CONVERSATION WITH…LITTLE BO PEEP…A BITTER EMPTY NESTER

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I noticed a woman with a sheep. Was it possible she was the famous Bo Peep who lost her sheep (from the Nursery Rhyme)?   Had one of her sheep come back? If she was Bo Peep, we had a lot in common! I’m an empty nester, too. I had to check it out…

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Hey there, by any chance, are you Bo Peep? You know, from the rhyme that goes, “Little Bo Peep, lost her sheep, and didn’t know where to find them.  Leave them alone and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them?”

BO PEEP: That’s me.  One sheep came back for a quick visit.  I’m smiling on the outside but crying on the inside.

Why?

BO PEEP: Here’s the part they never tell you about when you‘re an empty nester. When your kids come back to visit, you notice they’ve changed. And it hurts.

I get that. My daughter moved far away and when she comes back to visit, I see she’s adapted to her new environment.  She’s not exactly the same person she was when she left. It hurts to see that.  Selfishly, I miss who she used to be.

BO PEEP: Right!  And why do they have to go so far in the first place?  I mean, I raised my two sheep in a beautiful meadow with a sturdy fence so they’d always be safe.  I made sure they had organic grass to eat.  We settled in an area where the weather was perfect—not too hot and not too cold.  There were lots of nice sheep to hang out with. What more could sheep want?

Don’t ask me.

BO PEEP: Obviously it wasn’t good enough for my son sheep.  He whined it was too confining and homogeneous growing up in our meadow. He never wants to live here again.

So where did he move to?

BO PEEP: The African plains. He’s exceptionally fuzzy, so I worry he’ll pass out if he gets too hot. He’s not fenced in, so he wanders around wherever he wants to go—which makes me crazy.  And he’s seriously dating an elephant.

It’s a changing world.

BO PEEP: But it really hurts my feelings. I tried so hard to make a nice home for him.

All this hurts my feelings, too.  On the other hand, I remember when I was in my twenties and moved out of my parents’ house, I was sooo happy!  It was so freeing! I went out and did whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it! And I told my parents I hated where I grew up!  I said it was boring and superficial and I’d never come back.  I must have hurt THEIR feelings.

BO PEEP: Yeah.  Same here.  Before I was Bo Peep with Sheep, I was “Bo Peep with a Jeep.”  I drove that thing all over the world any time of day or night.  My parents never knew where I was. I was a wild woman.

I guess back in those days, we weren’t ready to be the women we are today.  We were…different. 

BO PEEP: And… now that my sheep are living away, I’ve become less active.  I’m quieter and take life a little slower.

Me too.  Maybe when our kids come home to visit, they also notice…we’ve changed.

BO PEEP: And it hurts them.

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Hey there dear blogger friends, I’m still struggling with this.  If you’re an empty nester, how do you feel when your kids come back and you notice they’ve changed?  Or if you’re a younger person and have left the home where you grew up, how do you experience your parents when you return for a visit?

 

 

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CONVERSATION WITH…SNOW…STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road it suddenly started snowing!  And then…just as suddenly, it stopped and the sun came out.  I continued strolling through a park and passed a mound of snow.  I smiled and nodded to it.

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Weird weather, right snow?

SNOW MOUND:   Easy for you to say!!

What do you mean? The air is crisp.  It’s a nice day for a walk. The sun is shining brightly and—

SNOW MOUND: The sun is evil!  The sun is cruel!  Look what it’s doing to me!

Oh.  I’m so sorry.  I wasn’t thinking.  That was so insensitive—

SNOW MOUND:  I don’t have the luxury to go for a walk!  Or anywhere else! The sun is overtaking my entire being.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here!  Or what tomorrow will be like!

I don’t know what to say. 

SNOW MOUND: I hear people around me yapping about being empty nesters or dealing with age discrimination or turning gray.  They should just be grateful!

Well-

SNOW MOUND: Why is the sun attacking me?  Why isn’t this happening to you?

Uh—it’s not happening to me at this moment. But maybe someday—

SNOW MOUND:  I’m so angry!!!!!  I’m angry at everything and everybody who has a life!  Look at me!  I’m shriveling! I’m not “me” anymore!  My white curves are turning into a colorless puddle!

Maybe in some strange way the sun is doing its job.  There are cycles all around us.  Maybe this is part of one.  We just don’t recognize it.

SNOW MOUND:  I don’t have the strength to fight anymore…It’s too much of a struggle…

How can I help?  I want to help!!!!

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Moments later, the snow mound was gone.  All that was left was its puddle. But struggling to come up where the mound of snow used to be…was a flower.

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CONVERSATION WITH…The Graying Mona Lisa…Struggling with weight control in her older age

Today I visited the “Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road Museum.” When I entered, the first thing I saw was the Mona Lisa hanging on the wall.  I was shocked to see her there!  So I had to ask…

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Mona Lisa!  What are you doing here?  Aren’t you supposed to be in the Louvre in France?

MONA LISA: Yes.  But I had to get away from the Leonardo Di Vinci branding thing.  I mean, he was a great artist and all, but I’m getting older and I don’t want to be in his shadow till the end of time. The Mona Lisa painting was his creative vision, not mine.  My own creative voice is dying to come out. So I had to separate.

I know exactly what you mean.  I was a professional writer for children for years and years. I loved it, but I made a lot of creative compromises because of the brands I was supposed to be representing.  After a long time, I forgot why I was as a writer.

MONA LISA: I know where you’re coming from.

At some point, I realized I couldn’t think of one more song about the number three.   I had to move on and find a different creative voice within myself.  That’s one reason I’m here, Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road.

MONA LISA: Me too.

So, what’s your creative voice dying to blurt out?

MONA LISA: I’d love to tell the world the true, heartfelt reason I’m half smiling in my portrait.  It’s kind of obvious.

Do tell!

MONA LISA: Well, years ago, on the morning Leonardo was painting my face, it was taking forever.  I sat for hours and hours and hours.  I was starving.  I thought I’d pass out. I soooo needed a lunch break.  So, I started thinking about all the awesome food I’d stuff my face with when we’d finally break for lunch.

Like what?

MONA LISA: Bread, meat, fish, potatoes, tomatoes, kidney beans, Indian corn, chocolate, peanuts, pineapples, red and green peppers, turkeys and tapioca!  And I’d wash it all down with a glass of wine.

Sounds good to me.

MONA LISA: Yup!  The thought of all that food made me start to smile!  But then!  I stopped myself!

Why??

MONA LISA: Because I knew if I ate that feast, I’d put on weight. Quite honestly, I have the worst metabolism in the world.  Whatever I eat, I wear. Immediately.  I was afraid if I sat down and posed for the rest of my portrait, my stomach would stick out to the moon.  Leonardo would have to repaint that section and he’d be so pissed!

I can imagine.

MONA LISA: So I stopped thinking of all that food and didn’t smile.   But a second later, I started thinking of the food again because I was so hungry! I smiled!  Then I stopped!  I smiled! I stopped!

Hence the half smile.  So what did you finally eat for lunch?

MONA LISA: Green peppers and tapioca. I tried to strike a balance.  But here’s the bottom line.  Now, as I’m much older, it seems like no matter what I eat, I put on weight.

You’re not alone.  Years ago, I could go out for a nice, big dinner and the scale wouldn’t show it.  Today, I’ll gain weight from that one stupid meal.

MONA LISA: Me too.  But I’m still a foodie.  I  wrestle with how much I can eat vs. what’s unhealthy every day.  For the most part, I stay in the healthy zone, but it’s always a struggle.

That’s true for so many of us.  I guess it’s a “new normal” that comes with aging.

MONA LISA:  Right. But I’m hoping, from now on, when people look at my portrait, they’ll relate to my ongoing struggle to stay at a healthy weight.  I hope they’ll remember I’m always thinking of tons of food and ways I can modify eating it.  Maybe it will help them, too.

Well…Mona…you’ve already helped ME.

Mona smiles

 

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CONVERSATION WITH…A Kitten…Wondering If He Will Be Someone’s Last Pet

As I walked through a doorway Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I noticed a kitten who seemed to be searching for something.

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Can I help you?

KITTEN: I’m looking for a home.  I need someone to take care of me.

Well, I’ve had lots of cats in my life.  Growing up, I had a black cat, Midnight, who lived a good, long life.  And then, when I was in my twenties, I had another gray striped cat, Hamlet.  He lived a long life, too. When he died, I got Teddy, my black and white cat.  And when his long life ended, I got a Maine Coon cat, Bosley.  He died last year.

KITTEN: It sounds like you’re a good cat mommy.  What’s your name?

Cathi.

KITTEN: Cathi, will you be my cat mommy? Take care of me?

Uh…I’m not sure I can do that.  I mean, I’m older now.  You might be my last cat.  You’re just a baby and your whole life’s ahead of you.  What if you live longer than I do?

KITTEN: Well—

Or what if I get too old to hold you in my arms?

KITTEN: Then—

Or what if I can’t bend over someday, so I won’t be able to give you your cat food?

KITTEN: Uh—

Or what if my legs become too frail to play with you?

KITTEN: Well—

Or what if my hands are unsteady so I can’t pet you?

KITTEN: But—

Or what if I run out of money and can’t afford to buy you food?

KITTEN: Well—

Or what if—

KITTEN: Cathi?

Yes?

KITTEN: I just want to be with you.

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CONVERSATION WITH…The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe… Thinking of Downsizing

Walking along the Yellow Brick Road, I passed a ridiculously large shoe with a sign near it that said, “For Sale.”  I was curious, knocked on the shoe, and an old woman climbed out.

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OMG!  Are you the old woman who lives in a shoe? The one who had so many children she didn’t know what to do?  From the Nursery Rhyme?

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE:  That’s me.   But I’m downsizing.  Want to buy a shoe?  Make me an offer.

Well, my husband and I are thinking about downsizing, but we’re not ready yet.  I mean, we live in a charming, old house, but our kids have grown up and now it’s just the two of us. So much extra space.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: I know the feeling.  Believe it or not, all my kids have grown and left, too.  I’m an empty nester.

So, are you thinking of living in a smaller shoe?

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Maybe a sandal. It would be a lot easier to clean. The only issue is, a sandal isn’t enclosed so I’d have to live in a place where it doesn’t rain a lot. Maybe Costa Rica.

I’m actually struggling with the whole downsizing idea.  On one hand, every time I walk down the hall past my son’s room, and then my daughter’s room, I feel so sad.  It’s the end of an era.  There are so many memories here.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: I know.  I feel the same way. But then I think, all these memories are bringing me down.  How great would it feel to let go, start a new chapter in my life in a new home in a new place!

True. But what if we have grandchildren?  Wouldn’t it be great to have them over in our big home and tell them they’re in the place where their parents grew up?

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Yes. But wouldn’t that get old kinda fast?

I guess it might.  I mean, last week my son came to visit.  Even though we were in our house, I started to realize it was the conversation we were having and the laughs and silliness between us that made it “home.” 

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE:  Right.

And when my daughter comes to visit next week, the gigantic hug I give her at the airport will feel like “home.”  I guess “home” is a sensibility.  Not a place.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE:  WE are home.

Yes.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: But here’s my problem. I always thought I’d live out my days as “the old woman who lived in a shoe.”  It’s the way the world sees me. I didn’t expect life to go in this direction.

Yeah.  It’s painful to change the picture you have in your head. 

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: So painful.

But as long as you’re making changes, who says you have to live in a shoe anyway?  I mean, you could live in anything.  A sock.  A hat.  Underwear.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Hmmm…underwear might be good.  Three entrances.

I hadn’t considered that perspective.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Wait!  Actually, I just got a better idea!   I just thought of the greatest place to live ever!  It’s got five, narrow rooms and no stairs!

Sounds good.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: But if I live there, I’ll have to rewrite my rhyme. How’s this?

“There was an old woman

With children to love.

But when they grew up…

She moved to a glove.”

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