Building a Good Day

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“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” ~ Iris Murdoch

I have been reading Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher. (Thank you Jennifer Laffin- https://www.teachwrite.org/ for the recommendation!)

The book’s subtitle ‘Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.’ really caught my eye. When I turned 60 in the fall, I found myself vascillating between feeling afraid and feeling fearless, between not giving a damn and giving it my all, between being at the end of my story or on the cusp of some new adventure. I knew I wasn’t ready to wither, but I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to flourish.

That brings me back to Chapter 10. I have only read a few pages so far, but the following lines really stuck out to me. “Building a good day is about making good choices involving our emotions, thinking, and behavior. ” “it’s possible to do a mental reset by asking ourselves what we are looking forward to and what we are grateful for.” It is not that I have never heard of these things before, but these words did make me stop and re-evaluate how well I utilize these techniques.

What am I looking forward to? Here are just a few of my “small treats”:

Spending time with my grandchildren – Easter egg hunts, sleepovers, cookie baking, block building, coloring, giggling, hugs, & kisses.

Concerts – The William Tennent Jazz Ensemble under the direction of my son, The Golden Boys, and just turning up my car radio with the sunroof open.

Summer – more time to read & write, teaching a grad class, morning tea on the deck, evening sunsets and card games.

I will certainly be adding to my list as I spend more time actively thinking about what I am looking forward to rather than just letting things sneak up on me.

I am building a good day today because I chose to focus on the fact that I don’t need my cane even though there are bouts of stiffness and little aches and pains, on the fact that it is a sunny day even though it started out with clouds, and that because I am in the midst of standardized testing which is never pleasant I don’t have any work to take home tonight.

What about you? Are you building a good day today?

Willing Away Worry

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“At the end of the day, give up your worries and give thanks for the journey.” ~ Ben Vereen

Several weeks ago I attended a program at my church entitled, “Give Up Worry for Lent” given by Gary Zimak who authored a book by the same title. Every morning I read a few short pages that have a Bible verse, a reflection, a response, and prayer.

I am definitely a worrier, and the book serves as a reminder to relinquish my worries to the Lord. I have been reminded that feelings are not facts. It is not about how you feel because we cannot control how we feel about a situation, but we can control how we respond to the feelings.

I have been thinking about this a great deal. Although the book is based on the Bible and rooted in Christianity, I don’t think it is an exclusive club. I believe that anyone who believes in a higher power, no matter what form or name that power takes, can benefit from letting themselves lean on that power, ask that power for help, and know that we cannot make it through this world alone.

Worrying prevents you from being present, from enjoying the moment, from being your best self. It is okay to feel afraid, frustrated, overwhelmed, but how do you react to those situations and feelings? I would have sleepless nights and anxiety ridden days.

I have to say that I am feeling much more peaceful, although I still have to work on the nail-biting! I haven’t completely freed myself from worry, and I am not sure I can accomplish that in 40 days (or ever), but I am taking small steps and enjoying the journey.

Sunday Satisfaction

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Wake up with determination; go to bed with satisfaction. ~ Unknown

I knew there were a few things I wanted to accomplish today, but I was conflicted between wanting to get these tasks completed and wanting to just relax and read. When I awoke this morning I just knew I couldn’t have these things hanging over my head all week, so I mustered up all the determination I could and started tackling the items on my list.

  1. A Target run – I needed to get a birthday gift and packing tape….$32.00 later I was heading back to my car with two bags.  I never get out of Target without buying more than what was on my list.  Thank goodness I had a $20 gift card.
  2. Clean out my clothes closet – Purple Heart is coming on Wednesday to pick up our donation items.  I have three boxes and a bag already, but I was determined to get rid of the clothes in my closet that haven’t seen the light of day in a very long time. I now have another bag and a half to put out for collection.
  3. Laundry – I have to admit this was a joint effort between my husband and me. An empty hamper is a very satisfying picture.  I can hear the last load tumbling in the dryer as a write.
  4. Pay a bill – with a few clicks of my mouse – done!

Honestly, there were a few more things on my list, but I did have to squeeze in time for a nap, for watching some March Madness (the Duke – UCF game had me biting my nails, and I don’t even have a bracket!), and for reading.

I will lay my head on my pillow with the satisfaction of having check several things off my list – even if it wasn’t a total victory.

Forever Young

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May your heart always be joyful – may your song always be sung – and may you stay – may you stay forever young. ~ Bob Dylan

Posting late tonight because we  out celebrating the 60th birthday of a high school friend.  He has a band with his two sons and a nephew along with a friend of the boys. They played songs that had special meanings to various people in the crowd.  People were clapping, tapping, and singing along.

It was fun to see “kids” from the neighborhood that we hadn’t seen in years.  Though some hair is gray, and the years have taken their toll on many of us in different ways, everyone was talking and laughing as if we had seen each other just yesterday.  As always the talk turns to stories of our youth.

I looked around and wondered how we got to this age – closer to retirement – talking grandkids – moving a little slower. Each time the music started I felt like I was back in my 20s or 30s.  My mind is young, my body not so much.  I guess that is the power of music – the ability to take you back in time.

My youthful feelings were short-lived when I realized we were tired and leaving to go home at 10:00.  As we were walking to our car, couples were walking towards the tavern.  That was a reality check for sure!

Being forever young is not a body thing; it is a heart and soul thing.

May you stay forever young.

 

 

You’re Still the One

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You don’t marry someone you can live with – you marry someone you cannot live without. ~ Unknown

I was searching for inspiration after a long week at school.  I was thinking of writing about the super moon that graced us this week, and I still might, but then something happened. I started looking through old journals and writer’s notebooks – 21 to be exact – when I came across a poem I wrote for my husband for Valentine’s Day 2004.

Chuck and I met when I was 15, and he was 17.  In 2004 we had been together 31 years- 24 of them married.  As I read this poem 15 years later, I still have the same feeling as I had on our first date and the day we got married.  I cannot picture a life without him by my side. We are going on 46 years together, and he is still the center of my universe – my super moon.

Here is the poem.

I love you in the morning
when the first whispers of dawn peak through the window
when I am trying to shake free of last minute dreams
when I need a reason to turn off the alarm and face the day

I love you in the afternoon
when I am weary after a day of teaching and need to unwind and share
when the aroma of a homemade meal fills my senses
when the sun begins to descent and the sky starts to pinken

I love you at night
when stars take to the skies twinkling with promise
when late night giggles permeate the darkness
when the sound of your breathing becomes my lullaby, and I rest easy in your embrace

I love you…morning…noon…and night.

Tonight I am feeling peaceful.  I hope you are too.

Happy Birthday, Johann

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The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. ~ Johann Sebastian Bach

I began playing string bass in 9th grade and continued as a music major in college.  It was during those eight years that I fell in love with classical music, but in particular music of the Baroque period.  Baroque music is perfect for string ensembles, and I loved being the keeper of the continuous bass line under several independent and overlapping melodies and countermelodies. Besides playing string bass, I spent countless hours in the practice rooms working on my Bach Two Part Inventions for piano.  I felt so satisfied when I “mastered” one.

The word baroque comes from the Portuguese word barroco which means oddly shaped pearl.  I guess the period is aptly named since it was so much more ornate than the simplicity of the Renaissance period.  There is something soothing about the binary form of Baroque music; you know what to expect; it is reassuring.

Happy listening!

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 1st movement

 

Six Months

 

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mom's hand                Hang loose - Copy

In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on. ~ Robert Frost

Today marks six months since my mom passed away just about seven weeks short of her 91st birthday.  Some days it feels like forever and some days like it was yesterday.  As I scrolled back through my pictures to find the ones above, I realized life did go on.  I made it through my milestone birthday, her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all without having my mom to visit or hug.

I could always count on her to be smiling and happy.  She had such a positive spin on life. The picture of my mom, Lucy, is from 2017 when we celebrated her 90th birthday.  My sister bought her the “Hang Loose” sweatshirt because when anyone asked Lucy how she was doing, she would always answer, “Hanging Loose.”

There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of her or talk to her.  She may not be with me physically, but I can feel her presence in so many little ways.  From the unexplainable  scent of her laundry detergent wafting through my family room to the cardinal that swoops just in front of my car on the way to work, I know she is looking over us.

Although I am sad some days, I try to emulate the way she lived.  She celebrated life every day. I don’t know how this grief thing is supposed to work when it comes to grieving your mother, but I know she wouldn’t want it to take over; she would want me to celebrate her by celebrating life.

Thanks Mom for holding my hand all those times I needed you for a shoulder to lean on, for words of wisdom, or for a good laugh.  Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives.  I am remembering you tonight with a smile.

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