Guess I will celebrate Christmas after all

For many years I have said, “I’d just like to sit this Christmas out.” The stress of buying the right gift, mailing it out in time, writing up the Christmas cards, attending Christmas parties, etc. was just too much. At the end I always felt let down. I truly believed Christmas was best enjoyed by children.  As you may know, I’ve been unemployed since May, so with finances so tight, I decided I really wasn’t going to do Christmas. Not one gift, no stack of cards, not even my 6 ft. artificial Christmas tree.  Then the shooting at the elementary school occurred and changed my mind.

I am still kind of numb at the news of the massacre. I think I, along with the nation, have become numb to hearing about children in urban areas being killed by stray bullets. However, hearing of 20 children being killed at one time in one area by one person jars me. It shakes me because I realize how many untreated mentally ill people they are. As a Christian, it scares me because I realize how active the spiritual realm is in our physical world. The devil is so busy. So what makes me think of Christmas?

The day after Christmas I had altar guild duty. I help dress the altar the day before service. Afterwards I spent about 45 minutes praying, just grieved in my spirit at such a barefaced display of evil in our land. I realized that my life truly is in the hands of God and every breath I take is at his pleasure. It is his protection I seek every day and his divine guidance. Truthfully this madness makes me long for heaven. And that is where Christmas comes in.

If Jesus had not come, I would not have faith that when I die physically, I will still live eternally in the spiritual realm. If I did not have Christmas, I wouldn’t be able to look past this life because what would I be looking forward to? A big question sign? Hoping that there is something after this craziness? If I did not have Christmas, I would not have the opportunity to reflect that the God of the universe actually took on the human flesh and entered into humanity in the form of a man named Jesus.

So I will celebrate Christmas. No I don’t believe he was born on December 25. Who knows what day really? And yes I know this date was originally the date of the pagan festival of Saturnalia and it became Christmas when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Holy Roman Empire. But in the same way we take a day to remember someone or an event of importance, there is no reason I cannot choose to make December 25 be the day I remember a person who has had such a great effect on my life…and on society in general.

I still won’t be sending out the Christmas cards and I am not buying any gifts. My celebration of Christmas will be going to church and remembering the amazing person of Jesus Christ and how he came into this world because he saw what evil was taking place and would continue to take place unless men changed their hearts. I’ll be going to church and giving thanks for how I have made it through another year. It will be celebrating the value Jesus has given me and me finally believing I am of value, “a pearl of great price.” I will be celebrating Christmas. Anything else is just Saturnalius.



So what have you been doing these past few months….

My cousin recently started a blog about her upcoming wedding and baby and said I should get back to writing. So, I will give it my best shot and start writing again. It’s been awhile since you heard from me. Actually May was the last time you heard from me. May was also the last time that I worked. Yes, I’ve been in the ranks of the unemployed for a few months now.

I’ve been here before. The last time was in grad school, which worked out well. I didn’t have to juggle school and work. 20 months of unemployment went by fast. This time, 6 months have dragged as slow as mud. The first 3 months were cool. I was brain-numb anyway. But by August, I was ready to get back to work. I’ve learned work is not just a paycheck but also an opportunity for socializing and intellectual stimulation. I kind of understand how moms who stay at home with the newborns feel. You just want adult conversation.

I’ve applied for a number of jobs, gotten a lot of callbacks and done quite a few interviews. However, this time I was twice told I’m too qualified. Another time it was pointed out I was more experienced than those already on the team (uh, you didn’t figure this out when you first read my resume). I guess this is something that comes with being in one’s 40s. Finally, one interview went south the minute I came in for a face-to-face interview. I think they were surprised to find out “Millicent” is black. 😉

Anyway, this is when your faith takes form and you either believe God is in control or you don’t. I believe God is in control. Because of that, I look for the spiritual lesson in it. Any struggle in my life has always helped to clarify what is important, who is important, who my true friends are and who my source is. Times of struggle have also helped to make me more compassionate, more understanding, less judgmental and more humble. This time of unemployment has been no different.

There have actually been some good non-spiritual things to come out of this period. I’ve been teaching basic pistol classes and started doing private handgun instruction. I had prayed years ago to be able to do something on the side for income…and God leads me to this. This is the first example in my life of “follow your passion and the money will come.” I say God has a sense of humor. Me, a gun instructor. Hahahahaha.

I’ve become good friends with my neighbor and her dog. The dog is Daisy’s BFF. ☺

I’ve done fun things like go to NJ/NYC for Labor Day weekend, which is fortuitous since everywhere we went was later damaged by Hurricane Sandy. I went to Philly to watch my friend run a marathon. We will be going back to Philly to play. I jumped out of a perfectly good plane. LOVED IT!!!!! (You can check out the video on the link at the bottom of this post.) No one wants to go bungee-jumping with me so I’m going to see if I can convince them to go tandem-BASE jumping instead. 😉

I have an interview coming up and I am feeling very positive about this so my unemployment days may be coming to an end soon. But the bible says, in ALL things give thanks. So although this time has been a struggle in some ways, it has also been good and I am thankful for it.

Jumping out of a perfectly good plane

Exercising vs. Aging

I’m beginning to wonder if exercise and healthy eating is really all it’s cracked up to be. No, not because of the recent Italian footballer and Norwegian swimmer in their 20s who died of a heart attack, although one could use them to argue too much exercise will kill you. No, my pondering is based on what I see in the mirror. I’m looking at my body and I’m seeing changes that seem to come despite my best efforts to ward them off.

The muscles in my face look looser. The weight gain seems to just show up. This morning I woke up and one of my feet hurt like I had done strenuous exercise the day before. I hadn’t. A knee injury I got in my 20s from doing step-aerobics 5 times a week is reminding me of its presence. Heck, I think I’ve even developed “Grandma Boobs.” What you ask are “Grandma Boobs”? When I was younger I noticed that older women/grandmas always had a cleavage and fuller breasts. There was a time when I could only achieve this effect with a push-up bra from Victoria’s Secret. Not anymore.

As a woman in my 40s from a family with thyroid problems I could blame it on a host of things. I haven’t been exercising regularly. Muscle loss means weight gain. Perimenopausal symptoms. Low functioning thyroid. But guess what…all the things I’ve just mentioned are things that happen naturally to woman once she turns 40. In other words, I’m aging.

Now, I could counteract all of this by stepping up my exercise regime and changing out my diet. It would require even more time in the gym. Time that I don’t really have. It’s doable if I set my mind to it – but there’s the rub. At the end of a workday, my mind is done. On top of that with my 40s came the “In-the-grand-scheme-of-things-this-is-low-on-my-priority-list” attitude.

So all that faithful exercise in my 20s and 30s and this is what it has come to. I’m not going to stop exercising but I’m going to have to find other ways to hide the effects of aging. Can you say “botox”?

When is the right time to give up on a dream.

I think one of the characteristics of being in my 40s is I begin to see things more clearly. Or as I like to say, I begin to see the forest from the trees. I see the things that I have labored at and which have produced fruit and I see the things that I still struggle to attain but are always beyond my grasp. So my question is, when is the right time to give up on a dream?

I’ve never been one of those to wait for the “right” circumstances to do something. I didn’t wait until I was married to buy a house. I didn’t wait for a travel companion to go explore the world. I explored Paris, the Louvre and St. Augustine, Florida by myself.  Being single has never stopped me from doing or accomplishing something. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t wished for a partner. I think the only thing I have chosen not to do as a single person is having a child. My hats off to all the single parents out there but that is not a path I want to walk. Raising a child is hard work. Raising a child by yourself is even harder.

So, now that I’m in my 40s I’m thinking maybe its time to just let go of the dream of having a “partner in crime” or having my own family. Wait! Before anyone wants to start spouting their words of wisdom STOP!!!!! This is not a call for encouragement. I don’t need to hear “when you stop looking, he’ll show up,” or “when you are content being by yourself, he’ll show up.” Nor do I want to hear the standard “the grass is always greener on the other side.” These “gems” make it sound like I have spent my adult life waiting and unhappy with my life, which is not true. Plus these words often come from people who have been in a relationship since their 20s and 30s. The only person, who can talk to me about being a never married, single woman in her 40s, is a never married, single woman in her 40s. Regardless, that is not the point of this post.

My point is, when do you look realistically at something and say, it was a dream of my youth but I let it go. I have said that it is in my 40s that I’ve started really choosing where to expend my energy. I’ve ended some friendships and curtailed some hobbies. It sounds harsh but if I don’t see an ROI (return on investment) I’m cutting my losses. Maybe I’ve been in corporate America too long but it’s how I view a lot of things lately.

So, do you think there is ever a right time to give up on a dream? I’m still planning on buying another house one day but instead of kids, I’m thinking a lot of rescue dogs. At least I won’t need to worry about a college fund for them. J What do you think?

If I knew then what I know now

“Youth is wasted on the young” – George Bernard Shaw.

Ain’t that the truth. Now that I’m in my 40s I’ve gained wisdom, or maybe it’s that I’m finally able to slow down enough to process the lessons life has been trying to teach me all these years. Regardless, I can think of a number of things I would do differently. If only I had this wisdom when I had a younger body with more energy. I would have been unstoppable. Actually, I think if I had this wisdom in my 20s and 30s, I would have a younger body and more energy now because I would have fought a lot less battles…OR as African-American composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime music, Eubie Blake said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

Now that I’m in my 40s I’m beginning to see the forest for the trees…that is when I can see and not have to search for my progressive lenses. I’m also good a choosing my battles – mainly because I’m usually too exhausted to care enough about an issue in the first place. However, I’ve also developed that disease that comes with age. It’s called, “I’ll-say-what-I-want-to-say-and-I-don’t-care-a-flip-what-you-think.” My late grandmother had a horrible case of it.

Anyway, what I want to share in this blog are the issues, challenges and changes I face as a 40-something because I’m finding I’m not the only one going through them or facing them. The issues range from a changing body and aging parents to when is it really appropriate to stop shopping at Forever 21. I’ll publicly ask the questions that go through my mind sometimes, like “where are all the people my age in the workplace?” and “why are all my coworkers younger than me?” And finally maybe I’ll be able to answer the question once and for all, “what do I want to be when I grow up.”

So hopefully you’ll join the discussion, chime in your two cents and maybe even volunteer to write a post if you feel strongly about something you face if you’re in your 40s. If you haven’t reached your 40s yet… hang on. And if you’ve passed your 40s already, share the wisdom please.