Tag Archives: older-middle age

Seeing is Believing?

 

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I often find pennies when I walk. Twenty years ago, I found one next to a vacant lot in my neighborhood. My back was hurting so much at the time that I had trouble stooping to pick it up. I’d been suffering from back and neck pain for about a year. The anxiety crippling me came around the same time.

I was coming close to being agoraphobic. I was quiet about it—ashamed really. I could fake it pretty well so no one knew. I could manage the grocery store if I were alone. Driving, thank God, wasn’t an issue then.

When I saw a documentary about agoraphobia, I saw myself and knew I needed help. I got a referral and began seeing a therapist. I also took Paxil. Both the talk therapy and the medication helped me a lot. I also got into other types of therapy, like the emotional freedom technique and EMDR, which were beneficial on many levels. I read Jack Sarno’s book on emotionally triggered pain in the body. The panic attacks became less frequent and my physical pain almost disappeared.

The night before I found the penny in my neighborhood, my husband and I watched an Andrew Weill special on television. He told a story about finding four leaf clovers. “When I give a lecture, I’ll tell the audience, ‘If you believe you can find a four leaf clover, you will’,” he’d said. “Then during the break, people will go out onto the grounds and twelve will come back with a four leaf clover.”

This was unbelievable to me. I’d always been told four leaf clovers were extremely rare and you had to be extremely lucky to find one. Lucky pennies were a dime a dozen. Anyone could find one of those. You just had to look down.

That day, twenty years ago, I knew I wasn’t a lucky type, but since I’d bent down to get the penny, I decided to look in the grass, just in case. I leaned over, resting my hand on the grass. When I looked down, my thumb was on a four-leaf clover!

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I can’t tell you how I felt. My heart soared. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the only way I can describe my feeling. I still remember that sensation.

That’s the moment I look back on that started me healing. I began to believe in myself. I began to believe in the limitless nature of the universe. I started on a path of healing: physical, mental and spiritual. My fears quieted.

Believe it or not, I’ve found more than a dozen four-leaf clovers since then. Some were in my back yard, some were in Europe. I don’t look often, but when I do, I usually find one. I tell this story to my grandchildren and two have already found four-leaf clovers with me.

Seeing is believing, or is it if you believe, you’ll be able to see it?

 

 

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The Autumn of My Years: Indian Summer

This morning when I was swinging a bag of trash into the garbage can, two of the landscape guys drove by in their truck. They waved at me enthusiastically and I waved back. I think of them like nephews and give them cookies quite often. When I look at them I see two Hawaiian guys in their thirties—hard workers, strong and conscientious.

As I walked back into the house, I started wondering what they saw when they looked at me. I’m not sure why I went off on this tangent, but once the thought entered my head, I couldn’t let it go. How did they see me? Did they see me, the person I am? Or did they just see an old woman? Which led to the age-old question: who the heck am I, anyway?

I must admit I’d fallen into the trap of believing everything on my driver’s license was true except the birthdate—which is the exact reverse of reality. First of all, the picture hasn’t been changed for at least ten years—no way I look like I’m in my fifties. Then, my height is off—it’s less than the 5’6” recorded. Meanwhile, my weight is more—the weight posted is what I weighed after losing 15 pounds when I had malaria.

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I realized that there was a height issue when I began showing up as the shortest person in all the photos except for my two granddaughters. (Quinn, 12, is gaining on me fast but since Joeli is three, I think I have a little time there.) I guess I’d deluded myself that yoga and Pilates were keeping the space between my vertebra open, but I was beginning to wonder what was up. I mentioned it to my son who put me straight fast: “Mom, quit kidding yourself,” he said. “There’s no way you’re 5’6” anymore.”

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Okay then—so could there be other things I’ve been kidding myself about? Although I feel like I’m 48, I’d already figured out that was impossible as that same son just turned 45. But on the days my knee or back or shoulder or ankle doesn’t hurt, I feel just the same as I did in the twentieth century. Maybe even better.

I am not the same, I know. I look at life differently in the autumn of my years. While it is still my Indian Summer, I believe one of my major jobs in life is to enjoy each day—enjoy it the way I want to enjoy it instead of doing a million things or doing what someone else enjoys. In middle age, I was a multi-tasker extraordinaire. I thrived on it or so I thought. Because in reality, I was always exhausted and at the end of my rope.

It really is much better now. I do less and enjoy it more. This aging phenomena has its rewards!