On growing older

If you’re anything like me, you spend quite a bit of time watching older folks and wondering if you’re going to be like them when you’re their age.

You look at their shape and wonder if you’ll be shaped like them. You gaze at their posture and wonder if you’ll be able to stand up straight.  You glance at their smile and wonder if you’ll have all of your teeth.  You watch their gait and wonder if you’ll amble along with a cane or a walker.  You wonder if you’ll be useful when you’re older and if you’ll still have your hair.

But mostly, you watch them struggle to remember things and think about how increasingly often you forget why you’ve walked into a room. Then you pray that your own memory holds out.

Does that sound at all like you?

Getting older is a blessing. Few people would argue that.  But, for some, the golden years can be anything but golden. For some, due to health issues, loss of loved ones, mobility and income, the golden years are a dark shade of blue.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, or even if there will be a tomorrow. But there is something we can do to improve life for ourselves and others, at any age.

Though wrinkles may come, body parts may betray us and our metabolism and thought processes may slow to a crawl, the love in our hearts never fails.

Love is an ointment that soothes old wounds, heals broken hearts and breathes life into old and young alike. It’s the ultimate resuscitator. You can feel it, receive it, hold onto it and best of all, give it.  And no matter how old we get, it will always be useful. There is always someone who needs it.

So as each day passes and we’re blessed to grow old, let’s share with each other the gift that never expires. Love on somebody today.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:8

 

 

 

Spoiled rotten

A friend brought up a very good point to me today. I told her about a choice I gave to one of my children and how, when my child’s response was less than grateful, I told my child they couldn’t have either choice. I thought that was good parenting.

The problem my friend pointed out to me was not my child’s ungratefulness (after all, that was the thing I was upset about), but it was the fact that I had given my child two options, in the first place.  After all, the options had to do with something nice I wanted to do for my child.  Something they’d like, that was a gift, not a necessity.

The truth is that I should not have given my child an option. I should’ve just said “This is what we’re doing, and when,” not “I’d like to do this nice thing for you, when and where would you like me to do it?”  After all, it was going to cost me time and money and their only job was to sit back, smile and be grateful.

So I decided to write about this today, because I know I’m not the only one who has done this.  In fact, I’ll bet someone reading this has done it today. Parents have been engaging in this type of behavior for years and it has resulted in an entitled, spoiled and ungrateful generation.  We see it in other families and shake our heads, but wear blinders when it comes to our own.

We say to our kids “You’d better be glad my mama wasn’t your mama because you’d be getting off the floor right now,” or “My parents would’ve never spent that kind of money on a pair of sneakers.” Then we let their rudeness slide and dig deep into our wallets to make Michael Jordan richer.

And heaven help us if the kids are good students. We use this as an excuse to buy them whatever they want or take them wherever they want to go.  Or we let bad behavior slide because they’re getting A’s and B’s and are “a pleasure to have in class,” while forgetting that doing well in school is their job and they need to be a pleasure to have at home, too!

And how about those cell phones?  You know, the one thing we can take away that will really get their attention?  When we take it away for bad behavior, how long do we keep it before we give it back?

Oftentimes, it’s not for long because we’re still allowing them to hang out with their friends and we want them to have their phone so we can reach them in case of an emergency.  Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?

Let’s get real, folks.  They’re spoiled rotten. We’ve allowed it and, in fact, created it.  But we don’t have to continue it.   The world already has its fill of people who won’t get along if they don’t get their way. Let’s stop contributing to the problem.

Thanks to a friend today, I’m going to be mindful of these behaviors.  Won’t you join me?

My Lupus Monologue

I have a disease with a five-letter name.  It tries to annoy me and cause me pain.

It messes with my insides, my hair, and my feet and thinks it’s something that I can’t beat.

Many have died from its complications and I know it thinks that scares me. It makes me tired and weak sometimes, I must admit it wears me.

Some nights it’s hard getting up the stairs, with lupus and all of my other cares.

But guess what folks; I’m here to say that lupus can kiss my butt today.

I keep on running, when I feel beat and tell lupus to get under my feet.

I tuck my children in their beds and keep up on my lupus meds.

I praise the Lord as each day begins and with His help lupus never wins.

Most people do not know I have it, but it’s not that I’m ashamed.

I call it out as the punk it is and call it out by name.

I grab that lupus by the leg and make it get behind me.

It may be something that I have, but surely won’t define me.

So call out what you have today that may seem way too large.

Let it know that you’re the boss and that YOU are in charge.

Your ailment may not be physical; it might be in your head.

It may be keeping you up and night, although you’re safe in bed.

Let it know that you’re no joke and tell it in a hurry.

For life’s too short to fill your days with anxiety and worry.

(April drops the microphone and walks away. Lupus fades to black)

Listen up!

Communication.  We’re all about it. We write, we call, we text, we email, we post on social media.  We communicate.  Right?

We communicate to learn, we communicate to socialize, we communicate to express ourselves, but do we communicate to listen? When we ask questions, do we really listen to the answer? When we say “How are you,” do we hear the reply and do we really care how they are?

Communication is not a lost art form, but it can be a one-sided affair. It’s kind of like being in love with the Fonz from Happy Days or a conversation with the cheerleaders from The Middle or watching Nikki and the professor from The Parkers. One side is passionately tuned in while the other is disengaged and wondering if they should stop for ketchup on the way home.

The part of communication that’s sorely lacking today is listening.  Not the occasional “um hmm” listening, but active, attentive listening.  Listening that involves eye contact. Listening that involves putting down your cell phone, or looking away from your laptop. Listening that involves stopping what you’re doing when you’re in the middle of a thousand things. People want to be heard and acknowledged when they’re talking. They want to know that they’ve made a secure connection. They want to know you care.

So, if you’re like me, and guilty of all of the above, let’s work together to get better at listening. Everyone needs an ear sometime. We never know when someone is telling us something too precious to miss. So let’s look up and listen up.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m proud of you

When is the last time someone told you they were proud of you?  If it was long ago, you might not remember how it made you feel. You may have forgotten the smile that crossed your face and the feeling of warmth in  your heart.

As we age, we find that we and many of our friends have lost a parent, or both parents. And all too quickly, we’re losing loved ones our own age.

And when our parents have passed, we feel a great void when we’ve done something great because they’re not there to tell us they’re proud of us, brag about our accomplishments, or beam with pride.

So I think it’s time we start a pride revolution. One where we let each other know that we’re proud of what we’ve done, proud of how far we’ve come, proud just to know one another.

Let’s tell our friends,relatives, co-workers, neighbors, pastors, and especially our children, how proud we are of them. It may have been ages since they’ve heard it or it may be the very first time.  No one is exempt. Even leaders need to know they’re doing a great job.

And for those with spouses, don’t leave them out. If you can’t find the words, hold their hand on date night. They’ll feel the pride, the warmth will seep through and they’ll get the picture.

Be proud of yourself! You got up today, you read this post and you’re about to go out and make someone’s day. I just know it and I’m so proud of you!

 

 

 

Is Chivalry Dead?

Do you often wonder what happened to chivalry?  If you’re middle-aged or nearing it, chivalry is likely something you remember, but something you seldom see.

Whatever happened to the days when all young men were taught to open doors for women, and not just women, but other people, in general?  The days when a young man wouldn’t think about coming to pick up someone’s daughter without coming to the door and meeting her parents.  The days when “honk, honk” wouldn’t do. And you’d better not have to open your own car door.

And how about public transportation?  Why should a young man, or woman for that matter, continue sitting down when an elderly person boards a bus or a train?  What happened to teaching our kids to give up their seat for their elders?

And mothers, why are we shoveling snow while young folks are inside playing video games or watching videos on their cell phones?  Do we really like the snow that much? What about the lawn? Are we hiring folks to do this work while our able-bodied children sleep in?

Maybe we need to return to the days of “Yes, Ma’am” and “Yes, Sir.”  Call me old-fashioned, but one thing’s for certain, our kids shouldn’t be referring to adults by their first name unless a Mr., Ms. or some other title precedes it, unless specifically asked to.  It’s a matter of respect.

Is chivalry tarnishing because children know how to behave, but aren’t practicing what they’re taught?  Sometimes.  Or is it that parents are raising friends and not children?  Perhaps. And sadly, sometimes, there are no parents.

But we can do things to make chivalry shine again.  We can correct it when we see it being neglected and we can be bold enough to demand the respect that comes with it. It’s okay to buy your nephew a belt and let him know that the world doesn’t want to see his boxer shorts.

So, let’s start a revolution of chivalry, folks!  Teach your kids, your neighbors kids, your siblings’ kids and your students how to be ladies and gentleman. It takes a village to bring chivalry back. Some young folks  just need a reminder but, for some, it will be their first time hearing it. Speak up. You may impact a life.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Chivalry Dead?

Do you often wonder what happened to chivalry?  If you’re middle-aged or nearing it, chivalry is likely something you remember, but something you seldom see.

Whatever happened to the days when all young men were taught to open doors for women, and not just women, but other people, in general?  The days when a young man wouldn’t think about coming to pick up someone’s daughter without coming to the door and meeting her parents.  The days when “honk, honk” wouldn’t do. And you’d better not have to open your own car door.

And how about public transportation?  Why should a young man, or woman for that matter, continue sitting down when an elderly person boards a bus or a train?  What happened to teaching our kids to give up their seat for their elders?

And mothers, why are we shoveling snow while young folks are inside playing video games or watching videos on their cell phones?  Do we really like the snow that much? What about the lawn? Are we hiring folks to do this work while our able-bodied children sleep in?

Maybe we need to return to the days of “Yes, Ma’am” and “Yes, Sir.”  Call me old-fashioned, but one thing’s for certain, our kids shouldn’t be referring to adults by their first name unless a Mr., Ms. or some other title precedes it, unless specifically asked to.  It’s a matter of respect.

Is chivalry tarnishing because children know how to behave, but aren’t practicing what they’re taught?  Sometimes.  Or is it that parents are raising friends and not children?  Perhaps. And sadly, sometimes, there are no parents.

But we can do things to make chivalry shine again.  We can correct it when we see it being neglected and we can be bold enough to demand the respect that comes with it. It’s okay to buy your nephew a belt and let him know that the world doesn’t want to see his boxer shorts.

So, let’s start a revolution of chivalry, folks!  Teach your kids, your neighbors kids, your siblings’ kids and your students how to be ladies and gentleman. It takes a village to bring chivalry back. Some young folks  just need a reminder but, for some, it will be their first time hearing it. Speak up. You may impact a life.

 

 

 

 

 

The things we take for granted

What a week, Rochester-area readers! Wednesday started as such a bright, sunny day. Who would’ve guessed it would end with the devastation brought on by Windpocalypse 2017 with trees and light poles down, properties badly damaged and massive power outages that are still not restored for many.

The suddenness of it made me wonder if this was a wake-up call. No one likes wake up calls. They interrupt the serenity of our pleasant resting state and jar us into an unexpected, shocked alertness. They make us stand at attention, focus our thoughts and stare in wide-eyed wonder. But, once awake, we acknowledge that there are important things we would’ve miss out on, if we had continued sleeping.

Without Windpocalypse, we might’ve continued to take for granted that we have heat, electricity and refrigerators that keep our food cold. We might have forgotten what it’s like to take a cold shower, get out of a hot shower into a cold house, or take no shower at all. We may have never gone without a sleepless night, wondering if our cell phones would run out of power before our alarm clock went off for work or worrying if the carbon monoxide from our generator was vented well enough for us to make it through the night.  We may not have worried about the food, spoiling in the refrigerator, or falling asleep while the candles were burning. For these are not things we worry about in our pleasant resting state.

But, with all that it took out, the windstorm brought in the best of humanity and without it, we would’ve slept through that, too. It brought utility workers from all over the northeast away from their families to help restore power to strangers in freezing temperatures. It brought coffee and chainsaws to neighbors and caused families to spend quality time together, resulting in the re-invention of the board game. It turned co-workers into family members and friends into roommates. And, it prompted folks to leave their change at the drive-through for the next car in line.

Yes, it’s been an interesting week in Rochester, NY. We were blessed to have our power restored, but know that for others, the nightmare continues. For those of you reading this from your tiny phone screen, God bless you for spending your precious power on this post.  Be encouraged. We’re praying for you and there’s power in prayer. Reach out for the best of humanity. It has a warm hand and warm heart.

Disappointment-free zone

Have you been disappointed by someone you thought you could depend on?  Have you done something for someone that you thought they’d reciprocate, but they didn’t?  Did you let someone borrow something, expecting to get it back but never saw it again?

I think we can all answer these questions with a “yes,” because, at one time or another,  we’ve done someone a favor and found ourselves disappointed when in need of help, or a caring gesture from those who we’ve treated with kindness. For clarity’s sake, let’s call the person who neglects to return favors “the debtor.”

When faced with this issue, some of us rationalize that the debtor is likely just busy this week and will eventually call us to offer their help or condolences.  Others sit and think about all of the other things the debtor should’ve done and build up a solid prosecution against their character, their family and their  lack of good home training.  And others decide that they won’t be victimized by this sort of rudeness again and cease to do good deeds for anyone until the debtor shows them some good will.

But I’ve learned that the way to avoid being disappointed by others lies not in withholding good things or never letting others borrow or refusing to get our hopes up, but lies simply in understanding that you are the only one with your exact DNA.

There is no one else that has your exact character, that feels things the same way you do or thinks exactly like you. You can’t expect others to do what you’d do, because they’re not you. You can’t sit around waiting for Roger to apologize because you would apologize if you were Roger, because you’re not Roger.  And it does no good to be mad at Shirley for never returning your white blouse. It’s been 2 years.  It’s Shirley’s blouse now so stop sneering at her when she wears it. Besides, it has pit stains now.

Keep being you and do what you do. If you’re going to give, give freely. Don’t expect others to possess the characteristics you have. We can all only give what we’ve got.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you really fine?

How ARE you today?

If you answered “Fine,” and meant it, then fine.  If you answered “Fine” because it’s the expected answer, the short answer or the only acceptable answer, then the question becomes “Are you really fine?” But few people stop to ask if you’re really fine.  Most people assume that fine means fine.

Did you know it’s fine to admit you’re not fine?

Most of us want the world to think we’ve got it all together.  We post the best of our lives and hide the rest of our lives. And many of us are hiding how we really feel from day-to-day, fearing the shame of not being “normal.” But who decides what’s normal?

The stigma that accompanies admitting that we feel very sad inside, or are so filled with fear that we can barely complete daily tasks, is not one that we want to face.  We’d rather suffer in silence, stay home, avoid phone calls and make excuses. And we’ve gotten quite good at it. But depression and anxiety crave attention, and they’ll demand all that you’ve got.

But guess what? Most, if not all, of the people in that group you’re afraid to join have the same issues that you have and they’ve been hiding it, too.  Some have even more.  But the thing you won’t discover by avoiding that gathering is that some of them have your solution.

You don’t have to tell a whole group about the things that aren’t fine, but you could start with just one trusted friend. Sometimes raw honesty about your struggles encourages others to share how they’re fighting their own demons. Confession doesn’t make you weak. Even the strongest of officers calls for back-up, sometime.

So find someone you can trust, ask them how they’re doing and when they ask you back, tell them how you really are.

And remember, it’s fine to let them know that you’re not fine.