Metamorphosis: 2017 Into 2018


Wow! It’s been a crazy year or three! After a highly negative year in 2016 with the elections and politics just plain getting ugly, that when 2017 began, I was hoping for a more positive turn in things. As for society, I hold little hope. The media continues its rant against the president which proves to me that journalism is officially dead. What we see on television, on social media sites and in the papers IS NOT journalism. It’s vicious, opining gossip, plain and simple.

We’ve seen an on going series of school shootings and that is escalating. Why? Because society has taken the power of parenting away from the parents with its paranoid concepts of “no child left behind” and the eradication of common life experiences like learning to lose gracefully, that success is not a permanent thing and that failure is not fatal. Kids, these days, don’t learn how to cope with the brutal realities of real life. They aren’t taught to strive for what they want in life. Instead, they focus on their smart phones and live their lives vicariously through that. Bullies have found social media a great way to take bullying to a higher, more cowardly level. Relationships have become disposable through social media, as well. Children simply don’t learn how to deal with the highs and the lows of reality. Suicide and shooting others has become their release or only way out. Parents need to take back the power and start effectively parenting again. Society needs to BACK OFF!

Technology has made all of us lazy! We have GPS installed on smart phones, in portable devices and installed in cars to ‘show us the way.’ We no longer rely on that wonderful spatial ability we were born with. What we used to do by using our brain is now provided with computers and other electronic devices. Food is way too convenient causing an epidemic in obesity. People are so hooked to their phones that they are oblivious to their surroundings. They must use them at all times; even when driving and walking! Even more scary are cars being developed to drive themselves!

Uber just tested one of their self-driving vehicles and it failed horribly causing a death! Really? Do we really need to relinquish the steering wheel to the computer? No thanks! I don’t want a car that can park itself or brake when it thinks it needs to. I don’t need a car that hackers can mess with! I don’t want machines replacing my brain’s natural capabilities! I don’t want a lazy body or brain!

You know, you lose it when you don’t lose it.

It just seems like people have stopped being people anymore.

This past year, I’ve been collecting quotes I read from Twitter and other sources. This one sums up what technology has done to our society. I’m inclined to agree:

“We live in a generation that is highly skilled at allowing connections to fade away. Because of social media and cell phones, we think people are replaceable, and that is silly. You cannot replace someone who is genuine, especially if they’re putting consistent effort out to be in your life. Appreciate them. Cherish them. Those people are GOLD!”

 

I don’t have a smart phone. Instead, my husband and I share a ‘burner‘ phone which we use mainly for safety, keeping it handy in the car in case of an emergency. I’m glad for that. My primary avenue of voice communications is still the land line.

Okay, so enough of the negative.

Early in 2017, my husband’s appendix had to be removed. This was the first serious ‘anything’ that had happened to him medically! It really shook him up so we decided that we could use to clean up our health a little. Both of us had extra weight to lose.

So, we started power walking. At first, we just walked quickly around the neighborhood. Then, we took it to the beach for a while but the tides often were such that we couldn’t walk there as often as we wanted. Then, our routes started getting longer out on the street. Now, we walk/run over three miles every other day or so. He walks it, mostly and I now run it mostly, if my back isn’t angry. We have become such a fixture in our neighborhood that for some, it’s a thing to spot us out on the road and tell us about it later. People wave at us! Even a neighbor began walking with her friend because she was inspired by our walking and the results of regular exercise.

In June, for a birthday present to myself, I began swimming 3/4 to 1 mile twice a week, but the pool closed in September. Yoga has been something I’ve been practicing for several years now and I’ve taken that to another level now. This year, I’ve now added regular visits to the gym on base for at least an hour in the Hammer Strength room to work the weight machines, followed by 30 or more minutes of cardio from spinning and the cross-training elliptical machines available there.

We both have lost about 40 pounds and we look great for a couple 60 year-old folks! My heart rate is down in the lower 50 beats per minute and I’m not taking statins anymore. I took myself off them when I started getting serious leg cramps in the hamstrings. Once I stopped taking them, the cramping stopped also.

When 2017 began, I was determined to have a more positive year. I realized I would have to rely on my own choices to make that happen. My husband had been ‘retired’ for three years, by that time.

By being retired, we both no longer work but we still don’t draw any pensions or retirement income. We’ve been living off my little VA disability stipend and our savings. It had been working just as planned. His Navy Reserve Retirement was expected to kick in on his birthday in July, last year.

Well, it didn’t and still hasn’t because they are seriously backlogged in Millington, TN. On my husband’s birthday, our health care stopped because the military healthcare system had no way to ‘see us.’ We weren’t Navy Reserve Retirees before 60 anymore and his retirement hadn’t been processed, so we fell into a grey area.

For health care, I do have the VA to fall back on, if I need to, but he doesn’t because he does not have a VA disability rating. Using the VA for health care is like pulling wisdom teeth. So much paperwork BEFORE even getting to be seen. So, I would ONLY use it in an emergency. So, to this date, I have not used the VA for health care.

So, what is the logical thing to do when health care is not an option? Lay low and focus on being healthy which we were already doing, but now, we had even more reason to do so!

We took a risk and drove to Boise to visit my sister and see her new home. There, she turned me on to making my own smoothies! After a lot of trial and tasting, I think we’ve got a very healthy, tasty smoothie recipe. That recipe will be shared in another post.

So, for the most part, we stayed close to home and just played locally, fishing from the beach and crabbing; picking black berries and growing strawberries… Just simple activities. Our fishing season was terribly short this year, but the crabbing was pretty good.

I’ve fallen in love with spicy peppers. I love them all! I discovered the pain relieving properties of them! The capsaicin is great for arthritic pain; especially when ingested! They also are great for your digestion and metabolism. So, they go into everything! I put them in my smoothies; they go in salads; I sneak them in sandwiches; they accompany eggs. I stuff them as a healthy side dish in meals and snacks. I have a couple stuffed pepper recipes to share in other posts.

The rest of the year was spent doing anything and everything to help my husband’s retirement get processed. There have been monthly phone calls and emails. Suggestions and questions. Still no retirement. However, we were finally able to get our health care ‘turned back on,’ last week. Financially, because we actually do live WITHIN our means and not over it, we’re okay. That first retirement check will be a nice one when it finally gets here. So, we’ll be okay.

I was able to blog fairly regularly for a few years, but since my husband retired, blogging has become difficult to do. I need time alone with my thoughts to write. I had that when he was still working but now, he is around all of the time. That’s not a bad thing, really, but it does hamper writing.

One thing I’d need to convey RIGHT NOW about retirement. It is something you HAVE to plan for. You must save and invest wisely to have a good retirement. Pay off your mortgage and your vehicles (toys, too) before you decide to quit working. The less bills you have to deal with, the better.

Also, stopping working does not mean the “Glory Days” have begun. One of the first things I learned about being a married couple in the early days of retirement: you learn if you really LIKE who you are living with when you are with them 24/7! Truly!

It is fairly easy to LIKE your spouse when one or both of you is still working. However, when you are around each other every day, all day, you really learn HOW MUCH you LIKE your partner.

Some days we don’t like each other at all! Yes, we fight, but that fighting is how the both of us re-establish boundaries and negotiate space. Learn to apologize and really mean it. That becomes important. It’s not the fights that kill a relationship, it’s what happens after the fight, that does.

Have a plan for what you’d like to be doing once you stop working. Write it down!

Before I stopped working, I wrote out a list of things I’d like to do when I stopped working. On that list was photography, writing, travel, and a bunch of other things. In the first few years after I stopped working, I did some travel with my mom, I bought some cameras and started shooting, set up my blog and started writing, and even had a studio built to paint in. I have more than enough hobbies! My days, on my own, are easily filled with all kinds of activities.

My husband, on the other hand, did not have a clue what he would be doing after he stopped working. He knew he’s be fishing during fishing season but that’s just part of the year. He realized he didn’t have any real hobbies! So, he is now trying to discover what interests him. In the process of that, I am there but that takes me away from what I like to do.

So, this year has become one to clean up my health, help fight a retirement battle, help my spouse to discover his interests and just become more spiritual and balanced. I may not get to write as often as I would like to but I’ll figure it out. It’s all about balance.

I’m still in a metamorphic state. I suppose I always will be, to some degree. Personal growth is an ongoing thing for me. I’m not one to believe that once I’ve reached a certain age, that I’ve done all the growing and maturing I’ll ever do and just not work at it anymore.

NO! Life is a journey!

I may not be able to fix the world, but I can effect change in small yet significant ways. I hope to set an example of positive action and inspire others to make positive changes for themselves and the world around them.

We are at the end of March, 2018. The first quarter of the year has nearly passed. I think this year will be a much more positive year than the last two or three. I feel some very good things beginning to happen!

Writer’s Block turned out to be more about Writer’s Interruptus. I hope this year, that won’t be so much an issue. Just glad to be back in the proverbial ‘saddle,’ writing on my blog site.

I’ve missed this!

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