Saturday, April 12, 2014

Midlife Crisis OVER!

Today would have been my dad’s 85th birthday. He passed away last year, exactly on the first minute of the first day of spring. Fitting for a farmer, I think.  

It was an honor to be at his side in his last hours before he slipped into eternity to be with Jesus. As we left his room that night, my mom leaned over and whispered in his ear to meet her at the eastern gate. Talk about a tear jerker. Still gets me. 

As I grieved for the loss of my dad, I can only describe what I felt as a sweet ache. I think of him, not just in the years of my growing up, but in the whole context of his life. I see him as a young boy, a fun-loving teenager, a soldier overseas, a husband, a hard-working farmer, an adored grandfather.  

I remember Dad as a man stressed out by life when we were growing up. I can understand why now. He had the never-ending work of dairy farming, the pressure of staying afloat when others were losing their farms, the responsibility of providing for his family, and chronic sleep deprivation. He also had four teenagers in the house at the same time. And, I am ashamed to admit we were not always the most grateful and supportive of kids, especially during those tumultuous years. 

But after we all left home, Dad became more relaxed. Mom said that when they became empty nesters is when the fun began. 

My dad grew sweeter with age. All of us kids remarked on this as we were planning his funeral. He was the most tender, gentle and grateful person you’d ever meet.  

As I grow older, I hope that my kids and grandkids can say the same of me. 
Paige and Matt just announced they are expecting in October, on my birthday no less. It’s our turn. Let the fun begin!
The fun begins!








Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Does this happen to anyone else my age? Your face changes overnight. I mean literally overnight. You wake up in the morning and find something that you swear wasn't there the night before when you wiped off your mascara.

Last week it was a pointy skin tag perched on the top of my cheekbone just under my left eye. At first I thought it was the start of a zit. I find a pair of cheaters and hold up a mirror, the magnifier side towards my face. Magnified, the thing looks like a nipple.

I'm grossed out, but intrigued. How does something like this come out of nowhere? The bad thing is that unlike a zit when you're a teenager, the thing isn't going away. When you're 50, whatever grows on your face stays on your face.

I'm tempted to snip it off with a fingernail clipper, but that seems kind of messy not to mention bloody painful.

I've tried covering it up with makeup. Doesn't work. It's like a beacon. I can sense it's there and catch glimpses of it even when I'm staring straight ahead.

But then it's not just the skin tags I've been accruing. I have this wrinkly thing going on under my chin that bothers me. I can still see my great grandma's sizeable turkey waddle. You could grab hold of it with both hands and swing.  When she talked, it quivered. I'm wondering if my neck is going to look that way in a few years. (Okay, Great Grandma Johnson was 90 when she died, so maybe it'll take more than a few years. And, by then I won't care.)

I pull my neck skin taut to see what I'd look like with a neck lift. Huh. I wonder if I could get insurance to pay for the lift. I could make a case that it's a medical necessity. The loose skin could get caught in a zipper or something. I might hang myself. 

Just for fun, I Google "face lifts." The search produces some fascinating results in a train-wreck sort of way.

Amazing what people do to hang onto the face they had 20 years ago. Mostly they end up looking really, really silly, if not downright scary. I won't mention any names; but you've seen the celebs with swollen lips and eyebrows pulled up to their hairlines. When does that trout pout ever look good? They resemble Joker on Batman.

Anyway, I feel sorry for these folks. They don't even look like themselves. It's sad. How defeating that in the quest to look young they become icons for plastic surgery gone bad. It all seems so tragic and empty to be consumed with the outward appearance.

A few verses come to mind:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV)

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. (Proverbs 31:30 NLT)

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  (1 Peter 3:4 ESV)

So, I have some lumps, bumps and some saggy skin. So, what? I'll be getting more. But I can have a certain kind of beauty that isn't going away, in fact, that becomes deeper with age--imperishable.

I've had a few women in my life who have aged with that kind of grace and beauty. My friend, Marcie, who remained radiant even as she encouraged others bedside as she was dying of cancer. My mom, who just lost her husband of almost 60 years, and still has a zeal for life that is contagious. Her beauty as a young woman is legend. She still is beautiful. Joanne, a lovely lady with gorgeous snow-white hair, who greets people at the church door with a huge smile and a warm, tight hug.

All of these ladies have one thing in common. God has done a graceful work in their lives as they have spent time in His word and allowed His transformation in their hearts. They are a testimony of growing more beautiful with age.

I hope to be like them. God continues His major overhaul on my heart. I'm getting there. But just so you know, I'm not going to feel bad about doing a little snip-snip on that nasty bugger under my eye. I'm also not wearing any hoodies with zippers.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grad Party Gone Mad

Landon, Class of 2013
I've been working all weekend getting ready for Landon's graduation party. It's less than a week away, and I'm semi-panicking. I know I shouldn't be. I told myself that with this last child's grad party, I was not going to stress. We'd just blow up a few balloons, put out some food, open the garage door, and call it good.

But then the day looms closer, and I become a woman possessed. I'm pulling up dandelions with a spade from the lawn, vacuuming lint from behind the dryer, and washing grime from the bathroom ceiling fan.

I know this is ridiculous. Like any of it matters. Who's going to be looking behind the dryer or at the bathroom ceiling anyway?  It's not likely, but the fact is that someone could. And that's what terrifies me.

My own mom painted the porch floor only when we were having a graduation party. She'd have good intentions but would inevitably run out of time and be up half the night before graduation painting the cement floor green. I still remember fans going full blast in a vain attempt to have the floor dried before the first guests pulled into the driveway.
When I was in high school, everybody had their party right after the ceremony. So, basically you didn't go to anyone else's party except your own. The standard fare was ham sandwiches (on buttered buns), a sheet cake, mints and punch. The really good parties had little weenies in barbecue sauce.

Now there are pasta bars, gourmet hot dog buffets, hog roasts, and walking tacos. A few years ago, I went to a party which was a Sunday brunch. They set up omelet, waffle, and pancake stations. They served 250 guests on China (the mom had been collecting place settings from garage sales for two years). It was memorable, if not insane.

Parties now stretch out from weeks before graduation into mid-July. You might get invited to 20 of them. You waddle from one party to the next, pacing yourself. A chicken wing here, a root beer float there. You don't have to cook dinner for eight weekends running.

I'm trying to keep this all in perspective. Landon's party is going to be among 50 or more next Saturday. We'll have more than enough food . And, no one's going to notice if there's a stray dandelion in our backyard.

With all the things that went on this last year (his dad's surgery and recovery, his Uncle Lars' hospitalization, Paige's wedding, and Grandpa's funeral), Landon deserves a blow-out party. We'll celebrate his accomplishments and the confident man he has become. My sweet boy's all grown up. I say I won't cry at his graduation. But, of course, I will.

Okay, enough with being on the computer. Break's over. I need to start baking the 20 dozen cookies for the cookie buffet.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Kinky Colonoscopy

The defining mark of turning half a century, my first colonoscopy. When my doctor said I needed to have one done, I was less than thrilled. But I was resigned. If colon cancer is caught early, it can be successfully treated and cured. And, the only way that is possible is to do a search-and-rescue up your behind.

I made my appointment for a Monday. I was to limit what I ate for the week, fasting the last day before the procedure. I was warned that if I wasn't completely cleaned out, I'd fail the test and have to come back to repeat it. Fearing being a failure, I did exactly as I was told.

By Sunday, I felt like I had been in the hunger games. I was dreaming about fajitas with guacamole on the side. At 6 o'clock that night I was to drink the first dose of the nuclear laxative aptly called MoviPrep. I read the directions and mixed two bags of powder--Bag A and Bag B--with a quart of lukewarm water.

Remember those suckers grocery stores used to give kids in the checkout line? If you found a bunch of those--the green lemon-lime ones--all stuck together under your car seat, unwrapped each one, placed them in a jug of warm water overnight and then stirred in a cup of salt in the morning, you'd have what tastes the equivalent to MoviPrep. Awful stuff. 

After an hour, I had finally gacked it all down.  I went downstairs, telling my husband and son that I was going on a private retreat and that under no circumstance were they to visit. I lit a few candles, placed several magazines strategically in the bathroom, and found a movie on Netflix. I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead," which, ironically, is about the American diet and how it is killing them with diseases such as colon cancer. Colon cancer is rare in countries where people have plant-based diets.

Thirty minutes into the movie, I finally felt the need to go. I can only describe what happened next as traumatic. I didn't want to think about what would happen if I had eaten the fajitas.

By eleven, I was pretty sure that my colon was more than cleansed. It had been sterilized. I went to bed, fell asleep for five hours and then got up to the alarm to repeat the whole process. Since there was nothing left inside of me, I was pooping pee.

At this point, I was so hungry I felt like a wartime prisoner. My only comfort was that it would soon be over and I could eat again.

When I arrived at my appointment, I was told to take off all my clothes and don the gown. I went to sit in a waiting room with strangers who were also butt-naked under their gowns. We all knew we were there for the same reason. No one looked each other in the eye.

I was given an IV. From here it gets a little fuzzy. I remember singing "The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles. I caught a rather unflattering view of my behind on the screen overhead before the lights went out.

The next thing I remember is opening my eyes and asking if I could have a cracker. The nurse said unfortunately, no, I would have to remain fasting. I had failed the test. They had run into a kink and couldn't finish. I was a fail? I had a kink? Yep. I would need to go for a scan that afternoon. I was given another jug to drink, this time filled with dye for the scan. Then they put me in a recovery room to wake up and pass gas along with everyone else I had seen in the waiting room earlier.

After three hours laying on my side in a dark room, it was time for the scan. I figured the scan couldn't be that bad. Just a picture, right? Oh no, the fun was just beginning. The tech said she was going to fill my intestines with air. She'd then insert a balloon to hold the air in while she took pictures. "Oh, and please don't emit any gas, while we do this." She said this all with a straight face.

I had to get into several awkward positions, somehow holding the balloon and the air in while she took the pictures. Mercifully, she finished and told me I was free to go home. Dave pushed me in a wheelchair to the car. I wasn't feeling so hot. Halfway home, I got out of the car and got sick. There wasn't anything to throw up except my tonsils.

I continued to get sick the rest of the evening. Finally, it occurred to me that this may not be normal. Maybe they had punctured my colon, and I was being poisoned to death by toxic laxative and dye. I called the resident on call. She said it was probably an effect of the anesthesia. I think it was the combined result of all the atrocities done throughout the day.

Finally, it was over. I woke up the next morning surprisingly no worse for the wear except for sore tonsils. On the bright side, I must have lost like 10 pounds. I hopped on the scale. Two.

Since I failed my colonoscopy, I was told I would need to come back in five years instead of ten. At first I said that I'd become a vegan before I'd have another colonoscopy. But I'll suck it up. There are worse things than a colonoscopy. Like having colon cancer and not knowing it until it's too late.  Thankfully, my test came back negative.

If you haven't had a colonoscopy, don't let my experience scare you. Really it isn't bad as long as they don't run into a kink in the road. Which probably would only happen to me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eating in the raw and other diet fiascos

Someone recently gave me the book Wheat Belly. The book says that wheat is a malicious food and is behind America becoming obese. Lose the wheat, the front cover claims, and you'll lose the weight.

Wheat Belly may have a grain of truth (pun purely intended). If you cut wheat from your diet you'll be cutting out most processed foods and you'll probably lose weight. Great. But I don't think it's a sustainable diet. Eventually a birthday cake is placed in front of you, and you take a bite. And, another and another. The problem is still there.

The author of Wheat Belly gives these soothing words, "It's not your fault." That's what we all want to hear. Sorry, I'm not buying it. I've been down this road before.

Beach babe in heels
I tried my first diet when I was 11.  I discovered my mom's pocket calorie counter. On the back of the booklet was a picture of this very tan, very thin woman walking away from the camera. She was wearing a black cut-out swimsuit, a floppy hat, and three-inch heels.  Kind of funny she was wearing heels on the beach, but the image left an impression. She looked so cool with her long, thin Coppertone legs.  I wanted to be that woman, sashaying along the boardwalk.

I made an attempt to follow the book's seven-day menu plan. A sample breakfast was a boiled egg, dry toast, and black coffee or tea. Lunch was one apple, 1/2 cup tuna, and carrot sticks. I tried the diet several times that summer, but I never lasted past day two and never lost any weight.  But I did learn how to count calories. I can still tell you how many are in a medium-size orange (80), a hot dog bun (110), or a fist-size broiled 90-percent lean hamburger (230).

Weighing and measuring

So, set the course for future diets. My friend, Joy, and I signed up at a diet clinic after we gained the freshman fifteen in college. We weighed all of our food and ate Melba toast. By living on approximately 800 calories a day, I lost the fifteen pounds and some of my hair as well. Of course, I gained the pounds back quickly when I returned to school that fall. But I kept the little food and weight diary that my $230 sign-up fee bought me and would refer to it every time I tried to lose weight.

Counting points

I discovered Weight Watchers when I gained happy pounds after Dave and I got married. Instead of calories, Weight Watchers had you count points. This made it so simple. Except I'd use up all my points by lunch time. And was left with eating vegetables and drinking diet sodas for the rest of the day, both which were point free.

Counting and planning for every bite you put in your mouth makes you think about food every single minute of the day. And when you quit "working the program," as Weight Watchers calls it, you gain the weight back because you've become so focused on your next two-hour feeding.

Nursing it

With my third pregnancy, I failed the seven-month glucose test, more than likely because of the Christmas fudge I had just eaten. I was sent to a nutritionist and put on a diabetic diet. I didn't gain a single pound for the rest of the pregnancy. But I was craving--no, lusting--for coconut cream pie the entire time.

When Paige--all perfect nine pounds, five ounces of her--came into the world, I cradled her briefly in my arms, then handed her to Dave and asked, "When's lunch?" Lo and behold the hospital's dining menu offered coconut cream pie. I ordered a piece and one of everything else on the menu.  When Dietary came to the door, I heard her say to the nurse, "This one's going to need two trays."

Someone had told me you can eat anything you want when you're nursing and still lose weight. Great! Paige was a voracious eater. So was I. I heeded the advice and stayed the same weight that I was when I was nine months pregnant.

Stop the Insanity! Fat's to blame!

I thought I found the solution to losing weight while still feeding my hunger when I heard about the new book Stop the Insanity. On her infomercial, the author (the bald and somewhat scary Susan Powter) screamed at the top of her lungs, "STOP THE INSANITY!! IT'S FAT THAT MAKES YOU FAT!"  She claimed you can eat as much as you want as long as it wasn't fat.

Oh, boy. This totally appealed to me. I never lost the baby weight, but I learned to scarf down whole loaves of bread without butter and entire pizzas without cheese.

No, it's carbs, you dummy

I really don't know what happened to Susan Powter after Atkins came out. You never heard of her again. Atkins claimed just the opposite. Carbs are the culprit.

This diet didn't even make sense to me, but of course I had to try it. After eating nothing but fried eggs, bacon, and pork rinds for three days, my mouth felt like it was coated with butter and I could have slapped someone silly for an apple.
South Beach was another low carb diet that I tried. Similar to Atkins, it was a bit more relaxed with the amount of carbs allowed. It was impressive that after two weeks of following the plan I had lost 10 pounds. It was even more more impressive that in two days I had gained it all back after someone left a pan of bars at our house.

Eating in the raw--an avocado saved my life
The raw cleanse was quite possibly the stupidest diet I ever tried. A friend who was losing on the cleanse convinced me to do it. The idea was to cleanse your body of all toxins by eating only raw organic vegetables for a week. I was skeptical but desperate.

Day one of the cleanse wasn't too bad. I felt a little jumpy and had the start of a headache, but these were symptoms to be expected as the toxins left my body. I started to get irritable on day two. By day three I was lightheaded, had a hollowed out feeling, and my hands were shaking. By day four, I was weak and seeing little pricks of light. To get through the day at work, I got a Naked Juice at Starbucks. And then went home and cheated by eating an avacado, which I'm pretty sure saved my life. That night I figured I had been cleansed enough and wolfed down three bowls of cereal for dinner.

No end to hunger

I joined a woman's group at church that was following the Weigh Down Diet written by Gwen Shamblin. Gwen came at the weight problem as a spiritual problem. We are trying to use food to fill a void that only God can fill.  I never lost weight by reading her book, but something she said stayed with me: diets are an effort to make food behave instead of making ourselves behave.

Calling it quits

My problem was I ate too much. I knew it. We all know it. But we try to circumvent that fact by controlling the food instead of getting a grip on our appetites.

So, I tried to think of a way I could eat for the rest of my life, without having to count calories and points or computing the total amount of carbs, protein or fat I consumed daily.

It took awhile and it wasn't easy at first, but I finally learned to eat like a normal person who has never had a weight problem (i.e., not like a seasoned dieter). I eat real food, just a lot less of it. I stay away from most processed foods, especially ones with a long list of ingredients you can't pronounce. Even though I eat healthy, I'm not rigid about it. I still eat dessert, just not the whole pan. And, I'll never give up Ripple Potato Chips. I eat a handful of them every single day. I also try to break a sweat at least three days of the week.

I'm done with the dieting thing.

Friday, December 14, 2012

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

Had a little more hair in the 70s
Pushing my luck with the free 30-minute parking, I stayed an hour visiting with Lars at the hospital today. Tomorrow he is going home.

We talked about his journey, shedding some tears--the norm now with every visit. Lars said he's bawled more in the hospital these last months than he has in his entire life. I guess that's what happens when you know your life has been spared.

I asked Lars if he remembered that night in the ICU when his condition was so critical. He did. He remembers all of our faces by his bedside. And he remembers envisioning himself hanging onto the outside of an aircraft, struggling not to fall, praying "Lord, I just can't hold on anymore."  Lars feels it was people praying that kept him alive that night.

The road to complete recovery is going to take time, but it's amazing that he's here and getting better.

There's been and will continue to be much celebrating. But I imagine there are also going to be some hard days ahead at home. That seems to be the case when the worst of a crisis is over. The reality of returning to life hits. But I know God is going to continue to work in and through Lars. So many people have already been touched by his story.

We have been telling Lars how everyone speaks so highly of him. We've all kind of put him on a pedestal. That is not what he wants. So I told him I could write a post about him not being perfect. He said to please do that.

I can do this. I'm his younger sister, and I got the dirt. He terrorized me growing up--like only a brother can. Won't go into details here, but let's just say there are reasons I'm so claustrophobic.

But here's the thing. Lars is just an ordinary guy. Likeable, yeah. But flawed, just like the rest of us. In other words, a sinner. But a sinner saved by grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says: God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

1 Corinthians says: "Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 

Lars is a testimony of  a life made new in Christ. All credit and praise go to the God Lars loves and serves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bikini summer and the last hurrah

My last posts have been of a more serious nature. I think it's time for a little levity and comic relief. Pulled from my Losing It blog, this was written two years ago.  Before I was wearing comfortable shoes and plucking chin hairs. Enjoy...

There's an expiration date on a woman's age for wearing a bikini. I was certain I was near it or had surpassed it. I didn't set out to wear a bikini. Hardly. I was just hoping to drop a size so I could retire the jeans with the blown-out knee (see post, Diving for Pie).

I was now down 40 pounds and had gotten rid of those jeans and everything else in my closet. But I had kept the swimsuit. Like all women I know, I hated swimsuit shopping. That's probably why my swimsuit had the same number of years on it as my last teen-aged child. It was the tent variety--the kind that has a generous amount of material with steel-case under-wire support and a skirt down to just above the knees.

But our family was going to California in July, and I could no longer avoid buying a suit. I took my daughter along to give honest critique. I was going for a smaller tent, but Amber said I should at least try a tankini. I put one on. Surprisingly, it didn't look too bad.

Amber said I looked great and could even upgrade to a bikini. What? No. Did she know what a gray-haired middle-aged mom looked like in a bikini? It was wrong, unnatural even. But Amber said that it would give me something to work towards. I just needed to work on my abs.

I wouldn't have done it except a friend challenged me that summer to wearing one. She'd do it too. The challenge was to post bikini pictures of ourselves on Facebook by summer's end. I know, it sounds immature, let alone immodest. But I had a lapse of judgment. I was in midlife crisis mode. This would be the last hurrah before I entered old age, wearing sensible shoes and trimming hairs off my chin.

I was coming to the game late in life, but if I was ever going to do a bikini it had to be now or never.

Yeesh. My hands began to sweat just thinking about posting a picture for all the world to see. I envisioned being at the grocery check-out line and seeing a tabloid picture of a woman's thighs circled, the title reading: "Can you guess whose cellulite this is?"

I'd only wear the suit at Huntington Beach where no one would know me. I hoped. It would be a one-time event.

I bought a purple one. I practiced posing in front of the mirror. Unfortunately, bikinis don't come with under-wire support. But if I tied the straps really tight and put my hands on each side of my waist and pulled back, I could make it work. I briefly thought about using duct tape.

I started to work out hard core. I did strength training, upping the abs. On days I didn't work out, I ran or rode my granny bike. I did push-ups and sit-ups before bed. I was getting extreme and annoying my family. I wasn't the mom they knew, the one who had always said it was never too late for dessert.

Paige imitating the Mom Pose
I wore the bikini the first day at the beach. I was careful not to make any sudden movements. I got rope burn around my neck from the straps being pulled so tight.

The picture was taken with me standing between each of my daughters. They each put a hand at my waist and gently pulled.  I posted the picture when I got home. It wasn't bad for a gray-haired mom pushing 50.

Sorry you don't get to see the full picture. Like I said, it was a one-time event.

P.S. My friend never did post a picture, instead commented "gottcha" on my Facebook wall.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A time to dance
Our daughter, Paige, got married last weekend to her best friend. During Matt and Paige's engagement, Dave had brain surgery and had just finished radiation. We were ready for a happy event.

I took two weeks off for the wedding. The first to get ready. And, the second to recover and spend some down time with my friend, LaDonna, who had come from Washington to help with the wedding.

The weeks weren't at all what I had expected. There was the typical frenzy in finalizing details for the wedding. But the days were layered with grief and crisis. The week before the wedding our daughter and son-in-law, Amber and Paul, lost their friend, Brian, in a car accident. Brian was Paul's best friend and best man in their wedding. Amber and Paul flew home early. Paul was pall bearer at the funeral.

My brother, Lars, was critically ill in the hospital. His condition worsened when he moved to the ICU. At several points we didn't think he'd make it and took turns saying our goodbyes.

I was so tremendously thankful that LaDonna was here. She held me together during intermittent meltdowns. She cooked, made cupcakes, ran errands, scanned pictures for the PowerPoint, and decorated at the reception.

The entire extended family resolved that the events leading up to the wedding would not diminish Matt and Paige's day. Their day came, and it was beautiful from beginning to end. And, contrary to our wedding nightmares, it went off without a hitch. The few things that went wrong were so minuscule they are hardly worth mentioning. (Wedding tip: if you're planning on using tea lights, don't buy the cheap ones from Walmart.)

By today's standards, Paige, at 20, is young to be married. Several people told Matt and Paige they should wait to get married until they were through college and established. At first, we thought that would be wise too, but then it was apparent they were more than ready.

Matt and Paige have survived losses in their lives that most people twice their age haven't experienced. In the last few years, Matt has lost two brothers and one of his closest friends. Paige has helped him through the grief as well as that of close friends who have lost a parent or a sibling.

Matt and Paige have learned to trust God in all circumstances. They have an eternal perspective.

I sat for a moment with Paige during the Friday night rehearsal. I told her I was happy and proud that she and Matt hadn't lived together and were getting married. Paige said, "Mom, none of us knows how long we're going to live. Why wait and lose the chance to marry the person you love?"

The next day, Lars' family came to the hospital dressed for the wedding before heading to the church. Lars said to let the good times roll. He'd be dancing at the wedding in his head.

As Paige came down the aisle on her father's arm, it felt triumphant. All the things that had transpired in the weeks and year before made the celebration all the more meaningful. It was time to celebrate God's goodness and grace. It was a time to laugh and a time to dance.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fairly 50

It's almost 11 o'clock. I am an hour away from turning 50.

I say it out loud. Fifty. I've been around for as long as I can remember. Yeesh, that's a long time.
My turning fifty marks the end of probably one of the most well-chronicled cases of midlife crisis there ever was. I've written this blog for the last two years. I've been embarrassingly self-focused and narcissistic as I've struggled to grow up in middle age.

I've joked about all the foibles of growing old in mind and body. But beneath all the humor, I've done a lot of searching too.

My journey through midlife has had all the five stages of grief, but not necessarily in this order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

I'm to the last stage of acceptance. I know people say, "You're only as old as you feel." "Age is just a number." "You're only 50; that's not old." Yada, yada, yada. 

But truth is, I am getting old. So are you. No one's getting out of this alive. We're getting closer to eternity every day. It's foolish not to consider what comes after this life.

Lars, my big bear of a brother
As many of you know, my brother, Lars, was critically ill last week. He was within a few hours of dying. An emergency surgery saved his life.

I was alone with him just before he was taken to surgery. It was surreal. The doctor said there was a high rate of mortality for him. In plain words, he was saying, "You could die."

It was unthinkable of life without Lars. We all depend on him so much. He is one of the greatest men I know. He is a humble man of integrity, having a heart for the Lord and for people. His life exudes the character of Christ.

As they wheeled Lars out of the room, I told him that I loved him and that he had nothing to lose. He gave a little wave and said, "Well, see you here, there, or in the air."

God spared him. But, really, God spared us from the grief of losing him. Lars' faith has been in Jesus Christ. He has the assurance of knowing where he's going after he dies. He has lived his life in light of eternity. He truly has nothing to lose.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Walk on By

Dionne Warwick's Walk on By has been playing over and over in my head all day.

I sang it when I thought about getting a Twix Bar from the vending machine and when I was tempted to pilfer a Panera Bread cookie from the Blood Bank.  I told myself just walk on by tonight when I saw that I had all the ingredients to make a lemonade pie.  (If you haven't had lemonade pie, best not ask for the recipe. If you're anything like me, you'll whip it up in five minutes and be burying your face in it ten minutes later.)

Time to quit fooling around. Four and a half weeks before the wedding, and I don't have a dress. Well, I did have one. I bought it a few months ago at Macy's. First dress that I liked and which fit, even though it was a wee snug on top. I figured it would be just fine if I bought the right undergarment.

Yesterday I took the dress into Soma Intimates to find something that would work its magic. I squirmed into the dress, and with considerable huffing and circling around backwards in the dressing room, I got it zipped.  I took a look in the mirror. Oh my. Not the look I was going for. Everything squished up the back of the dress into my shoulder blades, while my front side was smashed flat like I had taken to binding my chest.

I now have three options. One, get the dress altered, which will probably cost me more than what I paid for it. Two, hit the mall in search of another one, the idea of which makes me want to curl up in a ball, sucking my thumb. Or, three, keep singing Walk on By and hope the dress fits by November 3rd.