Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harmony

Why does it make me smile that my book matches my outfit which matches my comforter? Consonance in an often dissonant world I guess--(Jessica understands:-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Playtime


Cheryl and I spent the afternoon playing with our Christmas toys, including my new waffle cone maker....




Then to burn the extra calories we had a Dance Dance revolution!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today is tomorrow's "Good Ol' Days"--




I hope my children have the same happy memories that I do....




(thanks for preserving them-Cathy!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And the beard on his chin....well, anyway


Me: Andy, before you go to church you need to shave.

Andy: I don't want to shave.

Me: If you are going to church you need to shave...you look scruffy.

Andy: I hate shaving.

Me: I don't care, that is what men do!

Andy: It's my life and I don't want you to touch it!!

Me: (exasperated) O.K. then have your own life!

Andy: Well, maybe I will! (steps into shower)

(Steve compromised with a 'stache--now he looks like Kip on Napoleon Dynamite!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gentle Reminders


I have some flowerpots of Christmas bulbs growing on my kitchen counter-paperwhites and amaryllis. They are a gentle reminder that even in the deadest looking seeds there lies a hope of spring.

I also have a painting of Charles Dicken’s Scrooge hanging in my entranceway. When Steve gave it to me, he pointed to the red and green lining of the jacket and said, “ Remember, even in the most hardened heart there is still a bit of Christmas.”


Hanging on my tree is my favorite ornament, I purchased it in high school. It has the words of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” etched in the glass.” These are the words written in 1864 by Henry W. Longfellow, following the tragic death of his beloved wife in a fire and the recent return of his injured son from the battlefield at the darkest hour of the Civil War. In the moving last stanza is the reminder that even in our most desperate hours “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.


I heard the bells on Christmas Day,

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet, The words repeat,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the days had come,

The belfries of all Christendom,

Had rolled along, the unbroken song,

Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from might to day,

A voice, a chime, A chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth,

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound, The carols drowned,

Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent,

The hearthstones of a continent,

And made forlorn, the households born,

Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is not peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong and mocks the song,

Of peace on earth goodwill to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

All three are reminders of the first Christmas message, "Fear Not--- Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men."




Saturday, December 4, 2010

Addicted

As I plopped down my last handful of cash at Walmart for "thistle seed," my new drug of choice, I realized I could have a problem. I am beginning to buy bird food instead of people food. I am taking more pictures of my winged friends than my children. I am spending a lot of time lately just "staring out the window." Aaaah, birds of a feather, flocking together.



But, I am also still addicted to blogging and now I have two more to add to my sidebar--which is no longer called "The Women in My Life." Welcome, Katelyn at "Across the Universe" and Devin at "Let It Be" ( I sense a theme here). I love hearing everyone's thoughts and seeing your pictures--it is the "best part of waking up."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rise and Shout--I am a Utah Man


In the spirit of Rivalry Week and in the spirit of the famous Max Hall statement, “I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home.” I am going to take this Red vs. Blue moment to state, “I hate Bronco Mendenhall.” And during this Holy War, that is strictly in a biblical football coach type of way. (I am sure if he were my neighbor, I would take him cookies at Christmas and wave at him from the mailbox.) I just think, on a football level he is a candy butt (edited for my sensitive readers).

His” Football is Fifth “philosophy goes totally against my core values and beliefs. You are a head football coach for crying out loud—Football should be Numero Uno in your life! I can’t even fathom being married to such a marshmallow! I guess your “blue blood” like that of Prince Charles allows you to prance around on a pony and cross you legs while you give media interviews. But this America Bronco-not England--football, apple pie, Chevrolet-grow some balls and be a man.


When a man wants to put his family first—he puts his heart and soul into his career. Can you imagine Steve telling “Noahs” that they come fifth in his life? I know that Steve loves me dearly because no matter the weather, the financial ups or downs, the “crisis’s at work, the bickering between employees, the missed flights, the TSA groping, the bad hotel rooms, etc. etc. Each and every morning, his feet hit the floor and he puts on his “helmet and pads” and goes to work. When a man puts his friends first it is because he put his career first, and then a late night call from a teenager in trouble can be solved. When a widow needs help; there are the means to help. When a single mother needs a place to have a wedding, we have a place because someone put “football” first. And don’t even get me started on putting “ faith before football.” Faith is an action word. Faith is having a friend come to you with a sketch of a building on a napkin and saying, “I will help you” make your dream come true—let me go home and call my dentist, he might be interested in helping.” Faith is watching an empty field turn into a building. Faith is pleading on your knees, day after day, week after week, for God to help you to “win the game.” Football always comes before faith unless you are so secure in your cushy Cougartown life that you don’t have to play by the “sweat of your brow” anymore.” I am glad that my Dad was a “ football” player, even when he had to play the swing shift or graveyard. I am glad that my father in law was an All-American Teamster truck driver.I am glad that my boys and sons-in –law have their heads in the game!

I agree with the words of a great, winning football coach that I can respect, Vince Lombardi:

It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there - to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules - but to win.

And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.

I don't say these things because I believe in the "brute" nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour - his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear - is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he's exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.

(Boy, that was close game, my heart is still beating.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Come Ye Thankful People Come--



Jessica asked me to please take pictures because she would not be here to do it. So here are the pictures that I Picassed. I am a little impressed with myself this very moment--I am also sitting in my pajamas at 6:00 in the evening after a meal of left-overs, recovering from all the excitement. It was so good sharing the day with friends, relatives and children--I think I counted 39 of us! Plus Grandma on Skype--


Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Freedom Fighters-Putting a Smile on My Face



Wed. November 24, is Opt Out Day for all of those flying around the country. People are being asked to Opt-Out of airport scanners and put themselves through the humiliation of groping pat downs to clog TSA lines and bring attention to the extreme violation of fourth amendment rights against search and seizure. Certain groups have become very creative in their protest, one group will be going without underwear and flying in their kilts. The airways are a buzz with anti-TSA discussions and the internet has connected people on this issue in ways that have not been seen before. Going to WeWontFly.com andFacebook each morning, puts a great big smile on my face. Finally, people are waking up. Finally, people are saying enough is enough, Finally, people are looking to the founding documents of our country and remembering what people who gave everything for our freedom understood.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."-- Benjamin Franklin

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom — go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains rest lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!-- Samuel Adams

A 'No' uttered from deepest 
conviction is better and greater than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, 
or what is worse, to avoid trouble."- (Mahatma) Ghandi

The reason I am smiling so much as I read this (besides the fact that Steve travels a zillion miles a year and I don’t like him passing through radiation and groping—and I certainly don’t want to have to do it!) is because, it is the “rising generation” who is making all the noise! My generation is a bunch of pansies! I love seeing the youth making websites, exercising civil disobedience, passing out fliers, calling their congressman. Tomorrow’s leaders are taking the reins of freedom today, because my generation woosed out. So this Thanksgiving, I raise a toast to the new “sons and daughters of liberty!” Thanks for taking your clothes off so I won’t have to!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Carolyn Tagged Me!!

Four Shows I Watch:

1. Dancing with the Stars

2. Dancing with the Stars-Results Show

3. Good Morning America-Review of Dancing with the Stars

4. Parenthood—it follows Dancing With the Stars

Four Things I'm Passionate About:

1. My husband

2. My children

3. My grandchildren

4. Learning new things

Four Phrases I Say A Lot:

1. Drive careful!

2. Pick up your clothes!

3. WTF—I don’t say it but I sure think it a lotJ

4. I need to pull myself together—Dave told me I say this a lot

Four Things I've Learned from the Past:

1. Be a light; not a judge

2. There is no such thing as being “unworthy”

3. Nothing stays the same

4. Use Sunscreen!!!

Four Places I Would Like to Go:

1. Boston

2. Post-graduate school

3. Rome

4. Hike the Appalachian trail

Four Things I Did Yesterday:

1. Drove to St. George

2. Six loads of laundry (thank goodness for two machines)

3. Visited with my parents and watched family videos

4. Coordinated my children’s, dog’s, husband’s, lives via cell phone while traveling I-15.

Four Things I'm Looking Forward to:

1. Thanksgiving

2. Completing 10 Noahs’ buildings

3. a reunion with my Dad (not in the near future)

4. Writing another book

Four Things I Love About Winter:

1. My children are all gainfully employed

2. cross/country skiing

3. reading by the fire

4. Christmas music

Four Things on My Wish List:

1. Freedom

2. Peace

3. Understanding

4. To be able to hike in the mountains until the day I die.

1. Four People I Tag:

1. Cathy

2. Cheryl

3. Laura

4. Chelsea-In Canada

5. I thought Lindsey tagged Heather--your're it Heather. I have no idea why this is in giant letters--it's the blogger boogeyman!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tai-a-Phobia


When we put Luke in the car, he starts howling and panting. He hates the car even though in one hour he will be in the mountains, where he can run to his heart’s content. In the past, I have tried to take Andy to a Jazz game, but his fear of heights will not even allow him to put one foot inside the arena. I understand this fear of confined places and nosebleed seating, because I have the same physical reaction to my own unfounded fears. There are phobia institutes that force people to confront their fears. I saw an advertisement for a clinic to help “handwashers” and others germaphobes. They promised that at the end of the session you would be eating your lunch in an outhouse (in my case that could also cure my claustrophobic tendencies—although our hotel in Paris helped me in that regard). This week I was once again feeling sympathy pains for Luke and Andy as I temporarily forgot how my body begins to sweat and shake when I succumb to the temptation of “running into” TaiPan Trading Company. I had barely passed the discounted turkey platters at the front door when I could feel my underarms getting moist. I quickly passed the dishes to just “get an idea” of what a new Christmas tree might cost. It wasn’t the 850.00 price tag that gave me heart palpitations-it was wondering how, with 30 different varieties of pinecones, one could ever choose. I decided to glance at the garlands and my eye started twitching. Maybe I should find a restroom. I looked around, no one else seemed to have white knuckles as they pushed their carts towards the ornaments. I debated with myself, “should I run now?” Between me and the front door was, the BIG display, the themed trees-gingerbread, peacocks, elves, snowflakes, old world Santas, new world Santas, Santas in spacesuits—breathe in, breathe out, I reminded myself. Don’t pass out next to all these breakable items! Oh, what was this, a new section? Does TaiPan now sell clothing accessories too? Don’t stop, I was almost to the door—then out of the corner of my eye I saw the cellophane-a big roll 6.99. I really needed some, it makes the cheapest gift look like you actually care—no I can’t. I can’t stand in line behind all those happy mother/daughter teams with their baskets filled to overflowing. I can’t stay here any longer. My presents will just have to be wrapped in the K-mart Big Roll. I see the door. I see the blue sky. I see my car. I pull out my cell-phone. I call Heather—no one else understands like Heather.

But maybe Jessica understands too. Because she is the one that taught me about the decorating “Bible”-- the Pottery Barn catalog. “Look but don’t buy!” She is one that showed me that anything and everything you need for decorating can be found in three aisles at T.J. Maxx. So until next year, when that weird urge to be like my neighbors, overtakes me again, I will gather pinecones in my backyard and spend 1.69 on real apples and corn at Smiths and I will let Zac cut me a tree on his snowmobile. And always, when passing the 90th South exit, I will remember to keep on driving.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Branching Out--





As I have contemplated what to do with the second half of my life, I have realized that I do miss writing and my "notebook" needs to branch out into something a little more substantial. I would love to get the help of my blogger friends. So, if anyone is interested, I will be writing some of my longer thoughts at my new blog "Seeking Peace" found at colleendown.wordpress.com. Please feel free to comment and share your opinions when you have a chance between your carpooling, school homework and photography exhibitions. It has been a little mind expanding just trying to figure out a new blog format--anything to help ward off the Alzheimers. I will keep posting here too. Blogspot is like my comfortable pair of slippers that I just can't give up. (Blogging is much easier with eight inches of snow on the ground and I will use any excuse to not throw off the covers and face the day!)


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Kirkin O' Th' Tartan--(or I like men in plaid skirts)



When I returned to graduate school, I began to pick up a new vocabulary, there were certain words that professors were fond of using that I had not had the occasion to use in my “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” days at home. Certain words like conundrum, inextricably and bucolic would often surface in a lecture or discussion. My favorite new word to whip out in a blog is catholic, meaning universal. I had always equated this word with one religion, based in Rome, but catholic with a little “c” can be dropped into a sentence without ever referring to religion. When I graduated, I received a Master of Liberal Arts degree, but in a separate folder, I also received a post-baccalaureate certificate in Global Studies. While I didn’t start school with this end in mind, the more my mind has been opened to the catholic nature of our lives, the more this little piece of paper means to me.


Yesterday at church, I had the opportunity to use my new favorite word once again and to smile at the universal nature of our beliefs. Each year the Presbyterian Church celebrates its Scottish Heritage with the Kirkin’ O’ Th’ Tartan. Having no Scottish or Presbyterian heritage, I had no idea what to expect, except that my friend Carolyn insisted it was an event not to be missed. (She didn’t warn me though that no one misses it and that every inch of the church would be filled a half-hour before it began.) In this ceremony each “clan” brings forth their Tartan to be blessed. The program explained it this way, “It is said that when the English conquerors banned the wearing of the Tartan in 1745 that some Scottish clansmen began to carry swatches of the material concealed under their clothing into their church services. At some point in the service, when the clergyman would give a blessing, the clansmen would touch their bits of Tartan, and with no outward signals, an underground Kirkin’ occurred.”

As the service began, each clan—the McCormicks, the Wallaces, the Campbells, etc. marched in wearing the distinct tartan or plaid of their name and carrying a blanket over their arms representing their family. Bagpipes, drums and brass players led the way to the front of the church. (Amazing how a drum roll and trumpet can assist in calling one to worship). We then repeated the Scottish Confession of 1560, written my John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church. One line stood out to me “This Kirk (meaning Church) is catholic, that is universal, because it contains the chosen of all ages, of all realms, nations, and tongues who have communion and society with God the Father, and with his son Christ Jesus through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.” As I looked around the building, filled to overflowing with families, dignitaries, Mormons, Presbyterians and a group of red haired Catholic teenagers from the Ulster project in Ireland. I felt a shiver go up my spine and as the bagpipes played the sweet notes of Amazing Grace I thought to myself, today I am blessed to be a member of this “catholic” community—One God, one Lord, one faith and one baptism.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Couch Potato

I was spending the weekend at the cabin, enjoying all the changing colors, when I felt that late afternoon sleepiness descending and my eyelids beginning to get heavy. The warm fire in the stove made it all the harder to resist the tug of a nap. I grabbed a blanket and snuggled down on the couch. It was the maroon and forest green couch that had followed our family from the house on Hidden Valley, into the living room of the Corner Ridge house, up into the loft of the New Hope house and now is tucked into the television corner in the cabin. As I grabbed one of the smaller pillows and sunk down into the cushions, pulling the blanket over my head, I was transported back to the many other times I had laid down on this couch. How many pregnancies had I spent pushing the cushions around me just so, in order to try and get a couple hours sleep? What of all the long weeks spent there while I recovered from hepatitis? How many babies had I nursed sitting on this couch? How many children had I read stories to here? How many books had I become lost in over the years as I sat on cuddled under a quilt? Somehow, those cushions seemed to hold the memories and they flooded over me as I drifted off to sleep.

With fifty years now behind me, we often tend to divide our lives into decades. Me, I divide it into couches. In the far reaches of my mind and in a few baby books, I know we once had a brown striped couch. It must hold memories for my mom. Then I remember the bright blue couch. In the “modern” design of the sixties, it brought the era of Camelot into our home. Today, it would be right in style in a “retro” room. Moving to Arizona, my mom went Mediterranean. Whatever, that means. It is how she referred to our living area; it was Mediterranean. This was the couch of my growing up, this is where I had my “sick days’ home from school, this is where I cuddled my dog, this is where I read all the Laura Inglalls Wilder stories, this is where I have memories of my parents. Sitting. Together. I left home before another couch came into the family. I left home for my own home and the Indian striped couch of our early-married days, a couch that with all the cushions removed and a blanket thrown over the top became a fort for many snowy, afternoons with a houseful of toddlers.

Sometimes, when I think that, “just closing my eyes for a few minutes and taking a power nap” will restore my soul, I plop down on the couch. With my eyes closed and the lulling voices of the television in the background, I am often transported, if only for a few minutes, back to my childhood, back to a time when I was not in charge. For a few minutes, I slip backward in time to a place where my Dad took care of all the bills and my Mom cooked the meals. Sometimes, it takes me clear back to Nana’s house and dozing on the pink divan while she watched “General Hospital” and a pot of gumbo simmered on the stove. I doze for a few minutes and with my eyes closed the world is a simple place and a blanket and pillow once again make everything bearable. No wonder Sigmund Freud and psychotherapy is often equated with a couch; a couch is a magic time machine to your inner childhood.




(Cheryl is my lovely model, dressed in her Mediterranian outfit and sitting as to make her thighs look thin--see KSL "How to sit in a picture")

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why we do the things we do...

This letter was posted by a mother, Vickie Bell, on her blog found here. I wish I would have written it. The funny thing is that it helped me to make sense of the thousand thoughts stirring around in my own brain as I have tossed and turned the past two nights. I did not mean to offend my friends and family, I only feel, as Ms. Bell pointed out, a deep compassion for the "the underdog." Two suicides this summer and living my own life "on the fringe" has made this all the more personal.


Letter to my daughter ( in the wake of senseless tragedy)

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2010

Hello my girl,
I wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss you and that I hope your classes are going well and that you are having fun too.
But I also have to have a mommy moment- bear with me here. I won't take long, and I won't be saying anything I haven't already said in one form or another, but it is important.

You may or may not have heard about the NJ college student who killed himself last week because his room-mate had posted videotape of him having sex with another guy. A terrible, senseless tragedy.

My mommy job requires that I remind you of two essential things:
One:
Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.
Two:
Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.

If that young man had only waited a couple of weeks nobody would have cared- he'd have gotten past it. People have short memories- life would have gotten better, much better. His parents and friends? They loved him prior to the tape- they would have loved him afterward too. A few awkward moments and then life goes on.

But when you are young you don't know that even the awkward moments are fleeting. On this, you just have to trust the old people. Remember when you were really small and cried and cried over something? Well, it didn't last. That's kind of what it's like- awful things happen, you feel like there's a rock in the pit of your stomach, somehow time goes by and it gets better. I promise you, it ALWAYS gets better.

The students, a girl and boy, who were involved in the taping and posting-- they are being charged with bias crime, invasion of privacy and possibly other things. Their college life is over. They will have to live with this death the rest of their lives-- and their families are devastated. What they did was so wrong- but also so kid-stupid. Not to mention mean. And so their lives will be different forever- but even so- their families will love them and they will have time enough to hopefully live in such a way as to make meaning from their mistake.

So, my beautiful girl, never, ever think something is unfixable. NOTHING you do will ever keep us from loving you. NOTHING you do could be so awful you can't get past it.

And if someone is mean to you, and it isn't something you can ignore-- seek out people to talk to about it. Surround yourself with people who are supportive. If you ever need help and don't know how to ask- try writing a letter instead. And right now- before you might need such help- think about who you would talk to if needed. In the midst of turmoil sometimes we don't always think as clearly- having a plan makes it easier to find help in crisis. And remember there are always alternatives. Always.

Finally, don't be mean. Don't let other people be mean.
Stand up for the underdog, protect those who aren't as smart or confident or easygoing as yourself.
Treat people's feelings like fragile little puppies- if you play with them- be gentle.

I love you so much and I know you really don't need me to tell you this stuff.... but it's my job.
Love and hugs,
Mommy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Read and Rest

My grandson, Isaac, started kindergarten this year. When I asked him what his favorite part of the day was, he smiled and said, "Read and Rest!" Recalling the old adage that everything you need to know in life you learn in kindergarten, I decided that I would make it my favorite part of the day, too. Fortunately, as an "older mother," my kids enjoy it as much as I do. And, my new Kindle lets me "Read and Rest"-high tech! Life is good.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's not all about ME, ME, ME



It's still about THEM,THEM, THEM!

As I look over my summer of blogs it appears as if I, I, I, am the only person I care about anymore! So, just in case you think I have become totally self-consumed, I thought I would post these cute pictures from the first day of school. I still get the “kindergarten mom” lump in my throat when I send my kids off to school, even Trevor. We still school shop, sign disclosures, search for backpacks, go to the dentist, miss the bus, head to Wal-Mart for notebooks, work, go to gymnastics, babysit, give father’s blessings, moan about curly hair, read, read, read, call Trevor for help with Algebra, work in the lunchroom, shop for textbooks, practice the piano, change class schedules, forget our lunch money, agonize over what to wear in school pictures, write countless checks, complain about teachers, pop Eggos in the toaster, moan when the alarm goes off at six, look forward to Saturday and everything else that revolves around this “most wonderful time of the year.”

Sunday, September 5, 2010

“Kicking the Bucket”--List

Ever since Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made the saying “the bucket list” a household word, we have all been forced to ask ourselves what is on our “list.” Each day, as I look up at the mountains behind my house, and watch the hang gliders and parasailers jump into thin air, I shake my head and remind myself, there are certain actvities that will never be on the list. (Thanks to my sister and daughter, I can live that one vicariously through them.) There are however other things on my list, because face it, whether or not we have written them down on paper, we all have secret ambitions floating around inside our heads. In a somewhat similar vein, my sisters and I have a “Birthday Swim” each summer where we share our “Birthday Wishes” for the year. Somehow speaking them out loud makes them more real. I had my own personal form of “The List” of everything I wanted to accomplish before I turned 50. My fiftieth birthday, in one sense, was like crossing the finish line of a marathon. Surprisingly, I accomplished the majority— I got my Master’s degree, went to Europe, wrote a book, raised a large family, bought a cabin in the woods. I still need to learn to throw a pot on a potter’s wheel and hike the Appalachian Trail. I have a lot of confidence in lists because they help us to get things done and like my sweet niece recently blogged—everyone loves to cross things off the list. With that said, I am now officially “throwing in the towel,” “kicking the bucket” and “banning my list!”

Since the Big 5-0 party, I have been in a funk, as I pondered what to carry over and what new to add to the “Things To Do Before 60” list. I have slept on it, showered until the hot water ran out over it, and taken a hiatus from writing anything until I figured it out. Then I went to my folder, the folder labeled GOALS, and started looking at the now yellowing pieces of notebook paper, index cards, journals and Daytimer sheets, I had tucked away over the years. I have kept every single one from the day I started college until last year. I have always taken goal setting seriously-“a goal not written is only a wish.” Divided into neat categories, my goal setting has helped me to progress in a “well rounded” manner. There are spiritual goals (pray everyday—as if having seven kids doesn’t force you to your knees anyway) physical goals (remain at 110 lbs., 120 lbs, 130 lbs. and I mean it this time. Keep wardrobe updated and stylish—I must have some Freudian fear of elastic-waisted black polyester pants) educational and homemaking goals (learn to cook with wheat—like General Mills hadn’t already perfected the process) and financial goals-organize my desk-written on every slip of paper since March of 1980. It was the last one that sent me over the edge.

As I looked at all those papers spread out on my bedroom floor, they all seemed to be screaming, “Don’t Think Red-Don’t Think Red!” Have I been subconsciously sabotaging my progress? Has all the goal setting, over things that don’t really matter, kept me back from paths that I may have taken? Was I too focused on the things I thought I “should” be doing instead of those things I “could” be doing? Then I ask myself, “What if I tried living the next year with absolutely no goals, no life plan, no list?” What if I said, “to hell with ever getting my office organized or figuring out what to do with the 300 pounds of stored wheat?” What if each day I wake up to a blank page and see where life takes me?

Amid all my goals, I found a sheet of paper that simply said, “I Dream”—it was the only paper that made me smile and say, “What do you know-this all came true.” So this is the year of living spontaneously and letting the petty goals go. (For heaven's sake, someone can take a box of big garbage bags into my office when I am gone and then cross it off my list.) As I put the GOALS folder back in the drawer, I noticed that towards the back was a stack of blank papers. I reached to take them out and return them to the copier, then I stopped myself. Those sheets of blank paper represent the years ahead. I look forward to filling them with all sorts of wonderful experiences, but this time I won’t be in the driver’s seat of life. Instead, I will be along for the ride, looking out the window, waiting to see where the adventure might take me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nifty Fifty

The summer is waning, school has started and the geese flying overhead remind me that fall is around the corner. Time to wax philosophical. For several years, the Big Five-O has been out on the horizon. For me it became a goal, a completion date for all the things on “The List” –and a date to take my pulse and make sure that I was still in “proper working order.” Thanks to my husband and children, it was also a wonderful day to celebrate all those things that I hold dear-- family, friends, faith, home, food, (it was amazing) and books (looking forward to my new Kindle and diving into the stack I brought home from Barnes and Noble yesterday). I fell asleep counting my blessings for my wonderful life.

I remember turning forty and doing a thorough assessment of where I was in life and what I had learned so far. Fifty has been different. I think because it involves so many more physical changes and frankly, it takes too much energy to “thoroughly assess” things these days! What I noticed most about turning fifty is that it is a time of “softening.” The body begins to “soften,” (thank goodness for Spanx), the might begins to “soften” (that is why the youngest children always get by with more than the oldest), but most importantly the heart and soul soften. People are more important than things, little things don’t matter quite as much and you cut both yourself and others a lot more slack. Ironically, as your eyes go out of focus, life becomes clearer. I like being able to laugh at the absurdities of life, to enjoy the grandkids without feeling responsible for molding them into “responsible citizens,” and sitting with my soulmate comfortable in the knowledge that we love each other just the way we are. It has been an incredible life so far; I see today as the ‘halfway” point and look forward to beginning Act II.

P.S. To any loyal readers, I have to regulate my comments because for some reason I have become so popular in China that I simply cannot control my fans there any longer—please do not believe for one moment I will be “censoring” any of you however.