Category: A Better Life

Find Your Words

I spoke with Hercules before lighting the firepit. He’s my neighbor and ‘good choice’ guru, but he’ll tell you it’s because he’s made a lifetime of not so good choices that he can offer better answers today. He said, “Barbara, if you want to light your pit, then you should do it. Just drop a hose nearby.” I mentioned writing about him in a Blog and our conversation went something like this…

Him: I didn’t think you were Blogging anymore.

Me: Yes, I renewed my website for another year.

Him: But, the last time we talked you were going to stop Blogging.

Me: I tell myself that all the time.

Him: Well, I stopped reading the Blog because you said you were going to stop. I’ll go find the Blog.

Me: Awesome. You are Hercules!

He laughed and said, “Barbara, it’s from thinking I was Hercules all those years that got me in the shape I’m in today!”

Hercules supports my crazy ideas and doesn’t mind that I write about him. When I first met him it didn’t take long to realize how much wisdom he holds and I told him, “You should write a book!” He laughed, and shook his head, but now he lives next-door to someone who will.

I ran across a Blogsite where a man stopped Blogging last year and wondered if he lost his voice, but blogging helped me find my voice and refines it. My disclaimer is, “If you’re in my life, you’re probably going to be in a story.” The blogger who lost his voice was in a season where family was involved in every storyline, and he didn’t feel it was solely his story to tell. As writer’s we get to tell our side of the story.

Finding your voice is a path paved by alphabetized keys, or pen to paper. This Blog began in 2014, and you’d never know by reading it that my divorce was one of the nastiest times of my life. As a writer, we get to choose the parts we want to tell and can uncover the good parts if we want to badly enough. I’d venture to speculate the blogger who lost his voice didn’t lose it, but instead someone voiced their opinion about his writing, and their words cut his vocal chords.

We have a voice and writing is like pushups for finding it. You haven’t lost your voice my darling, but you may need to sit with yourself in front of the blank page until you find your words.

The Second Half

Last week I posted a series of memes on FB about aging. I want people over 50 to be excited about the second half of life. One of my walking routes through the neighborhood takes me by a couple of old Ford trucks that have been cared for. They’re gorgeous, and I think about my truck being considered a classic one day.

My neighbor is older than me, and he’s my life mentor. When I’m perplexed about the best way to fix, or do something, he’s my Guru. He shares what he would do, and then has several suggestions on what not to do. I tell him all the time, “You know everything!” He chuckles and says, “No Barbara…I’ve just been here longer.” In the book I’m writing, he’s called Hercules, and there’s a chapter entitled, “A Hammer, Screwdriver and some duct tape”, filled with his wisdom.

The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

Andy Rooney

I love a clean truck, and growing up, we hand washed our cars. I’ll still hand wash my truck, but it’s too hot outside to be enjoyable, so I’ll run him through a carwash. Hercules has a Ford F150 older than Steve, (my trucks name) and he takes it through the Glide carwash. When I ask, “What are you doing today Hercules?”, he’ll say, “Today we ride the Glide Barbara.” He loves that carwash, so one day I took Steve.

This carwash felt like walking through a hurricane. It’s powerful, and I told Hercules I couldn’t ride the Glide after it almost ripped one of Steve’s sideview mirrors off. He said, “Don’t you fold them in?” I said, “Yes, but the force of the wash popped it out and bent it backwards!” This is when he realized a girl drives this truck. Hercules, would have shrugged it off while reattaching the mirror with duct tape.

I found a more gentle car wash for Steve and drive him through regularly. He’s 14 years old, and at the stage where things give out, and parts are replaced, but fortunately he hasn’t let go of anything major.

I’ll be 58 this October, and to some that sounds old, but I’m excited. Everything we learned in the first half, can be applied to the second half, and by refining our experiences we get to do it right in the second half.

Feel the Music

I was driving to meet my friend for our monthly coffee/tea, and heard this song. It was released in 2004, so around 2006 I heard it playing all the time. My mind began flipping through images and they weren’t all pretty, but I could see how far our life has come.

In 2008, I created an email address called abetterlife08. It was a Yahoo account and I named it that to keep those words in front of me while I worked. I can barely remember what happened two days ago, but I still remember sitting in the corner of that home office opening a Yahoo account and naming it abetterlife08. I was 10 years sober and life was better, but I didn’t recognize the man I was married to. When I think about that part of my life long enough, I can feel the tension that home office held.

In 2013 I exited that life.

Standing here in this little lake house 8 years later, I’m overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace. Did it take 8 years Barb? No, I began seeing a better life the very first year, but it all began with believing there was one. Using that email address kept abetterlife at the forefront of my mind until the time was right to step into a better life.

Firewood

During the Texas snow/ice storm, I saw a post on Facebook that made me smile. It was a photo of a front yard covered in tree branches, and said, “It’s raining firewood.”

I needed to see that because the most unnerving part of that week for me was the location of our home. The house is surrounded by ginormous oak trees and rests beneath their canopy. We’d hear the crack of a branch, then boom onto the roof, and the branch would slide and fall to the ground. I did a lot of meditating that week, and thanked God for metal roofs.

Once the snow had melted away, I stepped outside to look at the front yard, and was in agreement that it had rained firewood. The yard was covered with sticks, twigs and a few branches, but I looked at the sticks as, ‘kindling’, and the branches were easily broken into firewood. No healthy branch breaks. It was a good day for a fire, as I removed the cover from the firepit.

God knows my heart and knows I love to sit near a fire. I gathered up all the sticks and laid some in the pit. There were so many I had to start a pile of them nearby, along with the smaller broken branches. The larger branches were laid aside for future use. I sat by the fire for hours that day, and just pondered God’s goodness and grace. If it’s gonna rain, let it rain firewood.

Crossing the Line

I’ve been using the pour over coffee dripper for my coffee each morning for a while now. It offers flexibility in cup size, and on Monday we go big.

It will fill any size cup you choose to sit under it. You just have to measure the right amount of water for the size of the cup. This morning, I measured 16 ounces of water for the gooseneck kettle, knowing this cup could hold it, but I’ve miscalculated before and that was messy.

My favorite cup and Blue Bottle coffee dripper.

One morning I grabbed a large mug thinking it was just as big as this one and treated it the same way, with 16 ounces of water. I allow time for the dripper to drain in between pours, so after the third and final pour, I walked into the next room. A few minutes later I went back into the kitchen for my coffee, only to find it pouring over the rim of the mug onto the chopping block.

It had poured over alright!

Thank God the spill had stayed on the chopping block, but I must have crossed the 16 ounce line. It’s times like these you go with what you know and make sure your Monday cup is cleaned on Sunday night.

The coffee dripper adds mystery to my morning. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. It calls for the water measurement to be precise, but I’m doing good just to get the water into the measuring cup much less read the lines. It’s when I cross the line that life gets messy.

I have an email to send this morning, and it feels like I may be crossing the line. That’s not going to stop me from sending it because I don’t live my life in the safe zone. When God opens the door of opportunity, communication can be awkward at first, but we don’t really know where the lines are, if any, until we cross them.

This is me, on a Monday, crossing the line.

The Sunny Spot

When I first started this Blog, I could sit and write for hours and post daily. That has mellowed over time. I enjoy my pieces of life that don’t require Internet.

The dogs know my favorite time to write is around 9:00 am, and they become very still and quiet. It’s like they are giving me space to do what I love, or maybe they just see it as quiet time, because typing is not very rambunctious. I’m sitting at the kitchen table gazing out the window at the front yard. There’s a gentle breeze moving the trees and bushes, and birds are hopping around in the sunny spots of the yard. I can completely relate to the birds, because I love the sunny spots of life.

February and March are good months to be outside. In February, the temps will be in the high 60’s, and in March they’ll reach the 70’s, but by April we’ll be in the 80’s and then it’s on. I’ve lived here long enough where the high temperatures don’t really bother me anymore. You just praise God everyday for air conditioning.

We can look at our lives, and see what’s important. Our lives reflect an accumulation of small choices made daily. It’s a continual effort to weed out the bad and bring in the good, but we get to choose the life we’re sitting in today. With every action throughout the day, pay attention to the details. And if you find yourself gazing out the window like me, step outside and embrace the sunny spot.