Friday, March 30, 2012

On Looking Back...and Looking Forward

Part of being in my 50th year has been the fun I've had just throwing caution to the wind.  Not in a way that will get me a mug shot, or that would require counseling...or even an arched eyebrow (unless you count wearing pink Crocs because that occasionally happens just so you know) but just stepping outside my cautious-first-child-I-think-I-have-a-reasonably-good-sense-of-what-I-can-and-can't-do-comfort zone.  Because if there is anything more uncomfortable for me right now...other than being without air conditioning (please refer to yesterday's blogpost for more detailed whining on that subject) is getting outside that comfort zone.  It has been necessary to get my head around the fact that I'm getting older and that someday I may not be able to do some things I've always wanted to do...

So why not do them now?

Never mind that some of this wanting to live more intentionally wasn't helped along by the DVDs I picked up this week from Costco (transferred from VHS to DVD) and I sat here watching them with tears in my eyes.  One of the tapes was dated December1989, and there I was in all of my glory just before Jill was born the next month.  On others...I got to see Jill's little face and hear the sound of her baby voice and to see Brian rolling over and being "loved" by Jill felt like it was yesterday.  They are now 22 and almost 20.

As I sat there...I realized that as much as I'd like to go back for a while...I'm grateful that I have survived!

I also loved looking back knowing now what I certainly couldn't have known then.  That my kids would turn out to be such great kids.  That I'd love them more than I thought possible.  That Jill would outgrow "cute" somewhere in the 7th grade and grew into "beautiful" instead.  That Brian's white blonde curls would be swapped out for brown hair when he turned 16.  That Big Dave's dark brown hair would turn "blonde" when he hit his 40s. 

Knowing now what I obviously didn't know then gave me quite a paradigm shift as I looked at my amazingly poor videotaping skills and smiled and sniffled my way through some of them.  I didn't want it do end...and I'm fairly convinced that I didn't take out the video camera often enough...and I was seriously behind the camera far more than I was in front of it.

I mean, when I did appear...I was this girl with brownish hair (I always have considered myself a blonde, but I was obviously in denial for at least part of the past twenty years) holding a busy two year old (who at two knew how to count to ten, all of her colors and the words to songs I'd forgotten) while I was pregnant with Brian.  I have adorable footage of her jumping all around her bed and singing at the top of her raspy little voice because she knew that she had 100% of her Mommy and Daddy's attention.  Cuteness on overdrive.

One thing I didn't remember, though, was that I obviously weighed more than I remember weighing.  I realized that I am overweight, and (unfortunately) it is much worse now than it was then.  But seriously, I've been on my back so hard for the past twenty years trying to lose weight...that I think it is time that I need to just chill out a little bit.

Not abandon ship, mind you...but to try to find something between eating cardboard and an entire six pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs.  I've done both of these, you know.  And I'm tired.  Lately I've been filled with a quiet desperation to put this issue to rest in my life.  I do without and do without...and then one day...just give in.  The odd thing is...I already know that the war is won.  I don't have to suffer this. 

I'm just still trying to convince myself of this...and the devil is having a heyday poking me.

I've seen people lose weight by being dedicated, or because they have gotten all jazzed up about running a marathon, or just because they got a diagnosis that scared them straight.  I've also had friends who have had gastric bypass surgery, friends with eating disorders, and friends who exercise religiously because they are afraid that a stray pound will hop on there and stay.  I wish I had that fear that I seem to be completely lacking...the one that would keep me on the treadmill...because while I was off living life...Occupy Hips and Thighs has been going on all up in here.

I haven't been able to get anywhere near the girl who was so slim many moons ago.  What some people know, and what others only suspected, was that "that girl" was so convinced that being thin was the road to happiness that she almost wrecked her health by trying to achieve what was impossible for her. 

Sometimes you listen to people telling you that you need to weigh a certain weight...and sometimes they are wrong.

Fortunately, Big Dave was not that person. 

Yes, life would be easier for me if I could manage to figure out the magic combination to keep the weight off.  I know that it is not at Weight Watchers (which I refer to as "Rehab"...and it worked about as well for me as it does for the stars if the tabloids are accurate.)  I sat in Weight Watchers meetings at age 14...and at age 44...I realized that I already knew how to game the system. 

I could not bear striking up conversations with people who had lost 75 pounds and were so gung-ho that I wanted to slap them or feed them a Twinkie just to be spiteful.  I tired of the endless stars and ribbons, bookmarks and check writing, recipe collecting, applauding for everything...while secretly hoping that the scale wouldn't betray me. Some people need that kind of accountability.  I can't have that much of it...or I start losing myself in it.

One week, a chipper instructor was going through her spiel and looking for feedback from our mostly dead-eyed, water-logged, group.  Just sitting there...I realized that I just had to speak up.  To say that I realized that this was the beginning of the end would be an understatement.  I answered all of the questions, explained why to each, and then offered my analysis of the entire lecture.  Not in an unkind way, but in a "I've sat through so many of these lectures that I can now recite to you all of the answers and what you should do to fix your life" kind of way that was pretty shocking to the newbies sitting there.  It wasn't actually made them laugh.  But that was my last meeting. 

No, I was not invited to leave.  I was actually supported.  But I realized that when you cross the line and could actually teach the isn't worth sitting in the class.  It wasn't like I was going to get a PhD in weight loss.  Although, truth be told, I think I deserve one about right now.

I also cannot do crash diets, extreme exercise, or anything where I eat a lot of carbohydrates.  The most effective way I know for me to lose weight is to give up sugar, carbs, and most fat, and just survive on fish, chieken and vegetables.  In fact, I feel better, it is easy to do for the family (I just add a starch for them) and I don't have some of the unpleasant day to day issues that I seem to have with more regularity the older I get.

So, knowing this...why do I Nike says..."Just Do It"?

I mean, I know that Jesus died on the cross to release me from this prison, and that as Philippians says...and Tim Tebow touted in his eye black at University of Florida for four seasons, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength..."  I also know that I have a whole host of supporters who want me to be healthy and around longer than the trajectory that I'm currently on.  I know this because they tell me.  They tell me that they love me for who I am and that what I look like doesn't matter to them...but they know that it matters to me.  That they are there...will walk with me, exercise with me, pray for me, and even do it with me. 

And I am. 


When you have a problem of this magnitude...the desire to change has to come from within.  And as a Christian, I trust that the timing will be perfect.  I know that I have to claim the strength that I already know is mine in Christ.  I do not have to worry about the consequences of failing again...because I believe that worry is just a way of saying that I don't trust that God has my back.  I should and do expect miracles in my life and in the life of others for which I pray.

What it really is boils down to have to be ready to deal with the fallout that people inevitably rain on you...anything from "Oh, that diet?  You'll gain it all back if you eat carbohydrates."  to "You've lost so much...can't you just have this cupcake?" to unwanted attention that you get by people asking almost constantly how much you've lost and how you've done it. 

I used to do that all of the time to people, too.  Still do, actually.  Except coming from someone heavy...people don't seem to mind as much.  What they do have trouble with is it coming from someone who is fit and thin.  Someone who is farther ahead of them...or who has a metabolism that they can only dream about.  I wish these folks would just say to someone that they see doing well..."you look beautiful/healthy/glowing/happy these days...whatever it is you are doing...keep doing it."  That can cover anything from weight, to hair, to makeup, to just dressing better.  It is non-confrontational...and it doesn't require the 85th rendition of what they are doing and how they are doing it...that day.  It also doesn't make us feel like we looked so bad before that people were actually thinking "Oh, honey..."even if they were.

People that gush about how much weight you've lost actually make you feel less attractive...although they are really, sincerely, honestly, trying to make you feel better by being interested in what is going on in your life.  But all of that talk about weight loss just makes people who are trying to get through it even more focused on if we aren't obsessed enough.

But then again...I'm not the spokesmodel for overweight women.  I can only speak for myself and for those who have told me exactly what I've just written here. 

So, I'm stepping out a little bit this 50th year and trying new things.  Cooking healthy meals.  Using ingredients I've never considered before.  Cutting my portions in half (and then half again.)  Staying away from anything with the word "fried" or "cake" in it.

And for those of you out there who are sitting in Weight Watchers meetings and succeeding...more power to you.  It is a great program, and you'll succeed if you stay with it.  But it is not intended to be a thirty year program...and that's what it was to me.  For those of you training for a marathon or are religious about your exercise...I admire your dedication.  I really do.  I've trained for two 60 mile breast cancer walks and completed one (the 2nd one) and 53 miles of the first one (they shuttled us up on the third day to get us there on time to finish). 

I don't envision a life where I can never have another taste of something sweet, another steak, or even a bowl of cereal on occasion.  But I am envisioning a life where I can finally exorcize those demons that have held me in this prison of either food hyper consciousness or self-medicating with food that really, really has run its course.  I know what I need to do, and I know that it works.  I've had people praying for me, and I know that a lot of people have my back.

The changes are not going smoothly, though.  They are difficult and painful and one step forward two steps back sometimes.  I eat when I'm stressed, and I have good days and bad days.  But I know that the victory has already been won and all I am doing is wandering around the waiting room waiting for my name to be called. 

Today is that day.  Again.  Every day is actually going to be "that day" because I have to make the right choices every day that I draw breath.  I have to eat to live...but I do NOT have to live to eat.

I hope that if we videotape me this summer that I look happy...and that the woman who looks at how I look now will see the happiness and not the extra pounds.  Because although they say "You are what you eat..." really are so, so much more than that.

And so am I. 

Thanks for reading...and for those of you who have been encouraging...even when I have failed...thank you for loving me just the same.  To Mom...who I know reads this from time to time...thank you and Ralph for loving me just as I am.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hot Hot Hot (with apologies to Buster Poindexter)

Sometime after midnight on Sunday I woke up to hug Brian goodnight...respond to Jill's text...and try to sleep in this awful "I don't know what season it wants to be at any point in time" weather.  Let's just say that in my is hot.  Not  Like August at the beach hot. The only relief I seem to find is the 45 seconds after I get out of a hot shower or bath and the produce room at Costco.  I'm thinking of putting in a produce room in this house so that I can survive this change of season.

And this change of other things.  Yes.  That.

Big Dave says I'm freezing him out...which either means that I have resumed having "personal summers" again...or he is wrong.  Since he is right most of the time...I'm going to assume that it is me.  Because if the former is true...then this spring and summer will be like being pregnant in the summer...and if the latter is...then Alabama Power is singing "We're in the Money" for reals.

So hot.  So, so hot.

And not THIS kind of hot, either...

THAT I could deal with. What I am talking about is more like this...

Ironically, I actually wrote up to this point on Monday...the day that I had amazingly good intentions of writing something each day this week. 

What is it that they say the road to Hell is paved with?  Exactly.

This week I've felt like this was my theme song...

Turns out there was more than personal summers, my metabolism rocketing up from "non-existent" to "seriously?" due to my commitment to walk 30 minutes a day, and the change of season. 

Yep...the A/C.  Ye Olde Air Conditioning Unit.  Except it is only ten years old...and geothermal.  Big Dave thought we would be smart to put in a geothermal unit in 2001 to save energy costs (yes, we were "green" before "green" was cool.)  Frankly, I can only hope that we're saving money...because if we are not...

Can we say, yikes?

Apparently it is a burned out board or something technical that I really can't begin to comprehend.  What I DO know is that the air conditioning is on, and there's a snowball's chance know...that I'll actually get some sleep tonight.

Because I have been up at least an hour earlier than I needed to be for the past two mornings.  This morning I actually showed up for work an hour early...because it was THAT hot in this house.  Or so it seemed.

I missed winter this year...and can only hope that summer is unseasonably mild in June and we don't go straight from this to "so hot your swimming pool feels like a hot tub."

But there I go borrowing trouble...

Tonight I'm just grateful that the house is cool and that I don't yet know what this is going to cost to fix.  La-la-la-la-la...denial.  Hey, at least I'm not sweating like a hoe in dirt (or is it ho in church?)  Whatever.  :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's Going...

Here in the South...we normally don't stop at "hey"..."hello"...or "hi"...we tend to add a little something else to it.  Most of the time, I will greet someone with "Hey girl!" even if I'm reasonably sure of their name, because it is just what I do.  I also tend to call people "honey"..."sweet girl"..."buddy"..."sweet friend"...or "darlin'" in normal conversation.  Only occasionally do I ever actually catch myself doing it.  And that's really okay.  I live in the South...and that seems to be just what we do. 

Except that I've noticed that beyond the greeting...we always tend to go one step further...we throw out "How are you?"..."How's it going?"...or "What's up?" right behind it.  That's not really a bad thing in itself...except that only about one out of every ten times we ask...we actually wait for the answer. 

Anyone caught him/herself doing this other than me?  Ever answered with "How are you?" and then just keep walking while totally avoiding eye contact?  I've gotten where I will respond, "Fine, thank you." when asked by a salesperson...but I've been known to ask virtual strangers how they are to fill dead air.  Strange but true.

Oh, so you've done that too?  Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought...

By the way, the person who gets kudos for the best response to the "I'm not thinking and am on auto-pilot so I will ask him how he is" Dave Ramsey who answers callers who ALWAYS ask him this (out of habit...and in part to hear him respond, methinks) with...

"Better than I deserve..."

That answer totally rockse, by the way.  Because no matter what kind of craziness your life is experiencing, how bad you think you feel, how disappointed you might be with your lot in life, or how incredibly close you travel to the edge of the are still better than you deserve.


Many people have asked me how things have been going...especially because I have mentioned that I want my 50th year to be special...I need to be losing about a gazillion pounds...and because life in banking since 2008 has been fraught with uncertainty.  Yes, I have made the commitment to be more intentional about life this year.  Yes, I realize that life is not a Lifetime movie with all of the strings neatly tied up in two hours.  No, I am not out of my mind.  But my response to people these days has been...
"It's going..."

Because it is.  Whether or not I like it, think I'd prefer something different, or wish certain aspects could last forever or be over quickly.  Life is moving on...and as it stands right now...I'm moving along with it.  Feel free to interpret that however suits you.  Because no matter how things are going...they are...well...GOING.  Time marches on, the show must go on, ready or not here it comes...and all of that.

I've truly been trying to be intentional...and I've been far successful with that than I have my eating plan or just about anything else.  I started off the weekend after my birthday with a bang...including hearing Tim Tebow speak at a function that a local organization brought him in to raise money of three events of this kind that he is doing this year.  He came to Montgomery, Alabama on March 16th...I got tickets...and I was not disappointed.  The food was good, we had a nice time, and I loved hanging on his every word.  Of course, back in steerage where I was (because as much as I love Tim Tebow...I couldn't pay $450 to actually meet him)...some Mensa candidate had messed up the sound system.  The interviewer, a local sports guy was in and out...but mercifully...I could hear what Tim said.  He inspired the crowd to "finish strong" and he was just as incredible off the field as he is on it.  Yes, I've followed Tim since he was a freshman at Florida although I am not a Gators fan.  But I have always been a Tim Tebow fan.  Ironically, a few days after he spoke here, he was traded to the New York Jets. 

Now I'm a Jets fan because as long as Tim Tebow is there...I'm watching.  I will not watch the Denver Broncos as long as John Elway is in any way associated with that organization.  Bless Peyton Manning's heart...he should have just retired while he was ahead...or picked somewhere else to go.  I am no longer a fan of his either. 

The following day (Saturday, March 17th) spite of forgetting to wear green...I did something I haven't done in awhile...just because I wanted to.  I went through the Dalraida area of town and just looked at the beautiful azaleas and dogwood trees blooming.  In established neighborhoods, these seem to be a mainstay...and in the red clay of Dalraida (as opposed to the prairie soil of Pike Road)...they seem to just be on visual overdrive.  I rode down to the first house we owned in Deerfield and saw our old house.  Someone has a swingset in the backyard and let some of the bushes we planted die.  Funny...I can still walk through that house in my mind.  It was the home we brought our babies home to...and the first of the two we have built from the ground up.  I just hope that whoever is living there now has covered up that gosh awful Waverly wallpaper that I just had to put in the foyer.  It is only gosh awful now, mind you.  At that time, I thought it was amazing.  But then again, I have never been accused of being a decorating genius either. 

That was pretty much the biggest understatement EVER, by the way.

The following day, I went to I am blessed to be able to do...and I ran into my friend, Bonnie, who had extra tickets to the Michael W. Smith concert on March 18th.  Despite having all kinds of company and people coming and going...I went.  Usually I miss things like this, but I was determined to go...and I'm very glad that I did.  What a blessing!  In case you don't know who Michael W. Smith is...if you've been in church - especially contemporary worship - you have heard his music.  He's an amazing artist.

But then came the normal work week.  And like a vapor...all of that intentionality started to seep away.  Started - mind you - but it was not a totally successful evacuation.


This week I have photographed the horses that are so beautiful in a pasture by my house.  Every morning for the past several years...I have vowed to stop and just take a picture.  This week...I did.  The photos aren't particularly good...and two of the mama horses were looking at me a little funny.  But I stopped and took the photo.  I'll take more later...but at least I've done it once.

I also cleaned my son's room top to bottom...and not because the Health Department came in here or for any other reason than I wanted him to come home from his beach trip to a clean room, clean clothes, and a clean start for his week.  I also moved a picture from one part of his room to another...something I've been meaning to do for three years.

Three.  Years. 

I've also written a couple of notes as people have crossed my heart, and have more than once just sat still and listened to something or let a thought run through my mind.  I've felt the sunshine on my face, and noticed that my roses are starting to act like they want to bloom.  I think that the irises all over the yard have made them envious.

Right now, if you ask me how I am I'd answer that it is a little rough because I'm a bit disappointed in someone, but that's part of what happens in life when people are involved.  Because people aren't perfect...however much you may wish for them to be.  It isn't one of those earthshattering "oh my gosh!" moments...just a quiet sadness that makes me wish that I understood the motivation.

But while that isn't perfect...the steak I had last night certainly was.  As was spending the past three days with just Big Dave and the dogs.  And so was the visit with my folks this afternoon.  So there's that.

I don't know what the next week is going to bring...but I am hoping that it is as wonderful as I want it to be.  But I'm paying attention to life...and hoping for the best to come my way. 

I'll keep you posted on that.  Thanks for reading. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 1

Oh, I know what you're thinking..."This poor girl thinks that she has to write 365 blogposts about what she is going to do with herself this year...which will last about oh, say, about a week?"  (And you would be right...because life tends to go on overdrive...) 

Or maybe you weren't thinking that at all.  You were thinking, "Please tell me that something has happened to this girl that she can relay to me that will make me laugh and make me stop thinking about the closet/garage/car that I need to be cleaning out." 

Don't we all love a diversion?  I know I do.  In fact, I pretty much rely on diversions.

I had a pretty incredible birthday yesterday in spite of the fact that I had undone stuff at work that I needed to get done so that I could truly enjoy my off day.  So, I went to work although I was scheduled off for my birthday and was able to get it done.  I am so happy that I did...because today feels pretty great.  Plus, I have a lot going on today anyway that I would have had to rush through had I been at work.  Finally, doesn't  being off for three days (including the weekend) actually make far more sense anyway?  Answer: YES.  I struggle in that "actually makes far more sense" category as a general rule because I tend to think outside the box...which sometimes makes life interesting.

Take for instance some minor bickering going on this morning in my house.  Big Dave and I actually had a "tiff" (Southernese for "on each other's nerves") over the fact that wedding pictures are expensive.  He thinks (because he is a MAN) that a year after the pictures are made nobody looks at them anyway.  He also thinks that paying for photos what you pay for a used car is ridiculous because "in this world of digital hard is it really?" (BLASPHEMY!  These are WEDDING PICTURES!) 

To be fair, though...let's break this down, shall we? (Including stating the obvious...)

1. NOBODY in this family is getting married.  All of my nieces and nephews - save three - one who is a freshman in college and two that are under the age of seven - are already married.  Jill is not and Brian is not getting married.  The unmarried people in my family are also not getting married unless I'm just out of the loop.  Possible...but unlikely. 

2. We have not volunteered to pay for anybody's wedding pictures.   (For obvious reasons.)  Nobody is putting down a deposit, planning "must-have" photos or even - to my knowledge - considering needing a photo shoot anytime soon.  It is difficult enough for me to get my two together for the annual Christmas card photo at Thanksgiving.  I'm not really up for trying my luck at doing any more than that right now.

3. I don't have money to pay for wedding pictures right now anyway...even if someone WAS getting married (which they aren', whatever.)

4. I have only had one cup of coffee and I am not rational until after 9:00 a.m. at the very earliest.  After 9:00 a.m. it remains debatable...but definitely before 9:00 a.m. I AM. NOT. RATIONAL.  He knows this and has for nearly thirty years.

5. It is Friday, my day off, and I am coming off of "feeling the love" of my birthday I'm feeling a little bit like a Miss America contestant...all full of "World Peace" and such.  I want to dream big dreams, see the possibilities, launch into "The hills are alive...with the sound of music..." (but not really sing, because, seriously...not good.)

And yet. 

Big Dave doesn't understand why people pay so much for wedding pictures.  Does. Not. Understand.

And I said that when Jill gets married, he is going to have to get over himself.  Which led to the fact that he isn't paying an "arm and a leg" for a wedding...and me saying that "he's a man and wouldn't understand anyway" and it went on from there.  He won when he said, "Jill isn't getting married right now."

Yeah.  Well... FINE.  (In the South, "FINE" means "anything but 'fine'" in case you need an interpreter.  Or are male.  Or are just Big Dave on my nerves.)

Yes, we are arguing about non-existent wedding pictures for a wedding that is not happening at THIS point in time, anyway...for our daughter.  OR our son.   I think that God would prepare us for this seeing as we have been praying for their future spouses for many years.  I know I have.  And specifically.  I think Big Dave's prayers have been more or less "Please let whoever she marries not be a complete bonehead or someone who thinks he's going to ask me for jack squat after the day he drives away with her." or something to that effect. 

Then there's also that whole aspect of neither one of our children springing a wedding on us any time soon if they expect more than a can of Planters nuts, a container of French Onion dip, potato chips, and some pastel mints from the Dollar Tree at the reception...or a Rehearsal Dinner at Arby's (with 5 for $5) because we are still reeling from the expense of the experience Jill has had as Phi Mu at the University of Alabama...and all that this distinction entailed.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. (But not by a lot.) 

But you really must understand...many of my friends have daughters (or sons) getting married right now.  Some of their children are older than mine...but others are the same age.  Jill has two married classmates and at least five others who are actively planning weddings.  I expect that number to dramatically increase over the next few years as they finish college and start out in life independent of their parents (or at least...that's the plan).  After all...just a few years ago we were worried about getting them through high school and choosing a college.  In Jill's case, I was all about sorority rush and all that.  I'm fairly close to "over that" right now because my friends are moving on to... 

Weddings.  And grandchildren.  But I'm seriously okay with just being obsessed with weddings.

I think that men don't really understand that not only does a girl grow up to dream of meeting her prince (relatively speaking) and having a fabulous wedding (and a wonderful marriage after the wedding) does her mother.  When they hand you a bundle wearing pink...those hopes and dreams begin formulating then.  I can't really speak to other areas of the country...but here in the South...that is just they way it is.  I don't expect to hijack her wedding planning from her...I just like dreaming about the possibilities.  Granted, the mothers handed a bundle wearing blue are planning how to keep those shameless tramps away from their "precious" but that's another blogpost entirely.

They aren't the only "buzz-kills" out there.  Nor is Big Dave.

My sweet mother-in-law has reminded me that Jill may never get married and that I just need to face that reality.  Every time I talk about Jill's future wedding...which Big Dave says is "way too often"...she reminds me that I may be worrying for no reason. 

I think it is an understatement to politely mention that I totally do not wish to hear this.  Like at all.

I'm not worrying, though!  She is missing the point that I don't want to face realities such as her marrying someone we don't particularly like or think is right for her...or that she may never find her Mr. Right.  I'll deal with that if it comes.  I'm not interested in reality!  I get enough of that in my life as it is.

To me, reality would be an actual prospective groom who has nervously asked for permission to marry her and her Daddy actually agreeing to this...and my daughter with stars in her eyes and a ring on her finger (that she actually likes) eying my non-existent bank balance to plan a wedding that encompasses every single solitary idea that I have on my Pinterest board called "Someday..."  It is called "Someday..." because that day is "not today."

I mean...THAT is when we really need to worry.  But now?  Nah.  Just the idea of her wedding is enough for me.  Kind of like when I look at Southern Living and see a really cute garden party that would just be precious if I could figure out how to "throw it together" or the eighteen boards on "Pinterest" loaded with ideas that I will in all likelihood never, ever do because I know that I am in the 1%.

The 1% of people who cannot do what the other 99% CAN do.  Of course, I can do things that the other 99% cannot that's fair.  I guess.

Dreaming and planning an unscheduled event totally suits me.  For now, anyway.

But today's "discussion" about wedding photos just tells me that Big Dave is not going to whip out that checkbook willingly unless he is totally on board with Jill's intended.  Same for Brian.  Although, REALLY, in the grand scheme of things...boys are so much easier to marry off than girls.  So. Much. Cheaper.

The other reason I tend to focus on this is that she is graduating and getting ready to start her own life in just a few weeks from now and for the first time in forever...I don't know her plan.  I always have...and now I don't.  In my own sad little control-freakish way...I am trying to adjust to the idea of not having a whole lot of say into her life anymore.  But the wedding?  I suppose with a wedding...the "golden rule" still applies.  As in "he who has the gold...makes the rules."  Ah, you know what I mean.

In seven weeks, she will (Lord willing) graduate and will then probably move away and will take off in a direction of her own choosing.  At least four years in Tuscaloosa has partially prepared me for this eventuality.  Maybe the "wedding" is the last thing that I know that she and I will be guaranteed to do together...and maybe I'm a little bit scared about facing THAT reality.

After all, that's perfectly normal, right?  I've been raising her for 22 years so that she can graduate and go do something fabulous with her life.  We've poured all of what we've been equipped to offer her into her...and she has more than adequately repaid us with more than we ever dreamed of in a daughter.  Which is absolutely a blessing that we didn't adequately prepared for when we heard the words "It's a girl!" and were so busy being overjoyed that we didn't care.  (And after that were too exhausted to notice...)

She is quite a girl, you know.  And one of these days - Lord willing - I really will be worrying about planning a wedding.  But for now...I'm not worried.  I'm dreaming.  Planning little "Pinterest boards" in my mind...and enjoying sharing the joy with my friends whose daughters and sons are already planning the walk to remember.  Jill will have her own ideas about what she wants...and as has happened with everything else in her you'd think I'd be used to it by now.  But I know in my heart of hearts that God will provide both the groom and the funds to have a lovely wedding when that time comes.

Looking at my bank balance...I realize that this time...Is. Not. Now. 

Big Dave just came back in to kiss me goodbye and tell me not to worry about anything just yet.  I told him that I wasn't worried...just dreaming.  He knows.  He just wanted to keep me grounded so that I'll actually be super-excited for Jill when that time comes and won't be stressed out about it.  Because it is my hope that someday it will.  And that I'll be there to see it.  Because she will be a beautiful bride.  She's beautiful when she bounces in here with minimal makeup and her hair in a ponytail.  When she first gets up and also when she looks like a million bucks when she is about to go out with her friends. 

And what a vision she will be on her wedding day...

Which is NOT today.  So, back to reality...which involves bathing dogs and dusting...and does NOT include dreaming.  So until later...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Goodbye 49...

Tonight is the last night of my 49th year drawing breath.  Now, I actually believe that life begins at conception...but for the sake of counting...I'm beginning with when I actually was born.  Tomorrow I'll be 49 years old and the day after...I begin my 50th year.

I know that most (read that: normal) people only count being 50 when they actually get there...but I'm a planner (this is a tremendous understatement to those of you who don't know me well) I feel like a year such as my 50th should be a little bit more intentional. 

Which is why I want to try to spend it a little differently.  Differently meaning not necessarily all blown-out-big-time-over-the-top-ridiculously-overwhelming-amazingly-detailed-and-difficult-in-spite-of-my-best-efforts like I pretty much do everything else.  More like just - "different." 

And why not? 

I am past the age where I care about everyone's impressions...and where there are some things that I'm really okay to be well...past.  I don't worry so much about signs of aging...because honestly...I've earned all of this "evidence" and wishing it to be otherwise is a colossal waste of time.  And time is one of those things that I respect a whole lot more than I used to.

I am also to the point where I've done most of the biggest things on my list...and now I'm on to the fine tuning, so to speak.  And there is a lot of fine tuning to do.  I have run roughshod over the first fifty years and I'm ready to slow it down.  After all, I'm already blessed to actually be contemplating this...and I know it.

Of course, I also know that the best way to make God laugh is to make plans.  As such, consider these VERY loose plans.  As in...more of a general outline. 

Surely you remember outlines.  I know I do.  I also know that I haven't really kept up with the basic changes in if you are an English teacher, a current student, or just someone who wants to make sure that I am reeducated...humor me. 

The big ideas all have Roman numerals (I, II, III...) and they are the "big rocks" in the jar, so to speak. 

Moving past you on that "big rocks" comment?  Well, here's a story synopsis...

A lecturer at a university is giving a pre-exam lecture on time management. On his desk is a bag of sand, a bag of pebbles, some big rocks and bucket. He asks for a volunteer to put all three grades of stone into the bucket, and a keen student duly steps up to carry out the task, starting with the sand, then the pebbles, then the rocks, which do not all fit in the bucket.

"The is an analogy of poor time management," trills the lecturer, "If you'd have put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, all three would have fit. This is much like time management, in that by completing your biggest tasks first, you leave room to complete your medium tasks, then your smaller ones. By completing your smallest tasks first you spend so much time on them you leave yourself unable to complete either medium of large tasks satisfactorily. Let me show you.."

And the lecturer re-fills the bucket, big rocks first, then pebbles, then sand, shaking the bucket between each so that everything fits.  When everything was set in place...water filled in the rest.

The moral of the story?  You have to know the difference between the rocks, pebbles, sand and water in your life.  You also have to understand that a rock to you may be a pebble to someone else and your sand may be somebody's rock...but that's another analogy for another day.

My rocks?  Easy.

God. Family. Friends. Job.

I'm about to add one more rock in there...Health/Wellness.  Trust me when I tell you that THIS will spawn an entire plethora of blogposts.  (I promise.)

So...back to my "outline analogy"...I have my Roman numerals done.  Now to fill in the capital letters...

And therein lies the challenge.  It would be really easy to just put on there everything I think should be done or needs to be done...or might even have snowball's chance in Hades of getting done.  I don't want to do that.  It hasn't really worked for the past 49 why keep that old script?  And by the way...challenges do not scare me...they inspire me.  The problem is making them so difficult that all I do is focus all of my energies on the challenge.  Which would, of course, defeat the purpose of being intentional now wouldn't it?

I've decided that for 50 of the 52 weeks this coming year, I'm going to either start something new, learn something new, go somewhere fabulous, serve someone generously, strengthen something, let go of something, or intentionally just "be."  The other two weeks I may be doing the same...but maybe not.  I'm building in some wiggle room so this stays fun.

Why not, right?

On the eve of my last day of my 49th year (and for those of you who are confused...remember that a baby lives a year before we count them as "1" because we mark where they've been...not where they are going...which is what I am doing) I'd like to just rest and think.  Think of the possibilities and where I'd like to be a week from now.  Not a year from now.  A WEEK FROM NOW.  I'm tired of long term thinking. 

After all, we aren't really promised tomorrow.  (Although I seriously hope I have tomorrow because I haven't opened up a couple of birthday cards because I'm being all retentive about it not being my birthday yet.)  I've married, built a house, had children, gotten to know my parents as people instead of "authority figures" and I've worked 27 years in a career field.  I've had best friends, watched miracles happen, grown in my faith, and felt the sting of losing someone irreplacable and amazing and shared the joy of countless people.  I've bought a brand new car, owned four great dogs and one half-crazy but very sweet cat, and I put a pool in my back yard.  I'm a college graduate, have an MBA, and I taught banking classes for ten years.  I've grown gardenias and roses, visited Europe and Cabos San Lucas...and have seen my a niece and two nephew marry.  I've had wonderful in-laws, eaten pretty much whatever I've wanted (which really does need to stop)and have finally made a decent pan of biscuits...once.  I've been to Washington D.C., seen Van Goghs up close and attended a wedding in Newport, R.I.  I've lived in or visited several states and I've seen puppies being born (and then cried when they went to their forever homes).

All in all...the list of things I've wanted to do has been pretty well exhausted.  A few remain...writing a book, losing weight so I don't have to worry so much, being a better person...and so much more that I can't even think about right now.

This blog has been part of all of that.  A way for me to just express who I am...whether anybody really cared or not.  Thankfully, many of you have.  Cared, that is.
For those of you who have stayed with me for the past (almost) three years that I have written this blog...thank you.  I know I've been Sue Slacker lately in the posting department...but I've gone from the throes of TurboTax to the FAFSA to addressing envelopes.  From the reorganizing of rooms, closets, piles of stuff and balancing checkbooks obsessively.  I've done just about everything I have to do...but very little of what I want to do lately.  That was actually by design.

As I obsess about my busyness, though, I realize that I'm not so different from everyone else.  We work, clean, help, support, call, deal, straighten, and visit ourselves into oblivion.  The only ones that I think have it right are perhaps those that are the big exercisers.  At least they look good.  As they should for all that effort.  Me with all my busyness?  Not so much.

I guess in closing, I am hoping that the next year will be an exercise in being intentional.  About loving people in such a manner that they don't doubt that there is at least one person on this earth who has their back.  About learning all that I am capable of learning if it will bring me joy.  About being who God has left me here these nearly fifty years to be.  I'm obviously not there yet...because I am still HERE. 


So - check back in with me and please feel free to comment.  I would like to share the journey with as many people as possible because there is something gratifying in sharing something of myself and having that impression bounced back.  I always learn something.  And that's pretty much the goal for this year.

And goodbye to age 48...I'll be turning 49 tomorrow and beginning my 50th year on Friday. 

Time flies when you're having fun.  Even when you aren't.  Join me...