Don’t Live on the Periphery

Some days, most if truth be told and we are truly committed to appreciating and living in the present, we should only pay attention to what is right in front of us. It is what can bring us the most peace and comfort. It is okay to put on blinders once in a while; they allow us to keep our eyes open and focused on what is important. And more often than not, we discover, Sylvia & Erma discover, the what is a who. Who is most important in your life? You.

A bit worn this midweek but in the best way – from multiple days of self-care, a change of scenery, and a bounty of unconditional love – the “blinders” are helping. Twenty-four hours of worrying, lamenting, and second-guessing herself gets wearisome each day, so Sylvia opts for the here and now. The blinders can be eye-opening and restorative.
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Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse.
~Regina Brett

#nowplaying
#overfiftyandfine #womensupportingwomen
#midlifeblogger #wednesdaywisdom

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The Voice Inside

“Smiling so profusely on a Sunday?” Erma  asks her friend with a tone of disbelief.

“Don’t seem so surprised, Erma. That is a genuine grin of satisfaction,” Sylvia counters.

Erma, still a bit perplexed but bringing herself to delight in her friend’s newfound countenance, replies with an equally broad smile, “Isn’t it a peaceful feeling when you can finally stand and listen to your own voice?”

Indeed. Be your own person, and be the person you listen to first!”
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The Voice”
by Shel Silverstein

There is a voice inside of you
that whispers all day long,
‘I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
or wise man can decide
what’s right for you – just listen to
the voice that speaks inside.

The Bridge to Me

As she crossed the bridge, she removed all of the fluff, all of the extra. She got rid of the fillers. The sugar-coating melted away. She stripped down and began to bare her soul.

“Now, you are ready to begin, my friend.”

“Begin what?”

Everything. Anything.”

And with that, what she considered both friendly recommendation and cautious admonition, she noticed the view from the bridge. Wider. Vaster. She looked ahead not down.

The Crossing

Glory in the Mirror

Thursday thought: If someone else draws it well, writes it better, or captures the essence of what you are striving to explain, let that person help you lift your voice. And then, give her or him a nod, credit because it is due, and a big thank-you.

Today, Sylvia and Erma found the precise words. Thank you, Ms. Angelou.


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I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.
~Maya Angelou

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Glory

Tilling and Toiling : A Perfectionist’s Weekly Diary

A perfectionist? I don’t think so. No, not at all. Well, you’ll need to tell me how you see me as it relates to that term, then I’ll comment.”

“When you say comment, you actually mean disagree. That’s okay, too. That is indicative of your perfectionism. You need to find the exact word, even if it’s not your thought or sentence to edit.”

“Wow. Ouch. It is a good thing we are best friends and I can take a hit.”

“Sylvia, oh, you can clearly take a hit – the mark of a true perfectionist – you hit yourself, beat up on yourself, condemn yourself, and submit to your own judgments and self-imposed punishments endlessly.”

“Again, wow. I know I have major work to do, but you must admit, I haven’t given up, so that is something. Don’t you agree?

“Something? It is everything. It’s simply perfect in fact.”

Let’s all agree that perfect does not exist. We are not here to be perfect. We are here to till and toil, plant and cultivate, and do a whole lot of weeding. And just when we think we are done, it is time to dig a bit deeper – if we are lucky.

How does your garden grow?

Can you tell?
She’s digging deep.

Uncovering what she was and discovering who she left behind. Creating herself one day at a time.

Sundays, she tills. With soul. With faith. The tears born from overwhelming grief water the ground beneath her as she turns and digs.

Mondays, she plows. Preparing to cultivate a field of fear and trepidation. With each upending and fold of the ground beneath her, she strews hope.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, she sows. Not always pretty and patterned. Frequently not, in fact. Necessarily scattered.

Ah, Thursdays. Her day perhaps. To rearrange. To tidy. To make sense of the beginning. To anticipate fertile ground.

Fridays. Thank God they are? She thinks so. Tilled, plowed, germinated. She waits. Fearfully yet faithfully. 

Saturdays. Stop.

Another hole to dig. This one deeper than the last.Another field ahead. This one vaster than the last. The tears are more abundant than the week before.

Another stop. Grief and joy intermingled.

Sunday once more. Fertile ground. More fecund. More prolific.

She’s digging deeper.
Can you tell?

Germinating not Ruminating

Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. overfiftyandfine

Cheers to Hemingway and Not Being Hadley

Summer, 1926. Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley take refuge from the blazing heat of Paris on a villa in the south of France. They swim and play bridge, and drink gin with abandon.
(Mrs. Hemingway, a novel by Naomi Wood)

Summer, 2021. Taking mid-afternoon refuge on the deck once again. An ocean breeze, a book, and a little Pinot Gris to satisfy the weekend.

To your health, happiness, and good fortune, friends.

Sipping Summer

The Free-Fall Zone

“Sometimes we fall, Sylvia. That’s just the way it is,” Erma informs her friend in a calm yet authoritative voice.

“Oh, I’m falling. That I know. I have bumps, bruises, and cuts. I’m worn, weathered, and yet I am becoming more and more curious about this abyss of time in front of me, hanging over me, and likely beyond me and my imagination. Sometimes I actually welcome the path of the abyss – full of meanderings, gulleys, and hidden impediments. At least I know I’m not tripping over my own two feet. There is a quiet comfort in that.”

Erma, never surprised but always somewhat unsteadied by Sylvia’s musings, sighs. She pauses. She is digesting her friend’s perspective.

“Ah, Sylvia, you describe the free-fall perfectly. You never see rock bottom, perhaps because deep down you know that there is no end to the abyss.”

“Could be, Erma. Or maybe I’m just looking up the entire time I’m falling.”

For now, don’t look down.

We fall into an abyss and automatically we assume an absence of light. An interminable darkness. After all, that is the definition of abyss, right? A Saturday stroll has Sylvia thinking about how others might view her in this abyss of time. Right here, right now, it is not so bad. She has found a place of light.
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“A photograph offers us a glimpse into the abyss of time.”
~John Updike
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Roots of Vulnerability

“You were away for quite awhile, Syl. Are you well-rested?”

“Not at all. I’m exhausted. Two weeks of caregiving and then some self-care of the best kind.”

“I’m happy that you recognize the need to care for yourself. However, wherever, whenever, and with whom you choose to refuel are secondary to the need. Good for you.”

Sylvia took care of an aging family friend and realized the fragility of life. She learned that tough love is still love.

She decompressed on the beach, walked the shore, bid farewell to the days as she watched the sunsets, and slept soundly. She even managed a delicious dream or two.

Meeting with both old and new friends who shared their stories, she became acutely aware of her insecurity but also extremely cognizant of that which set her apart from others. Early morning walks and play with canine companions, adventurous rides on a jet ski enjoying the vastness of Lake Michigan, and sipping wine and swapping stories, Sylvia then shared with Erma the greatest lesson of all – the epiphany she had amidst the sunflowers. “I am deeply rooted in vulnerabilities – we all are – and in them, I’ve found my gifts. I’ll let you decide for yourself what they are, Erma. I know what’s inside.”
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Standing tall and Finding the sun

There’s something in this world that makes you happy– find it; do it; breathe it in; let it wash over you; simply hold it; stare at it; bask in it; enjoy it; keep it to yourself. Or, share it. It’s the beginning of something – at least another glorious summer’s day. I’m starting to recognize my happy, and I wish the same for you.

Ever Faithful

The last two decades, Sylvia has risen each day knowing there is work to do – in life, for others, and for and on herself. Lots of work! On extraordinarily tough days, Erma commends her. “See, you didn’t give up. You put one foot in front of the other, and you made it through.”

“Did I really though?” Sylvia wonders. “Am I optimistic about the future? Do I remain hopeful? Am I keeping that hope ‘perched in the soul’ as Emily contends?”

“Optimism and hope are different, my friend. Each day they look different because no two days are ever the same,” Erma tells her matter-of-factly.

And after another swallow of the coffee that has been growing cold in front of her, Sylvia considers her trusted confidante’s statement. “Yes, I do believe you are right, Erma. I guess what really keeps me going is faith; that’s the difference,” Sylvia determines.


Erma, feeling proud once again that she has successfully imparted some of her hard-earned wisdom, sums it all up as she finishes her last cup of morning brew. “Yes, indeed, Syl. Faith makes all the difference. Faith in yourself, faith in the world – you need that in order to feel either optimistic or hopeful. You need faith, in fact, to feel both.”

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view.” Hope is the “expectation of something desired; desire combined with expectation.”
(source:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201702/whats-the-difference-between-optimism-and-hope)

Intoxicated

To begin the day with choices, her choices alone, and the fresh ocean air proved the most intoxicating elixir for her mind, body, and spirit.

Today – and who knows, tomorrow too, perhaps – she stands with her soul ajar.

Oh, Emily, I think you have known me in so many ways all along.
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“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”
~Emily Dickinson
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Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.