Monday, September 22, 2014

And We'll Have Fun, Fun, Fun . . .

 Remake myself for the "second half" of life, get rid of bad habits, cultivate new ones, look at life with a fresh perspective, go forward without all the baggage.  That's the plan. So far my goals are to keep a clean organized house, eat healthy and exercise, manage my time and money, tame my tongue, control my anger . . .  but it doesn't all have to be so serious. Sometimes a girl just wants to have fun, right?   I don't mean the big-ticket items, like spending time with my kids and grandkids, traveling, or shopping at Hobby Lobby - but the stuff that I can make a part of every day to make life "fun".   My ideas of fun fall into three divisions: Books,  Social Networks, and Creativity.   

I'll get back to the first two areas later, but for now - a word on creativity.  "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 1:1  "God created man in His own image." - Genesis 1:27.  If God is the creator, and we are made in His image, we are creators also.  I believe we all have the need and the ability to be creative.  Maybe you express it with blue-ribbon-winning quilts, maybe you paint beautiful pictures, maybe you sing, or build furniture, or bake cupcakes.  Maybe your creativity comes out in your organizational skills or event planning or teaching Sunday School.  Maybe you don't see any creativity in your life, but I promise you, the potential is there - you just don't recognize it.

Don't limit yourself to one form of creativity.  I never thought I had any "artistic" abilities - - and I was right.  I can't draw anything beyond a stick figure, but I can do intricate cross-stitch (at least I could before bifocals),  I can make simple quilts and sewing projects, and draw Zentangles, and knit on a loom.  I can tat lace and I can play the piano (even though I don't much any more), and I can write a story. Most recently,  I discovered that I can paint with watercolors.  Do I do all of these things skillfully?  No.  Do I have fun trying?  Absolutely!  And once in a while, something turns out well and I am as surprised as any one.

Actually, my issue is that I can't - or don't - narrow it down.  I jump from project to project, with very little getting finished in a timely manner.  At times I think I should narrow my focus.  If I gave up some areas, I would have more time (and money) to become proficient at others.  But . . . nah!  One of the joys of life after fifty is that I have more "me" time and less concern about what other people think. I love the experience of trying new things, and if my watercolor paintings aren't gallery worthy, I'm ok with that.  

This quote from David Louis hangs on the wall of my craft/sewing room:

Never ask for approval in your work.  Life is your own, inspiration is your own, you create alone, and the results are your own - and that's good enough.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"50 IS the New Fifty: 10 Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood"


In keeping with my Life Under Construction theme, Teri - my sister, the other "T" in the T and T Book Club, blogger at Henningsen Happenings, and fellow "second-halfer" - selected Suzanne Braun Levine's 50 is the New Fifty as the September T and T selection.   Ms. Levine subtitled her book "10 Life Lessons"; however, while I did learn some interesting lessons, I didn't necessarily learn the lessons she intended.  Not all of the lessons applied to me, and Ms. Levine and I do not share all of the same views on theology and/or feminism, so our experiences - and, therefore our lessons, are different. I still gleaned some valuable advice:

At this stage we "recalibrate our place in the world" and our priorities change.  We are "inspired to get rid of old baggage...and move on with what we've found worth holding on to."  This is exactly what I've been dealing with.  My relationship with my children has changed.  My relationship with my parents is changing.  Even my relationship with my husband is changing (don't worry - it's good) because of all the other changes. The last couple times Dave and I have traveled, we have found that we prefer to carry less with us.  Let the paid professionals haul our baggage, and we can enjoy the trip unencumbered.  The same theory works in life. 

Lesson Two:  Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes  This was my favorite lesson! I've never been a huge fan of change, mainly because, for 30 years, I've been regularly thrown into change (moving) every few years, whether I've wanted it nor not. Stability and NON-change became the "dream" for me.   

For the "second half", I've actually reached a point where I WANT change  - but it doesn't have to be total transformation.  "While some women can redesign their lives from top to bottom...most of us can only manage small changes at first."  Most of what I have been writing about lately are small steps toward bigger changes.

The biggest change I want and need to make is described in the book as "getting out of the emotional management business.  Scale back the intensity of your sensitivity to every nuance of mood, your anticipation of every need,and your desire to solve every problem for those you love".  My children are now adults.  They can't take responsibility for themselves if I refuse to let go.

There were chapters of this book that I felt were pointless - and at least one that I thought was just wrong! - but I was able to look past those and benefit from the rest.  I am curious to find her previous book "Inventing the Rest of Our Lives".


Tangled Thursday Challenge: A Pattern Within a Pattern

It has come around to my turn to create a challenge for the participants of the Tangled Thursday meme - which can be you, if you want to join in.  The idea is that one person throws out an idea and each participant interprets it in whatever way they choose, posts a picture of their drawing and links up at Heather's blog, Books & Quilts.

My idea was inspired by this fabric that I purchased Friday as part of The World's Wildest Quit that I'm making for my daughter.


Then I saw this pin on Pinterest and the challenge idea was obvious:

Image from weheartit.com
For the next challenge, to be posted September 25th, create a large pattern and then fill it with smaller patterns.  It doesn't have to be the one shown here - it can be squares, triangles, any pattern you like.  Go forth and tangle.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Living Color . . .

Over the past year or so I have participated in a meme called Tangled Thursdays, in which a group of ladies take turns creating a Zentangle challenge for the other participants and we all link our posts at Books and Quilts, the blog of our lovely hostess, Heather.  This week, Marie gave us a very broad assignment.  Since we've all been a little lazy with our drawing this summer, just pick up your supplies and draw something, or post about a Zentangle website, or any other Zentangle related topic.

My drawing is Zentangle related because I used the watercolor pencils I purchased with the idea of adding color to my Zentangles.   I decided it was finally time to  get them out of the box.  After watching a short video and reading some further instructions, I decided to spend my limited time learning to use the pencils rather than creating an original drawing.

First I found a drawing I liked online and printed it.  This drawing of tulips and a stained-glass background had a Zentangle feel to it.



  I lightly traced the drawing onto watercolor paper, leaving out some of the detail.  Then I began filling in the drawing ...




 . . . using pressure and blending colors to create shadows and highlights.  



Once the drawing was completely filled in and highlights/shadows added, I used small paintbrushes and water to blend the colors.  The pencil tips can be dipped directly in water to add more vibrant color and deeper shadows.


It's a long way from a professional watercolor, but the pencils are a lot of fun to work with and I know more than I did when I started.  I will definitely be working them into my Zentangle drawings - as soon as I get back into the Zentangle swing.






Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Surprise Book Trade

When Dave met an Iowa farmer who had named his Blue Heeler Hank, he assumed their family, like ours, were fans of the Hank, The Cowdog series by John R. Erickson.  He was surprised when the farmer had not heard of the books, so the next day, Dave dropped off a volume from our son's collection.  What he got in return was an even bigger surprise.

The farmer's wife turned out to be Shari Barr, one of the authors of the Camp Club Girls series.  The series of twenty-four mysteries for middle-grade readers features six girls from all across the U.S., who meet at summer camp.  After the introductory story, Mystery at Discovery Lake, each book features one of the six girls and each character has her own author.  Mrs. Barr wrote the the four volumes focusing on 13-year-old McKenzie, and she presented Dave with a signed copy of McKenzie's Montana Mystery.

I started reading about McKenzie last night and, even though it's been a fair number of years since I was in the "middle grades" - or any grades - I was hooked.  I read as long as I could keep my eyes open, and finished the last few chapters this morning.  I felt like a kid again.  Honestly, it's been awhile since I read any mystery that I had that much trouble putting down.

The story revolves around a champion rodeo horse stolen from Sunshine Stables.  McKenzie and her friend, Bailey, start their own investigation when the adults draw a blank.  Even though that seems a little far-fetched at first, the story is so well written and the clues so well placed, that I soon forgot the sleuths were children and was creating my own scenario for "who-dun-it".   I got a kick out of the girls' use of technology, such as cell-phone cameras and on-line chats, in their investigation, and wondered if Mrs. Barr had to recruit a few "tweens" to help her with the chat-room slang.  I certainly had to stop and think a few times to figure out what the abbreviations meant.  (There is a handy "cheat sheet" included in the book if you can't work them out.)

The Camp Club Girls is a Christian series, published by Barbour Publishing.  The girls frequently pray about their situation or recall scripture they have learned to give them guidance.  The books in this series would make great gifts for young ladies who are already familiar with the Bible, but also for girls who haven't had that opportunity - a fun, low-key way to introduce them.

Thank you, again, to Mrs. Barr for sharing her book.  Our copy will be shared with a couple of our nieces, who happen to be just the right age to enjoy McKenzie's adventures.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks


Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together.
A few miles away, Wake Forest College senior Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death - loom large in everyday life. 
Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys.  (excerpt from publisher's blurb)

It took me a ridiculously long time to read this book because I kept convincing myself I didn't like it and laying it aside.  It moves too slow . . . (pause) . . . cliche college students . . . (pause) . . . ugh - WWII . . . (pause) . . . Why, oh why, is he telling me all this?  . . . (pause) . . . oh . . . OH . . Now, I get it.  Hmmm, this is a good story.  So, my review is:  This is a book by Nicholas Sparks.  Trust him - he's got some talent.  Even when your brain is saying you don't like this book - you're gonna like this book!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. - 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)
Today I'm looking at the second half of the "Self" branch of my Life Under Construction project.  I posted about the first half - wise use of time, and faithful stewardship of money - a couple weeks ago.  The two remaining focuses are:
  • improve my health
  • maintain a "quiet spirit"
Improved health is kind of a no-brainer for me.  In 2012, I lost fifty-five pounds, was able to stop taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications, improved my cardiovascular and muscular strength and felt great.   Over the next 18 months, I turned stupid, gained a chunk of it back, am struggling with old issues and it's all my own fault because I eat to satisfy emotions that will never be satisfied by a hamburger or a cupcake.  I am back on NutriSystem, talking to God about those emotions, and reminding myself that joy does not depend on size.  I do not have to put off enjoying life until I'm at my goal weight.  Moving on...

The idea of having a "quiet spirit" has always fascinated me.  I have a rather "exuberant" [loud and talkative] personality - at least when I'm around people I'm comfortable with -  and I have occasionally been hurt by negative comments about it.  I used to read this scripture from 1 Peter and promise myself I would have a "quiet spirit" from now on so no one would ever think that about me again.  But changing who you are is a difficult task, and of course I would forget and slip into old ways, until the next time my feelings were hurt.

Now that I view that verse from the perspective of fifty-plus years, I see that volume and quantity of words are not what Peter was addressing.  I am the person God created, and sometimes she's loud and talkative.  That doesn't mean I can't also have "a gentle and quiet spirit."  

Gentle and quiet will certainly not be words that come to mind when my children think of their teen years.  As typical teens, they gave me frequent cause to be angry and I did not handle it well.  I seem to remember raised voices, slammed doors and threats - and that was on a good day.  Now that they are adults, I hope that they will see a different attitude.  A "gentle and quiet spirit" does not react in anger.  That is not to say she never becomes angry, but that she controls her anger rather than the other way around.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry -  James 1:19
I hope that my children and grandchildren will feel comfortable confiding in me and seeking advice.  A gentle and quiet spirit listens without interrupting, considers what is being said, and "speaks the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). 

"Unfading beauty" - Whatever outward beauty I may have had is certainly fading - lines where their used to be smooth skin, thin hair where their used to be volume - but I accept that and try to strike a balance between looking my best and not wasting too much time and money.  A woman who abides in Christ finds her worth and value in her relationship with Him, and that grows more beautiful with age.

Some people create their own storm and then get angry when it rains. (found on Facebook)  A gentle and quiet spirit does just the opposite.  Daily time in God's Word and praying continually give her a foundation that can't be shaken.  She is at rest during the storms of life because she rests in Jesus.

I certainly haven't achieved this goal yet.  My anger usually comes out in more controlled ways now, but then I don't have teenagers living in my house.  I am finding it easier to listen to and encourage my children without trying to make decisions for them.  But not always.  The desire to run to God's Word wins out over the desire to phone a friend during a crisis - sometimes.  The face in the mirror could use some Botox, but one day she'll smile at the reflection of Christ she sees there.

That is what I want my children and grandchildren to remember of me in my "second half".   That is my prayer for my Life Under Construction:  

"God grant me the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit."