Tag Archives: changes

A Revised Beaten Path

Updated from 2015:

walk

Despite my rebellious nature, I’ve become a slave to routine. Where my young, healthy body once took life as it happened, I now must deliberately prepare myself for each day. This takes me considerably longer now than ever before, even longer than when I had my four young boys in tow.

With the aging process grinding away on my physical self, my routine somehow became unforgiving and unappreciative of my mental self. One little skip can result in an almost immediate blunder, frustration and sometimes bruises.

The new routine is grudgingly predictable:

1. Wake up – This can take a while.
1.1. Take a thorough inventory of every joint and vertebra, then gently move them.
1.2. Be sure my brain is also awake enough to rise without injuring myself or others while getting to the bathroom and then the kitchen. Prayer typically comes into play here.

Note: I’ve come to accept (not like) the sometimes intimidating, frightening, occasionally surprising, (and embarrassing when involving witnesses,) waking process. I often inadvertently successfully integrate other tasks – mostly for fun. I.e. Prayer while in bathroom. Shame or pride? Omniscient. Omnipresent. Look them up.

2. Clean soot from floor and counters. Wood stove heat. Enough said?
3. Water and coffee (slamming sixteen ounces of water before coffee seems cruel, but empirically it’s a good practice).
3.1. I like Krups (yeah, when affordable).
3.1.1. Who are we kidding? Refillable K cups require forethought and more motion. Default to Mr. Coffee pot and microwave to reheat.

4. Bathroom time. Again, this could take a while.
4.1. Contemplate actual need for visible eyebrows.

5. Fuel – The most forgiving point, interchangeable with items 4 – 4.1. Rather than burn muscle on my power walk, I must force down food and supplements.
5.1. Disregard notion about forgiving. Do not forget fuel. (Um, I’m Out of Gas – Again story (c) 1995).

6. Stretching – With bursitis, tendinitis and joint pain I’ve learned to not minimize the importance of stretching or give into temptations to “stretch as I go”.
6.1. There are better ways to meet the neighbors than screaming, “Call 9-1-1,” from the ground.

7. Sun block. Should have learned about skin cancer attending grade school in central Arizona.
7.1. By this point the searing sun will be above the tree line. Surgical excisions are costly. Do not trifle with this.

8. Lace up, walk toward door.
8.1. Yes, you turned off the lights. If you left the coffee pot on, you need another one anyway.
8.2. Everything else can wait an hour, continue walking through the door.
8.3. Just walk away.

9. Incorporate socializing and checking on family while warming up (before heavy breathing begins).
9.1. Offspring and siblings sufficiently annoyed. Now punch it, Chewie.

10. Shower, deodorant, lotion, dress, then get to work.
10.1. I work at home, clothes are optional.
10.1.2. Gravity is rude. Forget 10.1.

All of this reaffirms my philosophy: Relax and enjoy the ride, no one gets out alive.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)

Go Readers. Redefine life along the way.

 

Featured image courtesy Pixabay

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Nothing and Everything

A flashback from What Next, September 2015:

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by siblings and generations of family. We’d drive station wagons through gently sloped streets lined with maple, oak and elm trees year-round and lilac blossoms everywhere in the spring. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all migrated to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled over an hour’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I on the opposite side of town. OlderBrother and I walked to school in a new, drier, hotter climate passing ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Discovering the areas surrounding our home gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, orange groves and hay fields. Our favorite times were spent swinging from ropes tied to enormous trees over irrigation canals.

A week before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school, we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became an apartment where there were more trees and a patio, but no yard.

Dad and Mother went to work immediately. Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I took on the new climate, new society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; you either were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and squaw boots, I wasn’t. My main concerns were hand washing laundry and getting dinner ready. When Mother and Dad were home together they usually argued. OlderBrother stopped being my pal and mostly worked on cars with friends. Still, we somehow got from day by day together. Some days were less together than others.

A few months later we moved into a house in a nicer suburb. Eventually OlderBrother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and went there often. The rest of us hoped to go with him some day.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach.

The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I felt I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring. It was our last outing with Mother. Weeks later she left.

I couldn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. But whenever I could, I would dig my feet deep in the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary.

I mostly came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

Featured image courtesy dstiel at Pixabay

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Pretense

In memory of the recently recycled HealthriderPro let’s revisit a not-too-distant ruckus:

For weeks we’d been juggling some items between the main house and my cottage. We replaced my long craft/dining/kitchen table with a far more accommodating 41” round table. It’s not the drop leaf kitchen island I envision for the area – yet – but this certainly frees up more floor space.

And then Cole announced he must find a place for his treadmill.


After a quick flashback of the previous year’s exceptional weather I told him, “I’ll figure something out.”

With all the bells and whistles of a gym-quality machine, his Healthrider Soft Strider Pro is wide and sturdy, so it’s heavy. With the handy space-saving fold-up track it’s awkward to haul – especially over the gravel driveway.

After ten days of the treadmill and its electronic controls waiting under a moving pad – in the heat, the voices in my head got loud:

She canna take any more, Captain.  She’s gonna blow!”

Not willing to ignore Scotty, I devised a plan to move the obstacle that strong, fit Brother left by the porch steps (I’ve learned not to ask silly things like, “why,”).

With some boards over the gravel and an appliance hand truck I slowly, carefully rolled the treadmill through the car door into the cottage. Don’t be impressed – it’s all about leverage. Fine. Leverage, balance and the Luck of the Irish.

Once inside I needed to position that mammoth monolith for use with the least amount of effort. This was tricky. I needed it where I could view my 32” television/computer monitor, but not obstruct the flow. Feng Shui, people.

So, this is the part where I realize one of the wheels that would ordinarily move the thing easily over the concrete floor are jammed, immovable.

“Where’s the damn antimatter inducer, Chekov?”

That’s when I remembered a technique a friend described years earlier after her family had purchased a somewhat dilapidated farm house. After repeatedly asking her husband to fix stuff, and allowing a reasonable waiting period, she went all strategic.

Like FarmGirl described, I pulled out my tool box and every power tool I could get my hands on and tactically placed them around the treadmill, slightly obstructing the doorway. And then I waited.

As FarmGirl said,

“Nothing motivates men faster than the sight of  a woman with power tools.”

I’m not sure if I would actually have tried to fix the wheel myself, with or without the circular saw or grinder, or not. But I am now convinced that

sometimes a good pretense makes the best offense.

That evening, after a pitcher of iced tea Cole had the treadmill rolling easily. I can now jog to my heart’s content while catching up on my favorite audio books, programs and movies.

 

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25, 26 (NLT)

 

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Why Worry?

Naturally I’ve been reflecting upon the meaning of life this week. Not really, but I actually have been re-examining my overall expectations.

I always dreamed of life with a big family, gardens, and lots of animals on enough acreage to be self-sustaining. I come from a large, complex family, so this is no surprise.

Since my youth, life took my siblings and me through some very interesting twists and turns. For us, most changes initiated some considerable pain and confusion. We’d no sooner recover from one blow when another would strike. Mean as it sounds, those hard hits on such young humans prepared us for an unimaginable future. That seems sad. It is, but it’s also good.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 (NIV)

Throughout our lives God’s merciful grace has been the one consistency.

Today I am our eldest surviving sibling and my generation’s first female. That could change again tomorrow, but I’m not concerned.

During many passionate discussions throughout the years OlderBrother and I agreed that though we were impecunious, from a global perspective we have lived luxuriously.

I believe God blessed us all with astounding strength and fortitude throughout our journeys. I also believe that, like both Jacob* and Job**, He broke us enough to help us endure it all.

I’ll never forget the many times over the years I messed up and missed opportunities, simply by being stubborn. I confessed those failures and God forgot them. What’s more, He stayed right on course, kept me in line and lets me think getting here was all my idea, my doing.

Daily – okay at least weekly –  I’m overjoyed to reflect upon my favorite (and some of my most disappointing) memories – What brought me to here and now. Here may not look like all that much to some, but it’s far more than most would have predicted.

God has always used the good and the sad to keep me in check.

So why worry now?

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:10, 11 (NIV)

*Genesis 32:22-31

**Job 10:8-13

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Bed Head

Because of a recent conversation with Cole, I shopped for bed bargains this week.

Each of 4 sales reps all told me this is the best time of year to purchase a bed because “next week new models arrive and prices will go up.” The actual message being, “Don’t shop. Contribute to my luxury cruise – right now.”

My IL country home in 2013

‘Fact is, I’ve been casually studying ads since I left IL where I donated my wonderful Bassett double pillow top bed solely because it was ten years old. Abuse and gravity are taking their toll on my skeleton so I have regretted giving it up about 300 days a year since.

This week I thanked each each rep and took all the information home to 1. pray over, 2. research and 3. bounce my thoughts off of Cole and Izzy.

Also a fact: collecting my teensie-weensie tad of security has taken diligent care for nearly a decade. I like having some money in the bank and a couple of nest eggs here and there.

Even so, if God actually hadn’t guided me through this life day-by-day, logic and experience tells me that laying side-long across the head or foot of the bed Cole gave me won’t keep my sleep or back pain issues in check forever.

Another fact: Rising and stretching out the aches and pains is becoming a lengthy ritual again – daily.

We were all busy all week, so we didn’t discuss my bed business.

This morning I arose slightly less stiff and with notably less pain. But I was exhausted. I likely burned as many calories overnight as I do while I write (at my stand-up work station). I tossed and turned all the facts, figures and every possible scenario I could imagine.

All. Night. Long.

Sheesh.

Once aligned again and on my way to a steaming mug of warm deliciousness I read something interesting:

“Trusting Me [Jesus] is a moment by moment choice.”*

Silly me. As if I actually had to spend my entire savings immediately, I lost an entire night’s peace trying to work out not only my finances but the unpredictable details of my future. Decades ago I swore that nobody will ever make me do anything I’m not completely sure about again – especially not a sales representative.

Silly indeed. As if I didn’t know I could intentionally choose to continue trusting the God that brought me – and my nest egg here.

The old bed’s made, Latte’s gone, choices are made. I can trust God with my bed too.

Hero

For now, the little dogs, Hero and the chickens await me…

 

 

 

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6, 7 (NIV)

*Jesus Calling, By Sarah Young (c) 2004 Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN, USA

Images courtesy Pixabay unless otherwise indicated.

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Spring Cleaning

While Brother Cole and I remain the same, we have experienced some changes, and new players if you will:

SchnauzerOne and ChiuyTwo will be my house guests until they move to the main house at the end of the month. Getting a good, sharp photo will take some more doing.  Meanwhile, lots of playtime is the order of the day.

GoodGirl will need some time to understand our the new friends are not toys, but she’s always ready for play. And everyone approves of my new storm door.

As can be seen on four of the hens, Darryll the rooster’s departure has been too long overdue. As of yesterday he has taken residence elsewhere.

And hardly least of all, Isabella (Izzy), Cole and I juggled around some of the project trucks, parts, etc. and organized the lots a bit. There was no bloodshed during the three-day project and a good time was had by all:

Cole, getting-his-trucks-in-a-row, and Izzy.

That’s one tough little tractor

Cole has some pretty cool tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Colossians 3:23, 24 (NIV)

 

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Nothing and Everything – Repost

Our internet service has been uncooperative, (go figure, I’d recently commented that it’s improved).  Today I’m resigned to sharing an early post from Blogging U and The Next Best Thing.

 

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by generations of family. We’d drive station wagons and family sedans along paved roads through gentle slopes lined with lilac blossoms in spring, and various maples, oaks and elms year-round. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all moved to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled a half-day’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I into a square pink house. Brother and I started school in a dry, hotter climate walking by ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Our playgrounds gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, citrus groves and our favorite toys were ropes tied to enormous, friendly trees which we climbed to swing across the canals.  Later we practiced lying about swimming in the precarious waters.

Late in the summer before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school,  we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings, our German Shepherd a box full of her 12 suckling pups and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became a three-bedroom apartment where there were more trees, but no yard. Dad and Mother both went to jobs immediately.

Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I faced the new climate, society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools. Brother and I entered junior high.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; either you were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and gym shoes, my main concern was hand washing laundry and having dinner ready before bedtime. Brother became cool. He stopped being my pal and was mean sometimes. I was not cool. To him I became nothing. Still, we had four other siblings  and the dog that didn’t care about cool. We somehow got through our new life together, day by day, some days worse than others.

After an eternity of a few months we moved into a house in a much nicer suburb. Eventually Brother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and he went there often. Though I missed him, I appreciated his absences.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach. The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring, changing everything.

Through the following years I didn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. Whenever I could, I dug my feet deep into the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary and the God I knew as a kid in the dessert met me there.

Often enough I came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

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Different Beauties – Walk #17

For weeks we’ve walked about at first light in shorts and bare-armed against the heat.  This week I wore jeans and covered my arms from the chill.  Still, by mid-afternoon temps were in the high 90’s to low 100’s again.

Change is in the air.  Around my neighborhood rich greens are already fading.

Late Summer.

 

 

 

 

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Genesis 8:22 (NLT)

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Pretention

Part of last month’s activities included juggling items between the main house and my cottage. We replaced my long craft table with a far more accommodating 41” round table. It’s not the drop leaf kitchen island cabinet I envision – yet – but this certainly frees up more floor space.

And then Brother announced he must find a place for his treadmill.


After a quick flashback of the previous year’s exceptional weather I told him, “I’ll figure something out.”

With all the bells and whistles of a gym-quality machine, his Healthrider Soft Strider Pro is wide and sturdy, so it’s heavy. And with the handy space-saving fold-up track it’s awkward to haul – especially over the gravel driveway.

After ten days of the treadmill and its electronic controls waiting under a moving pad – in the heat, the voices in my head got loud, “She canna take any more, Captain.  She’s gonna blow!”

Not willing to ignore Scotty, I concocted a plan to move the obstacle my strong, fit brother left by the porch steps (I’ve learned not to ask silly things like, “why,”).

With some boards over the gravel, an appliance hand truck nose-plate positioned between the wheels (conveniently located under the heaviest part of the machine 😉 ), I slowly, carefully rolled the treadmill through the car door into the cottage. Don’t be impressed – it’s all about leverage. Fine. Leverage, balance and the Luck of the Irish.

Once inside I needed to position that mammoth monolith for use with the least amount of effort. This was tricky. I need it where I can view my 32” television/computer monitor, but not obstruct the flow. Feng Shui, people.

So, this is the part where I realize one of the wheels that would ordinarily move the thing easily over the concrete floor are jammed, immovable.

“Where’s the damn antimatter inducer, Chekov?”

That’s when I remembered a technique a friend described years earlier after her family had purchased a somewhat dilapidated farm house. After repeatedly asking her husband to fix stuff, and a reasonable waiting period, she’d craftily take matters into her own hands.

Like FarmGirl described, I pulled out my tool box and every power tool I could get my hands on, strategically placed them around the treadmill, slightly obstructing the doorway. And then I waited.

As FarmGirl said,

“Nothing motivates men faster than the sight of  a woman with power tools.”

I’m not sure if I would actually have tried to fix the wheel myself, with or without the circular saw or grinder, or not. But I am now convinced that

sometimes a good pretense makes the best offense.

That evening, after a pitcher of iced tea Brother had the treadmill rolling easily. I can now jog to my heart’s content while catching up on my favorite audio books, programs and movies.

 

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25, 26 (NLT)

 

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Seventeen

Do other writers get stuck on a thought, a word, a number that has nothing to do with the current project or task? Anyone else ever struggle to break free from such a grip? I recently resisted a momentary nemesis for days till I turned and met the foe head on.

Fact: Much of my life has been unimaginable to most folks. Several decades ago I realized I was on a collision course with a bleak future. After a series of failed attempts to redirect I got help. It took years to find the right counselor, but for about eight years now I’ve been keeping notes from sessions with the best trauma counselor ever. We’ll call him Rob.

Months ago when Rob pointed out a few concerns, suggested I could be depressed, and insisted I see my doctor, I stopped. I thought hard, prayed harder. And then I stopped longer.

I dread the thought of being known as “that poor thing who…” I write about my life because, well, it’s what I know best. Seriously, I write my stories, my experiences in the hope they help and encourage others. Writing helps me make sense of the grand scheme of things. Plus there’s the perk I get when my work sometimes reveals a bad attitude, it checks me like a friendly punch in the face. Hopefully those that grew up with numerous brothers understand the concept.

This brings us back a little while to shortly after the snow and ice melted here at the ranch, when I hit a wall. That actually had less to do with me injuring my arm and shoulder chopping wood (seriously, don’t all great-grandmothers do that?). The wall had more to do with the preceding twelve years.

Have I mentioned having driver’s licenses in three states within the last two calendar years? Yeah, that’s a lot of moving around. And each move directly resulted from one crisis right after another. When I pointed out this profound revelation to my Go-To Girl, my sister Roan (my on-and-off house mate), she replied,

“Yeah. So?” 

Not the response I expected. She was on her lunch break two time zones ahead of here, so she may have missed my point. We mocked the topic sufficiently enough to laugh it off and we returned to work.

So, after circling back to Roan’s question for a couple of days I set all my other projects aside to seek solid answers.

 

I handle most challenges better when I can break them down to physics, mathematical formulas – or Sun Tzu*. I did the math:

 

 

In the last 20 years Roan has (to my knowledge) moved x times, 6 of which since were her daughter was born, the last six within the past 7 years. But for 17 years she and her daughter were rooted in one place.

Then I again reviewed my nomadic history. Again with the number 17.

  • I was 17 when I married my sons’ father.
  • For 17 years I lived with (and moved around with) my husband.
  • I have lived at 17 different addresses. Seventeen.

Only because of Roan can I imagine living in one dwelling for seventeen years. In my entire life I’ve never lived in any one place for 4 years. That’s a staggering amount of moving around! Additionally some form of drama generated each move and often changed my family dynamics; broken hearts and broken bones (some mine), husbands left, sons outgrew the nest, a heart attack here – loved ones died there, banks became less sympathetic… I tell ya, some hits were hard. But I moved on.

So, our life has been astoundingly complicated compared to most people we know.

So, that itinerant life is over now. And yet, I’m having trouble getting my head around the concept of being home, that I won’t be packing up and moving again in a while. Rob and I figure it’ll likely be three years before it actually sinks in. I marked my digital calendar just in case.

So, days after the aforementioned chat with Rob I visited my Naturopathic Physician. Thanks to our decades old relationship we quickly caught up and then we agreed;

  • I’m tired,
  • I’m possibly slightly traumatized,
  • undeniably I have much to be sad about,
  • but I’m not necessarily depressed.

She studied my blood-work and my DNA evaluation (yes, I happened to have it on me), prescribed a course of supplements and then we went out for tea. Within days the dark heaviness lifted, but I continued to take the time I needed to simply be for a while.

So, the cast in the main house has changed, Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old moved away, but we’re all adjusting. The show goes on. My journals are busting at the bindings and I’m back to working on chapters again. More important, I give myself lots of grace. I walk away whenever I want. And within a couple of hours I walk back – usually feeling lighter. I’m sure there will be more hard days. But it’s like Brother tells me often, “Just settle down. You’re not going anywhere.”

So, today I smile as the mare and the cattle call to me when I step outside my door. I giggle as the hens flutter-waddle to the fence cackling. I’m sure it’s all about me – not the grain, scraps, hay, carrots or apples I bring them.

Most important, hearing how my stories help others also helps me. Having shared the experience with other writers/bloggers, the bobbing and weaving and working it all out, I feel so much better now.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  Just in case my humor missed the mark, I translate much of Sun Tzu principles into Biblical scripture – and disregard the rest.

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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