I wrote this in 2017. It’s pretty weird reading it today, in the middle of this Covid crisis where our lifelines to others include Zooming and Social Media. I miss the “Realness” of life. I truly do.
This year we are being called to a quieter time, a time like the Passover, where we are to stay in our homes until the danger passes, a time like the day that Jesus lay in the tomb. We are being called to wait while the shadow passes over.
But at the end of this quiet, shadowed, time I believe, like the Israelites, we can find new freedom. If we can be still enough now to hear, we will be able to find a new joy. If we pay attention, we can begin to see light around the edges, a light that can help us see the world more clearly.
If the disciples had known what that first Easter was going to bring, they could have started rejoicing before the stone was rolled away.
We know that the joy is coming! We can celebrate in the quiet of the shadow.
I started this article when I was given an assignment to audition for a freelance writing gig. I never submitted it because it looks like my life will be taking a detour once again and my writing will have to be on hold. But I thought it might be worth a share.
By the time you are 55 you have read at least 55 articles about how to stay active. If you moved past the “I should do something” stage you may have even made a chart, or requested that free ebook. But if you are reading this you are still looking for that one thing that can actually make it happen. It might be here.
Brainstorm a list of activities that brought you joy when you were young. Don’t judge as you write, just make the list. Often, activities we have given up to the past are more accessible after our families are raised, or they can be modified to fit our present circumstances. If the activity you choose is fun then you are less likely to miss it.
Find a Playmate
Who makes you laugh? Can you plan to be active with that person? One of the easiest ways to stay active is playing with children. Kick a ball. Ride a bike. Go on an explore. Grandchildren can keep you moving longer than any professional trainer. If you don’t have grandchildren borrow some. Many families live far away from grandparents and would love to find the right person to fill in.
Get a Dog
Getting a dog needs to be considered carefully, but dogs cared for properly need to be walked and played with. Both these activities will get you moving. Add to that the benefits of companionship and unconditional love and having a dog can be the perfect answer to becoming more active. If you are unable to make a serious commitment to a dog consider dog sitting or walking a neighbor’s dog while they work.
The Spice of Life
Routine can squelch joy. Take that brainstormed list you made and pick at least three things you can start. Every day try to do something active. If you are a more spontaneous person you can wake up and choose one activity from your list. If you are a planner you can chart your activities for the week, or even for the month. Just make sure you change them up enough to keep boredom at bay.
On Rainy Days
If you are one of those dedicated runners or walkers that are out in the rain daily then you don’t need this article. But if you are like most of us and chilly, wet weather tends to keep you in then it’s important to find some indoor activities. Some suggestions are: 1) Turn up the Oldies and dance. Music you listened to when you were younger can bring smiles and a bit of that youthful energy. 2) Invest in a Wii. A variety of active Wii games are available that can be played with friends or individually. 3) Rainy days are a good time for strength training. Get a small pair of hand weights and Google how to use them.
Try Something You Have Never Tried Before
Be bold. Sign up for a class, Tae Kwon Do, Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, Synchronized Swimming, to mention a few. Nearby universities and community centers often offer reasonably priced classes like these.
Watch Your Language
The words you say can make or break your success in everything you do, but especially as you set goals to be active. Listen to the folks around you. People who are constantly talking about being old are less likely to be active. Being senior can bring a few extra challenges but learning to think and talk in possibilities instead of hurdles can make all the difference in the success of meeting your goals.
Plan a Dream Vacation
Having a trip to look forward to can give you the incentive to take action. If you know you will be walking to the top of a lighthouse, or up the steps of a Mayan ruin, then you will be motivated to get in good enough shape to enjoy it. There are some amazing places to experience in this world. Pick one and train for it.
Keep a Journal
Take a few moments each night to write thoughts about your day. Journaling is a good way to discover how you are spending your time. It is also a great way to count your blessings. Every day there are little miracles all around us- that butterfly that landed on your hair, a child’s giggle, a cool breeze, a hug from a friend, or the moment you woke up and you realized you had a whole day ahead of you. Make your journal a happy place, full of the good parts of living. You may need to spend some time writing about difficult things before you can get to the good stuff. If you do need to write out the hurt, write on a loose piece of paper. I call this a “dump” page. After you write out all the junk, pray over each item, then tear that page up and throw it in the trash.
Watch children. If you keep them away from electronic screens they are naturally active because it just feels great to be doing and moving. Be like a child. Find the thing that brings you joy. The joy will get you moving.
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com
“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” If you have ever watched the Magic School Bus you will recognize this as Miss Frizzle’s mantra. And Yes! This is exactly what it takes to create and grow.
If you have children at home, especially young ones, all day long you find yourself cleaning up one mess after another; sticky icky fingerprints on everything, dirt tracked in, and toys all over the floor. The messes are a result of exploring, and this is a good thing because the best and healthiest kind of learning is messy.
The best and healthiest kind of life is often messy too. Chances taken don’t always work out, so there comes a regrouping to move on. Mistakes are made that have to be learned from, so that we can grow into better people. And even the most loving relationships can be mucky and have to be cleaned up from time to time. But when these things are done we find a satisfaction in trying, and a certain kind of joy.
Think about it, the best things in life are messy; babies, dogs, husbands ;), and chocolate cake are only a few examples.
So let’s “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy” because that’s where we’ll find the sweetest parts of our lives. That’s where we’ll find the joy.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thesalonians 5:16-18
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com
Often in our lives the way ahead is unclear. We look off into the distance and there is a thick fog of uncertainty. “What’s next?” we ask God. We want desperately to make progress but we desire the security of seeing where we are going. So we stop, and anguish over what is ahead.
We pray. We pray for wisdom, and a clear path, and God’s answer is often the tiniest light that reveals the place to take one-small-step.
It is easier not to take that step, isn’t it? Because if we do, we have to move away from what we know into the unknown, into the adventure of trusting that what’s ahead is from our Father God. He promises to be with us. He promises to take our hand, but still we often want to cling to what we know.
The first time I was tall enough to get onto a roller coaster I was petrified. But my older cousin took me by the hand and told me, “You can’t miss this! It’s too fun! I will be right beside you and I promise you will be glad you went.” So I trusted him, climbed onto that roller coaster, buckled in, and had the time of my life.
Still, sometimes when the way isn’t clear I am fearful. But I can’t miss it, this next thing that is part of an amazing plan designed just for me. So today, I’m determining, to take a deep breath, take my Father’s hand, and take that one clear step in front of me.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. —Psalm 16:11
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. –Psalm 143:8
This scripture reminded me again that I need to trust God. And I know I do, and I believe He is trustworthy. The fact that I believe this is a result of the Holy Spirit residing in my heart because, honestly, my life, as I’m sure many of yours, has been filled with difficult challenges, pain and loss. So many times I trusted God to answer a prayer a certain way and His “no” answer brought tremendous grief.
So when God taps me on the shoulder and reminds me to trust Him, I have to ask myself, Trust Him to what? Trust Him to answer my prayer the way I think it should be answered? To arrange things in this world the way I think they should be arranged so that the people I love won’t hurt?
I always ask. I am God’s little girl, so I always ask Him to spare me the pain, and often, miraculously, He does. Jesus, God’s most precious son, asked to be spared the cross. (Matthew 26:39) God said no, and Jesus took the path that His Father marked out for Him, then saved the world.
I am not perfect. I will mess up…lots. Unlike Christ, I have a rebellious heart that wants to take the road of my choosing, the smooth one, the comfortable one. I have to wrestle, sometimes tenaciously, to find a place of trust. But I am learning to put my hand in God’s and let Him lead me on the path that He has marked out for me. Then trust Him, that just as He promises, He will be near me, holding me up, strengthening me, tenderly loving me every single step of the way. Redemption and healing will come through the pain as I trust that His way is the only one that’s right.
Trying Too Hard
A dear friend of mine once told me that the words that she wanted on her grave marker were “I Tried”. That particular day she was frustrated with the results of her trying. She is a writer and an amazing editor, but what she is most talented at is knowing how to be a real friend, and though she stays busy being a friend she doesn’t “try” at it because it comes naturally out of the love in her heart.
This morning as I was walking and talking to my Heavenly Father about what He wants me to do next I realized that from the time I was very young I have tried. I have tried so hard to be and do all I thought was needed and right. And though I know there are times for trying, what I’m seeking now in my life is finding what comes naturally out of the love in my heart. What I’m “trying” to do is make time and space for that.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. —Ephesians 2: 4-9
Every Day Miracles
This morning I went on my walk at sunrise. It was a beautiful morning, the sky was brushed with oranges, yellows, and morning light. It was so beautiful that it hurt. It touched that deep place in my heart that we all usually keep safely covered.
And I stopped.
And I realized.
That every single day this happens. The colors are different. The weather can be friendly or unwelcoming. But no matter what, the sun comes up and it is beautiful. We wake up, drink our coffee, and get dressed, then move about the world seldom thinking about the miracle that just happened. The sun, that is exactly the right amount of miles away from the earth, so as not to burn us up or freeze us, came up again. The sun, that provides the light of life CAME UP AGAIN! This is a miracle of gigantic proportions and yet so many days I find myself barely looking up.
Today I am so thankful for the miracle of the sun, and for my God, who not only made it perfect for our needs, but also made it beautiful. And tomorrow I will remember to look up.
From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised! —Psalm 113:3
Time is invisible.
It sounds like rushing water or a gusty breeze.
It feels like getting pushed down hill with roller skates on….and sometimes…. if we are lucky, or very determined, it can feel like opening a present on Christmas morning.
Time tastes like vanilla ice cream all sweet and cold then melted away and suddenly gone.
It smells like sweaty boys after a baseball game and looks like home movies on fast forward.
It is a glass half empty or half full but not measurable because we can’t decide how much we will have.
—Robin Prince Monroe