Monday, August 30, 2010

The Comfort Zone

I realized as this year began that I’d gotten entirely too comfortable with my life. Too many things were entirely too predictable. What I ate for breakfast, how I fixed my iced tea, how much I didn’t exercise, but mostly how seldom I tackled anything new anymore. Being the fearful person I am…afraid of change, but mostly afraid of failure and disappointment…I had settled for a comfortable, but not entirely fulfilling life.

So…I began the new year with a challenge to myself to do something challenging at least once a month. When I shared some of my ideas with family members, some eyebrows were lifted because the things I considered challenging weren’t exactly what they had expected.

In January, stepped outside my comfort zone at Chucky Cheese on an icy evening to celebrate William’s birthday and had a ball, just playing like a kid. The grandchildren were wide eyed when Grammy handled the gun in a shooting game like a gangster and won lots of ticket prizes. Later that month I tackled learning about my new iPod. I am happy to say that I have a pleasing assortment of dorky and cool music, all to my liking, up and working, and I even became so fond of iTunes that I began downloading audio books. Not a bad start to the new year.

February led me to California for Emmett’s birth. The set of small challenges surrounding that event eventually led me to return to help the new parents and soon I found myself off to Albuquerque with a seven week old infant and his mom. While Sarah worked, I kept Emmett in her trailer. This excursion wasn’t an overwhelming success…the pilot she worked on didn’t get picked up…but it definitely qualified as being outside my comfort zone.

March brought a different challenge. I don’t know whether clothes shopping should count, but it was probably the most difficult thing I did all year. I revamped my wardrobe a bit, cleaned out most of the clothes in my closet and can finally feel like I have choices…even if they’re not all wonderful.

In April I took a watercolor class, in hopes of redeeming my ego which was bashed soundly in “Creative Art” at Auburn. I managed to pass that course only by producing prolific pages of “wall paper designs”, each of which raised my grade by a point or two. Never did figure out what that teacher meant when she assigned us to “fill the page with a single line”. Huh??? The watercolor class went much better, and I’m ready to expand my experimentation this fall.

May led me to the mountains where I reentered a world I once enjoyed, nature walks with friends, and in June I reunited with my sister after five years. She arranged for me to get my eyebrows done at her club spa, and we giggled like girls. The walk to the waterfall added to the accomplishments of that trip.

July led to my new passion, Mah Jongg. With some encouragement from a few good friends, I am learning the game and now have a group of friends who meet weekly to play together.

August was another physical challenge. I really wanted to ride our Seadoo by myself, something I would have not thought twice about as a teenager who lived for speeding around the lake, but now it really seemed so scary. Grandson Robert was enlisted in this endeavor, and was an excellent instructor on a loop under his supervision, and then he turned me loose to solo. I even docked the thing without too much trepidation. Not sure how often I’ll be revisiting that trick, but I know I can if I want to.

September is already planned and I’ll be beginning a four year study of the Bible at our new church. I’ll be almost seventy by the time I complete the course, and am not sure whether I actually have any more ministry to be educated for, but I think it will be good for me.

Now…there are three months left…what shall I do? Wish I thought it would involve serious diet and exercise, but probably not. Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Family Matters

After a break from blogging to deal with the birth of my new grandson, end of year activities for the grandchildren here, and a fabulous trip to The Smoky Mountains, I’m back with a whole list of thoughts to share about the importance of family and friends, which, in my case, are many times one and the same.

Our travels began with an invitation from Molly’s in-laws to bring “all the Morrises” to their get away in Sewanee, Tennessee. We’ve done this sort-of annual event several times since our families were forever bonded by marriage then later on the liver donation. Watching your mutual grandson, the one and only for both of us, lie near death for a week then be saved by another in-law can do that to you.

Throwing all these folks together in the same house, adjusting to each other’s quirks, and laughing, hiking, and playing together was kind of like being in one of those rock tumblers kids sometimes enjoy. (You know the ones, an electrical thing you throw a bunch of driveway stones in, turn on the tumbler, and after a while you have beautiful treasures uncovered.) We’ve learned which of us don’t eat tomatoes, which ones don’t really like potato or egg products, who likes to hike, and who would rather shop or read or play games. There has rarely been much pressure to be other than who you are from the other adults on the trip, and the acceptance of little Walker’s quirks, especially by our hosts, has been much appreciated.

With my new knee finally healed, I knew I could do the easy walks for sure this year, and with some support and encouragement from Molly and Owen I joined the group on a short hike to Foster Falls. I felt no shame in not going to the bottom the falls, just walking along the rim at the top, catching glimpses of the falls, letting Molly help me just as she did Owen when the going got a little rougher. Little Walker joined the adults and older children on the longer hike, and got some great pictures of the falls from below.

At the end of my hike, I waited on a bench listening to a “Praise the Lord” preacher deliver a fairly memorable sermon at an open-air gathering. At a table next to me was a very large family of Muslims who were surreptitiously watching the preacher with some interest also.

Soon both our family groups were ready to move on, but not before one of our group had wangled an invitation to a taste of their elaborate middle-eastern spread. Part of their group had been at the foot of the falls and the ladies had all waded in, completely robed in fancy saris, enjoying the cool water along with all the other families on a hot afternoon.

As we sampled their fare and headed on home for some sandwiches ourselves I thought about how like our family theirs seemed to be. Relatives…you gotta love ‘em cause you can’t shoot ‘em…a wise man said to me once upon a time.