Author: Laura (page 1 of 37)

Cookies, everyone?

They’re everywhere.

On the kitchen counter….

In the refrigerator….

Lurking in tiny bags with ribbon….

On top of the desk, in the break room, on the car seat….

Cookies!

If you’re not baking them, your neighbor is, and she just has to share. Chocolate, cinnamon, oatmeal, ginger, sugar…they’re out to get us. Even if we don’t usually have an appetite for them, right now, during the holidays, we feel compelled to eat them. Just one. Well, maybe just one more. After all, you don’t want to be rude.

_MG_3286_And it’s that time of year, right? When eating is akin to caroling, wrapping presents, and trimming the tree.

You take a break, you get a cookie. You take a walk, you get a cookie. You breathe, you get a cookie.

Cookies invoke memories of Christmas past, when everything was filled with wonder. When anticipation just about killed you as you wondered if you really had been good all year, or was Santa listening when you yelled at your brother/sister?

Mothers just know how to bake them, at least mine did. From scratch, of course. By the time Christmas came, there were endless round tins of all kinds of cookies everywhere. Decorating the sugar cookies was especially fun, even if I wasn’t very good at it. At least they tasted good.

Truth be told, I still could probably take the tube of icing and go sit outside and consume it outright. (Of course I can do the same thing with homemade macaroni and cheese, but that’s another story.)

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Every year, I resolve to amp up my exercising during December and stand firm against the temptation of the round devils. Yet there they are. Somehow, they’ve entered my house. As each day goes by, they seem to multiply. It’s like a trance comes over me and I find myself reaching for them more times than I would ever do in the middle of summer. Like a 1950s black and white horror movie, they take over my brain.

 

The Cookie Blob. The Dough That Ate Godzilla. Invasion of the Chocolate Snatchers.  

Even Oreos. Especially fresh Oreos, followed by tart lemonade. Research conducted using Oreos’ effects on lab rats concluded that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do.

Duh.

Is there any escape? Maybe not. Maybe that’s okay. Of course, moderation is a good idea. I’m still working on that.

But I’m not ready to give them up completely.

I like how baking cookies fills my kitchen with a wonderful aroma. I like how in the winter, they make everything feel cozy and warm, especially if the cold wind is howling outside. I especially like how they make me feel like my mother is standing next to me, smiling as she watches me do what she did for so many years. (Or perhaps frowning when I drop the pan and eat them anyway.)

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Which cookies are your favorites? Do you carry on traditions you learned as a child? I’d love to know.

As for me, I’m thinking maybe I need to make just a few more batches. After all, I sure wouldn’t want to run out….

 

“Cookies are made of butter and love.”

              Norwegian Proverb

 

 

 

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Relaxing when flying monkeys appear.

I call them the flying monkeys. They appear occasionally in my office, my car, my kitchen and anywhere else I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Maybe you see them too. Like when the internet’s out. The dentist gives you the happy news you need three fillings replaced. Or you’re sitting in traffic and “check engine” lights up the dashboard. And you’re worried about what’s going on with your friend/spouse/children/grandchildren/dog/cat/bunny/big toe.

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So how do you get back to your center, take a breath, and empty out some of this stress? (And send the flying monkeys packing?)

For me, sometimes the hardest thing is realizing just how tight I am. It’s easy to get rigid when I sit at a computer. I don’t even realize how my breathing is becoming shallow (like a prairie dog hoping the coyote will pass by) or my spine sags into a terrible posture. But I do know if don’t do something to change it, I’ll pay the price. And possibly so will those around me.

I don’t know if it’s true, but it feels like now that I’m well over 50, it’s even more vital I learn to truly relax. For one thing I want to live as long as I can and be healthy, and I know that when my blood vessels contract, that’s not exactly helping. For another my joints and bones can be quite content to get stiff and immobile if I let them.

Plus, I just don’t like it when I allow something or someone to have this effect on me.

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So here’s a few relaxation methods I’ve found to be helpful in my 50+ years:

Meditation.   I’m not always good at this, and sometimes I go for weeks and completely forget to do it. But when I decide to be still, to just let my thoughts pass by without jumping into each one, it really does make a difference. I concentrate on my breathing. I sometimes just sit and listen to the silence. Or I choose music like that of sacred musician Ana Hernandez.

Some people meditate for long periods of time. I think that’s great, but I also think just a few minutes can do wonders. First thing is a great time, but even better can be right after a stressful phone call, or when I’m in the car and nothing is moving. I can almost hear my coronary system thanking me.

Tai chi. I LOVE Tai chi. I discovered it a few years ago and began going to classes once a week, and I try to practice it every day. There are several different forms to choose from…I’m a big fan of Yang Style. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s okay. What’s important is how Tai chi can help you relax and unwind, yet strengthens you and improves your bones all at the same time. It’s graceful. It’s empowering. It works both your muscles and your mind.

Even if you just learn a few simple Tai chi moves, you can do these during the day or in the evening and feel how it takes you to a more peaceful state. Classes are usually available at recreation centers, Tai Chi centers, or you can peruse YouTube videos or order DVDs.

Go Outdoors. I know the weather can be bad. You might be in a high-rise and can’t just pop outside when you feel like it. But if you can, I strongly recommend breathing some fresh air a few times a day if possible. Studies are proving that we’re more creative and better at problem solving after a walk outside.

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For me, sometimes just stepping outside and feeling the breeze or the sun on my face helps me change my breathing and how I feel. If nothing else, it reminds me there’s a much bigger universe out there than what’s causing me anxiety, and much more powerful forces at work. I like that.

There are lots more ways to relax of course….pet your pet, yoga, floating on water, reading a wonderful book, spending time with friends…if you’ve found something that really brings you peace, please share. We all need it! I think as boomers, we realize more than ever that peace is not only something we’ve worked hard to achieve, it’s what all the struggles have been about.

 

 

“Why am I soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?”

                                   Paul Simon

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A Boomer’s Thanksgiving

It’s coming.

That moment around the Thanksgiving table filled with wondrous high-caloric temptations and goodies when some young relative innocently raises his or her said and utters the dreaded sentence:

Let’s go around the table and all say what we’re thankful for.”  

Uh oh.

By this point, you’ve either been in the kitchen since 4 a.m. and you’re mainly thankful for sitting down, or you’re already in a sugar-induced trance and you’re thankful for sitting down, or you’re trying very hard to keep from slapping someone and you’re thankful for sitting down.

But now the gauntlet has been thrown down.  You must appear to be somewhat intelligent.  Generous.  Considerate of those around you.  (Even though you’re convinced a few of them voted badly in the last election and maybe a few owe you money.)

Oh my, where is this tacky inner voice coming from?

Of course you’re thankful for good health. For the ability to see, walk and hear.  For friends and family.  For the food on the table, the roof over your head and the clothes you wear.  You’re truly grateful for it all, and you lift a sincere prayer for those who are not so fortunate.

And these days, there are far, far, far too many of those.

But just for a moment, take a look at the lighter side of gratitude.  The little things that maybe no one says out loud but several are thinking.  The little things that can make or break a day.

For instance, as a boomer, you might say you are grateful for:

Elastic.  

Naps.

Senior discounts.

Elevators.

Cheese dip.

More elastic.

The mute button.

Someone else bagging the leaves.

Indoor plumbing.

Chinese take-out.

Remotes.

Your favorite sweatshirt.  Socks.  Cap.

Watching the original “Bishop’s Wife” every holiday and feeling like Cary Grant and Loretta Young are right next to you.

A warm cat on your lap.

A warm dog lying across your feet.

Fat pants.

Not answering the phone after 8 p.m.

“Arthritis” caps on Alleve.

Eyeglasses.  Several pairs of eyeglasses. 

Knowing where these eyeglasses are.

Phoning an old friend and enjoying a happy hour over the phone.

Knowing your turkey and dressing turned out wonderfully because you’ve been making it longer than just about anyone else in the room.

Taking real joy in watching others and really understanding how precious life is.

And did I mention elastic?

As we get older, let’s embrace what we’ve earned…the right to sit back, breathe and enjoy it all…and focus on what really matters:  time together.  And maybe a little extra time on the couch!

 

“I am grateful for what I am and what I have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

     Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What you do (don’t) want.

You’d like to be thinner, but you enjoy pretty good health.

The car is really boring, but it’s paid for. 

He’s doesn’t share your values, but he’s willing to help in an emergency.

The fog is too heavy to see through, but the golden and red leaves covering the path under your feet are so lovely.

You’d really rather be over there, but you’re okay here.

It’s enough to make you crazy.  This whole back and forth of what we want, what we need and what we be better be careful we ask for.  Cause we might get it.

They say being able to delay gratification is a sign of maturity.  But what about the yearning for it that won’t go away?  The incessant buzzing like a mosquito in your ear that keeps telling you hey, you’re supposed to be someplace else.  Doing something else.  With someone else.  Living this other life.  You know, the one you live in your head.

Is it enough to practice gratitude every day?  Or do we have to go deeper….finding the shutoff valve in the very back of our head where our parents’ voices, our teachers’ voices, and whoever else we’ve invited to take up space keep telling us how it all should be.  As my mother used to say, “how the cow ate the cabbage.”

Technology isn’t much help.  Even though we’re boomers and we lived many years not having so many things at our fingertips, we’re getting spoiled too.  A recent Psychology Today article touched on how so many younger people have been conditioned to think everything comes as quick and easy as a Google search. Like relationships:

“Young people are lacking a sense of meaning and feeling unsatisfied at a deep level. Simultaneously, there has been a deterioration in the depth, reliability, and connectedness of friendships and relationships in general.  The reason, in part, for these unfortunate changes is that we have taken the values and expectations that we have learned through our relationship with technology, and applied them to all of life. And yet, immediacy and ease, as values for the more profound aspects of our existence, don’t work.”

Things take effort.  Change can hurt.  It’s not easy to get in shape.  Get a better job.  Make a scary move.  Cut all your hair off and dye your head pink.  Whatever it is, it’s not just going to happen.  You have to put in the effort.

Maybe sometimes the real lesson comes in just sitting in confusion.  Enduring the anxiety that arises when the way ahead is not clear.  Actually being still.

As Wendell Berry says:

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”

Could that be true?  If so, it’s actually kind of encouraging.  Because instead of feeling like you’re at the end of the road, it means there’s another path ahead.  One that will take you somewhere new and maybe unexpected…but maybe exactly where you need to be.

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit and think about it.  Go out and get busy.”

       Dale Carnegie

 

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