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)...so 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 this...so 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 years...so 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...