Alright, I may have admitted this before, but it is important we own our addictions. And I have found a new website which happily feeds my addiction. It is Thrift Books. I’ve been using the library for ebooks but sometimes I am impatient and don’t want to be 11th in line for a book, so I feel compelled by my addiction to buy the book. Thrift Books helps me afford to do that but, I am a book addict. I will say it again. I am a book addict. Since January 1st, I have read 38 books. Which means I am averaging one book approximately every 3.8 days. And since last fall I have specifically become addicted to detective mystery series set either in another time or another place. These include:
- The Armand Gamache Books by Louise Penny – set in Quebec, present day
- The Maisie Dobbs Books by Jacqueline Winspear- set in England pre and post WWI
- The Ian Rutledge Books by Charles Todd- set in England post WWI
- Bruno, Chief of Police Books by Martin Walker- set in St. Denis area, France, present Day
I am not certain why I have suddenly become addicted to this type of book but I do know why a series captures me. A good writer makes a character real in my mind. These characters become my friends. I think about them. I wonder what they are doing when I am finished with a series. What do I share with each of them. Each character faces their own demons and identifying with this is easy. I question my choices like Armand. I have been hurt and right now I keep s wall around my emotions like Maisie. Ian struggles with a voice in his head of a lost soldier. I struggle with my own voice chastising me for making so many wrong choices. I long for love like Bruno.
I admire them and their unique qualities. What can I learn from their lives and then incorporate into my own life so I will be happier, more content person. I want to be a better listener like Armand. I want to be patient like Maisie and not miss the details. I want to push past my fears like Ian. And I want to live a life rich with friends and the love of the simple things like Bruno. I know they are fictional characters but I still learn something about myself through each book, each story, each struggle and each triumph.
So again, I admit I am an addict, a book addict and I hope I never am cured.
Since relocating three years ago, I have been visiting churches. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve visited. They include churches of all sizes and denominations. I remember thinking my church (where I was involved prior to my divorce) was friendly and what I have learned is that friendly and inviting are not the same thing. Every church I’ve been to has some moment either before or during the service to greet the people around you. At a few churches no one has approached me. At most churches people shake my hand and say hello but that is the end of the moment. At only two churches have members taken the time to introduce themselves, ask a question or two about me and then invite me to join them in some additional activity. I even had a couple offer to walk with me to their Sunday School Class. I had a woman offer to pay for me to attend their women’s dinner when she find out I was unemployed. Guess which churches I liked the best?
Shaking someone’s hand and saying hello doesn’t cut it. It is difficult enough to walk into a church not knowing a soul, especially when you are alone. I remember being comfortable at my church and being involved. In the beginning I was great at seeking out and inviting new people to join me in Sunday School or a Bible Study or a women’s group or a family event. But over time, like most people, I became complacent. I am learning first hand how not reaching out beyond a handshake makes a visitor feel excluded and unwanted.
When you are busy chitchatting with your friends about an upcoming event, I am left standing there twiddling my thumbs praying the pastor hurries up and tells us to sit down. A visitor is a fish out of water. A handshake and hello does not invite them in for a swim. Now some of you may be saying I need to make an effort and just join a group. While that thought is nice in theory, in practice there are very few people that will actually on their own step out of their comfort zone and join a group. For most people just being brave enough to visit a church is placing them way outside their comfort zone. It is up to the church members to reach out and invite the visitors to experience their church on a deeper and more personal level. Don’t say to yourself, well we have a committee to do that. Or we have people that do a follow up call. It is the responsibility of every believer to try and make that connection.
So next time you have those moments to greet people or share the peace, take the time to get their name and find something out about them. If you don’t have time, make sure you get them before they walk out of the sanctuary. Invite them to something. Get their email, give them your email. Get out of your comfort zone and make your church not just a friendly place but an inviting place.
Today I took a break get in sewing and turned on a Hallmark movie. The cast list said Willie Ames was in it. In the above photo he is the boy on the far right and if my memory serves me right, he was a teen heartthrob. And here he was playing the father of an adult daughter. He has gray hair and wrinkles! How could that be? So I looked him up on IMDB (internet movie database) and there in black and white it says he is 55.
55, he can’t be 55 because I’m only …. wait, I’m 56. How did that happen? I could have sworn I was 36 or maybe 46, but no. Right there on my driver’s license it says I am 56. I’m no fool. I know I look my age but I definitely don’t feel my age. Now I don’t feel like a teenager but I certainly don’t feel 56, whatever that is supposed to feel like. I know I don’t feel old enough to get a senior discount or an AARP discount.
I will admit that sometimes I will use age as an excuse. It’s a feeble one. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book at 65. Grandma Moses started painting at 70. Julia Child didn’t begin her TV career until age 51. Vera Wang didn’t enter fashion until 40. Carol Gardner of Zelda Wisdom a $50 million greeting card business didn’t start until she was 52. And there is a long list of people that were busy succeeding and living at 90 and beyond.
So I have to remove age from the table of excuses. It is no longer a card I can play. (Unless of course I can get a discount). 🙂
Recently I read about the misconnect that happens when middle-aged adults enter into the online dating scene. I can’t remember where I read it but it was completely accurate.
The premise is that for most of us the last time we were dating, we were significantly younger probably in our 20s. I know it is true for me. There was no computer dating options. Now when we sign up and go online our head says I’m young. Our heart says I feel young. The same is true for men and women.
So we look at the photos and groan. These are old men. These are old women. This could be my dad or granddad. This could be my mom or my grandmother. I can’t possibly be in this age group, let me double check. Ugh it’s true. These old people are my contemporaries. It bites. It’s frustrating because society (yes it’s true whether you like it or not) give men much more leeway when choosing a partner. Men can easily marry someone much younger with little to no comment and they can marry down educationally and economically with no one saying a thing. My ex is a perfect example. He has partnered down in age, economics and education. He can because he is a man and he makes a lot of money. As I’ve always told my girls you never see a young woman with an old poor man. Money talks. Especially when it comes to dating and remarrying later in life. I suppose if I made a lot of money I would have a slightly broader choice but society still keeps women in a narrower role.
If I were to marry a younger man who had no children, people would feel bad for him because he was giving up his chance for children of his own. If I married someone with less education and less money, I would hear she must be desperate. I know times change but change is slow and I don’t believe this will change until women can have children into their 50s and 60s. An old man can marry a woman of child bearing age and still give her a family. The reverse is not true. And please do not lecture me on invitro, egg donation, adoption etc. This is an orange to orange comparison not an apple to orange one.
So I wasted $75 to join an online dating site where I now have my profile hidden. And I expect it to stay hidden until I can connect my young mind and heart to the reality of my age.
I am a collector of books. Typically I read every book I buy but sometimes I buy a book that requires interaction. This summer I purchased the above Experience Passport from Chronicle Books. It gives 45 ways to broaden your horizon without going anywhere. Since my life circumstances have changed, it is unlikely I will be doing any extensive traveling again. I thought this looked like a way to have fun and push myself out of the cocoon I have created for myself.
Some of the suggestions are easier to accomplish than others but all will open up my life to new possibilities. You don’t have to do them in any particular order. I’ve done #2, #7 and #26. I will share some of the things I learn while using my experience passport. Care to travel with me?
#26 Favorite quotes from an award winning piece of fiction. I will share one quote from Still Life by Louise Penny.
“Life is change. If you aren’t growing and evolving, you’re standing still and the rest of the world is surging ahead.”
A deviation of God be with you
More comforting words
To hear as you walk away
Never to know if you’ll be together again.
Never enough time to say Farewell
Never prepared to say Farewell
Never want to say Farewell
But Farewell and God be with you it is
I believe we are all aware that we learn lessons as we go through life. Some are obvious like; look both ways before crossing the street or foul language is not appropriate. But what about all of the lessons we learn unknowingly through our interactions with the people around us? For me lesson #1 to unlearn is:
Compliments people give you are never really genuine and can not be trusted to be true.
Growing up I don’t remember a time when I received a compliment that someone in my circle of family or friends didn’t find someway to discount what was said. If someone told me I was pretty and I shared that, I didn’t hear; I think so too or they are right or how lovely. I heard; well you could look like a monkey for all I know but I’d still love you. What does a child hear? The compliments can’t be trusted. I could give many examples but the point is I was taught to close myself off from any positive comments. I learned people don’t give genuine heartfelt comments and when I receive nice words, I should immediately disregard them.
How has this affected me? I have closed myself off from letting people love me. I’ve filtered out all the nice comments and have only let the criticism come through. No wonder I am so self criticial and struggle with believing in myself.
So for 2016, the first lesson I am going to teach myself is this;
Compliments given from people are genuine and can be trusted to be true.
I’ve been a talker my entire life. So much so it’s become a reoccurring joke with my family and friends. I always thought I chattered away because I was nervous and wanted to fill the empty space. Recently another possibility was presented to me. Do I talk too much so I don’t have to recognize what I am feeling? Do I use words to cover up my emotions?
I think there is a real chance this is true. When I was married, knowing in my gut my husband wasn’t faithful and I struggled with insecurity, I talked. If was busy talking I didn’t have to admit I was feeling insecure and why. If I admitted my husband wasn’t faithful then I would have to do something about it.
When I am in a social setting and feel like a square peg in a round hole, I chatter. I don’t have to admit I’m feeling scared or worried about being accepted. The words delay having to deal with my emotions.
Just as some people withdraw into themselves to ignore their emotions, I talk over mine. It’s time I’m quiet and listen to the sounds of my heart.
I’ve always heard they we have a twin somewhere in the world. No one has ever said I look like someone they know or someone famous but my daughters are told they look like two actresses. And they must because there is never any variation. It is always the same two actresses.
You can even find photos online of stars that look eerily similar to another star. Then there are the stories of families that swear a new child is a dead relative’s reincarnation. If your doppelgänger is someone bad does that mean you might share the same characteristics? The same evil soul? It would be interesting to find out how many traits look-a-likes actually share. So what do you think of the doppelgänger in the photo I posted? Eerily alike don’t you think? She even has a huge wart. My photo is posted after this photo. Do I have a doppelgänger?
A hand gripped her heart, squeezing, refusing to let go. Her only choice was to grab the bottle of Xanax. It would be the only way she would be able to get through this evening. An evening surround by her old life, her old friends with the reminder this would never be hers again.
The bride a woman who was taking a step down that unknown path of marriage. All this woman could see is the red headed baby girl she helped welcome into the world. Escorted down the aisle by her parents, the parents who were friends but had abandon this lonely guest when the divorce happened.
The reception. The unexpected on slaught of faces which she doesn’t remember. Wondering how after all this time they could remember her, her name but their faces, their names held no place in her memory. Having to explain that no she was no longer married and seeing faces full of pity and shock when she said her ex was an alcoholic and sexual predator, which left her with no option but divorce. Explaining homelessness was just months away.
Left alone at the table as happy couples dance, a stabbing reminder she is on the outside. An untouchable now, no longer part of any plans for the future. No happiness or joy in her future.
The wine, followed by more wine mingling with the Xanax to create a sense of who gives a damn, certainly not this unloved woman. Faces across the room she longed to see, to speak to but knew the importance of remaining in her seat. They had the need to shield themselves from the truth of her pain and their failure to be there when she needed them.
The casual promises to stay in touch, knowing they were empty words. Feeling the emptiness in a room full of people, full of love and full of life. How can someone be so alone when surrounded by so many? A mirage, nothing but the timeless illusion couples go through only to find life isn’t a happily ever after tale. It’s a path full of road blocks, potholes, turns and yes sometimes unexpected joy or unexpected heart break.
The wedding. The people. The love. The emptiness. The mirage. Life.