The Cost of Our Well-Being


I came home from work yesterday, frustrated, tired, spent and before I even said hello to the dog or my husband I said, “honey I have to go to the bathroom, pop one, I’ll be needing a large pour, and by the way we’re going out to dinner tonight.” While reclining in the restroom I heard the pop, the pour, the sound of glasses being gathered, and carried to the patio. Thank God for the wisdom of a man who quietly procures that which is most needed! Obedience.

I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches. Alice Roosevelt Longworth

I joined Larry on the patio for a splash of Tempranillo and spent the next ten minutes ranting about my day. This is somewhat out of the ordinary because I love my job. What I’m really spewing about is the extraordinary state of disorder I found the materials in for a new course I’m teaching this semester. It’s been quite a challenge and one I should probably tackle with less drama and more focus. #LessonsLearned

My natural inclination is to have all my lessons organized, up dated, and ready to present for the entire semester. This is not going to happen this year. So I’ll be stretching myself to be more, what’s the word, spontaneous. This might be the adage I fear most in the classroom. I like to fit in ten minutes or so of spontaneity a week. I think that’s more than enough of that sort of shenanigans. I’m sure this too shall pass but what I’m more interested in is the ritualized attitude and behavior in which I’ve become accustomed?

Here’s the deal. When we become addicted to an emotion, thought pattern, or action we give away our power, our ability to exercise choice, they become mindless repetitions that seemed meaningful at the time, but after a little mindful consideration appear empty, and without purpose says Marion Woodman. Maybe crazy shit does happen for a reason?

There are many things that dominate and control our lives ~ perfectionism, order, approval, illness, money, the Internet to name a few. What is the cost to our well-being? It’s like participating in the game of Life without a “get over your neuroses” free card. “I’ve come to realize that life is neither a battle nor a game to be won, it is a game nonetheless, but to be played… enjoyed. There are neither winners nor losers… just players–and what’s great is that you can choose who to play with,” says Val Uchendu. I do love my playmates. Best part of life.

“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.” This is an Italian Proverb ~ of course.

I think it’s noteworthy that my list of “neuroses” keeps perfect pace with my age? On the way home from a body sculpting class this morning (yes, you read that correctly, but it involves torture not clay), one that would have killed most people my age, my friend Sue and I lamented about post-menopausal weigh gain, the cruel shift in our shape, and a general feeling unattractiveness. Aren’t we a fun bunch? Now we do realize this is due to the enormous number of birthdays we’ve celebrated, but also lifestyle, the time we devote to exercise, a balanced diet, and the biggest culprit ~ adult beverages ~ which seems cruel and unfair. How can we view this stage of life with greater optimism, joy, and gratitude if we’re constantly jeremiading about the process of aging? The word acceptance comes to mind.

“My smile has become my best asset” Jan Geremia 

It’s not enough to worry about my own issues, I also worry about the well-being of my children, who find living in the Bay Area financially prohibitive. Where can we all go where the cost of living allows for actually living? I want to be close to my family and friends but I feel like a dandelion with my significant others being blown in diverse directions. I know it’s not rational but I want to gather them up and glue them back to the stalk. It’s sort of a sticky issue these days.


All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Henry Ellis

I worry I don’t have enough time left to become a good writer, publish a story, or at the very least establish my own niche in the writing community? I’m struggling to find enough time to write at all, to sit with my thoughts, and figure out what my readers (yes, both of you) are interested in pondering? I’ve tried out all sorts of topics, some hit, many bomb. So your feedback is imperative if you want me to stay away from the benefits of ear wax, how to get rid of dog lice, and creative use of dryer lint in the garden (don’t even go there).

I’ve also noticed my immune system is less robust then it used to be. This pisses me off because for many years it was such a gloatable subject, something I claimed to have control over (mud in my face), and implied was due to my amazing self-care (embarrassing much). I completely avoid imaging a future where obscure illnesses dominate the landscape. I realize (God willing) I may have a few more decades of predictable health, but that doesn’t stop by thoughts from going to the dark side, and worrying about applying for assisted living before all the good spots are taken. Wouldn’t it be fun to reserve an entire wing in some swanky retirement facility, something that would accommodate all us old farts, located, “I don’t know,” on Maui? Exactly what I was thinking…sunsets, mai tai’s, and group physical therapy! 

When it comes to life the critical thing is, whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. Gilbert Chesterton

This is my hope. If I can recognize what I’m trying to get out of these ritualized thoughts or behaviors then I can slowly begin to provide for myself what I truly desire, something longer-lasting, more efficacious. Maybe it’s time to stop fighting my maturity. I mean that in the best possible way. Go with the flow, be a little spontaneous, Lord have mercy. Oscar Wilde says to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not about the perfect body, the size of your bank account (although that helps), the place you live, or the work you do, it’s how we think about life that matters most. This is your novel and I say let’s write the best possible story. 

Do not skip this jelly bean video ~ it’s excellent!


I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, bring a calculator.

What have you been pondering lately? Drop a few notes in the comments. 

Anecdotes:
  • Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.  Vivian Komori
  • The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller
  • I think I’ve discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it.  Charles Schulz

3 Comments

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  1. Back in the Box!! -an anonymous computer voice rejoicing after capturing my bishop during a computer chess match.Well…. you asked for it….I again enjoyed your blog. Always seems to make me think and reminisce.My thoughts. Your first paragraph laments your stressful day, but ends with a joyous alleviation of stress brought on by your subservient husband. Based on your writings, I feel he is likely a savant. He is an expert at giving you what you need, while likely achieving all his goals. I suspect that I am in a similar situation with Gail, where somehow, I get what I think I want, and she is happy as a clam. This reminded me of a video we were shown in 10th grade. A fabulous production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (obviously none of us are shrews, but the manipulative skill portrayed by the lead was impressive, and somehow reminds me of Larry or Gail.) If you ever have an hour or 2 to burn, have at it. Brilliance.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z52FqmnqMwNext you move on to the current chaos in your job. As you say, variety, excitement, adventure, a little chaos is great. However, when it impacts your work, and more importantly, keeps you from having time to do what you love, it is a bummer. New, interesting, eager students, great. System errors, unmanageable lesson plans….suckage.Next up, the cruel nature of middle age weight gain. Arghhh.Welcome to my world!For your convenience and personal edification, I have assembled a list of things that I have tried to help deal with the onslaught of the dreaded paunch.Let me count the ways.1. Get dressed in the dark. Not so good in terms of matching outfits, but thankfully I have graduated to wearing scrubs!2. Diet- every gimmicky diet on earth. Atkins, Paleo, Nutrisystem, as promoted by your buddy Donny’s sister (confession… I still do a halfway version of this.) I have not done weight watchers (or as a friend calls it “Piggy weigh in.”)3. Exercise.. Sadly I can eat more calories in 15 minutes than I can burn in a day.4. Personal trainer.. Gives you great muscle tone under the fat. Has helped me a lot, but a little rough on the budget, though cheaper than a stroke5. Given up wearing stripes.6. Hawaii shirts7. Hang out with big people8. Give up alcohol (Well, let’s be real, this is probably not gonna fly.)9. More sex! Everyone knows sex is good for you and most people enjoy it. If done right, it can burn calories.10. Reward system. Honey, I lost that last 5 lbs., I think I will order the Nespresso machine you promised me.11. Develop hobbies that keep you from food and burn calories. Garden, orchard etc.12. Make your vacation active.13. Fantasize about hiking the PCT, where every 7 days you can eat a double cheeseburger, fries, shake and still lose weight.14. Or, you can just say screw it. Na. Realize age happens, and do the best you can without any guilt. Thankfully, I was never in great shape, so my loss of shape is not tragic.Things I have not triedLipoTummy tuckGastroplastyWow! Potato chipsSpeedAcupunctureHormone therapy….Hmmm….Now there is a thought.

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  2. Then we get to the really good part.“Where can we all go where the cost of living actually allows living?”Gail and I both said “Missouri” at the same time.Awesome state. Summer can be a bit humid and mid-day heat a little rough, but everything else is A plus. Especially if you can handle winter (picture a toasty fire, glass of red, a little dusting of snow, a great book, and ducks or geese landing on the pond.) Kids can make a living, and you can always visit friends you have left behind.Next, you want time to become a good writer. Don’t worry. That box has already been checked. Your style is engaging and entertaining. We can always chew the fat so to speak on how to continue growth as a writer over a cold one, though I am afraid I would be a bad source of advice (my daughter Rachel is a really good writer and has great editing skills. Me, not so much.)So, what do your readers want to read about? Well, you asked. I would continue with whatever you find interesting, intriguing, humorous, noteworthy or enriching. Also, I love the musical gifts, such as the tripped-out Time is Slipping into the future, along with JJ Heller.Personal favorite topics right now (subject to change at zero notice) are real cool vacations, bucket list things, how to live the good life (what is it anyway?) in retirement.How to prevent fire blight in Pom Fruit trees in Missouri (what?)Swanky wing in an old folks’ home? Not so fast my friend. How about cruise around the world, a Mai Tai in Bora Bora, swim in the Red Sea, etc?Then wind it down with the people you love. Pray you don’t get dementia and become a burden on others.Stop fighting maturity? Strive to stay fit and healthy. Ride the wave till you crash on the shore. Don’t worry about the wrinkles and sagging, but try not to go to seed so to speak. Watch your great grandkids' music recitals, sports etc. Be the solid rock in your family. Never give up.Lastly, we are really pumped up for our visit. Fears…. I can spend 4 hours writing an intelligent tome, but spontaneous expression, not so smooth. Oddly reminiscent of a scene in the movie, “The Accountant,” when the audience meets the person behind the voice giving Ben Affleck advice over a speaker. (This was a great movie!) Had enough action to keep things moving, while giving a vivid, brilliant portrayal of life on the Autism spectrum.Gail’s biggest concern was surviving the hike I talked her into going on after we leave Clear Lake (Bucket List!!,) but now it has morphed into fear of appearing in the blog.What to make of it all? At the end of your life, have you made the world a better place, and did you have a blast while doing it?Cheers.The songGail and I agree on:https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=36&v=m1I4Q6Px_78

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  3. Oh my, oh my – so much to chew on Michael! You seem to have a rather stubborn optimistic streak? I imagine a lot of joy and laughter in your household as your family tries to keep up with your energy, drive, and call to new adventure! I do believe that is the secret to staying young and viable. Larry and I are starting to plan more trips, less time in-between adventures, work gets in the way on occasion, but also allows for all this fun. What can you do? There is so much to see, experience, and learn about in this world that I'm slightly remorseful I will never get to it all (But I will also never be bored)We too enjoy an active lifestyle but seemed more advanced at lounging than the Severance's? We'll introduce you to the lifestyle when you visit! Haha, it has something to do with a great view and aged wines.I've come to the conclusion that you are a closet writer. Your expression is wonderful and engaging. Maybe you want to guest blog on my site sometime or offer a duel perspective? We'll toss it around next week? I laugh at your observation on writing vs spontaneous expression because I'm am the same. I can sit here for hours in silence writing a post, never noticing the passage of time, but put me in a social situation and I will cling to the back wall, or sneak off to a quiet patio if possible. I'm much better in small groups so you don't need to worry about scraping me off the drywall.I also notice you have a love for movies! That is my all time favorite thing to do although we rarely hit the theaters we do watch a lot of movies at the lake, on airplanes, and during the holidays. I have my favorites that I watch year after year like visiting old friends. Maybe we'll have time for one at the lake? Or we could be busy lounging! I'm not syndicated so appearing in the blog is no big thing! It's just you, me, and a couple of friends living with me in the gap! We're family!

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