Little Big Days

Depending on where you live, Big Days can arrive in some very specific ways. The first snow/the first sign of melting snow; the first minus 30 degree temperature/the first relief from 100 degrees; the first day without rain/the first day of rain after a drought. Relatively modest things that nonetheless make a difference, that cause us to sit up and take notice for a bit – and smile.

 

I live in Minnesota, so that’s what it was like yesterday as I checked the week’s temperatures and saw that we won’t go below 40 at night. And that the 60’s and even a couple of 70’s are going to show up as daytime highs. Eureka! The Big Thing, though, was not just the improving temperatures.

 

The Big Thing for yesterday was that it had become time to remove the massive patio-door sized plastic covering that has graced my – you’ve got it – patio door all winter. Eureka!

 

That nearly-invisible plastic sheeting was the Big Thing that kept my electric bill in hand all winter. Thank you for your service. Now it’s neatly wrapped up and put away for another year’s usefulness. Unless global warming takes a big leap…

 

The sound of plastic being ripped from its sticky tape was music to my ears! And walking out onto my balcony in the chill spring air meant taking that deep, soul-filling breath of freshness and a new season.

 

It went up in November, and for the first time in my life in the North Country (where temperatures always drop below zero in winter), I didn’t take out my hair dryer and let it suck up all the wrinkles and imperfections until the plastic was taught and clear and (nearly) invisible. Meh…I just decided to live with the imperfections.

 

It wasn’t that I was tired of doing this every fall season for the past 30 years (though it does get tiresome…). I was just satisfied enough to have the view interrupted slightly here and there for a few months.

 

Perfection can be a fine thing, especially if you have a wonderful view to look at outside your frigid window/door. I do not have a wonderful view. Good enough…was good enough.

 

The one time that I wanted to gaze outside was the day of the BIG SNOW, when our apartment parking lot was a mass of spinning wheels, shovels and stuck cars. Everything else that I wanted to see this winter I could see clearly from my bedroom window, which was unplasticized.

 

This year, plastic perfection took a hike. The veneer between me and the winter temperatures was my goal, and it did its work valiantly! My writing desk sits in a little cubbyhole right next to the door opening, the biggest space for the winter winds to seep in. But I never suffered from the chills that could  have made the space intolerable.

 

It’s all a part of the graces of elderhood. Some things that seemed necessary – or even imperative – have become seasons of acceptable imperfection and a new satisfaction with laying down what is no longer important.

 

So this was a sweet Big Day. Others will follow. The first days without an outer coat lie before me this weekend. My 78th birthday is on the horizon. My six month blogging anniversary comes up in May. I’ll be having the oil changed from winter to summer weight in my aging van. I’ll be seeing pictures of class reunions on Facebook and sort of wishing I’d decided to go to them…and remember.

 

And live more contentedly with the growing imperfections of these older years. They are surprisingly well balanced by the perfections that still remain.

 

And I find that I’m very okay with that.

Laying it All Down

“What if it’s in laying it all down that we finally receive? What if it’s by surrendering that we show that we believe? What if it’s in letting go that we’re really holding on?” – Nathan Pacheco, tenor, composer, “Laying it All Down.”

 

I created a job for myself when I started this blog: find grace. In later age. Keep looking for it. Tell about it when I find it.

 

Thankfully, the more that I look for the graces in elderhood, the more I seem to find. Isn’t that just how it goes? We tend to find what we’re most earnestly looking for if we search long and hard enough? True. And these graces all seem to have something to do with coming home.

 

Interestingly, coming home often does mean laying things down that have kept us tied to what holds us back. Coming home usually means surrendering some – or maybe a lot – of who we’ve been and what we’ve thought is most important. Coming home can mean letting go of something that has kept us from pursuing a purpose that we’ve been given to live out. Or discovering some new and important truth.

 

Truth, as in: life grows short; best to make the most of it. Don’t fritter away too much of its time. Life is short; don’t take it so seriously that you forget to fritter.

 

Truth, as in: when you can surrender the rest of your self-doubt, your last gifts may turn out to be a blessing that you leave behind. Take up a lost joy within yourself that not only blesses you, but that also encourages those who remain – and then opulently share it.

 

Truth, as in: life is still a gift. Difficult, yes. That’s nothing new. It is gift to surrender any remaining battles which keep your joy from your hungry spirit, or from others.

 

Truth, as in: when you figure out what you need to let go, what things you can now lay down and what you are ready to surrender, you become freer than you’ve ever been.

 

Hold on to what sets you free.

 

The last surrender, the final letting go, the last laying down is yet to come for me. I’m not keeping watch for it, but I suspect that when it does arrive, I’ll find that there is much less baggage to put down.

 

And that is grace!

 

And I’m very okay with that!

 

Doing It for the Love of It

I just finished a big overhaul of my blog site, after having been a rank novice at such things for lo these many months that White Hair Grace has been up and running. And what an adventure this has been!

 

One of the challenges of elderhood, especially when you’re not technically inclined, is to make peace with the reality that technology is all over the place, and some of us have come upon it a bit reluctantly. Out of necessity. I need not elaborate.

 

From my first flip phone (uffda, how long ago was that?!) to my first Apple computer (1996?) to my first Dell and Microsoft and Windows…to my Samsung S9plus…it’s been a heck of a ride! And NONE of it has come easily! But it has come.

 

Now my world is filled with WordPress. And it has been much like starting life over once again. Everything…and I do mean everything is Greek to me! From gravatars to menus to hyperlinks to HTML (I do not go there!!!) to edit to Publish…has been a learning experience. A big hill to climb!!!

 

Setting up and growing my WordPress blog has shown me both how slowly I still learn (folks, it has less to do with age and more to do with my strong right brain which rebels against this kind of stuff!), and yet how determined I have been to get there.

 

One of the graces of elderhood, it turns out, is that if you’ve had a streak of determination most of your life, you still have it now.

 

Years ago I heard this interesting bit of news: “The older we get, the more we become of what we’ve always been.” Crabby becomes crabbier. Cheerful becomes more cheerful. Curiosity becomes even more curious. Boredom becomes even more boring. You get the picture.

 

Now, I know that this isn’t carved in granite, but as I look at myself, I can see it. And one of the things that has become “more of” is this determination. When an idea has locked itself upon my brain, I’m all in.

 

Why else would I sit for hours, my back getting stiffer because I’m hunched over, punching keys and doing the next search on my nearby iPad for the next strange term that I must learn about?

 

It’s never a short, simple answer. I always miss the forest for the trees.

 

But I persevere.

 

When you love something or someone, that’s what you do. You persevere whether you’re good at it or not. You stick it through until the job is done. You put one foot in front of the other because you wouldn’t have it any other way. Because you simply must.

 

We’ve gotten pretty good at that, most of us elders. We’ve learned that we can make it through and find where love and time has led us. And it’s grace every time.

 

And that’s what I’m celebrating today: grace, and three brand new pages added to my home page! With links (I won’t tell you how long it took me to make a simple process a trip to hell and back…). Pictures sized and resized. A new header (my hand is still stiff from all the scrolling through pictures on unsplash) which I found just by looking for pictures that were “blue.”

 

And there is my precious, beautiful blue butterfly on an old worn window, resting in the beauty and quiet of the natural world outside, perhaps.

 

Out of the chrysalis and spread wide into the full beauty of what it was meant to be.

 

We still need time to perch on a window ledge, resting, waiting, watching, full grown now and knowing that life can still be difficult, but we’re used to that. Remembering that we make it through.