Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Turning 60

George Burns, who lived to 100, willed a nice slogan to hold on to: "You have to get older, but you don't have to get old."   

50 seems to be when one begins to think about aging (and when AARP gladly accepts your membership); 60 is when it moves into full gear. I have learned life is more like the changing seasons -  Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. I think of 60 as being  in the Fall category.  There is a lot of time left, if things go good. And it is a good place to be.  The green of spring is beautiful, but so are the turning leaves of Fall.  Interestingly Fall has long been my favorite season, with cooler weather, football and the excitement surrounding upcoming holidays.  And I am looking forward to “life” in the Fall season.   

I look forward to making new friends, younger friends, and I will get to watch the younger generation tackle life’s hard questions.  And there can be a degree of enjoyment in offering words of wisdom to those who want to listen.  I will have a chance to break some bad habits, slow down, and try to do things right and not have to beat myself up for not being more disciplined.  And then there are grandkids.  These grandkids fill you up with love and joy.

The real joy of this Fall season... learning to be an optimist. I can look for solutions to challenges, push forward even when things don’t go well, even more so try to understand the power of gratitude.  I feel the pathway to having the best life possible is to embrace where you are at, own the moment, embrace it with gratitude, and look forward to the next step of the journey. 

So here I am at 60?  What have I learned so far?
1.  People who "hate getting old" are idiots. Every year is a privilege. Let me tell you- getting to 60 feels like a triumph. I have no idea how I made it this far, but I am very grateful.
2. Toxic relationships are not worth it. Period.
3. Friends are good. I suddenly delight in connecting with pals from my past, more so than ever before. Sure, I have wonderful friends, but there’s something uplifting, energizing, and meaningful about finding an old friend on Facebook, a friend who knew me when I was in my formative years. If you're not on Facebook, you're missing something.
4.  Romance and teamwork are still alive and well at 60.  Michelle and I can split a whole pie when we want to.  We can sleep late when we have no good reason to get up, or we can be up together before the crack of dawn when we have places to go and people to see. We have learned we are best as a team and we make a very good team.
5.  Control isn’t so important.  Yes, there have been many times I believed I knew the answer to almost everything. I didn’t just suggest solutions; I inserted myself into the solution. Many times I was exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed that no one seemed to appreciate my “help.”  But now, it is like a light bulb went on and I saw the light. Control does not equal happiness. The world operates just fine without my interference. The kids can actually problem solve without me. Teammates can shoot their own game, they don’t  have to do it the way I would. I now say, ”Thank you,” rather than, “Thank you, but….
6.  Just say it.  Take every opportunity to express love and gratitude.  Tell em how you feel. I’ve reached this milestone, so why wait to tell others how I feel? My favorite words: "I love you". And "Thank you".
7.  God is real, God loves us all, and God is faithful to keep every promise to us. Take it to the bank and draw close to God. Forgive people, it is God’s way. God’s way is the way of love. 

I've enjoyed every age I've been, and each has had its own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I've been present.  I look ahead with great enthusiasm if for no other reason than it is true, “I get better looking each day.”  I really do feel good, strong and healthy (except for the times I stand up from a chair and hear my knees crack.) Maybe the truth is this is just a rah-rah speech  to disguise the real truth that I am really standing of the precipice of decrepitude.  It’s easy to forget, amid the pleasures and terrors of everyday life, how it all goes by much too fast, even if you pay attention all the time, and who, really, manages to do that? Hardly anyone. 

I awoke to a throng of Facebook birthday greetings, from people who know me well and other friendly acquaintances. That is nice. Thank you all. Thank you each and every one. Thank you for your friendship and for your love.  And most of all Thank You to my beautiful wife. I am certainly the luckiest man alive to have you by my side every day. I feel good today.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Day Vivi was Born

  June 19, 2014 

Today it is a pleasant 85-90 degree day outside, a Thursday,  in a year where the summer has been slow to find it’s legs.  And that is fine with everyone around here.  But this day will never be remembered for the weather, or for the politics of the day, or for the win or loss from the pool games tonight, but today will be remembered because our loving God blessed us again with the wonderful entrance of Vivi into the world. We woke up to the news that the mom’s contractions were getting underway so, right away, we knew this was going to be a big day.
Grandkids are great.  Vivi is the 2nd in our family.  Levi was 1st and came into our world 1.5 years ago and what a joy it is to have him visit.  His little face lights up and that big smiles jumps out when Mimi walks into the room, and that is enough to move him to the top of the priority list in the life of Mimi.  But now Levi has a cousin. And Mimi has a 2nd grandbaby.  I guarantee you Mimi will be able to spoil them equally and without partiality.  
The day Vivi was born was a day Mimi fell completely head over heels, and realized Vivi is a person who can make her heart swell by simply opening her eyes and by laying so peacefully in her arms. This is without doubt one of the holiest days of  our lives.  I cannot have a day with something as grand as this and not at the same time bow in submission to the greatness of God.  I am amazed, in the truest meaning of that word. Just the miracle of it all. And just when you don't think you can't love a grandchild any more, you look at them, in all their beauty noticing something new that you hadn’t noticed before, and the blood rushes to your head, and the stomach drops out, and you fall deeper.  Someday Mimi will tell her all about the day she was born and how she got to be there and how privileged she felt to be invited to share in such a glorious moment...she will tell her how she had to leave to run to BabiesRUs to pick up something for her and the new mommy and the car battery died and she had to have someone jump the  battery...she will tell her all about how frustrating that was because she was so anxious to get back to her...she will tell her about spending the evening with her and all the family and how they all came out to celebrate her birthday.....she will tell her all about the day she fell in love with her completely  from her nose to her tippy toes.

 This year we, Mimi and I, turn 57 and 60, respectfully.  We are trying to live healthier.  We see the way things are going and hope we will be able to be around a while to enjoy these awesome days of grand parenting.

These days are valued more as a grandparent, more so than those parenting days. Now, you see, we know how brief the time is, we know and have seen how time flies, and we know to enjoy the day and the moment and not worry about tomorrow.  We know all so well how they grow up into smart, funny and opinionated people who will move on and leave the parents for college, or an adventure, or a husband or wife.  That is coming so soon.  But today is ours to enjoy the greatest blessing God gives.  Thank you Lord for Vivi, thank you for the blessing, and thank you Lord for this beautiful day you gave us to enjoy. We now know where the expression “pride and joy” came from. This perfect and healthy little 7lb 2oz girl, born at 1:10 p.m. June 19th 2014, wholly loved, fearfully and wonderfully made, Viviana, born to Jei and Adam Wise, is sure to be another of Mimi’s “pride and joys.”  And RiRi might share some of that as well.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I'm Sorry

“I’m sorry.”  Some people won’t say it. When your actions cause someone harm, distress or significant inconvenience the right thing to do is to offer a sincere apology when you are made aware of the harm, distress or inconvenience you have caused. 

The experts now know the people with low self-esteem are less likely to apologize.  They usually feel bad, sometimes having inner feeling of humiliation,  about what they have done, furthering the feelings of low self-esteem.  But we also now know that the egocentric, the one with the overly grand view of himself or herself, also almost never offers an apology. 

People who are sure of themselves have the capacity to confess to their wrongdoing and properly address it.  Just the right amount of self-esteem is key. 

For these two groups,  saying I’m sorry equals acceptance of responsibility and expressions of genuine remorse. Here is the rub – apologizing is seen as a sign of weakness. Admitting to being wrong, as difficult as it is,  is the road to dissolving hostility, encouraging forgiveness and mending damaged relationships. It is also a road rarely traveled today.  Instead, relationships end and these people go on their way in life, alone. 

The movie got it wrong.  Love doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry.  Love means being able to say you’re sorry. 

What I see are some people who do not love, or love enough, to say I’m sorry, and try to make things right.  So sad.