How to become a Gigi

Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by people of all ages. I’m comfortable with this whether at work or school or wherever.

While some in my age bracket are grandparents, I never consider myself eligible for this category. The term grandparents has this “age-stigma” attached, doesn’t it? I tend to think of grandparents as, well, old.

Gotta love the all the facial hair

Perhaps it is time to redefine this term. Actually now is the ideal time to come up with something more hip and modern. Why, you ask?

Because it’s a club of which I will soon become a member.

Their response!
My response!

Yep, despite my youthful looks, energy and attitude, my eldest daughter is gonna have a BABY. It’s not like it’s completely bizarre, she’s in a committed, loving relationship. She’s a responsible adult who has been on her own for several years. And she is the exact same age that I was, when she came into the world.

*Note: I’m not sure this fact is at all reassuring. I’ll bet the other actual adults around me then, felt a bit like I do right now.

It seems like so long ago, and yesterday all at the same time. What in the actual world has happened? How is it that time deceives me like this?

No matter, if all goes well, and everyone stays healthy, this fall there will be a little one. Another generation coming along, and the warnings are hereby issued.

Warning #1: Grandma will NOT be my name. I’ll try for Gigi, but I am told the kid determines my actual grandma name. If you haven’t seen this before, it’s worth the watch.

Warning #2: I will be involved. Not like, move in with me and I’ll pay all of your bills, but definitely involved. Even though it looks like that wee one will be 1000 miles away for starters, that isn’t going to stop me.

Warning #3: The 1000 miles is in the direction of North. The self-imposed travel ban previously established from November 1 through May 1 is now lifted. Please send any winter clothing donations my way.

Warning #4: My daughter is now sharing her spotlight with whatever progeny she produces. This means there are still several more months for her to be front and center, and after that, it’s over. Her identity will be forever changed to ________’s mommy.

Warning #5: The focus of this blog will naturally shift with my imminent graduation in about 30 days (!!!), and now we have ideas for a new focus. I’ll bet you can guess. How many people transition from recent college graduate to grandparent in a span of a few months? I’ll have to look it up when finals are over.

Betty Reilly, who graduated with a Bachelor’s at age 89. Click here to be inspired!

So that’s a wrap for this bleary-eyed senior. It happens to be from all the studying, thank you very much.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

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Six. More. Weeks.

How it feels right now…

A journey that began over six years ago is winding up and nearly finished.

After a lovely week of Spring Break, I had hoped I’d feel refreshed. I went for days without email, homework, schedules or alarms. I hit the beach and read non-cerebral books. After 8 full days of a whole bunch of nothing, I was beginning to feel a little bit like Oprah.

Spring Break, how I’ve missed you so…

And then I had to return. Poorly explained assignments. Torturous final assessments. Mind numbing lectures. Group projects with people that can’t seem to align schedules. Extra meetings and bonus classes.

Whenever I think about doing anything school related

The real hilarity is that the same night I ordered my cap and gown, there were reps on hand to talk to us about the MBA program.

Literally me when they asked if I wanted grad school info.

The only thing that is keeping me in this game is that I have not one, but TWO vacations already on the books – and paid for – to celebrate the upcoming commencement. The only big decision now is to how to bedazzle my cap for the big event.

Any suggestions??

If it weren’t for the letter saying I will be graduating with honors, I’d be so tempted to toss it all in the air right now and not finish another thing. But that would be silly. I’ve worked too hard to get lazy now.

Speaking of lazy, it’s 83 degrees with 44% humidity. I hear my hammock calling. I’ve spent enough time with my face looking at a screen today.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Toilet Paper, Mac ‘n Cheese, and Grace.

When some people write, they have their whole story perfectly crafted before the title comes to life. For me, almost without fail, the title is the first to surface. It’s a weird process, but it’s mine.

I knew last weekend’s events would become a blog post, and also I immediately knew it would carry this title. Weird again I know, but will make sense in the end, I promise.

My good friend Anita is the Youth Director at our church, and she recently took charge of nearly THIRTY teenagers for a weekend camp-out. Tents, hammocks, bonfires, the works. She’s brave. And some say gifted, but I’d say a little (actually a lot) crazy. Either way, those kids have a blast whenever they gather under her wing. With a three day weekend, ideal weather, and a huge campus, it was a teenage dream come true.

One of their typical scenarios is to break into teams and fully engage in some whackadoo competition. I’m not sure if it’s a lesson on the merits of being a good winner or a good loser. I’m not sure there even is a lesson. I think it’s just team spirit and shenanigans. Last weekend, as tradition would have it, the group divided in two and the nonsense began.

One activity was a late night scavenger hunt. Do this “crazy stunt”, take a picture, and the first team to text in all the pics is declared the winner. One such “crazy stunt” photo challenge was to tee-pee MY HOUSE.

This is an inherent risk of living close to their camp site. Also, when I was warned of this possibility, I gave Anita the green light. For the record, I’m not sure my permission actually mattered. She equipped me well for this late night invasion. First, she shared an approximate time frame, and then, she loaned me not one, but two nerf guns and a giant pack of ammo.

So I closed the gate, hunkered down inside, and waited. It was exhausting to pause Netflix to step out and investigate every little noise. As the 4th season of Grace and Frankie ended, I lost my enthusiasm and decided to call it.

This image released by Netflix shows Lily Tomlin, left, and Jane Fonda in a scene from the comedy series “Grace And Frankie.”

The first team showed up in my final moments of flossing. By the time I stepped outside, armed and ready, they were long gone. There was plenty of evidence that Team One had scored. It was a good thirty minutes later when I heard the giggles outside my room from Team Two, and by then it just didn’t matter. I was not interested in crawling out of my comfy bed to defend my territory.

When I awoke, I couldn’t stop laughing.

It had been all over the fence until the wind got most of it.
It seems these kids had prior experience.
Most of the front door evidence was removed when I stepped outside.

What I failed to capture was my car, which was completely wrapped in Quilted Northern, which clung beautifully when it met the morning dew. I couldn’t help but smile as I envisioned them prowling around my yard the night before. Their harmless prank brought back similar memories of my own teenage tomfoolery.

Earlier that week, I had volunteered to heat and deliver their dinner that night. So I texted Anita that their evening meal would be held hostage until my lawn was tee-pee-free. I was sure they would want to right their wrong. Also, their very lives food was at stake.

When I walked outside to greet them, I declared that the mac ‘n cheese was safely warming in the oven and would be delivered unharmed later on. One of the boys, trash bag in hand, looked up at me sheepishly and said the most precious words…

“Wait, we tee-pee’d your whole house and car, and now you’re going to feed us?”

“Yes, that is correct”, I replied, “And it’s okay, there was no harm done. Thanks for coming back to clean it all up.”

He stood and stared in disbelief. It could have been the lack of sleep. I’d like to think that maybe it was a powerful moment of grace.

Isn’t that the way grace operates though? In the name of late night fun, I created a big mess for an innocent stranger. And the next day, the offended person is arranging a delicious dinner for me?

Yep, that’s grace for you.

So the next time your Youth Director friend wants to let her wily crew have a heyday in your front yard, let them. Just make sure you’ve got a pan (or two) of mac ‘n cheese on the ready.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Table for one, please

There are times when I am perfectly content being on my own. Dining in a restaurant is not one of them. Especially on Sunday after church, when it seems most folks are connecting with family or friends, it seems weird to be solo.

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Recently, this was the very situation in which I found myself. Because my daughter just began serving at a new restaurant, I drove there with the intention of being the friendly face in her section. I would give her some encouragement and a fat tip while enjoying a meal with Prince Charming. When he was unable to join, I found myself there alone.

This is what I imagined my experience would be… without the todka vonic.

Sure, I could have easily sat at the bar, but that wasn’t her section, defeating the entire plan. That’s when I noticed a single lady also waiting for an open table. I asked if she was dining alone. When she confirmed this truth, I confessed my discomfort and asked if she would share a table with me. She agreed, and we proceeded to enjoy a lovely lunch.

While we didn’t have a lot in common, our conversation was certainly pleasant. It turned out she had been recently widowed – a major life shift after 35 years of marriage. Grief is a heavy companion in the early phases, and my church experience helped me to proceed with grace.

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I tried to simply be a good listener, but I think I may have been a little too forward in my suggestions for her healing. I tried to frame it with, I know this ___ has helped others, and this ___ has helped me. Be a mentor, volunteer somewhere, find a cause and get involved.

Why in the world would I know what she should do? I don’t even know what I should do most days, and I’ve known me forever! This woman and I had only met a few moments ago. My hope was that she was encouraged, but I’m not sure a bunch of ideas from me provided that. I know better than to offer my opinion so freely. It’s clear I still have work to do.

She did thank me at the end of the lunch, and I found a card to share my contact info. I don’t know if she’ll ever call, or look me up online, but I was glad for our shared time. Neither of us sat alone, and my daughter received her encouragement and a bit of cash.

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My lunch companion shared that sometimes the messages we need to hear come in unexpected ways. The message I needed was that it’s good to reach out to a stranger, and also, that listening is better than talking. Maybe the message she got was to politely decline the next time a stranger invites herself to the table?

This is where having faith comes in. I’m going trust that somehow we both gained something good from our shared table. The next time I have an opportunity to befriend a stranger, maybe I’ll skip it and find the courage to dine alone. Or, maybe I reach out and practice doing a better job of listening.

It’s all about observing, and evaluating, and doing better than we did before, right?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Keeping it boring, I mean, balanced

Balance is something for which I have been striving as long as I can remember. There’s the physical balance of holding a tree pose, or walking on a tight rope, but that is not the kind of balance to which I am referring.

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I am referring to balance in life. This begins in my thinking.

I have this tendency to swing hard to one side or the other. Extremism. All or nothing. Black or white. It’s a terrible way to operate, and becoming aware of this tendency is a great place to begin. Without awareness, there is no acceptance, and there has to be acceptance before launching into the action of changing it.

I wanted to give myself a reminder to avoid these extreme ways of thinking. I drew a teeter totter on my wrist with a Sharpie to remind me to not jump from one side to the other, but to remain more neutral in my thinking – more balanced.

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I liked it so much that I had it permanently inked ON MY WRIST. Some people may be shrugging like, yeah, whoop-dee-doo. But this was a big deal for me. It’s my first visible tattoo, and I didn’t wait ten years to get it. More like two weeks. When you know, you know.

On the appointed day of inking, “fulcrum” was weirdly the Merriam-Webster word of the day. I knew the little triangle in the center was a fulcrum, but I had never read the definition.

1a : prop; specifically : the support about which a lever turns
: one that supplies capability for action

Did you catch that second part? It supplies capability for action. It’s the center and the support. I did some further reading about fulcrums, and it turns out, they are the most stable part of the entire system.

I am so grateful to have learned this. It provides more hope knowing this.

If you don’t struggle with extremes, count yourself among the fortunate. I have wasted so much energy doing “mental gymnastics”. This is a great sport in which to excel if you’re a fiction writer (which maybe one day that will be img_1085true for this girl). But it’s a terrible way to show up in the world. I am usually imagining the worst possible outcome on any given situation.

Moms are especially gifted at this. If our kids are a measly five minutes late, we imagine them overturned in a ditch and bleeding out, don’t we?

There’s science behind why our brains operate in this way. It has to do with our survival mechanism of identifying threats and such. If I wasn’t suffering with senioritis, I would look it up and give you the link, but it’s just too much work. I hope you’ll forgive me.

I know this much – when I can level out, and become still and centered, life is more peaceful. Some may say boring, but I’ll take it.

How do you keep from swinging from one extreme to the other? Meditation? Mantras? Is there an app for that? I’d love to hear from you…

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Senioritis is a real thing

As defined at Urban Dictionary:

“Senioritis – noun. A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation.”

Let’s personalize this a bit, shall we?

Senioritis – noun. A crippling disease that strikes college seniors in their final semester, even the ones who are 50 and hold a very high GPA. Symptoms include: an over-excessive wearing of yoga pants and t-shirts. Also features a lack of preparation, deadline knowledge and assignment lists. Can include a severe absence of previous over-achievement. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation.

Potential remedies may include studying anywhere but home where deep cleaning and organizing hold strong appeal. Also, securing a study buddy, such as a sophomore, will aid towards accountability. One proven technique to improve motivation is planning a Graduation trip to Europe as a reward for not dropping out. Making reservations with non refundable deposits further enhance the effectiveness of this powerful motivator.

Severe cases may also require a small Spring Break adventure, which is highly recommended. Again, early planning with stiff financial penalties is effective to ensure actually taking the essential break. Employing these strategies will help, but not necessarily guarantee a smooth final semester.

Maintaining perspective is essential during this season. My tendency is of course, to be melodramatic about it all, but it’s just another few weeks which will be over before I know it.

How does one self diagnose this? Here is a prime example. I have a class taught by the Dean of the college. It’s a topic that I love, and I’m thrilled to have the exposure to this knowledge and application. We formed a team last week and we have a 20 minute presentation due next week. When he reminded us yesterday, it was as though I had heard it for the very first time. We are meeting today after work to hammer it out, and I am not even stressed about it. Why?

I have never not cared about an assignment. Even the classes I didn’t love, I still cared. But, this too shall pass. Hats off to anyone who is in their Senior year, or living with someone in their Senior year. Or worse, parenting someone in their Senior year. It’s real. It’s rough. But perhaps some of these strategies will help you or a loved one manage for the next 13 weeks (or whatever their number is, just ask them because they KNOW)!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Bad ass baby girl

There are so many crazy ways to get an adrenaline rush. Roller coasters. Virtual reality roller coasters. Skydiving. Virtual reality skydiving – or even simulators that let you “fall” in a wind tunnel for a few (rather pricey) moments. Motorcycles.

I’m not sure if there’s a virtual reality motorcycle that would work for my daughter. I doubt she considered it for even a second.

Nope. This child of mine has been seeking adventure since before she could walk. She climbed out of her crib before her first steps. She climbed trees that were 30′ higher than the roof. She was an actual circus performer for several years and did usual circus things like flying trapeze and climbing up silks. She’s basically fearless.

So what does a mother do when her precious baby girl buys herself a Ninja 400?

The first thing is to recognize this kid is not a kid. She’s an actual adult. At 21, she’s holding down 2 jobs rather well and lives completely on her own. She’s working on college and has an internship lined up for this semester. She manages her life, her schedule and most of her own expenses.

With all of that, I’d say she can do what she wants. And she has wanted this for a long time. And now she’s got it.

As a mom, of course I gave the expected commentary about safety and other drivers and such. We stacked the insurance to provide additional coverage. Beyond that, I pray for her safety as I’ve done for her (and her sister) since day one.

And that’s it. I’m proud of her for having the moxie to live her life on 2 wheels if she wants. I’m proud to be in a community that cares if she’s got a helmet (yes and it’s a really good one).

I’m proud of myself too. I’m not standing in her way. I’m not allowing my fear to alter her choices. I’m not allowing this to put a wedge in our relationship.

I’m also increasing the frequency of my hair appointments. The gray seems to be coming in faster these days.

How do you deal with your loved ones when they are doing things that terrify you? I’d love to learn any tips or tricks or mantras. Or is it just Xanax?

Thanks for reading, until next time,

Sherri

Not a contestant this year

The end of the year is typically a time for reflection of what is behind, coupled with anticipation of what is ahead. I’m faithful to this practice. Even if the “Publish” button isn’t clicked until days after January 1, it still counts.

While the list of personal accomplishments of 2018 is not short, the value of reflection is not in reveling in self-admiration. The value is in what I learned and how these experiences are shaping me. Honest evaluation shows me how to improve, which is the ultimate goal for me.

  1. I completed 36 credit hours of college this year. Two of the three semesters I landed on the Dean’s list. I learned that I can meet high performance levels when there are clear objectives before me.
  2. I served as a Sea Turtle Patrol volunteer once a week for 6 months. I made a great friend and thoroughly enjoyed the morning walks on the beach. And saving turtles. I learned that early morning commitments can be magical when you’re doing something you love.
  3. I ran an entire 5k without stopping once as part of the Wanderlust Mindful Triathlon. There was so much pride in setting this goal and meeting it. I learned that running is a mental game – along with just about everything else.
  4. I lost 25 pounds and dropped from a size 12 to a size 6. This happened mainly because turning 50 (oh yeah, I did that too!) was a number I could not change. I learned that I can apply the Serenity Prayer to everything.
  5. I entered into a romantic relationship (hey Prince Charming). While there have been a few bumps here and there, it has been a wonderful experience with the hope of more to come. I learned it’s okay to be vulnerable and I can still be myself while being a partner.
  6. I discovered that I have a green thumb, and am now the proud caretaker of 8 indoor plants as well as about a dozen outdoor plants. While there have been a couple of casualties along the way, overall it feels amazing to see green happy plants in my world. I learned that my past doesn’t define my future.

So…all this explains why I feel tired. And why binging on Netflix lately has felt so fabulous. I’ve spent more time on my couch in the past month than I have the previous 12 months combined.

While 2018 was big and I learned a lot, I missed out on more than couch time. There were fewer sunsets the beach, only a dozen-ish blog posts, and a handful of finished canvases. I know I cannot do everything. When I look back, it feels like I was in a contest for who could do the most things in a year. If there was such a thing, I should have at least gotten third place. Either way, I’m not repeating the frenzy of 2018.

My life and what I put in it is totally up to me. Next year is looking good, but different. It holds only a couple of big things, like graduating college and a trip to Europe. Beyond that, it’s more about what I will not be doing.

I am not raising my hand for any new hobbies or projects or volunteer opportunities. I am not making endless to-do lists. I am not saying yes to more things, even when they are good. I am not stressing myself out. I am not entering the contest this year.

How are you approaching your new year? Is your list ridiculously long? Are you content with where you are and what you’re doing? Change the things you can, friend, and let go of the rest.

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

15 down, 1 to go

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. There is just ONE little semester standing between me and graduation.

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Earning my Bachelor’s degree is a personal goal that I have been pursuing for six years. The good news is that it’s almost complete. Sure, I’ve taken on some important classes, but much of what I have learned had little to do with the actual curriculum. Here are the top six (I could have done just five, but you know I’m an overachiever).

1. It’s one semester at a time. I can tolerate terrible professors (can you speak English please?), difficult courses (my buddies Al and Cal), and a rough schedule (commuting 45 min each way, 4 nights a week). And I can do it because it’s only for 16 weeks. (Or fewer when it’s a summer class.) Breaking big goals into smaller pieces really works.

2. There’s a lot to learn if -and when – I’m ready to listen. Not every subject is interesting, but there is always a hidden nugget when I look for one. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This frequently happens outside the classroom, btw.

3. No one cares about my grades. After this long, I can include myself in this category. My job is to do my best. Sometimes this means my name is on the Dean’s list, and sometimes I am satisfied with a C.

Confession: it feels pretty damn good to make the Dean’s list. It feels equally good to not repeat a miserable class. In case you hadn’t heard, C’s get degrees.

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4. It’s not a race or a competition. Some 30 year olds are getting their PhD’s. That’s amazing, and also, it has nothing to do with me. It doesn’t matter that I’m 50 and still working toward my undergrad. I am improving each day and that is a reward in itself. It’s never too late to pursue a goal.

5. Failure is actually valuable. When I flunked online Algebra one summer, I learned an expensive lesson. Ever since, I am more realistic about how and what I can master.

6. Remember the big picture. There are people in my life who are important – even when I have homework. I need to make time for those I love. Achieving goals is great, but not at any cost.

As I look at the next four glorious weeks of zero assignments, I am breathing a sigh of relief. I will not overpack my calendar. I will take naps and socialize and read for fun and get back into my studio to paint. All at my own pace. It feels good to take a break.

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Seasons. Times of working hard and times of rest. The book of Ecclesiastes has a whole chapter about this and it’s as true today as it was thousands of years ago. Honor the season in which you find yourself.

You just may find yourself.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Mission accomplished!

This simple 2 word phrase is among my favorite 2 word phrases. A few others are “Thank you”, “Package delivered” and “Let’s eat”. I am an achiever – at times an over achiever – but I’m working on that too.

What was the mission? To run an entire 5k without stopping. Now I totally get that some of you might be marathon runners and you’re chuckling right now. Aw, how cute – a little baby 5k? Only 3.1 miles? Some of you do 5 times that distance at a much faster pace. And good for you if you do!

The point I’m making is that this was MY goal, one that had haunted me for a long time. Ten years ago I had attempted this but always fell short and ended up walking.

But as you may have read previously, I started training in July, and continued with the goal scheduled for early November.

The event was Wanderlust, which is a Mindful Triathlon. I would never consider a real triathlon. Don’t you even know me? This event was right up my alley. It began with a 5k, then 75 minutes of yoga, and finishing with 25 minutes of meditation.

During the one hour drive to the event, I was focusing on the fact that I could – and would – run the whole thing. At check-in, this intention was confirmed so clearly. See, the 5k was not hard core with numbers and microchips and such. It was casual. Each participant received their word for the day to stick onto their clothing instead of pinning a number. Some were affixed with “Peace” and “Joy” and other lovely words.

As I arrived at the front of the check-in line, the word on top was this one.

When the volunteer saw the look of surprise on my face, she asked if I wanted a different word. After a moment of hesitation, I replied, “No, this is the word I am supposed to have.”

With this word plastered on my shirt, I knew for certain I would not be stopping to walk. No way! It had been declared that I was a runner. And I was. I ran the whole entire thing.

The rest of the event was amazing! Practicing yoga outside with 1000 people was an incredible experience. Holding a chair pose after running was another challenge for sure. I found people who shared their face paint, met a cool lady selling bracelets, and enjoyed this view during the meditation.

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The really great part is that I am continuing to run. At least once a week I am getting in 2 to 3 miles and plan to do a few more 5k’s. Of course I’m still practicing yoga, and have even wandered into a studio a couple of times this month. Faithfully engaging in an at home practice for several years, I had forgotten about the energy shared with others in a group practice. The meditation is still a work in progress, but isn’t that the idea?

It really is all about the practice, and the process. But also, there is something transforming about reaching a goal! My good friend Kris was the photographer for the event. I think this photo she took captures the joy I was feeling in doing just that.

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What goal are you working on? How can you state your intentions so that you have the best chance of success? A little goes a long way. Keep after it and you’ll get there my friends!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri