Be kind, it’s just my heart

After 51 years, I’m starting to notice a pattern. Every so often, when life changes up a bit or I’m going through a rough patch, I find reasons why I should be disqualified. Not disqualified from salvation, but disqualified from engaging – from signing up and showing up. From entering the race, our “human race” – our corporate daily doings from sun up to sundown. I can run MY race, I just don’t think I have what it takes to enter into yours, and yours, and yours… So I disqualify myself.

It’s easy to do. Just add the word “too” to anything about you. I’m too shy, I’m too tired, I’m too insecure, I’m too needy, I’m too sensitive, I’m too awkward, I’m too divorced and too remarried,… and now entering the arena: I’m too old.

Yes, I have had to work through all those too’s. Some I have worked through better than others. But the new guy in town is old age. In my silly mind I am entering the world in which what I have to say and who I am is no longer important. Well, I do mix words up… I forget stuff… I would rather take a nap… I resist changes in culture and music… my face and body have changed (and not in good ways)… surely this means I’m (gulp) too old to engage in a world much brighter and shinier than I am.

Lies, lies, lies. I’m calling it all lies.

As I’m sure I’ve heard before but passed over because it didn’t apply to me at the time, there is no age requirement for running the race. There is no memory requirement. There is no beauty requirement. There is no coolness requirement. There is no “relevance” requirement. If you are breathing air, you’re in.

I’m in.

It’s going to be a pride bashing event, I can tell you that. Engaging means being willing to say stupid stuff sometimes, to show up with my wrinkles and gray hair, to stand next to those more put-together than I am. It’s going to mean letting go of a lot of crap I held on to before, because I thought it made me qualified and important.

If we live long enough, all those things that we used to hold on to so we could feel good about ourselves are going to go up in smoke. And all that will be left is us. You. Me. Where do you go with it? Where do I go with it? Do I hide away, like Moses when he face stopped shining from being with God? Do you hide so no one can see your glory fading?

I’m asking myself as well as my friends. How do we live this part of our lives? How do we love others and ourselves well? Lord willing, we’ll have decades of figuring it out. But one thing I know, we are not disqualified from this race. We are called to it.

Thanks for reading.

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Apologies to Ms Bronte, it’s been a long time.

Do you ever feel like the beginning of Whuthering Heights? Like you are sitting at the dinner table in a dysfunctional mess, and someone steps in for a visit and can’t quit figure out what is going on. Who is who and why are they angry? And nobody cares that the visitor doesn’t get it. They are too much into their situations to care.

It’s a snapshot moment. Just a snapshot of the dynamics in that household.

I feel that way sometimes.

I feel like both parties in this story – the person at the table caught up in my own situation, and the visitor trying to figure it out. I see it freeze-framed in my mind. I would paint it if I could. With shadows and grimy scowls.

And if I remember correctly, at the end of the book we, the reader, is brought back to that scene at the beginning. And we all say “Ah! Now I get it!”

Not that our getting it helps the characters in anyway. But still, it’s nice to be in on the story.

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Evening Thoughts with Alice, #The last one in this project

Many years ago my ex-husband told me about a book he was reading about how to get along with difficult people in the workplace. One of the ideas in the book is to realize something very important about the people you disagree with. And that is this: Everybody has the same goal. Each person in the company believes that his way is the best thing for the company. Everybody wants success. The problems come in the different ways that is defined, and how to accomplish it.

Yes, there are the odd few who are saboteurs, but for the most part, every body sincerely thinks they have the good of the company in mind.

I am trying to apply this principle to our political world right now.

I am 100% for women’s rights, but not at the expense of unborn women (and men). I believe that those who are pro-choice are sincere in their desire to do what’s best for women. We simply disagree on how that looks and who this includes.

I am 100% for helping refugees. I have no idea how to do this in a wise way that protects everybody. Or if that is even possible. I defer to wiser minds than mine. I don’t have a clue.

And on and on. There are so many issues we can fight with each other about. And I’m sure there will be plenty of it in our feeds, and on the news, and maybe in the streets. But maybe we can pause to remember that your neighbors who disagree with you (and me) very likely aren’t evil. Likely they think they are doing the best thing for our country and for humanity. We simply disagree on what that means and how to get there.

I’m going to try to listen more. I’m going to try to hold my tongue more. There are enough voices screaming for attention right now. And as the song goes, “If we’re (I’m) adding to the noise, turn off this song.”

Love you guys. Thanks for reading.

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Morning Thoughts with Alice, #22

I kind of lied. A little. I haven’t fully conquered my fear of driving over bridges, and I don’t have a secret cure for scary roads.

I do, however, have a method that I’m finding does help. But it only works for bridges and roads I’ve never been on before.

And that method? Denial and ignorance.

I no longer look ahead on a map to see if we will be crossing water or mountains.

So here’s what happens. We’re driving along, singing the Laverne and Shirley theme song or some other great piece of music when all of the sudden *boom* there’s a bridge in front of us. My husband and I (he is usually driving) slowly stop singing and begin talking softly. Well, he stops saying anything and is intensely focused on the road, while I casually mention how so many of the towns look alike, oh but this one has a beautiful skyline.. I wonder when it was settled.. blah blah blah…. Only it’s a pleasant occasional blah blah blah and not a panicked or rushed BLAH BLAH BLAH!! And before you know it, we’re over the bridge, or past the mountain, or merged onto some six+ lane high-speed death-trap of a highway through some town much too populated for it’s roads.

And then we breathe a mighty exhale and one of us says our favorite traveling quote, “It wouldn’t be an adventure if it didn’t make us want to cry at least once.” And this is very true. For car trips and corn mazes.

I have found that we have faced 100% of the bridges and highways we’ve had to face. And by not knowing what’s up ahead, we considerably reduce the amount of time we spend fretting. There it is, my trick – denial and ignorance.

Concerning all those scary roads and bridges I already know about, I’ve got nothing except that they do get easier every time we go over them. And if I’m driving it helps me to chant, “It’s only a road, it’s only a road, no matter how high, it’s only a road.”

So good luck on your driving adventures! Don’t be afraid to be afraid! And remember, “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! We’re gonna do it…”

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Morning Thoughts with Alice, #21

Hey, you guys. I was talking (complaining) to a friend about how much my mood/energy changes throughout the day and a first line to a poem came to me. So then I wrote the poem, minus the first line. So here it is, quick and not over-thought. I hope you guys have a great day, however the shadows look!

Shadows pointing to the west
The sun is in the east
And I am full of hope
Or if not full, then middling

Shadows shrink
The sun is overhead
And I am stretched out under it
If not under, then leaning toward

Shadows stretching east
The sun, weak and tired in the west
And I am fading fast
If not fast, a steady somber winding down

Shadows cutting ’round window lights
Darker shadows over night-time dark
And I am shutting my door to the world
If not the world, then just my eyes

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Morning Thoughts with Alice, #20

I’ve reduced about 20% of the stress in my life by doing this one thing. Actually, maybe 15%. Maybe 25%. Who can say exactly how much stress this one thing has reduced in my life. But while I’m trying to get somewhere, I can say it has reduced nearly 100% of my driving stress. All by doing this one thing.

How many times have you been all up in knots trying to get somewhere? Let’s say you have to be somewhere in 10 minutes. In your estimate you are 15 minutes away. You knot up from your head to your toes, and all guts in between. OH MY GOSH I’M GOING TO BE LATE!

Now I know not all of you are of the Must Be On Time crowd. But I am. I was born that way. My son says as soon as he gets in his car he feels like he’s late. He was born that way, too. But all that changed for me, and for him, when we started doing this one thing.

Back to our scenario. You have to be somewhere in 10 minutes. You think it’s going to take 15 to get there. And then you do this one thing. And here’s the thing: Instead of going into panic mode you tell yourself out loud, “I am not late yet. In fact, if I were there right now I’d be early. I won’t get upset until I am actually late.” You are postponing stress. It’s awesome.

So many times I have arrived on time when I thought I was going to be late. Most of the time for the events I’m heading to it really doesn’t even matter if I show up 5 minutes late. And as for showing up early, I love the saying “The problem with being early is there’s no one there to appreciate it.” Am I right? Of course right.

And here’s what’s really amazing to me. If I am driving and have reached the point where I am “already late” I’m not as upset about it as I would be if I had been upset the 10 minutes leading up to the point of being late. Stress snowballs. Don’t make the snowball until you are already late. And not only am I not as stressed about being late as I normally would be, I almost get a little attitude, like “Oh, as if I don’t have to wait for you sometimes.”

In conclusion, I have found that postponing stress is a great tool. It also works for driving over scary bridges, but that post is for another day.

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Morning Thoughts with Alice, #19

I’m a little tired of political talk, so I thought I’d write about something more pleasant – colonoscopies.

Take note you young people, your doctor will start nagging you about getting a baseline colonoscopy when you start getting close to 50. Some doctors are easier to put off than others, but eventually, and for your own sake, you will give in and have it scheduled.

I made it to 51. Now I’m surrendering.

The colonoscopy (hereafter referred to as “the procedure”) is scheduled for a week from today. Oh goody.

It’s not the procedure itself I’m dreading so much – I’ve heard you go into a room, get an IV and then you wake up. Boom. And I’m not really worried about the findings. It’s the prep that has me less than thrilled.

The day before the procedure you can’t eat any solid food. I like solid food. And I like it regularly. And by regularly I mean “whenever I want it.” Hunger and I have never been friends.

I’m one of those people who shrivel up when they miss a meal. I feel like my life is ebbing away. My mood goes down hill fast, my energy vanishes, and my stomach hurts like it’s twisting in knots. This isn’t new, I’ve always had a hard time when I get hungry. The good news here is that I’d be the first to go during a famine. Less suffering in the long run. See, I can find a bright side to anything!

So I’m going to do my best to fill up on jello and clear broth on prep day. I think I can only eat up to a certain point that day. Maybe it’s noon… I’ll have to check.

The second thing that has me less than thrilled is the cleansing part of the prep. The amount of laxative you have to take is ridiculous. What am I, an elephant? Perhaps they don’t understand that I have a delicate system? In my mind they are trying to water a daisy with a fire hose. I don’t see this going well.

But fine, I’ll do this and get it over with. My plan is that I will never have to do it again. But if I do, I’ll be praying for a famine.

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