goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Mature Love

In the past few months several of my friends, all mature adults, have gotten married. It has been amazing to watch their joy, knowing the pathways they traveled to be able to trust this love will work, this love will abide, this love will be real and lasting.  chrles and vicMature adults know well the stresses of life and especially treasure their partner to make the pathway sweeter.

We grew up with the fairy tale, mostly of some guy rescuing some girl, and “they lived happily ever after.”  No explanation. No mess. No kids. No information.  Meanwhile, we grew up in our childhood homes, some with loving parents but many of us got mixed messages at best. I know I was told the man is the boss and yet, I saw my dad all so often bend to the wishes of my mom.  There is no magic one size fits all method. Patti and Leslie

Watching my friends decide to marry and then celebrate that with a meaningful ceremony is a blessing. Yesterday about 50 of us gathered in  the late afternoon sun along the waterfront of Gig Harbor, Washington.  The ceremony, which lasted about an hour, included spiritual and religious33 references from many sources. It included children of the betrothed, themselves young adults. It included a number of friends who came forward to light another candle to share some symbolic enlightenment of experience.

I think, if the adults have done their work, a mature marriage can work much better than one entered in the hot naivety of youth. Building the foundation: becoming friends that can talk about anything without either party’s ego being bruised helps the new partnership face the normal ebbs and flows of life with all its financial issues, health issues, aging parent issues and more that will arise. 40

While I was immersed in the joy of the celebration yesterday, I was also feeling my heart pulled far to the east to my friend Carol in Croatia. Her beloved Ivo is dying. After meeting as young adults and living their lives on separate continents, the spark between then revived a few years ago and Carol made a decision to leave California and retire in Croatia. They have been living together, in their 70s, not allowed to marry. There is nothing the heart was missing in the love between them. And now, Ivo is about to move on. My heart is with Carol and Ivo…they found the joy of life together and they will reunite again in time.

Dubrovnik Ivo and Sam hole in the wall

Ivo spending one on one time with Sam

Life is short. Spent with the wrong person it seems to be everlasting hell. Spent with the right person, time flies and joy abounds.

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Life is Too Short for This

He told me I was worthless.  I knew I was pretty together and he was a troubled person. I tried to speak to him. He was silent.

He told me dinner stank. I knew I was a pretty good cook and it was very edible. I asked him what he would have preferred. He was silent.

He told me he was going to divorce me. I told him I was pretty tired of him throwing that one out in the air and he was not to bother to say it again. Just to act on it if he truly felt that way. He did nothing.Depression stock

He told me I was repulsive. I knew my added five pounds was not great, but better than his added 20. I told him he didn’t look so good himself. He yelled more.

We went on a belated honeymoon. I bought a new negligee, hoping for a new beginning. I asked him if he would like to take a walk on the deserted beach in the moonlight. He raped me.

portrait-of-a-worried-girl-sitting-on-the-beach-with-the-sea-in-the-backgroundThe next night when he made his moves I told him I wanted him to make love to me. He hit me.  It was the first time and I swore to myself it had to be the last.

I threw on some clothes and left the room, sitting on the beach 30 feet in front of our room for 3 hours. He never came out. He was snoring when I finally went back in. The next morning I told him we needed help. He said he was fine. That I was the problem.

I was 23-years-old and I knew I deserved better than this.  But I was stuck in a place still trying to “fix” it.  And on it went, for another few weeks, until I finally had the strength to call a friend to come get me and told him to leave the house so I could pack. He grinned, grabbing the car keys and headed out.

He was not happy when I filed for a divorce.  I had nightmares for months.

Now, I hear that this football player beat his fiancee unconscious, dragged her out of the elevator and has just been kicked out of the NFL. Supposedly he is in counseling since this is his first offense (that is known). I wonder if the woman, who married him after this attack, is also in counseling.cycle of violence

I have several friends who are in marriages where they are emotionally abused and sometimes physically threatened by their spouses. They stay in the marriages for a number of reasons that usually include the needs of the children as well as the financial dependence on that spouse.domesticviolencekids

Life is too short for living that way. We try to get to know the other and yet many people never develop the ability to truly talk, to share happy or sad, with their partner. We mistake lust for love and then we hide behind silences and forced smiles, trying to put on a facade to fool others.

No one is fooled. Your kids are not fooled. Your friends are not fooled.

They are confused.

 


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Special Gifts

In Perrault’s version of Sleeping Beauty, there are seven fairy godmothers. The youngest one grants the baby princess the gift of being the most beautiful girl on the world; the second, being as spiritual as an angel; the third, to do everything with admirable grace; the fourth, to execute every dance with perfection; the fifth, to have the singing voice of a nightingale; the sixth, to strum marvelously any musical instrument. Then a fairy who wasn’t invited curses the princess and the seventh fairy (who was hidden beneath the curtains) steps in and saves the princess.Sleeping Beauty movie image Walt Disney

The concept of being given a special gift at birth may seem to belong in fairy tales but I have become more and more sure that I was gifted also. Certainly not by a fairy godmother, as no one has re-entered my life to continue bestowing similar gifts, but something in my being received this ability.

No, not beauty, not grace (I laugh that klutz must be my middle name), and certainly not dance, but I have a sense of direction.

Okay, big deal you retort. Well, call it spatial awareness, but I usually am not lost even if I don’t know where I am. Let me explain.

This is Lisa in the same spot many years later...she was not even a figment of imagination at the time of the tale!

This is my daughter Lisa in the same spot many years later…she was not even a figment of imagination at the time of the tale!

When I was four years old my family went on a camping trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. There we took a ranger hike up Cadillac Mountain. The ranger was adamant about staying together when it was time to hike back from the summit, as people could easily stray off the path and get stuck on a cliff, needing to be rescued at great expense. Well, sure enough, we scattered when we got to the bald summit to gather wild blueberries and after a while it became apparent that our family and a few others had been left behind. Well, there I was 4 years old, but I read some trail signs and said, this way and lead them down. Sure enough, the ranger came running back for us when we were near the bottom, but from that point on I was nicknamed the “Trail Finder” in my family. My usual assignment after that was to find the car in the huge shopping center parking lot.

As I am still very much exploring this new place we live, I can say, okay, let’s take that road, and then turn and turn again as we meander among the vineyards and farms, and we will end up where we need to be. Sure, I have the GPS as a back-up but rarely need it.  My inner compass keeps me moving in the right direction.compass

Only two places have ever confused me. One was easily rectified. When I climbed out of the subway in Manhattan I sometimes turned the wrong way to walk to my destination. No big deal; a short block later with the numbered streets I could easily turn around if need be.  lost

The other place was more of a problem. It seemed that something geological under Huntington, West Virginia threw off my inborn compass 180 degrees. Oh sure, I could intellectualize the direction analysis, doing something like….”okay, the park is that way…oops, I’m usually exactly opposite so it is this other way.”  And that could make it right.

The irritation there was I have I NEVER have to intellectualize it outside of Huntington…I just KNOW. Sitting here in my office I know the window to my right is facing south-southwest. Yes, I have seen the sun sweep across the sky, but I also saw that at my house in West Virginia and could not just “know.”gifted

So, I feel gifted. Yeah me!  How about you? Do you have a special talent that just comes naturally with no real effort?

 


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Object: Matrimony

Customs and rituals for young people meeting and deciding to get married vary considerably around the world, but the American or western model, even though it results is a lot of poor decision making and high divorce rates, are becoming more and more adapted elsewhere, even in traditional cultures like India where modern attitudes are wanting to opt for “love matches”.Arvenda

Arvind, our SmartTours guide, filled part of an hour on a long drive between cities explaining how traditional practices have been updating in India.  Although he spoke mainly from a Hindu perspective, it was apparent that many Muslims also follow a similar practice.

Traditionally, marriages are arranged. Like historic matches in western culture, most of the time the family or a family friend who knows both young people starts the conversation.  In India, however, astrology plays a huge part. People know their birthplace, of course, and birth time down to the second.  If the two people’s horoscopes are compatible, the discussion continues. If not, everyone agrees to move on.

If you have never really learned about astrology you might think it is merely the short 3 sentence section for your sign that shows up in the paper or in your internet feed. The warning or wisdom may amuse you or worry you but that is not what a true horoscope is. Your chart is prepared based on your birthplace and time and can provide guidance for financial matters, work, raising children, and relationships. This website gives more information about how astrology provides information about relationships.

A skeptic may scoff at the idea of using a tool like horoscopes to help select a spouse, but before we make fun of it, perhaps we should look at our own customs and then difficulties in marriage here and then compare to the Indian standard.  Here in the US we tend to equate sexual attraction and lust with love and are typically unable to develop friendships with the ability to communicate. So we get ourselves into a legal commitment that, for many, becomes increasingly aggravating as partners are unable to work through differences.  Divorce rates of first marriages are about 50% now, with second and third marriages also failing at higher rates. We don’t learn from our mistakes. Most of us chose our partner based on emotions instead of logic and then are surprised when emotions lead us to uncomfortable areas. In India the divorce rate is about 1%. Maybe there is something to an arranged marriage.

So, to use some method to help determine compatibility makes some sense. It also helps that traditionally, there is an attitude of a life-long marriage in India. The young people know they don’t know each other and know that they had better make it work for the long haul.  They start slowly and when you notice a young woman wearing red bangles, often with a young man standing a little apart, you can assume they are in their first 3 weeks of marriage.Wedding Chura and Bangles (10)

That is not to say all is good. Although protected by law, culturally in a marriage women seem to have a lower status than men. They leave their childhood home and generally move in with the husband’s family.  They are lucky if they have a private room for sleeping. I will discuss “privacy” in another blog, but right now suffice it to say that is there a huge difference in what privacy means in Indian culture compared to the US.  When family attitudes are good and healthy, it means also that everyone in the large household helps the new couple adjust to each other and work through issues, as they have learned to in their own marriages.

New traditions have begun to pop up. Arvend entertained us by reading Want Ads that are published weekly throughout India. Besides the important birth information, the ads usually indicate the desire for education level, modern vs traditional attitudes,  location for living and social standing.matrimonial ads

While we were in India there were several auspicious days for weddings, so we got to observe some of the wedding parades and one wedding was held in the hotel our first night in Delhi.  Red and gold seem to be the classic colors, although other colors are also used.

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source: Nancy Leung from our SmartTours group

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source: Nancy Leung from our SmartTours group

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source: Nancy Leung from our SmartTours group

INdianwedding horseWe saw a number of grooms riding on white horses, also decked out in red and gold. Tubas and drums are used in the parade, there are usually fireworks, and the celebration can go on for days, often costing tens of thousands of dollars. Large wedding centers are quite busy on auspicious days and floats are rented for other celebrations not held in posh hotels or party places.

Wedding parade band float seen from the bus in Agra

Wedding parade band float seen from the bus in Agra

Even in the back streets of Agra, when Lisa and I were wandering with our private guides, we noticed some tubas ready for the busy auspicious day. wedding tubas


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Please Vote

After entertaining/boring (pick one) many people with stories from my life, I was urged to start writing. I even took a “life writing” course offered by a local small house publisher last winter.

Recently I was prompted to submit one of my stories in a contest for writers over age 40 (check and then some). It was selected for display for this week and I am in competition with four others. Please read my “Prayer” and follow the instructions to vote for it. Thanks!!

The link is http://midlifecollage.com/


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Be Your Own Best Advocate

A friend of mine is scheduled to have some surgery to remove a cancer and mentioned that her original doctor had taken a week to get back to her and then scheduled the procedure some weeks out. She had been on another appointment in another doctor’s office when the nurse asked about what was going on, and then THAT office made the connection to get her scheduled sooner with another doc.Hands_Color

That reminded me of something that happened years ago.

When we got married in 1989, Dave decided he would move from Memphis to Hartford to join me and my kids. He said it was easier to move one than to move three but I also suspect he looked forward to the experience of living in Yankee Land.

We called his parents in Nashville weekly to chat. One Sunday late in November, Mama said she didn’t feel well. She had COPD and was basically bedridden, but this was a new bad feeling. We were concerned enough that we called again on Monday, and she sounded worse. We talked to Daddy, but he said she was okay, just complaining more than usual, the typical thing a husband may say after several years of caretaking duties.

We called again on Tuesday and she barely could talk to us. Wednesday morning, with my younger kids spending that Thanksgiving weekend with their father, Dave and I hit the road south as soon as we dropped the kids to school. The typical 20-hour drive took 17 hours and we pulled into their driveway early on Thanksgiving morning.mad dash drive

Mama barely responded when we saw her and I told Daddy we had to call the doctor. He refused! He said it was Thanksgiving and we were not going to bother “that fine young woman”. I told him that doctors have coverage even on holidays and wasn’t Mama more important anyway? His answer was that she was just sleepy. And he also let me know I was being too pushy.

Well, long story short, we called the doctor’s office Friday morning, and they told us to take her to the emergency room. By the time we left Saturday so we could be back in Connecticut for the kids’ return home, she was improving, and murmured, “I thought you were here but I wasn’t sure.”

These two stories need to awaken your awareness that you need to be your biggest advocate in your own health care. You can not rely on anyone else to care about you as much as you care about yourself.

Establish a relationship with your doctors  where communication is highly expected-both ways. If you have a doctor who has a paternalistic attitude, someone who says something asinine like “Don’t worry about that, that’s for me to think about,” change doctors. Your doctor must know that you understand your body and expect prompt response when you call for information and immediate help when you call for help.doctor-patient

But that starts with YOU. You have to be the one to communicate your health issues, ask questions, and expect answers in a language you can understand.

And, as in the case of my mother-in-law, if your partner is not the type of person who can make decisions for you, have a good and hard talk with him or her explaining who s/he needs to contact should you no longer be able to make decisions for yourself. That way, you can hope to get prompt attention by someone who is not frozen by the fear of your incapacity.

Do it now. Love yourself.


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A Medical Hurdle

This story is for those of you who really hate the concept of  universal healthcare:

My last job working full time was for a financial adviser.  It was a small business and  did not offer many benefits, including health insurance. But that was okay, because my husband had the state employee’s insurance plan through his job at Marshall University. It was restrictive outside of West Virginia. For example, he needed an eye surgery and the best care was in Kentucky. Living right on the Kentucky line, we chose to pay more than drive further to Morgantown.PEIA

Once he retired, we fully expected my health coverage would end immediately and were pleased I could pay fully for coverage to continue for two years. As expensive as that option was, it would give me some time to find something else once we moved to Oregon.  And I was happy it was coverage by Aetna. I had lived in Hartford for many years and felt that company had good policies and attitudes.Aetnalogo

When the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed into law by Congress and approved by the Supreme Court, I was relieved that I did not need to find another 9-5 job with a large company or the state government to get insurance, as all those jobs were an hour away. I started looking into the Cover Oregon plans and determined I would save $100 a month once enrolled.cover oregon

Meanwhile, using my post-retirement West Virginia insurance, I started establishing relationships with new medical care and filling my prescriptions at the local pharmacy.ritedaid

Until yesterday, when I went to pick up a refilled prescription and a new medicine that my new doc felt was necessary to replace one causing some blood chemistry issue.  The pharmacy told us that our insurance had dropped us. Said they had dropped Graham so they had dropped me. But Graham, being on Medicare now, had never been enrolled. Just me.

We have received no communication from this insurance company. It was past 4:30 eastern time so have to get through the weekend and then we will call on Monday. We paid cash for the medications, thankful they were generics and only double and triple the cost we were used to paying.scrip-shopping-cart-md

This is the way insurance companies act. And now, we will have to fight for the coverage we were told would be offered for two years.fight

Having lived through Dave’s long fight with cancer, I know very well first hand that often people who are ill, or dealing with someone who is very ill, have no spare energy to fight battles like this. But this is the way our current healthcare coverage system has existed for years.  I often had to fight for the promised coverage.