All Pooped Out!

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You know you are old when conversation with your girlfriends includes the working condition of your bowels. It’s true! I use to cringe when my mom and her friends would discuss their bowel movements or lack there of.  Did they have no sense of privacy? However, it has recently come to my attention that my girls and I are now doing the same thing. As my mom would say, “We all go, so what’s the secret?”

Queue outside lady's toilets: 'Please wait to be seated'.
Queue outside lady’s toilets: ‘Please wait to be seated’.

It seems that the older we get, we are in a constant state of trying to alleviate constipation or diarrhea. More fiber, fewer carbs, drink water, take probiotics, try Metamucil or maybe Pepto Bismol. Pharmacies have entire aisles dedicated to our poop. Natural Medicine practitioners say we need to really look at our stools. Does it float or sink, is it loose or formed, is the color brown or black? Apparently, a gently curved, brown, floating sample is ideal. Please do not post Instagram photos like people do with their meals.  toilet

Bathroom habits are definitely a crucial part of the planning when we travel, even if it is only for a day or two. Some people cannot use any other facilities, but their own. They simply cannot poop in public places! Some people have very regular bowels, and they operate like clock work; while others hope and pray they will be close to a washroom when nature calls. This is a very stressful situation especially if you are traveling and sharing a room with one or more friends. You can only hope your routines compliment each other. I mention this because on my last trip to Amsterdam four of us stayed on the houseboat. We chose this particular boat because it had two bathrooms; however, the ad did not explain that one of the toilets was located at the far end of the boat away from the living area. You needed to be a sure-footed mountain goat to maneuver the narrow walkway and hop over ropes to access these facilities. We decided it would only be used in desperation. Needless to say, it was barely used. By the end of our stay we were very in tune with each others habits.

Traveling in non-western countries is not without its bathroom challenges. My biggest washroom feat to date was trying to straddle a hole on a moving train in China. It is definitely a test of balance, aim, and agility, especially as you get older.

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We can all agree that our digestive system, including our bowels, is critical to good health. I mention this because I am fully aware that I should be looking after my colon as I age. Every one of my friends keep reminding me that I need to schedule a colonoscopy. The whole idea simply freaks me out! The preparation alone sounds terrible. That being said, I have promised myself that I will make it a priority in 2019.

So, look after your poop, and it will look after you!

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

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A while ago at the pub, I had a discussion with a gentleman who stopped by our table to chat. He was there for a friend’s retirement party in another room. The conversation eventually got around to the concept of forced retirement. He was quite annoyed that we are often shown the door before we are ready to leave just because we have reached the magic age. Then someone else added that some people stay longer than they should at their jobs.

It got me thinking back about my own retirement. After 32 years of teaching, I was definitely ready to leave my profession. I had had my fill of unreasonable parents, constantly changing curricula, watered down educational standards, and all the political crap that went with it, but I was only 53. Had I reached my employment expiry date? How do we know when it’s time to go?

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Perhaps it’s time!

Initially, I was excited to begin the next step, but also filled with trepidation at the thought of endless time and no place that I HAD to be. Ideas consumed every free moment. I could volunteer; I could catch up on all the reading that I never found time for; I could redecorate the old house that I had just purchased; I could travel; I could write the book that I had always wanted to write.  Yes, I could do all these things and more. So why did I feel so apprehensive, so lost for direction? It took me only a few weeks to realize I  was not ready to be unemployed. 022e426bff51a2f8732e1ea44a72525d Even though I had a decent pension, I worried about having enough money to live my new life with so much extra time to do things.

I had spent a lifetime raising two kids, looking after a home, and getting my university degree while working full time. My life had ticked along on a tight schedule for as long as I could remember, and now all of a sudden there was no discernible routine. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and even if I wanted.  I was totally unprepared for these circumstances and I was forced to take a long, hard look at myself.

So, how do we decide it is time? Sometimes that decision is made for us. An unexpected accident may take away our ability to work. As we age, our health changes. For many, they can no longer physically do their job. Occasionally, we are able to handle modified work, but this is not always an option. For me, I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I disagreed with so many of the changes happening within the school system that going to work each day was becoming frustrating. I loved working with the children, but it was not enough to sustain my interest anymore. I was beginning to feel like I was just putting in time to collect my pay and that did not sit well with me. When a colleague suggested that I retire and do supply teaching, I responded, “Hell, no!”

Well, it has been 18 years since I retired from teaching children, but I did not retire from working. About 2 months after my retirement date, I started working with a private company that retrained injured workers to start new careers. I remained with this company for 12 years until it eventually closed its doors. I also did a brief stint in retail just to ease myself into permanent retirement. I can finally say that I am just fine with my status.

Only you will know when it is time to leave the workforce. Just remember, if you feel that you made a mistake, try something new. Life is not carved in stone!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

What Is Happening?

What is happening to our society? I know changes in our way of life are inevitable and to be perfectly honest many changes have been a vast improvement on the quality of life that we enjoy. However, when did we become so thin-skinned that people are taking offense to poor little Rudolph? This year for me has been a sad realization that even the simplest joys in life are threatened and seem to be disappearing right before my eyes.

When the “Me Too” Movement first began gaining momentum, I understood and had no problem getting on board. I don’t know a single woman who has not been the victim of unwanted sexual innuendos. I also knew many women over the years who sought out this kind of attention. We can’t have it both ways. Flirtation between men and women is part of the mating process just as it is for many animal species. Of course, the line must be drawn at forced sexual situations. Are we headed to male/female partnerships which are nothing more than business transactions?

Every time I turn on the radio or television there is something new that has been banned. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is too manipulative! Are you kidding me???  “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” promotes illicit affairs. Really?? I think it is pretty obvious to everyone that Santa is actually Daddy. mommy

It never ends. Songs that once brought happiness and laughter are now considered dirty and sordid.

 

Rudolph promotes bullying; Frosty promotes smoking. What’s next?

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I reached my limit today! Someone I know well posted a picture of herself wearing a sweater given to her by her son 20 years ago. She was wearing this article of clothing today when a woman approached her in a store and told her it was inappropriate. What do you think?

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People, we are officially out of control. When did it become okay for someone to make his/herself judge and jury over anyone  else. Who are these people who decide that something that has been around for decades is suddenly offensive and why are we listening to them?

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Mirror, Mirror!

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We all do it! A child is born and instantly we compare their appearance to one family member or another. It always reminds me of that childhood story, The Ugly Duckling. If there is no family resemblance, everyone seems to be in a fluster and they begin going back generations to find something that says the child belongs. Growing up, family and friends often remarked that I looked like my paternal grandmother. She, in turn, would maintain that I was a true likeness of family members in Ireland who I had never even seen in pictures. As a young child, this analogy secretly bothered me. I didn’t want to look like my grandmother. She was old and wrinkled!

As with all aspects of life, our perception of most everything changes as we age.

My daughter recently posted on Facebook a picture of my mother and I on my wedding day. I always knew we had many similarities, but for the first time, I was struck by our uncanny likeness.

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So many friends commented on how much we looked alike. Why had I never noticed this before?

I have gone through my life believing I looked like my grandmother. What has made this realization even stranger, is that I have let my gray roots grow out, and my hair is now almost white. When I look in the mirror, I feel like I’m looking into my mom’s face, not mine. I catch my reflection in a store window and see her looking back at me. Sometimes it is just the way I tilt my head or smile, but it’s her. More recently, I have heard myself using expressions that my mom used. The words flow out as though it was her talking. It always catches me off-guard.

Do we eventually become our parent as we age? I can’t imagine ever being that lucky.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Good Night…. Not!

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I love Maxine. She tells it like it is. Among many other things, aging takes a notable toll on our sleep patterns. Sometimes just getting ready for bed is exhausting in and of itself. This verse lays it out…..

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I am probably considered one of the lucky seniors because my teeth are still in my head and I have not yet succumbed to the need for a hearing device. I do, however, suffer from night sweats. 7586027ddb3f4b9d537e45b71ea27cfbThose wonderful menopausal years are pretty much behind me, but too often I wake from overheating.

 

 

 

 

Off go the duvet and sheet in an effort to cool my clammy body. Some nights my hair is damp and matted to my head, not the most attractive sight. And if sweltering doesn’t wake me, my bladder does. I swear I have an internal clock because I seem to be heading to the bathroom at precisely the same time every night. And speaking of my bladder, I never dreamed that Poise or Depends would be part of my shopping list.46ee29e16e320c5ce4ec03d1b3cf9a78

If it is not my bladder or a hot flash that keeps me awake, it is insomnia. I can solve all the problems of the world on these nights. A little while ago, I started using cannabis to help me sleep. I make cookies and rice krispie squares which are actually quite helpful. Who doesn’t enjoy a little treat before bedtime? I try to time eating them just right knowing they start to work in about 45 minutes for myself. At first, I worried about waking to pee, but it’s just fine. I have also noticed that I do not have night sweats or perhaps I just don’t notice them. Occasionally, I have very colorful dreams, but I wake feeling great.

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Just when I think that I have been through all the wonderful changes that aging brings, there is something new. Recently, it has been my constantly running nose. I do not have allergies, nor do I have a cold. When I bend over to pick something up, my nose starts to drip. Oy vey!

Believe it or not there is an upside to all these annoyances. 7d304744411991e5ad1ec11a710b289c

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

It Takes Two…. Not Always!

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Let me preface this post by saying, “I like men.” I enjoy their company, their sexuality, and if they like to dance as much as I do, so much the better. I also need to make it clear that I am single and have been for the last 34 years. (That number surprises even me!). I have dated and had brief “flings” for want of another word, but I have never felt the need to remarry or have a permanent man in my life. When I was much younger, I would see the sad look on people’s faces as they reassured me that I would find another partner to share my life.

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I truly love my own space and independence. I will admit that along the way there were times when I was angry at my husband for leaving me alone with all the responsibility of raising our two kids. In retrospect, he did me a huge favor. I had no one to lean on, but myself and this forced me to dig down deep and be strong. For that, I will forever be grateful.

In a world where couples sometimes change partners more often than their socks, I tend to wonder why they marry in the first place? The television is inundated with these bridal shows  like “Say Yes To The Dress” or the one where four brides compete for the best wedding to win a luxury honeymoon, or “Married At First Sight”, but my favorite has to be “90 Day Fiancé”. What the hell are these people thinking? Blending two lives together is difficult enough without these additional stresses.

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Most of the women in my circle of friends are single and most of us are widows. We all love the company of men, but at this stage of our lives, I think I can safely say that none of us would remarry or live with a man again. We all enjoy busy, interesting lives. We have no one to worry about except ourselves, or perhaps our kids.

I have discussed this topic with several men my age. None of them want to live alone and all would like to find a woman to look after them as they get older. Somehow I fail to see the romance in that situation.

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Several weeks ago, my cousin posted her frustration on Facebook. She is married. The post went like this, “You’d better get the projector lights out on the lawn before the ground freezes,” he said. “Yes I know, that’s why I’m going out to do it now.” Three hours later, “When are the lights going out ?” he asks as I stand in the front hall warming my frozen hands from driving stakes into the ground and trying to attach extension cords that actually work. “I will need help with the blanket lights over the bushes when they thaw out.” “When will that be?” “When they thaw out.” “When what thaws out?” 🙄 I asked her why he wasn’t helping and she responded saying apparently the Christmas lights are hers now.

I was incensed, and it wasn’t even my problem. I said, “You are a couple, and he should help because it is important to you.” This simple situation resonated with me. I really appreciated my singleness. I have no one else but myself to depend on for these kinds of things, and I know I will never let myself down. I will never have to feel that frustration.

Before you think that I am completely against marriage or having a permanent partner, I am not. I love seeing senior couples who are still very much in love. It worked for them! They learned the secret to a successful partnership. It is the little things you do for each other without being asked, not the grand gestures.

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So, do not feel sorry for those of us who have remained single. We are managing just fine! However, if you know a single man who just wants to have fun, you know where to find me. LOL

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Granny Panties

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The other night, one of the girls mentioned that she had made a new purchase…. shape-wear. When I was much, much younger, we called them girdles. They were heavy elastic garments, some with metal stays and heavy duty zippers, that were supposed to squeeze you into a smaller size. As far as I remember, all they did was push the extra flesh out the top and bottom of the thing giving you a bigger chest and bigger thighs. Needless to say, these hot, uncomfortable pieces of clothing are still in demand, except today, the fabrications are lighter.  You can get them to cover from your chin to your ankles and everywhere in between. Hollywood stars are always talking about their Spanx.

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This got me thinking about underwear in general. I always remember helping my grandmother with the laundry. She would let me stand on a stool in the back porch and bring in the dried clothes from the clothesline. As I carefully unpegged my granny’s silky, white bloomers, I would sometimes wonder why they were so large because she wasn’t.

Growing up, I assumed everyone wore plain white, cotton briefs like I did. I remember one Christmas receiving a set of “days of the week” panties. Not only were they in a variety of soft, pastel colors, but they were embroidered with the name of each day of the week. I was most upset  when due to inclement weather on wash day, my “Wednesday” panties were still in the laundry hamper. My mother insisted I should wear the “Thursday” pair, but it felt wrong. If only problems were still so simple!

Few people know that I am a huge fan of “Sex In The City”; I watch the reruns every day. It seems that fashion does repeat itself. Carrie is often seen in her apartment wearing none other than those old cotton briefs.

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When I hit my teens, bikini panties were the rage. My mom said she felt like they were always falling down. I loved them! They had a kind of risqué feel, and they came in so many beautiful colors and sheer fabrics.

As with every generation, things change. My daughter thinks thongs are the way to go. I even tried! No one will ever convince me that a string in the crack of your butt feels comfortable. And as for the tiny triangle of fabric holding the string together, well, why bother? You might as well go commando and call it a day.

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Men can choose between boxers and briefs; oh, and there are some out there who like  the “banana hangers”, but I know of no man who worries about body shapers like Spanx. Ladies, I think we do this to ourselves.

In retrospect, I think my grandmother had the right idea. There is a lot to be said about comfort…. silky bloomers with loose legs, plenty of air flow and a comfortable waistband. What more could a woman want? There may be a pair of these in my future!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo