Somewhere I read we look seven years younger when we view ourselves in our own mirror. I think that’s true. The mirrors and the lighting in my bathroom make me believe I’m holding my own. Then I see my reflection in a store window, and I’m shocked to see my mother staring back at me. Mind you, I’m not bothered enough to have Botox, fillers or surgery, but aging is hard.
And don’t tell me there are more important things to think about, because I think about them as well.
I remember the exact second I learned I had breast cancer. I’d just come out from under anesthesia and was laying on an operating table in the hospital. My husband and a friend were standing next to my doctor who was telling me I had breast cancer. Everyone looked solemn, sad and shellshocked.
It wasn’t the result any of us were expecting.
Image Courtesy of Cheryl Strayed
After the death of her mother, the breakup of her family and subsequently experimenting with heroin, Cheryl Strayed made a radical decision to hike 1,100 miles up the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon. She was 26, alone, in an unforgiving wilderness, with no hiking experience. Wild, Cheryl’s powerful memoir about her journey became a number one, New York Times Bestseller, a film, starring Reese Witherspoon and the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.
From heartbreak and darkness to clarity, Cheryl holds nothing back. Her transparency is jaw-dropping.
In the last two weeks I’ve been to a funeral, a memorial service and a Mexican funeral mass. While each service was poignant and different, they all made me think about my friend, Norma, who died eight years ago this month.
In many ways Norma was the mother I always wanted.
The death toll from Hurricane Florence has risen to over 30 people. While I don’t know any of those who died, I do know the mother of a critically injured 17-year-old young man, Jadon Olsen. On September 14th, Jadon and his father Billy, a pastor at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Laurinburg, North Carolina, stopped to move a tree limb out of the road so other cars could safely pass when two other tree limbs fell and hit them both in the head. Billy needed 12 staples in his head. Jadon suffered a fractured skull and a brain bleed. He had a three-hour surgery to stop the bleeding and relieve pressure on his brain and has been in critical condition, on a ventilator, for the last six days.
Just getting Jadon through the driving rains and winds of Hurricane Florence—and keeping him alive—was considered a miracle.
People laugh when I refer to my cardboard box money, but they always understand what I mean. They may call it a retirement fund or their 401(k), but we’ve all been saving so we won’t have to live in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.
Most of the time I’m good at managing my money, but sometimes I’m not.
BRENDA COFFEE, AGE 24, AS A JOURNALIST, FLYING IN AN AIR FORCE FIGHTER JET. ©1010ParkPlace, 2018.
This week an email in my inbox was titled, “3 Ways I’ve Improved My Aging Skin.” The copy went on to say, “Now that I’m officially in my mid-30s… I’ve been focusing on ways to feel more confident about my skin and bring youth back into it.“ Seriously? You’re calling that your aging skin? I’m in my late 60’s and gravity’s been right beside me—unaided—but I’m thinking I look good for all I’ve endured. What’s more… I’m happy to still be standing.
Who are these young women who are obsessed with eating “water-heavy foods” and being the “right bottle away from perfect skin?”
PHOTOS BY BRENDA COFFEE ©1010ParkPlace, 2018.
Two years ago I bought a house that had been “flipped.” As the inspector told me, if he could “have them”… the flippers… “arrested for fraud,” he would. Whether it was sinks, toilets, shower heads, shower floors and doors, plumbing pipes, the dishwasher, doorknobs or light switches and sockets… NOTHING was hooked up or installed. They’d just pushed things into place, sometimes held with SCOTCH TAPE, but I bought the house anyway. I bought it because I loved the location and knew I would be happy here; I envisioned the changes I’d make, and I loved that it’s built in a u-shape around a central courtyard.
I have so much left to do outside, but I wanted to share what’s happening in my courtyard.
When depression, grief or fears about a medical problem swoops down and swallows us whole—mind, body and soul—it’s sometimes impossible to put one foot in front of the other. For much of the last eight years, depression made me feel like I was falling from a thousand-story building, but Guided Imagery and the sound of Belleruth Naparstek’s voice slowed my fall. It’s allowed me to gather myself together, again, and find my way.
Last week I spoke with Belleruth Naparstek, a pioneer of Guided Imagery, and she’s everything… and more… I’d hoped.
Have you ever been faced with a situation where you felt like you’re the only logical person in the room? Yesterday I came across paperwork that reminded me of one of my late mother’s hospital visits. For everyone who’s a caregiver to a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s… You’ll identify with this. Or… Maybe you just need a good laugh.
Sometimes no one, but you, makes any sense.