women

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.

books, women, writing

Got build?

“Be patient! The Great Wall didn’t got build in one day.” today’s actual fortune cookie wisdom

God certainly has a sense of humor. If otters weren’t enough to prove that, my odd career trajectory would. There is absolutely no other way to explain why, almost four years ago, a journalist would sit down to write a romance novel, actually do so,debbienora.jpeg and Debbie Macomber would come alongside a few months later to help move things along.

Yeah, that Debbie Macomber. If you are not familiar with the queen of clean romance, or romance in general, this is a lot like a novice horror writer being befriended by Stephen King. Staggering. Gobsmacking. Miraculous enough to make one laugh with joy.

The first time we spoke — an incident prompted by an unlikely series of events that included a TV cop show that turned itself on in the middle of the night — my heart was pounding so hard I could actually hear it in my head. Whoosh, whoosh. Whoosh, whoosh.

As we’ve gotten to know each other over the last three years, however, her real star power has come to the forefront. Beyond the sales (more than 200 million books in print and more than 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list), beyond the Mark Twain-like humor and the Steve Jobs-like business acumen — there is an exceptionally decent woman. A Christian woman, in fact.

She’s suggested. She’s referred her favorite how-to books on scene pacing — slooooow down, deadline writer. She’s pointed me toward critical contacts inside the daunting labyrinth of the publishing industry. She’s been wise enough to let me fumble through the big decisions and the ever-present doubt and fear, pointing me to God instead of her own considerable industry know-how. In short, she’s stuck around as more than a mentor. She’s a friend.

That truly came home this weekend, when we met in person for the first time. She, one woman from her team of experts and I sat at a lunch table and strategized as to how I can enact a homespun version of social-media platform expansion that reflects her own. That’s pure Debbie. Graciousness and guidance. Not, “Let me do this for you.” Patience and encouragement. Not, “What were you thinking?”

It’s true. That’s what she’s like. That’s what God’s like. I hope that’s where I’m headed, as well, even if I don’t “got build” in a day.

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!

 

family life, women

Listening to the season 2

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” Anne Frank, writer, hate-resisting firebrand

The other day, our youngest daughter asked me to get something on a high shelf in the kitchen. Our house is old. Our cabinets are exceedingly high, built no doubt for a year’s worth of canned goods. So, I got up on my tip toes and reached in a manner than would impress any yoga instructor. As I have done for the last decade plus.

Then, I sunk back down on my heels. “Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re as big as I am. You get it.” We looked at each other and laughed. It’s true. Anything that is within my reach is now within her reach.

Both of our daughters are now somewhat bigger than I am, in fact. A sudden growth spurt that caused even the older daughter, who hadn’t grown in nearly two years, to move from petites to plain old clothes came upon us this summer. They literally grew like weeds in garden soil, like shelter puppies of mysterious ancestry, like piles of laundry.

So, today, when both of them headed back to school, a bit bleary eyed given the insanity of the hour, they looked more ready than ever. So tall. So grown up. So ready.

Everything is in reach.