Understanding Old People – Part Two

*If you missed part one, make sure you read it first!

I Don’t Know It All

But, wait a minute – I am supposed to be describing the wonderful part of getting older; let me get back on track. One of the best things about getting older is that I have realized I don’t know it all! Wonderful freedom comes with this acknowledgement and with the courage to admit it openly! For a great part of our adult life it is typical to make it or fake it. Too many people worry about what other people think. There is an unspoken pressure to know everything about everything or at least to act like you do and hope you don’t get caught. Admitting I am not the authority on everything comes easier with age – don’t ask me why but it is true. One of the biggest joys and reliefs came when I realized my kids were a great source of help in so many arenas! As parents we spend so much time and effort trying to encourage our children to be smart and to become wise. So doesn’t it make sense to assume something we did must have worked because there are lots of things they can help us with when we get “older.” One safe example would be the clicker. Your first question might be, “which one?” Because don’t we all have drawers full of clickers – the old ones, the new ones, the TV, the surround sound, the DVD and/or Blue ray… not to mention the universal one that is supposed to combine everything into one? Needless to say these clickers can become quite a frustration. I figured out a long time ago to look for a young person, in fact, the youngest person around to straighten out the clicker problems. It is amazing what a young child can do that a parent or grandparent cannot. I’m not going to try to figure out the why to that but I am going to continue to work the system that works – give the clicker to a child if one is available or, if necessary, call a child who is away at college.  I can’t tell you how many times I called our son, Wes, when he was in college in Kentucky and we were at home in Texas and he could tell me exactly what to do with each of the three clickers we used to help me get a movie to play!  It was like magic.  I chuckle remembering the night JB nearly blew up the TV trying to do it himself before he finally gave up and called Wes.  My motto — use the resources God provides!

For a great part of our adult life it is typical to make it or fake it.

I Don’t Have to Do It All 

Now that I admit to being old, not only do I not know it all, I don’t have to do it all. Whew! Makes me feel better just to say it out loud. Our culture encourages us to do it all or perhaps die trying. We may know this is not a good idea, but for a good part of our adult life, many of us got caught up in the flurry of activities and went along with the crowd to participate in way too much. I’m afraid many people get to a certain age and realize they missed the most important things in life because they were just too busy. One piece of advice I’d give to younger adults is to consider carefully the things you commit to on your calendar. One helpful hint as you consider cutting back is to see your life in chapters. Some things that take up lots of your time might be just right for a certain season but you may need to give them up in a new chapter. That’s not to say you won’t revisit those same or similar activities at some point later. One example might be of a young career woman who loves her work, exercise routine, volunteer commitments, and social time with friends. But then she reaches that long anticipated goal of marriage! Things begin to shift a little and some conflicts may arise. Then come the babies! Wait a minute. How can a woman do all of the above and do it well? The truth is she can’t. Do it all, that is. Looking back and speaking now as an older person, I can tell you that lifestyle changes demand adjustments. As I love to tell first time mothers, “life as you knew it… is history!” That is not bad, it is just reality. Some things move to the back burner because other “things” now demand front and center. But that’s okay. All through the years ahead you will constantly be choosing priorities and making decisions that make your story. Keep your head up, your heart focused, and learn to say “No” from time to time. It feels really good and it can help set you up for success.

to be continued –

Understanding Old People – Part One

There are advantages to getting older. While it is easy to gripe about all the things that go wrong, go down, go away as we age, we can also choose to rejoice over those things that get better and are advantageous.

For the past year or so I have told numerous people that one of my new mantras is “the older I get the more I understand old people.” Maybe you get it but perhaps I need to illustrate. I used to wonder why old people typically talked about their health! Come on . . . don’t they have better things to discuss? Well, guess what? I am learning why they do this.  It is because when you start getting older (you pick the age that suits you – I used to think 60 was definitely old, but since I turned 61 this year I am struggling between accepting that I am, indeed, now OLD, or arguing to move my definition of old to 70). Anyway, the reason old people talk about health is that at about 60 or so it typically starts unraveling in some form or fashion. I remember thinking my Daddy was joking when he said, “After 60 it’s just patch, patch, patch!”  Now I know….

We are beach people and we have our rituals at the beach – walking on the beach, laying in the sun by the pool, sitting in our little chairs at the water’s edge. Ahhh, the fun of it all.  This year, for the first time, I hate to admit that when I stood in front of the mirror in my bathing suit (one of my old faithfuls as mentioned in an early post!), my legs looked like Mama’s legs! Oh my goodness! This is not to slam my mother who stayed in shape and walked and took care of her health and never was overweight. But, you know what I mean, Mama’s legs sorta drooped, looked crepe-y (like crepe paper), in other words were kind of wrinkled! (Please don’t tell her I said this!) While I am being so descriptive I will add that I love dimples and always have wished I had two perfectly placed dimples in my cheeks. But, I don’t. However, my desire for dimples has come true, though displaced! If you can imagine anything worse than wrinkled legs, let me add that my legs now have lots of dimples. In fact a friend of mine, of course one about my age, said that our legs look sort of like cottage cheese but she strongly recommended that I keep wearing my bathing suit and sitting in the sun because tanned cottage cheese looks better than white cottage cheese!  Man, it is bad.

Looking down at my arms while I am typing has revealed that the problem with my legs has now moved to my arms. Reminds me of a girl I worked with at our children’s school in Orlando years ago. It was hot there and I often wore sleeveless shirts. One day Sarah, who was a few years older than I, commented, “I can’t believe you can wear sleeveless shirts!  My arms have not seen the sun in years!” I had no idea what she was talking about… I think now I do. Same with shorts. I loved wearing walking shorts all those years in Orlando and wondered why so many women wore longer pants. I just didn’t know what was around the corner! Capri length pants are the new shorts for older women!

So I must ask the question:  why did I assume my legs would never look like Mama’s? Did I just think I was going to defy age and all that comes with it? Wasn’t that sort of stupid or at least short-sighted? Now that I have gotten “old person kind of smart” I realize there are only two options – die young or join the ranks of those old people we love to question, look down upon, or make fun of. I think we can do better than this.

– to be continued

From Sunshine to Storms

An hour ago I was sitting on the beach at the water’s edge, enjoying the sunshine and the waves of water coming up and over my feet. The beach was crowded with people as far as my eye could see. All of a sudden I felt a very cold breeze. I looked over my left shoulder and saw huge dark clouds bearing down to the north of where I was sitting. Within seconds the lifeguard nearby stood and began blowing his whistle, waving his flag for everyone to come in out of the water. I packed up my chair and book and came inside. The book I was reading was A Perfect Mess, and I knew if I did not move fast I was going to be one! It was the wise thing to do. Now I am witnessing a ferocious thunderstorm. The wind is blowing violently, rain is pounding, and lightning and thunder are putting on a multi-media show. It is amazing how quickly and dramatically the weather can change. But I feel safe in the shelter of my condo.  It was a good decision I made to heed the warnings and move to safety.

It was the wise thing to do.

Life is much the same. Things can be going very well and then, all of a sudden, something can happen that turns everything upside down. So what is the wise thing to do when things fly out of control? God’s word has wisdom and direction, but will we look to him, trust him, obey him and rely on his promises? As for me, I’m sticking with God, and so far he has never failed me. I’ve disappointed myself, others have let me down, but God? Well, no, he never has. In many instances I don’t like what God allows or what he requires of me and I find myself trying to negotiate with him. In the end, whether I choose to obey him or not, he is still always right, and over time I’ve learned that trusting him, even in the dark when I don’t understand, is always best for me. Consequences for my disobedience are inevitable and usually painful. Blessings that follow my obedience (even while gritting my teeth) are typically beyond my imagination and bring as a bonus joy that may seem a paradox.

Proverbs 3:5-8 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

I believe that and have lived long enough and “tried it my way” enough times to know for a fact who is God and who is not.

Here are more verses from the same chapter of Proverbs that give us great hope. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her (wisdom) is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her…My son, do not lose sight of these — keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Prov. 3:13-15; 21-26.

The Lord will be your confidence.

As you are moving along life’s path today, be reminded – the weather and circumstances may change at any moment, but God is sovereign and he will use every detail in your life to draw you closer to himself. Heed the warnings and run in the right direction. He will not fail you but will comfort and strengthen you at your point of need.  So will you do the wise thing?

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