The post in which I simply write what came to mind for my daughter

Yesterday morning I was sitting at my kitchen table and my 17-year-old daughter came up behind me and asked “Mom, have you blogged in a while?”

“Um, no”

“Well, you should. I really like reading your posts.”

Now, for those of you who don’t have teenagers, when a teen says something like that, you listen.  When a teen is reaching out and wants to communicate, you respond.

So here I am, trying to think of a brilliant, insightful, meaningful post. Something that will impart some kind of profound life lesson on my daughter and the three other people who read this blog.

And you know what…I got nothin’.

I think the harder I try to be wise or influential, the more fake I sound. And there is nothing I hate worse than sounding fake. I want my family and friends to know that I genuinely care about them, even if I don’t always express it well. My compliments often sound empty, and I am a lousy gift-giver (I’m lookin’ at you, beer-making kit that I bought my husband 3 Christmases ago and has moved to 3 different houses without being opened.)

There are some people who have a way with words that make the rest of us drop our jaws and exclaim “That is exactly how I feel.  I just never knew how to say it!” The late Maya Angelou, who passed away earlier this week, was one of these people.

And there are other people who simply seem born with talent or at least discover their talents early enough in life to develop them into lifelong careers or passions. We all secretly want to be one of these people: someone who knows his or her purpose, discovers his or her talent, and develops it to the level of a divine art.

And yet, we rarely see the struggle, pain, and hard work that leads up to these accomplishments. We see the shiny, polished surface that these people present to the world: the perfectly edited and published book, the magnificently sculpted muscle tone on a fitness model, the perfectly lit and positioned photograph, the amazingly straight and tight spiral on a football . But underneath all these things are years of bruises, headaches, fatigue, arguments with family members, bills that need to be paid, demands from employers, children, neighbors, extended family, etc. Namely, there is life to be lived.

What we often fail to realize is that no one does it all. The folks who excel in one or two areas often failed in many others, or at least they struggled in other areas. I have never seen a painting by Pavarotti. I have never seen Michael Jordan host his own cooking show on the Food Network. I have never read a book written by Mozart or heard of any great military feats that Shakespeare accomplished.

Nobody is talented at everything. But we often compare our own weaknesses with the gifts of others. And we downplay our own gifts as if they were common and that everyone has them.

Please don’t do that. Where would our world of art be if Pablo Picasso lamented that he wasn’t good at chemistry or algebra?  And so what if Einstein couldn’t sing or sew?

Find what you enjoy doing and do that as well as you can. If you know your calling or your talents, develop them, and don’t flounder, wishing you had someone else’s talents. If you don’t know, that’s okay too, even if you are 40, 60, or 80 years old. If you are still alive, you have a purpose and something to give to the world.

But whatever you do, do NOT fall prey to the traps of envy, jealousy, and despair.  YOU are where you are supposed to be. But you have a choice…you can  squander the gifts and talents you were given, or you can develop them into a gift for the world.

(And I’ll tell you a little secret: even if you squander them, you still have a chance to live an important, meaningful, fulfilling life. Have you ever heard of the “prodigal son”?)

So, dear daughter, I blogged for you this morning. This is just an unedited outpouring of what came to mind as I started writing. Hopefully there is a nugget of value here for you.

And if not, that’s okay…there’s always next time.



Looking in the mirror…and seeing Grandma

Alright, it’s time to get “real.”

Some people seem to have this “growing up” thing all figured out.

I am not one of those people.  And yet, every time I look in the mirror I am reminded that time is passing.

Was that another gray hair I saw? Wait, that wrinkle wasn’t there yesterday, was it? And my profile is starting to look like my grandmother’s.

Whoa! Reality check time. Gravity is doing its thing, and there’s nothing I can do about it (until I win the lottery or decide to max out the credit cards and take a 3-month “sabbatical” to Beverly Hills).

This got me to thinking about the changes that happen as we age. Now I am not going to get graphic…I’ll leave that up to Dr. Oz and your next issue of Oprah magazine. Rather, I want to share my perspective on aging.

One of the amazing things about aging is that we begin to see our ancestors staring back at us in the mirror. Just the other day, I realized that some of my features reminded me of my grandmother more than I had every realized. The funny thing was, it made me really happy.

As a child, I looked at my grandmother’s gray hair, wrinkles, and other signs of aging, and just saw them as a part of who she was. I really loved her features. I could see that her hands had worked in the gardens for years, and that her fingers were bent from years of sewing clothes and blankets for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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Seeing some of those features on myself made me smile. I am not saying that I am anxious to grow older. There are many things I want to do while I am still relatively young.

But I have realized that I am not really “afraid” of aging. I imagine that my own children and grandchildren will see my physical features the way I see my grandmother’s…they are a part of her and I love them because of that fact.

What I AM afraid of is growing old with regrets. I want to spend time doing the important things in life…loving my husband and children, being as healthy as I can, contributing to the world, creating laugh lines in myself and others, and finding a cure for worry warts. (And my grandmother has done all these things.)

If gray hair, wrinkles, and gravity-stricken jawlines are the price I have to pay to live well, then so be it. I will be in good company.