Category Archives: contentment

Comfortable in Your Own Skin

As I was putting my makeup on this morning, my mind began to wander. I thought, “Those photos of contouring look so silly. I would be late for work if I spent all that time in the morning contouring my face. I guess the people who swear by contouring have the time and the need for contouring. With my luck, I’d end up looking like a clown! I’m fine the way I am.”

Then I thought, “I guess I am comfortable in my own skin. Cool!” Yes, I could stand to lose some weight. No, my face is not one in a million. (In fact, I am the most UNphotogenic person I know.) The only reason I stand out in a crowd is that I am tall, but normally, I blend in well.

What does it mean to “be comfortable in your own skin”? For me it means to be content with who I am and not compare myself to anyone else. I am a unique person – there is no one else like me. I am on this earth for a reason  – I am not here by chance. My God does not make junk! Neither my children nor grandchildren would here without me. I have a purpose – to enrich others’ lives by showing compassion and giving grace.

I don’t want to look like a movie star or have millions of dollars in the bank. I am fine with who I am – Mom, Nonnie, daughter, sister, friend, and lover. I am comfortable in my own skin. Stay tuned . . .

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The Measure of Success

If you had asked me twenty-five years ago what I needed to be successful, I would have listed the following: a large bank account, a nice house, several cars in the driveway, a vacation home somewhere, and a stellar reputation. Today, my answer is totally different. . .  and one word – peace.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in a very different place – unhappily married, still raising children and brand new to Mytown. I thought a collection of material wealth would be a sign of success. However, today my bank account is small, I live with Cycle Dude in a comfortable home, I only have one car, I don’t own a vacation home anywhere, and my reputation with most people is good. But I can truly say that I am more at peace now than I have ever been in my life.

Today I measure success by my relationships. I am in love with an amazing man, I have three wonderful children and children-in-law, two beautiful grandbabies and one on the way, great friends, siblings and their extended families I still keep up with, my mom is still alive and in good health, and my circle of friends grows larger every day.

Several years ago, a friend of mine passed away. He was the father of one of my son’s best friends and he was a pastor of a small church in town. I waited in line for three hours at his visitation to pay my respects and speak to his family. I would say that man was truly successful – he had touched so many lives and his relationships were too numerous to count.

When I pass away, all that I have will either be given away, sold or trashed. My material “wealth” will be gone. I am comforted in knowing that I will live on in the memories of my family and friends. Now that is success! Stay tuned. . .

I’ve Got Sunshine

We’ve had so much rain in Mytown this winter that when we see sunshine, everyone makes a mad dash to be outside. I work on a college campus. It’s warm today and the sun is out. Students, faculty and staff are taking advantage of the beautiful, albeit windy, weather. There are tables and benches throughout campus where folks are eating lunch, studying or just enjoying the nice day before we get another round of bad weather tonight.

I remember the first few months after I got divorced. It felt like months of very bad weather – no sun, rainy, windy and cold. There were days I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes it seemed like those dark days would never end. I clung to my faith and wrote a great deal in my journal. Thank goodness for my dogs, my friends and Cycle Dude. They all kept me from slipping into a very deep and dark depression. I am grateful for those little rays of sunshine in my early post-divorce days.

Today is glorious! I went outside at lunch and wanted to do a Maria Von Trapp (The Sound of Music) – twirl around on a hilltop and burst out, “The hills are alive!!!”  I remember feeling this way when the bad post-divorce months and years eventually passed. Monday, March 18, will mark two years since I moved in with Cycle Dude.

Sometimes I miss living by myself in the apartment – just me and the dogs. I miss the quiet intimacy of sitting alone in the dark, listening to the sound of my own heartbeat, praying and reflecting on my day. Then I remember the nights of loud music and even louder neighbors’ arguments and I am thankful that I live with Cycle Dude!

I am thankful that those dark post-divorce days are gone. I am thankful for the sunshine that is so prevalent in my life now – the laughter of my oldest grandbaby, the smiles of my children when I spend time with them, the hugs and kisses from the man I love, snuggles from my pups and the warm friendship of old and new friends. The dark days don’t last forever – sunshine is on the way!! Stay tuned . . . .

The Big Lie

What do you need to make you happy – a new car, new home, a boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, children, college education, new job, vacation, to lose weight, etc.? All of those things are fleeting. But no one will tell you that. Just watch the commercials during your favorite TV program.

That new Ford F-150, the sale at Macy’s, that cloud-like mattress, the new superhero movie coming out, that new hair color or mascara – those are just some of the things we are told will make us happy. Big NOPE! Yet, we tend to believe that Big Lie – that stuff, relationships, etc. will make us happy. Happiness is fleeting because happiness is circumstantial. Life is constantly changing and those things we think will bring us happiness are constantly changing as well.

The new Ford F-150 will depreciate and you won’t be able to sell it for what you paid for it. Bummer. The sale at Macy’s only lasts one day and your internet just went down. Too bad. The mattress ends up getting lumpy. Ouch! The new superhero movie wasn’t as great as you thought it was going to be. Darn. And neither the hair color nor the mascara looks good on you. Golly. Happiness is down the drain. There is no way to live in perpetual happiness – it’s just not possible when happiness is circumstantial.

I am a woman of faith and in the Bible I read about a ‘joy’ that surpasses happiness. This joy is akin to an underlying contentment that says, “No matter what happens, all is well with me.” Even if you are not a person of faith, you may be familiar with this joy. Joy is often mistaken for happiness. I believe joy is not contingent on circumstances. Joy says, “I may not have enough money to go to dinner with my friends (which would make me really happy), but my electric bill is paid and there is gas in my car.”

I love to go to estate sales because I can get some great stuff at incredible bargains. So many of the estate sales I go to are chock full of stuff, stuff and more stuff. It’s amazing to see the amount of stuff people have that they think will make them happy. No one else values the stuff except as a bargain. No one buying the stuff knows or cares about the sentimental value the owner once attached to that stuff. An estate sale is just a house full of someone else’s happiness.

My stuff makes me happy, but those things that bring me joy are intangible: the love of my family, my grandbabies’ kisses, Cycle Dude’s thoughtfulness, snuggling with my pups, sharing laughter with my friends. Those things warm my heart and make me smile. If my house burned down tomorrow and I lost all my stuff, I’d still have joy in knowing Cycle Dude and my family love me.

The Big Lie is that getting and having everything we want will make us happy. The truth is that it won’t because happiness is circumstantial and fleeting. Joy is the steady, underlying assurance that in spite of the circumstances of life, all is well. Stay tuned . . .

Too Much Makeup

When my daughter was growing up and experimenting with makeup, I told her, “Makeup should enhance your beauty, not be your beauty.” I work on a college campus where I see a lot of young ladies wearing a lot of makeup. Granted, sometimes there are reasons for wearing makeup – scars, port wine stains, or other disfigurations on one’s face.

Sometimes people wear makeup to hide blemishes, like acne or pock marks. Sometimes the makeup is the very reason someone wears makeup – their face is broken out due to the makeup and they need to wear makeup to hide the breakout. Actors wear makeup to get into their character, to portray and be another person.

Just like we can wear too much makeup to hide who are, we can wear too much “emotional” makeup to hide who we are and to hide the scars or blemishes on our psyche. I found myself doing that after I divorced. I am not a person who is promiscuous, yet I was that way after I divorced. I am not a person who drinks a great deal, yet I became that way after I divorced. I was hiding behind someone I wasn’t. The only reason to slather on all that emotional makeup was to hide – mainly from myself and the pain and anger I was feeling.

I eventually settled down and settled into the person I am today – without all that emotional makeup. Yes, there are scars and there are blemishes, but I don’t want to hide them anymore. I don’t want to be someone I’m not. With me, what you see is what you get. I’m not a super model, but I am comfortable in my own skin. I am grateful for people in my life like Cycle Dude, my best buddy and my sweet Christian friend.

We are beautiful as we are – even though we may not always feel like it. We don’t need to hide under layers of makeup to be someone we’re not. Know that there are people in your life who love you. My oldest grandbaby has learned to say my name, “Nonnie”. Her little voice is the sweetest music ever! I am my grandbabies’ Nonnie and I don’t need to hide that! Stay tuned. . . .

Do What You Love

I had a conversation today at lunchtime with one of the professors who works in my department. He told me, “Never get old and never retire.”  He is in the process of retiring and he said the paperwork is endless. He also said that professors, lawyers and teachers never retire because they have poured so much of their lives into their work.

 My mom is a lifelong educator. At 82, she is still educating others through her column and her website, “Supporting Super Students”. Mom graduated in 1958 with her degree in Education and immediately went to work as a teacher. In her 60 plus years as an educator, my mom has learned a thing or two. She has not let technology stop her from sharing her wealth of wisdom as an educator. She blogs, she texts and she even has her own website, thanks to my nephew. Mom is doing what she loves – educating students and their parents.

 I am doing what I love at myjob. Back in October, I returned to Myschool as the Accounting Specialist in one of the Humanities departments. I thoroughly love being back on campus and helping faculty, staff and students. I enjoy being in the center of campus, in the middle of all the activity! This feels like home! As an extrovert, I thrive on activity and people. I enjoy laughing with my coworkers and sharing silly stories with the faculty. The mom in me comes out when I see a student in need.

 Sometimes, it can be difficult to do what you love – you may not like your job, your hobby might not do well as a job, or you’re in the wrong place (city, neighborhood, etc.). Take some time to think about what you love to do. Can you share that with other people by volunteering? Example – If you love to sing, go sing at a retirement home. There will most likely be someone there who loves to play the piano and who would be thrilled to accompany you. You don’t have to be perfect and it gives you a place to do what you love.

 What would it take to do what you love? Would you need to move? Perhaps go back to school and upgrade your skills? Take private music or voice lessons? Rent space at a local craft shop? So what’s stopping you- time, money, fear?

 My mom didn’t let any of those things stop her. She took classes at the local community college to learn how to write better. She submitted manuscripts to publishers. She talked to newspapers in her area, asking if they would run her column. She talked to my brother, son and nephew and learned how to work with modern technology. She went to conferences and presented her website. She has the energy and drive of someone twenty years younger than her – all because she wants to do what she loves.

 Don’t be afraid to do what you love. Chances are that if it brings you joy, it will bring others joy as well. Stay tuned. . .

Making Memories

One of my coworkers was raised in an orphanage. I have been getting bits and pieces of her story over the past few weeks. When I talk about how excited I am for my mom to come for Christmas, my coworker relates a story from her past. She never really knew her mom and knew very little about her dad. Her stories don’t bother me or make me sad, but they make me grateful for the family I have and the memories we made through the years.

I am looking forward to making memories with my mom. As one of six children, I didn’t always have one on one time with my mom. A couple of years ago at a family reunion here in Mytown for my mom’s 80th birthday, she and I shared a cabin. I was so thrilled to finally have her all to myself. We laughed and cried together. I will have those memories forever.

I have the whole Christmas week planned out with my mom. We are going to see two of my children who live in the middle of the Mystate and we will go see my son and his family who recently moved back to south Mystate. We are also going to the Biltmore in Asheville to see the Christmas decorations. I have built in some “veg-out” days where we can hang out and just enjoy each other’s company. Cycle Dude is taking the whole week off, so he will be vegging with us! I am looking forward to the memories we will make during the week. I know that when the day comes when my mom is no longer with us, I will look back on these days and be grateful for the time we had together.

I hope my children will also take this time to make some memories with their Grandma. We will visit my grandbaby, my mom’s fifth great-grandchild, and take a four generation picture with my mom, me, my son and my grandbaby. I will cherish that picture.

Wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever you do this holiday season, spend some time making good memories. It is easy to have bad memories about your divorce. It is therapeutic to make good memories – to start new traditions, to make new friends, and to be grateful for another holiday season. Have a thankful heart and a joyous holiday. Stay tuned. . . . .