The dailiness of everything, ways to create and cope, help and heal, learn and live!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Mourning my youth....planning to age gracefully...

I painted my nails this week. I have been working on the house and planting things so I clipped those things back pretty drastically. I gave them what I learned was called "squoval" back in my silk nail days: flattened with a rounded edge. I polished them with a rosy nude color and applied a top coat and lotioned my hands and went to admire them and - wow. I see my grandmother's hands. MY GRANDMOTHER'S. Not my moms. How did I NOT get her long legs but instead her sturdy hands? They are abused hands. I use them as poor nails. Well anyway - I was sad. I used to have pretty hands. They were tan and smooth and seemed graceful to me.

 Now they look a little pudgy and wrinkly. Sigh.

And it's the same way with my face - my body. It just ain't what it used to be.

All I can do is shrug. Because I have thought about the alternatives. Losing weight and pursuing youth and beauty: face lift, tummy tuck. But dang. It's exhausting, not to mention expensive.  And really a losing race. And my 17 year old keeps telling me NOT to color my hair blue. Which I have seriously thought about. He said I said - and I don't remember it - that I told him to tell me it was my midlife crisis talking if I ever said I was going to color my hair blue. I called myself out. Because I knew I would do it. And I hesitate to condemn it, because I am ok with being care free and doing what you want as long as it doesn't infringe on others. But there comes a point where one should maintain some dignity right? Maybe not. Dignified does NOT sound fun.

But maybe instead of worrying about all the outer accouterments...I should focus more on the inner. I am sad that when I take pictures I don't recognize that person anymore. And goodness - photos are a huge part of life now. You can't do anything without getting your picture taken! AND posted on social media. I'd feel so much better about myself if I didn't have pictures or full length mirrors. But my answer to that is to again - shrug. What are you going to do about that?

So - what do I want to be as I grow older? I want to be easy to talk to. I want to listen more. To quit being so damn introspective and look outward. I want to have humor, to laugh, to quit worrying about the house and to enjoy people. But I want to be content when I am alone as well. I want to be someone who can skim over offenses and not take them to heart. To be secure enough in who God made me to understand that we hurt each other sometimes and it doesn't do to hold it against each other. I want to be home to those who feel homesick, to be an anchor to those who feel unmoored. I want to listen and quit the nervous babble - so scared that others will see that I am an idiot. Because I feel like one most of the time. I know others feel the same way. I want to quit judging others because they want you to see how smart they are. Or how spiritual they are, or how great they are at everything. I want to be happy for them. Impressed by them. Accepting of them - regardless of why I think they need to front. There is a quiet desperation (I know that term is used A LOT - but it suits my inner coocoo) to be KNOWN. If you really knew me. You would be impressed. And yet - I am quite aware that my gifts are imperfect and really quite unimpressive. But that is because my standards are ridiculous. All these things I see as failings - I see them in me. And they annoy the hell out of me when I see them in other people. I want to RELAX about it already.

My prayer is to enjoy what I have left of life. To be comfortable in my skin - and quite frankly - my clothes. I want to enjoy food, enjoy good books, good music. I want to have people over and sit in the midst of my little home even if it is a mess, and HEAR people. Enjoy who they are and what they have to share. I want to quit worrying about money - about how to make things right with the past...because sometimes you just can't. I want to quit this mantra I have about doing this thing "one day". Or feeling like I have to have the house in perfect order before I start some project because that is NEVER going to happen.

What I want to be has nothing to do with the way I look on the outside. It has everything to do with how I make others feel and how I feel about myself. I am asking God to make me kinder, more real, more aware of others, less worried about how they see me, and my house - and my dirty cars. They are so dirty right now.

Aging is a journey. I have not always traveled it well. I have either totally obsessed about or totally neglected  important things. I have sought balance but haven't always been able to find it. I like myself best when I am worried about myself least. And - boom.

Therein lies the power of becoming what I truly want to be. Self-less. That may be unattainable. But I that is my goal, and what I think will make aging much more enjoyable.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Cast Iron reflections...

I love cast iron skillets.

Cast iron skillets. They are heavy and require major upkeep. But I love them.

They are forgiving. I have had to re-season them so many times. One is my grandmothers and it is over 100 years old. Another one was my husband's when he was in college. My grandmother's is so rough looking. Chipped and marred on the lip but it cooks so well. I also have little cast iron kettles that you can do soup in. They are for individual soups. They make me tingle when I look at them. Is that weird? Puppy breath does the same thing. That's weird isn't it?

Anyway. I love that they cook my steaks to the perfect char on the outside and still leave them rare and juicy on the inside. I love that I can pop 4 eggs in olive oil in one and put it in the oven on 400 for 6 minutes and have 4 perfect eggs...over easy to place on top of good seed bread that has been slathered in goat cheese with tiny sliced tomatoes...Can I tell you that the combination of flavors is amazing? It is amazing.

I love that I can cook something in them and then pop them in the oven to finish.

But what I really love is cleaning them. That's weird too isn't it?

When I am organized, which isn't often, but with my kitchen I try hard to be - I can get in my there and enjoy the process of cooking. Even the process of cleaning is cathartic. I feel the same way about chopping veggies. It seems to work out the kinks. Cleaning my cast iron is cleansing for it and for me. I pour olive oil, then nice course kosher salt and I rub my hands around in it. Scrubbing the bottom and the sides, slathering the oil and salt mixture over the edges and to the outside, over the bottom and then back to the insides. Then I rub my hands, the backs and the nail beds and cuticles and rinse with warm water. I dry it with a paper towel and place it in my oven while it is still warm. It almost feels like I am pampering a baby when I do that. I like the thoughtless rhythm that goes along with it.

It seems like such a simple thing. Mundane even. But for whatever reason, it is calming and the last thing I do in my kitchen before I wish it good night and turn out the light.

When in the right frame of mind, isn't it such a lovely thing to contemplate? The simple rhythms of the kitchen and it's nourishment for our minds and our bodies. Such a gift. Unexpected.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The decision - strike that - decisions...

Hundreds of decisions each day. I make them. You make them. Sometimes they are good, other times, not so much.

Do I get out of my bed early and shower? Or do I lay here and read? Do I call in for a mental day? Or do I go on and do the job I committed to do? Do I have a biscuit and bacon for breakfast - with sweet creamy coffee? Or do I eat an egg with fruit and black coffee. But there is coffee. And each and every decision affects the next one. And the next one. And so on.

There are some days good decisions seem so easy. I have somehow paved the way to wake up and do the right thing and it leads to a series of good decisions. One good decision seems to beget another.

And here is the catch. I think to do it consistently -you have to do a little prep work. It is part of becoming an adult. And it works. You are never sorry for making a good decision. Or for the work that came before to help you make the good decision. You are always sorry for making a bad decision...and for not being wise enough to be prepared. And you will have bad days. A fact.

There are some people who seem to be more natural at it than others. Seeeem to be.

The hard part is being consistent. And the prep work. And well - it all takes work.  At least for me. I am inconsistent at best. Because I don't want to do all the leg work.

And such is life right? We would all RATHER sit and read, or watch Netflix or stare out the window. Mm. Let me take that back. I have a friend that can't not be productive. It's annoyingly endearing. She watches TV while doing something. She's also thin and always looks put together. So - yeah. No competing with that. Not for me anyway.

With this decision making - I tend to get a little circular in my thinking - I always come back to my personality type. There are a million things that come into how and why we make the decisions we do. Knowing ourselves and how we function. Knowing what will wear us down and learning to know when to stop. But not completely taking yourself out of the rat race - because community is huge. It's important. But it's SO EXHAUSTING.

Simply put. There is no perfect algorithm. Some days are going to go well. Some days - yeah well..there's always tomorrow.

Here is my thinking. I do not do well going full blast for days on end. I burn out and I hit the skids and it is hard for me to get back in the saddle. I cut out completely remembering the misery I brought upon myself and forgetting the joy of actually being part of something that was amazing.

I have to do better at redirecting my thinking to what I accomplished - not what I felt like once I accomplished it. And maybe taking my very large ideas down a notch or two. I LOVE big ideas. That comes from working in a very large student ministry in the early 90's where excess abounded. There is a balance I can find. I KNOW it. I haven't FOUND it.

I also know I want to FIX it. Everything. You tell me a problem, I want to fix it. And I get pissed at you if you don't do what I tell you and are still complaining about the problem. Not pretty. But there it is. Sorry if you have found yourself there. I will try to do better. And you better not try to fix my problem. Because I am hard headed. I know myself - really well. And my fix it need will totally sink my decision making skills.

I also am a self flagellator. It's not a word. And it has nothing to do with gas.That's FLATULENT.  Flagellation is the word - but basically I beat myself up.  And not for sexual gratification if you looked the word up. I suppose you could say it is based in the religious given my desire to be all and do all. Which sounds a little like a god complex. And there is no in between. I am either full out or not. At all. And then I beat the hell out of myself. It is also exhausting. But I will get in the rut and then I can't make a good decision for beating myself up.  Have I talked about this before? I feel like I have talked about this before...

So it seems I might be manic depressive -bi-polar or something. Look - I come from a family that has that history and I am watching it - trust me. My doctor said I am good unless they find me on HWY 280 directing traffic naked - which is comforting. I asked him to please not let me get that far.
It would be tragic on so many levels.

I know I need to be on a couch somewhere telling a psychologist this.

But no.

My decision making paradigm is not based on a sure fire recipe. I started out trying to do that for you - for me. But really - it doesn't exist. Yes - if I plan my wardrobe and eat right and go to bed early and get at least 7 hours (for me anyway), and plan my meals, not buying any junk food (to my three son's despair and resentment), I will be on the road to my best decision making self. But let's face it. With all of my issues that's just not always going to happen.

So I fall back on grace. If you have read ANYTHING I have written before, it is my fall back and my comfort.

Grace - the unmerited favor of God. That is where I repose - but actively - in order to make the best decisions, I have to also seek wisdom. Simply put, it is bound to go well with me when I seek God and his wisdom first. Reading the word and praying before my day begins, changes me and guides me toward a better handle on any decisions that I make.

I still make bad decisions. But thankfully - God's grace is there. But until I am with the Lord and made like him - I will continue to do my best to continue to pursue wisdom. Knowing I will fail but doing my best to hear the call of God as he continues to do a good work in me - in spite of me. And it takes the burden off of me. Thank the LORD I can do this and then plan my day. If I do anything other than reading and praying in the pursuit of a good decision making day - I've already planned to fail.

What about you? What are your hangups? How does your personality sabotage good intentions? How do you fix that?

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:9-11

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

So...the apocalyptic adventure of COVID19...

I have to admit to some crazy, nerdy, scandalous and somewhat embarrassing excitement when they said we were going home from school and being quarantined.

Is it horrible? Absolutely.

Do I love these types of situations? Certainly not.

But maybe...there is a part of me that thrives here. I am not at all sure what that says about me.

I have always loved apocalyptic movies. I love the hope that always seems to come from overcoming whatever odds are against the characters. I love the resourcefulness that comes from not having at hand what you normally would have. I love that you tend to bond with folks you might not normally bond with. Seriously - I totally geek out over all the ways you can use the things at hand for something else.

Do I actually want to be in that situation? Absolutely NOT.

But here are some things I things I learned from our Sheltering at Home adventure.

We did indeed become resourceful. I made masks from t-shirts several different ways. Of course we are blessed to have the internet and access to other's brilliant thinking, but I took their ideas and made them work for our family.

 I implemented outside time for our family...knowing the boys would want to be in mostly gaming when they weren't doing school. I made sure I had things they would enjoy doing outside and started making meals to eat on the back porch. This has been a huge blessing. There is a lot of talk that goes on out there. We linger longer when we are on the back porch. The weather has certainly been a gift from God and has helped that so much. I have been so grateful!

My husband and I have gotten closer. I know many have said it has been harder. And it truly is in some ways. His and my working from home causes some clashes that we are having to learn to maneuver around. But honestly - I like him here. We have taken to walking together. We are trying to read what the other enjoys. He will not listen to my music ( I get it - I am a bubble gum pop girl and it is not very cool or sophisticated of me ) - but he loves me in spite of it. I have learned to love some of his moody Americana music. I am reading articles he sends me, and he is reading articles I send him and we TALK about it. Amazing. I am smarter for it.

I am taking Spanish. I have a Latin community at the high school that I love and sometimes there is a barrier that my speaking Spanish will overcome. I am working toward it and have been excited about getting back with my students and learning to communicate.

I made TAMALES! I did. It was fun. And delicious. There is a learning curve. But next time I know how to make it easier. I would never have done this prior to all this time I have been gifted.

I am getting certification in some things that will help me be a better para-educator for my special needs classes. I have to be proactive in my search - but it will be so helpful once I complete them. Once again - never would have done this on my own. I would have looked to the administration to ask me to do it. Maybe they would have - if it had been necessary - but generally not something that they require. The fact that it makes ME better able to serve the students I minister to daily is enough to make it worth it.

I am cleaning out. I have become more organized. I am finding a place for everything or giving it away or throwing it away. This is a huge lesson in learning to simplify. And I love simple. LOVE IT.  I love my home now. This is a blessing. I have hated this little cluttered place. It made me overwhelmed. The time that has been gifted to be able to focus on how to live better where I am is - well it is absolutely a gift.

I have my two 20 year olds with me. They would be away from me during this time. They are adults now and in college. I would not have had them with me for the last several weeks. I know they would rather be at school. They miss their friends. But I have loved having them here. I have had to learn to curb my critcisms...knowing the things they are still working through will eventually come to pass. They are still maturing and finding who they are. I try to suggest and then leave them to process Really it is more of a learning process for me. But being able to wrap my arms around them and kiss their sweet faces has been over and above anything I could have asked for.

When I look back at what I have written it seems pretty self involved - which let's face it - I really am. But as much as I feel life has been interrupted - the biggest interruption being church and schools in my opinion, there has been much to be grateful for. I have had fear, I have had sorrow, I have worried about what is going to happen next. But I have learned to find the joy in the midst of the scary. God has shown himself to be close to me, even when I did not move toward him.

COVID19 has been an exercise in trusting God in the next thing. I have to pull my thoughts back and corral them in the here and now. God has given me everything I need for this moment. And I trust he will for the next moment as well - I try not to let my mind go there. I choose rather to trust that his grace is good for whatever good or hard thing comes. I have to believe that. I pray you can do the same. His grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9
9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.