It’s not my decision…

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m a bit of a rebel. I don’t like somebody else telling me what to do (or when, or how), but, I do appreciate a good “why”.

When I understand the deeper reason behind something, I am much more likely to comply. Most of the time, I know enough to respect authority. Other times I do things my own way and learn from the experience. Either way, the logic, the consequence, the understanding helps my rebel brain accept the directive.

Let’s take driving. I know if I run a red light, I run the risk of a ticket, or worse, an accident. I don’t want either of these, so for the most part, I obey and drive as the lights signal me. I have been known to disregard a red – when the sensors are not sensing me and I’m stuck forever waiting – and it’s totally safe to go. Tell me I’m not alone in this.

Other things are not so clear.

Let’s take the government for example. First, as a US Citizen, I will pause and appreciate free speech for a moment, that I can even write and post a blog without censorship. And I’m lucky that I live where and when I do, where women are not property, and that I can drive, vote, buy property, hold a job or a government position, without fear of persecution. For these things, I am quite grateful.

As with many others, the potential reversal of Roe v Wade has stirred things up for me this week. I shared a pro-choice post on my social media page, and what ensued was actually a civil conversation among my friends. All are women, but not all agreed with my post. The manner in which the debate took place, with well thought and respectful comments, was the exception for a social media political debate, which I really appreciate. I was prepared to take it down, but I’m glad I didn’t need to.

And here’s the thing for me: in my saying that I am pro-choice, does not mean I favor abortion. What it means is that I don’t appreciate the government making choices that are not theirs to make.

Women, who bear the burden of pregnancy, birth, and raising of children, are the ones who know what is best for their situation. It’s individual. I can tell about a friend who had an abortion and regretted it deeply. She was young and alone, and it was quite a difficult time. She later had a baby and was fiercely committed to being a good mom to him. Both pregnancies were hers to decide.

Yes, I love babies, and I wholeheartedly oppose abortion as a means of birth control. Yes, accidents happen, and yes, adoption is a beautiful thing. For those who find themselves in difficult circumstances, choices are a good thing, especially when so much is at stake. I cannot imagine any woman lightly choosing to terminate a pregnancy. No matter what she chooses, none bear the consequences more than she does.

It seems to me that laws banning medical abortion, removing this safe choice, is about control and power, it’s not about babies. The rebel in me does not appreciate this one little bit.

Are all of the current mommies and babies receiving all the help they need now? The non-profits that serve these communities are over staffed and over funded? Foster homes are empty? Oh, okay, I guess I missed that part. Part rebel, part smart ass.

I have one friend who had an interesting idea. It’s also controlling (which means I don’t agree with it) but hear this out: raising children should be like having a driver’s license. You need to meet some requirements, like you have enough money and insurance, and you have to also prove your competency before you are licensed. Meaning that only responsible people get to be parents. Driving is a privilege, not a given. This is done for public safety. Interesting, right?

This is what the other side of government control could look like. Interference with and control over a woman’s biology is truly a frightening thing. Handmaid’s Tale, anyone?

Generally speaking, I stay out of political conversations. Perhaps I am also part ostrich, as I definitely limit my intake. What news I do consume is as neutral as possible. I enjoy good discussion and debate around the actual topics. Though I am not left nor right, I have friends from both camps. All are intelligent, heart filled people who happen to follow a particular party. So far, I haven’t had to unfriend anyone.

It drives me crazy that when elections come around, I have to choose the best representative. Do the good ones even bother playing in this arena?

What if I agree with this piece of a party’s agenda, and also portions of the other party? But I am never 100% in agreement with either one. Can we just vote on the issues, instead of along the party lines?

My opinion gets requested all the time by silly polls and marketing ploys. Can we figure out a way to have citizens vote on big issues, instead of trusting “puppets”? Why don’t we have an app for this yet? Between the professional politicians and all of the PAC’s, it feels like it boils down to the golden rule – he who has the gold makes the rules.

Too bad they’re not following the Golden Rule that Jesus commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (maybe some are). Side note, Jesus loves all the children. Worth noting here, Jesus was not a big fan of suppressing women. He made a point of involving them because he knew that they had minds of their own, and could be trusted to follow God without having to depend on a man for representation.

Okay, since I’ve now dabbled in religious and political controversy, back to the point. Which is what again?

I have not a clue how to overhaul anything, or how to build an app, and there are people much smarter than me who perhaps are working on this already. I hope so anyway. (Psst Elon, what are you up to these days?) I am happy to be a part of the solution, I just don’t know what it might be.

Maybe the beginning of the solution is for people on opposite sides of the issues to have constructive conversation. And since that actually happened, on a social media page of all places, maybe there is hope for us yet.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Habits: Good, bad, and unestablished.

The other morning I was listening to a book summary about successful people and their daily habits. Meaning, if you adopt these habits, then you too will be successful.

I also heard recently that one starts to make progress when they tire of their own bullshit.

And then, I drove past this message on a sign, “the road to success is always under construction”.

Man, my road has certainly been under construction, for like 30 years now! I’ve been wondering when all this improvement will be complete. And now I’m hearing, never?

Okay Universe, you’ve got my attention.

Continue reading

Saying yes, and saying no

This seems so simple, yet, it’s not. I want to say yes to lots of things, especially the easy and fun ones. And then I don’t actually take care of the things that aren’t so fun, like laundry and taxes and meal prep. I mean, there’s only so much time in a given day.

Why is boundary setting such a challenge?

Maybe because I didn’t even know what a boundary was until I was in my 30’s. Over the past 20 years, I’ve had some seasons where I was really good at setting them, and other seasons, not so much.

Cartoon illustration representing the cycle of the four seasons.

When my adult children and I decided we would share a living space, this required some solid boundary setting. Both up front and ongoing. I have to know what I am comfortable doing and not doing, paying for, and not paying for.

For example, I have basically retired from kitchen and food related duties. How do I feed myself, you must be wondering? Well, somehow I manage just fine. I like raw veggies and hummus. I like bagged salads. I will scramble some eggs now and then, but rarely do my cooking talents exceed the level of a 4th grader.

One daughter wasn’t surprised, and the other one looked like she would cry. And guess what, it’s working. It also means that now and then, I’ll take everyone out, or bring something in. But meal prep and cooking? Nah, I gave it up. And just because there are people who probably prefer that I cook for them, I choose differently.

Whatever man…

When I began my new Mon-Fri job, and resigned my full time ministry position at the church (after working there for 17 years), I had to set some boundaries. I didn’t even show my face in person for a solid 3 months. There needed to be some distance between the “Sherri who works here”, and the “Sherri who attends here”. Guess what? It’s working.

I can totally skip church and not feel the least bit guilty. I might watch online while I lounge in my pajamas. Or get to the beach early. Or I may dress myself right up and go see all my people. It’s up to me! I’ve even volunteered a bit, again, with boundaries. Please don’t assign me to serve on a regular schedule. Please don’t ask me to be there before 10am. This too is working.

For the past few years, I have maintained my volunteer status with the local sea turtle patrol efforts. I do this as a substitute only, with the ability to accept or decline as best fits my schedule. Last season I covered 6 shifts and turned down a few others (the minimum is 3 to keep in good standing). I’m always glad to walk the beach, but not always with the 6am wake-up call that goes with it. I love having the flexibility. This is also working. It feels good, and it is not overwhelming.

The same principle applies with social commitments. Can I be out and connecting with others 4 nights in a row and still be sharp and energetic at work all week? No, probably not. I may have to say no, so that I can say yes to the better thing.

So I ask myself, “Is this truly something I can do, and not be all grumbly about it later?”

That’s how I know where the boundary is. Often I need to think about it rather than giving an immediate answer.

And there lies the key. Pausing. Reflecting. Evaluating my existing commitments and being realistic about the time, energy, cost, etc, of whatever is on the table.

When I say yes too quickly, without proper evaluation, I am often sorry that I have made the commitment. Then I revert to being that flaky person who cancels, or shows up anyway, but probably not as my best self.

I am too old wise for such nonsense.

Being healthy in relationships and commitments is to respect when others set their own boundaries. When they say no to this amazing thing I have invited them to do. To accept their “no”, and not to take it personally. When friends decline social invitations from me, and I fully accept it. No long explanation needed. Raincheck? You bet. I appreciate others knowing themselves well enough to say no. It’s healthy and wonderful and drama free!

I want to be a woman of integrity. I want to show up fully present and as my best self. I want to be intentional about how I live. This includes spending time, energy, and money wisely. And allowing others to do the same. It just works better for all of us.

As my hero Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

So back to my original question, “Why is boundary setting such a challenge?” Because it’s part of becoming self aware, behaving with self love, and self respect. And like all challenges, it’s worth taking on.

It’s worth taking the time to be clear regarding how I want to be, where I want to be, and with whom I’d like to be.

How do you say no? And yes? And, can I get back to you on that?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Curiosity – does it really kill?

I guess that all depends on whether or not you are a cat. Personally, I am not a cat lover. But for those of you that land in this category, you can attest to the statement that curiosity (almost) killed the cat. They don’t have nine lives for nothing, you know.
But what is it they are after, really? Why is this page about curiosity worth the five minutes it will take to read? Because curiosity is one of the most important traits one can have. Among the benefits curiosity brings are:
  • A zest for life.
  • Exercise for your brain.
  • Interesting conversations.
  • Discovering the world around you (and beyond).
  • Excitement for learning and growing.
  • Slowing of the aging process.
  • Purpose and meaning to the day.
  • Better memory function.
  • More friends.
I’m sure there are tons of research articles to back this up. And if you are curious about any of these specific points, why not dive in a little deeper? The internet is a fantastic place to learn great information. This article offers some great strategies for sparking curiosity. Be sure to check the sources for accuracy and dates. You cannot believe EVERYTHING you read. As life goes and our bodies age, we can begin to let those nagging aches and pains get the better of us. We can easily settle into a familiar routine and just kick back in the la-z boy and relax. While this is tempting, it is also dangerous. You could grow old and boring if this is your nightly groove.

What happens if your routine gets thrown off kilter? Can you be spontaneous and just mix things up? Or is the schedule beginning to resemble that of a preschooler who must have his nap at two and dinner by five? Don’t be afraid to explore. Order something different off the menu (it’s sure to throw your regular server off if she has your “usual” memorized). Look forward to the next time someone asks you, “What’s new?”, by having a new thing to share!
My friend Vera, who is celebrating her 102nd birthday this week, shared this little nugget of wisdom with me a while back. When I asked her why she was still so spunky and fun at her age (which is quite an accomplishment!), she simply said this, “I learned a long time ago not to be afraid of new things.” Vera exchanges emails, listens to audio books from the library, and joins her great-great-grandchildren as they use her Alexa to order things from Amazon. I want to be like Vera. I want to carry an attitude of curiosity and not one of dread or negativity. I want to explore. I want to have adventures. I want to learn something new every single day.
I’m not kidding. Maybe I should begin with the ability to navigate the audio books from the library. Maybe Vera will share her secret for patience the next time we chat. What is something you’ve always wanted to do? Learn more about? Go explore! Go and see for yourself. It probably won’t squelch your curiosity; I think it might just feed it. And that would be a fun and exciting thing. Happy exploring! Thanks for reading, until next time, Sherri

Well, there I am…

Thirteen months.

Three posts, counting this one.

Where did I go?

What did I do?

Why did I stop writing?

Great questions, and the details will reveal themselves at some point (or not). I didn’t stop writing, I just kinda stopped posting, and then found reasons to continue not posting.

I should rebrand.

I should redesign.

I should map out a series, or at least a post, explaining where I’ve been.

Or maybe I should stop beating myself up using bad words like should and just start writing and posting. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. No one is making me write blog posts. I’m not getting sponsored or however it is some folks get paid to write. I do this because it’s something I choose to do for me.

And I’m ready to return to the things that bring me joy. Which is what started this whole blog nearly SEVEN years ago.

Life has a way of leading me down unexpected paths. Often it’s fun for me to share my journey, and other times, it needs to stay off of public platforms. Knowing which content goes up, and which content is still processing, well, isn’t that the big dilemma?

I could write about less touchy things, like politics and religion. Maybe the folks who get into such debates use it as a clever disguise so they never have to deal with their own stuff.

For me, it all weaves together. Personal, public, politics, religion, family, scars, healing, progress, setbacks. The question is, what do I want to share with whatever audience remains?

Once upon a time, when I was researching blogs, it was suggested that as long as I served my audience to the best of my ability, the content would work itself out.

We could discuss my most recent relationship failure. Or the local beach conditions (red tide is the worst). We could kick around what it’s like to live with your adult children and grandchild. Or maybe we chat about the adventures of launching a podcast for my new job. We could dive into having a boudior photography session after a full hysterectomy (I will NOT be posting the pics here, sorry).

Maybe we could explore the side hustle I started or why I gave up cooking. Or maybe how, as an adult, I have relocated 27 times (yes, I realize that’s the random number I use when I exaggerate, but that is the actual number of places I have lived).

It would be nice to have a clear vision of what this blog will be as I move forward. As soon as I have one, you’ll know. In the meantime, what I can tell you is that it will be honest, insightful, and hopefully encouraging on some level.

I have been writing in my journal every morning, which is where I dump the accumulated insanity out of my head. After I scribble it all out, then my brain remembers all the good things, and I relax into gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, here’s the latest list.

I have freedom.

I have my health.

I have family near that I see often and love immensely.

I have time to be creative.

I have courage to try new things.

I have time to read, and also time to write.

I have the opportunity to serve at my church.

I have food in the refrigerator.

I have new tires on my car.

I have a roof over my head and a comfy bed to sleep in.

I have great friends who listen, and care, and encourage.

I have a mentor who makes time for me each week.

I have a great job with opportunities to grow.

I have a short drive to visit a beautiful beach.

I have a beautiful smile now that the braces are off.

I have opportunities to enjoy my life.

Yes, there are challenges, but I am doing my best to work through them.

One of the things that helps me is writing. Another is gratitude.

What helps you?

What drives you?

What practices do you put in place to keep yourself in a positive space?  

Thanks for reading, and not holding your breath.
Until next time,
Sherri

Sept. 15, 2003 – Dec. 31, 2020

This looks like it could be on a tombstone, doesn’t it? It feels like an entire life, but it’s not. It’s the beginning and ending dates of my employment at my church home.

It’s actually 17 years, 3 months, and 17 days. I was a different person when I began in my role there as an administrative assistant. As the church grew, my role expanded with it, and it was wonderful. My children and their needs were not pushed to the bottom of my priorities. When they were older, I was able to begin and finish my college degree. My employment offered me so much in terms of flexibility and care.

Over the years, there were other offers that came along. None felt like the right fit, or the right time to make a change. There were seasons when I felt like the place would fall apart without me. You could say I took my responsibilities seriously.

A couple of months ago, a new opportunity presented itself. When I read the job description, it seemed to have my name on it. Things I enjoy, things I’m good at, maybe some eventual travel (Covid limitations, obvi) and many new things to learn. After 3 rounds of interviews, and lots of prayer, they made me a great offer, and I’ve accepted.

It feels appropriate to make this change at the year’s end. Fresh year, fresh start.

The thing is that my boss and coworkers are really family. It was a tough thing to resign, and to let others know I was moving on. I’m so grateful for the peace I have about this decision, or these conversations would be excruciating. As it is, they will remain my community and my friends. There was a lot of ribbing, a send-off lunch, a few lovely gifts, and sweet reminiscing.

Also, I received a threat of being thrown in the pond after the Christmas Eve services as a proper farewell. Ha! This girl avoids fresh water in Florida (um, alligators), and all water in winter (um, freezing), so yeah, that was not happening!

When I return to church eventually, I will be a regular attendee. Maybe I’ll step into a volunteer spot at some point. But I will be there with a pure heart, and a sincerity for the community I’ve come to love, not as part of my work obligation. If I decide to disappear for the weekend with my man, I can do so freely.

It’s been forever since I’ve been a rookie. New software, new co-workers, new industry, new everything. It’s going to take some time to find my groove, but I am so excited for the fresh opportunity! It’s a big, expanding company and there’s a lot of potential for me to grow too. It will be challenging, and I’m ready for it!

Maybe you’re ready for some changes in 2021 too. Whether they are minor, or gigantic, may you have peace and excitement for what lies ahead!

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

Have you seen my winter blanket?

There are three of us in my immediate family (my two daughters and me) – and in the past six weeks we have all relocated.

Which made me think of my winter blanket. As in, where exactly is that thing, anyway?

Wait, don’t you live in Florida? Why do you even have a winter blanket? Valid question. It’s a bit of a story.

absolutely true

When I was 17 and living up north, I found myself finished with school a semester early and also, without a job. It was the dead of winter and I had not a single thing to do. Reviving my crochet skills, I grabbed some yarn and made myself a scarf. Since that filled about a day and a half, I thought, well, maybe this should be a blanket. I have plenty of time and it felt more productive than getting lost in soap operas.

I would work on it, then get busy and do something else. Then I would pick it back up and work, then run out of yarn. Three years later, I finished that baby!

It was 7’ wide, and when completed, 7’ long as well. There were 4 rows of navy and 2 rows of burgundy, all done with a double crochet stitch, or a half double. Which is a strange term, half double, like isn’t that the same as a single?

When I finished this, I threw out my crochet needle and vowed to never attempt such a project again.

I managed to hang on to it for many many years, even though I’ve lived in Florida for the majority of my adult life.

Once when my younger daughter was in high school, she returned from a football game with this blanket all full of leaves and grass. I almost came undone. She had no idea prior to that moment that I had actually MADE the thing.

And now it’s gone. I have moved several times in the past few years, and it’s been a minute since I even remember seeing it. It’s not like it’s folded up in the corner somewhere and I missed it. This massive wool monster weighs about 20 lbs.

None of the offspring have seen it. And they’ve all handled their life’s belongings, as have I, in recent days.

Maybe I gave it to a friend who was moving up north? Maybe it mistakenly ended up in a goodwill drop off? The mystery has been haunting me for the last few days.

I have often thought if I could choose any super power, it would be to locate lost things. Or lost people, and dogs, maybe even cats?

Have you ever suddenly realized something was missing? And you have no clue as to its whereabouts? Could you use the super power of finding lost things? Tell me what you lost and when!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Sister love

Sisters. Sometimes this is a challenge, and other times, it’s just flat out beautiful. My two daughters had an event recently that made us all cry. Lemme tell ya all about it. If you’re a softie, pause here to grab a tissue.

This is gonna be good.

Little sister was supposed to hop on a plane with her man for a month in Paris, to be followed by another three weeks of gallivanting around Europe. This trip was cancelled, obviously.

Big sister felt bad for little sister, and decided to surprise her by bringing Paris to her.

Big sister initiated and executed this covert operation. She cleaned, decorated, organized, and invited all of little sister’s besties. She recruited little sister’s man to get her there, fully dressed to the nines. (For anyone that knows little sister, this is not difficult. She lives for these occasions, even when she has to invent them herself.)

Big sister recruited me and my unicorn man Joe to help with food and beverages. Bellinis, Side Cars, Baguettes with Creme Fraiche, Fruit, and Macaroons rounded out the menu.

Little sister was surprised! Tears were shed, hugs were given, champagne was poured, and the whole evening was just so unbelievably touching.

Notice the sign. Soooo sweet!

As the mom of these two sisters, I am delighted and thrilled to see them care for one another so deeply. As a bigger sister, I have tortured my own little a-plenty through the years. I’m noticing how much better we treat one another these days. More acceptance, less squabbling.

Isn’t that the way? The more we age, and hopefully also mature, we realize that arguing and bickering is just wasted energy. Even when issues loom large.

We are all connected. And though we don’t have to agree with everyone, we can at least try to get along with one another. Respect for others goes a LONG way.

You said it well, Aretha

With all the chaos going on in our world these days, it’s a good reminder. If my two children can rise above their history and nonsense, turning something sour and disappointing into something kind and sweet, I feel like there is hope for the rest of us.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Hold on loosely…

Yes, there is definitely a nod to the song by 38 Special, but this post is far from rocking.

It’s heavy, because my heart is heavy for so many around me, and for myself too.

Working at a church gives me a front row to the joy- and the pain – of so many individuals. Most days I’m able to keep enough emotional distance that I don’t lose sleep. I’ve been to more funerals than most, and often it just makes me appreciate life and those around me.

Today feels different. Today is different because I lost a good friend. He was more like a brother. In fact, he called me sis. I’ve known him since 2003 and we even worked together for a few years. His wife and I are very close, and their daughter grew up with mine.

It’s just not okay that this family has lost such an important member. The lucky thing in all of this is that he wasn’t alone when he breathed his last. His wife was on one side and his daughter on the other. He wasn’t in pain. He is dancing with angels, though I’m guessing his dance skills are as terrible and awkward as ever.

One of my fondest memories is the night we drained a bottle or two of wine and tried to determine how I was his sister. Was I his sister – or his wife’s sister? We went round and round and never landed on anything definitive.

But this I know. He was family. And he left too soon. And he will be missed by many. None of us are promised tomorrow. Which is it so important to appreciate each person, each moment, each day.

Hold on tight, but also, hold on loosely.

what I’m learning about grief …
is that it need not be

a heavy gray shawl
to wrap myself in,
clutching my arms tightly
across my chest

nor …
need it be
a granite rock
that I should try
to push away

neither is it …
… at least, no longer …
a vast dark ocean
ready to pick me up
and slap me down
without warning

what I’m learning about grief …
is that it is not me,
but that it offers
to become a friend

a friend …
who will lightly lay a hand
on my shoulder
when tears come in the dark

a friend …
who will laugh
out loud with me
at remembered silly moments

a friend …
who can still hear
the music of our life

what I’m learning about grief …
is that this friend
doesn’t intend
to leave me

but promises
to hold my hand
to carry my memories

a friend …
who will bear witness to my love
as I venture
toward the next day
and the following night

hurting

By Nancy Cross Dunham

So tomorrow I’ll bring some food and some tissues, and we will cry and laugh and cry some more. And we will hold on to the memories, and to each other, and trust God for all the rest.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Making room

With all of the lockdowns and cancellations and life adjustments, I have to confess my concerns have been all over the board.

One minute, I’m worried that I’ll die and miss seeing Ellix grow up and my giant bucket list of adventures will remain undone. The next, I’m whining about my cancelled appointments, of which there have been many. So let’s just be grateful for a moment, shall we?

My good friend Christine does my pedicures, and since she can’t do them in person, she is offering a personal pedi supply package that I can pick up at her doorstep. My stylist Melissa texted me the proper number on whatever box dye I can find to cover these roots. I’m mostly thankful for my orthodontist who has been monitoring my progress remotely.

And since you’re probably tired of everything else you’ve been doing lately, I thought I’d provide a nice little distraction for you. I’m sure you’ve been curious, right?

At my last visit in late January, they put a gigantic spacer thing on my bottom teeth to make room for this one snaggletooth. Then three days prior to the next appointment, they were forced to close their offices. My teeth just kept on moving. I’ve been sending mouth selfies per request over the past two weeks as they are allowed to continue treatments when deemed necessary. And wouldn’t you know it, on Friday, they said, come on in!

My doc took extreme precautions, only seeing one patient at a time. In about five minutes flat, he changed the bottom wire and connected the little snaggletooth to allow it join the rest of the row!

And here’s what happened…

Friday morning
Saturday morning

Yes, that’s crazy fast. And yes, it was painful. And also yes, it’s worth it. It feels weird and awesome. Sorry if these grossed you out. There is actually a bigger message here besides my teeth.

It wasn’t the magic of a new wire and a short time span. And it wasn’t that my orthodontist has special skills. All the moving and shifting over the past several months was largely unnoticed. And that was what allowed for this huge shift.

There was finally ROOM.

It’s like this with everything, isn’t it?

If we want things to change or be different, we have to make room. And though NONE OF US asked for this pandemic, or the changes it is causing, it is allowing this for many of us.

We have room now. Room in our schedules and room in our brains. Room to be creative and figure out new ways to do the things we still value doing. Like church, or working from home, or happy hour! Discovering that we didn’t really need a gym membership, or to eat out as often. Looking through the closets and realizing how much stuff we don’t even need or use. Or maybe rediscovering cherished things that had been missing.

What is it that you are making room for?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri