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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.

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