48th birthday blog

Posted: March 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today is my 48th birthday.  I took the day off work, and didn’t make any giant plans.  I enjoyed sleeping in with G (opened my eyes and told him, “best birthday EVER” just because he was right there when I woke up) and hanging out with him until he had to go to work at 11.  I had lunch out with my parents, and then my mom enticed me back to their house with the offer of homemade cookies – chocolate chip, straight out of the oven, even!  It has been literally YEARS since I had one hot out of the oven, and there never was so great a food on all of planet earth as a still-gooey chocolate chip cookie.  I got sweet texts from my son, a nice phone call from my daughter, and the Facebook feed is filling pleasantly with well-wishes.  Basically, I feel amazingly rich and blessed with the people in my life. 

Days that mark the passing of time always cause me to pause and reflect or look ahead.  It’s one of my very favorite little pleasures in life.  So, to mark my 48th birthday…here’s where I am today:

Getting older continues to mean life gets better.  I don’t understand people who yearn for their young days.  While life has not necessarily gotten easier – even has gotten harder over time, in some realms – I fit better inside of it as time goes by.  I know myself better and better.  I grow in understanding and connecting with God.  I have better skills for coping with challenges.  I have a clearer view of life, less obstructed by old lies, bad filters, or memories that distort truth.  Grace and mercy continue to swell and grow within me, both toward myself and toward others.  I am less tortured by the notion of the way things “should be.”  I am more certain of how much of my world I have absolutely zero control over – and really understanding that lifts away so much of the angst of my younger years. 

Getting humbled, in both good ways and bad.  Recently, a couple of young adults who were once kids whose lives I spoke into regularly named me as their hero or the person whose example they try to follow.  I didn’t see it coming either time, and it undid me.  I cried in the moment.  I cried several more times before that day was out.  I cried a bunch more during the following week.  I pondered it and had great conversations with God about it.  What an incredible gift it is, to know that what I did in that passage wasn’t wasted time, despite my own many shortcomings. 

Also recently, as in *since I got married*…I have lost my grip on most of the things I was in the process of practicing and learning regarding the journey to love my body.  There are plenty of reasons for that, which I won’t belabor.  The end result of it is I’ve regained an alarming amount of the weight I had lost.  And I have let that really upset me.  G and I got a gym membership and I’m back in the process of crawling back into the saddle (cuz that’s what you do, when life bucks you off!)  Right now I am struggling with enormous discomfort with my body shape and size, with shame, and with a burning desire to not be looked at.  Basically, I’m kind of back at square one.  But kind of not, since all the stuff I learned in my 2 year journey is not gone. I feel like in the past week or so, the Lord has been showing me that it’s time to go back and relearn as necessary, retrain my “discipline muscles”…basically, take back what I lost a grip on.  Getting humbled in this way is not nearly as much fun as getting humbled by being called a hero twice in the same afternoon.  But it’s good, and I don’t intend to throw away the opportunity to grow.  Heck, maybe that book inside of me will finally leak out, amidst the battle. 

The PMS battle rears its ugly head again.  When I weaned my youngest at 11 months old, I fell into a battle every month with PMS that just about finished me off.  It left me screaming and upending the kitchen table, among other unpleasant manifestations.  That was a quarter of a century ago (how old does THAT make me feel!  LOL) and at the time, I worked with doctors and read books and battled through until diet, supplements and exercise brought it reasonably under control.  In my 15ish years of celibacy, I only ever dealt with PMS maybe a couple of times per year, and it was pretty mild, really.  Since I got married, it is back with a vengeance.  Generally, I discover it’s going to be “that day” when some little thing like my hair touching my cheek repeatedly makes me want to commit a homicide.  When this happens, I will pick up my iPhone and check the “My Days” app and note:  I’m halfway through the time before the next period.  And then the rage inside of me will make sense, and I suck it up for that day, resisting the urge to say all the mean things begging to be said and to do all the mean things begging to be done.  I go gently with myself and others, and act on NONE of the vicious impulses in me, and the next morning I generally am back to my old self again. 

I am blessed that G is a patient and gentle man.  He does not get irritated or frustrated by the wreck I am for that day.  He does not try to persuade me that it’s all in my head or that it’s not as bad as I think it is or that if I were a better Christian I wouldn’t suffer like this.  He just lays his hands on me and prays, goes around all day praying, talks softly to me and holds me gently, and we get through it.  The man is truly a saint.

In an effort to bring the PMS back under some form of control, I have ordered some natural supplements and they should be arriving in the mail TODAY, actually.  I’ve already had my mean day this month.  Hopefully with the right vitamins and other supplements, I can get the worst edge off of this thing before next month rolls around. 

Taking more responsibility for my fellow travelers and our planet.  A young friend at church has picked up the baton and started challenging people regarding the growing problem of human trafficking – on Superbowl Sunday, I went to his house to watch “Nefarious:  Merchant of Souls.”  Last year, I read the book “Half the Sky,” which realistically details the many ways women are oppressed and brutalized across the planet.  A few weeks back, our pastor challenged us to buy the book “The Better World Shopping Guide.”  I ordered that, plus the “Better World Handbook” that gets constantly updated.  When the shopping guide came, I tossed it on the table, meaning to read it later, and didn’t touch it again.  Yesterday, the Handbook arrived in the mail, so I took time to look at both, and to download the associated iPhone app that will let me check items in the moment, while I am shopping.  

All of this is the most inconvenient possible kind of knowledge.  It is stuff we don’t WANT to know, because if we know it, then we have a responsibility to DO something about it, even if all we do is try our best not to contribute to the problem.  If I care about modern day slavery and about the trashing of our planet, there is stuff I can do.  It starts with how I shop, and it builds from there.  I have a strong, strong feeling that year 48 is about to be a year of massive growth on this front for me.  I am not excited about it. It is daunting.  But knowing and doing nothing?  Well, that has happened while various holocausts have occurred across time and around the planet, and none of us pretends that those who knew and did nothing were not guilty on some level.   

Finding my voice.  A dear friend annually journeys through the “Give Me 40 Days” prayer journal (and got me started doing the same.)  Amidst the journey, you pray in a focused way daily for others.  His prayers for me in that time were about me speaking up – he is a constant encourager for me to stop sitting quietly in the corner and start saying the stuff that is inside of me (if you only know me from the internet, you might be surprised at how reluctant I can be to speak, when you experience me in person.)  I can feel the pressure of those prayers pursuing me – can feel God starting to tighten the vice to move me in that direction.  It is needed and it is good, and again, I am not excited.  LOL  But when God is doing something…well…that is GOOD.  End of story.  So it looks like 48 will be a year of Karen opening her mouth.  Please pray for me that when I do so, it won’t be to only prove that I am an idiot. 

Going natural.  My quest to move to less artificial stuff and more natural has been picking up momentum.  Recently, G and I have taken up oil pulling with coconut oil.  Already, my teeth are whiter, my gums are pinker, and my sense of smell, which has been all but dead for nearly 20 years, has started to wake back up from time to time.  It is said to do even a whole lot more than that, but I’m only a couple of weeks in.  I’m sure I’ll report more about that here later. 

Speaking of coconut oil, I’m amidst an experiment of going shampooless.  Basically, I rub a little baking soda into my scalp in the shower daily, and when it is rinsed out, I rinse again with apple cider vinegar diluted with water.  Once or twice a week, I rub coconut oil into my hair and let it sit for a few minutes to an hour.  Then I shampoo it out (with real shampoo).  All of this is a lot cheaper than the daily shampoo and conditioner routine, not to mention a ton more planet friendly.  The jury is still out on whether I will do it permanently – while I love the coconut oil conditioning, my baking soda and apple cider vinegar days are very mixed in results.  Some days my hair rocks, other days it is sad.  No final decision has been made yet on whether I’ll stick with this experiment in the long term. 

I’m using coconut oil with baking soda mixed into it as a facial scrub – I like that.  I’ve read that I can use coconut oil to shave my legs, but I haven’t tried it yet.  We are stirring coconut oil into our oatmeal every day, since early research is showing it kind of works miracles in severely compromised elderly brains.  Cuz hey, if it can help when you’re already so far gone that you can’t accurately draw the face of a clock, what might it do preventatively, if taken early and often? 

We are adding chia seeds to our pre-workout fruit juice in the mornings (extreme energy source.)  We are continuing with the kefir every morning at breakfast (good for the gut, great for energy, and a list too long to include here of other good effects.  I’m studying further on cultured (fermented) foods and their benefits – this will be a growing year on that front.  I’ve got hemp seeds coming in the mail, and no, smartass, they aren’t going to make me high, but thanks for asking!  Just more really good benefits.  I’m studying up on cultured foods.  Also getting back into flaxseed – I had lost touch with that for a bit.  Just another superfood.  

I’ve also brought my exercise ball to work and sit on it much (though not all) of the time – while there is debate about the benefit of it, the certainty that sitting still in a chair for long periods of time shortens one’s life is enough for me to take a chance on the ball, and to make a point to get up and move a few minutes every hour.  

So yeah, basically I’m growing up to be some kinda crazy hippy, and I’m not sorry about that.  DUDE.  I work in senior housing.  I watch the effects of aging every day at work.  That makes me serious about doing my part to stave off the crueler elements of that process. 

Plugging in at church.  Our church is a young one – it’s a church plant.  I really, really, REALLY love my church.  Love the way we worship, love the way we care about each other, love the way we are challenged every week to care about the world outside our doors in real and tangible ways, and not just as an idea.  I joined the tech team and the prayer team last year, and have enjoyed both.  More recently, I’ve been helping out with a women’s retreat, G and I have joined the clean team, and I’m serving on the team that is putting on a camp for foster kids.  I’m also being mentored through a discipleship book by a fellow church member, with the expectation that I will take others through it as well.  I am finally feeling like I’m moving beyond just “liking” and “participating in” my church to actually being a functioning part. 

Always and forever a mom and grandma.  I absolutely LOVE being the mom of adults.  If anyone tries to tell you it’s somehow “less” than being a mom of little kids or babies…don’t buy it!  My relationship with my kids is awesome.  My grandbaby is the coolest baby on planet earth, and she sticks her tongue out at me on video chat in the most adorable way. 

Newlywed.  I know, I know…it was clear back in August that G and I got married.  But hey!  It hasn’t been a year yet.  I intend to hold on to that “newlywed” status for AT LEAST a full year, and I make no promises to relent after that.  I am learning how to be a wife – I was not a good wife, the first time around.  I am learning how to really love, how to make the relationship a priority, how to give, how to be intentional.  It is humbling sometimes, because I continually discover that I am an ass.  G would deny that, but this is only a combination of his kind gentleness and the grace that allows me to mostly not act on being an ass.  I’m not going to belabor this particular point, but let me just say:  I’ve waited for marriage this time, and I didn’t wait in the past.  Waiting leads to an immensely more satisfying love life and safe relationship, IMHO.  I’m speaking now, finally, from experience and not just from faith.  IT’S WORTH THE WAIT.  If’ you’re waiting for the right one – hold on.  I have exactly zero regrets about my 15ish years living celibate, and I know G feels the same about his nearly-that-long living the same. 

Okay okay okay…this is fun but seriously, I’ve probably lost most of you by now.  Clearly too many words for a blog!  Just me sharing my 48th birthday thoughts.  Blessings, all.  I surely am a blessed woman. 

 

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