Tag Archives: life

50 thoughts on turning 50: #22 Flowing with the river of life

life is a river

For most of my life, I’ve been consumed with finding my purpose in life. I believe that I’m here for a reason – that God created me for something and that I’m not here by accident. And yet I’ve never really felt like I could put my finger on what that reason and purpose was.

Then a few years ago, I stumbled on a quote by Cardinal John Henry Newman, which reads in part:

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”

I wrote about it in this post, 50 thoughts on turning 50: #17 Be a link in the chain. But I wanted to take that thought a bit further today, after reading an article last week written by local sportswriter Scott Pitoniak, in which he looks back on forty years spent working at his dream job. Continue reading

50 thoughts on turning 50: #18 Take a nap

becky

My cousin Becky and her dog. The ability to nap is clearly in our DNA.

I have a friend who insists that she can’t nap. No matter how hard she tries, she says she just can’t relax enough to curl up on the couch, close her eyes and catch a few minutes of shut eye during the day.

I think there’s something seriously wrong with her.

I love taking a nap but I’ve always felt like a lazy slug for lying around in the middle of the afternoon while the rest of the world is slaving away. Then a few years ago, my doctor told me that it’s good to take a nap during the day. Not a big, deep sleep. Just a short, 15 or 20 minute snooze to clear away the cobwebs and recharge your batteries.

As someone who loves taking a nap as much as I like drinking tea, you can be sure I’ve followed her advice as often as I can. In fact, I’m off to take a nap right now.

Today’s lesson? Napping like a dog is a lot better for your life than working like one.

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.

50 thoughts on turning 50: #16 Arguing with idiots

railing at idiots

Once upon a time, I thought that the best way to handle a disagreement with someone was to argue my side of the issue. Prove my point. Give the facts. Share my opinion. Make my case.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there is a difference between an intelligent discussion and arguing with idiots. The first leaves you both a bit more enlightened about the other’s views; the latter just leaves you exhausted.

Arguing with people who like to argue only leads to one thing: an argument. And it’s one you can never win, because there are some people who make it their mission in life to argue, regardless of the issue or even if they have an opinion on the issue. They ignore the facts, they disregard the truth, they change their stance in order to continue the argument. They just want to engage in verbal combat, whether it’s politics, religion or the proper way to inflate the tires on your car.

It’s easy to get sucked in, to get frustrated, and to feed the conflict. Instead, I’ve mastered the art of disengaging. I smile, take a deep breath, and walk away. Even when I know I’m right. Even when I have the facts on my side. Even if walking away means I may look weak for not making my case.

Because I’ve learned this important truth: in the end, the idiot will always be revealed as the idiot he is, and it’s better not to even be on that stage when the curtain rises.

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.

My June column in Refreshed Magazine

Refreshed June 2014 with borderFor my June column in the San Diego-based Refreshed Magazine, I mused on my 50th birthday – a few weeks before I even turned 50. Since I hadn’t yet experienced the joy of reaching a half century, I turned to friends for some thoughts. You can read the column online here.

50 thoughts on turning 50: #12 Technology doesn’t always win

A visit to my local used bookstore netted me a few titles to keep me busy. For a little while, anyway.

A recent visit to my local used bookstore netted me a few titles to keep me busy. For a little while, anyway.

I heard a happy statistic a few weeks ago that while sales of adult ebook sales were up 4.8% through August of 2013 to $647.7 million, sales of hardcover books over the same period were up 11.5% to $778.6 million over the same period.

I’m not a fan of ebooks. I like real books. I like smelling the paper and reading at the beach. I like pulling out a book I read years ago and finding pencil marks in the margins and fingerprints on the pages. I just can’t seem to fall in love with an electronic device; there’s romance in books. My whole life – 50 years now – I’ve been reading books, and lots of them.

Surprise: I’m not a fan of technology.

In fact, when people assure me that this or that technological advance is going to eliminate something – like ebooks putting bookstores out of business and making paper book printing obsolete – I only laugh.

I’m 50 years old now, people. I know a thing or two about technology and life.

Back in the 80s I was The World’s Worst Bank Teller. This was before I went on to become The World’s Worst Promotions Specialist, The World’s Worst Small Business Owner, The World’s Worst Mother, and The World’s Worst Veterinary Office Receptionist (just to name a few of my career choices).

It was also, believe it or not, before  ATMs were as prevalent as they are today.

ATMs were predicted to do away with human bank tellers.

ATMs were predicted to do away with human bank tellers.

The Automated Teller Machine was developed in the 1960s and started being used around the world in the 1970s. But it was in the late 1980s, when I was a teller, that the push was really on to replace actual bank tellers with machines.

I remember each of us taking turns standing in the lobby, offering to help customers make deposits and withdrawals using this high tech cash dispenser. There was a learning curve, but before long people were bypassing the long lines to conduct simple transactions, like getting cash or depositing their paycheck.

The future, the financial prognosticators spoke with certainty, would soon find people doing all of their banking by machine. Human tellers and employees, we were assured, would become a thing of the past, or at the most relegated to a few select hours of branch availability a week to accept mortgage applications, process loan papers and make sure the machines were working.

I left banking only after a few years – it was gently suggested I find a career path that didn’t involve adding numbers – but I never forgot those dire predictions. Because, as it turns out, they were wrong. In fact, quite the opposite happened.

While ATM use is daily use for most Americans, banking didn’t go completely “humanless”. Banks actually found people using their services more. They kept or extended office hours. They relegated the mundane tasks of depositing and withdrawing to the money machines, but found other ways to connect with their customers, in person, in the office, on the phone, and online.

Human bank tellers and other employees didn’t go away after all.

It was the same dire prediction when the Video Cassette Recorder debuted for mass consumer use. The motion picture industry predicted doom as consumers took their viewing choices to their homes. No one would ever go to the movies again, they wailed. Speaking before Congressional hearings in 1982, then Motion Picture Association of America head Jack Valenti said, “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.”

In other words, death to the movies.

But instead, there was a rise in people going to the movie theater. Hollywood produced more movies. In 1985, there were 470 movies released with a gross box office of about $3.7 million dollars. In 2013, there were 686 movies released, with a gross box office of about $10.9 million.  Add in DVD sales, Netflix and other streaming sites and the reality is that the motion picture industry benefitted from this new technology.

Trivia sidebar: The #1 movie at the box office in 1985? “Back To The Future”. In 2013? “Catching Fire”. Interesting, isn’t it, how our views on the future have gone from rosy technology to post-apocalyptic doom? But I digress.

Yes, technology makes things easier, but it never replaces humans. It might change the way we interact with each other, but in the end, people like people. They like doing their banking with a human. They like going to a theater with other people to share a theatrical experience.

And they like books. And bookstores. While big chain stores are struggling and going under, there’s a backlash rise in independent stores. The indie bookseller has adapted to the marketplace, and small stores have become havens for book lovers, complete with cafes, gift shops and other things that draw those of us who love a good mystery, a cozy chair and a cat wandering amongst the stacks of hardcovers and paperbacks.

Technology changes the world, but we adapt with it to maintain our personal connections.

My prediction? With the rise in social media and the electronic clutter that overwhelms us on a daily basis, we’ll start sending each other letters and cards again. You know, get out a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter. Put a stamp on it. Give it to the mailman. Go to the mailbox and take out envelopes and open them up and think, “How nice! Aunt Gloria sent me  birthday card!” Check back with me on my 100th birthday and see if I was right.

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.

 

50 thoughts on turning 50: #11 An elephant for a dime

shareasimage (6)

Here’s the thing about money that I’ve learned over the years: you can live with a lot less of it than you think you can, if you learn the difference between a want and a need.

A need is something you’ll die without – or at least be unhealthy without. A roof over your head, or at least adequate shelter. Food, and I mean real food, not convenience food or food-like substances. Medical treatment, and that includes preventing illness as much as treating it.

Don’t get caught up in the myth that you can have everything your heart desires and pay for it later. Buy a house you can afford, not one that’ll impress your family, friends and coworkers. So the kids have to share a bedroom; generations of Americans grew up sharing space and were better for it. Drive a car that gets you where you need to get, even if it’s not new, cool, or can double as your mobile “sanctuary.”

If you don’t have the money to pay for it, then don’t buy it. And just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of it. An elephant for a dime is only a deal if you have a dime - and you need an elephant.

It’s a lesson that took me decades to learn, but once I did? Life got a lot less complicated and I was a lot more satisfied.

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.

50 thoughts on turning 50: #10 – I turn 50

Cary Grant Monkey Business meme with border

Well, folks, last Friday was the big day, the day I reached the top of the hill and started my slow decline down the other side.

Yup. I turned 50.

If I’m being honest, I haven’t had a single qualm about turning 50, although joking about it makes for some good column material. Each decade gets a little easier, and I feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.

For my birthday, darling husband and I spent the day at the Seneca Park Zoo and then went out to dinner with family. It was low key, relaxing and perfect.

Darling husband and I monkeying around at the zoo.

Darling husband and I monkeying around at the zoo.

In fact, as you can see from the photo, darling husband and I had a little fun at the zoo – you know, goofing around the way you can when you don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Which of course is one of the best things about growing older - feeling young without the maladjustment and near idiocy of youth. So here’s to being 50!

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.

 

Bats in the belfry

The essentials of bat whacking: gloves, a tennis racket, and a bag to dispose of the body.

The essentials of bat whacking: gloves, a tennis racket, and a bag to dispose of the body.

It’s midnight and I’m lying in bed, reading a book, when all of the sudden I hear the pitter patter of little feet scurrying in the ceiling above my head.

Dammit. There’s something in the attic.

Bandit sits up and cocks his head to listen, then jumps down from the bed to follow the sound around the room, eyes fixed on the ceiling.

Great. It sounds like maybe two somethings.

I call to my  husband, “David! Something’s in the attic!!”

He’s just gotten home from a long day at work, just taken a shower, and isn’t interested in whatever phantom noise I’m panicked about. Spring usually brings a procession of bugs and spiders and weirdo beetles I’m always calling for him to kill. No emergency, he thinks. I wait. The scurrying continues.

“There’s something in the attic!” I call.

When darling husband comes into the room, he cocks his head to listen, wearing that “there’s nothing there” impatient frown … and then he hears it too.

There’s a critter line dancing right above our heads. Continue reading

50 thoughts on turning 50: #8 The price of admission to a happy relationship


(disclaimer: there is swearing in this video. It’s the price of admission to hear the message)

I had just finished washing the dishes. After I’d cooked dinner and cleaned up. Put the leftovers in the fridge. Washed the posts and pans and my dish and utensils. Darling husband was in the living room, engrossed in a TV show, his dinner accoutrements on his TV tray.

We’re pretty casual about dinner at our house. It’s just the two of us here at the old funny farm so there’s no real timetable for meals. And now that the weather has gotten warmer and the sun lingers far into evening, we eat later than we would in the winter.

When I’m finished eating, I like to pick up the mess. The longer it sits, the longer I have to wait until I can put a period on my day and just sit and relax. I’d rather get the mess cleaned up so I can park my rear on the couch and chill.

Darling husband, on the other hand, can sit for an hour or more, eating or watching whatever British mystery he’s hooked on at the moment. I’ll have cleaned up the kitchen, checked email, let the dogs out and generally tied up my day in a pretty bow when he gets up from his recliner and brings his tray into the kitchen.

And that’s where I am now. Kitchen picked up, last of the day’s tasks finished. And sitting in the sink is darling husband’s plate, fork and glass. Continue reading

50 thoughts on turning 50: #6 Mrs Robin offers a lesson in failure and perseverance

After a week, Mrs. Robin finally has a secure nest - with a little help from darling husband.

After a week, Mrs. Robin finally has a secure nest – with a little help from darling husband.

Over on my blog at Patheos.com, I mused yesterday on the journey of a robin trying – and failing – to build a nest, first in our neighbor’s window and then in our garage window. It’s been a week and each nest attempt has been blown away.

But yesterday, she picked a new spot and with a bit of help from darling husband, it looks like she’s on her way to setting up home sweet home.

You can read the whole post at Patheos - but her story offers up a lesson in failure and perseverance.

Sometimes I’ve felt like, when I fail, it’s a message from God to quit trying to do what I’m doing, because it’s not his plan. Other times, I’ve abided by the adage that if at first you don’t succeed, try again, because God is just testing your faith.

Those are both messages I’ve gotten from church, religion and the Bible – God puts obstacles in your way to stop you from going down the wrong path, and that God puts obstacles in your way to test your faith and see if you’ll give up. (Watch for a post later on the lessons I’ve learned about faith/spirituality vs. religion.)

And yes, I’m slightly screwed up by it all: I suffer from a terminal case of paralysis by analysis. No matter what I want to do, feel called to do, or am asked to do, I question and analyze and weigh the pros and cons until I don’t know what to do. So I do nothing.

But there’s Mrs. Robin, meeting challenge after challenge, and when that happens she just picks up and starts over.

I think there’s a lesson in there about just getting up each morning and doing what you’re supposed to do that day. Less questioning, more doing.

This is one lesson that I’ve got in my head but have to work at every day to put into practice.