A Walk through Daily Life

I enjoy walking at the local mall, and I do that at least five days a week in the early morning. Early morning is either 8:15 or 8:30, depending on which security guard lets us walkers in. There doesn’t seem to be any agreement about which time is officially correct.

Although a number of my fellow walkers walk with other people, I prefer to walk by myself. The practical reason is that the echoes in those empty hallways make it very difficult for me to understand what other people are saying. But the real reason, other than the fact that I enjoy my own company at that time of day, is that I enjoy God’s company even more.

Yep, I like to pray while walking. Although I make it a practice to always pray about certain specific needs (usually not my own), I try to leave my prayer time open to whatever God lays on my heart to talk to Him about.

Several days ago my prayer time revealed something I’d never thought about before. Walking at the mall has many similarities to living my daily life.

In both cases, I’m at it before much of the day has a chance to get away from me. And I’m not necessarily all that alert yet at the beginning, even though I’m theoretically wide awake.

Each activity has a definite starting and ending point. My day goes from bedtime to bedtime, and my walks go from the Food Court entrance back to the Food Court entrance…and then back to the same car I came in…and to the same house I left forty or so minutes earlier.

Just as I expect to see a number of familiar fellow walkers, custodians, and early store employees, my daily life involves a number of familiar activities–a mid-morning snack, working a while on my WIP (work-in-progress), lunch, afternoon nap, putting away the clean breakfast dishes in preparation for suppertime dishwashing.

I could keep going, but there’s no need to belabor the point.

Occasionally my walk involves a surprise. Maybe I see someone I suddenly realize I haven’t seen in a while.  Or I end up walking a short distance with one of the walkers I know is a Christian, too. (I’m not really anti-social.) Or seeing that an interesting looking new store is about to open.

Of course, the surprise may not be the least pleasant. Like when the security guard is really late letting us in. Or when I have to break my stride to tie a shoelace keeps coming loose. Or when I notice one more store going out of business.

Good or bad, my walk still resembles my daily life to a certain extent. Sometimes I write more words in my WIP than I’d expected to. Sometimes fewer. Sometimes something special comes in the mail. Or something unexpected interferes with my routine. Like the tire pressure light coming on in the car and having to get the charger out of the trunk and deal with it.

I wish I could recall more of the similarities that came to me while praying that day. One thing is certain, though: I’m always glad to safely reach the end, whether that means I’ve completed my walk and can sit down for as long as I want to or that I’ve plopped into bed at the end of the day, satisfied that I’ve “run the good race” that day, accomplishing whatever I wanted to accomplish, and thankful to have had God leading me each step along the way.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

    

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Best regards,
Roger

Divisiveness – Not Something to Laugh At

American comedian Emo Philips is credited with having authored the following joke.

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What denomination?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

“Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heathen!” And I pushed him over.

I actually first heard it at a computer users symposium, although I can’t imagine why. I had no idea where it came from, and I’ve made a couple of minor changes to Emo’s version so it would match the one I was already familiar with. I hope Mr. Phillips won’t consider me divisive because of that.

But divisiveness as it exists in America today is nothing to joke about. When Mr. Obama took office, he claimed he wanted to unite Americans. All Americans. Only history will reveal whether the disunity that broke out during his eight years in office was intentional, but some people–perhaps many–believe Mr. Obama wanted to create division in this country. Perhaps even to start a civil war.

I just sighed. I wish you could have heard me. It was a sigh of deep frustration.

Thank goodness–thank God, that is–Heaven will be a place of peace and unity. In spite of jokes like this one:

St. Peter was showing a recent arrival around Heaven. A Methodist. On passing a room with a closed door–no windows–the Methodist asked Peter who was inside.

Peter laughed before answering. “Those are the Baptists. We keep the door shut so they won’t see they’re not the only ones in Heaven.”

Even though we’ll never know perfect unity among diverse groups here on earth, I get a small preview of what it might be like when I walk at the mall. There I encounter other walkers, custodians, security guards, and mall employees. Among those are blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, and probably people from other racial groups as well. Some I know to be  Christian. Others are conspicuously Muslim. I have no idea what the rest are. I dare say we probably vary in our life styles and politics as well.

But we walkers are unified in purpose. Even though many of us are there by ourselves–at least part of the time–we’re there to walk. Some of us walk clockwise, on the left facing “traffic.” Others stay on the right in a counterclockwise manner. And a few like me reverse directions periodically.

Yet, the walking is not the only thing that unifies us. It’s the sense of comradery. With rare exceptions we greet one another as if we’re really glad to see each other. And we’ve learned some of one another’s names as we often end up walking in the same direction at the same time as another walker. It’s very uplifting.

My prayer today and every day is for God to break the spirit of diversity that has created too many different “us and them” groups and to unify us in His name.

If you have a comment, I’d love for you to post it.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“Is she…?”

My wife and I walk together at the mall when weather doesn’t permit us to walk in our neighborhood. We enjoy the opportunity to be together and talk without the fear of her interrupting my writing or my interrupting her counting while she’s knitting or crocheting. Walking at the mall is a wonderful couple thing.

Although we don’t always have something special to talk about, each of us feels confident the other person is ready to listen and to respond appropriately. Dare I say that things we share at the mall are more easily remembered?

One of the things we do during our walks is observe other people. Since I dislike most makeup–I especially detest what I refer to as “the raccoon look,” which tends to keep me and everyone else from seeing whether a woman or girl has pretty eyes–we’re apt to point out what I consider overly made up females.

Same for women who are dressed in ways we deem inappropriate. Either too much–top or bottom–is showing or these people are simply too big overall to dress in their choice of styles. We especially notice older woman who’re wearing a style made for much younger women.

Of course, we would never dream of expressing our opinions to anyone else, and we readily concede to one another (and I concede to you) that these are only our opinions. People are perfectly free to dress and make themselves up as they please. They’re not doing it for us, and God has not made either of us active members of the Fashion Police. In reality, we’re apt to chastise ourselves for being so critical.

But one of our most interesting mall observation activities has to do with pregnant women. Or women who at least look pregnant.

One of us will glance conspicuously towards a particular woman. “What about her? Is she…?”

Then the other person looks at the subject in question, and we start analyzing the clues. If she appears to be within the normal child-bearing age range and of a normal size except for her abdominal protrusion, we’re apt to concur that she is pregnant.

Some woman are just too obviously pregnant not to be.

But therein lies the problem. Some of the most obviously pregnant looking women still probably aren’t. They are simply fat in an unfortunate-looking way.

Like the makeup and clothes we criticize between ourselves, we can’t do anything about those women. So we laugh and tease one another. “You go ask her.”

Have you ever asked a woman–hopefully a real friend–about her pregnancy, only to learn she’s not? Was it disastrous or did she take it well? How about sharing a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Now Is Better than Then

Walkers

I’ve mentioned periodically that I like to walk at the mall. With my wife three nights a week and on Saturday and by myself an additional three or four times a week. It’s not only great exercise, it’s also become my favorite prayer time.

I pray for my fellow walkers, even though I don’t really know more than a couple of them–and those not well. But that’s changing.

The past few days I’ve become particularly fond of an older black gentleman who walks with a couple of other fellows. He’s always stuck out in my mind, however, because he carries an adjustable cane, which I’ve never seen him use.

But he recently expressed an interest in my collapsible trekking pole. I told him I’d bought it for $20 at the Bass Pro store that’s less than five miles from the mall, and he planned to have his son drive him there to get one. (He lives near the mall and takes back roads to get there to avoid heavy traffic, which is probably why he chose not to drive to Bass Pro himself.)

And–lo and behold!–he showed up to walk this morning (I’m writing this on the Wednesday before you see it) with a trekking pole just like mine.

He and a friend had just completed their walk at the same time I did, and I asked if I could take their picture, which they willingly agreed to and jokingly asked whether I was going to put it on Facebook. At the time I thought I would, but then I decided to write about today’s events and include the picture here.

Walkers2

Before we were done, two other walkers joined us–one black, one white. I took another picture–how I wish I could’ve done a selfie of the five of us–and we all sat down together. I learned that my trekking pole friend is Chris and the fellow who’s been with him was Al. The two additional fellows were Sam and Jerry.

We had a great time talking, and I explained that I would love to walk with them, but because of my praying while walking–I told them I pray for them as well as my other co-walkers–I preferred to walk alone. They not only understood, but appreciated what I’d told them.

While nobody said anything specifically about being a Christian (or not), I felt very much at home in this little group.

So why did I title this post “Now Is Better than Then”?

As much as I hate to think about it or even admit it, if this had occurred sixty or seventy years ago–perhaps less– well, it probably wouldn’t have happened. Black people walking at the same place as white people? Preposterous. And speaking enthusiastically to one another as equals as we passed each other? Not likely.

And sitting down together in a time of true fellowship, two older white guys and three older black fellows? It wouldn’t have happened in those (questionably) “good old days,” would it?

I have no memory of those days, and I’m not making any claims that racial equality has progressed as far as it needs to, but I am sincerely thankful it’s gotten far enough for me to make friends, even in such a limited way, with three fine black gentlemen who share the same interest in walking and talking.

I usually try to ask a pertinent question to get you to leave a comment, but I’m fresh out of pertinent. So instead I’ll just ask, “What do you think? How about leaving a comment?”

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

More on the First Years of My Retirement

Not what retirement is for, but a definite advantage to spending all day at home

Not what retirement is for, but a definite advantage to spending all day at home

Even though I retired at age sixty-two to become a full-time writer–I wasn’t yet a published author–I soon learned that I couldn’t spend eight hours a day five days a week writing. Not every week, anyhow. The important thing was I had ENOUGH time to write consistently.

Although I realized that writing would continue to serve as my main activity, I gradually learned that I had time for other activities as well.

One of the most important is the nursing home ministry my church is involved with on Wednesday mornings. I joined the team that handles the services there all but the second Wednesday of each month. I became the second guitar player on the team, which has been fun, and I’ve become an even better by-ear player than before, since I don’t have access to the words and chords.

I do a solo every week–one of my own songs–but I don’t participate in the singing otherwise. Not that I wouldn’t be free to, but I couldn’t take an hour of standing, Plus I still don’t know some of the songs–make that MANY of them–the team uses, and the majority of them are in a key that’s wrong for my voice.

But doing what I can do is very fulfilling. I’ve even learned to become more comfortable with old folks who are much more decrepit than I hope I’ll ever be.

Another musical project is playing bass guitar for the Christmas musical. Although I’ve been playing bass almost as long as I’ve been playing guitar, I’m not into the fancy stuff. In order to make my playing as effective as possible, I usually spend about an hour a day practicing with a professional CD of the musical–from September until Christmas.

My wife and I walk for exercise four evenings a week. Although I was already walking by myself on Friday mornings, I’ve recently begun  doing an extra half-hour walk three to four days a week. Although outdoors in the neighborhood is preferable, I like going to the mall sometimes even when the weather is good because–being at home by myself so much with just the dog and cat–it gives me a change of scenery.

I admit it! One of my favorite almost-daily activities is an afternoon snooze. Soon after my wife returns to work after lunch, I sack out on the sofa with the miniature dachshund curled up beside me under the afghan. Thirty minutes is amazingly refreshing. The only problem is making myself get started again after I wake up. I try to limit Solitaire and Words with Friends to evenings and break times.

And then there’s helping with the regular grocery shopping (and picking up occasional items we’ve run out of), doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, and doing the vacuuming. Only occasionally am I asked to fix something; Kathleen knows my weaknesses.

However, I occasionally put together something (new kitchen stools are the most recent project) that comes unassembled.  Sometimes I even shock Kathleen by following the directions and not having any parts left over.

Of course, I also am taking more pictures, spending more time working on my blogs and website, and reading. Not only am I on track with a read-the-Bible-through Kindle app, I’m currently reading two biblical non-fiction books; which one I read when depends on what room I’m in at the time. I’m usually reading fiction, though.

My health seems to be good. Even so, the past seven years have seen me have cataract surgery on both eyes (several years apart) and a minor “procedure” that has failed to eliminate the mystery pain that has been and is continuing to bother me.

I was diagnosed with diabetes three or four years ago, but my doctor hit the nail on the head when he told me to lose weight instead of counting carbs. I lost fifty pounds, take a prescription called Metformin, and do a blood sugar test on myself once a week. The reading hasn’t been as high as 100 in years, and I’m thankful God has taken care of that problem.

I’m not quite as agile as I used to be at my guitar playing, but that hasn’t yet proven a major problem. However, I did quit making wooden crosses and walking sticks because of how those activities hurt my hands. And I’m none too sure I’ll be up to any more mission trips.

As you can see, these health issues–no matter how minor–affect what I feel like doing and–to a lesser extent–what I’m able to do. Sixty-nine isn’t that old, but the end is coming–sooner or later. When, God alone knows. But I enjoy my retirement just as I enjoy and appreciate life itself, and I’m thankful to have such fulfilling activities to keep me busy.

What about you? Whether you’re retired or not, do you find life fulfilling? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Happy Friday Mornings

Friday mornings are special to me.

Not because the weekend is almost here. Since retiring, weekends don’t mean as much as they used to.

But it’s the one day a week I walk at the mall without my wife.

Huh? you protest. You like walking without Kathleen?

Definitely not. She and I have a great time walking together Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. We also walk sometime during the day on Saturdays. And we often do so much talking that our twice-around-the-mall loop goes very quickly.

But Wednesday nights and Sundays are out, and Kathleen’s not available any other time. I need one more walking day, and Friday is normally it.

So, you ask, what makes the Friday walk so special?

I’m glad you asked.

I go early in the morning–usually around 8:00. The only people there are security people, a few store employees setting up for the day, and a number of other walkers. The sense of trust is so great that most of us walkers feel quite safe leaving our coats at tables in the empty Food Court. I sure wouldn’t do that when the mall has other people.

I often start by walking to my left–against the flow of traffic, as it were. Not many yards into my walk, I’m apt to run into another walker. Rarely is it someone I know personally; only one person from the past walks at the same time I do.

Not always someone I recognize from previous Fridays, either. But that doesn’t matter. Walkers seem to share a sense of camaraderie.

Very seldom does the other person fail to respond to my pleasant greeting–or perhaps to greet me first. That happens throughout my walk.

I really enjoy noticing the variety of walkers. I’m apt to see a pretty even mixture of blacks and whites. Practically never do I see anyone I recognize as Latino or Asian.

Although I’m far from being the only person walking by himself, I frequently see groups of two or three people. They’re not always doing the fastest walking, but they seem to be having a great time socializing. I must admit I get a little jealous of the fun they’re having together.

Gee, in seven or eight years, Kathleen will be able to retire. Hope I’m still up to walking by then.

Sometimes I count the closed stores and marvel at the ingenious places that have opened (see my earlier post about what’s happened to malls). Sometimes I pray–for the other walkers, the mall employees, and shoppers who’ll start showing up in another hour or two.

I continue speaking to other walkers and try to keep straight which ones I’ve already greeted. That’s more of a problem than you might think. I’ve always been horrible at remembering faces.

The walking stick I bought several months ago in California–made in Texas, of all places–attracts a lot of attention. Mainly because it’s longer than the ones I’ve made myself.

I don’t know whether I’ve given you an adequate understanding of what I enjoy about my Friday walks, but I’m fairly certain I’ll really bore you if I say much more.

The fans of any given athletic team automatically have something in common, no matter how they differ as individuals. My fellow mall-walkers and I are that way, too.

Do you associate with people you have something special in common with? How about sharing a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE . Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, look for it at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

I Hate Exercising…But Walking Is Okay

walking

Before our local American Family Fitness place moved from its temporary location across from Victoria’s Secret, my wife and I used to walk by, look through the windows, and marvel at the things people will do to get/stay fit and get/stay trim. Who enjoys pain, anyhow?

Now that the AFF has moved into its permanent location, there are no windows for us to look through, but we can see a parking lot that is FULL of cars that we assume brought willing sufferers to do whatever.

Sorry, folks. That’s not us. We hate exercising as such, but we appreciate the need to do something to help keep us healthy. Walking seems to fill the bill.

I started walking maybe twenty years ago when a female coworker must have noticed that I was a little bit too, uh, oversized. (Not that she said so, of course.) But she invited me to start walking at lunchtime with her, and I really enjoyed it. Walking partners changed periodically over the years, but I remained a faithful walker until a group at work started doing a lunchtime exercise class to Leslie Sansone’s “Walk Away the Pounds.”

Okay. Still walking. So to speak. But I gave it a try and decided I liked it. Being the only guy in the class didn’t make me feel strange, thank goodness. I’d once been the only one in an aerobics class I took with my ex-.

By the time I was downsized from that company, I had several of Leslie Sansone’s DVDs, although I don’t know that I was as faithful about using them as I’d been when I was part of a group.

Long story short, I finally ended up walking again. Real walking. Our home is located on a circle that’s just about exactly half a mile around. So four laps make two miles. Perfect.

Of course, weather gets in the way at times. But the mall that’s just a mile up the road is about a mile around on the inside, so two laps does it there.

Until my doctor diagnosed me with diabetes, I wasn’t very faithful about walking three times a week. But his diagnosis scared me into a routine I’ve followed faithfully for more than two years now.

My wife walks with me four times a week, and I do an extra day by myself.

If you want to protest that walking doesn’t exercise every part of the body that would benefit from it, I won’t argue. I’ll just remind you that I hate exercise and am pleased to be doing this much to remain healthy.

Do you exercise? How much? How often? And WHY?  Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger