Monthly Archives: June 2013

No way out but through…

No way out but through…

I’m in an odd stage of life. My parents and their peers, these people who have loved me so well, are, I hate to say it, coming to the end of their life. My phone calls with my parents have, for years now, included this dialogue: “Remember Mr. So-and-so? He passed away last week.” It got to the point where I wasn’t really sure how to reply even. Some of these folks are dearly beloved by my sister and me but some of them carried just a vague impression of a business-like man-in-a-suit or prim-and-vaguely-disapproving-woman and beyond, “I’m really sorry,” or “that’s sad,” I had run out of original and compassionate things to say. Fast-forward to 2013 and I have somehow become part of the process, not just a bystander on the phone. My dear friend lost her dearly-loved grandmother at the end of the year. Another friend lost her mom in January. The wonderful man who drove our carpool for my entire school career had a debilitating stroke in January. My favorite uncle passed away in March. These are not anomalies. These are the people that a few years ago I would have said, “They lived for 80 years. They lived a good life.” But now I am aghast at my flippant and casual response. And as I look at the coming days and weeks and months, perhaps years, I realize that we are in for a difficult few years. And there is no way out but through.

One of my life rules is that I don’t want to criticize or even, in this case, write about something hard without finding some kind of redemption…some lesson learned, some strategy to recommend, some comfort to share…which is why this has been on my mind for months without ever writing about it. There’s enough hard stuff in the world without me piling on and saying it’s going to be hard so get ready. There is, in fact, some value to that simple exercise I think but it is not the source of hope or learning I feel committed to. So I haven’t written. I’ve just thought about it and wondered what in the world “getting ready” would even look like. How does one do that? Are other 44 year old’s intrinsically “ready” to be the oldest?

So while I don’t have all the answers, (honestly, don’t even have the answers I need!) here is what I do have: a quote from the book, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. (An excellent and quick read, incidentally.)

There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.

So while there is still no way out but through, there is an action I can take now for those unavoidable hard-things in my not-so-distant future: I can embrace joy and practice gratitude now so they are fully developed habits by the time I am in the midst of those hard times.

What about you? What are the hard situations you face and how do you prepare for them? Are there intentional and purposeful ways that you pursue joy and practice gratitude? How about you parental types? Are these habits you’re building into your family lives? I’d love to hear what you do!



What’s for Dinner {This Month}

What’s for Dinner {This Month}

We were in Washington DC a few weeks ago. We travel with a friend and work for him in exchange for airfare and fantastic hotel digs so everybody wins! Glenn works really hard on these trips. I work hard on a couple days but always have one, blissful day with a blank schedule. I sleep in, take a super long shower, wear the fluffy hotel-robe, and meet the guys for a fancy lunch. This time around I managed to get in my “long run” on the treadmill. It’s so nice to do it without having to smash other things in around it! That was pretty much it for my self-discipline while I was there. I read, I used the clicker my very own self, I talked to Cathy on the phone. The one thing I did manage to do was plan a menu.

I took the whole month of June and scheduled five meals for every week. Lately I’ve felt like I was just presenting the same four or five meals in varying order so I wanted to take the time to plan the whole month and make sure we got a few variations. The irony is that I ended up kind of using a formula so it may still feel the same to family. Here’s what I did:

I listed four entree-type salads. Cathy calls these $10 salads because that’s what they would cost at a restaurant.

I listed four sandwich-type meals.

I listed four grilled meat with veg’ and salad meals.

I listed four bake-in-a-9×13-meals to share with my MIL.

I listed four weeknight-one-skillet-dinners.

Then I plugged them in. I moved them around so we didn’t have rice as a side dish more than once a week etc and tried to make sure we didn’t do a whole week of Mexican food followed by Asian food the next week.

Here’s what we ended up with:

June Monthly MenuThe asterisks show our meals with my MIL. You’ll see that we’ve deviated from our regular Thursday night. That’s because the Spurs are in the playoffs and she prefers to watch at home on her own larger screen TV than the little tiny one we have at home. So this week we may be swtiching the burgers and lettuce wraps depending on the outcome of tonight’s game. I’ve also switched some of the meals depending on the weather: yesterday was a lovely sunny day and the cheesy potatoes seemed ridiculous so we had the $10 salad instead.

I’ve loved having a plan. What about you? Are you embracing the freedom of a summer schedule and avoiding meal planning altogether or are you working on a crazy routine and trying to work everything in? What’s your favorite yummy easy summer meal?