Sunday, March 16, 2014

55

I survived the week of birthday 55! That should not be a big deal, but the week was quite a roller coaster. Fortunately, the highs far outnumbered and overshadowed the lows -- and, ultimately, I think I found something positive and uplifting in everything that at first seemed like a problem or low point.

And after a few weeks of feeling more and more tired and worn down, my outlook and attitude and energy surged -- possibly starting with the decision last Sunday to resume putting together a few words about life and posting them online each week in this blog.

I'm wearing brighter clothing. I handled several unexpected, somewhat unsettling challenges at work better than I would have imagined -- and when I did lose my cool a couple of times, I think I was able to rebound acceptably. (I'll know more about that in days and weeks to come.)

My desk at work is clean -- and I am determined to keep it that way. A bouquet of yellow roses and other sunshine-colored flowers from my sweet husband graced my desk from Tuesday through Friday, and now brighten my home. Another birthday bouquet sent to the house added to my festive spirit.

I waited until Wednesday for my birthday dinner out -- and it did not go at all as planned. But rather than be upset when the item I ordered because of the fresh asparagus came without it -- and the shrimp in sauce had tails and the clams had shells, neither of which I expected -- I reacted with amusement. My husband's spirit helped out greatly with that.

Also on Wednesday, I accepted the opportunity to provide special music at church on Sunday, and that helped ensure I would have an uplifting song on my car stereo and in my heart and mind the rest of the week as I learned the words.

Then on Thursday came an invitation to eat out on Saturday night. It's something I wanted to do, but after another long work week and knowing I would be leaving the house at 4:30 a.m. Sunday to take Gene to the airport (before heading to church to sing at the 8:30 service), saying yes was far from my comfort zone. What if it kept us out too late? However, I didn't want to hinder the development of a social relationship. We said yes, and it ended up being an early meal (I guess that's to be expected with a bunch of retirees!) and time well spent.

Three weeks ago, I had read Charlotte Lankard's column in The Oklahoman (and on newsok.com)about things she has realized about growing older. I was surprised at how much I agreed with her observations. After all, she is 75!

Still, at the time, it seemed to me like maybe it was a good thing to accept those things at 55 rather than wait 20 years.

Among the things that resonated:

Getting older is not better or worse than being younger, it is simply different. In many ways, life now seems fuller, richer and more honest. ... Spending time with people with whom I have to pretend or perform for them to like me is not acceptable. ... If I don’t like the wrinkles I see in the mirror, I remove my glasses. Ah -- the lines soften immediately. And I finally concede there is not another living soul in the world that cares if I have wrinkles. ... I am aware that impermanence is the truth of life, and so I understand the importance of living in the present moment. ... Aging for me has been about coming home to myself. It is a time of being ... more of who I am: being honest, caring, curious, available, involved and coming to each day with intention.

But as March 11 and my 55th birthday neared, I grew tired of giving in to being old. There are truths I can grasp at 55 -- and among them is that I still have a whole lot of living to do and energy and enthusiasm with which to do it.

So, I still have no plans to color my hair or get treatments to make my face or skin or body look younger. I'd still rather care less than more about my appearance.

What I am interested in is my health and well-being and attitude and spirit and relationships and acts of kindness and service.

My spirit.

On Tuesday, when dealing with one of many challenges at work, I told a colleague I had given myself the gift of optimism for my birthday. Little did I know at the time how valuable it would be.

It's a gift I hope to give every day -- and spread it to others.

Excerpts from my devotional readings on Tuesday contributed to the positive outlook.

-- "When old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed in with its wonders." (Rabindranath Tagore, as quoted on Page 71 of For Today, published by Overeaters Anonymous Inc.)

-- From My Utmost for His Highest (): "The only way to be obedient to the heavenly vision is to give our utmost for God's highest ... The test is the sixty seconds of every minute, and the sixty minutes of every hour, not our times of prayer and devotional meetings."

-- And finally, Jesus Calling reminded me that God's grace and strength are sufficient. Evidence of God's faithfulness in that promise emerged throughout the day. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

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