Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not Another Christmas Letter

If we’d known, as kids, that adulthood contained things like stirrups and “Turn your head and cough,” would we have been in such a big hurry to get here? Given the unreasonable burden of chores and equally senseless limitations (in my childhood reckoning), I distinctly remember thinking – and I think I speak for all of us – “I can’t wait ‘til I’m an adult, so I can do what I want to do!” [Pause for laughter.] We were so na├»ve. I’ll bet not a one of us imagined we’d one day be forced to forego a leisurely cocktail by the pool in favor of spending an hour on hold with the cable company; watching the appliance repair tech use the good towels to soak up the water instead of meeting up with friends at the Square Grouper; holding a child’s head as she pukes all night instead of getting a much-needed, long-overdue, full block of sleep.

Today, given the responsibilities of maintaining my health, home, and family, I feel as burdened and limited as I ever did. I’m 46-years-old, my kids are grown, and I’m STILL waiting for that elusive life that allows me to do what I want to do. For example, in addition to the annual violation a la stirrups I subject myself to (in the hopes of preventing more serious violations in the future), I’m also required to submit to a separate, head-to-toe physical evaluation – complete with needles and urine cups – AND visit the mammogram specialist to have my boobs pressed like Cuban sandwiches. Those three annual visits, alone, require at least one phone call each. For the doctor and gynecologist, I make a note on my calendar to start the process about 6 months ahead, which is about how far in advance you have to schedule an appointment. For the physical exam, I have to remember to fast for 24 hours prior to the visit (because of the blood work). For the gynecologist, I have to pray the appointment doesn’t coincide with the wrong time of the month. Otherwise, I have to reschedule – and wait (and pray) for another 6 months. The mammogram can’t happen without a prescription from the gynecologist and, since it’s worthless without films from the previous year to compare with the new images, I have to make sure all medical records get forwarded to the appropriate place(s) on time.

As a resident of Florida who’s often in the sun, and because my dad’s had brushes with skin cancer,  I’m strongly advised to also make an annual trip to the dermatologist. This year, after the second voice message yielded a return call, I fit it in between the dentist (whom I see every 4 months) and the chiropractor (every 5 weeks). I used to get my hair cut once or twice a year, but it’s short, now, so I have to get clipped more often. I tried to let the gray grow out, but I decided to wait ‘til I’m 60 to look 60, which means I have to at least touch-up the roots every few months. Because I don’t like my nails clicking on the keyboard, I cut them back about once a week.

Though paid by our mortgage company, our homeowners’ insurance has to be reviewed every year. We carry one master policy for structures and contents and, through another company, two separate policies for flood; one for the main house, one for the guest house. No reputable insurance company will touch wood-frame houses in Florida, so our car and boat insurance are with yet another company; one renews annually and isn’t eligible for automatic payment, the other renews every six months and IS on auto pay. God forbid we throw a claim in there somewhere…

Two filters for our reverse osmosis water system have to be changed every six months. The more expensive third filter can wait a year. Because the RO system already filters the water piped into the refrigerator, we often wait a couple months after the red light comes on to replace the filter in the main house fridge. Upstairs in the back house, the Brita pitcher needs a filter swap every 3 months (the ice trays, however, need to be re-filled every day). Spread over both houses, I’ve got a half dozen or more air fresheners of one sort or another that typically need monthly attention. With FOUR full bathrooms, a large kitchen, and a (soon to be) bar, I constantly monitor usage of towels, washcloths, soap, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. If I don’t make weekly trips to the grocery store, we don’t eat. If I don’t do laundry, we risk offending the neighbors. The dog and cats have to be fed twice a day. For maximum health, I’m strongly urged to walk “briskly” for 30 minutes, get 30 minutes of sunshine, and eat 3 organic/natural meals, plus a snack, every day. I take probiotics in the morning and at night (on an empty stomach). I take multi-vitamins and calcium supplements twice a day (with food), iron and vitamin C once a day (also with food), and down one tablespoon of cod liver oil (can you say ick?) and one scoop of Mila (aka “the miracle seed” Salvia hispanica L. – ask Katie), usually in the morning, to get it over with. I’m not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but, when combating colitis, the fear of getting sick again is good incentive to stick close to the routine.

Teeth don’t brush themselves. Dishes don’t gather themselves, wash themselves, or put themselves away. Shaving and showering don’t spontaneously occur. Floors don’t get swept and vacuumed on their own. Beds and dinners don’t get made. Emails don’t get read and answered. Voice messages go unretrieved. Every minute of every day, every day of every week, every week of every month of every year it seems SOMETHING is required of me that isn’t on my “Things I Want To Do” list. Needless to say, the adulthood I pined for just isn’t what I expected it to be.

But, you know what? I’m grateful. The dew-covered lawn that takes 4 hours a week to mow in the summer attracts squirrels and butterflies and shimmers in the morning sunshine as I drink my coffee. The dog that shreds beach towels and romps across the yard carrying new seat cushions makes me smile every day. The pool that fills with leaves in the fall and evaporates almost as fast as we fill it in the summer provides the best way to cool off after a hard day of yard work.

I’m grateful to have the means to visit the chiropractor, the dentist, the gynecologist, and the mammography center on a routine basis and that, albeit a juggling act, my diet allows me to keep waking up every morning to face another day. I bitch about my family, but I’d be lost without them. The construction dust never seems to settle, but I’m lucky and proud to have a husband who isn’t afraid to get dirty. And every project makes the house feel more like home.

That life is one kick in the nuts after another still rings true; death, taxes, and insurance won’t go away and shit breaks at the worst possible time. But, between the repeated shots to the groin, there ARE moments of peace to be found and countless blessings to be thankful for. As a (spoiled, ungrateful) child, I couldn’t see that. As an adult, I live for the moments of bliss and am in constant awe of their limitless possibilities.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." * "There is more to life than increasing its speed.” ~ Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi

To be healthy, wealthy, happy and successful in any and all areas of your life you need to be aware that you need to think healthy, wealthy, happy and successful thoughts and cancel all negative, destructive, fearful and unhappy thoughts. These two types of thought cannot coexist if you want to share in the abundance that surrounds us all.” ~ Deepok Chopra

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

Git ‘er done.” ~ Larry the Cable Guy

I hope your moments of bliss are many this Christmas season. And I hope you’re able to enjoy every one of them. XO

~ Dawn