Growing Older

Perhaps it should be “getting older.”  To say something or someone is “growing” suggests to me an upward movement or a progression in a positive direction.  In my experience with grandparents and acquaintances, when they speak of aging, they say “Getting old,” and they usually conclude with, “isn’t fun” or “isn’t what they thought it would be.”

This winter, I’ve felt older.  I love drinking my coffee or tea and watching the snow fall outside, blanketing everything in stillness and cold.  I put on another layer to keep myself warm.  Before the kids ask if they can go outside, I’ve heard them plotting their course of action, developing their snowy agenda.  Their enthusiasm builds into a palpable energy, and with it my anger begins to rise.  No, I don’t want them to go outside.  They’ll be out there for 5, maybe 10, minutes and will come in, disrobe, and leave me with two extra loads of laundry to do after I’ve made them a hot cup of cocoa.

I feel older because I had to convince myself to let them play outside.  I might have told them “no” at first, but I did let them go out; I even helped them pile on the layers that I knew would be left for me to clean up later.  This is their youth, after all.  I did the same when I was younger.  Now I’ll just have to be perfectly content with the cup of coffee and the pending laundry.  At least I have the young children still around to remind me of what it’s like to be young.  They share their vibrant energy with me.  They wouldn’t mind if I came out to play with them.  I could let go of my anger and frustration and let myself enjoy the moment.

It’s okay.  I’ll get older with acceptance.  Each day I’ll understand a little better what my foremothers experienced.  Maybe I’ll be able to equip my children for what’s to come.  As far as I can tell, though, the only way I can do that is to help them be aware and to choose to experience this moment without judgement.  It’s neither good nor bad; it just is.

Our responsibilities change with time.  Our frame of reference changes.  Our whole life circumstances can turn in a moment.  Whether we’re 3, 33, or 93, we still are who we are.

Time is such a funny thing.

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Crazy Woman

Aren’t we supposed to eat whatever we want, sleep as long as we like, dress however we want to?  Maybe I need to refresh my memory as to what the feminist movement was all about.

Last night I found myself vacuuming at 9:30pm.  I couldn’t help it.  Thankfully the kids were in bed, and I just hoped that they might still have enough of their babyhood left that somehow the vacuum would be a soothing lullaby at best, at least a deep background noise.  It didn’t phase them.

But what kind of woman was I to be running around the house, completely on empty, making sure the dishes got done (or at least finished by husband), pants ironed for the morrow, and floors swept and vacuumed?  Then, when it seemed like I couldn’t possibly do more, a commitment raised its hand, and I had to answer.  It’s writing after all.  I can do it.

So, I’ve decided I may be a crazy woman.  Yes, I have a weird obsession with wanting to have a clean house (at least on some standards).  Lord knows my house wouldn’t pass a sanitation or white glove test.  Fly Lady was onto something when she suggests making sure you keep a clean sink.  Not to worry, though; I don’t care what other people’s houses look like.

I’m on Day 2 of this 5:30 am writing adventure.  Along with this post, I’ve also written a brief article, thanks to aforementioned commitment.  Again, Lord knows I’m tired.  Somehow I’m given the energy to do what I find needs to be done.  I even managed an hour body sculpting workout yesterday . . . and making a casserole for dinner.

Even working full-time I’m managing to talk to my friends (a little bit), let my children, husband and home know I love them, and take care of myself.  It’s exhausting and tremendously rewarding.  It sounds crazy, juggling so much, and I just know it wouldn’t be possible if I weren’t also running with grace and blessing.

If we truly think about all we do, we might find that we’re not crazy.  We are fueled by passion.  If our intentions are good, we are tapped into a greater energy than we ever thought possible.  Of course days come when we will or want to sleep until 10am, if we are so lucky, but we can accept it as a gift of renewal and carry on, continuing to move forward with love.

I may seem like a crazy woman at times, to others and to myself.  More importantly, I am a blessed woman.  If you’re reading this, I’m certain you are blessed, too.

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Gift to Yourself

Have you had that moment when you catch up with a grade-school or high school pal, one who truly knew you well, and after a brief catching-up they ask you if you’ve done any of that thing you truly love?  For me, the question is something like, “So have you been writing much lately?”  For you it might be, “So, do you still play (insert instrument here), sing, draw, sculpt, design, sew, etc., etc.?”

This thought came to me as I stood washing dishes late this morning, steam from the water warming the cool air around me.  I thought of all my friends I’ve become somewhat re-acquainted with via Facebook.  Of those that are working at jobs, I wondered how many of them are working in a line corresponding with their passions.  I wondered who might be working to pay the bills, and whether they were able to find time on the side to do that which they enjoy, that which brings them joy.

My hope is that all can bring joy to the work they do, work we all do, even if it might not feed us completely.  We do have a choice in what we do in our time off the clock.  I don’t use the words “free time” without using or motioning quotes anymore because I find that very few have free time.  When do you have time that isn’t occupied by something scheduled or something that needs to be done?  If you’re like me, you don’t.  I find myself in places, however, where I can choose what I do with the next few minutes or hours.

My other hope for us all is that we will choose to do something once a day, or at least once a week, that truly feeds us and ties us to that which brings us joy.  What simply thrills our inner child?  Paint a picture.  Play your favorite music (you may be surprised you still remember how).  Pick up your textile of choice.  Don’t let a blank page intimidate you; use your favorite pen.

I wish you warmth this holiday season, especially in your heart.  As you prepare to give to others, don’t forget to give to yourself.  It doesn’t have to cost a thing.  Take as much time as you need.  Enjoy.

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Time to Sit

Yesterday morning started with the normal frenzy of a young family household getting three kids ready for school and then a mom trying to decide which thing to do first, followed by a slew of other things.  I let my three-year-old determine the first course of action.  She wanted to go to the gym to see a friend; I knew I needed to go to the gym.

Ironically, I sat on the stationary bike reading in preparation for a class I’m leading today.  The topic:  HeartMath, compassion, patience, changing my concept of time, being fully present.  My legs pedaled along, my eyes moved forward, and I tried to sit quietly, absorbing my reading.  I appreciated the irony of my multi-tasking.

My three-year-old changed my course, again, as she decided to go home with a friend.  Suddenly, my morning opened even more.  Pottery?  Writing?  Sewing?  What to do next on my own.

I had told a friend we would come play, but now I was alone.  I called her anyway, and found her scurrying to clean before her mom showed up.  But her toddler insisted upon being carried.  I found myself volunteering to come help her clean for a bit; I’d still have time to go home and do something before my afternoon appointments.

At my friend’s house, rather than cleaning, I was asked to hold the toddler.  He melted into my arms and chest and soon fell asleep.  All I had to do was hold him.  All I had to do was be calm and still.  I was given time to sit, holding that precious reminder that children bring us just to be.  My friend got to clean without an aching back, and I got time to be still, snuggling with her warm babe.  I left not long before her mom arrived to a house mostly restored.

I didn’t have time to go back to my own home, but I did have time for coffee and a snack at another friend’s house.  I arrived at my afternoon meetings peaceful and present.

Maybe I should let my youngest help me make decisions more often.  Maybe I just need more time to sit.

Thanks be to the children.

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What We Really Have

FACT:  We all have finite amounts of time, money and energy.

FACT: No matter how much money we have or don’t have, there will be others who have more (assuming you’re not like Bill Gates, JK Rowling or the like!) and others who have less.

FACT:  Energy is neither created nor destroyed.

FACT:  Time is a constant.  Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  No more, no less.

On this day when I’m wishing I could sleep less and do more, wondering why I don’t just buy neatly packaged pre-made gifts, wishing I had the money to do so if I wanted to, it somehow helps to remind me of what my reality honestly consists of.  There are facts I often do not take into consideration, mostly because they are taken for granted.

It is worthwhile to remind myself every now and again that how I view my place in the world may just have an affect on how my place is in the moments to come.  Am I complaining about my gift-making?  Is that why suddenly I find that I don’t actually have all I need at the moment?  Do I think there’s not enough time to clean the house?  Has that increased the explosiveness factor on the mess that erupted in the last 24 hours?

How about if I start this day visualizing everything getting done that needs to be done, with realistic expectations.  My list is made.  My mind is clear.

I know how much money is in the bank, and I consider myself richly blessed.

I will exhale the negative energy and inhale the positive, rejuvenating energy, keeping a steady pace.

I have 24 hours this day to eat, sleep, be and do. 

No more.  No less.

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A Friday Halloween and a Weekend Already Eaten Up

My oldest daughter couldn’t be more excited about tonight’s festivities.  It’s her first Halloween out from under Mom and Dad’s thumb (though she’ll still be with other parents).  Tonight she’s out with her friends, and I am truly happy for her.  Thank God I know she has good friends!

While she’ll be out, we’ll still have the younger three to take trick-or-treating.  Whether we go around the block or to visit the grandparents, we’re still not sure, but it will be low key for certain.  The less candy in the house, the better off we all are.

Truth be told, this weekend I have marked in my calendar as “GARAGE WEEKEND.”  We have to get a handle on things . . . or at least a path through it all.  With the holidays creeping ever closer and much pottery to be made, the garage needs to transform into a clay studio rather quickly.  And, we just need to organize, put things where they go, make work areas usable, create storage.  Simple stuff, really; it’s the time you have to take to do it.  It also isn’t a one woman job, but getting my husband and myself in the same place at the same time while we’re both awake is as tricky as ever.

When we’re supposed to be knee deep in the garage on Saturday, it turns out the kids have choir practice until eleven or so, a children’s author will be at the library at eleven, there’s a concert we want to support (and is free) at the botanical garden at two, and we have to eat sometime without ordering out (gotta tighten the budget belt).  Sunday is family birthday celebration all afternoon after church, after which we go back to church for the choir performance for which I’ve been shuttling kids to rehearsal these past couple of weeks on my precious weekends — as if my time is mine.

Therein lies a Truth in parenthood.  We make sacrifices every day.  We wade through the garage for years because it’s more important to have clean dishes and laundry than a proper place for the bikes . . . or is it?  We make choices on what we will sacrifice.  Some days we make good ones, but most days we just make choices, knowing we will live with the consequences. 

Perhaps that’s why we (okay, I) get so aggravated with the kids when they choose to do what they want to do even though I know the consequences won’t be good.  (i.e. any given child doesn’t want to clean his/her room and put away clothes today, and I know that in three days, it will be exponentially worse.)  We make our choices, pick our battles, and go through the motions of every day.  Hopefully it can be more of a dance, even if some days it feels more like a factory.

It would be nice if I felt more like a ballerina than a robot on Halloween.  Right now I feel like I could pass as a maid — and not the sexy sort!

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