Friday, December 30, 2011

Time for Reflection

Another year is coming to a close and it is a good time to look back and consider the past 12 months. What experiences left an impact, what have we learned from them, and how will they help us move forward to 2012.

2011 was a pretty good year for me. There were no crisis or tragedies, but some realizations of who I am at this stage of life. As a baby boomer, I grew up with this large group of people who, during our youth, ushered in new ideas and cutting edge technological advances that have radically changed the world. Now we find ourselves getting frustrated when we can’t program our DVR’s or figure out how to use our new smart phones. Time marches on even when we are to busy to realize it, and suddenly it is time to move over and let the next generation have their time. I do believe I am okay with that.

Hopefully the years of living have instilled enough wisdom to guide us into the next phase of our lives realizing what is important and what is not. I now happily accept that I would rather stay home on New Years Eve beside the fireplace with a good book or movie. Dressing up and going out has lost its appeal. Let the young people do that.

During the past year I came to the conclusion that instead of desperately trying to hold on to youth, I should embrace my age, and make good use of the wisdom gained from a lifetime of experience. I plan to find joy in what really matters to me. Spending time with family and friends, being free to travel with my husband, and the simple pleasures of everyday life.

I have also come to realize that it doesn’t matter if I have wrinkles on my face and age spots on my hands. It is normal for my age and nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t matter if there are designer labels on my clothes or if I have an expensive car. What matters is that I am healthy, happy, and hopefully helpful to the people in my life.

What a relief it is taking the pressure off of myself to try to be someone I’m not. Who I am is not so bad. I am a woman with a lot to give and a lot of living to do. I am looking forward to becoming a grandmother when the time comes and living a life appropriate to my age. In 2011, I learned to be okay with that.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


With Christmas just a few days away, and 2012 fast approaching, I find myself reminiscing about my childhood and how magical Christmas was in our home. From choosing the perfect tree with my dad and siblings, to making fudge and divinity with my mom, it really was ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. My parents did all they could on their limited budget to make our Christmas dreams come true.

Once I had my own family, I tried to carry on most of the traditions I grew up with so my sons could experience the wonder that Christmas is to children. As it worked out, my husband’s family traditions were very similar to my own, so we carried on with the decorations, homemade cookies and candy, special dinners served on the ‘good’ dishes, and lots of presents. Just as when we were little, all our kid’s dreams came true on Christmas morning. Now that they are grown, I hope they have cherished memories of Christmas past and traditions they will pass down to their children when the time comes.

In the meantime, with no little kids in the family, and no grandparents coming to visit, how important is it to continue all the holiday festivities? My two grown sons and husband manage to be ‘busy’ when it is time to decorate and I have to do it all myself. With no daughters, I do all cooking too. Each year I wonder if it even matters to them if we have all the holiday trimmings. One busy year I threatened not do any decorating and they all assured me they would miss it and that they would help. I don’t remember getting much help, but all the decorations went up as usual. This year I am contemplating the need for my homemade Christmas fudge. None of us need all that fat and calories, but it is Christmas.

Whether it matters to them or not, I cannot be sure. But it does matter to me. I am not sure exactly why I do all the decorating, cooking, and shopping, but I do, all the while feeling the comfort and joy of my childhood Christmas slipping away. I will hold on to the traditions that are so special to me, and hope they will keep the spirit alive for future generations to enjoy.

Merry Christmas everyone, and best wishes for the New Year! I am off to make the Christmas fudge because…it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


How hard is it for us to really forgive someone who has hurt us? As much as I like to think I am a forgiving person, in reality I do hold onto resentment. It is hard to overlook a wrong someone has done to you when the pain is still raw. Sometimes time will heal the wound and you can forgive and forget. Other times it is not so easy. When it appears that someone has hurt you purposely, how do you justify forgiving that person?

Anger, resentment, and bitterness are burdensome emotions to carry around. Forgiveness will free you from the burden of this negative energy, but how do you get there?

First we must realize that all human beings are vulnerable and fragile. A harsh, rude person may not fit that description on the surface, but how did they become that way? What has life dealt them to cause them to put up a protective shield? Children that are unloved may lock their hearts in defense of more hurt. Some people (men) cannot show their emotions any other way then anger, consequently hurting others unintentionally. A person who has been repeatedly cheated may forget how to trust.

In my struggle to forgive, I try to understand the offender a little more and decide if the wrong was really intentional, or just a release of their own pain. I am trying to look past the hurt and find compassion for an individual who may be dealing with unmanageable problems of his or her own. In short, it may not be about me at all. By taking the focus away from my own hurt feelings, I may be able to get past them and find a reason to forgive and mend a relationship that might have otherwise been lost to me. And a relationship is a valuable thing to lose.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quote of the Week

“Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”
                    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The first part of this quote is my philosophy for getting all the enjoyment I can out of life. I try never to pass up an opportunity to enjoy myself, because as we all know, there are many times in life that we will have to endure. Loss, illness, disappointment, and rejection, are all part of our journey, making it all the more important to enjoy when you can.

I wrote earlier about making the positive choice, which I do most of the time. It is worth repeating, as life is shorter than we realize and there are so many opportunities to live, laugh, and enjoy. So many people get caught up in career and family and put enjoyment off until later. Sadly for some, later never comes. I listen closely when an elder person, nearing the end of their life talks with regret of missed adventures and put-off experiences.

My mother-in-law died of cancer at a relatively young age. I had always admired her spotless and well-organized home, her perfectly tailored wardrobe, and her homemade meals. I aspired to be like her. However, after she realized her life was ending, she confided in me that she wished she had not spent so much of her time cleaning house and cooking. Too late she realized she had missed so much of the pleasure of living and would never get the time she spent dusting and scrubbing back.

If someone calls with an invitation on laundry or house-cleaning day, I remember my mother-in-law’s words and put my chores aside and take the opportunity to live. And when tragedy or disappointment happens, I endure with as much strength and grace as I can and allow myself the time to recover and heal.

When times are good we should get all of the enjoyment out of life that we can since we never know when a bad time may come. I will end here as my son has invited me out to lunch, and guess what? I’m going!