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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

THE JOY OF MELLOWING WITH AGE

One of the greatest things about getting older is being able to laugh more. When I was younger, I took life way too seriously. I was more likely to cry about something than to laugh about it. I had a hard time seeing the funny side of things because I was so focused on a perfect life. If something went wrong, I couldn't laugh about it because failure just wasn't funny to me. I was too insecure to laugh at failure. Disappointment always upset me and I probably wasn't much fun to be around. Thank God that time has a way of mellowing people.

Today, I welcome life's mishaps. If something goes wrong and it gives me a good laugh, I'm grateful for it. Yesterday, my daughter and I were walking into Wal-Mart when I felt a discomfort at the hem of my capris. I reached under my pant leg at mid-calf to investigate and pulled out a piece of blue material. Upon realizing what it was, I yanked quickly at it and swooped it into my handbag. I had wore the same pants the day before with a pair of blue underwear. My daughter couldn't believe what just happened. She insisted that an elderly couple had seen me pull my underwear out of my pant leg and were now sitting speechless on a bench. "I probably made their day," I said, feeling no embarrassment.

That's another great thing about getting older. You just don't care about looking foolish. I embarrassed my daughter more than once at the Wal-Mart. She loves to tell the story about how I ran my cart into a pole after leaving the check out. I was pushing my cart full of groceries toward the exit when I spotted some eyeglass cases to my left. I'd been wanting a good case for my new glasses. All of a sudden, Bam! My cart hit a pole and to make matters worse, I let out a vocal reaction that got everyone's attention. All eyes were on us. I calmly got my cart under control and continued toward the door. But Delaina was anything but calm. "Who cares what those people think," I said. "We'll never see them again." She doesn't understand my lack of concern for watching eyes, but someday she will.

When you've experienced enough of life, you reach a point where you realize that some things just aren't worth getting shook about. The energy it takes to be embarrassed or upset is more than I'm willing to invest. Of course some things are worthy of fussing over, but for me, the list is much smaller than it once was. For example, when I order a sandwich with "no" mayo, it always comes to the table "with" mayo. There was a time when I would have sent it back, but now I decide ahead of time that I will scrape the mayo off my sandwich. Though I am considering telling the waitress I have a severe allergic reaction to mayo that isn't pretty...just to see if it makes a difference.

I remember my waitressing days and the things people fussed about when it came to food. It's understandable that you want to have a pleasant experience when you go out to eat, but food isn't more important than people. I've seen customers verbally abuse waitresses over food and make themselves look incredibly selfish in the process. But the most memorable group of people I've ever served were not selfish at all. They were quite joyful. There was more laughter coming from their table than from all the other tables combined. It was clear to me that they were out together to enjoy each other's company. Food wasn't the most important part of the evening. And before they left, they showed their appreciation by asking me to stand by the table as they all leaned to one side and then the other. They tipped for me, and it was the best tip I ever got.

I think one of the keys to enjoying life is having your priorities straight (people over things) and being able to roll with the punches. Those who are able to laugh in the face of disappointment get more joy out of life. Like that group of diners I waited on twenty years ago, people are smart to spend their time savoring relationships. While the uptight people waste time fretting and fuming about things that could easily be forgiven or overlooked. I wish I wouldn't have wasted so much of my life being uptight. But I'm grateful that the passing years have given me a new perspective.

One of the greatest tests to a woman's character is her wedding day. When the plates aren't the right shade of white or the ribbons on the bouquets don't match, how will the bride react to the disappointment of a less than perfect wedding? Will she roll with the punches or turn into a bridezilla and ruin everyone's good time? Hopefully she'll take a deep breath and realize that the day isn't about plates and ribbons, it's about people.

I wouldn't have passed the character test on the day of my first wedding. I remember getting mad at my sister when she kept suggesting that I eat something. I had skipped breakfast and lunch and she was concerned about me. "No one is going to tell me what to do on my wedding day!" I quipped. I had the same sassy attitude toward my husband at the reception when it seemed that he was dancing with everyone but me. I even got mad at my guests for taking the table centerpieces home with them. Talk about a bridezilla! They didn't have a name for brides like me back then, except maybe another word that starts with B.

Wouldn't it be fun to venture back into those situations with a new mellowed attitude? Oh how I could have enjoyed that day and given my sister a hug instead of a harping, been happy for my husband as he enjoyed dancing with our guests, and I would have invited people to take home the centerpieces instead of grumbling about a few missing vases.

By the time my second marriage rolled around, I had mellowed and matured a bit. There was no fussing about details. I didn't need a big bridal party or a dress with poofy sleeves. I actually bought my dress at Value City for next to nothing. My husband wore jeans and cowboy boots and that was fine with me. There was no dancing and no centerpieces for me to get shook about. They even mispelled my name on the wedding cake and I managed to laugh about it.

I think it takes a certain level of maturity to really enjoy life. And that maturity seems to come with age. I've met some mellow young folks, but most easy-going people I know have been around the block a few times. I think we just grow tired of being so affected by life's disappointments. We become more tolerant of embarrassment and let downs because it takes so much darn energy to fret and fume. Like expecting mayo on my sandwich, we learn to expect disappointment, and we learn to laugh at life instead of becoming embarrassed or angered by it. When we finally reach the point where there's nothing left to do but laugh, we invite joy into our lives. It's the joy that all of us are looking for. But we have to mellow a bit before we find it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

SMALL TOWN SUMMERS MAKE THE BEST MEMORIES

I wait all year for summer. Fall is nice, but I don't get along with winter. I need warmth and sunshine to be happy. Although summer doesn't officially begin until June 21, this week marks the beginning of summer for me. It's not summer until I bite into a fresh strawberry, and I did that on Friday after scanning the Crossroads Auction for the very best pick.

If I'm paying almost four dollars a box, I want the sweetest, juiciest gems available. Relying only on visual appeal, I carefully chose two boxes. After washing, cutting and sprinkling with sugar, I let the strawberries rest in the refrigerator for a few hours (which almost killed me). But that's the only way to get that sweet red nectar that soaks into the shortcake and makes it extra delicious.

Strawberry shortcake is one of the many joys of summer. After devouring a bigger serving than I needed, we headed to City Island to take in a Senator's game. When you're sitting in a stadium hearing the crack of aluminum hitting leather, you know it's officially summer. I'm not a big baseball fan. I was actually there to hear my daughter and her fellow Halifax chorus members sing the national anthem. But I understand why people love the game.

I was sixteen and on my first date when I first experienced a Phillies game. For a girl who grew up in a small town that she rarely got out of, a bus trip to Philadelphia was a big deal. But I have to say the Senator's game was more entertaining than the Phillies game was in the seventies. My heart wasn't racing with the thrill of my first boyfriend beside me, but the chance of winning a flat-screen TV at the top of every inning was pulsating for a middle-aged woman with a TV-loving husband. Throw in a rainbow and some man-made fireworks toward evening, and it was a perfect summer outing. The only disappointment was that cold soft pretzel.

When I was a kid, it seemed that summer never ended. My entire childhood is stored in my memory as one ongoing summer. What other season can top summer for holding the most memorable times in our lives? My earliest summer memories are of the sixties. Pillow was the only town I called home until I married in my twenties and moved to Dalmatia. In the sixties we lived in a trailer in a part of town called the "mud pike." I think somebody's mother came up with that nickname because a small stream ran adjacent to the houses on that block.

I can't imagine growing up in a city. The things I would have missed! You can't find a good swimming hole in the city or grab mom's mason jar and come home with a batch of tadpoles or caterpillars. You can't keep a horse in the city. You can't pitch a tent in your friend's back yard and tell your mom you're sleeping over, then spend the night running around town until daybreak. Most city kids don't have big yards to catch lightning bugs and play hide-n-seek in the dark. They can't lay in bed listening through an open window to late night sounds of the summer carnival: The twang of guitar from the band stand, The ting of pennies hitting glass, and the microphoned call of letters and numbers until "we have another winner" at Bingo.

Summer and small town living are two of the best things in life, and summer is here once again. The strawberries are in. The games have begun, and more memories are waiting to be made.