It has been a while since our readers have heard anything from us! Sorry! We hope to do better in 2016. First -time grandmotherhood for Jane and a job change for Annice made things a little crazy!I But, here we go again! Welcome back to Oops50, which should really be called Oops60 at this point, but we are fond of the original name! Here’s Jane’s first post for the new year. And, please, send us your posts!
I talked to my mother the other day. The only reason that is worth mentioning is that my mother is dead. Here is how it happened. I was driving by myself on a fairly long road trip—the perfect circumstance for me to think too much about things that are worrying me—and I realized that I was feeling overwhelmingly sad. I just had one of those awful, down-to-your-toes sadnesses, and the first thought that came in my head was “I wish I could talk to Mama right now.” That thought made me even sadder because one thing I miss more than anything since her death is the ability to pick up the phone and talk to her about things—bad and good—that happen in my life. But then, I had this thought: ‘why not just talk to her now?’ And then I entered this very strange place where I imagined myself dialing her number (since most of my conversations with her happened over our land line and not by cell phone!), and then I had a conversation with her.
First, I apologized for not calling in so long, and then I launched right in to telling her about everything that was on my mind. And, the next thing you know, I was crying—just like the old days. I talked and talked and cried and cried, about every last little thing that was bothering me, and as I talked and cried, I felt the muscles around my heart start to loosen up, and I could feel myself start to breathe a little easier, and I realized how much tension and worry I had been holding in. And then—and this is the really remarkable thing about it—I felt that tremendous sense of release and relief that I used to feel when Mama would say something as basic as “I hate for you to be feeling this way, darling” or, her standard, “Get some rest, and I know you will feel better.” It was as if Mama, from across the miles and years and clouds or whatever is between us had said, “Everything is going to be all right,” and, wonder of wonders, I believed her. And, for the rest of the day—and even now, a few days later, I’m still feeling the effect.
I have to say: I’m glad I was on a road trip when this happened and not driving down a street of my town. No one could see me or overhear me, so they couldn’t accuse me of losing my mind and hanging out with ghosts. But I had this urge to share this experience on the blog because I highly recommend it to those of you have a mother who has moved on to her reward: give her a call sometime!
What a treat for oops50 to have Glenis Redmond (poet – teaching artist – imagination activist) write a post for us. We’ve been secretly waiting for Glenis to turn 50, and before we knew it, she turned 51.
Who’s counting? Obviously the world is and everyday it speaks with many mouths and many television and internet eyes that reflect the many ways that I will never measure up.
When I am out of sync with myself and not aligned to my own stars, I take this projection personally. I listen to the critique and the opinions of the vapid. I down the chatter like greasy fast food. The poison enters my bloodstream and spreads so I don’t know where I begin and the toxicity ends.
This is when I fall prey to counting the ways that I don’t measure up: the number of crow’s feet around my eyes, the pounds on the scale, the dollars I have or do not have in the bank and my lovers or lack thereof.
I know better than to succumb to this useless counting of what is wrong, but I always adopt a myopic vision that is destructive to my spiritual and creative being. When I am in my holistic mindset I only count what’s right. So here is my list of what I know to be true on turning fifty-one.
Drinking tea makes me a better woman. The power is in the sipping of: Egyptian Mint, Ginger or Green Tea. The healing is in the slowing down to savor the moment. When I take time to drink a cup of tea at home or in my hotel room before I start my day of work. This mark indicates that I am on my mark. This ritual fills my gauge to full.
Fortunately and unfortunately I am not always on my mark. I don’t always stop to drink tea. I rush and get ahead of myself, because I am both a Dreamer & a Doer
The doer sometimes dominates the dreamer-poet.
The pros? I get things done.
Check the map and my odometer that teeters close to 350,000-miles.
I have performed and facilitated poetry workshops in every state except Alaska, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Idaho.
Travel does not always allow for my roots to sink deep.
I yearn for deepness:
South Carolina, my birthplace
I am from South Carolina, but not totally of South Carolina.
My family’s military trek made sure of that.
This makes me a seeker. I cross over man-made boundaries on the regular. Traveling is part of my vibration. I am served and fed well by crossing regional and cultural boundaries.
Collecting both rocks and stories ground me.
I always come back to my roots: South Carolina
The cons of my traveling? My mind races too. I rarely slow down.
My body is having its say by forcing me to slow down.
I have Adrenal Fatigue bordering on Adrenal Failure.
I do not sleep. I do not rest.
I often feel like a stranger.
North Carolina is where I gained my poetic wings.
There’s no Tiger or Tarheel in me. Ironically, orange and Carolina blue are my two favorite colors.
I wish I cared who was in the playoffs. I just don’t.
I was a cheerleader in high school and I did not care then about the sport on the field or court, I just loved being with the crowd: dancing and cutting flips feeling the high vibrations of people’s spirits.
I’m still a cheerleader. I’m an imagination activist. I help people to unlock their imaginations. We talk of what matters. Then, I tell them to write.
I found that when I was twelve what mattered to me:
I find solace and comradeship in good books – stories of overcoming. People who have traveled to their inner space and written about it: Zora Neal Hurston, Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Wangari Maathai and many more — generally stories of women. I study on how they have traveled this rugged terrain.
There’s struggle to being a woman.
I overcome those obstacles daily. What woman doesn’t?
I was born a feminist – womanist, yet I’m a lover of men unapologetically. I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. I love being a woman.
My mom is my best friend. Politically and religiously we are of two different ilks, but we have similar cores: Love! She is my touchstone.
My mama bought me an orange bike with turquoise rims for my 51st She gets me if not left of centered views. She says, “ride Glenis.”
The color orange in all its incarnations gives me life.
I’m a pacifist at all cost, yet I do not suffer fools lightly. I get this from my dad: Johnny C. Redmond
I am a weeper, but a warrior.
I was born into poverty.
I stand for the underdog. I was the underdog.
I still sometimes have an impoverished mindset.
Therefore, but by the grace of God go I.
I am not defined by my challenges.
My spirit radiates all colors.
I’m a traveler
Places I want to travel: Cameroon, Nigeria, Bahia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the English countryside.
I’m Afro-Carolinian. I love to dance: tribal, interpretative and funk.
It is my prayer – the way I talk with God.
I love to walk. I work out my worries with each step.
I don’t consider myself old, just an old soul.
YOLO rolls off the tongue (You Only Live Once) not mine, because I have been here before many times. I recognize lands and people from other eras.
I was an old soul when I was born, therefore turning fifty-one does not faze me. Yes, getting older has its challenges, but also being a person diagnosed with fibromyalgia at twenty-nine years does, too. Everyday I get out of bed is a challenge, yet it is also a victory.
My daughters, Amber and Celeste, are the most precious metal of my inner circle. They make the bright ring in my life glow with pride and joy. Now my grandson has joined this golden lineage. Oh yeah, I write poems. Here is my latest poem for my grandson. Julian teaches me everyday how to meditate on goodness and not on the standards by which the world measures me and finds me lacking. He has been here before and he is wise. I listen. Like tea, love makes me a better woman. Here is the poem I wrote for my grandson.
Grandma Waterfall for Julian Josiah Priester
My status has been upgraded
from mom to grandma–
who knew the heart morphed
I should have known the moment,
when my heart shape shifted,
when I gave birth to twins
two decades and five years ago:
from stream into raging river,
from the weakest trickle into a force of nature.
There’s no parent handbook
that foretold of the more I would become.
I looked into my inner pond
and I could see I had become more alive with giving.
I wanted to stay on earth
with the territory of my heart expanded –
pushing west with poetry and purpose:
the frontier of becoming mama
packing lunches and endless carpools
to school and soccer,
tucking babies into bed
and growing girls into beautiful women –
artists people with pen and brush
ready to right the world.
Now, to you the first son of our family
you have made me grand
the only royalty I will ever know:
a grand waterfall unable to contain what I hold.
A treasure : Julian Josiah
10 fingers: starlit
10 two toes: eager squiggles
cheeks: squishy pockets
earned you the nickname: The chipmunk gnome.
Your eyes: lit with the deepest shine, déjà vu remembrance.
Your birth weight: 9 lbs. 3 oz.
You’ll carry what’s been passed on: the walk of the ancestors.
This legacy also a burden,
but your legs will be sturdy
and worthy of the task
like Yusef Komunyakaa writes:
You were born
to wear out at least
one hundred angels.
Like Maya Angelou penned
You come as one but stand as ten thousand.
You will carry this load with wisdom
and an undeterred stride.
Julian, all is possible with you.
Unflinchingly I will sing
of the more I want to give you
what John Lennon dreamed
imagine there’s not countries
it is not hard to do
nothing to kill or die for…
Imagine all the people living life as one.
Julian I am a dreamer
it is all that have: the gift of my imagination.
Pour into these waters little boy
brother, son and grandson of the Universe
flow into this world
with dreams better
than the one I/WE are
handing to you.
I am here as Grandma Waterfall
also an eagle watching over you
with the lesson of water ever ready
gently guiding you to find your own flow
from black boy to black man
like Langston Hughes wrote,
I hope you’ll dream a world
where love will bless the earth,
because you are part of that blessing
lighting the world with the brilliance
of what you came to do.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing Glenis in person, catch her at TEDxGreenville or visit her blog.
I was dreading buying tires yesterday (don’t most baby boomer women feel the same way?) despite the fact that my two front tires were practically bald and my car was due to pass inspection. And yes, I know, the safety issue is critical. The problem is, it’s overwhelming and I hate anything to do with cars or their parts. In fact, if you remember I posted back in 2009 about buying my first brand new car ever when I traded in my 1989 Dodge Dakota pick-up with almost 200,000 miles. Loved that truck, but I ditched it for my new Honda Fit – thank you Mr. Obama for that cash for clunker deal.
As it turns out, Honda is very clever. While the Fit is a cheap mass market
car, Honda has tried very hard to make sure you buy the tires from them. In other words, OEM (tires), or original equipment manufactured products or components that are purchased by another company and retailed under that purchasing company’s brand name, i.e. Honda. How do I know this? The Honda Fit chat room, of course. I ventured there one late night looking for advice and a bargain. One smart guy had this to say. “Most stock OEM tires are garbage, and I suggest replacing them with something in a more common size. 185 55 16 is an odd ball tire size that will offer limited choices. Tirerack shows only 2 choices. Honda probably figures that most people will get frustrated and go back to their dealers for tire replacement at inflated prices. I suggest changing the OEM’s out with either 195 60 16 or 195 50 16. The 60 series tire will offer a softer ride with good handling and traction while the 50 series, though V and Z rated, offers a similar ride as the OEM’s but more affordable tires and brand choices.”
So you see, I need to change them out to 195 60 16 …and I set out to do just that. I started by calling all my local tire stores to see if they had two said tires for my Honda Fit. No one had them in stock but all could order them and have them in a day. All were more expensive than the Honda dealer, so Honda it had to be. Then, while doing errands yesterday, I saw a store called Discount Tires.
I parked the car, and as soon as I got out, a young smiling guy in a uniform came up to meet me in the parking lot, and asked if he could help. He ushered me inside, educated me on tires and basically shared the same info the Honda Fit forum did. He had the tires in stock, and they were almost $40 less than Honda and the local tire guys.
Twenty minutes later and a cup of gourmet decaf coffee (it was 5:30 p.m.) and I had my new tires. I wish I could have given my business to the local guys but $80 is a big savings. Guess I’ll have to spend it in a local restaurant this week-end.
Meet my friend Marjorie. I met her in Washington, D.C. back in 1982 or 1983 at our local gym on M St. We were sitting in the steam room, and she remarked how she hadn’t see me with my friend lately and wondered what happened. I told her she moved to Boston to go to back to school, and how much I missed her. She immediately reached out, and we became best friends after that. Neither Marjorie nor I are in D.C. anymore, and I wish we were closer. She has always inspired me to look for joy wherever it is. Here she is singing in a gospel choir, and here is her story.
I have always wanted to sing in a gospel choir. The energy and music is so uplifting. You can be in the biggest funk…tired, depressed, or overwhelmed with your day and your life, but when you start singing it’s as though you’ve been totally transported to another place and time.
When I lived in San Francisco I sang in two choruses. I never had a great voice, but good enough to be part of the choral group. One of my “gigs” was in the San Francisco Gay Men and Women’s Chorus. My next door neighbor at the time knocked on my door one evening and asked me if I liked to sing. Well, “yes” I said, but I’m not good. He said not to worry that it was just a fun group and they sang show tunes. It turned out to be a little more professional than I was, but I still enjoyed it, and realized what a high I got from singing. Then my “voice” went downhill (literally). I was really distressed over it, but the ENT guy I went to said it “wasn’t cancer,” but I would have to give up my operatic career. I fell over laughing.
So years went by without a song in my heart and last December, right before Christmas, my friend Nancy and I went to a local cafe here in Petaluma, (CA) for breakfast and the Wings of Glory was singing. I checked it out and low and behold they are here practically right in my backyard! The best things about this group are 1) you don’t have to audition 2) you don’t have to have a great voice and 3) there is no commitment to show up for rehearsals every week or attend the performances.
I haven’t missed a rehearsal yet! The members are some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. Last weekend we sang with the Oakland Interfaith Choir. You want to hear great voices….that’s the ticket. Any one of them could go on American Idol and win! There was also a Jewish A Capella group there called Vocolat and they were singing Hebrew and Yiddish songs…I felt more at home.
We are the token white gospel choir, but we have the spirit and the “moves.” We are invited to perform at a number of different venues. Churches, of course, but also wineries and other events around the area.
So, how is it, you ask, to be singing about Jesus for a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn? Well after all, Jesus was a nice Jewish boy from Bethlehem. And at least they both start with a “B”, right!? And, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods please come and hear us sing. You will be looking for a gospel choir in your area instead of a therapist!
My friend, Sue Counts, retired three years ago as the Director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Watauga County after more than 40 years in government. During her tenure, Sue initiated educational programs in the areas of sustainable tourism, sustainable energy, Hispanic outreach, and women in agriculture. Sue says, “At this point in my life, I’m seeking a better life for the Baby Boomers who are entering that stage of their lives known as ‘the senior years’.” So, when Dene Peterson, the founder of ElderSpirit Community came to Boone a few weeks ago to talk about her life’s work, Sue was there attending meetings about the possibility of creating such a community in Watauga County, NC. She graciously shares important information on “Retirement Housing.”
IT’S OFFICIAL! We are now in the “ERA OF THE GOLDEN BOOMERS!”. On January 1, 2011 the very first Baby Boomer turned 65, and 10,000 boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years. This gigantic generation has transformed America as they have passed through every stage of life…..and housing for the elderly will not be any exception.
Co-housing communities if you will! These communities bring together the value of private homes with the benefits of more sustainable living. That means common facilities and good connections with neighbors. All in all, they stand as innovative answers to today’s environmental and social problems.
According to Charles Durrett, author of Senior Cohousing Handbook — 2nd Edition, A Community Approach to Independent Living, “No matter how rich life is in youth and middle age, the elder years can bring on increasing isolation and loneliness as social connections lessen, especially if friends and family members move away. Senior co-housing fills a niche for this demographic — the healthy, educated and proactive adults who want to live in a social and environmentally vibrant community. These seniors are already wanting to ward off the aging process, so they are unlikely to want to live in assisted housing. Senior co-housing revolves around custom-built neighborhoods organized by the seniors themselves in order to fit in with their real needs, wants, and aspirations for health, longevity and quality of life.”
The ElderSpirit Community at Trailview in Abingdon, Virginia is the living example of a community of mutual support and late life spirituality. It is the first mixed-income, mixed ownership Elder Co-Housing Community in the United States and in this capacity it is making its way as it “walks the talk.” The founder of ElderSpirit Community is Geraldine “Dene” Peterson, a “spry” woman in her 80’s who recently received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 2011 National Cohousing Conference in Washington, DC.
At eighteen, Dene Peterson left her parents and ten siblings to join a convent. She ultimately chose to leave the religious order, but her spirituality remained deeply rooted. In 1995, at age 65, she created the ElderSpirit Community in Abingdon, Virginia. Inspired by a Danish model, Peterson wanted to form a co-housing retirement community that would allow friends to live together in a collaborative and supportive setting while also offering some of the autonomy of private dwellings. Peterson also envisioned an alternative to institutional long-term care, a place where community members would have the emotional support of their peers as well as the necessary medical assistance to live out their lives at home. Using a creative patchwork of funding from public and private resources, Peterson raised $3.5 million, and her vision materialized. Construction of the 29 residences, common community building, and a prayer room was completed in late spring of 2006 and houses both the moderate and low-income. The model has gained national attention, and an ElderSpirit outreach extension program in now helping to plan similar communities in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Kansas, and Virginia.
The ElderSpirit Community is dedicated to making possible new opportunities for Elders in the 21st Century. The ElderSpirit Community values are: To live in a community of diverse spiritual paths; To give and receive support in relationship with neighbors in community; To belong to a community who make the decisions on how they will live together; and To encourage each other to live simply and care for the earth.