I'm a Grumpy Guru at best

  • Published: 15 October 2015

Dear Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer (he's still around: if Elvis can appear 40 years after the date then Wayne is definitely still here), in short: DEAR GURU'S:Just a quickie to let you know: don't start looking for a day job, don't throw away your meditation candle and don't throw out your decided not to become your successor. Nor to go into competition with you for the hearts of the enlightened. I won't be joining you really soon.

Being Me: not always a good thing...

  • Published: 07 April 2015

It's the day after the Easter weekend and despite all kinds of little niggles I am feeling really good: energetic, happy and inclined to look in the mirror and say: looking good doll! I'm enjoying being me today. Getting the website to work is fun and tiring and absorbing. I keep changing my mind about what I want to do with it and what I want to say and sometimes it is seems so arrogant to want to put yourself out there! Then I read this draft and I know there are others out there, going through the same stuff and maybe, if karma is at work, they'll read it and recognize it. And know: shit happens. We do shitty things. All the time. But we can survive and get over it and go on.

The Wrinklies and the Rest

  • Published: 11 March 2015

Being slightly slow, I wondered where all my peers have gone. On Internet I mean. It's a logical question: every time you Google health or exercise or wellness a gaggle of gorgeous girls pops up    to tell you how to meditate your way to peace of mind, how to juice-boost your hormones or exercise into energy. And they are all estrogen-rich,wrinkle-poor  young women with the earnestness of the innocent.

Depressing the Day

  • Published: 20 March 2015

Feedly, Facebook, Pinterest: I even Twitter. Twitter only every now and then, not often, because just the thought of 'twittering'  reminds me of Georgette Heyer and is enough to put me off. But I am a modern 60+, keeping up with the world and so I Twitter. I have a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone. I Whatsapp and Message and Pin. Tumblr is one step too far but Facebook is of course fun. You keep up with one another's hobbies and you don't have to get out the car or bicycle to see your best friends'  holiday snaps. You can show off the grandchildren. I follow authors and artists. My Facebook feed is full of inspiring quotes that sometimes get so sweet it grates my teeth.

Dying under the influence

  • Published: 20 February 2015



Today I read that Aldous Huxley asked for LSD on his deathbed and died hallucinating. Did he fear the knowing of his dying? You bet. Or maybe he just didn't want to exhibit the natural struggle that we all seem to go through. I think it's cool because anything that is about your own choices around dying is so rare. Most of us don't even WANT to die but don't get to choose. Oliver Sacks has just announced that he is dying of cancer and has published a whole list of do's and dont's that he wants to adhere to. But the big thing is that he does not actually want to die. He's not bored with life, or tired. He is old but that hasn't stopped him much so why should it suddenly cause him to stumble now. But apparently his road has come to an end. In the near distance he is looking at that door he needs to go through. Willy-nilly.

My mom-in-law is also old. She IS tired of living. There is a fine distinction, and she makes it, between being tired of life or tired of living. Life she still likes: if we visit or we make plans then she cheers up and can laugh. But the living thing is getting her down. Because at 98, however hard our governments and churches urge us to seek everlasting life in the now, the body does wear out. She is losing a little independance by slow increments: almost every day shows an act that she can't do. The tops of bottles need to be opened before we leave. We fill her freezer with warm-ups. Yesterday she complained that peeling potatoes hurts: her hands are sore and weak. Of course we all think duh! you're 98 Ma! but this is the reality of this longevity we are all so enthusiastic about. She needs more and more care as our governments tell us more and more often to be independant. What they mean is move your dependance from health care services to those of your children and grandchildren. And they dismantle the public services and leave the old and frail helpless.
I swear, there are actually people who, when they hear that she is 98 say: how wonderful!! I hope I die way before that and then I am going to sit on my cloud and watch them deal with the wonderfulness of not dying. Because the NOT dying is often worse than the dying. Mom's brain is still as sharp as a tack, it's mostly her motor and it's parts that is running down.
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She and I talk about her imminent (she hopes) departure and we can find a place to laugh about it. She tells us regularly that she hopes she goes soon. Recently I had the regular sit-down and reminded her that "not even" in  The Netherlands can you take a lively, healthy 98 year old and make her die. It would be murder. And the only way for her to actively go is by refusing all sustenance. Not going to happen, as she agreed. She also cannot expect us to park her in an hospital ward with pneumonia patients or in a cross-draught on her balcony.

So we have to wait. The road she is travelling on is fairly straight towards death. How long the road is and how horrible the road is depends on our care for her and her acceptance of our care. We have made a deal for the coming months: she tries to stay more cheerful and hang a little bit looser, accepting that being allowed to care for her is a gift for us, which it is. Her grand daughter and I have the caring gene and she therefore gives us the chance to care. Our shared caring has created a friendship that is incredibly strong and valuable to us. That's mom's side of the deal. We will stop deciding what is worth doing for 1 or 2 or 12 months and just make her environment hers: she moved into a smart apartment in an an old-age home. She doesn't like it and we're inclined to think too much effort not worth it for the short period we think she'll be there. We will cease forthwith and adapt it to her wishes. Now we sit it out...

All this has made me realise anew: I don't want to get very old. Should I keel over tomorrow it would be a waste because I still have ideas and the kids could still use me. But at least you will remember me as lively, useful and for all I did achieve, not as fading, fearful, frail. Nor sitting around hoping that the next call will be mine. Or terrified that it will be and worried about the vengeance of your God or his purgatory or somebody else's hell.

Actually, I think Aldous Huxley got it right: I think I might choose to get rip roaring drunk. I haven't had a drink since 1st April 2004.  I used to get terribly merry and happy on sherry, you know, table-top dancing and the like. I could shimmy up and down a pole and you could join me for the party, sounds like a really good way to go.
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