Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Monday, November 20, 2023

I'm Not Aging, It's My iPhone

"I could see the budding wrinkles on my 30-something forehead and the faint red glow of the eczema patches around my eyes. Startled, I began questioning my appearance. Then I began questioning my device."  - Caroline Mimbs Nyce in The Atlantic

In the last six months I've developed an aversion to taking Snapchat selfies. I'm only on Snapchat because my two older children once asked me to communicate via that app. Text messages are staid and take too long, plus they leave evidence (of what, I know not). So I snap away at the cats, the scenery, my (rapidly aging) face.

What a relief to read the article by Mimbs Nyce which places blame for my aging on the overly accurate lens of my iPhone. The phone doesn't lie (I don't think) but neither does it represent the progress of my aging sequentially. Instead, the rapid improvement in technology has accelerated my decline, when actually I am not so much different than I was two iPhones ago.

This dilemma indicates to me - yet again - that I belong to a different time, a time when mirrors were a frivolous luxury and no one worried about cameras. A time when people read books and wrote poetry, talked on porches while knitting, and mused about local events. Our current world overwhelms me to such an extent that I have taken to re-reading Anne of Green Gables and other childhood favorites before bedtime, reveling in both the familiarity and the simple dramas therein.

I realize that the early 20th century was no great place for a woman, but this early 21st century woman certainly wishes that things would slow down: technology, world events, even aging. As Thanksgiving approaches I am certainly grateful for blessings of family and friends that the world can't take away, and more determined than ever to stop looking in cameras and appreciate every moment.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Adventure as Therapy

 "Movement is medicine. Adventure is therapy."

- Rebecca Rusch, American endurance professional athlete

When my stomach is in knots, I need to move - to swim, bike or walk using both sides of my body, uniting both halves of my brain. When my outlook on life loops around on itself, I look for adventure, a shot of newness and a tangent pointing the way forward out of circular thinking. In October, as heavy news of the world added to a layer of dread-filled sentiment on the daily, we scheduled bouts of adventure to lift mind and spirit.

First, Rob and D. and I went back to New England. Having lived there for seven years, I find the beautiful forests, older buildings, and winding roads to be therapeutic on a normal day, but in the fall New England is magic on steroids. We flew in to Boston, drove up to Vermont virtually hanging out the window to soak in the beauty from the variegated explosion of color from trees on the side of the road and on nearby hills.

The boys ate maple syrup Cremees while I drank coffee infused with a healthy dose of the same syrup and we walked through a sap-harvesting operation near Montpelier. My cousin and his beautiful family hosted us for dinner and a hike at their home near Burlington, and we walked Lake Champlain and speculated how we could someday buy a lake house in the area.

Back to Boston the next day, we rallied with my college roommate at her place in Wellesley, then gathered with my brother and his lovely family out near the coast in Marshfield. We took in a wet soccer game for Mae (in which she scored three goals!!) and Michael and I took a very wet walk in the woods. Many football games were viewed, games played, and a family dinner delivered.

Back up to Boston / Cambridge the next morning where we gathered with two of my roommates on the Anderson Bridge over the Charles River to watch the Head of the Charles regatta. My friends and I walked that bridge every day of morning practice for swimming and diving, and it was fabulously surreal and wonderful to stand at the apex and watch my friend's older son row past us on his high school boat. It was a glorious sunny day and perfect for reminiscing as we waited in Harvard Square for an old favorite brunch place to open up.

Lastly, we stopped back in Wellesley to gather with Rob's brother and his family. It was a long-awaited reunion and perfect afternoon to catch up (watch more football) and play favorite games. So much fun and so perfect the execution, I wondered why I hadn't planned this much more often!

Adventure continues into November as Aden has just landed in Barcelona for a whirlwind five days with her college roommates - one of whom is taking a semester abroad there. Aden planned her days and pre-purchased tickets, composing a great walkable itinerary that follows in our family's travel footsteps. But this journey is all her own and more magnificent for being so.

Alas, the remaining adventure is an uplanned and unlooked-for tangent for William, who re-tore his ACL and newly tore his meniscus in an intramural pickup game last week. After being so diligent with his PT and rest after the last surgery (18 months ago), it's a hard blow to re-up for the process a second time. But who knows what silver lining might emerge from this cloud, what personal connections will be made stronger, what extra time might yield for him. We are always moving forward, always finding something new in life, and even unexpected "adventures" can yield new outlooks and opportunities.