Saturday, March 24, 2007

I Shall Ride a Horse Even if I'm 89 When it Happens

I've always wanted a horse. That's something that's been packed away with a lot of other impractical things included on my youthful wish-list. (Who cares? Well, it's part of what comes later in this entry.)

I nearly deleted this whole post. Frankly, rereading it has bored me. I sound like an oldster in front of the post office playing chess and counting passersby.

I'm putting it here, though. This blog is supposed to be a somewhat chronicle of our attempts in the realm of homesteading and the homesteading mentality, and this is my real life. My real life is not always fascinating reading. If you read further, at least you've been warned.

I 'm sometimes a stubborn creature who has to learn things the hard way, again and again. If I don't heed more subtle warnings, other not-so-subtle ones appear. Such as physical repercussions.

I am now at full attention.

The last appointment of the week on Friday was to the nutritionist, who is my resource for advice on doing the right thing regarding blood sugar issues. I've never been to an official nutritionist before, but oh the diets I succumbed to in so many of my younger years. After countless years of that, with no visible health benefits to show for it, I concluded that I should never DIET again. That resolve, also cemented after an entire year of an unidentifiable condition that put me flat on my back and in incredible bone pain throughout my entire body. It was constant, till it went away months later, as mysteriously as it had arrived.

When you have any condition that is not readily diagnosed, it gradually becomes suspect that this is "all in your head," at least by folks who've never walked in those shoes before.

It was the kind of pain that made me out of breath if I did anything for more than an hour, including even sitting up...I literally had to lie down and concentrate on relaxing my body to endure it. And we'd reached a cutoff point of our ability to finance any more doctor trips. I vividly recall being so tired of being stuck with needles for more blood tests, etc.

So, maybe in a fit of desperation, or maybe circumstantial depression (?), I declared a moratorium on pharmaceuticals, special "diets," and any other experiments that needed me as the guinea pig. I don't fault anyone for using medicines, so please don't misunderstand, and I DO believe medicines have their place. After a few months of having my life halted and having more quality time with my pillow than my family, I said ENOUGH. I was afraid I had cancer or MS or something else they'd not yet diagnosed. But I was sick and tired of being sick and tired...and of seeing the looks of doubt cross my friends' faces when I was not "better" according to their timetables.

That was back in the day I thought I had to be indispensable. I got stubborn and opted out of that, too.

All that to say that when I "gave up" and decided that no matter WHAT was wrong with me, I was NOT going to be anybody's guinea pig, I stopped the craziness of waiting rooms and trying meds nobody was sure would work, for something noone was sure what it was.

I started walking. I did what I could and did not apologize for the things I couldn't. I delegated or bowed out of so many supposedly important "extras" that really didn't end up being that important. I said no to things I had been "indispensable" for (such as at that time functions and social events I'd always organized). And sometimes I was a total!! This, from the southern gal who would've died a thousand deaths before offending ANYONE even inadvertently...who learned manners because "my mama raised me right" and NEVER stepped on anyone's toes. Well, I now have an appreciation for the endurance it takes when a person is in prolonged pain. It didn't mellow my made me realize "Life Is Too Short." It also caused me to find a way to laugh. Especially at myself. ;-)

I was so surprised at how disappointed many acquaintances were. I homeschooled at the time. I remember one homeschool mom, who for the umpteenth time was probing me for ideas and curriculum creativity and arranging group activities, and her frustration that I was not my former enthusiastic partner-in-crime companion in planning and implementing them. She always wanted to know "Why??" when I opted out (trying to do so inobtrusively), and became angrier when the same answer was repeated during those months "I feel too bad and I need to keep things simple."

"But what is wrong?? The doctors haven't found anything," she asked, in a tone that was like an accusation.

I sighed internally and replied the reply I hated to reply...again..."SOMETHING is wrong with me, and I just CAN'T do some things." She didn't hide her frustration well. She didn't relate. She said, "If this were an A. A. Milne book and I'd have to choose a Pooh character you're most like, I'd have to say you're Eeyore. You're just not a fun person anymore." And away she flitted to her perfect house and perfect 2.5 children, having summarily written me off as a depressed Hundred Acre Wood stuffed donkey.

I am not an Eeyore, though I did want to give her a swift kick about then. And like other peripheral acquaintances, (rather than the handful of tried-n-true friends I so love) she went her own way, and I entertained during dreary moments a Fear That I Was Eternally An Eeyore.

I have a tendency now to an internal "Bite Me" response towards those who snipe and run. This period also furthered inside of me, like the flourishing of a stubborn weed, a growing impatience for Suffering Fools Gladly.

I don't like mean people. No matter how nice they are.

I don't mind cranky ones. I often identify.

Don't know how I got off on that, but where this was all leading is that there are times life forces one to simplify...or else. Despite what they think....(they who? The Infamous They.) I'm trying to live without apology. It's hard to get past the gauge of others' expectations. It doesn't always happen, but it's easier to live with myself this way.

This brings me to a point I was going to make. I'm just going to have to circumvent my insecurities as we simplify things, if I really want to enjoy the journey.

The nutritionist was a person I really liked. She's in her sixties, and pulls no punches. She invited me into her tiny office, closed the door, took one look at me and said, "You're not my usual client. You're not sixteen and pregnant. I'm going to enjoy having an adult conversation." She loves her other clients, so this wasn't a slam. It simply means I'm probably the oldest person to come through the door in a long time, heh heh.

We talked and talked. I liked her for the very reason that she isn't burdened with an overload of niceties of conversation. I'm not so good at small talk, and we got right down to brass tacks about the subject at hand.

She asked me to tell her some things I feel strongly about as we try to develop a plan of how to address the blood sugars. I told her I'd rather have natural things rather than pills, that I'm never going on any sort of diet in my life again, that it's my intention to eat as organically as possible, that I will not eliminate any food group entirely, and that I won't eat engineered foods or fat substitutes.

She lit up.

I told her I need more exercise, expect to lose weight that way and in the process of implementing natural foods/making them myself, and that we're trying to work our way to farming, slowly.

She was engaging, lively, and very intelligent. She was enthusiastic about those choices. She'd had a long road reclaiming her health in certain areas over the years, too, and affirmed the benefits of what we're trying to do. We talked like old friends, and she was direct.

Finally, she asked me to list anything I'd consider a major change in my life over the last two years. I gave her a brief bulleted verbal list. "Your biggest problem is not foods or's stress. Your Fight or Flight response is really working overtime, and your body is in survival mode...all the time. It's fighting, and your sugars and all the other things are going haywire. What do you do for FUN?"


I listed the things I do now.

Aside from spending time with family, writing, reading, cooking, she wanted to know what I wanted to do for fun just myself.

I listed the things I want to do "someday"...such as the things I want to do when I've lost more weight, knocked out some recent projects, etc

Swim. Bicyle. Fish. Paint again. Take night classes. Ride horses. Farm. Have animals. Canoe. Ride horses. Ride horses.

"It's important for your health that you include some of those now," she said.

"I'm not young and fit like I used to be," I said. (In my mind's eye flashed the mental picture of my no-longer-svelte self trying to revisit past avocations. Not impossible. But daunting. I'd either never tried some, or had grown out of the habit. Mostly not wanting to embarrass myself in front of others. Ever had a nightmare about being flung from the Spinning Teacups at Disney?? Told you. I have issues related to needing to lose the rest of my unwanted
weight. ;-))

Here's the punch line:

It was then that she leaned forward, and said dead seriously, "Well you're not NINETY, either, ARE you??"

That's really stuck with me.

There are "right" stresses and "wrong" stresses, and something's always going to stretch you. If not, you're either overmedicated or six feet under. Simplifying is simply tossing the unnecessaries overboard. There's still the voyage.

I just need to remember that the fun stuff isn't over. Those aren't luxuries, they're the tradeoffs for what gets left behind.

I'm so thankful for the reminder.

Our homesteading frame of mind has to do with leaving the ratrace as we can, but not in checking out of life. My body needs and my life needs that connection with childhood wonder and joy. This is, after all, LIFE, and we only get one shot at it.

I'm glad to live deliberately. But I've been so serious about my life's meaning (and my family's) that I've lost some childlike qualities. You know, like when we're kids and we'd fall backward into the deep end of the pool for the sake of that one glorious moment of heat, cold, glare, water, spray, air, abandon, and SPLASH! (and then get out and do it again) :)

The question has been repeating in my mind:

"Well you're not NINETY, either, ARE you??"

No. No, I'm not.

Thank you.

And when and if I ever am 90, I hope this same lady is there to remind me to push the numbers to 120.

Falling backwards into pools at that age might be a bit risky, but then what a way to go...


farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Even if you were 90---you're only as old as you ACT. I firmly believe that. I know "old" 50 year olds and "young" 80 year olds. It's not physical age---it's mental age.

The lady you spoke of: definitely not a true friend. You're better off without her--even if it does sting a bit.

Robbyn said...

You're right! :)

and laughter is better than angst

That's one reason I'm glad I married my husband. When we're together, I feel like we're two kids conspiring, and we make each other laugh. Our own "secret club" (remember as kids whispering secrets with a best friend all night in a tent in the backyard, huddled with flashlight and old sleeping bags?)

His mother is 96 years old, and she doesn't think there is anything she can't do. And she DOES nearly all of it :)

Gemini said...

Age doesn't mean much unless you let it. I know ten year olds that are more capable than twenty-five year olds and ninety-somethings who were more lively and young than fifty and sixty year olds.

So yeah, go get em!

Gemini said...

Oh, and in a homesteading book I read, it said that you're only too old if you think you're too old.