The gift of 70

Thoughts to Ponder – February 22, 2016

 “The hardest years in life are those between 10 and 70.”

Helen Hayes*

That is, indeed, good news, something I needed to hear on dark, cold February morning. A few days ago I turned 70, the culmination of a 69 year roller coaster ride. The past several weeks have been a period of reflection, looking at good times and bad and realizing that they were all just experiences that made me who I am today.

While birthdays brought just a continuation of the year before, decades were a little different. For instance, on my 20th birthday I was married, expecting a baby and looking forward to turning 21 so I could vote. By the time my 40th came along my children had all left home. I was single and starting to think about attending college. Then one day I was 60 and life had changed dramatically. I was retired, but still working and living near my daughters, their husbands and almost adult grandchildren.

Now, at 70 a new chapter is beginning. I’m not sure what that means. I’m still working, enjoying play dates with four great-grandsons and still hoping to write the great American novel. While my current job cushions the limitations of Social Security, more importantly it provides valuable social interaction and is FUN.

When I was younger a job was where I survived eight hours a day to feed the children and later myself. Age brings knowledge that I was the source of most of that discontent. I was much too concerned with what others thought of me. What I thought they thought of me is a more accurate statement.

Another thing I’ve learned is that I now have something important to say and I’m saying it in these occasional blogs. I’ve also learned there are times and places to keep my thoughts to myself. I allow my daughters to take care of me in little ways. They go to doctor appointments with me to take notes and ask questions that I forget. They advise me about this and that and check to be sure my refrigerator is full. Rather than considering that nosiness, I look at it as caring that I’m eating properly.

Who knows what this decade will bring? From this view point I see many more play dates with the great-grandchildren, continuing to work at a fun job and riding my bicycle around the neighborhood. I don’t have the strength and energy I used to have and I miss them. But their lack has been replaced by a life view that is a little more patient with my shortcomings – and those of others. What other people do is not so important anymore.

How I spend my days is much more important. Did I do something fun today? Did I feel grateful? Did I think kind thoughts of someone? Did I eat something just because it tastes good? Did I take a nap because I wanted to? Did I do something useful?

Spirit,

Thank you for seventy years of learning and more years to enjoy what I’ve learned. Thank you for being patient while I struggled to learn what is important. Thank you for a future to practice what has taken me so long to learn.

And, so it is.

*Hayes, Helen, from Treasury of Women’s Quotations by Carolyn Warner, Prentiss Hall

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 22, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

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Treat yourself

Thoughts to Ponder – February 10, 2016

“Every day, give yourself at least three really good treats.
One for every risk you take, and two because you’re you.
No exceptions. No excuses”

Martha Beck*

Oh boy! I can have three desserts every day. I’m heading for the grocery store to buy something yummy. My waistline is grateful that Beck was probably not referring to desserts, though an occasional dessert is good for our souls too. Beck is referring to things that make our souls feel happy.

There are so many ways we can treat ourselves. Treating ourselves regenerates our brains and bodies so we can work more efficiently. Perhaps we could tell ourselves, “Way to go! You did a good job!” We could do a happy dance. (Hopefully, the boss isn’t watching.) We could go for a walk and enjoy the sun warming our bodies. We could give ourselves a few minutes to play ONE game of Solitaire on our Kindles or work ONE crossword puzzle to get our minds off the project. Gratitude for ourselves also makes us aware of reasons to appreciate other people and the many wonderful ways they contribute to our happiness.

Regrettably, our society tends to consider treating ourselves as wasting time. Many of us were taught that to succeed we must “keep our noses to the grindstone.” Perhaps we were told that good grades and hard work are the stepping stones on the path to success. It is, but we owe it to ourselves to take a break, or three, every day. Otherwise, we are not on the path to success, but the road to a heart attack or mental collapse. Many employers offer their employees two 15 minute breaks and a lunch period. In the past I either worked through those breaks and ate at my desk or spent the time complaining about the boss, coworkers and the work load. Spending free time like that can add to the level of anger floating around the world.

Fortunately, my current employer believes in another axiom, “All work and no play make Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl.” For that reason they schedule several team events throughout the year. They may be just for fun, to showcase a new event or to support a good cause. These team events give employees time to relax and get to know their team mates personally. It also reminds them that their company appreciates their efforts and makes this a great place to work.

So take a few minutes to relax and show yourself some appreciation. You deserve it.

Spirit,

Thank you for this reminder to take a few moments several times a day to express gratitude for ourselves and our work. By being thankful for our own efforts we are thanking you for giving us life, love and even things we don’t like very much, but make us better people.

And, so it is.

*Beck, Martha, Daily Inspiration, info@marthabeck.com, February 3, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 10, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Laughter is a gift

Thoughts to Ponder – February 5, 2016

“Laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep,
tinged through with seriousness … the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.”

Sean O’Casey*

We often look at life as a serious situation. We’re born, live a tough life, then we die. What is there to laugh at? Everything.

My father was filled with anger and sadness, as were most men of his generation. They grew up during the Great Depression and survived horrendous circumstances in World War II. What was there to laugh at? Yet, if you attended any of our family reunions you would find the men outside under a shade tree laughing so hard we could hear it from some distance away. What they found funny is a puzzle, because children were not privy to their conversations.

Sometimes we could talk them into going down to the creek with us to see what lurked under the water. While supposedly condescending to amuse the children, one of them would begin splashing us and we all ended up in a big water fight. When called for dinner we’d all slosh back up the hill and see our mothers standing on the porch laughing at us.

When asked how he was feeling, my dad would always respond, “With my fingers.” Dad used say that men didn’t like skinny women. They wanted one “with a little meat on their bones.” Invariably my mom would ask, “So why did you marry the skinniest woman in the county?” His response, “I fattened you up a bit, didn’t I?”

As a child I couldn’t understand why Dad was sometimes funny and sometimes angry. When I became an adult I saw many of the same traits in myself and assumed it was an inherited disposition. As life progressed I began to understand that on one level laughter was a coping mechanism. Dad was living that part of the quote, “tinged through with seriousness…”

As I grew older I began to learn about letting go of old pain. I found that the more pain I released the quality of my laughter changed. Instead of laughing to release pain, I now laugh from pure joy. What a gift to laugh just because my great-grandsons give me hugs or I see a friend. How joyous to laugh with delight because the sun is shining on my face and creating shadows under the trees. I’m so grateful that I’ve moved forward to “the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.” 

While O’Casey didn’t mention it, laughter is a great way to connect with others. Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone is working hard to protect his or her turf? You can feel that the people are disconnected from each other. Then someone tells a joke. As everyone laughs, the distance melts and the group begins to work as a team.

Spirit,

Thank you for the gift of laughter and learning that laughter can help us in so many ways. It can release pain. It is a way to connect with others. It is a way to express joy. We laugh with joy that we are alive while we laugh at the funny things humans do every day.

And, so it is.

* Originally John O’Casey (1880-1964), Irish playwright, Green Crows, “Saturday Night, 1956

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 5, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.