These events remind me it’s not worth it. It happens in an instant.
I love you all so much and don’t want a distraction to hurt your or someone else, to cause something like this.
If you were backed into a corner and forced to give an answer, what age would you say is “old”? What milestone birthday is The One that tips a person beyond the top of the hill into a mess of wrinkles and infirmity? How old do you have to be to be considered a senior citizen, an elderly person, an old geezer?
How old is “old?”
I suspect that line is a shifting one for all of us, that the number grows higher with each passing year.
Old age is relative to our current age.
Ageism is rampant in our country and culture, subtle and sinister in that people who practice it probably don’t even realize they are. I’ve been on the receiving end of it a few times, and it’s shocking. In my mind, I’m not old! (Showing up to film a Tim McGraw music video comes to mind….) But if I’m older than you, relatively speaking, I might be. Or not.
Depends on how big a jerk you are.
But wait–that’s part of the problem. If I think you’re a jerk (which I don’t, really) because you treat me differently because I’m older than you, that’s giving mental ascent to your prejudice. It is buying into the thought that at some point Old Age < Youth. It’s agreeing that at some point you become less valuable because of your age.
You do not become less valuable as you age, but your currency (what you have to offer) may change. In many important ways, your value increases.
My God, growing old is the price you pay for long life, and it’s a privilege not everyone shares. What you gain over time in wisdom and experience is invaluable! By the time you reach midlife, you’ve endured heartache, you’ve survived tragedy, you’ve learned so many lessons your life is a textbook. You have amassed a wealth of experience from the wise and poor choices you’ve made. You’ve born consequence, you’ve collected milestones, you’ve celebrated new life, and you’ve mourned the passing of those you love.
Anyway…today is my birthday. I’m 53 and I woke up with a pain in my middle knuckle, of all places, and my first thought was, “Did I jam my finger in my sleep??” But then my second thought was, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! HOW CLICHÉ IS IT TO WAKE UP WITH A NEW AILMENT ON YOUR 50-SOMETHING BIRTHDAY?!”
So I ignored it, took a birthday selfie in bed, and posted it as a proverbial finger to aging.
Clearly, I’m winning the internet.
It’s fun to watch old episodes of Friends on Netflix, and when this episode (with Brad Pitt, about Ross making out with their librarian when he was in high school) showed up not to long ago, it inspired this post.
I’m pretty sure if any of the Friends cast watched it now, they’d think Mrs. Altman was pretty darn cool.
I wonder how many times I read about it before taking action. A least a dozen, probably twice that.
A Boot Camp offered at my church–I mean, really, how hard could that be?
Initially, I wasn’t as intimidated by “Boot Camp” as I was by the early start: 5:30am, three days a week.
While I am a morning person, I am not an early morning person. Trust me, the difference is apples and orangutans.
But everything changed when my motive changed.
When you’re teetering toward an empty nest, you’ll have thoughts you’ve never thunk before. Deeeeep thoughts, wrapped alternately in angst or jubilation. I could write volumes on the subject, but we’ll save that for another time. Today I’m talking fitness.
Me, talking fitness. I never saw that coming….
Anyways…yes, my motive changed. I spent the month of January avoiding all sugar, added sugar, sugar alternatives (chewing gum, people…even sugar-frackin-free gum!), grains, dairy, processed foods–approximately 75% of my diet before I heard of Whole 30. You simply do not realize how much crap you eat until it’s off limits–and that’s despite me cooking five nights a week and typically having vegetables.
As a mother I think I’ve always parented with careful intention, but particularly after reading Jean Fleming’s Pursue the Intentional Life I’ve sought intentionality in all areas of my life–marriage, friendship, faith, family…and lifestyle.
I’ve got one body and the choices I make will either help it or harm it.
I did not choose to attend Boot Camp or eat a restricted diet to lose weight. While I don’t have a huge weight problem, I look like I’m better shape than I am. The way I was sucking wind on the first day of boot camp – and every day since – proves it. But I made a decision to steward my body well and to do what I could to improve my health and quality of life for the duration of my days. I wish I could say honestly my motive was esteeming my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, but that’s secondary to my reasons.
Up as in the wrong direction. Up as in I’ve gained weight instead of losing weight. Up as in higher BMI and Body Fat percentage. Right there in my church gym I asked my (fantastic) instructor if I could cuss. She laughed nervously, so I just thought ugly thoughts instead of burning her ears.
She asked if I was hormonal – Hello…I’m menopausal! – and reminded me I’ve been building muscle. She told me how her numbers haven’t changed in a year (her body is perfect) and how hormones affect your calculations. Everyone is quick to say “muscle weighs more than fat” but a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. Remarkable, no? But I know what they mean.
I have gotten up at 4:50am three times a week for six weeks, even after driving eight hours in two days and falling into bed at midnight in order to attend an important event for a special friend. My attendance is perfect, my form, not so much.
My clothes fit differently. I do have more energy. I have done what I’ve sworn I could never do.
Let me say that again:
I have always said I could never do an early morning Boot Camp (or any fitness thing) and I have always said I could never give up all sugar for a month and drink coffee black.
This has been a Hard Thing for me. Not on the scale of say, fighting cancer or climbing Everest, but it has demanded commitment and discipline and doing things I don’t want to do. My spirit has felt like a child who clamps his mouth shut and refuses to take his medicine even though it will make him better.
This has made me better.
On February 17th, my friend Jessica Turner will release her first book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You (available now for pre-order), and I can’t think of anything fringier I’ve ever done. After brushing my teeth, washing my face, eating an egg for protein’s sake, and thanking God that my body hasn’t mutinied on me yet – before I’m barely awake – I stumble out the door Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to do a thing for ME.
My husband scribbled a note on the back of a grocery list for me to find on that first day, six weeks ago–
and when I’ve felt like throwing in the towel, it’s a little thing that has kept me going. My neighbor, Marie, brave enough to say “Yes” when I asked her to join me, has kept me going, too. Accountability is an important contributor to my success, as well as the ability to process verbally every aspect of each day’s session. Our instructor is incredible, and she has yet to structure any two days the same. (Seriously, if you’re in the middle Georgia area looking for a good cross-fit program, contact me and I’ll give you the details.)
Boot Camp and Whole 30 are natural topics of conversation–anyone who follows me on Instagram, Facebook, my blog, or you know, asks me what I’m up to in real life, knows about both. Without exception…without exception…everyone has responded the same way: “I could never do that.”
Which I absolutely understand. Been there, said that.
And then, lo and behold, I discovered “always” and “never” are little demons that make you believe things that Just Aren’t True.
So, yeah…my minimal weight gain…. The slight increase in BMI and Body Fat %age….
Sure, I’m disappointed. But I refuse to be discouraged and I’m certainly not defeated…
Because my motive is in great shape.
I'm probably a teen's worst nightmare when it comes to driving: my mantra to my own children when they were of legal age to get their permit (and, later, their license):
A car in the hands of a driver is a loaded weapon.
They understand the depth and breadth of this truth from losing a 17-year-old friend in a tragic accident a few years ago; another beautiful young friend lost her arm just last year. I can think of half a dozen friends between the three of them who've been in wrecks as recent as two weeks ago…and my own babygirl called one night with words that froze my blood: "I'm okay mom but…."
As a mom, one of the hardest seasons to endure is the "learning how to drive" season. Perhaps The Hardest Thing Of Them All, though, is the first time they make a solo drive. The minutes between home and "there" feel like tortuous hours. The gracious advent of cell phones afford us a peace of mind our parents didn't have–they can easlily let us know when they've arrived.
The inherent danger associated with driving–especially inexperienced teen drivers who cannot understand ALL OF THE THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG–is why I tell my own "I will snap you like a twig if I find out you're texting and driving." They'll lose their phone, they'll lose driving privileges…and they'll lose my trust in their judgment.
Here's the worst part: I've been guilty of doing this very thing I rail against.
Someone should snap ME like a twig!
Just this week I was driving 65 mph on the interstate when a four-car collision happened in front of me; I didn't see the beginning but I saw a red car spinning and smoking across four lanes of traffic, another silver car with airbags deployed and a shatterd windshield, and two drivers already to the shoulder, both screaming into their cell phones. THE CAR SPUN DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME, and I, together with each of the cars in their respective lanes, stopped cold (fishtailing) on the interstate!
It scares the ever-living daylights to think about what if I had been texting and driving.
At a minimum it would have been a five-car collison.
When Verizon told their team of bloggers about how they were teaming up with other carriers for the It Can Wait campaign to discourage texting and driving, I knew I had to share the details with my readers.
And beg you to take the pledge. I did, and I agree with its sentiment: "NO text is worth the risk."
Teens aren't the only ones guilty of texting and driving; EVERY time I'm on the road I see it. And then I find myself channeling my inner Barney Fife and I want to roll down my window and scream "CITIZEN'S ARREST! CITIZEN'S ARREST!!"
Wait. That wasn't Barney….it was Goober. No…GOMER! It was Gomer Pyle!
But I digress. Forgive me.
I don't text and drive anymore; I've tried voice commands but I'm still distracted when I see what my cell phone interprets for my words. Sometimes what it comes up with is beyond laughable and possibly prosecutable under the law! Mercy!
Ninety-five percent of my readers don't comment to my blog (and if you're one who does, you know you're my favorite, right? You emailers, too 😉 ) but I'm asking you PLEASE comment to let me know if you signed the It Can Wait Pledge.
Comment by telling me what prompted you to do so; let me know how you're sharing the campaign with others. I know a lot of you don't blog, so are you emailing it to your friends? Sharing on Facebook? Pinning to a board that shares important information (or parenting tips or teenager info)? Printing out the flyers available on the campaign site to share with your kids' high school when it starts back up?
If you're on Twitter, feel free to cut/paste the following.
And if you're willing to BLOG about this, even if it's in a round-up or link list, please use the graphic on this post and link below; if there are at least 10 who join in by Friday, May 31, I'll give away a FANtastic prize (once I figure out what it is, at least $25 out of my own pocket. It's a small way to say thank YOU for helping to save lives…I don't think that's an understatement.)
What say you…are you in? Will you sign the pledge and let me know you did? I sure hope so! Memorial Day and weekend is when we remember and honor those who gave their lives for our country. Isn't it the perfect time for Everyday People Like Us to do a small thing that might have a powerful influence…and maybe protect someone you love?
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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile,
a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment,
or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential
to turn a life around.”
Recently I admitted having thin skin. On one hand I am Steel Magnolia, resilient and strong and confident. But the tiniest of daggers can pierce skin’s shield and impale my heart. Pieces shatter, blood flows, wounds seep. In that moment I take my eyes off Christ and I forget who I am.
Our hearts are fragile, aren’t they? God gave us new hearts, hearts of flesh to replace the stony hearts we had before we met Him; a place His spirit could reside, so Christ could live in and through us. I searched the word “heart” on Biblegateway and it returned 805 verses (NASB). This leaves little doubt to the heart’s importance based on Scripture’s pure repetition alone. Many were familiar references to the hardening of the heart and to its evil inclination, but also your heart:
(and this is just a sampling of the more exhaustive list I’m pondering…!) But how can we know if we don’t read His word? And how can we hear ~ truly hear ~ if we’re reading out of compulsion or obligation? With the turn of a new year, many of us claimed a word (or received them as a God-gift) as a banner for these 366 days in 2012. As much as I’m anticipating adventure, though…a question dogged me leading up to the new year–
Less than two months into daily reading, I’m better at the “daily” part of that question than the descriptors that come after; regardless, here’s the remarkable discovery:
Funfun–a cliffhanger! Please finish reading Fragile’s conclusion at (in)courage today.}
Eventually your t(w)een will get a cell phone; statistics suggest it's only a matter of time. According to a Pew Research Center article, 75% of 12-17 year olds own cell phones; one-third sends more than 100 text messages a day–3000 texts a month!
I applaud the parents who resist societal pressure to allow their child a cell phone before high school; we held out until eighth grade, and even then, my children were among the last of their classmates to get one.
Arguments on both sides of the issue are compelling, but rather than enter the debate about who's "right," let's consider the benefits and precautions of cell phone ownership among tweens and teens:
(This is why I recently referred to cell phones as a loaded weapon…!)
A few good resources:
THANK YOU for following my parenting series! Would you consider Stumbling, sharing on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ or Pinning my 31 Days of Parenting Teens & Tweens?
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/Artemis Gordon on Sciencedaily.comMore Recent Posts