New Season, New Start. What Does It Look Like From Your View? Taking A Time Out

New season. New start. What does it look like from your view?

I am taking a time out here on Pages From Joan amidst changing landscapes, new hopes and dreams.

The phone conversation took place only a few days before my Mama’s passing in October of 2006. I hadn’t summoned the courage to cry with her about her imminent death following a few short months of an esophageal cancer diagnosis. So when I returned to my home from a visit, the emotional dam broke as the tears flowed. “It’s a new beginning, Joan,” my Mama said softly, knowing that her time here on earth was drawing to an end.

We're all just walking each other home. Ram Dass

Today, that thought returns to me as I have decided to start another new beginning for me. Starting now, for a season, I will focus more on my book project and less on my Pages From Joan.

With each passing day, I am making more self-discoveries. Is that how the aging process works? I believe so, if we are open to the breakthroughs that can come with constructive comments by those who love us the most.

A close friend reminded me recently that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot be of much benefit to anyone else. I have blogged about this very thing in the past, in posts like Fire The Bad Boss Inside, Your Beautifully, Messy, Complicated Life Matters, Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It, and Are You A People Pleaser? Five Tips To Help You Stop.

And yet, I am at a fork-in-the-road again, wondering how well I have been taking care of myself of late. I feel out of balance. How about you? Is it time for a new beginning in your life journey? Remember the story about the oxygen mask? Click here to read it. Do you consistently put your O2 mask on before helping others? The moral of the story being that you can’t pour a glass of water when you’re cup is empty. Ironically, this scenario is more a lesson in giving than it is in selfishness.

I so appreciate you, my readers, the ones who have followed my Pages. You who have encouraged me so along the way, sending me messages, comments and even notes in the mail. THANK YOU!

I plan to take a few months furlough with a projection to return later this year. Meanwhile, I would love to stay in touch. If you would like to communicate with me via email, through Facebook Messenger, or even by being pen pals, please reach out to me at joanwpage08@gmail.com.

In closing this post, I would like to share something a fellow blogger passed to me in the past week that resonates with my heart. This is a list of 40 Things from her blog post about developing more happiness and emotional healthiness for your personal journey. Click here to read Rebecca’s post on her site: Self Development Secrets.

Life Is Short, that is for sure. The moments are fleeting. Let’s all put on our O2 masks as we go forward into this day.

What does a new beginning look like for you?

Posts You May Have Missed:

Where Is He? He Is In Us

Setting Goals Vs. Meandering

Tough Circumstances: Hold Onto The Power

Vacation For The Soul

Authentic Prayer

We Are Called To Be Brave

Learn To Love Yourself Despite The Struggle: An Interview

Run To The Roar: Bold Like A Lion

The Long And Winding Road

Wisdom On Aging Another Tuesday With Dad

A wonderful book, a story of the heart told by a writer with soul. Los Angeles Times about Tuesdays With Morrie: an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson By, Mitch Albom

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Written in 1997, Tuesdays With Morrie penned by Mitch Albom, has truly become one of my most favorite books to read and reread, time and again. And I am not the only one who loves it! Nearly 4,000 5-star reviews can be found on Amazon about this inspiring read. If you have read it before, but not in a while, consider rereading it today!

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On Tuesday this past week, I found myself reading aloud once again to my husband’s 85 year-old father. His friend and neighbor, Bob, was not able to join us because he was on a field trip to Lake Allatoona. Reading aloud with the ones you love is such a great way to connect, and I wrote about this in an earlier post here.

Following is some of what we read from The Seventh Tuesday: We Talk About the Fear of Aging:

Later that day, we talked about aging. Or maybe I should say the fear of aging-another of the issues on my what’s-bugging-my-generation list. On my ride from the Boston airport, I had counted the billboards that featured young and beautiful people. There was a handsome young man in a cowboy hat, smoking a cigarette two beautiful young women smiling over a shampoo bottle, a sultry-looking teenager with her jeans unsnapped, and a sexy woman in a black velvet dress, next to a man in a tuxedo, the two of them snuggling a glass of scotch.

Not once did I see anyone who would pass for over thirty-five. I told Morrie I was already feeling over the hill, much as I tried desperately to stay on top of it. I worked out constantly. Watched what I ate. Checked my hairline in the mirror. I had gone from being proud to say my age-because of all I had done so young-to not bringing it up, for fear I was getting too close to forty and. therefore, professional oblivion.IMG_0997

Morrie had aging in better perspective.

“All this emphasis on youth-I don’t buy it,” he said. “Listen, I know that a misery being young can be, so don’t tell me it’s so great. All these kids who came to me with their struggles, their strife, their feelings of inadequacy, their sense that life was miserable…

Weren’t you ever afraid to grow old, I asked?

“Mitch, I embrace aging.”

Embrace it?

“It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It is growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.

Yes, I said, but if aging were so valuable, why do people always say, “Oh if I were young again.” You never hear people say, “I wish I were sixty-five.”

He smiled. “You know what that reflects? Unsatisfied lives. Unfulfilled lives. Lives that haven’t found meaning. Because if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five.”

“Listen, you should know something. All younger people should know something. If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow. And Mitch?”

He lowered his voice.

“The fact is you’re going to die eventually.”

I nodded.

“It won’t matter what you tell yourself.”

I know.

“But hopefully,” he said, “not for a long, long time.”

Morrie closed his eyes with a peaceful look, then asked me to adjust his pillows. (from pages 115-121)

So how about you? How has Morrie’s message impacted the way you look at aging and dying? What exactly does a “good death” look like? Click here to read a recent article entitled A ‘good death’ by going gentle into that good night.

Here are some posts you may have missed that may give you more insight on living well and the aging process:

Read It Loud: How To Make A Connection

5 Lessons From Osceola McCarty

Aging Gracefully

What Is It Like To Be Ninety?

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

The Long And Winding Road

IMG_1954As we travel along this long and winding road called LIFE, there are sure to be treacherous curves and bumps in our path that slow us down and perhaps, even bring us to a halting stop.

Plant a seed of friendship; reap a bouquet of happiness. Lois L. Kaufman

These can be catastrophic and tragic or hopefully, more likely, a sadness in our hearts over some circumstance that has transpired in our journey. It is August first, and that means school for many, many kids, parents, teachers and administrators alike. August first also marks my 58th birthday. I have never been shy about sharing my age, probably because of 3 things my Mama taught me about aging. Among other mantras, these are things she said often to me:

  1. Age is a matter of the mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
  2. I’d rather be this age than any other age I can think of.
  3. Our age is just a number.
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(July 20, 2016 at Fernandina Harbor Marina) (Leah, our daughter, to my right, and Jessica, our son’s wife, to my left.) I have come to call on these two wise, young women for advice and guidance along the way.

Either way, I have discovered the importance of having folks, friends and family, who will walk beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder, and not try to fix the unfixable in my life. These are friends that make me think of the song, I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack. Click here to listen to these great lyrics.

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10/3/15 at Taylor’s Shelter with Susan, my friend for four decades!

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

These friends truly are a GIFT FROM GOD ABOVE.

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Our “Sister Sessions” several times each year strengthen us for the journey.

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 Discernment: Reading The Signs Of Daily Life. 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.” Henri Nouwen

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.

Far from perfect, I know that as a believer, when I seek Him, I will find him every time, and He will grant me the grace and the wisdom I need to continue on the path before me.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens. Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the chance to sit it out, or dance. I hope you'll dance! Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance
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How Great Thou Art! Myrtle Point, LeConte Hike in TN on June 7, 2016.
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Sunrise with five precious friends, JoAnn, Jan, Kay, Susan, and Delores on Tuesday, July 12, 2016.

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My Mama is the best friend I have ever had!

Posts you may have missed related to my long and winding road:

Fertile Prayers

Children Are Wet Cement

3 Things To Consider

A Mother’s Wisdom: Five Lessons

Read It Loud How To Make A Connection

Earlier today, on Tuesday, I was reading aloud to my father-in-law and his neighbor, Bob. Having always loved reading to Leah and Walker, I discovered, once again, that reading aloud is a great way to make a connection with another beating heart. I hope by the time you finish this short post, that you, too, will be inspired to share reading with someone in your world.

Back in the mid-1970’s, I was a high-schooler when I would drive myself to Wesley Woods Retirement Community to visit my paternal grandmother, Anna Mae Walker, known as Mamaw to all of us.

Dying is only one thing to be sad over. Living unhappily is something else.” Morrie Schwartz to Mitch in Tuesdays With Morrie

 Mamaw had been widowed for well over a decade and our Mama encouraged us to visit her as often as possible.

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My Daddy and his mother, our Mamaw

Those were lonely days for our grandmother and you could sure tell it when you walked into her small apartment. Mamaw would be sitting in a comfortable chair, in a pretty dress, looking out the window. Her hair would be in a tight french twist on the back of her head. Our conversation went something like this: “Hi, Mamaw, ” I would say with a smile. “Oh, hello,” she would answer softly, always a little surprised to have a visitor. After our greetings, there was little more to talk about, and now I wish I had thought of the idea to read aloud to her. Back in the early 1960’s, just after her husband had passed away, our grandmother lived in a children’s home as a piano teacher for all of the children. The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Morrie Schwartz to Mitch in Tuesdays With Morrie 

She loved journaling, reading, and all sorts of things. Reading aloud to her would’ve given us interesting things to talk about.

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Dad Page

Recently, I came up with the idea to read aloud to my husband’s father. We are about half way through one of my all-time favorite books: Tuesdays With Morrie, by, Mitch Albom, and we try to read together on Tuesdays in honor of Morrie Schwartz.

I mentioned this life-changing book in an earlier post when I wrote about Oseola McCarty.

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March 14, 2016 marked one year since we moved Donny’s father by ambulance from their hometown of Thomaston, Georgia so that we could keep a closer eye on him here near our home.

Life is a series of pulls back and forth…A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. Most of us live somewhere in the middle. A wrestling match…which side wins? Love wins. Love always wins.” Morrie Schwartz to Mitch in Tuesdays With Morrie 

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Undergoing treatment for double pneumonia, Dad was immediately placed on a ventilator, which we were thankfully able to wean him off of within a few weeks. Saying these past 14 months have been tumultuous is an understatement. Dad has been in and out of the hospital too many times to count, rehabilitation for physical weakness, and he celebrated his 85th back on October 13, 2015. Today, even though he remains under the care of Hospice, and still gets confused about things, he is correctly working word puzzles in the newspaper, and he is walking with the aid of a rollater.

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Dad Page and his neighbor across the hall, Bob have been enjoying the story of Morrie Schwartz. We have laughed a lot and the reading has triggered many good memories from both gentlemen who are living out their last season of life. The next book I plan to share with them is The Last Lecture, by, Randy Pausch.IMG_0430

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Is there someone in your path who might like

some one-on-one time with you?

It might be a small child or someone like Dad Page.

Elementary age children and teens can read to their grandparents.

Reading together will make the world a better place.

Consider reading aloud one of your favorite stories!

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Change Of Heart How Is Your Heart Today?

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The longer I live, the more I have realized that LIFE is all about the HEART.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

 Both the physical, beating heart, and our inner, soulful heart. Now in my 50s, a continuous change of heart is one of my greatest desires: to keep my physical heart as healthy as humanly possible, and to keep my inner heart engaged, honest, connected to my God, and linked with others.

I shared here in my recent post 10 Things That Organized People Do, that in late January, 2016, I decided to rejoin a Weight Watchers Program to give me some assistance with my health goals.

As I sat in a meeting last week, I was inspired by a woman about my age who shared that she had been in a wheelchair for the past three years, and just that week had completed her first fitness walk! Inspiration is everywhere when we are looking for it. I have come to realize that the “new” Weight Watcher’s program is emphasizing the inner heart. Not just a number on the scales. The program encourages the participants to look after him or herself. In fact, the tag line on their planning guide is:

LOSE WEIGHT….GET HEALTHIER…AND LIVE HAPPIER!

Here are some of the posters in the new Weight Watcher center in Kennesaw, Georgia:

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If losing weight is your primary goal, it is important to know that the Weight Watchers Program, if followed pretty closely, promises 1-3 lbs of loss per week. This is consistent with the results I have seen since restarting on January 27, 2016. I have appreciated the ease of scanning foods, and then deciding if consuming them will be worth it, and also knowing that ALL fruits and veggies are free! As long as you consider quantities and choices, the plan is fairly easy to follow, allowing chocolate, wine, and other luxuries.

Life-style change and a healthy state of well-being is what I am going for. If you still have children and/or grandchildren in your weekly life, consider Kitchen Twins. Emily and Lyla have a mission to get the family in the kitchen together cooking healthy foods. But, this post is not just about weight loss. It’s about our hearts!

Did you know? Our hearts, both inner and outer, need daily attention, just like many other things do.

What?  “Something else needs my attention???” While I did not get the speaker’s name, I recently heard a radio show and I liked this idea of checking in daily with your inner heart:

“As you drive along in your car, stopping at stop lights or in traffic jams, notice when the car stops, therefore stopping your body, allow your mind to stop, as well.  Just for that couple of minutes, do some deep breathing, allowing your mind to rest. Your inner heart will reap the benefits.”

As you practice this daily, be sure to silence that inner critic voice that tries to rear its ugly head. Read an earlier post, Fire The Bad Boss Inside, by clicking here.

I am quite sure you have heard the oxygen mask story, but it bears repeating. Click here to read it.

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According to The American Heart Association, our physical hearts can benefit so much from 30 minutes of cardiovascular fitness a few days a week. Here are a couple of articles to get us moving: Identifying Your Fitness Goals, Breaking Down Barriers To Fitness, and Making A Commitment To Fitness. With Spring upon us, we are at the perfect time to set some goals for a daily walk.

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An integral part of keeping my inner heart in tune is reading and meditating on scripture often. Click here for some of my go-to verses that reference our hearts.

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How is your heart today?

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Have you ever read the story of Corrie ten Boom? If not, click on the link below to read about this courageous woman!

Corrie ten Boom

Time-Out

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Have you ever put yourself in Time-Out? I am about to do that very thing for the next few weeks. In the days ahead, I hope to pay less attention to the outside world and more attention to our household…”tidying up” each and every space…Therefore, I am taking a short sabbatical from my blog. I am hopeful the end result will be uncluttered spaces and an uncluttered mind, too!

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Meanwhile, don’t forget to pause when you see that sun rising and setting. This was a couple of nights ago here in Marietta, Georgia. Take time for breathing exercises to help you catch your breath, and Be Good to Yourself!IMG_8623Here is the book I am using for inspiration, suggested by my friend, Rebecca, writer of a great blog called In A Southern Kitchen-Doing Life Together. IMG_8625The author, Marie Kondo proposes that the reader hold up items found in the home and ask the question:

“Does This Spark Joy?”

Having raised two children in this home, we have tons of keepsakes, just as I bet you do, too…I am hoping to rid our home of the items that do not spark JOY. See you! Stay tuned! I look forward to rejoining you soon with some posts that will inspire, encourage and help us to learn new things.IMG_8637

What Is It Like To Be Ninety? Check Out This List

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What is it like to be ninety? Though my Daddy lived to be age 93, in my late fifties now, I honestly have no idea what it is like to be ninety years old…

I enjoyed talking to a friend of mine at a Christmas Open House all about the aging process. My friend, Gerry, who is in her seventies told me that an Orthopedic Surgeon friend of hers told her this: “If you wake up and you’re not in pain, you’re dead.” We had a good laugh over that and I have to admit I have repeated it a time or two for more chuckles. It’s a known fact that things tend to hurt more as we age.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NLT

As long as I am healthy, I hope to see my ninth decade. Even though I am not yet a Grandmother, that would be pretty cool to not only be a Grandma, but to also have a chance to be a Great-Grandma! Very few of us are blessed with this privilege. It is truly remarkable that George and Barbara Bush reached their 70th wedding anniversary earlier this month.  That is a lot of living!

I recently ran across a list of 42 life lessons 90-year-old Regina Brett of Cleveland, Ohio said that life has taught her. While I don’t have the space to list them all, I picked some of my favorite lessons:

  • Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  • It’s okay to let your children see you cry.
  • Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present. Youth is the time to study wisdom, old age is the time to practice it.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  • It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
  • Over prepare, then go with the flow.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • Growing old beats the alternative-dying young.
  • Your children get only one childhood.
  • If we threw all our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  • No matter how you feel, get up, get dressed, and show up.
  • Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it is still a gift.

What might you and I take from this list

and begin to incorporate into our days?

Music Moves Us

Senior Man Relaxing Listening To Music On Headphones In Garden

Have you ever thought about how much music moves us?

I have, especially lately, with the many deaths of well-known artists, such as Natalie Cole, age 65, 12/31/15; Craig Strickland, age 29, 1/4/16; Otis Clay, age 73, 1/8/16; David Bouie, age 69, 1/10/16; and now sadly, this week, Glen Frey, age 67, 1/18/16. As you click on each name, you will hear a song each artist was known for. It was really hard to choose one from the list of The Eagles, because I love them all, and like you, I know every line! My Daddy’s favorite artist was Frank Sinatra, and I wrote a post about ‘Ole Blue Eyes recently. What are your all-time favorite groups? Some of mine include: Bread, Casting Crowns, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Selah, Laura Story,  just to name a few. I also LOVE this Casting Crowns song! Oh, and I’ve always loved this Cat Stevens’ song, as well.

Our friend, David R. Brewer, plays piano like no one I have ever heard.

I could listen to David tickle the keys all day long!

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David plays as we sing Christmas Carols with friends.

As you listen to songs on the radio, CD player, Sonos, Pandora,  and I-pods, have you ever thought about how much the lyrics can move us into action when we stop to think about them for a few minutes? One song that did this for me when I was a young mommy was Carole King’s BEAUTIFUL.

The other day as we were driving along, the song In The Living Years, by Mike and the Mechanics came up on our Sirius station. As I listened to the words and then googled the lyrics to read along, I thought about the phrase, “Courageous Conversations” that our pastor, Dr. Ike Reighard taught us nearly a decade ago…having that difficult discussion with our loved ones even when it is awkward or uncomfortable. Our family took this phrase to heart, applying it to problems, to issues, to discussions that came along. We had courageous conversations often…. agreeing to disagree many times.

That is what this In The Living Years is about!

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What are some songs that have moved you in the past?

Click here to listen to

Carrie Underwood and Michael W. Smith

perform All Is Well this past Christmas.

Young woman sitting in the park and listening the music from a smart phone

Anne Lamott Best Day Ever

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Author, Anne Lamott has written several best sellers,  Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace,  Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith, to name a few. Lamott has written  so many words that have resonated with my heart, that I decided to share a recent message from her to you and to me:

“My six-year-old associate, who sleeps down the hall about thirty feet away with both our doors wide open, wakes up on many mornings and predicts,

“This might be the best day ever!”

Then, in the dead of night, a tiny voice calls out to me, “Nana, will you ever get sick or die?”

Then he cries at the very thought. He terrorizes himself.

I think this says it all.

If you are alive, conscious, and sensitive, which is to say, human, you’re going to have incredible joy and terror this side of eternity. It’s Life 101, life on life’s terms, not on ours, all these things–fear, joy, grace, mess, isolation, communion–all mixed up together.

I hate this more than I can say. I don’t like everything to touch.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”  C.S. Lewis

 Also, I don’t love that at sixty-one, your skin can still break out, even as the wattles hang lower, like roman shades, and you might still get audited, or shingles. Not to mention that every so often, out of the blue, a sniper sneaks up from behind a tree and picks off someone without whom you can’t–or at least don’t want–to go on.

Or that other people, like obviously Jimmy Carter, handle fearful news with faith and elegance, while you KNOW that you will be more like a cross between Kylie Jenner and Ed Grimley.

IMG_6672While we are at it, I am a tiny bit tired of having issues around food and my body. I would like–and expected–to be all well by this age, which is to say, I’d mostly want healthy food. Really?

Also, I do not love that when you get older, your feet hurt fairly often because you walk a lot BECAUSE EVERYONE FUGGING TOLD YOU YOU HAD TO IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A GOOD OLD AGE. P.S. For the record, I refuse to eat kale. PPS. I have lost all confidence in lettuce. It is basically green crunchy air.

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But back to my associate.

It is not helpful to tell each other cute things we saw on bumper stickers, whether our beloved people are six or sixty. It is condescending, and patronizing, and it make us turn on you. And yet! Two very short sentences do help, have saved me more often that I can recount:

The most important is “Me too.” Yes, joyous and scared, chosen and lonely, healing and cuckoo, all at once. Yep. Me too.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one…'” C.S. Lewis

IMG_6667The second is, “Courage is fear that has said it prayers.” Courage when your kids leave, or you lose them, or evil pulls on them too hard; courage for the limbo of sick parents, and cold silences and dark nights. I think often of the weeks after the end of WWII, in the refugee camps for orphans and dislocated kids. Of course the children couldn’t sleep! But the grown-ups discovered that after you fed them, if you gave them each a piece of bread just to hold, they would drift off. It was holding bread. There was more to eat if they were still hungry. This was bread to hold, to remind them and connect them to the great truth–that morning would come, that there were grown-ups who cared and were watching over them, that there would be more food when they awoke.

Wow. I mean, HELLO, the fourth great prayer. Hello, are you really there? I am! I’m right here, and I’m semi-okay, and you are right here, too, or at least down the hall, with the door wide open.

We are holding each other’s bread.

Yesterday my pastor quoted Gandhi saying that there is so much hunger in the world that God comes to earth as bread.

We are so hungry! And we get to call out to each other in the dark, and the parents of our childhoods will not be pissed off that we have woken them.

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Mahatma Ghandi

 Our closest people, our chosen families, now say we can call them if we need to, and they will say, “It’s fine that you called. Yes, me too! I know what that is like. I know exactly what that fear and isolated feel like. I’m listening, honey.”

When my darling grandboy cannot get himself back to sleep, I don’t tell him I promise never to get sick or die. I just go fish him out of the fear and the dark, and tuck him in next to me.

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Reach for me, bread of God.

And then when the light returns, who knows? This might be the best day ever.”

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Coach Vince Dooley: A Garden For All Seasons

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Sandy and Joan…friends since 1990.

This past Monday, my friend, Sandy and I went on quite an adventure.  We traveled to Athens, Georgia, joining a group of friends from the Marietta area and had the opportunity to tour Coach Vince Dooley’s beautiful and lush gardens just minutes from the University of Georgia campus. [pullquote]Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller[/pullquote] While this was my first time to visit the gardens, many of my friends who had been before said this was a “must see”. Now that I have been, I agree. Following our garden tour, we visited Jane, the proprietor of plainjane designs, treated Laura, a UGa collegiate to lunch at Last Resort Grill, and enjoyed a Chick-fil-a icedream cone with my sister, Kathy, on our drive back home. [pullquote]I am an inspiration for anyone who wants to be a gardener late in life, or anyone who would like to write a book late in life. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is my “golf”, my get-away.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote] Just 83 years young, as of September 4, 2015, Coach Dooley is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, congenial folks you will ever meet. He loves gardening and talking to others who love it, too. In the past two decades, Coach has truly designed a garden for all seasons.

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Did you know? Coach Vince Dooley  was the head football coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years (1964-1988) and its athletic director from 1979 to 2004.  With Coach Dooley at the helm, the Bulldogs won six Southeastern Conference titles and one National Championship (1980). He received numerous awards, including being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. From 1964-1980, Dooley was notably assisted by his defensive coördinator, Erskine (Erk) Russell. Coach Russell was the one who coined the team name:  Junkyard Dawgs. [pullquote]If we score, we may win. If they never score, we’ll never lose.” Coach Erk Russell[/pullquote] Did you know? My long-time friend, Jan, mentioned in my August post entitled Are You An 
Egg, A Carrot, Or A Coffee Bean, will become Grandmama to another Erk, as her daughter, Kathrine, who is married to Coach Erk Russell’s grandson, will be having a newborn son this Friday, 10/2/15.

A graduate of Auburn University (War Eagle!), Dooley later served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.  IMG_5942Curiosity and a desire to learn spurred Coach Dooley to take a horticulture course at nearby UGa. One class led to another and Dooley had been bitten by the “gardening bug”. [pullquote]I like to start most of my plants indoors, get to know them, before turning them out to be planted in the gardens.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote] Groups like ours are the fortunate beneficiaries of his love of gardening. Following 20 years of gardening, Dooley decided to write a book about it and was joined by impressionistic artist, Steve Penley in the beautiful coffee table book entitled: Vince Dooley’s Garden: The Horticulture Journey of A Football Coach, with paintings by, Steve Penley. Coach Dooley was assisted by his daughter, Deanna, as he autographed copies of this special book for our group.

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Joan, Melissa, and Ansley at The Dooley Home
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Coach Dooley’s friend, Steve Penley painted this of their home and gardens.
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The Dooley Residence with a Cascading Falls Tree in the foreground on the left.
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Jane Bennett…the next time you are in Athens, visit plainjane designs!

All in all, it was a special day touring the gardens of Coach Vince Dooley.IMG_5954 IMG_5964 IMG_5929IMG_5973

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A quick hug and a visit with my sis, Kathy!
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Always reaching out to help others, Coach Dooley signs autographs at a MUST Ministries Fundraiser on April 25, 2015.

If, like Coach Vince Dooley, we are able to live into our eighth decade, what hobbies might we want to develop?  Let’s take a little time to sit quietly, exploring and discovering what we are curious and passionate about.

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