Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Week of Comings and Goings

Survivors, Warriors, Victors
Graduation Time

While many of my friends were sending their children back to school, we at LIVESTRONG at the YMCA were celebrating our participants return out into the world. For twelve weeks, they laughed together, sweated together, wept together, and worked toward the day when each could look back at the accomplishments and say with pride, "I did that." I love this program. Everyone who has ever had cancer should have the chance to be a part of it. (If you are so moved, I invite you to support out work using the form on the right.)

The Value of Names

For some time, it was a source of embarrassment, and even shame to me that I did not know the names of most of the people in the classes I teach at the Y. I mean, I have seen some of them four or five times a week for almost three years now. It just feels disrespectful to me to see someone so often and have to call them, "Buddy," or "Sister," or "Sugar," (you might not want to use that one north of the Mason-Dixon, by the way.) So this summer, I decided it was  time to make a change. Every class begins and ends with the ritual Remembering of the Names. The participants are amazingly good sports about it. We always share a smile when I get them right, especially when we're outside the pool. ("I hardly recognize you with your clothes on!") An unexpected side benefit is that they are learning each others' names, too. It's a little thing, and it isn't the same as actually knowing a person, but it's a start.

Wellllll... Yes, and no...
Love and Hope

Someone who has been a faithful friend to me for a long time, and has had a stormy voyage on the seas of love has finally found safe harbor. Seeing their happiness gives me joy and hope for my own future. Love is always possible. And it is never too late.

On the Other Hand...

You know that book where Colonel Brandon just hangs around for years, being a great guy until Marianne realizes that he is her soul-mate? Turns out that just showing up in a real woman's life every few months makes her feel really uncomfortable and creepy. And so ends the career of an unintentional, well-meaning stalker. Sometimes it's just better to smile, say thank you, and move along. (different lady, by the way. I'm not that creepy.)

Should have studied harder...
Good News and Bad News

Experienced the double edged sword of negative test results from my sleep study last week. Turns out that I'm actually quite good at sleeping. I move a little more than usual, but am well withing normal ranges as far as breathing, snoring, alpha waves, and REM sleep. So while I was glad to learn that I won't have to wear a CPAP machine for the rest of my life, I got to hear the unsettling news from the doc: "I have no explanation for your excessive fatigue." Sometimes, even bad news is better than no news. So it's back to the drawing board.

Over Fifty Singles
Birds of a Ruffled Feather

I am part of several special communities: show folks; cancer folks; depressed and bipolar folks. Our common struggle helps us find our own strength. Well, I find I am part of yet another tribe: divorced folks. Being over fifty and single can feel like you've been dropped onto another planet where the inhabitants are all strange creatures who are at once suspicious and fearful of one another. Nothing works the way it did when you were dating in your twenties. I am finding friends and even, Lord, help me, a "singles group," where we aren't on the make, just hanging out together, learning how to be whole people again. When I was first alone, I thought life would never feel real again until I'd found someone to hug and kiss and share breakfast with. But I'm starting to think that there it might be a good thing to spend some time becoming a person I can love instead. Sounds profound? Trust me, it's a work in progress.

Just Keep Learning

The first half of my year was dedicated to professional development. I read, traveled, took classes, and earned certifications that have made me a better qualified, (and better paid,) teacher and fitness trainer. For the rest of 2015, I am investing in my artistic life. When I was 10 years old I started singing in church, "impressing the grown-ups." Unfortunately, the ego boost turned into a kind of neurotic arrogance that refused to accept any criticism of my voice. I had several teachers who tried to help me, but I always balked, terrified that this one thing I did really well might not be perfect. But life is the best teacher of all. If you can get to your fifty-fifth birthday without learning humility, you have wasted your life. So, I have found a vocal teacher. After all those years, I am finally learning to sing. I don't know how this will turn out. Maybe I'll never be good enough to impress anyone but the people in the pew in front of me at church. But who knows? If I can become a marathoner and an aerobics teacher, there's no telling what other surprises I might have inside me.

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