NOTE TO SELF…

I woke up this week and realized that I’m dissatisfied with myself….again. I’m too fat, too gray, too wrinkled. I assume that I don’t look any different than I have for months but I must have been living in a bubble not to have seen it before now. My heart skipped a beat as I glanced in the mirror this morning and saw a stranger standing there. I briefly wondered how someone had gotten in my apartment before I realized it was my own reflection. Remind me to get rid of my mirrors, or at least turn them to the wall.

I simply don’t know how this transformation took place right before my eyes without my even noticing. Talk about self complacency! I would like to lose a little weight and I might just try a method a friend of mine has used to get thin. She is actually too thin but I wouldn’t have to go that far. She just doesn’t eat after three p.m. This is not a new way to lose weight but she is certainly a walking testament that it does work. Maybe I’ll try it….then again maybe not. Notice I said nothing about doing more exercise, that word just doesn’t compute properly in my brain.

There’s not actually much I can do about my wrinkles short of getting a facelift and I’m not playing that game, so I guess I’m stuck with the wrinkles. As for the thin gray hair, well I could get a dye job but I can’t quite bring myself to commit to that and it might make my hair look even thinner; oh how I long for the days when my hair was thick and beautiful! Strange that when I dissect the problem I’m just not willing to do what it takes to make any changes. I guess the only option left is to avoid mirrors at all cost. I mean surely none of these problems have anything to do with my age, right?

So the question remains, how to quit being dissatisfied with myself. Well shopping always brings a lift, temporary though it may be. Doing things for others has a longer lasting effect and focusing on my inner being reminds me that one doesn’t have to be trim and young looking to be happy (though I’ll be one of first to say, it does help). We are each in charge of our own happiness and can choose to be happy regardless of our circumstances and looks.

Note to self: learn to put makeup on and style hair without a mirror….

THE SWEATER WITH 9 LIVES

Old man winter finally arrived with cold blustery wind, rain and hail. I’m so glad I don’t have to be outdoors in those raw bone chilling elements; It’s armchair viewing for me as the hail accumulates on the ground. I’m thankful I live here in Texas and not further east where a monstrous snow storm is marching steadily forward creating havoc in its wake.

Another thing I’m thankful for is that warmer weather is already on the way with temperatures forecast to be in the sixties by Sunday. I’m really hoping this is the extent of our winter, here today and gone (literally) tomorrow…I won’t hold my breath though for this is, after all, Texas and still January.

I got a little chilly watching that nasty storm so I decided to wear my husbands favorite sweater. I didn’t keep many items of his clothing but this particular sweater was so ‘him’ that I couldn’t part with it. He wore it daily for years, and like a little child didn’t want to wear any other though he had several more. I had to wash and dry it at night after he was ensconced in his easy chair so it would be clean and ready for him the next day. Occasionally I had to sew new buttons on when he lost one or two. It must be a good sweater because it stood up to constant wearing and occasional washing and drying. Anyone who remembers him will recall that he always wore western shirts and when it was cool, that particular sweater. The year before he passed away my daughter got tired of seeing him in it and got him a beautiful new one for his birthday which he seemed to like. He did wear the new sweater when he went somewhere of note but he still reached for the old one when working and for every day use.

Anyway I wore his old sweater yesterday and it was warm and comforting. I was transported back to happier days when my big worry was how to get that sweater off him and into the washing machine. I can see why he liked it, it is warm and wearing it was like having a big hug from him all day long. Funny how a simple article of clothing can evoke such a nostalgic feeling and flood of memories. I sort of wish I hadn’t washed it when I decided to keep it for it no longer smells like him, a sweet spicy scent that was totally his own. That’s funny too how each person has their own unique fragrance. My father always said he could pick my mother out of a crowded room blindfolded just by her fragrance which was like freshly baked bread. I don’t know what I smell like but I hope it isn’t bad…it surely couldn’t be as good however as my husband. I wonder if he will still smell like that when I see him in the sweet by and by?

I have dozens of sweaters but I think I’ll make his my ‘go to’ sweater for wearing around the house when it’s cold. I’ll make  it a point too to wear it the next time my daughter comes for a visit and see what she has to say. I’m pretty sure she thinks (hopes) it’s long gone. I wonder if it will last another 30 years? No worries on that score, I’m certain it will last as long as I will.

GOODBYE 2015

Tonight we say goodbye to 2015; some will celebrate riotously, some are loathe for the year to end and others just see it as an inevitable event. I suppose I fall into the the last category, I’m neither happy or sad. The year has actually been a relatively good one, zipping by at the speed of light….what’s up with that? I read somewhere in the bible that in the last days the Lord will shorten days….I think that must have happened. Either that or I’ve gotten old while I slept, and that’s a distinct possibility since I sleep more now than I ever have in my adult life. There’s something to be said for not having to answer to anyone but yourself and after 53 years of marriage and seven children that’s still quite a novelty.

I quit making new year resolutions a few years ago because all that did was make me feel guilty when I faltered or, more often than not, completely failed to keep them. Instead I make goals for myself as I feel the need, and that works out much better for me. Sometime during the first week of this year I decided to write down the good things that happened that day before retiring for the night. When one concentrates on recognizing the good things in ones life it’s surprising how many good things seem to be happening regularly. I now have a years worth of good memories and sweet happenings that bring me joy whenever I care to read them. The key here is to not write down anything negative; something good and positive must be recorded no matter the kind of day one had. This worked so well for me that I’m doing it again this next year. I enjoyed the experience so much that I didn’t miss writing one single day and I actually purchased a journal for 2016 instead of just using a tablet that I already had. I’ve tried various methods over the years of keeping a written record of my life, such as a daily or weekly journal or the calendar method my mother so successfully used, but they all fell by the wayside. I think I’ve finally found the right one for me in concentrating on writing about the good and positive things (blessings) in my life. I hope that when I leave this mortal realm my children will see (if they take the time to read my journals) how many of my happy memories and good times are tied directly to them; family and friends are, after all, what make life worth living.

I’m ending this year in the company of family and tomorrow I will ring in the new year with the traditional black eyed peas (for prosperity and health), greens (for wealth) and cornbread (for gold). I’m not a firm believer in the merits of eating said foods for those reasons but old habits die hard and being a true southerner I enjoy eating them any time so why not on New Year’s Day?

I wish all of you a very happy new year, I hope it brings you happiness and prosperity. Though I must caution that much of our happiness, and even our prosperity, is totally up to us. Spend this year looking for the good happy events in your life and I think you’ll be surprised at years end to see that the good overshadows the bad. Perhaps like me you won’t even be able to remember the bad….I might just add that concentrating  on your blessings can be quite addictive! Happy New Year!

SURVIVE AND THRIVE

I’m very excited about Christmas this year; not for the presents, the tree, the stockings or the goodies, but because most of my family will be here with me. That hasn’t happened in a very long time and probably won’t happen again anytime soon.

I’m reminded of past Christmases when the children were young and the excitement was at a fever pitch, so thick it could almost be cut. I’m near that point now just thinking of everyone being together again. I still have three young grandchildren who will enjoy Christmas in all its glory and wonder and I will enjoy watching them.

It will be a warm Christmas this year but that doesn’t hurt my feelings at all and I’m happy for good travel weather for my family. My oldest son left the cold and snow behind in Denver to travel here to Texas but somehow I don’t believe he minds that.

I didn’t put up a tree this year (instead I have pots of poinsettias) but I do love Christmas trees, especially live ones. They are a symbol of life and hope.

For many years there was a spruce tree that grew all alone right next to the highway that went into Grand Junction, Colorado. There were no other trees around, in fact trees don’t grow in that area, but there against all odds was that fat spruce tree that survived the cold, heat, drought, highway construction, and big trucks whizzing by. One year someone put a lone Christmas ornament on it. That led to others doing the same as they drove past. After that the tree was decorated for years each Christmas season. It was a colorful sight to behold and could be seen for a great distance. I’m sure it was a delight for weary travelers to see but more than that, it was the essence of hope and survival. A thriving tree in such a barren spot spelled hope that no matter how bad circumstances are one can survive and even thrive.

I believe that’s a good thought for us all to keep in mind because isn’t that what Christ wants for us….to survive and thrive?  To be happy and of good cheer, to make the most of all we have, to be a light to others, to make those who pass glad to have known us. This Christmas I will certainly make the most of each day I have with my family, taking their love and warmth with me through the rest of the year and making it a point to not only survive but also to thrive.

A LITTLE OOPSIE

My father was not chauvinistic he was just the epitome of a southern gentleman; and why not, he was one! He thought it was okay for women to drive, just not his women. Consequently he wouldn’t allow my mother to drive and most certainly not his only daughter. He’d take us anywhere we wanted to go and wait hours for us, no matter how inconvenient for  himself. If he was out of town or unavailable we called a taxi. My mother often took a taxi to get groceries and when it rained and my father was gone, you guessed it, I took a taxi to and from school. One summer when he was working in Alaska my mother got tired of riding in a taxi and taught herself to drive…what a surprise awaited him on his return home. From then on, over his protests, she drove herself to town when the notion struck her. I wasn’t quite as fortunate however, and it wasn’t until I married that my husband taught me.

I learned to drive in a 1957 black Buick. It was large, heavy and quite beautiful until I drove it into a three foot deep ditch. In all honesty that wasn’t my fault since my husband was ‘back seat driving’ and suddenly hollered for me to turn….so I did, though evidently not quite where he intended. After that he wasn’t so vocal with his back seat advice although he never completely mastered not doing it.

The only other accident I’ve been involved in while I was driving was when an elderly woman rear ended me as I sat at a stop light. She hit me hard enough to knock me into the intersection but luckily it only damaged my bumper…and disoriented me.

I’ve never really liked driving and that usually worked out okay because my husband loved to. I only learned because of the need to come into the modern age; to get groceries, to chauffeur my children to and from activities, to go to the emergency room [that’s a whole other story] and to drive my family to church when my husband had early meetings.

One of my daughters-in-law jokes that she has a ‘magic’ credit card. She uses it for everything and somehow it always magically gets paid and she has points to use for other things. Until my husband passed away I had a magic car. It always magically got filled with gasoline, it magically got washed, it magically got serviced, and it magically warmed itself when it was cold outside and I needed to go somewhere in it. I was shocked when I moved to Texas and found that the magic didn’t work here…I’m totally on my own now. Oh my dear husband, if you could only see me now you might have a good laugh.

Well anyway, I had a little oopsie with my car yesterday….don’t ask me what, I won’t tell. It’s not much, only a little scratch; well not really a scratch, only a little something else and since I’m the only one who drives my car and it’s on the other side, I won’t have to see it and can pretend it never happened. I don’t think it’s noticeable anyway. If anyone does per chance notice it, I’ll just play dumb [not hard for me to do] and say, “Oh no, what could have happened?” If my husband was here though I’m quite sure that little oopsie would magically disappear. Oh well, as they say, “out of sight out of mind, live and learn, don’t cry over spilled milk, learn to live with battle scars”…and as far as I’m concerned, driving is certainly a battle; I’m actually surprised that I don’t have any more scars than I do.

THANKSGIVING

Well it’s turkey day again and for the third year in a row I’m sidelined except for making the pies; coconut cream and pumpkin, if you must know. I remember well the first turkey dinner I made after I married; I didn’t know what I was doing but it turned out great. So after 51 years of slaving in the kitchen to make this day special for my family I guess I’ve officially passed the torch to the next generation, not that I mind [at least not much].

I was pretty tired by the time my pies were all finished and ready to be admired but I’ll never admit that to my family. No, I’ll act like it was easy breezy lest next year they take that away from me too. Funny that I could once zip around multi- tasking in the kitchen and never break a sweat or lose track of what I was doing….that’s what I call the good old days!

This is the season, and day, to remind ourselves of the many things we have to be thankful for and I have many. I was born of goodly parents; I was married to the love of my life for 53 years who also had goodly parents. I’m blessed with seven successful, talented, law abiding children [and their wonderful spouses] and I have many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and a brother who are each, individually and collectively, a blessing to me.

I’m relatively healthy and still have most of my mind [not that that’s saying much]. I have a nice car, a good safe place to live and I want for nothing materially. I also have, right at the top of my list, my God and my church family. What more could one want, and how could anyone be more blessed?

As this day progresses filling with family, and my tummy filling with all manner of good food, I sincerely don’t know how I managed to be so fortunate. My heart aches for those who struggle, those who aren’t as blessed as I am. I can only pray for them and pay it forward each chance I get. Truly this is a time of thanksgiving for me and a time of self-reflection and determination to make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate.

 

THWARTED

“It was a dark and stormy night which made the resident spirits restless”….I’ve always wanted to write a story using that phrase and since this is ‘National Novel Writer’s month’ I thought I’d just throw that out there because that one sentence is as close as I’ll ever come to actually doing it. For as long as I can remember my favorite pastime has been reading and as a child I imagined I’d become a famous author. I had a good example before me as my mother was a prolific writer who had many things published. She was forever jotting down thoughts or phrases on scraps of paper or napkins as they came to her; she had notebooks full of the same. It was not uncommon for her to wake in the night to jot down an idea on a pad of paper kept by her bedside. Too bad her talent bypassed me; my brothers on the other hand got it to varying degrees with my youngest brother getting the largest share. He constantly writes and has a couple of forums and blogs which are serious, informative, and very intellectual….it blows my mind to read them!

I have niece’s and a granddaughter who have been bitten by the writing bug too and a son who is a serious writer. He, like my mother, has always written but is now concentrating on his first novel, hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of the year. He’s promised I’ll be one of the first to read it and I can’t wait! My other children all have that writing ability to some degree as well, manifesting mostly in short stories or poems and songs….which are quite delightful.

It seems I was thwarted in all other areas as well. There was a time I longed to be a singer but, well, the voice just wasn’t there even though I spent literally hours and hours singing. I’ve had to be satisfied with enjoying my husband’s and children’s beautiful voices and musical talent which is large and varied. There’s something to be said for that however, because listening is much less stressful than performing.

Another aspiration I harbored as a child was of being a ballet dancer…oops, I don’t think I ever told anyone that before. This desire was fueled by my uncle Wood who declared, on more than one occasion, that I had dancer’s legs…said as I was dancing around on my toes just as a ballet dancer would do in my homemade crepe paper tutu.

As I grew up none of these childhood fantasies materialized, what did materialize was a crop of children. No regrets though, I can honestly say that my career of raising children has been totally rewarding and has encompassed all the aspirations I had as a child, they’ve just been used in a different setting than I once imagined.

Now that I’m old and alone with no one to answer to but myself, I can once again resume my foolish desire to be a writer of some sort. So to finish the sentence I began with….”and the goosebumps ran down my spine as I listened to the howl of the wind, or was that the wind?”

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