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The Sandwich Generation

3 Nov

 

 

As a perfectionist, I’ve been making myself crazy with my blog. I have literally been paralyzed about what to write about lately as you can see by my lack of posts over the past six months. So instead of abandoning my blog altogether, I have decided to take a somewhat different approach and post here the things that I find interesting, fascinating, or thought-provoking in some way. I have always been an eclectic learner and glean information from many different sources. I take pleasure in ruminating over topics in nearly every discipline so I will be very random from now on (at least until my next great idea comes along…)

This past week, I was flipping through the November 2008 issue of the National Geographic, a particularly rich source of inspiring material. On page 14 in the Photo Journal feature, there was a picture of an elderly man’s face partly in shadow that caught my attention. The article that accompanied the photo described the work of photographer Ed Kashi (age 48) and his writer-filmmaker wife Julie Winokur (age 42). Together, they produced a documentary about their personal experience of taking care of Julie’s elderly father. Click here to watch “The Sandwich Generation” Part I and Part II.

The films are movingly beautiful yet forthright about the particular challenges my generation faces with the demands of raising our children while simultaneously trying to care for our aging parents. This is a film that addresses head on the agonizing decisions that must be made as we attempt to make the best care choices for the ones we love.

A Little Bit of Wanderlust…

3 Apr

This is Lily, an American Eskimo that was our family pet for about a year. Well, she was more like my dog, actually, and among her many “issues,” she had a problem with wanderlust. Whenever she got the chance, she would dart out the front door, run down the street, and sometimes scoot under a neighbor’s fence and out onto the golf course. No matter how hard I tried to coax her to come back, she would look at me with those black, impish eyes and then run the other way, her white, furry coat a blur of motion against the pavement and manicured lawns.

lilly.jpg

Lily’s behavior used to really aggravate me, but lately, I’m beginning to identify with her need to roam and have exciting adventures. Usually, I’m quite the homebody, but lately, I’ve got really itchy feet. I’ve had fantasies of running away–of just getting in the car and driving somewhere, anywhere just to be alone!! In my 40 years of life, I don’t think I’ve ever had that sublime experience of going somewhere by myself. I seriously think it’s about time!!!

One of the prizes for a writing contest I recently entered includes a weekend at a writer’s retreat. I’m praying to win…I desperately need the solitude! I don’t care that the “retreat” is just a tiny one-room cabin in the middle of nowhere. It sounds absolutely heavenly to me! And if I don’t win, I think I’m just going to have to go anyway…

Another opportunity I have to get away is in the middle of June. That is if I can figure out how to make arrangments for five kids for six days…As the new Vice President of Scholarship for Sigma Phi (ACC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa), I’ve been invited to attend the Honors Institute in San Francisco. Ah…intellectual stimulation, leadership development, a chance to explore San Fran. What could be more refreshing?

Then there’s the temptation of the ultimate getaway that my book club girlfriends just proposed. In the fall of 2010, just after my graduation from Arapahoe Community College, we want to go on a walking tour of England together. Again, another fabulous experience I am dying to have–to go traipsing across the moors Jane Austen style, with flowing gowns, petticoats, and bonnets. Well, maybe we’ll forgo the period costumes, but not the traipsing part. I am seriously in on the adventure. In the meantime, I’ll save my pennies and hopes while I try to restain my Lily-like tendencies to bolt. 

“Feeling Good”(and Grumpy) at 40

26 Mar

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I turned 40 on Monday, and I’m feeling rather ambivalent about it. Part of me feels very content with where I’m at in my life and part of me feels restless and in need of a few changes. Sometimes, I’m okay with the way I look and sometimes I’m downright grumpy about my appearance and feel like I could really use a make-over.

Generally, I’m a pretty positive person and I’m trying to carry that attitude over into how I feel about aging. I’ve chosen Michael Buble’s “I’m Feeling Good” as my theme song for the year. I’m working on internalizing the lyrics–It’s a new dawn/It’s a new day/It’s a new life for me/And I’m feeling good–but so far, everything feels pretty status quo around here. I think it’s going to take a lot more than wishful thinking to get this tired, worn-out Mom re-energized…

A good place to start, though would be to do a complete overhaul of my existing wardrobe. I’m tired of being frumpy! So Coldwater Creek, here I come!

And I have started wearing make-up and jewelry again so I guess that’s at least a step in the right direction.

Fortunately, I’m in great physical health and according to my dentist and his assistants, I look incredibly young in spite of having 5 kids. However, I couldn’t resist taking the ultralongevity quiz I came across on the internet the other day. I scored a 68 which according to the test results means I am “aging like a giant tortoise.” So is that supposed to be a compliment? (After a dry Colorado winter, my skin certainly resembles that of a giant tortoise and I have about as much energy as one, too.)

Then there’s the whole “vintage” cereal box thing. Have you seen the General Mills cereal boxes for Honey Nut Cheerios and Lucky Charms lately? If you can remember when they had those old designs then I guess you are considered “vintage.” NOT! Well, that is if you’re talking about the definition of vintage that means “dated” or “antique.” If you’re talking about the definition that means “recognized as being of high quality and lasting appeal” than that’s different…

Okay, maybe I am obsessing just a little too much about aging and getting a little too defensive about it…

I think I need a time out. A good friend recommended that I take better care of myself so I’ve decided that this is the year to figure out how to do that. Chocolate is always a good option…

Another friend recommended that I buy myself something totally impractical like a pair of shoes that only goes with one outfit. Hmmm…not as easy as it sounds, though. Twenty years of ingrained frugality and deferment is a hard habit to break. This same friend sent me a birthday card that reads: “On the road of life, 40 is nature’s way of saying…You’ve arrived!” Then she adds, “I do believe that not only have you arrived but that this is just the beginning of great things!”

Yes, 40 is just the beginning of great things and I plan to “live well, laugh often, love much” (and keep on coloring those graying sideburns!)

Mid-life and Me

12 Jun

I’ve recently discovered what’s wrong with me. All of a sudden, my seemingly erratic emotions and actions of the past four years are completely understandable. From my sudden and fleeting fling with adult ballet lessons to my emotional outbursts, to my full-blown determination to return to college after an eighteen-year hiatus, I finally realize that I’m in the beginning stages of a mid-life crisis.

 

Impulsively, I want to ask everyone I know in my age group, “Are you going through a MLC, too?” but somehow, even though the print media is full of advice about how to handle this common occurrence, it’s not the kind of conversation starter that seems appropriate somehow, even among friends. For goodness sake, no adolescent goes around shouting “Eureka!” because they’ve discovered they’ve entered puberty. But for me, the discovery that I am not too young at the age of 39 to experience this universal phenomenon is freeing in a sense. At last, I have some explanation for my rants. What a relief to know I am not crazy! I’m absolutely normal!

 

So what could have set off my mid-life crisis so early, I wonder. Perhaps my near-death experience delivering my fourth child in the spring of 2003 had something to do with it. Facing one’s own mortality is never a slight thing and certainly forces one to reevaluate life and cherish every moment. Certainly, sixteen years as a stay-at-home mom with unfulfilled dreams has something to do with it. So does nearly losing my 61-year-old father last year to a ruptured brain aneurism and the realization that my oldest child will be leaving the nest in two short years.

 

As usual, whenever I need answers, I go to the public library. There, I can search among the stacks and find the divergent, thinking voices I crave to help me decide where to go from here. As I read, I indulge in the conversations I can’t seem to have with my husband, my friends, even myself. In the private sanctuary of my mind, I puzzle over these new-found, gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching sensations of my current reality knowing that the life boat of literacy and my ever buoyant life vest of wit will keep me afloat through this indeterminate period of uncertainty.