Tag Archives: Aging

What I’ve Learned In 53 Years of Living

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That sounds pretty grand, right? Like you should sit down and ready yourself for me to drop some wisdom on you, right? Well, we’ll see. I’ll ask at the end of this what you think.

Some of these things have cultivated over the years. Some I’m still trying to fully grasp and work on them, daily or weekly or whenever I remember I need to. Some are so new I feel all fluttery in my belly even sharing them.

  1. Eat Chocolate as much as you can. Now, you have to define how much that is, how often, milk or dark, with nuts or not, in bars or cookies or off spoons standing in your kitchen. Just get some if you need it. I’m no longer of the “DON’T EAT [INSERT THE YUMMY FOOD HERE]”
  2. Same goes for sugar. Yes, this shit can wreck havoc on you so take that into consideration. If you can and like and want sweetness, get it. I can’t. I try with such might but I can’t. I’m officially in a mourning period about that. Fall of 2016 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. I had ulcers and all these not-so-lovely symptoms that could fall under TMI for this blog. After a year of diet change, supplements, herbs and therapy for trauma and grief (my mom died Feb of 2016), my scopes revealed no more active Crohn’s. But I do have IBS. Yeah…chronic pain is bitch. And eating sugar or specifically dark chocolate drenched caramel popcorn is not a good idea for me. I hate being a fragile fuckin flower but there it is.
  3. Dance when you can. How you can. Where you can. Chair dance. Wave your hands in the air like you JUST DON’T CARE! Or car dance. I LOVE to car dance. Sometimes my back and joints hurt or I’m battling nausea so throwing down like I’m a MC Hammer back-up dancer like I used it isn’t always possible. BUT I’m still a proud member of the Rhythm Nation so you just know that I’m dancing when I can.
  4. Get cool about your gray hair. This is one that I’m really working on. I go back and forth about when to go gray. Or let the world see I’m gray underneath my black curls. I spend hours on Pinterest and Instagram looking at BEAUTIFUL gray haired women who share their journeys. It’s not easy. It takes time. And it means something. Of course, it does. Even those who say they don’t give a fuck what others say, THAT is a sentiment that has had to been developed, cultivated, honed and now honored. That means something. For me, I go a couple months and even declare I’m no longer dying my hair and then after spraying my roots to go out, which indicates that I’m not ready, I dye my roots and to be honest, feel like I’m letting some part of me down. Like I just did something to my own value as a woman. BUT THEN I tell myself to knock that shit off, focus my dramatic thoughts to the page and just get on with the day. There are just as many amazing women who don’t have gray hair, now or won’t ever. The point is, I’m learning to get cool with mine.
  5. Come to an understanding about “give no fucks”. This one I’ve been thinking A TON about. For a few years now. I have post-its on my desk and in my office reminding me of this. But there’s also a note by one that says “except for those who deserve all the fucks” cuz there are those. Like family, friends, sisterhood, brotherhood, those who are suffering, those lost in pain, those who have less, those who need more. There’s a list that deserve and have my fucks. I think the give none goes to those who hate me for my skin color, my race, my gender. Those who want to step on my neck and nail me to the ground. Those who don’t like me. Or won’t love me. I won’t ask for them to. I sure as shit won’t beg. I want to be seen, though. I want to be heard. But that’s not possible with some folks. Bigots are not going to be down with me. Trump lovers will hate me. Mansplainers, white folks coming at me with their privilege don’t dig me, either. I can’t make them feel any different [INSERT SERENITY PRAYER HERE] so those folks I don’t give a fuck about. BUT BUT…they are suffering, too. So, how do I remedy this? My need to cultivate kindness and promote peace and give them no fucks? What I’m learning is that it’s possible to give none to their opinions and be aware of their power in the fight, because we are in a fight. A fight for our lives.
  6. Be a warrior. And define that however you need to and want to. And know that being a warrior means protecting yourself so if that means taking breaks from social media, turning off the news, working out, or binge watching Netflix, sleeping in, or whatever you feel needs to happen for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health- then you’re fighting.
  7. And cry. Cleanse your soul. Honor the life you’ve lived when you’re pain because of the losses in it, the hard and lonely times. It’s okay to feel.
  8. Soak in some children’s laughter. If you can’t get in real life then find some online and play it loudly until you laugh, too.
  9. Do something creative. Every day. That doesn’t mean you have to write or paint. Or sew. Or anything you may define as ‘art’. Being creative is about using your mind to create something. Cooking, gardening. Singing. Caring for your children. Creating anything with your imagination- DAY DREAM! I was a big daydreamer as a kid and teachers would snap me back to class by calling on me to pay attention. Kinda hated them for that. Sure, I understand that I needed to focus on the lessons but the value of my imagination is immense. Yours is, too.
  10. Give hugs. Friends. Lovers. Pets. Pillows. When you give hugs you usually get one back.
  11. Pray.  

Okay, so that’s the 11 that are on my mind this morning of my birthday. I don’t think I’ve shook up your world with my thoughts. But thank you for reading. Thank you.

Peace and love

Toast to What I’ve Learned in 50 Years

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What I’ve learned in 50 years could either be a long list, perhaps written in a roll of toilet paper because that’s it worth, or it just might be a short tweet on my struggling Twitter account. Or smaller still, a slogan. A bumper sticker. A tattoo. One word:

Shit. Nothing. Breathe. Dream.  Run. Defend. Attack. Dance. Chocolate.  

Toast.

Or many words. Pages and pages.  That’s the internal conflict.  So many questions. Why at 50 do I still have so many questions?

Why do I ramble? Meander?  Is it because life feels that way at times? Random yet moving…forward? Should I charge ahead? Have I done that? Did it work?  And why am I just so fuckin tired? Why can’t I marathon watch Frazier and just let life slide on through the room? “I’m cool. I got a blanket. Some tea and toast, I can chill here.”

As I figure out the answers to these questions, I’ll start with the top 10 things that come to mind when I ask myself what I’ve learned in 50 years.  And just so you understand this list,(which could be totally different tomorrow) this is where I am today. It’s an early dark and cold January morning in Minnesota. I’m in my in-laws’ kitchen. It’s been weeks since I’ve been home to Los Angeles and I feel that. Last of my sticky oatmeal is drying in a bowl.  There’s hot tea with smooth and creamy flax milk in a mug. I’m on my way to babysit my god daughter this morning before spending the day at the movies.  And yes, I have strep throat. (On antibiotics so I’m not a health risk to anyone but myself…but I feel shitty nonetheless). Happy Birthday to me. 

So here are the 10 today:

  1. Family is everything.  If you got some in your life and they’re good to you, cherish them. If they’re not so good, know that you can create family with folks who are. If they hurt you, know that it’s not okay that they did. And also know it’s good for you to forgive them even if they don’t change, even if you don’t/can’t have them in your life. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. 
  2. Being a good friend goes a long way because when you have good friends who give you love, support and acceptance back, your life is lit up in ways you never dreamt. Besides…
  3. Laughter really is good for your soul!  Laughter with a friend is priceless so try and do that often. And loudly.
  4. Tending to your needs is okay.  Give yourself permission to do that. And if you can’t do that, then find someone who will.  In fact, if you’re reading this, then I give you permission, if that helps.
  5. Dreams can come true but I guarantee you they won’t show up like you dreamt it. That’s the thrilling joyful part of life. Don’t let being afraid of the dream being anything different than how you see it or write it in your head be the reason they don’t manifest. Be open.
  6. Make sure your partner/spouse is your best friend because when things get shitty, and they will, treating them as a friend, with basic kindness, compassion and understanding could help you through the shitstorm as it hits.
  7. Shitstorms can be damaging but also can be fertilizers for the new to grow.  (and yes, sometimes this one is  a hard stretch for me to believe while I’m running for cover but it’s true)
  8. You won’t die of a broken heart.  You may hurt for a long time. Even forever. But it can’t kill you.  How you handle it could.  
  9. Figure out “how many f*3ks you have to give”. And if it’s none, then right on.  If you have a few for family and close friends who include you on their list, then alright, too.  Remember though, everyone makes mistakes. All the freakin time. Allow for this. Understand this. Forgiving humans for being human means forgiving yourself, too, because you should be on your own “give a f*#k list”.
  10. And the 80’s still rule.  And 70’s classic rock is the best. And it’s totally okay to embrace that. I have with full force. I sing along to the Bangles and dance to Sheila E and still swoon over Prince.  I don’t wear the shoulder pads or rat-comb the hair any more but I am a child of the 80’s and for all that’s holy and neon, it’s a decade that still rules. And some days working out is just air-jamming to Heart or Foghat in my car.  It counts.  

Toast to AVON39 and committing to the fight against breast cancer.

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Summer of 2013, I got really scared.

I had received a form letter with my mammogram results saying that I had very dense tissue in my breasts and therefore a mammogram was not the best screening avenue I should take. The letter suggested a scan or MRI to get a clearer picture of my breast tissue.  This was not a new discovery, it was a mandated notice from the State of California. Something someone thought I should know.

So I contacted my doctor, got a referral and went in for my first breast scan at a lovely, welcoming clinic downtown Los Angeles. I admit, I was nervous, Very. I kept thinking, since I didn’t know that I’ve always had dense tissue, what could be there that I had no idea about? What lurks?

During the breast scan, the technician zeroed in on one spot under my arm. I felt what she was taking more scans of. I FELT the teeny tiny bump. Swollen. Waiting. Hiding out.

She left the room, leaving me lying there with a tiny towel for my chest, the paper yet stylish vest crackling under my every move. When she came back in a few minutes later, she brought a doctor with her. He hit the lights and asked me to sit up.

I held that towel over me, feeling exposed and vulnerable, there was a shift in the room. Something had changed from when I arrived there to that moment when the doctor told me they found something in my lymph nodes under my arm. As he began to talk, I quickly conjured up all the spirits of grandmothers (I usually travel with them, anyway… so they were close by) They came and stood shoulder to shoulder around me. My grandma laying her hand on my arm, aged and warm, I heard her in the hum the fluorescent lights made, she whispered softly like a hum, “it’s okay, Lynne” .  I didn’t cry. I put on my professional face and answered his questions.

“Have you been sick? Any infections? Other ailments?”  I said, “No. No. None.” He said it was probably nothing and that I could wait six months to see if it grew or if it was going to bother me I could get a biopsy. He told me to have a good day and left.

The technician waited until the door shut and turned to me. She said “you’re getting a biopsy, aren’t you?”   Of course. I couldn’t wait six months. How could he suggest that? Didn’t he understand that I felt like I had just went head-on into a brick wall?

Four weeks later, after a course of antibiotics that didn’t do anything but make my upset stomach worse, after that same doctor returned from his vacation, after I fell apart, fear stomping all over me, after I kicked myself for being so vain for not wanting to give up my tiny imperfect breasts if I had Stage 1, for worrying how I’d live without my hair, after admitting that I LOVED my hair, after many therapy sessions and crying jags, after reaching out to heal old wounded friendships and apologizing for what I had done to others, after nearly destroying my marriage because my husband doesn’t have the same relationship to my body as I do, after all this, I calmed down and discovered my power base. I wrote to my girlfriends and asked them for strength. I asked them for prayer and they brought it. They brought it HARD.

I believe that they helped calm what was growing inside of me. I do.

I had the biopsy done, with a recovery that was longer and harder than I thought it would be. But by comparison of what I was preparing to go through, it was fine. I spoke with my mother about breast cancer clinics and she told me without hesitation that if I needed treatment, she was moving me back to Minnesota not just because the U of MN has one of the best centers in the nation but because she wanted me home. She wanted me home.  I was loved and felt that others wanted me to go on living.

The biopsy results took longer than they said it would. There was extra examination of the lymph node until finally I was told it was nothing. It was just enlarged. Perhaps at some point I was sick and the swelling hadn’t gone back down yet. I was okay. Every six months I have to go back in and have them scan again, to be sure but I was okay. And tomorrow I set the next appointment to do the scan again. It’s time.

Now, I know my story is nothing AT ALL compared to the amazing fierce women who have fought breast cancer and survived. It is nothing to those who fought and then passed on. What my community did for me is no different than many others. What my family did is no different either. I’m not special. I’m a woman who like so many others have only one body and sometimes disease shows up, and sets up camp.

What I do have have now is an opportunity to help. I’m committed to Avon39, the walk-a-thon to help raise funds to END BREAST CANCER!  Life is so precious and we’re fighting for it. Fight.

And I need your help. Please donate to the cause. Help me make my $1800 commitment.

This is my personal AVON39 page, so you can follow me, make your donation. You can find me on Facebook at Stacey Parshall Jensen. You can see on FB and on my page my progress. Please come laugh with me, celebrate with me, be here with me. http://bit.ly/1L8miY3  I’ll be blogging all over the place!!

So, the Toast today is for all the women who fight, for the families and the communities that gather their prayers and strengths to rally together in the fight. It’s a Toast to AVON39 and ENDING Breast Cancer.

Thank you.

Peace

Stacey

Peace.

Let’s Toast! Age.

So here I was thinking I’d have a hard time coming up with topics, but thinking about what to “toast” in my life is actually…overwhelming.  There’s so much to choose from. I can “toast”…my husband, Bird, my incredible child, motherhood, all the mommies out there, movies I saw this weekend: Iron Man 3, or my new tv mystery obsession Top of the Lake, (why isn’t EVERYONE watching this??!!) my friends, public libraries, popcorn, hugs, tacos with Motown playing in Echo Park Friday night…or I could go deeper and “toast” creative energy, spiritual guidance, healing, shit…I could “toast” my shrink.  Actually, I do “toast” her everyday.  Let me tell ya! 

But here’s what keeps surfacing to the top of what I want to, need to “toast” today….

Anti-wrinkie, firming cream.  

Seriously.  I’m just grateful to this amazing product. Not sure if it’s working yet, but I feel like I’m a wee bit more  in control of…my face by using this product.  I don’t deny my age, never lied about it. There’s no need for that.  I have accomplished alot, most likely the hard way, so if I was to shave ten years off my age then I’d what…hide something I’ve done in my past? (And yes, there are some things I could hide…probably should… to protect the innocent) But how can I say I’m younger when my daughter is 21 and I’m so freakin proud of the young woman she’s become- and I didn’t have her when I was a teenager.  Which is also something I’m proud of.  Statistically, where i come from, who we were in the small town I grew up in- poor, brown… it was probably a given that one of us would be a teen parent and we were weren’t.  And let me be clear- that is not a knock against teen parents. I know plenty and I feel we need to be providing support to all our teenagers, and if they bring a child into this world, they need us even more.  Okay, wow, that would be for another blog post…because I write about teen moms… But back to the “toast” at hand…

Here’s a confession – I test the people I come in contact with sometimes.  Not the folks who know me and know how hold my child is, but others, I just meet. I will admit that I find a way to work it into conversation that Bird is 21 to see their response…I wait for them to say, “Whaaat?  You..?  No!  I would have thought you were in your 30’s…”  And then I grin and force a blush and say, “Oh, no. I’m 47, but that’s the plan…”  And I laugh like I’m cool, free and totally freakin okay with my age.  lol!

So this morning’s “toast” is to my new anti-wrinkle, firming face creme.  I put it on with love for my skin. I rub it in asking it to work it’s magic.

But then my second “toast” is to aging, to recognizing all one’s accomplishments, and celebrating a full life on one’s journey.

Peace.