Out of Boxes

 

You know those forms you have to fill out where you check the box in front of your age?

[ ]  20-30

[ ]   31-44

[ ]   45-54

[ ]   55+

 

Today I am checking the last box.

I’m out of boxes.

 

My thoughts progress from mild surprise, to contemplation, to downright rage:

Huh. No more boxes. I wonder what this means? Is life as I know it now over? Do I really have nothing to look forward to anymore? Who the heck decided this would be the last box, anyway? What is wrong with people? Don’t they know there’s life after 55?

 And why am I getting lumped in with the 90-year-olds!!!?

 

I take a deep breath, wipe the frown lines from my forehead. (Because, after all, now that I’m old I don’t need to encourage any more wrinkles up there)

I look at that checklist again. I have always had a kind of love-hate relationship with checklists.

I love making them.

We will do this and then we will do this and this, and when all the things are done, life will be grand. Falalalala lala   LA.   LA!

 

Once the checklists are made, however, my life has a certain stress until everything on the list is checked off. Many times I’ve made a list for the day, only to come to the realization (as I work like a mad scientist, trying to get it all done) that the list I’ve made for the day will actually take me a week, maybe more, to complete.

Because, I can make the list, but I can’t always predict how the list will go.

One of the things on my list could be as simple as

[ ]  Wash the dishes

Only, I didn’t know that the cat would throw up all over my new couch; that the dryer would conk out, forcing me to hang the laundry outside; and that chatty old Aunt Marg would drop over for tea.

I LOVE chatting with chatty old Aunt Marg. But you see, I have a list.

 

Over the years, through my

[x] 20-30’s

[x] 31-44’s

[x] 45-54’s

I’ve had to learn that lists aren’t the be-all and the end-all.

Sometimes you have to make room between the lines.

 

I look at the list and mentally check the box,

[x] 55+

Then the AHA moment comes …

Hey, the list is done! All checked off. Stress over!

And look at all the time I have left to do the fun things. Let’s see …

 Bucket List

  1. Sky diving …

 

Sensible Shoes

 

Dr. T looks at me seriously and says, “You should start wearing hi-tops.”

It takes a few seconds for this “pretty-shoes” loving girl to grasp the concept. I imagine Converse basketball shoes (vintage 1970’s) on my feet. The kind I have never, in my entire life, even thought about wearing.

 

 

I never hung out with the high school jocks. I was always on the music end of the school. The only time I even entered the gym was for enforced – excuse me – mandatory Phys. Ed., or when the school band had to play for an event.

 

And once, for the Tea & Fashion Show, where we modeled our projects from sewing class for mothers, grandmothers, and boyfriends.

 

 

I remember it now …

Silver tea service, dainties, serviettes – not napkins.

Striding to the end of the runway, slipping off the jacket of my sky blue 3-piece suit and swinging it over my shoulder just before doing a pivot turn.

I remember clearly the shoes I wore that day: Sandal wedges, strappy leather that buckled around my ankle. That fit my feet perfectly.

I loved those shoes …

 

But I digress.

 

I watch Dr. T lift the cuff of his pant leg to display his own dull brown hi-tops, and I feel my vanity take a nose-dive.

 

Shoes have always been a passion of mine.

 

And weak ankles have always been an impediment lurking around the corner.

 

Now, I’ve twisted my ankle one time too many and Dr. T, foot specialist, sits in front of me speaking quietly and matter-of-factly. Telling me that, besides the orthotics and the ankle wrap I’ve become accustomed to, and short of the surgery that is not very successful anyway, hi-tops are a great way to support weak ankles and combat the pain.

 

On the drive home I feel like Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse in aviator cap, red scarf, and goggles. Fist pumping the air.

 

“Curse you, weak ankles!”

 

Against my wishes, I have been relegated to the world of sensible shoes.**

 

Some are born to sensible shoes, some achieve sensible shoes, and some have sensible shoes thrust upon them.

 

So this is it then. The end of an era.

No more 3-inch stilettos (seriously, when was the last time I even tried on stilettos? 20 years ago?).

No more wedges, or pumps, or cute open-toed with bows on top.

 

 

No more brand-new-Broadway-dance-type-shoes-in-my-closet, still unworn.

Sigh. I don’t even know who to be now. I know I won’t recognize this new hi-top wearing chick.

 

 

In the only time I have for shopping before I leave for a week’s frolic with Little Man, I resign myself to a certain pair of hi-tops because … pink racing stripes.

Then, because it’s buy one get one 50% off, I choose another pair. Suede. Mint green, with matching laces.

 

As the weeks of wearing hi-tops go by I catch myself looking down at my shoes many times a day thinking, who is this person?

 

But my ankle feels better when I’m wearing them and so I concede to Dr. T’s professional advice. He was right.

 

Still, I walk by shoe stores longingly, trying not to let my gaze waft over to the pretty shoe section. Until one day when something in the window catches my eye.

What’s this? Tucked among fur lined wedge boots, chunky combat boots, high-heeled fashion boots … there they are.

Low heeled. Lace-ups. Leather.

And Red.

Could I possibly follow Doctor’s orders AND soothe my vanity?

 

I duck into the shoe store to look for a salesperson.

 

Take THAT, Red Baron!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** For the purposes of this blog post, the term sensible shoes should be understood to mean low-heeled (or no-heeled) lace-up shoes.

 

All shoe photos credited to Pixabay.com

Pattern: rustyzipper.com

Snoopy: my own photo of a comic.

What I Know For Sure

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Today is my birthday.

As a gift to myself, I will be spending at least an hour in a favourite bookstore. Then we will meet some family and friends at a restaurant where they serve varenyky and farmer sausage almost like Mom used to make.

The day is made even better because I’ve come to the conclusion that I finally know some things.

This is important to me because I have lived most of my life outside my comfort zone. Never completely sure of myself. (A common plight for introverts, apparently.) Most of my life – from choosing a breakfast cereal to parenting – has been I don’t know what I’m doing, but let’s try this. I admire people who are so sure of themselves, and I wonder how they do it.

Now, having reached the unremarkable age of 54, I am happy and relieved to say that there are actually a few things I do know for sure. Someday I may expand on them but for today, at the risk of being too simplistic, yet in an effort to keep it simple, here they are:

 

Life is a series of seasons. Some seasons are good. Some seasons are bad. That’s life.

The dirty dishes won’t go away. The baby will. Leave the dishes, hold the baby.

It takes less than a second for life to change forever.

Those you love the most have the most power to wound you.

Doctors are not God. They are just people, with a medical education.

Everyone must walk his own path. Most beloved, dearest child, friend, or foe, I cannot live their life for them.

Traveling the world is exciting, but coming home is everything.

The only way to learn perseverance is to persevere.

The way I respond to what happens to me is my choice.

God can be trusted with my life – even when I can’t see Him working.

 

So, Happy Birthday to me. Here’s to many more years of Joy!

 

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Lessons From a Two Year Old

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There is something about 2-year-olds that is so raw and honest. They are still uncorrupted by the world, in that they don’t really think about what others are thinking about them, or whether or not their opinion will rock the boat. Or even whether or not they should have an opinion. They just have one.

They live in the moment. They feel all the feelings – the highest highs and the lowest lows. And then they move on.

We could learn a lot from 2-year-olds.

Here are some things I learned during my ten days with Little Man.

 

1.  Know who you are.

Several times on our outings, friends, store clerks, and perfect strangers would comment to him, “You are so cute!” or “Aren’t you a sweetheart.” Each and every time he would look at them seriously and reply, “No. I Deklan.”

At one point during his visit, he and The Cowboy were practicing counting. First Gramps would say a number, then Little Man would say the next number:

G: One

LM: Two

G: Three

LM: Four

… and so on.

Then Gramps decided to switch it up.

G: Okay. Now you are One.

LM: No, I Deklan.

G: No, I’m Two so you are One.

D:  NO! I DEKLAN!!

We all need the confidence of a 2-year-old to know who we are, despite the pressures of the world to influence us otherwise.

 

2.  Remember that your Father delights in you.

One day, after we had FaceTimed with Mommy and Daddy, Little Man had a hard time going to bed.

“I go MY house,” he kept saying. We had some extra cuddles that night. We talked about all the people who love him. We talked about how, in a few days, Mommy and Daddy would come pick him up and take him home in Daddy’s truck.

As I laid him down and covered him up, he looked at me with those innocent eyes and said, “I make Daddy so happy.”

I know for a fact that his Daddy tells him this all the time. How wonderful that, in his hour of difficulty, Little Man could remember that his Daddy delighted in him.

Our heavenly Father tells us all the time, “You are precious in My sight.” (Isa. 43:4).  It would serve us well to remember this when we go through difficult times.

 

3.  Recognize the feelings and state them for what they are.

Wrestling with a wiggly 2-year-old during a diaper change is as hard as the hardest workout I’ve ever managed. It can be frustrating and nerve-wracking for all involved.

On one such occasion Little Man had had enough and suddenly hollered, “Gwumma! I haf no patience!!”

You and me both, buddy boy, but thanks for putting it out there.

Sometimes it helps to stop and identify the feelings in a moment of frustration. As so many psychologists are wont to advise — figuring out the problem is half the battle. So, recognize it. Name it. Then choose how to deal with it.

 

4.  Slow down and appreciate.

2-year-olds are experts in being aware. Even the most everyday, mundane thing gets legitimate recognition. We can be busy doing something important, like playing on the train table, when the garbage truck drives into the neighbourhood. Then everything stops as we run to the front window to take it all in and give an enthusiastic WHOAH!

So many little wonderful moments pass us by in our busy, important worlds. We need to be present in the moment, and fully aware, so that we are able to thoroughly appreciate life’s tiniest of gifts.

 

I am definitely appreciating the gift of a certain 2-year-old.

 

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