Sunday, April 27, 2008

Do not discard yet.....

I have returned from my Growing Old Disgracefully Springfest refreshed and revitalised as always. Just to remind you, we are an organisation of older women, the youngest of whom are in their late 50s, and the oldest over 90. For this annual spring gathering we are a group of 20, and our meeting place is the Wedgwood Memorial College in Barlaston near Stoke-on-Trent.

It is an adult education college, and comprises three large houses, which are beautifully decorated and comfortably appointed. In one of them we are served the most delicious and sustaining meals, and in another we have our accommodation and meeting rooms. We have this house to ourselves. It is four days of indulgence for us.

We create and deliver our own programme, according to the skills and interests which we have to offer. It is a mixture of workshops on both serious and light-hearted topics, (including writing and art or craft work), and of singing, dancing, and partying. We also walk and visit local places of interest. Our programme is pretty intensive, and we leave to go home in a state of both elation and exhaustion, but refreshed and renewed for another year.

This year, in some strange way, I also feel revalidated, as though I had been rubber stamped with the words “High quality human being in full running order. DO NOT DISCARD YET!” I now find that I am driving with more confidence and feel steadier on my feet. What is more, I realise that my usual safe, comfortable routine is stultifying, and that my love affair with my computer carries the risk of becoming isolating, even though it also opens me up to new things, ideas and people.

How has this happened? Following the death of my husband, I missed last year, the only time in 12 years, and I felt that the gap had created some distance between me and the others. So I have needed to look carefully to understand what I believe has given the added value to my experience this time. I think it must be for the following reasons.

I have been sharing with others (which means not necessarily getting my own way!)
I have been able to observe and meet the needs of others.
I have received the care and attention I have tried to give.
I have been able to use my skills or talents to please others.
I have been creative in a variety of ways.
I have sung and I have danced and I have had fun.
And I have laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
And hugged and hugged!

And while doing all this we have perhaps been able to ignore our aches and pains for a time, while turning our energies towards communal enjoyment in a way that we are not often called upon to do at home, especially if we live alone.

In words taken from our website: " We are a network of women who support each other, share our experiences and knowledge, learn from each other and grow together in a safe and non-judgemental environment."

Now for the plug! Why not join us? You have to be a woman, but you can start growing old disgracefully at any age. Membership is £15 a year, £7.50 if you join after 30th June. You get four newsletters a year, access to national residential events and workshops, and the possibility of joining a local group if there is one in your area. We do have overseas members - I shared a room this time with a friend who comes over from Amsterdam twice a year, to our spring event and our Annual Gathering in September. Look at the six women below when they started the organisation 20 years ago; five of them are still with us. To find out more, contact the Membership Secretary, Norma Randle - e-mail

[The small pictures are the house we occupied, a beautiful frosted glass window in a toilet, and encounters in the extensive grounds.]

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh dear.....

I don't seem to be have done much posting here recently. I've been having a troublesome time lately coping with the effects of the new medications I was put on after my (ever-so-small) heart attack. They are not balancing out very well, and the overall effect is that my normally too-high blood pressure is now getting too low, and I have been having dizzy and fainty spells which are rather unnerving, and have stopped me driving for a while. My GP has made a small adjustment pro tem, so that I can go off today on a four-day holiday with my Growing Old Disgracefully friends - our annual 'springfest'. But when I come back I'm probably going to have to go back to the cardiac team who looked after my heart attack and have a drugs reappraisal. It all seems a lot of bother and fuss for something which hardly made me feel poorly at the time, but I suppose I must trust them - up to a point anyway.

Meanwhile, until I get back, here are some pictures taken at our G.O.D. Annual Gathering at Sneaton Castle, Whitby in 2005. We had been running an experimental workshop for all 80 of those attending, in which teams of 8 - working at 10 tables in one large room - each put together a plan for improving the way that the organisation was run over the coming year. The proposals were voted on and the winning proposal went on the agenda for the Annual Business Meeting the following day. After the vote we all went outside and released our balloons, each of which carried the name and address of the organisation.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Will I never learn?

Driving home the other evening from my son's house at the other end of the village, I reflected yet again on how badly I drive, as I am constantly riding the clutch, with the result that my engine frequently over-revs. My son says he always knows when I drive into his yard because the engine is over-revving. How humiliating!

Then I thought, and that's not the only thing I haven't learned to correct after so many years of living. (I've been driving for over 40 years.) I also haven't learned not to cross my ankles when sitting or lying in bed: bad for the circulation and conducive to thromboses. I was told about that in hospital 16 years ago when I first had trouble with my heart. You would think I would make a point of breaking that bad habit, but my body just doesn't feel comfortable at rest unless my ankles are crossed - never mind the risks. I do try. Every time I notice what I'm doing, I uncross them, but back they sneak again a moment or two later.

So what else, I asked myself? This is almost a blog's-worth here. Ah yes! I have this terrible habit of giving things away and then wanting them back --- AND asking for them sometimes. Isn't that beastly? Not straight away, but later when I think they may no longer have a use for them - still jolly bad form. I am really ashamed of that one. I think I have managed to modify it slightly in recent years, but I wish I could undo some of the early occasions.

I am sure I can push this score up to five, was my next thought. Well, yes, I have a tendency to say too much ..... and I interrupt people ..... and I talk with my mouth full. Well, that's three in one, and quite enough for today. I don't know how I can show my face on here after this.

Anyone else like to 'fess up?