turning fifty

Birthdays are an interesting phenomenon aren’t they?

There is the prerequisite build-up until the day arrives

complete with marching band excitement and yet

once the confetti is swept up and freed from your hair,

you realize you don’t feel much differently than the day before

or even last month.

This is how turning fifty has felt.

The months leading up to this big birthday have included

celebrating friends turning 50

and they have celebrated me.

I feel incredibly

rich from the experience.

Honestly I feel like I still reside in my 40’s.

Perhaps not 40, as I had an 11 month old tyke

at the time

and sleep was elusive.

Within that expanse, I felt ancient and

my dependence was more on coffee than

eternal things.

But that is another story.

So this exchange of decade zip codes

hasn’t shifted the core of me only added

two new digits.

I want to share what I am hoping to bring

into this landscape.

There will be no mention of hills

especially going over them.

Celebration

Perhaps it is the introvert in me or that

I am a bit reserved and don’t often like

center of attention moments.

I tend to push away personal celebrations.

I have done quite a bit

of celebrating and it’s been good.

Really good.

Celebration has reached down deep into my

soul and mended some broken places I

wasn’t even aware existed.

Often I downplay the “big deals”

in my life.

I have been wrong.

Isn’t it humble to brush aside offers to celebrate?

When I have proclaimed celebrating unnecessary,

I waved a flag with stitching

revealing I wasn’t important enough to laud.

Now to some of you, this might sound

preposterous because you are always

ready to form a conga line.

For others, you recognize the depths

I describe.

You might even recall the silent ache when those big days or

occasions pass and you stumble upon

the fact that crickets are not festive

or a worthy companion.

Life in all its big and small ways

provides reason enough to raise a ruckus.

We are meant to be celebrated.

We point back to the Creator when

we raise a glass of cheer.

Let there be celebrating.

Enough

Most days begin with me at our table before

a large window with a strategically placed

bird feeder in one of the trees.

The other morning, between sips of tea and writing,

a squirrel was attacking the bird feeder.

I would pound on the glass

and the gravitational pull would hasten his return.

The feeder had been half full of suet but by the time he left to make

way for the birds, there was only a small chunk in the corner of

the cage.

Okay this ticked me off.

Do you remember this photo?

20130915_152238

This image was floating through my mind when birds landed

for their morning meal.

I was grousing about the shameless greed of that squirrel taking what

belonged to the birds.

Yet as I survey the birds,

I didn’t see a single one with their wings on their hips

in dismay.

They were getting their fill of food.

By the way they were sailing between feeder

and limbs, they seemed quite delighted.

There was enough.

Social media can be like a picture window

to lives we weren’t originally supposed to see.

Years ago, I wouldn’t know who got a book deal

or whose blog post was being widely circulated.

I wouldn’t have known how many exotic vacations

someone took or even what you did while I was

on the couch streaming a movie.

It wouldn’t be so easy to succumb to feeling

I don’t have enough or that I am enough.

The truth is people aren’t greedy squirrels

and none of us are going to stop posting

the beautiful moments of our days but

I want to live like a bird who considers

crumbs a feast.

We have a family saying from way back…

Be content with what God sent.

I am grabbing hold to the truth of being and

having enough until it is firmly planted solidly

in my soul.

Sometimes the best way to move forward is

to look backward.

There are two areas that continue to make my

heart beat, one faster and the other slower.

Welcome

This word has played ping-pong in my spirit

for years.

I desire to be a person of welcome.

Many times those introverted tendencies take

over but at my core, I know I was created to

be welcoming.

For my birthday,

I asked “the powers that be” namely my family for

a bench.

It is designed to accompany something special which I will share

with you soon.

wpid-20140825_195911.jpeg

So this is me moments after Carl put the bench together.

If I am honest, I almost didn’t post this picture.

It’s not my most flattering picture,

I am not standing behind someone to show

only a partial view of me.

Our backyard grass resembles straw.

Heavens  it has been a hot summer and

I do believe any make up I was wearing has

melted.

I am learning that welcome has nothing

in common with perfection

and looking put together.

Welcome is being open to  showing your good and your

not so great sides.

Welcome is a bench made for people who are

dry in spirit,

sad, happy,

chubby, skinny,

desperate

and  weary.

I hope to sit on that bench

and I pray my neighbors will as well.

You are my neighbor.

Rest

More than any topic I wrote about on this blog,

the most read posts are the ones about rest.

I have talked about it for years because I was desperate

for rest of any kind.

A friend recently wrote me and said when she thinks of me,

she thinks of rest.

Now before you consider this clever wording as code for

meaning she finds me boring and promptly needs a nap,

it referred to conversations we’ve had about the supreme

importance of rest.

I plan to be greedy about resting and

consider yourselves warned,

I will continue to remind you as well.

Dearest 50,

You have come wrapped in packages filled

with celebration,

contentment,

welcome and rest.

Thank you for the marching orders.

May the only arthritis I bear be in my knees

and not in my heart or soul.

Deal?

Gratefully yours,

 

Helen

 

springtime musings

Marimekko April desktop

Hello Spring!

Time for new desktops for April.

I have always loved Marimekko.

Marimekko has two desktop options with or without a calendar.

You can make your selection here.

I could never get my act together to post March’s selection

but I still love it. Feel free to download it without the calendar here.

One last option from Dawn Camp, go here.

*****

Last week during spring break, we took a trip to Astoria.

I am so glad we seized the opportunity as it was THE best

weather day of the week.

Carl worked in a laboratory for two years before we married.

The girls were too young to remember visiting years ago.

It was fun to have Carl show the kids where he lived, worked and

we also fulfilled a bucket list item for the girls in visiting

The Goonies house.

Carl lived in Astoria during the filming and his claim to cinematic fame

is part of his truck is

seen in some versions of the film.

IMG_20140324_135413

I love this picture of our three. But I am not going to say a word about how old my son

looks. It could be that he has decided to rock the ‘fro these days but my word.

I see the future and I am unprepared.

Like I said, not a word.

*****

During one of the monsoon-like days,my parents were visiting us here in Portland.

It seemed the perfect time to watch 20 Feet from Stardom.

My second time watching it. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and

rent it. If you live close to me, you can borrow my copy.

If you don’t believe me, it won the Oscar for the Best Documentary.

I wrote about how I forgot to eat my Red Vines while watching here.

*****

20131129_141920

My beautiful and brilliant mother celebrated her birthday yesterday!

With each passing year, she exudes more joy and compassion,

more generosity and energy,

and more fully Felicia!

I love you Mor.

*****

I remember I could hardly wait to turn 30.

I suppose it was due to the fact that it felt like I could finally

qualify and call myself an adult.

I also have never really gotten “freaked out” about big milestone

birthdays.

Most likely because I was one of the young ones in my class.

I was barely 18 when I started college.

But as the sands of the hourglass have been quickly amassing,

I have had much more reason to pause turning 50.

It seems solid and weighty.

I feel I am at a particularly critical juncture in my life.

I am career-less.

I wonder what is my vocation?

What is next?

Retirement is closer than it was 20 years ago but

at this point, I won’t retire from any job.

I question if I am stewarding my time well?

It hasn’t been until this chapter in my life that I can accurately

see how driven I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

My 40’s have been the polar opposite.

I think my 40’s have been recovery from burn-out

on almost every role in my life.

So as I simmer in this end of decade soup,

even though I feel quite unresolved

in my identity moving onto 50,

I am looking at this patch of time as a gift.

I am doing a lot of soul digging instead of

wallowing which can be like trying to keep upright

on a downhill slip ‘n slide.

This week I started Donald Millers’s Create Your Life Plan.

Don and Shauna Niequist have created a 10 video module

coaching program to help create a life of meaning.

I have almost done half of the modules and it has been

life-elevating.

It has helped me upend the hard parts of my life history

and find gratitude and understanding.

There is a cost for this program but it is way less than one

therapy session.

They are still offering an early bird special and there is a

100% money back guarantee.

But truly the two names Donald Miller and Shauna Niequist

should be more than enough to convince you.

It would fun to do as a couple, in a small group or of course

individually.

*****

Books I have read recently:

Tatoos on the Heart-my friend Paige sent me this book. After I was halfway through
the book, I sent her a text saying that I had given up underlining and was simply
bracketing sections I loved. I can’t say enough about this book especially since
it is true. (Adult language-heads up)

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair-I read this short book over
an evening. It’s Anne Lamott which is really enough said. But I loved reading her
thoughts about life in a post-911, post-Katrina, post-Sandy Hook world.
So much suffering, how do we live?
Great thoughts,stories and as always excellent weaving of words.

What I am reading now:

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer-I am loving this book already.

On Writing-A Memoir of the Craft-just because.

Pastrix:The Cranky,Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.

You could say I am on a memoir feast of sorts.

*****

I hope you have gained a little something from me unleashing the contents

of my mind onto the screen.

I know I have aged a bit just in the writing.

Welcome Spring!

A time of new life, beginnings and perhaps even

a bit of soul-searching.

Bring on the showers, digging in the dirt

and basking in the splendor of blossoms!

*****

P.S. Check out my tweet on the sidebar if you

want to know how April Fools Day dealt with me!