Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

No Ants, No Pants May 15, 2016

I tried on a pair of jeans that cost $187.  They were free to try on.  The adorable redhead who rocked those jeans chattered on to me about their qualities and benefits the whole time I struggled to pour my fifty-one year old body into them.  I ask you:  “Should one have to pour, pull, push, jump, suck, hold breath in, yank, and sweat to get into a pair of the correct size jeans that cost one hundred and eighty seven dollars?”  The fabric felt weighted and silky, drapey and stretchy.  Supposedly, they would not leave baggy spots where you bend (if you could bend), after hours of wear.  That’s the benefit of such a perfect denim made sustainably, produced scientifically, ensuring rich quality.  When I looked in the mirror, I thought the jeans looked painted on.  Can a woman over fifty wear painted on style jeans without embarrassing her daughters or herself?  If the painted style pour-yourself-in jeans had been marked down from $187.00 to $18.70 would it be a good idea to wear those in public?  I asked myself this in the dressing room.  My answer and the knowledgable twenty-something answer were completely opposite.  She said the jeans looked fantastic on me.   Ha…of course she would say that.  Shes PAID to say that.  I did not agree.

Two weeks later I took my pants off.  Not the expensive jeans – I did actually get those off in the store and left them there, I mean I took off my long-legged pants that do fit.  The temperature outside was 70’s warm after long months of 20’s cold.  Suddenly everyone had on completely different clothing.  Including me.  I exchanged the pants for capris – or ‘caprants’ as re-named by my friend Heidi, whose daughter thinks capris are silly.  Well Miss Mackenna, they are NOT silly, they are necessary for the greater good of humanity when one has leg skin that needs constant ironing.  It it much more appropriate to wear ‘caprants’ than short skirts at this stage of life in order to maintain personal modesty and public decorum.  You’re welcome.

Two days later, I put pants back on.

My new state of Michigan has a lot of surprises up its sleeve.  I’m not certain I will become fond of the morning surprise of sunshine.  I would prefer that to be reliable, a regular occurence not a rarity.  This is the first spring I’ve been a resident and I am gathering you go outside and do outside things when the sun is outside for tomorrow it may not be.  Today I tried three times to go outside when I saw the sun.  We started a neighborhood walk to peruse the garage sales, but it ended at block two with sudden rain and dare I say hail; possibly MI spring snow nuggets?  I’ll ask around to confirm.  By the third time I went out in a car, the garage sale hosts had given up and gone inside.  I did score a crooked floor lamp for $15.  Looks great in the spare room standing mostly straight in the corner.  Beside garage sale shopping, I wanted to get in the dirt.  My goal all week was to go outside and reduce the amount of mint that is growing and tame the fern in my gardens.    One week I had no fern.  Next week, fern farm.  I have no previous experience with mint or fern.  What I can confidently say after one partial spring, is they are both fast and hearty growers.  Clearly, they don’t need the sun like us humans do.   I’m not sure I will meet the plant reduction goal today.   Unless…I go out in the clouds with long pants, coat and mittens.

Ants.  Michigan, I need to ask you, do ants thrive here too?  I keep a relatively clean house.  Not “dutch clean” like my mom, but pretty clean.  One time in Florida we had a rat.  In My Kitchen Cupboards.  I discovered the rat before I discovered its feces in every single solitary drawer in my large kitchen.  I came undone, unravelled, repulsed, devastated that such filth touched the things I cook with.  And I kept a clean kitchen.  We also lived on the water and the rats apparently lived in the roof of the building with occasional drop downs into human dwellings. I threw our cat in the cupboard where the rat was and shut the door.  Crickets.  Fifteen minutes later (that’s long enough to take care of a rat right?), she sauntered out as if she was done using the bathroom.  She did not choose to pursue the rat.  Worthless cat…  The rat clean up project required the man of the townhouse; and later, flowers in all the drawers for therapeutic reasons. No more rat ever.  But now I have MI ants.  I’ve tried several removal tactics including letting them go outside.   When I opened my sugar bowl to scoop the raw sugar into my first cup of morning coffee and there is an ant flailing around I put my foot down, picked up the phone and called my mom.   She poo-pooed all previous ant removal systems and said get Tero.  24 hours after Tero tactic, no ants.  I hope ants are like the rat and not one of Michigan’s ongoing surprises.

Wooden shoe dancers, tulip lined streets in Holland, Fricano’s pizza, the Cone Shops soft lemon twist cones; the pure sound of Calvin Alumni Choir,  Stella’s burgers and chronic fries, Grand Rapids Opera, Marie Catribs, Fulton Heights neighborhood, the people of Art Of The Table,  solid-friendly, healthy-growing Encounter Church, Women and Wine, Grand Rapids Main Library, the acoustics of Cathedral of St. Andrews, generous beauty of all that is colorful and blooming are some of the Michigan surprises working to convince me to stay, belong, engage.  The increasing list of good surprises far surpasses the unpleasant.  The sense of settling down is happening.  I may weigh more than I want, battle fatigue more than I like, and am more conversant in grief than I’d prefer.  Those things accompanied me here.   But this new state is kindly meeting me with a sweet place to heal and renew.  Ants, clouds and tight pants, you might live here, but despite you I believe some really great new is happening.

Better than being surprised, I am so very thankful.

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No Pushing; Stop Pulling March 8, 2016

 

Calvin is nine in dog years, translated to human time – he is about 52ish.  Maybe because he lived on a leash in hot Florida for the last three years, maybe because he is older and not as strong anymore, he wiped out in the MI winter snow.  Result:  torn miniscus or ACL.  Either way, he stopped using that leg for a while.  Thanks to a wise and conservative vet, Calvin is being given time, lots of time, as much time as he needs to heal.  There was an initial prescription for some medicine to reduce the swelling and give initial pain relief.  He also got daily chews to support joint health and encourage joint strength.  I advocated for the continuance of walking this 80 pound lab for his mental health.  The vet agreed but said “no more freedom.”  He is leash restricted.  No zooming around until the healing is complete.

For nine dog years I’ve walked with Calvin.  He is pretty good though not stellar at staying right beside me.  He would prefer to be in front with a bit of strain encouraging me to walk faster.  Not now.  His brisk jog lasts  only a half mile if that.  The rest of his walk is s..l..o..w.  If you would meet Calvin for the first or fifty first time today, you would not see his internal injury on his outer body.    So you would question his limp or hesitation to go up the stairs or clearly painful struggle to lay down.    Its been over six weeks since the wipe out.  And actually, he wiped out once which led to a limp, but the second wipeout a week later took the injury to a more serious level.   When we walk, he does not want to be pulled.  Nor does it help at all to push him to a faster pace.  He is still on the DL.  Pet owners – do you get it?

I get it in human years, in human pain, in human experience of having part of me injured.  But its not on the outside where everyone can see.  In fact, I am trying to keep the outside intact so I can keep interacting with life that I love – the relationship with my husband/best friend; relationships with family, long time friends, new friends in the making; work; play; volunteering; errands; keeping my house and clothes clean; exercising; walking Calvin.  It has been a compact six months of hard – loss, old wounds re-opened, previous emotions of significant loss re-opened, moving, change, more moving, more loss, and all kinds of unfamiliar, new, learning.  It is intense and this most recent loss has wiped me out.   NO PITY PLEASE.  The reason I am sharing this is NOT for the sake of personal condolence.  It is to give a voice to people you know, that may not be able to say, “I’m wiped out.  There is hurting places on the inside you can’t see.  I need time to heal, and it’s not something that can be rushed.”

You who’ve been there, or are there – do you get it?

People who are reading this, look around you at the those you know and interact with.  There might be one or more who is like Calvin, like me right now.  Please, no pushing.  Don’t pull us.  It won’t help the healing for you to try to speed us up or tell us to “keep our chin up”, or say to someone else, “It’s been long enough.  They need to move on now.”  Everyone is unique and what is going on inside might be more complex than you understand, than even they understand.  So how they heal and the time it takes will be unique.  Think about the internally injured person right now.  Take a deep breath.  Another one.  Let go of your need to have them get over it and get better already.  If you can’t, you would love them best by giving them space from you and your need.    If you can, replace the pushing with hugging.  Drop the rope you are trying to pull them with and extend an invitation to have a beer, or a wine and cheese, or ice-cream or go to a funny play. Someone unexpectedly extended the invitation to really listen yesterday.  Those kindnesses are loving and helpful.  But be ready to hand out the rain-check graciously if they can’t say yes this time.   Keep on living your life and let them live into theirs even if it makes you uncomfortable.  Even if it takes a while for them to be like their old self.

I read these words today; words of a person who was overwhelmed by troubles:  “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”   This was a statement made to God by a man named David.  (Ps 56).  It struck me that I know God cancels my sin, but then goes and collects my tears.  I wonder what he does with them.  Maybe he taps people on the shoulder, or knocks them on the head and sends them out to love the hurting.  Sometimes He does something Greater and floods the hurting with Peace and Comfort that is more profound than people can offer.  I know this personally too.

And one last thing – if you are the one with the hurt who is pushing and pulling on your old self to pull itself up by its proverbial boot straps, I grant you permission to let the old self off the hook for what it cannot possibly accomplish.  There is work for grief to do.  Let it do its job and have its way.  For if it completes the unique task it has, the old self will return whole and changed and equipped with compassion it did not previously have.  It is worth the wait.

I’m eager to walk briskly with Calvin again.   Not just because his leg will be better, but because my heart will be too.  For now, slow is just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

From The Heart of an Elder and the Younger February 29, 2016

Filed under: Authenticity,Cancer,Grief,Loss,Wisdom — lauradegroot @ 10:47 pm
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My dad died.  Andy Ploegstra was born Groundhogs day 1938.  He told that to his oncology nurses each time he came for a chemotherapy treatment.  He wanted them to know when Groundhogs day was; know it came on the same day every year.  He wanted to add humor, a conversation in the midst of being treated for pancreatic/liver cancer, the kind and the stage that would predictably take his life in a few weeks to months.  It didn’t.  He had many many months instead.  Thank you Chemo – for time, for more conversations, for the final gifts my dad had time to give.   He died February 17th, 2016.

Some will understand the arrangements, travel, details, crowds of people who come together for the intense mourning and honoring.  If you know are in the know about that, you are also aware of the mass of people who show up to help that all happen.  Some of those people you don’t even know. If you are remembering your own recent or not so recent story, I know you are also acquainted with grief.

I am sorry for your loss.  Be thankful for your tears, even if they are in your eyes, on your face now because of your dad, your mom, your sweet child, your grandmother, aunt, grandfather, worlds greatest uncle, the friend who blessed your life, the co-worker, neighbor, husband or wife you can’t still hardly breathe without some days.

Right before I left for those necessary days of rituals and closure an elder man shared a sacred story.  On the retelling of this story one evening a  younger man – my 18-year-old nephew – spoke a sacred statement in response to the story.    It’s profoundly true.  The two stories were gifts to me so I shared them at my dad’s memorial service.  I will share them here for all of you whose somebody has died too.

The elder:  “May I have  two minutes of your time before you leave?”

Me:  “Yes of course.”

The elder with his firm hand on my shoulder:  “I am so sorry for the loss of your father.  Based on the stories you told, he sounds like a great guy and you two had a special relationship.  I really am sorry for you.  But…I am jealous of your grief.  My dad was a drunk, not a mean or sloppy drunk….but a drunk and for the last ten years of  his life he got drunker.  When I put him in the grave, there were no tears, there was no grief.  So, I am sorry for your loss, but jealous of your tears.”

Days later in the retelling to some family, the response was mostly ‘wow’ or wordless.  Until the younger man said this:  “Well that only makes sense.  Grief is a byproduct of love.”

Dad, thank you, thank you for my tears, for my grief.  Its big.

 

When Opposites Attract February 8, 2016

During the 10 hour drive between MI and Iowa, the adult passengers shared stories of people with somewhat opposite personalities, strengths, interests, and characteristics finding one another, pursuing one another and resulting in marriage. No one intentionally sought out an opposite, but attraction to the opposite was the common thread in every story.  Also common was that the differences have worked together not against the relationship.   In fact the opposite qualities become complimentary over time. My own experience would say that is because I’ve pushed back less, and appreciated the differences more;  I rely on what my hubby is wired to contribute and accept his ‘opposite’ as necessary to bringing out the best in me – and our ‘opposites’ functioning together bring out the best in us.

Turns out, this opposite attractiveness shows up in circumstances as well as in people.  I have a fresh experience that I need to write down somewhere.  Its too much for me to hide, to keep to myself.  And because it’s raw, real, recent, there is no filter.   My father has pancreatic and liver cancer.  He responded well to chemo for months, but in the last few weeks has made the shift to facing end-of-life rather than more treatment. He is still living with love, in faith, not in fear.    My brother Jim and I (we both live out of state) got to be with my dad and my mom this past week.  And really – we did a lot more being than doing. That doesn’t feel like much, but its good.  My brother Jeff and wife Sara who live there are so present, kind, compassionate.  Their little kiddos are refreshing diffusers of the intensity.   So thankful for this time to be together.  However, during this same week, some many-year, long-story unfortunate circumstantial crap stirred itself up.  Just trying to write that sentence sucks air out of my lungs, makes my hands shake.  Does anyone else relate to hard things piling up – coming at you in multiples?  Sheesh.  It nearly wrecked me.  Nearly.  Thank you friends for phone calls/texts; you people who I know well – who know me well, and who know yourselves the wallop of hard things.  In one conversation the words of Psalm 23 about the darkest valley (or valley of the shadow of death) came up and the truth that its real but we can “walk” through it because were not alone in it.  I would admit sometimes the walking looks more like crawling with bloodshot eyes, snot running out of your nose, gasping for air.  Or looks like fist pounding on what seems like steel doors, crying for mercy.   We’re not alone.  The opposite of the darkest valley makes me vividly aware of my need for the Presence of Jesus.

The valley of the shadow of death isn’t imaginary.  It isn’t figurative.  The shadowy valley of darkness isn’t inviting or attractive, never on someone’s bucket list.  No one will escape it.  Though most will want to avoid walking through it themselves or with someone they love.  Normal.   I find its hard to breathe and my chest feels tight and I can’t swallow easily  when I’m walking through that valley myself or alongside someone.  A sense of helplessness bounces off the valley walls: ‘I can’t make this go away; I HATE this; I can’t DO anything to change the outcome; I can’t fix anything; I have no control; I don’t want this to be happening.’ It is threatening and oppressive – alone.   Ps 23: 4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil for You (Jesus) are with me;  your rod and your staff will comfort me.”  I will walk through dark valleys but I can without fear…and with provision, protection, comfort, peace – the Light.  You can too; we are NOT alone.

Joy meet grief.  Sorrow meet beauty.  Celebration meet suffering.  Dark valley meet Light. These opposites actually seem to attract.  My friend Rachel told me about an unreal circumstance her friend is living right now, unborn baby, cancer.  no No NO.  Same story: best doctors available, treatment, plans for summer, and the beauty of a Spirit filled prayer.  Please – pray for Rachels friend, her name is Rachel.

And Please don’t push back on the light in your own life, maybe a birthday celebration, maybe a baby on the way,  an engagement, vacation, a childs school program, the job you like, a snow day, even if you also have unreal circumstances in your life – in your friend, family, neighbors life.

Yesterday Dirk the pastor told the story of Elijah who was in the darkest valley; ( I Kings 19 ), Elijah who just had his life threatened by a nasty angry kings wife; a prophet who had ENOUGH; a man of great faith who was just done; who was afraid; who ran away – away from people and places and civilization.  He got to the wilderness alone, away from the dark place, but not really away from the fear or feelings of being overwhelmed.  He lands under a bush and actually prays this prayer:  “Enough of this God, take my life, I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave.”  Then he falls asleep.  I hate to admit, but I get you Elijah.  I relate to the fear for my life, to the having had enough, to the desire to run far away from people, places, civilization.  Anyone else want out of the dark valley?

Thank goodness Dirk the pastor included the next 5 verses.  Here is where the opposite of despair shows up.  An angel shakes Elijah awake and fixes him breakfast!  More sleep, more food and he is ready to take up a long journey to a place where God Himself comes to Elijah in a gentle whisper and sets him back on his feet, back on task. Dark doesn’t win.  I again relate to this story – arriving home, exhausted and waking up to someone making me a great cup of coffee and an spinach, egg, and cheese mexican breakfast torte smothered in Nanita’s hot green chili.  Thanks JR,  you angel you.

People, please believe me.  God is for real.  He is good.  He is greater than the darkness which is also so very real and no one denies.    Don’t push back on Who the Light Is.  If you are curious or skeptic, desperate or not; if you have sat in a church for years and are pretending to believe but really don’t, or have never asked a single question about God – Please just ask God to show Himself to you.  He will.  I can’t help but share what is so real for me in the current dark valley.  I don’t know too many people who haven’t lived through rough patches.  What I know to be true is that the greatest opposite of those places, of those people, of those circumstances is the way Jesus shows up, encourages me and sets me back on my feet – back to living.  He is doing that now.  The cancer isn’t gone, the crap isn’t gone, I’m not done walking through.  But I didn’t run and die alone under a bush.  And I know for certain – I am not walking through alone.

Are you in a dark or dangerous place?  Is hard piling up?  Wanna run?  Too overwhelmed to even know what you need?  This is true: You Are Not Alone.  God is everywhere and will not let you be overcome.  As we are unique, our circumstances unique, God meets us uniquely.

Sometimes it begins with breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does Diet Pepsi, my sister-in-law, and Tina Fey’s Bossypants have in common? October 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:20 am
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They saved my life.

Diet Pepsi out of the soda fountain only is a rare splurge.  Recently it was necessary to keep me away while driving from Florida to Michigan.  My sister-in-law Bethani has a rare sense of humor when delivering accounts of their life. Her version of teaching kids to read in the hallway of a school, my nephews crazy blood types, & the latest adventures of my brother provided  what was necessary to keep me alert on poor radio reception roadways. And Tina Fey…well she is downright funny, certainly sarcastic, refreshingly honest, appropriately edgy and she read me her book Bossypants for hours, thus the  #1 reason I was able to keep driving all the way from our townhome on the water to our 100 year old home in the Mitten.  I am alive and living in Grand Rapids MI.   Thank you Bethani, Tina, DP from the soda fountain.

It is beautiful here.  People from here bring you all kinds of freshly picked apples to say, “Hi, we are glad you are here.” Our girls are here and we can walk to each others houses.  The farmers market is more convenient to walk to than to drive to.  And this 100 year old house has the claw foot tub I asked for in a selfish prayer of want, not need; and it makes me think about my grandma Rozie and her farmhouse  in Iowa that I loved to visit.

Two weeks after our arrival here, we used our packing skills and moving brawn to move my parents from their beloved lake haven in Minnesota to Iowa, where they’ve been greeted warmly and have easy access to grandchildren.  Due to the large amount of recent experience with moving, I thought I would pass on some reality and a couple of helpful tips if moving  is in your near future.

Moving is traumatic.

Say yes if people want to bring you meals when your house is in chaos.  You will not feel like cooking and you do need to keep up your strength.  You may have to succumb to fast food, delivery pizza, ramen noodles and cold cereal.  No one will die.

Even if you are looking forward to it, moving includes loss and grief.  I’m not kidding.  Weird behavior due to grief will be seen in adults, children and pets.  Expect it.  Hugs and ice-cream help.  (So do adult beverages, for the adults…)

Craigslist is an affordable way to get a lot of boxes.  Apple boxes are the very best. Before you start packing, get all your supplies: boxes, lots of packing tape, packing paper, bubble wrap, duct tape, paper/pens, multiple sharpies because they walk away.  Its frustrating to get into the packing zone and not have what you need.

Colored duct tape is Fun and helpful.  Every room gets a different color.  Home depot has a healthy selection.  Secure boxes with packing tape (3M is the best.  Don’t use the cheap stuff  – you WILL swear) and get a heavy duty tape gun.  Put a piece of colored duct tape on top of or across the corner of your box.  This will help you see it from multiple sides when the box is stacked and believe you me, there will be stacks  Sharpies write on that tape nicely.

Write on tape OR number boxes and write on a piece of paper/notebook, the number of the box and list what is inside.  I did both for this last move.  The only thing I have not found is my winter bedding.  Where in the world can a King size quilt hide? I’m slightly concerned I took it to a cleaners in FL and forgot it there.  Why write on the box, even if you are not moving far?  BECAUSE YOU CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU PUT IN THE BOX!  This is a universal fact.  No one’s memory is that sharp when the homespace gets deconstructed then reconstructed.  You can’t pack in a day or two and I promise you cannot keep track of what is in each box.  Keep track of your children, each other, pets,  whatever medication you’re on, phone/computer chargers, your Bible, and a clean pair of underware.  Write on the boxes people.

To pack dishes that you don’t want to break (this is assuming there are some you have that you hope might break so you have an excuse to get new ones.  For pity’s sake, don’t pack those dishes please – give them away and get new ones when you arrive):  put paper plates or dishcloths between each plate.  Make a stack of five or six plates.  Wrap that stack in a beach or bath towel.  Put the stack on its side in a heavy-duty box that is padded on the bottom with a pillow or towels or packing paper.  I just packed and moved two households across MANY states.  Nothing broke.  BOOM Shakalaka!

Throw things away, give things away.  Sell things on Craigslist that you don’t use, are done with, haven’t touched in a year or more or simply do not like.  You won’t miss a thing.  OK, true confession:  I do miss my piano, but it went to a really good home.

You will need things in your new space that you don’t have.  Happens every time.  You will have things form your old space that don’t work in the new.  Craigslist – Thrift – or get what you want that works, fits, makes you happy.  It’s only money.  Moderation people…don’t misunderstand me here.

During the packing and the moving, Rule Number One:  Be nice to each other.  If one person is losing it – let them, bring them hot chocolate, ice cream, coffee, their blankie.  Remember, your turn is right around the corner.  Our rule:  anyone can fall apart, just not at the same time.  You may have to adjust this for the number of people in your household.

Once you’re our and then you’re in, allow time for your mind, feet, heart, eyes, and emotions to move in and find their way around the new homespace.

Have a picnic on the floor of your new place.  Eat favorite food groups.  Call it camping with drywall.   This is a great way to break it in with memory making.

Get used to this question:  “Where is the___?”

People move everyday.  Mission:  It’s Possible!  The rough part doesn’t last forever and there are plenty of good parts.

Do you have a tip or some reality to share on the topic?  Please do.

Feeling welcomed to our new homespace, home state.

Laura

 

Wisdom For A Decade September 21, 2014

The Wise Woman’s Stone

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream.  The next day she met another traveler who was hungry and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.  The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him.  She did so without hesitation.

The Traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune.  He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.  “I’ve been thinking,” he said.  “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious.  Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.”

                                                                                                                                    from The Best of Bits and Pieces

There are a number of especially wise women in my life.  One raised me.  A couple are long time friends.  One is a couple of decades older, a few are a decade or two  younger.  I know this is a gift – to have more than one wise woman who will speak into your life.

Alice is one woman of wisdom who shares what I have to look forward to, prior too each decade birthday.  On the eve of this 50th decade, I would like to pass along the wisdom of the decades I’ve received.

Prior to turning 30 I fought, kicked, bit, pushed, pulled, and attempted to ignore the fact I would not be 20something anymore.  Into this somewhat….ok completely immature and ridiculous behavior Alice the wise woman spoke.

“Laura, the 30’s are the age of wisdom and beauty.”

Well that put a different spin on things.   And so the decade went, where I realized some of the beauty she spoke of was inner, not just outer.

Prior to turning 40, there were no tantrums.  Yet, I wasn’t anticipating what sounded like an older-ish decade with any enthusiasm.  I called Alice.

“Hi Alice,  I was wondering if you had thoughts on what I have to look forward to in my 40’s?  You told me the 30’s would be the age of wisdom and beauty, what are the 40’s the age of?”

Her reply:  “Ugh, aging.  And denial…about aging.”

“Really?!”  I said with a look on my face that  appropriately reflected her answer.  “You are telling me that I am going from wisdom and beauty to Aging and Denial?  Forget it.  I’m tapping out.”

After some thought she said something wonderful that I have found to come true…slowly… over the last 10 years. “Freedom.  You find the Freedom to know and be who you are.”

This week, finishing up being “still in my 40’s” (and saying that A LOT), I contacted the wise woman.  Before I share what she said, there are two things you need to know.

  1.  My physician, Dr. David Thayer in Boulder CO,  has been my MD for 30 years.  The last few annual appointments he said:  “My job is to get you to 100 and then you are on your own.”  I take him seriously.  The whole ‘over-the-hill’ thing I am rejecting.  I think this is the half-way-there mark.
  2. This wise and wonderful friend has spent this year getting to know Cancer, Chemo, Surgery, Needles, Drains, Drugs, Discouragement, Doubt, Pain, Nausea, Help, Healing, Hope, very personally.  I won’t lie, I hesitated calling.  Yet, I’ve known Alice long enough to push hesitation aside.  You see, her wisdom & truth come from a heart and mind tuned into the Holy Spirit; from life experience and lessons learned through rough patches.  I knew I wanted what she had to give.

Here is the actual dialogue:

Me – still in my 40’s:
That time has come again.  Alice, what do I have to look forward to in the decade of the 50’s?
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Alice:
Hi Laura!

It’s so good to hear from you! ❤️

What to look forward to in the 50’s?

Grandchildren! 😀 But that element is outside our control and determination. However it is an effervescent gift beyond words!

By God’s grace my marriage survived the 30’s and 40’s, and I can say the 50’s is the most rewarding decade of all with my husband. Our love has deepened through trial and longevity. We enjoy hanging out together!

This is a quieter decade. Our nest is empty. And that’s okay.

Finally having the guts in this decade (where maybe I’ve grown a little bolder) to pursue God’s call to write full-time. And having the new maturity to cast everything aside that hinders the call (even the very good stuff) as I pursue His will and way.

Finally understanding His choice is the best possible one for me, designed for me — to bless others in His name — as I run the race He’s set before me. (And I fought tooth and nail to avoid his initial call! I was so afraid! 😩)

I think there’s less fear in this decade.

Greatest 50’s gift — God is gifting me with a significant life purpose as scribe. I don’t need to live vicariously and bug my grown kids to create my life. I get to live through my own life! 😀

Hope that helps as you step into a new decade sister! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

Talk soon.
Alice

Alice again – a follow-up reflection:
One more thing —

In my fifties I learned I’m vulnerable to disease. 😥

So now in recovery I try to view each new day as a gift and to be thankful for it.

❤️

Based on this wisdom, I think tomorrow may be the beginning of the Best Decade Yet!   I decided I’m going to strap on my Great Anticipation Cape and leap forward with feet flying, arms flailing, and shouting:  “HERE’S TO BEING HALF WAY THERE!”
 

Pizza Floats August 24, 2014

I have an issue with getting started.  Its just plain hard to get going on anything.  My issues shows up first thing in the morning; getting out of bed; putting on my swimsuit to do laps; getting all the necessary car paraphernalia together to go somewhere; sitting down to write something; dialing a phone to call a friend; the full list would bore you.  So today it was not a surprise that it was hard to get myself going EVEN to go kayaking with the hubby.  I normally overcome the getting started issue and did today – thankfully.   This morning paddle was a chance for exercise, enjoyment, and fear facing.

 

And I found out that pizza floats.

 

Calvin the dog and I mutually enjoy one anothers company.  He made it clear that he would like to be with me on the kayak.  So, he got strapped into the a dog life vest I recently purchased.  Don’t laugh – today it did just what I needed it to do.

Before the hubby was seated on his kayak, Calvin fell/slid/losthisbalance/jumped out of the boat.   Know that I am not afraid of the ocean, but am afraid of this sting-ray, big fish, gigantic iguana infested intracoastal water.  For the dog, I am afraid of not getting him back in the kayak, and that he might swim away from me in front of another boat or too close to the razor sharp barnacles.  Reasonable Fear.

Calvin went out of the boat twice (the second time followed the pizza sighting).    We did not capsize.  I did not go in.  The handle on top of the dog life vest made it possible for me to pull his soggy 80 lb body onto the kayak.  I Am No Longer Afraid…to kayak with the lab…who whined the entire ride.   I now know if he ends up in the intracoastal, I don’t have to join him.

Halfway through our mostly delightful yak paddle, we came upon a large slice of pepperoni.  Pizza Was Floating, I never wondered before if pizza floats, but I am here to let you readers know – it does.  Pass it on.  Eat it, throw it away, but please don’t put it in the ocean. Yuck.

Dinner tonight – Pizza.  My Adie-foodie-friend shared this recipe via her son who prepared it for her.  It apparently has the WOW factor.  Looks simple enough to make.  I make my own pizza crust because its yummy, easy, & inexpensive.  No special recipe for that part.  Here is the  recipe for Malaysian Chicken Pizza

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons natural-style chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (12-inch) Basic Pizza Crust
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 500°.

2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.

4. Pour rice vinegar mixture into pan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute or until chicken is done. (Mixture will be consistency of thick syrup.)

5. Sprinkle cheeses over prepared Basic Pizza Crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top with chicken mixture. Bake at 500° on bottom oven rack for 12 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with green onions. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Note:  This recipe originally ran in Cooking Light September/October, 1991 and was updated for the November, 2012 25th anniversary issue.

(more…)

 

 
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