Monday, January 18, 2021

Making Plans

This is one of those significant years where I will have a milestone birthday that ends with a "0". Bleccchk.

I am struggling with this. 

I can't spin it; I'm entering the third trimester of life. 

I am slipping into old, and just about everyone I know who has chalked up more years than me, including the woman I live with, reminds me that getting old sucks. If anyone has mentioned any benefits, I've forgotten what they said. Because. Old. 

I was walking with a friend the other night, talking about our lives and she mentioned this quote:


"If a person survives an ordinary span of sixty years or more, there is every chance that his or her life as a shapely story, has ended AND ALL THAT REMAINS TO BE EXPERIENCED IS EPILOGUE. Life is not over, but the story is."

(From Deadeye Dick)

Well isn't that just the worst.


I need a plan.

I want my 'shapely story' (pffft) to have a few more chapters before we ask the author to write the epilogue. I ache to make new memories and fill up more photo albums with still-to-happen adventures with my family. I have to establish some traditions that will carry us into the next decade. I should meet new people, learn hard things, read books by different authors, explore uncharted territories/neighbourhoods, buy a bike (let's make that an electric one) and shave my legs more often. 

I am looking forward to; life without hot flashes, (only four more years on Tamoxifen), living five stories above ground, walking to work (?), watching my kids become middle-aged, praying for and encouraging folks that are in my life or just passing through, painting a million rocks (no, not a million. THAT would indicate an obsession, which this is NOT) - and seeing what fun things God has in mind for me. 

So, to make this year memorable and significant and not-yucky, I have to be intentional about it or I could easily get sucked into working 8 hours a day and watching 8 hours of Netflix at night. 

I received these lil note books for Christmas (thanks, Alex) and they're my starting point for 2021 (18 days late) ...

I love the design; and was going to link to the artist's website which is SO pretty and super inspiring and I planned on buying a couple more (a Love set and a Joy set) BUT their website is down. So no purchasing or linking tonight. 

The white "Faith Can Move Mountains" book has 60 pages in it. I have chosen 54 people/organizations/events to pray very intentionally for this year. (I have a couple left over pages for additional names that God might reveal to me this coming year.) At the top of each page I've written the name (say, "Clint", or "Vesta Properties") and throughout the year as I am aware of specific needs, I'll jot down a note. (And yes I am praying for the organization that is building my condo community; I want it to be a safe and positive work environment. I hope the guys who're installing drywall or painting the closets or planting the trees experience joy and satisfaction in their work. And I hope their wives don't mind if they have to put in some overtime.)


You have no idea how excited I am. (MY DECK! That view. I feel so, so very lucky.) I have not experienced one single second of buyer's remorse. 

(I'm praying for my neighbours/hall-mates. I hope they're friendly. I bet they're just as happy as I am.)

Right. Back to my notesbooks and 2021... 

I was listening to a Brene Brown podcast in December and it is haunting me. It's about brain elasticity and the section about aging has inspired me to Do More Hard Things:

Brene, referring to her family, asks the question: "So, eight parents, four sets, all retire about the same time. Half, really their world gets really small: Don’t leave the house other than to get groceries. Have a rhythm to their days that is predictable. The other half continue out in the world, they volunteer, they learn new things, they travel, and they’re trying to learn languages. Does your amount of malleability as you get older depend on how much you continue to expose yourself to new data and new stimuli?"

David Eagleman: This is, I would say, the single most important lesson that has emerged about all this brain plasticity stuff is that, if you challenge yourself, if you are constantly facing new tasks and challenges that you’re no good at, you are building new roadways and bridges, and there is a study that has been going on for a couple of decades now about nuns who live in a convent and they all agreed to donate their brain when they die. So people have been analyzing these brains and what they discovered was that some fraction of these nuns actually had Alzheimer’s disease, their brains were physically getting chewed up with the disease, but they did not have the cognitive deficits that were expected. And it is because even as their brain tissue was falling apart, they were constantly building new roadways, why? Because they were in a convent, they had to deal with other people, they had chores, responsibilities, they were playing games, they were learning how to use a cellphone, all this kind of stuff, and so upon their death no one even knew they had Alzheimer’s. Contrast that with the other people that you mentioned, who just run their little program, their social circles shrink, they sit on their couch, they watch Jerry Springer or Wheel of Fortune.

David Eagleman: And what’s going on there is that as their brains diminish with age they’re not building the new roadways, and so the cognitive deficits become very clear. And so this is really the single most important thing that all of us can do as we get older, is constantly challenge ourselves. And by that I don’t mean just do a Sudoku puzzle or something, what I mean is as soon as you get even reasonably good at Sudoku, bag that and start something new, start something that you’re not good at that is frustrating, but eventually achievable. And then as soon as you get good at that, you bag that and you start the next thing. Learning languages is a good one. It turns out, just from a brain point of view, other people are the hardest things that brains deal with, just because in the sense that you never know what other people are going to say, and so you’re always having to sort of be on your toes, yeah, and so to the degree that one can maintain an active social life, it’s massively important.

Did you read that part about the nuns? Go back and read it. I'm serious. It's important. For those of us who've had a close up look at dementia, this is HUGE.

I have to keep doing things that are hard and frustrating. Things that make my brain hurt. I have to learn new things. 

Did you read that part about interacting with other people? And maintaining a social life? Yeah. I can't become a hermit in my new digs. 

So that second note book will contain Bible verses that I want to commit to memory. At least 60 passages. (The other thing I'm doing this year is reading The One Year Bible (NLT version) and as I come across a good verse - haha, something I want to remember, I'm jotting it down.)

You can listen to the podcast here.

A third note book will contain a list of things I want to try/do/explore/learn this year...

These two articles were inspiring about travel adventures in my backyard:

This one

When pandemic travel bans put an end to Rachel Marshik's annual travel plans, she wrote out the names of all 53 SkyTrain stations in Metro Vancouver and tossed the pieces of paper in a bowl for a project aimed at satisfying her wanderlust.

Every day last summer, the 35-year-old teacher from New Westminster drew out one of them, planned an itinerary of nearby sights and boarded a train to start her adventure. Setting out on foot for hours, she visited landmarks, local businesses and industrial parks — finding beauty in art and even garbage.

And this one:

"The lack of daily exercise, the same four walls every day, and the general stress of COVID were causing me to be mildly depressed," Steven Smethurst writes.

As a fun project, Smethurst's partner suggested that they should explore the city's parks. While the city has over 250 parks, they realized that they could visit each one by the end of the year if they made it to a couple of them daily. And for parks along bike paths, they realized they could see a dozen a day while they were biking around. 

While I can't do either of those two things, specifically. I CAN:

  • Walk all the various sections of the Vedder Trail that I haven't explored yet. 
  • Find new-to-me walking trails that allow for a one-to-two hour walk; doable after work once the days get longer.
  • Make a list of all the parks from Surrey to Sardis and see how many I can leave rocks in.
  • Visit a few waterfalls. I haven't been to ANY in BC. Research this.
  • Continue looking for and photographing grafitti. Leave a painted rock at the base of each?
  • Learn to kayak.
  • Buy a bike.
  • Read 30 books this year from authors I've never read before. Fiction, non-fiction, memoirs. Read 30 books for fun. (I'll need another notebook to keep track.)
  • Explore idea of learning another language. (Maybe German? I have relatives... Maybe French? I have co-workers...)
  • Explore idea of learning to play an instrument. (My 3 years of piano and 3 years of guitar have long left my memory bank.)
  • Explore idea of taking an online course. (Not math.) 

AND my other challenge, which I'll use my fourth notebook for, is to keep a running total of the stuff I need to get rid of. Originally, off the top of my head, I was gonna go with 'get rid of 60 things per day for 60 days'. But doing the math, that = 3600 items. Is that excessive? I'll start with that goal and we'll see where we end up. My former life, during the 'shapely story' years, had me living in a 2800 square foot home with a shed, green house, and double garage. My new situation will be a 1000 foot apartment with a parking spot and a 2' x 3' x 6' storage cage. Haha. (Where would I put a bike? I may need to rethink that...) 

2021 is gonna be fun.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. I'm not dead. God probably has a few more things in store for me. 
2. My brain still works.
3. I'm not going through life alone. 
4. Outlander Season 5 is on Netflix.
5. New notebooks, sharp pencils.
6. Plans (that will inevitably go awry, but it's a good starting point.)
7. Delicatessens.
8. Memories.
9. Tylenol for aching joints. 
10. French Pea Soup.
11. Friends who pray for you in parking lots.
12. Artists. Those who paint on canvas as well as concrete.
13. Sunshine in the forecast.
14. Hope. 

January 1, 2021 Selfie.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay safe, take care, xo

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