You are here

I like maps that have a little figure or symbol that says “You are here”.  It’s much easier for me to see where I am going, if I know where I am starting from.  The maps in large malls are especially important,  because they help me find shoe stores. Just get me to the shoes, and I am a happy camper. I wish I could print a map that showed me where I parked! Timelines of historical events are also good visuals for me. Besides the War of 1812, I am a little fuzzy on the “when” of historical events.  My own life timeline could show me the order of events in my lifetime. and how I got to 63 years old. I wonder with so many events each year, how one dot can hold it all.

Time and place are ways I use to locate my lost self. For my first 28 years I lived in Iowa, but on May 13, 1980 I moved to Fort Collins. The “here” in “You are here.” changed from Iowa to Colorado, so 5/13/1980 is a big dot on my timeline.  Colorado is my home, but I still say I am going “home” to Iowa for a visit.  Before and after….  Before October 7, 1980, another big dot on my timeline, I was not anyone’s mother. On 10/7/1980, I became my son Tyler’s mother.  My emotional life timeline is a whole different animal, and seems independent of time and place.  Where is “home” in my heart, and how old do I feel?  When did I first feel like a mother?  My emotions are messy and unruly, and I can’t locate them on a map or timeline.  I feel lost and decide to visit Roger.

Roger does not know what day it is or where he is at.  He can’t read a clock or calendar, and points on a map are just points.  His dementia makes time and place fluid, and I don’t try to orient him to reality.  We stick to the basics, like is it cloudy or sunny, warm or cold,  or is he hungry or not hungry, tired or not tired.  These questions help to anchor him, and as I answer these questions for myself, life gets very simple and crystal clear.  I have a large framed poster above my mantle that has a big bullseye on it and the words: “You are here, be present”.  Roger is my time and place. I am here and present.

My Coloring Book

Adult coloring books are very popular now, and in a moment of weakness I bought one, maybe two, and could have been three.  I don’t dabble in anything.  I really immerse myself in a new interest or craft, and some would say I become obsessed.  They may be right; but don’t tell them I said so.  Right now I have a mountain of markers on my kitchen table, and I was deciding between “battery charged blue” or “blue” for a small detail on a flower.  Of course,”battery charged blue” was my final choice. The designs in the coloring book are usually very detailed with lots of lines and small spaces.  There are claims that adult coloring is calming and can produce a meditative state while the user concentrates on coloring the designs.  I admit that I lose track of time while coloring, and I am very focused on choosing colors and filling in the design.  My worries are often forgotten because I need to decide if “tomato” or “cranberry” red is the color for the job.  I am mindful of the moment, so yes, I quess it is meditation for me.

Some of the pleasures I get from coloring are all about power.  Choosing which color to use, and where to put it are my choices, variables under my CONTROL.  If I am not happy with my color choices I can always buy more choices.  LIFE does not change the design I am coloring when I am halfway finished; there are no nasty surprises.  I can quit coloring when I am tired.  I don’t have to create the intricate design; I simply start coloring and try to stay within the lines. If only life were so easy….

I carry the responsibility for creating my own life map, and both the freedom and burden of choice.  Unfortunately, I am powerless to change anyone else.  The only variable  I can control is myself.  Reality is that sometimes I even lose control of myself, so that’s the ultimate powerlessness. I can’t move people around like color markers, they make their own path.  So what if I have a million choices, the odds of me hitting the jackpot of the “perfect” choice are very low.  Sure I can change my mind, or even decide to make no choices; but the buck stops with me and I know that I am responsible for my own happiness.  As the years fly by, I have a greater sense of urgency to choose “my” colors and get busy coloring and living. I have a lot of gray and black that I certainly did not choose, and I can’t throw them away, or color over with pink.  I need to accept all the colors I have, and that I can’t buy different colors or stop because I am tired.  So I simply start coloring and try to stay within the lines.

An Eclipse

I was excited to see the lunar eclipse and the big, red moon this past Sunday night.  At 7 o’clock, the big moon was low in the sky, and washed in red.   My friends and neighbors were looking with me, and “Wow” and “Awesome” were about the only words spoken. Later, I watched the lunar eclipse, and tried to grasp that it was the Earth that blocked the light of the sun, and caused the shadow that darkened the moon. My only role was to witness this incredible happening, and realize how little I knew about my home, planet Earth.

Roger likes to “read” question and answer books, and I love to read them to him. I say “Wow, I didn’t know that!” a lot and I imagine feeling the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth, a blistering, 136 degrees Fahrenheit. Often the questions are simple like “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why are flamingos pink?”, but the answers are not simple. Try and explain how the pit gets inside the peach, and you will understand what I mean!  I am humbled by how little I know about everyday things. Every Fall the leaves on my neighborhood  trees change color and fall to the ground, and I don’t know why. What really bugs me is that I bet I knew why when I was 9 or 10 years old, but at 62 I don’t remember.

Questions and more questions!  I have lots of questions about my inner worlds, but even fewer answers. My spiritual and emotional worlds totally baffle me, but I have not been able to find a question and answer book for these  topics. Question: What is love?  Answer: Love is not an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral. Love is_____. Fill in the blank. Question: Why is this happening to me?  Answer: Why not?   Question: How many tears do I have to cry?           Answer: Humans can cry approximately a trillion billion tears.  Question:  What is a good death? Answer: Please rephrase the question.   This one I know!  Question: What is dementia?   Answer: An eclipse: a falling into obscurity or decline.

Do you know why the sky is blue, why flamingos are pink, or why leaves change color in the Fall. Google it!