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Archive for the ‘Ageism’ Category

Reflections on Home

®®New Play Area

My philosophical mother left me with many quotes on which to ponder, one of them being:  “It takes all kinds of people to make a world.”

That certainly is a fact, as each of us was created to be unique.  Each of us is an original piece of art.  Although we may have similarities we were not intended to be prints or reproductions of another human.

I try to understand other people whose style and preferences differ from mine, and it’s just plain fun to discover whom people are and what “makes them tick”.  Perhaps the best way to get acquainted with another person is by visiting in that individual’s home.  I want to believe that most people who spend considerable time in their homes have some pastime they love, some kind of a life within their walls.  This life may be reflected via the books on the shelves, the cookbooks and appliances in the kitchen, baskets and tables overloaded with crafting supplies, the presence of houseplants indoors and gardens outside the windows, a dog or cat (or both), and of course a musical instrument—perhaps more than one.  The presence of art on the walls and family photos on shelves and tables says a lot—if indeed the walls, shelves, and tables are laden with pictures which are worth a thousand words.

But occasionally when visiting a home I draw the proverbial blank.  No books, no projects, no art to reveal a period or style of interest, no messes, no pets, no plants beyond the “tastefully correct” one or two—potted in matching, stylized planters rather than those ice cream buckets and COOL WHIP® containers which frequently hold my overflow of greenery.  Not even a happily messy computer corner!  Sadly, only one piece of equipment normally characterizes the apparently wasteland homes:  that ubiquitous television.

Quite possibly, the homes which appear sterile, sans personality, may not actually be like that at all.  When one is a guest, one seldom sees all the nooks and crannies.  In the most generic of furniture store homes, there are apt to be hidden away places where the residents read, craft, make music, or whatever.  As interested as I am in people and their lifestyles, I certainly don’t want to be crass and ask to see their hidden recesses—the NO ENTRY zones of a house.  So I give my host or hostess that benign benefit of the doubt.  Certainly they have some life passion, some activity that causes them to jump out of bed each day and say “HELLO, WORLD!”  Probably my host and hostess simply have chosen not to divulge exactly whom they are and what they are about.

I accept the preference for anonymity, and I understand that I may be the odd one in today’s world.  I LOVE to share.  I love to be transparent—an open 1000 page book with loads of information on every page.  As much as I love to know, I love to be known.  And as far as I know, that’s the way life was originally intended to be!  Unlike that pair in the Garden after the fall, I have absolutely no desire to hide from God or anyone else!

Meanwhile, since Joe and I have moved into a four room condo it is easier than ever for visitors to ascertain what we are all about.  Our interests pervade every corner of our home, for all to see and enjoy.  We have never had more of ourselves on our walls, tables, shelves, and floors—and we are delighted beyond expression with the overflowing abundance of our current time of life.  Crowded, YES!  Even CLUTTERED—although to me “clutter” bespeaks random chaos, and I will have none of that.

Tidiness and order rule the day, and we can always stuff one more meaningful object into the order of our home.  Minimalist gurus (who for some odd reason find no significance in memories manifested all around them, no joy in the colors and textures of a life well-lived) will call us “hoarders”.  I call us “LOVERS OF LIFE”!  Thus the spinning wheels (which really spin beautiful yarn from luxuriously fleeced sheep’s wool) lurk behind a favorite easy chair, accompanied by baskets of wool and more baskets of yarn—plus needles and other accoutrements of knitting.

My piano hosts an assortment of music books—and musical scores printed out and taped together so that I can play without turning pages.  Our kitchen contains the necessaries—toaster, coffee pot, blender, crockpot—plus a representation of bygone eras in funky kitchen collectibles.  Our dining area buffet serves as a display area for my soap industry—while hundreds more soaps are stacked in drawers and stored in huge plastic bins under furniture and in closets.

Our bedroom is also my art studio, with a messy table for acrylics, collaging, etc., and another table for watercoloring.  Crammed into a bedroom corner is my writing studio with my very own laptop, printer/scanner, and voluminous files (I will always love paper).

My husband’s den is his bit of Heaven on earth with the TV, his own computer/printer/scanner, filing cabinet, posh reclining chair (suitable for snoozing on), and even a daybed for that occasional afternoon “lie down”.  Joe keeps his clothes in a dresser and closet in his den, while our enormous bedroom closet houses my clothing plus bins and shelves laden with more soap and somewhere between 600 and 800 paintings.  I tell our children they’ll have a post-humous fortune on their hands some day.  (Obviously, I’m joking!  My art is amateur stuff, paying dividends of endless and infinite fun!)

Both living room and bedroom have indoor garden areas—with tropicals in the east facing patio door, and succulents in our south facing bedroom window.  And everywhere are BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  Shelves groan with books, tables support the weight of them, and floors feature book towers in every room.

All of that—including a zest for collecting with a partiality for Victorian era art glass produced by our great American 19th century glass companies, English china, and most anything vintage and funky—goes a long way toward telling our guests whom we are, in this happiest of homes which I’m inviting you to tour with me today!

The above play area is a magnet for our great-grandchildren (16 children, ages 10 and under) who visit whenever they can.  And my happy little kitchen beyond.  (Actually, it’s Joe’s kitchen for the duration of my post-surgical, arm-in-sling adventure.)

Fiber studio

My fiber studio resides behind a living room easy chair.  The spinning wheels are not for “show” (although they are very beautiful, made from cherry wood).  The spinning wheels spin, and produce luxury yarns for sweaters, scarves, and hats.  Years ago, Joe made the pine dry sink for me.  It houses my collection of English flow blue china and my Grandma Kate’s English (Aesthetic Period—circa 1885) Indus wedding dishes featuring graceful birds and foliage reminiscent of the British Empire in India.

Most of the baskets in our home are homemade.  The one with the coral insert is an Irish potato basket, and below it with gorgeous ultra-marine blue/violet fleece inside is an egg basket—both crafted by moi.  The larger basket, in the style of Wisconsin Native Americans’ basketry, was woven by our daughter-in-law, Cheri Been.

make art

One of the many perks in our condo home is the fact that Joe and I each have our very own bathroom.  What fun is that!  Joe’s is the larger of the two, and it contains a shower which he loves.  (I HATE showers, probably because they remind me of that most detested of all scenarios—high school gym class!)  I have a tiny bathroom, but it contains a TUB (one of the great loves of my life).

I painted the blotchies on the upper walls, and our grandson, Tyler Been, painted the gorgeous New Mexico-ish red lower walls.  This is my Louis L’Amour bathroom—replete with cowboy pictures, and photos of family members on horseback.  As you can see on the above left, I have hung some of my own Southwestern art here as well.

TPJ 2

Here is another shot of my sweet loo.  The Civil War era folding chair is a family heirloom, with needlepoint painstakingly stitched by my mother many decades ago.  I treasure the no-longer-available glass ARIZONA TEA® bottles, plus my collections of all things horsey and Western.  (The oil painting on the left is not mine.  It was a rummage sale prize, unearthed a few years ago.)

Art 3

The messy inner sanctum of my studio is open to all who venture here, since we always have our company put their wraps on our bed.  That’s an old fashioned thing to do, perhaps dating back to when closets were not so prevalent as they are today.  To me, wraps on the bed are the most gracious way to go.

soap 5

No home photo shoot would be complete without a glimpse of my soap.  I brag about my soap way too much.  It’s excellent, and we have used nothing but my home made soap since 1976.  Today my soap is far removed from that crude stuff the pioneers made over an open fire, using fat drippings from their slaughters and kitchen grease cans.

I use the finest vegetable oils (olive being the Lamborghini of oils!) and pure, rendered tallow—all of which I purchase online from COLUMBUS FOODS in Chicago.  High grade cosmetic pigments go into the soap for color, plus quality fragrance oils.  I have online sources for these ingredients, as well.  Soap making is an expensive hobby, well worth ever drop of cash and elbow grease involved!  And we saponifiers always have a beautiful gift to offer our family members and friends—the gift of the finest soap.

Ambience (2)

Old painted furniture, dried hydrangeas, British India style shelves, platters and bowls which don’t fit in cupboards and thus are relegated to the floor, family photos, sparkling glassware including Vaseline glass with glass fruit, cookbooks, a teapot and cups and saucers (just a few of a plethora about the home), and a toy bear (also one of many) co-exist in happy harmony.

Now if you happen to be thinking, “This is really weird!” just remember:  “It takes all kinds of people to make a world!”

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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It will be 2 weeks next Thursday since my lumbar fusion of L3 and L4.  Already, I feel improvedl  The post op stiffnes and soreness are nothing compared to the heavy ongoing lumbar and pelvic pain which followed me everywhere and kept me awake at night over the past 14 years.

From square one, my motto has been “GRATEFUL”!  I was grateful for the prayers that accompanied me into the surgery.  Prayers work!  This was the 12th surgery of my lifetime, some major and some minor.  Since I became a Christian nearly 40 years ago, medical procedures hold no terror for me—in our culture where medicine is traditionally an act of mercy.

And all along the way, in recent days, I uttered the word “GRATEFUL”.  When I literally couldn’t move my torso an inch, I was grateful for the strong, friendly aides who came alongside me—each lifting their side of the mat on which I was lying in order to elevate me to a sitting position, and then transport me to the necessary room where they propped me up so I wouldn’t fold into a heap.

I was grateful for the nurses and aides who managed to find me a can of CLASSIC COKE® in a world which seems to have gone nutty over those sickening diet sodas.  I was grateful for every helper who came in the room and asked Joe if they could bring him a treat or an extra blanket.

I was grateful for the parade of family members who visited—there was never a day without company.  One little great-grandson, 16 months old Cole, looked terrified when his Dad carried him to my beside.  Cole and I are great friends.  We make faces at each other and giggle.  But Cole is accustomed to our meeting at home among my collection of toys, at family style restaurants, or at our local park.  The sight of Grandma Margaret imcarcerated in an odd bed, with an IV bag attached fom a pole to a wrist and several weird auxilliary IV plugs sticking out of my neck (kind of like a Frankenstein monster scenario) was too much for a sensitive, thoughtful little boy.

However, I quickly peered through the slat of the bed’s arm cage, made silly faces, and blew kisses at Cole, who suddenly went into paroxyms of giggles.  Within minutes, Cole was tooling around to room on foot and trying to climb into my bed.  I was grateful!

Right after surgery, I decided to play “John Wayne”.  I soon refused the morphine pump and that potent “oxy” stuff which is fairly standard for a few days following a drastic procedure.  I bragged that I could “wing it” on vicodin which is near the bottom of the scale, narcotic wise.  The nurses rolled their eyes, but complied with my request.

What a silly goose!  Within hours, I repented of the John Wayne act, and I said, “John Wayne is not doing well!”  Within minutes. relief had been ministered—and it was obvious that the people in charge were relieved as well.  They don’t like having to lug a pain-ridden zombie around!

Grateful!  Grateful for the people in my life, for modern medicine which is God’s message of mercy to a physically fallen world!  Grateful for the kindness shown at every turn.  I am convinced that many people who work in hospitals have graciously enlarged, loving hearts!

I’m especially grateful to our ever loving, ever righteous, all knowing Lord.  He has known about every detail of our lives, since Eternity Past.  He knew that I would be at home today. recovering from surgery, no longer needing strong medication, and praising Him for His goodness.

But here is the most important point I want to make:  What if my surgery had gone badly rather than beautifully?  What if I were still at St. Luke’s experiencing painful treatments? 

What if I were alone on planet earth, rather than surrounded by loving (and fun-loving!) family members and friends?  What if my future looked bleak rather than exciting, as it is with my plethora of hobbies and interests? 

Even with all those “What ifs?”, God would still be all powerful and all good!

During my hospital stay, I met women who fit that tragic description which I’ve outlined in bold font above.  These women live painful, discouraging lives.  God is still God, regardless of our circumstances, but there is a huge world of people who are clueless:  individuals who do not realize that an eternity of blessing and joy can be theirs by simply acknowledging, “YES, I BELIEVE!  I WANT THE LORD JESUS TO BE MY LORD—AND I WILL APPROPRIATE HIS SACRIFICE AT CALVARY TO MY LIFE!”” 

My experience of Grateful, Grateful, Grateful”  has emblazoned me with a passion to share my gratitude for our gracious Lord with others—especially with lonely senior citizens who may think their lives are empty and meaningless.  There is no such thing as “meaningless” in God’s ecomony. 

Not only are there spiritual joys and the boundless truths of Scripture to be shared, but there is vibrant, exciting, creative, and abundant life to be shared at this very moment. 

Senior citizens have more time on their hands than anyone else on earth:  time to learn to play a musical instrument, time to learn a foreign language, time to paint in watercolors or oils, time to adopt and nurture a kitten or puppy who needs the love which only humans can share. 

Time to read classic literature to a child in an era bereft of classis.  Time to knit, time to crochet, and pass these time honored arts onto the next generation.  Time to observe the natural beauty which surrounds us ever day.

Time to share a pot of Earl Grey tea. served in lovely porcelain cups, while recalling The Depression and World War II—and how God prevailed during “the worst of times”.  Time to share our photo albums, and family stories—both humorous and poignant. 

Time to share our crafts, and time to encourage others to try a hobby he or she has always dreamed of doing.  (I would probably not be building a huge inventory of water color paintings and collage art if my good friend, Dee, had not jarred me by saying, “JUST DO IT!”)

Grateful!  That’s what I am:  grateful to God for His loving control of my life, and grateful for all the creative gifts he’s give me to share.  And that’s what I am longing to share—God’s spiritual life, and the everyday tangible evidence that we are made in the image of a creative GOd!

What a joy, to be GRATEFUL!

Margaret L. Been

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Every idiosyncrasy and flaw of man has been around since the fall of Adam and Eve.  Perhaps it’s only in recent history, that we’ve tagged these flaws.  Now we have a variety of “isms”. 

I’ve just learned a tag for one more fallen viewpoint–“ageism”:  the lack of respect for, and typecasting of, individuals who are mature in age.  Actually, this deviation may be far more common today–especially in our United States.  Many other cultures have traditionally honored and looked up to their elderly people, and still do.

Although I didn’t know the term, I’ve been aware of ageism for some time.  A couple of years ago Joe and I waited for our flu shots in a County Health Office when a man, apparently in his 80s, sat down near us in the waiting room.  Presently, one of the County Health nurses came out to talk to the man.  Although he was certainly “all together” and “with it”, the nurse talked to him as if he were a 4 year old child. 

She knelt on the floor so that she was his height, and spoke deliberately and patronizingly into his face as if he were imcapable of being addressed as a “normal” person.  There was no indication that the gentleman was hard of hearing or senile–and even if he had been either of those, there was no excuse for the nurse’s demeaning behavior.  Joe and I were shocked at this insulting spectacle. 

Ageism is born of stereotypical thinking–which is really not thinking at all.  It’s abject brainlessness!  No one should be cast into a mold–regardless of color, age, or anything else. 

Years ago in a public meeting, I heard a woman speaker make a dogmatic statement:  “Older women should always wear their hair short.”  Then the speaker went on to say rather sarcastically, “Can you imagine a 60 year old with long hair?”  I was 57 when I heard this clueless talk.  I had long hair at the time, and I liked long hair.  At that very moment I vowed I would never, never, never wear my hair short (although I had “been there, done that” for years as a young girl).  I decided that my hair would always be long–and if I were to lose my hair due to illness or age, I would wear a long wig!  (Actually, long hair is so much easier for me to manage than short–I wouldn’t trade those inches even if I wanted to.)

Sadly, mature women sometimes stereotype themselves in keeping with the world’s view of how an older woman should dress.  The world and most of my peers expect us to wear slacks and sweat shirts or polyester blouses.  I think I’m the only 70 something woman I know who wears dresses and skirts nearly every day, not just for church!  Jeans are great to wear for scrubbing floors, gardening, fishing, and hiking.  But for every other purpose on earth, I will wear skirts or dresses–long and swirly, beaded and fringy–and funky blazers, vests, blouses, shawls, boots, and HATS!

The current popularity of “slacks for women at all times” is not a matter of economics.  A variety of clothing is readily available at a reasonable cost–in catalogues, discount marts, and resale shops.  If artsy attire is not another woman’s choice–if she prefers pants and sweat shirts–that’s fine!  Personal choice in fashion is priceless. 

But my heart aches for the mature woman who would like to break the mold in which society has cast her:  the lady who wants to dress in youthful, funky styles, yet hangs back due to peer pressure!  Shouldn’t the word “mature” imply that we are free and secure enough to be ourselves, while blissfully ignoring the dictates of ageism or any other doctrine of conformity in matters that are purely personal?  

Whatever her age, every woman’s style (and lifestyle) should focus on whatever is right for her, and whatever best expresses her unique personhood within the creative boundaries of human decency and consideration for other people.  Peer pressure is ludicrous for teenagers.  Conformity is unthinkable for adults!

What some consider to be the “twilight years” are really the “dawning years”–a time when a whole new day stretches out before us.  Free from many of the responsibilities we enjoyed for most of our lives, we can now venture forth wherever our imaginations and creative longings lead us.  We can take classes and join clubs.  We can read 800 page books.  We can travel, or we can thrive on staying at home.  We can compose music, paint pictures, throw pots (on a wheel or at the wall), publish books, or whatever else we desire to do. 

Even if we look old, feel old, and are “as old as the hills” we do not have to think old, dress old, or act old!  As for me (and my wardrobe and lifestyle) I’ve declared an all-out war on ageism!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

NOTE:  A picture is worth a thousand words, or maybe a word is worth a thousand pictures.  Either way, you readers who are picture and word lovers can be my guest on http://northernview.wordpress.com/  where I have matched paintings with poems.

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