If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After All...

After all these years, it seems that one of my dearest and best friends still knows how to make a day sunny and pick me up when I am starting to wallow.  I got a quick little forward from my favorite sister-in-law, JoAnn this morning.  I'm sure she enjoyed the sentiment and knows that since we are "of an age," (Yes, JoAnn, I know you are miles younger than me by about a month!) we need little reassurances to help us appreciate who we are and what we've become.  I doubt she realized just how much I needed such a nudge on this day, though.  Here is the bulk of what she shared:

Some very true words to ponder..I hope you enjoy. 

As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world, too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it, if I choose to read, or play, on the computer, until 4 AM, or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50, 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.

I will walk the beach, in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves, with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break, when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But, broken hearts are what give us strength, and understanding, and compassion. A heart never broken, is pristine, and sterile, and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
What a wonderful thing to share! I think that as I sat here catching up on email, sniffling, coughing, wishing the congestion in my sinuses, ear, and chest would magically evaporate, I was starting to have a little pity party.

After all, both light bulbs in our closet have blown and it is completely dark in there. So, I was frustrated that I'd have to drag out a ladder and climb up and down to get those bulbs replaced in order to find something to wear that is clean, somewhat unwrinkled, and sort of matches.  Instead, I should see this as an opportunity and a gift.  With it dark in there, I cannot clean it out even though I've been putting that chore off for months - today I have a real, bonafide excuse!  The outgrown, never-really-liked, ill-fitting, frayed collared, slick-soled, scuffed leather, ripped, worn, and out-dated items there have a reprieve from the trash bin or Goodwill for one more day.  Plus, I can expend my efforts toward something more enjoyable like reading or writing!

After all, the floor looks as if I've been using the entire house as a potting shed, or a place for bedding down some sort of livestock, or the beginnings of a compost pile, or the fresh turnings in preparation for a flower garden.  There are tiny twigs, snippets of mulch, little tread-shaped clumps of dirt, crumbs, dust, and bits of dried leaves all over the place.  When I hobbled into the kitchen from our bedroom, my bare feet prickled and cringed as I schlumped to the coffee pot.  However, after filling my cup and swirling a little sweetness into it, I plopped down in one of our mis-matched chairs and propped my feet into another one and began to read emails, blogs, and newspapers.  I realized that there are spots where the oak boards of the floor still shine and I'm lucky to have a nice floor that gets dirty instead of a dirt floor that isn't nice.

After all, the laundry is piled almost to my knees and the washer and dryer are both full and awaiting my attention so that a new load can begin swish-swashing or tumble-clinking toward cleanliness.  I wonder how two people can dirty so many garments and towels and wash cloths and linens.  Then, I realize how fortunate I am to have a closet full (and overbrimming) with nice clothes.  I appreciate the drawers filled with socks and underware.  I am thankful for fluffy towels and cotton napkins and soft sheets when I could be living more like the folks described and pictured so beautifully by Ann Voskamp in this blog post.  She shows how folks in Ecuador farm and juxtaposes it with an American farmer who participated in a mission trip there.  Those of us fortunate to live on a farm or just to know about farm life will really appreciate just how blessed we are that God put us here to farm instead of somewhere else that poses work lots harder and less fulfilling that what we know.  I realize that I have windows with beautiful hand-crafted curtains or silky, luxurious fabrics to cover and frame them and not a pig-feed sack that is all I can afford.

After all, here I sit during a week off from work on a grey, dreary Tuesday looking out my own back door at a cold, rainy day instead of lounging on a beach with my heels in the sand and the sun beaming down while the waves lick at my toes.  I wonder when my day for adventure, travel, and exotic relaxation is going to be possible.  Then I hear the soft snores of a loving husband who has worked so hard this year that his boss sent him home today because the loads were light and he has earned more time off than there are days left in the year for taking.  I think of how lucky he is to have such a job which meets our needs and ships needed materials to multiple businesses so that they can keep others working and mouths fed and bodies clothed and sheltered.  I think of how he is always nudging and encouraging and supporting me to further my career and take risks which will prove fulfilling and at the same time make my life a bit easier.  I think of how I am fortunate to have a job where folks smile and seem glad when I walk in the door of their building because they know I am there to help them, to make their job easier, to support their efforts in mentoring and facilitating the learning of our future leaders and caretakers.  While at times the job is a bit stressful due to the constraints imposed by those who are not directly involved or trained to understand, it is also fulfilling to know that we are making an impact and we are appreciated.  I appreciate that there are times when we feel like we are underpaid; yet, there are also perks like this week that I have of complete freedom where I can relax in my cozy kitchen wearing my sweatpants and t-shirt and type on a modern piece of technology to connect my adventures here to the world without having to trek out into the dreary, chilly, rain-slicked streets.

After all, isn't everything really just a matter of perspective?  So, when my favorite sister-in-law (Yes, I know I only have one sister-in-law but she really is one of my favorite people and has been since we both were in fifth grade!) sent me this wake-up call this morning, it ignited a spark in me to lighten up on myself and recognize the beauty of where I am and how fortunate I really am.

Oh, I still plan to adjust my eating and exercise habits - but I'll map out a plan and attack that with some real intention.  I still might look at the creases etched in my face and the coarse, grey strands that season my hair - but I'll try to think of them as smile memories and silver gilding.  I will probably frown at the bulges that prevent me from buying an outlandish and trendy outfit - but I'll also appreciate that I am of an age that the classics of style wear comfortably.  I will probably grow frustrated over the things that slip my consciousness that I used to keep current like the sticky-notes and electronic agenda reminders I now post everywhere to remind me of doctor or hair appointments or needs from the grocery.  I still might shed a tear or two over past heart-breaks and even some current heart-aches - but I'll also treasure the journey that brought me to the blessed place of current existence. 

JoAnn's little reminder will be something that nudges me to be a better me.  After all, isn't that what we all need to do?