Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Comforts of Self-Hugging

Whether a solo traveler or a traveler with partner -- given the Pandemic guidelines of physical distancing -- connection has been impacted.  While those with a partner may be getting their quota of daily hugs; those of us who are solo travelers may be experiencing a scarcity of warm touch from others.


Enter self-hugging – WOW!   I now give myself a bear hug over every pleasant experience, chore well done or just for no reason at all.  The hugs are accompanied with loving, supportive words:  "Great job today!"  "You drank your 64 ounces of water—Great!"  "I love you."  “I’m sorry you’re feeling sad.  I love you and I am here for you, always have been.”  As my hand lovingly rubs my upper arms, I voice to myself what I would love to hear from that one special person. 

So like many of us do these days with a new idea, question or even meeting a new person of interest -- I googled ‘self-hugging'.  Lo and behold these directions appeared...as a guideline.

Self-hugging 101

*Fold your arms around your body, positioning them in a way that feels natural and comfortable... 
*Rest your hands on your shoulders or upper arm (just above your biceps). ...
*Imagine the type of hug you want. ...
*Squeeze yourself with just enough pressure to create the sensation you're looking for…


When you’re feeing that Pandemic burnout, feeling disconnected, isolated, or even just plain good – give self-hugging a try.  What have you got to lose?



https://www.healthline.com/health/hugging-self

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

21st Century Untouchable Lepers

 Nothing is so healing as the human touch. 

                                        Bobby Fischer*  

                                                           

As we enter the eighth month of the 'New Now,' did any of us ever imagine that masks would become the new fashion statement?   Who ever dreamed that shaking hands, a gentle hug, a loving touch, a kiss on the cheek, could possibly be a life threatening occasion?

At the farmer's market last week, I ran into a friend.   As required, we were both masked.  As I approached my friend, with my unseen smile under the mask, to say "hello" -- rather than the normal hug we usually exchange -- she took 2-3 steps away from me.   I immediately felt like a 21st Century Untouchable Leper.  

Thank goodness for Zoom and other virtual sites that allow us to virtually hang out with friends.   I attended my first Zoom birthday party last weekend and it was grand fun and lifted my spirits.  Virtual hugs, while nice, are not the same as arms embracing one another.  I now not only give myself good-morning and good-night hugs;  I hug myself after I practice my piano,  write a blog and anything I do that I'm proud to have done.  But none of that captures the gentle, loving, soft touch from another.

The isolation and touch deprivation have led to moments of irritableness, despair and depression.   I recognize for myself that perhaps the virus is not the worst thing -- isolation and disconnect are pretty bad, too.  Massage, with masks, is now available and I'm in.   Only now, rather than every other week -- it will be a weekly occurrence.  

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Bobby Fischer, Chess Grandmaster
http://www.picturequotes.com/nothing-is-so-healing-as-the-human-touch-quote-410732

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Adapt to Survive & Thrive

The most important factor in survival
is neither intelligence nor strength
but adaptability.
                                                                                  Charles Darwin

I’m in awe as I witness each country’s efforts to adapt to the challenges the Pandemic has brought.  In our own country, witnessing governors as they adapt and implement tough regulations to keep us safe.   How essential businesses, i.e., grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, adapt to continue to provide the necessities of daily living.

I express gratitude to the sanitation workers who continue to pick up our trash, the truckers who continue to transport goods, U.S. Post Office, UPS, FedEx, the online businesses that continue to provide us with our needs and wants.

The losses we are sharing with all of humanity are something none of us have ever witnessed before.  For many the loss of health, the death of loved ones, jobs that put one on the frontlines, loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of housing – all devastating. 

For others, such as myself, the loss of multiple things that bring us pleasure. Most significant for me, the loss of my morning swim – a ritual for 45+ years. The mile swim is now a two-hour morning walk and an hour evening walk.  Walks where I continue to discover new beauty right in my own backyard where I’ve lived for 23 years.

What loss/losses are you grieving and how are you adapting?   I encourage you to look in the mirror, speak them out loud while you applaud and celebrate your own adaptability.   

I end with these wise words: “May the new normal teach us to be grateful for the things the old normal taught us to take for granted.” **

###

**Mark Shubert, Mission Viejo Naadadores  swim team coach 
Quote appeared in 5/8/20 New York Times
Sports Friday Section page B9


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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Directionally Challenged

With technology, there is so much isolation with people now,
that there are very few places where you can connect.
                                                                                       *Mireille Guiliano 


I am directionally challenged.  Recently, I drove to Boone, NC, for darshan with Mother Meera using printed Mapquest directions.  That’s right, no IPhone and no car GPS.

Mapquest easily got me to Boone proper.  However, as I headed up the multiple winding mountain roads, I knew I was lost.  As a car passed me in the other direction I honked and waved -- she stopped, backed up, had me turn around and lead me to where I was headed…  I made it – though 20 minutes late.

As I left darshan, I knew my directional challenges would still be in play.  I asked the man walking next to me if he was headed back to Boone if I could follow him – he was and I did.

Once back in civilization, B. pulled into a strip mall, parked and I parked next to him.  We stopped for coffee in a cafe where B. and I shared our personal experiences of being caregivers for our loved ones as they died.  I shared about a recent visit to Oak Park, IL, to visit my father’s gravesite after sixty years.  He shared how he was now happily married for six years.

While I do love being greeted upon arrival home by Grace, my ten-year old Tortoiseshell cat, having the heartfelt connection B. and I experienced was well worth the delay -- all thanks to no GPS.

###

*author French Women Don't Get Facelifts:
The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude 
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mireille_guiliano_530746?src=t_technology

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Looking Good -- Period!!


If I can challenge old ideas about aging, I will feel more and more invigorated.
I want to represent this new way. I want to be a new version of the 70-year-old woman.
                                                                                                       *Jamie Lee Curtis


Finally, I have had the 21st Century experience of Videotelephony…

While L., residing in LA, and I frequently speak, this is the first time in 20-plus years that we see one another through Facetime on my IPod Touch.   L. tells me:  “You look good – you’re marriage material.”  My response:  “Yes, I look good for a 72 year old woman.”  Fu_k that!!!

How is it as we age and receive such a compliment we qualify it because of age?  Receiving such compliments at 40, 50 – even 60, my response “thank you” -- no qualifier.

Recently, I read two mysteries each referring to the "old woman witness."  In one mystery she remained nameless.  While in the other, she had a name but as the detective is struggling to remember what she looks like, the narrator states: “…no one pays much attention to old women.”  (Both mysteries written by women...)

At 72, I am an old woman and identify with these descriptives.   Despite having lots of energy, feeling I have more to contribute than ever, feeling I look good -- once out in the world I take on the negative imaging of the 'old woman' and my internalized ageism continues to fester.

I recently purchased red eyeglass frames that get noticed daily:  “Love your glasses and how your  lipstick matches.” While many may find this shallow – I once again love being noticed -- even if just for my glasses. 

Back to the beginning, should I ever receive another compliment on my appearance –  I hope to respond with “thank you” -- with no qualifier about age!

###

*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/
jamie_lee_curtis_582122?src=t_old_woman

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Bullets for Healing?

I love firing guns. It's an amazing feeling – so sexy and powerful.
                                                          *Hayley Atwell (actress)


I surprise myself and opt for the private lesson at an indoor shooting range. I journey 40 miles outside of Asheville to Mountain Range.  S. is my teacher.  He is white haired with a Santa Claus beard, soft soothing voice and lovely smile.  He spends the first 15 minutes of my 30-minute lesson on gun safety before he guides me into the shooting range to begin the process of loading, aiming and firing at a target.

As S. prepares me for my first shot he instructs me to  “…breathe in, breathe out -- we need to get the Zen thing going.”  Of the 36 bullets I shoot, all but 7 hit the target area:  My target – the voices of self-criticism, self-loathing, anger, grief, depression that have flooded me since the car break-in and theft (see blog 1/26/19).  Each time I pull the trigger I internally shout: “Goodbye self-criticism, goodbye self-loathing, goodbye anger, goodbye grief, goodbye depression!!!

I leave Mountain Range Indoor Shooting Range with a sense of renewal.  First of all, I did something outside of my liberal-progressive mindset and comfort zone – I crossed a divide and thoroughly enjoyed all those I met on the other side – staff and customers.

As I drive back to Asheville, I experience freedom and empowerment from the heaviness that has been smothering me.  Ironically, I feel a return of inner peace.  I believe, that the physical sensations of shooting released built-up tension in my body and, more importantly, S.'s  kindness, patience and  message of  “we need to get the Zen thing going” all contributed to getting me back to center -- for now.

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 *https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/hayley_atwell_536396

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Unexpected Events in Life's Journey

There are wounds that never show on the body that are
deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.
                                                              *Laurell K. Hamilton


The Saturday before Christmas, I returned to my car, put my swim gear in the trunk and then saw the shattered glass from the broken driver’s window.  My eyes glanced over to the passenger seat floor where I had foolishly left my new hand-made leather shoulder bag that was now gone.  The purse contained the necessities of living in the 21st Century:  cell phone, driver’s license, credit cards; extravagant little pleasures -- a beautiful red Visconti fountain pen, an elegant leather checkbook cover; and, most precious, my deceased partner's key ring and her Mona-Lisa mesh make-up bag.

The concrete stuff has mostly been taken care of -- banking stuff, credit cards, driver’s license, etc.  Now there is the time and space for the emotional trauma to settle in – the intensity of which has surprised me.

Through their loving empathy and compassion, I am grateful to those friends who made me feel held and supported.  But in essence the journey has been a solo one -- no partner by my side to soothe and comfort.  And sadly, I, also, have been unable to soothe and comfort myself...  The feelings are multiple: grief, anger,  depression, loneliness, isolation.

It is five weeks since the break-in and theft.  As I write this, I ponder whether to attend the Qigong mini-retreat starting in 30 minutes at a local yoga center to gain some inner peace or a private lesson at an indoor target range in the hopes to release some inner grief and anger -- both at the same reasonable price of $35.  I'm undecided.  Which might you choose?

 (...to be continued 1/27/19)

###

*author Mistral’s Kiss
*https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/trauma