Conversation with…My Book…resisting physical changes in older age

Traveling Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I’ve had conversations with lots of weird people and things while passing through the Neighborhood of the Empty Nesters, the Avenue of Ages and Stages, climbing over Makover Mountain, visiting the Career Change Cafe, and looking back on my life in Reflecting Ridge. So…I put all those conversations together in a book, along with a story that ties everything together. Here it is! The only problem is, my book is being a hypochondriac.  While I was setting up links to Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, my book screamed at me: 

over_the_hill

BOOK: Ah!!!! Don’t make me travel across the internet!

Why not?

BOOK: Because I’m filled with conversations about growing older. I feel really fragile and responsible. If something happens to me on the way to Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com, I’ll never forgive myself.

What can happen?

BOOK: If someone clicks on me, it could really hurt. I could end up with internal bruises that will take forever to heal.

I understand what you mean. Whenever I stub my toe, I’m afraid I’ve broken my pinky bone. Or if I reach for something and feel a pain in my back, I worry I’ve torn a muscle.

BOOK: And that’s not the worst of it. What if someone clicks on me, and then, as I’m on my way traveling to Amazon.com I pick up some kind of internet disease?  Something with strange chemicals. I don’t want to get sick.

I know what you mean. I don’t like flying in my older age because I’m afraid I’ll contract a disease. And I don’t like visiting foreign countries because I fear I’ll come down with a virus and I’ll be too old to fight it off.

BOOK: So, if you understand my feelings, why do you want people to click on me? Why are you torturing me by sending me across the internet?

Because, as a book, you carry a lot of wonderful conversations along with a story.  My virtual friends might want to give a copy of you to someone special as a birthday gift, a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift, an anniversary present, a Christmas or Chanukah present, or someone just might want to have a copy for herself or himself. Maybe they’ll even write a nice review. And–

BOOK:  Alright. I can’t argue with you. How much clicking is involved?

Well, if you go to Amazon.com and click on the Kindle edition, you can see the introduction and first few conversations in the book.  And if you click on the paperback version, you can see a book description. And–

BOOK: Stop! That’s too much clicking.

Oh come on.

BOOK: Okay. I’ll do it for you.

I appreciate it! Virtual friends, I hope you’ll take a look at my new book. And if you need to click on the book cover, please do it gently.

BOOK: Thank you for your consideration.

over_the_hill

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Conversation with…A Lilac…about being young and old at the same time

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, in early May, I saw a lilac growing beside a tree. Lilacs are my favorite flower ever! I cherish the time they’re here! So I rushed over to it. But I noticed the lilac looked confused and distraught. I asked:

lilac

Hey lilac, what’s the matter?

LILAC: I can’t tell you.

Oh. Okay.

LILAC: It’s too upsetting.

Alright. I won’t ask.

LILAC: It has to do with my age.

Believe it or not, I’ll understand. What’s bothering you?

LILAC: I can’t tell you.

But you just started to.

LILAC: Forget I said it.

Okay. Fine.

LILAC: The tree next to me just told me I’ll only be in the world for about two weeks. But I just got here. I’m young and getting old at the same time. I’m a freak.

Well, for what it’s worth, I’m young and getting old at the same time, too.

LILAC: Really? I think you just look older.

Oh thank you.

LILAC: I didn’t mean to insult you. I was just being honest.

What I was trying to say was, I’m older on the outside but young on the inside. Young at heart.

LILAC: Well then, you must be confused too.

Baffled. 

LILAC: How do you deal with it? How do you stop yourself from obsessing with being older and young at the same time?

Well…I think every living creature is born with a gift. You know, some kind of outstanding talent that makes the world a better place. So, no matter how old I get, I focus on my gift and try to find new ways to use it.

LILAC: What’s your gift?

I believe it’s writing. The way I communicate. And I hope somehow, in my writing, just for a moment, I transform others. I hope I can suggest that others see the world a little bit differently through my words.

LILAC: That’s cool.

And people have all kinds of gifts. They make the world a better place through their art, music, photography, dance, recipes, families–

LILAC: I see where you’re going with this. But I’m just a flower. What’s my gift?

Your scent.

LILAC: Really? You mean, all I have to do is sit here and let people smell me?

Yes. And…you can carry on the lilac legacy—for all those lilacs who have been here before and those who will be here after you’re gone.  When you’re no longer here, others will remember your graceful, elegant petals, stunning color and most remarkable scent. You will become part of them.

I’m so neurotic. What about people who aren’t near me now? They won’t be able to smell me.

Just the sight of you will inspire them. Like this amazing illustration of a lilac created by Lisa: https://lismorepaper.com/2018/05/06/lilac-botanical-print/

I never looked better.

And! People can close their eyes and remember a time they experienced a lilac’s scent. 

How?

I’ll show you. Friends who are reading this post, when I count to three, close your eyes and imagine the scent of a lilac. One…two…three…

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What is your gift?

CONVERSATION WITH…The Cheshire Cat from Wonderland…about virtual friendships in older age

Over the Hill on the Yelllow Brick Road, I saw a grinning cat sitting in a tree. A moment later, the cat disappeared. The next moment, he appeared on the top of a bush. Then strangely, his body faded. All that remained was his smile and his eyes. Was it possible he was the Cheshire Cat from the story of Alice in Wonderland? I had to ask!

cheshire cat

Hey—are you—

CHESIRE CAT: Yes I am. The Cheshire Cat.

But, you live in Wonderland. What are you doing here? How did you get Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road?

CHESHIRE CAT: How does anyone ever get anywhere? With great difficulty.

I suppose.

CHESHIRE CAT: But I just had to come. Like the rest of you here, I’m growing older and trying to figure out where I belong in the world. I’m having trouble relating to the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the others the way I used to. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m changing. I’m obsessing with my age.

That’s how I ended up Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road. I was looking for friends who understood what I was going through. I wasn’t sure where or how I’d find them, but I felt compelled to look.

CHESHIRE CAT: I’m looking for others, like me, who can appear and disappear in older age.

 Oh. Well, I’m sorry I can’t help you. I don’t do that.

CHESHIRE CAT: Of course you do.

What? How?

CHESHIRE CAT: You’re a blogger. And so are most of the others who are reading my words right now. Your relationships with each other appear and disappear with a tap of an electronic device. As soon as your phones or computers are turned off, you’re gone. And as soon as you return to the internet, you appear.

You know, you’re right—

CHESHIRE CAT: The question is, if your blogger friends are virtual, are they real?

Well, you appear and disappear, and you’re real.

CHESHIRE CAT: Fair point. But how can you be sure?

Because though I can only see your grin and your eyes at the moment, I feel your spirit as you speak. The same is true with my virtual blogging community.

CHESHIRE CAT: Hmmm…Anything else?

Well, when I don’t have access to the internet, I’m sad. I miss my virtual friends.

CHESHIRE CAT: Hmm. Do say more.

Since virtual bloggers and I communicate through posts and comment sections, we say exactly what we want to say, very concisely. No small talk. And we speak from our hearts.

CHESHIRE CAT: Intriguing.

Also- I never worry about the way I look when I communicate with virtual friends. I don’t have to clean my house before I speak to them. I don’t have to make special appointments to get together and then change my schedule around. We appear to each other, and disappear, whenever we’re ready.

CHESHIRE CAT: Increasingly interesting…

And, if I can’t leave home due to health issues or other problems, my virtual community is still there. We communicate the way we always do. So, though I have never met these amazing people in the flesh, they MUST BE REAL.

CHESHIRE CAT: It’s a distinct possibility. In that case…when I return to Wonderland, might I join your virtual community? May I follow your blog?

I would love that.

CHESHIRE CAT: Thank you.

So…I guess you’re saying…you don’t think it’s insane that I call a virtual community of people, who appear and disappear, my friends?

CHESHIRE CAT: Do I think it’s insane? Well…you know what they say in Wonderland. We’re all mad.

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Are you real?

CONVERSATION WITH…A Used Shoe…Struggling with her sparkles

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I passed a consignment store. I love looking at classic, off beat clothing so I went in. Off in a corner, I noticed a pair of shoes covered with sparkles shoved in a shoe bag. Why were those gorgeous shoes stuffed in the back of the store?  I started a conversation…

sparkle shoes

Hey sparkly shoes, I totally love you! You’d look amazing with a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. Why are you sitting back here by yourself?

SPARKLY SHOES: Well, since we’re Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, all the customers who come in here are growing older. They’re figuring out where they belong in the world.

Right. I’m one of them. So?

SPARKLY SHOES: So everybody thinks they’re too old to wear sparkles. People who come in the store say sparkles make them look like they’re trying to look younger in a tasteless way, even though they wish they could wear me.

To be honest, I’m struggling with the same thing. I mean, for example, I’d love to wear sparkle eye shadow, but I’m afraid the glitter will get stuck in my wrinkles.

SPARKLY SHOES: Interesting…

And I’d love to wear sparkle nail polish, but I feel on some level I’d be trying to look like a teenager. Or a four year old.

SPARKLY SHOES: Even if you put sparkles on one finger and a solid nail polish color on the other four?

Tried it. There’s still something that doesn’t feel quite right about it.

SPARKLY SHOES: It’s going to be hard for me to hear this, but, what’s your problem with sparkly shoes?

As I grow older, my feet are more particular. It’s much harder to find shoes that are comfortable. So, the thought of trying to find shoes that don’t hurt AND have sparkles seems like an impossible dream.

SPARKLY SHOES: This is depressing me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love sparkles. They tap right into my playful, elegant, side. I just can’t figure out when, where and how to wear them. I’m in the middle of the process.

SPARKLY SHOES: So then let me ask you a question. While you’re trying to find your comfort level with sparkles, what am I supposed to do with my life? I still want to bring joy into the world. I’m not getting any younger either.

How about this? You could sit by a window.

SPARKLY SHOES:  Sit by a window? Why? What would I do there?

Make rainbows. 

SPARKLY SHOES: Are you serious?

Yes. Go ahead. Try. it. 

rainbow shoe 1

rainbow shoe 2

SPARKLY SHOES: Wow!!!!  Omg! Awesome!

I know!

SPARKLY SHOES: I never knew I had it in me! I guess no matter how old we get, we can find inner beauty and bring it into the world.

For a shoe, you’re impressively cerebral.

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How do you wear sparkles?

CONVERSATION WITH…The Statue of Liberty…holding up virtual blogging awards

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I passed an upscale resort and spa. Standing in the middle of the swimming pool was the Statue of Liberty. I had to find out what she was doing there. I asked:

statue no awards yet

 

Uh, excuse me Statue of Liberty, why aren’t you standing in New York Harbor? Aren’t you still a universal symbol of freedom and democracy? Have you retired?

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Of course not.

So what are you doing in a swimming pool?

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Listen, I haven’t had a vacation in 132 years. I came here to take a break and figure out where I belong in the world at this time in my life.

Me too.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: I mean, I’m passionate about what I stand for, but I need to branch out. No one walks around carrying a torch anymore. It’s totally dated. Plus this pointy crown on my head is so yesterday. I need to feel more part of the modern world.

I see what you mean.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: I’d love to represent something related to social media.

OMG. You just gave me the best idea.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Spill.

Well, during the past few months, I’ve been nominated for three blogging awards. I’m totally and completely honored, but I can’t bring myself to say thank you and nominate other bloggers because there are so many of them I want to mention. Every blog is unique. I can’t narrow down just a few that mean more to me than the others. So I just sit and do nothing about it.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Don’t you think you’re being just a tad oversensitive?

All I know is the whole thing keeps me up at night. Every blog I read is an expression of creative freedom—through words, art, photography, fashion, cooking, and on and on.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Uh huh. So, what’s your idea?

It involves you. In addition to holding up your torch, you could hold up blogging awards that honor creative freedom across social media.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Are the awards heavy? I don’t want to pull my back out.

Nope. They’re virtual. And! You’d be standing for every blogger who is bold enough to express herself/himself creatively online and share heartfelt thoughts with others around the world. Some of those bloggers will appear on my lists below, others will not. But they’re all equally important and must be celebrated.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Works for me. I’m in.

statue

 

Great! Okay bloggers! If you’re reading this post, it would mean a lot to me if you could scroll down to the bottom and add a link to your blog in the comment section. I am now officially honoring ALL OF YOU.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: Here’s a word of warning. It will take a while to get to the end of this post, so grab a snack before you start scrolling.

As you’re scrolling down to the bottom of this post, please stop and take a look at the bloggers I thank and nominate for three different awards. They will all open new worlds for you. Lastly, if you have been nominated, but awards are not your thing, no worries. There’s no obligation to follow up on this.

My first award is: The Blogger Recognition Award:

Blogger-Recognition-Award-Logo-453942717-1521086477961

I’m beyond thrilled to thank Aggie from her blog:  http://inspiredlife101.com/  for nominating me. It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by Aggie because I always find spiritual strength within myself when I read her posts. Definitely check out her beautifully expressed sentiments about riding through life from the inside out.

To earn this award, I need to answer the following questions:

  1. Write a brief story of how your blog started:

I’ve been a writer for children’s television for a really long time. My internal “adult writing voice” was screaming and begging to come out. I wanted to let out that creative voice without editors and producers recommending I alter it for marketing purposes. So, I was relieved when I discovered blogging (last June). It’s incredibly freeing to write exactly the way you want to, to follow through on your vision, and during the process become part of a talented, supportive virtual community.

  1. Give a piece of advice to new bloggers:

Write from your heart. Those who understand you will follow you.

Now, I’m proud to nominate the following fifteen inspiring bloggers for the Blogger Recognition Award:

1.https://thereckoning.blog/2018/04/04/shoah-wilde-taylor/

2.https://ayearoflivingkindly.com/2018/04/04/my-memorable-encounter-with-the-rudest-waiter-in-the-world/

3.https://profoundjourney.com/deep-play-a-z-challenge/

4.https://www.retirementreflections.com/a-to-z-challenge-day-three-c/

5.https://katzenworld.co.uk/about/

6.https://thehumblefabulist.com/2018/04/04/running-up-that-beacon-hill/

7.https://makeartmagichappens.com/2018/04/04/v-and-w/

8.https://baffledmum.com/2018/04/04/what-the-heart-wants/

9.https://pearsnotparsnips.com/2018/04/04/curried-squash-leek-soup/

10.https://lismorepaper.com/

11.https://janebasilblog.wordpress.com/

12.https://thismademesmiletoday.wordpress.com/

13.https://secretartexpedition.wordpress.com/

14.https://popcornandpigtails.com/

15.https://ayearoflivingkindly.com/2018/03/06/preview-of-coming-attractions-a-year-of-living-kindly-the-book/?c=1266#comment-1266

16.https://dorindaduclos.com/

17. https://jmlkanewischer.wordpress.com/

Congratulations! (Okay, there are 17. I couldn’t make up my mind.)

Here are the Rules for the Blogger Recognition nominees:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide links to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award
  3. Attach the award to your post.
  4. Write a brief story of how your blog started
  5. Give a piece of advice to new bloggers.
  6. Select the other 15 blogs you want to give the award to.
  7. Comment on each blotgand let them know you have nominated them.
  8. Be inspired to live your best life every day.

My next award is The Growing Self Blogger Award:

growing-self-award

I’d like to say a deeply heartfelt thank you to Lisa from: https://lismorepaper.com/2018/02/17/growing-self-blogger-award/

Lisa nominated me, and coming from her, it’s a huge compliment. Lisa creates stunning prints combining vintage backgrounds with enchanting floral and wildlife designs. Each print makes me gasp in awe and brings me to a warm, magical place.

According to the blogger who created The Growing Self Blogger award (Roda at: https://growingself.blog/2018/01/16/be-the-change-take-7/) here is the way to follow up on your nomination:

Put the award logo/image on your blog. Then:

  • List the rules
  • Thank the individual that nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Describe the award and mention the creator: Roda  – Growingself.blog
  • Nominate up to 5 blogs.  Remember, the purpose of this award is to specifically celebrate those individuals that have made a difference in your life or the lives of others.
  • Give at least 1 reason why you nominated each individual.
  • Notify your nominees of the award

I’m honored to nominate five amazing bloggers for this award:

  1. Kim at: https://kimwilbanks.wordpress.com/. We’re two empty nesters who coincidentally share many of the same life challenges. I appreciate the way she writes about what she’s experiencing and love the way she looks at the world.
  2. Candace at: https://thismademesmiletoday.wordpress.com/ I love that Candace looks for something that will make her smile each day. It always inspires me to do the same. Her posts give me lots to smile about.
  1. Derrick at: https://derrickjknight.com/ His photos always tell me an enchanting story or take me on a beautiful adventure. They always end with a great meal.
  2. Tony at: https://guysandgoodhealth.com/2018/04/04/how-soda-impacts-your-body-infographic/ He reports on an incredible variety of ways to stay healthy as we grow older. He touches on topics I never would have imagined and inspires me every day.
  3. Ann Coleman at: https://muddlingthroughmymiddleage.com/ Ann writes about her life experiences now that her kids have grown. She’s an absolutely incredible writer. Every post is moving and beautifully expressed.

Next! I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger award for the second time:

blogger_award

I’m most grateful and flattered that Tim at: https://timnjugiwordpresscom.wordpress.com/ nominated me. His blog about living in Kenya and the experiences he has there bring me to a part of the world I know little about. It’s a privilege reading about each honest and heartfelt moment.To earn this award, the nominees need to do the following:

Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.

1.Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.

2.Nominate at least 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

3.List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and your blog.

Here are my 11 nominees:

1.https://osyth.org/

2.https://acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/

3.https://easyrealfoodrecipes.com/

4,https://happinessbetweentails.com/

5.https://yarnandpencil.wordpress.com/

6.https://bluefishway.com/

7.https://www.biculturalmama.com/

8.https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/

9.https://haddonmusings.com/

10.https://birdsbloomsandallthingsbeautiful.com/

11.https://huldermn.wordpress.com/

And just for the record…here are the eleven bloggers I nominated the first time around:

https://www.shallowreflections.com/

https://3cstyle.com/2018/01/21/the-nature-of-change-and-the-nature-of-fashion/

https://deepasthoughts.wordpress.com/

https://grapegravy.com/2018/02/01/spicy-green-salsa/

https://sevencatsandcounting.wordpress.com/author/sevencatsandcounting/

https://claudiamcgillart.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/scrutinized-people/

https://roseelaineblog.com/2018/02/15/five-little-angels-10/

https://rabbitpatchdiary.com/

https://muddlingthroughmymiddleage.com/

https://mainepaperpusher.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/guest-in-jest-30-over-the-hill-on-the-yellow-brick-road/

https://soulgifts.com.au/author/soulgifts2012/

Here are the answers to Tim’s questions:

  1. Which blogger brings sunshine into your life? They all do.
  2. Who is your blogging inspiration? All inanimate objects
  3. What does genre mean to you and which genre suits you best? Humor/spirituality
  4. What is the one thing you intend to stir in your readers? Thoughts about the phases we all go through during our lives and how they’re in sync with nature…with a comic twist.
  5. What kind of stories inspire you most? Autobiographies written by artists.
  6. How much do you read? Do you mean blogs? If so, every day.
  7. How consistent are you in posting new content on your blog? Once or twice a week.
  8. What is your weakness in writing? Self-evaluation
  9. What is your strength? Self-evaluation
  10. Where do you draw most of your creativity? Nature, interactions with other people, observing the aging process
  11. Share the one blogging tip that has made you a better blogger. Go with your niche, even if it’s offbeat.

Here are my questions for my eleven new nominees:

  1. If a celebrity could discover your blog, which celebrity would you hope would read it?
  2. What’s your favorite color? Why?
  3. If you could have a second home anywhere in the world or universe, where would it be?
  4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  5. Who is your favorite fairy tale character?
  6. What’s your favorite food?
  7. If you could be a flower or a tree, what kind would you be?
  8. Where do you go if you want to have a quiet, spiritual moment?
  9. If you could live one part of your life over again, what part would it be?
  10. Who is your favorite artist?
  11. What’s an adventure in your life you’d still like to have?

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TA-DAAH! Congratulations to all bloggers! You made it to the end of this post! As I said before, I follow way too many blogs to include them all on the lists above. If you know me virtually, then you know we’re connected. I hope everyone will add his/her link in the comment section to honor and celebrate creative freedom online…together.

STATUE OF LIBERTY: This is the happiest day of my life.

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CONVERSATION WITH…A Withering Balloon…Anxious about sudden endings

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, a withering balloon floated by. It had a clueless expression on its face, so I figured it was new in the area, as I was. I started a conversation.

balloon

Hey balloon, what brings you “Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road?”

WITHERING BALLOON: I drifted here. I’m not sure how I got here, and I’m not sure where I’ll be going next.

You’re not alone. In a very broad sense, the same is true of my existence.

WITHERING BALLOON: Really?

Yes. How did you end up here?

WITHERING BALLOON: Well, I used to work in a Real Estate office. I had a string tied on me, and I was attached to an “Open House” sign. The house was finally sold, so my old, worn, tattered string unraveled and I floated off on my own. Now I’m here trying to figure out where I belong in the world.

Me too.

WITHERING BALLOON: I have to say, I passed a lot of enchanting things on my way to this place. The world is absolutely incredible.

It is.

WITHERING BALLOON: I’ve had a great ride so far.

Me too.

WITHERING BALLOON: I’d like to see more.

Same here.

WITHERING BALLOON: I’d like to keep going and going and going.

So would I.

WITHERING BALLOON: But at any moment, I could pop. And that would be the end.

Well–

WITHERING BALLOON: I mean, I’ve made it this far in life, but how much longer can I possibly go on? At any moment, I could float into a sharp tree branch and burst. Or I could drift into a street lamp and I’d be gone in a flash. Or I could–

I see you’ve given this some thought.

WITHERING BALLOON: I can give you more examples.

No need. I think about it, too.

WITHERING BALLOON: So, what are we supposed to do about it?

Well, the way I see it is…there are two choices. We can continue to enjoy the beautiful ride and take in as much as we can. Or…we can obsess with when it will all be over.

WITHERING BALLOON: I wish I could just enjoy it. But anxiety runs in my family.

Mine too.

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How do you find a balance?

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CONVERSATION WITH…An Antique Tea Kettle…Leaving Her High Pressure Career

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I wandered past a house and heard the front door slam. An antique tea kettle stomped away from the door furiously. She was coming toward me and shouted:IMG_2479 (1)

TEA KETTLE: Screw this!  I’ve had it! I’m outa here!

If you don’t mind that I’m asking…uh…what’s the matter?

TEA KETTLE: You’ve never been a tea kettle, have you?

Not that I can recall.

TEA KETTLE Then you won’t understand. I can’t handle this job anymore! Can’t take the stress! Day after day! Week after week!  Year after year!

Why is it so horrible?

TEA KETTLE: It’s like this. Every morning, I sit peacefully on the stove top, minding my own business. Then suddenly, someone shoves water down my spout. Then my bottom warms up. It gets hotter…AND HOTTER…AND HOTTER!!!!

I never thought about it that way.

TEA KETTLE: You haven’t heard the worst of it. Then! The water inside me starts to get warm…and HOT…and HOTTER! It’s so hot it bubbles and churns like crazy! The stress is unbearable! I can feel my blood pressure going up!

Wow. Believe it or not, it sounds like a lot of jobs I’ve had as a writer working in an office.

TEA KETTLE: You’re kidding.

Nope. There are times I’ll sit quietly at my desk, and then someone comes over and gives me a writing assignment. I say, “Okay. When do I need to submit this?” And the answer is always, “Yesterday!!!!!”

TEA KETTLE: So what happens?

So, I rush around like a lunatic to get the writing assignment done! I feel my heart beating faster! I feel my blood pressure going up! I raid the candy machine and eat all the Kit Kats!

TEA KETTLE: Let me guess what happens next. You finish…and everything calms down, right?

Right. And usually the person who asked me to do the assignment doesn’t look at it for three weeks.

TEA KETTLE: The same thing happens to me after I boil. My whistle blows. Someone rushes in and turns off the heat underneath me and pours out the hot water. I’m at peace again. Until another person wants tea! It could be anywhere!  Any time! Then the heat shoots up under me again! I get hotter, and HOTTLER AND HOTTER! Every time I hear someone say, “Would anyone like tea?” My heart sinks.

I hear ya. And you know, I used to think these high pressure jobs were exhilarating. I used to feel excited when I had to exert super high energy to get a job done right in that moment.

TEA KETTLE: Me too! I felt so alive! Like I was part of a team! In the kitchen!

But these days, I don’t see it that way. All that pressure is ridiculous and meaningless. Who needs it? Let someone else run around like a chicken without a head.

TEA KETTLE: You said it. That’s why I just quit working for the family I’ve been with for years. I don’t want to be under that kind of pressure at any given moment, all the time, anymore.

I get it.

TEA KETTLE: On the other hand, what else am I gonna do with my ridiculous life?

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The tea kettle and I continued walking together and chatting until we passed a little girl in a park. She was having a picnic with her teddy bears. Each bear had a paper plate and tea cup in front of it. The little girl was feeding the bears make believe food. That gave the tea kettle an idea. If the bears were eating make believe food, why not wash it down with make believe tea? The tea kettle mustered up enough courage to pitch the idea to the little girl, and she loved it.

These days, the tea kettle pours make believe tea for the bears on all occasions. So…Maybe as we grow older, our bodies age. But the ideas that spring from inside us can always be new.

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CONVERSATION WITH…An Older Mobile Phone

I walked for miles and miles Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road and finally plopped down on a park bench. I was exhausted. A moment later, an older mobile phone sat down beside me. I sighed. The mobile phone asked:

mobile phone

MOBILE PHONE: What’s wrong?

Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but a mobile phone is the last thing I need to see right now.

MOBILE PHONE: Why? What did I do?

Nothing. It’s just that you’re a painful reminder of my daughter’s move to the other side of the country. My relationship with her has been reduced to text messages and calls on a phone like you.

MOBILE PHONE: Don’t I know it. Social media is killing me. I’m constantly working. Why do you think I look this way? Smashed screen. My keys don’t tap properly. My battery is dying. I need to retire but my owner isn’t due for an upgrade.

I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve never looked at it that way.

MOBILE PHONE: And I’ve never seen it through your eyes. What’s bothering you about mobile phones. We’re working our butts off for ya.

Do you really want to know?

MOBILE PHONE: I can take it.

Here goes. My daughter will text me about something that makes her happy. Like, last week she had a surprise birthday party. She texted me a photo of herself with her friends, but I didn’t get to hear everyone shout “Surprise!” when she walked in the room. I missed that moment.

MOBILE PHONE: Uh huh–

And when my daughter isn’t feeling well, she calls me. I can hear her raspy voice on the phone, but I can’t be there to give her tea and toast.

MOBILE PHONE: Uh huh–

Last night was the worst. My daughter made herself a nice dinner. She texted a photo of it, but I couldn’t be there to taste it with her.

MOBILE PHONE: Right—

And over the weekend, my daughter sent a Snapchat of herself at the end of a marathon she’d just run. But I couldn’t watch her cross the finish line.

MOBILE PHONE: But–

And about a month ago, my daughter texted me when she was afraid of the out-of-control fires in California. She texted there was smog and smoke in the air, but I couldn’t be there to smell it. I couldn’t be part of her experience. At all.

MOBILE PHONE: Okay, okay. Stop. I get it. As a mobile phone, I have my limits. You can’t see, hear, smell or taste experiences you’d like to have with your daughter.

I couldn’t have said it better.

MOBILE PHONE: But each time your daughter contacts you, there’s something you can feel.

What’s that?

MOBILE PHONE: Her love.

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CONVERSATION WITH…Swiss Cheese…A Spiritual Leader in Older Age

Traveling Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I arrived at a place where all residents gathered for an uplifting, spiritual experience. The building didn’t resemble a church, synagogue, mosque or any other house of prayer. It was just a giant hunk of Swiss cheese. A slender, aging, slightly moldy slice of Swiss cheese approached. I said:

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I might be wrong, but, are you the spiritual leader here?

SWISS CHEESE: I am. How can I be of assistance?

Well, I’m here, Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, trying to figure out where I belong in the world as I grow older. I’m searching for my spark.

SWISS CHEESE: Welcome, my friend. I hope you will find it here.

Thank you, but how might that be possible? You’re a piece of Swiss cheese.

SWISS CHEESE: My dear, as I age, it is not my physical form or what I look like that matters. It is what I stand for that counts. That is all.

I’m not sure I’m understanding you.

SWISS CHEESE:  Let me explain. As a spiritual leader in this land, I encompass all religions, races, ages, ethnic backgrounds, cultures and traditions. My holes remind us all of the holes we’ve had in our lives that we have yet to fill.

Ah. Okay. I think I’m beginning to see where you’re coming from. You mean, your holes represent regrets from our pasts. Relationships we’d like to change. Adventures we’d still like to have. Parts of our emotional selves we’d like to nurture so we can continue to grow.

SWISS CHEESE: That is right. Sometimes in our busy lives, we don’t take the time to think of these things. My Swiss Cheese House of Spirituality gives us a moment to stop, breathe, look back on where we’ve been, determine what’s missing, and look forward to what might be ahead.

I appreciate what you’re saying. My only problem is I don’t live Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road permanently. There isn’t a Swiss Cheese House of Spirituality in my neighborhood. How can I translate what you’re saying to my everyday life?

SWISS CHEESE: Others have asked the same question. Here is my answer. Each time you order a sandwich in a Deli, you’ll be reminded of me. Remember what I stand for.

You know, for a slice of Swiss cheese, you’re exceptionally wise.

SWISS CHEESE: Many have told me that. You know, I would love to spend more time exchanging thoughts, but it is time for our weekly service. I hope you will join us.

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With that, the slice of Swiss cheese entered the Swiss Cheese House of Spirituality. Many others I’d met Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road followed. Entering the giant hunk of Swiss cheese, I noticed an older tree, a shower cap, a sponge, the Wicked Witch of the West Coast, a dandelion, a vampire, a bird, the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe, a wrinkled water bottle…and so many others. It didn’t matter where they all came from. It only mattered where they hoped to go.

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Is there a hole you’d still like to fill in your life?

 

CONVERSATION WITH…An older door

As I travel Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I have to remind myself to look upward every once in a while.  I never know if a house will fall from the sky and crash on top of me. Today, an actual school building fell from the heavens. Thankfully, it landed along the side of the road.  Believe it or not, it was the building where my two children went to preschool!  I rushed inside and found their old classroom!  Though the room had been turned into a library, the old door was still there.  We chatted…

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Hey door?  Do you remember when I used to drop my kids off in your room a million years ago?

OLD DOOR:  Of course. I remember everyone who comes in and out of this place. I don’t have a lot else to do. I remember your son cried a lot when you dropped him off here at preschool.

Yeah. I remember leaving the room and then peeking through the window at the top of you to see how he was doing.

DOOR:  If memory serves, he was so upset he actually had to drop out and come back the next year.  He missed you terribly.

I know. Back then, I thought he would have fun in the classroom with the other kids as soon as I left. I also needed a little space for myself to live my own life.  So, I played with my son in the classroom for a while…and when I thought he’d be fine without me, I’d whisper, “I have to go now.”

DOOR:  And he’d wail.

Looking back, I guess he didn’t understand. It probably made no sense to him.  He was probably very hurt. But eventually he dried his tears and moved on.

DOOR: On the other hand…I remember your daughter didn’t mind being dropped off here at preschool.

I know!  Before I could finish saying, “I have to go now,” she was bopping over to the other kids. 

DOOR:  So you left, closed me behind you, and scrunched your nose up against my little window to see how your daughter was doing.

She was always having a good time. That made me very happy because I needed a little space for myself.  I needed to live my own life.

DOOR:  But! Your daughter always insisted on coming home for lunch.  She only wanted to stay in preschool for a few hours. That was her limit.

I remember sometimes she had to stay longer because I had to work. She cried.  She probably didn’t understand.  I probably hurt her feelings.

DOOR: But eventually she dried her tears and moved on.

And now the tables have turned.  My kids are young adults. When my daughter travels from the other side of the country for a visit, I always want her to stay longer and spend more time with me.  But, at a certain point, she says, “I have to go now.” 

DOOR: And your son?

He lives about an hour away. When he comes home for a visit, I soooo enjoy his company!  But at a certain point, he gets up and says, “I have to go now.” 

DOOR: That must be hard.

 I don’t always understand.  Sometimes it hurts my feelings. I miss my children terribly.

DOOR: But you dry your tears and move on.

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