SING IT, SISTER!

 

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SING IT, SISTERS!

Music has always been a healing balm for me. Being the word nerd that I am, as well as a writer, it shouldn’t surprise you to know I listen closely to song lyrics. They seem to jump out at me at the perfect times, forming soundtracks to the events of my life.

Words have undeniable power, but music unites us in a way that mere words cannot. Certain songs can take each of us back in time to a specific place and time, and can bring back memories for better or worse, as if we are still there.

Song titles and lyrics can tell the story of those times, both good and bad.

The coronavirus pandemic seems to have its own soundtrack. So many song titles have heightened meaning at a time like this. Whether it is a country song lamenting lost love, or a classic ballad explaining the pain of life, it seems that the pain of adversity is understood, and thereby lessened with music. In terms of pain and tough times, this time of pandemic is no different than love lost, personal struggles or, perhaps as a country song may suggest, losing one’s girlfriend, truck or freedom while in jail.

As I typically do, I turned to my sisters for their input for my weekly post. Each of us has insight that the others don’t have, and this week was no different.

As I am, Mom was a “Fanilow.” Suzanne recalled that two of Mom’s favorite Barry Manilow songs were “Looks Like We Made It,” and “I Made It Through the Rain.” I didn’t recall this, but Suzanne reports that Mom never forgot “I Made It Through the Rain” playing when the Iran hostages got off the plane in the United States in 1981 after 444 days in captivity.

In time, the entire world will make it through the rain that coronavirus is raining down upon us. Then, Fanilow or not, we can all sing “I made it through the rain.”

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There’s nobody on the road, nobody on the beach. Empty lakes, empty streets. It’s a bit strange when you’re out and about these days, and none of us had better be out and about for anything but essential travel. That’s the new normal, and we all need to accept it as reality for a while. I’ve been out for a few days of work lately, and besides the grocery store, that’s it. There are times I feel all revved up and no place to go, but between books, puzzles, writing, more walking and watching season three of Ozark, I’ve found alternate outlets for that energy that normally would have given me someplace to go.

Nobody told me there’d be days like these, strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Mama. Whoa.

I have been calling upon my small army of friends lately, too. I really thought I was doing okay, but the surreal nature of this strange new world finally caught up with me after one of my friends confided she was struggling with the reality of it all. I let myself go there, too.

Oh, I can’t take no more…so I sit down and I cry too.

And then I felt better. I simply needed to let it out, and go on. If you feel the need, don’t hesitate to let it out. You will probably feel better after, too.   We’re all scared and confused humans, and we all need the human touch. It’s just that we can’t touch this; we shouldn’t be reaching out to touch anyone right now.

Better not do any lovin’ touchin’ squeezin’ with anyone besides your main squeeze right now. Just a little of that human touch is all it takes to endanger someone else’s health.

There is a time you may embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. This would be the time to refrain.

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Back to the sisters. They both offered their playlists, and here is Suzanne’s:

*Don’t Stand So Close To Me

*Dancin’ With Myself

*I Will Survive

*Reunited

*Stayin’ Alive

*What A Fool Believes

*How Will I Know?

*Stop! In the Name of Love

*Happy Together

*Alone Again (Naturally)

And Gail’s list:

*Livin’ on a Prayer

*It’s a Heartache

*Hold On

*Under Pressure

*In The Air Tonight

*I’m a Believer

*God Only Knows

*Come Together

*Gimme Shelter

*It’s the End of the World (as we know it, and I feel fine.)

Coincidentally, both of them offered another title—the same title—that was simply too inappropriate to print. Imagine that.

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Don’t worry mother, it’ll be alright. Don’t worry sister, say your prayers and sleep tight. This phenomenally talented singer and songwriter goes on to offer profound lyrics that touched me even before this international crisis: “Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery.

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It is a strange, but brave new world we are forging our way through. I’m not even rationing paper towels anymore. I had a good supply laid in before all this started, and now I am using them liberally, and throwing them away. You probably wouldn’t even recognize me anymore.  If you recall from Waste Not, Want Not (January 14, 2018), paper towels are like gold in my house. Not anymore.

Many other things will change. Most of us long to get back to our “normal” lives, but perhaps we would all be well-advised to consider that some elements of our “normal” lives are not worth going back to. If it wasn’t working before, and now you’re going through the shake-up that everyone else is going through too, maybe it would be a good time for all of us to consider leaving some dead weight behind.

This one’s for you, Suzanne: When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange, who you are and what you’re gonna be. Sha na na na na na na na na, Sha na na na na.

I’m pretty sure it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of the world as we once knew it. I’m even more sure that we will all make it through the rain.

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HEARTS AND HANDS THAT HEAL

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HEARTS AND HANDS THAT HEAL

When my firstborn was perhaps five or six years old, he asked me the inevitable question: “Mom, how did I get in your stomach?”

Not wanting to tell the whole truth just yet, but not wanting to lie to him either, I took the easy—but true—way out: I responded: “God put you there.”

Without hesitation, he responded emphatically, “No she didn’t!”

Initially, I was confused at his response. With a little probing, it became apparent that he was confusing our female family doctor—the one who delivered him as well—with God. If she took care of me while he was in my stomach, delivered him, and then took care of both of us after that, then surely she must be the God I was speaking of.

In a way, she was. And, even though she is no longer our doctor—she moved away several years ago–she still is a god(dess). Like the doctor I now have, both women are goddesses on this earth—now, more than ever before.

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Tomorrow, March 30th, is National Doctor’s Day. It is a day designated to celebrate the contributions physicians make to our society, and their dedication to our personal and community well-being. It is a day we should all have heightened awareness of how fortunate we are to have these earthly gods and goddesses among us.

The first Doctor’s Day was celebrated on March 30th, 1933. Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of a physician in Georgia, wanted to honor her husband and all other doctors, so she began the tradition. She urged people to send thank-you cards to their doctors, and to place flowers on the graves of deceased doctors.

On February 21st, 1991 (Gail’s 31st birthday, by the way), President George H.W. Bush proclaimed National Doctor’s Day to honor the nation’s physicians for their dedication and leadership.

Now, 29 years later in 2020, this annual observation couldn’t be more important.

I don’t have to expand on the important role doctors—and nurses—are currently playing in our country, and across the globe. You already know all this. They are the heroes and heroines of this seemingly unreal saga that continues to intensify as it plays out more intensely every hour of every day.

We all know what to do in order to stay healthy, and to keep everyone around us healthy. I don’t need to repeat any of that.

I do, however, want to use this platform to encourage you to celebrate Doctor’s Day tomorrow. If you already have sent a card to your doctor, or any doctor you know, kudos to you. Aside from saying thank you, I don’t know of anything more the general public should do for our doctors and nurses, besides following all the precautions, safety rules and restrictions upon us. We all must do our part to keep the spread of the virus as minimal as possible.

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On September 11th, 2001, we watched in horror—on television, safe in our homes–as the terrorist attack victims ran out of, and away from the sites of the devastation. We also watched as the firemen and other first responders ran into, and toward the devastation. It was their job, and they didn’t hesitate to do it.

Soldiers run toward the battle, while we are safe at a distance.

Policemen don’t think twice before putting themselves in the line of fire in order to protect and serve all of us.

Now, in this war against COVID-19, doctors and nurses are on the front lines. They sacrifice their own safety, health and comfort to treat the sick. Many of them have tested positive for the virus; some have died. It is likely that many more will become sick, and more will likely die.

Doctors and nurses know they are placing themselves at potential risk when they first sign up for the job. I doubt many of them envisioned the kind of risk they are facing today; none of us expected a pandemic like this one. Yet, they don’t hesitate to rush toward the devastation, run toward the battle, and put themselves in the line of fire. They are the front-line soldiers in this war; they are in the trenches of the battle.

And yet, they don’t hesitate to go to war. It is their job; their calling. And they do it not for themselves, but for you. For me. For all of us.

The least we can do is to say thank you.

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My small city has yet to identify a case among its residents, but it will likely be a short matter of time. I live in a rural area in the neighboring county, and there has been one resident identified.   The numbers will inevitably grow. My family and I are staying home, getting out for essential matters only.   My husband and I have jobs that are considered essential, and we are still working, but the decline in business for both of us has already begun.   We will continue to respond accordingly. We are thankful for our health.

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I rarely have dreams about my parents. After they first died, I longed to dream about them because, even though I knew it wasn’t real, it made me feel they were still with us. In these rare dreams, it is as if they never died, and it is not out of the ordinary that they are here when I dream about them.

I dreamed about Dad last night. It was in the midst of a series of other dreams, and he made a very brief appearance, then he was gone. He simply laughed his memorable belly laugh. He looked like this in my dream:

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I have been thinking about Dad a lot lately, because  his birthday is tomorrow, March 30th; the same day as Doctor’s Day. He would have been 86 years old.

If you knew our dad, you know that he didn’t know a stranger. He loved to talk to people, whether he knew them or not.

If you knew our mom, you knew she was the quiet one. Dad expressed himself verbally, and while she wasn’t a writer per se, she did love to write letters and notes. She knew the power of the written word, and she left us an incredible gift in a written letter to be found after she died, and read at her funeral.  While the letter itself remains a personal treasure among her seven children, I detail the message in Peace, Sister (July 16th, 2017).

Mom’s birthday would have been January 22nd. She would have been 84 years old. On that day this year, the meaning of this calendar didn’t escape me. A co-worker who displays this calendar graciously agreed to grant me this page after I told him the story about Mom’s letter.  I now display it on a frame, placing it in front of me as I sit at my table to catch up on my thank-you notes.

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Listen to the wisdom of our mother. If you haven’t already, send your doctor a thank-you card in honor of Doctor’s Day. It won’t matter that it may not arrive on time. Don’t underestimate its power.

Listen to our dad’s wisdom, too. Be sure to laugh like he did in the above picture, and in my dream last night. Don’t underestimate the power of laughter, especially at a time like this.

Listen to your doctor. Never underestimate their power.  They should be considered gods and goddesses on earth right now.  And, if you haven’t already, take the cue from Dr. Almond’s wife and send your doctor a card.

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My dear friend Shari is an engineer extraordinaire at Hallmark Cards.  She has informed me that they are helping to share the love of handwritten notes at this crucial time by offering three free cards to anyone who signs up online.   Simply go to http://www.Hallmark.com to get your free cards, and write on!

 

 

BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT

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BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT

Besides paying your taxes—which, by the way, are not due now until July 15th, the most basic thing you have to do is simply breathe.

You’re already doing it, so why not just breathe in a little deeper each time. If you are stressed, it will help you relax. And with each breath in and out, send up a prayer of thanks that you can breathe. Because as you know, many people in the world are struggling to do just that.

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I am trying to peel myself away from News TV. The story is ever-changing, so it keeps me hooked. The numbers keep going up, and the drama continues to unfold. As most of us are, I am home, following the directives to keep myself and everyone else healthy. This gives me plenty of time to watch TV—but I’m trying to stay away from the news negativity.

As I do in all challenging times, I turn to my sisters for help and support, as well as a sense of humor. They are never short on that. Because I believe that laughter is the best medicine, I am printing their text thread that arrived on my phone when I asked them their advice I could share with you all. Here goes, edited a bit for cleanliness:

Gail: “Don’t worry, drink plenty of water and alcohol. Maybe use essential oils to stay well.”

Suzanne: “When God’s ready for you, there’s nothing you can do.”

Gail: “Don’t take shit from anybody.”

Suzanne: “Literally, it might have the coronavirus in it.”

Gail: “There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing.” (Gail, is that really you?!)

Suzanne: “That’s my plan.   But then again, doing nothing has been my plan for quite some time now.”

Gail: “Good answer Suzanne on both parts!”

Suzanne: “At least I found someone willing to pay me for doing nothing. #stateofkansas”

Gail: “Put one foot in front of the other when you walk.”

Suzanne: “Another tip: stop buying everything!”

Gail: “Gargle, rinse, repeat.” and “Sunshine, sweet sunshine.”

Suzanne: “Live, laugh, love. I fu*#ing hate that saying.”

Gail: “A bird in the hand rather than in the bush.”

Suzanne: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

Gail: “Don’t stop believing.”

Suzanne: “Hold on to that feeeeeeling!”

Gail: “Use half as much toilet paper as usual.”

And with that perfect prescription, the thread was done.

While they were offering their wisdom, another acquaintance of mine texted to check in on us. “Henry” is a 73-year old man I have the privilege of calling my friend. He and his 70-year old wife are hunkered down, doing all they can to stay healthy. He survived Vietnam, then a debilitating illness that had him on his deathbed, and now he faces every day with a progressive neurological disorder. Still, he finds a way to laugh. He told me he was looking forward to my blog, and so I asked him for his advice. He didn’t hesitate.

“My advice on how to make it thru this pandemic is to avoid crowds, rest, eat right, and have faith. If that doesn’t work, get shit-faced drunk, and say f*** this crap. Daily sex is optional unless you are old and want to go out of this world while in the saddle.”

I’ve got nothing to add to that.

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I have featured this picture before, but it bears re-posting, because, now more than ever, it is so true.

Our mom collected quotes, clippings and calendar pages in this box. Our writer/editor sister-in-law graciously compiled them into a book for each of us, aptly titling it “Liz-isms.” Gail posted one of her quotes last week on Facebook; it now has heightened meaning:

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I found many more meaningful quotes in “Liz-isms, and here’s another good one:

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Didn’t I tell you in the first paragraph to just breathe? It’s timeless advice from Mom, too.

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In case you haven’t noticed, our family uses humor to get through tough situations. I’m pretty sure we were making jokes before and after our parents’ funeral. It’s how we got through. And through is the magic word here.

We didn’t get over it, didn’t get around it. We got through it. Just like we will get through this international crisis. And we will all be better people for it, just like our family is now are after facing our loss.

If our family had been warned what was headed our way before it hit, I know that for myself, I would have folded. No way, I would have thought. No way that could ever happen, and, if it did, no way I will make it through.

But it did happen, and I did make it through. Everyone in our family did. And all of us will make it through this crisis. And we will be stronger. We don’t want to be stronger, we don’t want to learn this hard lesson, but have no choice. We were warned in stages, but I don’t think any of us would have dreamed it would come to this just a few short weeks ago, which now seems like a whole other lifetime ago.

Our lives after Mom and Dad died changed, never to go back to the blessed Before. I recall a bit of advice that came to mind many times as I navigated through the strange new world I found myself in during the days, weeks and months after our loss. It was this: You will be okay. It won’t be the old okay you once knew and so desperately want back, but you will be okay. You don’t yet know what the new okay will look, feel or smell like, but you will be okay.

And I was okay.  And in the new world that we don’t yet know, all of us will be okay, too. With some grace, we may even be able to say that we are better, stronger people for surviving this crisis. Perhaps, with even more grace, we can, in time, say that we learned to appreciate the small things (like toilet paper), and let go of things that used to stress us out, but now are seen in a different perspective.  Those are the gifts I took away when so much was taken away from me.

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I have now turned off News TV, and I am binge-watching funny movies today on TBS. Humor, along with following all the recommended precautions, will continue to be the best medicine for me. Perhaps, if you are showing no symptoms–and I hope you are not, it will be the best advice for you, too.

Enjoy this time of rest and relaxation. Mom gave us all permission, and so did Gail in her quoted text above.

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My work as a medically-based speech/language pathologist has already begun to dwindle, and it likely will continue in that direction, as it should. I am a non-essential medical provider, and I need to get myself and my potential germs out of the way to decrease any chance of causing more harm than good.

I bow down to the essential medical providers who will be the true warriors in this war. They are in the trenches, and if they are not already engaged in combat, they are preparing to do so. God bless them, and all the other essential members of the workforce whose efforts we could not live without. For the rest of us, getting out of their way is our job.

And to the parents who, without signing up for it, are now home-school teachers. I’m not sure if I could have survived that if my children became my students. I don’t know if my children would have survived, either. May the Force be with them, because this likely won’t be over by May the Fourth.

Speaking of the Fourth, we celebrated—it took many years to be able to use the word celebrate—our parents’ lives on March Fourth this year, the day twelve years ago they died. We now call it March Forth. March Fourth. The only day of the year that tells us to do something.   Given the strength we have found since that day, we continue to March Forth.

Because we have no choice, we will continue to march forth as a nation and as a planet.

And when we get through this crisis, and are living in our new world, we will all be okay. Mom said so.

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THE SISTER, FRIEND, FATHER AND MOTHER LODE

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THE SISTER, FRIEND, FATHER AND MOTHER LODE

I’ve hit them all.

By definition, the mother lode in gold mining terms is the principal vein or zone of gold. It is also used to refer to the real or imaginary origin of something valuable or in great abundance.

As parents go, our father and mother were the most valuable treasures we had in our family. My sisters and brothers continue to be treasures as well.

And, because one can never have too many friends, I can also say that with each new friend I make, I continue to hit the friend lode.

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The Sister Lode was conceived three years ago on one of our sister trips to Cripple Creek, Colorado, which is a gold-mining town with ongoing mining, and where the mother lode was struck in 1890. Its history is that of a bust-boom-bust-and boom again town. Casinos replaced the empty storefronts when gambling was legalized there in 1991, and it has continued to grow since.

We have done our part to help it grow.

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Since 2010, we have traveled to this peaceful mountain town typically twice each year; first in March to observe our parents’ passing, but especially to celebrate their lives, and then back again in the fall. The celebrating keeps getting easier, and more fun.

If you know Gail, it won’t surprise you to know that many people in this small town remember her from previous visits, especially the Blackjack dealers and the pit bosses at her favorite casino, The Brass Ass. And this is a good thing.

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Gail even made new friends along the way at her favorite stop along the way, the Pop-A-Top saloon in Peyton, Colorado.

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Usually, Suzanne joins Gail and me. However, the altitude has taken its toll on her during the last few visits, so she decided to stay home this time. It’s never the same without her, so we anticipate the day when we can take an epic trip—likely of her design and plan—with all three of us. Until then, the show must go on.

No one could ever take her place, and we don’t want anyone to try. To prove this, we enlarged and copied an iconic photo of ourselves on the grand stairway of our favorite inn, the one we have chosen to make our home away from home since 2014. The existing picture in our favorite corner room featured three cute little bunnies, so we saw it fitting to replace it with three other cute little bunnies.

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We took a shot of the Ferris Wheel along the way for Suzanne, she’s got a thing for them, and we did ride this one several years ago.  It was shortly after her birthday, and it was a slow day at the park.  We asked the Ferris wheel operator if she could have a special ride in honor of her recent birthday, one that perhaps was a bit faster than he would normally let it go.  We got off, she had the wheel to herself and after that one-of-a-kind ride, he probably lost his job.

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Despite the fact that Suzanne cannot be replaced, we found someone who deserved a long-overdue getaway, and she became our traveling companion.

Gail’s friend Margaret had been there perhaps thirty years ago, so it was time for her to go again.  I had met her prior to this trip, but this was my opportunity to get to know her. She is now a member of my friend lode.

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I would say we showed Margaret a good time, but I think it is more fitting to say that Gail showed her a good time. If the first night out was any indication, she knew she was in for a ride. Speaking of rides, Gail and Margaret dragged in six hours after I tucked myself in, forced to bum a ride from the blackjack dealer as he finished his shift. They didn’t know the shuttle buses stopped running at 2 a.m.

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Three strikes, and they were out. (Be sure to zoom in on the sign.)

There was no monetary currency won that night—or any time throughout the trip, but our winnings were much more valuable than any jackpot.

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We ate at our favorite restaurants,

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I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this picture, and this classic birthday photo of Gail I posted on her party post several weeks ago…

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Took in the scenery,

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And took advantage of several photo ops.

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We shopped at our favorite shops, bringing home another jewelry jackpot—we always win at 9494–the town’s altitude, as well as our all-time favorite place to find more Colorado treasures. If you ever make it to Cripple Creek, you must stop there, too.

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The mother lode was there for us again, just not in monetary terms. Anywhere we go together, we can feel the father lode, too. This time, the friend lode was a bonus. And, as always, The Sister Lode is the greatest treasure we continue to share.

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THE PARTY’S (NEVER) OVER

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THE PARTY’S (NEVER) OVER

It’s easy to be excited for an upcoming event like we all were for Gail’s party. The anticipation built up for weeks ahead of time, but we couldn’t share the details with Gail. She had been talking about her Big Birthday for some time, and even though she didn’t know what the plans entailed, she knew it would be good. And she was excited. She was ready to plan her own party, but she didn’t have to.

She was not disappointed.

I have written before that anticipation is sometimes the greater joy; sometimes its actually more fun to look forward to something than it is to experience it. In this case, I must say that, at least for me, the joy of the party exceeded the joys of my anticipation.

Now, one week later, I am reflecting back on how much fun it was. Sometimes, like the anticipation, those reflections can be more exciting than the actual event. Again, I have to say the party was the greatest joy.

The post-party blues are trying to creep in all around me, but I’m not letting them in. Coming down after an event of that magnitude can happen with a crash, but not to me.

It helps that I am anticipating another trip in just four days. Something else to look forward to keeps me pumped up, keeps those blues at bay.

Gail and I are departing for Colorado Thursday morning. Sadly again, Suzanne will not be joining us. She gave it her all last fall when we went, but the altitude sickness left a bad aftertaste. We have her blessing to go on without her, but it won’t be the same. (We won’t be in our nun habits, either.)

We continue to celebrate our parents’ lives however we can, no matter how many of their children are gathered together. We will continue to March Forth, as we have done since March Fourth twelve years ago. Which is precisely what Gail and I will we will be doing next weekend.

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I cranked up some old 80’s CDs today, and just now The Cars told me to Let The Good Times Roll. I’ve heard that song hundreds of times, but I never before realized that the key word is let.  I think that for most of us—excluding Gail, of course, our default setting is not one that naturally lets those good times roll. I think for most of us—and these are strictly my observations and impressions—we tend to keep those good times subdued, feeling that perhaps it’s more important to stay busy, get our work done, and worry about inconsequential things. Again, Gail defies this. She manages to keep busy with important things, get her work done, NOT worry, and still, she regularly and routinely lets the good times roll.

I look up to Gail for so many reasons, but the older I get, the more I realize the importance of having fun however, whenever and with whomever we can. It does come easier for some of us than for others (think Gail), but I think we all owe it to ourselves to strive to find those good times, even if we have to use every tool in the shed to find them.

I highly doubt that anyone on their deathbed would reflect back on their life, and think I wish I hadn’t had so much fun. Unless, of course, their particular breed of fun is what brought them to their deathbed. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about enjoying any of the intended pleasures that the buffet of life has to offer, the joys that do no harm, and are meant to be enjoyed.

Fun and boredom don’t coexist very well. And when boredom calls, it can easily bring along its cousins, the blues. They seem to invite themselves in, put their stinky feet up on your best furniture without asking, and refuse to leave when you politely ask them to do so.

Like a good exterminator, I have found the best treatment for the blues: get up, get moving, and find something you enjoy doing. They hate it when you do that, and typically leave because there’s nothing left there for them.

Having fun on a tired Monday morning at work is much harder than having fun at a birthday party. Life can’t be a 24/7 fun-fest, but fun, of course, is best enjoyed when its counterpart is given its due, because without those tougher times, we don’t appreciate the lighter ones.

The day-to-day drudgery of work at our jobs and work at home can take a toll, but there are always ways to inject a little fun, if you just try.

I was thinking of small joys I take away from routine tasks, and I had one so seemingly strange, that was, until I told Gail about it. She does the same thing: when doing laundry—a task I really quite enjoy, we find a small thrill from matching the colored hanger to the shirt we’re hanging on it. Suzanne agrees that this is weird. We know, but whatever thrill one can find in the mundane is always a good thing.

I do enjoy vacuuming as well, and perhaps Gail enjoys this one a bit more than me: she likes to let the dust bunnies accumulate before she sucks them up with the vacuum for a greater thrill. I’ll have to let mine sit for awhile longer and report back to you—and Gail—on that one.

As farm girls , we learned the fine arts of playing in the rain and the mud after the rain.  These small joys are largely a part of our pasts, but we all continue to enjoy the thrill of cracking the thin ice on a small frozen puddle, crunching dried mud that has flaked and curled up, just waiting to be stepped on.  Walking barefoot through fine, silty dirt is a joy that has been with us since the farm, and will likely never leave.

Mom left us so many important life lessons, but this one comes to mind, and I have written about it before: Always have something to look forward to. For me, when I don’t have anything bigger in the queue, I look for the simple things: waking up to a delectable cup of coffee, which almost makes me want to go to bed earlier so that I can enjoy it sooner. Or perhaps, having a good book to open when I do go to bed.

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In three days, I will depart from my home to arrive at Gail’s home on March Forth, where we will celebrate the lives of our incredible parents together. Suzanne and our brothers will be with us in thought and spirit.  Thursday morning, Gail and I will go west yet again. We will enjoy a leisurely drive that day, because we know that at least half of the fun of a trip is in the journey. We will make our usual stops, but we’re always open to new experiences. We will arrive Thursday afternoon/evening, and we will create our own kind of fun. We know how; we’ve had plenty of previous experience.

As a reminder of our previous fun, here is a photo montage.  

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For us, the party is really never over. We make it a priority, spending whatever time, money and energy we can to make it happen.

May you find your joys, both great and small.  May you find the fun in life.  May the party go on for you, too.

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Depending upon just how much fun we have next weekend, the blog about our trip may or may not be posted next Sunday night.  If not, stay tuned, and thank you for following.  

 

DANCE LIKE GAIL’S WATCHING

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DANCE LIKE GAIL’S WATCHING

It came…It happened…and it was historic.

Gail’s birthday celebration was an epic weekend fest for all of us, beginning on Friday, and lingering on through Sunday. For Gail, however, the party will never end. And it shouldn’t.

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It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, then a video is surely worth thousands more, so I will let the pictures and videos do most of the talking for this post.

Gail is no dummy; she knew something was in the works. She just didn’t know exactly what it would be, or who would be there, or where it would be…

When her friends Margaret, Courtney and Bailey brought her in after about an hour of country cruising, she was greeted by a dance hall full of well-wishers, family and friends alike.

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We took her by surprise—at least by a little bit.

The food was divine, the music was the perfect mix for Gail—and everyone else—and the mood was beyond festive.

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Our mom’s sisters made the five-hour trip from Wichita with their families.

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Suzanne and I were there, as well as one of our brothers. Duty called for the others.

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Friends from near and far made it their priority to spend the evening celebrating with their friend Gail.

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Her two older daughters traveled from Wichita and from Michigan, the two younger children were closer.

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Her in-laws wouldn’t miss it for the world–they were transfixed by The Dancing Queen.

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It was a grand reunion for all of them.

Inspired by his aunt Gail, my son broke out in dance as The Dancing King.

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The morning after–Gail is still smiling.

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The gift of age is one to be opened daily as well as yearly, and I know of no better example to follow than Gail’s.

Sixty is a state of mind—as is every age, and no matter what your age, it is your choice to make it a celebration—or not.

So, if you are tempted to dread your next birthday, just remember Gail’s attitude, and celebrate. And pretend Gail is watching you dance–and cheering you on.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY GAIL– YOU ARE A GIFT EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

NOW SHOW US YOURS

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NOW SHOW US YOURS

It’s coming! It’s coming! Gail’s birthday is almost here, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Neither could she.

I’m sure Gail will celebrate, and I’m sure it will be epic.  This is what happened when she turned 50, so Heaven only knows what 60 will bring.

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Gail has started celebrating already.  Last week, I introduced you to “Lola,” the new ride she bought herself for her birthday. And, just as we all did as high school seniors, she got her “senior” pictures taken. For real. As in, with a real photographer. The album has yet to be revealed, but here is a teaser of what is to come:

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I am carefully selecting a goodie bag of gifts for her, which is always fun for both of us. We won’t deny that we both love to get gifts. Suzanne feels the same way.

But this is not about material gifts. It is about celebrating the gift of life, love, family, age and time.

This is where you come in: Gail has requested a gift from every reader who is up to this task: Please post your age, and why it is a great age. According to all three sisters of The Sister Lode, age is a gift to be celebrated.

Suzanne will be 50 years old in August, and there will be another party, of course.

I will be 54 in April, and even though it’s not a decade marker, I will, of course, celebrate.

I like to remind anyone who complains about their age that age is a gift. It is an insult to The Giver to complain about it. It is appropriate to say thank you. The old adage is really true; there really is only one alternative to aging. While I do believe there is something better waiting for us when we stop aging, this gift of time here on earth is worth celebrating—every year, every day.

I watched one of my favorite authors on a video the other night, and she reminded me of this insight into aging that I had heard before: we don’t lose the ages we have already been, we get to keep all of them. We get to keep all the good, leave the not-so-good behind, and keep building on the wisdom.

For myself, I wouldn’t want to go back to any previous age. I wouldn’t want to lose the wisdom I’ve gained, and I look forward to gaining more.

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Now, it’s your turn. I am keeping this post short on purpose, because I want to hear from you. Please post your age and what you like about it either after our Facebook post or on my WordPress website. No cheating, no lying. Only celebrating.

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You won’t want to miss next week’s post. I assure you it will be worth the wait.

 

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