The 3:30 in the afternoon of life.

Lotus

 

I ate at a restaurant all by myself last night. This is a huge thing for me. I ate at a restaurant all by myself last night FOR THE FIRST TIME. Going through a drive-thru and sitting in the car with a radio as my companion does not count. I sat at a table, ordered a meal, and ate all alone, ALL BY MYSELF. It was awkward, it was quiet, I didn’t know where to focus my eyes, it was uncomfortable at first, and yet it was wonderful.

And on top of that, when I walked in, I was greeted with, “Hi Rhonda!” by the bartender/hostess/let me see you to your table lady. And when Jonathan, my waiter, came to the table with chips and salsa, he said, “How are you doing this evening, Rhonda?”

 

I cannot begin to express the elation I felt in being known. I wasn’t Delmar’s daughter, Angela’s sister, Sam’s wife, Karissa’s mom. I was Rhonda.

I am Rhonda.

My imaginary good friend Jen Hatmaker posted this on Monday, and I have read it, re-read it, and think I want to turn it, or part of it, into wall art for our new home.

“Many people between the ages of thirty and sixty – whatever their stature in the community and whatever their personal achievements – undergo what can truly be called a second journey. The second journey begins when we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program.” ~ Brennan Manning

Just a reminder to you today, dear ones: You do not have to be who you first were. As long as you are still breathing air, you have permission to change, shift, take a whole new path, unpeel a long-held label, embrace new ideas, take a crazy risk, drop some old baggage, turn the page, turn the corner.

You may discover around our age that you can no longer live according to the morning program of your life, AND THAT IS OKAY. That early version of yourself, that season you were in, even the phase you are currently experiencing – it is all good or purposeful or at least useful and created a fuller, nuanced you and contributed to your life’s meaning – but you are not stuck in a category just because you were once branded that way. Just because something WAS does not mean it will ALWAYS BE.

It may be time to change the program for the afternoon portion of your life. Maybe everyone knows you a certain way, in a certain ideology, in a certain job, or in a certain tribe. More than likely, there are many wonderful elements to that place and you in it.

Something doesn’t have to be bad to be over.

But maybe that season has given you everything it has to offer; it shaped and developed you, it stretched and inspired you. You’ve deeply incorporated its lasting values, and this place has been true to you and of you. Even then, you STILL have full permission to move forward or move on to something new, different, surprising, or risky.

Here’s to the afternoon program, friends. May we be bold enough to embrace it ourselves and gracious enough to allow our people to embrace theirs.

The picture at the top is a lotus flower. It lives on the patio that belongs to my boss, and she sent me the picture yesterday morning when she was outside watering plants. She told me that the lotus flower emerges from dark, murky water and opens up with the morning sunlight.

I am grateful for my boss who sends me a picture of her lotus flower.

I am grateful for my co-worker who brought me a gardenia from her garden.

I am grateful for Jen Hatmaker and even though she is my imaginary good friend, I am fairly certain she knows me and knows my story.

I am grateful for Tracey and Jonathan at Tequila Harry’s who brought some joy into this new independent adventure last night and grateful that they remembered my name.

And I am grateful that my world, once void of flowers in the morning program,  is now filled with them everywhere I look.

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The secret to success in your job:

Do all the little things that no one else is willing to do.

I am grateful that Sam is extremely successful in his new job.

I am grateful that there are not huge thunderstorms today and June is not known in these parts for icy weather, since I am soon to be on a plane.

I am grateful for the opportunity to go see my daughter and family in three hours.

I am grateful that our friend Melissa posted this earlier today, just for me to read:

Mommas, it doesn’t matter what size you are, or how you feel about your body… get that swimsuit on and swim with your kids this summer! The memories last forever but pics can be deleted. Ha!

It pertains to Ama, too.

And I am grateful that the weekend is beginning right…now.

Scars are tattoos with better stories.

 

For years, I wouldn’t wear shorts.

It could be 104 outside and physical activity was required, but Rhonda would be in jeans. The scars that had deformed my leg at age 15 from a motorcycle accident were too ugly, and I was uncomfortable in my own skin.

Fast forward just a few years, and I had a difficult time sharing that I had been pregnant before marriage. The scars that had deformed my reputation were too ugly, and I was uncomfortable in my own story.

Fast forward several more years and the mask that I wore to cover the ugly scars of my life became too heavy to bear, but it wasn’t until that mask was removed, partially by me, partially by those concerned family and “friends” in my Christian world who felt it was their duty to unmask me, that I began to see my scars as part of my rescue.

A favorite writer/blogger of mine, Jennifer Dukes Lee, wrote yesterday about Jesus and the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof and Jesus’ response to this man. I had never heard this story explained the way she did, when Jesus said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:11)

Worth reading:

http://www.incourage.me/2016/06/dont-hide-scars.html

I needed this.

Some of my scars have been wounds of my own doing. Some of my scars are wounds from others. All of them leave an indelible mark to be carried, like that mat, forever.

I am grateful for Jennifer’s insight. I need to keep my mat, share my scars. Someone needs to know they are not alone. Someone needs to know that survival isn’t a myth. My scars do not mean I failed. They mean I am healed.

Nothing profound but still important to count.

 

I am grateful for handwritten thank you cards and the people who take the time to write them.

I am grateful for clean hair.

I am grateful for the way Natia rolls on her back to stretch and scratch. It makes me smile.

I am grateful for punctuation marks used correctly.

I am grateful for an invitation from my daughter to come and visit.

I am grateful that there are so many varieties of trees in our neighborhood.

I am grateful that I do not have poison ivy in this heat.

And I am grateful for an “I love you” from my CASA girl.

Facing fear with a smile…and family.

I walked this morning. It isn’t as easy since Sam is not along, but it does give me lots of time to think and to reflect, and I am motivated to conquer this 51-year-old body that I’ve let down.

On my walks now, I notice things. The twigs that are waiting to be swept away with a broom or collected by a bird. The way I sometimes don’t pick up my feet and end up scuffling gravel. How my fingers swell about ten minutes into the walk. I know what the timer setting is on certain sprinkler systems now and leave the house earlier in order to avoid having to walk in the street. The earlier I walk, the more likely I am to see more wildlife – this morning it was two rabbits alive, one rabbit dead, five squirrel friends all eating mulberries together, a plethora of song birds, too many crows that make me cranky, and three lucky dogs whose owners wanted their companion along for the run.

I walked this morning, and as I did, I thought about how there is “socio-economic status” among trees. Some are planted in lush yards with automatic sprinkler systems, pruned and beautified, pampered with water and fertilizer and all the amenities of living a life of wealth and means. Some are planted in yards to do work – their job is to shelter and shadow, and they receive minimum “pay” for the hard and faithful work they perform.  Others are homeless, in a way. Neglected and ignored, having to fend for themselves, looking like no one currently cares or loves them. Some have lots of friends and belong to a group, while others are lonely and face the world all by themselves. Each one is beautiful and unique underneath their coat of leaves, and they all have a purpose.

I walked this morning and replayed in my mind the blessings of the weekend. The ballgame that turned out to be so fun – a great win, but also time spent with Sam and Angela and Steve and Dad. Fireworks on a Friday night with new kinds I had not yet experienced. A really good hotdog. Enjoying Sam’s friendliness with strangers. Watching my Dad’s happy on his face when our Royals scored. Spending time with my CASA girl before her big night and having a heart-to-heart with her on the drive. Hearing the sweet giggles and laughter from a theater full of children who were experiencing Dory’s confusion for the first time. Butter on movie popcorn. Getting a text message from Linn to tell me their visit was going great.  Seeing Lisa at church and feeling her hug. Sitting next to my sister at church. Adam’s lighter-hearted summer message about the spiritual lessons we can learn from dogs.

 

I walked this morning. On this post-Father’s Day, I reflected about my insanely stupid fear of heights, my sister’s insanely ridiculous appetite for adventure, and my Dad. My sister will not leave me alone about trying new things. A few months ago, she wanted me to go sit in Himalayan pink salt with her. And then she wanted me to try a pedicure which in and of itself FREAKS ME OUT SO BAD, but no, she wanted me to do a pedicure/massage with her in an almost dark room with lots of other people having the same procedure and you aren’t supposed to talk so any communication has to be in whispers and the pedicurists/massagers are all foreign and speaka zilcha English. Thanks to our sister, Michelle, I was off the hook and Michelle sacrificed in my place while I watched from the waiting couch in horror and counting my gratitude. So yesterday, for Father’s Day, she thought it would be so fun for Dad and his two girls to ride the Scheel’s ferris wheel with all of the other little kiddies. Reflection: I have an insanely stupid fear of heights (and pedicures). Reflection: My sister has an insanely ridiculous appetite for doing new things. Reflection: my Dad is a go-with-the-flow kinda guy.

I walked this morning. And I counted my blessings, one by one.

I survived.
I didn’t scream.
My sister makes me happy if not a little gray-er.
My Dad puts up with a lot.
I love my family.

And I’m so glad Sam likes watching ferris wheels more than riding on them.

Absolutely it’s hot, like really really hot.

 

I am grateful for older ladies with white hair who wear floral-y shirts.

I’m also grateful for women who still wear “housecoats” and go outside in the early morning when they think walkers are not out yet, because they are mildly entertaining to this early morning walker.

And I am grateful for little boys who sport mohawks in the summer because their mamas and daddies are cool like that.

I am grateful to have a glass door/window front to this office so that every once in a great while, I am privileged to watch a little girl who likes to talk in her little girl voice, walk in the building with her parent on their way to their office.

I am grateful for online bill pay.

I am grateful that the excitement of going to a Royals game tonight is overriding the dread of going to a Royals game tonight.

And I am grateful for people younger than 30 who don’t say the words “like” or “absolutely” more than once or maybe twice in a conversation.

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No matter where you are, right now, you are a single choice from a new beginning.

I am grateful for moments of calm.

I am grateful when my “world” doesn’t feel overloaded and busy.

I am grateful when drama does not follow.

I am grateful for 5:30 am walking, before the world wakes.

I am grateful for enough water to drink.

I am grateful for the simple fun of Green Acres and some days, I can imagine Sam and I as characters on that show. I’m certainly no Lisa, but Sam could be a great Oliver.

I am grateful for encouragement from my boss before the meeting and my sister’s elation after it was over.

I am grateful for healthy hydrangeas to admire on my walks and hope to have at least one hydrangea bush someday.

I am grateful for apples without bruises.

I am grateful for hopeful news for my CASA girl.

I am grateful for a quiet moment to enjoy sleeping Natia this morning.

I am grateful that my Dad was able to put together Sam’s Father’s Day present last night and grateful that Pete was willing to help.

I am grateful for a tiny neighbor girl who took Natia for a walk.

And I am so grateful today for the message of John 8:2-10.