A guest post from artist Jennifer Miller:
I was walking the dogs and thinking about different ingredients to try in my won ton wrappers.
When I tripped I was looking at the sky, a light rain kissing my face, and pondering little bits of fresh cayenne pepper, minced garlic and chopped shrimp. The ground came up at me so hard that I still wonder whether some spirit gave me a mighty shove.
When I hit, I heard something snap. I began a chant of expletives that lasted till I was in x-ray and being advised that I had a long path ahead toward recovery.
I got to be 58 without breaking a bone. But I wonder if being 58 had something to do with falling. Did my younger toes have eyes? Have my senses dulled?
I know other women, my age or older, who have also broken bones recently. The first question is “have you had a bone density test?” Lucky for me and my friends, none of us have osteoporosis. As my orthopedic doctor said, “You have good bones but bad luck.”
Yet I feel lucky. Aging isn’t all bad.
Experience is helpful: I paint with less constriction and more creativity.
When I plant a bush, I make sure the hole is big enough and there is sufficient mulch, which makes the bush happy too.
I can plan a meal and prepare it with pleasure, without mishaps (unless I drop the main dish while serving).
I know how to slow down and enjoy Summer.
It is rare that I feel depressed.
But something else is going on in my brain: Fog. More than before. Not being an attorney or teacher, I’m fine being lost in thought. But how could I forget to watch for roots on a path which I had walked for 30 years?
I am becoming airier. In this journey toward the ether, my core is dispersing a little.
It’s fine, I’m okay with it, except: Gravity is not my friend. If it weren’t for fear of falling, I would spend more time lost in thought.
Instead I trod carefully, and keep my eyes on the ground.
But whenever possible, I go swimming.
Jennifer Miller is a painter with a studio in downtown Hillsborough, NC.
Painting: Golden Day. Oil on canvas, 20 x24. To see more of Jennifer’s work, go to her website, http://www.waveoverwave.com/
Photo: The artist painting on the shore of the lower Cape Fear River. Photo credit, Jennifer’s sister, who is also an artist, Leslie Deede Miller.
My mom’s friend, Dr. Rolf Muuss, a psychologist, keeps this postcard on his desk. Translated from German, his native language, the card says:
A bad mood is a mistake in thinking.
Rolf, who was a professor for many years at Goucher College in Baltimore and lectured worldwide, taught me, on a recent visit to my mom’s retirement center, about Rational Emotive Therapy.
Stated simply, this is the idea that we can replace negative and sometimes irrational thoughts with more positive, rational ones.
Rolf will tell you that the idea of changing our thinking goes back to the ancient philosophers. Years ago, he began collecting quotes across the ages. He can recite them for you, in his wonderful German accent, if you stop in to pay him a visit.
But until then, I’ll post some lines from his collection here:
With our thoughts we make the world.
The art of living wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
We cannot forbid thoughts to fly in and out of our heads like birds. However, it is entirely up to us whether we allow them to build their nests there.
Do not worry about the past, because you will spend the rest of your life in the future.
Man is not what circumstances make of him, but what he makes of the circumstances that make him.
John Paul Sartre
Not what we experience, but how we perceive what we experience determines our fate.
Maria von Ebner Eschenbach
So the next time your mind starts spinning negative, upsetting thoughts, especially when the Great Pause is sending you into hormonal havoc, see what you can do to flip those thoughts into positive ones.
For in the words of the professor’s bright pink postcard:
A bad mood is a mistake in thinking.
I have a feeling I worry more about getting old than the average woman.
Hard to know for sure, but it seems that way from conversations with friends.
But I had a moment come over me like a voice from the universe.
On September 7.
Cliff and I were leaving the hospital in Charlottevsille, Virginia.
We’d just spent two hours with our brand new grandson, Mazen.
It’s okay, the moment said.
You’re the grandma.
He’s the baby.
That’s how it goes.
And the going is good!