I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Closing in on year's end

Lost Lake outlet
I took that picture last Thursday on our hike to Lost Lake. I wrote about our adventure on my other blog, which is my usual Thursday activity. I looked at that crossing, covered with ice, and wondered how in the world I would get across it. And then I noticed that everybody else had found an easy crossing over to the left. My worries were groundless, as they usually are.

If I knew how to keep myself from worrying about things, I would. Perhaps it's time to turn back to meditation. It served me well in past years, but I just don't seem to be very motivated right now. My inclination to lie awake and worry, though, is not conducive to a good night's sleep or good for my health. My latest worry is having to go to the Social Security office tomorrow and find out why they have taken so much money out for Medicare. My notification of Social Security for the coming year came in the mail yesterday, but something is awry. There is nothing to be done except to go down to the office and get in line. I'm sure I won't be alone, so I'll skip my usual workout routine and spend the day there hoping to fix the problem. It looks like they think I am signing up for the first time, although I've been on Medicare for almost seven years. This is the first year I've had a problem, so I will dutifully smile and try to remember that the poor clerk who will be at the window is not the reason for the problem.

What I notice about my thought processes these days is that I tend to bounce something around in my mind, going back over and over the same ground, getting nowhere except having worked myself into a bad mood. Things happen to people all the time, that is the constant; how one deals with adverse events is up to each of us. In so many ways my everyday life is good, so when something untoward occurs, you'd think I would be able to take it in stride. Perhaps it's the fact that as I'm getting older, I keep expecting the axe to fall: how can I presume to continue indefinitely this way?

One of my blogging friends, Linda Letters, is going to have surgery on her back soon. The link will take you to her post entitled, "Decision Time." I have thought about what I would do in the same situation. She will have rods and screws inserted into her L-4 vertebra to fix the problem. I know that area well, since when I shattered my pelvis and lost the artery down my right leg back in 2000, the surgeon had to put some permanent pins in my back at L-5. When I was recovering, he told me that perhaps a third of patients have continuing pain, and he hoped he would not need to remove those pins because it might cause more nerve damage. I'm one of the fortunate two-thirds, with no pain from them. Everyone is different, and I hope all goes well for her. I'll be worrying about it  until she recovers (of course).

This past week I took my car in to have the timing belt replaced. It's a Honda Civic, and I was overdue for having the work done. The mechanics who work on my car kept telling me it was past time, but I hesitated because of the cost. Then a friend of mine had his car's timing belt break, and it means much more money in the long run if that happens. I took it as a sign and scheduled the work. The engine must be pulled to replace the belt, and the mechanic worked all day long on my car, but now it drives just fine and I'm pleased. I put the expense on my credit card and will work to get it paid off over the next few months. I was told the belt was in bad shape; he pointed to a pile of some greasy metal, which I guess was the old belt.

Credit cards are nice if you use them wisely; I used to carry a balance on mine, but when I retired I paid it off, and now I enjoy seeing it at zero. It'll be awhile before I see that again, since I seem to have gotten into the holiday spirit and bought things for myself and Smart Guy. Once our TV died, a new one was a necessity (to me anyway), and I recently purchased a Kindle. I've enjoyed learning how to use it, and I'm currently reading a John Grisham book suggested by my sister Norma Jean. They sure do make it easy to buy stuff, don't they? I thought about the book, looked it up, and pushed one button to order it, and within a few seconds I was ready to start reading it.

It's already the middle of December, which amazes me when I think about it. All the leaves are gone from the trees; we encountered snow and ice last Thursday, remnants of the extreme cold we experienced for two long weeks. Now it's really nice outside, well above freezing, even if it's cloudy with occasional rain. It feels much more normal than the wan sunshine and freezing temperatures. And the winter solstice will occur at 9:11am PST on Saturday, before we meet again. These days the sun goes down just a little after 4:00pm up here in the Pacific Northwest, and these short days and long nights will soon begin their three-month journey towards spring. So here I am: going to Christmas parties, eating too much, hunkering down against the weather, and spending time in end-of-year activities. Maybe dusting off my meditation pillow is in order and seeing if I can worry a bit less, what do you think?

By the time we meet again, the days will be getting longer, by a few seconds at least. By the end of January, I will be making plans to visit my sister in Florida and looking forward to a change of scenery. Ah, palm trees! Sandals and shorts! But I'm getting ahead of myself. I've got six weeks before then, and I intend to find a way to live in the moment. Be well, dear friends, until we meet again.


O-town Ramblings said...

It's good to know I'm not alone in my constant worry and stress because of life's unavoidable challenges. I guess after working so hard and being responsible in so many ways, since I was 17 and started working, makes me feel as though I deserve a break.

Two months ago I made a commitment to work towards paying off all my debt and building my savings. It's not easy and requires constant monitoring of spending and very deliberate prioritizing of where I spend. But I've made progress and paying off my first small debt was in sight for May of next year. My savings was building and I had a plan to save more from every pay check. Then someone randomly slashed my tire. It was unrepairable and because of having an all-wheel drive vehicle I had to purchase four new tires. There went a huge chunk of my savings. Now I've taken a big step backwards in my goals. It's very discouraging. Maybe meditation would help me too. It has to be better than resentment and worry. Perhaps I'll give it a try.

Olga said...

I saw this posted on Pinterest yesterday for what it is worth:

Worry won't stop the bad things happening, but it will stop you from enjoying the good.

Linda Myers said...

Ah, the worry is always with us. It's like our minds are looking for a likely topic and seize on it.

Anonymous said...

I guess we all tend to worry too much, so you are quite normal, in my opinion. What helps me is counting my blessings. When I do that, I am so grateful and because I feel grateful, I feel happy. Perhaps, you could do the same.

Cynthia said...

I have dealt with anxiety and hate how it steals The Present away. I've found meditation to be helpful and I have a couple youtube videos I've found quite useful when I can't quiet my own mind in silence. Maybe they will help someone else, too.


Gigi said...

I think we all worry to some degree. Some more than others, of course - but it's something we all do.

I'm glad you got your timing belt changed - I understand that if that goes you are in for a nightmare.

I hope the Social Security situation gets straightened out without too much fuss.

Have a wonderful week, DJan. And stay warm!

Rian said...

Some things tend to worry us more than others... to me it's usually health issues with family OR finances. Since retirement *unexpected expenses* have jumped right up there to the top. But worry doesn't help. I try to remember the saying that "gratitude turns all that we have into enough" and my all time favorite, "what is, IS... and I can handle it!"

Jackie said...

It's always so nice to come here to your blog...sit back, and read what you have to say. It's like talking with you. You make it so easy to "listen" and you are a wonderful communicator.
As the weather continues to get colder in your area, I hope that you stay warm and stay well.
When you head to the SS office, keep in mind that mistakes are made, and hopefully, you will find yourself at the window of a person with a smile in his/her heart and that person will straighten things out quickly for you.
I send you warm wishes for a lovely week, Jan. Take care of you. I do love to be here....

Red said...

Anxiety is a fun thing? As I've aged anxiety has become an issue. It seems like there's only one issue a day that I can focus on. It's a far cry from multi tasking. I will have to work on it so that it doesn't take over. You have a plan and that's good. You'll get there.

amanda said...

I tend to be a worrier at times, too, and recent weeks of our life have had me in that state. I love the idea of meditating.
It's been so cold here, I nearly jumped for joy when I looked up the weather forecast a while ago & saw we are supposed to get well above zero tomorrow! We have had highs in the negatives for so many days straight, now.
Good luck at the SS office, hoping everything is easily straightened out for you, DJan!

Arkansas Patti said...

After hearing about your surgery, I am even more impressed with all you accomplish jumping out of planes and hiking for miles.
I just came back from Florida and can attest to its wonderful warmth. Enjoy.
Olga has a great point. I did worry about my house when I was in Florida as giant ice storm threatened my area. And yes, nothing bad happened. All it did was dampen my visit a bit.

Cait O'Connor said...

I find this time of year quite a struggle but feel better as the days get longer. I recommend meditation, fresh air, candles, sleep. This too shall pass....

Sandi said...

I am just now sitting down to read your blog, a day late, and I'm so glad I did, DJan! That worrying and fretting sure doesn't help us much, does it? I hope that your time in line today was worth it, and you resolved the medicare situation to your benefit.

I hadn't been thinking about the winter solstice coming, and I thank you for reminding me that we are nearly to the hump. That is certainly something to look forward to.

Enjoy your week. I hope you get a little sun and a hike or two in! Don't you just love this "balmy" weather?? I'm so glad to be done with the ice and cold for awhile. Big hugs to you, dear DJan!

Rita said...

We all have certain things that bother us. Things relating to my income worry me. I have a "losing the roof over my head" fear that will pop up whenever things could change enough to make that a possibility. I have had it happen a few times in my life and I have survived, so it feels like a deep faith issue to me. The only other thing that can set off my worry buttons is anything to do with Dagan's health (or Leah's and Karma's now, too--lol!). I mill and mill, too. The only thing that has ever worked to shut it off for me is when I've driven myself crazy long enough that I realize there is no alternate solution I can think of to try or nothing whatsoever I can do about it--and I finally hand it over and trust that whatever is meant to be will be. Being Scandinavian, I expect the worst so that I will be relieved and happy if it doesn't happen--LOL! ;) Meditation works for me for some things, but not for those deep worry buttons when they are pushed.

Glenda Beall said...

Worry has always been a part of me until now, in my third act, I find I am able most of the time, to practice all those little things I've read for years, and I realize that my biggest worry is that I won't sleep and then I'll feel awful. But I give myself permission to stay awake and read or watch a movie until I can fall asleep, and I give myself permission to sleep as late as I need to in order to feel good the next day. Sadly, I realize now that I spent, wasted, many hours of my youth, worrying about what might happen instead of enjoying those times as I should. I work at living in the now and planning for for the future. During these cold days of winter, I am scheduling instructors for Writers Circle in 2014. If only my physical health was as strong as my mind which is always going, thinking, creating, but I stop and think that many women my age have resigned themselves to sitting home and watching TV all day. Taking it easy, they say.
I'm heading to south Georgia where I hear it will be 80 degrees this weekend. That is where I grew up.
Hope all went well with S.S. What a nuisance to have to deal with that.I recommend listening to soft music while breathing slowly or a meditation CD to slow the anxiety. But I find that Christmas time brings back so many memories it is hard to rid myself of the sadness of the season.Good luck, DJan.

Anonymous said...

Worrying will make our health bad. So need to enjoy the life as it comes. Be cool and solve all the problems in a better way.

troutbirder said...

DJan the worrywart. Oh how I can relate. Unresolved "problems" keep me awake at night....

Far Side of Fifty said...

I don't worry or do stress well..I get so sleepy I cannot stay awake. AND most times I feel better after a long nap and can cope better. Perhaps it is my hibernation/survival mode...or maybe I am weird.
We had a timing belt go out on a vehicle and it was thousands to get a new engine..so think of what you have saved! :)