Monday, June 18, 2018


A few weeks ago, my mom and I went to visit her cousin, Eric.  Eric lives in a far away land on the mountains of Sparta, Wisconsin.  I know. I know.  Wisconsin does not technically have mountains, but go along with me on this one.

When Eric retired from his military service, he was looking for the perfect place to live to enjoy his retirement.  It was because of a detour in the road that he passed by this beautiful country.  And he fell in love with it.  It took him 10 years, but the little shack that he purchased is a fully equipped, beautifully decorated retreat type of home.  But it's never so simple.  My dear cousin is somewhat challenged by health issues.  He's in chronic pain and can't eat.  Once a glorious chef, serving at the Pentagon, now he can't even enjoy the food that he still knows how to make.

So, what do you do then?  And this is where we all need to take a page from his book.  Instead of worrying about what you can't do, cook, eat or enjoy, you really just shift your focus to what you CAN enjoy.  Eric has a little world of his own up there on that mountain that he calls "the Relaxarium".  It's a home with a big wrap around porch that overlooks one of the most breathtaking views in the midwest.  He sits quietly surrounded by hummingbirds who perch.  There's a feisty cat named "Felix" who roams the wild and lives in the barn.  There's a deer or two frolicking in the fields.  There are orioles and many other birds who come by.  Most of his time is spent enjoying the outdoors and interacting with the creatures that come to visit.  He handed both my mom and I our "entry cards" for the Relaxarium.  Yes, we really did spend the night at his beautiful home.

We stayed up late hearing stories.  Stories of war and service and adventure and freedom.  Stories of traveling through Europe and meeting friends.  Stories of love and love lost.  Stories of faith and finding faith.  Stories of cancer and survival. and hopes for the future.

As it is with most visits, I come home changed. I  realized that I, too, need a relaxarium--an outdoor space for relaxation.  I need to slow down, look for birds, listen for the crickets, adopt a stray kitten and just.. relax.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How to have more time

This is one of those posts where, if it weren't written by me, I probably wouldn't read it.  Because it sounds like a scam.  And trust me, it is.  Just kidding!!

No.  Seriously how do you get more time? Well.. technically, no matter what, we each only have 24 hours a day.  The way people fill those 24 hours makes me completely stressed out--I can hardly imagine how THEY feel. Maybe it's because I'm older, but I no longer have the compunction to live on life's treadmill.    So here are some thoughts on how I view things at this stage of my life.

1. Be decisive:  When someone presents me with an idea or a prospective thing that's going to take up my time, I don't belabor the decision about whether or not I can do it.  I look at my calendar right away and put it in there or just answer them directly, "No. That won't work for me.  But thanks for trying to include me."  If I want to do it,  and I think I should check with the family, I pencil it in and get back to them.  But if I clearly do not want to do it, I just don't.

We are such a people-pleasing, not-wanting to offend anybody- type of culture that we can't make a decision to save our lives, let alone take command of our schedules.  I'm here to free you up.  You can still have friends and not say "yes" to everything and everyone.  It's true.

The same goes for our families.  Sometimes our kids are making decisions about their own schedules that are just leading to disaster.  How many times are you going to bail them out?  When do you actually want them to learn these lessons?  Let them be late for that college class or that high school paper.  Let them wear the same underwear for a few days in a row--they'll learn to do their laundry on their day.  They'll figure it out. Besides--how many college students actually sleep in their sheets?  The goal in raising young people is not to carry them to adulthood--but to guide them when they fall and make mistakes.  Forgetting to make a lunch or eat breakfast is self correcting.  (Unless you have a type 1 diabetic or a special needs child)  For most of us, our children are healthy enough and smart enough to make a few mistakes and live.

2. Have a routine: Not everyone enjoys doing laundry every day. Not everyone needs to have a spotless home.  I don't.  I have certain days where I do certain things.  If it is not that day, I don't worry about it.  I have a tidy-up daily routine , but don't do everything every day, or even every week.  Decide what is a good interval between let's say.. cleaning the kitchen floors.. (more often) than cleaning the living room floors (less often) and cleaning the garage (seasonly).  Make sense? good.

3. Have priorities: Priorities help us make decisions. What is a priority? Anything you deem as important.  For example: football, or healthy eating, reading, fitness, family time, ministry, socializing, etc. are all someone's priority.  These change from year to year and family to family.  When a family has little children, getting them into a healthy routine is a priority.  When a family has teenagers, finding one day a week to have dinner together is a priority.  Priorities help us say "yes" to the good and "no" to the "less good".  Notice I didn't say "bad" because almost everything that comes your way has some merit in it, but not everything is worth spending time doing right now.

4. Enjoy what you are doing: If you have to be somewhere, try to be "all there" as much as possible.  It's way too easy to hide behind our phones.  You may quell some of the emptiness that is fueling this overly busy life by just merely being present at the things you are doing.  I have noticed that life doesn't need to be overly exciting to be fulfilling. Just doing a job well or having a meaningful conversation with someone is really lovely.  Sometimes just arranging the pillows nicely on the couch after you've swept up the floor and tidied up makes for a lovely sense of accomplishment.

Today I was over at my newly married daughter's apartment.  Her husband is sick, and she had been caring for him all night.  I went over and just tidied up the kitchen, swept the floor and give it a quick mop.  It felt so good to have it all cleaned up and nice.  And now that she has her own place and her own life, she can really appreciate how good it feels to have someone come and help.  And I have the privilege of giving back to a daughter who has served us for so many years.

Instead of trying to find something meaningful just search for meaning in what is right in front of you. I think we need to make our worlds smaller sometimes and get down on our hands and knees and look for weeds and bugs and just wonder about creation a little bit. I think we need to stop and look into the bright blue eyes of a baby boy and wonder what he sees in this life.  And we need to pet all the cats and dogs and try to remember their names.  And then, only then our time will not be filled with schedules, but our schedules will be filled with time.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Schitzophrenic facebook

If I were to describe my relationship with social media it would rate somewhere between schizophrenia and turrets.  And I hear that it's actually designed to be that way.  Somewhere deep in cyberspace, there is a martian or some form of communist that is secretly taking over all of the civilized world by sucking our brains out one click at a time.  And I drink the kool-aid just like the rest of you, hoping that the "next" time I go offline it will be for real.

So, I've researched this.  There's actual people who have weaned themselves off of social media by literally unfriending everyone, even their husband.  They have a FB account but it can only receive messages from non-friends because no one is a friend.  How cool is that?  Their need for FB is an every so often thing, not fueled by obsessive compulsive desires to be online "all the time"..

No more impulsive responding to posts when you should be in bed, cuz there aren't any posts.  You aren't putting anything exciting up for other people to respond to either, so there's no checking to see if "anyone cares".. Good grief.  No one cares enough to feed our egos "enough" for the lust that Facebook creates in all of us.

Step back for a minute and think about who your "real" friends are.  Do they know how to get a hold of you? Yes.  Because back in the old days of like.. 2005 or so, that's all we had was a phone or sometimes people met and talked to each other in real life.  crazy, I know.

So, yes, I want friends.. a lot of them... but I want them to be real people with real lives.  I actually like people. But I like my downtime also.

So, now that I have just now created a "page" for my blog on Facebook,  I will get a lot more people to read my blog than when I didn't have a "page".  And why is it even important one way or the other?  Not sure.  Exactly 11 page views on my previous post when I did not "post" it.  Prior to that, 232 views when I posted a link on fb.  Big difference.

And somehow seeing that little "232 page views" clicks a little internal endorphin button from within more than an 11.  But really? It shouldn't matter one way or the other.  No one is paying for this.  I'm not vying for fans or a role in a TV show or something.  I'm just sitting here in my $35.00 second hand recliner with my trusty mac, pontificating eloquently about life and sewage.

If you missed it, my life is flooded with blessings and the byproducts therewith.  Here was my last post: No more potty prayers.  And there's like a million before that which are equally disturbing.