Monday, January 23, 2012

Aging Gracefully?

In the last eight weeks, my baby turned eight, my middle child became a teenager and my oldest (whom I still remember as a wee babe on my shoulder) turned 15 and is talking about getting his learner’s permit. What is happening!?? My babies are growing up.

I’m realizing I’m older yet I can’t seem to make my body, mind and spirit all fit together. I’m supposedly part of the older generation who doesn’t understand a thing about the younger one. I certainly can’t keep up with the band names or video game characters, but I do remember what it felt like to be a pimply-faced, insecure adolescent. However, along with that ability to instantly flash back decades and still feel poignant sentiments, I’m also a member of the “establishment” (yeah, that group the hippies rebelled against when I was a child in the ‘60’s and are now running themselves). I’m in that undefined collection of mid-lifers: the tired and highly responsible, mostly underpaid women who are intent on “getting stuff done”. Admittedly I have little energy left for having a creative and vibrant life. Working on that one.

These three boys are the result of about $35,000 + worth of fertility and high-risk pregnancy measures. And the grace of God. Thankfully those were the days of a beautiful corporate benefit package in which insurance covered most of those high costs. Small business entrepreneurship, while part of the definition of the American dream, doesn’t afford such luxuries. Glad I had my babies earlier. I’m honored to have been the incubator to bring my darlings into the world. I think it’s now time to spend that same money to upgrade this thermoregulator’s exterior.

I can identify at least five areas of my body I’d love to have tightened, stitched, nipped, tucked, injected or just plain vaporized. Am I willing to actually invest cold hard cash and face the risk of possibly looking like Joan Rivers or a Dragon*Con mask? Not yet. I’ve had a few minor touch-ups just shy of going under the full anesthesia though and haven’t regretted it.

A recent doctor’s appointment revealed my weight to be the highest yet in a nonpregnant state. Hhhmm. Staying fit and healthy and also being comfortable in one’s own skin – with the body God gave us – that’s a challenge. I don't usually put less-than-flattering photos of myself up but today I'm doing it. This is who I am. God made me in His image.

I will say though, if it came down to beauty vs. wisdom, I’d go for the latter.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking a Dare

I took a new dare this year that has the potential to change my mindset. I only know this from seeing many people do the same thing and having found they felt better.

This New Year, I didn’t make resolutions knowing I wouldn’t be disciplined enough to keep them. However, I’m chewing on some ideas, turning them around in my head. They’re safe there, untested. Trying to implement them in practical reality has often proved to be a challenge requiring a commitment to discipline that I don’t possess. I used to try to make my resolutions “official”, almost ceremonious - as if that would make them more legitimate and increase the odds for success. Doesn’t work.

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s bestselling book One Thousand Gifts – a semi-autobiography, poetically written, about finding joy in the mundane, learning the art of gratitude. She was dared by a friend to write down 1,000 blessings, gifts, or anything she appreciated in life no matter how small -- the ultimate goal being to change the perspective from one of ingratitude and other negative states of mind (i.e. resentment, apathy, discontent, anxiety, anger, etc.) to that of thankfulness and appreciation for the life before us. On a greater scale, she came to believe it could actually heal some deep wounds in her life. She chose the cool Greek word Eucharisteo – thanksgiving.  How many of us go through the motions of our days, sometimes lifelessly, gradually losing our capacity to feel?

Since the book’s publishing, she’s dared readers of her blog to do the same. So I’m taking the dare…with some trepidation. It’s hard to imagine finding 1,000 things to appreciate. Then again, I’m the queen of lists; I can do this. Looking at some of the things on Ann’s list, they’re pretty darn mundane – but if they bring her joy and alter her mindset, maybe they can do the same for me? I’d sure be a nicer person if that were to happen.

Another concept the author discusses at length is being present – being “all there”. This is amusingly so Zen Buddhist. We in the West of Judeo-Christian persuasion can really learn from Eastern practices. We’re so not geared for being mindful and living in the present. Instead, we languish about the past and plan, worry and try to rent time in the future. I’m the guiltiest of that habit. Do we actually gain time or fix anything doing that?

So far, I’ve been list-keeping for about a week while also reading the book, and I’m encountering a surprisingly more positive mentality. I am so not the “happy” type. I’m a Type A, semi-obsessive, control-oriented, sometimes anxious, easily irritated introvert. Okay, that’s the worst of me. I’ve been writing about 3-4 blessings per day and I think I can even improve on that. The reminder to continue to shift my thinking is helping me see the glass half-full rather than my usual half-empty. Will it really net positive dividends??

Here are a few on my list:
13. When Wesley (my eight-year old) leans up against me, all warm
14. Looking at Wesley’s soft facial features – eyelashes, peach skin, sea blue eyes, glossy golden hair
15. Lying on my large, full-back, massage-grade heating pad at night
16. Pouring my cup of coffee with cream first thing in the morning
17. Breaking off a hunk of 70% cacao dark chocolate and mixing it with salted almonds, savoring flavors

Okay, those are pretty boring but they make me happy. Somehow making my arm and hand move to name it on paper and then reading them is slowly -- just a little bit – lifting my burdens.

Linking up with Ann at