Reflections

 

spacer

Receive my “Bright Side of Aging” blog emailed to you every Monday.




If you have trouble using the form above, please email me and I’ll sign you up.

 

Share

A Different Kind of Yard Sale

courtesy of photobucket

Springtime may be a season of blooms and blossoms, but it’s also a time to de-clutter the closets and sell off the stuff I probably shouldn’t have purchased in the first place.

On Saturday mornings cars move in our neighborhood like a parade of ants across a picnic table as families eye front yards packed with clothes, toys, kitchen gadgets and old CDs, videos, and books.

Which one appears enticing enough to make them stop, shop, and part with their cash? I’m an observer. I can’t be bothered participating, even though I might be missing out on some great bargains. What I enjoy is seeing people haggle with one another—begging for a discount of a nickel or dime on a fifty-cent item.

But maybe I do that in another way—haggling with you, God, so you’ll let me off the hook from my fifty-cent sins—a catty word here, a misstep there, a bitter thought this morning, a withheld compliment this afternoon. “Are they really so bad?” I ask you. “It’s not like I’m a murderer or a tax evader.” You listen, and then you remind me gently that any sin against another is a sin against you. You call me to your standard, not mine. The bar I set for myself is always lower than the one you set for me. Thank you for using a neighborhood yard sale to teach me this lesson once again.

What has God used in your life to show you a flaw and how to turn it around?

“… In repentance and rest is your salvation …”

(Isaiah 30:16)

 

Share

Quiet, PLEASE!

courtesy of stockimages

“Am I bothering you with all my little noises and chores?” my husband asked as I worked on a writing project in our home office.

“No, not at all, as long as you don’t talk to me,” I responded. “I need to concentrate.”

Five minutes later. “Hon, should I save these papers from the bank regarding our mortgage?” He handed them over.

“No. You can shred them.”

Two minutes later. “My brother sent me the funniest email forward. Do you have a couple of spare moments to look at it?”
“Not really. I’m trying to make this a workday. Send it over and I’ll take a look tomorrow.”

“Looks like I sent it to the kids but forgot to add your name. I’ll try again. Okay, here it comes.”

“Thanks.”

“Guess what? Now that we’ve refinanced the house and added an extra payment at the end of each year, we’re killing this thing. Great, huh?” Big smile!

ME muttering in prayer: Lord, what in your name, do I have to say to make it clear that I need quiet? And I’m not the only one. I read in an article in the paper this week that one of the greatest challenges couples face is a lack of personal space. I get it. I remember my mother going bananas with my dad in their later years. He loved to tell people that he never wanted her to be further from him than an arm’s length.

She, on the other hand, had a football field in mind. After fifty-some years of marriage, twenty-five years of raising four children, and the same number of years having her father live with our family, Mom wanted—make that needed—quiet time alone to think and pray and be.

But now that I’m a widow of almost two years I long for the sound of Charles’ voice–for his easy smile and big blue eyes that I adored. Each morning I light a candle at the breakfast table in his honor. Oh, how I miss sitting with him side by side eating oatmeal, praying, and planning our days. Now I sit in reflection, missing Charles, but knowing God is providing all of my needs.

“My God will use his glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus.”

Phil. 4:19

Share

One is Silver and the Other Gold

Recently I spent a few days with my son Jim and his wife Michiko in Southern California. We hiked and walked and talked and ate and watched movies and laughed and talked some more. And we did squeeze in a few hours of sleep each night. We also visited my sister June in La Verne, California.

The next day I had breakfast with my good friend of 50 years, Carol Sue.

We raised our kids together, became widows in our 70s, and are now enjoying some free time to reconnect whenever I’m in town. Carol Sue lives not far from my son.

I remember an old saying about friends and I think it applies to family members too. “One is silver (the newer ones) and the other gold.”

Getting old is a privilege too few people get to experience. I savor these ‘growing older’ years like a hot fudge sundae, and the friends and family that make my life so rich.

Here’s to more hiking, talking, laughing, and sharing a good meal with the ‘golden’ friends and family I love.

“Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.”
Barbara Bush

 

Share

Forever Yours

portfoliobooks-hi-techLester got tired of listening to his old fogey friends complain about things not being as good today as they were back in the day. They didn’t like seeing all the young kids playing on cell phones and iPads and computers. “They should be out fishing and climbing trees,” said Fred. “Like we did when we were kids. They’re going to get fat and lazy,” he proclaimed, apparently unaware of his own protruding belly.

“Give it a rest,” said Lester, one day in the middle of a game of Chess. “Live and let live,” I say. “It’s none of our business. In fact, I think it would be great to have one of those thingamajigs. Looks like fun to me. Better than sitting around gossiping about stuff you can’t change.”

So Lester went out the next day and with the help of a kind salesman at a computer store he bought himself a new laptop and signed up for weekly lessons so he could surprise his friends and family when he learned how to use it.

After a few weeks he was feeling pretty good and quite proud of himself for what he’d accomplished in a short time. Lester invited Fred over to show him what he could do on his new computer.

He’d stored some photos he received by email from his daughter and he set aside a few messages he wanted to read and respond to later on. He opened the picture file and there were the gems he planned to show to Fred. Then he demonstrated how to compose and send an email.

“See, Fred? Easy as pie. You just type in your message and press the ‘send’ symbol and off it goes.”

Fred frowned at the sight of such amazing technology. He scratched his head. “One thing I don’t understand.”

“What’s that?” Lester thought he’d been very clear in demonstrating what to do.

“Where do you put the stamps?”

Lester chuckled. “No stamps. This mail is free.”

“Not exactly.” Fred burst out laughing. “You have to buy a thousand dollar computer in order to send free mail. Doesn’t make any sense to me.” Fred tapped his temple. “I’ll stick to paper and pen and a forever stamp.”

“Know when to email vs. when to meet.”

~ Justin Rosenstein

Share

Making Friends With My Shadow Self

 

ID-100110349A few weeks ago I asked a good friend to listen to me as I drained some of the yucky thoughts I was having about two people in my life. The feelings I had toward them were anything but the loving ones that I wanted to have, but I couldn’t seem to get there.

My shadow self kept stepping in front of my true self–which is Love–the true self of each one of us.

As I talked, I came to realize that unless I could made friends with that side of me that I was ashamed of and embarrassed by, I could never really heal.

And so I have spent many days praying and thinking and feeling and discovering why I felt as I did. The simple truth is that these two people have not behaved as I expected, wanted, or believed I deserved. Wow! Such an expectation I was putting on others. If they didn’t conform then I couldn’t love them. I couldn’t spend time with them. I couldn’t remember them in my prayers and conversations and so on.

I came to realize, slowly at first, that perhaps they had similar thoughts and feelings about me. What if I didn’t match their expectations and hopes? What if I had disappointed them? What if I did not offer them what they wished I would?

And then came the zinger–the reminder that God loves each of them as much as he loves me. They are precious in his sight. They are his beloveds. He has opened the door to a relationship with him–regardless of what they have or have not done about anything or anyone.

So I return to a place I have visited before but never stayed very long–the high and narrow road that God calls us to. If I never set eyes on these two again, I can at least hold them in love within my spirit.

Only by acknowledging and embracing my shadow self as well as my true self, can I be a full human being willing to lean into God for his grace and mercy for myself and for others.

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” (1 Peter 3:8)

Share

“If I Can Do It, You Can Do It” (Heidi Heath Garwood)

My friend Heidi Heath Garwood is one special person. She has achieved over 4,000 days of recovery from alcohol addiction and her three short, inspirational books illustrated with her own photographs, tell her story and inspire others to follow her.

heidigarwood

allthreebooks

To order books, here’s the link:

www.SquareBooksInTheLight.com

I asked Heidi a few questions so you can get to know her too–and maybe pass on her inspiration to anyone you know who is struggling with recovery from an addiction.

1. What prompted you to write these books?

I am an alcoholic in recovery. I got sober 3 days before my 50th birthday and had been trying to get sober for many years. Not until I completely surrendered to God, was I able to stop drinking and stay sober. I didn’t start out to write a book. I was just trying to write down the many daily thoughts I was getting from others and from God on how to stay sober. One day I had so many thoughts, I started compiling them into short one-page writings with photos and the first book was born, “Free Beer Tomorrow,” then “Hair of the Dog,” Then the last book, “I’ll Have Mine Straight Up” —These books all wrote themselves while listening to God speak to me. I say “wrote themselves” because I don’t remember thinking I was writing a book. I just know I was compelled to write. My books deal with alcohol/addiction—some have a hard time believing in a “higher power.” The three books provide a “soft landing” into the concept of depending on God for help. The books are short messages about the journey from desperation to inspiration.

2. What is your hope and prayer for people who are suffering from alcohol addiction?

• Never give up hope for yourself or for your loved one.
You(they) can be sober if I can.
• Surrender to God is key—service to others is next.
• You don’t have to do it alone.
• Your addiction is not YOU. You can rise above this.
• I want to give back to others what was so freely given to me.

3. How has writing and sharing these books impacted your own recovery?

It has been an unbelievable journey to hear back from people how my books have impacted others or have been used as tools to tip somebody over to the side of finally getting into recovery. It keeps me sober knowing I stand in the gap for others in prayer and giving my books away. I think of it as a form of service to others.

Recently, Heidi and I shared the microphone on a local radio show talking about our books, writing and its impact on others, and how recovery helps one live God’s will one day at a time.

img_2598On air with Neil Pearlsberg in Santa Cruz, California

Heidi is offering a set of her three books to the first three people who leave a comment. Send me your address in a private email (karen@karenoconnor.com) and I will forward them to Heidi for mailing.

“No personal calamity is so crushing that something true and great can’t be made of it.”

Bill W., founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

For more information about Alcoholics Anonymous, meeting and location times, and the 12 steps of the AA program, visit www.aa.org

And if you are suffering because of an alcoholic in your life, check out the companion programs for families: Al-anon and Alateen

www.al-anon.alateen.org

Share

5 Cozy Things for Winter

Today I saw on the Internet an article titled, “5 Things Every Cozy Home Needs” during the winter months. Among them were throw blankets, table lamps, accent pillows, area rugs, and window treatments to keep out the cold and brighten up the interior.

I looked around my house and found all five. Hmm! It seems I was in step with the latest home fashion. What a relief! 🙂

img_2605 img_2608

img_2609

Then I spent a few minutes thinking about what really makes my home cozy for me in winter.

  1. A new devotional. This year:

img_2610

2. Time alone to rest and think–especially when it’s not as much fun to be outdoors.

3. A bowl of steaming oatmeal with walnuts and berries and cream at least twice a week.

4. Spontaneous chats with God while I dust and vacuum and do my laundry.

5. Napping when I feel the need.

How about you? What do you love to do or have on hand when the days grow short and the temperatures drop?

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
~ William Blake

 

Share

Happy 50th Birthday, Darling Erin!

15622317_10155590454285558_2803162079950482877_n-1

Erin on the right and Julie on the left and me in the middle looking like the mother of kids in their 50s. How did that happen?

I still remember the day my sweet last-born arrived.

January 9, 1967

img_2604

I love you, Erin, with a full heart. Thank you for enriching my life. May yours be filled with all the blessings it can hold.

~ MOM ~

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”

Robert Browning
Share

Organize Your Time and Space–In Two Minutes or Less

Happy New Year

marcia_pink_

Photo Credit: Marcia Ramsland www.OrganizingPro.com

My friend Marcia Ramsland, The Leading Online Organizing Coach, (www.OrganizingPro.com) best selling author, and speaker, has some words of wisdom that are worth heeding any time of the year but especially at the start of a new year.

I’ve learned from her over the years and every once in a while I return to her helpful and succinct piece of advice called:

The Two-Minute Pickup™

You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in one hundred and twenty seconds when you are determined and focused. Instead of giving up or giving in to self-pity, take charge! Each of the following steps requires just two minutes or less. I practice one or more each day–especially when I have a little time on my hands before running an errand or going to the grocery story or waiting for a friend to drop by.

  1. Send an e-mail that moves an action forward. (Example: Respond to an invitation or send a note of thanks, etc.)
  1. Return file folders to their proper drawer or cabinet. (Example: You’ve finished working on your finances for the month or updating your medical records. Stow the copy and notes in the rightful folder before it becomes another piece of clutter on your desk.)
  1. Make a phone call to someone’s message center. (Example: Confirm or respond to an appointment, etc.)
  1. “Stair-step” your files or projects on one side of the desk. Put the most important one on top and the next one a half inch above and behind that one and so on. (Example: an article you want to read, followed by a list of people you want to contact for a meeting, followed by bills you need to pay, and so on.)
  1. Create a short ‘action’ list for the day. (Example: file, phone, attend meeting, etc.)
  1. Put three (no more) Post-it notes on your desk with an action step on each one (Example: Call Jan for a hair appointment; prepare notes for meeting with staff; list items to take to Good Will.) Toss the note when completed OR:
  1. Make an entry or cross off a completed task in your Daily Planner on paper or online. (Example: scheduled dental appointment; responded to request for volunteer work.)
  1. Clear off and wipe down your desk and computer station. (Example: Keep a few cleaning supplies on a shelf or in a cabinet so you won’t put off this daily task. A clean, dust-free desk and computer station create a healthy and attractive work environment.)
  1. Set out the tools or equipment needed for your next project. (Example: paper cutter, three-hole punch, guidelines, computer paper, sharpened pencils, etc.)
  1. Transfer contact info from business cards or voice mail messages to your contact manager system. (Example: Instead of tossing business cards into a drawer, or scribbling a name and phone number on a scrap of paper after picking it up from your voice mail, type the info into a designated computer address file, e-mail address book, or whatever system works for you. Then toss or shred the cards or notes. In less than a minute you’ve eliminated one more piece of clutter.)

You can do it–if you want to.

keep it simple

Share

Merry Day After Christmas!

 

bogart-kids-and-magahI’m relaxing in Cincinnati, Ohio at the home of my daughter Julie and her family, enjoying the pleasure of loved ones and the joy of the season all around.

I hope you are in a special place too–filled with happiness and gratitude for all that the Lord has done.

christmasjoy

 

 

Share