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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THE SUN IS SETTING ON 2009

More than 30 days have passed since my last blog post.
Yes, both Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone. Some of my favorite things during this past month include: receiving and sending photos & messages of hope, watching the old movie IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE with my 89 year old Daddy beside me, baking and sharing cookies, remembering with fondness those that have gone on ahead of us, and seeing the play
A CHRISTMAS CAROL with my family.
What are some of your memories from the past month?


Now the sun is setting on another year. 2010 is on the horizon.

I have never been one to attach myself to New Year's Resolutions. I learned long ago that I was never good about keeping them; at least I could not keep them past a few days or weeks, depending on how much change the declaration would require of me.
As a 50 something woman, I have instead determined that a healthy and balanced lifestyle all year round is the best arrangement for me.
With this approach, I do not have to worry about a dramatic change all at once!
The way that I attempt this is with the decision to not allow myself more than two consecutive "off-plan"days. An "off-plan" day can be defined differently for each person, but for me, it means not enough H2O, no fitness, an overindulgence in unhealthy foods and not enough fresh foods, and no time to sit still if only for a few moments to reflect on my personal relationship with God. In contrast, an "on plan" day for me is just the opposite: some fitness, substantial nutrition, water, and some quiet time to allow my body to catch up with my soul.

How about you?
What is your plan for YOU in the coming new year?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A SPOT OF SUNSHINE

With "Thanksgiving Eve" upon us, I am sitting here counting my blessings, naming them one by one. As a fifty something woman, I am grateful for my reliable God, my family, my friends, just to mention three that are sure to be mentioned with immeasurable gratitude by you, as well.

As I ponder this further, I realize that sometimes the basis for gratefulness in my day is because a "spot of sunshine" has come my way. This may have come to me in a smile, a kind word, a note in the mail, a loving hug, an encouraging text or email, a laugh, a song, a written message or verse, a yummy taste of a favorite food, the chance to aid another, sweet memories, excellent health care, and the way my loved ones say my name, just to name a few.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."
~James M. Barrie~

What are the spots of sunshine that you are most comforted and encouraged by
during this THANKSGIVING SEASON?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

LIFE IS A SYMPHONY

Having grown up in a family of six children, four girls and two brothers, I have a clear understanding of how crazy life can be in a large family!

Yesterday, some girlfriends and I had the opportunity to honor one of our dear friends, who along with her husband, has eight children. Her husband wanted to treat her to a surprise party and we helped make this possible.
As we celebrated this milestone birthday, our party theme was:

LIFE IS A SYMPHONY.

Yes, LIFE IS A SYMPHONY WITH THIS FAMILY!
SOMETIMES CHAOTIC,

MORE OFTEN HARMONIOUS,

SOMETIMES OUT OF TUNE,

BUT ALWAYS FILLED
WITH LOVE!

Thirty-five friends, along with the birthday girl's Mama, as well as her oldest daughter, shared with the group why this extraordinary mother of eight was particularly special to each of them. It was beautiful to witness the edification that took place as we feasted on a delicious lunch and went around the room telling humorous tales and sharing from our hearts.
Before dessert was served, we viewed a 15 minute memory video of a little girl who was born in 1959 with two older sisters, a wedding, eight new babies and many friend photos, as well.
The songs played along with the pictures were familiar to all:
IN MY LIFE~The Beatles
SIMPLE THINGS~Jim Brickman
DON'T STOP~Fleetwood Mac
FOREVER YOUNG~Rod Stewart
We all got a laugh out of the Lucille Ball quote near the end of the video:

"To stay young, live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age!"

And the icing on the "video cake" was a brief recorded message from the birthday girl's Mother reminding her of what a huge blessing it has been to have her as her daughter.
My unexpected and enormous blessing as these party plans fell into place, was getting to know this dear Mother even better than before. She reminds me so very much of my own Mama and it was a comfort and a joy spending time with her! PURE PLEASURE, in fact.

In lieu of wrapped presents, the ladies gave a monetary donation to our local homeless shelter.
This gift totaled $1,720.00!!!!!!!!

The lunch guests said their goodbyes with an iced cookie shaped
like one of the symphony instruments pictured above.

HAPPY 1/2 CENTURY TO
THIS VERY DEAR HEART FRIEND
OF 30+ YEARS!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD

As we travel along this long and winding road called LIFE, there are sure to be trecherous curves and
bumps in our path that slow us down
and moreover, bring us to a halting stop.
These can be catastrophic and tragic or hopefully, more likely,
a sadness in our hearts over
some circumstance that has transpired in our journey.
Either way, as a 50 something woman, I have discovered the importance to have folks, friends and family, who will walk beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder
and not try to fix the unfixable in my life.

These friends truly are the FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN OF LIFE!

These friends truly are a GIFT FROM GOD ABOVE.


Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996) was born in Nijkerk, Holland, and came to the United States in 1964. A Roman Catholic Priest and psychologist, he has taught at several prestigious universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Notre Dame. He is the author of over twenty books, among them The Wounded Healer and With Open Hands, with a more recent one being The Road to Daybreak. I have often been inspired by Nouwen's writing and once again, I am moved to share his thoughts on "what really matters".

"When we honestly ask which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief or bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness...makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters."

As I travel along on my long and winding road,
I desire to be this kind of friend to those God puts in my path
and I am so grateful to those whom
He has provided to minister to me in my times of need.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

THESE HIKING BOOTS

I am determined to stay active during this season of my life.
Vigorous exercise energizes me and helps me to sleep better, too.
When I lace up these hiking boots, I feel good because I know I am about to give my heart a gift!

But keeping our heart in tune is so much more than just lacing up sneakers or hiking boots. It is about staying in touch with those deep places in our heart and listening to God's still small voice.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us:
"Above ALL ELSE, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

As a fifty-something woman, with our last child spreading his wings and preparing for high school graduation in just six short months, the question keeps coming up in my heart and mind...purposeful living, that is what I desire for the future. But what does that mean, exactly?

It will be different for each one of us, however, I am convinced that the way to find out is by seeking God first and the answers will come in due time.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well."
Matthew 6:33
So, let's get moving and give our heart a good work-out, physically as well as spiritually!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A BEAUTIFUL OCTOBER



I have missed taking time out for this blog, but we have enjoyed a beautiful and fun October! We started the month celebrating our 27Th wedding anniversary on October 2ND, in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and then joining friends for the AU vs UT game at Neyland Stadium.
The foliage was well on its way at that time.






On October 8Th, our oldest entered into adulthood with her 21st birthday! FUN!

As the month continued, we took advantage of our local beauty, hiking Kennesaw Mountain regularly.











Mid-month, we visited Callaway Gardens and
I spent a few quiet minutes at the scenic small chapel there.










As the month neared the end, my three sisters, 89 year old Daddy and I visited our Mama's grave site in Rossville, GA, just on the TN/GA state line. On my sister, Laura Lea's suggestion, we chose
to sing praises at the site knowing that she was in heaven
and thanking God for the wonderful impact and legacy she has
had on each one of us, and the blessing our father continues to
be in our lives.
Gratefulness overflowed from each of us!





And then at the end of the month,
just for fun, we joined a few friends in
costume at the Marietta Square for a
Ghost Tour Trolley Ride.

THIS PAST MONTH INCLUDED THREE OF THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE:
FAITH,
FAMILY
AND FRIENDS.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

LIVE LIKE YOU HAVE GAS IN THE CAR






I have been a part of a small Bible Study in a dear friend's home for the past several years. In this intimate setting, we help each other stay connected to God in our day-to-day lives, a strong desire of each one of us as we study together on Tuesday mornings.
Back on 11~9~04, our friend, Donna exclaimed:
"Ladies, we must live
like we have gas in the car!"
"Yes!", added Sara, our group facilitator,
"Let's live the raised life."
To me, these phrases mean to live as though we know and understand the truth of the gospel. To me, this also means to live as though we are, in fact, filled up with the Holy Spirit as we live out our days. Even though nearly five years has passed since this remark was made in Sara's home, I still find myself thinking about it and desiring a life
that is lived as though I have gas in the car.
I have this phrase noted in my Bible near 1 Corinthians 6 and
read it every time I am there in that part of the Bible.
Back on May 23, 2009 I posted a blog entitled MAKE A NOTATION as I referenced how much I enjoyed coming across notations that my dear Mama had made when she was here with us.
As a 50 something woman, this notation in my Bible is another great example of how a few written words can remind us and empower us to live our best life.
Another year has come and gone since my dear Mama's passing and as in every year since her passing, I am looking for a creative way to celebrate her memory. This year it is a pictorial, laminated bookmark for my dad, my three sisters, my two brothers and myself. It has a total of 19 poses of Mama...so sweet to look at and recall her love, her laughter, her zest for life. In addition to the bookmark, this year, I am also copying a Eugenia Price devotion entitled
"To Be Peaceful".
You see, on 6-8-93, Mama made a notation on this
devotion as she read and underlined several parts of it.

Yes, Mama understood how to have PEACE while on this earth.

Yes, Mama lived like she had gas in her car!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DEEP ROOTS

"STORMS
MAKE TREES
TAKE
DEEPER
ROOTS."
~Dolly Parton~

As I was walking in the woods a few weeks ago, I spotted this old tree, and more than that, I observed this elaborate root system.

I have not posted in a few weeks because I have been busy celebrating our daughter's 21st birthday and this actually goes along with the
subject of ROOTS.
Someone once said that we should give our children two lasting things:
ROOTS and WINGS.
I agree!
As a 50 something woman, I hope you and I will realize more than ever how important it is to help yourself, your children and your grandchildren develop
deep roots as we journey through life.

What does that mean? I believe it means to have a clear understanding about where our strength really comes from and then build a life around that truth.
(See Isaiah 40:29-31, Ephesians 6:10 and Philippians 4:13)
And as we continue on this path, our past experiences show more and more evidences of the storms that are possible during a lifetime. Deep roots can provide us with a peace that passes all understanding, regardless of our circumstances.
Even if the "tree trunk of life" breaks in two, strong roots can hold firm.


Eleanor Roosevelt
said it like this:
"A woman is like a tea bag.
You never know how strong she is
until she gets into hot water."



After spending two nights with our daughter last week, I know for sure she has developed deep roots. And at age 21, her wings are shaping up pretty
good
as
well.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND



"...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for me." John Donne (1572-1631) The meaning of this famous quote is that human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. Donne was a Christian but this concept is shared by other religions, as well.
Donne lived in Tudor and Stewart England, and at that time the tolling of the church bells, to mark various events, was an important feature of daily life.
Ernest Hemmingway helped to make this phrase commonplace in the language when he chose to use the quotation in his 1940-published book about the Spanish Civil War. Hemmingway refers back to 'for when the bell tolls' and to 'no man is an island' to demonstrate and examine his feelings of solidarity with the allied groups fighting the fascists. There was a strong feeling amongst many intellectuals around the world at the time that it was a moral duty to fight facism, which they feared may take root world-wide if not checked. This was given voice later in the well-known poem:
FIRST THEY CAME FOR JEWS attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984):
First they came for Jews,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a Jew.

They they came for Communists,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for trade unionists,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a trade unionists.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


I was visiting a friend the other day. She is recovering from foot surgery and mostly home bound these days. While I was there, her step father was in the neighbor's yard next door helping out. A senior citizen couple resides next door and my friend's step dad was mowing their lawn. When I drove away, I could not help but notice the elderly gentleman slowly pushing his lawn mower, while my friend's stepdad cruised through the yard on his riding mower.
As a fifty-something woman, I find myself more observant, more cognizant of circumstances that are going on around me.
While I pray that our generation will not be faced with the hateful illustration of facism in the above poem, I hope that I will be found faithful to aid those in my path that have needs.
This picture of these two neighbors working together to accomplish a task, is a simple, but important reminder to look for opportunities in our sphere of influence where we can make a difference in the lives of others, day-by-day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

UMBRELLAS AND SUNFLOWERS
















Today would have been a perfect day to stay in and nap,
get the laundry done, read the paper, and then nap some more.

The rain came down steady all day long.

If all these umbrellas had stayed inside out of the rain,
an awful lot of folks would have missed out on a huge blessing.

Many came to a church near my home to worship and fellowship with other believers. This church is not where my family usually attends, but I went there to participate in the joyous occasion of two young ladies' baptism. These two special girls reside in the recovery center where I find myself volunteering weekly. When we left the church after the baptism followed by a cake and punch reception, I could not help but notice the piles of umbrellas at each exterior door.
I opened my own umbrella and posed it for this picture.

I have always liked sunflowers, but became especially fond of them after Mama's funeral service on October 26, 2006. My brothers and sisters and I decided that only bright primary colors would do for our Mother's cascade of flowers and the florist chose lots of sunflowers to complement the other flowers in the arrangement.
Sunflowers...yes, Mama had such a sunny personality!
And so after that day, I determined that sunflowers were my favorites, even more so than roses and daisies, some of my other best-loved flowers. So, that explains the sunflower umbrella that protected me from the rain today. Even when the rain pours and pours, it reminds me as Annie sang that "The sun'll come out tomorrow, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, come what may.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you're only a day away!"

Actually, when we were in this church celebrating the baptism of these two girls, it was as though the sun was shining brighter than ever.
Perhaps that is because the SON was shining and his name was being glorified.
Often joyful circumstances can do that
no matter what the weather may be .
Here is the delicious cake that was enjoyed by the friends and family that came to witness the baptisms.
Yes, a sunny celebration can bring joy to a rainy day any day of the week, month, or year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DON'T BE A LITTER BUG


I hiked 3 miles on Kennesaw Mountain yesterday morning with one of my friends. This chance for exercise is so good for me, in more ways than one! The cardiac workout is a given and my heart thanks me every time! The opportunity to take in the view, the nature, God's creation, always fills me up to the brim! And lastly, the conversation, the sharing of two like minds is incredibly helpful and encouraging. I mean, seriously...look at this view of our hiking path that I captured with my camera as we hiked! Isn't it beautiful!?! I have been enjoying the idea of taking my camera along with me each day and shooting pictures of my
experiences

As I was walking towards my car after our hike I came upon a beer can that someone had tossed out onto the side of the road.

I immediately was taken into a world of living, loving and teaching young children in my midst, as I recalled an incident that happened many years ago as I was attempting to teach our two children the importance of not being a litter bug.
It was on our own street that we were driving where there are woods and no houses on the right hand side. As I drove, I caught a glimpse of our daughter throwing her chewed up gum out of her window. I stopped the car and said; "Now, Leah, you know that gum is not biodegradable, so get out of the car and go get your gum so you can dispose of it properly." Now, I realize how silly that sounds all these years later and we still laugh about it, because, of course she could not find her gum as it was lost in the woods!
The best part is that as a 50 something woman, I know for sure that neither of our children are litter bugs. I just know it! As I sit here and remember the many other things we attempted to instill in our children, I am thankful that each of them in their own ways are becoming well-rounded citizens, and for that, I am so grateful. I have often said that parenting is the hardest job in the world if you care about the outcome. If you do not care, and are ambivalent about the outcome, then, well... parenting is easy.
As you recall your children as small sponges, soaking up all the lessons of life you gave to them, what lessons are you certain they are living out today?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED




Here in Georgia, crape myrtles are in full bloom! Boasting shades of pinks, crimson, corals, white and lavender, these beauties are all around us. Beloved in the South, crape myrtle is a wonderful perennial deciduous shrub or small tree that provides landscape interest year around, requiring minimal attention and lasting throughout the fall giving away to a fabulous autumn show. The long-blooming flowers appear in mid-summer, with a bloom period that runs from July to late October, sometimes more than 120 days.
As a 50 something woman, I love to stop and notice life analogies in nature. I believe this unique plant is a great example of how we must bloom while we can. The crape myrtle buds represent earlier seasons of our lives when we were busy mothering and working and running around each day. These fabulous blooms symbolize our lives today, a chance to bloom while we can. We can heed an important lesson from this delicate flowering tree...blooming takes time...and patience, too!
Are you and I showing patience towards ourselves during this season of our lives? Let us be our own best cheerleader as we bloom wherever we are planted.
Yes, let's take courage along with us today and bloom! That was my Mama's response back in July 2006, just 4 months before her passing. When she was given the news of her cancer diagnosis, she bravely stated:
"Well, we're supposed to bloom where we are planted." And so she did...never looking back from that decision to live out her days courageously.

Monday, September 14, 2009

MISSING FROM THE PHOTO

Even though our Mama, Polly Shivers Walker was missing from this photo taken earlier today, there was no doubt in any of our minds that she was with us in spirit. She would have loved this day! Mama always loved road trips, visits with other women and days filled with laughter and fellowship! The best news is that when I am physically with one or more of my three beautiful sisters, I truly feel like I am with my MOM...and that...is an incredible blessing!

SHARE YOUR STORY

I feel on top of the world and so proud of my sister just older than me.

Last night, my three sisters came to our home and we had a slumber party of sorts as we went through memoirs gathered from our parents' marriage of nearly 60 years. Today, we arose early, leaving at 6:00 a.m., to get ahead of the Atlanta traffic and drove south for a special engagement.

This morning, I got to witness Laura Lea, along with my other two sisters and a sister-in-law, share her story, her journey of grief and hope. We were hosted by my gracious mother-in-law, Anne, and her monthly WMU circle at First Baptist Church, Thomaston, Georgia.

(SEE TWO PREVIOUS RELATED BLOGS on http://50somethingwoman.blogspot.com
DATED 4/20/09 AND 4/23/09 FOR DETAILS OF LAURA'S STORY)

Every beating heart has a story and Laura Lea told hers today to 40 or more women. Laura took great courage in the way that she shared how God is working in and through her in a very difficult and personal journey. We can all learn and benefit from hearing about struggles and victories that we experience in our day-to-day lives.
We as women can be a great encouragement to one another when we face our challenges shoulder-to-shoulder, strengthening each other as we go along.
While my sisters and I do not consider ourselves particularly talented singers, after Laura shared, we sang a quartet of an old hymn: MY HOPE IS BUILT .
Following our time with the women, my father-in-law, Don, treated us to a wonderful country cookin' lunch at The Peachtree Cafe in Thomaston. During lunch, we raised our glasses of sweet tea to the three celebrating September birthdays and then we took turns edifying Anne by sharing memories of her touch on our lives as we considered her milestone birthday that is coming in December 2009.
All in all, today was a perfect example of how we can support and love the women in our lives. WE only get one chance, only one time around.
Let's be a vehicle for hope...
... by sharing, encouraging and supporting the women in our lives.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

BUILD A BRIDGE

I was walking in the woods yesterday for exercise and I had some piano music on my IPOD...drumming in my ear was the tune of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER.
As I listened to this familiar tune, power walking along, the lyrics came pouring back into my mind:

"When you're weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all..
I'm on your side when things get rough. And friends just can't be found, like a bridge over troubled water...."

When a bridge is being constructed, the landscape has to be level on both sides...in people-terms, there has to be what I call "common ground" from two people before a bridge can be built between two individuals.

As a fifty-something woman, I often consider who in my sphere of influence could I build a bridge to that would possible help to lighten a load, make a difference in that person's life, while enhancing my own days. Immediately, my small family unit comes to mind, I want to be here for my husband, and I am, in so many ways! I want to be here for our senior in high school, and I am, taking a college road trip with him next week. I want to be here for our junior in college, and I am, traveling to her home to be with her for her 21st birthday early next month.
Aside from our immediate families, how can a 50-something woman build other bridges?
I believe a bridge can be constructed with our adult siblings, our parents, our in-laws, our friends. Beyond that, I see myself building bridges with the women I meet in the Recovery Center I am currently volunteering in each week. I try to encourage them and inspire them to move forward in their lives, building their own bridges with those they hold close to their hearts.

And so the lyrics continue...Simon and Garfunkle sing:

"YOUR time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way, see how they shine. If you need a friend, I'm sailing right behind, like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind."

Life is short and I often remember, this is no dress rehearsal.

Who would you like to build a bridge to today?

Monday, August 24, 2009

UNSPOKEN

As a 50 something woman with a "baby" who is a senior in high school and clearly ready to spread his wings, I found myself wandering around some yesterday...what to do next...

This is a very odd feeling for someone who has been "on the go" and raising babies for the last 21 years. And to think, in approximately one hundred and eighty days, our last one will graduate high school. Graduate...now that is a funny word in and of itself. Earlier today, I was at the grocery store and the bottled water had been moved to the baby aisle, which explains why I found myself on this aisle full of diapers, pull-ups, jar baby food and an item called "graduates for preschoolers". This caught my interest because when I hear the word graduate, all I allow myself to envision is our son in a blue cap and gown. Now the baby industry is trying to make us Moms think about this even sooner, with a snack for two year olds!
Just after I discovered this new product for preschool-aged children, I nearly ran into another mom that lives a few streets over from me. "How are you doing?", I exclaimed, "I mean, how are you really doing?". For as I looked into her face, I easily recalled that this friend had a daughter our daughter's age and a son, one year older than ours, which meant that, just three months ago, she had witnessed her last child's graduation. She was precious to take a few minutes out to share details about her son's move to a local college and all the changes that she had experienced in this short window of time. She encouraged me as my eyes tried to well up with tears, sharing my concerns, sharing my thoughts. After speaking with this friend for a few short minutes, my steps were lighter.
On the way home from the grocery store, I heard a Jaci Valesquez song on the radio and one of the lines keeps coming back to my mind: "Don't leave your heart unspoken." To me, this means that when our hearts are heavy, we should share with God and other trustworthy friends all that is going on there in our hearts.

Let's not leave our hearts unspoken.

Monday, August 17, 2009

STEEL MAGNOLIAS

The play, Steel Magnolias is based on a true story and is one that all women should see! The movie is wonderful, too, starring some memorable actresses such as, Dolly Parton, Sally Fields, Julia Roberts and other favorites.

My sisters, nieces, and some friends, including two ladies from our nearby recovery center, all joined me last Sunday for the 3:00 p.m. matinee showing at our local Strand Theatre.

Revolving around Truvy's Beauty Parlor in a small parish in modern-day (1987) Louisiana, this is the story of a close-knit circle of friends whose lives come together there. Through the views of these different women we see love, apathy, pain, and loss. Dreams built and burnt, the power of hope, the love between a mother and her child and the bond that can be so unbreakable between true friends.

Shelby, the young lady in the story had a line that I want to remember forever:

"I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."

The play was only one part of this very special day. All proceeds from each ticket went directly to our local homeless shelter MUST Ministries, which means these six local actresses gave 100% of their time and talents for this cause. What a remarkable example of service for all of us!

In addition to the MUST donation, as I stated above, I was accompanied by my three sisters, three nieces, a nephew's mother-in-law, and two of my lady friends who are in the process of healing and on a good path right now...Among the ten of us, there was much laughter, many tears. Just being together, in this group of strong women, watching this story unfold, we experienced way more than thirty minutes of wonderful and for that I am so grateful!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

LIFE IS SHORT: GET RID OF THE MASK

"WE are always getting ready to live but never living." Ralph Waldo Emerson

My last post triggered a phone call from one of my buddies checking in on me to see how I was doing.
That was a great comfort to just let it all spill out and squarely tell her know how I really felt!

As a 50 something woman, I am realizing more than ever how imperative it is to unmistakably be my true self, disposing of the mask at every turn. Transparency is something that is common with me in my interactions with others, and I like it that way!
The only warning I would share that was given to me by a close friend years ago is to be cautious and prayerful about WHOM you decide to disclose WHAT to. Other than that, just be! It is a very freeing concept to take each day as it comes and take in the moments, relishing the positive, and allowing the negative to roll off my shoulders.

Another very cool thing about living a life that is real and transparent is that it gives those in your sphere of influence "permission" to do the same thing.
My husband's response to my most recent post was very simply:
"I have days that I feel that exact same way...blase!"

And so it goes...
...another favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson states the truth of this much better than I ever could!

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
(R.W.E. May 25, 1803~April 27, 1882)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ALONE?

Have you ever woken up and found yourself feeling a bit discouraged and not quite sure why? That is how I felt yesterday and even after a good fitness workout, the blase feeling continued...What was it? I could not quite put my finger on it...
I casually mentioned it to my husband and that helped ease it a little.

Still, I awakened this morning with a similar weightyness on my shoulders...What was it?

Was it that our last-born was starting his senior year of high school, the truth that another summer (the season of fun and flexibility) had come and gone, the thought that so many of my close friends are busy with their full or part-time jobs, missing my Mama and others that have gone on ahead of me, or could it even be that the personal stories of the ladies I have been ministering to at a nearby Recovery Center were bringing me down??? Or perhaps it was a combination of all of the above.

Regardless of the reason, this blog is a reminder to myself and to all who will read it that we do not have to walk this road alone, nor were we meant to!

To move forward, out of my dismal view of things, I did three things and together, they helped me so much...

(1) I journaled, read and meditated on the Bible, specifically, Proverbs 11 for today, August 11th. V. 25, 30 were particularly meaningful to me. I also read devotions from Oswald Chamber's MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST and THE SEEKING HEART By, Fenelon (p. 124-125 REST IN GOD and p. 177 ONE THING NEEDED)

(2) I prayed and sought God, the Most High.
and last, but certainly, not least,

(3) I called a precious friend that I have known for 33 years since my freshman year in college. Susan and I are like-minded in that we both want to follow after God, and we both cherish our family, friends and FAITH! Talking to Susan who lives four hours away made all the difference in my day, in my attitude and in my future viewpoint. That is what close girlfriends do...they change our approach to life.
Thanks, Susan, for being there for me today!

We are not meant to walk this road alone...and when we try to walk alone, it can be very disheartening!

Friday, August 7, 2009

LET IT GO!

For fitness today, I walked five miles in the woods with two of our four legged friend, Gracie and Mocah. As I walked, I listened to Simon and Garfunkel, a classical selection including some songs you will find very familiar: Bridge over Troubled Water, Sounds of Silence, and Scarborough Fair. As I walked, I thought and prayed, prayed and thought about life as we know it. There is so much out there that we can get "hung up" on if we allow ourselves to.
This blog is about LETTING IT GO!
"Letting what go?" you might ask. Letting go of bitterness, resentment, assumptions (many which may very well be false).
As a 50 something woman, I have many relationships that are important to me. However, I have learned, as perhaps you have, too, that with wonderful, loving relationships, often can come pain and misunderstandings. Let's just let it go and get on with our day...with our life, living well, laughing often and loving much!
WE only get one chance at this, one time around!
"Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness, and knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream." ~Kahil Gibran, THE PROPHET

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CARAMELIZED VIDALIA ONIONS

As I was caramelizing onions for dinner tonight, I caught myself gazing at the framed photo adjacent to my stovetop. The onion recipe was scratched out onto some note paper at my father's medical check-up yesterday:

2 Tbs butter melted in a pan, adding 2 thinly sliced onions, 1/2 tsp light brown sugar and 1/ tsp salt
Cook covered 20 minutes 'til tender-stir occasionally. Uncover, cook and stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until onions are golden.

The picture was taken on my daughter's twelfth birthday in October 2000. In this photo, she is backed up to my Mom, Polly, and they both have the biggest smiles on their faces. Whenever we attended family reunions on my mother's side, our daughter would be called "Little Polly", because everyone thought she favored my mother so much. This special photo was taken long before my mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and way before our little girl even thought seriously about attending college two hours from our home.
Now, Mama is in heaven and our daughter is an upperclassman at Auburn.

I love that this framed photograph is right on the counter where I cook our meals. It gives me strength, brings a smile to my face and inspires me to live and love while on this earth.

What special photos or momentos do you see in your home on a regular basis? Do they bring you warmth and strength as you recall sweet memories? If not, why not frame up something inspiring today and place it in a spot you pass by daily.
And while the vidalia onions are in season, try out this yummy recipe that will complement any meat as a side dish . You will be glad you did!

Monday, August 3, 2009

THIS CAN BE TRICKY

When we visited Kiawah Island, South Carolina recently, we had a lovely villa a few blocks away from the coast. On a bike, we could reach the surf in less than ten minutes.

After our workouts in the nearby gym, we would hop on our rental bikes, with a back pack and a beach chair balanced on the handlebar as we rode. As we ventured closer to the beach, we would encounter several narrow boardwalks, most more suitable for one-way traffic, not two.

One morning, as I made my way, steadily to the sand, I was having a little trouble guiding my bike across a limited way. A woman, who looked to be a 50 something woman like me was walking towards me on the boardwalk. She observed my difficulty and smiled, stating three simple words: "This can be tricky."

Before I met this "friend" along the way, I was struggling, believing that surely others did not have this much difficulty and why was I not strong enough to make this journey happen more smoothly? Everything changed in my approach, my attitude, after hearing her brief, but encouraging message to me.

As we journey through our days, let's be on the lookout for women like ourselves who might be having a little trouble, who might need a helping word or deed. Let us travel this journey together, not alone.

Like this nameless woman on a boardwalk in South Carolina, you, too, could make a change in someone's day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

AUGUST FIRST, TWO THOUSAND AND NINE

"This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Yes, today is a day for rejoicing for sure as our beautiful niece, Katie will don her wedding gown and be wed to the love her life, Adam at 12 noon. Yes, a day for celebrating as our friends, The Carter Family travel to VSU to witness their daughter, Kat walk across the stage in her cap and gown.

Yes, today is August 1, 2009 and as promised, I am resuming my 50 something woman blog here and now. The longer I live, (and that would be a total of 18,615 days as of this day) the more I have realized what a gift LIFE is.

To quote Lily, a follower of this blog, in a comment on 6/6/09:

"I think the greatest thing about this age is the realization of time. Some of us, if we're lucky, finally have the time to do the things we put off because of our children and other responsibilities. Mostly, I appreciate the limited aspect in a way I never did before crossing that half-century mark.

IT MAKES ONE MAKE TIME."

Thanks, Lily, and I agree!

So, as we continue on this life adventure, to restate my purpose behind this blog:

LET US GROW AS WOMEN AS WE ENCOURAGE OUR DAUGHTERS, OUR NIECES, AND ALL OF OUR YOUNG LADY FRIENDS COMING ALONG BEHIND US TO DO THE SAME.

LET THE PILGRIMAGE CONTINUE...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

TAKING A BREAK

When I wake up in the morning as a 50 something woman, I do not always know what my next blog will be about.
The main reason for this, is like you, and every other human being on this earth, I never know what a new day might bring.


Kahil Gibran, in one of my favorite books; The Prophet (copyright 1923), said:
" Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

I have taken such pleasure in writing this blog! Thanks to each one of you, my readers, my friends. Gibran's quote brings to mind to me personally that it is time to let my mind rest as I look to the future of this writing. My desire is that this will be purposeful, so I will be considering how to bring that about.
On April 8, 2009 life brought to me this blog and I have so enjoyed exploring this season in our lives.

As I shared with my sister, Laura Lea, weeks ago, I never press myself to "think of" a subject to post. I consciously live out my day and then go to my laptop when I feel like it.

Today, I have decided to take a break from my 50 something woman blog. I plan to resume this blog on August 1, 2009.

I hope you will mark your calendar to rejoin me at that time as we continue on this journey of taking care of ourselves and growing as women, as we encourage our daughters, nieces, and all of our young lady friends coming along behind us to do the same!

In the meantime, enjoy your days, your moments, your life! And remember:

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time." ~John Lubbock~

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

YESTERDAY; BUT A DREAM

It's a new day...the sunrise is spectacular as I type on our back porch. I am chilly, yes, chilly, sitting here in my workout clothes because the current temperature is only 62 degrees...It is difficult to believe that in just a couple of short hours, we will be back into the nineties, the dog days of summer.

Did you see how blue the sky was yesterday? It truly was that North Carolina/Colorado hue!

Did you get outside in nature yesterday? My early morning mountain hike with my girlfriend of more than 20 years gave us a great chance to look in on each other's lives and work out at the same time. Awesome!

Did you go to your place of employment with new energy after the weekend and carry a positive attitude, which we all by now know can be very contagious?

Did you help someone in need yesterday? I had the opportunity to meet Melanie, a homeless woman in our community and help her out a little bit. She is addicted to meth and we talked a lot about her disease and how it had driven her down in her 30 years of life. I am hoping that the little bit of time I spent with her will go a long way to encourage her on this new day.

Did you connect with any loved ones yesterday? That includes those that live in our homes and those that do not. I had the blessing of a long phone call with my sister, Laura Lea, an afternoon visit with my husband, and a one mile walk around the track with our Daddy, age 89, his 3rd time for the day!

Did you stop for a moment and utter the words: "Thank You", to the One who made us? As a 50 something woman, that has become my most frequent, through-out my day, prayer.

Now that I am in my fifties, the list of loved ones that never made it to their 50th birthday has grown longer. There is my high school friend, Kathleen, a co-worker and friend, Debbie L., a best friend, Jil, our son's 1st grade Sunday School Teacher, Julie R., our Pediatrician, age 38, at the time of his passing, Dr. E. Umpierre, a dear friend's 40 year old husband, Doug, our nephew, age 25, Brad, just to name a few. As I consider each one, with fondness, it causes me to "take pause", remembering that every day matters.

Just this past week, a local mother, Jeanette Prather, age 50 and her son, Matthew, age 15 perished in a family car accident just south of Atlanta.
Mrs. Prather's husband and 18 year old son, Stephen survived the crash. While we do not know this family personally, we know that they live just a short distance from our home and we mourn along with them. As I read about Mrs. Prather in the paper, it was easy to see that she understood the importance of making her days count. "Jeanette was a loving wife and mother and a loyal friend. She was part of the Outreach Ministry in her church. Jeanette had recently earned her Master's Degree in Speech Pathology so that she could help children with speech difficulties." And in reading about 15 year old, Matthew in the news, it became clear that his parents had already passed the baton of purposeful living onto their sons: "Matthew had a real heart for missions in Africa. In fact, he was scheduled to leave on July 4th for a one month trip to serve the children there."

There is a favorite quote of mine that comes from The Sanskrit, a historical Indo-Aryan Language:

"Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow is only a vision. But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day, for it is life, the very life of life."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NO EXPIRATION DATE

Last night, my husband and I enjoyed homemade apple cobbler with spray whipped cream. Unfortunately we were out of vanilla ice cream which eliminated the chance for ala mode! This after dinner delicacy was actually so good that I decided to surprise our son with the same treat. He was holed up in his room, so I went ahead and fixed this dessert without even asking him if he wanted it.
When I had it all ready, with whipped cream, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, and 3 musketeers chocolate syrup, I called him down.

He was very pleased when he first arrived in the kitchen...then upon his initial observation, he asked about the date on the syrup.
I responded with the truth: "I have no idea what the date on that syrup is."
Ok, now, don't be shocked, but he decided to check the date and it was May of 2005...I am not kidding!!! ( I wish I was!) Needless to say, it went straight in the trash and he fixed himself a new dessert!
WE had some good laughs about dates on products that are in our ten year old home and how we might want to check them out a little more often and a little more carefully in the future...
Soon, our son was checking the dates on some of our other things...the milk had a good date, the yogurt was okay, too.

Later, just before retiring for the night, our son and I started talking about other "expirations", like letting too much time go by before we open the Word.
If we are not careful, we wait too long to go to the Word for the answers to the big questions that we have in our lives. Just because we do not take the time to look in that direction, does not mean the answers are not there. If we are not careful, our days go by and we do not reap the benefits and the strength that it is in the Word for each of us to grab a hold of. As 50 something women, we realize more than ever that our lives on this earth have an "expiration date". Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us: "There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die."

So, maybe you want to go check the dates of some of the products you have in your refrigerator, and perhaps you want to take stock in the date of the last time you delved into the Word as well.

Do something today that you have been putting off because we are not promised tomorrow. Only God knows the number of our days and He's not telling us that number.

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
1 Peter 1:24-25

The Good News is that once we are His, considering God and His Word, there is NO EXPIRATION DATE!

Friday, June 26, 2009

SENIOR PICTURE DAY

Our 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson passed away on July 4, 1826 at the age of 83. He recognized the importance of time spent with loved ones. "The happiest moments of my life have been those which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family."

Today is senior picture day for our son, our last born.

Through the years, occasionally I would jot down memories in a small journal for each of our children. On Tuesday, February 27, 1996, 7:30 a.m. the entry reads:

"Happy Birthday, Walker! YOU are four years old today. The weather is beautiful and spring-like. It is early in the morning and it is already 61 degrees.
You will take blue cupcakes with chocolate icing and sprinkles to preschool today. Then, this afternoon, we will take you and five of your buddies to Discovery Zone. You are very excited. More to come later! I'm so glad you were born into our family four years ago on this day. Love, Mommy"

Ironically, we passed right by his preschool on our way to his photo shoot! As I watched our son posing for his senior pictures, first with a tux on and then in casual attire with his one year old Labrador Retriever, Gracie, so many remembrances flooded in and out of my mind! Just to mention a few of these...

...His actual day of birth early in the morning in 1992 when the doctor could not get him to respond at first and the pensive expression on my husband's face as he watched. Later, we heard that the cord was partially wrapped around his neck.

The smile that broke out on all of our faces every time he would call his big sis "La La", instead of her name, Leah.

How proud he was of himself on that first day of Kindergarten in 1997 in his yellow shirt, blue plaid shorts, and sneakers.

The summer before 4th grade and his disappointment over leaving two week camp, just two days after he had arrived there. We had to go pick him up after he broke his collar bone during a wrestling skills class.

The moments that he first learned to ride a two-wheeler, delighted in a sand castle, and flew across the surf on a skimboard...just to name a few...

For the 50 something woman, memories can surface in a blink of an eye, many of which can bring such JOY and some that result in sorrow. Whichever it is, gladness or heartache, memories of those we hold dear are a gift because our remembrances are evidence that we have lived and loved.

Oscar Wilde was a writer who lived from 1854-1900. In his play, The Importance of Being Earnest, he came up with this line about memories:

"Memory...is the diary that we all carry about us." I agree.

And aren't we grateful for images that are captured on film. These photographs bring a sense of nostalgia, inspiring memories to come flooding back at a moment's notice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

YOU NEVER KNOW

I have learned that one never knows what will happen when the college experience begins anew in a life...What friends will be made, what will be my area of study, will I meet the love of my life????

When I graduated from high school in Atlanta, GA, in May 1976, I chose Tennessee Tech University because I heard it was a good school and I loved the rolling hills of Tennessee. You see, most of my family, including my Dad, attended a small school in East Tennessee called Carson Newman College. Being the 5th of six children, I took many trips there to deposit my older sibs to their new residence halls in TN. I am sure I spent hours in the back seat of a wood-paneled station wagon, gazing from the car window, at the rolling hills. Thus, the start of my love affair with the bucolic rolling hills of Tennessee, and later, a decision to attend a school there in 1976.

I attended TTU for two years before transferring to University of Georgia where I did end up meeting the love of my life on a blind date...but that is another story for another day!

The experience of sorority rush, was one I was told, I did not want to miss. Even if I did not choose to pledge a particular sorority, I would have the opportunity to meet a lot of different girls as I went through the week of rush.
So, I found myself in the midst of rush in no time flat...The sisters of Alpha Delta Pi chose me and I felt most comfortable with them, so it was a fit for both of us.
This is where I met eight friends that know me through and through, & love me still!
Aside from the fact that we all went to college together, our solid tradition started after Kay's wedding in December 1978. The rest of us (not Kay because she was on her honeymoon!!!) gathered at Kelly's childhood home, in Tullahoma, TN, for a sleepover and gift exchange. We had such a grand time, we said..."We must do this again!" and we did...for the next 30 + years, never missing a year...INCREDIBLE, countless memories along the way!!!
We have alternated meeting in different homes through the years. Delo consistently brings the candy cane cookies, Kelly, the sticky buns, Deb, the homemade pound cake, Kay, the chex mix with M & Ms, Jo Ann, the chicken salad and pimento cheese, Becky, the paper goods and sliced bread, 'cause she doesn't love to cook, and Leslie, the chips, dips and other delightful snacks for the same reason! I always bring the rich creme de menthe brownies and Susan brings the white chocolate peppermint candy and the cucumber spread. What a spread and a time of fellowship we have shared through the years !

A few years ago, we, the nine of us, took a trip to New York City to commemorate our 30th reunion!

All together, we have given birth to 16 incredible children.

Our group encompasses the careers of business, finance, nursing and education.

Most importantly, we all share a common faith and we share prayer concerns from year to year...We offer prayer support to one another through each year...And yes, thanks to Becky and Debby, the only actual sisters in our group, we have matching flannel gowns, videos and photo scrapbooks to share with our families!

In reading this, perhaps you might be inclined to share this with some young woman that is in your life...help her to see that she, too, can have a similar invaluable friend experience while she is in college.

You never know...

MY FRIEND, KELLY

I first met KELLY in the fall of 1976. Even though we are nearly the same age, she had somehow managed to be one year ahead of me in school, the smart girl that she is! I was beginning my freshman year in college. I was going through sorority rush without a clue about what I was doing. You see, my family had no sisterhood "legacies" to speak of. It was here at this medium-sized university, TTU, in Cookeville, Tennessee that I first met Kelly. Thankfully, Kelly and the rest of her ADPi sisters decided that I was a good fit for their group, and so began a story of friendship, of nine friends, in total, that has lasted a lifetime.

My dear friend, Kelly and I power-walked 6 miles in the North Georgia woods last Saturday.
We both are now 50 something woman who love to stay fit and we never lack for subjects to cover when we are together. We have celebrated marriages together, as we were in each other's weddings in 1982. Our wedding took place on Kelly's 24th birthday! We have attended baby showers for one another. We have watched our children grow into young men and women. We surprised each other in 2008 as we reached our 5oth birthdays! We have appreciated seeing our husbands develop a lifelong friendship. Yes, Kelly and I have reveled in a rich friendship, for sure.
We both love to cook and entertain, so we have doled out countless recipes via phone, letters, and email. We have taken pleasure in a friendship and camaraderie with seven other women for more than 30 years, a group you will read more about tomorrow!
One thing I have respected so much in my friend, Kelly is the way she has worked diligently in her nursing career for many years. Indeed, two of my FFs, Forever Friends from high school, Mary and Cindy have done the same in this identical profession. I have great respect for all that I know that work in this field, because it truly takes a unique individual to take care of and nurture the ill in our world. Kelly has worked in a variety of jobs, from a maternity nurse to a high school school nurse who counsels young pregnant teens. When the nine of us from TTU, gather for our annual reunion, Kelly always has the best stories from her experiences in caring for others.
As we walked on Saturday, Kelly told me about a friend of hers who is a 50 something woman. This friend declared to Kelly that she does not quite know what to do with herself, as her children have left and she is no longer taking care of them. This 50 something woman has not worked outside of the home for more than 20 years. And now, she is unsure of which direction to go in her life.
A multitude of my 50 something friends, like Kelly, still work countless hours outside of their homes. Many, like Kelly, are passionate about making a difference in their workplace. My FF, Jan, is another great example as she is contributing to her household by working with young disabled children. Wherever a 50 something woman might find herself, be it, full or part-time employment, volunteerism, caring for senior adults or grandchildren, enjoying a favorite sport, owning a business for the very first time, I trust that each of us will look after ourselves for a change...Like Kelly and me, put yourself on the list for that power-walk with a cherished friend...and let someone else make the pancakes just as we did this past Saturday morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PURPOSE

The news is bad today..."Computer malfunction suspected in D.C. crash", Protest, crackdown in Iran", a local family's vacation ends in tragedy just hours from home when their son dies and mom is critically wounded in a one-car accident, and on a more personal note, today marks one year since our nephew, Brad's tragic fall. Yes, the news is tough to hear especially when you look around and see the continued signs of a failing economy everywhere you look.

And yet, as a 50 something woman, I feel this strong sense to remain hopeful for the future of one and all, this urgency for purpose in my days, reminding myself and others that our God is in the details of our days. It is up to us to trust Him and remain hopeful, even amidst uncertain times.

"Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn't permanent." ~Jean Kerr~

"Deep within you...nothing is hopeless. You are a child of God, and hope has been planted in you by God." ~Norman Vincent Peale~

"Nothing can be done without hope or confidence." ~Helen Keller~

Even as long ago as 600-400 B.C., when the book of Job was thought to be scribed, Job, himself lamented to God in Job 14:1-5 because life as Job knew it had become so bad, quite hopeless, one might say.

I want to "...apply my heart to instruction and my ears to words of knowledge."
Proverbs 23:12

I desire to "Listen, and be wise and keep my heart on the right path."
Proverbs 23:19

I long to "...apply my heart to all that I have observed and learn lessons from all I have seen." Proverbs 25:32

Yes...PURPOSE as I live out my days has become a real PRIORITY...and remaining HOPEFUL in trying times is a real PRIORITY, as well.

Therefore, "In all our ways, let us acknowledge Him, and He WILL direct our paths."
Proverbs 3:6

Monday, June 22, 2009

MY 65TH BLOG

To mark my 65th blog, I wanted to take out some time to thank my readers, my followers, including those who have left comments in the past weeks since I began this 50 Something Woman blog on April 8, 2009. You have given me much encouragement as I have traveled this road for the very first time.
Some of your comments that come to my mind bear repeating:

"We must take full advantage of this stage in your life. Circumstances can change in a heartbeat! Don't look back and say, 'I wish I had...'"

"Moving forward is a state of mind!"

"God gives different gifts and passions to each of us. It is up to us to use them."

"You are living with your heart wide open!"

As a 50 something woman, I realize more and more with each passing day that our life truly is a gift to be well-cared for. And that is why I begin this post by thanking the women in my life and I will end it by saying to these same women:

LET'S DO THE BEST WE CAN TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER!

The subsequent information comes to us from the
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. (www.komen.org)

Taking the following steps toward a healthier lifestyle can do wonders to lift the spirit, keep weight in check and most importantly, reduce your risk of breast cancer:

(1) MOVE AND GROOVE: If there is one thing breast cancer hates, it's an energetic, active lifestyle. The key to getting fit is doing something you love and doing it long enough to the all-important health benefits. Walking is something we all do every day anyway, so why not make it count? A mere 30 minute stroll at a brisk clip is a totally drama-free way to get fit. Bonus? Exercise lowers estrogen levels, fights obesity, lowers insulin levels and boosts the immune system.

(2) LIVE TO EAT WELL: A diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains is the ideal way to nourish your body.

(3) STEADY ON: Maintaining your ideal weight isn't just for looking good in your skinny jeans. Keeping the number on the scale in the healthy range can mean a decreased risk of breast cancer after menopause.

(4) KEEP THE (INNER) PEACE: Diet and exercise alone aren't enough to keep your body and mind in top form. Take special care of your emotional health by maintaining close relationships with family and friends as well as engaging in the activities you cherish. Reading a book on a Sunday afternoon or catching a movie with a friend are effortless ways to carve out some stress-free "me" time.

(5) GET IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Don't make the mistake of riding shotgun when it comes to fighting breast cancer. Take control of your well-being by making sound diet and exercise choices, annual check-ups and recommended screenings.

While I have not had cancer myself, now that I am a 50 something woman, I have known many women that have gone through a personal cancer journey. Sadly, some of these precious women, including my own mother have not survived this dreadful disease. However, in every case that I am aware of, faith, friends, family, and loads of prayers have been a part of each one's difficult path. Sometimes the healing takes place this side of heaven and other times, it is a heavenly healing. In every case, COURAGE was evident and awe-inspiring.
So as we go through our days,
LET US DO OUR BEST TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER! AND LET US PASS THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE OF LOVING CARE ONTO OUR DAUGHTERS, OUR NIECES, AND THE OTHER YOUNG WOMEN IN OUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!

SUMMER SOLSTICE

A Swedish Proverb goes like this:
"A life without love is like a year without summer."

Summer is upon us as Summer Solstice 2009 occurred last night, during the night of June 21, 2009 at 1:45 a.m. Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" and "to stand still". As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. Just one more phenomenon of nature that we can all stand in awe of!

Longtime friends joined us at Blue Ridge Lake over the weekend to celebrate LIFE, more specifically, my husband's birthday and Father's Day. The lake temperature was ideal, around 82 degrees and Scott, our daughter's friend landed his wakeboarding flip, a feat he had been working on for more than a year! My girlfriend's mama, Dorothy, age 78 , took a spin on a jetski. Summertime creates memories! Yes, the dog days of summer have officially started and what a fine way to begin it...with our children and their buddies, our friends from college, neighbors from our children's growing up days, and colleagues from work. In all, 27 of us feasted on fried chicken, grilled veggies, pasta and green salad, hash brown casserole, sweet tea and more! And by the way...in case all this sounds highly exhausting to you, I must share that as a 50 something woman, it is more important than ever to get everyone involved in the chores and the preparation!
We had kids packing coolers, cutting brownies, dropping biscuits onto a pan, and yes, even collecting trash and cleaning bathrooms before our final boatride of the weekend. Teamwork and delegating is imperative!

Let us..."Live in each season as it passes:
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit."
~Henry David Thoreau~

SUMMER IS HERE!

Friday, June 19, 2009

MY BEST FRIEND

Yesterday, my best friend, my husband celebrated another birthday. We made merry on this day by feasting over a Mexican Fiesta with friends, family and a Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey homemade ice cream cake!
He has now lived 18,890 days since his birth on June 19, 1957! And I have just calculated that I have had the blessing to know this man for 11,190 of these days. We've been married for 9,730 days and 7,420 days have passed since he first became a father.

This makes me think of Frank Sinatra's quote about his loved one:
"May you live to be one hundred and may the last voice you hear be mine."

And one of my all-time favorite quotes comes to us from Abraham Lincoln:
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, buddy! And HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, too! You and I have certainly experienced the following unknown quote:
"Fathers carry snapshots in their wallets where their money used to be."

THE SWAN COACH HOUSE

Our book club, this past Thursday night, feasted on a menu item named SWAN'S FAVORITE, thanks to the efforts of our gracious host, Ann. Our dinner included the delicious signature chicken salad served over lettuce, creamy frozen fruit salad, cheese straws and a thirst-quenching sunshine punch. Delighting in this wonderful menu as we discussed our book THE SWAN HOUSE took me back to the countless times I have visited this historical landmark in Atlanta, Georgia.

I recall putting on my best dress, usually an Easter dress, and going to The Swan House with my mother and sisters. We did not go often, only on special occasions, but I remember these times with great joy. The fabric lined walls, the fresh roses on each table, the sweet tea, the female camaraderie. Since then, I have been there many times to honor a girlfriend on her fiftieth birthday or to celebrate an anticipated wedding or a new baby.

If you have never been to The Swan Coach House, you must put it on your list for your next visit to Atlanta! The Swan Coach House is located at 3130 Slaton Drive, Atlanta, GA 30305 and their contact number is 404-261-0636. Their website is:
www.swancoachhouse.com

This breathtaking estate was transformed into a thriving tearoom, gift shop and art gallery by a group of extraordinary women in 1965. Their group was called the Forward Arts Foundation. These distinguished art patrons, whose dynamic leadership was matched by their determination came together to bring about this charming place that is enjoyed by a myriad of folks today. This reminds me that you never know what might come about when a group of women put their minds on a task at hand!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BOOKS!

Our monthly book club met last night and we discussed THE SWAN HOUSE, By, Elizabeth Musser. Thankfully, I finished reading this book just in time early yesterday afternoon. Set in Atlanta, in the year of 1962, we all agreed that the story was thought-provoking and the characters were well developed. We had a great discussion.
This is the first book club I have participated in and I have really enjoyed it! If you love to read, I strongly encourage you to find or start a club...
Thinking of book clubs and reading reminds me of Victor Hugo's quote:
"It is from books that wise men derive consolation in the troubles of life."

One phrase from THE SWAN HOUSE that keeps coming back to mind came from the mouth of Ella Mae Maddux, a compassionate, loving woman that helped take care of the Middleton Family in this historical fiction story. The racial unrest of that day could not be ignored, and yet, uneducated, African American Ella Mae was one of the wisest characters in the entire book. As she counseled 16 year old Mary Swan Middleton, it became apparent to me that Ella Mae had been around the block a time or two. Ella Mae, in her faith journey, had learned much more than the average woman, especially when you consider the time.
Ella said: "You's had some hard things happen in yore life, Mary Swan. And you's learnin'some hard lessons. But don't you stew over these things. Give 'em back to Him and let Him make something beautiful out of them. I guarantee He will. But it won't be nothin' to make you proud of yourself. It'll be some way where you'll jus'praise Him for what He's done. Now that you done asked Him to take ova'in yore life, and you got the Holy Ghost in ya, well, ya be listenin' ta Him, honey."
(page 398)

Don't you think it is tremendous the way a woman can literally lose herself in a good book!?! For the 50 something woman, as well as any age woman or man, books can be a fine part of any day. Kathleen Norris pondered this subject in her own way:
"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting me at the end of a long day makes that day happier." I agree!
What extraordinary read will you pick up this upcoming summer weekend?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

AGE~IF YOU DON'T MIND, IT DOESN'T MATTER

Someone once said that life is made up of:

THE TENDER TEENS
THE TEACHABLE TWENTIES
THE TIRELESS THIRTIES
THE FIERY FORTIES
THE FRETFUL FIFTIES
THE SERIOUS SIXTIES
THE SACRED SEVENTIES
THE ACHING EIGHTIES
SHORTENING BREATH
DEATH. SOD. GOD.

Patricia Lorenz, a Daily Guideposts writer had the following to say about this humorous depiction of life.

"When I first heard this little version of the stages of life, I was in my late thirties, which hadn't been 'tireless' at all. In fact, with four young children and various part-time jobs, I'd been 'exhausted' most of the time.
Now that I'm in my 'fiery' forties, believe me, there are days I don't feel fiery at all. Most days, in fact.
What's 'fretful' about the fifties? None of my friends in their fifties are 'fretful'...'tireless', perhaps, and other times 'aching' with exhaustion from working and playing so hard. And a dear aunt in her sixties is 'seriously' enjoying life. A dear friend in her seventies, is quite 'teachable' as she takes one college course after another. The white haired octogenarian down the block who just retired is as 'fiery' as they come, actively involved in politics, especially issues concerning the elderly.
It's a fact to be accepted and treasured: We can all be exactly what we want to be at any stage in life."

"At 20 we worry about what others think of us. At 40 we don't care what others think of us. At 60 we discover they haven't been thinking about us at all." UNKNOWN

Bette Davis reminds us that..."Old age is not for sissies." So let us continue on this journey, chuckling as we go, bringing to mind the scripture reference..."Laughter is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22)

AGE~A MATTER OF THE MIND

Mark Twain once said:
"The issue of age is a matter of the mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!"

My Mama always expressed it this way: "I would never want to be any age but the age that I am today." Once again, I agree with my Mama.

As we age, it is critical that we continue to keep a favorable perspective about the aging process, after all, what choice do we really have!?! Just like the days, months, and years in our past, we can choose how we respond to our circumstances as we move forward in our lives. As we begin to notice more and more lines on our faces, we can consider the following quote by Thomas Bailey Aldrich: "To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent-that is to triumph over old age." Our inner beauty and our wisdom that has come with the longevity can begin to take over and shine.

Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted as saying: "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art." and H. L. Mencken said it like this: "As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft."

And as the years go by, we begin to know more and more loved ones who have passed away and gone on ahead of us, many before their 50th birthday. As we remember these special people in our lives, this truth aids us in recognizing the gift that our life really is! An unknown author asserts: "Do not resent growing older-many are denied the privilege."

Soon, we will look at some humor related to this aging process.

Monday, June 15, 2009

PURPOSEFUL LIVING

As a 50 something woman, I have come to realize that purposeful living is a must.

One thing that I have learned is that this means that I no longer feel pressured to do "this" or "that"...but, instead, I desire to be intentional in choosing to spend my hours, my days, my months in ways that have meaning for me personally.

I am content to say that today was a day filled with whole-hearted living for me.

Now, obviously, this idea of purposeful living can be defined a number of different ways, but for me, it includes three things: FAITH, FAMILY, and FRIENDS.

Today, I spent the day with one of my precious sisters, one of my FFs (forever friends from grade school), along with another friend, and sixteen women who have a goal of recovery from past addictions. Our day was spent in fellowship as my sister, my friends, and I sought to embolden and love on these women who are currently in a vulnerable state. We took a drive up to the North Georgia Mountains stopping at a scenic view, picnic site to devour BBQ sandwiches, chips, rice krispy squares and soft drinks. We then continued a little further north, ending up in a quaint cabin in the woods where we took in a beautiful waterfall, hikes, and rides on four-wheelers. Before heading home, we set up another buffet, this time of salads, deviled eggs, fruit, peach cobbler, and home-made butter pecan ice cream.
I left this group of incredibly courageous women to join my husband, just a little further north of this cabin in the woods...
Yes, this day was purposeful and for that, I am so grateful.

This day included FAITH...an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, FAMILY...a chance to serve alongside my sis and to end this day with my beloved husband, and FRIENDS...the good fortune of sharing the day with women that I care about.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

BIRDS OF THE AIR

The weather was stormy a good part of the night. This morning, the sunrise was stunning and the birds are now singing in celebration of a new day and clearer weather.
This reminds me of a verse that my Mama used to quote..."...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5B

When life brings storms, and it will, let us place our confidence in the one sure Entity that is immoveable, unchanging, and a sure refuge in times of trouble, God, Creator of heaven and earth.

As I type, I wonder, "Where do the countless birds I hear singing go during a threatening time like the one we experienced last night? The darkness, the driving rain, the thunder and lightning. Where do the birds find shelter?"

Matthew tells us the answer:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the BIRDS OF THE AIR; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:25-27
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. EACH DAY has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:33-34

Friday, June 12, 2009

LIFE CAN BE DIFFICULT

Life can be difficult sometimes...especially in today's times. Where are the answers to all of the hard questions that we encounter as we go through our days? How do we receive help when circumstances cause us to want to respond in anger or discouragement? What can we do to ease our concerns regarding our children, our grandchildren? We can GO TO THE BIBLE.

Last night as I was leading a Bible Study, my co-leader would repeatedly encourage the ladies to "go to the Bible." One of the young girls asks questions continually and I love that! We encourage all of the ladies by reminding them that there are no dumb questions...and to always ask in order to learn.

Well, last night this same young lady asked the question:
"What do you mean when you say, 'Go to the Bible?' ".
This opened an incredible opportunity to share with the entire group of 10 women why and how they can "go to the Bible." The preface in my Life Application Bible states, "A small change every day adds up to a changed life--and that is the very purpose of Scripture."

Of studying the Word, Alice Zimmerman, age 64 from Arkansas, says, "Over the past 20 years, I've learned the joy and value of studying God's Word. That study has helped me to have more confidence in myself--and also shown me how I can more effectively reach out to encourage and minister to other women. As a result, I've been able to help many hurting women in difficult marriages."

It is so important to trust God completely-no matter what happens! Circumstances may look very bad to us, on a human level, but God always has something in mind that will work out to His glory. The index in the back of most Bibles can prove to be so helpful when looking for that "just right" reference. When I flipped to 'anger', I found more than 20 verses that I can look up to learn more! Under the entry of 'peace', there were 15 cites listed.

My international, missionary nurse often says "This earth is not our home."

In times of trouble, when you really think about it, where else can we turn, but to God, our Creator?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BALANCE

Yesterday, I met one of my best buddies at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, just minutes from the homes we have raised our families in.
This park has eighteen miles of maintained interpretive hiking trails, ideal picnic areas and a 1.25 mountain road that is also suitable for strenuous fitness.

As we hiked, we talked about how important it is to have balance in our lives. We agreed that as we let our life shine for God, our testimony can sparkle even brighter with moderation in all things.

These questions regarding balance can mean some of the same things to each of us...

"Am I getting enough exercise?"
"Is there enough "ME TIME" in my week?"
(i.e. a break for a bubble bath or an occasion to spend an hour reading a novel)
"Am I spending plenty of quality time with my children/grandchildren?"
"Do I take time out to spend time communing with and seeking God each day?"
FILL IN THE BLANK____________________ with your usual balance questions.

More likely, the details of our eagerness for steadfastness will be as varied as are different humans in this world. Your struggle or challenge to maintain balance may be poles apart from mine. However, one cool thing about God is that He is aware of and in the business of aiding us in our longing to gain balance in our lives.

As my girlfriend and I reached the crest of the trail , we gazed out over the splendid view from the top, stopping to rest for a moment before heading down the
1 1/4 mile mountain road.

It was then that I remembered something I had read recently about this very spot we were standing on...

"It was a swelteringly hot and clear Monday, June 27, 1864, when some of the heaviest fighting of the Atlanta Campaign occurred here. Preserved are historic earthworks, cannon emplacements and monuments. Interpreted here are the historic events where over 5,350 soldiers were killed in the battle fought here from
June 19, 1864 through July 2, 1864." (taken from www.nps.gov/kemo/)

Yes, this life is the real thing. This is not a dress rehearsal.
Let's all be on the lookout to create more balance in our days.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LIFE IS FRAGILE

An old Turkish Proverb goes like this:
"Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose."

Last night as my husband and I were getting ready to meet some close friends for dinner out, our home phone rang and the caller id established that our son was the one on the other end. He had just left to pick up his girlfriend for a dinner date. When I answered the phone, I knew right away that he was distraught. "Mom," he said, "I've been in a car wreck." Once I determined where he was, I told him that his Dad and I would be right there.

Our son is seventeen and 107 days old. He has been an excellent driver thus far, seemingly understanding the dangers of speeding as well as texting while driving. Yesterday, he was involved in his first automobile collision as he rear-ended a young mom who was accompanied by her six month old baby daughter. Thankfully, everyone was okay and no one was injured in this mishap.

An accident. That is what we call this because it was, obviously, not brought about intentionally. Still, our son was so upset and thankfully, he was also remorseful about his lapse in concentration which led to these circumstances.

In the short time since all of this came about, we have already heard plenty of reports about car accidents. Even his Dad and I shared tales in our past that we have been involved in. Some who shared their story cited trauma or tragically, the death of the driver or a passenger.

An incident such as this, even just a little fender-bender, causes me to take a pause and remember how fragile our lives really are. This reminds me that each day is a gift. It causes me to utter my most frequent prayer these days, which is simply two words: "Thank You".

Monday, June 8, 2009

TRANSITIONS

I spent the day with our son, a senior in high school, touring a beautiful southern college campus...Auburn University. Our daughter is a junior there, so we were able to go over and stay last night at her apartment. We only have the two children, so we are moving into a significant time of transition, a time of major movement in our pilgrimage, that will usher in a new season of life.

We face all kinds of transitions in life-going from grade school to high school; from single to married; from parent to grandparent, the passing on of loved ones. And in each transition, there is great potential for positive change OR for being unable to make needed changes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803-April 27, 1882) stated:
"Not in his goals but in his transitions is a man shown to be great."

In line with the usual transition our family is embarking on, many 50 something women today are walking through their own realignment because of job loss or another notable life change. I want to do my best as I journey through the many transitions that are sure to come in my future.

That is why I wanted us to take a quick look at an old Civil War hero to see how he handled his turning point. In his book entitled LIFE MAPPING, John Trent, Ph.D, brought forth the following details about the life of General Robert E. Lee.

General R. E. Lee was the ranking commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee left his home a wealthy man, commanding a mighty army, committed to victory. He would return in defeat, paroled as a prisoner of war, to a countryside mired with economic depression. At home he would find an invalid wife, five unemployed adult children, and another son missing in action.

General Lee's leadership ability was recognized on both sides of the line. But it was how he handled himself as a civilian after the war that truly showed his character. After seeing thousands of his own men die and his homeland devastated, he was quoted as saying: "I have never felt bitter or vindictive feelings towards the enemy, and I have never seen the day I did not pray for them." He was so committed to reconciliation that one historian would say of Lee, he did "more than any other American to heal the wounds of war."

Lee dedicated his later life to writing hundreds of letters, urging his fellow Southerners to put away their anger and focus on Christ and rebuilding the Union. In doing so, he provided a guiding light to thousands of Southerners who followed his example.

General Lee showed an extraordinary ability to bend with transitions, and he did so by believing that changes large and small come from the hand of God.

But some people are broken by times of change and crushed by an inability to accept even minor movements of life over which they have no control.
It is doubtful that very many of us have gone through as many losses and transitions as this Civil War hero. However, we all face our own brand of changes that can either disarm us or empower us to move forward.
What time of transition or change are you up against today? Will you choose to look at the positive potential or dwell on the potential problems?