simplyjan

A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Dear Preacher Dad

I saw you Sunday morning.

I’d just pulled up to the church, proud of myself for arriving fifteen (well, thirteen) minutes early. I have a tendency to run late, you see. The more people I have riding in the car with me, the later I’m likely to run. My two teens and I somehow made it out of the house on schedule and now we could enter the church at a leisurely pace to find our seats. It’s always embarrassing as guests to be rushing in as the service begins. Dodged that bullet!

But as I got ready to exit the car, I saw you. You hopped out of your SUV and quickly got your toddler son out of his car seat. You walked to the other side of the car and opened the door. I didn’t see if one or both of your young daughters hopped out. I wondered where your wife was.

“The preacher’s cutting it a little close, isn’t he?” my daughter chuckled.

“That makes me feel so much better about myself,” I replied.

I was feeling a bit voyeuristic, so I got out of the car to make my way into the church. But I wondered. You see, I know what was waiting for you inside the door. It awaits every pastor the moment they cross the threshold. You would be greeted by folks who need “just a second” to share a story or prayer request or complaint, even as your toddler squirms in your arms and your daughter pulls at your arm to hurry up. I knew you would be going over the checklist in your mind to make sure nothing was left undone for the service that was minutes away from starting. I knew you might be puzzling over how to fix that sermon conclusion that you never felt you could get just right no matter how many times you rewrote it during the week. I knew you were calculating if there was enough time to get your kids to the nursery, retrieve your robe, and make it to the sanctuary on time.

I see you, Preacher Dad. I know that even though you are expected to be “on” the moment you walk in that door, you never stop being a father. I don’t know if your wife is out of town, or if she is sick, or if she just needs a little rest. Being in the third trimester with Baby #4 can’t be easy. I personally hoped she was home alone with her feet propped up, enjoying a bit of peace and quiet. But you’re a good dad. If you snapped at the children to hurry up or to stop squirming, I didn’t see it. But if you did, then I totally understand.

I thought about these things as I sat down and scanned the bulletin. The associate pastor was preaching. Good. I mean that in two ways – good because she is in fact a very good preacher (too, I might add), but also good because maybe you would be able to sit and breathe for this worship service.

I thought back to my own experiences as a Preacher Mom with young children – and a single Preacher Mom at that, with a tween-aged daughter and two adopted babies. I remember the Sunday when there was no one in the nursery when I went to drop my newly adopted infant daughter off. She was the only tiny child in the church. (I had not adopted my second child yet.) I sat down in the rocking chair, cooing and talking with her when the chair of the worship committee flew in. “You need to hurry up,” he said. “It’s less than five minutes until worship starts.” He was quite annoyed. I looked at him for a minute before replying. “You better get ready to preach then, because it looks like I’m keeping the nursery today.” A few minutes later his wife came back, looking none too happy to have been appointed as the last minute nursery worker. Worship started a little late that day.

I remember how hard it was to be a Preacher Mom with young children and how no one seemed to understand my dual calling. One Sunday a member told me I looked pale and wondered if I had forgotten to put on my makeup. Did she have any idea what it was like to get a 12 year old, a two year old, and an 18 month old fed, dressed, and to the church? I remember thinking to myself, “You’re just lucky I’m not still in my pajamas!” Another time a different member got annoyed when my children started getting fussy after he’d had me cornered following worship with a long list of questions and complaints and was still talking long after everyone else had left. Poor kids were bored. And starving. I have so many stories…

I hope your church is patient with you. You are a man with two callings – father and pastor. You seem pretty passionate about both. Just don’t forget to breathe. When you are accused of being inattentive to a parishioner because your child is in distress, when you find yourself solo parenting on the same Sunday that nothing in worship is going smoothly, when someone comments that you look tired and not well put together that day (Wait, do people do that to male pastors?), or when you would give anything to not be bothered with family long enough to be able to shine in your role as pastor – stop and remember. You have two callings. Two wonderful, exhausting, competing (at times), demanding, holy callings. All that talk about balance? Don’t waste your time looking for it. It’s just a myth. Just do the best you can.

I see you, Preacher Dad. And I’ll be praying for you.

Sincerely,

Preacher Mom

What Good Writers Do

Ever since I dusted off this neglected blog, I’ve noticed that a particular blog post from 2012 continues to get a lot of views. So here is a repost for all the writerly folks out there!

good writers

Remember these posters from elementary school? I used to believe that good writers did all these things and if a writer did all these things, they were good. Now I’m not so sure. Sometimes the best writers are the ones who break the rules. I suggest the following revisions to the elementary good writer rules.

What Good Writers Do. . .

1) They think about their topic. More often, they don’t know what they think about a certain topic, but they still write. Sometimes it’s by writing that you discover what you think.

2) They scribble. They doodle. They scratch out words. They make word maps. The write furiously fast so they don’t lose a runaway idea. They are rarely neat.

3) They pay more attention to drawing word pictures than they do to observing every single rule. They learn the rules to pass freshman grammar. They scrap the rules to create new stories, emotions, and settings.

4) Finger spaces made our handwriting neat and readable, but good writers know that neatness doesn’t count – at least not in the beginning. (See #2 above.)

5) They read it over and over. Then they change words, shift scenes, tighten phrasing, and correct mistakes. In the end, they scrap 75-80% of what they wrote and start again.

6) They ask, “How can I make sense of ___?” Then they write until they do.

Oddly Encouraging

“I figure that maybe by the time I’m 50 I’ll have all this stuff figured out.”

It was one of those happenstance conversations. I’d just had a Covid rapid test (a safety measure before being around family several weeks back) and was waiting for the results to come back. The nurse and I were engaged in casual chitchat when she admitted to a serious case of anxiety and imposter syndrome. Suddenly the conversation wasn’t quite as casual. She talked about the various sources of her anxiety and ways her counselor was helping. Then she made that statement. 

Maybe to help her anxiety, I should have just nodded along with it, but I didn’t. Instead, I told the truth. “I’m in my mid-50’s and I’m still trying to figure it out.” 

I ran into her again last week. She talked about her kids and how they needs a larger house more appropriate for the size of their growing family. “I can’t even believe, “ she said, “that this is what I used to dream about when I was a kid. I used to always say I couldn’t wait to be an adult and to have my own house and to eat chocolate whenever I wanted to! Now I’d be willing to give up the chocolate just to be carefree again.” 

Is there ever a point when you actually feel like a grownup – adequate to the tasks of raising children, doing good work in our profession, making good decisions, and having a positive impact in some way on our world? Is there some magic moment when it all clicks? Or were all those adults we looked up to when we were kids – parents, teachers, pastors, youth leaders, etc. – just really good actors, the kind we find ourselves trying to be?

I finally got around to doing my taxes today. It’s not a task I enjoy even remotely, but there is something about finishing them up and hitting that submit button that makes me feel a lot like a grownup. I even sent a text to my grown daughter who submitted her taxes a few days ago saying as much.

She texted back, “But are you ever 100% confident in them, because I never am.”

“Never. Never ever. Lol!

“Same. I feel like a fraud grownup.”

“I think that’s what being a grownup actually feels like for most people.”

“Well that’s terrifying, but oddly encouraging!” 

Now if that doesn’t sum it up perfectly – terrifying, but oddly encouraging.

We may never feel grown or adequate or prepared for our responsibilities. But if the truth is told, that’s how almost everyone feels as well. There’s something oddly encouraging about hearing the “Me too!” of others. So claim your truth. Tell your story. You may still be terrified after you do, but you’ll be oddly encouraged to learn that you are not alone. 

Holy Week, Holy Place

I lived in Charleston for six years, from 2009-2015. Charleston is known as the Holy City. Even so, my favorite holy place/retreat was found not in the city, but along the banks of the Cooper River right outside of Moncks Corner – at Mepkin Abbey. Since 1949, Mepkin has been home to a Trappist monastery. Rarely on my visits did I encounter any of the monks, but 100% of the time I encountered holy beauty.

As hectic as Holy Week always was when I was a pastor in North Charleston, I always tried to make time for a drive out to Mepkin at some point during the week. To paraphrase St Francis de Sales, “Every one of us needs a half hour of prayer every day, except for when we are busy – then we need an hour.” By that logic Holy Week would have required around twenty, so I definitely didn’t mind giving up maybe two.

Since I cannot go there in person this year, I’m taking a trip back to Mepkin in my mind today. As I do, I remember the beauty, the silence, and the peace I always found there.

Feb-Mar 2012 084 Feb-Mar 2012 083

Feb-Mar 2012 023 Feb-Mar 2012 015

It is my understanding that the scene below was carved out of a tree destroyed by Hurricane Hugo back in 1999. Amazing how death and destruction can be recreated into something beautiful. Then again, I guess that is the lesson of resurrection, isn’t it?

Feb-Mar 2012 041

Feb-Mar 2012 042 Feb-Mar 2012 046

Feb-Mar 2012 045

Feb-Mar 2012 049

Holy Week feels very different again this year. When our congregation gathered last Sunday for the first time in person indoors since the beginning of the pandemic, I told them that in many ways it felt to me as though we have been living through a year-long Lent, not a six week one. As we look forward to a resurrection celebration on Sunday, we remain just as much in the dark about what resurrected life will look like for us as the first disciples were. Like them, I guess we just have to follow in faith, trusting that the way will be made clear for us one step at a time.

May the mysteries and blessings of Holy Week touch you wherever you find yourself this year. And may you claim a few moments of beauty, silence, and peace.

**Note: Photographs taken from an earlier version of this post. (April 4, 2012)

Extra Ordinary

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the skies announce what his hands have made.
Day after day they tell the story;
    night after night they tell it again.
They have no speech or words;
    they have no voice to be heard.
But their message goes out through all the world;
    their words go everywhere on earth.

Psalm 19:1-4

If you wish to understand the Creator, first understand His creation.

Saint Columbanus

To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour

from Auguries of Innocence, by William Blake

It never ceases to amaze me. In the most unexpected and ordinary places, a piece of creation catches my eye – and not just with beauty, but also with its wisdom. I was on a quick errand at lunch, running into Petsmart to pick up the only cat food my very senior cat seems to tolerate well. As I exited the store, I happened to glance down at the sidewalk. This is what I saw.

So what do you see? A flower or a weed? A nuisance or a gift?

Only today, it wasn’t so much what I saw, but what I heard. What I heard was this: “Bloom where you are planted.”

No, I didn’t actually hear the audible words, but the impression was just as clear. Contemplative photographers teach that you must learn to see with the eyes of your heart. I believe you also have to learn to hear with the ears of your soul.

I know it sounds a little “woo-woo,” but it really isn’t. The power of creation to speak, to teach, to touch the heart is well documented. A psalmist sang about it. One of the Celtic saints spoke of it. An English poet wrote about it.

There isn’t just beauty in creation. There is also wisdom. And on certain days, there may even be a pep talk that reminds you that even on the most ordinary of Tuesdays in the most ordinary of places, you can change everything by just being who you were created to be.

Dreamer

Grant money with rules, a shivering 6 year old girl named Evelyn, a church set up exactly like a university student center (complete with specialty coffee and bubble tea). Trying to spit gum out of my mouth but never being able to get it all, driving a car when the brakes go out, finding myself immersed in deep, deep water.

I am a dreamer and these are just a few images from recent and/or reoccurring dreams. My dreams typically are vivid and detailed. Scientists say that dreams in reality are very brief, but many of mine feel like they last all night. It is not unusual for me to resume a dream after brief wakefulness. I have also had a few incidences of sleep paralysis when I’ve been partially awake, partially immersed in a dream, and temporarily unable to move a muscle.

Many people discount dreams, attributing them to something they ate or something they watched on TV. Sometimes that may indeed be the case, but as a rule, I believe there is much more to them than spicy food or intense acting. I believe our dreams are a way our brains help us process thoughts, emotions, possibilities, insights, and things we know that we don’t yet know we know. I believe dreams are Spirit’s way of telling us stories about our lives as they are and as they could be.

So why don’t we just think about these thoughts, emotions, possibilities insights, and things we know that we don’t yet know we know in the daytime, leaving the night for rest alone? I think it is because we are a little afraid of these things, and therefore make sure our daytime hours remain too busy and too loud, keeping us far too preoccupied to give these things proper attention. We keep our defenses on high alert when we are awake, making sure our minds aren’t invaded by troublemakers. Status quo – that’s our goal on most days. Don’t rock the boat. It is only at night when our defenses are down that we get quiet enough to hear Spirit’s stories.

The Bible has many stories of dreamers and their dreams. Jacob was a dreamer. Old Testament Joseph was a dreamer. Ezekiel was a dreamer, or a visionary. New Testament Joseph was a dreamer. The Magi were dreamers. Peter was a dreamer. I can’t think right off of any recorded dreams of women in scripture, but that’s a whole different topic for another day. Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure it’s our loss that their dreams didn’t gain equal tellings.

According to Jewish tradition, the each day begins at sunset. We see this literally from the beginning with creation: “…there was evening and there was morning, the first (and second, and so on) day.” Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. It seems strange at first to think of a day starting at the time we are accustomed to winding down. Yet that’s exactly the whole point. The day doesn’t begins with our work. It begins with Spirit’s.

This, too, seems to give a special importance to dreams – the work of the night. Our night work, or actually our first work of each new day, is to let go of our needs and illusions of control and to rest as we listen to Spirit’s stories. Spirit’s storytelling techniques are far superior to our own. We have to put in some intention to understand these stories. Sometimes Spirit’s stories simply entertains. Sometimes they help us figure out problems. Sometimes they point out our flaws, our insecurities, our desires, or our fears. Sometimes they give us direction on what we should do. Sometimes they give us unbelievable insight into who we are or who we can be. Sometimes, maybe, they remind us not to eat too much spicy food or to watch too much junk TV before bed.

I am still grappling with a dream I had six years ago. I thought at the time that I knew exactly what it meant and exactly what I should do with it – and I did it. Here I am, six years later, and the dream still makes its appearances. Apparently I didn’t understand it correctly in the beginning, or else it has further meaning for me now. Whatever the reason, Spirit keeps telling me the story. It’s obvious that Spirit and Jesus belong to the same Trinity, because neither of them are quick to give explanations to their stories. They expect you to put in sweat equity. I’m working hard on figuring it out. I’m pretty sure I won’t rest well until I do.

John Lennon sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” I’m really not, am I? Surely there are other dreamers out there who listen to Spirit’s stories at night and then spend daylight hours learning to understand them.

Creatures of Habit

One of the advantages of recording your life in blogs, journals, or daily photo projects is that you can go back and see what your life was like one year, three years, five years, ten years ago. It’s interesting to see what has changed over the passing of time – and what has not.

One thing I’ve noticed is how humans are creatures of habit. What we find ourselves doing today is often very much like what we were doing this time a couple of years ago. Or maybe this just applies to those of us who are more closely governed by calendars – school calendars, church calendars, etc. As a mother and a former teacher, my psyche is very much informed by the routine of the school calendar with its yearly designated breaks. As a pastor, my routine is informed by the church calendar with its seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and the stretches of Ordinary Time interspersed in between.

Anniversaries also play a recurring role in our habits. There are anniversaries of happy events, like births, weddings, new jobs, or reaching a longed-for milestone like purchasing a home, starting a business, or publishing a book. And then there are anniversaries of sad or stressful events, like deaths, break-ups or divorces, tragedies, and rejection or loss of any kind. Sometimes these anniversaries coincide with other major events on the calendar. This always complicates anniversary grief. For example, a close friend of mine died twenty years ago on the Friday after Easter. Since the date of Easter is different every year, I feel that anniversary in my heart twice every single year – on the Friday after Easter and on the actual date of her death.

When Facebook pulls up my memories each day in a condensed summary, it often offers an epiphany. Maybe I’ve been feeling a little sad or a little out of sorts and haven’t been able to put my finger on why. Quite often as I review my Facebook memories, something will pop up – an anniversary of some event or encounter – that explains my feelings. It amazes me how often my heart will remember anniversaries that my brain has forgotten.

I find our habit-driven lives fascinating, in both comforting and discomforting ways. For example, over the last few days I’ve been cutting back the honeysuckle that tries every year to take control of the shrubbery at one corner of my house. This morning I see that nine years ago I was posting about pruning the bushes at the home I lived in at that time. I’m not a green thumb, but spring brings out a need in me to work outside. It won’t be long before the heat squelches much of that need, but in this season I like getting my hands a little dirty.

There is another reminder in my memories this morning. Three years ago I posted a picture of the cover of Time Magazine – a picture of the students from Parkland, Florida and their #NeverAgain movement. Across the middle of the cover is the word, “Enough.” I saw this memory moments after reading the updates on yesterday’s mass shooting at a grocery store in Colorado. It took place just six days after the mass shooting in Atlanta. I guess with the priorities of so many in this country, we will never have “enough” and will forever see these horrific events pop up in our feeds, our memories, our hearts, and our communities #again and #again and #again.

You know, there really are some habits we need to break.

Living Sanctuary

I extended my birthday weekend an extra day by taking Monday off from work. My youngest and I felt the need to drive up toward the mountains for some beautiful views and some fun window shopping. We ended up in Saluda, NC. As it turns out, window shopping was about the only kind of shopping we could do. I used to live in Landrum, SC, down at the bottom end of the steep grade from Saluda. I’ve been gone long enough to forget that the shops in that tri-town area (Saluda, Columbus, Landrum) tend to be closed on Mondays.

It doesn’t take long at all to walk from one end of Saluda’s downtown street to the other, especially when only one store is open. As we headed out of town, I decided to make one more stop. Back when I lived in Landrum and served as pastor of the Presbyterian church there, I sometimes drove up the mountain to Saluda just to sit in the cool silence of the sanctuary of one of their churches.

The Church of the Transformation is a small Episcopal church located on the hill behind the downtown shopping district. I’m not sure how I first learned that they left the doors unlocked for those who wanted to go inside to pray. The silence inside can be overwhelming when you first enter, but if you allow your defenses to drop it will soon envelop you in a blanket of peace. The pews, the walls, the ceiling, the kneeling benches, the altar, the lecterns all glow with the rich warmth of wood. Stained glass windows with delicate colors line the walls on either side. Behind the altar, three narrow windows of bold colors point to the heavens. It is a beautiful worship space.

I don’t always know what to do with silence. It is so foreign to the “normal” way of life. I know it sounds crazy, but silence can be so….loud! I think maybe it’s because only in silence can we hear all those thoughts, worries, regrets, and fears that we cover up with the noise of our busyness. Most of us would rather hear almost anything, even repetitive cycles of outrage on news networks. Amazingly enough, those stories we hear on TV are less scary than what we shove down inside ourselves and try to ignore.

Every time I entered the sanctuary back in those days, I would ease my way into the silence. Sometimes I would walk around inside making photographs, trying without success to reproduce the beauty in an image. Sometimes I would pick up a newsletter from the table right inside the door and would choose a pew to sit and read. For awhile, they had a female priest who was also a military chaplain deployed to the Middle East. I enjoyed reading her updates and descriptions of life and work in the deserts. Sometimes after listening long enough to be certain that none of the creaks or cracks that occasionally broke the silence were coming from another person somewhere in the building, when I was positive there was absolutely no one in hearing distance, I would sing a hymn. I don’t have a solo voice, but singing just seemed like the right thing to do in a holy place. Hopefully God listens with built in autotune.

And then some days, after finally exhausting every possible distracting measure I could think of, I would grow quiet. It takes a very long time for my inside quiet to come anywhere close to the outside silence, but on those rare occasions it came close I would leave that place feeling different, whole. I imagine it’s what Peter Pan must have felt like after Wendy sewed his shadow back on him. Spirit found my soul – tattered, filthy, and hanging by just a thread. Spirit wiped off the stains, blew away the dirt, and stitched it back where it was meant to be.

When I entered the sanctuary on Monday, there were two people inside. They were preparing the space for a return to in-person worship in a couple of weeks. They welcomed me in and though we were strangers we talked shop about the ways our respective churches have weathered the pandemic and how we were working toward a safe return. I had the chance to thank them for taking the measures and the risks in order to allow their sanctuary to be a sanctuary for me over the years.

In a perfect world, every church would be able to offer sanctuary like this to strangers. Alas, it is not a perfect world. What we can offer, however, is the spirit of hospitality and kinship to strangers we meet. We may not be able to leave the doors to our churches open, but we can live with hearts open. I know there are risks in choosing to be a living sanctuary, but we don’t do it alone. Spirits stands beside us with needle and thread in hand.

A New Season

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to write almost daily as a way of interpreting for myself the meaning of my day’s experiences. I recorded things that happened with my kids that I didn’t want to forget, or processed challenges I faced as a parent/pastor/friend, or worked out for myself whether I had seen God’s face in an unexpected place or way that day. I looked forward to sitting down with my laptop and a cup of hot tea at some point during the day to process whatever was on my mind. I could have done it in a journal instead of on a blog, and sometimes I did. But there was something about knowing that someone else just might read what I wrote and respond with a laugh or an “Aha!” or a “Me too!” made blogging more enticing.

Then I started doing this less and less until I finally just stopped. I’m not exactly sure why. Part of it may be that my children were getting older. Our family went through some painful times that demanded all my emotional energy and didn’t need to be shared on this forum. Maybe it’s because I moved and started working as a hospice chaplain. HIPAA limits what can be shared and that caution could have leaked over into other parts of my life. Maybe it’s because the world got so mean. Putting anything out on the internet felt like painting a bullseye across my chest as an invitation for an attack. Or maybe it’s because Lipton discontinued their Mixed Berry Green Tea, my writing time tea of choice. I really, really miss that tea!

For the last three years, instead of writing regularly, I’ve been taking photographs and posting them daily on Instagram. I started this as a 365 day challenge. By the end of the first year, it had become a favorite spiritual discipline. My goal is to find subjects that are beautiful, interesting, inspiring, or funny. The first few weeks were easy. Then it became more challenging. We humans are creatures of habit, walking the same paths, driving the same routes, keeping our same routines. I learned I had to look more closely, to always have my eyes open (and the eyes of my heart) if I wanted to find beauty in the repetitive ordinariness of life. It really is amazing what you can see when you take the time to look. I enjoy this discipline so much that I am now in my fourth year.

These two activities, spiritual photography and reflective writing, are very similar. They both involve staying awake to life, keeping eyes and hearts open, looking for Spirit moving, working, teaching, and revealing even on the most ordinary days. There is so much we miss in life – so much beauty and richness, so many lessons and inspirations. As an Enneagram Nine, my tendency under stress is to retreat to the safety of the ruminations in my head. I can quickly get lost in my own thoughts. It’s an effective and soothing coping mechanism, but not necessarily a healthy one. And oh, the things I miss when I check out of life like that!

Life is changing. Some former difficulties are resolving. My children are almost grown. I will be an empty nester in just a few short months. I’m more at home in the healthcare world now. The world, while far from being a safe place, seems a tiny bit friendlier and open than it was for awhile. I would love to be entering a new season where writing and sharing what I’m seeing and learning becomes regular again. Maybe…

…if I could just find a mixed berry green tea!

It’s a Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday! I am 56 years old today.

At one point in my life, I maybe would have acted embarrassed about my age. After all, getting older is something to be embarrassed about, right? WRONG! Life is a gift. Years are treasures. Numbers are just that – numbers. They do not indicate our worth or our value, just our current longevity.

There are a few things about aging that I don’t love. The wear and tear of life does leave physical marks in various places. I used to feel flattered when people said they thought I was much too young to be a grandmother. Now I look in the mirror and know they are lying. Pounds are easier to gain and much harder to lose. Muscles are easier to lose and much harder to gain. My back hurts a little more often than it used to. I am pretty indignant about suffering from zits and hot flashes – simultaneously. I have a lot more gray in my hair. I used to cover it with color before Covid. During the pandemic I went about ten months without getting my hair cut or colored. By the time I felt comfortable making an appointment, I had gotten so far past the worst part of growing out the gray that I decided that I was done with coloring, at least with the permanent stuff. I still make use of the temporary wash out kind to help me get through the rest of the growing out phase. I look forward to throwing that out soon, too.

There are other things about aging that I enjoy. Like grandchildren! I have one (a granddaughter) and a second on the way (a grandson). It is immensely satisfying to see your children approach and enter adulthood and to feel proud of who they are becoming. I realize that a lot of things I used to think were so important really aren’t important at all. I’m more at home in my own body, even if there are things I don’t always love about it. I used to feel the need to be on the go ALL the time. Then I HAD to be on the go ALL the time because that’s kind of the job of a parent. Now, home is my happy place.

I’m also a lot better about not feeling the need to live up to random expectations. For example, my youngest daughter and I went birthday shopping yesterday. It’s been over a year since I’ve bought clothes for myself. She pulled a pair of pants off the rack for me to look at. They were really cute. And really long. I’m not much of a seamstress, but I can hem pants. But these pants were of a certain style and material, and did I mention really long, and I didn’t think I could do a good job. Nor did I want to take them to be professionally hemmed. “Just find a cute pair of heels to wear with them,” she suggested. “No way,” I replied. “I am not comfortable in heels and I’m past the point of choosing to be uncomfortable just to look cute.” I think my response stunned my 17 year old. I hope she remembers it and won’t wait until she is 56 to decide that it is okay to choose the less traveled, lower heel path.

Last year, my daughter and I went out to eat on my birthday at a downtown restaurant where I ate one of the best pimento-cheeseburgers I’ve ever had. It was the last time we ate inside a restaurant before shutdown. We thought it would last a couple of weeks. We still have not eaten inside a restaurant and I’m not sure when we will. If this past year has taught me anything at all, it is that there is simply no way to know what to expect from the future. All I can do is my part to make it a good one.

So happy birthday to me! There were no candles to blow out this year. (Can you believe we actually used to do that?! Eww!) Regardless, I’ve made some wishes and hope to make a few of them come true.

Post Navigation