Wisdom From the Elderly

I've had the opportunity to work several hours a week with a sweet older couple in their nineties.  They were high school sweethearts, he is a World War 2 veteran, they had 7 children, and were missionaries in two countries.  While getting to spend time with them, I've learned a few things about their life that applies to someone of any age.

First, growing old is a choice.  Old is an equivalent to giving up.  If you ever visit a nursing home or assisted living facility; look around at the different people.  There will be the one lady who goes to all the "events" and talks to everyone, and then there will be someone else sitting in a corner.  The lady bouncing around the middle of the room could be 20 years older, but will still seem much younger.  Some people give up, some people just keep on living.  A body wears out naturally, but a soul will only wear out by choice.

Second, no one ever really figures it out.  I work along side a 94 year old woman, and she still doesn't know what to cook for dinner.  She still dreads some chores and still asks me for recipes and advice.  That was so strange to me; her asking me for advice with little things, like if I knew whether fruit would last longer if she covered it or not.  But I also realized: we never get to an age where we have life figured out.  It's okay to not have a perfect schedule, or to never get around to doing everything the internet says you have to do.  It's life, and it is imperfect.  Don't let that fact keep you from living it.

Third, people don't change with age.  It comes as kind of a disappointment to me, I'm afraid.  You know that annoying-boy-thing your little brother does?  That those teenage boys you know do?  That your dad also occasionally does?  Well, guess what?  A 95 year old man does it too.  It works the other way around, of course.  We, as girls, never stop trying to fix guys.
    As young people we tend to view old people as, well, old.  Like, in our minds, they just kind of sit there.  They walk really slowly, don't hear well, and just seem pretty disconnected from the rest of society.  But, actually, they don't change a bit.  If you get to know them, they still crack jokes like parents, flirt like teenagers, and tease like little kids.  They are actually pretty awesome: the wisdom of long life with the goofiness of someone who doesn't care what people think anymore.

Forth, don't sweat the small stuff.  Even "big" things now will be small memories way in the past soon.  Failing a test, knocking out a tail-light in your dad's truck, saying that really embarrassing thing in front of your crush; these all may seem like game-changing mess-ups that make you want to curl in a ball and die.  But don't give up.  No matter what big; it will move into the past if you let it.  Now, there is a difference between stupidity and a mistake. This isn't an excuse to live like nothing matters; more to live with the intention to make the right things matter and to let the little things go.  

And finally, a lifetime is not that long.  My dad would always say things like, "Don't blink," and "I was 8 years old, and then the next thing I knew I was 35."  As a kid I never understood that, like, how on earth could time pass that quickly.  But it seems like just a couple months ago I was 7, and now a whole decade has passed.  The lady I work for has an amazing memory and she has so many stories; of saving her money to buy a cake pan as a gift for her mother, of going on road trips in a Ford Model T, of first meeting her husband and her uncle teasing them about each other, of surviving months waiting for him to return from war, of learning Spanish and living in Mexico and South America, of keeping toys around for great-grandchildren.  Just think of how many million, billion, trillion lives have been lived on this planet.  How many tears, and laughs, and wars, and loves, and memories.  It goes so fast, friends.  Live every day for all it is worth, because it will be gone before you know it. 


Bullet Journaling: Getting Started

   If you've never heard of Bullet Journaling, let me introduce you.  A bullet journal is a system designed to be a planner, calendar, diary, notebook, to-do list, and basically anything else you want it to be.

    My mom and I stumbled across this a few months ago, but I couldn't get the hang of it.  But at the beginning of this year I decided to try it again.  And I love it.  I haven't used it every day, and I'm still working on getting it to do everything I want it to do; but overall I'm excited.

   I decided to walk you through how to set up a Bullet Journal of your own.  I would recommend that you check out the website and read about it in more detail.  But what is special about the Bullet Journal is that everyone's can, and should, look a little different to suit their needs.  I'm showing you what mine looks like.


  First off, pick a notebook.  It should be big enough to be comfortable to write in, but small enough to carry it around.  I switched to a bigger purse to accompany my notebook of choice. (But that means the purse is also big enough for a reading book, a full wallet, and snack.  So, win-win-win.)  My notebook is from the Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum, and it is really good quality. And was pretty cheap.  I highly recommend getting one.  And going to the Creation Museum.  And basically anything to do with Answers in Genesis.

Second, open to the first couple pages and label them: "Index."  This is what holds the bullet journal together.  The idea behind the journal is that you use it for whatever you need, and you keep track of all those different things in the Index.  It is the Table of Contents.  Later I'll show a picture of what mine currently looks like.  I labeled 4 pages "Index", so I don't have to worry about running out.

 Third, set up your monthly page.  I have February filled out already, and I like to stay one month in advance.  On a new page, write the month at the top and assign a day to each line.  Write the number first, and then the initial of the day of the week next to it.  Fill in the events happening that day; like a calendar.  I also have a "Goals" section where I can write ahead of time whatever I want to get done that month.


   Forth, start tracking your day!  This system works where you simply write the date at the top and fill it in day by day.  Because the daily includes your to-do list and notes; it is best to prepare your daily sections the morning of or the night before.  The original Bullet Journal has different symbols for marking to-do's, notes, ideas, and importance.  I use a box for to-do's, a dash for notes, a circle for events and an star for importance.  For ideas or many notes of one theme; I find it easier to create a separate page for them.  I use the notes in the daily for keeping track of how many glasses of water I drink, activities I did that day, and such.

Fifth, make it your own!  The steps I laid out are the pieces of the Bullet Journal that make up the planner part.  The rest is up to you!  So far I have pages for music I want to buy, French phrases (I'm going to Paris this summer!) grocery lists, GF recipes, and more.  For every page (even the ones covered in past steps) mark a page number in the bottom corner, and then add the title and page numbers to the Index.  It is important to write the title first, because you may add more pages later.  For example, my French could be on pages 4, 5, and 18.  This is why the Index is important; you can always just start a new page, without worrying about things being in order.  Don't worry about having all of your daily sections for an entire month next to each other; it will be impossible; unless you don't have any other pages.  Don't be afraid to put pages of notes or lists in-between days.  To start a new page simply put the title at the top, such as "Blog Post Ideas," start a list of ideas, and then add it to the Index. 

And that's it!  I hope this was helpful.  Have you ever heard of this system, or used it before? 



The Seventeen Cats

My siblings and I had a 'writing contest' today, based on prompts.  (I got a "Writer's Toolbox" for Christmas and it is a.w.e.s.o.m.e.)  I decided to share my story here.  The first line had to be, "There were seventeen cats in Larry's basement." and I had to include "a weekend in Duluth" and "He was skating on thin ice- that's all I can say."


There were seventeen cats in Larry's basement. He took us down there one time while we were over to his house. Larry was the kind of person with slicked back hair and a razor sharp part. He was always wearing a bow tie. On the morning in question his bow tie was sky blue with pink polka-dots. Totally hideous. We had just finished off an entire bowl of popcorn while playing Scrabble, and we asked Larry if he had anything to drink. He smiled a full-tooth grin and beckoned us down into the basement. We crept down the steps, and Larry flicked the lights on. As our eyes adjusted we saw to our relief that it was a pretty normal basement. There was a fridge, some shelves, and a gallon of fruit punch sitting on the floor. My brother scampered towards the fruit punch, and, holding it above his head like a magnificent prize, scurried back up the steps. I turned to follow him when I noticed something. A shelf was hidden in the dark, almost behind the stairs, but light was reflecting off of something sitting on it. I took a few steps forward when Larry spoke.
“Ah, my dear, I was hoping you'd notice that! Would you like to see more?”
Not waiting for an answer, he flipped another switch, and the bookshelf was illuminated. But there were no books. Just three rows of ceramic cats. They were all identical in every way it seemed. One right after the other, equally spaced; and dispute being tucked away, perfectly clean of dust. They were quite small, I suppose, about 5 inches tall. I counted quickly: three rows of six cats each, minus one on the last row.
“What are they?” I asked.
“They were my late wife's. They look pretty ordinary, but looks can be deceiving. Each one holds a little secret. Here, I'll show you.” He flipped the first cat over, and revealed that it was hollow. Inside was a single, blue button. He handed it to me, flipped the next one over, and handed me a small screw. The third revealed a key; the forth, a piece of a shoelace; the fifth, a sewing thimble. By the time he reached the end, I had a whole handful of little articles. He turned around to face me and grinned broadly.
“Do you understand now?”
I looked up at him, deeply confused. “No.” I looked down at my hands, and back at him. “No, not at all.”
He laughed cheerfully. “I didn't expect you too. Now, I'll tell you.”

He took from my hands the little blue button from the first cat. He rubbed his fingers over it gently. “This was from Millie's jacket, I mean my wife, of course. She got this jacket for her eighth birthday. She lived in Vermont, you see, so getting a jacket was a big deal.” He replaced the button in the first cat, and then pulled the screw out of the pile in my palms. “This screw was from her first radio. That was her Christmas present the year she was fourteen. She loved listening to different bands and all sorts of music. She kept that radio until after we were married. At first almost every evening we would turn it on, push the couch out of way, and dance; just the two of us.”
He took the key from my hand, and held it up to the light. He chuckled softly. “When we got our first apartment; dear me was she bad at remembering things; she lost her key four times that first month. Finally I went to the store and had the man make me twenty keys to our front door, and then I placed them randomly around the house. I figured, that way, she was bound to find at least one of them in her search. We laughed about that for years.”

Next he grabbed the shoelace. The edge was frayed, but he smiled when he saw it. “This was part of the lace off of her ice skates. She ice skated as a child, but I had never been before. It was on a natural lake, and as I got more confident I skated farther from the bank. I guess I went too far, because I hit some weak ice and plunged right into the water. Millie and our friends scrambled over to me and I got out all right. When we got back to the lodge people asked if I was okay, and Millie just laughed and responded, “He was skating on thin ice- that's all I can say.” That was a joke in our house for many years.”
Slowly, piece by piece, he told me the story behind each article. A ticket to a theater from their weekend trip to Duluth; a piece of yarn from their favorite quilt; a scrap of a newspaper article on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Finally, all the memories were back safely inside the cats.
“There were only sixteen items, though. What is in the seventeenth cat?” I asked. Larry smiled warmly, and flipped the last cat over. It was empty.
“This,” he said. “Is for all the memories still yet to be. Because, you see, the importance is not in the things, but in the life behind the things. When Millie was dying, she made me promise that I wouldn't stop living and making new memories. That's the real lesson here, darling.”


Mr. Larry has long since passed away. My brother and I grew up, and moved. I don't know what ever happened to those seventeen cats in Larry's basement. But I know that I'll never forget to treasure the moments, and the little memories. Because in the end, those end up being what really matters.


I Think of Your Heart

I'm told of the world's beauty.

The Eiffel Tower's lights,
New York City at night.

The grass of faraway lands, 
The beaches filled with sand.

China's streets filled cars,
And the majesty of the stars.

All this is wonderful,
I'm sure.

But for my part,
When I think of beauty,

I think of your heart. 


Story Spinner Contest Winner

Sorry for the delay!  Since I only got 3 entries, and they were all so good, I've decided to post all three.  The two runner-ups are listed in no particular order.

Runner-Up #1: Rachel B.

 She looked in the mirror and smiled. There, she thought, I'm ready for whatever comes. She walked out of the room, pausing to glance wistfully at the picture on her dresser. "If only I could have saved her; however, you'll have to do." A deep Irish voice said, startling her from her thoughts.
"Don't do that, you know it scares me! Anyways, to the matter at hand; tonight is the night." She turned towards him, though staying a safe distance away.
"Indeed it is, little one; the trap is laid, only missing the final piece. The star of the show." He sneered.
"I'm ready. Let's go." She firmly stated, her confidence shrinking with her words. Gotta fake it till I make it; unless I want to die. So with those final thoughts, she followed him. 

Runner-Up #2: Julia Ryan @ The Barefoot Gal

 just a mirror
just a heart
slowly breaking,
tearing apart
the broken pieces fall to the floor
shattering dreams,
now no more
the shadows darken
the lights fade
then she's reminded
of His loving grace
the heartache is painful
the transition - beautiful
just a mirror
just a heart
growing stronger
with every dart

And, the winner, who took my breath away the moment I read it:

Winner: Mikayla H. @ The Bubblegum Ballerina

 A beautiful fleeting image passes in the mirror. An image of what will be, what could be, and what should have been. It was startlingly different from what I saw now, it hardly seemed to be the same person. But that image gave me hope, for there was no fear in those eyes. They were clear, happy, and at peace. They had a small shadow of past hardships, but your barely could it through the peace. The image in that mirror looked perfectly loved. In that moment of seeing it, I knew, without a doubt, I would do whatever it took to become that person.

Mikayla, darling, I'll be in touch. ;)

And thank you all to my 3 in-real-life friends.  This contest just proved how truly much I need y'all! ;)  You all ROCK and I love you very, very much. <3

More posts should be on their way...I'm working my way back to normal. (Or at least as close as I can get. hehe)