PUNKIN’ and PUMPKINS & BREASTS

My roots are from the south.  Being called, ‘Pumpkin’ or Punkin’ is common, and it’s an endearing term from ones we love.  Not that my blog has anything to do with that, but there are other connotations about the word pumpkin…which IS what my blog is about this week.

“It’s October, ya’ll!

BREAST AWARENESS MONTH 

Time to take those pumpkins to get a mammogram!” 

All kidding aside, I’d like to take a moment to be authentic and share my feelings regarding breast cancer and survival, as well as pay tribute to those beautiful women who were and are and will be fatally victimized by its brutal, cellular clutch.

I share my story, as a survivor, because I hope that I may uplift, or enlighten at least one person or one family to realize that breast cancer is real.  Learning to live with it, prevent it and remove it from our society is a huge challenge for individuals and communities.

My blog is longer than usual, but something keeps telling me I must share it.  I hope that it’ll be of interest.

Breast Cancer is deadly, and it respects no one:  Woman or Man.         

Cancer patients, and certainly breast cancer survivors, are strong, vibrant, resilient warriors, and they are fighting against huge corporate odds, thus victimized by chemical additives in foods, homes, environment and more.

The fight for cancer prevention continues.

Please take care of yourself.  Educate. Prevent. Inform.

Here’s my story.  I know you have a story, too.  Please feel free to share and inform us.

2010

I felt a small lump in my breast.  It hurt.  I was concerned, but I didn’t have insurance, so I simply put it aside and carried on about my business.  Then, I turned 62, was able to take early retirement; and was, also, fortunate enough to have Medicare at 65.  I went to get a mammogram as soon as possible.  Sure, I know there are free clinics and organizations where you can pay by sliding scale; but my hubby and I were going through some financial issues, so I simply procrastinated.  Just that simple.  Just that hard.

At any rate, insurance was finally acquired, I finally went to the Women’s Clinic, got the Mammo and waited for results.  You can imagine how happy I was to learn that it was just a mass, and no cancer was found.  Whew!  I took a deep breath, and again, carried on about life and business as usual.

2010-2014

For me, ‘as usual’ meant Divorce. Death. Family complexities. Long working hours.  Financial crisis.  Change of lifestyle.  Several moves. Fear. Elation. Failure. Goals met.  Expectations unmet.  New experiences…and well, you get the picture.  There were a couple of years where my life’s journey blended calm and chaos, and I was just spinning.  The metaphor that comes to mind is a visual of stirring powdered creamer into a cup of coffee and watching it slowly dissolve and blend into the spinning vortex of creamy delight.  It appears that it’s blended,  but then that one tiny lump of creamer doesn’t dissolve and sinks to the bottom.  You don’t see it until you take a big sip.  Then, there it is, stuck to the back of of your tongue,  and you either just swallow it or slowly let it dissolve.  Well, those years I gulped it.  Savored it.  Felt its energy.

After all, it was just a lump of  life.

2014

I woke up one morning totally exhausted, completely wiped out, dragging.  For a multitude of reasons, and with hesitation, I decided to close my business.  Complications ensued.  Nothing seemed to be going as planned, and yet many opportunities were being presented as positive changes.   I was treading to stay above the chaos and flailing about the waves of self respect, approvals, disapprovals, judgements.  I realized that I needed to get a grip, stay steady and wait out the storm.

First, I sold my cute little Mercedes pony.  Then, I bought a car with fewer complications and  less expensive upkeep.  I found a teaching job in Austin in an area that I felt was accessible to my needs.  I knew I would want to move back to Austin asap.   In addition and to help out with closing the business, I was asked to participate in a small antique venue in Austin where I could close-out my current stock.  As suspected, traveling back and forth soon proved to be too much; so I found an apartment within a mile of my work.  By Christmas, I was settled into 625 square feet of apartment.  Though tiny, it was home. I was in transitional shock, relationship shock, family worries.  You name it, I think I was in the middle of it.  Craziness for sure.  Yet, the plan was unfolding with intent, with God’s grace, and with the help of good friends and family.  The lump in my breast traveled with me, too.

With many boxes still to be unpacked and surrounded by fears, faith, and a good foundation, I woke up one morning, ready for the day’s schedule; and as most of us, I headed for the bathroom first thing.  As I flushed, I saw blood in the toilet.  What the heck?

I hadn’t had a physical for several years.  Obviously, it was time.

With appointment made, and Medicare in hand, I headed to one of the local 24-hour clinics and got the usual blood work and all the pokes and prods.  I was happy to have good insurance:  Complete Medicare and Plan G that would pick up the remainder of costs.  The $300 + monthly costs were worth it.  The doctor then said, “I see it’s time for a breast checkup.”

So, I did and also saw a GYN.  I had a 3-D mammogram which is much cleaner and more precise than a regular mammogram.  The dreaded call came; I needed to return and discuss the findings.  I went by myself.  I felt immortal and unworried; but there was a concerned look on the technician’s face when I arrived.  She said, “I see something here that is questionable.  (Another consultation).  “Yes. We believe a Lumpectomy is in order to test for cancer.”

No problem.  It’s just a little outpatient thing.  I once again ventured by myself.  Unfortunately when I checked in, they had records and appointments confused.  I waited for nearly two hours.   I think they gave me a sedative.  Finally, the doctor who would do the outpatient surgery apologetically arrived.  I can’t remember what the complication was during the procedure, but she kept apologizing about it; I could see the probing of the needle in my breast as she moved it around.  (It’s amazing technology).  For a moment my anxiety overwhelmed me, but I slowly calmed down.  I was numb.  Numb at heart.  Numb from life.  Just numb.  And scared.

Cut to a few days later, May 8th. according to my journal.  I’m driving back from lunch to work, pulling into a parking space, when my cellphone rings.  “Hello.   (I can barely understand her as she speaks).  This is Dr. ___ from the ___ Clinic.  (The doctor that I originally saw for the physical).   I am sorry to give you this news, but your tests reveal that you have cancer.  I suggest you find a cancer consultant as soon as possible.  I am so sorry.  Call if I can help with anything.”   Click.

Click?

I sat there dumbfounded trying to process what she had just said.  Truly, I NEVER thought I’d fall victim to cancer.  That was always someone else…someone I didn’t know, or someone who smoked, drank, or lived an unkept life.  Me?  No.  Then, I immediately recalled that my Mama had just survived a mastectomy a couple of years prior.  A flash of pain shot through me as I visualized the anguish she endured and the physical changes that her body had suffered.

My body began trembling, but I didn’t know what to do.  I still had an afternoon class to teach.  I vaguely remember opening the car door and walking inside the courtyard of our early childhood facility.  One of my fellow teachers was walking toward me.  “Lane, are you ok?”  Obviously, I wasn’t, and the tears and anxiety flooded out without warning.  She embraced me.  We sat down.  I now recall some of that trauma, but not all.  It’s blurry in my mind.  The sun was shining.  It was late spring.  Mostly I remember the warmth of her embrace and the tears we shed together.  That scenario is very clear to me to this day.

I left that afternoon without  a clue as to what would be happening.  I called a friend.  “M…Can you come over?”  That’s all I recall of that conversation.  She brought a bottle of wine, and we sat outside on the patio.  My apartment neighbors gathered.  They consoled, and then the journey began.  Sleep was not an option.  Ignorance was bliss, for sure.

Readers, here I take a break…

      WHO GETS A CALL ON THE PHONE TO TELL YOU THAT YOU HAVE CANCER?              I hope that this doesn’t happen to all patients.  I’m in hopes that communities are currently working toward better communication and ways to support patients. 

Back to story:

Soon, the reality check hit me,  and I began educating myself about prerequisite needs and the sequential steps to deal with the lumpy cancer.  I learned about the different types of breast cancer, the possibility of recurrence, and statistics of what proved to be the best recourse. I make a surplus of calls, trying to talk to anyone and everyone who had experienced breast cancer.   I reached out to local organizations who could provide support and enlightenment.

I interject here that the first major step after the reality check is to find the ‘right’ cancer specialist.  I went to Texas Oncology.   (Dr. Fain is absolutely the best and kindest doctor on this planet.  I love him). He said upon our first visit, “I’m going to be your best friend over the next five years.”   The Seton Hospital and Clinic staff are super nice.  I now see that God had guided me in my decision to close the store and to move back to Austin, because my hospital, cancer care, and therapy center are only minutes from my apartment.  It had been wise to fold the store and to move to my new digs.  I continue to say, “Thank you, Lord.  Thank you angels.”

With great deliberation, I found a surgeon who is a cancer specialist referred by friends and neighbors.  “She’s the best!” I was told.   My mama and my sister, Scottie, escorted me to the hospital for that first initial prognosis and consultation.  It took about 30 minutes to conclude the conversation with her.   Not much discussion; I was her last patient for the day.  Here are your options…Gotta move on.

Departing from the clinic, the three of us walked out, looked at each other, stopped and then repeated, “What just happened?”  It was all a blur.  I reread the reports.  I reread the prognosis.  I had several options to rectify the small, but growing metastasized cancer in my left breast.  I looked at my mom.  Memories flooded back again; and with certainty, I made a quiet decision.  I did not want to be 86 and suffering from the removal of both breasts.   Neither did I want to destroy my body through chemo (although if my cancer were at a higher, progressive stage, I might have made a different decision).  If I needed radiation, so be it.  I went home.  Called the kids.  My daughter, Shani, said “Mom, we support you in any decision you make, or don’t make.  It’s your life.  It’s your body.  We love you.”

Quickly, I realized that I could not work and proceed with all of the details regarding the hows, whys, whens, and wheres.  I was at the mercy of each organization’s schedule, and rarely were they open on the weekend.  Not everyone took Medicare either; or if so, there was limited care.  I called numerous people to get advice.  If I didn’t work, I had no income.  How would I survive?  Who will take care of me during recuperation?  There was literally too much work in the beginning process to feel sorry for myself.  I had to remain focused.  I was definitely NOT a victim, and the battle began.

ON THE LIST:  A will.  Hospital admittance and approval applications.   A head-to-toe MRI that lasted what seemed like forever without sedation.  (It’s best to be accompanied and be sedated for a full scan as they weed out any other types of possible cancer).  Insurance papers. You will nest like crazy before the surgery, and that’s OK.  I felt like I needed to know where everything was when I returned home from surgery, and I wanted organization…it was the only control I had, or so it felt.

FINANCES AND CANCER:

Fortunately, my SS check covered my rent, car, and insurance.  I had been wise in setting that budget up when I moved.  However, with no income, I didn’t know how I would pay my bills, utilities, debt, etc.  Believe me, it took 8-hour days of constant phone calls and inquiries to learn how to meet my needs:  Financial help, home healthcare after surgery, recuperation down time…the list was endless.  But it was up to me to make it happen.

Today, my advice is to find, within each organization, the person who will navigate you through the process.  Stick with that person and always find a center’s social worker, his/her hours, and specifics (PAPERWORK) you need before talking to them.  Create a folder.  Buy a binder.  Keep phone numbers, account numbers within reach.

I am sure that all cancer patients experience similar feelings and situations even though we are all at different levels of income, etc.  But when one is single, it’s notably harder.  For this reason, my heart truly goes to all widows, divorced or single women who must endure the ramifications of cancer or any health issue.  It’s just hard, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Kudos to all of the women who have endured this trauma with children and while being single.  I cannot imagine.   One must be prepared for the onslaught of schedules, recuperation, emotional support, and specialized care that is needed.  By the way, the nights while lying in bed and thinking about the ‘what ifs’ are very long.

June, 2015.

I’m ready to meet the monster.  Everything is prepared.  My daughter, Shani, arrived from NYC, and literally sanitized every piece of furniture, accessory, and inch of floor that she could reach.  She knew the industry and knew that I had not had time to complete the tasks.  She removed rugs so I wouldn’t trip, (she knows me too well).  She rallied me as we purchased specialized clothing to meet the needs of the surgery recuperation.  She seemed anxious, but caring.  I couldn’t thank her enough.

We arrived at the hospital.  Family and friends were allowed to be present for pre-surgery,  I was scared and thankful but smiling and optimistic…and crying inside.  To myself, I was thinking, “I’m losing parts of my body that have suckled babies, given me confidence to look womanly, given to me as ‘my body’.”   I couldn’t  imagine what it would feel like without them.  “Yes, they are just parts.  They aren’t ‘me’. ”  I faced the harsh reality that there was no turning back.   My mind wandered into a thousand questions. Will another man love me?  Will I look deformed?  How badly will it hurt?  Can I return to work immediately or very soon?

CANCER COMMUNITIES AND HELP FOR THE PATIENT:

The good news is that there are many communities who are helping cancer patients and survivors.  Cancer Care Community is excellent in providing personal advocates and financial help for cancer patients.  I also found a reputable home care provider that weekly visited me and provided post-physical therapy and made sure that my needs were being met.  Just having someone to sort medications or heat up a bowl of Campbells is a wonderful act!

To find these caring supporters, one must seek and find, search and request.  In addition, one must provide an endless amount of paperwork, proof of needs.  It’s almost character assassination, at times, when a patient must prove that their needs are worthy of help and assistance.  It can be degrading.  It can be exhausting, but it is worth it when one reaches the other side of recovery and normalcy, if that ever happens:)  I’ll talk about that later.  After all, when you lose two breasts…well…

POST SURGERY:

I don’t handle medications well.  I don’t need much before I’m overmedicated and seeing things on the wall.  My family finds humor in my medicated antics, and laughed about what was to come from me as I returned from surgery.  Soon it was time to say farewell to all my well-wishers, and I was wheeled off.  A few hours later, I was wheeled into my room, and my daughter greeted me.  I was so thankful to feel her presence, her hand on mine.  The only thing that I remember, besides the pain, is telling her I’d like to take her hand and go listen to techno music in another room.  I could hear her distant laughter, but I was quite serious.  I really was.  She flew home that evening, and my son, Kyle came to stay with me.  He helped me get to the restroom.  My breasts were gone. Let me tell you.

The pain was much more than I could have ever imagined.  I was glad to make it back to bed and to have him near me.  Next day, I made it home.  Kyle and Lynn were there to help.  To all those that contributed their time and efforts on my behalf that week, I’m truly thankful.  Soon, I realized that going back to work wasn’t going to happen right away.  That meant that my cashflow was nil.

A friend had suggested that I create a GoFundMe account.  That sounded horrific!  I am a better giver than receiver.  Yet, what choices did I have?  I needed additional monies to survive and go forward.  With great humility and resistance, I did it.

I recently went back and deleted all of the GoFundMe posts that I could find on my FB page.  Not because I am not grateful.  That is certainly not the case.  However, every time I see a post, it reminds me of the past, and I’m working hard to move toward the future.  Most importantly, I want to enjoy being in the present.  Without hesitation, I sincerely recall the love that I felt for every donation.  Each time one red cent wascontributed, tears would fall; and I would not feel worthy of such generosity.  That lesson alone gave me a testimony of the goodness of people.  I keep that when the world feels oppressive today.

God only knows how grateful I am to those who aided me in my time of crisis.  They earned a jewel in their crowns, and I earned a respect that I had read in the Scriptures but had never truly experienced.  As biblically stated, there is no greater love than for our brothers and sisters.  Through loving actions, Jesus says He will know we are truly His disciples.

AND SO, with surgery #1 out of the way, I slowly realized that this wasn’t going to be easypeazy. Call me dense.  Call me whatever, but through my mind’s eye and prior to the surgery, I enthusiastically thought I was going to be jumping back into action very shortly.  I was going to have two new perky breasts., (some consolation for the older ones).   I was going to bounce back to normalcy quickly.  That’s what blind ambition will do to you, plus an enormous amount of faith.  Silly me.

Little did I know when I started the cancer journey, that it takes a solid year and at least 4 surgeries to have complete reconstruction of the breasts.   Perhaps I didn’t want to know.  I’m not sure, but when I realized that those were the facts, I was sad.  I was scared.

Little did I know that my breasts would  have permanent 6″ scars. I thought the doctor made all breasts beautiful and young.  Not so, even with the best, and I feel that I had the best cosmetic doctor in Austin.  (I still need one more surgery to finalize the deal).

Little did I know that I would leave the hospital with an ‘invisible stretcher’ attached to my surrounding chest muscles and under my concaved breasts. This stretcher allowed the cosmetic surgeon to inject a solution through a portal to gradually stretch the skin in increments of 3-4 months before inserting the ‘new girls’.  Once the ‘falsies’ (who by the way, have their own card of identity should I ever have an accident) are inserted, then it takes some time for another surgery or two.

Here I give some due credit to a wonderful entrepreneur, Cherie Mathews.  She has created a shirt that allows breast cancer patients to hide the distasteful tubes attached to the boobs, stomach, etc so that excess inflammation can drain.  These tubes are awful; they confined me for at least two weeks after each breast surgery.  Cheri’s cleverly designed shirts offer compartments to keep the tubes stationary and out of view.

TODAY:

It’s been a journey, and mine has been much easier than many.  Readers must realize that each woman is different.  Some feel the need to reconstruct; others do not want it and are very comfortable with or without their breasts.  It’s all so very personal.

Frankly, sharing is difficult for me, even embarrassing.  Perhaps it’s TMI, but it’s the facts and maybe it will uplift or inform another warrior.  And I’m alive and a survivor, and for me and my family, that’s the most important fact of all.  My heart grieves for those who have not lived to tell their stories.  No words can express.

They say that five years is the golden date of cancer not returning.  I have the type that does often return.  I chose to remove my breasts so that those chances narrowed.  I have also chosen to not take the medications often prescribed to delay its return.  That’s just my choice.  Others take it and glad that they do.  Again, personal choice is unique.

Cancer kills.  Let’s find ways to prevent it and inform everyone.  Please support those who cannot help themselves.  Let’s continue to give aid to those who need our assistance, whether financially, spiritually, or emotionally.

God Bless and Live Your Life with Spunk, Sass, and Soul.

FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!           FIGHT LIKE A WARRIOR!            FIGHT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!

Living life lovingly,

TEXANA LANE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Than A Piece of Pie

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO GETS SENTIMENTAL OVER PUMPKIN PIE?

Aromas.  Tastes. Memories.

Funny how something as simple as seeing, smelling, and eating pumpkin pie can take me down memory lane.  It can also make me feel adventurous.  You may ask how can a piece of pumpkin pie be adventurous?  Well, if you had asked my parents, they could tell you.  Heck, they’d travel from Dallas to Waxahatchie (with their favorite friends in the backseat of their spawling  ’57 Pontiac), just to get a piece of Sweet Potato pie.  They loved adventuring  through Texas history, visiting courthouses and small town venues, and yes, even traveling a long distance just to taste a piece of southern culture.  That may sound foolish to some; but to them, it was an adventure to learn and share some laughs.  Which leads me into question,  “What takes you down memory lane?”

Aromas. Tastes. Touch.

For me, just smelling a pumpkin pie baking is like walking into my Mammaw’s country kitchen.  Instantly, my memory conjures the love that was shared unconditionally.  Without hesitation, I see her sweet face gleaming over the gas stove, as all four burners glowed brightly under pots and pans of fried chicken, pinto beans, green beans or gumbo.  That list could also include sweet corn, black eyed peas, fried okra, or mashed potatoes.  And cakes and pies?  Of course!

In the summer, Mammaw would make our favorite foods when we’d visit her.  City to country, we’d experience three meals a day.  No fast food, no pre-packaged frozen foods, no packaged foods, period.  Yes…only foods straight from the field to the table.  Fresh tomatoes, fresh okra, fresh everything!  From the kitchen window, we could see the fields of watermelon, peanuts, cotton, corn…beautiful foods that sustained us for a very nutritious summer vacation.

Staying with my grandparents meant certain rituals.  At night and after our prompt 6 o’clock meal, we’d enjoy our favorite cake or piece of pie, or a root beer float.  My favorite was peanut sheet cake and cool lemon icebox pie, or chocolate custard pie.  We enjoyed the kitchen delights out on the front porch as we watched the twinkling lights of the big city of Nixon, Tx rise from below the hill.  Family talk would ensue, and we’d curiously listen to my grandparents discuss the ills of the world, and then I’d ask a million questions.  Pappaw always had the right answers; and after solving all the world’s problems, we’d then turn off the front porch light and go inside to  watch Gunsmoke or the Lawrence Welk show.  As the moon shown through the Mesquite trees, and with country sounds floating through the rusted, screened windows, pitch darkness (without city lights) would show its scary self outside, and we’d  lovingly get tucked into bed.

Memories. Aromas. Touch.

Mammaw would let me have the cool icebox lemon pie for breakfast, too, (of course, Mama never knew), which never altered my appetite for her bacon and eggs.  My sister, cousin and I would rally round the breakfast table, ready for a day of country adventure and, what now, are memories of a wonderful childhood blended with culture, family, and experiences to share with my family and friends.

Traditions are unique to us all.  Families are unique to us all.  Life is unique for each of us, too.  For these reasons, I love learning of others’ traditions and memories and how memories are triggered to take us back into what we selectively choose to remember.

Your memories may be similar, but, also, very different than mine.  I like that, for it adds to my lifelong adventure of sharing cultures and  traditions.  Without our differences, what a boring world it would be.  After all, if God had wanted us all to be alike…we would be.  But He gives us free agency, different opportunities, and a variety of ways to expand ourselves, to learn, to tolerate, to grow.

TEXANA LANE’s adventures are experienced through the mind’s eye, through cultural opportunities, through actions of those around me, and through the teachings of my family, my traditions, my values, and God’s grace.  The Universe enlightens my light and my spirit, and I am influenced by God and His power and His purpose.

I am fortunate to have had a good family, true friends, loving children, and the willingness to tolerate differences around me.  In fact, I thrive on these opportunities; and well, pumpkin pie takes me back to where I began so that I may adventure into places yet to travel.

Touch. Aromas. Sounds. Sights. Memories.

Today, I inhale the essence of life around me.  I see the beauty.  I touch the work of God, and I allow my memories to catapult me back and forth from my past to my future.

Hoping you’re making good memories today and remembering yesterdays, too.

Adventure with spunk, sass, and soul.  Live life lovingly.

Happy Fall, ya’ll!

Texana Lane

 

A Celebratory Year Around the Sun

A CELEBRATION OF LIFE.  A CELEBRATION OF BIRTHDAYS.  Maybe narcissism?

Maybe…Even so, I have had a blast sharing my adventures this year as I turn 70, and I appreciate those of you who have followed and posted your thoughts.  Thank you!

I started this celebration and introspective blogging when I realized that I couldn’t get the ’70’ number to come out of my mouth.  So, instead of drowning my fears with booze, or complaining and whining, or being in denial, I decided to face it all head on and use my words to express my gratitude for these honored 70 years.  As I tell everyone, “After my birthday and honoring 70 years, I will resume 60 again…and there I will remain:)”

We’re always telling the little ones to “Use your words!”  With that, words seem trite at this point; but I’m going to try as my memories, imagination, and emotions are thrown upon my keyboard.  With fearless authenticity, everything meshes against the realities of life:  the highs, the lows, the elations, the sorrows.  I imagine all of these emotions inside a ball, just bouncing and rolling and only stopping to be picked up and tossed again.  That’s just life.

One wonders how the glow of living can even surface when considering the oddities, the inhumane acts,  and the constant pitfalls.  Yet, I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER!

No doubt, the years HAVE tossed me, my family, my friends, my loved ones into despair, (and you, as well, I’m sure), and I didn’t know where to turn or who to turn to, aside from God, family, and friends.   Those were definitely fear-driven eras of life.  During those times, it seems that I never felt safe.  I was always living in the past or projecting fear into future.  That place, my friends, is not a friendly place!  It’s like a vortex that keeps one unsatisfied.  It’s a place where one never has enough money, enough love, enough time, enough is never…enough.

When did my life become ENOUGH?  Well, the old cliche of almost losing my life comes to mind, plus the reality of living without income for a year definitely taught me gratitude and servitude.  With those uncertain moments, what I learned was how to be happy.  Not the silly-grin kind of happiness, but the thankful kind of happiness.  The peaceful kind of happiness.  The content kind of happiness.

And with this contentment came peace of mind.  I learned to just be still and let the Universe do its job, let my angels comfort me, let my friends share their love, let my family support me, let myself be free of the burdens of control, impatience, and judgement.

At 70, wisdom is still fleeting, AND it’s also frequently comforting.  With wisdom, I can just be me…right, wrong, or indifferent.  With confidence, I don’t HAVE to put my best, prettiest pictures eye level for others to view.  Often, I’ll display the scribbles {and paint-by-numbers} eye level for everyone to see first.  Judgement simply doesn’t matter anymore, for I know that I’ve accomplished a crapload of good effort in a lifetime.

AT 70, I’ve set goals and have seen them completed.  I’ve created and followed bucket lists and repeatedly redefined myself to meet the needs of my life.  I’ve watched and learned from others and gleaned what I could from their accomplishments as well.

At 70, I love youth, OUR youth.  I love watching them bloom into the beautiful cosmic souls that will influence our universe forever.  I love watching the buds unfold and dance the dance of life as if there is no tomorrow.  It’s beautiful.

I am beautiful.  You are beautiful.  WE are beautiful.  Our ages blend into a life form that intertwines with ageless souls influenced by God and His power and His purpose of ‘our world’ and the unknown.  WE are spirit.  WE are light.

At 70, abundance is ours.  We are loved with abundance.  We are given health to respect and enhance.  WE are given wealth, not just finances, but a wealth of knowledge, service from our neighbors and loved ones with kind hearts.  WE are given wisdom to teach others by actions, not by words alone.  WE are given strength to make good choices, to share the Gospel teachings as well as the teachings of all good people who teach us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

A CELEBRATION OF LIFE.  A TRIP AROUND THE SUN.  NEW CHAPTERS AWAIT!

The attached picture is of me in my twenties.  I look at it as I write.  I marvel at that young woman and wince, at times, at the woman she is.  At 70, I am astounded that life has passed so quickly, AND that young woman is excited about tomorrow.  

I’M ECSTATIC ABOUT TODAY!

My celebratory year has included small, but important bucket list opportunities.  These follies included friends and families and significant others.  They included memories, desires, and fearless authenticity.  They weren’t always easy, and it certainly wan’t a frugal year.  Which takes me into next year…THE ESSENTIAL YEAR:)

My five-year goal is to have the happiest five years of my life.  I realize that misfortune will smirk at this goal, but I say it aloud:  The best five years of my life!  In deliberating this, and saying it repeatedly, I have come to believe it.  Words are powerful, you know.

Believe.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in the best.  Believe in your life.  Believe that we ‘mature adults’ (I use this sparingly) can influence for good, for peace of mind, for worldly peace, for Universal peace.

Believe that we are here for a reason, not just a season as the old saying goes.  What we look like, what we sound like will soon be forgotten.

How we made others feel will never be forgotten.

I thank you for sharing your love, your hearts, your thoughts…your lives with me.  It’s so fun still being in touch with childhood friends and so on.  You add color to my life.  You add strength to my soul.  You add joy.

Keep livin’ life with spunk, sass, and soul.

Giddyup to new adventures and another trip around the sun to celebrate!

Marilane Perriman, Bryan, Anderson, Ray

TEXANA LANE

 

“KEEP YOUR MOTORS RUNNING…Heading for the Highway…Looking for adventure and whatever…” (well, you know).

“Born to Be Wild”, by Steppenwolf, is indicative of Woodstock, protests, free love and crazy 60’s, right?   It seems to me that those experiences (vicariously, or not) should be implanted into our aging Boomer bodies and our memory banks (that may be forgetting a few things here and there).  I can still hear the band singing now, and the girl in me wants to jump into chorus, dance around the room and pretend that I’m a vibrant 20 year old again.  My!  I could Frug, Jerk, Twist, Pony, and make a room come alive.  I bet you could, too.

Just one more time, I’d like to hear that motor running and step into adventure, heading for the highway.

However, today I’m feeling 69 1/2, and not so wild.  In fact, my rheumatoid arthritis is rampant this week, and I’m walking like Grandpa on the old TV series, The Real McCoys.  I’m reminded that aging is not for the weak, the spineless, or the fearful.

I am reminded that life is full circle as chapters are written, memorized, edited, loved, hated, rewritten and oft times, reinvented, if possible.

Last night, alone in my room, except for my friends, MacBook Air and Netflix, I settled in early and began watching a referred movie, “Our Souls at Night”, starring Robert Redford and  Jane Fonda.  Watching it was an exercise of intense introspection and realized realities.   Realizations that have sometimes hurt, have sometimes emoted pride, sometimes required forgiveness.  Nevertheless, these reality checks were significant enough to make me take serious reflection upon what I think I want, what I really need, and what reality provides.

For example, love.  Now, some of you have been married for a very long time.  I am sure that you’ve traveled many wonderful miles together, up and down, around and back within 4 or 5 decades together.  You have withstood the tests of time; and rightfully, have earned my highest respect! You have endured and chosen to remain within your marriage.  It is an awesome feat.  But, the big but, is that many of us are not…married, for whatever reasons.

So, what does being single mean to me at age 69 1/2 and what has this got to do with love, needs, wants, and life, adventures and growing older?  Being single itself promotes adventure, and can have its advantages, for sure.  It’s also many other expletives, as well as:  Challenging, Lonely, Unnerving.  Being single over 60 can also create critical judgements, can create victimization, always requires unusual spiritual strength, mandates emotional balance and most of all, requires having friends…really good, good friends.  And herein lies the jest of my blogging thoughts.

This is where the reality check evolves.  The tradeoffs, the compromises in life are numerable and varied.  I can’t dance like I used to.  Love doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me, either.   Yet, what I do have and what reality is providing for me is:   Friends.

My friends come from all walks of life; they are all ages, and they are male and female.  Without them, I do not know how’d I’d function.  They uplift, they tell the truth, they laugh with me and at me, and they sustain me through bad health and euphoric moments.  We are authentic and fearless.  Each would stand by my side should I call them.

The list isn’t long, this list of really good, good friends.  And, none of us are angels or little old ladies or somber men rocking in our chairs at sunset.  We meet to hear live music.  We talk about each other’s husbands, or boyfriends, girlfriends,  or children, or lovers or neighbors or our businesses or the latest trends.  We disagree about politics.  We watch each other dance.  We watch each other delight in grandchildren.  We brag to the inth degree.  We share in grief.  We somberly hold one another when times are tough.   Do my friends take the place of love and adventure?  No.  But they add to my life in ways that can’t be necessarily measured.

My motor is still fortunately running and sometimes I still head for the highway.  Seeing Earth, Wind & Fire in concert was a blast!  Sometimes I still dance a little,  too.  Yet, my best adventures now aren’t so elusive.  My new adventures are treasuring my memories of my children and family.  Honoring my friendships.  Unconditional love.

Being alone at night is still hard:  The intimacy of sharing the events of the day, or feeling someone hold you while you cuddle…of course, I greatly miss being in love; and that 5:30-7:30 time is THE HARDEST.  I miss my family meal preparations, the talk, the chaos.  I miss it all.

…and then a friend calls.  “Want to share a glass of wine?”   ‘Need a ride to Donn’s?”  “Just letting you know we sure do appreciate you here at work.”  A familiar voice, and I’m back on track.   My adventure of life seems stable and nurtured.  And isn’t that what we all truly desire?  To be loved, nurtured, protected, needed?

Know this.  I  am not ready to retire into senility or powerless aging rhetoric.  My adventures are yet to be seen or known.  My soul at night may be lonely, and I surely do want to find that person to share my intimate thoughts again; but my adventures still exist.

I will get my motor running.  I will head on down the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes my way…and Yes!  My really good, good friends will enable me to see the world through the eyes of our youthful hearts.  They will share adventurous highways of trust, laughter, and tears.

These long and winding roads of life’s adventures will be filled with love, tenderness, and the unknown…but that’s another song:)

Giddyup ya’ll.  Go see the Bluebonnets.  Eat some Bluebell’s ice cream.  Picnic by the rivers.

Live life lovingly,

Texana Lane…headin’ down the highway of life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Just Hang Up on Me?

CELL PHONE RINGS as I’m walking down the hall of our little school.  I quickly answer.  “What?  Yes, I did inquire about a job.  Am I interested in going back to school?  I don’t know.  Who wants to know?”

And then the barrage of questions begins:  Background questions about my life, on and on.   Then finally, they ask, “When did you graduate from high school?”  I promptly answer with pride, thinking, “Go OWLS! Garland High School.”  I tell them the year.

CLICK!  (silence)

THEY HANG UP ON ME!  

What if I DO WANT to go back to school?  Seems that that proposal is out of question.   Obviously, they are not willing to invest in a person of my age, and perhaps assume that I’m not interested either.  But wait!  When and why did that happen?  Did I sound old?  Did I sound like I have no further value to continue a career or fulfill a dream?

It’s a curious feeling.  Are there other discriminating moments?  Yep, like surveys.  Online surveys specifically.  Have you ever noticed that surveys rarely request an opinion from anyone past 65 years old?  I get all excited about a free gift, but there’s not category for me.  It’s as if the remainder of our 65+ population has already died and in the grave!   (When that weirdness happens, I envision myself at my dying wake.  Sick, I know.)  Still….

Aside from the drama, I’m a little confused.   I thought that Boomers were a worthwhile economic demographic.  Seems not, unless its for elderly products…and I don’t even want to go into that.

Hearing that ‘click’ of the phone is not the worst thing that can ever happen to someone; but I like being the one to hang up.  You know what I mean?  In all seriousness, all is not lost in this aging adventure for me. This is just one small example, and it is SMALL.  Really, I love being who I am.  I love where I am working, and I look forward to new friends.  I see that motivational management works.

I’ve been like a giddy little girl all week.  My new work environment continues to be exemplary at inclusion. Blessings are mine, and my unfounded anxieties of being older in a younger workforce are unfounded and unnecessary.

Gratefully, I am surrounded by a staff that intentionally avoids toxicity in the office…no underthebreath sighs, etc.  Old learn from young; young learn from old.   We’re a circle of generational men and women who make the whole of a strategic, leadership team.   Age isn’t factored nor dismissed.  We are there because of what we offer.  Of course, I would be naive to think that I’m not being judged, since I’m the new kid (well, you know what I mean) on the block.  Of course, I am judged.  Yet, there’s a respectfulness and openness that makes me feel comfortable to express myself, knowing that there will be no rolling of the eyes, no whispers of hateful gossip.   Nor do I roll my eyes, for who am I to judge?  Undermining, nor upstaging is not feared, nor even considered.

How do I know this?  These cohorts are eager to hear new ideas from each other.    “Wow, I’ve never thought of it that way.  You are thinking out of the box.”   One does not feel hesitant to brainstorm or to speak up with confidence.  And, as with all strong leadership, there is a listening ear considering all options.  Some ideas fly, some don’t, and that’s OK.  Being heard is the key.

Most importantly, and thank goodness, they do not hang up, shut down, or dismiss… just because I graduated in 1966. 

Friends, don’t hang up or give up.  Give it all you’ve got and then some.  You’re worth it.

Live life lovingly,

Texana Lane

Can You See Me Now?

Seven months and counting!  That’s right.  Seven months before turning 70…And guess what?  I went on an interview.  You read it right.  I went on an interview.  What image conjures in your mind?  Too old?  Out of touch?  Incapable? “Shouldn’t she be retiring at this age?”  “She must be desperate!”  Either way, it wasn’t an easy decision, brutal, in fact.

Of course, I WANT to retire and sail into the sunset.  Yet, in all seriousness, I’m not quite ready.  My heart still wants to share a mission, to help children and our communities, to be creative, to be visible.  The fact that I’m single measures into the decision, too.  What will I do if I’m not working?  Retirement doesn’t allow me enough funds to travel around the world..haha…or even live ‘high on the hog’ as my mama would say.  Plus,  I can’t wrap my head around the scenario of being home alone without a viable purpose.

Also, I love my current co-workers, but I simply woke up one morning and realized that I need to use every creative bone in my body.  I need to learn, share, grow…and not be dying on the vine.  I realized that I had become invisible, even to myself, and sensed that I need to feel alive again, with an eagerness to wake up proudly and smile at the woman in the mirror, wrinkles and all.

Have you ever not wanted to look closely at yourself in the mirror?  I certainly have; and such an attitude can be debilitating, a cancer-causing sucker of life.  It can be a killer of dreams, of goals.  Aging takes spunk, sass and soul; it’s not for the faint.  It can steal one’s gratitude and happiness, and I was allowing myself to be invisibly depressed.   Every time I looked in the mirror, I was loosing confidence and purpose.

My wrinkles weren’t the problem.  It was the fact that I was losing purpose.  Losing my edge.  I was feeling ‘less than’.  Thankfully, I got a grip and came up with a game plan…right, wrong, or indifferent.  I said, “Quit It!”  (Risky, for sure.  True to myself?  Definitely).

So, I did.  I submitted my resignation of my current job, then spent hours creating a portfolio, a resume and a focus to match my creative energies with a purposeful job.  I began smiling as I looked at the pictures of my past accomplishments, my past tribes.

Let me backtrack for a second.  After the interview and over the weekend, I had a fun bucket list adventure at the San Antonio Riverwalk.  The reason I’m sharing this now is that I had the pleasure of meeting a 90ish year old woman, an owner of one of the shops we visited.  As we were leaving, she said to me, “Well, aren’t you cute.  What is your name?”  I introduced myself, and she in turn introduced herself as Mrs. Pace.  She said, “You may recognize this name, as in my past husband’s business, Pace Picante.”  I asked how long she had had the store, and she said, “Upon the death of my husband, I took my money and headed straight to the Dallas Market.  I’ve been here ever since, and that was many many years ago!”  Her young eyes gleamed through her aging body.  She was happy.  She was proud.  She was at peace with her choices.  So, my heart took a leap as I listened and as I realized that I, too, had made the right decision.  Her age did not define her.

Back to my interview!  Yes, I went to the interview.  Walked into a new adventure, began my re-invention yet once again, and introduced myself, age and all, to a believer of holistic learning…(and, yep, now my new employer), who sees my vision, who appreciates my creative mind, who feels that I will be a wonderful asset to their school.  I even received the salary that I felt worthy of asking.

Can I see me now?  Yes, because I took the leap and respect for myself.  Yes, because I got out of my own way.

The cammo is gone.  I threw it away the moment I walked into her office.  She saw me.  The real me.  As I told her, “I’m old enough to know better, but too young to be put out to pasture.”  She laughed.  We chatted at length about how I could creatively contribute to her vision of learning and care for their students.  It was fun.  I felt alive.  I felt purposeful.

I start my new job next week.  Of course, I am nervous; but I am visible, with no desire to hide behind any rhetoric of aging.  WE all have much to contribute.  Don’t hide!  Share your gifts, your wisdom, your good and bad experiences.  Be heard.  Be seen.  Be loved.

God Bless Us All,

Texana Lane

 

 

 

 

 

A Train of Thoughts & Mem

THE POLAR EXPRESS!  

An adventure for young and old, and a fantasy for Texana Lane come true.  Sounds trite, I know; but once I learned that there is an actual train that brings the book to life, I HAD to go.  I wanted to say hello to my inner child again.  So, for my 70 year bucket list, I did it!  To add to the fun, I did it with my wonderful friends of all ages, who are definitely well beyond their childhood years.

ALL ABOARD!!

There we were, all 9 of us, adult women sitting in our PJs, along with hundreds of families dressed in matching PJs, too.  Teddy Bears abounded as they watched with  glazed, glass-eyed wonder.  Elves and Santa’s helpers danced along the aisles, serving hot chocolate and cookies and sweet smiles.  Children sat speechless as they anticipated what was about to happen, eyes searching for clues.

Everyone settled in quickly.  The music began.  The train began moving…ever so slowly.

WE were off!

The vintage railroad engine cars shot billows of smoke and tooted their horns with gusto.  I quickly lifted my screenless window so nothing would come between me, the fresh, brisk December air and my fantasy.  Then I poked my head outside like any curious child would do and settled back in for a sentimental ride to the North Pole.

I can’t necessarily tell you what the scene looked like, but I can tell you what it felt like.

It felt like I had wandered back into Garland, TX,   It felt like I had just seen my Mama walk into Mrs. Toler’s second-grade class looking beautiful in her pink dress and sharing lunch with me, making me the proudest second grader…ever!

It felt like I was a little girl, sitting in my tiny, red leather rocking chair scanning every book I could find or every book my Mama had checked out for me at the Garland Library during hot summer days.

It felt like sitting in my Mammaw’s lap, rocking back and forth in her squeaky rocker while my Pappaw played his harmonica or while they read the Scriptures together.

It felt like me…the child who lives within and is ever-so-grateful for such an entitled childhood.  It felt like love.  It felt like family.

Scents, colors, and so many memories flooded across my heart.

It was the perfect Christmas gift to myself. 

As Santa sauntered down the aisle, “Ho!Ho!Ho!” handing out jingle bells, I, too, had meandered down my road of childhood memories, (an excursion that’s definitely not traveled often enough). 

Looking back, I had visions of bowls of hard candy, chocolate-covered cherries, Daddy trimming the tree, Christmas Eve nights, manger scenes and glistening lights.  Memories that I hadn’t thought of in years.

Yet, there I was, traveling to the North Pole and back, in a train filled with families wearing matching PJs, heartfelt dreams, hardworking parents and gleeful children.

Yes. The POLAR EXPRESS adventure proved to be just what I needed…An abundance of friends, laughter, good memories, and gratefulness for a life well lived.

ALL ABOARD!  I invite you to share my adventures as I turn seventy and travel into another decade of abundant life and love.  It’s all about the journey.  It’s all about the attitude vs gratitude.

Keep the faith this week while you shop, drop, cook, and simply share in kindness.  Some of us don’t have a special someone or a family to share the love.  So, think about who might need your smile, a cordial comment, a shoulder to cry on.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all who celebrate at this time.

 

Giddyup, ya’ll!

Texana Lane…”Who never puts her wishbone where her backbone ‘otta be.”