Am I Really Aging Gracelessly?

Whenever I look at myself in the mirror–that’s impossible to avoid doing when shaving or brushing my teeth–I see an ever-aging man looking back at me. Although it seems like only yesterday when my hair–I had more of it then, although it’s never been as thick as some men’s–was brown. Dark brown. And when those hearing aids weren’t as necessary as they are now. And when I don’t look older in a million and one other ways.

Looking older wouldn’t be so horrible if feeling older didn’t go along with it. How many times have I heard people say, “You’re only as old as you feel” and felt like responding with a nasty “Easy for you to say; I FEEL older”?

Yep. I don’t sleep as well as I used to. And I have a mystery pain that isn’t bothering my sleep as much as it used to, but it still affects my standing and my walking. Uh, I didn’t say it keeps me from walking. Even reasonably fast. But it does hurt. Of course, my sense of balance seems to have come unbalanced; I don’t need a cane, but I often feel more comfortable with a walking stick in my hand. Especially going up steps.

And I’ve given up my desire for a top quality guitar because I can tell that my playing has deteriorated during the past couple of years. So far the problem is more in my wrists than my fingers, but I don’t expect my playing to start improving again.

I don’t know what’s going on in that head of mine, but I can’t believe all the things I have trouble remembering now. Perhaps most troubling are the names of people I’ve known for a number of years. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t forgotten the names permanently; just at specific times when I’ve really wanted or needed to remember them.

What complicates matters somewhat is the fact that my wife is a little over ten years younger than me. So I can’t help noticing how much younger she looks and seems to feel than I do. Yet even she’s getting gray hair and occasionally complaining about her knees.

Doggone you, Adam and Eve! If you hadn’t sinned and gotten kicked out of the Garden of Eden, we’d all be living in Utopia. Agelessly.

Okay, so somebody else would’ve sinned and started mankind’s downfall if Adam and Eve hadn’t, but the point is….uh, what’s the point? I’ve forgotten.

I may not like the negative aspects of aging, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for life. Or that I’m not enjoying it.

I thank God daily that I’m still alive and doing as well as I am. And I ask Him to please keep me around as long as He has something worthwhile for me to accomplish. Preferably to write more novels and maybe even a few more songs. But He’s going to have to give me more drive. I’ve never been good at pushing to do things, and that’s not getting any better. Lord, I could use more pep.

Hmm. So am I “aging gracelessly”? No matter what I’ve complained about today, I don’t think I am. Aging, yes. But gracelessly, no. Not as long as my eyes are on God and I sense His Spirit living within me. And leading and strengthening me just enough to function the way He intends.

What about you? Are you aware of your own aging? How do you feel about it? How about leaving a comment?



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Best regards,
Roger

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Aging: Plus or Minus?

I just spent an hour or so trying to write a decent post on a serious subject, and I ended up too depressed to finish it. Not good. So I decided to try something different.

As many of you know, I’m just a few months away from turning seventy. What you may not know is I have mixed feelings about it. So if you’ll permit me to look at the pluses and minuses of aging, I’ll be grateful.

Plus: I’m retired, and I have very few required activities. Most of those can be done at my leisure. I’m free to pursue my writing and play my guitar whenever I like and continue recording my compositions at home.
Minus: Despite the variety of activities I enjoy doing, if I’m not careful, even the best of those activities can become routine.

Minus: I take a variety of kinds of medicines and still have aches and pains that seemingly have no cause.
Plus: Those medicines help to keep me in what I would basically consider good health.  Why should I be upset? I don’t gripe about having to wear glasses, do I? And the undiagnosable aches and pains aren’t that horrible. Yet.

Minus: Each week at my church’s nursing home ministry, I can’t keep from wondering whether I’ll someday need to use the LTC (Long term care) insurance we finally decided we’d be foolish not to have.
Plus: I’m not in a nursing home yet, and I don’t have any conditions that make LTC living seem likely in the foreseeable future. And if I do end up in a nursing home, maybe by then I’ll be sufficiently, uh, not-myself to care.

Minus: I can’t do everything I used to be able to do.
Plus: I should be thankful for how many of them I can still do. Sure, my agility makes my guitar playing harder at times, but at least I can still play. In fact, I can’t think of anything I can’t still do at all. Maybe just not as well or as quickly.

Minus: I’m becoming more forgetful.
Plus: At least I haven’t forgotten anything important. And I’ve always had trouble remembering people’s names and faces. Did I honestly expect that to improve with age?

Minus: With the extra time I have now, I’ve become more interested in politics. And I’ve become more concerned about the decline in American values, especially during the last eight years. It’s depressing. Especially considering our choices in the upcoming election.
Plus: I can still vote and I can still pray. It may not be in God’s will to restore America’s greatness, but I have every confidence that He can.  I believe in the power of prayer, and that makes me feel so much better.

Minus: In spite of everything, I know I’ll continue to age and deteriorate until the end comes.
Plus: Hmm. That’s true for all of us, isn’t it? But as a Christian, I have the promise of Heaven to look forward to. That should relieve me of my complaints about any aspect of aging.

Do you have any particular pluses and minuses about the idea of aging? How about leaving 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.

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

Best regards,
Roger

I Finally Did It!

I finally did it! What an intriguing title. At least I hope it grabbed your attention.

I could be talking about a number of things that have never happened before… Like having a novel on the New York Times bestseller list. Or getting a recording contract–or even just having some famous musician record one of my songs. Or being able to quit taking all of the medicines that keep me in such good health. Or having a member of my family come to live in the same city we live in.

All interesting possibilities, none of which has happened…or is likely to happen. And I’m okay with that. Mostly.

This accomplishment–if you’ll permit me to call it that–is a little closer to home. I attended my first meeting of the Young at Heart (senior adults) group at church yesterday.

Humph! you say? All of that buildup for something so simple?

If it sounds that way, maybe that’s because it wouldn’t be a big deal for you. But it was for me.

You see, I’ve kept watching myself get older year by year–I turned sixty-eight in September–and yet I’ve always felt at home with a younger crowd. I’m the oldest person in our Sunday School class and in our Wednesday night Bible study as well, and I don’t feel old being among those younger people. Well, not usually.

My fear the past few years has been that I might begin feeling older if I started hanging out with an older crowd. Although I know and really like some of the folks in the Young at Heart group, those are people I don’t really think of as “old”–just “older than me.” So I’ve kept putting off attending any of the Young at Heart meetings to avoid taking the chance the other members might make me feel I was aging faster than I want to. (Okay, so who really wants to get older once they reach a certain age?)

What made me bold enough to attend this group…finally? Did I feel less self-conscious about aging? Did I want to enjoy the abundance of fattening food? All reasonable questions.

So I’ll answer with a reasonable (but polite) no. I wanted to hear the speaker, someone who had been a friend of my parents and had helped us clean out my parents’ attic after my mother’s death in 1994.

Dr. Fred Anderson is a professional historian, and he was speaking to the Young at Hearts about Baptists’ 300th anniversary in Virginia. Not a topic of interest to everyone, but I knew it would be good. Plus I hadn’t really had any contact with him in twenty years and thought seeing him again was way overdue.

So attending the meeting of a group I’d felt hesitant about previously not only gave me a chance to reconnect with Dr. Anderson–he remembered our time in the attic very clearly–and to enjoy his talk, but to discover that being among people older than me wasn’t that intimidating after all.

Who knows? I just might attend next month’s meeting, too. Without even caring what the program is.

Do you have any hangups about aging? How about leaving 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.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25.

Best regards,
Roger

Everyone Has a Twin Somewhere

 

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On one hand, we’re taught that each of us is unique. Just as unique as our fingerprints. And, as I read somewhere recently, as unique as our eyes.

On the other hand, a popular common belief says that each of us has a twin somewhere in the world. Not quite identical in appearance, but close enough to make the observer look twice.

When I was still married to my ex-, her sister went on a Mediterranean cruise, if I recall correctly. When she came home and reported on her trip, she said she’d seen a guy who could’ve been my twin–somewhere on a Greek isle, if I recall correctly.

And then there’s Jeff Meyers, who at that time was a columnist for the St. Louis newspaper. No idea about his status now.) And he wrote “whimsical, offbeat” articles. Wow! Does that sound like me or what? Check out the picture above and compare it to the fourth picture from the right in my banner. Sure, my beard was never that thick, even when I had a full one. My hair, either.

But the resemblance is close enough to startle me.

But my favorite twin story goes back to my temporary stint at Target. When somebody told me about one of the vendors–at least that’s what I understood him to be–who looked like me, I asked that they send the guy up front for me to meet the next time he came in.

And so they did. And that picture of two bearded guys in red comes as close to proving the theory of my having a twin as I ever expect to see. Believe it or not, I have to look closely to remember which one is ME!

What about you? Do you have a twin–real or coincidental? How about leaving a comment to share that story with us?

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I’ll be back again next Sunday. 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.

Best regards,
Roger

Growing Where We’re Planted

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My wife, Kathleen, recently pointed out these two mushrooms growing in our front yard. We frequently walk our dog around the neighborhood, so we knew that we alone had been “blessed” with these two interesting growths. I might add that she wanted to know whether they would be safe to eat. I didn’t have any interest in that, but I did discourage her from trying to find out.

To tell you truth, I just enjoyed seeing them out there.

How in the world did these two mushrooms get here, though? Okay, so their seeds–or whatever mushrooms start out as–had obviously landed in our yard and somehow decided that the environment was hospitable enough to take up residence. At least until time to mow the lawn.

But that really doesn’t answer the question, does it?

Where did the seeds come from and how did they travel to our yard? Impossible to know for sure. Perhaps a bird ate some of the parent plants and, uh, dropped the seeds where they landed. Or maybe a dog or some other animal  did the same thing–but not from the air.

During the mid-nineties I went on a mission trip to Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. I stayed in a camp that faced a beautiful sight. Tabletop mountain. Looking at it from the camp, I had no reason to doubt why it had been named that; it looked as if the entire peak had simply been sliced off, leaving it perfectly flat on top.

But what I couldn’t see until I climbed Tabletop Mountain was the number of prickly pear cacti on top. If I hadn’t known I was on a mountain top in Australia, I would’ve thought I was somewhere in the American west.

The explanation my host provided was that birds had dropped those seeds from who-knows-where-else. Like another country, perhaps. Unbelievable.

Whether I wanted to believe that or not, I couldn’t deny the evidence right before my eyes. Like the mushrooms in my front yard, the cacti had somehow reached the mountain top, taken root, and thrived.

Looking back at my life–thinking about the various places I’ve lived in Florida, North Carolina, Virgina, and Maryland–I can’t say that I bear much resemblance to the cacti or the mushrooms; I didn’t grow up all in one place. Wherever I’ve lived, however, I’ve taken root–sometimes more successfully than others. And I’ve grown a bit more wherever I was planted. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

God must have known it would take a number of different places–different influences–to grow me into the person I am now. I haven’t finished growing, though. Reaching sixty-seven has never been the end goal.

But the important thing has been to grow wherever I’ve been planted.

What about you? Have you lived all your life in one place or moved around a lot? How have the different influences on your life shaped who you are?

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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. On “As I Come Singing”check it out here–you’ll find the lyrics of many 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. You’ll also find audio recordings of some of them at the Listen tab on my website.

Best regards,
Roger

I Love My Neighbors…

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We have a number of Latino families in our neighborhood, and we have become fond of them. We may not know them by name, but they are good neighbors, their children are precious and well-behaved, and we like having them here.

I don’t know–or care–whether they’re here legally or not. I wouldn’t want to see a single one of them exported.

But that doesn’t change the fact that illegal immigration is still illegal.

I’m practical, though. How could we possibly send thousands of people back to their nations of origin? That would be inhumane, not to mention being a logistical nightmare. Probably impossible.

But that doesn’t mean we should hand out American citizenship willy nilly. Look at the thousands–probably millions–of immigrants who’ve come into this country legally and worked hard to EARN their citizenship. If I were one of them, I would probably be highly resentful of anyone who became a citizen because the government didn’t know what else to do with them.

Yes, let the (otherwise) law-abiding immigrants stay. Let them work.

But don’t give them benefits already-legal Americans aren’t eligible for.

Pictured above are some friends of ours. Not neighbors, but examples of legal immigrants. Jenny is a native American, and the baby was born in the U.S. as well. Athos, Jenny’s husband, is a legal immigrant from South America and is legally permitted to work here. Ethan, their older son, holds dual citizenship between the United States and the country of his birth. Getting permission to immigrate legally took time and effort, but it was worth it.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on xxx. 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

The Daily Challenge

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(click on thumbnails above to see full size)

A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to “The Daily Challenge.” I joined and receive a health-related challenge via email every day. There are thousands of other participants. Today’s Challenge was to describe how to use a whole grain product for breakfast. Often, the challenges relate to things I already do, as with this one. The challenges may include some type of exercise or something specific to look up information about (e.g., where to find a local electronics recycling place or what the symptoms of diabetes are).

Clicking “Done” in the message takes me to their website to describe how I did the challenge and indicate that my comment may be shared with everyone. Then I may be asked anywhere from one to three of the following questions (there are more, but these are the ones I remember):

  • Did you experience the following feeling during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday: Sadness?
  • Did you experience the following feeling during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday: Happiness?
  • In the last seven days, on how many days did you exercise for 30 or more minutes?
  • Did you experience the following feeling during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday: Physical pain?

From that point, the Challenge gives me a grade for my wellness in specific areas (e.g., physical health, emotional well-being) and asks whether the Challenge was fun, whether it helped my well-being, etc.

Hmm. A harmless exercise…and sometimes quite good.

As a Christian who depends on God’s help day in and day out, at least I don’t have any reason to view life itself as a Daily Challenge. Life for me isn’t the shadowy existence represented by the far right photo above.

No matter what happens on any given day. It’s all in God’s hands. He may allow certain things to happen I’d rather avoid. But I have faith that He’s using everything for His—and my—ultimate good.

God is a loving Father. How could He not want the best for me—even when circumstances are less than ideal? The ultimate reward is yet to come.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. 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