Once upon a time…


Once upon a time i turned fifty .

This beautiful chandelier was at a Air B& B home we rented  on my 50th Birthdayūüėć for a weekend and just chilled out relaxing in it. It was in the country, in Oklahoma. But I loved it. Never considered myself a country girl. But the laid-blackness and old charm gave me a nostalgic feelin‚Äô. And the chandelier and art inside the old home just gave me warm fuzzies.

You see, I’m realizing life in my fifties is defining a new me. I was afraid to make a decision today, that involved my future . And I started thinking- Wow, do I want this!?

…Or this?

Becoming 50….was like a huge deal! And then came 51 and 52 wasn‚Äôt far away… my fifties have caused me to look at life so differently.

i mean just the other day I was thinking about what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. And I thought about pursuing professional goals. I realized with all my experience I could take some tall strides and reach for more. Or I could begin to build towards my dream .

And the dream is paramount, right now. Then I remembered who I’m partnered with and realizes he has a dream quite similar to my own.

So… the dream wins .

I guess for me.. the fifties are all about me. And being me is a challenging job sometimes. Where I find joy and what makes me smile is what I will partake of more… and that‚Äôs pretty cool for me, right now. Fifties are defining me.

And… i am so cool with that!

 

Birthdays, Smiles, Joys & Even Some Sorrow. #50DaystoFifty

This past weekend was possibly the longest I’ve ever had. I lost my father in law. We didn’t expect it , and there was a wall of grief around us as I determined to enjoy my birthday weekend. Two days later I turned 50.

Some may say when grief impacts a weekend that’s supposed to be joyful and celebratory, and then … to celebrate, when we’re supposed to be grieving, it’s just—- wrong.

I disagree.

Grief is supposed to involve emotion.

It’s supposed to be embraced. To grieve means to express sorrow. And that, I did. With close friends and also the love . The love for my love one, the love for my life lived fully, to fifty. I expressed my love for learning and living 50 years; and yet welcomed the joy of its arrival. I expressed, embraced and enjoyed it all.

To the FULL.

And considering that this YEAR my word for 2017 was “Embrace“; I had to challenge myself to do more, be more, reach for more. I knew year 50 would never come again, & if I were to be present with my grief, then I must receive all that was for me in that moment.

Yes…Grief impacted me, the pain, the loss, the sadness, yet I also celebrated the life of a man and how he lived it to the very moment of turning it over; to the turning of a century over my life. Wow. Almost cataclysmic emotion, it was. To experience such highs and lows in only a few days. A new page, a new era for myself, a life to celebrate & memories left behind to share with friends & family….all rolled into one.

I can smile. I can embrace this life with all its sudden and exclamatory emotion, and STILL be at peace with God, my family and myself.

Yes …because this life And...his life… was celebratory, too.

Selah.

¬† 8. Oh Jesus…50!! #50DaysToFifty

FB489488-B3B2-45C1-99AC-3BE930B95659Yeah so when I was a little girl I really thought fifty was a big deal. I thought 50 year olds were old. When my mom turned fifty, I remember asking her questions like: ‚ÄúSo how does it feel?‚ÄĚ And she‚Äôd say: ‚ÄúOh, it doesn‚Äôt feel much different than a year ago.‚ÄĚ I could never see myself as almost or even near fifty, and if I did make it there, I thought it would¬†be a miracle.

And so..
Now I am here.
And all the more WONDERFUL  that I am.
Amazing. I still haven’t figured out if LIFE slows down, or “I” just have slowed down a bit. I think it’s me.
Now I can seem to appreciate all that’s around me and even¬†“value” differently if I want to. I still enjoy helping folk. I thought at some point in my life, that would become less interesting , and I wouldn’t want nor desire to be a social worker/ counselor/ mental health therapist , anymore.
But it didn’t change.
It just became a bit sweeter. And the job more refined. Feels good.
As I was writing this, I realized not everyone feels the same about getting older. Some are depressed, some are really just feeling awful about it, and others are just like :¬†” Can’t I just be 35 again?” I actually enjoy again. First of all, I can‚Äôt do anything to reverse it, and as long as I have a cool partner to hang with, I‚Äôm good.
Well, I just noticed that the reason I feel so good about gaining another year, and actually arriving here, is because I don’t take life for granted. I just really, really appreciate my life, my family,¬†and my friends and all the fluff in between. I don’t have a lot of fluff, but it sure feels good to think like I can ‘create’ some fluff’, every now and then.
Here’ what’s wonderful about fifty:
  • The fact I can be myself. With no explanations.
  • The fact that I am ME. Purely Myself, and I like myself. And who I‚Äôm becoming.
  • The fact that life at this age, you kind of know what to expect. It doesn’t really get any easier, and it really doesn’t get any harder, either.
  • The fact that I have an empty nest, and have had one most of my life And it’s OK.
  • The fact that life is GOOD. I like keeping it simple, here.
  • The fact I have lived my life in such a way that I ¬†look younger than 50; and ¬†being quite content with that.
  • That all my nieces and nephews have grown up and I get to see what they’ve become.
  • The fact that I can see what miniatures of them look like, now as well.
  • The fact I can do #Netflix&chill …and be OK with just about a few eves a week.¬†¬†( Why do we put the words ‘Netflix and chill’, together?” ) (What’s that about?)¬†¬†

I think my joy for living and helping others truly live and thrive – is what keeps me going. Someone, somewhere is often way worse off than I am, and I think it’s what keeps me going in the field in which I work, the life that I live, I know this. And I’m not doing all that bad, I guess.’

Again, ¬† just so you know… ¬†I ¬†will be ¬†writing ¬†about ¬† my ¬†“fifty days to fifty” series until ¬†I am done. ¬†I’ll be ¬†fifty a ¬†while, so.. ¬†stay tuned. ūüėČ

again,

7. #50DaysToFifty: Daily Rejuvenation At Fifty

Daily Rejuvenation At fifty! It’s Possible.

And Quite Necessary, as well.

Well the best thing about fifty, is you can rest and relax and no one has to really tell you to do that.
If are still in that phase of running to get it all done… let me tell you… You may “get it done”, yet “not without a costly expense. ”
I have learned rest and recuperation are some of the most underrated issues there are, in life.
I wish everyone KNEW how spontaneous and how grand they really are, in the scheme of things.

For instance, I really remember going through a hard time a few years ago, when I first moved to Denton Texas. I had just relocated, just found a new job, and was recently married after that first year there. I was DONE. I tried so hard to regulate my life and realized there was no regulation to be made. I would come home so exhausted, I would sleep then wake up and fix dinner very late because I was too exhausted to do it when I got home, then stay up til very late, staring at the ceiling, because I WAS TOO EXHAUSTED TO GO TO SLEEP! That was my evening,.. every evening, for about six months. I was so done with life, and wondered:” Isn’t there more to life and living? When does it all end.” On top of that, I began to ave to contend with someone at work who was counter-attacking everything I said or did, and I was just not happy working anymore where I was working. And that was HUGE… because I thought I had found a pretty good job and been there for a while.

You body sort of reminds you – “its time to shut down. ” It does in a number of ways:
It may be that really hard thing you found hard to swallow last week, and could not find the peace, to safe you life.
It could have been coming back from a disciplined walk with God where he showed you just how ‘kept’ you were in a season you didn’t even realize it. But now, all you want to do is rest.

I remember a time where God rejuvenated me.
I was literally a time of finding grace. It’s so funny, though – the places where we find grace, rarely are we ever looking for it.

Grace-calls-us-to-own-weakness_Paul-David-Tripp.jpg

But DID I find my own strength!
Yes there. In that quote, above. ¬†I found the things I didn’t take time to do we’re not done, and robbing me of my true strength.
I found out my strength was in :

Saying NO. ūüėČ

RESTING….or introvertiing. I would do whatever it took to calm me – (writing in my journal, praying… dumping , getting new perspective) … (but it definitely involved emptying out – not putting anything in me.)

Nature Walking. Too often I’ve found pleasure in simply sun, and fresh air.¬†NAPPING. Nothing like a power nap, iLike milk, it just does a body good.

Leaving work AT WORK.

Having a movie friend. I have one friend who has time once a month to go to the movies. (Do you know how many don’t have time to do the movies? And sometimes, I will even go I’ve found I enjoy independent and vintage films.)

Drinking TEA and finding the first few moments to relax my very being by walking, getting a nature walk in, or just spending time in QUIET.
READING for pleasure.
– And on some days I would just go to straight to my room, lay down and talk to GOD. He always listened. Some days he’d just fill me with peace, other days He’d allow me to find something I lived to do, and couple that with something I needed to do – like ‘music with cooking’… and other days He’d just let me sleep for an hour. I learned moderation in these days and hours – this season of my life. I learned how to MANAGE MY LIFE. When my life felt managed I felt like I was in control of it. When It didn’t feel manged – I began to “Feel like it was controlling ME”. And I didn’t want life to control me. I decided at that time,; Life would NEVER control me. I would CONTROL IT, to the best of my ability and I would hold the reigns. SO far, so good. I didn’t realize I had to lose all control of my life and its ability to sustain me, before I would begin to learn how to keep it managed.

I learned that rest for me, does not look like what rest looks like for everyone else.i

What’s your true strength?

A lot of times it’s just seeking something that makes you happy, and doing it over and over again.

(Hmm…I bet you can do that.,)

6. #50DaysToFifty: Joy At 50. Do Your Hearts Work.

IMG_20170826_222550Ava Duvernay inspires me. As I get older and wiser, I look to women like her, to inspire me. Strong, Powerful Black Woman, who doesn’t forget the skin she’s in. ¬†That has brought to light (on film) what the discrepancies are that exist between Blacks and Whites (in the Netflix movie 13th); and even giving insight as to why those disparities exist.

I’ve been contemplating on My Hearts Work, lately. Then one day on Instagram, Ava spoke to it.

Ava says:¬†“‚Ä™Before I was able to be a full-time filmmaker, I was a weekend warrior. Writing and shooting whenever I could. It’s Saturday. Do your heart’s work.‚Ĩ #onward xo”

When I was young, I ¬†used to want to be a librarian. ¬†My dad was a librarian for over ¬†thirty ¬†years. ¬†When I ¬†was little, my first memories acquainted with work was going to ¬†work with dad, and mom. ¬† I ¬†would ¬†ride with my dad on the Bookmobile, ¬†and ¬† travel to communities ¬† giving out ¬†books to ¬†the elderly, at ¬†nursing homes, and ¬†also ¬†community ¬†centers and ¬†other fun places where kids ¬†hung out. ¬†It was awesome I learned how to ¬†check out ¬†books so well, ¬†I decided I would work at the library for a while, and ¬†it was one of my first jobs! ¬†with mom, ¬†she was a ¬†teacher, so ¬†going ¬†to work with her and ¬†her classroom and on ¬† field trips, was the norm! ¬†It was ¬†exciting… but I knew I didn’t want to be ¬† a ¬†teacher. ¬†I did want to ¬† work with ¬†kids in some ¬†capacity, but I wasn’t sure how. ¬†I ¬†did like seeing them achieve, ¬† ¬†and pouring on the ¬†accolades.

Well… I ¬†didn’t ¬†quite become ¬†the librarian, but in college , ¬†it was always my work study ¬†choice. ¬†ALWAYS. ¬† Not ¬†because it was ¬†easy, it was ¬† quiet. ¬†and I loved ¬† quiet, and I also loved ¬†reading and ¬†researching. ¬†So it was fun. ¬†I ¬† had ¬†many ¬† ¬†libraries where I ¬†rejoiced ¬†in complete ¬† quiet and ¬†did my ¬†job. ¬†Quietly. ¬†I know ¬† — total introvert, right? ¬†Yep.

But mom’s ¬†job ¬†did ¬†sort of ¬† ¬†rub off on me. ¬†I became a ¬†social worker and ¬†guess where my longest running ¬† job was? ¬†In a ¬†elementary ¬†school. ¬†I did some high school in there , too. ¬†Loved working with kids ¬†as a social worker. ¬† They loved me too. ¬†Kids are so unconditional. ¬† They are also very ¬†faithful when you love on them. ¬†Love that about kids. ¬† I ¬†was able to ¬†mark this part of my life as a ¬†legacy ¬†leaver. I wanted to ¬†absolutely ¬† impact kids lives, but I also wanted to ¬†be ¬†one who impacted their parents, all the more. ¬† ¬†And ¬†so…. ¬†I became a counselor to ¬†and for ¬†families. ¬†In the substance abuse and addictions ¬†field. ¬†That’s where I am ¬†now. ¬† I am sort of loving helping moms ¬†to ¬†reconnect with their ¬†children. ¬†After years of neglect. ¬†Helping restore those families. ¬†Not sure if you know ¬† this about me, but I am ¬†a child of ¬†an alcoholic. ¬† Been there. ¬†Done that. ¬† ¬† Up ¬†until the age of eleven. ¬†My ¬†family ¬†went ¬†through some things that were rather challenging. ¬†But ¬†God….

My job…It’s ¬†rather rewarding and its ¬†also very ¬†cathartic. ¬† ¬†Kind of ¬†cleansing. ¬† Purifying work. ¬† Yeah… that’s it. ¬†It helps me feel …”full”. ¬† ¬† I ¬†guess ¬†that’s JOY, ¬†huh? ¬†Awesome. ¬†Guess ¬†I’ve ¬†come full circle. ¬†This kind of ¬†restoration is paramount in making me who ¬† I am, and ¬†who ¬†also I will be ¬†in the future. ¬† I ¬† dont have biological ¬†children, ¬†but I do have step ¬†children who need ¬†restoration. ¬† To a ¬† natural father and ¬† biological one. ¬†Yes, indeed. ¬†And I am ¬†ready ¬†to ¬† work it out.

So yeah..soon I’ll be 50 and I want to be known as a’ legacy leaver’ of ¬†Joy. I want to be one who pursued my dreams and people said the followed and found the same. I will keep dreaming as long as I live. If there where God has inspired me most with my dreams.‚̧¬†He has made the hardest one, come true. And turned it into a forever memory.

Surely , He can do more than this.

I’m in expectation.

Worthiness.

Am I worthy?

How do I know?

What I base my  worth upon?

I  began to ask myself these  questions about  my worth when  I   was about thirty five.  I  didn’t stop til I washabout 38.

I used to base it upon   what my ex-husband  thought was  good and acceptable.  Even after I left him. And then, what my girlfriends  considered important, or…  my parents. Even as an adult, I based  my worth upon these people in my life.   I would think whatever anyone important to me thought was  important, it was also important to me, as well.

But I was so wrong.  I matured a bit, and found that  my worth is based more upon things that  God  finds worthy.  God gave me gifts , and one of the was the ability to   trust my instincts.  So…lately, it’s been my ability to discern . I had a very  hard time trusting myself, when  I was  the age of 37.  Then , one day, that all shifted.  and I decided to began to prioritize myself . I made some decisions with my purpose  and intentions in mind and I began to  ask myself what I wanted.

One of the  most fearful decisions in my life, was to move on. To not be in relationship with someone, who I truly cared for .  The only issues I had with this, was that I had to decide  how to  love myself more than I loved him.  I realized once I  loved myself fully,  ( I came to this revelation much later and longer after I had left him), that  loving  me felt really good, and  relationships could not dictate my worth. I would not  and could not control  how someone accepts me; and I actually had to grieve this relationship, even if I was not ready for it to end .  The other relationship… Was similar … I didn’t expect that one to end either , but I was confident it was time to end . I wasn’t grateful for these relationships to come to an end, yet they were purposed to do so.

I was so afraid to make a mistake when I decided  something, I thought if I did, my whole life would disintegrate.  I didn’t trust my own thinking.  And so I began to look at the source of that, to determine where I lost the ability to think for me. I realized my fear– “frozen fear”  discounted my worth. That I could not make decisions for myself unless I  first realized I was worthy of those  decisions.     And that  confident place of  worth had to come from deep down, so I asked  God where –  had I neglected myself  and why? And I began even to look at my family of origin and notice patterns of  family neglect and I prayed very hard for those patterns to leave my life.

My relationships were central to my worth in my past, and the relationships that didn’t allow me the freedom to live and  choose for myself –taught me I needed to make a few personal changes.l, and challenge myself differently with how I deserved to be treated . Those changes  taught me I needed to  change a few things about my relationships in general.

I’d like to share here those lessons learned :

1. Don’t filter a relationship  gone wrong as a rejection of you as an individual.  Don’t view it as a rejection.   You should filter it through the guise of  transparency. h If your esteem and worth isn’t higher, when you leave it because you stood for integrity and your values; then the person you were – may have lost a piece of you, in the process of being a part of it. If confusion and setting of goals and ambition disappeared, perhaps the person in that relationship was not healthy. Hopefully, you will be reminded of the truth and  realize that  you are better off believing the truth, rather than the  lies.

2. Don’t ‘force’ relationships to exist. If they aren’t going well , or end up  abruptly and unexpectedly ending, receive it. Let it go. It may have a lesson of release in it, but you’ll never know what it was, or wasn’t , until you decide to fully let it go and can independently evaluate what the lesson is, to learn. Some intimate relationships are meant to be friendships, some are lessons and others are keepers. The keepers cause you to maintain and increase in self-love. You shouldn’t ‘ t lose self-love when you’re forced to take a look a good, honest, look at yourself.

3. Choices come to us  every day. If we don’t let go , we stifle the growth. And sometimes growth needs to happen  through the conduit of surrender. Without our resistance.  And without our interruption. Selah.

4.  As you release… you will feel awful. Even in the grieving process … Accept. Grief comes as resolve when you are able to fully surrender. If you don’t surrender, you become stagnant  and sometimes you;ll go back if you resist the release. Grief, however, matures you, immensely , once you get to the acceptance phase. It’s a Teacher. Grief teaches you the blessing of embracing sorrow. And sorrow,once embraced, offers so much clarity.

5. Be angry. Yell, scream release . Then yell… Scream .. & release again. Do this 20 or more times, until you feel less stifled. Even if you must have a silent scream  Silent screams help too. I  recently took a silent scream within, ( I just couldn’t get it out)… and then I walked in the cold air, breathed and took some of the most beautiful pics I’d  ever taken before. Hmmm… (Maybe my silent scream turned into breathable breaths; because I found another release.) Believe me, though I had to breathe to SAVE my life.

6. Prioritize Your Worth . Oh yeah… The worth came once I moved into acceptance. Because I knew that the decisions I made were in a spirit of integrity; and  I knew  I was in full consideration, of  everyone involved  but me – I had to back track and ask myself – Jenn, …Do you deserve this? And most of my answers were a resounding YES. I completely let go… and  I decided I didn’t want to carry their baggage around with me, any more .

Sometimes complex relationship can confuse you into believing that  something is wrong with YOU. If the integrity factor weighs strong and you know all you have to the relationship was out of the goodness of your heart and for the  sake of being your best self, then you’re fine. If you experience oppression in your heart, feel weighted, or its way too painful , then you may need to process and heal from the experience with a counselor mentor or friend Don’t underestimate the power of a healthy heart lending an ear and – listening in to your struggle.

And one more thing… this is a wonderful time to RECEIVE. To just be around good, fun-lovin’ people, every chance you get. It balances off all the unhealthy stuff.

I’m linking up with the #GiveMEGrace Community!