The best is yet to come

It is my Birthday Eve. And it’s not just any birthday you guys, it’s a really big one.images

Tomorrow I turn 50. What in the f’ing world is happening? Continue reading

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There’s no pre-season in college

One of my best childhood memories is of my cousins teaching me about football. With my Dad’s entire family growing up within a 10 mile radius, there were lots of mandatory gatherings. My options were to “play dolls” with my girl cousins (and my younger sister who I already saw in plentiful amounts) – or – pal around with Todd and Jeff and my older boy cousins.

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It was the summer of ’89…

Maybe you weren’t born yet, but if you were, let’s take a little stroll down memory lane. The Berlin Wall came down. Gas was less than $1 a gallon. George Bush Sr. was in the Oval Office. Microsoft released its Office Suite and Nintendo released Game Boys. Hurricane Hugo, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and an earthquake in San Francisco all contributed to a big mess on the home front. The Simpsons debuted, and the first of 24 satellites of the GPS system were positioned in space. It was quite a year.

 

It was also the last time I lived alone. In 1989 I was 21, single and had my very own apartment all to myself. It was on the third floor of an ancient brick building in downtown Muscatine, Iowa. Spoiler alert: I was industrious (shock, I know). There was zero time to deposit the three paychecks I was earning each week. On my occasional night off,  I would walk around the corner to enjoy cold beers and terrible cheeseburgers at Jody’s Tap. It was a season of growth and self discovery, and I was quite proud of my little grown up self back then.

I am a big fan of independent living.

Which is a good thing, as I’m entering this space again. My youngest is moving out this week. I knew this was coming eventually. For years I have been giving pep talks encouragement when mommas are mourning their chickens leaving the nest. You know the one. Read along in your best cheerleader voice, “Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.” Wlaundryhich is all true, but not very empathetic.

Now that it’s my turn to watch the last one move out, of course I handled it like a pro. I was all good…until I saw the boxes.

Y’all, I got a lump in my throat. It didn’t stay there long, but it was there alright.

Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.

It IS all good. She’s only moving about 30 minutes away, so nbd, right? We will set up dates to connect. Basically the same thing we do now. With her work and school schedule, and my work and school schedule, we don’t accidentally see one another anyway. She is graciously leaving a bunch of her shoes here, so not all that much will be different. At least that is what I am predicting. Still, it’s a change.

In the next couple of months, I will downsize to a one bedroom place even closer to work. I will reclaim my independent living. I will clean my house and it will stay that way. I will only have food in the house that I will eat (perhaps no junk will enter?). And I can do whatever I want, so nana nana boo boo.

empty-nest-MLK

Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.

The other one is 1000 miles away and has been there for 3 years now, so I’m getting better at this parenting adults-not-under-my-roof thing. It’s definitely different, but each season brings something good while it says farewell to something good too.

I guess maybe when the last one moves out, it feels like more of a retirement of sorts. It’s the final season of so many seasons. And if you did it even halfway decently, there was some fun and greatness mixed in the mess of it all.

Ecclesiastes reminds me that there is a season for everything. It’s about to be a new season that is very similar to the one in 1989. I am single. I will live independently. I won’t be working 3 jobs, but I’ll be taking 4 classes and working full time. I probably still won’t have time to get to the bank, but hey, I have a smart phone now. And all the modern luxuries that the past 28 years has provided.01caf4927e20a193378c488fa9d2ebd2--our-kids-empty-nest-humor

But still… NOPE! I am okay!! I know it’s an adjustment, but that is life. What was that adage I told everyone else?

Good job momma! You raised them well. This is what they are SUPPOSED to do when they grow up and earn their own money and manage their own lives.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Virginia Slims and Refrigerators

I love beginning new projects. I love kicking around ideas for what I will begin next week or next month. But working on something midway through? Or just doing that final little thing to check it off the list? Nahhh.

What’s even worse is when it’s just something that is never ever done. You know, like laundry or cleaning the house. Maintenance is just not exciting enough. Why clean up in 10 minutes what can accumulate? Let it become a big project with clearly visible results. Wow, great job! It was such a mess and now it’s perfect. But keeping it that way? Picking up a little bit daily? Weekly even?

Not so much.

I am however, learning the value of better habits. In many ways I have incorporated great practices, like yoga every morning and flossing every night. Yes, I even start and finish the laundry (finish, as in, it’s put away and hung up and everything) in the very same day. I don’t let my car get too messy and my paperwork piles are smaller than they’ve ever been.

virginia slim

Please don’t think I advocate for smoking. I just like the slogan.

Today, however, I had to own the fact that while I’m winning in those areas, I have work to do. Confession alert: I am a terrible food manager.

For whatever stupid-ass reason, I don’t like spending time evaluating what IS in my frig and freezer and pantry. I would rather just go to the store and buy more stuff. Then, I can take all the stuff I bought last week (that is now fuzzy, slimy or otherwise gross) and throw it out to make room for the new stuff. I’ve come to think of it as an expensive, wasteful, food rotation hobby.

Ridiculous? Yes. Correctable? Also yes, I hope.

So this morning, I did a little refrigerator cleaning. You know, before I go to the store to buy more food. As this was a big neglected task, I would get some satisfaction (it was actually satisfying embarrassing, so much so that I had to share it with you).

Apparently, I like to collect condiments. They are the obvious winners of the frig longevity game. They are clearly unlike grapes or romaine when expired. These bottles and jars require serious effort. You’ve actually got to find the “best used by date” (often requiring reading glasses) and then realize that mustard from April of 2016 must go. Which is sad because I moved in June of 2016 and that mustard should not have been hauled here in the first place.

I did not count how many bottles I rinsed and recycled, but it was a pathetic amount. This isn’t even all of them.

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I did count three bottles of soy sauce which I condensed into one. There is so much sodium in that stuff it will never go bad. I nearly choked when I dumped the outdated Sriracha out. And why do I have Miracle Whip? I hate that stuff. Oh yeah, I bought it for my brother when he was here in March. Out with it.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who is afflicted with this terrible practice (seriously, comment and tell me I am not alone).

My budget and waistline demand that I do a better job in this arena. I think I will just walk to the grocery store. I can only purchase what I can literally carry. That should certainly help me make better decisions about what I buy.

Each week, from now until forever more, I will clean out my refrigerator and evaluate my food plan carefully. And I have all of you to hold me accountable.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

 

 

Time to be happy…

It’s my birthday / week / month!

bday cake

It’s always a good time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been each decade and I’ve noticed some things. This year is different in the best possible way.

Stroll down memory lane for a moment with me and you’ll see what I mean.

Age 9 which was (gasp!) 40 years ago. It was not a memorable birthday because kids didn’t get birthday palooza back then. We maybe got a cake and some new sneakers. If we were really lucky we had a friend sleep overnight. We definitely didn’t rent bounce houses and give goodie bags to our guests. There were no caterers or clowns or custom printed invitations for crying out loud.

(Honestly, the best thing I remember about my birthday is that strawberries were in season and we usually had strawberry shortcake instead of birthday cake. And that was just fine with me.)

Age 19. This one I remember for sure. My mom was away at her 20th High School Reunion. My Dad and I were just supposed to sit around quietly and celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. Once I confirmed that I would be buying the beer, he agreed to the insanity that took over the machine shed and our 3 acre lawn. It’s a bit hazy now, but I remember at least 3 kegs, a live band and 200 of our closest friends. It still holds high status among the “parties to remember”.

Age 29. I was pregnant with my second child. I was in an extremely dysfunctional marriage but convinced that another baby would be the answer. Though she is a joy, she was not the answer. Before she was out of diapers, we were separated for good.

Age 39. I was 5 days away from getting married to husband #2. I was tired of raising the girls on my own and sleeping alone. I was convinced that a new husband would be the answer. He was not. After years of counseling, our last and final separation was 3 years ago.

So at age 19, I couldn’t wait to party it up. I wasn’t 21 yet, and surely being older would bring me happiness.
At age 29, I couldn’t wait for child #2 – who would surely save my failing marriage and that would bring me happiness.
At age 39, I was trying it again – because surely being married to the “right” guy would make my life better and bring me happiness.

But this year – age 49 – is SO very different! I am content and not pushing for the next thing. Finally.

I am content with where my life is. I love what I am doing, where I am doing it, and with whom I am doing it. I am not holding out for the next thing, the next person, the next circumstance. RIGHT NOW I truly have happiness, and it isn’t based on something or someone around the corner.

And that, my friends, is worth celebrating!

bday more

So what did I actually do on my birthday? I painted. At a really cool restaurant where they have amazingly talented artists doing art while people eat dinner. Oh, and the people BUY the art. If it’s not sold by the time you finish it, the restaurant hangs it up and sells it for you. How amazing is this!? And they invited ME to come and paint with them.

So I did.

And they fed me and also gave me a glass of wine since it was my birthday. Also, there were 8 different people that came in to say hi and eat dinner because I was there. I felt  like a celebrity. But really, I am just a happy girl celebrating her birthday, doing what she loves to do.

It’s pretty cool when that happens, isn’t it?

I agree.

Plus I got to do some other fun things like kayaking and eating at fancy restaurants and have more planned with friends later this week. I am already happy, and those things will just add to it, not create it.

I am in charge of my own damned happiness, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Selfie on canvas

In 2013, the word selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary and was proclaimed “word of the year”. You would think by now that I would be good at taking one, but alas, you’re wrong.

It’s a generational thing to be sure. I know my millennial children have zero issues with taking and posting selfies all day long. Of course they are both wrinkle free and have that amazing metabolism I fondly recall having at that age. Those were the days…

That was never me. I am completely, totally, 100% NOT photogenic. I’m the reason the photographer has to take 72 group shots so that someone’s eyes aren’t closed. I don’t have a side or a smile or a pose. I scrambled to find pics to post on the dating profile.

The struggle is real.

So of course our next painting assignment is a self portrait.

I tried to negotiate my way out of it by offering to exchange the proposed self portrait for a three canvas series as my final project rather than a single piece. That’s a net gain of one entire painting. My professor declined with this inarguable comment. He challenged me with, “Every great artist does a self portrait.”

He knows me, and that I have enough ego to absorb this compliment and calling in one fell swoop. The good news is that I can use a photo – past or present. Oh good, we’ll leave off the neck wrinkles and crow’s feet and leave a young clean face to capture on the canvas.

One evening after a full week of work and school, I grabbed the box of photos and began my quest. Anything stored electronically was too recent. There were a billion pictures of my adorable children, you know, the photogenic ones? But a decent picture of yours truly in her younger days? Not so much.

Sure, there were a few, but I could not use a single one. Between the quality, the background, the lighting, the expression, and of course the closed eyes, they just weren’t quite right.

Rabbit trail: I actually shed a few tears as I reminisced over photos of my grandparents that have long been gone. And those memories of once-small children that no longer sit on my lap for bedtime stories.

Disclaimer: I may have been hormonal.

Warning: Looking at old pictures while hormonal is likely to cause uncontrollable cravings for Breyer’s Original Vanilla Bean topped with Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips and could additionally result in varying amounts of weight gain.

When my search came up empty, I surrendered to using a current selfie. After getting a friend to do some pics, and a ridiculous amount of time playing around with my camera phone, a few decent shots were captured.

The realization I had about myself, and how I feel about my image, was monumental.

In the majority of the old pictures, I did not love myself. I did not even like myself. No wonder none of those other pictures would work! I am glad I have grown and changed and embraced who I am. It’s a tough job, but it is necessary.

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Photo credit: Rita Michelle Baucom

Self love is a critical piece of life, and I finally have it! I am proceeding with this current self portrait, wrinkles and all. It’s about capturing the moment, the season of life in which I find myself.

 

Let the painting begin!

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

 

 

 

Grab a tissue…

I’m grateful that I have an iPhone calendar to remind me of the events in my life. There’s a little dot that shows up on days when something is scheduled. Most of the things that land here are of my making. Dentist appointments, meetings, lunch dates, you know, nothing earth shattering. Just daily life things that need to be attended to. Things that are important, but yet, if I won an all expense paid trip to the Mediterranean, I would cancel them in a heartbeat!

Today has a dot that has already messed me up and it hasn’t even happened yet. The anticipation of it has had me in tears with a lump in the back of my throat. For those that know me, you will know this does not happen often. I am a tough cookie. I don’t cry at movies, not even chick flicks. Love songs cannot make me flinch. I care about people a lot, but tend to keep my emotions in check.

My oldest daughter is flying out to live in another state today. This is the dot that has me all conflicted. It’s a good move, she’s super excited, and I’m excited for her! Last year she moved out, and that wasn’t so bad. She moved an hour away and lived on a college campus. We spoke daily and saw each other frequently. No problem. And yeah, did I mention it was an hour away? That was easy. 

When I dropped her off last year, she said, “Momma don’t cry.” And I didn’t. My quick wittedness kicked in and this is what I said, “If you were marrying a deadbeat loser, I would cry. If you were being sent off to prison I would cry. This is college and this is good. This is no occasion for crying.” And I meant those things. But today is different. Today we are looking at a one way ticket, a thousand miles away. 

For years I have watched others around me hang on to their children and I have been naively critical about that. I have spouted off phrases like… Children are supposed to fly away. We want them to grow up and move on. This is what good parenting looks like. We pour out and teach them and then they are ready to face life and go live theirs! Momma eagles stop lining the nest with feathers. It can’t be too comfortable or they will never leave. I even added how excited I would be when mine will leave one day so that I can do all the things I have been waiting to do. For those of you on the receiving end of these remarks, please forgive me. I had no clue. 

What was I thinking? I would be excited to do what? Buy a plane ticket to go visit her? Ship a box of some of the stuff she didn’t have room to take? To hear how it is when she lands? Ugh. I was so unprepared for this part….(you can grab a tissue and cry with me here).

Today, as we finalize all the last minute errands and the trip to the airport, I will be a strong mommy. Strong enough to send her off with lots of love and confidence! I know she will be fine, and I know her sister will be fine. And eventually, I will be fine too. Deep down, I really do believe this is what our babies are supposed to do when they are grown. And ultimately, I know that God will watch over her far better than I have ever been able to. And that is what gives me peace before I put her suitcase in the car. If I can even lift the darn thing…

Thanks for reading and crying with me…until next time…
Sherri