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The Present July 1

Today really is the first day of the rest of your life. As long as we are alive, there is hope. You are as young as you feel. These are some of my favorite cliches. I have been thinking of the last one particularly after my 40th high school reunion last weekend. This stage in my life is full of surprises and wonder, much like when I was going through puberty and adolescence. My body, my attitudes, and my knowledge base is rapidly changing too, just like during my teen years. Oh yes, that includes my sexuality. Please do not allow minors to read this.

Change #1. No more menstrual cycle. Hallelujah and praise the Lord! Before 50, I had to worry about getting pregnant, which meant taking birth control pills, which were totally bad for me (have you read the warnings in small print on the tiny sheet of paper they put inside the pill container? Possible side effects: blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, depression, death), or it meant using a diaphragm, with all the messy spermicidal jellies, which was also totally bad for me (think putting insecticide inside your vagina), or it meant fighting with my husband to use a condom.

Except for three pregnancies and three years of breastfeeding, from the age of 12 to age 50 I had to wear something to sop up the blood that flowed out my vagina for 3 to 5 days every month. No, it was not like I was four weeks blood free, and then 3 to 5 days of bleeding. It was more like 23 days of no blood, then 3 to 5 days of bleeding. I was on a very regular 28 day cycle, which meant I bled on day 1, and bled till day 3 to 5, then at about day 21 I would begin to feel “funny”. Not horrible, just a little bloated, brain foggy, tired. That part got worse in my forties. According to my friends, I did not suffer as much as they did. Some women experienced life stopping cramps and other pains (headaches, backaches, etc.). So for about two weeks out of the month for 32 years I felt fine but now Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I AM FREE, FREE, FREE of all that menstrual cycle stuff and I feel good all the time! The menopause period was not bad either. I had a few hot flashes off and on for about a year but nothing major.

No more worrying about wearing white or light colors during ‘that time of the month’ (will I start my period today? Do I have a tampon or sanitary napkin in my purse in case I do?) No more worrying about bleeding through my tampon or sanitary napkin. No more worrying about “having an odor”. No more worrying about planning a swimming activity around my menstrual cycle. Or any activity for that matter. I remember I started a period on the night of my first high school prom. Not fun, not fun at all. I must say though, it was a good excuse when my date tried to force himself on me at the end of the night. I was determined not to have sex until I was ready to have a baby. I knew sex made babies. I had a sister 12 years my junior and I knew I was not ready for THAT. Which sets the stage for the next change.

Change #2. I am not responsible 24/7/365 for the life of a child. As a teenager, I was responsible at times for my younger brother and sister, kids I babysat, and cousins, but from the ages of 18 to 25 there were not many children in my life. Then, at the end of  my college education and after my oldest son was born, I was responsible for many children as a school teacher, bible school teacher, Sunday school teacher, paid babysitter, friends and relative’s children’s free sitter, summer camp director, and of course, my own three sons. I had kids at work, kids at church and kids at home. I loved kids, but they were a lot of work. I learned early in my marriage that my husband was not good at taking care of children. I did not have a mother or sister that lived nearby to give me some relief. I never got a break. Now we have three grandsons that we can take to church and out to lunch and then take home! We can take them to special events in town and then take them home! It is fabulous!

Change #3. I don’t care what people think. Not that I don’t love people. I do. And I will go out of my way to be nice to people because I love them. But I don’t care whether they love me back or not. And if someone wants my advice, I will give it in love because I really do want what is best for the person who is asking. But then, it is up to them to act on my advice. If they don’t do as I advise, I am not responsible for the results of their decisions. I am not responsible to clean up messes made by my adult children. I am not responsible for them at all. The only person whose behavior I can control is myself. It’s just that I have lived long enough to realize that we are all fallible, and some of us are more fallible than others. We all have our special strengths and weaknesses and we all have to get along and work together to make the most of life. I know I don’t have to tolerate drama and bad behavior in others if I don’t want to. People are free to do what they want, just not in my house or place of business. I won’t be used and abused by others. And wonder of wonders, the law is on my side.

Change #4. I feel light. I know this feeling may progress into a balance problem, but for now, it is kind of fun for me. I saw a cartoon showing an older lady commenting that now that she was older she felt the same way she wanted to feel as a teen smoking pot. I don’t know about that, but it is a rather pleasant feeling. I just hope it does not progress into dementia or a loss of balance.

Change #5. I know I know stuff. But I also know I will never know it all. I am totally humble about knowing and not knowing. It is okay not to know. It is okay to admit it and to want to learn.

Change #6. I know we are all God’s children all of our lives. We may think we grow up, but we really never do. We just become more sophisticated, or try to be more sophisticated, but it is all child’s play. God knows our hearts and He wants us to trust Him.

Change # 7. I trust God. When I was a child I trusted God too, but somehow when I became a teenager, God seemed distant, and I became self reliant and rather proud of myself. Now I feel closer to God again and look to Him for guidance always.

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