An unexpected gift.

For Christmas this year I received a set of inspirational and questioning journals from my youngest daughter. She knows I like to write and thought this would help with some ideas for my blog.

To be completely honest, I was not sure at the time she was right. It is not something I would ever have considered buying for myself. I am not someone who reads inspirational quotes or positive thoughts for the day, however I do find human behaviour fascinating and I expect looking at ones own behaviour is a good place to start. Trying to keep an open mind I started to explore the journals. I was pleasantly surprised and quite amazed at some of the questions posed. Questions that I had pondered in the past but not spent time investigating. One question that was asked implored me to think and explore my thoughts.

What do you want most in life?

The burning question that keeps the world turning. The question we ask ourselves continuously throughout our lives. The question we at times spend way too long pondering and then other times we push it aside for another day as it is too hard to answer.

Now getting close to 70 I can reflect on this and answer it fairly easily. Not with-standing  world issues, which I would hope applies to most people, to eliminate poverty, eradicate violence, protect all children, accept all beings for who they are and discover amazing things. We want to have a sustainable world in which to live and in an ideal world we would have peace. Who does not want this?

I believe to answer this question as an individual the answer is dependent on time and conditions within our lives. What I want most now differs to what I wanted in years gone by.  I only speak for myself here.

Overall – Late teen years I wanted freedom, independence, and excitement – personal level – I wanted  love and laughter in my life.

Overall – In my 20’s I wanted stability after a childhood of instability. Regular income, loving family  and good friends- personal level– I wanted my marriage to be strong and I wanted children.

Overall – In my 30’s I wanted to purchase our own home and I wanted safety, stability and a good future for my children – personal level – I wanted to be a good, honest, and approachable mother.  I wanted to improve my education and improve my ability to earn a higher income.

Overall – In my 40’s I wanted financial security and more time for fun and relaxation. Time  and money for Travel. Success for my children both in education and career – personal level – I wanted to be liked and valued by my family.

Overall – In my 50’s I wished for improved health services. I  wanted  longevity in our business – personal level. I wanted to fix my children and husband who were all struggling with ill health.

Overall – In my 60’s  I wanted Good Health, financial security, more foreseeable possibility of retirement – personal level . I wanted our life to slow down and to be easier.

Overall – Now approaching my 70’th year- I want people to learn from the experience of a pandemic. I want people to stop blaming the government for every shortcoming in their life and to take responsibility for their own actions. ( a sweeping statement, I know, a discussion for another blog). On a very personal level I just want to live long enough to be able to enjoy my retirement with my husband, I want good health for myself and my family members and my friends.  I want laughter, excitement, I want to be able to try new things, travel to new places and experience life in general.  

On Reflection

On an introspective level, I would like to stop bitching and complaining about people and situations at hand. I have noticed as I grow older, I have less tolerance and I am more bitter and less compassionate in my thoughts. I am guessing this is just a tiredness we get after a lifetime of pushing our own agenda’s, trying  always to be right or knowledgeable or simply trying to be noticed.  It is not a good look and not a productive way to live.  It is something I need to work on.

“If everything went the way we wanted, soon we would no longer have anything to write about, nothing to quide our daily thoughts.”

Paulo Coelho’s Blog

Birds out my window today.

I am sitting watching out the window as I write my blog. The day is dawning and the birds are waking. I like and respect animals but am not what you would call a passionate animal lover. I have had my fair share of cats and dogs, experienced owning white mice, and cute little rabbits, gone through the silkworm process and visited many zoos and animal parks.

Since retiring to the Blue Mountains I have noticed birds. I have always scoffed a little at birdwatchers wondering how they could be interested in something that just flits from tree to tree. I realise now how my ignorance hid from me the complexity and the beauty of these creatures.

A white Sulphur Crested Cockatoo flies past the window with his wide spread wings holding him afloat. He parks on a tree and calls his friends to join him. If I call to him with my cocky voice his yellow crown immediately stands high as he turns to stare and then squawks as if to say “you are interrupting, wait your turn.” His majestic all powerful stance glorious against the natural colours of the trees.

Meanwhile I notice our resident Kookaburra and his baby search diligently for worms deep under the green lawn which sparkles from the tiny drops of water from the early morning dew. The mother working tirelessly to stifle the continuous cry of her reliant baby.

I look to my left to the Red Wattle Bird foraging for nector in buds of the grevillia plants. His familiar gutteral chortle filling the air. He is a very territorial bird and fights daily with the other birdlife to retain his home. A few months ago a he was followed relentlessly by his new baby. Today the baby is not seen as I guess he is now making his own way among the blooms of the many small bushes surrounding him.

I know from seeing this all unfold each day that the stunning red, yellow and blue colours of the Rosella’s just behind the house are scattered in the many trees waiting to descend to our balcony with their own distinct sound. They will sit along the rail whistling their melodic tunes with the hope of a handful of seed to enhance their diets.

Not far behind them will be the more graceful and brilliantly coloured Red and Green King Parrots. They are more patient than the others and will come close and look at you when they speak. Cautious at first but then demanding in their request for attention.

Further down the yard I see the distinct black and white of the Magpies foraging among the leaves and debris surrounding the bush. Religiously following the lawn mower gathering the worms as they come to the surface. The Magpie family comes and goes each season. They know our faces and respond immediately to my whistle. Swooping in from nowhere they glide in close knowing there is a handout not far away. It is interesting to watch when they have new babies. They collect the food in their mouth adding to the pile until it is bulging from their beak. It is then time to fly away to the nest where the squawking babies are waiting for them. They overload and quickly return for another round.

Last but certainly not least are my favourites when it comes to feeding. The little Butcher Birds are very cute, quick and silent. They fly high into the trees and sit patiently watching and waiting. When the coast is clear they very smoothly swoop and scoop the tiny morsel of food left for them. They are in and out before you notice.

Some others worth mentioning but not in view this morning are the Lorikeets, Brown Dove, Bower Bird, Plovers , Black Cockatoo and a Tawny Frogmouth. Not viewed but definitley heard is The Big Owl.

I spend much time just watching the birds as they wake, play and rest each day. Time spent watching them strip the bark off the trees or building their nests. Noticing how they go from bush to bush searching for nectar, chasing each other flying in and out of the many branches. At dusk you can see them gliding across the skies rich from the colours of the sunsets looking for a place to settle during the dark hours.

Complacency-Boredom

As a retired person I have more available time, as an older person living during the pandemic I have more idle hours to fill. Following I have written my thoughts on this situation. No expertise, no qualifications just what is in my head. 🤔

I refer back to an early blog “What will I do when I retire?” I wrote that blog with my own actions in mind and focused mainly on activities that I related to at the time. Covid has made me think more earnestly about what we do on a daily basis and how easily boredom can slip into our life and have a detrimental affect on some people. It is easy to become bored, it is easy to become complacent about your daily activities. Dictionary.com’s meaning of complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition etc.” I think this explains it very clearly but breaking it down a little and putting it into terms of actual life activities helped me to clarify.🤓

The first part is easy for me to identify, particularly during covid restrictions. Doing a jigsaw puzzle, doing my heritage investigations, reading a book or simply going for a walk.These activities were pleasureable and gave me the security of knowing I was safe in my own home.They quickly became my norm and were only broken by the necessity of housework or shopping on line. 🙂

The second part of the dictionary meaning is a little unnerving at first. I questioned what potential danger could these activities evoke. The answer came with endured lengths of time of repetitively doing the same activities every day. The danger lies in the complacency of ones own thoughts and actions. When you are in a pattern without too much change it becomes easy to be habitual. Our life becomes boring. We could easily become disinterested in our surroundings which leads to more debilitating effects to our well being. As you become more bored your life becomes less active and your brain less stimulated. You talk less, you laugh less and more and more creativity and interests die. It becomes easy to not make an effort, to not make plans, to not look forward. If we do not change our routines, explore new avenues, take risks and try new things our brains become less stimulated and more vulnerable to negative thoughts. Of course there is nothing wrong with boredom, it is a normal emotion and it is not harmful unless of course it becomes excessive and interferes with ones normal daily life and this where the danger lives. 😦

I do suspect if you have an interesting hobby you possibly will not have this problem, but if you find yourself increasingly idle try something new. If you do not have any specific interest maybe look back at what you liked doing as a young person and see how that fits into your retired lifestyle. This would not have worked for me as I worked from a very young age and did not really develop any specific hobbies other than being involved in some sports. As I age those particular sports are not appropriate. I do however like long easy walks and on line music exercise classes so I am trying to become more consistent with that. I have listing here some suggestions(not mind boggling) just simple actions to minimise boredom or complacency and things that activate our brains. 😀

  • Cooking-reinvent the way you cook, try new foods. If you have no one at home to cook for bake a cake or make some cookies for your neighbour or elderly friend and invite them over for a cuppa. (covid permitted) Make some fun cookies for the neighbourhood children.
  • Craft-Learn a new skill or two. There are many tutorials on line. knitting, crocheting, origami, macrame, scrapbooking, sculpting, ceramics, painting etc the list is endless.
  • Sorting– photos, memorabilia, kitchen cupboards, clothing, garage, sheds, music collections We all need to declutter and sort. Do it slowly so it is enjoyable not a chore.
  • Photographing– I became bored while taking my daily walk, so I decided to photograph specific things. I chose a colour and with my trusty smart phone I walked and searched for that colour. You would be amazed at what you see. Each day I changed the colour or the theme and my walks became interesting again. I posted my photo’s on facebook which resulted in interaction with friends. Use your smart phone or camera and photograph whatever you like, your home, the streets surrounding you, fungi, trees, flowers, pictures, food, shapes use your imagination.
  • Writing-this is what I chose and the subjects are endless. I chose to put my thoughts on line but you do not have to. Start a journal, each day write down what you are thinking. It is habit forming however not boring as the subject matter changes everyday when you are forced to think of something to put down on paper. Nobody is reading it unless you want them to so write whatever crap comes to mind. Reading it back is often fun and thought provoking.
  • Planning-even though covid has momentarily changed our freedom we can still plan for the future. go online and plan the trip of a lifetime, you may never do it but it does not hurt to dream and its fun to map it out, and at the same time you are finding lots of information about other countries.
  • Games-mind games, computer games, board games, card games or do puzzles. There are many both on line and probably some gathering dust in your cupboards. They keep your mind active and if you have someone to play with all the better. If not challenge yourself to better your skills or beat your own score.
  • Meet new people-Join a book club, a walking group, a community centre or simply say hi to your neighbours or local shopkeepers. Go to a bingo group or a dance class or join a bowls club. A few words to a stranger can make your day. Some of these things are difficult during covid restrictions however if you are reading this you have access to on line so be brave start a social media page and finds some new friends. There are many senior groups filled with people just like yourself. It could be just 5 minutes a day and it could change your life.
  • Pampering-this is something we forget to do, whether male or female we all deserve to spoil ourselves. The obvious is a long luxurious bath, a hot chocolate and a good book, a home facial, a cup of tea while sitting on the verandah listening to your favourite music, relax with a heat-pack on those aching bones, watch a movie or better still watch a comedy routine, paint your nails, watch the footy.
  • Mens/Womens sheds– of course we are talking post covid but definitely something for those who have worked hard all of their lives and not had time to develop a hobby. From what I have heard and read they give people a purpose and are a great way to meet new friends. Research on line as they are popping up in many places.
  • Yoga,Meditation,Pilates,Exercise.- Whether male or female there a on line classes for everyone. No effort as you are in your own home, nobody to see you, no cost just simple movement which is the most important thing our ageing bodies need.
  • Hydo-Water activities– another post coved activity. Local pools have lots of classes for seniors with special classes or simply do some easy stretches and leisurely swimming
  • Language Course-learn a new language on line. I have friends who have done just this and are really enjoying the process.
  • Pets– If you don’t have one and you live alone consider adopting a pet. The reasons are obvious, companionship, responsibility, fun and caring. No negatives here and no time to be bored or complacent. They wont let it happen.

I hope you have fun finding your new or renewed interest. If you have a story to tell of how you fill the hours let me know in the comments. 🌻😃

Living alone, loneliness and its challenges.

I am basing this blog only on the knowledge of relatives and friends I know who are in either or both of these situations. I am not assuming that every person who lives alone is suffering. One can live alone and not be lonely, one can live with many but battle with loneliness.

Living alone has some really obvious and positive benefits. One can manage their space to cater for all of their own likes and dislikes. They can run with a schedule or not. They do not have to be considerate of someone else’s feelings, their moods or their preferences. The work load is less if living alone and the grocery bill is cheaper. They can wear daggy clothes or no clothes. They can eat or not eat, sleep or not sleep, cry and curse at whomever they want and turn the volume up whenever the moods takes them. These are things that those living in a family or a relationship sometimes envy of those who live alone.

I would like to point out the numerous negatives many of us never think about.

Putting aside the unusual state a pandemic creates, imagine if you are single, unable to work or are maybe self employed and working alone from home. Consider someone who suffers from anxiety or has social phobias. Your life may be like living with a lot of the covid restrictions but not only for one or two years but for a lifetime. Consider a person in this situation could easily find themselves with no reason to actually use their own voice. The mobile phone has minimised the amount of actual calls one needs to make. Texts are a common method of dialogue now. A person in this situation does not need to leave the house as we can order our groceries, clothes, computers, stationery and actually most goods online without the need to speak. No contact drop off has eliminated the need to see or hear another human being. There are many single people in this situation. The need for human interaction becomes minimised and eventually eliminated. This is quite sad and disturbing and quite real.

Again very sad that this situation continues and can actually become a mental illness or can result in medical complications. With no accountability to others we have no need to take responsibility for our own health or wellbeing. There is no one who will question them, encourage them or help to motivate them. When one isolates we tend to think our view is the most important and this is totally wrong in my mind. We need to listen to other opinions, other ideas, otherwise we become self indulgent and therefore selfish. It is important to get out and to communicate. Working, mingling or joining sporting or activity groups puts more of a perspective on our opinions. It is vital to learn and to grow as a person.

Then you have those who are surrounded by relatives and/or friends, are members of clubs and are continually active but unknown to others they feel totally alone. Sometimes people keep busy to avoid being alone or avoid thinking about themselves. They often appear very in control or very happy with life but in fact are not. For many reasons they have not connected personally with anyone. Maybe they do not feel special or needed or loved. Often people feel misunderstood or judged. Maybe they are insecure with different aspects of themselves. I am sure there are many reasons and many times people in this situation rarely express these feelings and therefore their contacts believe they are ok, leaving the problem unsolved and the feeling of being alone continues.

Of course we have all felt alone at times. That birthday that you insisted on not celebrating but then on the day you receive no acknowledgement and you feel alone and a little sad. That time you decide not to go to the party and then are sorry you are sitting home alone on a Saturday night. Maybe your partner is away for a week and you feel moments of loneliness. I remember times when a major decision had to be made and there was no one else there to help. One feels alone and neglected during these situations. The main difference here is you will probably be laughing or commiserating with another human the following day. Time will pass quickly and you would have moved onto new things to keep you occupied and sane. That may not be the result for those who are totally isolated on a long term basis.

The Covid-19 virus has certainly highlighted the need for human touch and the sound of the human voice. The need to feel needed and the desire to talk to people on a day to day basis. We can only hope that we all consider those who are still living day to day with restrictive lifestyles and where possible reach out to them just a little more than we have in the past.

What is your take on love

Do you believe you are or have been in love?

I was asked this question many times during the first couple of decades of my marriage. Being married very young everyone decided they knew better than I, so the statement rather than the question was, You cannot be in love you are too young!, or do you even know what love is? I tended to answer with ambiguous phrases because honestly I was unable to answer undeniably. I was very young, with little experience to compare. I was extremely happy and felt safe so I believed I was in love. I had nothing tangible to qualify this feeling. Over the years with this question being posed often, I wondered how one could categorically answer it. In years gone it was not generally perceived that women would have careers, their role was that of housewife and mother. Marriage was there go to, the only real excitement in their life between the 21st birthday bash and the expectation of children. The wedding was high on the female list. Marriage was still considered as a permanent structure so it was important to try to evaluate whether the love you felt for your partner was real or just a fleeting crush.I have thought many times over the years, including more recent times, that the partner in the equation of marriage was often less important than the big day. It really saddens me to say this but countless conversations leading up to the wedding day reinforces this belief over and over again.

The sixties was a huge decade of freedom and love, discovery and awareness. Many times the subject of love and sex was part of the discussions within my circle of friends. With more and more news about feminism and career possibilities women were a little confused about their futures. Add to this the talk of sexual awareness, sexual freedom and I think it was fair to say we as females questioned whether love was real or just an emotional stage. Everyone described their relationships in differing terms, with moving levels of depth which actually made it near impossible to evaluate.

Describe what love means to you.

One has to define love before answering this question. the dictionary says,  “an intense feeling of deep attraction” or “a great interest and pleasure in something” 

The Oxford dictionary says “ an intense feeling of romantic attachment based on an attraction felt by one person for another etc etc .

So is it one or the other, all of the above or none of the above. Another description I read in a google search seems to describe loving a person more adequately in my mind. 

I quote. “Love is when you choose to be at your best when the other person is not at their best. Love is when what you want is never as important as their needs.” When I say this I stress it is never ok to disregard ones own self worth. If we do not love and respect ourself then we cannot have the same love and respect for another.  

I believe love is many things and one does not know this on their first encounter or for many years later. What we feel in the beginning is desire, sexual attraction, heightened emotion and an ease of presence and safety. However these emotions can be obliterated so quickly with negative actions, that they are not sustainable without more. As humans we also need friendship and empathy. We need to feel and receive compassion, caring, understanding. Furthermore we must also learn to accept another person for who they are, not for whom we want them to be.

How does love vary from person to person

My lifetime has revealed many types of love. The protective love of a child, total respect and honour of a parent, the passion of a lover or the comfort, deep understanding and compassion of a spouse. Even though these descriptions are all emotional and easily identified they are no less important than the devoted and sustained love of a career, a job, a hobby or a pastime. This being said it is relatively obvious that love varies considerably both within one person and between two persons. Love is too vast a category to define it with one description. It is a feeling and one not easily described and one that takes time to truly recognise.

Reflection

Having said all this, I can honestly say now after 52 years of being with the same man, we have grown together and changed in many ways. We have laughed, cried, loved, annoyed and frustrated each other over the years. When I think about all of what I have described above, I finally I have the confidence to say I have experienced several forms of love and am and always have been in love.

What do you give a senior person as a gift.

It seems simple when we, being older people, say we don’t want gifts, we have everything we need. You may have read in a previous blog about my feelings about celebratory days. Therefore you would know I do not rate them as a priority in my life. Having said that I like to be spoiled the same as most people. To feel loved and pampered is so uplifting. It is a motivation to keep living, especially for those who are ill or those whose lives are sad and lonely.

The type of gift is what is important here. In todays world, particularly in our lucky country many of us own our home, have money to buy what we need and as we age we need a lot less. I only speak for myself in this post but I do think that if you give the following it will be appreciated.

Time is what we want, whether it be time spent with those who makes us happy or time spent doing the activities or the hobbies we enjoy. Time to be heard and time to reminisce. What we need is to feel respected and loved. By this I personally mean we like to think we are of value and our experiences and insights gained over the years have not been wasted.

I am sure a lot of us remember back when we were teenagers or young adults and thought of our parents as old, unwise, out of touch and intolerant. I can recall these feelings on some occassions.

I am now old enough to realise how thoughtless and even cruel that was. I did not value the time I had with the people who knew the most about me. I did not respect the experiences and the knowledge they gained through the multitude of changes they went through over there existence. I had not experienced the hardships of war and the depression. I had not lived through several pandemics I had not experienced death and destruction. I often think about the confusion of migration and the introduction of new cultures and traditions. In addition to this I wish I knew more about their lives as children, what toys they had, what they did with their friends. We will never ever really know what the world was like before we entered it, if we rely only on books or google to enlighten us. Talking to an older person will give you so much more colour, depth and yes maybe a little license will be taken with the story but it will be worth it. Life was so different in generations before us. It has only been in recent times that I have taken the time to think about this. What I do know is I now regret by own lack of insight.

Next time you are thinking what can I give grandma or the elderly neighbour or anyone for that matter, buy the chocolates, the flowers or the new appliance they may need but pair that offer with a visit, a phone call or an invite for coffee. The exchange will be more than worth it for you and I assure you the person receiving will value that time above everything else.

What is a successful life

Is there a difference between achievement and success

Ken and I have just had a discussion about the privilege of being able to sit out in our own garden with a bottle of wine warming ourselves in front of a pit fire chatting about anything and everything.The discussion turned to being proud of what we have achieved in life. Nothing like wine for a bit of self praise. Ken is a pretty humble guy so I found myself having to convince him that we have achieved a lot. I sat there listing what I believe are his achievements and he minimising each thing as normal and ordinary. He then proudly points out my achievements and I, maybe less than him, I write them off as ordinary.

What i want to discuss is what I believe is success. Bare with me here as this ramble is a bit self indulgent. Recently in a zoom discussion a group of friends were doing questions and answers. The question – What does success mean to you? Most answered happiness or financial security, a good career. I value those things and I do relate them to success. I had not really thought about the question beforehand and when I answered off the cuff I had to later query myself. My answer was, “Getting to this age and still being alive” Am I answering the same question or am I talking about my achievements? Is there a difference?

The dictionary definition of success is ” the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” an example of this may be,

A person has just walked to the end of the street with the specific purpose of getting to the end — success.

The dictionary definition of achievement is ” a thing done successfully with effort, skill or courage” the same example with a slight difference.

A person with only one leg has just walked to the end of the street with the specific goal of getting to the end—achievement

If we take these words literally we could be quietly destroying our confidence. We all have an aim or a purpose for each day of our life. We wake each day with a to do list and at the end of the day the tasks are not all completed. do we render ourselves as failures or do we consider ourselves successful with what we did finish.A negative person will head toward failure but a positive person will be successful. My belief is we are all successful in the fact that we are still functioning at the end of every single day. Life can be hard with many hurdles to jump. Every time we get to the other side of those obstacles we have achieved.

The reason we think we are not successful or feel we have not achieved comes from the reality that these words are often used to describe status. When we think of status we immediately relate to financial security, financial freedom, power or position, recognition and validity.

Many years ago I remember a day when I felt l had not achieved or been successful very much in my life. That day was a negative one and I decided after that to think a little more about what exactly was success. I thought about what was important to me as opposed to what everyone around me thought. I remember back to my mother and her last years. Unfortunately she had a difficult life and was still renting and struggling financially right up until her death. She was also ill and in pain so her last years were not happy. I remember thinking then that I did not want to be reliant on the government and I did not want to have the insecurity of not having a roof over my head so this thought process was my motivation to try to achieve some financial security.I feel an element of success because there was a purpose for getting to that position. It is however something that I have achieved but do not think about it as an achievement. I think about getting my accountants degree under quite difficult circumstances so I do count that as an achievement as it took courage and a whole lot of effort to obtain it. I am valued by my present employer and I count that as an achievement because I have learnt the skills to be good at what I do.

My husband worked for over 25years with a very large company with thousands of employees. When the company finally closed its doors he was the last person left to finalise everything. He was not the CEO or the financial guru, he was the warehouse manager and he was a dedicated, hard working, loyal employee who they trusted. Ken has been an amateur astronomer since he was a boy. He is well respected by his peers. He has co-authored two books on astronomy and co-authored and published other astronomy magazines. One annual publication has been produced 31 years running and is highly regarded in the industry.

Together we ran a successful small business for 18 years with loyal staff who are still our friends. Our customers openly praised our business and again some are still our friends. We did not become outrageously rich from this but certainly helped to gain some financial security in our old age.

Ken and I have been married for 52 years and we are happy with our lives. He has been my whole life since I was 16yrs old. He is my mentor, my security and my only love. We own our own home and we have travelled both local and overseas. Our achievement here is that we are still together we are still respectful of each other and we are still happy. We have 2 daughters who are still talking to us and hopefully will be active in our lives until the end. We are enjoying our retirement. We are not rich in money or famous, neither are we distinguished or decorated.

We are however very rich in life. I call this an ongoing successful existence with many achievements.

Have you thought about this question and what do you think is important?

Doctors visits, tests and medication.

Increase in doctors visits.

This was something neither my husband or I gave any thought to before retirement. We have been relatively free of any serious illness throughout out life. Of course we are not immune so we have had the normal everyday occurrences of colds and viruses and short hospital stays etc.

Then we hit 60 and I think the body must have a trigger that comes alive around this time. As it happened we had a regular doctor at the time who was and still is quite thorough and diligent. I have always believed if you have an engaging active doctor it is best to stay with them if possible. A history is then gathered and changes are more noticeable for follow up. Of course it goes without saying one should always question any procedure or medication that is suggested. I feel we are lucky to have a doctor who does let us question and then thoroughly explains everything to us. She also does not prescribe medication unnecessarily or without follow up. I do remember having discussions over the years with ageing relatives about why they were taking a certain medication. The answer I received several times was I don’t remember, I must ask the doctor next time I am there. In my experience elderly people dont like to take up the doctors time, so they minimise the need to be there or they forget to ask questions. If you are reading this and have an elderly person you care for maybe they would let you go in with them as a support. I often wonder how many people are getting the correct care as they get older. We do heavily rely on what our doctors say. Furthermore we have less control of our faculties and therefore while have full control we need to find a doctor we can heavily depend upon for the future. Alternatively we need to ask for help.

Ken and I together have experienced the usual blood tests along with the occasional radiography scan, Colonoscopy, Gastroscopy or Endoscopy and so on. I am certainly not going to explain these procedures with my lack of medical expertise. I will also refrain from going into the gory details. I imagine there are not many people really wanting to know the nuts and bolts of my complaints.

What I would like to explain is a test I have just had which I believe could be quite daunting for some elderly people especially without prior knowledge. Please note here there is no pain involved with this procedure and it is completely safe.

I had a little scare recently experiencing heart palpitations and tightening chest. Ended up in the local emergency room for a few hours having tests. I was discharged with a suggestion that it was a reflux condition not a heart problem. I followed up with my doctor who wanted more tests done to confirm. After several tests and a visit to the cardiac specialist I was asked to have a Cardiac MRI.  

Typical MRI Machine.

I had previously had an MRI for bursitis in my shoulder so I was prepared for it or so I thought. I was referred to St Vincents hospital in Darlinghurst which is a bit of a travel experience on its own. I drove in with the assumption there would be a car park attached. This is the case however it was full so try finding a car space near the centre of Oxford street in the middle of the working week, in a pandemic was a bit challenging. Around and around the tiny, often one way side streets saw me heading quickly into a panic. Finally I came across a private medical centre car park which seemed accessible. I drove in parked and headed for the exit. I did not really know where I was but as it turned out luck was with me as I was just a little way up the street from my destination.

So it’s a pandemic and I have to sign in, but of course there system is slightly different to the norm. My QR code was not recognised. Wait in line, sign the book and then fill out a 2 page questionnaire. Finally I am allowed to proceed to the department. Now to go through the admin procedure of forms to complete, cards and referrals to present, payment to be made. Nurse takes you to another room, takes your temperature, blood pressure etc. She asks you about your medical history and why are you there. Asks you to clarify what test you are having and then more questions. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging so naturally there are magnets at work here. Do you have any metal in your body? Maybe, I have a replacement knee but not sure if it is metal or plastic. I have dentures and not really sure if the holdings are metal. Are you claustrophobic? well not that I know of but I have not spent much time in small restricted areas, I guess not? Are you on any medications, thankfully one only. Hate to think if I had a multitude of pills to remember.

It is time to put on the dreaded gown and follow the nurse to a room where she tells you what is going to happen. We will lay you on this bed, strap your body down, put some padded bolsters around your body to hold you firmly. A devise is placed on your chest to be used to send radio wave signals where needed. In my case an intravenous line was inserted in my vein to allow a later injection of contrast material required to help with imaging. The last attachment was headphones. These are to dull the apparently irritating loud drilling sound the machine makes and also allows the technician to instruct you.I was given a push button to call if I needed to. The very pleasant nurse then explained I would slowly slide into the tunnel of the machine, I would hear someone speak through the earphones instructing when to hold my breath and when to breath. You are then told it is important to remain completely still. Please relax and it will only take about 40 minutes and I am just outside the door if you need me. Final step was to inject the die and we are ready to go. Every aspect was explained and every precaution taken considering the magnetisation capabilities of the machine. The nurse was very pleasant so there was no fear in going ahead.

I am good at breathing slowly and relaxing when having needles or tests so I took a deep breath, exhaled and closed my eyes. The first sensation I felt was the sides of the tunnel on my body, definitely smaller than I thought. Once I was in place I opened my eyes and was a little shocked to find the roof of the cylinder looming very close to my face. This I did not expect as previous MRI tunnel was a lot bigger. My arms which were by my side touched each side of the tunnel. The next surprising part was the breathing. it was explained a voice would be heard instructing me to breath in, breath out and then hold breath for about 10 seconds.That’s fine, no big deal I can do that. A very pleasant voice was heard through the head phones telling me when to start and stop. Then the drilling noise started, quite loud, quite scary at first. All good I was expecting it. What everyone omitted to say was that the breathing ritual would happen about 60 or more ( I lost count) times during the 40 minutes you are in the tube. There is no pain or discomfort. I was not scared at all but  continuously worried that I was not doing it correctly so each time it happened my concentration would increase and I tried harder to breath at exactly the right time etc. until I became exhausted. I had this unrealistic fear that at the end the voice would tell me I had to start all over again because I had not been doing it correctly. Finally, when I was beginning to doubt my capabilities I heard the assistants lovely voice saying all done we will bring you out now. 

It was such a relief to slide out and feel space around me once again. The nurse took of all the apparel off and kindly said you can sit up slowly and stand when you are ready.  I could not actually lift myself to a sitting position Either I was too tired or too relaxed from all that breathing and my body felt so heavy I had to ask for her help.Once up and moving I quickly returned to normal. The nurse had asked me prior to starting if had I had an MRI previously and I said yes. That was the wrong answer as it was a totally different experience to the previous one.

Reflection

Looking back on it now, It was interesting and slightly amusing adventure. A test one should not be frightened of but one that could be explained in a little more detail for someone who is even a just little anxious. I have inserted a link here to a youtube video which explains the procedure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-jj4KrmYPI

My results were excellent with no need for further investigation. Come back in 4 years. Sounds good to me.

Questioning how we Celebrate.

I want to pre-empt this ramble by saying that I, like most people enjoy the fact that traditional special days allow me the excuse to do something fun with people. I am sure my boss would not understand if I simply asked for a day off because I felt the need to celebrate. Public holidays give me a day off from work or house duties and other allocated days of celebration give me an excuse to eat more cake or to drink more wine. Often with the added pleasure of seeing my friends and families on these days. None of these are bad things and I am not about to advocate for the removal of any of these special occasions. Having said that I have never pushed heavily to celebrate these days because the reasons behind the allocation of these special days simply do not comply with my personal beliefs. Furthermore many of these events are so commercially driven that it makes me angry and disillusioned.

Birthdays

This should be the easiest to understand. We are born, we have no say in the matter, we have no control over how, when or why this occurs.The mother, in fact, is the hero on this day. She is the one is deserving, having spent many months carrying an extra load and doing all the preparatory work for us to enter the world. We then just pop out into the world after many months of complete loving protection. For for this hard work we get to celebrate one day a year for the next how ever many years we stay on this earth. Consider for roughly the next 20 years we still have no control over our lives, in fact it is our parents once again doing the hard yards in keeping us alive during this time. At this point in the discussion I think Mum and Dad should be having “The Birthday” celebration.

I will admit the next 20 years we may, and I emphasis may, earn the right to be recognised and the right to feel appreciated. These are the years some of the human race finally figure out that we have reached adulthood and maybe it is time to stand on our own two feet. We have to start making decisions for our futures. We have to work to cover our own finances, we get to choose how, when and what path we will go down. So the question here is, for this and the next 20 years should we be rewarded and congratulated every single year simply for living.

Now we get to 60 and this is when I do believe we should get to celebrate once a year or for that matter all the time. There are several reasons why. Firstly we got here, that is in itself a huge effort on our part so I feel we deserve some recognition at this point. Every year thereafter is a bonus also worthy of reward. Secondly we may have actually achieved something in our lives, good work ethic, great relationships, financial security. For those who have not had an easy ride up to now, they need to be made to feel hopeful that something good is around the corner. The third reason is if we have been lucky, we will now actually have the time and the finances to enjoy those celebrations we have already had 60 times over but have never necessarily appreciated or understood why we were being congratulated.

Public Holidays

In Australia the government allocates, at the very least, 9 public holidays to celebrate each year. All employers are responsible to pay their employees a full days wage if the public holiday falls on a work day. This of course is in addition to the other 30 odd days a year the employer pays for unworked time off. The employer receives no benefit, no compensation and no production on those days. This is a large cost for the business owner whether it be the government or private enterprise. Of course we as employees will all argue we deserve it. Well that is certainly an argument for another time. There are several reasons for these allocated days and one wonders the significance of these days in the modern world. Let us take a closer look.

  • 4 days are based on religion whether you are religious or not.Therefore many of us are allocated time off to celebrate something that means absolutely nothing to us and in fact it may be something we totally frown upon.
  • 1 day is based on the introduction in Australia of the 8 hour working day back in 1856. Not sure we need to continue to recognise this day 165 years later. I understand it was a major achievement back then but currently the push is for a 4 day working week so the 8 hour day will then be redundant or will we then change the reason for the day off.
  • 1 day is given for the Queens birthday. There are many historical reasons given for why we all are given a day off to celebrate this milestone many years ago. In reality how many people actually reflect on this event on the day allocated and how many people in this country actually support the monarchy.
  • 1 day is given on 1st of January each year was introduced by Caesar partly to honour Janus the Roman god of beginnings. I do find that hard to relate to in todays society. Actually I think we keep this day as it is required as a recovery day from the New Years Eve parties the night before. This makes much more sense to me.
  • 1 day is given to celebrate Australia. For many people, Australia Day is about celebrating the values, freedoms and pastimes of our country. It’s a time for BBQs in the backyard, having a beer with mates and proudly flying the flag. On the surface, Australia Day seems to be about unifying all Australians, and yet ironically, it’s a divisive day for a growing number of people.The controversy of this day is increasing year by year and I wonder how beneficial it is in this modern society.
  • 1 day is given to commemorate the landing at Anzac Cove and is a mark of respect for those who served and sacrificed their lives in the Great War. This is the only one which I feel is warranted as the act of war changes our lives permanently. Many people who live in todays modern world have not experienced or witnessed the atrocities of war. Remembering is what helps us avoid further wars or at the very least reminds us to be prepared for possible controversy which will likely result in war.

The basic fundamental aim of celebration of public holidays is to unite people and to create peace in the world. I question if that is what we are achieving when we celebrate those listed above.

Mothers Day/Fathers Day

Always something I have disagreed with. These and the many other days of recognition are ridiculous in my mind.

Society pressures us to recognise, congratulate and glorify the roles which we ourselves choose to take. I am a mother because I chose to be. I do not agree that the world should celebrate that decision. I believe it is much more meaningful to receive a bunch of flowers or a thank you out of the blue, not when society tells my children that is what they should. How much actual love and thought is put into these days. How much sadness is caused to those who have lost that special person in their life, how much anger when someone is told to honour someone who is not worth honouring. How many memories, some good and some horribly bad are resurrected on these days. I know some people will argue with me on this note and thats fine too but I do not like the abundant commercialism that comes with these declared celebrations or special days.

The dictionary word celebrate means “acknowledge with a social gathering or enjoyable activity” We could do this any day or any time without prompting if we just thought about others before ourselves a little more often than we currently do. I apologise if this post is a little cynical, something that is creeping in as I get older and less tolerant.

Reflections

We would certainly feel lonely and isolated without having planned celebrations and I suppose that is the good side of these accepted traditional days. Special occasions are a reason to connect with others and to feel a part of society. It is often all we need to restore some happiness in a life that is full of sadness or lacks motivation. My preference though is for a little more spontaneity. I have to say I always find the most fun times to be those that are are unexpected. I welcome your comments.

The Pandemic 2020

From My Diary

31st March 2020 I wrote the following words in my diary.

I woke early this morning, just a little worried as things are so uncertain but trying to stay positive. We will get past this with a little patience. The virus is spreading rapidly throughout the world. The government is trying financially to help the many people now out of work, the small business’ that have now closed. The associated mental health problems of isolation and the vulnerability of those in dangerous or difficult situations.Its a tall ask. We have to pull our weight and do what is asked of us. Unfortunately many people are being reckless and putting us all at risk.

Today I visited with our eldest daughter. She suffers from ill health so we are trying to keep her locked down as much as possible as her immunity is quite low. This results in extreme loneliness and fear of the future. My youngest helped out by getting her groceries and dropping them at the door. We all enjoyed  a nice chat even though we were all separated by a screen door. We all need each other at the moment. We are not in total lockdown yet but I feel it is very close. 

Changing to something more positive we have been trying to get back into our walking daily and have managed a couple of days of neighbourhood walks and then one afternoon went for a stroll around Wentworth Falls Lake. Certainly a substantial walk if you do the whole round trip. The weather being mild helped us cover the distance. Some is bush track and other parts are on local roads. The whole walk was long but easy. It cleared the head and strengthened the heart so that’s a good thing for all. It has been raining on and off quite frequently in the last week.  so we have been restricted to the house. Of course the garden needs the rain and we have the pleasure of wondering through the yard so we should not complain but it is a little restricting when activity is at a minimum at the moment. Let us hope we are back to normal living soon.  

Reflection

One thing I have relied on heavily during this time is social media. More me it was Facebook which i personally thought was a good thing prior to the pandemic. In this environment I think it has helped in many ways.There are those who, in the past, have scoffed and said it was a trivial pastime. I will agree it can be trivial and it can be negative, however in this time of social isolation it is interesting to note some of those people who ridiculed previously, are now joining the many many people reaching out for something to pass the time. What I enjoy is the tiny snippets of peoples day to day living, the vast amount of jokes or silly games. The sharing of photo’s, poems, conversations and stories that come from many different walks of life. It is vital at this stage to stay in touch with the world and it is also vital to not let the negativities push you down. 

Around the lake at Wentworth Falls

4th September 2021 – 17 months later the following words were written.

Another of our monthly weekend visits to Wiruna (Ilford) passing without attendance. Cases are averaging 1400 a day now and daily deaths have increased. A small number of people  constantly flouting the rules and keeping us in this situation.The rush is on to get NSW vaccination uptake to 70% double dose. This is when some restrictions will be lifted. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to take up the vaccination. In a democratic society  it  is each  individual persons rite to say yes or no. I can understand that and readily accept that. What I cannot accept is those people who are freely moving around not wearing masks, not keeping distances, travelling where they should not be. The majority of the people dying each day are  not fully vaccinated. The number of people who are sick with Covid is high but the majority are now are managing the virus and this tells us that the vaccine is working. I am not naive and realise that some will die even if fully vaccinated. The idea is to help as many as possible. Thats the best we can do.

We all understand the vaccine will not eliminate Covid but it will help minimise the effects of it. We all know that even when the vaccine rates are high it will not solve the problem but if it eases the problem then it is worth the effort.The world is tired of isolation. People need to interact with others, We all need to work and we all need to feel we are worth something.There is so much  blame being thrown around but we all need to understand it is no one person at fault. This is particular virus is new to all of us, mistakes will be made and we will all learn from them. Everyone, whether it be World Health Organisation, an individual  governments or the  Doctors, and specialists are trying to solve this situation the best they can. Having to deal with disrespectful individuals, hounding reporters and changing scenarios just makes it that much harder.  I wish people were more considerate.

Reflections once again

It is amazing we are still here after so much time of confusion and restriction. We have managed ok and I think we have learned a few lessons. I have had many conversations with friends about what we have all missed out on but more importantly what we have gained. I feel we have learnt the value and the necessity of staying in touch with family and or friends. We have learned we can do things differently with just a little thought and rearranging. I for one have seen the beauty of my surroundings and have discovered simple ways to pass the time. Lets hope I am not adding another virus related story to my diary in the future.