Tag Archives: coffee

Hit the Brakes

Is it just me or the is it the world around me?

This week we have some major factors working against one another:

  • Time change – do NOT get me started on how ridiculous it is to continue this practice.
  • Files disappear and then reappear again
  • I gave up coffee – Patricia, you’d be proud of me.
  • The back castors fell off my mobile, stand-up work station – they simply fell off within 24 hours of one another. Enter now the 2nd week of dialogue with Houzz customer service reps.
  • Intermittently soggy socks now bring to our attention the fact that last summer’s repair work hasn’t entirely prevented melting snow from trickling across my kitchen and bathroom floors

And finally, with spring 8 (count them, eight) days away,

  • We have an ice storm, followed by even more snow.

Yes folks, Snowmaggedon 2019 Hoodies are selling like hotcakes at Amazon.

So, finally finished dealing with customer service reps while stepping around my desk, I realized I had skipped right over my quiet time with God – a huge faux pas. This practice reminds me I’m not God – we know this because for years I tried to be God, only to prove I suck at it. That valuable life lesson cost me some twenty years of my youth, so I’m shocked when I slip back there again.

So, late into this morning I was feeling a little frustrated, isolated and, I admit, slightly neglected when not one response to this morning’s post appeared anywhere.

I grabbed the only cell device that was not charging and saw I hadn’t received the notification advising me about my most recent scheduled post…

This, friends, is why paper calendars can be problematic. Our phone calendars simply do not mislead us. At that point I was shamefully near panic mode, sprinting around the cottage in search of a pair of good glasses. Passing a mirror I realized I really must stop.

Just stop.

“I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.*”

Yep. I’d scheduled today’s post for tomorrow. What would have been today’s post is now rescheduled. So now I’m going to go make a snow angel. Or maybe something else that doesn’t require keying or more puddles.

The entirely silly point to sharing all this:

My life is good. I can slow down or stop without fear of hurting or harming anyone. And the world will keep going. God has this, so I needn’t try to control it. My loved ones are all well, I have food, a warm home, a car… I’m breathing deeply.

Peace, my friends!

*Isaiah 41:9(b)-10 (NIV)

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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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Be-longing

I’ve been thinking a lot about things I don’t possess anymore. I don’t mean items I remember disowning. No, I’ve wondered where I left some things behind.

I really don’t care too much about possessions. I won’t carry anything into heaven. But weeks into this phenomenon, I’m now paying close attention.

This morning I wondered about a mug.

This “wonder” even bled into my normal routine, beginning my day with prayer and Bible time. Instead of flipping my Bible to where I left off last time, I got stuck paragraphs back. I tried, but I couldn’t move on.

Again with the mug. I was getting concerned.

How does one seriously approach God about something as insignificant as stuff anyway? Well:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:28, 27 (NIV)

I wish I could say I always have the presence of mind to pray at the first hint of something beyond my grasp, and especially something that taunts at me. But without a dramatic crisis it usually takes me a while to remember little things – like stuff – until they become big things. Eventually I just asked God why stuff had been haunting me.

I prayed and then I worked in the garden before my study time.

Soon I could see past that mug. That’s pretty remarkable from where I stood on soggy ground by a pile of freshly pulled weeds, while being serenaded by horses, the steer, hens and the dogs.

But I saw my brother Seagh standing in my kitchen with me, his fingers comfortably gripping the mug. During Seagh’s routine pause before sipping his coffee, the mug literally broke away from the handle, fell to the floor, creamy coffee splattering dramatically.

As he gazed in disbelief I:

  1. marveled at how, of all the mugs on that shelf, he picked the one I had repaired and forgotten,
  2. hoped he’d clean the mess, and
  3. hoped the surprise wouldn’t make him late for his appointment.

Breath bated, I watched him – I imagined the entire drama playing out behind his curtain. In a moment (which actually felt much longer) he set the handle down, took another mug and began pouring the last of the coffee saying, “‘Guess it sucks to be you.”

With that I burst into laughter. Perfectly played, straight-faced Joe Cool effortlessly stepped over the mess, out of the kitchen and through the front door. I imagine he had a strangle-hold on every cell in his body to not laugh – at least until he was well out of ear-shot.

So, I get it now.

It’s not about stuff, acquiring or eliminating possessions. Seagh left us in early spring. As did our second brother, our father, and now our oldest brother. Don’t ask me why it sneaks up on me every year. It just does.

Though I’m sorry he had to go on without me, Seagh and I both experienced the strange, new sensation of home living here on this property. I left here intent on returning once sister Roan had settled in Texas. Who knew?

Naturally I miss him and especially his unique sense of humor, but really he’s as much a part of this property as the ground.

I’m determined to let the trivial stuff go and stay focused upon what’s important.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Stacked mugs image courtesy Pixabay

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Response

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I now marvel over how quickly I’d reacted.

In the moments leading up to reaching my coffee pot I went from motivated to a mess. And I admit, I wanted a villain, someone to blame for my upset, let alone the difficulties that were certain to snowball.

Yes, friends, although I kept my bright red espresso grind coffee container out on the counter for two days – for the sole purpose of reminding me I must grind more coffee – that morning the stark reality that I’d entirely run out of coffee blindsided me.

It got worse. Not only was the strongest caffeine source in my kitchen some aged (however delightful) white tea, Deadline had advanced from the shadows of the cottage and towered over me, sword drawn over it’s obnoxious head. Annnd we had a villain …

Duh – duh – dunh.

This was quickly developing into one of those emotion/hormone-packed, full-on-drama mornings. I had already suspected that in hindsight I would wish to somehow erase it all from the eternal hard drive as if it never happened. A wise woman would have paused the whole day there. Not this one. Not that day.

Still, two mornings back I’d added coffee to my Needs Now List. For the subsequent forty-eight hours I planned my run to town between breaks and staring blankly into space. I try to economize wherever possible and make the most of the trip. This usually works very well. Until it doesn’t. Until that morning.

So, there I was, bravely forging onward sans caffeine, thinking I had a good handle on everything within my ken. Strangely predictably, it became the worst morning ever, something unexpected had happened. Forget happened – I felt like someone hit me across the abdomen with a five-foot long 2 by 4.

The car was gone.

Duh – duh!!  {Roo jumps behind the wall as if sensing a predator nearby, but seeing and hearing none, she then lets out a loud, agonizing shriek, “Why God? Why, without coffee?! scaring away any other life forms from the area…}  Okay, I sighed deeply but imagined screaming loudly.

Assumption:  Since Brother sometimes changes our arrangements, routines and moves things without telling me or giving me a heads up first. He took the car for the day without telling me.

The Lie: Brother doesn’t actually give a care about me.

Reality: The evening before Brother had used his vehicle (ahem, that he keeps mostly for my use), parked it in the back of the lot, and then forgot to press “send” after composing a text to me. Therefore, I didn’t receive his text advising me the night before.

Reality Check: Even though Brother’s mordant veneer momentarily confuses me and annoys me often (like most siblings I know), he also surprises me with thoughtfulness and sensitivity on occasion.

Granted, me without morning caffeine is scary, but it is not the end of life as we know it. Not hardly. However, for those few minutes that morning, before the exchange of texts set me back on track, I had wasted a morning’s worth of energy being extremely upset. A black hole sucked a huge chunk of my life away from us – over nothing.

Later, with a triple-shot/double vanilla latte in hand, I took a time-out with God. Deadline would just have to chill. After some needed time by the riverside I was actually glad for that wake up call.

Roo 1995 Columbia River

There God showed me that with my roots now beginning to unwind I have a better grasp of life than ever before. And yet, once a year  week  occasionally I jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and quickly follow with the big-ol’ lie at the core of it all that God really can’t care for me.

Silly ol’ Roo.

My eyes watered from what felt like a stinging punch in the face. Seriously, I checked for blood. Finding none, He then went on past my faults, deep into my needs. He showed me I have indeed come a long way in every facet of my life. Even so, I lived so long in darkness, ignorant of His love for me, we must also allow for time to adjust to light. Whatever my degree of healing, I was severely damaged back then and I am still quite human now.

He went on:

He noted how I now recoil far less frequently than ever before, that I now voice my upset feelings too – mostly appropriately. Then He assured me that some day soon fear, sorrow or anger will not overtake me with the mere thought of darkness. Then I’ll have learned to respond rather than react.

God says so. While I continue to trip up, and can’t feel it yet, I can believe it.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

I can believe it for me as well as for my siblings, other brothers and sisters on their healing journeys.

Today you and I are the only ones to know how short-sighted and down-right silly I was earlier. Shhh…

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom 5:2 (NLT)

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Neck Up Check Up

I’ll just say it; I crack me up.

This morning began even earlier than usual for me. It’s hot, so I didn’t sleep as well as I typically do. I rolled out of bed thanking God for another day with Him. But soon I grumbled and complained about the dead bugs here and there from the summer’s quarterly spraying. Disgusted, I tied a frozen bandanna around my neck and stepped outside.

Instead of heading for the pastures first as I usually do, I walked toward the front yard and the gardens. It didn’t occur to me that the cattle and the mare would notice me in the pre-dawn light. They did. Loudly. Their calls to me actually warm my heart most days, but it was very early. Silly me, I worried the premature noise might disturb the neighbors – the nearest one being too far to hear. After I walked the other way, out of sight they quieted back down quickly.

I adore growing my own food. Over the weekend we’d placed Sevin baits to help reduce the earwig overpopulation. Still finding the live, slithering masses under everything I touched (checking for squash bugs or eggs) annoyed me. So did the screen door banging against the planter – someone left it open after using the grill the night before. As the first sun beams streaked across the tree trunks I felt taken for granted noticing the empty bird feeders. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Clearly I desperately needed coffee.

Once the coffee began pumping I felt revived and happier with the world. I followed the cattle to the pasture to see how the new controller program I’d set the day before went. That was a long process in itself: find a manual on line, find the information I needed rather than read every jot and tittle about the device, hand write the step-by-step instructions (of course the printer cartridge emptied at that particular moment, and forget a WiFi signal in the metal barn), walk back to the cottage for a flashlight since the new lights in the barn aren’t connected yet… I already had half my daily steps in.

Then I noticed two swamp spots in the first sprinkler zone – yep, the cow’s knocked off two more sprinkler heads so the water pooled around a two-yard radius instead of the 20 yard circles they should have soaked. Stupid cow.

I shot a text off to Brother reminding him to bring more replacement heads home with him and headed back to my desk. I pulled fresh weeds to feed the chickens – killing two birds with one stone (the young hens will just have to get over that expression – or start laying soon).

Within minutes at my desk, my brand new wireless keyboard had me wanting to punch something. Does anyone actually use F keys instead of hot keys? How is learning to stretch the fingers higher better than CTL+S, CTL+A, CTL+C, CTL+V, etc? I literally walked away after the fifth or sixth time a Save As dialogue box popped up rather than the cursor back spacing over yet another key error. Grrr… And I saved to buy this device for months!

The sound of Old Dog sniffing around my open door was all it took to push me over my threshold. Time for a walk.

Before we’d walked fifty yards I noticed Senior Neighbor Lady waving her arms and calling me. Walking past our three dogs noisily engaging in their daily fence fight I finally heard her tell me, “Honey, I don’t have my hearing aids in and couldn’t hear what you were yelling to me.”  Hmmm… I only waved hello as I do every morning – usually two hours later.

I easily find patience with seniors – sowing what I hope to reap, so I hugged her and wished her a nice day.

As Dog and I rounded the first bend in the road, I heard what sounded like angry voices nearby. Dog paused, his aging ears pointed toward the source of the sound. It appeared one half of a young couple was loading a pick-up truck bed and the other half was getting her wounded, parting words out. He wordlessly pulled items out of the pile she’d created next to the garbage can before the collection truck arrived.

Been there, done that. I prayed.

I continued to pray as we continued our walk. Dog doesn’t mind – he can’t hear my lower register anyway. God does.

As we headed back up our driveway I noticed the fruits of my labors in the pretty, colorful, well-trimmed yards, and the unmistakably peaceful atmosphere of the place. Yeah, the lots between the main house and the pastures seem chaotic, but that’s what Brother’s business going in good a direction looks like.

I realized how silly I’d been earlier. Though I never expected to be unmarried, my life now is what I’ve always hoped and wished for. Despite the daily annoyances that are certain to arise as I learn about ranch life, with such a benefactor as Brother, my life has become a story I want to write. Most important, I realized how quickly I suffer for discounting my relationship with God.

Today I’m humbled recalling one of Daddy’s iconic expressions, “How soon we forget.”

Today I’m grateful for the reminder to never step out the door before prayer time – or without my latte.

Now I’m off to get the rest of my steps in before it’s too hot!

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy MemeGenerator.net.

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Hiatus

It came gradually. Like the spring storms in our region, what began as slight awareness became genuine concern. I admit, during the first few days I considered this was all about me giving up coffee. Only I didn’t plan what happened. I couldn’t stop or defer it either.

My usually reliable creativity began waning. My dwindling reserve of scheduled posts concerned me. And yet strangely, I felt remarkably calm. Actually apathetic. For years I’ve worked faithfully on my dailies. And for days I’d been sending it all to the recycle bin.

I resisted, desperate to complete my lists of tasks and projects, unwilling to yield a smidgen. I wondered if this could be some mysterious new virus or bacteria. But I had no symptoms of being sick. I was not sad. My thoughts were clear. There was no hint of any crisis du jour or impending doom. I slept well and napped soundly when I felt tired. And yet I felt weary. I soon began to wonder if I was literally going mad.

I fought it every way I know how, resolved to forge onward, determined to regain my pace.

Soon I realized that for months, years actually, I’d practiced systematically slicing fragments of personal time wherever I could to produce more, serving the greater good, thinking I must work harder, do better. I hurried from one task to another, rarely pausing.

It’s not that I felt drained. Still, sparks of joy had become rare, no longer the integral element of my life. And I hadn’t noticed.

Days later, vanquished, I cried out loud, “God, I don’t understand! What am I missing?” Immediately I heard, “You.”

With that I surrendered.

I cleared my schedule, stopped work and began doing only rudimentary activities. It was hard, but I persisted.

For the time being my only assignments are animal and self care and Bible time. Even prayers are more about listening for God. After a few days I realized, I am literally living by faith, hour by hour and not by my strength or determination. This had long been my heart’s desire, but something else always seemed more important. Until now.

And the world kept turning!

This morning as I returned to the cottage, livestock munching alfalfa, the dogs happily running circles around me, I giggled. Then we circled back out to the pastures – for fun! I noticed with delight new bird nests here and there, clover flowering, tulips are opening and some brand new lambs in the neighbor’s pasture.

Again I ignored the lure to work. It feels strange, but I’m okay with that today.

I don’t know when this hiatus will end, I didn’t call it, but I’m confident in the One that did.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

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Changing Things Up

 

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This morning started out amazing.

First, I slept. Yay! Then I woke up feeling exceptionally happy for no apparent reason.

With my next heartbeat I felt extraordinary gratitude. Rather than bolting out of the bed to check the wood stove, I pulled the goose down comforter over my shoulders. Annnd that familiar pain shot through my arms.

I didn’t care. I snuggled in and had a long talk with God.

I started by thanking Him, beginning with the obvious blessings in my life: good health, comfortable bed, a warm home, firewood, a variety of food…

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.” *

Soon I asked for specific blessings for my family, friends and essentially everyone I know. Before long I was back to telling God how great I think He is, how good it is to know Him.

I gotta tell all y’alls, this scenario is rare. I typically begin my days with prayer and thanksgiving for my life – from my desk or armchair with a Bible, a freshly brewed latte or mug of tea, a good fire crackling in the stove…

Me lingering in bed rarely happens. During this exceptionally harsh winter my morning dialogues have started with “Thank You, Jesus. Now, please help me,” just to get out of bed – and then I hit the floor running. Today without thinking or planning I changed things up a little.

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What’s more, I think I’m better for… Wow. Sunshine!

And good just keeps on coming.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

*Psalm 100:4  (NLT)

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Routine

For the past few days I’ve been reflecting upon my early thirties. Then I’d finally come to appreciate the value of routine.

2014-05-09 09.15.39

**

God blessed me with a good foster mom. I often recall her saying during my child bearing years, “Mijita, todos ustedes tienen que tener horarios.” Not really grasping her meaning, I’d typically melt into her arms, soak up the love and forget what she said. In Spanish it sounded far more pleasant than when she would later tell me, “Girl, you must get your act together!”

I’d dismissed suggestions that I had more challenges than dyslexia, possibly other forms of autism. Who had time for health care while caring for four boys, an unpredictable, “bi-polar” and often violent husband, and all their companions-du-jour? Yeah, I knew about crazy – in other people. We were fine…  😉

For me if we all got up, everybody ate, got to school or whatever, nobody permanently harmed and got back to bed at night, it was a good day. I couldn’t grasp the value of scheduled daily tasks, a routine until my marriage finally ended. By then I stopped being a DV victim.

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**

Fast forward some decades and I live within a very structured routine. The time-space continuum shifts when my routine is altered. Erin and I are comfortable with this. She’s a night owl and I rise long before the sun does. Until the dam broke in the plumbing, etc. Aye!

We were unprepared for the disruptions to the entire property. Hourly the sudden changes annoyingly altered our habitual behaviors.

construction pixabayI confess, minutes into this morning I was setting things down and closing doors harder than necessary. “Where is the…” Living alone, controlled but intentional banging and “slightly slamming” doors, etc. to release tension worked for me. Such timid forms of violence is nothing compared to the savagery I’ve survived.

I remembered I no longer live alone as Erin stepped away from me – without the coffee pot. Violence here is never appropriate.

Because today, with so many tasks demanding immediate attention, Erin was up early with me, making coffee, using the bathroom, etc. The newly replaced futon mattress loomed over the love seat in the living room, against the linen closet – where we keep cleaning rags. The vacuum cleaner was parked wherever we used it last – and often. This is not our m.o. Have I mentioned our 480 square feet of crowded living space upstairs?

Now imagine the two cats nervously observing everything, add some large bags of items for family visiting for the first reunion in ten years. And we’re grilling for a small army of out of town family in light, intermittent rain, of course. That had to be ready for someone to pick up and deliver to Keira’s whenever they arrive. Then add contractors working all over the property. Chaos.

There we were, waking our bodies and our brains – in the same tiny room of the house together, simultaneously. One can imagine this is a potentially volatile scenario with two old broads well set in our ways. As the sounds of my banging around Erin increased in volume, she paused quoting, “Something vexes thee?*”

We laughed – hysterically. The frustration and tension from our disrupted routine was dispelled. We sat down together – with coffee and prayed. Several times. All morning.

friends coffee pixabay

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

 

*The late Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan from Robin Hood; Prince of Theives video clip courtesy YouTube

Photo Images courtesy Pixabay

** (c) 2016 Rapture Practice! Publications images not to be duplicated, shared or otherwise distributed without prior, written permission. Thank you!

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Flowing

I’d been in town long enough to miss “the gang” from church. I’m blessed with great friends, many from churches all across the country and we continue to keep in touch. But it was time to connect with the local church, meet people outside our family unit, engage in conversation and gain fresh perspectives on topics of interest.

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I don’t always find my niche right away. I’m all about relationship with Jesus, worship, studying the Bible, serving the community – and not much interested in dogma or following traditions for tradition’s sake. My habit is to return for services at each local church for at least three visits. The second church was walking distance, and an organization with which I’ve been aligned before.

Prepared for my first visits, I’d printed calling cards with my blog address and handed a couple out to people that seemed genuinely interested in the new kid in town.

RPP card

After the service on the next visit I was trying to appear casual with friendly greetings and nods while desperately seeking the Ladies Room. I saw a familiar looking woman waving and making a bee line across the crowded foyer toward me. My latte had my teeth singing Anchors Aweigh. Before I could ask her for directions she gushed,

“Roo, I’m so glad to see you! I meant to take a quick look at your blog…”

Sure I was breaking a sweat, “the best laid plans…” and “who has time to read lately? flashed through my mind.

Then she surprised me. “Well, I couldn’t stop reading. After chatting with you, I couldn’t imagine you in some of your stories!” My lower quadrant clenching, I couldn’t think clearly to respond. I smiled politely trying to not be too obvious looking past her for a sign – to a Powder Room.

Yep, she went on, “You can’t be a great-grand-maw. And some of the stories sound like you’ve been through h-e-double-hockey-sticks… I wouldn’t have guessed from talking to you… You’ve led quite a life…” My eyes began to well  – this was great for What’s Next, but all I could think of was, “Please Lord, don’t let anyone use that water fountain six feet away from us!

Even after she paused I couldn’t talk – ordinarily not like me at all. I’d talked with the lady a scant ten minutes including that very – long – moment. I literally lowered my head, checked my shoes, groping for strength and something to say more than I was actually praying. But then it came to me, the line I’d thought about for seemingly ages but never had the opportunity to say:

“Honestly, I loathe the thought of being known as ‘that poor woman who…’ Life is about What’s Next and making it better from anywhere…” For a nano-second I was pleased with the name I chose for my blog again. After a brief, dramatic pause I added, “Especially from a Ladies Room…” I hope I grinned sheepishly and didn’t grimace.

cup coffee hearts ABSFreepicsAfter I could relax again, we joked about ‘streams of living water’ and made a date to meet for coffee. She mentioned maybe I could show her what I know about blogging. That’ll keep us long enough for a latte. I have a feeling we’ll find more to talk about.

 

 

“…I see that the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken for He is right beside me.” Psalm 16:8

 

Images courtesy *Unsplash, **ABSFreePics and original graphic by E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2016 for What’s Next

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Throwdown

To those who have been following the journal of my latest relocation, integrating my life into the home of my oldest, best friend, I submit this latest recount of the process. To new, readers I present an object lesson, and to those who’ve figured life out, my apologies for the rant.

Throwing the Gauntlet

My presence in our new home brought change for Erin as much as for me. For many readers change is no big deal, but as we age – the longer we age – especially while working through mental health issues, we want to wrestle it, pin it to the mat. I understand this and had assumed Erin did too.

We had always stayed in touch, but we hadn’t lived together in over thirty years. A lot of water flowed beneath these two bridges. She lived alone for the past three years while I often longed to. I mostly enjoyed the three years I lived in my beautiful apartment – alone and lonely for my friends and family (who lived at least an hour away – too far for young families or my old truck to drive every week).

So, here’s these two old broads, best friends for over half a century, experiencing our first upset with each other in over thirty years.

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* Old Lady Gauntlets

For three months I had collected little straws, petty little things that bothered me and sometimes disrupted my routine. Thinking they were too insignificant to mention, before I realized it I began to feel like the haystack was going to break this camel’s back.

Now y’alls probably never do that, or if you did it happened once – just once. Doing it more than once is just stupid. As if three years of counselor training hadn’t taught me better, I had surrendered weeks of joy to frustration, and still I was reluctant to talk to Erin about it.

Growing up in a violent, dysfunctional family ingrains a reluctance to confront, or it encourages emotional bullies. I’m intimated by how easily I pivot toward both. So, I didn’t want to offend her – and then have to live with the repercussions.

I grew up with Erin’s family. Now as adults I recognize how she and her siblings bear crosses between them they have no business shouldering. I’m not gonna lie, this isn’t the first time I found some degree of comfort seeing her family is not perfect either. Now I realize they too sometimes transfer their feelings to each other or overlook their responsibilities for their choices occasionally. So, I held it all in, keeping my concerns to myself and carrying my burden alone.

Once I realized it was a big deal I started worrying the next straw would blow the roof off our home sweet home. I’d begun ranting to the cats when Erin was out of the house. Coco’s blinking at me dispassionately made me feel resentful (we’ll blame her – she doesn’t care). I was angry from ignoring all those sore little straw scrapes. That left me feeling frustrated, hopeless and ultimately fearful.

My moods weren’t lost on Erin either. Several evenings she came to my doorway asking, Do you feel any better yet? Are you angry at me? Are you still happy here? Because that was usually late for me I was tired (so not entirely approachable) and I can be bitchy, I’d tell her everything’s fine. I lied.

My. First. Conviction.

With that I began to actually think. By not talking to Erin had I been packing casings with my issues, loading them into the .45, and then pointing it toward my foot?

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At the peak of this madness sister Ellie called me, casually asking as she always does, “how you doin’.” It was a surface level, polite question. In my state of mind, I ass-umed she and Erin must have talked about my moods. But because I won’t talk to Ellie about Erin, I couldn’t honestly answer her. Instead, my dam broke and I cried. I told her I’ve been depressed and it had me worried.

After saying the “D” word aloud, I realized I had to buck up and somehow talk with Erin about what was troubling me. That started my second conviction: years of misdiagnosis and medication gorking me out unnecessarily proved I don’t suffer from depression. I know this, but each body ages differently. I lamely reasoned being sick seemed much more palatable than accepting I’d been cowardly. That bird didn’t fly far.

I was glad Erin spent the next few days at Keira’s, so I could think, play positive, encouraging music 24/7 pray (aloud) and fast. The cats disapproved, but quickly got over all the noise.

The night Erin returned home she came to my doorway (yeah, around ten p.m.). I’d just started to drift off to sleep, so I don’t remember what she asked me. Hopefully I mumbled something to the affect of Goodnight, but I heard her say as she walked away, “You didn’t answer me.” Exhausted and still reluctant, I let it go for the night.

The next morning I made Erin’s coffee, my double espresso latte and woke her early. I read to her from The Love Chapter” of the Bible***. Then locking eyes with hers said, “I don’t have to remind you I love you. I’m not running. I’m not depressed, but I am sad and a little scared. We must hunt the elephants.”

We talked back and forth for hours, continuing the conversation on-and-off all day during my breaks. Sure it was a short work day. My writing probably took a few hits with the weeks of distractions, but today we’re both talking and feeling much better.

As we age changes, confusion, and some hard feelings are natural. This is particularly so for unmarried people, these feelings can escalate astoundingly quickly and easily develop into withdrawal, isolation and despondency. As we diligently invest in our relationships, the odds for problems decline significantly. In our house we chose to invest and accept deposits as well.

A fool would throw away a fifty-something-year-old friendship. I can be silly sometimes, but I’m no fool – not yet.

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Erin has my six and I’m on her nine.  To this she says, “Sure, point out my side’s bigger than your skinny, old side.” We enjoy the pun, even if nobody else does.

*** “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

 

Images courtesy of *Pinterest and **ABSFreePics

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