We wandered out to Hagerman today. It was very cold and very windy; I had trouble holding the camera still. But we both agreed that the day was still enjoyable. There is always something to see out there!
I came to the conclusion today that I will never be the “best” at anything except being me. There will always be a better wife, mother, grandmother, writer, gardener, photographer, woman out there. Part of the problem is that I have never been a very competitive person by nature. I never did well at sports and I don’t really like to play games. The other deterrent to my being exceptional at any one thing is that I can’t seem to ever focus on ONE thing. My dad always said he was a “Jack of all trades, and master of none.” I think I took that to heart and it became my lifelong mantra. I had a dozen jobs before finding my current career. I’ve had more hobbies and avocations than I can count. My mind and my efforts are never totally concentrated on one passion.
For example: today I cleaned a closet, did some laundry, worked on my book, researched an article, made some cornbread, took a few photos, scanned some old newspaper clippings, shredded some business papers, dusted my elephant collection, and answered a dozen emails. On any other day I might add working in the garden or bird-watching to that list. And of course next week I’ll return to my real job!
Perhaps juggling so many activities is the reason for my constant attempts to organize my life. It seems that I am always filing, sorting, cleaning, storing, or compartmentalizing something in my life. My reasoning is that if I simplify my life I will be able to concentrate more on the most important tasks at hand. Somehow it never quite works out that way! I get organized and end up tackling something new or different because I’ve created a little more time or space in my life. I even had the wild idea yesterday that I might start cooking more. (Okay, my children can all stop laughing now.)
So…don’t expect to see my name on a list of the Top Ten teachers or gardeners or photographers or writers or cooks of 2014. But that’s okay with me. I’ll always be the best ME there is!
Gardening is the foundation of my sanity. Outside is where I find encouragement, happiness, peace, strength, and renewal. No matter what else is going on in my life, a walk in the garden helps put things into perspective. And so it seemed fitting to begin there today.
As I walked around I saw a lot of dried grass, ice damaged plants, and a few sprigs of green. I know it’s early to expect anything exciting in the garden yet, but I’m confident that we are only weeks away from the first blooms of spring. My garden magazines and catalogs are stacked next to my favorite spot on the couch. I’ve already chosen some new day lilies as my birthday present for next month. I’m anxious to see the new crop of wildflowers. I planted lots of new bulbs in the fall and I’ve never seen their pretty blooms before. The possibilities of spring allow me to manage the problems of winter and be positive about the beginning of a new year.
I hope that you too began 2014 doing something that brings you joy.
Although my Bible reading this morning included passages from several books, I was immediately struck by a recurrent theme: timing. Proverbs tells us that our plans mean nothing because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time for everything. And Matthew reminds us that although we know not when the Lord will return, we should be found doing his work when he does; we can’t put off charity and service until a more convenient time.
We often think we know the best times for the major events of our lives: education, marriage, children, employment, retirement. We have our life planned out and we feel great disappointment if those plans don’t work out. Some people change and adapt and happily embrace their new lives. Others get stuck in the quagmire of regrets and never find joy. Proverbs 19 tells us that our own foolish actions are most often the cause of our demise, and yet we quickly blame God for everything that happens. I often think back to the first time I went to college in 1968. Had I been able to complete my education at that time I would have pursued a career teaching high school English. Would I have been as content with that choice as I have been in early education? I doubt it and I’m grateful that God changed a series of tragic events into a new and better path for me. I had to wait years and years for the opportunity to return to school, but when I did the timing was perfect and my new career was a much better application of my talents and experiences.
When I reflect back on many of the events of my life I realize that the timing of them was essential and most assuredly miraculous. If I had attempted the same goal or experienced the same event at a different stage of life the results would have been totally different! We talk about change, but we don’t always realize how much WE change. My younger self did some things that this old woman wouldn’t dream of doing. And this wise older woman does some things that her younger self would not have had the confidence or experience to attempt.
At this time of year it’s customary to make plans for a New Year of growth and change, health and happiness, progress and improvement. But some of those goals and expectations begin with the assumption that most things in our lives will stay the same and afford us a foundation of safety and security. We know in our heart of hearts that is not so. This has already been a holiday season of loss and change for many of my friends and family members. Loved ones are gone or disabled. Relationships have changed or ended. Expectations were not met. Goals were not reached. Hopes and dreams were not realized. So they face the New Year with changes and challenges not of their own choosing. The only way for them, and for the rest of us, to plan ahead is to trust the reassurances of Paul that God is in control and working in our favor, because He loves us and wants what is best for us.
Time stretches ahead of us like a new canvas, ready to be painted…just remember who holds the brush.
Time to change our lives. Start a new diet. Begin the exercise program we intended to start last year. Save money. Get organized. You know the drill.
Each year I ask myself the same question: “Why are you still fat?” I’ve made some great changes to my diet in the past five years. I’m healthier than ever before. But I’m still fat. I know I eat too much. I know I exercise too little. Beyond that I have recently come to the conclusion that while I was diligently eliminating cholesterol and salt from my diet I have allowed my intake of sugar to creep up to an alarming daily total. Instead of the recommended 20 to 30 grams per day, I have actually been getting three times that much from packaged foods. I don’t use ANY sugar in coffee, on cereal, etc., so all of the sugar in my diet comes from food. But before you envision me eating doughnuts for breakfast, let me tell you that I eat very few “sweets”: ice cream, cookies, dark chocolate. Most of the sugar I eat is hidden in ordinary packaged foods, everything from vegetables to salad dressing. And if you don’t think that can add up, consider this fact: the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year!
Thanks to Anne Alexander’s book, "The Sugar Smart Diet" I have made only one diet resolution for the New Year: Never again buy anything in a package without first checking the label for sugar. I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me before since I check for everything else, but here is a prime example of my oversight: my current favorite yogurt contains 19 grams of sugar!!! Wow! I might as well be drinking a soda!
I’m not going to make any plans to lose weight. But I am going to make this improvement in my daily diet. My goal is to lower my sugar intake and just see what happens…
I hope your Christmas is merry and that you create some wonderful memories today and tomorrow!
I also hope that 2014 is a wonderful year for you and your loved ones! I have become much more aware this year of the powerful relationship between good health and happiness. So my fervent prayer for you, whether you are a stranger or friend or neighbor or family member is that you will make wise decisions in the coming New Year that will enable you to have a healthy body and mind.