Messages are uttered in so many ways. Bold statements blurted out from the too familiar, boisterous co-worker, stranger on the street, billboard, or TV commercial. The grandchild that pops a question of “aha” magnitude. The Sunday sermon from the pastor or the simple architecture of a chapel set in the woods. The faithful spouse who knows your every fault, but loves you all heart and soul anyway. The quiet utterance of a sunset or springtime walk into fresh sprouts of greens and purples in the woods. The songbird singing his lovely tune to the world. Oh, the shout of that big Texas moon on a spring night! The stone structure or tree still standing despite time and weather. Messages are all around us everyday. Are you listening?
About every moment of every day the local, national, and world news capture heart-wrenching stories of tragedy and utter chaos. Although the local news stations have been better about bringing the good news, too. Like how a group of teenagers care for the needs of their elderly or home-bound neighbors during this pandemic with meal deliveries, running errands, minor home repairs, and taking out trash. While helping others, these youth are helping themselves by learning new skills, effective communications, and heart lessons from their altruism acts. These kids didn’t wait for something to change, they made the change. We cannot say how long the pandemic will continue to disrupt our lives. But I cannot stand by and wait to see how long. Life goes on. The new normal is established, for now anyway. What am I waiting for? What are you waiting for?
I have gained 90 minutes a day by not commuting to work every weekday. After about 3 months to adjusting to work from home (and loving most aspects of telecommuting), I decided to make another change. “I don’t have time” is not a valid excuse any longer. I downloaded a walking app, and have been doing interval speed walking for the past 10 weeks 5 mornings a week. It has been so liberating! I am up to 4-1/4 miles in 75 minutes, and my speed is about 17-1/2 minutes per mile. I am out of the house 5 days a week doing something wonderful for my body as well as for my mind and spirit. After 6 weeks my blood pressure and glucose have dropped enough to adjust my meds. There is a new saying I have heard through the online weight management program Naturally Slim. “Mind, meet body.” I play these mental gymnastics, talking to my mind, my body, and my spirit. There is a series of thoughts that goes like this: “This is good for you, get out there”, “God, give me strength, protect me for another day”, “foot, knee, you are going to be okay”, “only 5 more minutes of speed walking before cool down, yes!”, “sweaty wet tank top you are getting washed today”, “God, bless that homeless person”, “the birds sound lovely, thank You”, “God, what a beautiful sunrise You have given this morning!”, “oh, what a cute flower pot” … I think you get the picture. My thoughts turn to prayer, thankfulness, and praise every single day. I turned sixty today! My sassy (my hubby says sexy) sixty self is happy I have not stood by and waited any longer for these walking workouts. We are never too old to learn or do something new. Now is the time.
As an employee wellness coordinator for a large-sized government entity, I keep myself versed on health and wellness topics and periodically take certification courses. Depression and mental health are major issues in the United States. A person can know this by listening to the news or viewing social media at any given moment these days. More and more training in the health and wellness fields are focusing on the “7 dimensions of wellness” that make a person “whole”. If any of these are lacking, it affects the other dimensions of a person, and the community around.
These past few weeks God is urging me to write, more than I have written before with my journals, blogs, letters, and poems. I am writing a book about wholeness, the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental healing for a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder which affects the social, intellectual, occupational, and environmental dimensions of her life. It is based on the true story of a Christian woman and her struggles after a traumatic event. Subsequent therapy reveals more than this sexual assault trauma, but the dysfunction she is living in her marriage. It is a story of hope despite the reality of trauma, and the fight against shame and demons associated with sexual assault. Life’s lessons are learned in every situation and circumstance, if we listen.
I have applied for a writing fellowship at a writers colony in Arkansas, and hope to hear good news by November. If awarded I will be granted 2-weeks stay at this writers lovely retreat center. My calendar will allow for this next spring, if I am awarded. If not granted the fellowship, well I may take 2 weeks off and hide out in my husband and I’s cottage to focus on this work with greater depth. Projects with my employer have shifted with earlier deadlines, so spring will be a lovely time to write, take walks, meditate, and write again. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Ernest Hemingway is quoted. For me it will be my pen and journal, and pecking away on the keyboard of my laptop.
Ever notice when our President is first sworn in, he may be mildly gray. By the time his duties are handed over to the next President, he has a full head of gray hairs. Example: Barack Obama. For me those wispy gray hairs seem to be coming in each day. I know the natural aging process causes me to lose stands of hair and my new hair lacks pigment and regenerates gray. But there are some of those days the grays seem to grow by the minute! That may be the difference between peace and strife in my life. Stress multiples hair loss and grays. Example: I decided I was going to work a part-time 20-hour a week job on top of my full-time job to put that extra income into my savings since I had not had a salary increase in 6 years but want to retire in 2 years. Local government work is definitely service to the public, as it does not always serve self well! Humbling as it is, I could not keep up those new job duties and hours. My brain was mush working 2 office jobs by that first Friday evening. I wanted to sleep as soon as I was home every night. No life in that, or should I say “quality of life” in that! I was striving. Lost my peace. My husband saw by the 2nd evening at my 2nd job I was struggling physically and mentally. He simply said, “if it is not going to work, it is not going to work.” No lecture or ultimatum. Relief. Grace given, and received. Lesson learned. I put in my notice to this new office, and back to square one.
I am praying and seeking God’s plan. I want to retire from my employee benefits job with the local government at age 60. Planned to work part-time some place(s) while pursuing my master’s degree in writing. Tuition is 1/2 price at age 60 at the university of my choice. I want to teach college students the gift of writing. My dreams are noble and good, achievable. Are they God’s plan? Maybe my timing is off? Maybe putting off retirement another 2 years to make up for lost income with the salary freeze? Maybe thinking outside of the box? Henry Ford made this statement, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Peace is returning with prayer, meditating, gardening, my husband’s love, and even the midst of chaos this last week at that 2nd job. God’s provisions are endless. God continues to mend me with His pure gold. He has aggrandized me through Jesus Christ!
Life evolves, perpetually moving. Hopefully, forward. But maybe we would rather live in the past, the good ole’ days? I dream of the whimsy of unhurried days. Summer afternoon napping in a hammock under a willow tree. Leisurely walking the shoreline combing the white sand for a treasured seashell or starfish left behind by the ocean blue waves. Sunday autumn walks spotting the brightest red leaved tree. Hot tea and freshly baked scones for a winter snack gathered with my youngsters. Life is not so easy-going while working full-time hours as a human resources professional. Commuting, family obligations and responsibilities, bills, and then keeping house for our two homes. I am sure it is not easy as a carpenter in the summer heat. Or the 1000 sandwiches prepared for another hungry crowd. Or the school teacher putting together lesson plans and then teaching them to the 100 & 1 needs of the students you are responsible for. The disabled or elderly making doctor appointments and their thinning budgets.
Do we really have it all with our careers, 2000 + square-foot homes, high-ticket sports events and concerts, organic foodie plates at $50 per, high-tech computer programs, phone apps, texting, social media posts, networking breakfasts, and so on & so on? Recent weekends while antiquing for my husband and I’s newly acquired get-away house has prompted history lessons. We ask each other why this piece of furniture or household tool was used back in 1940 or another era. Think back on those less hurried days, many items make sense. I better understand my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Their tight-fist around the piggy bank, renovated solid wood tables and reupholstered chairs, no big screen TVs but large radios for the living quarters’ entertainment and news, dishes galore because they did not “go out” to eat, and a plethora of tools to fix that broken whatever. Maybe life was unhurried because it could not be with the lengthy meal preparations and length of time to repair or build? Maybe life wasn’t so easy back then. Maybe it just seems that way, because life is not easy now? Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote, “Sometimes I wonder if telephones and motor cars are altogether blessings … When my neighbor gets into her car, it is almost sure to run for twelve to fifteen miles before she can stop it, and that takes it way down the road past me.” Mrs. Wilder recognized how modernization changed her social connections. I know it affects mine.
I read non-fiction books and articles to find out who I am or who I want to be (or not be). Marie Kondo encourages us in her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, “the space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past”. Such an easy concept, live the now and look to the future rather than the past. But I would have to challenge those words and their meaning. I agree with the concept of this book, de-cluttering and making your home or office space functional, becoming a better person. But the past is why we are who are now, and this will carry to the future. I rather filter the past, keep the nuggets of wisdom of the past generations, use for guidance. Learn from and not repeat their mistakes, but I will surely make my own. That antique end table or butter dish reminds me of past generations’ input into my life, directly or indirectly. Their legacy, history makes me and you who we are now and what we will become in the days to come. I ask you to think on someone in your past or from your history lessons. What is one sentence this person would say to you right now that can effect your today and tomorrow in a positive manner?