February 18, 2010

Up and Down and All Around

Gosh, it's been kind of a strange week. I don't know why, really, but my mood has been going up and down like a roller coaster. I guess part of it is related to the weather. We haven't had any additional snow since the second blizzard, but everywhere you go there are mountains and mountains of the stuff! I'm sick of trying to weave around piles in parking lots, not being able to see around them when I'm at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear, looking at the "black snow" that's created by the plowing and car exhausts, having events (especially chorus rehearsals) cancel because of the snow. I guess maybe I have a case of the winter doldrums, but that's only part of it.
Maybe it's because my 59th birthday was Saturday. I'm usually pretty positive about birthdays, although I'm not into huge parties or anything like that. Since my father died at the age of 54 and my mom five years later at the age of 56, I figure that every day I live is more than they had and a cause for celebration. And yet, I look at that number -- 59 -- and I know what's coming in just 360 days -- the "big 6-0"! I am already in my 60th year and that seems unreal! I don't feel that old and I certainly don't act that old! I look back at what my mom was like before she died and it seemed like she was much older than her years. I guess a lot of it has to do with my perspective and perceptions; she seemed older because she was my mother. I wonder if my children feel the same way about me? Probably not because I'm a lot more active than my mom was in her later years. After all, I sing, I'm a tour guide, a docent, and I have a fairly busy life. Mom was still recovering from the loss of my dad, her soul mate, even five years later, and I think that took a toll on her. I lost my husband to divorce almost eight years ago and, at the end, we were anything but soul mates. I have moved on with my life and done pretty well on my own.

Still, I've spent a lot of time this week thinking about where I am in my life. My sister and I have talked about it together, too, since she turned 65 last month. It's a very strange feeling to know that the majority of my time on earth is behind me, not ahead of me. It's a perspective that I don't think about too often, but there's nothing like a birthday to put it in your head for a while. I go with my quartet and chorus to sing at a lot of nursing homes, including units for patients with Alzheimer's. I love to see their faces light up when we start to sing, but at the same time, I wonder if that's what lies ahead for me. Will I end up being one of them, waiting for some outsiders to come and entertain me? It's a frightening thought!

I've also been spending a lot of time alone during the past few weeks, what with the blizzards and all. It's been a year since Paul moved out, so I'm glad to say I've made it through my first year of solo living! Most of the time, it's good. I don't have to worry about anyone's schedule but mine. I come and go as I please, eat when I'm hungry, cook if I feel like it (not too often, unfortunately), watch whatever TV shows I want, etc. But just about every night, there comes a time when the loneliness becomes almost overwhelming. I'll be sitting at the computer visiting Facebook or playing games and realize it's midnight or 1:00 am...and then I recognize that the reason I'm still at the computer is because I don't want to go to bed. I'm tired and sleepy, but going to bed alone only emphasizes my loneliness. I'm not talking about sex; I'm talking about the comfort of snuggling up to someone you love or having a person to talk to about your day. When I get into bed, pull up the covers and turn off the lights, it's just me and the TV. (Oh, yeah, I talk to the TV...but it doesn't answer back.) I don't even have a dog any more to get in bed with me and give me comfort. These are the hardest hours of the day and sometimes, when I'm having a bout of insomnia (like I did one night this week), they seem to go on forever. Eventually I fall asleep and, with no place special to be in the morning, I sleep in as late as I want. The mood has usually cleared by morning, but this week, it seems to be lingering on.

Now, before my wonderful nieces, sons and friends decide they are going to make me their "project" and start looking for a match for me, let me make it perfectly clear: don't bother! Most of the time, I'm fine with being alone. I'm just going through a rough spell right now and I'm sure it will pass. I'm not interested in dating and, as I've said many times, if it's in the cards for me to meet someone, it will happen without anyone else's help. I have the most wonderful support system in the world! I have a great, close, loving family, a large circle of friends who go out of their way to keep me involved and active, and my work to keep me busy...at least, it will once the tour season kicks in again next month. Just allow me my little bit of time to wallow in self-pity and then I'll be my cheerful self again.

Life is a roller coaster. This week I'm at the bottom of the hill. Who knows what next week will bring? I'll just have to wait and see.

February 11, 2010

Winter Doldrums

Seven days. That's how long it's been since I've been out of my apartment. Seven days. One week. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds.

So, why does it feel like a lifetime?

I've tried to like the snow, I really have. Look at my last post and you'll see how much I truly like it. Except I wrote that posting before "Round 2" of the "Blizzard of 2010" hit. I wrote that when I'd only been stuck inside for three days, not seven. I wrote that when all the white outside still looked beautiful and untouched and was only 24" deep...before we got another 20" on top of it!

In the last week, I've been outside for a total of 15 minutes. I haven't gone anywhere -- not for a drive, not for a walk, not even sledding (which I'm way too old to even attempt). I have been housebound. Yes, I had offers from family and friends earlier this week (between Rounds 1 and 2 of the storms) to come join them. I politely said no because I really am more comfortable in my own home. Solitude can be very nice...up to a point. It got old around Day 4!

I'm tired of watching TV. I'm tired of cooking. I'm tired of doing dishes (yes, Ed, I've been doing the dishes!). I'm tired of looking out the window at snow everywhere. I'm tired of sitting at this damn computer. I have plenty of things I could be doing, but at this point, I have such a case of the blahs that I really don't want to do anything unless it means I can get out of here! I'm a doer, a go-getter, a run-around-er. Sitting in one place for a week is almost like torture. Thank goodness I'm a law-abiding citizen 'cause I don't think I could ever cut it in a 12'x12' prison cell!

This is the longest amount of time that I've ever been alone; ever, as in my entire life! I've been talking to myself. I've been talking to the TV. I've been talking to the computer. I know I'm not completely over the edge because I haven't been answering myself, so I guess I'm okay. The only thing that has saved my sanity is that I discovered Skype this week, so I've been talking on the computer to family and friends. At least I'm seeing another face and they are talking back to me!

I still haven't dug out my car, but with the sunshine and a bit warmer temperatures today, about half the snow on it has melted off. I am determined to get out tomorrow, no matter what. I don't care how much snow I have to shovel. I don't care if I only get to drive two blocks, then turn around and come home. I am going to leave this development and see another part of the world...or at least, another part of this town. I am going to be free, even if just for a short time.

Because -- believe it or not -- the weathermen are already predicting more snow for Monday! Now, most of them say it's a small storm that won't amount to much, maybe 2-3". I remember when 2-3" of snow in the Metro DC area sent the entire city into a panic. Not this year! After setting an all-time record for the most snow in one winter [and it's ONLY February 11!], 2-3" seems like just a dusting. But there are some who are saying it could be more like 6-8", not as bad as the blizzard, but enough to keep me home again. Just thinking about another snowstorm puts a knot in my stomache!

Seven days. Tomorrow, I shall escape, just for a little while...because I'm not sure my sanity will make it through Day 8 if I don't!

February 8, 2010

More Snow

So, I look out my window and just about all I see is white. We had over 24" of snow on Friday/Saturday -- the blizzard of 2010! Some people are calling it "snowcropolis" or "snowmageddon"; personally, I'm just calling it a pain in the ass! And now we are under another Winter Storm Warning starting Tuesday at noon thru Wednesday evening, with a prediction of another 10-20" of now!

Now, don't get me wrong -- I love snow. It's nice when this area around DC has a couple of snowfalls during the winter, especially if they're less than a foot at a time, there's time in between them for the old snow to disappear, and I don't have anywhere I need to go. But this is getting a bit ridiculous! By the time Old Man Winter moves out of here, this may very well be the snowiest winter in the 150 or so years they've been keeping weather records!

Okay, I'm done complaining. I learned a long, long time ago that weather is one of the things we can't control...which is probably why it drives me crazy! Since I'm basically a "glass-is-half-full" kind of person, I'm going to attempt to talk about the positive things about the blizzard we just had and the storm that's coming up, as well as winter in general.
  1. There are few things prettier in nature than freshly fallen snow, especially when you live near a wooded area like I do. The trees, grass, rocks, streams all covered with untouched snow are magnificent....Mother Nature at her best. Unfortunately, the humans have to mess it all up by shoveling, plowing, and turning the snow black from car exhausts. [Oh, sorry -- that was a little bit of negative thinking sneaking in.]
  2. If I have to be outside walking around, I'd rather do it in snow or cold weather than in 95 degrees and 75% humidity! I have done both in my tour guiding experiences, and I'll take cold over hot any time! Fortunately, this week I haven't had any tours to worry about, so it's been a non-issue.
  3. It's peaceful and quiet. Stand outside during a snowfall -- especially at night -- and you can almost hear the flakes hitting the ground.
  4. It's a time when neighbors actually get a chance to visit with each other. It's also a time when human behavior seems to be at its best -- friends and family calling to make sure I'm okay, offers to pick me up and take me to the store or anywhere else, invitations for me to come and stay with friends or family so I won't be alone, neighbors helping out by shoveling snow. It restores my faith in humankind.
  5. Memories....snow takes me back to my younger days. I remember several big snows when I was a kid. The blizzard of 1966 kept us out of school for a week. We spent hours and hours outside sledding, building snow forts, having snowball fights. Ah, to be young again and have the energy for all that. It brings memories of when my own children were little and we'd take them out to play in the snow, too. We lived in a townhouse until Dan was almost 6 and we were at the top of a long hill. Great sledding! And, of course, our own special family memory -- the Blizzard of 1993 that came on the day of Paul's Bar Mitzvah! We still talking about that one 17 years later!

So, snow isn't all bad. I know that many of my friends love it and are enjoying every minute and every flake. I guess that down deep I feel that way, too. I've spent a lot of time the last four days looking out my picture window as the snow came down and watching neighbors digging out. I especially like to watch the dogs jumping and playing in it. It makes me miss Cookie, my special mutt who died almost two years ago. She really loved the snow and would have totally enjoyed this winter. I do have to admit, though, that it's a relief that I don't have to worry about walking a dog out there right now. After all, we got about 24" of snow and I only have a 27" inseam, making it almost impossible for me to walk around where it hasn't been shoveled. If we really get another 20" on top of this, I may be stuck here until Spring!

My calendar has been cleared for the rest of the week. No rehearsal tonight, my Guild of Professional Tour Guides meeting for tomorrow was canceled, I found someone to take my docent shift at Library of Congress tomorrow, so I really don't have to go anywhere at all for the next few days. I have plenty of food in the house, firewood in case I lose power again, and plenty of things to keep me busy. That means it can snow all it wants, as far as I'm concerned.

Go for it, Mother Nature! But don't forget that in just 5 short weeks, I'll be out there walking around and leading tours again, so PLEASE get it out of your system now!

February 3, 2010

Inspiration Comes From Many Places

I just finished reading my niece's last two blog postings and I have to say, for the record, that she has become my inspiration. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Isn't the adult supposed to influence and inspire the next generation? Well, I may have done that to some degree with both of my sister's daughters over the years, but right now, Rachel is the one that I am turning to for courage and determination.

If you haven't read her blog, you really must! Check it out at http://reshapingrachel.blogspot.com. She started her blog last October when she decided the time had come to take control of her life and her health, so she joined Weight Watchers. She began blogging as another form of reinforcement to help her stay on track. Now, I've known Rachel since before she was born and I've watched her grow up into an incredible, beautiful, successful young woman! I've also seen her struggle with a weight issue her whole life, just as her mom and I do (along with half the world, I think). She's been on the yo-yo diet track for almost 30 years, but this time is different. This time, she has gone public and laid out all of the feelings, emotions, frustrations she feels right out there for the world to see in her blog! She has shared the positive moments, the negative setbacks, and, yes, even her true weight for anyone who is interested. I think that is extraordinarily brave and something that I don't think I could ever do! I admire her for her honesty and openness and I have drawn strength from her example!

In fact, last month I joined Weight Watchers, too, along with my sister (Rachel's mom). It hasn't been easy, but it is necessary! And Rachel has been right there with us -- in spirit, at least -- by calling with words of encouragement, sending us recipes, passing on tips she's learned along the way, etc. I think I've talked to her more on the phone in the last month than I have in the last 2-3 years! She calls to check up on me and see how I'm doing. She gave me a pep talk when it turned out I'd gained a pound this past week -- not a surprise since I had lost 7 pounds the week before. She wanted to be sure I wasn't discouraged and ready to give up, which I wasn't. She has been a godsend and I hope she continues her support. Knowing her, wild horses couldn't keep her from helping me make the lifestyle changes I need to do to succeed in reaching my goal and keeping the weight off.

So I dedicate this blog to my wonderful niece, Rachel, who has already lost 33 pounds on her road to her new self. The changes you've made in your life -- not just when it comes to weight loss, but in everything you do -- are an inspiration to me and to many others! Keep up the good work....keep sticking to the program....and keep on blogging! I love you lots!!

Oh, and a P.S. to Sara -- I haven't forgotten about you; I love you, too!!