Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Season's Greetings, 2019

Season’s Greetings!

The Holidays are upon us, and I expected to be in Tennessee by now. That hasn’t happened because the long-term care facility in Nolensville is not yet finished! I’m just as happy not to be moving in the middle of winter when everything is dark and cold. The new estimate will be around the first week of March. That offers some reprieve for me to enjoy the holidays – and to continue at the slower pace I’ve adopted in my eighties. Still, I’m looking forward to being near daughter Elisabeth and her family in the spring!

Elisabeth and Trey's family tree, 2019

This has been a full, busy, and often difficult year, with ongoing efforts to whittle down possessions in preparation for the move to Tennessee. Grandson Blake came to Charleston twice this year to help me sort, toss, and move two small U-Haul loads to a storage unit in Nolensville.

Blake and Landon playing cards. Oldest and youngest "grand."
 I’ve been giving away furniture and books and bookcases, as well as some treasures collected on overseas trips. And I’ve perused boxes and boxes of mementos and thrown away most of the stuff in them. 

There are still many photo albums and a few boxes of correspondence to distill. And I’ve sorted through all my books. Those still in the house (or storage) are ones I plan to take to Traditions, the long-term care facility in Nolensville. Now I need to arrange for a moving company to haul it all there - when the place is ready.

Long-time friends have been my mainstay during this unsettled time. Women I've been getting together with monthly over dinner still offer support and friendship. Thanks especially to Ellie Setser, who arranged a birthday party for me at our November women's dinner!

Mary Joan, Carla, Darlene, and Ellie

Mary Johnston, an editor and very fine person, who has led a productive writers' group for the past decade, threw a good-bye party for me at the beginning of summer. Friends from church and women's groups - as well as other writers - all attended a great party at a beautiful home downtown! Thank you to all my fellow writers for encouragement and suggestions down through the years, and to other friends, many of them UUs, for helping to keep me as sane as possible - and for buying some of my books!

Mary Johnston's writers (top) and UU friends (bottom).
A good-bye party last May. (Oops, I'm still here!)

The children – and their children – are all doing pretty well. Briana has had problems with some of her joints, making work at the post-office difficult and often painful, although she’s being stoic. Blake is in his last year at Northland College in Ashland, WI, and he plans to graduate at the end of next semester!
Maria has been writing successfully. Harry is spending his junior college year at Oxford, in England. He will come home to New York for the holidays.
And Elisabeth’s family is doing well, although the younger children have been sick enough to miss some school this fall. Judson is looking forward to graduating high school next year. He will be going to college in the fall, and he plans to study physics!

It's been a very social year, including frequent get-togethers with friends, mostly women I've known for decades at the UU Church and at MUSC. 

And I had the privilege of attending my first immigration and naturalization service with the citizenship ceremony of Maryam Nadieri, Will Moredock's widow.

I’ve also had some happy/sad good-bye lunches and dinners with friends. And there have been a few funeral services, including those at the UU Church for long-time friends, Will Moredock and Dottie Klintworth - truly sad and sobering. 

In the midst of sorting and moving and saying goodbyes, writing efforts have almost stalled. However, with the help of Mary's writers’ group, the book about a 1992 summer in Siberia – and from there to western (“civilized”) Russia – is now in first draft form. Still a long way to go before that one is finished, however. And there's so much more I want to do before...

Wishing you a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Very Happy New Year!!

Jo Anne

Monday, May 27, 2019

Still True Today

I happened upon this journal entry a couple of weeks ago - written more than three decades ago - and was amazed at how much still applies to my life. I believe there's a pattern here...

June 28, 1985
         I realize, now that I have time for it, how much back-logged junk I have to clear out of my life.  Here it is, summer, stock-taking time, time to catch up, time to plan ahead, and everywhere I look, there are things I should do, things I want to do, things I have to do before I can do other things.  How am I going to tackle it all?  Set priorities?  Be systematic?  Do the important things first?  I tend to do whatever I stumble upon first, interrupted by whatever I get distracted by while I’m doing that.  As my graduate student said, “You sure do manage to fill up your life."
When I started writing this, I intended to make a list of all the things I needed to do and try to figure out how important each one was to my well-being (and “the future of all mankind”).  I get tired just thinking about it!
There is the personal stuff – the bills to pay, the mementos to put away or file, the papers to organize.  This has been sitting around and piling up on my desk since Christmas or before.  There are magazines to read (throw-away stuff) and books (and books and books) to read, and the library to pick up and organize.
Then, of course, there is the writing, the novels I have wanted to get to for the past year or two and haven’t been able to discipline or force myself to sit down and do them.  And there are letters to write – to friends and relatives – and visits to local friends and shut-ins.
And, of course, there is the work stuff – papers to read, old journals to peruse and clear out, micrographs to file, old slides to evaluate, not to mention papers to write and letters to colleagues and manuscripts to revise and resubmit.
If I enumerated each of the subprojects in each of those paragraphs, I would be listing all night long.  There is so much to do, I wonder how many years it would take just to get caught up, forget about taking on anything new.  Yet I feel like I must clean up my life, streamline it, take care of the most important stuff and get rid of everything else.
Details vs. essential structure:  What is the essential structure of my life?  Oddly enough, it lies partly in the complexity of it, in wanting to see and experience and record, as broadly as possible, the range of human activities and emotions.  And for that, I chronically complicate my life.
Still, I want to hone.  What is the crucial thread?  The slow, steady (fractal-like) movement toward understanding (a sort of enlightenment or salvation, for which the things and relationships of my life have been part of the path), toward which end I have tended and for which I will have to divest myself of every extraneous concern.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Here's to a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Hard-cover edition, color illustrations

Did you make New Years resolutions about exercising and eating healthy food? Why do we focus on food and exercise when we think about healthy living? Certainly, these are important, yet many other activities are also essential to keeping us healthy - in the New Year and in years to come. 

The Bewildered Patient's Whole-Body Health Guide explores the major systems of the body - how they work and how we can keep them healthy for a long and productive life. Daily choices  are crucial to long-term health!

One of the reasons we focus on food is that food is a major motivator for humans - as it is for all animals. We can't survive without consuming a constant source of nutrients, so we usually eat two or three meals every day. Unlike plants, we can't make our own nutrients. And unlike fungi, we can't soak up nutrients from the products of decay in the soil around us. We have to eat.

Obtaining food if we're hungry is probably one of the strongest human motivators. Avoiding pain is another. Securing protection and finding affection (including sex in adults) are impulses that also score high on the motivation scale.

Unlike eating, exercise isn't usually something we consciously want to do much of the time. And yet, without exercise, our muscles become weaker and weaker, and then calories from excess food are transformed into fat, which is stored throughout the body. This can become a vicious cycle.
Soft-cover edition, B&W illustrati

We make many choices in our lives that affect health and longevity. Besides exercise and nutrition, we need to avoid toxins in the environment and hazards in our daily lives. The Bewildered Patient's Whole-Body Health Guide offers tips and strategies for maintaining these aspects of health - as well as many others!

While considering the body as a whole, the book also views bodily functions on a system-by-system basis in language that lay-people can understand. Even those with no training in biology or medicine can learn how organs and cells work together to keep us healthy! This whole-body health guide also explores what may go wrong in the body's many systems and what we can do to keep those systems working well for a long and healthy lifetime!

Here's to your health in the New Year!!