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, January 1, 2017

A brave new year

Yes, welcome!
I could say so many things about my hopes for this year. Hopes for a better year than the last one, and hopes that everything in my life will improve rather than deteriorate. I'm tempted to just leave my post alone, stop it right here, so that I can turn over and retreat under the covers. But no, it's time to get up and welcome in the new year. Writing this post will be the first thing I do in the new year, other than having ventured out of bed to make a cup of tea, and so it will set the tone for all the rest of it, to my way of thinking.

First of all, I need to say goodbye to those wonderful celebrities who left us last year, starting with the first one in January, David Bowie. He was dying for the whole year of 2015 from liver cancer, but I didn't know that when he made his last album, Blackstar. He had just released this disturbing video that made no sense to me but was very scary (don't watch it unless you know what to expect). I first saw it in January and watched it again last night and realize now he was saying goodbye. He was only 69 but certainly lived a good full life. He left behind a legacy like no other.

And then a few days later, Alan Rickman (Severus Snape to Harry Potter fans) died, also at 69. That began a year where we lost so very many wonderful people. Here's a list if you want to see every celebrity we lost in 2016. Many of them weren't very old, at least from my perspective. I don't think of being in your fifties and sixties as being quite ready to leave. The year ended with the unexpected deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, the very next day. I cried over the loss of both and will watch both Postcards from the Edge and Singin' in the Rain again sometime soon and will marvel once more at their talent.

Well! That was last year, and we are now at the beginning of a fresh start. Of course, dying is just the final act of our time on earth and comes to each and every one of us, but we've got some living to do between now and then. "Living the dash," as I like to think of it (the time between our birth and our death), and this new year is a symbolic moment to contemplate what we'd like to see happen in the near future. First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the enormous pile of gifts that I have received: friendships near and far, health, enough monthly income to pay the rent and buy good food, and a partner to share this life with me. If I end this year with those gifts still intact, it will have been a good one.

There has been a definite change in my ability to remember things, and I'm wondering if I would benefit from some sort of program to enhance my memory. Names have sometimes escaped me for awhile, but it's getting more pronounced. I walked yesterday with a dear friend, someone I've known for years, and I can see her face, know where she lives, and as we walked I realized I couldn't recall her name. Oh well, I thought, it will come to me. But it didn't, and last night I woke with her name almost in my mind, but it would flit away just as I got close. As I sit here right now, it's still missing.

Perhaps this is simply another aspect of aging, one that happens to all of us, but who knows? It's disconcerting, to say the least. I'm wondering if the ability to look up anything at the drop of a hat is making it worse, since I don't have to search around in my memory banks when I can just ask Professor Google for the answer. The truth of it is that I am afraid of losing my mental faculties. I have some online women friends who are caregivers for their husbands who have developed dementia, and they are no older than me. It would be impossible for me to develop early-onset dementia, since I'm already too old for that. So, I keep an eye on my day-to-day activities and try to remain positive about the future. What else can I do?

I just received an email from the leader of our annual New Years Day walk that it has been canceled this morning because of the ice and snow we received here last night. I'm relieved, because I wasn't at all looking forward to venturing out and finding out whether it's slippery. I'm such a coward when it comes to driving in bad conditions. When I lived in Colorado, I didn't mind much because I was accustomed to it, but it's been many years since I've had to deal with days and days of icy conditions, and it's only January. We've got the entire winter to navigate, and I intend to ride the bus whenever I can instead of driving. Today there are no buses, but my friend John, who has an enormous truck (and heart), has offered to pick me up to take me to the coffee shop this morning, and I'll certainly take him up on that. He's a good friend.

Do you make resolutions for the new year? I have done so many times in the past, but recently I've decided that it makes more sense to have a word or a phrase to take me through the year. The word that comes up first is "Willingness." Being willing to be open to what comes, and dealing with the trials and tribulations of life with humor and good will. Why not? It makes much more sense to be willing than it does to grudgingly face each day's challenges. Yes, that's it: willingness. It even makes me feel happy to think of it as my Word of the Year.

Looking forward, I see many different ways to deal with whatever comes next. And come it will. The one thing I know is that life is not static; it moves with each day, and we can rejoice together or grieve for what we can do nothing about. Let's choose love and light and happiness for as long as we can, and remember that whatever happens, we are not alone. I feel such love in my heart for all of you, my dear readers, as well as love for my gently sleeping partner, for my sisters and brother and their families, and for those dear friends who surround me every day. If I must choose between a frown and a smile, you know which one I'll choose. I read somewhere that smiling, even when you don't feel like it, makes you and everyone around you feel better. Plus it's easy: just tip up the corners of your mouth a tiny bit.

And with that, I'll leave you with a quote from Paramahansa Yogananda: "Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts." Who could ask for anything better? Love to all of you, and may we share a very happy new year in 2017.


Gigi said...

It is rather jarring to think about how many people we lost in 2016, isn't it?

I think the forgetfulness you are experiencing has a lot to do with our technology and age. I think I read somewhere that since we no longer have to rely on our memories - we tend not to place the importance of remembering the fact. I can still remember my childhood phone number, but for the life of me can't tell you my husband's cell phone number - I have to look it up every time.

Sending you love, joy and the best possible wishes for 2017.

Marie Smith said...

I love the idea of the word for the coming year. Brilliant! Willingness is such a versatile word. It will be an interesting year!

Elephant's Child said...

I too fear loss of my mind. The dread disease can eat minds, and I worry each time things slip from my memory banks. Which they do. There is a wonderful Far Side cartoon with his usual dorky kid saying to the teacher 'May I be excused, my brain is full?'
I hope that both of us continue to find room for new learnings.
A happy, health year (and all those to come) to you and yours.

Linda Reeder said...

I experience those same forgetfulness episodes over names. It is disconcerting, for sure. I don't know what it means either.
I don't really make resolutions, but I do make a few plans. January is always the launching of a new "Project Me". I have weight to lose, exercise to maintain, arthritis to battle. I'll be seeking my doctor;s help for the arthritis. I'm going to try tai chi and have signed up for the first month of classes.
And I plan to continue to look for the Gift in each day, something that brings me joy, if only for a fleeting moment.
The snow was so beautiful this morning, a fresh, clean start to a new year. Maybe it's a good sign.

Tabor said...

You have a good attitude about all of this. That will serve you well. I have forgotten things, but it depends on what you forget and how often. Talk to your doctor and have some tests run so that you can get the worry out of your head. Does it run in your family. My husband has always been a little forgetful and he is now getting worse. It concerns (not worries) me. His mother did have senility issues before she passed away. We must shoulder on, no matter what the future holds. Have a great New Year. You will certainly be blessed with your good health.

Red said...

Not able to recall names or other facts? Apparently there's nothing wrong with this condition. It doesn't hold any drastic things for your future. But it is a pain in the butt when we can't recall a name.

Meryl Baer said...

Happy New Year!
I love the idea of a word to focus for the year. Thinking about it, but not sure yet what that special word should be.

Glenda Beall said...

I don't make resolutions. I set some goals I hope to accomplish in the next 12 months, but I don't beat myself up if I don't reach them.
I like the idea of a word like willingness.
Like you, I am forgetting names of people I know very well. But I remember my sister doing the same and she never developed dementia. She passed away from heart failure at 88.
I am listening to an audio book, Alice ???, about a woman who develops dementia and the reader sees what is happening from the beginning. I heard that it is a very good book, but I just began it today.
Continue with your positive outlook, your wonderful attitude, DJan, and your love for physical activity, and I know you will have a healthy and interesting new year.

The Furry Gnome said...

Nicely said. May 2017 be better than last year!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy New Years Day! I wish you the very best in 2017!! And Smart Guy too! I think it is normal to forget some names...our brains only have the ability to store so much info before it goes haywire on some names. We both search for names too...it happens. I try to do some puzzle kind of game in the evening and I think that helps to keep the synapses firing! Sudoku puzzles can be found online or in a book we have both! I also do online zigsaw puzzles.
Two deaths here in two days, an old acquaintance with an aggressive cancer discovered in October and my sister in laws father of old age he was 89. Hits doubly hard over the holidays.
So each day is a gift! :)

Arkansas Patti said...

I love your idea of willingness. In fact I may just borrow it for myself. Thanks.
If I didn't know soooooo many people with the word or name forgetfulness, I would be concerned. I find so much company with this malady quite comforting. May you find 2017 special and rewarding.

Anonymous said...

That's a very nice quote to end your post. Let it be so.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Blessings and Happy New Year
I wish you continued health, happiness and love
Word willingness

Rita said...

I thought I had already responded to this but I think I got lost watching and listening to Dvid Bowie songs. Yes, seemed like a bizarre goodbye album from what I saw and heard.

Anyways, this past year was both good and bad. I hope this next year has more good than bad. ;) Love and hugs!! :)

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Willingness is a nice concept, a little bit zen. You are open to the possibilities, but not driven to forge new paths. I've been forgetting words, too--not just names but random words. Mostly nouns, I think, but now I'm curious; I'll have to pay attention. It's partly due to a flareup of fibromyalgia, I'm sure, but that is no consolation because it seems much harder to control now, and that seems attributable to age. Anyway, I hope you are able to enjoy the genuine, heart-warming moments that will make 2017 a good year for you personally, regardless of what else may be happening.

C-ingspots said...

Oh I just love your chosen word! Willingness sounds just perfect. That commentor is right you know - you are not old. You're older than you once were, but not as old as you're going to be. :)

I've been choosing words for several years now as well. Last year my word was courage. It felt good and overall, I think I was pretty courageous. For me, and what I'd hoped to accomplish, it was perfect. Haven't chosen my new word yet, but you've reminded me to start thinking about it.

Happy New Year DJan!!!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Willingness is a great word yet I think you already apply it daily. Forgetting a name is not a sign of dementia. It happens at all ages and can just be a brain misfiring. I forgot two nieces names for over a season and one day somerhing clicked and both cam back. I have gone to a memory clinic program and found myself able to improve by adding MSM into my diet. I use a vrystal form. In November I had a perfect score, an improvement since my last test over a year ago. Our diet plays a huge role. Statin drugs are not a good idea as our brain needs fat. And it's now known loering cholesterol does not reduce strokes and heart attacks. It is now believed our high consumtion of sugar plays a bigger role.
This holiday Dec.21 a brother in law passed after a brief battle with cancer and on Dec 26 my son in law's grandmother died of a stroke at 88. It is sad for sure but we know like you pointed out that these events are part of our journey.
I too plan to rewatch a Debbie Reynold's movie soon.
Willingness shall be a word I plan to link with you and the dear blogging friends.
My personal word is courage for I struggle with vision but I must be brave and carry on regardless for I too am fortunate to have plenty to eat and a safe place to reside.
Thanks for this lovely start for 2017.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Choosing a Word for the Year is a fascinating idea. I've heard of people doing this in the past but, for some reason, it seems like a good thing to do now. Better than making another resolution. :-) "Willingness" seems like a great choice. Another blogger I follow chose "Determination" (Alana at Ramblin' with AM) http://ramblinwitham.blogspot.com/2017/01/whispering-determination.html
I think you've inspired me to choose a word but, as I sit here thinking about it, it doesn't seem so easy. :-) Thanks, as always, for another fine edition of Eye on the Edge. In case I didn't mention it before, Happy New Year to you and SG.