Emerald Green Leaves

Friday, August 10th 8:36 AM

The fabric of summer has changed for me. It used to mean flowers and birds singing,  days that lasted well into nights, and nights that still wore the glow of the sun long past the moment it dipped beneath the horizon.

It was a time for watching fireflies and enjoying the hum of cicada’s in the hot, sticky afternoons while the sun still hung high in the sky. Enjoying the late summer wildflowers blooming in a cacophony of colors. Colors that serve as a gentle reminder that summer is fleeting and fall is close at hand; golden yellow, dusky purple, deep chocolate brown, and antique white all set against a back drop of green. Rich, bold, luscious colors of green;  forest green, sage green and emerald green.  Deep, mature colors, coaxed out of the chartreuse and lime greens of spring, brought forth by living through the days of summer.

Those things are all still true, of course. Summer is still warm and sunny for the most part. Cicadas still sing and so do the birds.  Wildflowers bloom, and sun still hangs on to the last few precious weeks of soaring high this time of year.

None of the hallmarks of summer have changed. Instead, it’s me who’s changed. For most of my life, I’ve been the young chartreuse lime green leaf, enjoying all the bounties summer has to offer with very little consideration of fall. But now, I’m the forest green emerald leaf. My color has deepened, my leaves are more substantial. I’m aware of what went into the evolution of that leaf from a tender, spring shoot to a substantial leaf, capable of offering shelter from the sun and the rain. Now, fall doesn’t seem as far off as it used to.

Life colors the fabric we’re made of, whether it’s a leaf or a person. We absorb the climate we live in, and the experiences we’re given. We grow and we change and evolve. It’s not a bad thing, I don’t think. Nor is it a good thing. It simply is life; as the lime green shoots of spring evolve into the ripe emerald green of late summer, and, eventually, the vibrant reds and yellow of fall, so we grow and mature through stages in our lives.

This forest green stage of life isn’t bad. It’s a more reflective, more thoughtful stage where intentional deliberation rules the day. The careless choices of yesterday seem frivolous and immature; remnants of another time where summer seemed to last forever and fall was a time of enjoying the pretty leaves with no consideration of the decay inside that caused the vibrant display of color.

One upshot of this stage, for me, is a renewed focus on what I want to accomplish with my life. Perhaps I should say the rest of my life, because I certainly have goals that I accomplished up to this point. The focus of this summer, for me, has been to answer the question, “What comes next?”

Dennis has a job that he really enjoys and it’s given me the itch to return to work. I remember jobs I truly enjoyed and it’s a rewarding event when that happens.  I wouldn’t mind having that again, if I could find that kind of a situation. They’re not easy to come by. And, for me, I know that a job will take the majority of my energy which will leave little left for creating, which is my favorite thing in the world to do, whether it be writing, quilting or cooking. And therein, I found my answer.

The resounding truth, and the only goal I’m sure I want to accomplish, is to finish writing the book that I started back in 2001. I wasn’t quite a lime green shoot of spring when I started it, but I wasn’t the full-blown emerald green leaf I am today, either. I’ve started and stopped writing the book a dozen times, but this time is different. Even though I don’t know if it will ever be published, or read by anyone other than Dennis, I know it needs to be done.

That is what I’ve dedicated this summer to accomplishing. I packed away my quilting, which I do miss. I’m way behind on my tv shows and I haven’t played video games in two months. I hired a writing coach and I joined a critique group.  And I am creating. My goal is to be finished with the first draft by my birthday at the end of August. As of this week, I crossed the two hundred page mark, and I think I am on track to complete the first draft this month. My goal is to complete my first revision with my writing coach by the end of the year.

What happens after that? I don’t know and that’s okay. Maybe it will get published. Maybe not. But it will be done, finally, and I will once again consider, what’s next?

9:34 AM

 

A Dose of Reality

Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:52 AM

I’ve been feeling a bit old these days. Not old as in body aches and creaks, although those are there sometimes. Old, as in seeing tangible evidence of the years that have passed and recognizing the undeniable truth that I, too, have passed from one stage in life to another. Kind of like seeing a tree that was a twig when you planted it and fifteen years later it’s a 30-footer. I’ve got plenty of those in my yard.

The incident that got me thinking about the stages of life is one that’s actually far removed from me now. I heard about it third hand, but it still impacted me.

I found out this week that my ex-husband retired from his profession last week. I remember when he got his first paycheck once he finished his apprenticeship and how excited he was for the bump in income. We weren’t yet engaged, but we were close. There’s a lot of mileage between that close-to-engaged-couple and the ex-spouses/co-parents that we are now and only some of it can be measured in years.

I still find it hard to believe that the young man who was so excited to finally be starting his career has retired. Granted, my ex-husband is only fifty-five and that is young to retire, however, his was a profession that is hard on the body. Retiring after thirty years isn’t uncommon. But still. I was once married to someone who is now retired.

Dennis and I were talking about this yesterday and it brought up the topic of waiting to do things in life. Many people sacrifice and forgo pleasures in the present to enjoy themselves in their retirement. My paternal grandpa was like that. He was a motorcycle police officer in Milwaukee for thirty-years. His greatest dream was to retire to Florida. I suppose riding around on a motorcycle in January in Wisconsin will make a person yearn for warmth.

It worked out for him. Once he got his thirty years in on the force in the mid 1950’s, he retired and moved to Florida. He was in his early fifties, probably about the age I am now. Granpa worked on the force down in Florida for a bit, too, as well as sold cars for a time. He lived in Florida until 1979, when he passed away.

Other people aren’t as lucky as my grandpa. They put-off dreams until retirement and then health problems crop up, and retirement never comes. Or it comes, but they aren’t able to physically do the dream anymore.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to pursue the lifelong dream, whether it be a large purchase, relocating your life or taking the dream trip?

Two years ago, when I turned fifty, I did act on a lifelong dream. I got a dog. And although conditions weren’t ideal to get one, (we ended up fencing in our front yard because we don’t have a back yard and now I’m pretty sure we’re the house the neighbors are worried is hurting their resale value), I’m still glad I did it.

IMG_1330

Our house, Pre-Dog. Notice how small the pine trees are.

house big trees

Same view, Post-Dog, 9 years later. Look how big the pines are! It’s hard to see the fence from this view, but it’s there.

house fence close

House, Post-Dog, closer view.

Getting Sammy is the exception, though. Normally, I tend to fall in the procrastinator category where I opt to save the money instead of spend it, over-think the downsides and eventually decide that now isn’t the right time to do whatever.

Except, I am now old enough to have been married to someone who is now retired.  I am roughly the same age as my grandpa was when he made his “next stage in life” dream come true.

Does that means the right time is now to start seriously looking at making those someday dreams come true?

 

9:20 AM

 

 

 

The Transformation

May 27, 2018 10:27 AM (for May 26, 2018)

Yesterday, I made a spur of the moment change. It wasn’t well-thought out. I made my decision on Friday night and executed on Saturday morning.

While the change isn’t important in the big scheme of life. I can tell already that it is a life-altering change for me.

I had my hair cut and dyed yesterday. I chose a drastic new style and a drastic new color. Here’s the before and after pictures.

beforeafter2

I’m not one to shirk trying new hairstyles. I’ve gone short before. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been this short before. I think it was back in the mid 90’s where a dye mishap left me with jet black hair. I decided to rock a pixie cut until it faded out. But I was younger than. Twenty years younger, at least.

Once I hit my forties, I’ve been consciously choosing styles that I think are age appropriate. My personal taste tends to be unconvential. I like bright colors and patterns. I love animal prints — especially leopard. In an attempt to not be that little old lady someday with the wild hair and clothes, I’ve been reigning in my choices, gradually. Easing my way into a more mature look.

As far as hair color goes, I’ve never ventured beyond the rainbow of hair colors that can occur naturally in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had every color of hair possible — blonde, brown, red, all highlighted with various hues. But I’ve never ventured outside that spectrum to what they now call “fashion” colors.

I like fashion colors! I’ve always liked them. I had a girlfriend in college (mid-80’s) who dyed her hair a lovely shade of eggplant purple and shaved it on one side. I liked it but I was never brave enough to do it myself.

Nowadays, the hair dye aisle in Walmart looks like a box of crayons. There are non-permanent dyes to change hair to blues and greens and pinks. I love them! The past few years I’ve admired them as I bought my dark brown spray tint to hide-the-grays. I’ve wished they were available when I was younger. I totally would have played around with color when I was younger if it wasn’t permanent. Totally. (Can you tell I’m a child of the 80’s?)

Then a couple of months ago, I picked up a can of pink spray color on a whim. I added a hot pink streak to my hair now and then. Which was fun, but since my hair is dark it wasn’t that noticeable. I had I use a lot of the spray to see the color which left a chunk of my hair feeling crispy and shellacked. I couldn’t get a comb through it.

I get that playing with pink dye that washes out is a big difference than permanent dye and good head shearing. So what happened to force me out of my comfort zone yesterday?

It was, surprisingly, a writing seminar that I attended last weekend. This was an informal seminar not affiliated with a college. There were writers of all kinds but the majority of them were women. Many of them were as old or older than me.

And many of them were rocking fun personal styles. Personal styles that I wouldn’t necessarily deem age-appropriate. There was one white-haired lady with bright red glasses. The instructor had short, red-spiked hair. One of the published authors on the panel had this awesome hair cut where part of the top was long and part was shaved. The long part was held back with clips to expose the partly shaved part. Granted, she was probably at least ten years younger than me, but she wasn’t in her early twenties either.

I got a lot out of that seminar. More than I expected. I learned a lot about getting published and I learned that age appropriate is whatever you like at your age. Were these women dressed out the norm in what you’d see at Pick N Save on a Saturday? You bet. Did they care? I doubt it. Did anyone at Pick N Save care that the woman had a partially shaved head or an elderly woman wore bright red glasses? I doubt that, too.

One of the gifts of growing older is the freedom to do and be who you want to be. Some people learn this much earlier in life, like my friend in college with the eggplant hair. Some of us, like me, learn it later; but at least I learned it.

So went I went into the salon yesterday, I told my stylist to go to the “fashion” colors of her dye chart. She was shocked. I handed her a couple of photos of hair cuts that were part Katy Perry, part Pink. The result: a super short haircut that is shaved at the back and a hair color that’s somewhere in between the color of an eggplant and a red pepper. Still colors found in nature, just not colors found on humans.

I love the change. I love the ease. This morning I got up, ran my hand through my hair and it was done. (Those of you who color know you can’t wash it for the first 24 hours). I saved at least 20 minutes from my morning hair routine. That’s two plus hours a week!

Now I think I need new fun glasses to match the hair.  I saw a pair of leopard print frames I liked but didn’t buy the last time I looked. I do love my leopard print.

Will I end up being a little old lady wearing bright pink lipstick, too much leopard print (as if there is such a thing!) with bright, garish hair? Quite possibly.  Maybe those little old ladies had it right all along. Age-appropriateness is all in your mind.

I just had to hit the appropriate age to recognize that.

 

11:14 AM