Old, wrinkled and happy?

“Life is like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get.” Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks)

As much as Americans are obsessed with living longer, it’s amazing how many people don’t want to be “old.” As a group, we will nip and tuck, weproxy.duckduckgo.jpgar rhinestones all over our backsides, dye our hair pink. Anything to not look old.

That’s why I laughed out loud when I saw the new ad for Dove dark chocolates. (And, no, I am not sponsored. I just love chocolate and good storytelling.) It’s a mini novel that begins with a little girl waking up in a room whose bedside table is topped with a couple of pink chocolate wrappers.

As French songstress Edith Piaf sings in the background (Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien), the girl’s story progresses rapidly from adolescent to young woman to old woman. We see her, in the same blue dress, playfully enjoying life every step of the way. At the end, the woman, now aged like a fine piece of silver, pops a chocolate into her mouth and looks at her wrinkled-yet-beautiful self in delight.

“Live each day as if it’s the only one,” the ad wraps up.

I guess there’s only so far you can take this advice. Pursuing pleasure to the point of doing whatever we want can land us in a heap of trouble, now and in eternity. But, there is great wisdom in actually living, one day at a time, and enjoying every season of life as it comes.

Kudos, Dove ad creators and Mars candy, for capturing such a life-affirming sentiment so beautifully. If you would like to see this ad, it is viewable at https://www.ispot.tv/ad/Arrw/dove-chocolate-each-and-every-day-song-by-edith-piaf.

family life

Secrets from my children

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Benjamin Franklin, “Poor Richard’s Almanack”

She almost caught me. Just when I was looking longingly at a newspaper circular for elastic-waisted pants — the mom jeans to end all mom jeans — my youngest daughter strolled through the kitchen. I flipped the paper over in a flurry. I didn’t want a horrified, “Moooom!” that early in the morning.

If she has her way, I will be wearing jeans that lift this, enhance that until I am dead and, quite possibly, beyond. Little does she know my little secret, however. (Imagine a devious smile here.) For several years, I have been buying all my jeans a size too big and altering the waist so they don’t slide down. Fashionable? Yes. Comfortable? Oh, yeah.

Ditto on the shoes. Shhhh! There are no pointy toes in my closet and there never will be. I’ve got boots, flats, sandals and on and on. Everything a younger woman might have. But, no pointy toes. (I also have Birkenstock knock offs that I wear with socks, but she can’t say a thing as these are oddly fashionable with teens at the moment. Go figure.)

It’s not that one’s children really need to know everything about their parents anyway. The fact that the palm I just re-potted and tucked into the corner of the kitchen came out of a neighbor’s garbage pile is none of their business, for example. “Help me, pleeaassse,” it said. What could I do? The fact I can “hear” plants is similarly my own.

As is my stash of chocolate. Enough said?


family life, spiritual life, women

Be careful what you wish for

“We think we know what we want, but we can never really know until we’ve got it. And sometimes when we have, we discover we never really wanted it in the first place – but then it’s too late.” Alexandra Potter, British novelist

Walking past a computer where a daughter was checking out another Sims 4 player’s virtual household the other day was a surprise. There, alongside a video-playing teen and a toddler eating a peanut butter sandwich right on the couch, was a virtual me. Or, the virtual future me, should I be so blessed.

I stood and watched a good five minutes the resemblance was so astonishing. Tall. The same wild, curly bob — although hers was white and mine is still dishwater. Same granola clothes. Same house decor. Same habits and hobbies.

It was odd, seeing my potential future self in action. But, I liked it. I would, in fact, consider it a gift from God to age into that cool-clothes, strong-bodied, natural-haired woman. Bring it on! (OK, not quite yet. Especially the grandchildren eating peanut butter on the couch part, please Jesus.)

It was also the absolute opposite of another touchstone that is in my life. When I was 25, a co-worker had a side hustle writing career biographies for a textbook company. I was “small-city journalist” for one edition. As I have moved through adulthood, I’ve kept a copy handy. I can see what I looked, lived and worked like, down to exactly what I ate for lunch. (The latter is a reminder that I had no money and that there’s a reason I weigh 15 pounds more now.)

More interesting, however, are my comments about why I wanted to stay at a medium-sized newspaper even though I was within commuting distance of Chicago, my commitment to living near family and my hopes to marry and have children even if it meant major adjustments to my career.

At 25, that’s what I hoped for and my day-to-day actions followed suit. There have been some detours and surprises along the way, but at way more than 25, that’s exactly what I’ve got. So, it stands to reason that if the groovy grammy is what I’m hoping for and pointing my actions toward, that may very well be what God has in store.

It’s a truth I’ve lived long enough to learn: What you wish for is often what you get. So, my e-friends, I can’t help asking: Are you pointed where you want to go? Truly? If you’re not, don’t do something crazy like walk out on your family, but do make a GPS-style maneuver and recalculate your path. Even if you are smack in the middle of a degree program. Even if you are in the middle of a career that pays out the wazoo.

Even if — make that especially if — your final hope is anything less than God’s glorious heaven. All the other choices of life aside, if there’s breath, it’s still not too late to recalculate that path!



A senior-discount moment

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” Robert Frost, American poet

The conversation went something like this… “Are you over 55?” the perky 20-something asked. Cue deer-in-the-headlights look on my part. “No,” I answered, more politely than I felt. “Well, we’ll just say you are,” she said, waving cheerfully toward my mother, who was the one who would actually be drinking the coffee in question.

It was clear I would have to wrestle the server to the ground to get the senior discount off the cash-register screen. I refrained — even though I know I could have taken her — which only goes to show the heart-sanctifying power of Jesus.

Then, mom and I, fortified with our cut-rate caffeine, made our way to the eye-glass store. There, in a nod to an impressive new decade of age, she purchased perhaps the jazziest pair of specs I have ever seen. Translucent royal-blue horn rims with thick ear pieces in a faux tortoise-shell pattern that includes more of the royal blue in addition to brown and cream.

The conversation went something like this… “Does she want holographic, laser-resistant coating with built-in Bluetooth and GPS … or plastic?” the perky 30-something optician asked me. “Well, now, I don’t know,” I said, turning to the person who was actually purchasing the specs. “Will you be posting selfies, tweeting or finding your way to the nearest American Eagle while wearing these things?”

Mom just smiled. Clearly, only one of us is getting testy in old age.

I laugh, sort of, but realizing that others perceive me as having reached a certain age — or beyond — is actually a bit of a relief.

It’s kind of like that point in pregnancy when the rubber-band-through-the-waist-button-hole trick is clearly no longer going to cut it and you are going to put on clothing that has odd elastic panels in odd places. That day, you walk out of the house knowing that everybody else now knows you are pregnant, with a capital “P,” not simply getting thick through the middle. And, you let your round little belly be as round as it wants to. Happy sigh.

So, look out world, if you want to give me cheap coffee because I have some smile crinkles, I’m in. I am also available to pontificate as to the best way to do just about anything. And, to ask children — young legs and all — to run up and down the stairs to get things I’ve forgotten. And, to wear outrageously bright glasses if I want to. And, I do.

Happy sigh.







family life

Silver slippers

“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.” Maya Angelou, American poet

Growing up is on my mind these days. Our oldest daughter is in one of those times of transition. Not a full-blown commencement, a job or an engagement — just something big enough to make us sit up and take notice that she is practically a woman.

Last night, it was all about the silver slippers. They’re pewter really, with just enough sheen that they have some zing but not so much that they’d look at home on a 1970s disco floor. Sling backs. A heel that’s somewhat higher than a kitten but no where near a stiletto. A delicate bow on each toe. Classy. And, very, very grown up.

I held my breath when she rose from her chair and headed to the front of the room wearing them, but I didn’t need to. She can walk in these shoes, these silvery, pewtery slippers. Quite well. So very, very grown up. And, isn’t that what we’ve always wanted for her, for our other daughter, as well?

Children are lovely. Teens are lovely, as well. If that is what you are, be that with great joy. But, the world also needs its share of grown ups, especially in a time when so many people simply refuse to function as fully-formed men and women.

This Peter Pan syndrome is all around us. Women doing bizarre things to their faces and bodies in an attempt to look like something other than what they are — grown ups. Men who are old enough to qualify for AARP still flitting from woman to woman, leaving a child here or there. Young adults in their 20s and 30s avoiding grown-upness in favor of a never-ending pursuit of degrees. Adults of every age, race and social status turning to a pill or an injection rather than dealing with life as it is.

It’s even in the church world. The church ladies portrayed so humorously by comedian Dana Carvey are nearly gone. There are few willing to organize a potluck dinner, let alone share sage advice and spiritual wisdom earned the hard way.

So, although I’m in no hurry for my daughters to grow up, I really, really want them to do just that. The world will need them, silver slippers and all.