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Stop to Smell (or Draw) the Roses...

"Don't forget to stop and smell the roses." That's a tired old phrase, but I've been relying on it a lot lately. My adult life has been a pattern of making my way along the career path at too quick a pace, then suddenly needing rest because I've tired myself out. Logic tells me to wander a bit, slow down, stop at interesting points, and be engaged in the journey itself... but it's difficult to change what I think is an inherent need to always "do do do."

This weekend, I went to a birthday party for a relative who turned 92. (See a photo of the relative, Kathleen, on my home page.) Among the attendees were several of my female relatives--an aunt, a second cousin, a third cousin, a fourth cousin--who are much older than me. They sat and talked about their family histories, work adventures, and travels around the world while younger generations started preparing a feast, and I realized to myself, Oh, we're not going to be here for just an hour. This is an all-day affair. Let the rose-smelling begin. Oh, and I guess some champagne would be just fine.

Some of my biggest fears are: becoming obsolete, losing my mental faculties, being physically dependent on another, and being out of the loop. These ladies reminded me through actions and discussion that these shouldn't be issues: First of all, when most people think 92-year-old, they picture a slow, miserable, loopy person in a nursing home. Kathleen defies that with her mile-a-minute speech, reference to (current) pop culture, and spirit. I felt relieved to meet her daughter, Opal, who has the same speedy speech and a constant "do do do" demeanor. (She repeatedly joined in the conversation circle, busied her hands with straightening or fixing something, then got up within a minute to do something useful around the house.) Seeing Opal in action was proof that Kathleen and my sturdy grandmother are not exceptions.
The other relatives also were youthful for their ages, and they even had a conversation about how our family doesn't get cancers, diabetes, or Alzheimer's... we have to watch out for our hearts. This was yet another small reminder that stress is a common theme in my life, and slowing down and smelling--or doing something with--those roses is a way to keep myself from manifesting my own fears.

With that, and partially fueled on the envy of my senior relatives' world adventures (Thailand in the '50s, living in Saudi Arabia, living in Bermuda, seeing all 50 states), I am re-inspired to figure out how to travel more.