Making The Good Life

It's not what you have, but how you live.

Missing

Well, I’ve been missing from this blog for quite some time now. Not exactly what I had planned, but what it is, anyway. It seems that balance is one of the hardest things to find and yet one of the most important aspects of having what I consider a “good life”.

When I started writing this entry, I wrote about things to come – my son’s high school musical, my dad’s illness, the time I spend with both of them. Before I could finish writing and post my entry, dad was admitted to the hospital. Ten days later, he passed away. I wrote:

My dad is ill, and has been for some time, but things are looking pretty bad right now. I spend as much time with him as I can but always feel that it’s not enough. Is there ever enough time at the end of someone’s life? Because that’s what this is, barring some new drug or other. Even that would be a temporary reprieve, not a cure.

We didn’t get a new drug, or a reprieve of any kind. We got ten days to say goodbye. There is never enough time. I was close to my dad. He was a wise man with varied interests and a lot of love for his family. He could always zero right in on the heart of any topic that we talked about. He was a talented photographer, loved the stars, flower gardening, good food, time spent together and babies. I will miss him more than I can say.

I’m trying to find my equilibrium; to function normally again. On Monday my sister called to tell me that my dad’s sister passed away. She was a wonderful woman and I loved her dearly. She will be missed as much as I miss my dad. Although she lived in a different state, she still managed to be a significant presence in my life. She and her family visited the family farm, where we lived along with my grandparents, as often as they could. I spent time with them at their home as well. She was a calming presence, a kind and intelligent woman and was incredibly beloved by her husband of over 50 60 years. Their love for each other was inspiring.

There are days lately when I don’t want to get out of bed, because I know I won’t stop moving until I fall back into it, later than I should. Those hours will be laced with memories of two special people, sorrow at their passing and a feeling that the world is just a bit less special than it used to be.

Conflicted

A lot of people are, you know. Conflicted. About lots of things but in particular I’m talking about the big 5-0 lurking around the corner. You see, part of me wants to walk right up to 50 and stick out my tongue, say “I’m not afraid of you!” or something like that, and sail gracefully and serenely into my 50s with the absolute conviction that these will be the best years of my life. But the other part is a little bit…uncertain.

It’s a pretty big milestone in most peoples’ lives. As I approach 50, I still have teenagers at home – one full-time and one part-time, since he’s in college. I’m helping my father who is dealing with serious illness. My mom has had one ailment after another, from breast cancer to a bad hip to cataract surgery, weight problems, high blood pressure… (They’re divorced. She’s on her third husband.)

I have a fear of declining physically. When my mom was in her early 60s – not that much older than I am – she really couldn’t get off the floor or out of a low chair without help or something to pull herself up with. She wasn’t able to really enjoy playing with her grandchildren when they were small because of it. I may not have grandchildren, well…ever, but if I do it won’t be for a long time. I want to be able to enjoy them the way I did my own kids!

"Mature" runners

These are the things that inspire me to try to take the best possible care of my body. Eat well, be fit, get all of my screenings (I’m a little bit behind on those) and keep my stress levels down. Not sure how much that helps really, but it makes daily life more pleasant, and that’s really all we have anyway. I realize that I can’t stop time,

but I feel like maybe I can slow down what lately seems

to be inevitable decline. While much of that has recently been attributed to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, attitude and perception play a part as well. This article in theNew York Times covers a lot of ground on the impact of both activity and attitude on aging.

Then there’s vanity. Yep, I am going to admit to that part too. I won’t pretend that it’s all about great health and serene acceptance. I’ve tried to downplay the part that vanity plays in all of this but recently decided that rather than feel guilty about it, I’m going to embrace it. It is, after all, a motivator! I want to keep my figure. I want to look nice, wear my hair long, and look at least a little bit like I feel inside for as long as I can.

So, health, fitness, beauty (or at least an effort at it) and a positive attitude. It’s not much – I can handle that! Come to think of it, I’d better wind this up – it’s time to go to the gym. I’m working out with my 15 year old tonight!

Not

Today is NOT Valentine’s Day. Not anymore – not, in fact, for the past 19 years. At the same time, it’s more the essence of Valentine’s Day for me than for many other people. It’s not about cards and flowers and candle light, although I’ve had those things each year (along with a heart-shaped cake). It absolutely IS all about love – the most amazing, consuming and lasting love that you could ever hope to experience in your life.

Nineteen years ago today my oldest child was born. Woke me up at 4:15 am and let me know that he was on his way. The moment his fuzzy little head pushed its way out into the world, my life changed in so many ways. I fell in love with that little boy so hard and so fast I hardly knew what hit me.

It’s been a great ride so far. He’s a college freshman now, and our relationship is changing. It’s a good one, and I’m really pleased with that. But it is changing, in the way that all successful parent-child relationships eventually need to change and grow so that they can become adult friendships. He’s responsible, kind, intelligent and knows what he wants in life. (He also still trashes his room and forgets to call when he’s supposed to.) He still needs mom sometimes (like when he was sick last week), but mostly he needs me to be his supporter, cheerleader, and only occasionally his trail guide. I’m proud of him, and can’t wait to see what the next 19 years will bring!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOEY!

Sunday Breakfast

So, while I’m trying to be healthy, stay at a good weight and generally take care of myself, sometimes a girl just needs pancakes.These are made with whole wheat flour and almond milk, and topped with walnuts, sliced bananas and some really nice maple syrup. The sausage is turkey, and coffee rounded out my breakfast.

Sometimes you just need pancakes

Sunday Pancakes

  • 1 cup of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup of Silk Almond milk (I’m lactose intolerant)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract topping of your choice

Combine the egg and almond milk in a bowl, whisk until blended and add the vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix that together, then add the wet ingredients. LET SIT FOR 15 MINUTES. This gives the baking powder time to work its magic so that the pancakes rise better. Cook your sausages while you wait.

I use a non-stick pan with a little butter or oil over medium heat and about 1/2 cup of batter per pancake. The recipe makes four smallish pancakes or two big ones. When the pan’s hot, ladle in the mix, cook until the top gets little bubbles in it. Flip, cook until set and enjoy. I keep the first ones warm in the oven until they’re all ready to eat.

I have no idea how many calories they have – it also depends on how much maple syrup or whatever topping you use. There’s nothing hydrogenated, no added sugar (except on top) and not much oil or butter. They’re about as healthy as a pancake is going to be, and they have an earthy, nutty flavor because of the almond milk. Feel free to use dairy milk if you prefer, or even soy milk. Blueberries stirred in to the mix is good too, or on top. It’s your breakfast, enjoy it. 🙂

What’s going on here?

Ok, I lied just a little. I’m not 50 or beyond…yet. I’ll be 50 in August, and this blog is me getting ready for the big event. Getting mentally and physically ready for the next bit of my life.

It’s a little bit about everything – how to keep on doing and being my best as I age. That covers a lot of ground for me. I want to be physically healthy – fit, strong, free of chronic ailments; I want to be mentally healthy – good relationships with my family, strong friendships, happy.

These are the things I need in order to feel ready for the things that life will hurl at me in the next 50 or so years. It’s hard to find a lot of information out there for women my age and circumstances. There’s More Magazine, which is about the only magazine targeting our age group. BUT – the women are still richer, more famous and far more successful that I am. What I want to know is, where’s the magazine for a mid-life woman who wants more out of life without a big budget? Where’s the magazine for a woman who wants to look her best but thinks that $36 is a little much for a bottle of shampoo (slide 18)? Where’s the resource for your basic suburban, working, single mom who isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet?

Since I can’t find what I want, I decided to make it. So this blog will be a little bit about me and the journey, and a little bit about what’s out there that works and still fits into a budget. I hope, if anyone finds and reads this, that you’ll share your story and your journey as well.

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