Category Archives: Thought Full

All Ages Welcome – How I Plan to Welcome Every New Age

Happy Birthday.

Happy, Birthday, grow old(er) gracefully, curiously

Watching Wrinkles

I want to grow old(er) gracefully, curiously, perhaps watchfully, responding with reactions like, “Hmmmm, that’s an interesting new addition,” and “That was sure a crazy yoga tree pose sway,” and ”What a captivating movement my body just used to adjust to that bend.”

I don’t want to become a woman who agonizes as each new spot crawls onto her neck, another new bump puffs onto her upper cheek bone, and a new row of wrinkles wind up beneath and to the right of her left nose nostril. Instead, I want to welcome these facial accumulations.

Jeunesse-Instantly-Agelesss-Functions Happy, Birthday, grow old(er) gracefully, curiously

Welcoming Age

I don’t want to become a woman who, when she gathers a whim to balance in public, doesn’t. I want to be always willing to walk foot to toe along the sidewalk curbs. I want to lose all self-consciousness when I stumble and falls out of eagle at yoga.

But, I’m curious. Is it obvious from these descriptions that I am actually extremely aware of these growths and small balance challenges? That perhaps I’m not completely accepting?

Well, phooey, I accept that too. Indeed, I accept the un-acceptance.

It is complicated. Our culture encourages us to deny humans age. It encourages us to cover it, color it, drape it, and conceal it.

I want to grow old this way because I want to enjoy becoming my older self. I want to join that group of humans who carry a that %$&#-it attitude. I want to ride (not coast) along a relaxing road to aging rather than cover or deny these spots, grey hairs, and bumps, and imbalances.

28MEMORY-TOMMASINI-master768, Happy, Birthday, grow old(er) gracefully, curiously

Flamboyant Spotlight

Ahhhhhh, but I also want to age with fun and frivolousness. Kind of like that lady who wants to wear purple when she grows old. http://www.barbados.org/poetry/wheniam.htm

I’ve never been afraid to wear purple while I am young (I am still young right?), but I can be quite serious.

So as this birthday approaches, and no, it’s not a big one, I plan to steal a page from my mother-in-law’s 2001 New Year’s Resolutions and “Live More Gregariously.” And my mom’s 80th birthday wisdom words, “Say it, and then wait.”

Am I allowed? Would it be permitted to behave a bit loud and flamboyant?

“Of course” and “Why not?” When others shout out and draw attention to themselves, I’m either jealous, or I want to cheer them on. And life is the best when I want the latter and can smile authentically from the inside out that they are saying it and living it brightly and rightly. I want to follow Marianne Williamson’s advice in her speech about our deepest fear. http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/122.html

So here’s to living it up and aging this month, and in the year to come.

Here’s a question. Young, old, and, in the middle, do you notice yourself aging? And if so, how do you do it?

clipart-yoga-pose-royalty-free-vector-design-Qfonej-clipart Happy, Birthday, Acting, Age, Welcome, Birthday, Spots, Wrinkles, Balance

Aging in Tree Pose

Long Distance Connection – Tech Talk and Customer Support

Long Distance Connection - Talk Tech/Customer Support

Make A Long Distance Connection

Want a long distance connection? Make one! Strike up a conversation with tech support and customer service reps.

Now days most tech and customer support jobs are remote. Everyone is from somewhere else. Why not take a minute and learn a bit about a fellow citizen and their hometown. I sprinkle in the asking while I’m learning why my Macbook Pro won’t share pictures with my phone (not very polite those machines), or my Visa bill has an unexplained service charge.

By asking fellow humans about their whereabouts, I’ve learned about swamp animals in Florida, the nice weather and scenery in Taos, New Mexico. I already knew about Taos, but it was fun to remember it for a minute while the man was describing his town. Also how hot it’s becoming in Phoenix, Arizona. Sometimes on a Friday, I venture away from weather questions and ask about weekend plans.

And I don’t only talk to people in the U.S. I’ve struck it rich in conversations with people from the Philippines, Central America, some of the islands. Once while straightening out a false charge on a credit card bill, the customer service rep’s government had recently elected a new president. I’d just read or heard about the new official. So I seized the chance to ask the Visa rep what he thought of the new president.

Here’s how I start a conversation:

“May I have your first name please,” the customer service person says.

I provide.

The rep asks how she can help. He begins to provide assistance. Then during a lull moment, and there always is — I’m restarting my computer, or they’re checking identifying information — I grab it and say, “Can I ask you a question?”

And no one’s ever said, “No.”

Then I say, “Do you mind my asking what state or country I’m calling?”

And they tell me. Next I ask my other questions, “How are things there?” If I heard of a storm in their area, I inquire, “Has your city been affected?” If I know of a tradition or famous animal in that state, I ask about that. Some day, if the moment arises, I might ask about job safety or climate changes or political leanings.

My best story involved an alligator encounter. I was talking to technical support from Costco. We’d been on the phone for at least 30 minutes. It seemed we were nearly starting a friendship. After learning she lives in Florida, I asked her if she ever sees alligators. She does. Once on her way to the trashcan, one surprised her, and she had to fend it one off with an umbrella.

I love umbrellas.

“How’d you do that?” I asked.

“I pushed at him with the point.”

Was she fibbing me? Maybe, but I didn’t mind.

I know we are told not to, but I talk to strangers. Any chance I get, I start a conversation. And I learn a bit more about people inside and outside my country, and where they live and sometimes even a bit about their lives. And then two more humans that day share a moment and connect across a phone line.

Strike up any interesting long distance cross-state or international conversations lately? Try it sometime and report back here!

Got Time? Bike Ride

Bike Riding for Earth

Beautiful Blue Earth

 

“Do you bike ride or take the bus to church?” a bike-riding friend asks.

“We drive.” I say. “Buses take too much time,” assuming she’ll commiserate about the inconvenient transit connections.

But she doesn’t.

“Too much time?” she scoffs. “We’re out of time, “ she hardens. “The earth is out of time.”

Bike Riding Reduces Carbon

Carbon Cycle

Hoping your eyes won’t glaze over, here’s more.

In the beginning

When human civilization began, the earth’s carbon atmosphere was 275 parts per million (the ratio of carbon molecules to all the other molecules in the atmosphere).

At the start of the 18th century, humans began to burn coal, gas, and oil to produce energy and well, stuff. At first Co2 levels rose slowly, then more quickly.

Bike Riding Reduces Co2

Co2 Rise Chart

Today, the earth Co2 levels are 400 parts per million.

If we don’t reverse this rapid rise, we risk triggering a “tipping point” that mean irreversible changes to our earth’s climate.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-flirts-with-a-1-5-degree-celsius-global-warming-threshold1/

 

Evidence of earth changes already happening:

Melting Glaciers

Bike riding reduces Co2

Top 2004 Bottom 1909

https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/impacts/signs/glaciers.html

Sea Level Rise http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html

Mosquitoes breading in new areas spreading malaria and dengue fever and possibly zika. http://climatenewsnetwork.net/global-warming-linked-to-spread-of-zika-virus/

Bike riding stops sea rise

Sea Rise

S

Increased Extreme Weather

https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/science/extreme-weather.html

Increased human conflict https://www.ids.ac.uk/files/dmfile/InFocus15.pdf , https://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/climate-change-and-violent-conflict.pdf

 

Biking

What you notice. Wind blowing hair away from your face, sun on your shoulder.

What you learn. To shop carefully, how much bulk fits in a small backpack — did you know that if you let the air out of a pre-bagged package of kale, it will fit in a shoulder pack?

How you feel. Alert! You focus on real stuff like bumps, gravel, and glass on the road.

Secret passages. Bikes fit when cars don’t. On a bike, you can ride through parks, down narrow one-way streets, and between cement-blocked passages.

How long it takes to bike rather than drive short distances. Biking to our neighborhood park takes 15 minutes to drive and about 20 to ride a bike.

fixing helmets-preparing-for-bike-ride-pv

biking businesswoman-businessman-riding-bike-city-park-close-up-smiling-40096921

learning to ride

 

 

 

 

Safe Ride

And riding is becoming easier and safer. There are:

mom on bike

  1. More green bike lanes.http://www.mercurynews.com/traffic-old/ci_20567909/green-bike-lanes-spreading-across-bay-(
  2. Dedicated bike lanes http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/introducing-green-lanes-on-fell-and-oak-streets-in-san-francisco
  3. Light Rail stations provide bike boxes http://www.vta.org/getting-around/bicycle-ped
  4. Bike-hanging racks https://www.bart.gov/guide/bikes
  5. Racks on bus (Beware, only two per bus) http://www.vta.org/getting-around/bicycle-ped
  6. Share a Bikes  http://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=3908

Bikeshare-DC-rich-renomeron

So, while transit connections in our area are abysmal, and it was harsh to hear my friend scolding me for complaining about them, she got me thinking about using my time to ride a bike.

shopping

youth-sojourn-header_rtc-anya-saretzky_1200

man riding to work

 

 

 

 

And what’s cool is the number of bike riders in my tiny community is growing. Here’s a tribute to all the people I know who commute to work, shop, parks, play and other places. It’s a shout to Tessa, Cat, Marshall, and Sophia, Richard, Deb, and Soph, Andrea, Frank, Elizabeth, Elena, and Jamie, Heather, Keith, Sarah, and Michelle, Melanie, John, Spencer, and Aiden, John, Marge, Zeke, and Jake, Mary Ann, Mateo, and Alyssa, Sebastian, Walter and Henry, and Doug, Alexander, Andy, and me, among many others.

Are we a movement? And if not, let’s start one. Now is the time.

Communicate Without Words

communicate without words

He handed me my pencil and smiled.

A stranger and I communicate without words.

An operation affected his speech, but even so, I understood when he asked for a ride to the bus stop, and he understood when I asked where he lived, and together we figured out he lived minutes away from the neighborhood I was driving to, so I gave him a ride home. Together we communicate without words.

Then while he was maneuvering into the backseat, I figured out that he needed help getting in. It clicked when, again and again, he looked at me while saying garbled words.

“Help?”

“Help,” he said. Together we communicate without words.

Unsure about how; I physically picked up the heavy foot of a man I’d just met and move it so it could rest on the floor of my car; I did my best. In moving his foot, which at times I was afraid I was mangling, because I had to force it through a small space between the door and the seat, I touched the bottom of his shoe. Rather intimate, considering we’d met only an hour before, to touch the bottom of someone else’s shoe. While I was waiting for him to buckle his seatbelt – he told me he didn’t need help with that – I thought briefly about the bottom of his shoe, and all things considered, decided I didn’t care.

From the backseat, tire on the road noise, the GPS lady giving directions, and air conditioning on, and then turned down cause I was straining to hear, I learned what Tom had done for a living. We communicate without words.

“Tour bus operator.”

“Where?”

“San Francisco.”

He’d never had children. He has a grand niece. And he lives in a lovely older house on a tree lined street, which by the way he directed me to when, I prematurely changed to the right lane so to take his exit. And once on surface streets, he guided me to his home, replacing the GPS lady, who was also telling me where to go.

When we arrived at his driveway, he could tell me he couldn’t open the door because a plant blocked his way, and when I pulled forward to the spot I thought was convenient, he directed me to stop earlier, where, he knew the door could easily open. We communicate without words.

To get out, he slowly turned his body. Using two hands, one at a time he lifted each foot, placed them sideways onto the pavement and then hoisted his full frame out the back seat of my car. He stood. Then with a firm and deliberate intention, he shut the door. We communicate without words.

The best part happened when, before maneuvering out of the backseat, he picked up the mechanical pencil on the floor of my backseat, and, smiling, he handed it to me.

“Thank you,” I said, and I smiled too.

When humans can’t use words to communicate, we find out how deeply we can speak without them. Any minimal or wordless conversations you’ve had lately? Please subscribe to my blog jenncastro.com and write about them.

 

DIY Decision

grecas-de-neumatico-25761284293551AVWo

Leave driveway.

Bump.

Return to driveway.

Leave family note, “Flat tire. Took grey car.”

Return home. “Don’t worry, we put on spare,” my husband says. “And I found the guarantee. The hole is not in the sidewall, so the tire’s covered!”

It’s Monday morning, I drive to tire store.

Tire salesman pokes, prods, and then tries to ram his finger and pen into the sidewall.

He motions to me, and it’s not to show me my guarantee.

I brace myself and follow him to my car.

“Looks like you need to replace all four.”

“But this one was replaced just two years ago,” I point, defending my nearly new tire. And isn’t the flat one covered by the guarantee?”

“It’s too worn to repair,” he says. “And this one,” he shows the uneven wear of a second tire,” needs to be replaced too.

“Course you could change out just the,” he continues, planting doubt. “But I wouldn’t. By the time the rainy season comes, you’ll need to change those two too.”

“But it’s not going to rain,” I protest, smiling at my joke.

“It’s up to you,” he says.

I hate when they say, “It’s up to you,” like I’m in the hospital and he can make me sign an (Against Tire Advice) “but I’d replace all four.” he repeats.

Anxious, I take the bait. “What’s the cost?”

He tells me.

“Any other options?” I protest.

“Well you could replace three.” He tells me that cost, which is nearly the same. My nerves are fraying.

I leave.

I ponder. I fume. I thought we had a guarantee.

I return.

“Ok,” I say resolved to calmly start over. “What are my options?”

Not missing a beat, he leads me to the tread chart. “Anytime you have 1/16” (1.6mm), you need to replace your tire.

We return to the tires. He re-explains the tread.

I look myself.

I scrutinize the tire opposite the flat one and agree. That tread is worn.

I re-examine the other two. One is good, the other – not too bad. I don’t see the same wear the salesman describes.

While alone, I re-evaluate and return to the counter.

“I’ll take two new at the front.”

“Ok,” he says writing the order.

Relief. He doesn’t try to talk me out of my decision.

A new customer enters the shop. He too has a flat. “Replace all four,” the salesman advises. With in minutes the man is buying $600.00 tires.

The minute I see my two new, I know I made the right decison.

It’s a DIY Tire Decision.

And as for tread, so far so good.

Just curious, did you ever walk into a tire store and hear, “Your tire is covered by the guarantee. Please sit down, it will just take a minute to fix it.

I haven’t.

When I need to buy tires, it’s time for a DIY decision.

Whether it’s about tires or another purchase, have you got a DIY decision to share?

Boomerang!

IMG_0593One sunny Sunday, a mom, dad, two teen boys, and a boomerang went to the park. It was hot and shade was small. The middle of the field baked, so, seeking shadows the family pushed their throwing game to the edge of the grass near a tall wide-branched tree. Beneath that tree picnicked a small boy, his dad, and pregnant mom.

Boomerangs are supposed to return to their tosser. But sometimes they don’t.

On that Sunday one sailed out and kept sailing till it landed in that tall tree.

“Oh well. Let’s leave it,” one teen said.

“We can’t get it out,” agreed the other.

“What could we use?” I said, turning to Doug.

“What do we have?” he said, looking at me.

The small boy who had been sitting under the tree began tossing his soccer ball into the air.

The boomerang smiled from above.

Opening my backpack, I pulled out a water bottle.

“Let’s leave it,” the first teen repeated.

“We need rope,” said Doug, walking to the nearby railroad roundhouse tool area to borrow some.

Waiting mom tossed her water bottle into the air.

Doug returned with rope.

Using his knot knowledge, he tied the rope to the water bottle strap,

No longer beneath the tree, the small boy and his family watched my family while the dad kicked the soccer ball to his child who received it and tossed it into the air.

My teen who’d said, “Leave it,” tossed the roped-water bottle into the air too. The bottle missed the tree.

My other teen moved closer. “Throw it straight up.”

“Leave it kid” threw again, this time knocking the boomerang down a branch.

“Throw higher,” my other teen instructed.

Another toss nudged the boomerang lower.

A third scooted it further down.

About five tosses later, the boomerang sailed back and “Leave it kid” caught it.

Me, I philosophized.

What did we learn today? Did we teach something to our kids? What did the small boy learn? What about his parents? What would have happened if my family had left the boomerang stuck in the tree?

Were the responses generational? I wondered why Doug and I turned first to problem solving. It never occurred to me to leave the boomerang in the tree. I wondered why at first our kids wanted only to walk away. I noticed that when we stayed, eventually our kids (and maybe that small boy) caught on.

Sometime ago Doug and I, from our parents perhaps, learned to stick with finding a solution. On Sunday American ingenuity became the mother (and father) of invention.

I think today we showed our kids they could stay,  dig in their backpacks, borrow things from others, try, and not give up.

I don’t think there was a right way to solve that stuck boomerang situation. Leaving was an option and could have taught the kids that sometimes it’s good to cut your losses and walk away.

But I’ll admit I’m happy we stayed, and that because we did, the boomerang (and it doesn’t always) came back.

Any boomerang-stick-to-it-don’t-walk-away-until-you-try-learning happening in your life? Send me a story. I’ll write one back.

IMG_0598

Things I Wish We Could Talk About

table-2The oddity I feel when a transgender friend shows up at our house dressed to the nines including earrings, stockings, breasts, and perfume. We exchange hellos while I, crouched under a desk, vacuum cobwebs housed for years under a former craft table.

Splotched with paint at the front of the desk, I aim to flip it so the paint spats are at the back and the new owner will have a clean space to work. But it’s not easy, because the desk has only a small square space to turn in. So, dressed in a black skirt and pretty blouse, our transgender friend, skirts female self for a moment and steps into manhood to help me lift the desk up over the other desk so the craft table can spin in a circle.

As we turn the table together, I, dressed in the same blue jeans and crumpled t-shirt left last night un-hangered on the floor, transform into my female self. Without missing a beat, I let my friend direct the furniture move. My friend lifts the work table, spins it, while describing the physics. Me? I lift a little, but mostly caution against not knocking a protruding Egyptian sculpture and a shadow box full of painted metal figures off the wall.

Strange how we fluidly we can change roles.

Exercise is Not Optional – the first in a series

brainDo you ever wake up and want to exercise? It’s a rare day I do. Out of eight mornings in a new regimen, yesterday was the only rooster time I awoke rested and ready to run. And yet, on most days, after one lap —  sometimes — it takes just half way around the track when I realize, I’m happy I started.

The problem, or rather the challenge, is that the relaxed post exercise state that steeps in the bloodstream, lasts a scant 24 hours. Exercise endorphins are like drugs, and the dosage is one small injection per day. runner

While in the endorphin-induced euphoric exercise moment, I commit, completely confident that next morning, theIMG_5177re will be no internal discussion about whether to jog my mile. But every morning, like, well, clockwork, 6:30 a.m. arrives, and it’s a Monty Python argument (“Yes you will, no you won’t.)

I create combative conflict about whether to go out and run.

Here’s the script:

  • Resistant me: “Not today’s, it’s my day off.”
  • Resilient me: “Get out of bed now!”
  • Resistant me: “Exercised every day this week (It’s Tuesday).
  • Resilient Me: “You’ll feel better if you go.”
  • Resistant Me: “Time to rest.”
  • Resilient Me: “Get Dressed.”
  • Resistant Me: It’s warm inside; cold out there.”
  • Resilient me: “Just walk today, you don’t have to run.”

On the days resilient self agrees, resistant self grudgingly follows.

At the park, my resilient self remembers why I returned to the track. I always feel better.

Each day I commit builds on the day before.

What motivates you outside to run or walk or exercise when you don’t want to?  Got any tricks or internal dialogue to share?

Non-Caring Person Cares

pioAgkRBTLong ago, a friend of my moms left a bottle of medicine at our house. I saw it on the kitchen table and didn’t tell her. When her friend arrived home, she called my mom to see if her medicine was there.

“I knew she left the medicine,” I told my mom.

“Why didn’t you tell her?” she scolded. “That wasn’t very thoughtful.”

Though I couldn’t explain it to her, I had a reason.

I was working on becoming what my then 10-year-old self called, “A non caring person,” a person who didn’t take care of everyone, a person who didn’t notice when others forgot their things. I was tired of noticing other’s oversights.

Toni, a girl in my fifth grade class could absent-mindedly drop her pencil while she raced down the stairs and it was I who picked it up. Scampering after her, I’d hold out the pencil, saying, “Here Toni, your pencil.” My fifth-grade mind thought remembering her pencil might create a bond between she and I. Maybe we could be friends. Sadly, retrieving the falling yellow stick yielded nothing, barely a glance let alone a thank you.

With my mom’s friend, I didn’t intend to be unthoughtful, instead, my 10-year-old self, was trying to be less attentive to others. I wanted to “not care” thinking if I didn’t, maybe others would find my things. I wanted to be carefree. Perhaps I wanted to attend to myself.

On a recent morning many years later, I am in the stall at the park and notice hanging heavy on the door a white canvass bag. Peaking inside I find a phone and other purse things. Someone has left it.

When the bathroom door opens, I know it’s the owner of the bag. But she is silent. She does not say, “Hey do you see a bag on the door hook?” Does she not know she left a bag in here? I wonder. I step outside. A woman stands tentatively at her idling car, which is live-parked at the curb. A man waits in the driver seat.

“Did you leave something in the disabled bathroom stall,” I call to to the lady. She nods, still tentative. She walks slowly, but does not speak.

“Is it a canvass bag?” I ask?

“With red straps?” she finishes.

“Yes,” I say. As she plods to the door, it’s clear she needs help. I ask, “Would you like me to get it for you?”

She nods again, staring at me. I fetch the bag and hand it to her.

After all these years, I still notice things. But as an adult, I enjoy noticing. That morning I made a connection with the woman who left her bag. Entering the flow of that stranger’s world for one minute, I am in synch with her. Noticing her we connect, and I help.

The woman walks to the car. The driver, likely the caretaker, and I make eye contact. He gives me a thumbs up. As her caretaker, it must be a relief for him to have a bit of help for that one moment. He notices too!

Paying attention is good; it creates an opportunity to connect to another person.

Anything you can notice today? Maybe you, like me will find an opportunity to help and connect with someone.

Attribution for bottle image: <a href=”http://cliparts.co/clipart/2332183″ title=”Image from cliparts.co”><img src=”http://cliparts.co/cliparts/pio/Agk/pioAgkRBT.png” width=”350″ alt=”Medicine Bottle clip art – vector clip art online, royalty free …” /></a>

 

 

Beyond Bed and Bath

IMG_5121Shopping for bed sheets today at Bed Bath, and Beyond, my arms are full. A helpful employee asks if I need a cart.

“Yes, that would be nice,” I say.

“I’ll get you one,” she tells me.

She’s African American, and immediately I feel the usual, overly self aware, sensation, afraid I’ll do or say something wrong, act phony, or come across as, “Hey, I’m one of the nice white people.” See jenncastro.com/2014/12/07/take-your-seat-white-america/

Lately, I’m very aware of micro aggressions, where white people naively say or do something insensitive to a person of color. I don’t want to commit a micro aggression.

Aware I am definitely over complicating the interaction, I’m certain she is making sure I know, that by helping me, she is just doing her job. Still I’m aware that whenever I’m around an African American person, I feel like I’m seeking to be forgiven.

“Could you tell me where to find the kid’s sheets?” I ask.

“My children’s sheets are behind you to the left,” she responds. A minute later, I’ve forgotten the directions and walk through the store in an endless circle. Cycling back to her department, I have to repeat my question.

She tells me. I don’t find what I want, and seek her help again, “Do you have printed queen size sheets?”

She doesn’t, but offers to special order them.

I hesitate, “Will there be a shipping fee?” I ask.

“That would depend on the cost,” she replies. She looks it up, and there is.

“Well, I’ll just get these,” I say pointing to the drab beige in my cart.

“Maybe shipping could be waived for a one-time deal since we’re out of stock,” she offers. It can. I thank her.

“Would you like to pay here or downstairs?” she asks.

“Here is easier,” I respond. I give her all my information. She suggests I continue my shopping and offers to find me to give me the hard copy of the receipt.

I tell her I’ve finished shopping, so she invites me to follow her to the printer. I do.

We walk through the endlessly full, busy aisles. We don’t talk. I don’t expect to. Arriving at the printer, I’m aware of every move. I extend my hand to hers to receive the receipt, thank her, and head down the escalator to finish my other purchases.

But I want to thank her more. How? I wonder as I wait on line. About to leave, I ask to see a manager. “Was there a problem?” the cash register employee asks.

“Not at all, I just received some very nice help from someone upstairs, and I want to let her manager know,” I offer.

“Do you know her name?” he asks. I don’t.

“She’s an African-American woman in the bedding department,” I respond.

“Yes, I know her, I’ll tell the manager,” he says.

Suddenly I feel connected. Maybe I helped. A little.

Here’s a question.

Any action around the Black Lives Matter movement you can take, today?

Black Lives Matter.