SUNSET AT ZELLWOOD STATION

I have written before about the gathering of golf carts at sunset in our community.  Today was our day to go up and meet  this group of people.  I have been watching them for months now and I have to tell you that sometimes the stories are much better in my  head; sometimes my imagination is  better than my reality and SOMETIMES I have to hear John say “I told you so!”  I hate it when that happens.

Today was a beautiful cloudless day in Zellwood.  There was a nice cool breeze all day and the temperature in the mid 80’s.  I had taken Rosie for her evening walk and it dawned on me that we were getting close to sunset so I flew in the house and asked John to take me up to the gazebo so we could watch it set.  John really sees no reason to do this, he says that he has seen a sunset and doesn’t need to see another.  Sigh.  But I push on because I don’t want to go up there alone, in my mind these golf carts are filled with couples, holding hands and sitting quietly together watching the sun slowly drop into the small little lake.

I am impatient because John doesn’t move fast enough for me and that doesn’t start our romantic little escapade out very well.  I am sure we will miss everything by the time John gets us up to the gazebo.  John, Rosie and I get in the golf cart and up we go, John being the good guy that he is, ignoring my immature rants and of course, we arrive with time to spare.  LOTS of time to spare.

At first none of the people even spoke, so my first bubble pops.  There are other dogs with their families and they are the ones that get things moving. Slowly we start chatting and getting to know each other.  There are couples and singles.  And it really isn’t about the sunset as much as about gathering.  I said should have brought my glass of wine but didn’t because I wasn’t sure of what was proper. They made sure I knew that anything goes.  One man was telling us that we could bring our dinner up to the gazebo and eat it as the sun set.  Wouldn’t that be romantic?  As my eyes lit up John made it clear he was not participating in that!  Another bubble pops!

I decide to take a picture because I actually remembered the camera and I snap picture number one and my camera is dead, out of juice.  I don’t know if the picture took or not but I do know that there will be no other pictures taken.  And pop pop pop!

(And the picture turned out pretty good!)

As people come and go the reality becomes more and more apparent.  This is a meeting place.  It is relaxing and carefree.  And all of a sudden everyone says goodnight and leaves.  I was confused, the sun hadn’t even set yet!  But they were done and off they all went!  John was thrilled because he didn’t want to be there at all.  And off we went as well.  POP!

We ended up going for a drive around the community in our little golf cart, our family; John, Rosie and me.  It wasn’t perfect, it certainly wasn’t romantic, but it was fun.  We adapted to the moment and made our moment; not the twisted one I had in my head but our own little family moment.  John driving the golf cart, Rosie learning to enjoy riding in it and me still getting my story!

So your challenge for the week is not to watch a sunset, unless you really want to!  But this week it is to adapt to what is.  Don’t try to make it what you want, allow it to be what it really is and tell me about it.

MY 5K EXPERIENCE

Wednesday I saw a Facebook post from my friend Lisa about a free 5k run.  Running a 5k is a goal of mine and free certainly was a motivator.  I decided it was time to see how well I could do.  My expectations were not high, I just wanted to try.

I have been running (more like jogging, I am really S L O W) for a couple of months now.  I started my diet and new lifestyle in June and as the weight has left my body I have increased my activity level.  I can now run two miles without stopping.  So, a 5K run isn’t really out of the question, it is a goal within reach.

I signed up on-line for the run and didn’t pay much attention to the sponsorship info.  It didn’t matter to me; I was going to participate no matter what   The run was named “Step In The Name Of Love Walk/Run”. 

Thursday night at pool I told my friend Ben that I was going to run a 5K and he said he might run it with me.  I pretty much thought it was a courtesy thing he was saying because people say they will do things all the time and never do.  I let him off the hook immediately and didn’t give it another thought and was very surprised Friday evening when I received a text from Ben that said he would see me in the morning.  I was so touched by his support but still didn’t really think he would show up.  Lo and behold, Ben called this morning and was already there waiting for me. 

We weren’t exactly sure of the location of the event so we parked our car and started walking to find the event.  About a mile later, we found it.  Already I am tired. 

Central Florida has had beautiful weather all week, hot but low humidity.  This morning it feels like a sauna.  I have no idea what the temperature is but it is hot and muggy already.  This is not looking very positive but no worries! 

While waiting in line to finish registration and get our numbers, it dawns on me that the event is a 12-Step event and figure out that it is for people affiliated with recovery and their families.  I have been affiliated with the 12-Steps for over 20 years and know what amazing people belong to this amazing fellowship. 

The paperwork said the runners started at 7:30 and the walkers started at 8.  I know we started late which is not unusual for these things.  When the herd took off we were in the rear and I could not keep up with Ben at all.  I could tell I was pushing myself too hard so I stopped and told him to go ahead without me and I was glad that he did.  I ended up following two other people and was ok being last.  It would have been a bit humiliating if the walkers that started a half hour later caught up with me but that didn’t happen. 

I was plodding along the route, following others; while the others were already completely out of sight.  The trail was marked with yellow ribbons but they were not very close together.  Most of them I never saw at all and was really glad this lady leading the way knew where she was going. OR so I thought.  We ended up in the woods following a path that lead to nowhere.  It is hard to run in the woods by the way so I gave up and started walking.  We back-tracked our steps and I fell even further behind, this time on purpose.  Once I started running again they were gone and I followed what I thought was the correct path. 

I have lost 50+ pounds so far and I have not invested in any new work-out clothes.  Since I am nowhere near my goal it would be a waste of money to invest in sweat clothes that I will not wear very long.  Given that, the more I sweat the more the clothes stretched.  My pants were starting to fall down and I had mistakenly knotted the tie.  Now I am laughing at the sight of myself, pulling up my sweat-soaked pants because I couldn’t re-tie them.

By the time I found the finish line I was exhausted.  I have no idea how far I ran or walked or how much of the course I even used.  All I know is that I crossed the finish line and my dear friend Karen had come out to take pictures!  That was the nicest surprise ever!   And there was Lisa too, cheering me on!  Amazing!

Ben had finished the run and when we were talking he told me he couldn’t believe we had to run the track twice.  TWICE?  No way, I am not even sure I ran it once! 

Am I disappointed that I didn’t accomplish the goal?  Not one bit.  I did actually, because I showed up and I tried.  I wanted to see how I would do and I did!

For Instance:

  1.  I am not ready to run a 5k.  I need to train a bit more before I attempt it again.
  2. September 17 is still too hot to attempt a 5k for the first time, untrained.
  3. Nothing starts on time
  4. Addicts don’t follow directions
  5. Even after 20+ years co-dependents follow addicts anywhere
  6. It is easier to run the track you are used to than a new one that is unfamiliar
  7. Friends show up and their support is priceless
  8. Progress not perfection.
  9. I am loved.

I set my goals and work toward them.  I still believe with all my heart it’s the journey not the destination.  Today I did something different, learned something and didn’t give up. I had a great day!

 

9/18 – I forgot to add the pictures Karen took!

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT FALL

Fall is my favorite time of year.  After the heat of a Florida summer, I welcome the new season with relief.  Fall takes it’s time arriving here, the beginning is usually still in the mid 90’s, lower if we are lucky.  Labor Day week-end sets our minds toward fall but the official start in 2011 is September 23rd.    There are slow tiny changes, maybe a slight breeze in the air that didn’t move at all a few days ago.  The temperature slowly declines from 95 to 92 and one day 88.  Ah, the 80s, finally!   The humidity is not 100% anymore and the afternoon thunderstorms are less frequent, unless there is a hurricane. 

You can finally wear a blouse with a sleeve and not know that it was a big mistake, maybe even jeans instead of shorts.  I’m in the season of hot flashes all year long so sweaters rarely are in my closet let alone on my body!

By mid-October I always wish I had a convertible instead of a sunroof.  But I do enjoy the sunroof and am thrilled to finally drive with the windows open.  As soon as I get home from work I open all the windows and doors to let in the fresh air.  (We have a vicious dog in case you are thinking of breaking in!)

I love all the colors of fall and can’t wait to pull out my storage box marked “FALL” to decorate with my little do-dads.  Opening the box is opening memories.  I replace my summer door decorations with a sunflower wreath.  I have candle holders that require a trip to Yankee Candle for their pumpkin scents.  I don’t go crazy decorating; there are just small little accents that make me happy.  In October I decorate the lawn with dancing ghosts, they are not scary, they are fun and playful.  I gave up on planting fall flowers years ago and now go to the Dollar Time and buy fakes.  As long as they are seasonal and look good from the road I am happy. 

Fall used to be all about comfort foods and making the house smell warm.  My sister shared a recipe for Pumpkin Crisp and I make it every year; many times!  If I have a pot-luck to attend this is my go-to dish.  (And yes, if you want the recipe I will be glad to share!)  Hearty meals start to take the place of light summer salads.  It is a time for nesting, snuggling. 

We love football in our house.  John is a UCF and Gators fan for college and a Tampa Bay Buc’s fan for the NFL.  I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan and can take all the trash talk you want to give.  If the Cowboys are not playing I root for good games and good teams.  I am big on underdogs and most of the time if I root for a team they lose.  So if you are not a Cowboys fan, you are pretty lucky.  If you are a Cowboys fan, I am sorry!

Getting up early on Saturday morning allows me to go for a nice long walk.  I have a five-mile route that I mapped out and I take my time to enjoy the walk itself.  This is a time of peace and quiet for me.  I don’t take my MP3 player because I want to be alone with my mind and my God; some of my best writings have come after these walks. 

Fall is the time of festivals.  I fondly remember the Craft Shows with my Mother-in-Law Heidi.  (Her given name was Hilda but she will always be Heidi to me!)  This was our thing; we spent the entire season going from one festival to another.  It wasn’t about buying stuff as much as spending the day together.  I fell in love with her in a new way each season.  I haven’t gone much since she passed away; it makes me miss her too much.  This time together taught me to listen to her wisdom and recognize her humor and grace.  She was an amazing lady.  I hope that accepting others is a trait I received from her. 

New TV programming finally arrives!  No more reruns!  There are new shows to discover and usually discard but every once in a while you find a gem that is a keeper.  The younger generation can’t appreciate the rerun doldrums of yesterday when we didn’t have cable, DVRs or DVDs.  And speaking of yesterday, we get to re-visit the Charlie Brown Specials of The Great Pumpkin and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  I still love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I have no idea why I love it so much, maybe it is just the tradition.  I remember the first time I saw it with our color TV, it was magical. 

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.  It is not built around gifts and commercialism but of love, friendship and gratitude.  The entire point is to be together and love each other, share great food and memories.  Expectations are low except for the good food part; we do expect good food and want to share our best.  It is the time when you bring a stranger home for dinner and they are welcomed because they need a place to be.  Some of my best Thanksgiving memories come from being a military wife and welcoming soldiers to our home for the holidays.  They were the least picky of anyone, they were just happy to be somewhere with a home cooked meal (even MY cooking!) and a cold beer. 

We have a wood burning fireplace on the patio and I enjoy spending the cooler evenings outside listening to the cicadas and the wood popping with a nice glass of wine.  A nice soak in the hot-tub makes it even better. Peaceful.

Fall is a time of gratitude that I survived another hot summer and a time to rest.  All too soon the insanity starts all over again.  I like to enjoy every peaceful moment. 

 

LOVE LETTER TO MY FRIEND – WELCOME TO THE 50s

I follow a web-site called Magic in the Backyard (http://magicinthebackyard.wordpress.com/) which I love.  She has a lot of writing ideas and suggestions; it is like Learn to Write 101 and Writing Encouragement 102.  Every Friday is “Free Write Friday” where she gives a topic and guidelines for the “assignment”.  I have participated in a few of them and always enjoy the challenge.  Participants post on their own blogs and share the link on her page.  It is a wonderful process and a great learning experience too.  I enjoy watching as we all read the same assignment and everyone comes up with different ideas. 

When Kellie introduced this week’s topic, Love Letters, I went UGH.  But, something made me read anyway and it turned out that my initial impression was very wrong. I am so glad that I continued to read.  Love Letters is an amazing project by Hannah Katy and her web-site is http://www.moreloveletters.com/.  It is well worth a visit, especially if you like to write.  This is something anyone can do, age doesn’t matter.  Whether you are 10 or 90; we all have experience, strength and hope to share with others. 

So, here is my love letter assignment and you may see more of these as time goes by!

 9/3/2011

Dearest Friend,

This year you celebrate turning 50 and I pray that it will bring you peace. 

At 20, I knew everything.  There was no problem I couldn’t’ force to a satisfying solution.  I was never satisfied but I lived with the results and was sure I had done well. 

At 30, I had already known great disappointment and sorrow.  My life seemed to spring forward and take me places I’d never expected.  All those plans I had never seemed to materialize.  I was still smarter than most people and learned how to please others instead of myself.  I thought what others thought of me was more important than what I thought of me.  I was completely lost and no longer knew who I was or what I even wanted anymore.

At 40, I learned that I was completely stupid.  I knew nothing at all.  This was the best thing that happened to me.  Accepting that I knew nothing made me willing to learn, listen and grow.  I allowed people who had “gone before me” to share their experience, strength and hope.  And I listened to what they had to say, really listened.  I was like a sponge soaking it all into my soul.  I learned about a God that loved me, a savior that saved me and my right to worship as I pleased.  And to allow others to worship as they believe.  We don’t have to agree anymore, we can choose to be different and still love each other.

Now, mid-way through my 50s I am happy.  The 50’s have been the most free I have ever felt.  I am on yet another path of discovery, fine tuning what I have learned.  I can be loving and selfish at the same time.  I can say no when I don’t want things and yes when I do without wondering what others will think!  I can wear clothes I like and not worry about fashion.  Comfortable shoes, amazing!  I can dress to the 9’s and I can look like a slob, it is my choice!  I wear my hair the way I like and I know that none of those things matter anymore.  Things are not what life is about.

I tell people, like you, that I love them.  I show a stranger a kindness.  I love hugs!  If an act of kindness pops into my head, I follow through, just for the fun of it.  I have learned to do the “’right thing” for the right reasons.

I am no longer afraid.  I take risks.  I have fun.  I know what fun is!  I dare to be different and go against the grain, in the kindest way possible.

I used to think being nice was being a doormat.  Today, if I leave this world and people say I was nice it is the highest compliment I could receive.  I am grateful for that. 

I have been blessed beyond belief and love being 55!  Welcome to the 50s, I hope you love it as much as I do.

Love,

marilyn