Shades of Gray (part 7)

I got a haircut recently, and I've decided my journey with letting my natural hair color grow in is coming to an end.  One more cut, and I think Loreal #5AR will be gone.  See ya', warm medium brown.

Welcome, 15 shades of gray.

From this angle, people have asked me if I'm highlighting my hair.  Or if I have a new hair do.  Or if I've lost weight.  Or if I've had a nose job.  They recognize something is different, but apparently, it's subtle enough to be confusing.

I would love to tell them I've done all of those things, but the reality is, I'm just being me.

And you know what?  I'm liking it.

Even the crown of my head, where the gray is most evident.

There's a patch back there that is trying hard to be white.  Eventually I may be all white, but for now the whites are mostly containing themselves to a topknot area, for some odd reason.  Only God can color a head with a paintbrush that hits and misses so delicately.

I did not think I would like my hair when I started this journey exactly nine months ago.  (Wow, has it been that long? My first, scary post about this is HERE.)  I feared I would look old and and colorless.  I'm sure I do look older, but you know what?  I've realized I don't care. I've become quite comfortable with my shifting color.  And my age-appropriate hair.

Clearly, something changed inside during these nine months, because I went from "I'll probably regret this, I don't want to see myself without Loreal #5AR, what if I look horrible?!!" to "Oh well.  Whatever."

It's shocked no one more than me.

Part of the reason this transition has been painless is that I've also realized people don't care.  People, (especially us women) are so wrapped up in our own appearance, we don't really give full attention to the details of another.  (I should speak for myself here.)  Men don't notice, and most wouldn't make a comment if they did. (I wrote a guest-post about that HERE.  Check it out.  I got a lot of comments on this one.)

In the long run, colored hair is not that important. With concerns about ISIS, and jobs, and why the seasons of Downton Abbey are so short, there's just so much more to think about. For me, I realized coloring my hair was a frivolous and a bit self-absorbed thing.  Who was I trying to impress?  The world does not care about my hair color.  And as I've written before, what other people think of me is none of MY business.  I care about what God thinks of me.  And I'd rather be working on that.

So, I've decided I'm not going back to Loreal.  She was kind to me for 12 years, but it's time to move on.  I had some trepidation at the beginning of this journey, but really...this was the easiest break-up I've ever endured.

Join me ladies.  Come over to the gray side.  Be free.  Free at last.

Oh, look!  There's another little shock of white popping out.

The (riveting) journey of accepting my wisdom highlights here:
Shades of Gray - part 1...



Time Alone

I've had the week to myself, as my hubby flew to MD to help out a few family members with health issues.  I haven't been alone like this in twenty years, when the hubs was in the Air Force and would travel now and then.  I have to admit, I've loved it.

Everybody needs time alone, to rest a bit, eat what you want, and watch hours of the food network, uninterrupted.  Here's a list of activities I've enjoyed.

1. Eating meals at the sink, from pots and cans. 

2. Realizing, by myself, I don't need a dishwasher.  All week, the dishwasher has contained only two mugs and a fork.

3.  I've done laundry once.  Not even a full load.

4.  Haven't cooked meat all week. 

5.  I finally painted a door we had installed four months ago.

6.  I sewed some new arm chair covers, something I've wanted to do for two years.

7.  I stayed up until midnight if I wanted to.

8.  I slept in 'til 9 a.m. if I wanted to.

9.  I got to the gym more often.

10. I wrote more.

11. I watched You've Got Mail for the twentieth time.  Then I watched Turner and Hooch for the tenth.

12.  I saw this badge on facebook.  I laugh out loud every time I look at it. 

13.  I cleaned the bathrooms. This is easier to do when no one is around.

14.  I vacuumed behind and under the sofa, which I do, like...never.

15.  I cleaned out the 'fridge, which I do, like...never.

16.  I read Jesus Calling daily, instead of twice a month like I've done in the past.

17.  I had time to think.

This isn't to say my husband inhibits me from doing any of these things.  He supports whatever I want to do.  He's a good guy and I like having him around, but people need alone time to process and plan.  When I'm alone, I realize how crazy my life can be.  Most of us just go, go, go, because that's the pace of society these days. 

I'm grateful I've had this week to myself (relatively - I've still helped the folks.)  I think there's a bit of hermit in me.  

Have you ever had a week to yourself?  Were you compelled to vacuum under the sofa and watch Tom Hanks movies?


Shifting Perspective

I've been praying for certain things all my life; change this circumstance, Lord, this person, change me, Lord. I pray the same things over and over, and mostly, nothing changes. It puzzles me.

However, this morning, I read in Jesus Calling that God suggests we stop asking Him to do what we want, and instead look for what He's already doing - and align ourselves with that.  Hmmm.

I thought about that a long time. It took me a while to find things He's doing in the circumstances I'm praying about - because as I just wrote, I really don't see Him at work.  At least, He's not producing the results I want to see.  So, what is He doing, if he's not doing what I'd like Him to do?

What I realized after a while is that my prayers are pretty much about me.  What would make my life easier, my stress lower, my life less aggravating. I do want good things for my loved ones, so my prayers are about wanting peace for people in my life as well.  I believe God wants that for all of us.

But, I mainly just want relief from my own worries and fears. If people would just trust God and live accordingly, I'd have more peace in my own life.  If God would just grab hold of people, and shake 'em up, I'd be happy, because they would see how much they are loved and how much He has planned for them.  And they would want that for themselves. And life would be good.

For some reason, God doesn't seem to operate that way.  He has his own way of doing things, which seems pretty slow to me, because I'm an impatient human. I wonder where He is when people I love are making poor choices. What is He doing in that situation?  I believe God is always pursuing us, so, even in disappointing circumstances, I believe He is present - doing something.

But, only God knows what.

So after today's reading in Jesus Calling, I'm going to start looking for what the Master is doing in the seemingly-nothing-is-happening messes I pray about. I'm determined to find something he's tweaking, even if it's "well, so-and-so didn't get hit by a bus today." I do believe He's always orchestrating events, even though He doesn't share what He's up to with me.

I'm also going to try to be more aware of things He's doing that have nothing to do with my prayers.  I want to see Him work in any capacity, because He puts on the best show.  When I've experienced a "God-thing," my heart is warmed, I grin from ear to ear, and my faith expands.  It reminds me that we have an active God who cares about us.

I cling to that golden promise like this friend is hugging our daughter-in-law. 


Fifteen Shades of REAL Life

I'm going to be honest and tell you I'm disappointed Fifty Shades of Grey was made into a movie. I had hoped the books would recede in the culture's memory. The books do not portray true love, nor healthy individuals. Sadly, enough women found them enticing, and today, the movie will be released. The story will be told again, in vivid, disturbing color.

I understand free speech, artistic expression, and Hollywood's greed, and there are lots of movies made that do not honor women, marriage, or healthy relationships. The frightening thing about this storyline is that so many women embraced it; the abusive, narcissistic (but apparently wounded) male, the sexual manipulation and assault, the willingness of younger Ana to invite all the degradation, and her misguided belief that accepting Mr. Grey's abuse will somehow help him. 

Women have tried to escape these types of relationships since the beginning of time. It's disheartening to see that so many women invested in this trilogy ($95m worth) and will undoubtedly see the movie. Some men are observing this phenomena, and the danger is that they are now wondering if women might secretly enjoy the treatment Mr. Grey doles out to Ana.  Do women not realize this?

I offer a few footnotes to the seriously dysfunctional relationship in Fifty Shades, along with some other points we women need to remember. We have come too far to continue to be seduced by the Mr. Greys of the world.  

1. Every female college student should be wary of becoming involved with anyone five years older.

2.  Sex and erotica are enticing, but they're not love.

3.  Any woman who is in a relationship that involves being beaten with a belt needs a friend to repeatedly scream in her face that she was created for better things.   

4.  For all the gains of the women's movement, women are still tolerating sub par relationships.  We need to knock it off.

5. Girls, we cannot obtain our self-worth from a man.  God gave us intrinsic, inalienable value the day we were born.  It's up to us not to misplace it. 

6.  Love is about service and sacrifice.  It is never about power (sexual or otherwise.)

7.  The only entity we should "submit" to is God. 

8.  A truly good man will not want to tie you up, or tie you down.

9.  A truly good man will propose.

10.  It's OK to wait for a truly good man.

11. If you invest in your appearance more than you invest in your mind, you are giving men permission to focus on your body more than your ideas.

12.  No one can "complete" you, but yourself.

13. There is no Knight in Shining Armor.  Just imperfect men who are doing the best they can to impress the imperfect women that we are.   

14.  Men and women are different.  This is not a weakness, a mistake, or automatic grounds for resentment, distrust, or competition.  It's our first introduction to diversity.

15.  Fifty years of marriage is a better goal.


A Wake-up Call

I like to think I honor God in all aspects of my life.  I'm pretty clear about how He wants to me live, and I have been for most of my adult life.  Lately, however, I've discovered I've made some choices mindlessly - choices I didn't think God cared much about. And I'm paying for them now.

I'm talking about food choices. I never thought much about my diet, only that I probably ate too much.  Like every woman on the planet, I've had moments of "that's it, I'm getting rid of this extra weight. I'm joining the gym, blah, blah, blah." And I've lost 10 or 15 pounds.  Then I get lazy, and it all comes back.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, in December I had blood work done that showed I have very high blood markers for rheumatoid arthritis.  This was shocking, as I have no swollen or painful joints - just bad blood work. After getting conflicting reports from rheumatologists in my area, I ended up at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. The doc there suggested I start meds right away, because it looks as though RA is coming.

I did tons of research on RA and read a book called The Inflammation Nation, which was completely eye-opening, and changed my thinking on what I've been eating all my life. RA is an inflammatory disease where the immune system is on overdrive. It's constantly on the attack, which eventually destroys joint tissue.  Untreated, or uncorrected, people with RA can end up in wheel chairs.

I'm also reading The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, a book about honoring God and our bodies by getting back on track with food - eating whole foods, real food, and getting the junk and processed food out of our lives.

I well up as I read parts of it because I'm realizing how misguided my eating pattens have been.  I've not been fueling my body, but poisoning it with things like sugar and too many carbs and "white trash" like white rice, white bread, white crackers, and white potatoes. I've simply been a mindless eater.  Not a conscious one.

I'm praying God will change my thinking on this, because RA is caused by inflammation, which is caused by sugar, the wrong kinds of carbs and "white trash." I didn't know much about inflammation.  I'd heard some of these things before, but I didn't have any health issues - until now - so I just figured I was doing OK.

My Mayo doctor told me I have three months to change my diet and see if we can get my blood work back to normal. By the grace of God, I don't have any joint issues yet, and I'm hoping I can turn things around before I do. 

So, I gave away the boxed, processed items in my pantry. The bulk of my grocery bill is now produce.  I have leaves and sprouts popping out of my 'fridge the moment you open its door. I've discovered I like pea shoots, parsnips, bok choy and Japanese sweet potatoes, things I never tried before. I've learned I don't like turnips and will not be buying those again. I try to have some form of kale every day. 

In overhauling my diet, I've realized this is a spiritual journey for me. Eating was an area of my life I never asked God about. Rick Warren sums up the problem in one sentence: Dedicate your body to God.  Period.

If I do that - daily - I will eat properly. I will feed my body with what it needs to stay strong and healthy. The Daniel Plan reminds me that my body does not belong to me. It was purchased at a price, and God gave it to me to use in the service of others. This never hit me so hard as it has recently.  God has given me a wake up call,  and I pray I correct my course. My family is supportive, for which I'm so grateful.

I have not had a life-changing event such as this in many years, and I regret I did not pay attention to my diet 20 years ago.  Thankfully, we have a God who gives us second chances.