Getting Older ~ Getting Better

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks!

Turning sixty almost two years ago was difficult for me. As I reflect on the time that has past since that milestone birthday, I am ashamed I had such a concern. It feels good to realize I am definitely more accepting and appreciative of the “gift of time” my Heavenly Father has allowed. My daily prayer is that I treasure each and every day I am given.

I found the following passage and it almost perfectly reflects both where I am headed as well as hits a few points I have already reached in my life.  (In spite of much searching, I cannot find the author.)

p1000468

    “Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

     The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, he was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let him know. 

     I have decided I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body – the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror, but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

     I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avant-garde on my patio. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

     Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 am, and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of my youth, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love. I will.

     I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set. They, too, will get old!

     I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things.

     Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

     I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say ‘no’, and mean it. I can say ‘yes’, and mean it.

     As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

     So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day.”  – Author Unknown

Unexpected

“This car is only going one place, and that is to the emergency room,” my best friend firmly stated as she took charge behind the wheel of my car.

It was a gloriously beautiful morning as my BFF and I drove happily down the freeway toward our shopping and lunch excursion.  We had been planning for weeks to spend the day wandering in and out of little shops in the square of a nearby town and to eat lunch at a place we had been wanting to try for months.

We had only been on the road for less than 30 minutes when rather suddenly I told BFF I had to pull off the road right away because I was feeling very strange.  As I drove off the exit, I felt like I might pass out, I was beginning to sweat, my pulse was racing, and I felt a little sick to my stomach (I think was due to my surprise at what was happening to me).  As I drank from my water bottle I noticed my hands were shaking, and I just did not feel right.  It was so strange because it hit me all of a sudden, no warning, nothing!!

I got out of the car and walked around for a few minutes, and even though some of the symptoms were beginning to subside, I still did not feel just right.  Our local hospital was not far away so we decided I should go get checked.  The staff immediately took charge  and began to treat me as if I was having a heart attack.  BFF called my husband and waited in the room with me until he arrived while the ER staff was in and out conducting various tests.

Fortunately (long story short) there was no evidence of a heart attack, my blood work was excellent, EKG results were good, my blood pressure was great, and other vital tests proved negative.  I felt so foolish to have caused such a stir.  Everyone, from my BFF to the doctor, did their best to reassure me I had, without a doubt, done the right thing.

After the doctor went over the results, I asked if I might have diabetes which may have caused a drop in my blood sugar?  The doctor reassured me I did not have diabetes.

I am not on any prescribed medications, limit my caffeine, and don’t use drugs.

Did I have had a panic/anxiety attack?  There is some stress in my life, but don’t we all have some stress?

Questions-multiple-question-marks-clipart

What in the world triggered this reaction in my body?

Maybe it was divine intervention that put the kibosh on our little excursion protecting us from a much worse fate?

Maybe it was another wakeup call?  A reminder that life is precious and short.

Whatever it was I am truly thankful for a proactive BFF, a supportive husband, a caring ER staff and a loving Heavenly Father.

 

My Hands

My hands are not perfect. They are beginning to get age spots and creases along the knuckles.

But as I look at my hands, I recall the many wonderful moments with my children they have experienced.

fullsizeoutput_1b61

My fingers gently stroked their soft cheeks and held them close to my heart the very first moment we met.

My hands wiped their tears, tucked in blankets, and made lunches.

They held kite strings, picked up countless Lego’s, and sewed on scout patches.

These hands held on tightly while crossing the street or offering comfort.

They clapped with joy at first steps, school performances, little league games and academic achievements ~ both large and small.

They combed and braided hair, folded laundry, and buttoned shirts.

They have touched shoulders, waved in greeting, and pushed in playful gestures.

These hands waved goodbye as each one of my children left to find their way in this world and softly wiped the tears off my own face as I smiled.

They fold in prayer daily.

My hands are an extension of my heart.

“For all the things my hands have held the best by far is you” 

Andrew McMahon, Lyrics from Cecilia and the Satellite, July 2014.

Serving Others

The summer I was 16 my friend Cathy and I were Red Cross volunteer’s at a VA hospital two mornings a week for about four weeks.  Our job was to mostly push patients here or there around in a wheel chair.  Occasionally we would deliver flowers, escort visitors to rooms, or offer to get cups of water or coffee for families waiting on a loved one having surgery.  At the end of our shift, we both felt appreciative for the chance to help and be of service to others.

As I approach retirement I have begun to research opportunities to volunteer. Living near a large city provides an abundance of choices such as assisting at a hospital (both regular and children’s), becoming a foster grandparent to a child, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels (I love to cook and would really enjoy preparing these meals), helping out at an animal shelter and the list goes on. If I decide to get more adventurous there is Global Volunteers.

A young friend told me her parents volunteer at a nearby hospice.  It takes a very special person to volunteer in this environment. What an excellent opportunity to provide emotional and spiritual support to both patients and their loved ones during this truly precious and delicate time of life.

Our school system allows people to become mentors to our students. Filling all of the slots for this volunteer position can be challenging because a lot of people don’t know this particular opportunity is available. The men or women usually come once a week during lunch time. They will sit with the child outside at one of our picnic tables or inside at a reserved section of the lunchroom. Sometimes they come during the day and they will usually go to the library to talk, read a story, or play a game. These children may lack social skills, have private issues, or their home life may not be the most stable environment. Often all these students need is an adult (or anyone) to listen to them and let them know someone cares. Both the mentor and the student look forward to this special time together.

img_4502.jpg

 

Becoming a volunteer can be an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and may also change someone’s life (maybe my own) in the process.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8 

Either I am getting older or I am not as young as I used to be! ~ Wine Snark

Change is good, but enough is enough!

Each time I look in the mirror I cannot believe the older face and body reflecting back. The person inside this body “feels” the same as younger days, so how come sometimes I don’t even recognize myself?

172295017bff5aa6c71e184a2b29e9b9

When did this happen?

When did I suddenly get …… old?

Menopause with its hot flashes, weight gain, and insomnia came on gradually at first, and then began to roar like a lion.

My hair is getting thinner and my waist line is getting chunkier.  A little more exercise, fewer sweets, and not so many in-between snacks would probably help.

Brown spots are popping up in various locations on my body, which my dermatologist said was caused by sunburns attained during my ignorant youth when I chose not use sunscreen.  In my younger days, I actually thought I wouldn’t care about my looks as I got older.

Wrinkles have crept in. Have I waited too long for the”anti-aging” creams I am using to work?  Still waiting on those results!

Injecting my skin with products to smooth wrinkles or alter my appearance is something that not only frightens me, but just doesn’t seem natural; it’s like going against nature. Going gray seems pretty trendy at the moment, but I cannot embrace that idea just yet.

In spite of all these natural “aging” occurences, I am actually very thankful to experience this phase of my life.  Changing my mind set and not focusing on the negatives of the natural aging process is getting a little easier.  Having the opportunity to maintain a healthy diet, exercise more, keep up with what is going on in my community and the world around me, and simply laugh more (especially when I look in the mirror) are just a few of the things I am beginning to appreciate more each day.

“Things will never be the same, that’s just the way it is.”  Tupac Shakur

Savoring Salt Block?

My husband and I love to grill and enjoy trying creative ways to savor the flavor of food. The Himalayan Salt Block has been an interesting addition to our outdoor cooking although it can be used inside too. We already use the Himalayan salt grinder version (Trader Joe’s) every day to flavor our meals, so we decided to purchase the large salt block for the grill. It is suppose to have health benefits, but we like it mostly for the delicious flavor it adds to food.

When you first start cooking on the salt block it is nice and pink. Over time, the heat and permeating juices darkened it and now give it a rich glow.  I was afraid the food would taste extra salty, but the flavor is delicious!

I bought my husband the book “Salt Block Cooking” by Mark Bitterman for Father’s Day last year and it has taught us the many uses of the salt block and inspired us with a variety of recipes. Can’t wait to fire up that grill again!

I love the evenings when we grill outdoors!

Savoring Healthy Eating

fullsizeoutput_1a17My husband and I eat pretty healthy, but his doctor told him he should make some changes in his dietary choices.

We took a closer look at what we were actually eating on a daily basis and decided to make a few alterations. I am happy to say we have done a good job sticking with our updated plan. Some of our changes include:

  • Buying as many organic fresh fruits and vegetables as we can find.
  • Eating grass-fed beef that has been ~ key word: grass finished as often as possible.
  • Eating chicken, eggs, and pork that have been pasture raised.
  • Limiting our sugar intake.  (From what I have read, this is the source of a lot of health issues.)
  • Very limited GMO products. (This was strongly suggested by the doctor. I am currently trying to learn more about these products. We have quite a few of those brands in our home, so we are gradually weeding them out and replacing them with the non GMO products.  Just hope the information I find is accurate.)
  • Limiting our portion sizes. We don’t want to eat as much as we use to, so smaller portions are our preferred way of eating these days.  We will often eat on our salad size plates so it mentally makes us think we are eating more since we see a fuller plate.  When we eat on our dinner plates we try to fill it up with fresh vegetables and a protein.

I have worked very hard locating local farms that raise the type of beef, pork, poultry, and eggs we desire. I must say, everything we buy from this farm has been delicious! Mountain Valley Farm

Grass-fed-grass finished beef cooks just a little differently, and has a delicious flavor! It cost a little more, but the health benefits, the quality, and the taste are worth it!

grass carpet

We have learned to be very cautious and read labels. Not everything marked organic, natural, and cage free is the real deal.

Holleman Farms, Greenville, TX ~  An excellent choice for pork, chicken, and eggs if you live in Texas.

I have some friends who own a very successful ranch in Palo Pinto, Texas ~ the 2S Ranch. They continue to educate me to the value of “knowing your rancher” to ensure you are getting the best quality possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If I lived in Texas, they would be my ranch of choice for beef.

grass fed

The 2S Ranch in Palo Pinto, TX

My husband and I will definitely enjoy a few splurges and understand we can’t always control what we eat outside our home.  But, here is to continued success in reading labels, buying fresh, and knowing my rancher!