Lessons Learned: Perfect Timing

I was late getting out of work today due to an issue that needed attention. My husband was waiting for me in his car and in a no park zone (we carpool together). I rushed out and got in the car. I could tell he was pissed. Mainly because security was out patrolling the area and he thought he was going to get a ticket. I kept quiet, knowing that he was steaming as he sped off. And then, when we were at the light to turn, we both saw the bumper sticker on the car in front of us. It read: #mellowthefukout.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Luckily, my husband did too.

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Lessons Learned: Stillness

My husband and I went RV’ing this weekend with the intention of spending time at the campground to relax instead of going into town, sightseeing, or hiking. Usually we’re always on the move. We’ll spend a few hours here and there to chill or a few minutes in the day to unwind. But an entire day of stillness? Did I make it? Somewhat.

I did slow down and let myself come back to the present. In the morning we took a little walk around the campground and by the river. We couldn’t stay at the river too long because the mosquitoes were nasty. I had ten blood bombers on one leg, and they weren’t giving it up. Back at our site we chilled, talked, read, and watched the other campers. We plugged in a fan to an outside outlet to blow the bugs away which made it comfortable. In the afternoon we went swimming to cool off and then to the bar (the campground had a bar and grill) to have a couple drinks and view our emails. This is where the somewhat comes in to play. I hadn’t gone through my emails for a while and needed to make sure that there wasn’t anything that I needed to immediately respond to since we had limited cell phone service if there were an emergency. I know I was bad, but it was less than an hour.

My take away from the day is that I was able to enjoy the moments where I sat and watched the clouds roll by. Where I watched a fox dart back into the woods from the road. Where I admired a red-headed woodpecker in a nearby tree, a Monarch butterfly flutter near the ground, and a swarm of gnats hover in the air.

Sometimes they say that it’s not until a crisis or an emotional crash occurs before we take these moments. I can relate to that. I remember when my mom had her stroke and time seemed to stand still when we had to make the decision of letting her live or letting her go. You’re only there for that moment. I’d rather take the time to make the choice for one of our camping days to relax and be in the moment than when in crisis.

I know I’ve written about this before in other blogs, and I believe that it’s worth repeating every so often to remind people to take time to feel the stillness.

Lessons Learned: Not Getting It Together

Today is one of those days where I’m having a hard time expressing my thoughts on paper. I have a few different topics that I can write about, but the words aren’t coming out on the post like they should. Parts of the last sentence I just wrote was deleted and then rewritten again. Three times. Okay, now I went back up and changed the first sentence. Ugh!!!

When I write my blog, I usually create a first draft on paper, type it to a Word document, and then copy and paste to the post. Usually it flows pretty smooth; however, tonight I’m typing as I go since my normal routine isn’t working. I’m still having a hard time thinking and writing at the same time. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because last week was super busy at work with presentations, meetings, and RFPs. At home, I finished an on-line six-week class from the local university (which included a final test), visited my folks to bring them groceries and dispense their pills, and I worked on taxes. And to mention, I went to a fun 50th birthday party for my friend Dan. Another one of us has joined the 50 Club. 🙂 We also celebrated Stuart’s birthday at a local restaurant. Happy birthday to both!

I guess my ramblings for tonight is a hint for me to keep this short. Until next week…let’s hope my brain is back. Happy Monday!

Lessons Learned: A List of What We Do

For Valentine’s Day my husband made me a card. In the card, he listed all the things that I do. Some items on his list include: therapist, confidant, Skyper, parental caretaker, limo driver, financial advisor, bookkeeper, reminder service, back scratcher, morning hugger, temper calmer, exerciser, writer, and blogger.

His list was quite extensive, and he made it positive and fun. The card and the list gave me a chance to reflect on what I do for others. I never thought about some of the smaller things that he listed. Items like morning hugger or cuddler are automatics or routine that I just do. However, he took notice. And while some items on the list were things I did for me, others were based on demand or just some of my quirks. One of those quirks is being a restaurant selector. Mike will suggest a restaurant that he wants to go to and I’ll select a different one. We usually go to the one that I select. Yes, I’m bad but we both realize it’s how I roll. We laugh at my quirk.

I then thought this would be good exercise for others, like you, to do. In a given timeframe, whether a one-month or six-month period, write down what you do for yourself and for others. Write accomplishments, quirks, daily routines from work and home, and those unexpected events or tasks that you do. By making a list, you’ll have a visual of what you actually do (small or large) which can be a nice eye opener.

Once you have your list, ask your partner or a friend to write the same type of list about you so you can see what they see or think about you. Compare lists. You may be surprised at what your partner or friend has written down. Next, do the same exercise for them. It’s a good way to learn about him or her, share smiles, and to appreciate each other even more.

Lessons Learned: The Good and Bad on Turning 50 Part 2

Here is the second part to my blog from January 7th. Yes, we’ve come to the good. My experience on turning 50 so far has been more positive than negative.

Good #1: I like the fact that I can plan the second half of my life different from the first half. I’m no longer building myself into “somebody” because I know who I am. I’m comfortable in my skin, and I don’t have to try to impress. I can take the classes that I want, I can enjoy my kids at a different level now that they are adults, and I can enjoy weekend nights at home and confess that I like it.

Good #2: I’ve enjoyed building a strong list of firsts (see my blog “Put down Your Guard, Lift up Your Shirt” from October 29th) to start 50 right. I lifted my shirt to a catered 50th birthday party, I had boudoir pictures taken to give to my husband for Christmas, and I enjoyed taking a pole dance class. I did all three with my best friend, which is funny because my husband had wanted me to get those pictures taken and try pole dancing, but I wrinkled my nose at him. My friend, however, asked and I was right on it. She didn’t have to twist my arm.

Note One: Going with friends to share the experience is better than going alone.

Note Two: My daughter, after hearing about the two events, told me that I couldn’t hang out with my friend anymore!

Good #3: I’m wiser. Being at the hump or maybe on the downward slide, I think more about life and what it means. I understand that each person is here on earth for a reason. I have to respect what happens and know that there is a purpose to the events that take place…whether good or bad. I have to take every day as it comes, learn from it, and appreciate it.

Overall, I’m looking forward to what the new year brings with being 50. I’m excited for my book to be published, I can’t wait to travel, and I can wear my wrinkles with pride. I’ve earned them.

Lesson Learned: Surprises come in small packages.

Twenty-two years ago I worked in retail and had just finished working the last day to the Christmas shopping rush. The store closed early that Christmas Eve and those of us at the store celebrated with champagne. I was pregnant and due any day. I figured a little glass of champagne wouldn’t hurt, and I deserved it after being on my feet and watching my son Hans (approx. two and a half) who was with us all day.

Once we closed the store and grabbed a bite to eat, we drove up the mountain road from Denver to our house in Bailey, Colorado. Our route took us approximately an hour to get home. The roads were covered with snow, but they were still drivable. On the way up, I explained to Hans how we’d have to get him to bed because Santa would be coming in the morning. We watched the sky for Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. No sign yet as the van stopped in our driveway. I carried my sleepy boy into the house. I set him down in the foyer and my water broke. Oh-oh. The pains began. I was in labor. I called the midwife, and she wanted me to get to the hospital.

We called Guy, our friend, to let him know it was time, since he would be taking care of Hans. We bundled up again, piled into the van, and then headed back down to Denver. I had to explain to Hans that Christmas with Santa would be delayed. Guy met us at the hospital. He stayed with us until midnight before taking a confused little boy home with him.

Willow was born on Christmas at approximately 8:30 in the morning. The nurses put her in a Christmas stocking to celebrate the day. I then received a dozen beautiful red roses, delivered less than an hour after giving birth. I looked at Willow’s father and replied, “How sweet.” He looked at me, dumbfounded. The roses weren’t from him.

The nurse explained, once she came back into the room. The bouquet of roses came from a gentleman, who remains anonymous, even to the hospital staff. The roses were in memory of his mother and given to the mother of the first child born on Christmas each year.

What a gift. My heart went out to this gentleman and to my newborn daughter snuggled in a stocking.

Happy Birthday, Willow!

And

Happy Birthday to my sister Pam – born on Christmas Eve.

Lesson Learned: Put down Your Guard, Lift up Your Shirt

Walls have gone up for centuries. Buildings are constructed one brick or one piece of wood at a time. Like buildings, we construct our lives in the same way. Over the years, we forget how open we were in childhood to try new things. We forget to make snow angels in the snow, to splash our feet in puddles, to roll down a long hill, or to jump in the leaves after raking the backyard.

We need to learn to do frivolous things again – loosen our guard and let the walls down. As we age, I think we build those walls to protect ourselves from getting hurt or to hurt someone else. While in some ways this can be wise, in other ways it prevents us to live life. Now for the second half, when I say to lift up your shirt, I mean to allow yourself that freedom to take a chance. Get out of the enclosed shelter that you’ve built and continue to hide in.

In the next year be conscious of what new things you try, the ones that are fun and make you want to lift up your shirt. Write down what you do on a piece of paper to keep track. For example you could do something challenging like ski in the sand dunes or raft in a Class 3 river. You could also do something simple like swing on a swing set or have a picnic on top of a hill. Try one new event a month, whether large or small. On a note, if you haven’t done it in the last ten years, consider it new.

Once you challenge yourself on a monthly basis you will start to find other “firsts” as well. You won’t limit yourself to one a month. I find it rewarding to check my list every so often to see what new experiences that I have completed. I also look forward to think about what I want to do next. My guard isn’t completely down, but I have started to lift my shirt. 🙂

Lessons Learned: One Simple Gesture Goes a Long Way

Last May, we went to the assisted living facility where my parents live to celebrate my dad’s birthday. I arrived with my husband and daughter. My sister met us there. In the apartment, we noticed that dad seemed confused. He was slow to respond, our words didn’t seem to register. His normal repeated word, “What?” seemed to multiply. We asked if he was okay, and he said that he felt a little run down, but fine. Our hope was that dinner and some nourishment would help.

He became worse at the dinner table. He just looked at his food. We had to keep him focused on the conversation. In the middle of dinner, which he didn’t eat, he had to use the bathroom. I helped him to the men’s room and waited at the door. When he finally came out, he was too weak to walk back to the dining room or to their apartment upstairs. My husband went up to get my mom’s walker that had a built-in seat. We wheeled him down the halls, up the elevator, and to the apartment. We tried transferring him from the walker to his chair. My dad could stand with assistance, but he didn’t know how to move his legs. We helped “walk” his legs. We also knew that it was time to call 911.

In the meantime, my mom fretted over my dad. She didn’t know what was going on, only that her Stan wasn’t himself. She wanted to help. She was always the caregiver in the family; but after her massive stroke, the tables turned and now she depended on him. He was her security.  She became scared and wanted to be near him. Unfortunately, she had no choice but to sit on the couch as everyone else hovered over dad. My sister and I answered questions asked by the first responder, while my husband directed the paramedics to the apartment.

We had an apartment full of people, yet my mom was alone. She sat silent and on the verge of tears. And then, my daughter reached out. She found her way across the crowded room to sit next to her grandma. She took mom’s hand and held tight. That one simple gesture helped my mom tremendously. She knew she wasn’t alone.

A touch of another human can be so powerful. In time of need, a simple gesture – holding a hand or giving a hug – can mean the world to someone in need. Just to assure them that they are not alone. I still remember the effect that it had on me, how my daughter saw the need and took action. The two of them probably don’t remember this simple act but I do. It’s one that I won’t forget.

I hope that I can have that type of effect on someone else as well. I know in the future, I will be mindful of how a simple gesture can really go a long way.

Have Fun!

Previously I wrote about life getting too busy and how at times you can forget to breathe. This is the same with having a good time. My husband and I have been constantly on the go for the last….okay, way too many weeks to count. Spring disappeared. June came and went. Soon the 4th of July waved to us like a breeze passing by. When you’re constantly on the go, you forget to stop and have some good fun, just like taking the time to unwind.

For Mike and me, our fun came last Friday. We went to our friend’s annual birthday “party barge” event. Each year we get together for Colleen’s birthday, hang out on Tommy’s pontoon boat, and have plenty of snacks, drinks, and music. It’s like heaven: listening to Van Morrison or Johnny Cash, watching the water roll from the boat, the shoreline drift by, and the bridge graze above us as we cross under the highway. Normally we boat across three connecting lakes, maybe stop to swim, and do pick-ups for those who can’t take the afternoon off from work. This year, we had a smaller crew. Instead of the normal ten, we started with five. We also kept our adventure to the first lake, closest to Tommy’s dock. He was having issues with his boat, leaving him stranded a few times already that year while on the lake. We had no problem anchoring the boat and just chilling that hot afternoon. Remember, sometimes little faults can steer you in a better direction. Maybe this year we needed that smaller group to reconnect with ourselves.

Splish-splash in the water we go. Two on floaties and the rest with life jackets, we gathered in the water to relax and float. We were like little kids. What fun to kick up your legs, run your arms through the water, and let the sun shine on your face. We didn’t care when Tommy left the four of us in the middle of the lake to go pick up the late-comer. We joked and talked about everything from the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James to the clouds hanging in the sky (also turning gray).

We had no worries or cares for the day. It didn’t matter that our ages ranged from 49 to 55 or that we looked like drowned rats. We sure felt good as age disappeared into youth. Our smiles grew, we laughed a lot, and had much needed fun.

Happy 50th Birthday, Colleen!

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