Out With the Old, In With the New?

Is there really anything “new” about a “new” year? I mean besides the obvious changing of the 12 month guard from one year to the next. Society acts as if it is a “clean slate,” that life resets at midnight on January first. What is really “new” about it? I challenge those beliefs.

When I woke up this morning, it was a “new” day, as are all days. December first was a “new” month, as are all beginnings of a month. This is the last day of December. I have the same choices to make today as I had yesterday and every day before that. The choices of how I will spend my time, what I will eat, if I will exercise, learn something new, be a blessing to someone, be a productive member of society, be a solution not a problem, etc. etc. So what is so special about the choices we will make on January first or every day this year? Nothing-nothing is special. We have the same choices and opportunities 365 days of every year (unless it is a leap year when there are 366 days).

What I did this morning, I will do tomorrow morning as a rule. Each day I try to do better than the one before-be a better human being, eat better, take care of my physical self, learn something new, make someone laugh. I don’t just commit to this on January first. Resolutions-“A firm decision to do or not to do something.” (Google dictionary). Many people have their “New Year’s Resolutions,” but if they are not daily resolutions, there is no need to declare them on January first as there is nothing magical about that day. I read somewhere that only 8% of “New Years Resolutions” are kept. How they did that study, I don’t know.

A few years ago, Amy Grant along with David Foster and Linda Thompson, composed  a song called “My Grown Up Christmas List.” Amy was the artist that I remember most singing it. The chorus went like this:

No more lives torn apart

That wars would never start

And time would heal all hearts

And everyone would have a friend

And right would always win

And love would never end, no

This is my grown up Christmas list

And verses two and three state:

As children we believe

The grandest sight to see

Was something lovely wrapped beneath the tree

But Heaven only knows

That packages and bows

Can never heal a heart-ached human soul

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth

Maybe only in our blind belief can we

Ever find the truth

“This illusion called the innocence of youth.” As children, we believe concretely. We have no concept of abstract thought. For instance, I believed that every child had parents that smoked and that both parents worked. I had no concept of what other families were like. That’s why children are so honest. But as I grew up and got out into the world, I realized that things weren’t always that way. Let me try to explain further.

My parents operated in the only fashion that they knew of, but as I recall, they never went any farther than their ingrained beliefs. Meaning-they were content to stay as they were-kind of isolated, kind of sheltered. They did a lot of things wrong. They made a lot of bad decisions, especially where my brother is concerned. I didn’t see it clearly until I moved out and lived beyond the bubble. Some people NEVER live beyond the bubble. They are content, just as they are-never changing, never growing, no matter the consequences.

What does this have to do with New Year’s you ask? This-Every day of my life since moving away from that, I have had to make choices. I gleaned from the good things from my parents and learned to cultivate new. They weren’t evil people-I was never sexually molested, burned with cigarettes, or left hungry in a closet. I was cared for, fed, housed, and most of the time got to do what I wanted to do. A lot of kids perceive in their childishness that “not getting their way” is rejection. I’m thankful for every spanking I received. It may have hurt my feelings at the time, but I got over it! My parents weren’t rich by any means. My dad made payments on a flute so I could be in the marching band. I can still see him coming home with that flute. My dad was a caring man. My mother was/is a hard worker. I hope that I have carried those traits into my adult life.

Here’s the deal: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (adult), I put the ways of childhood behind me.” -I Corinthians 13:11 (The Bible NIV version). I can look at their mistakes and learn from them (I have plenty of my own). I don’t keep referring back to what they may or may not have done to reference how my life is now. My life now is up to me. I have the choices to make every day. Did I feel rejected at times as a child? You bet! But I put those childish ways behind me. I didn’t keep using them to make people feel sorry for me. The past is the past.

Too many times, people give others the wrong impression of another person by slander. Yes, I said slander (The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation). This is often times done to make the professing person look really GOOD and pitiful to others.  Just STOP IT! If someone keeps dredging (bring to people’s attention an unpleasant or embarrassing fact or incident that had been forgotten) up the past, they are no more or less than slanderers. Again-just STOP IT!

YOU are responsible for YOU (and for minor children). Your parents are not responsible, your past is not responsible. Yes, there are things that sometimes need to be worked through, but your parents’ divorce, your bullying at school, your past treatment by an ex are not excuses for your behavior as an adult. Work through it. Get help. Do whatever it takes to become the best version of you. When you keep bringing it up, you haven’t gotten over it (think how many wars may never start if people would just do this one thing).

New Years. Every day is a new beginning in the new year. Resolute every day to stop blaming other people for your misfortune, your money woes, your health. YOU are in control!  This is MY grown up New Year’s list-for myself, for others. untitled (89)

May God’s blessing follow you ALL the days of your life!

Thank you and good day!

Stephanie

 

In the Eye of the Storm

Most of you (at least my personal friends) know of the personal journey that has been mine and my son’s family for the last three weeks.  I can’t tell you just how much it has changed me as a person. I realize that it is most personal for me and that we are no more special than you. I choose to be transparent. I lived too much of my life in pretense. Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe not.

I’ve spoken of my issues with depression and ADD before. It does not define me. I am whole, I am free. We all face battles that are specific to us. We are all pilgrims in this journey called “life.”

I wish I could put into words how much the last 23 days has changed me, but I cannot. I can only relay the revelations that have been shown to me.  I will try to outline them here:

When you think that you have no more tears to cry, others cry for you.

When you have no more to say to God, others fill the gap.

When you worry as  a parent and grandparent about the financial aspect of the horror story that has befallen your child, others come through.

When you are at your lowest, you will get a text, facebook message, or face to face encouraging word that will illuminate your path and set your heart on fire.

Though I describe myself as a “social introvert” meaning I love to be around people, but I need my alone time to regroup and refocus, I have a better understanding of the phrase “no person is an island.”

We need each other, we do. I am fiercely independent and feel smothered by too much togetherness, but I have come to realize that there needs to be a balance. One has to establish boundaries to let others know when “enough is enough.”

I am not responsible for the way others perceive things. Their perception is their reality. I need to be true to me and let them deal with their issues. They may never deal with their issues and continue to blame me (i.e. my mother). I am okay with that and will not internalize it.

Thanksgiving is upon us. I am SO thankful for my true, genuine friends and their presence in my life. I am thankful also for those who sharpen me and challenge me to “turn the other cheek.” They illuminate my shortcomings.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -Joseph Campbell

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving,

Stephanie

 

I Have Learned

I’m over a half century old-an antique! During these 50+ years, I have learned a few things…

I have learned:

That life is best lived one moment at a time.

That things don’t always turn out like you thought- good or bad.

That some folks will change, and some will not,

And I am not in control of either.

That some people will come and others will go

And they all will/have taught me something.

That it’s good to have goals and dreams

And that some will support me and others won’t…

And that’s okay.

That time really does go faster as I get older

Or at least my perception of it does.

That children grow up fast

And they turned out good despite my failings.

That “things” don’t really mean too much to me anymore

But experiences do.

That some people will look me in the eye

And stab me in the back

But I will keep moving forward.

That in the end

The choices and responses I have are really

The only ones that matter.

That prejudice will always exist

And that I must check myself daily

To not get caught up in the fray.

That no matter how good I am to some people

Some are just incapable of reciprocation.

I must do good anyway.

That unlearning all of the preconceived notions

And judgmental doctrine about God & my worth

Will take a lifetime to completely get over.

That age and what society says about it

Are not in my favor as a woman.

I have learned

That I am free to be me

No matter what others think, no matter their opinion,

No matter their gossip.

It doesn’t matter.

The free me likes me the best.

The free me is able to look at others

More objectively and non judmentally

And love them in their freedom.

I have only to answer to me,

And to God.

I am without a shadow of a doubt

Convinced that He loves me

Despite the fallible me

I most often times see.

I have learned…

That rejection is survivable.

Even by a parent

Or child.

That dogs are just children with fur

Who love unconditionally.

This life is meant to be shared-

With those less fortunate,

And that includes animals.

That politics can divide people,

Sometimes irreparably-

And that is a travesty.

That running may not be the cure

Or answer for some people,

But it has kept me sane.

But most importantly

I have learned that

I have a contribution to make.

I matter to some

And for that

I will never apologize

For being me.

Older women don't follow the rules

 

I Yam What I Yam…(No Apologies)

I’ve been called lots of things-

A whore (my ex), Ms Aster (mother), a dog (classmates),

Among other (not so great) trappings.

Most recently a “braggart.”

Well, I suppose it’s so,

If to “brag” means the adjective

Of “excellent,” “first rate”

Holding myself to a higher level

Than the status quo.

You see, I’m no better than any other,

Not my sister, not my brother.

From dust we came and from dust

We will return,

The ground is level at the foot of the cross,

Six feet under or cremation and burn.

I only seek to demonstrate

That whatever point you are in life,

That it’s never too late.

If that is bragging, than I am guilty as charged.

Life is too short to squabble over semantics,

Whether I’m right and you’re wrong.

The world would be a much better place

If we would just stop and give each other grace.

For whether it’s you or it’s me,

We can work together if we

Agree to disagree.

I make no apologies for who I am

Or who I have become.

I respect your right to your opinion

For it is yours, and not the force of

Anyone.

Just be respectful of mine as well.

I will treat you with respect, be courteous to you,

Encourage you.

I may not understand where you have been or where

You are coming from.

I do try, and in the trying I do not hate you.

Hate me if you must, hate what I stand for,

Hate whom I trust.

I “Yam what I yam,” as Popeye would say.

Love me, or hate me…whore, Ms Aster, dog, braggart…

I know of no other way

Than to be who I am,

Carefree, FREE, unhindered, totally myself.

There was a time I lived in a shell.

My loyalty is to ME first,

For it is only THEN that I am capable

Of loving anyone else.

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Stephanie

 

 

 

Race Day/A Decade of Running

Ah, race day. The day you have planned for, trained for, and spent a fortune on (maybe-but most likely if it is a Disney race, but this one was cheap). It’s a funny thing. After a decade of running, and I mean serious running, race day is just not that big of a deal for me. I mean sure-there is the excitement to the build up, the sense of accomplishment, the hoopla and foofah that accompanies it, but after ten years, it is well…different.

Let me try to explain. A decade ago, I would have sweat bullets the night before a marathon. I mean, I didn’t actually even RUN a sanctioned marathon until 2011 (four years after I started running)! At that time I showed up two hours before, making sure I had been up for at least two hours prior to that to make sure EVERYTHING was in order! I pre-fueled improperly and didn’t know a fartlek from a hole in the ground! My old Timex watch took a licking and kept on ticking, so I figured I could just run, run, run without regard to fueling or pace, or GOOD shoes! Lots of mistakes made, or as I like to call them, “learning experiences.” Experience is really our only teacher, right?

Fast forward to September 4, 2017. Marathon 12 loomed on the horizon. I really didn’t even approach it as a “race,” but as a training run and an excuse to go see my son who lives in the area. I threw a few things together: GOOD, tried and true shoes (you know, actual running shoes), moisture wicking clothing, body lube, and fuel which consisted of gels, saltstick, and amino acids. I HAD actually learned a few things in 10 years.

Since it was a smallish race with no road closures, I arrived about 30 minutes until the start. This is a rehash of my day.

Park. Plenty of time to wait in line for porta-potty and get that last minute nervous pee pee out. Wait-what? NO PORTA POTTIES?! To clarify, there were porta johns, but they were owned by MU and were locked. “Sorry,” replied said person, “You can walk 1/4 mile to the hotel and use that one.” Well, I wasn’t staying at said hotel, AND who wants to walk one half mile round trip before they run 26.2?! AH, treed area and storage building. Use your imagination.

Air horn, we’re off! Blinking lights galore as it is only 0600 AM and still dark. This was the BEST part of the race as one could not see the hills but just knew we were running up them by “feel.” The fist three miles felt great and flew by. The only hiccup was having to follow Mr. “Clicky-Clacky want to be body builder” in his pseudo running shorts/underwear! I don’t know what he had strapped to his back, but it was clacking the whole way. Speaking of body builders-less is more, but I digress. Speaking of digression…

Mile 3.3. Try as I might, this pre-race fueling thing has me looking for a porta-potty. Since I was using this race as a training run, I wasn’t focused on time. Miles, not minutes. Thankfully, I spotted a porta-john (totally unrelated to the race). It was like a water fountain mirage in the desert. Having taken my liberties & DIGRESSED the bowels, I resumed my run. Joy of joys, Mr. “Clicky-Clacky” was long gone.

Mile 6-ish. I met a guy running his 50th state. We would commence to playing “I lead, no you lead,” until around mile 20. Mile 7-8ish, I lost him on the hill. I kind of like hills. They make runs interesting.

Mile 8-9, we ran a bit of the Katy Trail. I’m not fond of gravel/chat running, especially on a non-closed course. Vehicles drove by leaving dust clouds to inhale. I walked a good portion of this while covering my mouth/nose with a cloth. There was a girl who passed me whom I thought was talking on a bluetooth. Nope-she was talking to herself. Whatever it takes people, whatever it takes.

Mile 12-the infamous “Easley Hill,” one mile of pure uphill torture. It gave me a good chance to stretch the legs as I took long walking strides up to the peak.

Around mile 13-14, I fell in with a couple of guys who were running around a 10 minute pace. I hung with them for awhile and we chatted about where we were all from and races that we had run. I don’t know whether it was the gels I was consuming, the oatmeal for breakfast, or the Gatorade, but SOMETHING gave me a bit of the bubble guts. I farted-twice-TOTALLY uncontrolled, in front of two guys I had never met before and at least would never see again (at least I hoped). Funny how that is so much of a SNAFU in North America. I mean, look-I am a nurse and it is a natural bodily function-but REALLY?! Don’t look at me all smug like you never FART! A decade ago I would have crawled in a hole and never came out!

After pulling ahead of those two (by jet propulsion, lol), I made it to the 18 mile aid station and more hills. There was Mr. “Clicky-Clacky” in his underwear without his clackers. He was walking. Two way traffic (again, NOT a fan of an unclosed course). I stopped to stretch. I heard a guy from a slowing vehicle yell, “Hey, a turtle!” I thought he was referring to me. No, there was an actual box turtle attempting to cross the road. I gave him a hand. A decade ago I would have let the little booger get ran over and smashed because it was all about ME and my TIME!

Mile 20, Mr. 50 state passed me again. I would always gain & pass him on the hills, he would pass me on the flats. I didn’t see him again until the finish.

By mile 22, I was incorporating the run/walk-4 minutes of running to 30 seconds of walking. Mile 23 led down into a trail and eventually back up into MU and the finish. There were a lot of bikers on the trails giving their thumbs up and shouting, “Good job!” I kept singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in my head. A decade ago I would have been singing, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”

Wonderful volunteers with water, Gatorade, ice, popsicles. They truly were what mad this race. The finish was an uphill, which led to a slight downhill to the finish. I loathe finish line photos. This one I look like a monkey. A decade ago I thought I needed to buy every race photo, good or not.HOA Columbia Marathon Finish

I had a medal thrust around my neck, and an Icy cold towel thrown around my shoulders. I made my way to the exit area and grabbed a few grapes and found a grassy place to lie down and get my legs up to drain the lactic acid. When I got up, there was Mr. 50 state. I had won the battle.

A nice couple in a jeep gave me a ride back to the parking area/start line. I met a guy from Houston who rode with them as well, and we discussed the flood. Nice people runners are. They didn’t even care that I was sweaty, wet, and gross. A decade ago I would have walked…uphill, barefoot, in 10 foot of snow before I set my sweaty body in someone’s vehicle!

I didn’t care about the time. I just cared about getting to the finish without hurting. Though from mile 22 in ANY marathon hurts, after 10 years of running, it hurts less. Walking up/down stairs afterwards is not a big deal. I don’t require a 2 hours nap BEFORE I shower. It’s really all a state of mind. When I was running for time, I hurt way worse. A decade ago a marathon was a pipe dream, let alone running Boston.

I checked results after I had gotten back to my son’s place and found that I was first in my age group. Another perk about a decade of running later in life-age group awards.

HOA Results

What has a decade of running taught me? Running, like life is a journey. There are ups and downs, highs, lows, victory, and disappointment. It’s not so much about the time, but about the journey. Running has taught me a lot about myself-what I can tolerate, what I like about myself, & who I like to be around. Running has brought many wonderful people into my life.Running has taught me to never give up even when circumstances seem impossible (or even if you fart in front of strangers, lol). Life and running can only get better from here. A grandson on the way, only 35 states to go (5 states a year to complete by age 60). Anxious to see where the next decade will take me. Adventure awaits.

Just an oldish chick running & loving life,

Stephanie

 

 

 

What Are You Living For?

When the morning dawn breaks,

What are you thinking?

What are your goals for the day?

Are you building bridges or mending fences?

Or are you leaving them in disarray?

This one day may be all you have.

How do you want to be remembered?

Have you gone after your dreams?

Or are they laying in shambles

The influence on others no more

To be seen.

Search your heart, search your mind.

How are you spending your time?

If today were your last day,

What would you do different?

Would you care?

Would you reach out?

The choice is yours…

And mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Things Just Don’t Make Sense

People can be strange, people can be cruel,

Life is a bit odd at times when you can’t accept all of the rules.

Does anyone think for themselves anymore?

Or are they victims of the times… the news-fake or not,

Why can’t they just choose

To search out the truth,

The things their minds can’t comprehend.

Are they brain washed-are you? Am I?

The easy path sometimes we take,

Robots-afraid to try

To look beyond the “norm.”

We create our perfect storm

Of racism, politics & bias,

The older we get, the more they want to try us.

Everything is political-the almighty dollar reigns supreme.

Human caring is sacrificed on the alter of “me.”

 

Into the Night

Into the Storm,

Going head first.

No turning back,

But fearing the worse.

Always the black sheep,

I never fit in.

Trying to do the right thing,

But I could never win.

Racking my brain,

Where did I go wrong?

Begging for your acceptance,

But you’re so headstrong.

I wish I knew what goes on in your brain,

Not listening to reason,

And feeling no shame,

For the way things have turned out.

All I ever wanted

Was for you to be proud of me.

Somehow I failed you,

No chances left to be.

Despite it all,

I will never stop

Doing the right thing,

Doing what’s right,

Even though we have come

Face to face

With the night. ©

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Revival

Once upon a time,

Or so the story goes.

Caught between the girl I used to be

And what I have become.

Longing even,

For those carefree days

Before feigned love

Seared my soul

And sought to control

The Me I always was.

Me-an anomaly.

Deep down I am still there,

Though forces try to keep me subdued.

Cold souls.

Then I notice the Daffodils,

Beautiful, vibrant, persistent

Glimpses of Spring,

Extremely tolerant of cold.

Reminding me that

The me I used to be

Is likewise bursting forth,

Chasing the cold away.

As the sun and hints of summer

Burst forth in my innermost being,

Searing the doubt, the pain, the gloom.

To a “happily ever after”

Where I-“me” can shatter the ice,

Love myself again,

And once again bloom.

sunrise-1107408_960_720

 

Stephanie  ©

Clutter

Clutter: (noun) A collection of things lying about in an untidy mass (google search). We’ve all experienced it, maybe we still are. I know I still am. The more I try to get rid of, it seems to multiply.

Some people collect antiques. I used to be enthralled with antiques. It seems they had a story to tell. I still find it hard to “get rid of ” those things that I know are exceptionally old. I have a little red chair that was my dad’s when he was two years old. My dad was born in 1928, so that makes it 87 years old. I wouldn’t part with it for anything as I also sat in it as a child, as did my kids. I put it on display as part of the memorabilia at his funeral.

Time-we all have the same amount, yet it seems to go by so quickly. What are we doing with the precious time we have?

Recently, there has been some remodeling going on in my house. Talk about clutter! Having to move stuff out of the way just to get started! It’s funny (sad?) to look at some of the things that I purchased & wonder why I thought I needed it then. The perils of youth.

Once upon a time, I thought I had all kinds of time. The truth is, time is so finite. I will be 53 in a little over a month. I remember when my dad turned 50, and he joked how he was “half a century old.” I was 14 at the time. The time we all think we are invincible. His mother, my paternal grandmother, died the following January in 1979. That was the first experience I had with the death of someone close to me. She was our (my brother and myself) primary caregiver when my parents were at work when we we were small children. She was 78.

Aging doesn’t bother me. Not living life to the fullest does. I have found that there is so much “clutter” that can get in the way of truly living. We give up what brings us joy to follow the patterns of the world system. We do stuff because we “have to,” not because we really “want to.” Sure, it is sometimes polite to do those things to bring joy to others. But as I reflect back, sometimes I did things kicking and screaming because it was the expectation. We fall under others’ needs/wants. If it isn’t given freely & joyfully, what is the point?

For instance, we go to or give to an event that we could really care less about because it is the expectation and we are afraid of what others will think if we don’t show up or give. Why do we live our lives like that-a lie?

Clutter-cluttered surroundings, cluttered mind. At least that’s what the experts say. I need to close my eyes and pitch things. It is hard. It is like throwing a piece of my history away. Yet, I look at things now with eternity in mind. Do I really need to spend a lot on stuff that will outlive me? I’d rather spend my hard earned dollars on experiences and on bringing joy to others.

I know there are those who live by the motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” Tomorrow being any time in the future. Our lives can become so cluttered with others’ opinions, beliefs, facebook  posts, and lifestyles, that we start to lose sight of ourselves and our future.

I am in a process of “uncluttering” of material possessions, relationships, and things that don’t bring me joy. I want to leave a legacy of truth, a mark of being real and transparent. I have had enough of fakery in my lifetime. I have had enough of shallow people and relationships. If someone can’t be real with me, I don’t need them in my life. I don’t want them in my life.

At 52 going on 53, I’ve had enough superfluous relationships to sink a proverbial ship! And if I can’t be true to me, I can’t be true to anyone else either. I have come to the realization that I cannot be held responsible for others’ reactions/opinions to or about me. That is on them. I am responsible for me and me only. There is freedom in de-cluttering. Try it, you may discover a hidden treasure.

Peace,

Stephanie