Respect

14 Mar

Charlton Heston was right.

There are so few celebrities left whom I respect. Years ago, there were so many. Perhaps that is part of getting older. Those heroes we once held in awe have grown old and died, or developed “feet of clay.” 

Today, many of the movie heroes of my youth are considered misogynistic bores. Clark Gable, John Wayne, and worst of all, Charlton Heston, all are from a different era. Their beliefs would not fly today.  I think today’s men are often rather soft, something no one would ever say about the three I’ve just mentioned. These men feared nothing physical. And the idea that words could hurt them would have sent them into fits of laughter. Words?

Now, everyone is scared to death to say anything for fear it might offend. This is madness. And worse, it is dangerous to our future. I love the quote attributed to Warren Buffet: “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you, that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.”   Whether he actually said this or not, it is great advice.

We simply must begin to have a sense of humor.  It’s important to have a sense of what constitutes a joke or a random opinion, versus what is a threat. If something said is in poor taste or simply goes too far, ignore the author. But don’t have a meltdown. And don’t call the “thought police.” They may come for you, next.

It all reminds me of George Orwell’s famous book, 1984. I read that book when I was twelve years old (because my mother told me that I was too young to read it). https://www.amazon.com/s?k=1984+by+george+orwell&i=stripbooks&crid=2JY1TVE9680VX&sprefix=1984%2Caps%2C120&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_6_4

How much will you give up to be “safe”. And what exactly is meant by “safe”? Would you, indeed, want the government to control every aspect of your life? And if it did, do you suppose you would really be protected from bad things happening to you or your family? Ask a Native American how well that worked out.

EVERYONE should read 1984 and internalize the lessons in it. How much freedom do you want to give up?

Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

                                                                                                      **

Danger, this subject may make you feel uncomfortable.

5 Mar


Because I live with my 101- year- old mother, and sometimes fear that she will outlive me, I think more and more about what I want my own children to know. What do they need to know about my wishes for death and dying?

It is so important to talk about things like death and dying, beforehand. People put it off. I believe, for some people, this is such a difficult subject that they avoid it over and over again. These may be the same people who won’t talk to their children about what we used to call “the birds and the bees.” They wait so long that their children are already sexually active before the parents bring it up. The poor kids laugh at their parents. But the parents might actually know a thing or two that would be helpful… or would have been helpful, if they had spoken up in time.

Don’t be afraid to go through the gate.

So, the subject of death and illness or accident is much like that. People wait until it is too late to talk about it. Don’t be one of those people. Stir up your courage and tackle the problem of talking about something that is sad and distressing so that it won’t be AS sad and distressing if it happens suddenly.

For one thing, you need a “living will.” Do you have one? Do you know what that is? If you were suddenly incapacitated, would your family know what to do?  If there are decisions to be made about you, would they know your wishes? Have you made your wishes clear? Do you want to be kept alive, no matter what? Or do you want someone brave to “pull the plug”? Do you want your children to have a medical power of attorney? And if so, which children?

Do you know what your children or family feel about the issue of assisted suicide? Have you talked to each of them about how YOU feel? And if you have no children, is there another family member, or a spouse, or even a lawyer or friend of the family who would serve in this capacity for you? You may be surprised to find that your family has differing views on this very delicate subject. It is so sad to see families fighting about this issue. But they do. And sometimes, not knowing your wishes, it does irreparable damage to the family.

When something happens to you…or your spouse, and your children disagree about whether to use “heroic measures,” the disagreements can become vitriolic and destructive to the family unit.

There are things that can happen even to young and healthy people: accidents, or health events that are entirely unexpected, but nearly fatal. Have you had family discussions about this and decided what to do?

A will is a good thing.  Many people have a will in place but have never thought about a “living will” or a medical power of attorney. But it is imperative that you do think about it.  With no plan in place, your wishes are not only not followed, it could be that no one even knows what they are.

Don’t let this happen to you. Be brave. Write down what you want and what you want your children or your family to know. Make sure they are all in on your wishes. And ask questions. Do they agree with your wishes? Or are they going to try to superimpose their own on you?

You need a checklist; there are sites online that have great ones. I won’t try to duplicate such a list here. But you will need one and putting it off is not helping. When I went to look at the various things I found under “checklist on death and dying,” even though it was only for this blog post, it made me feel sort of sick. Well, sick is not the correct word, but uncomfortable in a way that translated into a sort of heaviness in my tummy and tension throughout my body. It is a difficult subject. I get it. https://www.oktodie.com/preparation-checklists/3-resources/4-planning-your-death

But it will be a lot more difficult if you ignore it. It will not go away. And in the case of sudden illness or death, it is the last thing you want to be thinking about doing. In fact, you will be doing yourself and your loved ones a huge service to get this under control now, while you can think about it dispassionately and calmly. You have time for research and discovery. You can really explore the possibilities with a reasonable sense of taking care of something normal that needs taking care of.

A couple of years ago, my mother and I sat down to write an obituary for her. She said she wanted to do this after reading the obit of one of her friends. Probably, the friend’s sons wrote that and thought it was fine because it listed the woman’s family and clubs she belonged to. But my mother was shocked at how little of her friend’s personality showed in the written words. She wanted people to know more about what she was like. Mother said, “I want it to say I loved dancing, and dogs, and pretty colors, and jewels and traveling, and family.” So, we wrote something that she liked. When the time comes, we won’t have to guess at what Mother would have wanted to see printed in the paper.

That is normal enough because she is definitely old enough now to be thinking of things like that. She is over 100 years old.

But what about me? Or you? The fact is, we all need to think about this, if for no other reason than to help our families out. Just like having a will or insurance, additional planning for eventualities makes good sense. Write an outline for an obituary if you don’t feel like writing a complete one.

Now that I have written   this, I myself have an idea of what I need to do to complete my own checklist. I will try to complete it in the next week or so, or at least by the end of the month. You, too, can begin if you have not started.  I wish you long life and great health. And peace of mind, knowing that, whatever happens, you have arranged for everything.

Spring is coming, buds are beginning to be visible on our forsythia and the daffodils are almost up. It is a great time to complete and put away these wintry tasks and prepare for the new life coming with spring.   

                                                                        **

Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

Gratitude

21 Feb

 Thursday, Feb 21, 2019 —

                                                                            Gratitude

 I am spending a weekend in the country, at an adorable cottage on my daughter’s farm, near The Plains, VA. The weather has gone from a temperature of 67 degrees when I arrived on Friday, to a cold wet rain with the threat of snow or sleet on Sunday night.  It’s typical Virginia late winter/early spring weather. I don’t believe it will snow tonight. But still, the weather is a constant mystery. And I love it. The fact that it is so changeable is fun. I have plenty of warm clothes. And I am so grateful for everything. So grateful to have the chance to come here and decompress.

The fireplace in the cottage is made of stone, not firebrick, and it throws off a lot of heat. There is a joke around the farm, about how much wood I use. It is true that I am profligate with wood burning; I love the sight and sound of an open fire so much. I could stare at the fire for hours–It brings all sorts of imagination to the fore. Before I knew about meditation, I loved to look at the fire in a fireplace and let my mind rest. “Sometimes I sets and thinks, and sometimes, I just sets” is an old Virginia expression to which I relate. And a fire in the fireplace is one trigger for that same sort of non-thinking that meditation brings about. Restful in the extreme.

Everywhere I look, there is beauty, and peace. A huge pond ripples and glistens with reflected light from the sky– no sun today but a glistening, rippling expanse of water that seems to be trying to move outside its banks. Hundreds of daffodils are emerging, halfway up out of the ground. They must be confused by the different signals that Mother Nature is sending them.” Rise Up!” “No, never mind. Hang tight.” And though the leaves on the poor little struggling spring flowers have brown tips where frost has tainted them, the stems will soar, soon enough and blossoms open. Yellow blooms will extend soon down the driveway and we will know for sure that spring is here. We are on the way to the month of March now. More than halfway through February.

The gratitude I feel extends well past this farm. The entire countryside, unblemished by commercial space or even many houses, is open to all the wildlife that lives here. Deer herds are actually a problem. Bears are sighted regularly, and possums and raccoons and squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks abound. Birds are plentiful; even hawks and eagles soar in the sky above this county. Riders on horseback and runners on foot share these roads with bicyclers, who seem to come in droves. No wonder they are here. We have hundreds of miles of dirt roads. We also have wonderful two- lane, paved roads, which many people wish the bicyclers would stay off. I do worry about someone running them down, by accident.

When I wake up here in the cottage, my heart is full the moment I realize I am in my own bed, my old bed from my own, former house.  Here in the cottage, of course, it is different from city living. Sometimes the heat is off, or it is intensely windy. At times like that I am grateful for the curtains surrounding my bed, and I draw them the moment I get in. It makes a little house for me to stay, snug and warm, and cuddling my dog, Magnus, for added warmth.

Most of the time, I now live in Washington, D.C. with my 101 year old mother. I sleep in my old room, in my childhood house.  There is already a bed in that room, SO, there was no point in bringing my bed to Washington. Besides, my bed is a four-poster, with high posts. We did measure to see if it would fit in my bedroom at Mother’s, but it would not because the eaves in that bedroom come down too close and too low. So. I sleep in the bed that was there, missing my own bed in the cottage, with its pretty hangings which I can draw if it gets too cold. At Mother’s, the central heat is very effective. There is no need for bed-hangings.

My sensitivity to gratitude has been heightened by meditation. I believe that meditation has altered something in me, and I am forever changed. When such intense gratitude engulfs me, I wallow in it. Being grateful for the gratitude may sound silly. But that is how I feel. And I believe it is contagious. Be careful. You might catch it from reading this.

If I let myself, I will never be able to stop thinking of things for which to be grateful. For the peace that engulfs me, and all the things around me. The sheets on the bed, the feather pillows upon which I rest my head and the duvet that keeps me cosy. My warm dog, who sleeps beside me every night. My fireplace and tiny kitchen, indoor plumbing and central heat and air conditioning.

Best of all for daily comfort is Magnus. What a marvelous thing it is to have a loving dog. I appreciate him for the companionship he gives. We all need something to love and if you do not have a partner, it is important to find something else upon whom to bestow your affection. Dogs are super easy to love, and they love us unconditionally. Never underestimate the power of love, even the love between a dog and its owner. That feeling of love actually sends positive physiological signals to our bodies and our souls. Thank goodness for pets, all varieties.  I am grateful.

Magnus

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Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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