Happy Youthing!

I realized a couple of days ago that I’ve spent so much time, money, and attention on rejuvenating my ancient VW, that I haven’t been paying attention to myself, so I’ve resolved to take better care of myself. Be more cognizant of nutrition. Eat more vegetables. Erase wheat and sugar from my diet. Go to bed earlier. Walk more. (I’ve gotten lax on walking, mostly because I live far from anywhere interesting to walk.) Maybe even write more, if only on this blog.

This isn’t a New Year’s resolution, you understand. Just a resolution. The proximity of a new year is coincidence. It’s simply time to pay more attention to myself before the habit of sloth gets insurmountable. I’ve always tried to take care of myself and to stick to such a healthy regimen, but trying and sticking have both deserted me in recent months. Now I’m ready to get back into my youthing program. (Youth-ing, not you-thing, though I suppose both are accurate in a way.)

And none too soon. I met an old man at the dumpster in the complex where I am living, who watched me walking with my bag of trash. He said, “Luckily I can drive.” I just smiled, but I thought, “Luckily I can walk.” And I want to make sure I keep that ability for many years to come. Although I have given up on the idea of an epic walk, something in me keeps wondering. Could I? Would I? Should I?

But such thoughts are for another day. For now, I’m just gosalading to get back into the swing of walking. And, of course, concentrate on vegetables and nutrition, even if some of that nutrition comes from supplements.

I want to make sure I am strong enough to enjoy the good days I have left. Tragedy strikes without warning. Cancer develops in secret to spring forth fully grown. Joints get old. But I don’t have to tell you about the vicissitudes of life. You know what I’m talking about.

One thing I have no plans to change is my attitude, though people often tell me attitude is the key to keeping young. The trouble is, people are so gung-ho in their belief in the necessity for positive thinking that they forget that downs as well as ups are part of living, and should be celebrated in their own way. (Celebrated meaning observed. Celebrated meaning commemorated. Celebrated meaning felt, acknowledged, and processed.) Crying, screaming, whining even, are all appropriate at times. If others don’t appreciate these sorts of reactions, then, well . . . then nothing. There’s not a single thing I can do about their attitude, only mine.

Sometimes there is no way to “at least” your way into feeling good about a trauma. “At least” we’re together. “At least” it’s curable. “At least” you/he/she/it isn’t suffering. Some things are truly terrible and have to be dealt raw without the insulation of “at leasts”. To do otherwise, to raise positive thinking to such a degree as to mitigate the horror, causes untold stress and makes any true adjustment toward a new life all but impossible. And makes a person old before their time. (I realize I am in a minority in my belief. Everyone deals with trauma the only way they can, which is generally to pretend to be happy regardless.)

It now looks as if my cross-country trip will be more of a spring trip than a winter one, so there’s more preparation to do. I don’t have spring/summer hiking clothes, so I’ll need to rectify that. And figure out how to keep to a sort of nutritious diet on the road. Vegetables don’t come refrigerated, so is it possible to make salads and take them along? (Salads that are long on vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and short on lettuce.) Or do all cut vegetables go bad quickly? All part of the learning process, I suppose. All part of my youthing resolution.

Happy youthing to you, too.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

Either Things Will Work Out Or They Won’t

Quite unexpectedly, I seem to have developed a new attitude.

A couple of days ago when I told someone about my father’s death and his house going on the market soon, she kept asking, “What are you going to do?” Either to calm her or more probably to calm myself since her feigned concern was getting on my nerves, I kept answering “I don’t know. Either things will work out or they won’t.” After about the third repetition, it hit me — that is exactly how I feel. I’m not particularly worried about what I am going to do or what is going to happen to me. Either things will work out or they won’t. If they work out, then there is no point in worrying. If they don’t work out, then I’ll figure something out based on my circumstances at the time.

Of course, it could be that I’m stressed beyond all caring, but for now I like not feeling any need to worry about anything. I do think of possibilities, of course, and try to imagine what I might like to do, but it’s nice not knowing what the future holds. Right now, today, I have a place to stay, and today is all any of us have.

This attitude seems to be bleeding over into other areas of my life. I drive a vintage vehicle — I’m being kind. The thing is simply old. Very old. It’s the only car I ever had, and I’ve had it 43 years. (It’s so weird the way life works. I certainly never planned to keep it this long. It just kept chugging along. I guess that’s how I got so old, too. I just kept chugging along.) Lately, I’ve been having problems with the car — and with my mechanic. They lost their VW specialist, and no one there knows how to fix it. Or maybe it’s just that they can’t get parts for it any more.

Yesterday, on my way back from driving a friend to her house in the mountains, the poor car sputtered and backfired and stopped dead. This is the fourth time it happened, so when I called the emergency road service, I asked them to tow it to a different mechanic, one that specializes in Volkswagens. (Actually, it wasn’t that simple. My phone had died, too, but someone stopped and let me use their phone.) I would have had a ten mile walk back to the house since obviously I wouldn’t have been able to call anyone and ask them to pick me up, but I figured well, I’ve been wanting an epic walk and that seemed pretty epic to me!

As it turns out, the tow driver couldn’t tow the car to the new mechanic — that place is closed on Sunday, and the property is fenced in so there was no place to leave the vehicle. We ended up taking it to my old mechanic’s place.

Walking back to my dad’s house, I thought how nice it was not to have a car, which is probably a good thing since there is no telling when/if I will get it back. Still, there’s no need to worry — either things will work out or they won’t.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.