Busyness or Effectiveness

Do you feel you are always busy? Running errands or trying to get things done around the house? You are not alone, most of us feel this way. We thought that with age, the children gone, retirement and more time on your hands, we would dedicate ourselves to things we enjoy. We have discovered that busyness and efficiency are definitely not the same. Go to the dictionary and see for yourself!!!

Busyness is the state or condition of having a great deal to do. Effectiveness is the degree to which something is successful in producing a desired result. As you can see……we are talking apples and oranges. I, for one, want to be able to keep my house in order, have time for myself, get the time to go and see friends, read a book, walk with my husband, travel. How to accomplish all this? Seems like I am wishing for a lot. Well, not really!!!

First things, first…we must understand that being busy means filling your time with tasks. We say we are multitasking. I have news for you; all you are doing is working without a plan. We must focus on a single task to do it right and succeed.

Busy people fill their time with different tasks when what they should do is figure out how to spend less time getting things done. They think doing and accomplishing is the same thing. Unfortunately it is not. To succeed we must choose the most direct path to accomplish by doing less. Sounds confusing, but it is not…try it!!!

Focusing on action is not the same as focusing on clarity, we must be clear about what are we looking to accomplish. Be selective how you use your time and your resources…not easy but it is important to follow.

Set your priorities and do not get lost in details. Always try to see the big picture and focus in attaining the results you want. Keep track of your goals, revise them and do the important things first.

Once you realize that working smart is better than working hard, you will be effective….not only busy!!!

Age and Water

As I said about food, water is indispensable. Our bodies crave it, need it and cannot function without it. The human body uses water in all its cells and tissues. It is the way to regulate temperature and maintain bodily functions. It helps flush out toxins and boots your metabolism. Naturally, the body also loses water constantly: breathing, sweating, tearing, digesting food.

In this time and age, most drinks are full of sugar or we add sugar to them. Besides, we take it upon ourselves to add sugar to our tea, coffee, smoothie or whatever we drink.Water is just plain and simple. That is why we must concentrate on intaking as much as we need.

As we age, our sense of thirst lessens and we forget to hydrate. We must make it a point to drink even if we are not thirsty. Dehydration can cause many problems to an aging body, from rapid heartbeat to headaches. Reading about all this, made me realize that water is my best friend!!!

Slowly, I have been drinking more and more water. I still take my tea with honey and the occasional drink, but definitely more conscious of drinking plain water. How much? Eight glasses or a liter? that is a matter of whom do you talk to. For me, I drink whenever I can, regardless if I feel thirsty or not. To help myself, I keep a bottle of water with fruits in the fridge. Delicious!!!

A glass of water first thing in the morning fires up your metabolism and gives your brain some fuel. I take mine with some raw apple cider vinegar and at room temperature. It wakes me up!!! Then fruits or a smoothie and I am ready to face the day.

Last, but not least, there is sparkling water. Be it natural or man-made, carbonated water helps in so many ways. With your food, it makes you feel full, thus you might eat less; some studies say it helps with inflammation and with high cholesterol and blood sugar. These studies are not complete, but still it wouldn’t hurt to follow the advice. Besides, it is refreshing and a better idea than sodas.

Food is essential and water is too. By deciding to eat healthy and drink mostly water, you are helping yourself stay and feel optimally.

Age and Food

Life keeps moving on whether we like it or not. Aging doesn’t stop and, as much as we wish for it, it cannot be reversed. Sorry!!! Those are facts and we might as well adjust accordingly. That means many things, but I want to start with food. Yes, food as the means to stay more active, more engaged and happier. It will be what carries us on, what will makes us healthy. So let’s talk food….

Most people love food, many for the wrong reasons. Food is necessary, food is comforting, food brings us together. There is also the fact that food can make us sick or healthy. How many times have we heard the cliché: we are what we eat? More than we want to admit, the problem is that most of us ignore this. After all, whatever we are craving at the moment takes precedent.

As we age, what we eat becomes more important. Our bodies change and our nutritional needs are different. More than ever, eating right becomes a matter of longer life, better quality of life. Consequently, we must pay more attention to what we eat.

I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease produced by your immune system attacking your body. Unfortunately it is so much more than arthritis and should not be confused with osteoarthritis.

Combined with age, eating properly has become more important now. Fruits and vegetables have become my best friends. I have said goodbye to red meat, pork and processed foods. At the same time, I have limited in my diet certain other things: gluten, nightshade vegetables, dairy and alcohol.

Since I have tried all my life to eat healthy, have to say so far so good. Not easy when you love bread, tomatoes and the occasional drink. To help me along, I keep a food diary. Everything that I eat gets recorded and then I watch for any changes in my body, such as inflammation, pain, fever, tiredness. Sleepless nights and fatigue are part of this cycle.

Of course you do not have to be sick to adopt this life style. Your body will thank you and the energy and wellbeing you will feel be more than worth it. Life is full of wonderful things we still want to do…….eat your way to a better you so you can enjoy them!!!

The No Fight against Stress

As much as we want to keep our lives stress free, it doesn’t happen easily. This is mostly because we are conditioned to take everything too seriously. To take things in stride, to accept what is happening with a measure of calm is hard. Consequently, we take a different route and stress more. We are to blame for this…….we let stress rule our lives and do little to manage it. Instead, we fight it.

We think of managing stress as a fight. This is not the way to a solution. Fight implies a struggle, a give and take that cannot be helpful. We must just get a hold of this struggle and make it softer, calmer, more reasonable. That is the only way to get a positive resolution.

Absolutely not easy, trust me. After all, we do tend to complicate everything, don’t we? At least most of us do, because there is always someone that can do this effortlessly. The rest of us must try and try and breathe…and finally learn.

Slowly and with determination, we should move forward with this idea. Taking one day at a time, one situation at the time, there is nothing else that will work.

This is what we should be doing these days: slowly learning how to get stress out of our life. Catching the rhythm, not going with the flow, of what everyday life brings. Nothing else….

New Year, Same Life

2019 has arrived and most of us did as we always do: we made resolutions. For the last couple of years, I have refused to go along with this. Lets be honest……resolutions are meant to be broken and we do. So my resolution has been not to have any resolution. It’s a win-win idea, right?

Well, yes and no. Since I subscribe to premise that if you have no goals, you are aimlessly wandering through life, this decision can be double-edged. On one hand, I am not concerned thinking I am not keeping my resolutions, on the other I am concerned thinking I am somehow wasting time and energy in doing nothing new.

Since for most of us, life changes very little from year to year, even if we keep one resolution or try to change one thing, we feel we have accomplished much. Now, do not get me wrong, I am not talking about earth-shattering change, much less life-changing change. I am just pointing to the fact that a small step can be good.

Simply, if we make resolutions we most think well what are we really getting ourselves into. If we decide not to make resolutions, just let the whole thing go. Couldn’t be simpler.

After our daughter’s wedding and all that it involved, I find myself with time in my hands and the desire to use it for myself. Taking time for me, spending time with people I love and like, doing things I enjoy and not feeling guilty about any of it. This year that is all I can promise myself: one small step at a time in whatever direction I have chosen to go.


The Joyful Art of Useful Gifting

Here we are in the Holiday Season, decorating, preparing our home and shopping for presents. Every year we go through the same routine. It is familiar and comforting, makes us feel good and our first thought is to share the Joy. This time of the year this means: gifting!!!

Stores and malls, on-line shopping sites and just about everyplace you can think of is offering countless ways to share our Holiday cheer by buying gifts. The more the better it seems. It is hard to avoid the onslaught of adverts on television, online, on newspapers and magazines. The world just goes berserk during this time. 

As I have grown older, the whole idea of shopping for the Holidays has become overwhelming. I have recognized that we must exchange gifts, show everyone how much they mean to us…..but somehow the excessive commercialism displayed these days it’s to much for me.

A few years back, I started giving only what I thought my loved ones wanted or needed. Everything else became superfluous, no more piles of presents under the tree. It has been a success, at least in my eyes. So far nobody seems cheated in any way or has complained to me. I will leave it  at that!!!

This year, I am going a bit farther. Everyone is getting something meaningful, something that reflects how I feel about them and most importantly: it is useful. My loved ones’ hobbies and preferences, for example, were carefully selected. In some cases, I included things that will be kept for years. Hopefully, they will become part of the memories we are creating this Christmas.

This decision has made my shopping enjoyable, easy, and yes, joyful. It is a new tradition, a new feeling of peace and a new way to be remembered. After all, that is the point of gifting!!!

The Big Day Came…..

We spent ten days in Curaçao for our daughter’s wedding. Four days going through the last details, four days celebrating and enjoying the company of family and friends and two days resting before coming home. We went from relaxed moods, to nervous times when we were sure it was not going to happen. Days with rain, humidity and heat, mosquitoes and endless details to be worked out, days of sunshine and high hopes for a good day for the wedding, ups and downs in every sense.

Fortunately, everything came together perfectly and the wedding was beautiful, glorious, emotional and unforgettable. Camille and Oliver were married by the sea, with a magnificent sunset as a background. Their family and friends were  witnesses to a loving ceremony, just as they had dreamed and planned.

Having guests from near and far can be a challenge. In reality, getting everyone to meet each other was easier than I had anticipated. On Thursday, we hosted a casual get together. Even though I was confused with hour, place and arrived late, it was a complete success. Friendships were rekindled and new ones, hopefully, made. Was such a happy occasion with much laughter, introductions and picture-taking. Proved to be a great idea.

Then on Friday, Oliver and his family hosted a Sunset Cocktail Hour. Much more interesting than your average Rehearsal Dinner, this event provided time to talk about the families, the bride and groom, time to hear anecdotes from friends. Everything said about Camille and Oliver touched my heart deeply. It was confirmed that they are loving, sincere and loyal and made for each other. There were tears and laughter and endless toasts. The setting was perfect and everyone enjoyed themselves.

The big day dawned clear and sunny and gorgeous. Yes, it was hot at times and we thought we would melt, but it was perfect. Getting ready, dressing up, spending time with my daughter before the ceremony, family pictures, hugs and happiness. This is what everyone talks about and is an absolute truth: a wedding day brings families together and so much joy.

The setting was breathtaking. Have to say our decorator-in-chief made everything look just like Camille had envisioned. The sun was still high, but there was a promise of a gorgeous sunset. Everyone took their seats and it started. Our daughter walked down the sandy aisle with us. A small gesture to include some of my husband’s family traditions. Emotions were high when we finally got to where Oliver was waiting.

The ceremony was simple, warm and unforgettable. The groom’s sister and the bride’s brother read favorite passages from the Dalai Lama and the Tao of Pooh. So beautiful!!! Camille’s childhood friend sang the Ave Maria, a small gesture to include my family’s traditions. All the while, a pelican entertained us with its endless dives and swirls. Couldn’t have been better!!!

Just as I was thinking, yes, it is happening….it was over and they were married. Tears of happiness, hugs and congratulations, smiles all around abounded as we looked at the newlyweds walk towards the sunset. Breathtaking doesn’t begin to express the feeling. Life is wonderful!!!

After a toast by Oliver that again moved everyone present, there was cake and prosecco and laughter. We departed for the reception venue. Again, it was beautiful…..we couldn’t have asked for anything else. My husband toasted the newlyweds again, the first dance took place, Camille danced with her father, everyone joined in and the party started. Eating, drinking and merriment followed until past midnight….not too long, just right.

At the end of the day, we were tired but ecstatic. Everything has gone the way it was planned, happiness was the theme of the night. As Oliver and Camille embark on their married journey, may the memories of this lovely weekend just turn into more happiness, more joy, more love. This was the beginning, the send-off….and it was perfect!!!

Batteries Recharged…..

It doesn’t seem that way now, but a couple of weeks ago, we were out to sea and disconnected from the everyday. Taking a holiday in the middle of planning a wedding did not seem like the best idea…..but it was!!! For 10 glorious days, nothing but enjoying ourselves was on the agenda.

We usually do not take trips in groups. It is better for us to just go with the flow and see what we want, leave if we are not enjoying the place or simple go and stay for a while in one place. This trip proved that we can do it, we can enjoy our friends and have time for ourselves, go with the flow one day and follow the group another.

A friend from the years I was active in the American Women’s Club of Curaçao and attended FAWCO conferences organized this trip. It was a way to raise money and have fun, spend time with friends and contribute to charity. The plan went smoothly.

Flew to Milan and then took a train to Venice/Mestre. Of course, we did have a couple of days in Venice before meeting our friends. It was relaxed and beautiful, just the two of us. Venice never gets old, but it is also too touristy nowadays and you need to take it in small doses. We walked along the least known places, had lunch away from the tourist crowd, got lost in the winding alleys, crossed small bridges and ignored the most-see tourist spots. Perfect!!!

For the first time, I allowed myself to be pampered and my friend ordered a wheelchair for me. Have to say, it was a fabulous idea. Our embarkation went smoothly. Once we were onboard, it became so hectic. I was not sure this had been a good decision. Too many people, too many children, too much food being offered as we waited for our cabin to be ready.

We sat and had a drink and some munchies…the sight of so much food can really cut your appetite. Still, the day was clear, the sun was shinning and we were looking forward to meeting our friends. I knew the ladies and was ready to meet some of the husbands. So far, so good.

Our cabin was ready when they said it would be, kudos to the cruise company for this. We unpacked and I laid down for a quick rest. Then the expected routine: lifejackets drill, getting to our assigned deck. Nothing new, but found it a bit disorganized this time. Never mind, you need to know what to do and where to go…period.

Then came our departure from Venice. While on deck to see this, we met another one of my friends…..how absolutely wonderful to see her after so many years. Met her husband too and we stayed there looking mesmerized as the city was left behind and we went out to sea. Venice absolutely looks different from the water.

That evening we met the rest of my friends. During dinner we bonded. I know it sounds absolutely corny, but it did happen. We continue to have fun together, go on excursions and side trips, take pictures, act silly, learn more about each other. No other way to do this kind of traveling. You are assured company you like, which is just what you need.

It is not always that you can be on a cruise and be able to completely (or almost completely) ignore the rest of the people taking the same cruise. We had such fun just sharing with each other and taking breaks as we needed them. We met for drinks after dinner and went to all the shows, laughed out loud at the silliness of it all. We played Bingo and had a Chinese Auction to raise money for charity. These ladies really know how to put the fun in fundraising!!!

Bari was an absolute gem. Got a tour around the city with a fantastic guide, tasted some great pugliese products and visited too many churches. We even sang “Sinterklaas kapoentje” at the church of St Nicholas!!!

The Greek islands were fabulous. From the trip to Delos to visit the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, to the ride around Mykonos and drinks at sunset.

 

Knossos Palace, the real labyrinth of legend, was the highlight in Crete.

Corfu gave us Empress Sissi’s palace. Dedicated to Achilles, this was some second home!!!

Dubrovnik was amazing!!! Our guide took us high on a winding road to see the city from above. He was a war veteran and regaled us with stories of the war while driving up that road…..a bit scary!!! The view was breathtaking, no other word would do.

Down in the Old Town, we visited the oldest pharmacy in Europe located in a Franciscan monastery.

Then we visited the second oldest synagogue in Europe. It was founded by Sephardic Jews after the expulsion from Spain.

 

In no time we were back in Venice and ready to come home. Disembarking was again very easy. We had time to say our good byes while waiting for my wheelchair ride. Returning to Milan, we became convinced of one thing: leave train traveling for the younger set. Even traveling First Class, you have to lug your suitcases up and down. There is no help, no porters and not enough time to achieve all this without running out of steam.

Believe it or not, despite the abundance of food, we did not gain weight. Seems we took our three regular meals and did not indulge in snacks and sweets. We had a fabulous time and if this group gets together to travel again, we will join them without a doubt. Friendship were renewed and we are again in touch. I had my rest and I loved every minute. Life is wonderful!!!

The Life of a Tech-Challenged Blogger

 

I have done this blog thing for a while now. It keeps me sane and helps me put into words what I have learned, what I am still learning. It is a way to stay in touch with my ideas and to share them. Hopefully, I am helping someone out there to navigate the waters of graceful aging. Or better yet, I am helping myself!! It has been a rewarding experience for the most part and I am having fun doing it. It is a great stress release, a way to keep sane at a time when many things in my life are changing.

My passion is writing……everything else is just a mystery. I have learned a lot, I think, but not enough. Truthfully, I have little patience for all this technological stuff. It seems alright one day and incomprehensible the next. Things work out today and totally fall apart tomorrow. For a couple of months, a notice of website not secure in red pops up when I open my blog. Then there are the suspicious users with strange email addresses that have accumulated on my user page. Some of those I have discovered are in China, Russia or who knows where else. I can delete as many as I can, more and more pop up.

Do not get me wrong, I love the fact that out there people are reading my posts. On the other hand, nothing ever comes from that because not one of them has ever made a comment or left a line. Very frustrating!!! On the other hand, do I really need feedback? Will let you know when I figure this out.

All this time I have debated with myself about my blog. Why? It is nothing I can do about the technological part of it. I have to keep trying and keep writing. My server has helped and, most importantly, my son has lent a hand. I have learned a few new tricks and they seem to be working…so far. This is it as good as it will get.

Finally, I am just getting back to my writing, leaving behind all the other stuff. Absolutely ignoring if anyone reads the blog or subscribes to it. That was never the reason to start this blog. I do not need approval or consent. All I need is the desire to share and to write.

Life is good, I am still learning and I am still willing to share what I learn. Everything else is just incidental.

 

 

The Invites are Ready…..The Puzzle is Complete.

 

All those months we spend planning our daughters weddings are something we will never forget. There have been the usual ups and downs, the faux-pas, the moments of panic, the tears, the joys, the arguments and the sleepless nights. There have been days you’d wish all gone and finished and days when you didn’t want this time to end.

Your daughter and you got on each other’s nerves, you couldn’t help but think this was more than you could handle. Then you remembered her ballet presentations, her birthday parties, her sport tournaments, her graduations (from K5 to college). You remembered her achievements, her awards, her disappointments when things didn’t turn out the way she thought……all those moments when you were so close, that you were the one there to hug her, to encourage her, to cry with her and to share her successes. All is well then.

When the planning started you would have never thought it was going to be this hard. Actually, you thought you could manage very well, thank you. Didn’t take long to realize that it was not going to be that way. You argued and disagreed, not only with your daughter, but with your husband too.  You had to stop and count to ten more times than you want to admit. So many details you thought were easy to achieve……think again, you know that now. From the guest list to the decision of going with champagne or prosecco. Cake or not, buffet or sit down dinner…….

While working on all of this, you were shopping for a wedding gown. You went and saw her try more than one dress. You saw her in some dresses you loved and some you were not so crazy about. Then one day, she tried  a dress and her face lit up and her eyes glistened with tears. She smiled and you knew: she had found her Wedding Gown!!! It is perfect and she looks beautiful…your little girl is getting married!!!

Foolishly, you thought that the dress was picked and everything else would be easier now. Of course, it was in a way, but then you saw your daughter trying to explain the attire, selecting places for those wedding pictures, telling her dad what to wear. Then came the other important question: veil or not. Somehow, this part worked out and you were not too involved..

In the meantime, you have decided what to wear, what color and what shoes…..something elegant, that hides your small imperfections, something that would not distract from the bride. Shoes that you can dance in…because there will be dancing.

The venue, the catering, the reception, the music and the decorations are all taken care of. The wedding planners have been amazing and the bride and groom have helped in everything they could.

Then you sat back one day and told yourself:  you were there, always….building her confidence and mending her broken heart. Now this is changing. This will be the last big party you are planning for her. She has someone to share her life with, to plan everything from now on. You will help, if asked, but the planning, the excursion and the credit will be all hers. This is your Swan Song, Mom, you told yourself, make it memorable!!!

Still it didn’t seem real. There was something missing and you did not know what it was. As much as you had worked on the details, you were sure there was something that was not complete yet. And then it was right there, in front of you: The Invites have arrived!!! There is no going back, there is only forward…..this wedding is taking place and you couldn’t be happier. You deserve a pat on the shoulders, you deserve to sit down with a drink and a smile. Your beautiful daughter is getting married, it is there in glorious colors addressed to all your friends and family. Here it is to gorgeous brides and beautiful weddings, to handsome grooms and happily ever afters!!!

 

P.S. Thank you to Lilliput Design Studio for the gorgeous invites!!! I highly recommend this talented artist, Cristina Fundora.

Photo: dreamstime.com