Our Incredible Bodies

Human body systems

My body has served me well for seventy-two years with little grumbling. Though I sometimes imagine it would like to say, “Whoa, there, Big Girl, how about we think this over,” it always does its best to meet my sometimes unreasonable demands.

It has survived the indignities of tight shoes, backcombed hair, and potty training; it’s been overfed, underworked, sunburned, and sleep-deprived.  Doctors prod it; mosquitoes bite it; lines age it. Yet it keeps on ticking.

At my request, it learned to walk upright, stand on its head, pluck a turkey, swim underwater, avoid electrified fences, and type 40 words a minute. It has ridden on a camel’s hump, on a harrow as ballast, and behind the wheel of a stick-shift pickup truck with faulty brakes.

In its time, it danced the mashed potato, ate armadillo, wrestled siblings, and remained in plank position — though maybe it shouldn’t have. It enjoyed buttermilk, Creedance Clearwater Revival, the smell of Magic Markers, and sleeping under the stars.

Its legs climbed a fourteener in Colorado, a Mayan temple in Belize, the 354 steps inside the Statue of Liberty, and out of bed under protest. Its ears heard waterfalls, laughter in classrooms, the muffled silence of a snowfall, and my parents’ voices in quiet conversation as I fell asleep.

Its eyes read life-altering words, beheld soul-stirring sights, and memorized the faces of loved ones so well that in dreams I see them still.

My mother nurtured my body; my father sang to it; my siblings made fun of it; and my boyfriends pursued it. It never knew the pain and joy of giving birth, but it held grandchildren close and cherished each one.

When younger, I was proud of my body’s strengths, surprised by its resilience, and embarrassed by its shortcomings. During the last decade, I grew in wisdom, and I now appreciate my body in its entirety even as its abilities fade.

What marvelous  machines we inhabit; they do so much and ask for so little: sleep, nutrition, movement, prudent use, and timely medical care.

We need to appreciate and nourish our bodies.

A Reluctant Author

I put my sudoku puzzle aside, reached for more popcorn, and remembered something I read long ago in a self-help book. Its title and author were hidden in the cloud of nonsense that fogs my mind, but an idea from it still lingered: not writing the book inside of you is more stressful than writing it.

“Well, Unknown Person, easy for you to say: obviously, you have more free time in your day than I do,” I thought—as I settled down for a nap. “Besides, I already write newspaper columns. That’s quite enough, thank you.”

I had written a weekly human-interest column for the local paper for three years. I hadn’t become rich and famous, but I liked running into folks who enjoyed my work. I sometimes thought about compiling a book from past columns and unpublished pieces, but worried it would be too much like fruitcake: a blend of ingredients tasty by themselves, but a bit much when mixed together.

woman typingStill, the book I carried inside me persisted. A year ago, listening to its quiet, insistent voice, I knew I would compile a book—and why.

I wanted, once again, to feel the nervous, anxious excitement I experience when I attempt something new, something I don’t know how to do, something that scares me, something that kick-starts my creativity.

I believe our talents and abilities unleash our creativity and the act of creating fulfills us, frees our minds to explore new possibilities for those things we’re passionate about: painting, gardening, music, carpentry, photography, cooking. And sometimes, when we set our creativity free, we accomplish things we’d thought impossible.

So, I began a book, and stuck with it, even when my mind rebelled, screamed, “Whose bright idea was this?” and sent me scampering to the kitchen for a pint of ice cream, a brownie, and all the brownie crumbs I could pinch together.

Please believe this reluctant author: at any age, you can stretch an ability or talent beyond your comfort level, and when you do, the eventual achievement will make you smile.

You can read more about the achievement that makes me smile by clicking on “About my book” in the main menu across the top of this page.

Have some thoughts
about talents or abilities that spark your creativity?
I’d like to hear.

A Recap of Comments about Some Lesser Joys
Lori’s thankful list included the first sip of a perfectly brewed cup of tea on a cold winter morning; Dawna mentioned reading glasses and a warm shower on a cool day. Janice is grateful for her new refrigerator and her husband’s bread-making ability. Sue appreciates red wine, dark chocolate, and a deep conversation with any one under the age of nine. Jacke solved Aunt Beulah’s sheet-folding dilemma by suggesting the use of one fitted sheet which you launder and put back on the bed until it wears out. No folding! Ingenious!

Some Smaller Joys

In honor of Thanksgiving, Aunt Beulah celebrates lesser blessings to illustrate the importance of indulging in laughter and small pleasures as we age. This post is excerpted from columns written for the Craig Daily Press in 2010 and 2011.

Thank_01.png.jpegDuring the Thanksgiving season, when others mention the blessings for which they’re grateful, I never mention Press ‘n Seal plastic wrap.

But I could.

The struggle to decently cover leftovers has plagued me for decades: I’ve balanced plates atop half-full serving dishes, hurled plastic tubs and lids here and there searching for a matched pair, stretched elasticized bonnets until they snapped, and rued the wastefulness of discarding aluminum foil after one use.

Since the advent of Press’n Seal, I casually unroll a sticky length of film, stretch it across a bowl of dinner remains, smooth it down the container’s sides, and do a happy dance.

I’m also thankful for the trees in our yard that prevent direct sunlight from lingering on the house. Since the windows are shadowed most of the day, I think they’re clean.

I’m grateful I’m tall, though I didn’t think so during junior high dances when I swayed above a sea of bobbing heads like a heron stalking minnows. Now I know the advantages: I rarely have an obstructed view and can reach the highest shelves in supermarkets. I’m easy to find when wandering lost and will never, ever, be called a little old lady.

Praises be for Post-its. I find them indispensable for the thirty-two lists I make each day: calls to make, tasks to complete, books to read, groceries to buy, items to pack, gardening to do, and, for future reference, all the past places I’ve found my glasses. I’ve stopped short of writing a list of behaviors in need of correction to attach to my husband, Joel, but if you see him wearing a neon-green post-it, you’ll know I succumbed.

My gratitude goes out to friends and kindly strangers who tell me when I leave home with curlers in my hair, sales-tags attached to my clothing, or shoes of differing styles on my feet. Please, never hesitate.

I’m thankful that I no longer attempt to fold fitted sheets. I once saw Martha Stewart demonstrate a procedure for bundling the limply resistant objects into respectability, so I know it’s possible. I just can’t do it. So I’ve stopped trying; instead, I roll the sheets into a lump and squash it flat. Good Job!

Mentioning Ms Stewart reminds me of another blessing I enjoy: I’m not Martha.

I have better things to do than making a whimsical turkey from old Clorox containers for the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving table and surrounding it with placemats I wove from recycled panty hose.

I don’t want to bake cornbread from scratch and cut it into precise cubes, which I’ll toast, to use in a stuffing recipe that also requires portabella mushrooms, candied pecans, and fresh figs.

But I do want a Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones and filled with laughter—and I wish the same for all of you.

Have some thoughts
about small blessings you enjoy?
I’d like to hear.

Recap of Comments from Use It or Lose It
Jacke exercises her mind with SUDOKU puzzles, and Janice, who admits to struggles with technology that rival mine, recommends not giving up, but finding an expert to rescue you when necessary. Mercy points out that the Internet allows the disabled and the elderly to access the world and stay connected with their loved ones. She wishes there were more avenues available to help these groups enjoy the fun of the Internet.