Camaraderie

What’s group got to do with it? Does it matter? Do we need it?

The mighty internet defines it this way:
camaraderie (noun)
A spirit of familiarity and closeness

Awesome. This works perfectly with a group of people the mister and I were invited to spend time with last weekend. A coworker mentioned that he was going to a Denver Broncos Meet-up downtown at one of the Irish pubs. What? People do that? I guess they do, because there were well over 100 of them at the location, wearing orange and blue, sporting names that rang a bell and some that did not. My husband knew one person in this sea of color and I knew nobody. We ordered drinks and a snack, sat down, and immediately got introduced to the 8 people sitting on our edges. It was even friendlier than the meet and greet at church. Different than regular mingling, the greeters had a slightly different pattern and focus;

“Hi, I’m Xxxxxxx!”
“Did you live in Denver? Where? When?”

And off we would go down bunny trails of familiar restaurants, landmarks, neighborhoods, schools and frozen moments in Colorado time. Nobody asked what you did for a living or who you worked for. People just wanted to know about people who shared a piece of their history. It was relaxing for the mister as there was no talk of work. It was fascinating to me, the analyzer, watching this group of people just hanging out, being nice and enjoying another moment in their history together. I have to admit it would make me smile largely when a change on the scoreboard was inevitable. The sea of color would become one wave, nervously pacing, tapping drink glasses, muttering quietly and telling the players that what they were about to do was obviously very wrong or very right. Quiet as they watch, but not for long, as chairs scrape the floor, people stand up and the wave of blue and orange inches toward the large screen on the wall, shouting “Go, go, go!” because it matters that they are heard and it WILL make the men on the screen run faster! Success! Big cheer! Old school tunes are hummed from days ago, mainly the kazoo style music for the Hey! song. I have to admit, an afternoon of this was delightful and made sweeter by the fact that they won and I get to go repeat this event in a few days. It brought back some of those memories from twenty years ago when we would all meet at one house after church, crockpots in hand, orange and blue cookies and cupcakes baked and piled high enjoying every minute of frenzied fellowship while all the kids played together. Kids are grown, many of us are now gluten free, but this was still a frenzied fellowship, and this time we are the kids that get to play together.

We have noticed that we tend to get in on stuff toward the end and this is no different for us. It’s the end of the season, but next season we have something really fun to look forward to. A day with our new friends, our comrades! So to answer the questions:
What’s group got to do with it? Whether we admit it or not, everything. Who does not want to belong to something other than their family?
Does it Matter? Heck yes it does! We could have watched the game at home. Avoided the 50 mile round trip, saved $30 on food and drinks and more on gasoline, gotten things done while the game was on. OR live in the three hour time capsule of energy, laughing and a change of scenery with very agreeable people. Life is short, change up the days you get!
Do we need it? Yes and no, it’s not a life or death thing like food and water. But yes, I think we need the spirit of familiarity and closeness every now and then to remind us that there is a world outside our homes and offices, and it is a fun place to venture into. It’s not all news reports and headlines, sometimes it’s just a drink and a snack and a silly shirt that makes you look like everyone else. Sometimes it is just some good memories and FUN.

 

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Goodbye 2013, and thanks

It’s that time already! The year has been unlocked, unfolded, looked at, played with, cherished, pondered, prayed over, and most importantly LIVED. Milestones have been marked, new territories charted and visions for the next year dreamed and written down. It was a blessed year, the calm after the storms of 2012; the time we all needed to see that life does fall back into a rhythm and we do indeed come out stronger in the end. God has been good to our family and for that I am so grateful.

Ok 2013, lets get on with your boxing day. Let’s lovingly wrap you in tissue memory paper and put you in your box on the shelf with the others. It’s ok with me if you have a little glitter and sparkle on your box.

1, 30, 29, 27, 3, 55, 54. That might be a great lottery choice someday, but it is just the ages of all our family members this year, some milestone numbers for sure, and some delightful numbers reached by the grand girls. The rest may seem average, but I assure you there were special meanings for each participant. That’s one sign of a pretty good year, looking forward to the next, saying goodbye to the last with a hint of sentiment and satisfaction. Isn’t that how life should be? Eager to move on yet comfortable and pleased with what was accomplished before? And so I go, follow me down the little recap bunny trail.

Satisfaction and change, powerful actions this year that came about as an adventure that I mentioned in October. The challenge by author Jon Acuff to START something. This came at a time when I was feeling unimportant as an empty nester, slower than I should, really nondirectional and unhealthy. Talk about a nice little pile of baggage! So, after reading everyone’s goal of becoming a singer, preacher, author, company owner I have to say I did not feel all that great about the challenge I had accepted until I remembered that whatever I started was for ME and not a competition with every one of those 30 somethings out there (being 20 years older than most of the challengees was also a bit daunting). I decided I needed to declutter my surroundings so my brain could be creative again. I so missed having projects going that were meant for nothing other than the fact that I could make something different and beautiful. I could not do that with all the things sitting out of place that greeted me every morning-ugh, brain clog, find the declutter Draino. So I started, slow at first but you know how that goes, purge the first thing and the rest practically race to the give away pile. Honestly it was fun, and will be again when I start up in 2014. My craft room is now exactly that, finally.

Purging the house made me want to clean up everything, so our adventures with a functional medicine doctor began. Neither the mister nor I were feeling particularly healthy so this seemed like a great way to spend our vacation money. After all, what fun is a vacation if you are feeling too worn out and fat to enjoy it? We learned so much about our body types and what was not good to be eating-biggest loser, wheat! We were both surprised that after a month with no gluten or wheat products we really felt different, quicker, lighter. Oh no, what if we turn out to be amazing? We got rid of most dairy, lowered our sugar intake and began 10 minute a day exercise “bursts”. We love our new lifestyle and are no longer threatened by a restaurant with no gluten free items because we are smart enough to find them hidden in the menu. We end the year being 16 pounds lighter (each!) and looking forward to knocking off another 20 or more next year. And for the record, the gluten free Christmas cookies were a bigger hit than the traditional ones.

We also cleaned out our medicine cabinet of conventional over the counter meds and began using Essential Oils for most minor aches and pains. Honestly I was so skeptical, but every time I use something that works and does what other people said I am just amazed and thrilled. Surely this lack of chemicals in our bodies will help us live to be a little stronger for a little longer. The great experiment may help me make some retirement money down the road, which is great, but I mostly want people to know and see that there are better ways of dealing with a stomach ache or throbbing head than popping a chemical pill. The good Lord put so many plants on this planet for us to eat, so why shouldn’t some of them have other uses? God’s a good planner that way and I look forward to learning more. If you are a little curious you can go poke around here and see the possibilities: www.youngliving.org/shandley

And finally, speaking of possibilities-they are now 20 months and a little past 3. Princesses M and E respectively are just the best reminder that God has big plans for us. We start out so small and full of curiosity and energy, I really want to reharness that. There is no reason a woman in her 50’s should not be vibrant and full of fun and silliness. Many of my friends have just gotten so serious as they have aged, and while it is good to have a mature outlook on some things, getting out of bed in the morning seems like a much better idea if you have at least one fun thing planned for the next 24 hours. So thanks to the Littles, one of my goals for the new year is to have more fun, and to do one fun thing every day (just so you know, sometimes cleaning feels fun with the right music, so if I document these and you see cleaning listed, do not think I’m crazy, turn up some music and try it).

Come along with me into 2014! This Grammi is going to have a great time, no matter what.

 

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The Declutter Bug

Let me start by saying that I blame it all on a cup of coffee and Jon Acuff. Yes, someone I have yet to meet; but someone whose books on quitting and starting have really kick started the brains of my mister and I. Someone who, by his wisdom, energy and sheer love of life issued a challenge one day in August for an adventure. This 24 day adventure was supposed to help me punch fear in the face, be creative, see a way to do what I love – challenge accepted and begun and here I am at day, I don’t know I have lost count, maybe 60, and actually through the second round of the great adventure. It began innocently enough for me. I desperately felt the need to declutter my home so my brain could stop focusing on what it saw and remember what it wanted to do, to create and to be!

After all, I am an empty nester so isn’t this when I should be able to do what I want? Sad thing was, I could not even remember what it is I wanted to do. What was it that tore at me while raising the kids and doing the college and wedding things? What was tugging at my hem, trying to get my attention all those years? Maybe I can’t remember because I WAS doing what I was meant to do and loved. I have loved being a mom more than any other endeavor I have tried. I see those two girls all grown, successful, sweet and Godly and just shake my head in amazement. I know I didn’t do that all by myself. I have a super mister who is always by my side, I have the hugest God in the universe to go to for help, advice and prayer. I know these things. But yet, every now and then I get that Clark Griswold look of satisfaction on my not so young  face and whisper “I did it” over the  roar of all logic and everyday life. If I can do THAT, then I can do anything, right? I also know that is true, yet what stood between me and the anything that would be my next “I did it moment” was a house, life and brain clogged with bits and pieces of gathered clutter and it had to go so I could come out and finish being who I was supposed to be.

Be careful what you ask for. I had no idea….

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Simple Requests

This past weekend at ‘birthdaybirthdayeastercelebrationpalooza’ I was reminded of the expanse of time since last summer when M was still tiny and E was barely two. Playing in the sand with them now, my two best buddies, I recalled a similar playtime involving the glorious splashing and pouring of water and the power of the word “uh?”.

She looked at me with those sparkly green- brown eyes and grins, tilts her head toward the back door while adding a thumb out hitching a ride gesture and says “uh?”

Translated, ‘hey Grammi ya wanna come outside with me and play at my water table and get me a drink and a snack?’
You already know the answer as I move around the kitchen to fill a cup, dig in the Goldfish box and listen to her little bare feet smacking the tile floor behind me, happily following me around the kitchen in anticipation of a grand time on the patio.
She’s not wringing her hands and pacing and agonizing over this request for food and drink and time to spend together. She knows it’s going to happen because I love her and would not miss the chance to honor this simple request and play by her side.

When was the last time you asked God to bring nourishment and to spend some time with you without worrying about how or when it will happen? He will you know, at the drop of a hat. All you have to do is ask.

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New year, new hope

January you did not start the way I expected. For that matter 2013, neither did you. Open with New Year’s Eve, family, friends, and the sweetest grandbabies ever. Excellent scene, except for a few runny noses and sore throats and raspy voices. Festivities and food flow, laughter and joking follow, life is good…even as I feel my throat start to get sore and my ears begin to hurt, and have no clue at the moment that I will be sick off and on for the whole month-maybe it’s to rest up from the previous year. It gave us quite a run but it also gave us a sense of accomplishment.

Welcome new year, please be kind! Your brother 2012 was kind of a jerk, and his twin sister 2011 wasn’t much better. It’s not that either one of them was terrible to the core, but like any aging entity, both got out of whack and threw a few curve balls; a death in the family, a heart attack, a sweet daughter’s change in circumstance, the other sweet daughter’s husband trying to finish a long distance project. All unfortunately a part of this thing we call life, all providing moments and weeks of personal growth, and all shaping and molding us into the people we will be this year. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all balls of stress and angst. The curve balls were intermingled with piñatas-filled with treats and sweetness that only the balancing side of life can bring; a new grand baby, a living breathing miracle of absolute adorableness who instantly was bonded to her little big sister’s heart. A little being with the wisdom and forethought to be born a day before the one year anniversary of the family member who had died the year before so the day would remain happy and not one where some might mutter under their breath, “oh yeah, it’s the same day as…”.  This event was soon followed by the perfectly priced, perfectly located, perfectly timed purchase of a first home for a daughter and her husband and their two little angels. So perfect that the quaint little home bursts with the personality of the new owners. So perfect.

God seemed to be hard at work making sure things didn’t pile up too much. Curve ball, piñata, curve ball, piñata. We had the super sweet experience of a long needed family vacation. We hadn’t been in one spot for 7 days together since a cruise about 4 years ago and this was exactly what we all needed. In effect, we ran away from home for the Thanksgiving holiday to a place where we knew not a soul, and proceeded to enjoy each and every day, the beautiful scenery, great food and each other. Adding the adventure of public transportation, an airplane, the ocean and Sea World for the angel girls made it a time of new experiences and sweet memories of taking our own girls to the same spots. It is great to have a city far away that holds a place in your heart and stores up memories. Thanks San Diego, you are awesome. You fed us, revived us and made us able to function again just in time for Christmas. You provided healing for the sweet child who has to forge a new life, and you re-knitted all of us into that cozy familypatchwork sweater that everyone wishes they had when the days get chilly.

So I march into the new year hand in hand with my mister,  full of expectation and hope. Finally well and healthy, wanting to make a difference in the lives of the people I get to bump into, wondering what this empty nester Grammi is supposed to do next and still wishing that being a fairy godmother was a real job. I have to say that it is looking good so far; that young man’s project should be done this spring, angel girl one is learning to dance and angel girl two is learning to walk, sweet daughter one is the little mom-queen of her castle and keeper of her family, and sweet daughter two is thriving, excelling and doing all we knew she would.  A million years ago in junior high she sang the song “I Will Survive” in a music show. Rock on baby girl. You did.

Happy New Year.

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