5/25/2010

What is in an age?




What is in an age? Does it tell you anything much about a person? I am not so sure these days. Some people take their experiences in life and allow themselves to grow, in fact strive for that greater wisdom that comes from digesting all of their experiences and those others share with them. Their attitude is life is a journey of discovery.

But it is not a given that growth equates to age. Many of us have met grown adults whom we refer to as teen agers, not ready to face the inevitable fact they are aging and should act age appropriate. Party behavior is great for dorm parties in college but on a middle aged adult, it seems somewhat silly. I think it is entirely possible to have fun, cut up and enjoy life while aging but in a more responsible way. I also think some folks are self centered and think the only experiences in life that truly have value are the ones they have had, firsthand. They miss out on others insights. Thus, they remain somewhat locked in their own perceptions and biases to the world. This stunts personal growth and makes these types of people less interesting.

I thought of this a great deal on Saturday as I attended a party for my husband’s birthday. It was amazing to sit back and see, not only him enjoying himself, but everyone present. I have never heard of a party where everyone that was invited showed up. In fact, people that were not invited asked to attend! I think this is because of my husband’s ability, even at his age close to 60, he sees value in everyone and people he meets sense that quality. He enjoys not only sharing his life but hearing, in depth, about others. Folks respect him for that and value him in their lives.
Yes, he is indeed a great teacher on life for so many that have gotten to know him and spend time with him. His wisdom is immense as he has made a lifetime of concerted choices to continue to learn. He believes in change, in openness and also that young people have as much to contribute to our lives as older adults. He is not close minded and feels everyone has a voice that should be heard,

My husband has mastered that long ago art of storytelling. He can tell a story on practically any topic. The material he uses comes from people he has met who are as diverse as they come. From the man who lived in Vietnam, to the close friend shot down at point blank range when he tried to help an older woman being accosted, to the early days of flying on small Cessna planes. Yes, he lives a rich full life and he practices active listening. Anyone that has a story they want to share will find a worthy audience in him. This information is fodder he uses for later recanting stories of human interest to others that have not met the wide range of people he has met in his lifetime, and continues to meet.

Adults that have this attitude are young at heart. They see limitless possibilities of learning with each brand new day and with everyone they come in contact with, no matter what their station in life. Are you like this, like the toddler exploring your surroundings with abandonment, reaching for more truths and widening your knowledge base? If not, trust me, you will age quickly and be less interesting. Friends will not flock to your birthday party and you will deprive only yourself of the joys on this earth and life’s greatest lessons, those we learn and impart to others.

5/09/2010

Precious Moments Bubble Over







As I stood on the front porch in May with the sun streaming down on the front yard,
my eyes were fixated on my little granddaughter. She was bent over with her bottom practically touching the concrete she was standing on. So intent was she on the little pink bottle containing her biggest delight since ice cream cones. She was in another world, or as my kids say, “in the zone.”

With her right hand grasping so tightly an orange wand that her fingers were drained of color, she dipped the wand down. Her hands were shaking in anticipation as she tried hard to focus on navigating the wand thru the opening on the top of the bottle.

When she succeeded in getting the wand all the way inside, she laughed out loud knowing what she was pulling out, a wand full of bubble formula, which in her mind, was bubble magic. Lucky for her it was a slightly windy day so as the wand came out of the jar, quickly bubbles were dispensed and filled the area around her head. She screamed with delight as she watched the bubbles dance on air and slowly but surely float away along the front lawn. She stood gazing in amazement as the sun hit the bubbles and showed the slightest hint of a rainbow on their edge.

Quickly she ran down the length of the lawn, chasing the bubbles at will and praying she could touch one. She ran with not a care in the world, no hesitation for tripping or missing one but with the high hope, anticipation and joy of knowing she was living in the moment. Oh, the sheer ecstasy she felt each time her little fingers reached out and touched one and she saw it pop. Some escaped, and away they floated, as far as the eye could see, with the wind carrying them like a sailboat on a stormy day, no real destination in mind but sheer force of the wind whipping the bubbles this way and that.

Moment after moment, I watched this same scene play out. My husband and I took turns helping her make more bubbles, cheering her on so she knew we believed she was capable of not only making beautiful bubbles but of catching and chasing them all down. We all laughed, screamed with abandonment with her success, and giggled at the failures but moved right on to the next wand wave. We knew that just like a bubble that suddenly bursts without warning, one day, our grand daughter would grow up, with lightening speed. We wanted to make certain she knew that this day, this moment in time, our world was wrapped about her. That she was special enough to make bubbles that even we, as adults, her grandma and grandpa could laugh outloud at, enjoy and yes find sheer joy in her success.

We hope this approach, that of cheering and sharing happiness with our grand daughter, is a constant reminder to her of what God created - her unique personna. We can be, as grandparents, the back up support system, and fill in when needed. We can and will let our granddaughter know that we will always make time and enjoy the little moments in her life. Moments that mean so much to our Ava will always mean the world to us too.

Yes, indeed, we know that one day our only granddaughter, Ava Alysee will find herself just as happy as we are, watching her granddaughter blow bubbles in May on the front porch one lazy afternoon….

5/04/2010

Campside Heroes




I attended a wonderful camp this weekend for cancer survivors and was spell bound with what I witnessed! It was called Camp Bluebird and was held at Lakeshore Campgrounds in Eva, TN. The surroundings were beautiful and peaceful, even amidst rain storms and clouds.

Heros were everywhere, each with a special unique story to tell. Folks from all walks of life in and around the area came to celebrate life after having been diagnosed with cancer. The venue gave a voice to the disease ‘cancer’ spoken purposely by its victims.

There were also several nurses, care takers and volunteers to help with the weekend’s activities, including crafts as well as a good old fashion costume contest. Each activity was embraced with smiles and joy to be alive and have one more precious memory.

This crowd was one that was grounded, one where friends are made for life. The wall of secrecy is down at all times and folks talk openly, honestly and with heartfelt thanks. The listening skills of all that attended were at full tilt as we took turns talking and telling our story, what we still struggle with and how our lives have changed.

I heard the story of the beautiful marketing director who survived a horrendous marriage only to be confronted with a cancer diagnosis. There was the lady who survived horrible child abuse to grow up, regain personal strength and then triumphantly beat cancer. There were men in attendance too, each unique but with one common thread ..cancer. One newcomer had survived cancer only to have his wife diagnosed and in less than two years, die. There were more tears for the woman who is now fighting her fourth or fifth battle with a different type of cancer and she just remains strong. She is like a batter that strikes out every time at bat and yet walks up to the plate with the same level determination as if it is the first at bat. She is just waiting for that big swing that makes others simply stand back and watch her ball sail out of the ballpark. Those of us who met her pray that hit comes soon.

The sharing and caring was more than just about cancer, it was about humanity. I met a young woman, close to my daughter’s age, that was from another country and had not completely mastered the English language. She was there to give back, because she cared about others hurting. She felt cancer was an unfairly given, life changing diagnosis. She had her share of hard knocks in her own life, including a childhood were she was made to feel less than everyone else, simply because she was different. Why is it the world does not embrace diversity anymore? Everyone is quick to judge and point out differences of others verses celebrate them. This girl should not have been overlooked as a child. She has so much to offer, and in time, she will continue to touch so many lives with her kind gentle nature and loving heart. Those that never gave her a chance missed out on truly seeing that blessing.

I had been asked to attend this several times and never felt I really had the time to spare. After having gone, I now giggle inside that I ever thought something else on my plate was more important than this. My weekend was filled with memories to sustain a lifetime. I met one hero after another. Each one was willing to be real,with no pretense or reservations about sharing their successes, failures and struggles. I learned so much from listening. I was provided an opportunity to share as well and offer some advice to others. This experience was, as someone there said, life altering.

Heroes come in all sizes and shapes. Truly take the time to learn other’s stories. You may find the differences you once thought you had are minor compared to the similarities. Learning from each other is more what God had in mind for us all. Let down your wall, open your ears and ask for the story behind the person. Then sit back, take it in and thank God for another blessing brought in your life! Heroes want to share. Heroes persevere. Heroes are among us all. May their strength and determination light a path for us all!