I Adulted Wrong

I don’t think that I am adulting correctly. One would think by mid 40s that I had some adult things figured out, but I really feel like I am missing the mark and running behind. (I’ve always felt this way and kind of lived this way as well. I mean waiting to get married until late 30s is not an Arkansas thing to do. They really like if you get married then get divorced, so they will feel better about judging you, and this should be done at least by your late 20s.  I touched on this in Asleep while Living as well. I digress.)

Walking my dog around our neighborhood, I feel like we are the house and the folks that don’t belong. I wonder if our neighbors look at us like we are the bad neighbors. And really, I think we may be.

Our gutters aren’t cleaned on any consistent basis. We don’t do landscape. I will garden but that is mostly veggies and marigolds, but if the foliage gets a little wild looking we don’t mind. Our yard is the only thing cut consistently but we don’t fertilize or really deal with weeds. We haven’t power washed our deck, driveway, or sidewalk, and I’m sure this was to be done like years ago.

I don’t really do great decorating either. It isn’t that I don’t want things to look better, but by the time I decide on one pillow. I am spent and the rest is too overwhelming.  I still feel like I am on college furniture and throw rugs. I look at other people’s homes and think, so this is an adult house. I mean, we have a wine rack and real wine glasses. Right?

I feel perpetually behind on everything, and I don’t have small children that I am chasing around to blame for any of it. I walked by our neighbors who we have a solid hello and smile relationship with. Walking our little dog, “hey how are you.” Nothing. They took out their trash, and we walked on by. I felt like, man what did we do or not do now.  I’m sure there is an obvious adult thing I am supposed to be aware of but clearly, clearly don’t know.

Even the young couple across the street with two young and adorable kids, two dogs, and a camper seem like they have it together. They have lighting as part of their landscape, shelves in their garage, and no leaves on their lawn, gutters are clean and no dead trees in their yard. I just saw him out the other day in winter no less power washing something. What?

There are books about the “how to” of adulting, but I feel like maybe I should have written these by my age not need to read them. Perhaps I am falling to the trap of comparison and need to just focus more on my circle and not worry so much about how badly I may be doing to the outside world. My inner circle of family and friends think I am okay-most of the time. They aren’t scared of coming over to our home, so it must be tolerable, somewhat.

It is hard enough in any decade this adulting thing. Maybe it is doing no harm even if your gutters do need cleaning.

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Virginia Woolf.

Today would mark her 136th birthday. 

As many 20 somethings in grad school, I latched onto a female author that inspired me.  I don’t know how trendy Virginia Woolf is now, but she was quite popular when I was in grad school. I have loved her work since then. It still inspires me.

 

 

 

Underdogs

So, do you remember the Underdog cartoon?

A little dog in an ill-fitting superhero suit? He spoke in rhyming couplets. What is striking about Underdog is the lack of transformation. Usually, the mild mannered alter ego of a superhero is “changed.”  The look becomes dynamic-superhero-ish, but not so with Underdog. No bulging muscles or dog transformation into a large breed. Just a baggy- ill-fitting suit, but he was still able to do superhero things. He had super-sonic hearing and could fly. Underdog to the rescue!  “There’s no need to fear; Underdog is here!”  A bit of a paradox, but is proving to be true for the Philadelphia Eagles.

What a message, especially now with the emphasis on branding and appearance. To be the hero, to be successful, to be included, Look it. Or for the love of Pete, at least make others believe in your appearance even if it is a lie.

The Eagles have been underdogs all the way to the Super Bowl. Perhaps that is the thing about being an underdog. Perception and transformation. The team was transformed with Wentz out, but not in the way pundits and many said. Despite the exterior change of a “weakened team,” the biggest change seemed to continue to happen inside.

Not to say that the Eagle defense does not present as intimidating, but they were certainly underestimated when compared to the Vikings. To many, the Vikings were the winners.  Again, it seems appearances are not what they seem, and perceptions play themselves out otherwise.

I don’t really believe in destiny. I do believe in lucky breaks, chances, and hard work. I believe in being ready-prepared for the moment. The Eagles are more than destiny or the appearance of underdogs.  They have prepared for this moment and the intangibles of everyday work, prep, and brotherhood that exists on an off the field go beyond the label they have embraced: underdogs. Sure, it seems to drive them and bring them together. Everyone loves an underdog story of climbing up from success and beating odds. Funny how the Eagles were number one the whole way. The biggest odds beaten seem to be the perceptions and interpretations placed on them.

They are of course as most teams would be the underdogs against the Patriots. I expect and hope as most Eagle Fans for the continued success of the Underdog. They are prepared. They have heart.They  have worked hard.

Best of all for superhero underdogs, they can fly.  Never Fear. Underdogs are here.

 

 

Music, milkshakes, poems, and dog haiku

Since November, it has been a very strange season–a good season of discovery but strange nonetheless. Since our visit to Mayo and experiencing what I called A Season of Magic and Miracles,  it has been a new season of health and really taking each day as it comes.

We have learned to take pleasure in small things. So for the longest time, my husband couldn’t have milkshakes. His high cholesterol and diet to lose weight did not allow for many if any indulgences. Now with gastroparesis, milkshakes are a vital way to get calories and one of the few ways he can keep weight on. It is odd that is a meal sometimes but a new normal.

Our Philadelphia Eagles have been keeping us on the edge of our seats with close wins. The underdog label and fighting back to prove so many wrong has been an odd source of comfort and inspiration. My husband has been a fan since 6 and with ongoing health issues, it has been a distraction to root for them. Go Eagles! 

I spent many hours in the waiting rooms at Mayo and was able to indulge in some old favorite poems like “Love Calls Us to the things of this World”, Anyone lived in a pretty how town, and

Dog Haiku: These were a much needed smile.

“Today I sniffed

Many dog behinds–I celebrate

By kissing your face.”

***

I sound the alarm!

Garbage man–come to kiss us all–

Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!”

Along with poetry, I found some new music:

With the strange season, I am learning mindfulness and trying to take on each day and moment.  I remind myself each day:

 

 

 

 

Holidaze

If you haven’t heard, Christmas is coming. I keep hearing the countdown days, and I am filled with dread and delight.  Finding my holiday legs has been difficult since my dad and grandmother passed away.

Thanksgiving hasn’t been as big an adjustment. Thankfully, my husband’s family is also close by, and they are more than willing to hold Thanksgiving and have the clan over. Time off is short so it seems the day comes and goes very quickly. I mean no one is decorating a Turkey a month early.  Christmas was THE holiday for my grandmother. She made sure that it was celebrated. I don’t mean loads of gifts, but decorations, cookies, gatherings, food, and family.

She would do all things Christmas: Decorate and hot glue gun everything with red, green, gold, and blue sequence. For the month of December, her home would be strewn with glitter and sequence from all of her craft projects. Some were for her home, and many others were for the church bazaar. She painted, sewed, and glued anything from stockings, ornaments, to do-das.  She was known to have a Christmas vest, sweater, sweat shirt for everyday in December and beyond. She would plan holiday parties where there was always more than enough food and drink. Later in life, she didn’t throw as big a party, but her Christmas Eve family gatherings were a tradition. We would all be required to wear any number of headbands that she had bought-Santa, Rudolf, and an elf.  She perfected the art of ugly Christmas sweaters way before it was a thing.

My grandmother also loved the church’s cookie walks.  This was an EVENT.  So, pay 12$ and then get in line and bring tins to fill. I think there was a limit of size and amount of tins, but she didn’t mind the lines or the crowds.

What she loved most was driving around to look at lights. My dad was always the official driver which he wasn’t always thrilled about, but did anyways. She was church going woman as well and she knew how to capture the child-like joy of the season. She would always include a gift to everyone no matter the age, from Santa. Always.

So, now I would like to find a way to celebrate honoring those I love, my Savior, and keep the holiday from being a materialistic endeavor. I don’t want to be sad, but sometimes when I see holiday lights at night, I well up. My legs are wobbly and they feel weak and lost.

 

 

A Season of Magic and Miracles

After 11 days of a busy roster of tests and doctor visits at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, we have a diagnosis, treatment, and medicine. Not Magic or a miracle. No instant healing. Good medicine, and support of family and friends.

The magic and the miracle was finding ourselves amid this stream of faces– some so very young and very old– all nationalities, languages, fears, and hopes-that made us “believe” in the season.  There is a constant awe when you see so many faces everyday seeking help, hope and health. Here, you get to see that moment of knowing we are all in this together, so you help with directions, or holding elevators, and understand, we are all in a fight. The clinic tries to make a day of waiting and going between buildings and appointments tolerable. Many large open spaces and waiting rooms with windows and decorations and a piano.

Two strangers sat down at the piano and played a duet. A very young girl and a woman. Strangers in this large place that played a haunting song that stopped us and many others to listen. We are not so different trying to make sense of this mess. This moment of magic sponsored by humankind. If you look on YouTube, and search  mayo clinic piano (We were in the Gonda building). You will find lots of videos of these moments. Some are strangers, some performers who volunteer, some family. All appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audience of One

An Audience of One: The role of your lifetime

One of the simplest but most empowering messages I heard from my Pastor was years ago, “As you go out into your day, into your week, into your life, remember you live only for an audience of One and the rest will fall into place.” Seems pretty simple. Keep your eyes on God. Right?

Over the years, this is a message that has stuck with me, perhaps because I fall into work horse mode very easily. So much so, that I become blind to Who I am working for or towards. I also discovered that I am mostly a 5 on the Enneagram scale. Investigator, so this is good in many ways but bad because there is a drive of independence that is unhealthy. Fear of relying on anyone. ANY ONE will lead to pain. It has been a journey.

The first crash and burn came in midst of what I know others would see as strong spiritual walk and life (see “others”). I was teaching high school English at a private non-denominational high school. I was active in my small church with a girls’ cell group, worked in the nursery, attended a bible study, volunteered at church and school for whatever I could. By all accounts, I was living and doing the “right” life. I fulfilled all the checklists, but One. My weakness was letting the schedule and constructs of church and school replace my private and personal relationship with God. Now, if anyone would have asked me, I would not have seen it. Nope. NO way. But, God has a way of getting our attention. He does try gently. He is not a bully, but I was left to the consequences of my pride.

My heart for teaching was gone. My soul echoed so hollow. The church and pastor that I loved so much was torn apart for reasons that I just couldn’t fathom. I never thought Christians could turn so mean towards a pastor. My mom’s untreated and undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia was in full swing because her mom had just passed away. The girls’ group was now going to be monitored by the youth pastor’s wife which took away in my mind the openness and trust built. My health was pretty shot as well. I had lost to 95 pounds.

God had my attention, and it was just us now. No structured bible study or group to make it happen. Just us.

I often picture that time like a small black box theater which anyone who has been to one or acted knows how intimate it is. It all gets real because there is NO pretense to hide behind because your audience is right there. God was right there. Thankfully the difference was that I could pause and ask for minute. I could get off the stage and seek direction, or I could choose to stand awkwardly (which I do quite well, often, and effortlessly). It was awkward for a long time until I focused back to The One.

Now, I am well aware of my reliance of outside things to create my connection and relationship to God. Even my search for a church has been hobbled by own need to rely not on God, but the structure.  I can hear the still small voice ask, “What are you looking for?”  I am looking for a stronger relationship with God. He then has to again remind me, that He is right there.

Walking in Israel with no agenda but to be and listen, taught me in the scope of history how very small I am, but how special I could be because of Grace. How humbling that He chooses to be an audience even for me, even when I am just standing there awkwardly wondering what to do next.

 

 

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