Good Day

So, anyone who knows me, knows that I am an extravert.  I talk to total strangers in the grocery store.  I can never enter a room without being noticed.  I love being around people all the time.  Until I don’t.

Lately I have been firmly in the “don’t” camp.  I have been craving time at home by myself to just do my stuff.  No agendas.  No things I have to do or people I have to spend time with.  Just me, a few podcasts and my timer.

Today was one of those days.  The school district I work for is on a four-day schedule, which means that usually I have Friday off.  Not always, but usually.  I spend the first half of that day recharging from the week.  It really doesn’t satisfy the craving.  Saturday could, but lately there have been several things that need to be done.  Things I enjoy and have chosen to do.  But not puttering.  I need to putter.

But this week I had a dizzy spell.  I hate my dizzy spells.  (Please do not comment on what might be causing them.  You are probably wrong and I will feel the need to tell you that my doctor and I have already explored that option.)  It hit around noon on Wednesday while I was outside weeding the school garden with my class.  I managed to finish up the day, including a meeting.  In an effort to ensure that I would feel better on Thursday, I made up sub plans.  Nothing like being prepared to make things all better.  That was a good thing because within half an hour of getting up on Thursday, I was dizzy.

I spent the day on the couch binge watching “Gilmore Girls.”  Entertaining, but not needing too much thought to enjoy.  Especially since I’ve seen all of the episodes so many times that I know what is going to happen in each one.  Perfect for a day when you are not terribly sick, but not well either.  Mid-afternoon, the dizziness lifted, but I was pretty tired, so I rested some more.

Which brought me to today.  Today I felt just fine.  I was well-rested and didn’t have to be anywhere at all.  So I did exciting things like….clean the bathtub, clean out the shed, and wash windows.  All things that have been nagging at me to do for some time now.  I feel absolutely fabulous.

I don’t think I want to have another dizzy spell any time soon.  But I am really appreciating how this one timed itself to give me just what I needed.

This is What 56 Looks Like

Today is my birthday.  I am 56.  I have lots of people ask me if I’m “39 and holding.”  Nope.  I’m 56 and proud of it.  I’ve earned it.  Last year, I went to St. Vincent dePaul on my birthday to get my senior citizen discount.  Isn’t that funny?DSCN1762

This is me today.  Not bad for such an “old lady” I think.  I’m rocking my new red cowboy boots and my “Birthday Girl” tiara.  (99 cents at St. Vinnie’s. It’s plastic and tacky, which makes it perfect.)  That bag I’m holding is a bag of Party Animal cookies.  You might know them as Circus Animals, but Franz calls them Party Animals.  Party Animals is a much better name.  I gave them out all day today to anyone who made eye contact.

That’s my birthday tradition.  Years ago my birthday coincided with my school volunteer day.  I decided that I would bring treats just like the kids do.  It was one of my best birthdays ever and certainly my best adult birthday.  It was so much fun, I do it every year.  I’ve become famous in our small town.  People who don’t know me know about the woman who hands out cookies on her birthday.

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I don’t do it to be nice.  People always think that.  Nope.  (Well, I might be nice sometimes.)  Every time I say to someone, “It’s my birthday.  Have a cookie,” they wish me a happy birthday.  How cool is that!  And that is really what I want for my birthday:  attention.

So, even though I can’t be where you are to offer you a cookie in person, have a cookie.  It’s my birthday!!

Signs of Spring

Bluebird 1-16

This little fellow was in my yard this past week.  It is a rare event to see a bluebird here for one day ever.  But we counted at least 10 of them and they are still here for Day 8!  And yesterday driving into town, I saw two redwinged blackbirds in the slough along the highway.

As anyone who knows me even a little bit knows, I love winter.  Today we have had one heavy rain shower after another, with hail thrown in for variety.  I LOVE days like this.  I am truly a pluviophile.  (Someone who gets a feeling of peace from the rain)  But I also love to see the seasons change.

And the seasons are starting to change here in the Pacific Northwest.  We will certainly still have our share of rain.  We might even get a touch of snow.  Ice might show up too.  And I will enjoy all of those.  But I am also quite happy to see the signs of change.

The bulbs are sending up shoots.  The roses have started breaking buds.  The helebores and anemones are growing and budding.  My home is starting to be filled with the fragrance of the violets and daphne I have been picking from the garden.

It reminds me of the Persian fable of the sultan who asked his wise men for a saying that could be inscribed on a ring and would be true in good times and in bad.  They went away and pondered and returned with the phrase, “This too shall pass.”

Are things just the way you like them?  They will pass.  Are you struggling in some area of your life.  It will pass.  Things may pass too soon or too slowly, but they will pass.  The words give me hope when situations are not what I would prefer.  And they also remind me to enjoy the good things I have because they will not be here forever.  Like my family. My home.  My friends.  And bluebirds.

My Family is Wondering at my Sanity

I have a black and white kitchen floor.  I love the look of black and white tile.  I do not love the look of black and brown tile.  And that is what I had.  The vinyl flooring we chose three years ago had a bit of texture to it.  When I picked it out, I feared that it would hold on to dirt.  But it was the only black and white squared vinyl available that didn’t look like really fake marble.  So, I thought that surely they wouldn’t make vinyl that would be impossible to clean.  Wrong.  Wrongnessly wrong.

The floor was horrible.  The only way I could ever get it even remotely close to clean was on my hands and knees with a green scrubber, scrubbing for at least 5 minutes per little square.  Not something I really wanted to do.  Still I wanted my black and white floor, so….

But then last spring my knee went “pop!”  At first the doctor thought it was a torn meniscus.  I wish it had been a torn meniscus.  But that pop was the last of my cartilage tearing, giving me “advanced arthritis” in my knee.  Kneeling is pretty much out of the question for me for….ever.  So, my cleaning system went from unpleasant to impossible.

But then last month while shopping at Bi-Mart, I discovered a Magic Eraser mop.  Now I LOVE Magic Eraser.  It is probably the best cleaning tool I have ever used.  So a mop made out of Magic Eraser?  Yes, please.

I bought one and brought it home.  Oh my.  My black and brown floor is now black and light beige.  A marked improvement.  And every time I mop it just gets better and better.  I love this mop.  It is so effective that I look forward to mopping and seeing the difference.  I keep calling in the family to look at how clean the floor looks.  They are thinking of having me committed.

Mr. Clean did not pay me for this.  They don’t even know that I’m writing it.  But this is a fabulous mop if you have a hard to clean floor.  Go buy one.

Thank You

Today I am thankful for:  my garden cart, my cookie sheets that I have had my entire married life and look it, and my microwave that no longer has a handle, but works just fine.  Research by Dr. Robert Emmons at UC Davis, when I regularly count my blessings, it will make me 25% happier.  Twenty-five percent!  Who can’t use being 25% happier?

In addition to being happier, the people in the gratitude group had fewer doctor visits, slept better, had fewer colds, and generally felt more satisfied.  They also had a relative lack of stress and depression and made more progress on personal goals.  All for free and with no side effects.

I have been experimenting with it myself for the past year and a half.  Most days I write down three things that I am thankful for.  At first it was very easy.  I’m thankful for my home, my husband, my kids, etc.  I quickly moved through the big, easy ones.  The ones that can easily become rote.  Of course we are thankful for those blessings.  But I wanted to push myself into more of a mindset of gratitude.  About that time, I found Ann Voskamp.  She wrote a book called “1000 Gifts,” which I haven’t read yet.  Out of that book and experience, she created lists for each month of the year.  Sometimes they are easy:  three gifts red.  Sometimes they are harder and require me to really think.  Today’s was “Three gifts ugly-beautiful.”

I don’t know if I’m 25% happier.  I don’t have any data to compare.  But this is what I do know.  I am more likely to be happy than in the past.  I notice things more.  A bird, a smile, being warm.  I am better at recognizing all the blessings that the Lord has poured into my life.

Once a month, the prompt is “Hard Eucharisteo.” (If that is a new term to you, know that it was new to me as well.  Eucharisteo is Greek and means to give thanks.)  Honestly, I’d really rather not give thanks for something hard.  I mean, I usually try to avoid hard.  But here’s the thing.  When I look at the hard things in my life:  the hurts,  the disappointments, the times when I fall short, and make the choice to be thankful, they are turned into a blessing.  I am reminded that I am not expected to do life on my own.  And I recognize that these are things that The Lord uses to make me more like Jesus.  THAT is something to be thankful for!

So, would you like to be happier?  Healthier?  More satisfied?  Why don’t you join me in keeping a gratitude journal?  You can come up with your own list.  Or if you want some help, hop on over to http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares/ and get started.  She also has links to the research if you want to check it out for yourself.

And happy thanks-giving!  You won’t be able to help it!

 

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time I believed that abortion was OK.  That a woman had a right to choose.  That if having a baby was going to “mess” with her life, she was justified in having an abortion.  After all, it’s not like it was an actual baby.  Really just some tissue growing in the wrong place.  Have it removed.  Like a mole!

But as I grew older and thought more about it, I realized that it was quite arbitrary to say this is a baby after he or she was born, but not five minutes before that.  And if it was a baby then, how about five minutes before that?  And five minutes before that?  At what point did this child cease to be a human being and just become tissue.  I couldn’t answer that.  And the more I learned about fetal development, the more they became human, until finally, I could no longer believe abortion was OK.

I used to believe that Planned Parenthood was mostly interested in women’s health, that they were trying to provide access to safe birth control that would reduce the number of abortions.  I believed that tissue was donated for the furtherance of science for a reasonable handling fee. But then I learned that they are selectively crushing babies so that specific parts can be harvested.  Then they “donate” them to labs for research for which they receive handling fees in the hundreds dollars per sample.  That their clinics have quotas for the number of abortions they perform each day.  I no longer believe that Planned Parenthood is a benign organization.  They are a business and their business is based on killing babies.

For those of you who want evidence, here is a link to The Center For Medical Progress’ YouTube channel with the complete videos, lest you believe that the editing was “trickery.” https://m.youtube.com/user/centerformedprogress

And here’s the link to The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing regarding funding of Planned Parenthood.  Check out the testimony at 2 hours, 30 minutes. http://tlcsenate.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=30&clip_id=10412

William Wilberforce, in regards to slavery, said, “You can choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.”  Now I know and I’m not looking away.

I Can Do Anything

I have always believed that I could do anything I set my mind to.  Not at first, but with practice, I could learn.  Except brain surgery.  I could never do brain surgery.  I also believed that I could conquer any situation.  If I would just press through, all would be just fine.  Sore shoulder?  Ignore it and it will get better.  Hundred degree weather?  Just drink lots of water and you’ll be fine.  Going at top speed uphill?  Ignore the fact that your heart is beating so hard that you can actually see it through your shirt.  Letting anything stand in my way was cause for failure.  I would need to justify  my lack of accomplishment, and even then I secretly thought I was a wimp.  If only I had tried harder, kept pressing, I would have managed it. I firmly believe in a growth mindset, but taken to the extreme, it is a lousy way to live.  The truth is I cannot do everything.

My first inkling of this was realizing that I didn’t have time to do everything.  I still believed that if I really wanted to, I could accomplish anything.  I just realized that there weren’t enough hours in the day or years in my life to do that.  And by realizing, I mean getting tired of melting down when I wasn’t able to get something done, despite scheduling myself down to the minute.  Maybe I just wasn’t being efficient enough.  Um, no.  I am learning to be intentional with how I choose to spend my time.  That helps, but I must emphasize the word “learning.”  No way I am there.

Lately I have been discovering that I really can’t do everything, even if I had unlimited time.  It pains me to say this, but I have physical limitations.  I will never be able to handle hot days.  The more I try, the worse I get.  I won’t ever run a marathon.  My knees won’t take it.  I cannot power up the hills behind my house at full speed. With every passing year, it just gets harder.

But worse is recognizing that I have emotional limitations too.  I am a sensitive person and I doubt I will ever get to a place where people’s unflattering opinions of me don’t matter.  I will never be able to roll with the punches quite as much as I would like.  Loud noises, strong smells, changes in schedules, burnt dinners are always going to cause me to catch my breath.

I so do not want to be a wimp.  I want to be calm, capable, and courageous.  So, today I make this stand.  I will be courageous and recognize that I have these issues.  When they raise their heads, I will grant myself grace.  I will say to myself, “Self, this is tricky.  But God is not surprised.  He is capable of managing things.  You can relax.”  The more I give myself permission to be bothered by random things, the less bothered I am.  The faster I get over being bothered.  The more I like myself.  The less I think I’m a wimp.  I end up being that calm, capable, courageous woman I always wanted to be. Today anyway.