Helpful and encouraging thoughts, stories, and home tips from seasoned Mom, Kim Skinner.

Undercover anger graphic

Undercover Anger Can Hurt

Are you a hothead? Ever experienced steam from the ears, a blazing face or a torrent of words soon regretted? That’s it.

 

Just in case this is not you, be forewarned. Research reveals that hidden anger can be just as detrimental to your health as it is for the hotheads among us.

 

When two groups of healthy people are compared, one confessing to anger issues, Dr. Dave Montgomery of the Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta (WebMD) asserts that this single factor, anger, affects future wellness. In fact, this group is 19% more likely to develop heart disease than the “non-angry” group. So what about those individuals who are unaware of their anger?

 

I’m Not Mad…

 

Since hidden anger is just as deadly as self-confessed anger, health professionals are attempting to promote awareness.  Several experts including Dr. Gregory L Jantz Ph.D., founder of A Place for Hope, have developed various checklists for self-evaluation. (Psychology Today and All About Counseling) Here are just a few signs for consideration:

 

-Frequent sighing or clearing the throat

-Irritability or grumbling

-Overly controlled monotone speaking voice or excessively precise diction

-Clenching or grinding of the teeth

 

I’m Not Mad, I Just Have Problems…

 

Anger causes pain. Popping Advil may help but merely treating pain isn’t enough. We should strive to unearth any root cause.

 

  1. Identify It

I was diagnosed with clinical depression over ten years ago. Medication has helped immensely but, periodically it is not enough. My ever-helpful and sometimes infuriating psychiatrist informed me that unresolved anger can contribute to depression. Angry? Me?

 

  1. Analyze it.

Middle age has also driven me to dental specialists. It seems that I have exceptionally strong jaws due to regular workouts by clenching. Three cracked teeth suggest I have been processing stress in a silent but destructive manner. Stressed? Me? Ok, but I’m not angry am I?

It took some digging but I found it. I’m mad about getting old. I’m mad because I can’t run anymore. Heck, walking causes pain. I’m mad about the teeth that keep cracking up. Ok, I sometimes clench because I’m mad at discourteous drivers. And I’m mad about…oh, I forget what else I’m mad about… Oh yes, I’m mad about losing my memory! Do you blame me?

Thoughtful analysis revealed that I have unrealistic selfish expectations. In the absence of “blow up” expressions of anger, I minimized my true emotions and sabotage the proper processing (and perhaps healing) of them.

 

  1. Deal with it

This is the embarrassing part. Here it is. I am not in control of the universe. I cannot defy the aging process or traffic laws. Even my temperament was imparted to me at birth. Resentment accomplished nothing but further destroying my middle aged health. What to do…

 

I need serenity. I pray:

Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and for wisdom to know the difference (Reinhold Niebuhr).

 

Anger is hard-wired in our DNA and can be appropriate and even helpful. Nevertheless, a healthy dose of self-awareness and serenity can stave off self-abuse.

sewing mends

Sewing Mends the Soul

 

For years my family has harassed me for disappearing to my sewing room for hours at a time. I’ve been known to lap quilt during sporting events which always raises an eyebrow. Some call me a nitwit but I will not be dissuaded! It’s good for my mental health!

 

Lately I’ve been on a Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens kick. As I read through the pages women are thoughtfully engaged in problem-solving as they stitch patiently. I can do that.  My grandmother taught me to knit, crochet and needlepoint as a child and I have since enjoyed the sense of accomplishment as well as the therapeutic value of my labors. I feel better as I stitch and I’m not alone. Today, health professionals back me up.

 

Keep Calm and Sew On

 

Pain specialist Monica Baird says that knitting is only one form of handwork that actually changes our brain chemistry. Stress hormones, known to be destructive throughout the body, decrease as serotonin and dopamine are released to do their magic.

 

My Soul is Fed with Needle and Thread

 

Some studies have shown that needlework activates the same area of the brain as yoga or meditation.

Dr. Herbert Bendon – director of the Institute for mind, body and medicine at Massachusetts General and Associate  Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School asserts-

 

“Rhythmic repetitive needlework helps to prevent the disruptive influences of stress, chronic pain and depression”. (PRLog.org)

 

 

Oh, by the way, the computerized monogramming machine I bought actually stressed me out. Sewing the old-fashioned way seems to be the ticket. Maybe it’s just me.

 

Quilting…It IS Cheaper than Therapy

 

Honestly, before I knew that I needed therapy, I perceived that needle work soothed me. In the swirl of raising five children, driving endless carpool miles and attending ballet and sporting events, needlepoint, cross-stitch or quilting accompanied me at no charge.  And yes, therapy can be quite expensive ranging from $50-$300 an hour.

 

Creative Mess is Better than Tidy Idleness

 

“Needlework forms the tiny balancing point between being able to cope and not being able to cope. “Shared one chronically depressed woman after engaging in sewing therapy. (Bura.brunel.ac.ak)I have personally witnessed this. This example stands out.

 

A dear friend fought and slowly lost her battle with bone cancer. The paralyzing pain was tempered as we by took a quilting class together. Once we got over the awkwardness of accommodating for wheelchair, fatigue, etc. our imagination took wings and we pieced a quilt for her young son.  We found joy in the shared endeavor.

 

Being creative is not a hobby, it is a way of life

 

As women age we experience increased discomfort that can lead to inactivity. . Occupational therapist Theresa Leto from the Findley University UK suggests an athletic approach to needlework.

1.Begin by warming up the hands and stretching.

2.Invest in quality equipment (clip on magnifier, special lighting, needle threaders etc.)

3.consider each needlework session to be a sprint and not a marathon.

4.Don’t get discouraged.

 

When life throws you scraps, make a quilt

 

OK, you may not even know what a fat quarter of fabric is. Your hands may never have threaded a needle. You made disdain Victorian embroidery but none are exempt from life’s disturbances and assaults. Creativity is the answer! Use your hands to make something useful. Take the time to make something beautiful. At the very least, make something and share it!

 

Grow an herb garden

Take a needlepoint class

Join a sewing guild

Cultivate flowerbeds for inner-city schools

Crochet throws for cancer victims

 

A stitch in time can become sublime! Give it a try.

 

 

mentalhealthdesign

Speaking of Mental Health….

My brain chemistry is wacky and I’m not alone. Will you help?

 

Great! So I was leaving the psychiatrists office yesterday gripped by the memory of how embarrassed I used to be coming and going from a mental health facility. I’ve always hated to appear weak or to be THAT “depressed” person people kindly avoid in the grocery store. Even my husband has encouraged me to keep “it” to myself at times. Not anymore! The crazy cat’s out of the bag.

 

I guess I’ve always known myself to be a bit flaky. As a young girl I often heard, “Kim, you are just too sensitive” and “She’s prone to tears” or “Oh don’t mind her. She can be overly dramatic at times. ” It wasn’t until my family endured multiple episodes of weeping and hopelessness that I was diagnosed and treated for a depressive disorder. Honestly, stigma is nothing compared to medicated relief!

 

I remember when Pastor Rick Warren (author of Purpose Driven Life) and his wife, Kay lost their son Matthew, to suicide and 2013. Matthew’s lifelong battle with mental illness compelled his parents to launch “The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church”, a three-day conference to promote refuge, love and compassion for the millions of people suffering from mental illness. Last October, Saddleback Church began a proactive movement to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. Now THAT’S encouraging!

 

I love these words delivered by Rick Warren,

 

“The chemistry in your brain is not your character, and your illness is not your identity. If you are a follower of Christ who struggles with mental illness, your struggle does not define you. Jesus defines you!”

 

As one who struggles with mental illness and is aware of so many more like me, I am encouraged to hear people talking about it. I am grateful to have the full support of my husband and family to speak publicly about my personal experiences with mental illness. Since 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness this year, chances are that we are rubbing shoulders with those who suffer in isolation.

 

So what can you do?

 

  1. Educate yourself on the various types of mental illness. Seek out resources like hope4mentalhealth.com or National alliance on mental illness (NAMI.org)

 

  1. Recognize that many families affected by mental illness struggle fear of exposure, guilt and shame. Seek ways to gently help and encourage. I.e. Listen, affirm, accompany to appointments, babysit, etc.

 

  1. Have realistic expectations. Sometimes life gets messy. Remain calm and available.

 

  1. Convey hope. Perhaps begin a support program at your church.

 

Hope for Mental Health Ministry

Starter Kit. ( store.pastors.com)

 

If you or someone you love has a story to share, let me know. We need to keep talking about it!

AYTTYdesign

Are You True to Yourself?

I’ll admit that I am still feeling guilty about the bags of Butterfinger Bites I ate over this past Spring Break. In addition to the hours of baseball games, sunbathing, and binge eating, I enjoyed rereading Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Eyre. Now THAT girl was true to herself!

 

As the tragic man that she loved (who was also married) begged her to love him, she  declared:

 

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane and not mad – – as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth – – so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane – – quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart is beating faster than I can count it’s throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by. There I plant my foot. ”

 

In his book “Yoga and the Quest for the True Self” Stephen Cope says:

 

“People feel profoundly like they’re not living from who they really are…The result is a sense of near desperation.”

 

It may be that I am just coming down from a sugar high, but I believe that I feel that near desperation. Who am I anyway? Am I the poised middle aged woman of conviction who can plant her foot like Jane Eyre? Or am I an undisciplined immature binge eater doomed for self destruction?

 

I recently read an article from Psychology Today by Karen Wright entitled “Dare to be Yourself: Being True to Oneself is Not for the Faint of Heart”(May 1 2008, Nov 4, 2014)

 

Three symptoms of self-estrangement are enumerated.

 

  • The vague sense of dissatisfaction
  • The feeling of emptiness
  • The sting of self-betrayal

 

Yikes! Guilty as charged. You too?

 

Sometimes it feels as if I hardly know myself. Demoralizing as that may be, I am comforted to know the One who truly knows me. He had integrity when no one was looking and kept His promise to pay the price for my weak will. He tells me who I am in Him and comforts my soul.

 

If you’re like me you need a reminder ever so often! We are weak but He is strong! We will stumble but He will not let us go!

 

I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is always at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8

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Lonely? Let’s Join Around the Campfire

I have been caught several times of late hiding in my own house. Other times I have been discovered parked in an empty lot – busy in my own car.

When asked about my curious behavior I simply respond, “I’ve got a lot of things to get done and this way I can do them uninterrupted.”

What may have begun as a sincere desire to be productive has morphed into a compulsive hunger for isolation. And you know what? I’m lonely!

I know I am not the only one. Research from CentreForum suggests that 1 in 10 patients visit their general practitioner simply because they are lonely. “Loneliness is not a physical state of being but an emotional one” states Rabbi Phillip Ohriner in his article on loneliness. Everyone experiences various degrees of loneliness but, sometimes, this pain is self-inflicted.

I have observed in myself and others a pattern or progression of thought which contributes to loneliness.

  • “I can’t take these people anymore. I’m done! “Our weariness and frustration is overly simplified and blamed upon those around us. So… We take a step back.
  • Slight irritation creeps up and we attempt to control our environment a little more. “I just need more of…something and less of those people who get in my way.” So… We go back to step number one.
  • The above cycle seems to repeat itself over and over as we become more and more isolated, grumpy, and self-absorbed.

Has this ever happened to you? The urge to self-protect and blame-shift can seem irresistible.  It can be initially freeing but requires more and more steps backward. It’s addictive!

Many years ago I attended a three-week-long survival experience in the Boundary Waters Canoe area of Minnesota. For most of the time our group of 12 individuals learned to work together and seemed to unite best around the campfire at the end of each day. There we found warmth as well as nourishment. It was also the place where, shoulder to shoulder, we grew in our understanding and appreciation of each other.

Towards the end of this trip each of us was dropped off at an isolated place to “survive” for three days and three nights…alone.

We had no tent but were given a meager ration of food. We were able to build a fire each night, but the warmth revealed to me in a surprising way that something was missing. It was people! It was those annoying weird friends! Upon our reunion, every member admitted to craving human relationship – even the least gregarious!  Surprisingly, we all needed each other.

I recently heard this very helpful illustration.

Imagine a group of people circled around a fire. They not only experience the warmth of the fire but the warmth of community as well as they stay shoulder to shoulder engaging in dialogue, inquiries, and even thoughtful silences.

Imagine, that for whatever reason, some individuals take a step back from the fire and each other. As they experience a chill, they must protect themselves by layering on another jacket. Each step backward results in more pronounced inward thinking. Further alienation results as the layers of self-protective covering grow. Those who were once united by warmth and comfortable self-revelation are now divided by the threat of further chill and the suspicious neediness of others.

The glowing campfire symbolizes our Creator-God: The Author of self-giving Love itself. Drawing near to Him can sometimes feel confining but it produces that for which we are made: to love God and to love others.

Who does not want to be surrounded by self-giving friends and coworkers? Who honestly wants to live alone with cynicism and bitterness?

The only choices I can see are these:

I can remain immovable as I continue to apply layer after self- protective layer-all the while fearing and resenting those around me.

Or,

I can draw near to the campfire-both receiving it’s warm and welcoming the touch of those on either side.

I need continual reminding from loved ones to draw near to the campfire. It’s in giving that we receive. I need continual reassurance! It’s in BEING loved that we CAN love.

OK, I may be alone in a parking lot as I write this, but I’M GOING IN! I’m stepping earnestly toward the campfire. I’m shedding some layers and I’m waiting for you. Won’t you join me? Together we can be a part of the healing of loneliness.

 

 

Twin Crazy Nana Nutkin

I was not born a twin but descended from a colorful one. My great grandfather Basil Hampton Blakeney was one and also had a pair of twin brothers. He was lovingly called B. H. or “Bonehead” by the family.

Although I thought that twins would be fun, I was blessed with five children spread out over 17 years. (Never had two in diapers at the same time. I guess I couldn’t have said that if I’ve had twins.)

 With one son beginning his senior year in high school and another beginning seventh grade, you’d think my life was calming down.

But no! My “over-achiever” son and his wife delivered twin girls last week. AND six days later my daughter had her first girl. My cup runneth over!

After delivering my grandson to his first day in pre-K 4, I discovered that the strain of it all had rubbed off on him.

“I hear you have a new baby sister,” the teacher said.” What’s her name?”

He stuttered, “Charlotte?” “No,Olivia?”

I saved him, “Your baby sister’s name is Lainey”. But even I had to stop a minute to think it through.

I read that research from the University of Utah reveals that the mothers of twins tend to live longer than mothers of singles.
That may be right but I’m thinking it may reduce the longevity of the grandmothers. Ya think?

I also read that once you’ve had a set of fraternal twins you are three or four times more likely to do it again. Woopee!

Honestly my husband and I have truly enjoyed having our grandsons home with us while their mother and father recover from having little Lainey. But I can’t help but believe that the younger generation recovers a heck of a lot more quickly than we do.

The first time I saw the twin girls roll their heads together my heart melted. How wonderful to have such closeness and intimacy. A study in Italy suggests that in utero twins deliberately begin interacting with each other as early as 14 weeks. I guess the fighting doesn’t begin until 32 months later.

 I suppose, sadly, that I have become lazy, grumpy and selfish. Where is the mother who tirelessly stripped the soiled sheets every morning, packed the lunches and drove the tots to kindergarten? I guess she became the grandmother who now only has to take her self-sufficient 13-year-old to and from school, football, etc. AND this blessed teen helps me with my grandchildren!  How did I ever make it without him in raising his four older siblings?

I commend my grown children for their courage and hope. I did warn them. “Once you have children your life is forfeit. There’s not much time for selfishness. The life of a mother is characterized by patience and self-sacrifice!” How beautiful to see that in my children.

Reese surprised me the other day with another statistic. “Mom, it says that there’s a higher chance of having twins after you’re 50.” I assured him that I was pretty sure that no 14 week fetuses would be frolicking in my womb anytime soon.

In the meantime- and with the promise of school starting next week- I am hopeful to conquer this melancholy and old age fatigue. (Oh, did I mention that I fractured my foot while mountain biking with my middle child?) There’s no self-pity here, really!

Seriously, I am over the moon delighted with my three precious granddaughters. I am immensely proud of their parents and grateful that they are such giving capable adults. My hats off to all the parents of twins out there. May their energy and tribes increase. And to the grandparents who love them—Lets just hang on.

com con 2

Living and Hoping

I recently experienced a bout with depression and was gripped by the accompanying hopelessness. Despite what I knew to be true, my emotions usurped rational thought and dragged me down. With proper medication, good counsel, and time I believe that I am, finally, on the mend. Whew!

Over the past year I have had the privilege of getting to know many homeless women who have real physical reasons for depression. Many have been abandoned and abused. For others, family members have taken advantage and refused to help with bills and other responsibilities. Sudden and debilitating illnesses have robbed many women of their jobs and the resource to pay rent. Talk about depressing…

The Davis Center at Community Connections houses homeless women and provides transitional housing and rehabilitation to 80 women at a time. For up to two years women are assisted in financial planning, job-training, academic accreditation, counseling and medical care. I have been amazed as depressed and sometimes angry women find hope.

During our recent monthly “Women’s Empowerment” dinner we discussed how hope has two components: expectations and specific desires.

Expectations:

I was not surprised to discover that most of the women believed (when they were teenagers) that they could expect an easier life, happiness, and love. Those who were cared for by capable mothers or grandmothers took them for granted. Others grew up in abusive situations and believed that escape would produce freedom. In many ways my teenage expectations were similar.

Desires:

I have always possessed a deep desire to be loved. My friends at Community Connections are no different. We all desire to have a purpose. We want to be respected and understood. Unfortunately the way that I sought to fulfill that desire was in ways that hurt me. I abused and overmedicated my body to achieve “fame” in modeling. I still have a voice in my head that says, “If you were just thinner you would be happy.” We all have stupid voices in our head, don’t we?

Last night, as we sat in a big circle, I was enthralled to hear the many ways women have awakened to their need to silence such destructive voices. Their expectations have changed and they are now prepared for a life of self-determination, self-sacrifice, and hard work.

Their desires may not have changed fundamentally, but they are gaining wisdom in learning how to best achieve these goals.
One woman shared, “I know my mama loved me but she never treated me with dignity.”

The hope for these women is to get on their feet and live productive lives. They are learning to avoid the spiral of debt and poverty. Fortunately, the statistics show that the Davis Center produces long-term success. Most of these women will never face homelessness again! That’s great news.

Unfortunately I find that many of my desires are more selfish and actually elusive.
  I want to be a perfect size 8
  I want my face to be free from those unsightly lines and wrinkles
  I want to spend the rest of my days happily married to my husband
  I want my energy level to stay like it was in my 20s and I never want to be sick

  Obviously these desires are setting me up for dashed hopes.
After all, my expectations must be realistic. I am over 55 years old. These things happen!!!

So what is my hope?

Last night I learned from a beautiful young woman. She said, “My hope is that I will leave a legacy for my children… one of faith and hard work… one of hope and a future.”

I like that, don’t you?

Travel-blog

Summertime and Going Places

 

A summer vacation may not be possible for you this year but that does not mean you are stuck. Attitude is everything. Forget time travel and choose to travel intentionally through the next months. Perspective can lift your spirits and change your life even in the hottest dog day of summer.

I’M GOING SOMEPLACE
For me it seems that my children travel more than I do. My youngest took a six grade trip to the Keys. My middle child is now married and has experienced a honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico, and is now living in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Most of the miles I travel this summer are for the purpose of feeding people, meeting people, and entertainment.

The choice is before me. I can resentfully go about my daily activities dreaming of the exotic vacation spots I am missing OR I can renew my sense of purpose and enjoy the ride.
*I’ll attempt to encourage people along the way
*I’ll choose to be grateful and to focus on the beauty I perceive around me
*I’ll attempt to make every step count to create beauty or enable healing for those in my community

I’M NOT TRAVELING ALONE
Somethings are just better shared. The joy of experiencing a great movie is increased when others come alongside. My eyes are opened when I discover others wide-eyed with awe.

Traveling together can come in many forms. Perhaps a new book that I just finished could be shared with the neighbor and discussed upon its completion.
I have found that investment in the lives of those from other cultures has been a life-changing experience for me. I will always love the phrase “Come with me!” and the words of Dr. Seuss “oh the wonderful places we’ll see”.

CHECK YOUR WORLDVIEW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
A number of my good friends and family are debilitated at this time. Less than a year ago I was frightened as I struggled with memory loss.  We all dream of a beautiful land far, far away. We desire rest, stimulation, and the pristine beauty of something wonderful. Don’t we?

I have not traveled extensively, but the places I have encountered, wonderful as they were, failed to create a perpetual sense of happiness and contentment.

As I have embraced the classical Christian worldview I have been able to lament the horrors and brokenness around me without needing to hide from it. I have also discovered the seemingly mundane visions around me to be signposts for something that is to come.

SOMEDAY I’LL TAKE A TRIP

If my worldview is self-contained -(if this world is all there is)- then desperation, finality, and despair are sure to result. But if this world is not all there is, then this life is not limited to the breaths that I take.  If this world will someday be re-created (as I believe) then we have the hope of experiencing all the beauty in everything we missed. Just think about it.
*Read a book about an exciting mountain-climb knowing that someday you will experience the height and grandeur of those mountains and MORE! AND you will never grow bored with the experience nor fear personal injury.
*Care for the needs of an immigrant or a special needs child knowing that someday there will be no foreigners and every child will belong and never shed a tear.
*Take a walk in the park and look to the treetops. As you watch the birds in flight and listen to their singing know that someday we will soar on wings like eagles and never grow weary.

Do you have itchy feet? I invite you to join me in a “stay – cation” that will blow your hair back and leave you wide-eyed and hopeful.

Kim Skinner | Community Connections | Friends

Friends In Strange Places

A year ago, I volunteered to help homeless women at Community Connections. I host the monthly event “Women’s Empowerment Night” and have had high hopes of really helping these women. Month after month, I have prepared their meals, slowly discovering how much they appreciate food. Others have joined me to bake terrific desserts and they are served with smiles and laughter. I have designed motivating talks in hopes of making recovery better for these fifty women who are so deserving of support.

Community Connections provides a residency-training program that rehabilitates, trains, and counsels women on the road to a productive life. Some are college educated. Some are grandmothers. Others have been abused and are fearful of the world they live in. Many of them have their children in-residence as well. I have truly enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Repeated contact and the passing of time together have helped us to become friends. Laughter and shared experiences have been, I believe, stripping cultural and racial barriers.

It feels good – helping in some small way. But I was so surprised this month to experience their help and encouragement for ME!

They may not think white girls are very sexy. Who knew? Yet, I have discovered that many of them truly care about THIS white girl.

As they were leaving, I received many hugs and kind words about our family’s upcoming wedding and the nearing birth of three granddaughters.

I felt surprised. They care?

I felt exhilarated. They care!

I feel humbled.

I’ve always taught that letting people into your life and steadfastly “being there” is the best way to befriend someone. I guess I never really expected for these women to befriend ME!

Sometimes life surprises us! How sweet it is!

Kim Skinner | laugh | motivation | humor |

Finding Humor In Aging

It’s tough to find humor in aging…especially when we can’t remember where we put our car keys.

I took a four-hour memory test at Mayo clinic last week. In preparation, I downed two tablespoons of coconut oil and wore my “smart looking” glasses. I trimmed my nose hairs and put on my false teeth. As I was buckling my sensible shoes, I recalled the words of George Burns,

“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.”

I wondered, and then forgot what I was pondering…

The psychiatrist was young, perky, and pregnant. I asked if this was her first child. She smiled knowingly and said, “It’s my third,” like she was SO well seasoned. I wanted to spout, “Look at THIS!” as I pointed to my Spanx-pressed bosom.  “THIS is well seasoned!”

Instead, I asked her where the little girl’s room was located.

Upon returning, she asked about my energy level. Is my exhaustion so visible? I explained, “I stay pretty busy. I’m at that age where I’m experienced at doing everything but I’m not decrepit enough to turn anybody down.”

Does this mean that I am outgrowing middle-age? I wondered.

I was ushered into a “testing” room and introduced to a tiny, young technician. She kindly asked if there was anything she could do to make me more comfortable – like a heating pad might make it all better.

Why am I here? I thought with my bottom lip trembling. Oh yes, I keep forgetting things.

To keep the tears at bay, I remembered that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile… Wait is that right?

Maybe it’s that exercising my Kegel muscles is a good way to burn calories… Whatever.

The testing commenced.

Who has ever needed to be able to repeat nine numerals from memory…backwards?

Is recognizing and identifying a picture of an accordion a good thing or a bad thing?

If you see a tree branch fall in the forest but later forget about it, did it happen?

What if you can’t remember where the forest was?

The four hours of testing was completed. I decided to forget most of it. After all, some memories are better off not being recollected.

Famished, I stopped by the cafeteria and actually looked twice at the tapioca. I settled on the stewed prunes. Just kidding!

I reminded myself (while I could still remember) that some degree of memory loss is a natural part of aging. Half to 2/3 of all 50- to 65-year-olds notice it, but it remains a minor irritation.

And here’s more good news. During the time when our hair is growing white and sprouting from our ears, researchers demonstrate that our brains are still growing new neurons.  This is beneficial because neurons making new connections with other neurons means we can improve our memories during our old age. Cool!

So…I’m writing this blog about memory loss and forgot to pick up the carpool for early-morning workouts. Where are those NEW NEURONS when I need them?

Maybe finding humor in aging is the best I can hope for. If I get around to finding what else I lost, what’s left of it may not be worth finding.