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

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!”
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The Doors Calvin Opened April 25, 2014

Filed under: Adventure,Courage,Dogs,Expectations,new places,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:46 am
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The trademark of an official Floridian is that one will not go in the ocean during the ‘winter months because one thinks the water is too cold.

After 18 months, I am officially not a Floridian.  Though the water is chilly at first some days, if you stay there a wave or five, it is warm enough to enter.   Call me Coloradoan.  There are still many times I sit or walk on the sand and feel like I am on an extended time away from Colorado.  Not vacation exactly, maybe in-between there and somewhere else.

I think I was attached to familiar and would like that status again.  With the exception of a few good restaurants, a church we attend, some great people we hang out with,  and the ocean, South Florida still has an awful lot of unfamiliar.

“Unfamiliar is part of the adventure,” so say’s my confident-self.

“Listen Polly positive, where in the heck am I and what am I supposed to be doing here in this foreign place?, ” replies my cynic-self.

That dialogue needs interrupting, re-writing, a new perspective.  Or I am going to miss out on something.

 

It is dawning on me that walking through new doors, going to new places, meeting new people, trying new things could be done with  wide-eyed expectation.   Too often I respond with fear, defensiveness,  sometimes unwillingness.

As a natural connector, a liaison of resources, being unfamiliar is frustrating.  I am not helpful to people because of what I don’t know.  Instead I really need connectors, liaisons.    I’d rather be needed than needy.  Just being honest…  I’m aware this is a struggle, and I’m trying to let it simmer down.

Recently I  entered a place where familiar doesn’t matter.  I walked through a door that Calvin opened.   My ordinary yellow labrador, who prefers people over retrieving anything,  took me to a place I otherwise would not have gone.  The place was something like neutral territory.

Just over 6 months ago, Calvin and I took the Therapy Dog International (TDI) test.  We trained for 6 weeks and passed, even though he had to repeat the “leave it”  task.  (meaning to walk calmly by a row of bowls filled with temptations; balls, toys – no problem;   dish FULL of dog treats – problem).  Once the paperwork was complete, we just had to find a place to go ‘visiting’.

One day in the park, I met a man with a friendly goldendoodle  who was TDI certified.  He told me to contact a local Assisted Living community where they often went.   Calvin and I have walked through the doors of that place for many weeks now.  Because of my time working for a hospice in Boulder, I am fairly comfortable in the setting.  Staff and residents appreciate dog visits and Calvin is pretty good with the Elders.  He has leaned up against a few, threatening to topple them as they give his head a good scratch, but   we are working on that!  One particular man, who is somewhere between 95 and 100, (the age changes a little each time I am there), calls Calvin the beast.  Yet, when his thick fingers find just the right spot behind the ear, Calvin sits perfectly still, not even tail movement.  It mesmerizes me because this is the only person that makes Calvin goes that still.

A request came through TDI for an organization wanting therapy dogs.  The organization was a women’s drug and alcohol rehab center. This would be a big commitment as  back to back groups of women have about an hour outside having a snack, a smoke, a visit with therapy dogs.  We decided to try it once.  The outdoor setting is a circular space with a concrete half wall, bench all along the inside of the wall, shade tree in the center.  Attached to one side  is a gazebo .  A chair blocks the one way in so the dogs may wander from person to person.  Only one pup likes to play with the ball.   They all enjoy attention.   There is no familiar-unfamiliar.   No one is from there, knows someone there, or thought they would be there one day.   I’m surprised to find myself  there; ordinary me with my ordinary yellow lab.  I’m surprised by the women I hang out with.  They could be my best friend, my daughter, my neighbor, my mother, me.  Being Floridian, Coloradoan, Georgian, Texan, or New Yorkan doesn’t matter.   The neutral space was leveled by common love of dogs, being loved by dogs, and sharing dog stories.  I’m so glad I didn’t miss this.

We continue to visit there.

Maybe familiar isn’t all I need.  Maybe being Floridian isn’t the goal.  Maybe the struggle will give way to expectancy.   Maybe Calvin will open another door.

If he does…I’m going in.

 

Calvin and a few of his fellow visitors…

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Top Ten List of Things I Didn’t Expect, Part 2 July 24, 2013

I did not dream about this list.  On one of my daily potty walks  with Calvin, (I walk, Calvin potties), I realized there were below the surface things I didn’t expect.  Here is the deeper counterpart to the list in part 1.  (see July 23, 2012)

1.  The rhythm is missing.  Seasons of weather give rhythm to the year – cooler color season, soup season, planting season, vacation season.  Here, it is always bathing suit season.  I’ve had a few soup Days, the planting happens backwards or continually, snow bird season takes up 1/2 the year and people come to FL for vacation year round.   Don’t misunderstand…I LOVE being at the water any old day and exchanging my work fancy pants for bathing suits.   I don’t miss the cold & didn’t expect to miss the natural changes which gave a reliable rhythm to my world.

2.   When I got married, I never thought about year 27.   I never considered what it would be like to drop my twins off at college 1200 miles from home; sing my sister into heaven; enjoy  a 16-year-old girl from Thailand living with us; pack up our home of 11 years and leave a state we had lived in for 27/40 year (myself/JR) and move to the nearly southest/eastest corner of the US  – all in a little over 1 years time.  And so I didn’t expect how meaningful, comforting, amazing the phrase, “I’m still here” would be.  It’s a highly repeated phrase we’ve shared the last 8 months. The phrase sits alongside gratitude for the friendship, partnership, mutual mercy and encouragement that has been flung back and forth between us.  I love my husband for better, for worse.

3.    I am capable of learning new things.  Not just about how to play sports, but about how to do life post kids in the house, post living in Colorado. How to do life here with a fresh white canvas to paint on and alot more awareness of who I am.

4. I am grateful for the funds to buy a lot of plane tickets.  Those connect me face to face with the people I love.  Physical proximity to family and good friends should not be taken for granted.   I did.  Forgive me.  Now I’m not.

5. Prior to moving, I was warned about Hurricanes, Alligators, Bugs – they’re all here.  No one mentioned the powerful instantaneous cow-and-horse downpours that happen here A LOT.  I’ve doubled the amount of umbrellas I own and have strategically situated them.  It is an awesome and beautiful display of the Creator’s beauty.  Rain appreciation club member here.  Who knew.

6.  Truly I HATE tight things – spaces, pants, bras, long sleeves, coats, and especially shoes.  Barefootedness feels like a type of freedom that I’ve been granted.  Barefootedness feels like childhood.  Great non-expectation.

7.  Henry’s beach, Santa Barbara California – home to many of my best childhood memories.  I’m nearly unexpectedly overwhelmed with gratitude  for the Oasis the beach is, on a holiday, on the weekend, on a walk.  I am as content  and joyful there now as I remember being when I was growing up.  Thank You Lord for this perfect, personal gift.

8.  Distance makes the heart grow fonder?  Yes it does.  So does watching my girls grow into remarkable young women via places I’ve never been, people I’ve never met, things I’d never do, experiences I’ve never had.  They are leaning into their lives full steam ahead.  I’ll take the Skype conversations over a phone call, and the individual visits over no visits at all.  In fact spending one on one time with each daughter has offered new depth to our changing adult relationships.  Didn’t see that comin…

9. The companionship of my dog in all of the unfamiliar is priceless.

10.  I’ve liked to watch birds on occasion.  Other than the shameless thief of the seagull nature, my eyes and interests have opened up wide for birds.  They are plentiful here and I’ve spent much time quietly enjoying them, appreciating & observing them.  Perhaps number 10 on the list points out the most unexpected of all, the relief and healing of having time to live at a sustainable pace and notice beauty, people, opportunity, blessing, potential.

And it took a move to Florida for this to happen.

I certainly didn’t expect that.

 

 
followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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