A little dignity goes a long way

At a track meet today, I did some people watching between events. I noticed that many of the spectators were gray-haired, seasoned folks, yelling and encouraging the high school runners. In fact, there were as many “oldies but goodies” there, as there were younger adults.

I watched what they were doing and those that weren’t actively cheering were either chatting it up with others or using their cell phones.  Some were taking pictures and videos, others were playing solitaire and some were on Twitter and Facebook.  I loved watching how engaged they were in what they were doing.  I enjoyed watching their minds churn.  They were all full of life and sass.

It made me think of the nursing home visits we’d paid to my father-in law where the halls were lined with people whose eyes begged to be elsewhere. Some were there because of physical illness, some because of mental heath issues and some were there because they had nowhere else to go or no one to take care of them.

I wondered how many folks in nursing homes would thrive if they just had someone to take them to a game or discuss the news with them or show them the wonders of a cell phone. Or maybe they need to be talked to like the adults they are, not spoken to like babies. For some, a single phone call or  visit would probably work wonders. I wondered if they just needed something to look forward to and to know that someone cares and believes in them.

My father-in-law was in a nursing home for years after becoming extremely ill.  His prognosis of survival was slim. His health eventually improved and he moved to assisted living, two years ago. He always claimed that he would fully recover and start driving again and we admired his tenacity, but secretly believed that would never happen. A few months ago, after pacemaker surgery, he wasn’t able to return to assisted living because he’d now need oxygen, permanently. We didn’t want to put him back in a nursing home and he swore he could take care of himself, in an apartment of his own. So, against our better judgement, we moved him into his own apartment in an independent living facility and hired a nursing service to visit him three times a day. After two weeks of living independently, the nursing service called us to say that he no longer needed their care.  He’s now living alone and fine on his own. And he never needed oxygen.

We never thought a man in his mid-eighties could recover so completely. He always said he could, and he was right.  Now he wants to drive again. He says he can and I believe him.

Just goes to show…a little dignity goes a long way.

Compliment someone

I tried an amazing experiment recently. After years of being a greeter at church, and noticing that our church was home to a lot of vibrant, middle-aged women, I asked myself “How many of these women have you told that they’re beautiful?”  The answer was a very sad “not many.”

So I decided that, on the following Sunday, I would find something beautiful about every woman over age 30, and compliment them on it.  I knew that our congregation was far too large to compliment everyone, so I needed to establish an age limit.

That Sunday, I complimented women on the beauty of their shoes, scarves, hairdos, jewelry, and everything in between. And I meant it.

The result was simply amazing.

Each woman I spoke to welcomed the compliment with a radiant smile.  Those that walked in with their heads hung low, raised them and stood taller.  Some that were simply strolling in, gained a little pep in their step.

A woman in her seventies smiled and said “No one has told me I was beautiful since my husband died, ten years ago.”  Her comment brought tears to my eyes. I gave her a huge hug.

Another told me that she was depressed and wasn’t going to leave the house that day, but was now glad that she did. I hugged her, too.

The visual change in every woman was immediately noticeable, and very well received and I could tell that it soared far beyond the visual and into their spirit.  And the best part of all was the warmth that I felt from bringing happiness to so many, through a simple kind word.

So, sometime this week at work, church, the gym, the grocery store or wherever you might roam, give a sincere compliment to a stranger or someone you know.  You might find that you’re the reason they left their house today. They’ll love how it makes them feel and so will you.

 

 

 

How crazy are you?

Someone once defined crazy as doing things the same way, over and over again, and expecting a different result.

A good example of this is buying milk each morning and leaving it out of the refrigerator, expecting it to  be fresh the next day, or continuing to set your alarm clock for a time that doesn’t allow you to be punctual for work and expecting to be on time.

Are you that kind of crazy?  I am.

While I don’t do either of these things, there are several habits that I have that, if I just stopped doing them or worked on improving them, would net me better results.  I’ll bet many of you subscribe to that kind of crazy, too.

Maybe your crazy is staying up late at night and expecting to perform at your peak the next day. (Guilty). Or perhaps you give your kids way too much and expect them not to be spoiled. (Also guilty). Or maybe you feed your dog people food and expect him not to beg when you eat it.(Cuff me).

Or maybe you keep dating bad boys, hoping it’ll be better this time. Or, better yet, keep looking for an apology from someone who hasn’t given a single thought to the thing that has made you angry.

Whatever your form of crazy is, there’s hope for all of us. When we look at the negative outcome of our actions and wish that things would change, we should retrace the steps that lead us to where we are. If the root cause is that we’ve been doing things the same way, but expecting a different result, then welcome to Crazytown! It’s time to change up our game plan.

What are you doing that’s crazy? If you’re like me, you’re doing a lot. Let’s make a list and start by working on our own personal Crazy #1.

And then let me know how to get my dog to stop begging. The cuteness gets me every time.

 

 

 

 

Are you a good investment?

Of course you are! So, when’s the last time you did something to invest in yourself?  If it’s been a long time, it’s been too long.

Now, by investment, I don’t mean the last time  you bought yourself some shoes you’ve been wanting or dropped a bundle on your latest hairstyle. I’m talking about the kind of investments that will help you improve your life or achieve your goals.

I know it happens all the time…we set our minds to take a course or watch a podcast or take a trip, and something always comes up that requires the money we were going to use for that course, or the money for the investment never materializes. We know there’s information out there that could move us one step closer to what we’re trying to achieve, but it’s going to cost money or time that we could use for something else.

But guess what else? We’re all a work in progress and improving ourselves is worth every cent and second of that time!

And not every investment requires capital. The thing you need most might be marital counseling, help dealing with a divorce or overcoming infidelity. Or, it might be  learning how to be happy with yourself or overcoming fear and doubt.  You could be struggling with an addiction or a terrible boss or dealing with grief and depression, or simply in need of organizational skills to help pull together your craziness.  Many of these issues can be helped for free by finding a group of folks who are going through the same thing as you and sharing resources to help each other through it. A cup of coffee and a conversation goes a long way.

Any investment that makes you a better you, is worth it. So sign up for that class, take that workshop, join that group or buy that book! Or, if you’re like me,  dust off those sneakers and go use that gym membership you’ve been paying for five years now, but not using.  I’ll meet you there on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Or maybe just twice a week.  Baby steps are good.

 

 

Don’t judge

“Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Whether you attend church or not, that’s a scripture you’ve likely heard. It’s one of those used in common vernacular like “Do unto others”.

But while common, this scripture is often one of the hardest to adhere to and it’s a daily challenge to some.  I’ve done it and you’ve likely done it at one point or another in your life.

I remember one time when my son and I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and noticed a laundry cart parked inside the front door, stuffed with plastic grocery bags, stuffed with stuff.

The weather outside was frigid and wet. It was the kind of cold that chills you to your spine and makes you sure that you’re going to have a cold the next day…that Rochester, NY kind of weather.

We walked to the pharmacy to get our medicine and on the way out, noticed a woman dressed in tattered clothes and knit gloves with no fingertips, staring into the food coolers.   The bottoms of her pants were torn and wet almost to the knees, as if she’d been out walking in the cold for a long time. The longing in her eyes as she stared in the cooler showed that she was likely very hungry.  We figured the cart at the door belonged to her, remembered how cold it was outside, and we felt bad.

As we walked toward the doors to leave the store, I whispered “Should we help her,” and my son said “Yes.”

I knew I had a twenty dollar bill in my purse and nothing smaller.  I wanted to help the woman but, did not want to give her twenty dollars’ worth of help.  But remembering the cold, we turned around to find her and hand her the twenty.  When we found her, we noticed that she was not staring into a food cooler with desire, but had moved to a beer cooler, instead.

I immediately turned on my heels and headed back for the door saying “We almost gave that woman twenty bucks to fill her cart with beer!” My son looked up at me and said “How do you know she was going to buy beer with it, Mom?”

His innocent question made me realize that I didn’t know that for sure.  I didn’t know her or her circumstances and it wasn’t my place to judge her.

I turned once again, went back to the woman and said “Excuse me. We’d like you to have this,” and handed her the money.  The woman replied “God bless you,” and gave us a huge smile.

We left Walgreens feeling way happier than we had entered.   And though we’ll never know what she used the money for, we hope that she used it for something to keep her warm.  After all, it was her decision to make, not our decision to judge and my son helped me remember that.

Suffice it to say, you never know what another person is going through, so be kinder than necessary.  That’s another old adage, worth repeating today.

Girl Time

There’s nothing like spending time with your girls.

Life is busy.  For all of us. There are kids who need us, significant others who deserve our attention, work, church, aging parents and just other “stuff” that keeps us on the go. If you’re like me, you find yourself wishing some days that there was just one more of you to help take care of everything that requires your attention, or at least a few more hours in the day.

It took me a while to discover that when you’re feeling really overwhelmed with “stuff”, you’re likely overdue for some Girl Time. Girl Time is simply that, time spent with your girls.

And if you and your girls think you have no time for Girl Time, that’s exactly when you need it the most because, your girl support tank is on empty.

Get together for coffee or lunch, go shopping or to the movies, do karaoke or have a painting party. Whatever it is that allows you time to laugh and decompress, do it!

Your Girl Time might be time with one good friend or time with a few. And if you don’t feel like you have any girls, link up with a group of like-minded ladies – from church, a book club, work, the gym, sporting events or school.  And convince the guys in your life to do the same.  They need it too. Women and men have their own unique struggles.

There’s someone out there who understands your form of crazy.  Find them and cherish them.

Whether it’s planned or on a whim, fit Girl Time in. And have fun! As one of my girls always says “Whatsonever you do, it’s got to be funky.” So get your Girl Time on, Girls!

Mad at your spouse?

I won’t ask if anyone can relate to this because I already know the answer.  Yes. Everyone has been mad at their spouse once or twice or five million times.

Some go without a disagreement for long periods of time, living harmoniously from day to day, while others have frequent “intense fellowship”.  That’s how we refer to it at my house, though we don’t argue much.

I was very upset with my husband on Thursday.  We discovered that someone had mistreated one of my kids in school and I, being Mama Bear, was furious.  So furious I was speechless, which hardly ever happens.

My husband, on the other hand, was mildly annoyed.  He didn’t like the situation, but was not nearly as passionate about it as I was.  Passionate is a term I like to use when I’m highly animated and ready to see some heads roll. I was all set to write a very detailed letter to the Superintendent of Schools about the situation, demanding the immediate removal of this staff person. My hubby, on the other hand said “Well, we didn’t find out anything we didn’t already suspect.”

I had great plans to stay mad at him for at least the whole weekend, speaking only when spoken to and giving him a glare each time he entered the room. Until yesterday afternoon at work when my youngest called me, upset that something terrible had happened that day. One of his closest friends’ dad’s had died during the day, while he was at school, and he was devastated. My youngest is 12.

I left work in tears, trying to fathom the strength it must have taken for this child’s mother to pick her children up from school and tell them that their father had suddenly passed away.  To be the bearer of the absolute worst news to her precious children, and hold herself together while doing so. This morning she woke up to the fact that it’s not just a bad dream and began the task of not only burying her husband, but figuring out what to do next.  I’m praying that all the angels in heaven surround this family today.

In an earlier blog, I wrote that life is short. That’s a phrase worth repeating today.  It’s certainly far too short to stay mad at anyone, especially those closest to you.

Needless to say, I’ve forgiven my husband.  In fact, we’re discussing date night.

 

 

 

I was laid off.

Over a year ago, I was laid off.  One day I was employed, the next day I wasn’t. And, though the company had been downsizing for some time, it caught me by total surprise. I had never been jobless.   After all, I was a good employee, rose to multiple positions while working there and they liked me. How could they call me one afternoon, on my wedding anniversary, as I prepared to drive out of town to see a Stevie Wonder concert and inform me that my job was no more. How could they lay me off? Didn’t they realize that my husband had just recently started working again after being laid off for two years?

Being laid off is one of the scariest, debilitating things that can happen to a person’s mental, physical and emotional well being. It sends the mind spiraling from usefulness to uselessness. And no matter how sure you are that it was purely a financial decision, it never feels better than a gut punch. And a sucker punch at that.

In today’s day and age, we all know someone who has been laid off, and in many cases, we are that someone. I know lots of those someones and I know they are good people, good workers and were loyal employees of good companies.

If you know someone who has been laid off, or who’s staring a potential layoff in the face, remember these three things:

Encourage them- Assure them that everything has its season and it’s time to go bless another employer or start a business of their own. Point out their gifts and show them the benefits of new possibilities. Make sure they know that layoffs are commonplace these days and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Listen to them- They are going through a range of emotions that you likely can’t understand.  Let them talk it out, cry it out, scream it out…whatever they need. They’ll feel better just knowing you care.

Help them to network-Connect them with people you know and encourage them to reach out to others they know. And, if they’re middle-aged or older or just plain depressed, spruce them up. Take them shopping for a new outfit or maybe some hair color.  It’s a sad fact, but age discrimination does exist and first appearances do matter to employers.

I was blessed enough to immediately find a new job with a former employer (which is a blog in itself about never burning bridges), but not everyone is.  Do something nice today for someone who’s been laid off or who’s worried about the future of their job.

Be a blessing to them because, unlike a job, blessings never fail.

Take good care!

 

 

 

 

 

What’s wasting your time?

I’m not a big television watcher.  I really don’t have a favorite show and I couldn’t tell you which show comes on when.

Between working full-time, playing chauffeur to the the kids, coordinating everyone’s calendars, cooking, cleaning (occasionally), laundry, college visits and aging parents, who’s got time for t.v?

But this past weekend, I decided to make time for it and take time for it. After all, I work hard, right? So, I decided I’d sit myself down for a much-needed break, find a show on Netflix and binge til my eyeballs dried out.

For two days I sat down and watched a few seasons of a show, went to bed and got up ready to watch some more. Yes, I said seasons, not episodes.  It’s fascinating, how you tell yourself you’re just going to watch one more episode, then that episode ends in a cliff hanger, then you’ve just gotta see the next one and before you know it, you’re hooked.

Yesterday, as I sat back down to binge again, each of my youngest kids asked for permission to  do things that they’d never asked to do before and we never would have allowed them to do, because we are superprotective. I looked at them long and hard and realized that they weren’t babies anymore and that what each was requesting was actually appropriate for their age.

Then it suddenly hit me that they’d be grown and gone away, before too long, and I didn’t have any more time to spend on the couch.   I realized that every moment I spend doing things that are not positively adding to my life, or that of my family, is a moment wasted that I’ll never get back. I realized that I’m going to be an empty nester one day, and I decided that I’d better get off my butt and focus on  things that will help me achieve my dreams.  And my dreams do not include Netflix.

So, Friends, I ask you…what are you wasting your time on today instead of working to fulfill your dreams? Perhaps its social media or you’re lost in the made up reality of a reality show.

Or maybe you’re wasting your time on a person or people who aren’t positively impacting your life. Or  you’re wasting your time feeling guilty about something, or not granting forgiveness to someone.

Whatever you’re wasting your time on, Friends, it’s not too late to kiss it goodbye.  Each day brings a new opportunity to be productive and do something great.  Grab it by the horns and say “Hey, Gorgeous, you’re the day I’ve been looking for!”

By all means, rest when you need it, but say goodbye to your blessing blockers! Life’s too short to waste time.

Farewell, Netflix!  Your plans for my life have been thwarted.

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And away we go…

I’ve been thinking about blogging for a long time now.  What better time for a new beginning than the beginning of a new year?

I see things every day that make me say “Wow. I should really write about that!” Today, I’m going to start that journey and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

So…what to blog about?  Where should I begin?

I’m going to write about things I know best… like motherhood, relationships, and life for the middle-aged woman. I hope to make you think a little, laugh a lot and often say “Oh. I can relate to that!”

I won’t take much of your time and I promise it will be time well spent.  Since you’ve already read a lot for today. I’ll make today’s topic short and sweet and I’ll just introduce you to me.

My name is April and I am in my late forties.  I can hardly believe I’m this old already.  I really think and feel like I’m much younger and often find myself looking at others, especially celebrities, and wondering at how much they’ve aged, forgetting that I’ve aged just as much.  Ever find yourself doing that?

I am a Christian and I am married with three kids (a twenty-something, a middle-schooler and a high-schooler). I also have two granddaughters and a really cute white dog named Popcorn who bounces off the walls like…well…Popcorn.

I’m a working mom so, needless to say, I work HARD everyday. I have a bad junk food habit and plan to lose weight one day, but not today.

My house is often messy and sometimes I just let it stay that way, and I’m okay with that.

I like gospel, jazz and R&B and my favorite singers are Stevie Wonder and Anita Baker. When I see them, I scream, really loud.  I hope everyone has had an artist they’ve screamed really loud for. Think back, you’ll think of one.

I love to write. I have authored two fiction books and am working on my third, which is about relationships. And I am a blogger, of course, starting today.

My friends, today, I leave you with this…find your passion and do it everyday. Don’t know what your passion is?  Start with what you’re gifted at. Search for it in bits and pieces and one day, the puzzle will form a more beautiful picture than you ever could have imagined.

Bad day at work?  Do your passion.  Co-worker upset you? See your passion. Kids getting on your last nerve? Work your passion. Husband acting crazy?  For goodness sake, show him some passion!

Pray about your passion, laugh about your passion and be about your passion.  And, if all else fails, eat a Snickers!

Talk with you tomorrow!

Love,

April