Friday, November 30, 2007

Hanging of the Green - The Sequel

As you can see, Shaggy the Cat is still guarding the tree, and the wreath is on my door. Today I officially started Christmas shopping, which means gift cards in our family. I guess the Christmas season is now in full swing!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lessons Learned

The past two posts have been about doing what you need to do despite the imagined toil and effort it might take. Today was one of those days that God demonstrates why these lessons are so important.

I hadn't walked since Monday, so I knew I needed to get out today. I wasn't exactly thrilled, because I was a little tired and achy. But I have a marathon to tackle, so there was no legitimate reason not to get out.

I had great plans of walking 12 or maybe even 15 miles, but after two miles, I was already altering my plans. I just didn't feel "into" it. I planned to turn around at mile 3 and head back, but as I approached mile 3, I felt the impetus to keep going to mile 4. Why? I believe it was God saying, "Keep going - today is an 8-mile day. Not 10, or 12, or 15. Just 8." So I kept going and got my 8 in.

The remarkable thing about this story is not that I got another 8 in, or that I did what I needed to do in order to finish my next marathon. The remarkable things are the gifts that I received in addition to my main objective for this one walk. I believe God gave these gifts to me to demonstrate the joys I can receive when I do what I need to do.

The best gift was realization that I wasn't even thinking about the the next mile. Usually I am just hanging on until the next mile is complete so I can dread completing the next mile. But today, I would look up and be totally surprised at where I was, which was always further down the road than I realized. It was a confirmation that God was with me as my wogging partner today.

Another gift was seeing the Cool People Care car. I had heard about it, but seeing it pass me on the road was really neat.

I found a nickel - usually I just find pennies. It just sort of signalled a good day.

My neighbor who lives behind me stopped to see if I needed a ride. It was a lesson on "what goes around comes around," since a few weeks ago I got in my car to look for my side neighbor who was strolling her baby in a sudden rain. It reaffirmed my faith that there are good people out there.

So what does all this mean? For me, it just confirms the assurance that unexpected remarkable things can happen when you're busy doing what you need to do. Maybe that assurance will spur me on the next time I get sluggish, or create a excited anticipation about what God has in store next for me, or encourage me to focus on the little things that are remarkable, whether it is a nickle or a sticker-coated car.

The world is full of good things - we just have to notice them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hanging of The Green at Crestridge

The Christmas tree is up, and as you can see, Shaggy the Cat is guarding it carefully. Or he is making a point that there are no presents for him under the tree.

Since we are not going to be here for Christmas this year, I debated whether to even put up a tree. Sam and Lynnette will be in Texas, and the rest of us will be .... well, let's just say my Christmas dinner will have a Mickey bar in it! Before everyone leaves town this year, we will have our family Christmas party. But I wondered if dragging the tree out with the boxes of ornaments was worth the trouble.

Sometimes I don't want to do things because I think it will take too much time or effort. I perform my own cost/benefit analysis, and decide that a particular task just isn't worth doing. I think I miss some unexpected surprises when I decide things this way. Thankfully, I decided the tree was worth it. As I hung each ornament, I remembered some of the family history that went with it.

Last night, when I lit the lights for the first time, I felt happy and content. There's just something about seeing your tree that just makes you feel a little more festive, even if there's Shaggy Scrooge underneath!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do What You Need To Do

Yesterday I watched Oprah because Denzel Washington was her guest. He was there to promote The Great Debaters, his new movie coming out Christmas Day. After seeing Denzel, the cast, and clips from the movie, I know where I'll be on December 25.

During the show, Denzel talked about things he brought to the movie, not only as an actor, but as the director. He inserted a quote in the movie that his mother used on him, and he uses on his children. The quote is, "We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do."

I am using that quote today because I have a lot of things to do around my house. I don't want to do any of them. I would rather do many other things. But I am going to do what I need to do because it will make me feel better about my house and about the things I want to do.

It's a great philosophy that I hope to use often. I have to lose weight so I can enjoy an occasional Mickey Bar. I have to balance my checkbook so I can get those things I desire. I have to clean and organize my house so I can enjoy living in it. I have to put up my Christmas tree so I can enjoy the decorations.

At my age, I would like to think I've developed a fairly sturdy work ethic. But maybe in those times when I am flagging, remembering this phrase will jump-start my efforts.

Denzel's a keeper. Wonder if he knows Caroline Kennedy?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Random Finds Along The Path

During my wog today, I found a spoon left beside a mailbox. I left it, although I pondered why it was there. Was someone out for a walk, and the spoon got too heavy? Did someone get it in the mail, and was so disgusted with it that they immediately threw it down? Was the mailman eating his lunch, and it just fell out of his truck?

A few miles later, I found a box of sidewalk chalk beside a bus stop at Lipscomb University. Again, I wondered why it was there. Was it not allowed on the bus? Was it waiting for a school bus? Were these the tools of preschool graffiti artists?

Since I had no real answers, I decided to make up my own. First, the spoon's story:

Pamela wondered if this would be the day. She was eating her cereal that morning, when she heard the mail truck stop. Pamela peered out the window and watched as Postman Pete placed the mail in the box. Slowly, Pamela opened the door and walked outside, taking her cereal bowl and spoon with her. She tried to look casual as she gingerly walked to the mailbox. Would it be there? Was this the day? Pamela slowly opened the door and peered inside. She pulled out the envelope that bore her name, and took out the folded paper. She read those fateful words, "You have been accepted..." She was in! Now her life could begin. She ran back to the house, dropping her spoon in the process. She didn't even notice the missing spoon until days later, when she collected the mail again. She started to pick it up, but stopped, because she knew that every time she saw that spoon, she would remember that wonderful day her life started anew.

Now the chalk's story:

It all started as a sociology experiment. Jon and Hank placed the chalk at the bus stop, and sat a few yards away, to record any responses. After an hour, all their notes reflected was the number of people who walked past without even a glance. They decided to leave to get a snack, believing that there would be no responses in the rain that had developed. When they returned, the chalk was gone. They looked around, but saw no one carrying a box of chalk. What they had missed was the woman who had just gotten off work. She was waiting for the bus when she saw the chalk. Looking around, she didn't see anyone, so she picked up the chalk and took it home with her. That evening, she took her young daughter outside, and they spent an hour under the streetlight drawing pictures and laughing.

Just two little made-up stories about random items. But it was fun to imagine happy endings.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not To Be Missed

Today we ate family brunch at the Opryland Hotel. While walking through the hotel and then waiting to be seated, I saw many tourists. I looked at them and talked about them, but didn't speak to them. These people and families are guests in my city, and I simply ignored them.

This is indeed a small world. While walking to the restaurant, I saw a young woman with a Mississippi State sweatshirt on, my alma mater and hometown. Again, I walked right past.

Southerners are supposed to be known for our hospitality, but you couldn't tell it by my actions today. I had a chance to present Nashville as a friendly city, but I didn't. While I am hopeful that the hotel staff and other locals represented my city in a better way, I still had a responsibility to do my part.

I hope I improve next time. I hope to meet and greet strangers as if we were designed to touch each others lives just for that moment. There are just too many chance meetings in this world to let one pass because of lack of effort on my part. All it takes is a word and a smile to make a connection. It is these connections that are the unexpected gifts that make this life so extraordinary. Why would anyone want to miss those?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Observation of Kindness

During yesterday's visit in Columbus, Mississippi, to visit family, I went to the movies with Sam and Lynnette. We carefully selected our seats in the theater, the top middle. Two women were sitting in front of us.

After about five minutes, a group of teenagers came in, and started talking about finding eight seats together for their group. The ladies in front of us volunteered to move to the end of the row so that this group could sit together. The teenagers thanked the women, and soon all were seated.

Just before the ladies offered to move, I muttered to Lynnette that I certainly wouldn't move, because I got there early in order to get the seats I wanted. I felt quite self-righteous and smug. But after 24 hours of thinking about it, as hard as I want to justify my actions, I cannot. After observing this random act of kindness, I feel selfish.

Would moving a few seats over ruined my viewing of the movie? Was it more important to stand my ground, defending my seat position? Did my claim on my seat make a difference in anyone's life, except my own? No on all accounts, because those teenagers will not remember the old lady behind them who was gripping the arms of her seat, firmly planted and unmovable. Instead, they will remember the strangers who spoke up and said, "We'll be glad to move for you."

Anne Frank was right - nobody has to wait to improve the world. It starts every moment you are given a chance to make a positive difference. It can happen anywhere, even in a movie theater. All it takes is speaking up and doing, which will always be much more effective in changing this world than just observing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Boulevard Bolt 5 Mile Jog - Thanksgiving 2007

The Best Things in My Life,
For Which I Am Truly Thankful
Every Single Day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sweet Caroline

Caroline Kennedy has done it again. She one-upped me, this time with Neil Diamond.

Caroline and I were both born in 1957, with me being a few months older. I first became intrigued with her because of the Good Housekeeping cover in 1969. My mother's friend commented that she thought Caroline and I looked alike (meaning we both had long blond hair and blue eyes). I read the accompanying article and found out that we were the same age. But the most fascinating thing to me was that her mother spent $200 on a robe and gown. In 1969, for a country girl whose mother made all her clothes, this was a fortune - and on pajamas?! Needless, to say, I have tried to keep track of Caroline ever since.

She married later than I did, and we each had three children - two girls and a boy. I can accept that she's had several books published and is tiny and lives in New York, all things that I wouldn't mind claiming.

But, for Caroline's 40th birthday party, Julie Andrews sang to her. Now, the week before Caroline's 50th, Neil Diamond announces that a perennial favorite, "Sweet Caroline", was written with her in mind. I shudder to think what will happen on her 60th - will Disney World build a hotel called "The Caroline?"

I wish Caroline all the best. She has had enough heartbreaking tragedy in her life. She certainly deserves some good things, but why Neil and Julie? Why not famous people I don't like?

I guess Caroline and I are more alike that I thought. After all, Julie attended her birthday party; I saw Julie in person at last year's Thanksgiving parade. Neil wrote a song for her; I heard him sing it in concert.

Happy Birthday on November 27th, Caroline. I wish you all the best. And when you get your WDW hotel, just be sure to give me a good deal - after all, we are two peas in a pod!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Checking My Oil

This morning I had a bone density scan. Yesterday I had blood drawn. Both were done to check for the usual stuff they check for at my age. According to my gynecologist, the bone scan had to wait until I was 50 so that insurance would pay for it. She also suggested that at 50 I also have my first colonoscopy, but I'm holding off that gem until 2008.

Since I have turned 50, I have acquired a gastroenterologist, a surgeon, an anesthetist, a psychiatrist, and a hospital. Through Steve, I have access to a rheumatologist and a cardiologist. It would appear that I have an entire medical team at my disposal.

The cynic in me would say, "Since you hit 50, you are really falling apart!" But being a fledgling optimist, I prefer to think differently. I think of them as my pit crew, and I am coming in to get ready for the next part of the race. We're just fine tuning so I'll be ready for all those laps ahead.

I may be a classic, but one that intends to stay in the race. Now, if I could just get my tires rotated ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Some Mondays ...

... are quiet and should be kept that way. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An Ode To Sunday

I did not walk,
I did not jog.
I did not drive
Into a bog.

I cooked pancakes
At family brunch,
I added pecans
Which made them crunch.

I took a nap
And watched tv,
But most of the movie,
I did not see.

I went to supper,
Where I've not been;
It was so good,
It was nearly a sin.

I tried to blog
Intelligent prose;
But for lack of thought,
This poem I chose.

So I'll close for now,
And rest my brain;
If I rhyme any more,
We'll all be in pain!

My sincerest apologies!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One Mile At A Time

Today I walked 14 miles. I walked slow because I am building my mileage in preparation for the WDW Marathon in January. Every mile I complete is another training mile for the 26.2 ahead of me.

For me, the first mile of a marathon is the worst. For that first mile, my brain is trying to convince me that this was a terrible idea, and that I will probably die before I finish. My legs are screaming, my lungs are gasping for air, and my heart is pumping at full capacity. But I keep going. By the time I reach Mile Marker 1, the parts of my body have settled down and we all get ready for the long haul.

I plod along, mentally looking for each succeeding mile marker. Each marker means one less mile to anticipate and undertake. After marker 13, the miles left become fewer than the miles travelled. Finally, the best marker, Marker 25, comes into view, and I joyfully hobble to the finish.

Sometimes I wish I could jump from Marker 1 to Marker 25 and just skip all the ones in between. But there's something about struggling with each one that creates a sense of accomplishment and pride. For the miles I want to cry over, there are the miles that are fun because of who I meet or what I see. For the miles that seem to never end, there are those that go by quickly. For the miles I limp in pain, there are miles that I jog effortlessly. There are good miles and bad miles, but somehow I get through them all.

I think I participate in marathons because they help me understand my life. There are good parts and not-so-good parts, but they all have to happen because it's my life. I just have to keep going and look for those markers along the way, because although each part is different, each is vitally important to make my life complete. Every step, every experience, every moment brings me closer to that finish line when I can truly say, "It's been a great race."

Yep, that's me!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Clean Sheets

Today I changed the sheets on my bed. I don't do this as often as I should or would prefer. I like sheets with a high thread count (that I can afford) or the newest sheet-fad out there (that is affordable). I like my sheets to smell good and feel soft. When I wash my sheets, I wish I could hang them outside to dry, but I have no clothesline. But I do like fresh clean sheets on my bed.

When I was growing up, my mother put clean sheets on our beds regularly. She ironed the pillowcases, which was my introduction to ironing (a habit that has yet to be ingrained in me). Whenever we were sick, my mother would always put clean sheets on our beds. As a result, my sister and I both wholeheartedly believe in the medicinal value of clean sheets.

I like clean sheets because they feel good, especially when you first put your legs down in them. The sheets are still crisp and unwrinkled (technically). I also like clean sheets because they represent a fresh start - they haven't been rumpled around by various family members and pets. But the best thing about clean sheets is that they signify that somebody cares. Somebody thought you deserved to sleep in something comfortable and clean, and that person took the time to do that just for you.

Clean sheets - who'd have thought that just a couple of pieces of material could mean so much.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dancing With Marie

I've never watched "Dancing With The Stars" until this year. I started out watching because of Wayne Newton - I used to be a fan when he was much younger and sexier. (Note to Wayne - you should have said no when asked to do this.) Even after his ouster, I continued to watch because I liked many of the stars.

Some of my favorites have been kicked off, but I still enjoy those who are left. My favorite is Marie Osmond. She is having a great time dancing, even though she has fainted on live television, her father died, and her son went to rehab. She epitomizes what life at our age is all about - still dancing and enjoying life, even when it's life filled with tragedy, family upheaval, and scrutiny by those around us.

Whether Marie leaves next week, or stays on to win, doesn't matter. She has my vote because she is a model of a woman who can laugh, cry, entertain, amuse, and take whatever life has in store - and keep on dancing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen and Davidson's Three

It actually was supposed to be a Shrek 3 party, but it got changed to Ocean's Thirteen. I guess that's what happens when two dvds are released on the same day! Now I know why I bought two sets of new pjs - we were going to need another night!

The party was not well-planned. MB had to go to hot yoga, but Mo was starving after class, so we had to eat, but then MB managed to find food when she returned. Mo wasn't aware that it was a sleep-over, so she needed therapy. Since I had picked out the pjs, there was additional therapy for that. I'm not sure if therapy was complete by the picture taken above!

Anyhow, the movie was pretty good. Usually I don't pay careful attention at the beginning of these movies, but I managed to stay on track. Mo was happy because I didn't ask a billion questions. MB was somewhere on the phone, talking to Montana. All in all, it was a successful party. Shrek 3 is waiting, as are our special pjs for that one.

Yesterday, Kat wrote about how "girlfriends get it." She is so right. She helped me realize that I am so blessed to have so many girlfriends in the guise of daughters and daughter-in-law, sister and nieces, and beloved friends that God has placed in my path. These are the women that allow me to be whatever and whomever I am at the moment, without explanation. We can be children at play or adults in crisis, and be that needed companion for the other. Age and distance cannot separate our hearts, and the memories of times past keep us together until the next memory takes place. It's great to have the gift of "getting it."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Going Green - Tiny Steps at a Time

I finally decided to take Sam up on his ideas. I had some shopping errands to do, so I loaded up my Bahamas Starbucks container and my Cool People Care bag and headed for the mall.

I was on a mission for new pjs and Shrek 3. My first stop was Old Navy. I grabbed my bag, put my billfold, keys, and phone in it, and shopped. I found some acceptable merchandise and headed for the checkout. As the clerk began ringing up my selections, I asked her if she would put the things in my bag. She said, "Sure. The other day I saw a place where you could select paper, plastic, or neither." I made some inane comment, we finished our transaction, and I headed out the door. Score one for the environment!

Next I went to Target for the movie. I dumped out the Old Navy purchases (shopping multiple places takes some coordination - or more bags) on the seat, repacked my bag with my stuff AND my Starbucks mug, and went in. I selected my things, and repeated my request with the Target checkout guy. He seemed a little confused, and was a little awkward in trying to stuff my new pjs (second set - explanation maybe later) into the bag, because they had a couple of hangars on them. I helped him out, and was soon headed towards the store's Starbucks.

Here's where it got a little tricky. I ordered my usual Peppermint Mocha Frap Light, and requested that Ms. Starbucks pour it into my cup. She looked a little bewildered, but said okay. After mixing my drink, she commented that she didn't know if it would fit into the container. She poured it in (and I think had a little left over that she poured down the sink) and handed it to me. Scores two and three for the environment!

I am going to follow Molly's example and keep my shopping bags in my car. I am also keeping my Starbucks cups in the car, so they will be handy when I need them. The hardest part today was asking the clerks to do something different. I don't care to make waves, so I felt a little uncomfortable. But the results were rewarding, so I felt the discomfort less and less as the afternoon wore on.

It may not have been much, but it's a start. Nothing will ever happen or change if you don't start somewhere.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rebuilding and Renovating

My eight-mile wogging route is the same as it has been for seven years. Part of the route covers Belmont Boulevard, a street with wonderful old homes. During the past seven years, I have watched as houses on this street have been renovated to be made new and improved. It's been fun to watch the progress as a house goes from a worn-down structure to a beautiful home.

Currently I am watching a house whose insides have been gutted. The outside shell is the same, but the insides were completely torn out. Today I saw that the carpenters have begun the process of building walls to make rooms. I know that they won't work on the outside until the inside is finished.

At 50, my life is a lot like those old houses. We still have a lot of life left to give, but we need to make a few changes in order to keep going. So we'll start on the inside and let the outside follow. And just like those old houses, I have a Carpenter who knows just what to do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes, I Have Issues

Today it's the hair on my head. The color is growing/fading out (and the number of colors on it rival Joseph's coat), and the mousy color/grey is growing in. I had my hair trimmed a few weeks ago, thinking I could hold out a little longer before I had to decide what to do. Alas, the holdout it over. My appointment is Tuesday.

Let's review. First of all, my hair is naturally curly. Or unnaturally curly. One might say even frizzy. For several years I have straightened it, which made it quite easy to care for, except people seem to think it is better curly.

Second, my hair color is really the color of dirty dishwater - brownish - with grey coming in by the millions (more on that later). I have colored it for many years, changing it as often as I changed hairstylists, each time hoping for a miracle worker. Still looking, apparently.

Third, my hair is thick. Those million grey hairs are joining their million dishwater friends, so there is no spare spot on my noggin.

Fourth, I am getting old. I just put that in to emphasize that I am not as cute as I used to be. Ergo, the number of hairdos that I can get away with are diminishing quite rapidly.

Fifth, I do not "do" hair. Ask my daughter about her lopsided bangs (with school picture proof). I consider brushing my hair about all the styling I am capable of. Even then it is iffy.

So, you can image my dilemma going into Tuesday. Do I cut it all off or just barely trim the edges? Do I straighten it again or just let the curls corkscrew themselves into a frenzy? Do I keep the present various colors or start over?

I will be returning to my current hairstylist, whom I have used twice before. As with all my previous hairstylists, I do not speak her language. Whatever I indicate I want, it always comes out differently. I would take in pictures, but her resulting laughing fit would take up my valuable styling/coloring time.

I shall be pondering and consulting for the next two days. Today when I presented a possible "do" printed from the Internet, the females in the family said no and the males said go for it. This is not going to be easy. Too bad Halloween is over - at least I could have had a valid excuse!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Autumn at Crestridge Drive

I love fall. Maybe it's because the air gets cooler, and I'm tired of the hot weather. Maybe it's because the leaves change colors and the scene on my street is lovely. Maybe it's just the change of seasons, and being a moody person, I am ready for a change. Maybe it's because fall seems like the season to pull back and slow down. Whatever the reason, I'm glad autumn is here.

Today is one of those fall Saturdays when I feel like accomplishing things. The weather is beautiful, so I want to be outside cleaning up things. I know winter is coming, so I also want to be inside, cleaning and organizing for those inevitable days when I will spend most of my day inside. The crisp air invigorates me and fills me with intention.

I've finally gotten back on track with my daily lists, which help me organize my day and not waste time. Today I have many things I hope to do. But as busy as I want to be, I hope to always be aware of the beauty that surrounds me, and stop every now and then to take it all in.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ratatouille - The Party

Yes, this was the beginning of our Ratatouille party. It started after I got home from the symphony and Molly got out of class. Maribeth was just waiting on us. And yes, we have matching Target pjs - very important for our parties. I don't know why we are holding stuffed animals - except they were in the kitchen at the time of the picture.

We are in the kitchen because MB and Mo were in charge of refreshments. MB fixed trail pizza, which is made with over a campfire with tortilla shells and pizza fixins. We used the top of the oven instead. Molly made vegan chocolate cupcakes which were quite delightful. Very chocolaty, which was doubly yummy.

I cleaned up, which was fun since the cooks attempted to use every cooking utensil that was available to them.

Since the movie wasn't started until 11:45 pm, Molly and I only saw half, but we rectified that situation by watching the remainder of it this morning. I think we liked it - I liked the ending the best.

Last week Kat had some precious pictures of her girls, and it made me think of my two when they were that little. Daughters grow up and move away (and come back), but the fun of having them is a forever thing. Especially if you have matching pajamas!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Night At The Symphony

I hadn't been to hear the Nashville Symphony in so long, I had forgotten the pleasures of such an evening. Although I had been in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center for a party, I had never been there to hear a concert. Tonight I got both, and a fried green tomato BLT thrown in!

Emily had called and said she had an extra symphony ticket and invited me to go with her. After getting on the shuttle bus, then deciding to get off and walk, we had dinner at Merchant's where I had the aforementioned treat. We proceeded to the Schermerhorn, bumbled around looking for and finding our seats, and delighted in a wonderful evening. The symphony's guests were the Naval Academy Men's Glee Club, and they were magnificent. There were songs in foreign languages, tunes by Irving Berlin and Rogers and Hammerstein, and rousing renditions of "God Bless America" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was a moving and marvelous evening of entertainment.

Before we found our seats, Emily said, "We don't have great seats." I wasn't sure what to expect. Were they out on the sidewalk? In the custodian's closet? Right in front of the drum section?

As it turned out, I had the best seat in the house, at least for me. We were in one of the balconies, technically behind the orchestra. Hearing was not a problem, as the hall was designed so everyone hears the exact same music. But my seat included an up-close look at the symphony. I could see who was playing, and who was waiting his turn. I could see the dude playing the spoons, and the other dude blowing out his spit valve. I could see the Navy guy who had a folder but no music in it. In short, I could see how the symphony was working, and I loved it.

While sitting there, I imagined that my view was a lot like what God sees. He looks at the world and notices who is doing what. He knows we're all necessary to make the big picture work. He created each person to perform a particular task, none of which is more important than the other. We're all there and ready to be wonderful, if we each do our part and pay attention to our conductor.

Tonight I was privileged to listen to beautiful music. It soothed my soul, and reminded me of the power and beauty of music. As God watches me play my part on this earth, I hope my music is as beautiful to Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Know When to Say When - And Say It!

After a successful Target shopping trip, I sent MB to the in-house Starbucks to get refreshments. I requested a peppermint mocha. Upon joining her, I found that I was getting a gargantuan-size full-strength peppermint mocha (meaning: no lite AND with a full can of whipped cream). Needless to say, it was good. However, after several swigs, I was becoming concerned that with the amount of caffeine and sugar in the drink, I would probably not be able to sleep until Saturday.

So, even though it was delicious, I decided to stop mid-glass. Yes, I tossed that last half of my drink. I knew it was time to stop, and I did. It is a victory, one that I need to make a habit. Which I will work on, as soon as my legs stop twitching!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

John Richard Lewis

What is my favorite little brother story? Was it the time we dressed him up as a ballerina for Halloween? Was it filming our disappearing magic act with the old 8mm movie camera? Was it playing with his Big Bruiser Truck or Big Burger Grill?

Or is it the double date when he took the girl who refused to eat pork because pigs will eat anything? Or his help moving us on our numerous moves from state to state? Or his wedding day when the newspaper headlines were about his company's problems? Or his graduation from law school only days after his son was born?

It is all of these and more, because every memory and every moment binds us together. No matter how old we get, or how far apart we live, we will always be the kids who grew up in the country at Route 3, Box 26.

Today my brother is 48. My sister and I have known him every minute of his life. I cannot imagine my life without him, because he is a part of who I am. Today is his birthday, but it is I who really received the gift, because 48 years ago, God gave me a brother. Now that's a gift that keeps on giving!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Safe Places

No matter why or when I call AAA, and no matter to whom I speak, the question is always the same - "Are you in a safe place?" They don't first ask if I left the lights on in the car again or if there gas in the tank. The first thing they want to know is if I am safe. Wouldn't it be great if they would check up on everybody?

My niece is working and living in Bangkok. Recently, she's had a few adventures that I wouldn't call "safe." She's been dealing with crazy cab drivers, unsafe apartments, and unfriendly work environments. She's very brave and smart to be dealing with so much at such a young (22) age. But as her old aunt, I still worry about her. She doesn't have AAA to check on her. So I pray for her and trust God to keep her in safe places.

But maybe there's another story here. Maybe I can be like AAA. Maybe I need to begin to ask those around me if they're in a safe place. Maybe by asking, I can let those people know their safety and their well-being is the most important thing to me. We all need safe places. But maybe that safe place is just knowing that somebody else cares.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Unpacking the Vacation

The Top Ten Things I Brought Home From My Vacation:

10. Possibly broken toe - the right-foot one next to the little toe. I slammed it into the side of the doorway (actually the post of the ridiculously placed jacuzzi tub in the condo that looks just like the birthing tub that was in the "Baby Story" I was watching earlier that day). It still hurts and is several colors of purple. Is this a cosmic response to the two toe rings I bought?

9. Disney paraphernalia. There is no explanation, unless you know me and have been to my house. Disney sees me coming a mile away, and stocks up. I have frames, pins, and notepads. And a jacket. And pens. Moving on.....

8. A few really good nights sleep. However, the daylight savings thing happened while we were away, and we changed time zones back, so I don't know what time it is, so who knows when I will sleep soundly again. (I knew I should have bought those Minnie Mouse pjs!)

7. Mickey Bars - you can see the outline on my thighs, where they ended up. Guess I'll have to eat some more when we return in December, so I can "balance out."

6. A longing for Shamu. Every time I keep saying I am going to see him, but I don't. Twice (including last week) I have stayed at hotels within walking distance. I think I have commitment issues. Wonder if they have Shamu Bars?

5. A new duffel bag. Actually three, if you count the two MB and Hey-Hey brought back. Thank goodness for the $9 bag at Wal-Mart. Otherwise, those 4-Park blankets would not be here!!

4. Photographs. Of my broken toe. I forgot to take the camera anywhere else.

3. New race bling. The Inaugural Tower of Terror 13K medal. It has a little piece on it that goes up and down on a spring, like the actual ride, which is the closest I will actually be to getting on the ride!

2. Two books I finished reading - "Into the Wild" which I didn't like - too long winded and not really interesting to me, and "700 Sundays" which I liked because I like Billy Crystal and hearing his stories.

1. That inevitable feeling that says, "I had a good time, but I'm glad to be home and sleeping in my own bed. Where are we going next?"

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Now Arriving At Gate 50 ...

I've always believed that there would be a point where I could say, "I have arrived." At that magical point, I would finally have all my ducks in a row, my planning complete, and I could simply live my life. After 50 years, I am still looking for that moment.

When I was young, it was going to be when I got my driver's license, or became a majorette in the high school band, or had that childhood sweetheart that I would eventually marry, or graduated high school. Or that moment was going to be when I graduated college, or finally moved away from my home town, or got married. It was going to be the moment when my children were born, or were all in school, or when I graduated graduate school. Finally it would be the moment when my children graduated high school, or college, or graduate school, or got happily married, or had children, or maybe just "arrived" themselves. In other words, my "arrival" moment keeps changing as my life keeps changing.

I have finally figured out that the only voice I will hear is when God himself says at the pearly gates, "Luanne, you have arrived." Since I am not ready for that voice quite yet, what am I to do?

I believe that I should set goals, and go for them. I also believe that time lines are important. I believe that goals and time lines can co-exist and be productive, but also that goals and time lines can be at war, each trying to be the dominant force in my life. In my continuing journey to my destination, I have to use both. I have to set my goals, and incorporate time lines when I deem feasible.

Yesterday I pondered the 10-year question. Today I reconsider it, imagining God as the interviewer.

God: "Luanne, where do you see yourself in 10 years?"

Me: "If you think it's a good idea, here's my list:

1. Alive and healthy, running a consistent 12-minute mile for a minimum distance of 13.1 miles.
2. Still writing, with a published book.
3. My family still alive and healthy, with additional family members added according to Your plan.
4. Achieving a personal peace, because of the baggage I've unloaded, and the priorities I've placed in order
5. Realizing and accepting the positive footprints I've left, and continuing to make more
6. Continuing to make changes in my journey, based on the life I lead
7. Enjoying the life I am given, with all its ups and downs, highs and lows, and twists and turns that make my life unique. "

God: "And so how do you plan to accomplish this?"

Me: "Seeking and following your advice, being confident in knowing what is best for me, therapy and advice from those I trust, boldly stepping out where I know I need to go, and just believing in myself and in Your guidance."

God: "You're hired."

Maybe I've arrived after all.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Future Past Present Perfect - It's Not Just For Grammar

Today Sam had an interesting article about the worst job interview question ever: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I've been thinking about that question, because I have no answer. Where do I see myself in 10 years? Playing golf in my Florida retirement community? Being a grannie to my future brilliant and perfectly-behaved grandchildren? Teaching again because my retirement fund played out? Weaving baskets in "the home?"

I have no idea. The thought of having a 10-year plan defeats me. I would like to be thinner in body, faster in races, and better than ever. But would that satisfy an interviewer? More importantly, does it satisfy me?

I've always been better about living in the present. But maybe it's time to imagine my life, and live it. I guess 50 is as good a time to begin as any.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Old Fogey

While on vacation this week, I was shopping in an outdoor mall. I had just purchased my usual mocha frap light, and had entered an undies/pajama store. I was perusing the flannel pajama bottoms when the clerk (who was my age or older) asked me to put my drink on the counter. I politely refused and left the store (vowing never to return) where I groused to my husband that, "I am 50 and perfectly capable of holding on to my drink."

I realize the clerk has the responsibility of protecting her merchandise, but there were no signs indicating any store rules. Did my drink and I really pose a threat? Should I have explained that I felt insulted, and if she didn't want my drink, then she didn't want my money? Was it really a big deal after all?

Herein lies my dilemma - do I stand up for what I consider my rights, or acquiesce to the whims of those around me? As I get older, I am inching toward getting bolder and standing up for myself. I just don't want to become the ornery old geezer that everybody avoids.

In this incident, nobody won. The clerk lost a sale and I lost out on new pj bottoms. But the real loss for me was the chance to connect with another human being in a pleasant way. I could have handled it better and made a positive difference in someone's day. I hope I will think beyond myself next time - I guess even old fogeys can learn something new every day.