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.
During this week off from the everyday grind, I am present moment many moments of my day, and days plural. My senses are wide-open. I hear my husband’s heart beat in the silence. My vision becomes clearer by the hour in the solitude. What a difference capturing a subdued vacation dedicated to the rejuvenation of the mind, body, soul, and spirit. Old thoughts are changed to clearer vision and direction. Faith in my God and myself restored. Life is punctuated with grace, hope, and love. Courage and strength for the walk ahead. I see the path. One of prayer. Pray the Word of God. Meditate and then pray Psalms 119. Today’s verses 11, 18, & 148 …“I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You … Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law … My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.”
I am a planner by nature and vocation. Letting things go for a whole day is not easy. I think the Lord designed the Sabbath for a reason. I am not faithful to take that day of rest each week. And it catches up sooner or later. I have a quiet time each day where I meditate, pray, and just sit in the quiet. But a whole day of this refreshes my body and mind. My spirit needed it, too.
At my little cottage house I created my boudoir, designed with a comfortable chaise and vintage forget-me-nots such as comfy pillows, a lace-paneled screen, brimmed hats, scarves, hosiery, aprons, gloves, a pearl-beaded clutch, and special evening attire. It is tucked in one corner of my husband and I’s large bedroom. I turned on the mood lights picking green to illuminate my boudoir matching the plush green outside the window this summer season. It invited me for an afternoon nap, a day of rest from my weariness. The dark memories of days from over 20 years ago fainted away. “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” ~ Psalms 116:7. The pitter-patter of the rain on the window panes serenaded me to sleep.
A week’s vacation is finally coming next week. And a retreat may be in order for this autumn. But also a sabbatical. Traditionally, this is a 1-year recess for every 7 years worked. I cannot see this happening until I retire from full-time employment. So maybe a whole month off next summer, before I move into another chapter of my life’s work?
On several occasions I have had an older gentleman ask me “where did you come from” or “from what place are you from”. He forgets what I told him the last time, so he asks time and again “whence you come from?”. Here is the definition of the word “whence” and the use of this phase …
from whence (adverb)
from what place or source.
from whence (adverb)
from which; from where.
- to the place from which.
- as a consequence of which
In the physical realm I came from my mother & father, who met at the grocery store chain they both worked at in the mid – late 50’s, married in 1958. I am their third child. Their firstborn is my older brother by 17 months. And then came my identical twin sister, born 7 minutes before I. The doctor and my parents were not expecting me, as my mother did not show signs have being pregnant with twins. Remember ultrasound was not used back in 1960. Right before my twin sister was born, they felt what they thought might be a “tumor”, but lo and behold, it was me, a 2nd baby barely over 5 lbs. My parents waited, and my little brother followed 3-1/2 years later. Mom said “if the pope wanted her to have another baby right after my twin sister and I, he can raise them”. Born and raised in Missouri, we lived in a small town subdivision for my first 8 years, and then lived on a tree farm in the same county for another 10 years before moving across the state to go to college.
In the spiritual realm, I am a child of the Living God, predestined for His wonderful plans. “In Him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will … having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit … live a life worthy of the calling you have received”, the book of Ephesians tells us. This is where I come from, from our Father, Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
A wooden birdhouse nailed to a backyard maple tree was home to Eurasian tree sparrows year after year. Eventually the squirrels chewed a bigger hole and took residence. Now the tree does not exist as we made way for a room addition to the house, but the prized songbirds still return to our feeders every winter. The Eurasian tree sparrow finds its citizenship in some select communities in the St. Louis, Missouri vicinity. “Its presence in Missouri dates back to shortly after the Civil War. At that time it was a fad among nature enthusiasts to import nightingales, chaffinches, bullfinches and other songbirds from Europe. This was done in the false hope that new birds might help control insect pests, but was also an excuse among nostalgic immigrants who wanted to see birds ‘from the old country,'” written in a Missouri Conservationist Magazine article. These meek songbirds entertain us humans by making nests in our birdhouses and stay around for winter dining on seeds left in the feeders. Not native to Missouri, but they thrive.
Writers and artists need their own space to allow their creative juices to flow. Writers’ and artists’ retreats can be found around the world. Michael Pollan’s cites in his book, A Place Of My Own, “a room of one’s own … is a space of solitude a few steps off the beaten track of everyday life.” I think we all need that space whether it is a nook in your house, a favorite bench at the park, or trail to walk amongst the trees and wildlife. Creativity is for all people. Historians, sociologists, and National Geographic photography and author, Dan Buettner study people around the world, seek those who thrive and live as centenarians. These century-old people have 9 common threads in the communities they live in what has been now dubbed the “Blue Zones”. These threads are unique to their culture but can be tied together. These threads are: they move naturally, have purpose, consume plant-based foods and stop eating when 80% full, practice moderate wine consumption, have daily down time, their family comes first, live in the right tribe for self, and belong to a like faith community.
As a wellness professional I stand by the concept of “The 7 Dimensions of Wellness”: physical, spiritual, vocational/financial, emotional, social, intellectual, and environmental which I can easily tie into the Blue Zone’s 9 common threads. With all this, what is one dimension that the others surround around? It is the spiritual dimension. It defines our purpose, beliefs, and values. It centers our thoughts, prayers, and meditations. It is big enough that it allows us to accept others. And your spiritual practice, is it integrated in everyday life? Are you thriving? Where do you find your citizenship? Are you here by chance or did the Creator create your place/space for a purpose? And where will you be after the Earth is no more? Your spirit lives forever.