I Shall Have Cheesecake

Happy Birthday to me…. Thank you for stopping by to share in my birthday party! I find the celebrations change as we get older, yet I continue to celebrate. You see, I am glad I am having a birthday. I really don’t mind the age. Now, let’s be honest, I could do without all the aches and pains. And the gray hair, thank goodness for beauticians and color. But I am okay with the age. Celebrating my birthday means I was here for another trip around the sun. It means I was able to participate with my family and loved ones in all kinds of activities and events over the last 365 days. My birthday is special, I know yours is too, and yes indeed it is. Mine however, falls on the very last day of the month three years out of four. And that last year, my birthday falls on the second to the last day. Pretty cool, I know you are thinking that right now, and you are right! Most of you cannot claim that very insignificant claim to fame. That is life you know, full of lots of insignificant, yet significant to someone, events.

Birthday Traditions

My birthday is like that. At this point in my life, you would think, that I would see my birthday as just another day. But I don’t. I want to celebrate and enjoy the day. I will do nothing spectacular, but it will be significant. I think we should create significant ways to do our lives. That looks different for each of us, because what is significant to each of us is different, kind of like the kaleidoscope, always changing. This year my birthday will be a dinner with my parents. I don’t know what we will have, or even where we will eat. Their house? A restaurant? I don’t know, but I do know that I will eat with them and be very thankful of the opportunity to share my birthday dinner with them. Macaroni and cheese, loaded potato soup, steak and shrimp… I don’t care about the meal, but the people matter. That will make the event significant to me. Later, I will also get a have a dinner with my family. I hope to top it all off with a granddaughter dinner next weekend. Birthday week – that’s a pretty good idea. Perhaps I should consider this for the future. Perhaps you should too? How do you celebrate your birthday? What great family traditions do you do?

Celebrate You!

Birthdays provide opportunities for us to take a moment out of our day and celebrate each other. Our family birthday traditions have evolved. We were the people who always had a cake, presents, and a dinner for the birthday girl/boy. As we got older, somehow it occurred to some of us that not everyone likes cake. I know, odd right? I learned this lesson from one of my children, well two of the actually. I recall when my very young daughter announced that she wanted cheesecake for her birthday. Who eats cheesecake for birthdays?? Well, it was her day, so I made my first cheesecake. Years later I learned I have another child who doesn’t like cake. How can this be? He doesn’t like cake, but he loves brownies. So, birthday brownies it is. Why do we have to do cake? It is so funny to me how sometimes we do what we have always done simply because we have always done it. It is time to move past that mentality. Let’s do things because it makes sense, because we want it, maybe because it’s what you have in the cupboard, or it’s what it you can afford. But not just because we have always done it that way. I remember noticing my son had eaten no cake, and it occurred to me that it made no sense to bake or buy him a cake – he didn’t want one. It is okay for us to create new traditions in our lives. This year, I have purchased cheesecake for my birthday cake and I am kind of excited about it. I didn’t just get a cheesecake, I got the variety pack – that means everyone can chose their own slice. Pretty cool right? I love that, I love that we can grow into new things. I am always excited by growth even in areas that may seem insignificant. Because let’s face it, if you care about something it is no longer insignificant. Enjoy your day, I plan to enjoy mine. Thank you for spending part of your day with me!

My life as a Blogger

Such an interesting title for me. First off, blogging is not my life, but it sounded catchy so I went with it. Second off, if you know me, it is kind of amazing that I blog. Blogging became an ‘in’ thing and so many of my friends picked it up and ran with it. I however did not, for no particular reason, but I just did not explore blogging. It may have had something to do with the single parenting, graduate school, full time working mom role I found myself in. Yeah, probably, lets face it, at that point there really wasn’t time for blogging.

Do we have time for dreams?

Time? Is there time for blogging now? Perhaps, there is certainly more available than during the above mentioned season of my life. I have picked up blogging as I am exploring an area of my life that I have kept hidden away in a closet upstairs. You know the one, the closet where your dreams are? Upstairs, way at the end of the hall behind the pile of boxes. Some dreams are too close to the heart to even share. And yet, I have no idea why? Why do we put our dreams up and away? Why are they not out and talked about? Why not go upstairs, get that dream out and tell others about it? Better yet, build a roadmap towards the accomplishment of the dream!

Dust off your dreams

Now that would be a great thought. You know, develop a goal towards a dream rather than leaving the dream dormant in the upstairs closet. Yes, I think I shall do that! Well, actually, I already did that… dusted off that dream and got it out. That is, in fact, what you are reading about today. I want to write. I love to read! I think I was the only child in America that read so much she got in trouble for it, seriously really did. True story, there was a lot of reading going on back then! So, as much as I love to read, I have always thought, I would like to write. And here I sit…. beginning on that journey.

I am dusting off my dreams, join me?

I have worked with families and children throughout my career, and am at a point where I would like to write some children’s books that promote social and emotional learning, learning geared towards helping our children as they grow into well-rounded adults. So I have dusted off that childhood goal of wanting to write a book. I am not sure I ever thought it would be a reality. Do you have some of those, dreams you didn’t dare to think might actually materialize? Maybe they can, maybe you can dust off your dreams and begin to implement some steps towards them.

Learning new steps

That is part of why I blog. I started blogging in an effort to begin writing. At the same time, I have started writing a series of children’s books that will promote social and emotional learning. I began these processes only a few months ago. It seems like yesterday, and yet so long ago. I am amazed at the things I have learned since I began this process. I did not know what SEO meant, do you know what SEO is? Apparently, if you are going to do things online, this is a good thing to know. I have since learned that SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it is something that you want to excel in. As search engines pick up your content (in this case my blog) that process further helps to promote the content. I have learned little things like how important it is to include headings, pictures and links help to promote the SEO.

My journey

I started writing simply because I wanted to dust off my goal. I picked this goal up once in 1990 as a coping skill, and I laid it back down and had not picked it back up since. However with some inspiration and some encouragement, I picked my goal back up in the end of 2020. I am beyond thankful for those of you who have encouraged me to share my dreams and to go get them. I have to admit, I have learned things in this process that I did not anticipate, and I am also thankful for that. Learning is a process I enjoy. Sharing it with you is even bigger enjoyment. I hope these articles provide a smile to your face and a feeling of ‘we are not in this alone’ to your soul – because we are not. I selected the title A Kaleidoscope Life, because that is what life is to me, one small turn and everything looks different. I added the photos because I have recently renewed a love affair with the camera. I have found new ways to embrace the photography process and I like the art I am creating – this is indeed a feeling I enjoy! This process has been one that I have personally benefited from, I hope you can say the same, I hope you see benefit in the readings of my writings. I hope you find support, encouragement and challenge in the words you read here. What dreams are you going to dust off? What will the first steps be for you in moving towards your goals?

Building dreams and setting goals

My photos this week were made from a photo of a frozen soap bubble. Circumstances have to be right to get a soap bubble to freeze, this was a new task for me. I learned it takes effort and perseverance to make this happen, as the bubble freezes frost patterns emerge on the bubble. I think dreams and goals take that too – effort and perseverance. A friend told me this frozen soap bubble (the original is below, it is the last photo) looks other worldly – I think dreams can feel like that – other worldly and unattainable. Dreams move us forward towards other things, find a dream and work towards it. Your dream may change along the way, but dreams are good for us – dreams and goals give us things to work towards. Enjoy the process! Change is always a possibility, live your Kaleidoscope Life to the fullest, and thank for spending part of your day with me.

Barnacles or Oars?

Barnacles or Oars? That seems like a funny question don’t you think? First off, it is finally up to 36 degrees here in Tennessee, so who in the world would be thinking about water anyway. The only water I thought about today was ice and snow as I watched it melt.  I would bet you think question should have been gas or electric… heat that is! Heat is indeed an issue for most of us right now, but oddly enough so is barnacles or oars. As a matter of fact, barnacles or oars should be a question for all of us all of them time. I can hear you now, “Ok, Cindy, what is the point here?”  As you probably already know from reading my ‘about’ section, I work as a School Counselor, in that work I find myself asking my students questions like this.  I frequently use examples and images to help the students relate to what we are talking about, but also to give them a visual image for later.  Barnacles and oars provides a visualization regarding the individuals in our life.

Social Influences

I have always been struck with the social influences that individuals often select in their lives.  It is important to surround ourselves with people who want the best for us and who are willing to work to help us get there, or at least, at a minimum support our efforts to move towards better.  But then there are those individuals who don’t help us move forward, who don’t encourage us or support us, but in fact, who usually make efforts to pull us back to where we were.  It is my belief, that sometimes people don’t want you to do better.  That there are people who want you to fail.  I think sometimes it makes them feel better.

Making Positive Changes

I know that sounds like a crazy thought, but follow me here. Remember, a couple of weeks ago when we talked about Forward Momentum, you can read more about that here. Have you ever tried to implement something new in your life?   Maybe you wanted to quit drinking alcohol, quit smoking, lose weight, go to church, start working out, control your shopping and spending habits, read more, or go back to school.  Often times, when people try to implement life altering changes they hope for the support of those around them.  But you see, your friends didn’t want to make the change – you did.  “Yes, Cindy, I understand, but they are my friends, they will support me.”  Yeah, I hear you, but I would challenge you to understand that there is a difference between a friend and someone you do things with.  And sometimes, those people you do things with, well, they want to keep doing those things that you are trying to walk away from. 

Influences

Have you ever spent any time thinking about the influences in your life?  Who is a part of your life and why have you selected those individuals to participate in your life?  So many times, we have great people surrounding our lives, but sometimes we surround ourselves with people that are not encouraging us, supporting us, and helping us to move forward in our lives.  I am not suggesting you remove everyone from your life, rather that you think about who is in your life and why?  And who’s life are you in, and what do you offer them?  

So, Barnacles or Oars?

So, sometimes, you may find that you have to handle that friendship in a new way.  Will you have to walk away?  Maybe, sometimes you do.  Other times you simply need a new awareness and someone to support you in your choices.  It is not easy to implement change in your life, and sometimes you need help.  I know I do. I am so beyond thankful for the times in my life when friends stood beside me and helped motivate me to do better.  I also remember times that I felt I stood alone. I later learned I was not alone, but it was a life lesson.  So, the question I ask my students when we talk about social influences is this:  Barnacles or Oars?  If you were in a canoe trying to cross a lake would you prefer barnacles, something that attaches itself to you but offers you nothing?  Or would prefer oars, something that helps to propel you towards your goal?  As for me, I have had plenty of barnacles in my life, I’m in the market for oars.  I don’t believe you can have too many oars in your life.  Go find some more oars in your life, we all need more oars!


Making Snow Days Memories

There is an ice storm that has gone through Central Tennessee where I live, and I understand it will be followed by a snow storm so life is a little different today than it was this time last week. Snow and ice always remind me of my youth. For me snow days mean family fun days. Well, they always did when I was growing up anyway. I am pretty sure they also meant family work days, but for some reason I recall the fun days more than the work days. Growing up in Nebraska, I am certain there was plenty of work. We had animals, and they need to be cared for in the heat, cold, snow, and ice. There is nothing like chipping the ice for the animals to have water in a Nebraska winter… can you say cold? Then, of course, there would have been walks that needed cleaned and a driveway to clean. Mom was a nurse, and hospitals don’t call off when there is snow. I am sure there was plenty to do. But that is not what I recall, I am also certain that my recollections have a great deal to do with how life was presented to me, mom was good at creating fun from nothings.

Childhood Memories

I recall playing in the snow until your nose and fingers were so cold you couldn’t stand it. We would come in after our gloves, coat, hat and boots are soaking wet and lay them on a chair in front of the wood burning fireplace. You know, the fireplace full of the wood you helped haul earlier with the fire that you helped build – I’m telling you there was plenty of family work going on. And we could always expect to go upstairs to hot chocolate and puzzles. I haven’t a clue why, but I seem to recall that we would have had a puzzle going for snow days. It would not be long until we were ready to go back out again, usually before our outer wear was dry, but mom would always find us another set. There were snowballs to be thrown and snow forts to build. We once built an igloo by the side of the house, crazy right? Nope, just a good old Nebraska snow drift. Winter fun at it’s finest.

Memory Makers

As a mom, I look at those days with a little bit of amazement. How in the world did my parents always make it look so easy? Have you ever noticed the work that goes into being a parent? Have you ever stopped to appreciate your own parents? I have not done that nearly enough. Mom and dad, I appreciate you, beyond words. (They will read this, usually before you do, I am eternally grateful for you both.) What about yourself, have you stopped and thought “today was a good day, I did alright?” Sometimes it feels like we strive for perfection and are willing to accept nothing short of that. I am all for striving for improvement, but perfection? Nope, not going to hit it and it is not my goal. Happiness, growth, contentment, and love those are some of my goals.

Making Memories Today

What about you? What are you working towards and how are you doing on it? I hope your days are similar to my childhood snow days were: sure there was work, but there was fun too and the fun outweighed the work. My memories are of the fun. Take some time today and create some fun memories for yourself and your family. Go out and play, get some pictures, slide in the grass, open the curtain and look at the beauty, play a game, build a puzzle, and have some hot chocolate. Just enjoy your family. Later, when life moves on you will be glad you did. For today, stay warm and bundle up if you go outside. I think it’s time for some hot chocolate over here. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. Be blessed friends.

Taking Care of You!

Holiday Emotions

Friends, this is a “Special Holiday Edition,” bear with me at this edition is a little longer than most, I find that sometimes holidays can be challenging and wanted to address some of those challenges. Holiday months come with a mixed bag of emotions. For many, days like Valentine’s Day have no emotional significance, those people will simply ignore the day and go on. For others the day is filled with happy anticipation, and still others holidays like this are filled with overwhelming emotions. If you are in that last category, please know you are not alone. Our society does not talk about this enough, but often times holidays are emotional and depressing, but remember you are not alone. Whatever holiday it is that gives you grief, you are not alone. And the best part is that you can feel better, I hope this article helps guide you in that direction.

Valentine’s Day

February has long been considered a month of love. At exactly the half way point, well for 3 out of 4 years anyway it is exactly the half way point, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. For that day, as with many other holidays, we will we celebrate the day with some of the significant people in our lives. I know it looks different this year, and I wish that were not the case, but life is what it is and Valentine’s Day, like so many other days looks different. Usually school children make really creative mailboxes and valentines for their classmates, parents frequently make purchases for their children, and many will treat their significant other by taking them out to eat, or bring them chocolates, flowers, and gifts. Awe…. what a nice day to celebrate love. But for some it’s not. What did you say? I said that for some Valentine’s Day is not the wonderful day full of love, hugs and kisses. For some, it’s a day of grief, sadness, and frustrations. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and birthdays, for some these holidays are overwhelming.

Holiday Grief

So many people are quietly suffering on days like this–days that society considers to be celebratory. Individuals who are grieving the death of someone do not easily embrace days like this. Likewise for those who are estranged from someone important to them. That may be a spouse, child, parent, or old friend. Whoever it is, it hurts. Holidays are often difficult days for individuals and yet, it is a holiday so there is pressure to fake happiness and not discuss grief with others. Let’s be real, no one really wants to be around a gloomy Gus on a holiday right? Wrong! When you have loss, you also have others that want to share in that journey with you, you are not alone. And you can feel better, it may be slow and it may take a while, but you can feel better.

Holiday Self-Care Plan

“But I feel alone, Cindy, I feel alone.” I hear you, and so will the others around you. The reality is that when I say people care, people do. They may not know what to say or do, but they do care. But what can you do; what can you do to feel better? I am so glad you asked, because I do have some ideas for you. It is not enough to say “feel better”, frequently feeling better takes action. So here are some ideas for you when holidays like this arrive and are more than you can take emotionally:

  1. Know that feeling is ok. It is ok to be sad, it is ok to feel alone, it is ok to be angry, it is ok to cry. It is ok to feel. But also know that we all need skills and strategies to help work towards feeling better. Being healthy and feeling good is the goal.
  2. Plan an activity for yourself. How about something special you would enjoy doing for yourself or with a couple of friends? You like music? Then plan a trip to a music store and see some instruments, maybe go buy a new CD, or find an online concert. Personally, when I am at a loss I like to go to one of those little stores where you paint ceramics. It’s not usually something I do and it’s a treat for me, so it gets my mind off of things. Sometimes just walking in the mall feels good, when it’s warmer, I prefer walking in the park or even on the neighborhood streets. I like to take pictures, I think of it as art and I like to try new concepts. Even coloring feels good. So does reading a good book. It takes my mind off of things when life is overwhelming, and it feels good to create something.
  3. If you want to eat out for the holiday, might I suggest not going to those date night restaurants on the 14th. If there is a place that you enjoy but causes sadness when you go there, maybe skip that place on the day in question, you can always go back later when your feelings are not quiet so intense.
  4. Phone a friend! You know the phrase, call a friend as a lifeline. If that friend does not answer, call another friend. Keep it up until one does. Talk to a person, even if you do not want to talk about your sadness. Just talking is helpful.
  5. Physical activity is good. It is good for a daily activity, but it is also good for times like this. Go for a walk, find a treadmill, go for a swim. Let your body heal itself, let your mind and your body gain strength from the endorphins that are released when you exercise. True story, I don’t understand all of the science of this, but I know that it works. Try it out.
  6. Grab a notebook and a pen and begin to journal your thoughts. Sometimes you feel like you cannot share your thoughts with others, but you can always share them with yourself. Writing to your self sometimes helps you figure out exactly what it is you feel.
  7. Create a plan… and put it into play. Chose some things that will help you feel better and begin those steps. Sometimes in life one of those steps is to consider counseling, sometimes even medication, but all of the time one of steps is taking care of you. Self care is important, create a plan to take care of yourself.
Always, Always, Always… Take Care of You!

You matter! I matter! We all matter! Seriously, we all matter and that means we have to take care of ourselves. There are times in life when we feel unable to maintain self care, when we are too sad, too tired, too depressed, too overwhelmed, or too frustrated. Those are the times we call on others to help us. It is ok to ask for help, trust me, this one I know, I have asked many times. Sometimes it’s a friend over the phone from miles away, other times it’s a meal with my parents, or dinner with my husband, a drive with one of the kids, bending the ear of a colleague at work, or even the neighbor who doesn’t even know how significant it was that they listened to me talking about my dogs. It feels good to not feel alone, and I don’t have to tell you how alone I am, and I don’t have to talk to you about my intense grief or feeling of helplessness or failure. But if I start a conversation and I feel less alone, I begin, for that moment to feel better. And the next day I do the same thing and the next day and the next. Create a plan to take care of you. Use some of my ideas, add in some things that you do, but create a plan. Write it down, sometimes when life is a lot writing it down and having a checklist is helpful. As February winds to a close know that you are not alone, in a world full of people we do not have to be alone. Find joy in the day and in the month regardless of who you spend the holidays with and call someone and keep calling someone until someone listens. You are worth it, take care of you. Thank you for hanging out with me today!

Tired of Traveling?

I just don’t want to. I know I need to, but I don’t want to. Every. Single. Day. There is a new request, that usually feels more like a demand, for me. There are so many expectations that sometimes I find it beyond challenging to keep up with them. Have you ever felt like that? Like it might be more than you can do just to make it through the day? Sometimes maybe it feels like everyone else is coasting and you can’t seem to climb the hill in front of you. Sometimes when you look up it feels like there is just more hill than you can even see. Just writing that makes me tired.

The Hill

Today we drove to visit one of our kids for supper. One the way there we drove to the top of a beautiful hill. It was interstate all the way, and looking back in the rearview mirror the view was stunning. My husband was driving so he had to focus on looking forward, but I was entranced with the sun going down in my rearview mirror. The higher we climbed the prettier the view. Then it occurred to me to look forward, and wow we were going slow. The speed limit was 70, which usually means most people are driving at a speed closer to 80 than to 70. However, at this moment, when I looked at the speedometer I was surprised, we were going 50. He never drives 50 on the interstate unless he has to. I noticed we are in the passing lane, however we were following a semi truck, and that truck was passing another semi truck. I am the daughter, granddaughter, mother, aunt and niece of truck drivers, I have a great deal of respect for the profession. They work hard at essential jobs and are frequently underappreciated. However, at that moment in time, I really wished this guy would complete passing the other truck and get back in the ‘slow’ lane. Nope, it was not going to happen! We, us and the millions, ok maybe seven, cars behind us were slowing down even more as the two semis chugged up the hill. My dad used to refer to these events as ‘rolling roadblocks’, you can drive, but the road is blocked and you can’t pass until someone moves. On this particular evening my truck driving friends were still moving slow, obviously, the crest of those hills were a lot for these two trucks. Slowly, and I mean slowly, they crept to the top. As we neared the crest, we were down to almost 35 miles an hour. I believe those trucks were going as fast as they could up that mountain, it was a long, slow grade.

My Hills

I am that truck sometimes, it is all I can do to make it up the mountain. I am probably the one in the passing lane. I am struggling and you are all waiting on me to get it together. Not for any particular reason, you just want me to get it together and get out of your way. Remember I am the semi truck in the passing lane, you want me to move over so you can go on about your way. As we reach the crest I will move over with a sigh of relief, I am so glad I am no longer holding you back, and you can go on about your way. I can tell that life is just easier for you than it is for me, it seems we often think that you know. I will struggle up the next hill to and you will be long gone down the interstate on your smooth, trouble free journey.

Our Hills

But wait, will we ever be together? Will we ever just get to stop and rest together? Of course we can. Remember, just a slight turn of the kaleidoscope the view changes. We can ride together, we can even help each other out. You know the hills and the valleys in our lives are better together. After all, you may have passed me as I slowly move up a particular hill in my life, but we will meet again. And when we do, I can help you on your journey, just like you can me on mine. I am to thankful for people who help along the way. It makes the trip more enjoyable, even when we get stuck going up a hill or broken down in a valley. Look up, look around, take it all in. Sometimes, we have to look around to find something good to hold onto as we chug up life’s mountains. And always look around, take a minute and take in the experiences of life, life has awesome views. Remember, on my journey I saw the most beautiful sunset filled with pinks, oranges, and blues in the rearview mirror. Be well my friends, and enjoy the view. Find something good in your day today. Thank you for spending part of your day with me.

A Kaleidoscope Life Photos

One more thing, I have been asked to show some of the photos used in my blog. Today I have used several variations of the same photo. The picture was the shot of my rear view mirror. I use four of those to create one layer of the kaleidoscope photo, then I created four layers. So, in essence the photo you see is made of 16 images of the same photo. The following four kaleidoscopes are the same image, but they are created individually at the very last step to create a slightly different look. If you look closely you can even see the “images are closer than they appear” lettering from the mirror. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoy creating them.

Game Day Plans

Yesterday was game day. The big day. You know the one. The day some have worked all year for. Well really, they have worked most of their life for that game. For that game, for that moment in time they put it all on the line.  Then they hoped and prayed the game would go their way. Sunday, February 7 was that big day of football in the US.  By now half of us have celebrated for our winner and the other half are hoping for next year. Most of us will never play in a Super Bowl game, but we do have those game days. Those big days do happen for the rest of us too, but for most of us our big day is not the big football game, but it is big.

There are the days we studied for, the tests we prepared for, the papers we wrote and the presentations we practiced. Remember doing all of that and all of the hoping and praying that went along with those moments. For some of us those moments are history, others of you are studying and preparing for something today.  We all go through phases that we need to prepare for–game day preparations–preparations different than usual, more intense than usual.  Sometimes game days come unannounced and we are unable to prepare for those days. Some of us have had those meetings with doctors to discuss lab results and it felt like everything we had was on the line. Others of you do not yet know that feeling, it is intense and helpless. Many of us prepared for these days simply by surrounding ourselves with loved ones for support and educating ourselves, it was all we knew to do. Some of us have encountered legal challenges that have brought us to days where we felt everything we had was on the line.  Many times, preparation was simply to do what we were advised and, again surround ourselves with support.  But for all of our game days, we prepared as well as we could, we put it all on the line, we prayed, and we hoped for the best.  After all, that is the best we could do.


So, yeah, I am not going to be playing in a Super Bowl, or any football game for that matter.  Thank goodness – could you imagine the pressure for that level of a public performance not to mention the physical workouts those guys endure.  I know the word should be “do” rather than “endure”, but for those less fit like myself, well “endure” feels like the correct word.  But I am still planning the next “big things” in my life.  Now, I am closer to retirement than to the start of my career, but I still have plans and those plans will need preparations.  I have so many things I still want to accomplish, many of them are things I have put off for far too long. So here I am today, planning my preparations for my next big thing… for my own personal Super Bowl Sunday.  What is yours?  Are you going to finish a diploma, start a blog, learn a new recipe, take a class, learn something new, write a book, sew a quilt, or do a presentation? What is your next Super Bowl Sunday?

Best wishes to you on your journey to your next Big Thing! Let’s Do This!

Dormant Seasons

I do not like brown grass. I like fresh, green, soft grass. You know, anything from spring to fall is good for me. Spring grass is new and young and emerging from the ground. How exciting to watch it grow as our seasons change. I am also good with summer grass, although I like it better with a sprinkler in the air, the coolness of the water washing the heat of the day away. I love fall, it is probably my favorite season, so fall grass gets a free pass because I like it’s season. But brown grass… winter brown grass?? No thank you. It is not pretty. It’s color, if you can call it that, is depressing and drab, is that brown or just a really ugly beige? And have you tried to walk barefoot on it? UGH! Well, first off the weather is too cold for that nonsense, but come on, that stuff hurts your feet. Grass is not supposed to hurt your feet, surely that is written in some grass manual somewhere. I just hate brown grass…. but then again, I guess the green grass needs the brown grass to grow? I am not a horticulturist, I think that is what one who studies grass would be called, but I do believe they would tell me the grass needs a dormant season. So we need brown grass to have green grass? Yes, as a matter of fact we do.

A time of waiting…. the dormant season… yeah, not usually a fan of those either. The season where things stop and rest so that growth can occur. A time where pruning may occur.. ouch! Definitely not a fan of pruning. The dormant season outside is essential for the growth the rest of the year, and pruning during the dormant season is easier on the plants. A dormant season in my own life, while usually painful to experience can be of benefit to me too. I was never very good at activities in life that required I would sit quietly and grow. I think many times in my life I was too busy resenting the dormant season to see the benefit while walking through it. I can see it later, but I am really good at that hindsight thing, I think most of us are.

Now that I am older and wiser I am better at seeing the value of things like dormant seasons. I was not good at those concepts in my youth… ok, let’s be honest, probably not really good at it now. But, really bad at it when I was younger. Think about it, a season of your life waiting and building for the next season. Remember me from the last blog, I am the turn the page person, I want to get to what is next. But sometimes we cannot rush a dormant season. That quiet time of inner growth is essential for the next step. It is still growth and positive, but it is not always easy. And like the brown grass that season of growth is not always obvious. Dormant seasons of life can be solitude and quiet as we seek to listen to our inner selves, or busier as we strive to apply for jobs, prepare to move, go to school… the things we do while we are building for the next step. Just imagine how beautiful your next step will be after your dormant season. Your next season will come, seasons will keep revolving. Spring will come, and there will be beautiful green grass, tress will bud, and flowers will bloom…. and growth, growth will be outwardly obvious to you even if to no one else. Here’s to our growth, yours and mine. And here’s to our dormant seasons in life, may we always make the most of those times. Be well friends!

Lonely, but not Alone

I see you sitting there. Reading this, alone, at the end of a day. I see you, and I understand you, because some times I am you. Sometimes, I think we all are. We live busy lives in a busy world, and yet sometimes we feel completely alone while surrounded by people. I am sorry if you feel alone, please know that you are not. There are people that care about you, some that do not know that you feel alone, and some that just do not realize how alone you feel. Sometimes, I have to pick up the phone and call that one trusted friend, you know the one… the one that always “gets you”. They understand and help to carry your burden. If you don’t have that friend, find someone that can become that friend, for we all need one in life. Mine was a fluke, never in a million years did I anticipate that she would become a lifelong friend. But sometimes, life takes you on turns you didn’t anticipate. This friendship has been one of those turns for me, it’s the phone call I can always make.

I like to read, I wish I had more time in life to read. But I have this tiny little flaw… you see I have always been a ‘let me read the end of the book first type of a person.’ You know the one, the person who buys a book and reads the last chapter first. After I read the ending I decide if I want to read the rest or not. I have probably missed out on some great books as a result of my bad habit. Sometimes, we have to read the pages one by one, just go through the pages of life one day at a time. Sometimes, the pages are fun filled… I love those pages of life, the days of laughter, celebrations and joy. But some of the other pages are more difficult to go through. They are for me too. Somedays, I just want to know that I will survive the trial of the day. That feeling is overwhelming and I feel alone. I told you, I see you sitting there and I know you, because sometimes, I am you.

I care about the end of the book, but I care more about today. I chose to use the todays and the tomorrows to write the book. We can do that you know, we can focus on the good in each day. If you don’t feel like you have any good in your day, call that friend, borrow some from them. No friend? Call anyone you know, call your pastor, call your neighbor, call a counselor… call someone. I wish that I could use the todays and tomorrows to write out the grief, I cannot and neither can you, but we can survive it. The loss of friends and loved ones? The factory that closed down, the foreclosure on the house, the child that died, the husband that left? I cannot write those out of my life and neither can you. But we can write the story of triumph. We can chose daily how to respond to the days events, even the tragic ones. We can surround ourselves with supportive people and even access additional supports through counseling, friends and church if we have a need. I am no stranger to earth shattering tragedy that I did not think I would recover from. I am eternally grateful to those that lifted me up and carried during that time. I do not know what the end of my book will say but the page today looks good. Tomorrow’s page looks pretty good too. As we walk through this life let us commit to ourselves to do our best every single day. And call your friends, cultivate those friendships, for there will be days you will need them. Call your friends, for there will be days they will need you too. Take care friends, and call your friends.

Embrace the Journey

I have this friend that I’m a little jealous of, some days more than a little jealous.   She is bolder than I and willing to go out and do the things that she enjoys. Do you know why? Because she enjoys them! What a novel idea right? She has taken well to the life of retirement, but still cycles and runs… and her fashion sense!  I love that her earrings never match but always coordinate. Who would have of thought of wearing a dog and a bone for earrings? She has sandals on all year, no matter the weather.  Even in the winter months she has sandals with toe socks.  The way she embraces life warms my heart and encourages me to do the same. I finally got bold enough to wear a silver snowman and a silver snowflake, because how cute right? An observer reminded me that my earrings didn’t match. But I I thought about it and realized what they intended as insulting I found as complementary. I had watched my friend with her unmatched earrings for years, maybe I was getting bolder after all. It occurs to me even as I write this that I have several friends like this. It seems I have surrounded myself with people are willing to enjoy the journey of their life – what a great idea!

We spend so much time worrying about what our perceptions of what other people think.  What about enjoying life?  What about riding a bike after 50?  Why not?  Seems like a good way to enjoy a day.  We often pass on the things we want to do from a fear of acceptance.  I wonder what would happen if we each took a page from my friend’s book and opted to embrace each day and make the most of it?  I like to take photos, but when I am out in public I worry about people thinking I am odd taking a photo of this or that.  It is time to learn from my friend – stress less and enjoy more. I like to ride my husband’s motorcycle with him. But I do often wonder what people think when I have difficulties getting off and on. I like to ride a bicycle, but am I too old for that? Who gets to decide these things? Well, me of course, so why am I letting my perceptions of others thoughts weigh me down?

Somewhere there is a poem about wearing purple when I am old and embracing all the things I passed on in my youth.  We need to be responsible and make healthy choices for ourselves and our family while we embrace life, but we need to embrace life! I am not advocating we go out and jump from planes, well I guess if that’s your thing… but it is not mine.  But I am advocating we find things in our daily life, healthy things, things we can enjoy and we go do them.  How about I worry less about whether you think I’m old or out of shape or overweight and I worry more about how fun it was to hike to the bottom of the falls for the photo!  

I don’t have to wait until I’m old to wear purple, and neither do you. We need celebrate life every single day and do things that create happiness each day. If it makes me happy to go for a bicycle ride, why don’t I go? Because I’m worried that people will think I’m too old to be riding a bicycle? What if I want to take salsa lessons, but I don’t have a partner, should I go? Should I ask a friend to take dancing lessons with me? Is that too intimidating, and why would it be intimidating? Why don’t we run races? Why don’t we ride bicycles? Why don’t we have dessert with our dinner? Why not learn a new skill like archery or dancing or bowling? Why not go to the movies by yourself on a Saturday? We worry about our perceptions of the opinions of others instead of finding the joy in the things that we like. Spend more time riding bicycles, go for walks, go out to breakfast even if you have to eat alone, dance the dance. Be more like my friend and celebrate life even in the little things.

Wear your purple now and enjoy the moments, the little ones and the big ones.