Darlene's story: It's a pretty good alternative

By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--A winter's day as lovely as this one is a rare and beautiful gift of nature's making. Children running out the backdoor to build a snowman on their unexpected day of freedom from school, and minutes later huddling in the kitchen while Mom serves up mugs of steaming hot chocolate to tiny, tingling-cold hands is a Kodak moment. The gentle falling of snowflakes on dormant woodlands seen through a frosted window creates a scene that only a Robert Frost poem or a Budweiser beer commercial could do justice.

Oh, well, it was a nice dream while it lasted. As I rolled out of bed, I glanced out the window and was abruptly reminded that it is winter, but it's rainy, cold, there's no snow outside, and no one is serving up hot chocolate. I clutched my back and, favoring my sore knee, limped to the refrigerator in search of my bottle of glucosamine, an aging baby-boomer's best chance at getting through a day of cold-weather-induced aches and pains.

(For those of you who insist that getting old is just a state of mind, let me encourage you to come off of that antianxiety medication. It's not good for you.)

Who moved the calendar?

Yes, it is cold outside and that is a very good reason not to go out there. Instead, why not take advantage of the cold weather, stay inside and have some fun reflecting on where we are and how we got here?

What happened to those goals and dreams you harbored in your younger years? Have you reached them? Do you even want to anymore?

Do you feel the highway of life has passed you by before you've even had a chance to merge into traffic? Is the on ramp of your life shut down with no alternate route?

Do you sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who that is looking back at you? While doing some mundane task, have you ever glanced down at your hands in shock and wondered who they belonged to? Does cold weather affect you in ways it never did a few years ago? Does January seem colder to you now that it used to?

(I don't want to imply anything, but, before people starting messing with God's holy, sacred calendar, we didn't have these problems.)

You've still got it

Do you suffer from low self-esteem and an overall feeling of worthlessness? Has your doctor begun telling you, "Well, at your age you can expect certain things like this to happen"?

If you are having any of these experiences, be assured you are not alone. Winter months bring on confinement for many people, and confinement quite naturally brings on depression.

(This does not apply to young mothers who would give anything for a night at home confined with nothing but a good book.)

It's when we are overcome with the everyday tasks of living that we tend to lose focus of our old self: the things that used to make us tick, the real "loves" of our life.

But don't let this get you down. It's during times of duress and self-doubt that many of us rediscover the things that used to make us happy.

Remember when your husband invited guests home from church without telling you? You had been sick the whole week before, the house was a wreck and your refrigerator was bare. Remember how you came within syllables of using words you'd never used before?

And, husbands, remember after listening to your wife you made that car do things Andretti himself wouldn't have attempted? Your family dashed out the church door, piled in the car, the engine revved, you dashed to the supermarket, flew out the door before the car stopped, rushed down the grocery aisle throwing food in the buggy (like you had won a prize of free groceries but had only 30 seconds to fill the buggy), rushed through the check-out line, threw the bags into the waiting arms of your teens in the backseat and arrived home with time to spare?

It was a marvelous feeling when you both channeled your energies to meet a seemingly insurmountable goal. What a pit crew!

Some of us have goals and dreams much loftier than others. Some of us aim high, but the "pound pull" of my bow may not be as strong as yours. I may have to back off, realizing I can't and probably never will be able to accomplish what others will.

And why should I? My dreams are mine and mine alone.

Fantasy adjustment

Have you ever envisioned yourself as a competitor in the Iditarod, a world-class musher looked upon with respect and admiration? Can you even begin to imagine the thrill and exhilaration of the race? Can you feel the excitement building?

Good, because that's the only thing you'll be able to feel after the first 30 seconds of being dragged behind a team of Alaskan huskies at 40 miles per hour in subzero weather. (I'm a big proponent of knowing your limitations.)

But, if you're still hell-bent on entering the competition, I feel I must warn you there's not much time left to train, and the route has been moved further north in Alaska due to an unusual warming trend in the southern part of the state. (The implications of disturbing the calendar are many and varied.)

So, you see, you really can still do many of the things you dreamed of doing in your youth.

It may not be exactly the same thing, but with a few adjustments and a lot of imagination you can recapture the fantasies you entertained so many years ago.

The chances of me waking up to a snow-covered lawn or driving a team of perfectly matched Clydesdales through a Robert FrostĀ­like woods is pretty remote.

On the other hand, sitting in front of the fireplace and sipping a bottle of glucosamine with a prerecorded taping of a Budweiser commercial playing in the background is a pretty good alternative.

This issue of The Journal includes many photos and several other graphics, besides the Connections advertising section. Don't forget to subscribe to the print version of The Journal to read all the news and features previewed here.

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