10 Things That Happen in Your 50s

  1. You wake up at the same time every morning no matter what time you went to bed and no matter what you have planned for the day. 
  2. Your skin loses its elasticity. Under your chin, above and around your eyes, the creases of your elbows, the sides around your stomach, your butt, your ankles.
  3. You care more about some things, and care less about others. 
  4. Your happiness increases, or your bitterness does. 
  5. You have to find this middle ground regarding clothes. You don’t want to get stuck wearing what you wore when you were in your 20s, but wearing what 20-year-olds wear now makes you look like you’re trying too hard. The same thing applies to how you cut your hair. 
  6. You spend more time in doctors’ offices. 
  7. You begin to look at material processions differently. 
  8. You have to form new relationships with your adult children if you have them. 
  9. You lose track of how many mid-life crisises you’ve had,  and you realize the words “mid-life” no longer apply. 
  10. You write about being in your 50s. 

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

Welcome to the world! It is a marvelous time to be alive.You’re going to love it! Your siblings gave us all the time we needed to resolve our issues. 

We finally realized that possessions offered little long-lasting happiness. We saw that there were those among us who lived in excessive abundance while others could not meet their basic human needs. So we pulled way back from the failed experiment called capitalism and started sharing the resources meant for us all. This did wonders to help heal the earth, an additional benefit! 

When we stopped being so concerned about money, we had time to focus on relationships. We stopped thinking that people who are different are also less-than. Not long after that we came to understand that the differences between us were interesting and beautiful. We started listening to and learning from each other. Hearing one another, we confessed that some of us were:

racist, 
misogynistic, 
homophobic, 
transphobic, 
ageist, 
nationalistic.

Those of us with power equated that power with privilege. But we found a way to overcome that evil for everyone’s sake.

How? How did we do it? How did we let go of hate and fear? We started to love on purpose. We loved intentionally. We loved without judgment. We loved without condition. We loved without expecting anything in return. We loved freely and we loved often. 

2017, we are far from perfect. But we believe that every time we choose love we experience a moment of perfection. Loving is a joy! Our hope is that your arrival will bring with it unimagined opportunities to love and that we will choose love over and over again. 

2017, welcome to the world! You’re going to love it. 

Be love,
Ann

Sister Ann Wenita Morelove
The Valentine Nun

Of Dryers, Nests, and Falls

The husband complained that our dryer wasn’t doing the job and we’d need to buy a new one. “No way!” I thought. Our dryer is magical. It’s sixteen years old and has dried clothes for four children and two adults most of those years. There’s no reason for it to quit working now. “Let me take a look at it,” I replied.

I often find the lent trap filled to capacity, so I looked there first. To my surprise, it was empty. That post-it note I stuck above the controls that read, “Empty after every load” must have had its intended effect.

Not one to give up easily, I went out to the side of the house to check the vent on the outer wall. It’s on the second floor of the house, but I could see bits of dried grass and twings sticking out of it. “Aha!” Air flow. Maleficent winged creatures turned squatters had taken up residence in a spot that I would have thought was too hot for breeding.

I borrowed a friend’s ladder to pull out the nest. I didn’t set the ladder correctly on the ground, failing to extend its four legs beside the wall as I should. Instead, I leaned the ladder against the wall. When I pulled at the vent cover I lost my balance.

I knew in an instant I was going to fall. But in that instant I thought many things. I can’t get my legs under me in time to avoid twisting an ankle. I can’t break my fall with my arm for fear of also breaking my wrist. Hold your head up as you hit the ground our you’re going to get really hurt. Don’t land on your tailbone; those things are fragile. No, don’t grab for the ladder; it will only fall on top of you.

Somehow I managed to twist so I landed on my left buttocks cheek. I was OK. The vent cover was in my hand.

While successful, I thought, “This is how fifty-one-year-old men break a hip.”

I got up and climbed back up the ladder. I pulled about three feet of house finch nest out of that dryer vent. I imagine it was some sixteen years worth. Were they raising chicks all year round, having found a heated habitat even in the cold of winter?

It’s a wonder the plugged dryer vent hadn’t caught fire and burned down the house.

A week later, I checked the outside vent again. Yep. New nesting sticking out. The vent cover wasn’t closing properly, allowing the birds access. I’m smarter, or at least more stubborn, than these birds. On my way home from work, I stopped at Home Depot for a new cover.

Of course, I didn’t have the cover with me and there were multiple choices. A Home Depot employee saw me pondering in the aisle and asked if he could help me. I explained the situation, as if the story of the bird nest in the dryer vent would help us determine what replacement cover I would need.

“I had the same problem several years ago. Do you have access to an old pair of pantyhose?”

I instantly saw where he was going with this, and I was grateful. I nodded and said, “I bet I can find some.” Somehow I managed to keep a straight face and not tell him about Sister Ann Wenita Morelove, who owns plenty of drug store knee-highs. She’s a frugal one, that Sister Ann.

And so am I. I now have an old, fully functional dryer and an original, though malfunctioning, vent cover, improved with a repurposed knee-high in charcoal gray.

Hopefully the house finches have found another place to live. Part of me expects to look out at the feeder soon to see them sporting tiny knee-highs on their tiny legs, looking fabulous.

Worst Night’s Sleep, Ever

9:00 pm | I went to bed and fell asleep easily.

12:05 am | I woke up coughing. I mentally kicked myself for mowing the yard without wearing a mask. Pollen season in Middle Tennessee is high at 10.4 and mowing only works to stir up what may have settled a bit throughout the day. I don’t know where our masks are though. Next time I’m wearing a bandana.

I downed a glass of Alka Seltzer cold medicine and the last time I looked at the clock before I fell asleep it was 2:22 am. Why up so long? The coughing woke up the husband and we had conjugal relations. I wasn’t complaining it about then, but I am now. It’s Tuesday for heaven’s sake, not Saturday when we could sleep in, and we’re not in our 20s anymore.

4:27 am | I don’t know what time I fell asleep but I was sleeping hard. I woke with a start to the sound of a pack of coyotes yelping in the back yard. Even the earplugs I wear couldn’t block out the noise. Josie, our border collie/Australian shepherd mix, jumped on the bed, afraid and confused. I got up, turned on the bathroom light, and the coyotes instantly quieted. It was weird.

5:05 pm | The baby (our grandson who lives with us) cried for less than 30 seconds.

5:20 am | The husband’s alarm went off. He turned it off, mumbled something incoherent, and fell back asleep. He’s still asleep.

5:27 am | My alarm went off while writing this blog.

5:57 am | It’s time to get up and start this day that started hours ago.

Prediction: who wants to bet I’ll be taking a nap in my car at noon during lunch?

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice

The picture doesn’t begin to describe how many Asian beetles have infested the bedroom. The best way I’ve found to manage the problem is to vacuum them up. I then take them out immediately because they stink.

Additionally, when I turn on the outside faucet it floods into the kitchen. The house is built on a concrete slab so there’s not crawl space. We’ll have to decide if we cap that faucet or have it repaired by tearing into the wall. I need that faucet for the rose garden, not so much for watering the roses but for keeping the deer away with the motion sensor sprinkler I have out there.

There goes out tax refund, and more. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

Here’s Hoping

This turned out a little more Jack Handy Deep Thoughts than I wanted it to, but it’s a good definition of hope.

Typically, I’m not a fan of consequences. I rarely think of them as positive, although I know positive consequences exist. I probably take positive outcomes for granted. No, I only ever think of negative consequences. However, as long as there’s hope, we can bare negative consequences.

No matter how bad the situation, hope can bring us to a place of peace, and there life is often better than it was before.

I’m going to look for ways to live into hope. Here lately, I’ve been stuck in consequences, with no movement or change. The results have been stagnation, mental depression, frustration, and anger.

It’s easier not to change. Habits are tough to break. But hope can be just as powerful a force.

At least I hope so.

The Second Sunday of Advent: Peace

They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
saying, “Peace, peace,”
when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, NRSV).

This isn’t the recommended scripture for the Second Sunday of Advent, but it’s the verse I thought of when I lit the second candle, the candle of peace. It’s a decidedly un-Adventy verse, although it actually, would fit right in. Advent surprises me every year with its rawness and hostility. The message doesn’t get feel-goody until Mary sings the magnificat, and even that is unsettling if you happen to be on the side of the privileged.

Shame on Advent for being so real. I want my Sunday of peace to be peaceful, not a pretend peace, or even the promise of a future peace. I want to jump ahead to the good food, the beautiful carols, the memorizing lights. The truth is, someone has to work for the money to buy the food, to purchase and prepare it. People have to practice for hours to sing the carols worth a hoot. And someone has clean the house (I cannot abide decorating on top of dirt; I imagine Joan Crawford and I have that in common), move the furniture, get the tree up, and pray the lights will work this year.

In years past, I’ve enjoyed doing all of this. But this year it feels like a big headache. For the first time I can see why families opt to rent a mountain cabin or go on a cruise during Christmas.

I’m not going to sit here and say, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. But I will leave room for Advent to do its work. We’ve got two more weeks of it after all.