My Final Year As a Quinquagenarian

 

In other words, I turned 59 today.

Anyone between the ages of 50 and 60 is a quinquagenarian. It’s a word you use all the time, right?

Are you kidding? People that age get worn out just saying it. Who the blue devil came up with that title, anyways?

Never mind, here I am, standing at the threshold of 60. A threshold I thought would take a lot longer to show up. Truly astonishing, how fast life runs when you’re not looking.

It’s unfair, too; by the time you come to appreciate just how precious your days on this earth actually are, they’re mostly gone.

But enough gloom and sadness. The larger point is, I’m still here! And, as that noted philosopher once said, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

(Even with the guy we currently have as President, but I digress…)

Also, considering that I’ve spent the last several years with depression as my constant companion, occasionally urging me to just cash it all in, it’s a small miracle I’m still around.

And, on the whole, I’m glad I’m here. Despite what I try to tell myself sometimes, life actually is worth living.

Especially when I can get in some naps. Us old folks need those, you know.

So, have a piece of cake for me. Heck, indulge; have two.

Just don’t make me blow out any candles. I’m still a little winded from saying that word.

 

 

 

Treading Water

 

I’m sorry, folks.

The truth is, lately, I just don’t care about anything enough to write about it.

And I don’t know when I will.

But, even if I did, I’d likely tell myself you wouldn’t care, so why bother writing? That’s due mainly to my rather low opinion of myself these days. Depression, and all that.

Besides, trying to write anything lately is like trying to swim in mud. I just bog down at some point.

I’m sorry to disappoint any of you.

I don’t know if I should even post this.

But I just want you to know, I’m still here.

That’s about all I want to say for now. I love you all.

The “Terrible Twos”?

 

April 13, 2016. I unleash the inaugural post of my new blog on an unsuspecting world.

And the rest, of course, is history.

Well, my history, anyway. So, here I am, still writing two years later. And, to my amazement, you’re reading what I write! Some of you have even been with me for the whole ride.

This leaves me mystified and gratified, all at once. Even more so, my work has been read in 66 different countries around the world, by now. THAT is incredible to me.

 

As I’ve said before, I write primarily because writing is easier than talking for me. This is a way for me to put out there what I think and feel, but could probably never bring myself to say aloud. I’ve always kinda been like that.

At times, though, even writing isn’t easy. My depression holds me back sometimes; gets in the way of me finishing the four or five posts that I’ve started. That’s why you haven’t heard from me recently; I’ve been stuck in the Land of Half Way.

I guess, the 2-year milestone gave me some added impetus to see this one all the way through to the end.

So, I’m glad to have this outlet. And, I’m especially glad so many of you have found it interesting enough to read – more than once, in many cases. Thank you so much for visiting. You’re definitely welcome anytime.

I love you. Later, y’all.

 

Versatile Blogger Award

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Well, check out your boy, now.

I recently discovered that another blogger nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Many thanks to Becky’s Open Book  for this honor. You would do well to visit there sometime. Lots of book reviews, for you readers in the audience, but she offers her take on other subjects, as well.

Please tell me there’s a cash prize involved.

No? Oh, well…

 

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award (VBA):

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award. (Yay, I won!)

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

1. Thank the person who gave you this award. Okay, done.
2. Include a link to their blog. Also done.
3. Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!) Fifteen? Okey-dokey, here goes, in no particular order:

The Off Key of Life

Look For the Good  Spoiler alert: my niece writes this one. And it’s darned good.

Extra Dry Martini   

Endless Bitchen Summer

cheekiecat ZekeFor the kitty lovers 🐱🐱

Stuff That Needs to Be Said It really does.

Girls and Their Cats See cheekiecat Zeke 

Giddy Up America

Ends and Beginnings Longtime favorite of mine. Same as the next one.

I Am Begging My Mother Not to Read This Blog

Note to My White Self

Sascha Hjort This girl will stimulate your mind, guaranteed.

Katie Kuo

boy with a hat

Let Me Be Frank With You This guy is funny!

Whew! Did it.

4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site. On it.
5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. I did that; she found them fascinating. 🤨

Thanks again to Becky’s Open Book for this recognition. Long may you write!

Keep Them Tools Sharp

 

So, the reason I started seeing a therapist again last year, after a nine-year hiatus, was the hope that said therapist could perhaps provide me some tools to help me cope with my ongoing depression.

And she has. She recommended some sites for me to visit online, that gave me some practical steps to apply, and I thought the information was very valuable.

Yay, I’ve got some tools, now!

But, as any skilled craftsman will tell you, one good way to keep your tools sharp longer…

Is to not use them.

 

Why don’t I put into practice the things I’ve learned? Maybe, for a few reasons.

One, making a habit out of anything new is tough. Especially, anything good, right? We’re settled in to all our bad habits and, even though we know they’re bad, we’re kinda slow to let go of them, aren’t we? How many times have we declared ourselves on one diet or other, only to fall in those familiar traps on the path? How many newly started exercise regimens have we abandoned, not because we really wanted to, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to get up and run today, or whatever?

Maybe it’s just me.

Two, on the subject of exercise, you know how it feels when you do something physical, that works muscles on your body you haven’t used in a long while? (Stop snickering, I know what you’re thinking…) It’s not comfortable, is it? And, the next day, maybe you’re a little sore in those places. ( I said, STOP it!)

Well, I guess the mind and the emotions are like that. Let’s say, for instance, I have a “self-forgiveness” muscle, that’s pretty much atrophied at this point. (Hypothetically, of course.) When I ask it to try and function, chances are, it won’t be comfortable. Might even hurt.

Then, how ready will I be to try it again?

Three, I’m the kind of guy who likes to mark time, to hit the Pause button, get everything set up like I want it, then press Play, and continue on.

There is, of course, no Pause button. You would think a fifty-something-year-old man would have figured that out. We’re stuck in Play, all the way to the end. (Feels more like Fast Forward, though, gotta say.)

I guess I just have to do this thing on the fly, which I’d rather not.

 

Four, and this one may be the hardest to explain:

In a weird way, part of me likes being in this condition, fancying myself the classic Tragic Hero in my own, personal Drama: a somewhat virtuous fellow, nevertheless doomed to suffer. In its own twisted, perverted way, it gets me more attention which, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is a particular lifelong craving of mine.

Now, how screwed up is that, folks? The problem with that is, I’m not the only one who suffers. Which sucks for the other people.

I guess that’s partly due to the artiste in me, grouping myself with the Van Goghs and the Hemingways and the Kurt Cobains of the world. (Not that my work approaches theirs; I’m not claiming that.) Also, my uncle, bless his heart, who was a writer that had depression for years, and ultimately killed himself.

There’s something else, though: the gnawing feeling that the tragic life is the life I deserve. This is what I have coming to me. Nothing good; only bad.

I don’t know why. At least, if I do, I’m not telling me.

 

Mind you, I don’t like admitting any of this. It’s more than a bit embarrassing. But, it’s the unfortunate, ugly truth.

Dr. L, if you’re reading this, (yes, she has permission) just know that I’m holding steady. I know what I need to do; I know what I want to do.

I don’t know. Maybe I need some tools to help me get started using my tools.

That’s sorta funny, but really not.

A Descent into the Maelstrom (Apologies to Mr. Poe)

 

I tell you, friends, this depression thing just sucks, sometimes.

It can come up on me at any moment and pull me down into a vortex of fear and anger that eventually has me feeling as if I’m no good for anything or anyone.

It’s usually triggered by me saying or doing something wrong (which is annoyingly often), but sometimes, all I have to do is think of something I said or did wrong, and down I go.

In that whirlpool of darkness, I see all my failures, all my insecurities, all my wounds, self-inflicted or not, and I feel irretrievably hopeless, and I wonder, really, what is the use, anymore?

It doesn’t make me suicidal, but it does sometimes have me longing for Mr. Grim Reaper to show up.

Because, in those times, I just feel so thoroughly worn down. And I’m ready to simply give up.

And then, it passes, just like always, and I’m back out of the vortex, and life goes on.

 

Yes, I’m on medication, yes, I see a therapist, but that doesn’t mean depression keeps its distance every hour of every day. Unfortunately.

I guess, the one good thing is that, having experienced this plenty of times, I’m self-aware enough at this point to know it will pass in time, and so, I just have to be in it for a little while, and it won’t result in me doing anything harmful.

Unless crying is harmful.

 

I’m telling you this for two reasons.

One, in the spirit of being honest with you about how frightening my otherwise wonderful life can sometimes be. (And it is mostly wonderful, really.)

And two, to assure any of you out there who think you can handle depression on your own:

No, you can’t.

I got help for it, and it can still knock me down, sometimes. If you try to beat it alone, it can kill you. Please, get help. There is no shame in doing that.

BTW, I’m doing just fine, today, thanks. At the moment.

Hit Reset

 

Okay, truth time: how many of you have already gone off the diet you started on the 1st?

I’m sorry. That was cruel, wasn’t it? Forget I asked.

Anyway, here we are. A brand new year is upon us. Is it just me, or did the last year go by in a blink? Jeez, before you know it, it’ll be Christmas time again.

I’m sorry, I did it again, didn’t I? Just SHUT UP, WILL YA??

 

Okay, no more clowning. Seriously, welcome to a brand new year. I hope it has started well for you.

Many of us use January 1st as a marker, a place to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. It’s life’s Reset button. Whatever happened last year is last year’s news; it’s in the rearview mirror, getting ever smaller until disappearing over the horizon line. We savor the good memories, and shed the bad ones.

Easier said than done, I know. Believe me, I know.

But now, our eyes are on the future, who stands before us with both hands full; in one hand, exciting opportunity and possibility, and in the other hand, unsettling fear and dread.

Most of us will take a little from each hand, because we need a healthy balance of fear and optimism, right? Too much dread is just too depressing, but too much optimism seems a bit unrealistic, doesn’t it?

The more depressed among us – like yours truly – will probably take more from the fear and dread hand, because that’s our comfort zone, it’s our default mode. We’d rather not be that way, but unfortunately, it’s not as simple as making different choices. If only…

However, I will work harder this year at picking from the other hand; I need to. Because there have been days in the last year when I had no optimism whatsoever about the future. (I don’t think I should have to explain why.) I thought we were absolutely doomed. Everything looked bleak and hopeless.

And yet, somehow, we’re still here.

There is still much to fear as this new year commences. Some of it is fear of the unknown, some of it of the all too well-known.

But this is a good time for me to clear my head and focus on what I need for this to be a better year. Do I need to be healthier? More loving? More open and honest? More trusting? More attentive to others? More appreciative of life, of nature, of people?

Less fearful?

Probably all that, and a lot more.

It’s a good time for a new beginning. I look forward to it.

Mostly.

New Weight-Loss Program

 

About a year ago, I wrote about my resolution to lose some weight this year, crediting global warming as my motivation. I simply don’t wish to spend any more blazing Texas summers carrying all this additional poundage on my aging, weakening body. I know it’s weakening; just pick up a 50-pound bag of anything and carry it with you everywhere for over 30 years, and see if it doesn’t wear you down a bit.

Well, friends, at this point, I can report only marginal success, but I’ll take it over nothin’. Not due to any change in diet or exercise habits, mind you, but to a new medication I take to lower my A1C level, (ask a diabetic) that also serves as something of an appetite suppressant. So, yay, I’m still losing weight without having to really do anything.

After a recent doctor visit, though, the need to exercise and make a few dietary changes has come into sharper focus, and I find I have to be more of an active participant in the improvement of my health, or face some rather harsh consequences.

Rats. I kept hoping that, by now, we would be medically advanced enough to have a pill that, when taken, would just melt the pounds right off and, when taken regularly, would keep ‘em off. Guess I can’t depend on science for everything. Oh, well…

 

I just read a post from a fellow blogger whose work I enjoy, and it reminded me that, as this year draws to a close and a new one rapidly approaches, I have some other weight to work on losing, as well.

I don’t like to brag, but I hold a tenth-degree Black Belt in the discipline of not letting go of my past. No, really.

Every time I’ve screwed up, every reprimand I received, every time I was ridiculed and laughed at…oh, I have a trophy room full of them, folks.

Now, that…is some excess weight. Along with the 50-pound bag, I’m dragging a ship’s anchor. It’s a wonder I can even walk.

Before you go thinking this is some “poor, poor me”, Gloomy Gus soliloquy, trust me; I know where the blame lies. The universe didn’t do this to me.

Well, mostly not. It did see fit to bless me with the precious gift of depression, the gift that certainly keeps on giving. And that adds a degree of difficulty to my Olympic routine, judges.

I have been seeing a therapist this year, but any progress I feel I’ve made can easily be erased in a single bad situation that reminds me I’m still a long way from better, like the hopeful skier having one disastrous run on the slope.

It occurs to me, I’m at a physical and mental crossroad, and I can really no longer afford to f*** around with either. Not anymore.

I’ve learned many things this year, to be sure, from my therapy and from the wisdom of some insightful, inspirational bloggers.

But, you know, anybody can learn $#!t. What matters is what they do with it.

So, now begins the hard part of doing. It’s gonna be tough, but worth it, I hope. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me success.

Happy New Year, everybody. Please celebrate responsibly. Come back and see me next year.

 

 

It’s Here!

MEEEEEERRRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, wherever you are, I wish you the best one ever!!

Thank all of you so much for looking in on my blog this year. I hope you liked what you read. And even if you didn’t, thanks for visiting, anyway.

All best wishes for the year ahead. Blessings on all of you.

Later, y’all.

The Scary Guy in the Red Suit

 

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I don’t know how many of you ever had the distinct privilege of sitting in Santa Claus’ lap to tell him what to bring you for Christmas, (yes, tell, don’t ask) but trust me, it is an experience you will remember all your life.

Unfortunately for me.

 

Let’s face it, meeting Santa Claus is a bucket list event for any kid. I mean, we all write our letters to him, asking for what we want, (or maybe, email these days, I don’t know) but to get to meet the Big Kahuna in person??

Oh…WOW!!! Makes me nearly faint just thinking about it.

Just go to the mall, and spend some time around Santa, and you watch how many kids stand in line, accompanied by their harried, stressed-out parents, waiting for their turn with the Big Man. I mean, who knows when he’ll get around to reading your letter; here’s your chance to tell Mr. Claus directly. Big time-saver.

So, here I was, on my way to Leonard’s Department Store, in downtown Fort Worth, for my close encounter of the Santa kind. To describe me as excited that day would be an understatement. I was charged up, folks. I was ready for this; I had waited for this day my whole life. (I think I was about five.) I was even dressed up for it, in my finest gift-begging suit. With my hair perfectly combed, wearing my best cologne, breath mint in pocket, I knew I had this.

Claus, you’re mine!

 

So, I stood in line with the other kids, waiting patiently (not) for my turn. As I waited, I enthusiastically recited to Mom and Dad my entire request list. I don’t recall how long it was, but come on, I was a kid; you think it was just gonna be two or three items? No, sir, no Toy Express Lane for this guy.

But as I stood there, a curious thing happened. My parents noticed, the further up I moved in line, the less talking I did, and my excitement seemed to morph into trepidation, which then crossed over to fear. 😬😲

I don’t really have an explanation for what happened. I can only speculate in hindsight, the closer I got to the man, the more intimidating he looked to me. After all, I was meeting him for the first time, and we weren’t even properly introduced. I was simply picked up and set in the guy’s lap, for Pete’s sake. This scary fellow with the long hair and the long beard and the red suit and the prominent gut. I didn’t care that he was probably some poor store employee who got roped into this gig, and would rather have been off somewhere else, hitting the eggnog with an elf or two.

No, all I knew in that moment was, I don’t like this person. And so, from the time I was placed in his lap until the time I was removed from it, Santa Claus might as well have been sitting there holding a stuffed animal.

I didn’t speak. I didn’t move. I may not have even breathed.

I was frozen solid, a Rock of Gibraltar. You could have busted up concrete with me.

There’s photographic evidence somewhere of this incident, but ain’t none of you ever gonna see it, that’s for sure. Let’s just pretend it looks like this:

 

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So, I rode back home with my head hung in shame. I had my shot and I wasted it. A tragic event, one that would undoubtedly keep me in therapy for life.

You know what, though? Turns out, I didn’t need to tell him a thing.

Because, come Christmas Day, I still got what I wanted. Cool, right? 😏

Now, kids, I’m not saying that’ll happen to you, too. You’d better talk to Santa, if you get a chance, just to cover your bases.

He’s probably not really that scary.