine they could."

Me:        "So ...?"

Sarah:    "But you are within normal range for your ...."  (oh, you know the rest.)

Thinking back on the conversation I guess I could look at the glass as half full - and say my right leg is 'Radio City Rockette worthy.'  I am pretty sure one leg is not good enough to make the Rockette line up.

I was discharge from PT the beginning of December - with one leg more normal than the other (see I can be positive.)   That status was fine with the doctor and fine with the therapist and fine with Medicare and Blue Cross who paid for all those months of PT.

Now to the reason I am sharing all this with you! (I know you were wondering.)

On New Year's Eve I was doing my exercises while watching TV.  (I am just a party animal, you know.). The last exercise on my list is the Heel Slide.  I start with the right leg (one that can reach my butt).  Want to be sure that my right leg doesn't get any ideas about what is "normal for my age."

Then I did my left leg, reaching with my left fingers to find my heel (which I haven't been able to accomplish all year) ... and the two met - fingers and heels.  AND with NO swearing!  None at all.  Shock!  Took a small moment to make sure I was exercising the surgery knee - I most definitely was!

I jumped up.  (I use the term 'jump' loosely - but I did get up.)  I had to tell someone.  My husband was already in bed - and asleep!  And then I realized, the person I had to tell was Sarah.  My husband would have said, "Oh, that's nice."  But Sarah ... she would have understood.  I shot an email off to her.

And, as I expected, Sarah was appropriately excited!!

Now I should mention, that the left knee is not really 'Radio City Rockette ready' - the heel isn't touching my butt yet!  But it is only a matter of time.

New Goal for 2018 - 


Or ... maybe I will just accept the fact I could be a Rockette if I wanted to.

Can your heels touch your butt?  
Could you be a Rockette?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I looked in the mirror!

It is amazing how easy it is to deceive yourself ... especially if you don't look into a mirror! 
 Really look,
 not just glance while brushing your teeth or combing your hair.

In an effort to keep my exercise program interesting and well balanced I finally opened a DVD set purchased maybe 2 years ago.  Yes, yes ... 2 years!  Sealed up in plastic just like new, it was.

I do this little mind game thing ... get stuff and own it ... and somehow believe that ownership alone is is enough to absorb the knowledge or benefit of the item without actually reading or viewing or doing the whatever ... in this case doing the exercises.

Anyway, the DVD is Stronger Seniors. Workout Program with Anne Pringle Burnell.

The cover stated - "Safe & Easy to Follow.  Increase Stamina.  Strength training for upper and lower body.  Improve Balance."  See what I mean ... no where does it say you have to actually DO this stuff.

Anyway, I need everything this DVD proclaims, so to avoid boredom with my regular routine, I decided to try this out.  I broke the plastic on the DVDs.

The very first thing I noticed was that the 5 or 6 folks behind the instructor were old.  The second thing I thought was ... I bet this DVD set will be too easy for me.  After all, look at the participants.  They will need a slow and gentle exercise routine, and I can certainly do more.

I launched into the first disk (Stretch).  At first it was slow, but it picked up steam.  And I kept up.  Each disk was 60 minutes.  The instructions suggested alternating these disks on separate nights.  Well, of course, if you are older you need to alternate nights.  Me, not so much.

On the first disk I noticed I was actually getting a work out.  I pealed off my sweater.  I was getting warm.  I completed the 60 minutes pretty well - and it did target my upper body which needs more of everything.

I checked out the second disk (Strength and Balance).  I needed both.  I started the second work out.  It was also a pretty good work out - using weights.  I was using 3 pounds weights.  I noticed some of the participants were using 4 pounds weights.  (Heck - I don't have 4 pound weights.  I need to buy those.  In fact I will buy 5 pound weights. No one was using 5 pounds!!)  But as the program proceeded, I noticed some of the movements were uncomfortable in my right shoulder.  I backed down the routine to no weights on the right side.  Of course, the DVD participants who were following the instructor (using 4 pound weights, no less) continued on with no apparent effort.  *sigh*

Hmmm ... I am younger than those folks ... I should be able to do this with no effort!

Finally I moved on to the Balance section.  I was starting to get tired.  I was very sure the DVD folks  must be tired too.  Of course, they had their game face on, so I put my game face on (even though there was no one to see it but the cat.)

And then it got serious.

I am pretty good at balancing with two legs.  (In September I wasn't good at balancing period.  I used a walker and then a cane.  Two legs now is a step up.)  I am less confident with one leg.  But I charged on with everyone else knowing I could do this.  At some point I looked at the DVD participants ... you know ... the 'older' folks in the background.  No one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE, was struggling with the balance portion of the program.  They performed the exercises with steady feet and ankles, no support required of chair near by, and no swearing!  Meanwhile, back in my living room, my feet and ankles gamely tried to keep me upright.  They were wobbly, constantly adjusting to keep me from falling.  My hands, that were firmly instructed to not touch the chair, did so anyway.  And swearing!  Lots and lots of swearing.  The cat left the room!

I completed the second DVD.  It wasn't pretty.  And when I passed the bathroom mirror later in the evening, I noticed that the living room participant was ... well ... not in her 50s or 60s.   Somehow my eyes blinded my brain to the fact I am older.  Darn!  How had I missed that!

So - ok!  I will used these disks 'cause I apparently need them.  I will admire those DVD participants who are able to do ALL the exercises with strength and skill (and no swearing.)  And I will believe what the mirror is telling me - that I am a senior who needs to get stronger like the folks in the DVD.

I believe there is a biblical lesson about 'pride and falling' buried in this post! 😀

And, by the way, this DVD set is very good.  I don't know why I waited 2 years to break the seal and open it.

that's right!
That mind game about owning and not doing
 may have had something to do with that!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Craft Plans

While I make a point of avoiding New Year's Resolutions, I do feel that creating a list of to-dos is helpful in planning yearly crafting activities.  There are so many things I would like to do and try.  If I don't make a list ... it doesn't get done.

Actually that is simple truth for me - no list, no focus.  List making is something I do without thought - just like breathing.  Do I accomplish everything I write down?  No.  But it shows what is important in the end.  Unimportant things just slip from day to day - and sometime disappear.

Over December I gave quite a bit of time to thinking about 2018 crafting: knitting, crochet, spindle spinning and, maybe this year, a needlepoint project.  Those items fleshed out they look like this:

  • Red hoodie for my grand daughter - almost complete now - for next Christmas
  • A cable sweater for my grand nephew - for next Christmas
  • A knitted toy for my grand daughter - for next Christmas
  • A summer something for my grand daughter.
  • Baby blanket for my grand daughter - because a knitter who does not create a baby blanket for her own grand daughter is in conflict with the knitting gods.
  • A sweater for myself - using some wonderful yarn I purchased for Christmas 2016 - this to-do will not slip off my list.
  • Another shawl - with beads - for my daughter-in-law.
  • Another shawl - with beads - for my daughter.
  •  Amigurumi toys - at least give it a try.  I have this book on order.  
  • Spindle spinning still calls to me.  I have several spindles and many wonderful options regarding fiber.  Creating the yarn will be the full goal - not what I plan to do with it.
  • During the 1980s I did a number of needlepoint project and enjoyed it greatly.  Now as my son and daughter-in-law prepare to welcome a daughter into their world by creating the nursery, I feel very inclined to create a needlepoint picture for her room. I am actively looking for a needlepoint canvas of a dragon or wizard to match the theme of the room.  Selecting the canvas and the yarns and working on the actual project will take some time - probably ending in a finished project some in 2019.  
So this list of things is stored here on my blog - so next year at this time I can see just how many are achieved.

Who I will be in 2018!

I don't make resolutions.  I do, however, enjoy visiting the blogs where people publish their resolutions.  To me resolutions are not so much goal setting and achieving ... resolutions reflect our desire to be someone different than we are now - or improve qualities that we already have but have not 'fed' recently.

In recent years I followed the blog trend of picking a single word and seeing how closely I could live my life to demonstrate of that word.
  • In 2016 I picked the word - Move!  I wanted to be more physically active.  I don't know about physical activity - be we did move - in 2016 - and it did require a great deal of physical activity on my part.  I guess that counts even if not planned that way.
  • In 2017 I picked the word - Consistency.  I wanted good habits performed more consistently.  In truth, I promptly forgot that word as I got into 2017.  I couldn't even guess what it was until I looked it up for this post.  Certainly exercise was a good habit I wanted this past year.   Looking back I did consistently exercise - joining The Y last January and being dedicated to my PT exercises since June.  
So what to do about 2018!

I won't be doing 'Resolutions' nor picking a 'Word' to thread through my year.  If I learned anything from my life in 2017 - it is that regardless of any goals or intentions I have - the future will happen regardless of my plans for it, and I will be responding.

But the question that keeps rising to the surface is: who will I be in 2018?
  • Health: The events of 2017 set me back.  This body is good for only a fixed period of time, and I want to be sure it is functional for ALL that time.  So I am continuing what I started in 2017 - to maintain and improve this body through regular activity. 
  • Distractions: As in previous years - I need to start decluttering again.   Objects for me are distractions and the condo has started to feel full.  All the downsizing I did allowed me to move from 2200 square feet space into 1375 feet space in 2016.  Someday I may need to shrink even more - maybe into a single room.  What I do now will minimize what my children may be forced to do on my behalf in the future.   Objects are half the battle.  Time is the other half.  The clutter of an overly busy calendar can be stressful. 
  • Grandchild:  This will be a new adventure!  One that I can hardly wait to begin.  
Keep healthy for a grandchild.
Make space and time for a grandchild.
Those are the words that will guide me in 2018!

Who will you be in 2018?