Sunday, February 24, 2013

Today 2/24/2013


Lately I have been trying to catch up on all my favorite blogs. Igniting memories of times with my late mother was a post by Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By here. Her take on an interview by Mr. Rogers of the iconic children’s television program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood opened a discussion about the lives of elders who are beyond the busy contributions of those mid-life years of careers and raising children.

One comment especially resonated. Marian wrote, “I am firmly of the opinion that human society needs its elders—in fact it needs them like never before.”

The first time I understood how aging can limit patterns of life that previously brought deep emotional and spiritual fulfillment was through my mother's experience. Now I am going through my own aging journey.

When Mother was about 67, the age I will be in another year, my father died suddenly. Mother missed him every day of her remaining two and a half decades. But she found strength to continue living joyfully and meaningfully, moment by moment and day by day, through her faith.

By her early 80s, though, she was losing the physical strength and stamina that she had expended willingly in what she loved: expressing God’s love through giving comfort, caring, food and fun to others.

It was hard for her when she could no longer take shifts at the bedside of a hospitalized friend. Grocery shopping became increasingly difficult, as did preparing and carrying meals to those dealing with grief, with illness or with being housebound.

Preparing and serving meals to loved ones in her home, teaching a Bible study class and preparing for overnight guests became challenging and stressful. It pained her, too, when she could no longer maintain her flowerbeds or play with her great grandchildren on the floor and out of doors.

I always seemed a few steps behind in recognizing the level of help she needed, even though she had often talked about the changes of aging and what her options would be if various circumstances should come about. Her willingness to initiate such conversations was a gift she gave my brother and me. I had finally “caught up” when the time came that she mourned the progressive loss of physical strength to “do for others.”

She listened with little comment when I expressed confidence that God still had his purpose for her and that she could trust him that the fulfillment of that purpose would continue even as her physical abilities changed.

I knew her love was so strong that she touched others by simply being herself. As mobility and strength continued to decrease, she found her own path to continuing her contribution to the lives of others.

Her great grandchildren loved the attention she gave and her obvious delight as she savored their visits. Family, friends, and fellow residents and staff at her assisted living home appreciated her sense of humor, her ability to create fun, and her interest in, respect for and patience with everyone she encountered.

As I face the "old-age" category, I am thankful for her and the many other elders, living and deceased, who have been great examples of grace-filled “being.” Their lives continue to illuminate my way. And thanks to Ronni for advocacy for old people and for providing a forum for discussion.

*   *   *    *    *
February is my “birthday month.” A desire to celebrate with meaning was born via blogger Freda of What’s the Story in Dalamory. She celebrates each day of March, her birthday month, with a planned treat. Her treats could require complex logistics or could be as simple as a walk among signs of spring near her home in Scotland.

Unlike Freda, I have let several birthday months slip by. This year I decided I would begin my “month” on my birthday instead of Feb. 1. That decision was a sneaky form of procrastination that gave me almost all of February to come up with my “meaningful” celebration.

And today, thanks to TV, I found my birthday month route. I paused in a fit of channel surfing this morning as the celebrity guest on an inspirational talk show described his spiritual journey. 

He had gone from complaints about circumstances to thankfulness when he began to see every day as God’s gift to him. The show’s host closed that segment with the suggestion that viewers commit to a “21-day fast from complaining.”

I have never “fasted” in the spiritual sense. My only fasts have been preceding blood tests. But the idea of consciously fasting from complaining has a powerful appeal. My complaints are largely internal, although I find myself letting loose verbally with walking buddies and friends and relatives on occasion.

I turned TV off and mentally started my “fast.” My birthday is a few days away. In these next few days I will enlist the support of husband and others to call me out when complaints slip out. I have changed some mental bad habits before, and sharing my resolve about changing this one will help, I hope, to keep me on track.

My complaints may be about circumstances, others or about dissatisfaction with my own behavior, attitudes or capabilities. They may be articulated are not. Either way, my complaining is insidious, whiny and erodes my energy for positive action.

Change, here I come. Life’s a ball!

Exercise balls at my neuro therapy center

11 comments:

Ginny said...

So do I understand this...you want your husband to remind you each time you complain about something? That is great!Because it can slip up on us and we don't even know. Then we complain more and more. I wish you a very happy birthday!!!

Arkansas Patti said...

Love the idea of a Birthday Month but even more the idea of 21 days "complaint free". Since it takes 3 weeks to form a habit, that means it could easily become habit rather than effort. Wouldn't that be wonderful.
Happy Birthday.

Sandra said...

love that last photo. this is a grea idea, I wish I could get hubby to do this with me, fasting from complaining. i will give this several long thoughts to attempting it. we complain about a lot not ourselves but others and what they do, and about wind blowing leaves in the pool, you know things that ARE and cant be changed.. thanks for sharing

edshunnybunny said...

Let me begin by wishing you a Happy Birthday!

I wish you well with your birthday "fast from complaining". You always write such positive and uplifting posts, it's hard to imagine you ever complaining!

Best wishes today and always :)

gigihawaii said...

Well, you do have the right to complain, given your stroke-related disabilities. I wouldn't mind hearing you express yourself. What's wrong with that? On the other hand, you can choose to be happy or choose to be unhappy. I said as much in my post today. It is a matter of steering your thoughts towards happy memories, and I am sure you have many of those. Cheers and aloha from Hawaii, Linda!

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Complaint free...what a wonderful concept and a good idea.

I must make a great effort to do this. Some days, its almost impossible. I have mentioned this before, but you inspire me. When I think I have a complaint, I think of you. Dianne

photowannabe said...

This is quite a challenge Linda.
Even though there may be lapses in your fast, I can see it really reminding you about what your mouth and thoughts are doing.
It is so easy to be critical and complain about things that cannot be changed (as Sandra said).
I think I may have to try this myself.
I don't like the way my whineing and critical spirit can be at times.
Great pictures to go with your post.

Mage said...

Yes, complaining erodes life, and I for one am down to decades. Boy they fly by fast too, so I am focusing in staying in the now. Most of the time, it works too.

Hugsm, and thanks for this post.

Friko said...

Really, no more complaining?
O dear, wonder if I could do that.

I love raving and ranting and complaining. It lets of steam and afterwards I can get back to admiring the sunny side of life.

If I didn’t complain about politicians, greedy people, unkindness, bigots, the weather, falling over the dog, I’d have a lot of spare time.

Terra said...

Hi, I think we are about the same age. I came over from Friko's since she mentioned you refraining from complaining. I do a lot of thanking God for His many gifts I enjoy, but add in plenty of complaining, sorry to say. The direction the USA is going evokes many complaints from me!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

This idea of yours is just what I need. I keep getting into a rut of negativity and know I must stop.A fast is very appealing. Like Patti states it may become a habit and that would be the BEST!!