In our culture it is easy for those of us more seasoned individuals to feel invisible. At least this was true for me. Although I talked a good game I followed an outdated rule book that said everyone is more important than me. I went from being the daughter of Jim and Mary, to the wife of Mike to the mother of Nate, Zach and Chris. Then I received a phone call one day suddenly making me an empty nester I found myself numbly putting one foot in front of the other and pasting on that “twirler smile” to the world.
Relocating forced me to slowly step out of my comfort zone, but I still failed to find my foothold in this new reality I faced. I started delving into my beliefs, not only Spiritual beliefs but my beliefs about my self-worth. Let me tell you that can be scary territory!
I have suffered from chronic illnesses for decades and have tried numerous traditional and non-traditional treatments. Until recently I believed all these conditions came from outside influences; whether they came from genetics or the environment they controlled my life. Now after more than a year of deep diving I see a different possibility.
Let me state here and now that I have had my share of guilt thrown on me by people telling me over the years to suck it up or if you’re sick then you just don’t have enough faith in our Creator. I have no intention of adding to anyone’s baggage. This is my story and I am sharing it to encourage you to keep diving, to never stop looking for your own pathway.
One of my favorite shows to watch with my youngest son was Myth Busters and today I want to join their ranks and debunk a long held myth. All my life I heard that, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” I can’t say whether this is true for our canine friends but I absolutely know it is not true for humans! Growing up as a “Boomer” first we heard don’t trust anyone over 30…until of course we reached that age. As we Boomers aged we tended to break those glass ceilings that society had given us. Yet personally, I found as I reached my 60th birthday I found myself slipping into “Old Folks Mode”. At least I did until a good friend said that now is the time to make new memories! Slowly those words seeped into my core and I lifted the veil of impending darkness to find the glorious light of a new horizon!
As I share my journey with you I hope it inspires you to begin or continue your journey of discovery. Find your own path, even if it runs askance of any path you have taken in the past. This life we live offers an infinite numbers of pathways. We need to put our fears aside and go exploring. Never let anyone else chose your path or tell you it’s not okay to change your mind! Jump on and enjoy the ride!
An icon of the American southwest the Saguaro (the “G” is soft…“sah-wah-roh”) cactus grows slow and steady over the years. Although one of these majestic cacti can grow to be 40-60 feet tall, it can take 10 years for it to grow an inch! According to the National Park Service government website it could be 70 years before the cactus produces its first flower and 95-100 years before any arms are formed! Some cacti never form any arms and scientists have no idea why.
I have always been fascinated by all different kinds of cacti, perhaps because while the rest of the world had rooms full of various houseplants in the ‘70’s my black thumb and I breathed a sigh of relief when my little cactus survived for almost a year. The fact that cacti thrive and even flourish in downright abhorrent conditions piqued my interest. Soon I adopted cacti as my personal symbol of what was possible in a hostile world.
Now many decades past my twenties I look again at the cacti as a symbol of strength and resilience. I have survived many challenges over the past few decades and have felt more than once that my glory days were behind me. Looking at the majestic Saguaro I now see I am just coming into my blooming stage. My children are grown, my husband has found his niche. Come join me as I boldly spread my wings and experience the world outside my comfort zone!
Sometimes the memories get me, they can pull me into a vortex of what ifs and how did I get here. Recently I have come to the place in my journey where I no longer ask those questions…at least most of the time I don’t. On those occasions when I do plummet into the vortex of regret I find that now I quickly move to a plateau of blessings.
Just yesterday after searching on the web for a vacation spot I found myself remembering numerous conversations with my mom when she would say, “I know why I never learned to drive because if I did I would just get in the car and go and never stop.” That’s similar to how I felt as I began my walk to the lake yesterday afternoon. I allowed my mind to fill with friends and family that travel without even thinking twice.
As I reached the lake a few geese and ducks left the rocky bank and flew into the windswept water and floated away. Usually the sight of the water and the various animals fills me with delight, but as I sat staring into the distance I barely saw them. Looking out over the huge expanse of water being blown in all different directions by the blustery wind I realized I had allowed old patterns to overtake me. Just then I heard a slight splash and smiled as I saw the 3 geese butts in the air while they fished for a snack.
I thought of a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu in The Book of Joy, “Acceptance of Reality is the Only place that change can begin.” Looking around at my reality and realizing the blessings I have surrounding me quickly shot me from the vortex of regret to the plateau of blissful reality. How could I not be blessed when I can walk just a short distance and find myself immersed in the essence of nature?
Those feeding geese soon found their reality interrupted by a couple of kayakers paddling towards them. Just as the geese may voice their dismay at having to change their location, they soon settle comfortably into a new area to continue their repast. My mind may sometimes fill with all kinds of what ifs, but my soul soon settles comfortably in the present moment and finds the joy that is now.
Never underestimate the joy of now, get out your magnifying glass and explore until you find it!.
Have you ever woken in the morning and found that your mood matches the misty view outside your window? For me that usually means I am processing something that has disturbed me and have not completely worked through it yet. Honestly I find sometimes it takes me days to process a certain occurrence. Formerly these days would find me sullen and disagreeable to say the least. Recently I have begun a practice I have read about for years but never really delved into before now. I have started a gratitude journal.
I carefully chose my gratitude journal, not wanting to use a regular notebook or my computer as I do for my regular Spiritual journaling. A small diary type notebook with a leather strap to keep it closed became my new Gratitude Journal. Choosing a small book that I can take with me causes me to remember to perceive things consciously.
How does this break through the mist of sullenness? The same way a real smile breaks through the anger. Perception allows us to observe things in a certain way. Our consciousness causes us to perceive things as positive or negative. Since making a conscious effort recently to displace negative thoughts with positive ones, my whole self feels calmer. I cannot say I feel serene, that still seems miles away, but my baby steps toward serenity definitely include remembering what I have to be thankful for each day.
It still takes me days to process disturbing news; yet now I know that processing and sullenness do not have to go hand in hand. Try it and perhaps you will find yourself breaking through the mist!
Recently on a drive I saw a beautiful pileated woodpecker, I have searched for another since that day so I could add it to my collection of pictures. For the first time in many weeks I took a walk along the woods, although I didn’t see any woodpeckers I had the privilege of eavesdropping on 2 of them as they intermittently tapped out their messages. What struck me was the means by which the interaction took place. No song or screeching caw was heard just the rhythmic tapping of their beaks. I could not help but picture two friends texting each other.
Because I have this slight obsession with research, when I got home from my jaunt today I looked into communication between woodpeckers. Finding that for the most part woodpeckers communicate through tapping, especially in the breeding season I realized once again the similarities between we humans and our friends in nature.
So often we, of the more seasoned generations, complain that those more tech savvy individuals of the millennial age do not communicate naturally. Have you heard yourself or another say something similar to, “They don’t know how to talk anymore, all they do is tap their phones” ?
Woodpeckers tap because it can be heard much farther than their vocalizations and their rhythmic tapping identifies them as individuals. Perhaps an evolutionary incident caused these beautiful creatures to discover an alternative to singing, one that would allow them to have faster more wide spread communication with their species.
Bringing that thought back to we humans, have we simply moved on to a more efficient form of communication where a number of people can have instant communication at the same time? Before we roll our eyes at the sight of friends standing together each tapping on their phone perhaps we can look for a positive aspect of this type of communication. Could texting actually be an example of the evolution of communication between humans, actually making the world a smaller more understandable place?
Welcome and join me for the fantastic adventure that awaits each of us! Over the past 6 decades I have had the privilege of riding the roller coaster we call life and experiencing many things that in my younger years I deemed stumbling blocks, yet now I realize that whether positive or negative, all our experiences give us the opportunity for personal growth.
Reaching the hallmark of 60 years in December of 2016 I seemed to turn a corner in my life; I found I needed to delve deeper into who I am and redefine my priorities. As usual whenever we meet change head-on the surprises abound.
In November 2016 my husband and I moved to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where he took a position as a Christian pastor. This position opened both of us to new opportunities. I found myself with time and the ability to pursue my interests, especially delving deep inside myself in order to become acquainted with this person known as Debbie .
As many women do, I found growing from daughter, to girlfriend, to wife, to mother…all great experiences, yet all of these had me as part of someone else. At 60 years of age I started to ask who am I, what is important to me…I have begun to uncover many previously concealed layers of myself. You know what? I am beginning to like this woman I have become.
My daily discoveries amaze me, actually the simplest things amaze me…coyote tracks, the color and feel of fresh moss on the forest floor, deer visiting my deck. As my life becomes more uncomplicated I find joy in the smallest thing and in nothing! Perhaps my greatest discovery so far concerns joy. When we learn to stop pursuing the idea of joy and start pursuing the idea of helping another, then we discover true joy.
I find I don’t plan far ahead anymore, because I always want to leave room for the ruach-or breath of the Divine to flow freely and change my direction. So please, grab some coffee, tea or your preferred adult beverage and join me while I head directly into the winds of growth. I encourage you to stretch your wings and join me.