Charles and Diana were just starting their relationship. Christopher Cross, Michael Jackson and K.C. and The Sunshine Band were in the top 10. We were watching “The Shining,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Blues Brothers” at the movies. We didn’t have a cell phone or internet or a home computer. It was the ice age.
Our first date was my senior prom. He graduated from college and I graduated from high school the same year.
That seems like a million years ago and not so long ago at the same time.
So, 39 Valentine’s Days later and we’re still here.
What I like about these days is that the pressure is off.
We don’t need to impress. We don’t need to guess.
You can say the romance is gone, the mystery is gone, the hype is gone, the intensity is gone, you can say whatever you want to is gone… but I say it’s better.
We live in the afterglow. After the party. After the kids have gone to bed. It’s like Friday after work. After an enjoyable meal. After all the hard work is completed. After all the stress and after all the expectations are met and you just settle into that comfortable, satisfied, relaxed state of afterglow.
That’s what life is like now.
I used to fight it. I used to feel guilty like I should be doing more, getting more, being more. I’d push and press and shove to make our life and our love fit a mold that honestly didn’t fit us.
39 years later and we’re just tired of reaching for something that we actually had all along. We have each other. We love each other. No need to prove it with something from the store. No need to worry, it’s been tested and proved. We ain’t going nowhere.
I really like the chilled out, laid back easy going vibe we have going on. We don’t want much these days. We don’t need much these days. Whatever we want we usually buy for ourselves. Wherever we want to go, we go.
So, for Valentine’s Day we’ll probably do one of our favorite things: get in the car and go someplace new. We’ll hold hands and laugh and eat and see someplace we’ve never seen.
So, this Valentine’s Day I encourage you to chill, do what makes you happy and savor the moments you have with the people you love. When it all boils down, that’s the most valuable and precious gift we can give and receive, spending time with the people we love.
I’m really enjoying the little visits we’re getting from our kids and grandkids now that we live closer. A few days ago, my daughter-in-law, her Mom and Manny came for a visit while my son was in Mexico shooting a wedding. We had great fun just hanging out and doing Christmas-y things.
Now that we’re living so far from shopping and restaurants, I’m doing more cooking. So, while they were here I cooked Shepherd’s Pie (my recipe) and Joanna Gaines’ Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas (with a few changes based on what I forgot at the store and what I had in the house, haha!) It’s from her Magnolia Table Cookbook. A great cookbook, by the way. It’s full of good and real food that you would actually cook and eat.
I also grabbed a Grinch Gingerbread Kit at the local H-E-B and Manny had fun decorating the Grinch’s house.
But I think Manny’s favorite time was spent with Papa. They played and played and wrestled and wrestled.
I think they just like being together.
Hope your holidays are full of little visits and special times with family and friends.
So, I arrived 800 miles later safe and sound. And since I’ve been here we’ve been on full-out playing, eating, laughing and birthday planning mode!
Me and my boys have been getting to know each other better and learning what each other likes and finds funny. I bought the above double stroller at a 2nd hand shop so we could go Rollin’ together. They are so cute when they hold hands when they’re in the stroller together! Both of my kids are planting a church together with their spouses and some really great people. They meet in a movie theater on Sunday mornings. So, they have to go early to set up. I went early this past Sunday to watch the boys while they were setting up and this stroller was a big help. We rolled around outside then inside. Great fun!
Gideon, the cute guy on the right will be a big ONE year old this week and we’ve been in party planning mode. I offered to make his birthday cake and we’re going big! I made a practice cake to see if I could actually make what my daughter was thinking about. I am NOT a professional. I’m just crazy enough to try.
Don’t judge! I don’t like anything you see here, except maybe the “sand” layer. We’re working toward an ocean theme. Sand, waves, fish scales, you get the idea. I was trying out some canned icing and found it’s not good for piping unless I add powdered sugar to stiffen it up. Then there’s the HEAT to contend with. We also played around with colors. I don’t like any of the colors you see in this pic. So, I will adjust. The Golden Oreo “sand” turned out good, I think. It was fun working with my girls. I really miss spending time with them. They are so creative and daring (especially letting me make the 1st birthday cake!)
7 weeks after Gideon’s birthday, Manny, the handsome guy on the left will turn ONE year old!
So, I’m settling in for my long visit. We’re so used to having just a few days together that we rush around trying to get in all our fun and talking and hugging before I have to leave. But now, we can relax and just BE. It’s SO nice.
Hope you’re all doing well. In my next post, I’ll talk about feeding the grandkids. Is that a source of tension between you and your kids? Let’s talk.
I’ve mentioned Virtual Photo Walks before and I’ll probably keep mentioning it because I think it is SO great!
When I was in my 30’s my older sister was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given a few months to live. Being a stubborn, disciplined person, she did everything the doctor told her to do and she lived 6 years longer than they expected. I was one of her main caregivers. Having 2 small kids and caring for her was quite a challenge. My kids spent much of those 6 years in waiting rooms, hanging out with my sister as she gradually became housebound. We watched a lot of TV. We watched all of the O.J. Simpson trial. All of it. (Can you detect my sigh and eye rolling?)
Fast forward to 2015. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like my sister, I walked by her side until she passed. Again, I spent many hours and days in waiting rooms and hanging out at her house watching TV and dreaming of trips we could take if we could.
I don’t know how I forgot about Virtual Photo Walks, but I did. Too many things on my mind, I think.
I remember when I initially found it I thought, “This is the greatest idea ever!” And when I ever have time I’m going to volunteer to be a photographer for them.
Since I’ve “retired” I have started volunteering with them and I want to spread the word, that’s why I’m writing another post about it.
What Is Virtual Photo Walks?
VPW is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who are passionate about giving those isolated by illness, age or disability the chance to “escape” their isolation and travel the world!
John Butterill, the founder, organizes the walks through a video conferencing app called Zoom. Photographers from all over the world work with John and plan walks and visits to sites from archaeological digs in Russia to volcanoes in Hawaii to sites in Japan. John sets up the video conferencing meeting and connects the participants who may be in their homes or rehabs, day care centers, nursing homes or are in the hospital and they connect with their computers to participate in the walk.
“The Secret Sauce”
The magic of Virtual Photo Walks is the live, real time interaction the participants can have with the photographer and also the others who are on the walk with them.
The participants can talk to the photographer, ask questions and make requests like, “Can we see what’s to your right?” or “Can you take a photo of that tree?” Everyone laughs together and are amazed together in real time. It is a completely different experience than watching a video.
I joined a walk to Yosemite a couple of weeks ago from my office. It was so moving to be with the other participants as we saw the mountains and a beautiful waterfall together. On another walk to an archaeological dig in Russia we had participants from Israel and Japan. It was so interesting.
What VPW Can Do
I remember spending endless hours, days, months and years indoors with my sister and later, my best friend. Too weak to go out and sometimes even to leave the bed. Both of them had to restrict their exposure to germs so even though they might have felt okay, it was too dangerous for them to go out. It was isolating! They were lonely!
Virtual Photo Walks can give people who are isolated a chance to travel to another place and do it with a community of people! Nobody cares what you look like – you can cut the camera off to yourself so no one sees you if you’re worried. Everyone is just glad you joined. And away you go to some beautiful or interesting place together to get away from your bed or hospital room for an hour.
It really does carry you away for a while. It’s magical.
Here is a great video about VPW. Please share with people you know. Share on social media!
As I said, VPW is a non-profit organization. It’s free to join. The participant just needs internet access to their computer.
You are required to make a request to join because John makes sure all the participants are safe and he protects their privacy.
If you or someone you know would like to participate in a walk, you can join here:
I’ve been under the impression most of my life that as someone ages the more they become sure of who they are. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that maturing, like every other phase of life requires me to start over again and figure out how I fit, how to function and how I can contribute.
When I started college back in the Ice Age I was required to take a personality test. I don’t remember the results and in my arrogance, I didn’t quite see the purpose. Later, in my 30’s I went back to college and was required to take another personality test. My results were surprisingly accurate. In a course I took I was required to administer and interpret personality tests for 20 different people. The results were freakishly spot on.
Since taking that course I have administered tests to many people, most of them college bound students, like I was, who needed a little direction in their new phase of life.
So, how are older adults any different? Just like the new college student, we are entering into a new chapter of adulthood. As a college student we were entering into a new phase of life, taking on new relationships, moving into a different living situation and community and so, I think, as an adult I’m not so different. I’m learning to parent adults, adjusting to new family members as an in-law and grandparent. I’m considering a new career, albeit a 2nd or 3rd one. Many of us are moving to new communities to retire, navigating health issues, losing loved ones and making new friends. Why wouldn’t it be beneficial to stop and revisit who we are at this point?
I understand that some people don’t like personality tests, I think they equate them to horoscopes or palm reading. I also think some people don’t like them because they don’t like to have “their mail read” so to speak. They find it disconcerting that a test can reveal tendencies or weaknesses about them that they are trying hard to hide or ignore. As in anything in life, if we look for the negative we will find it. If we look for the positive, we will find that, too.
I would encourage you to take a personality test as an adult. I think we can’t truly appreciate the accuracy of personality tests until we get older and can see how spot on they are. Hindsight is 20/20 you know. Taking a personality test as an adult can be very revealing and encouraging. You may find that you actually gravitated toward a career that best suited your personality type. Or that you naturally found ways to overcome your personality’s weaknesses in creative ways. You might even discover that you navigated relationships very similar to others with your personality type and did it quite well.
If you took a test as a college student you will most likely find that you are not the same type as an older adult. We have changed and adapted to our circumstances. We have been affected by life and experiences. Not only can a test help you discover who you are now but it can encourage you and affirm the person you have become.
I have found that revisiting personality tests at this point in my life, as an older adult, has been very helpful in several ways.
In considering a 2nd career, volunteering and choosing how to spend my time, knowing my personality type helps me direct my work and effort in areas that are most compatible with my type. Not to say that exploration and failure can’t be good experiences, and they have been, but I want to “cut to the chase” at this point.
Revisiting my personality type has given me an upper hand in navigating new family relationships and new communities. Seeing myself more clearly helps me be more authentic. Knowing other types helps me identify others, potential conflicts and potential friends.
Knowing my personality type and my needs has allowed me to cut myself some slack. I find that my personality needs time alone to recharge. Knowing that gives me permission to do just that and not feel guilty about it.
Not only has knowing myself allowed me to cut myself some slack but I find it easier to cut others slack, too. It’s easier for me to recognize and appreciate our differences and not be so judgmental. This is vital when navigating new relationships.
Knowing myself at this point in my life gives me confidence and boldness while stepping into these new experiences. I know what I’m good at, how I can best contribute to community, and what my limitations are.
We’ve lived life, we’ve adapted, we are resilient. Our experiences have made us stronger and smarter. We’ve thrown off the weights and are looking to pursue a brighter future! And I think taking a personality test, as an adult can encourage and help us enter into this chapter will confidence and boldness.
Here are a couple of links to some free tests, but you can also search for yourself.
My son just turned 30 this month and I just started feeling substantially older, haha!
He’s also a new father and while we are spending a lot of time, money and energy spoiling the new guy, I wanted my son to know we still think he’s special, too!
He lives 5 states away and we wouldn’t be able to be with him this year, so whatever we got him would have to be sent.
So, what do you get a man to celebrate a milestone birthday and your not a Rockefeller?
It seems extravagant and outrageous and that’s the perfect thing to celebrate 30 years!
He’s 30 years old and a new father and I’ve noticed that he’s been more interested in reminiscing about his childhood lately. So, going back in time was a pretty good idea I thought. I sat down and listed 30 things that reminded me of my son from his first word, to his love of reptiles to his upcoming trip to Peru. I listed things he loved as a kid to things he needed for his trip in 2 months. I combined memories with current events so I was recognizing his whole life.
Then I looked at the list and considered what I could get that would represent those memories or events. I thought of things that might be meaningful. For example, my son loved Steve Irwin as a kid and so I ordered a patch from the Australia Zoo. He had a pet duck that he loved as a kid and while I’m not going to get him a real duck, I got a little toy one. He also played basketball and loved soccer, so I got him a basketball and soccer ball neither of which he owns right now and he’s got a growing son and those items will be necessary for his sports equipment arsenal. (You see the Grandma heart is strong in this one! I’m still thinking about my grandson while celebrating his father. I can’t help it!)
And, of course I loved my son as a kid, but I think it’s important to recognize the man he is now, so, I got him a few things he’ll need for his upcoming trip to Peru. His wife is always helpful in putting together a Pinterest board for holidays with gift ideas and links to items. (She’s cool like that, and I tell you about it.) So, I was able to choose some items that he’ll need.
So, I bought 30 gifts ranging from a little plastic snake to an inflatable camping pillow. Wrapped them all, which was no small chore I’ll tell you, and put a number on each one.
I also included a handwritten tag on each gift that said why I chose that particular item. For example, I got a sketch book and attached a tag that said, “Because we have always been so amazed and proud of your artistic abilities!” I got a little plastic frog and put a tag that said, “Because of my refrigerator.” We all laughed when he opened it because we remembered the time he caught a box full of tree frogs and put them all over my refrigerator like magnets and I didn’t notice until he pointed them out to me. I thought it was funny until one jumped on me!
I packed it and shipped it with a note that said, “Don’t open until we can FaceTime with you.” I wanted to enjoy watching his face as he opened each item. I’m just that kind of Mom. So they called when they had some time and we were able to share the fun with them! (I LOVE FaceTime!)
So, the box was filled with fun memories and items he could use today. And as it turned out, the 9 month old loved the basketball and crawls around the house pushing it ahead of him! Win-win!
Y’all didn’t know I had my motorcycle license, did you? Of course you didn’t. We’re just getting to know each other and I haven’t told you yet.
Well, I do and I don’t use it. It’s a long story more about wanting to do something for my husband/get him off my back/have an adventure with my son (in the photo with me) than actually being able to drive a motorcycle.
It was an accomplishment, I’m glad and proud I did it.
Anyway, I said that to give connection to the title of this post.
If you’ve skimmed through my posts, you’ll know that I wrote about having lost a friend recently. He was a former student of mine, 25 years old and the longest living heart transplant patient in Colorado, having gotten his heart when he was just weeks old.
I was asked to speak at his funeral and there were several things I wanted to say but I settled on talking about his “beautifully painful” life. But there was something else I wanted to share and didn’t have time.
After reading letitgocoach’s post titled, “Taking a Break” I was reminded of the other thing I wanted to share about my friend. I hope you don’t mind that I share it here.
I went to visit my friend in the hospital a few days before he died and he wanted to tell me the whole story of how he came to be in the hospital. I told him he didn’t have to but he so desperately wanted to that I felt it was important. So, he told me. And his telling was not manipulative. He wasn’t trying to get me to feel sorry for him. It was almost like a confessional.
As it is when someone is telling a story, you can infer by the intonation, volume and speed of speech what the minor details are and when the climax of the story has come. I was a little confused because his heart attack and emergency room experience were just background to get me to the most important part of the story.
The climax of the story was that all the scary health stuff had given him a moment with God. He admitted that he had been really angry with God. And he felt that all that he had been through in the past few weeks was just a series of events to push him to be honest and real with God. And he told me that God had met him in a very real, tangible, life changing way.
Here’s where I’m connecting the “Throttling Down”
His health crisis had left him weakened and stuck in a hospital room. He was confined to a very limited daily life of blood pressure checks, lab work and bland hospital food. His community consisted of his close family, friends, doctors, nurses and the hospital workers.
After his life changing experience he wanted to do something. He wanted to live out that change he had made in his life. So, he told me his goal was “to be nice to the nurses who are sticking me with needles.”
See, his life had “throttled down.” It had gotten real slow. His life had gotten real small. He couldn’t go to work, he couldn’t go out with friends. He could no longer could do great things (at least in the eyes of the world) so he decided to show love, respect and impact the world where he was. Being kind and not yelling at the nurses who were sticking him with needles (especially if you hate needles) was a big deal. It was the greatest expression that he could make.
People always talk about slowing down, paying attention to the little things. In the Kingdom of God the “last shall be first and the first shall be last and the greatest among you will be the least and the least shall be greatest.” But it’s only when life forces you to throttle down do we really experience this. It’s only when our world gets slow and small that we see the truth in that. Little things can be so important!
Little expressions of love and kindness don’t go unnoticed by God and by the people/animals/plants that you’re sharing with.