Back to the 50s

As I sit here and contemplate all that is going on in our world today I am reminded of growing up in the 50s.

Our world has come to a standstill. Now that I am over the initial panic my thoughts are somewhat rational unless I listen and watch social media and the news 24/7.

I woke up this morning with the thought that for my husband and I there is no place to go. We have been grounded by our kids. There is no shopping, no restaurants to visit with our friends, no coffee hours etc. I don’t have to worry about work and so I took some time to try and put things into perspective. My main thought was all our lives are about to change. Most of us are not used to going without. We are used to fast access. We are used to having food readily available or taking a day out and away to somewhere fun such as sporting events etc. We are used to having the money to be able to buy what we want when we want it. Our kids are on an endless journey of sports and activities and are rarely home.

This morning I was reminded of my childhood. I told my teenage Granddaughter she was lucky she could at least keep in touch with her friends on social media where if it were in the days when I was a teen we wouldn’t have had that available.

I feel like today is a Sunday in the 1950s. Nothing was open. Stores were closed and life stopped. We didn’t worry about food because there was plenty of jars of canned meat in the cellar and fruits and vegetables too. If we needed eggs we went to the chicken coop or someone would come in from the country and sell us their eggs.

Every week the milkman came and we bought our milk and dairy from him. Groceries could be bought and delivered if needed. And of course at my house we had pretty much every thing we needed if something would happen, because my parents lived through the depression and that lesson never left them. People lived simply.

We read books and played outside or in the evenings talked with our neighbors. We kids were also kept busy helping in the garden or with the chores and yes, there were still things to do in winter. I lost all those simple pleasures and thankfulness with having those experiences living in the busyness of today.

I realize what we are facing now is different. People will be hurting because of lost businesses and lost jobs. Our younger people have never known this or a recession and it is very tough to get through. But I know we have generations behind us oldies that are strong and will figure it out. I have faith in them that they will emerge stronger.

I am reminded that there are people in our country that live with these fears every day and now I imagine they are living with the fear of not having access to a health system to help those without insurance or a safe place to self quarantine. Yet we have been fighting tooth and nail to not make these things available to them before this happened. Maybe we actually have been made to now walk in their shoes. I can’t imagine living with this fear daily. The response of most of us who could afford it is to stock up and hoard because of our fear we are not going to have enough. We need to count our blessings that we could afford to do that.

My hope is that the lessons we learn from this pandemic and how we cope as Americans are remembered. There are some positives. We are coming together helping one another. We are not divided in this but uniting to get through these times. Maybe life will slow down and we will be kinder and more caring to one another and realize that we are more the same than different.

There is an old Bible School song that says it best.

Reach out to your neighbor

Reach out to your friend.

Reach out to the people on the street.

For those of us that are grounded by our kids we can still reach out by phone, text, FaceTime and positive messages to keep up our spirit. It is hard to stay positive but together we can do it. Support your local businesses. They will need us now more than ever and so will those whose jobs are in jeopardy.

There is also the fear of getting sick. It is gut wrenching fear. We look into the future of the next few weeks and we panic not knowing the future. Do we ever? But today, what about today? Can we stay in the moment? Today I am fine. This moment I am fine. I, as much as anyone panic if I let myself think about the time frame and the people that are sick. But today I am fine, my loved ones are fine. I am going to try and go moment by moment, day by day, which is what Alcoholics Anonymous asks of us. And though tomorrow may be different, it may not be. If it is I trust we will work together to get through it and help each other with our panic and fear.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Embrace Your Differences

My column from the Albert Lea Tribune the week of April 9, 2018

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

IMG_0300I was getting ready to meet my grandchildren, one of whom is a teenage granddaughter, and I wondered if I would pass muster and dress appropriately so I wouldn’t embarrass her. I know she used to enjoy my quirky and colorful clothes, but that was when she was little and wasn’t as aware of what her peers were doing.

To be fair to her, she has never acted embarrassed about introducing me to anyone, especially her friends. I happen to love her teenage friends because they are so respectful and fun to be with, but I wonder if silently she may question my choices.

I have toned down what I wear in the last year or two. I must admit, I haven’t felt as if I was myself in my senior adult clothes choice, which is what is expected of someone my age. I tried to conform again.

Recently with all the hoopla surrounding Kelly Ripa and Brooke Shields and the criticism for wearing bikinis at their age, I thought long and hard about my choices. No, I do not plan on trying a bikini — I never looked good in them, but I happen to think these two women looked beautiful. It is their choice to choose what they wear at their age and not our business.

When I changed my natural hair color and went red a few months ago, I did have to endure comments from people who thought the drastic changing of my hair color was terrible. I got many more compliments than criticism, but it is the criticism that stayed with me.

My mom wasn’t a dresser and did not take good care of her looks. I know now she just didn’t have time, and clothes were not important to her. Although recently finding pictures of her in her early 20s, I realized at one time she had style and her clothes were beautiful. Somewhere in her busy life, she lost all that. I must admit, at times I was ashamed of the way she dressed and the fact she had bobby pins keeping her hair in place long after bobby pins were fashionable. I was a teenager, and it wasn’t my friends who gave me a hard time about how my mom dressed. It was other adults such as relatives and neighbors. They would ask me as a teenager and especially as an adult why I didn’t do something. As a teenager, I didn’t know what to do and as an adult, instead of not seeing dementia taking hold, I tried to help, but to no avail. The bottom line is I should not have been ashamed. That was who she was.

Recently, I acquired some bright clothes with wild patterns, and they really are me. The first time I put on a wild pair of pants my husband asked, “You aren’t really going out in that are you?” I proudly replied, “Yes, I am.”

I was told to dress brightly for a small school play I was involved in by Retired Senior Volunteers. I wore my bright clothes everywhere that day. I smiled all day; I felt like me.

I have a cousin who I got to know when she was a teenager. She is now an adult, a mother, and a beautiful person. Her mother, who I love, lamented during her daughter’s teenage years that her daughter liked to shop at thrift stores when they had more than enough money to buy the best of clothing. This teenager went on to college and earned a degree or two and first was going to be a lawyer or a doctor and follow in her family’s footsteps. But she knew this life wasn’t for her, and now she works for the DNR at a lower wage than she would have made at one of the other careers.  She lives in a beautiful state, tracks wildlife (yikes wolves) and works on sustaining our environment. She followed her own path. She knew early on who she was. She knows her value and is happy with her choices.

This is my advice for the teenagers in my life and in yours. God made us all different. We come in all different shapes and sizes. We like different things and have different personalities. Embrace that. Why would God make us each different if he wanted us to try and all be the same?

As a teenager, follow your style and don’t wear clothes just because they have a certain designer label or because you feel you need to look like your friends. A true friend will embrace that. Be you. Be different because God made you uniquely you. Celebrate it. Don’t let anyone make you feel you are less smart or less beautiful because you are smaller, bigger, look different or have flaws. Those flaws are all part of the wonderful you. Live your life. Take it from an adult who didn’t learn these lessons until I got old. Making choices to accept who you are in the noise of the world will be your pathway to a more peaceful life. If we were, all the same, it would be a dull world.

The Mother’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 8, 2017

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”  — Sophocles

File May 09, 10 49 34 AMAs a mother, it is hard to let go of my children and let them lead their lives their way. I want to protect them from making the same mistakes I or others have made in the past. I pray for them every day and they are never far from my thoughts. They are always in my heart. Being a mother was the most important career I can have. 

I love to watch my grandchildren grow and see the way they mimic some of their parents’ gestures when their parents were young or how they grow to resemble another family member. I love to see them develop into their own personalities.

I think most mothers feel the same way. I have noticed when talking with other mothers on my writer’s journey there are many lonely mothers out in the world. They are not lonely because their children don’t love them; they are lonely because life for their children has become so busy a phone call or a short visit may only happen occasionally, or on Mother’s Day. But life is busy, perhaps busier than my generation when we were raising our children. Plus, there is also the distance many families now face with children living all over the United States and abroad.

Mother’s Day is next Sunday. The stores are full of flowers, and restaurants are filling the advertising spaces with ideas of gifts for that special mother. While gifts are nice, I have a feeling that what mom wants is to spend quality time with her children, especially if you are a mother whose children no longer live in the area or live at home.

Those of us who have lost our mothers will tell you that perhaps we can give you this advice because of regrets from the past of the things we never did and said while our mothers were alive.

My family wasn’t a hugging family, so I can probably count on my two hands the number of times my mother and I grabbed each other tightly and gave a hug. When we did it always felt awkward because that was not our relationship. But now, I wish I had one more awkward hug I could give her. I wish I listened when she talked about her past. I wish I made it a habit of asking about her day more often.

In conversations with other mothers I have heard the reasons why kids, adult kids, don’t call their moms at least once a week, or if they live close, stop in for a visit. And because we are moms and we love our kids, we accept what is happening with their life because we don’t want to put more pressure on them. We always want to make our kids’ lives easier. We have all heard these words in conversation: “The kids are busy. They run from morning until night between work, household chores and getting their kids to their activities. They say they just get busy and forget to call.”

Every person needs someone in their life to ask them about their day. Every person needs someone to care about how they are feeling. It might take a few minutes for a phone call, but those few minutes may make a difference in the life of a mother, especially if mom is older and less mobile.

I watch as everyone sits in restaurants on their cell phones; I do too. And I wonder if we put away our texting for a few minutes — if we turned off the television or took a five-minute break from the hectic schedule if there would be time for one five-minute phone call to mom.

I am blessed as I already have a Mother’s Day invitation this year. My kids live within two hours, and I visit with them on a regular basis. I hope that continues as I grow older and am less mobile.

Near or far, take the time to give your mother a Mother’s Day gift that lasts all year. Give her a gift certificate with a promise to call her once a week, or if you are close by, stop in occasionally and have a cup of coffee, give her a hug and ask about her day. Let her know that no matter where you are, she is a priority when it comes to keeping in touch. After all, you were a priority of hers from the minute you were born, and she would have it no other way.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.