Bee Careful What You Wish For

bee6

Angry bee says, “Don’t mess with me.”

Two days ago I was attacked by a swarm of angry bees. All because I wanted to plant a damn juniper bush.

DSC02690

Pretty, isn’t it? Pretty deadly.

I first spotted it two months ago at a local garden center and instantly fell in love. The berries were so pretty, and it had just the right amount of whimsy. I didn’t buy it, though, because it was kind of expensive and I was feeling cheap.

Little did I know then that it would lay in wait for me, ready to attack.

My husband and I had just about finished our landscaping project, but it was missing something: The pretty juniper bush! I knew it would be the perfect finishing touch. I’d never really gotten it out of my mind. Deep down, I knew I had to have it eventually.

So I headed back to the garden center and bought it. It was so heavy I had to heave it out of my mini-van and drag it over to where I would plant it. It took me almost 20 minutes to dig a hole deep and wide enough for it. When it came time to remove it from the ugly, black, plastic pot it was in, the problems started.

The roots were so bound and stuck, I had to lay the bush over my lap and press my feet against the pot while pulling hard with my hands. When it finally came out, so did the bees.

There were bees living in the pot! And let me tell you, they were furious I’d disturbed their peace.

It took only a moment for me to process what was happening. In an instant, I was screaming and running and swatting them away as I dashed for the house. Three bee stings later, I made it inside.

After making a sad concoction of baking soda mixed with rubbing alcohol and apple cider vinegar, which I applied to stop the stinging sensation, I ventured back outside, determined to plant the damn bush before it sweltered to death under the hot sun.

But the bees were still swarming. So I grabbed the garden hose and let loose a stream of water on them. They dispersed, and then came back. And so it went until finally, they appeared gone for good.

I proceeded to start what I’d finished. This was around 2:00 PM. When I was done, I called the garden center to let them know what happened. I was afraid some poor soul who was allergic to bees might buy another juniper bush and die.

Fast forward to 3:00 AM.

I am awakened by pain in my right hand and wrist. I go downstairs to discover they are swollen, despite the Benadryl I took before bed. I grab an ice pack and head back upstairs, but get very little sleep.

In the morning, I see that my hand and wrist are even more swollen and the skin is red. I decide to stop at a walk-in clinic near work to have it checked. The doctor prescribes prednisone and sends me away.

Ten hours later, still at work (yes, this is my life in summer), the redness is now crawling up my arm in a bright streak. I call my mother, who is a nurse. She tells me to get to a hospital, STAT, so I can be placed on an antibiotic drip before the poison goes to my heart.

Good grief, all I wanted was to plant a stinking juniper bush and now it might cost me my life!

I decide to head back to the clinic, where I see the same doctor. Apparently his work schedule sucks in summer, too. He is blasé about this recent development. I tell him what my mother, the nurse, said. He prescribes antibiotics and tells me to go to the emergency room if the line continues to spread.

On the drive home, I call a friend, who tells me to mark the spot so I can see if the redness is actually creeping up or I’m imagining it. Great idea! I thank her profusely and follow her advice. So far, it has stayed put. Perhaps the doctor was blasé for good reason.

Lesson learned: Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it all, and then some you don’t want.

I stole this last line from the song, Home, by Chris Daughtry, who makes the point beautifully. I leave you with it to enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ytod23dBeI

Defining Midlife

What, exactly, is midlife?

This was the question some of my friends asked when I announced on Facebook that I was starting a blog about entering midlife. They wanted to know was it was an age range, a turning point in life or something else?

middle-age-that-time-when-you-finally-get-your-head-together-then-your-body-starts-falling-apart

I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer. All I knew was that I wasn’t young anymore, nor was I old. I was somewhere in between.

Hoping to get a definitive answer, I did what any reasonable person would do: I Googled, “What is midlife?” The results were 1,690,000 hits. I determined from the first few pages that the average age range is 45-65, with some variations.

Many of the sites offered tips and advice for coping with middle-age, as well as signs you’ve finally hit it. Some I could relate to, such as finding more gray hairs and needing reading glasses. Others were just plain silly, like being obsessed with AM radio and not knowing who Justin Bieber is.

Seriously, you’d have to live in a cave not to have heard of Justin Bieber, at least if you’re American.

In the midst of my non-scholarly research, it occurred to me how complicated and relative the concept of middle-age is. Once upon a time people married in their early 20s, had babies right away if they were able, and were empty nesters by the time they hit their mid-40s.

Nowadays, some people don’t have their first child until 40. As such, at an age when their own parents were likely getting ready to retire, they are forking over huge college tuition payments.

Times, indeed, have changed.

So what does this mean for middle-age? Is a man or woman who is 40ish with small children not considered middle-aged, even though he or she might have gray hairs, need reading glasses, and listen almost exclusively to AM radio?

What about a 67 year old person who is active, still working, and not only knows who Justin Bieber is, but has a crush on him? Has she passed some threshold into the Golden Years based on age alone or is she considered middle-aged?

It is all so very confusing, and I still don’t have a definitive answer. All I know is that despite having a young child at home, I consider myself middle-age. The reason is that at age 46, unless I live to be 92, my life is more than half over. This, in my book, constitutes mid-life.

Then there is the matter of gray hairs, wrinkles, sagginess, and receding gums (yeah, I know, TMI). I also get tired more easily, don’t recover from injuries as quickly, and have to work really, really hard to maintain some semblance of fitness.

On the plus side, I am more confident than I used to be, which comes from knowing who I am, and what and who really matters. I value my friendships far more than I did when I was younger. I appreciate the little moments in life because I now realize how precious they are; truly they are the stuff life is made of.

Middle age is a mixed bag, a time of contradictions. I have a growing intolerance for bullshit, yet at the same time I’m more patient. I feel emotionally and psychologically freer, yet physically tied to more responsibilities. I still pursue my passions, but with a greater sense of control than I did when younger, because now I have other people and things like mortgages to consider.

Whereas once I was too busy striving, acquiring, pursuing, and achieving to live in the moment, I am now doing my best to live a fuller, richer life by being present in each moment. Before, I wanted to become so many things. Now, I just want to be.

I’m not sure if this is part of being middle-aged or simply personal growth. Whatever it is, exactly, I’m down with it.

With Age Comes Freedom

I was raised to care what people thought of me. I knew instinctively that my actions and behaviors were not solely my own. They represented my entire family.

I understood that I was supposed to be good, follow the rules, be an asset to my family and community. Instead, as a teenager, I was naughty, broke rules, and became a liability.

In my 20s, sensitive now to disapproval, I became a people pleaser. Desperate for acceptance, and to prove I wasn’t a royal screw up, I adapted my personality and goals to meet others’ expectations. Convinced that my true self was fundamentally flawed, I buried her, deep.

It is only now, in midlife, that I am beginning the process of excavating her.

I want back some of what I buried. I want the passion, the creativity, the wildness. I want the ultimate feeling of freedom that comes with being one’s self regardless of whether or not others approve. I want these things with the benefit of life experience and without the teenage drama.

I understand now what I didn’t for years: When you are authentic, you attract like-minded people and the right set of circumstances. This is more important than trying to win the approval of people who will never understand or appreciate the real you.