New Year’s Resolution: Fail

When you hear mine, you’re probably going to say the same thing my sister said: “That’s a terrible idea…….oh, wait a minute. It’s a good idea!”

I am here to tell you that today, February 12, I am still at it; my resolution is still active. Here’s my New Year’s Resolution: I plan to fail at 50 things this year. That idea was born out of my fear of failure. I live in fear. Not fear of getting mugged, or getting in a car wreck, or getting fired; oh no, no, no. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of being awkward. Fear of that look on someone’s face that says: ‘You are not making sense, and you are kind of strange.’ And me having to explain myself, or backpedal, or shrink to invisibility.

Late last year, I stood on a figurative fence. No, I was not standing on the fence, I was peeking under it. On one side stood my self, unhappily single, lonely many many evenings, tired from working too hard, painfully shy. On the other side of that fence stood what I want to be: graceful, at-ease, full of energy, and unlonesome. Enter my plan. Voil-a. Stepping into the uncomfortable is the death of fear. I will deliberately fail at things, and they will no longer be scary, and I while I might not be graceful or at ease, those things that I face will no longer be behemoths. I have begun my list of failures; so far, it looks like this:

  • 1. Invite the kids over for dinner. NO FAIL. THEY CAME.
  • 1. Attempt to message estranged daughter and get a response from her. FAIL.
  • 2. Invite friends to my house every Friday for happy hour. NO FAIL. THEY CAME AND ENJOYED THEMSELVES!
  • 2. Feel awkward by going to a newish church. NO FAIL.
  • 2. Make connection with daughter by text. FAIL.
  • 3. Meet a nice Christian man online. FAIL.

So really, I’m only on #3. I might not make it to 50 this year. Here is a groovy side-effect: when I contemplate going to dance class, or walking into church late rather than staying home, or some other intimidating thing, I tell myself that if it doesn’t work out, I can write it on my list! It moves my thing from inaction to manifest! Yippee!

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Is there a God?

Yesterday, once again, God showed me and my buddy that He loves us and cares for us in a pretty normal way. I wasn’t shocked because I am a kept woman—-He loves me all the time! He keeps me well-fed and well-loved. Sparkles wasn’t shocked, either; just pleased and delighted.

Sparkles and I got together for a fun day.  The last time we saw each other was when our kids were little and underfoot. Yesterday, we talked about our sons’ wives. It’s been that long since we’ve talked face to face. We planned to get together and giggle and soak up some rays, but beyond that we had not much of a plan. So I got up plenty early (I couldn’t sleep anyway!) and drove to her hotel where she and her husband were staying for a conference.

Being crunchy, I wondered vaguely how in the world we were going to find someplace to eat. God had that all mapped out for us in advance, so we meandered beach-ward and giggled and I mostly got us to our destination. I don’t think either of us noticed my wrong turns and our long way to get there, because of the loud volume of our giggling and talking.

By the way: we didn’t do a speck of reminiscing. We have this type of rare friendship: even though we hadn’t seen each other since the 1990’s, we have been talking online & text, and when we saw each other, we just kind of picked up the thread of our conversation that started last decade! We did do a bit of reflecting, but no maudlin reminiscing.

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So here’s the God part: on our trek beach-ward, the lady from the quilt shop in Orlando told us about a quilt shop near our destination of Cocoa Beach. We giggled and gabbled all the way along the highway, and I spotted the quilt shop in Cocoa. Since I overshot my mark, I found a little nondescript plaza to turn around in. As is my habit, I most usually overshoot my mark and have to make a U-turn. Because my riding-shotgun gal was in the middle of a story, she didn’t notice the shop.  That’s okay. It’s my pattern: I get there on the second shot. Usually. Well, as I turned the car around, I spotted a little diner called, “The Garden Place” and under that, it said, “Organic.” Voila! It was as if God said: “Your table is ready for you. I’ve been expecting you.”

Worried about finding a place with good food to eat? No problem, says my God. Worried about anything else? I’ve got that, too, He says. So we ate an incredible salad, piled high with tuna and hummus and fresh greens & sprouts. The cook, who looked like my mom except she wore a hair net, brought our salads to the table.

Sparkles was surprised that we could find such a place. I was mildly surprised, but not really. I’m telling you: God cares for me in ordinary ways. He’s so cool! So we ate and lingered a very long time. Then we crossed the street and lingered in the quilt shop for a very long time and chatted with other ladies who were lingering over fabrics. We oohed-and ahhed over the quilts there, and got inspired for our next project. Mine: a modern quilt of slate and chartreuse. Hers: a modern jungle print called Ebb and Flow. Perfect souvenir for a trip to Florida, and perfect allusion to our lives, don’t you think?

Our chattering continued as we found the beach. It’s a pretty large target, taking up the entire coast of Florida, swooping down one side and all the way up the other,  so I knew eventually we’d hit it. There was an island blocking our way, but we crossed that. And the conversation continued. We didn’t agree on every point;  Sparkles told me she can’t really relate to me being happily divorced. (More on that in another post on another day.) That’s okay; I couldn’t really relate to every single facet of her musings.

Our conversation will continue online and by phone. And in fact, we can’t seem to quit talking. She texted me as I pulled out of her hotel after dropping her off, and I had to hurry to pull over to see what she said. Her text read: “Best Day Ever.”

I can’t agree more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Ami or My Ami?

There is a funny thing that happens amongst Florida’s toddlers, which the rest of the country might not be aware of. To know about it, listen to the following typical dialogue.

Toddler: ‘Where are we going, Mommy?’

Mother: ‘To Miami’.

~~~~~The next day~~~~~~

Grandma to Toddler: ‘Where did you go in the car yesterday?’

Toddler: ‘To my momma’s Ami.’

(Get it? The toddler hears ‘Miami’, but perceives it as mom saying ‘My Ami’.)

And all three of the toddlers that I have known to make this linguistic transfer of ownership have been very adamant about it. Is that because it happens at an age where little people are very adamant about ownership? They know what is theirs, and they fight for the right to call it, and they fight for their mom’s ownership as well.

Another time I heard this thing happen was at a patient’s home, where I (as a speech therapist) was working on resolving a lisp with a 9-year-old girl. Her toddler sister came into the room and demanded, as toddlers are wont to do, to be part of the session. So I lifted her to my lap and continued my talk with the 9-year-old. The older sister was naming places that she had visited: “Oklahoma, Chicago, Miami…”

“No!” the toddler interrupted, “Heather’s Ami”, inserting another sister’s name.

The 9-year-old sighed good-naturedly and repeated her list: “Oklahoma, Chicago, Heather’sAmi……” (Apparently, another sister named Heather had mentioned ‘Miami’.)

I love ToddlerSpeak, don’t you?

 

The Joy Fund

I’ve been incubating an idea for several weeks. It needs to be said, and I will feel better when I’ve expressed it, but it might sound sloppy, so bear with me. The idea I’ve been germinating is this: Why the heck does it happen that when you set a goal or declare that you “Will do something”, that you are immediately faced with situations that make your declaration impossible? Does the Universe have it in for us? Does God like to play tricks on us? Does He like to make a fool of me? Case in point: I declared that this past Christmas season, “I will be happy, and find happiness in each and every day. I WILL look for joy and make it happen daily.” No sooner did I thrust my spear in the fertile soil at the battlefront of cheery goodness than I received a phone call. Dad was facing yet another very serious surgery to alleviate a blood clot. And shortly after that, another conversation with my son that seriously shook me and dashed any hope of joy; it was the kind of thing that lots of nearly-adult sons find themselves in the throes of. And I lost some sleep that night. Well let me tell you: the joy seeking ended pretty quickly right then and there. It seemed very silly to look for frivolous things to be happy about. Life is serious, and while it didn’t exactly kick me in the teeth, it did affect two men who I love dearly. So back to my question. The timing. Does Life hang around behind palm trees eavesdropping, and then jump out at you when She hears that you’ve Made A Declaration, all with the idea of making you feel silly? Is She cunning, and does She fling her pixie dust of health threats and legal battles and financial woes discriminately, when we are at our lowest? And then twinkle away, giggling wickedly?

The more I’ve pondered this question, the more I think it’s not so. In fact, I don’t think so at all. You can accuse me of being Pollyanna if you like. It’s one epithet that’s been hurled at me, which I own and welcome. Like Pollyanna, I think that you can look at any situation as you want to look at it, find the silver lining, and that makes all the difference. It makes life better. My sister disagrees; she hates it when I sing in the morning. But I think it’s a good way to think.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I made that declaration To Be Happy or to Seek Little Sparkly Joys, and when bad things happened, it gave me even more reason to know that my happiness does not depend on my circumstances. Paul wrote encouraging letters while he was in a dark, stinky prison. Horatio Spafford wrote “It is Well with My Soul” after losing his wife and children in a horrific accident. Those people understood that happiness is a separate condition, unrelated to circumstances.

So my conclusion is this: Life is not a Sneaky Woman. Life is a whole bunch of experiments. We get up in the morning, brush our teeth, and face the day with its opportunities for helping the people we meet as we’re headed to work or to golf or to the grocery store. Happily, some of those folks are the ones we’re related to, and who we love. We get to do things for and with them. Like drive to their house, watch a movie in the evening, then drive them to the hospital and give them a kiss and say, “See you this afternoon” as the nurse wheels them into the OR.

My favorite definition of prayer is this: God, the Creator of you and me, gives us the chance to participate in His Creation by answering our prayers. He’s like a really great Dad who says to us, “Okay! Because you asked, it will happen just as you suggested.”With a Dad like that, the circumstances that whirl around me don’t seem quite as staggering.

The Question of Age

What exactly does “middle aged” mean? I thought it was a spot that is between “young” and “old”. However, I’m still on the young half of the hill; I can see “old” in the distance, and I don’t see “middle age” anywhere around. I am 49 years old (brevet 50). An explanation: “brevet” is a military term for a combat-instigated promotion in rank. So, you’ll see in history books about Colonel So-And-So (Brevet General). Once the war is over, the poor sap goes back to the lower rank. In my chronology, I have acquired 50, but a divorce robbed me of any celebration of that milestone, so I got busted back to the rank of 49 now that my war is over. Not a bad place to be busted back to, I’ll have to add. Another aside: I’m planning a big 50th  birthday party for myself. I’m calling it my Mulligan 50th Birthday. Do you know that golf term? When you really mess up a shot, you get a do-over, called a Mulligan. This is going to be my Mulligan 50th birthday.

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Back to the landmark of “middle age”. I can imagine that teenagers describe me as “that older lady”. Don’t they know? Don’t they know that at a glance, I can recall clearly a memory from my days in Kindergarten, Junior High School (blergh), college, and any number of adult memories. So you see? I’m not old at all! Because in my mind, I am the same Kindergartener/angst-filled junior-high schooler, co-ed, and young adult with little toddlers around my ankles. I can also recall each of my kids at many ages–sweet-smelling infant in my arms, loveable, tyrannical toddler, knowledgeable Kindergartener, and young adult. It’s like I’m looking through  series of negatives stacked in front of each other. I can see my youngest in his yellow puddle boots, and chasing chickens around our back yard, and learning to ride the bike I bought at a garage sale, and winning nationals at the robotics competition, and at his wedding. I’m not trying to sing a maudlin song on a minor key–you know what I’m talking about with memories stacked in front of each other. And those memories are as vivid as Kodak; they don’t fade with age.

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But my main question is this. When does Middle Age happen? Or is that term now defunct? I know that old age keeps moving forward as we get older. When we were 9, old people were anyone in high school or beyond. When we were 15, old people were in their 40’s. Now that we’re approaching 50, old means people in their 90’s. It’s the March of the Age! But whatever happened to Middle Age? I think it got gobbled up somewhere in my 20’s. Don’t tell my dad that it’s gone, because he has always, since my very youngest days, described me as his middle-aged daughter because I’m neither the oldest nor the youngest of my siblings.

Here’s to a Happy, Grand Sparkling New Year, full of love and joy.

The Happy Season, Day 2

Who knew that there would be a Pow Wow in Florida? But there is, and so I gathered the left-overs of my Thanksgiving company (my daughter and her two friends), and together we clamored off to find it. Image

And sure enough, it was everything that we had seen in Oklahoma, where I attended every single pow wow that was within a day’s drive to us. There was Indian fry bread, booths selling all things feathery/leather/artifacty, and there was dancing! And regalia! And honor and respect to all things sacred: country, men and women serving in our armed forces, police and fire departments, and a dance to honor the elders in the community. And there were men sitting around a large drum, chanting out a rhythm with their voices and their percussion as the people walk/danced around the ring which had been blessed. And the Creator was honored, as was the son and the Holy Spirit.

The Happy Season, Day 1

Christmas Resolution: To Do One Happy Thing Daily for the Season.

Today I bought a tree……….Image

 

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and put it up in my living room, with the help of my Joy Team. WooHOO!