Girls’ Night Out

I have a new friend, Kim. We met this summer at a wedding, but just finally connected a few weeks ago over breakfast. She invited me out with some of her friends last night – what a nice time!

We went to a wine bar, had yummy rosé and sandwiches, then walked a couple of blocks to the local live theater. It was a lovely evening. Good to meet some women my own age – finally! Up until now, I’ve known one or two women who are in my age range – most of my female friends here in VA are older or younger than me by 10+ years.

I realized, as I arrived and took off my coat, that I haven’t really been out with a small group of girl friends for almost three years. When I first moved to VA, I was invited to a woman’s house for a discussion of a particular cookbook and eating plan, but I felt out of place and self-conscious in that group – I didn’t know anyone, not even really the hostess, though we’re friends now. Before that, there was once in FL, just before I was moving, when my neighbor ladies took me out for a goodbye dinner.

Prior to that, I went out many times with women my own age, while living in Wisconsin. I was friends with women who had children my kids’ ages, so that automatically brought common companionship. I was in weekly Bible Study and prayer groups with fellow women at the same stage of life as me. I suppose that’s expected – we had life in common.

Besides those groups, and the wonderful team of women with whom I worked daily, I’d get together for breakfast or coffee with a few friends on a pretty regular basis. Then there’s my dear friend with whom I shared many dinners over the years. And let’s not forget my weekly call with my best friend!

I remember many years ago, when my dad was leaving for almost two weeks on a mission trip to Africa. My mom and I had multiple conversations about what she was going to do while he was gone, and she had made plans with several female friends for activities while he traveled, to help offset the potential loneliness of him being away. And we talked then about how important it is to have female friendships!

I think I’ve complained here on this blog about being lonely, longing for nearby relationships with women my own age. So I was excited when my schedule opened up last night – I usually have a Tuesday evening commitment. It worked out beautifully that I was free last night to join this “new” group of ladies. I had just recently bought a new dress, and thought how cute it would look with boots; I’d get dressed up for Girls’ Night – a nice change from my regular sweater and jeans.

But yesterday afternoon, I almost backed out. I had returned home after running errands, and I thought how nice it would be to stay home and make dinner with my husband, share a bottle of wine, and watch Netflix together. But he told me to go, and said that I needed some female companionship. He knows me so well!

I’m glad he pushed, and I’m very glad I went. And the dress looked great with the boots!

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Giving Thanks

It’s good to pause and give thanks. We should all do it more often than just on the fourth Thursday of November! God calls us to make it a lifestyle: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:18‬, NIV‬‬.

Gratitude has been shown to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. And while it may be hard to be thankful in the middle of a dark valley, it’s good to make an effort.

Give it a try. Just one little thing that you’re grateful for. Like your breath. Your pillow. Your cozy blanket. The quiet. The dark. Your pet. Your kids, or spouse, or sister, or parents. Pick just one thing, and think on it – what makes it special? Why do you like it? Tell God “Thanks” – for that one thing.

That’s the start of gratitude. One thing. Maybe the next day, or a few days later, you’ll be able to think of two. Or more. But no pressure – just one will do.

I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately, probably because the holidays bring it to the forefront. And I realize that I have lots to be thankful for! Kind of like this video: https://youtu.be/BSxPWpLPN7A

For my husband. My kids. Friends far and near, old and new. My home. My cats. My Bible and journal. Physical and mental health. Sight. Hearing aids. The freedom to worship. The freedom to vote. Food. Coffee. Chocolate.

Once I start looking around, I see all kinds of things to be thankful for!

And that doesn’t even touch on creation – like sunsets and beaches and streams and tall trees and wildflower fields with paths. And waterfalls and canyons. And goldfinches and foxes and bison. And gentle rain and big snowflakes and sunny afternoons.

I’m so grateful – yes, thankful – to be in an emotional place where I can see and (try to) count my blessings. “Lord, I do give thee thanks for the abundance that is mine. (LIDGTTFTATIM)” – Don Blanding, Today Is Here.

Try reading this talisman for 12 days – LIDGTTFTATIM – and each day, while reading it through, meditate on the different words of the phrase. You’ll find deep comfort and inherent gratitude as you focus on them.

Oh, thank You, great God, for the good gifts You give.

Out of Sorts

Friday – what a weird day after a long week. I feel discombobulated today – out of sorts. Perhaps a culmination of the past few days.

Saw my psych doc on Monday – my emotional scale scored better than last month’s, so that’s good. I’m pretty stable in the psych world, so don’t need to see him for two months. That’s progress.

Feeling frumpy: saw an ear-nose-throat doc and audiologist on Tuesday – 40+% hearing loss in each ear – prime candidate for hearing aids. I’m only 54 years old! Have gained 5 pounds so my clothes don’t fit right. Can’t read anything without my glasses on. Feeling sorry for myself. Need to figure out how to accept these changes and move on without discouragement. As I’ve said before (last time with humor:) – getting older isn’t for sissies! Paul talks about being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) – not until today did I consider that might include ageing.

Got a haircut on Wednesday, but she didn’t listen and cut where I told her not to. Makes me miss Susie, who did my hair almost perfectly for 12+ years!

Had a good lunch with women from Book Club on Thursday – nice to be included. Took a relaxing nap during the afternoon thunderstorm. Reading a fantastic book for next month’s Book Club – I’m devouring The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Have had the book for 24 hours and am already on chapter 17!

Today is a lovely sunny day, but for some reason, it’s causing me to miss my Fort Myers house and pool and beach time. Sitting outside on my porch in Virginia is just not the same as on the lanai in Florida.

Leg pain has greatly abated – only hurts when I turn a certain way. So I won’t turn that direction! So glad to finally have relief, after weeks of severe pain.

Several friends going through really tough times. Have prayed hard for others all week, which is as it should be. Still, only one success story from them all – feels discouraging. So much pain and difficulty, and I am helpless to do anything. But praying is doing something – it’s allowing God to work. You go, God!

Missing my kids, my old friends. As always.

Need to remind myself that days like this happen to everyone. Just a funk. A week of ups and downs.

Tomorrow is Saturday – a lazy day, but includes dinner out with my husband to celebrate Mother’s Day. Then a new week. Glad this one is over soon.

Early morning ponderings

I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and got up at 2:00 a.m. Not for any particular reason, like I couldn’t sleep. More like I just wanted to be up. Weird, huh?

I was thinking about a good friend in my old workplace who recently got a new job – I found out yesterday that she had changed employers. It made me excited for her. She’s the kind of person who would be great in a variety of positions, so I’m eager to chat with her and see how she’s liking it.

I thought about all the staff at my old job, how much I love our friendship even across the years and miles, how often and fondly I think of them, and how busy and tired they’re going to be as they install a new traveling exhibit this week. It’s a heavy one! I prayed for safety for them as they carry those large pieces into place. I wished I could be there for the chaos, and the satisfaction of a job well done, the smiles and giggles when the guests play with it all.

I began thinking about my sister and her family – we chatted earlier this week. But I forgot to ask if the clothes and books I gave for Christmas were a good “fit.” I sure wish we lived closer so we could grab lunch together and talk longer.

I thought about my girlfriend who lives far away and anticipated our weekly phone conversation tomorrow. I always look forward to our talks!

I was thinking about my friend Carol, who blogged yesterday about her day. I chuckled as I drank my mid-night tea (read her blog to understand why). Her husband has just started a new job, and I’m happy for the change of pace they will get to enjoy as a family.

Funny, three of these folks have seniors in high school. I thought about all those similar deadlines and events swirling through their heads each day as they plan and dream. Both the kids and the parents!

I’m enjoying the quiet of this early morning time. I think I’ll have another cup of tea and read on my Kindle.

Slumber on, world!

10 Days and counting…and gratitude

So it’s been 10 days since the doctor’s appointment and I don’t feel any better. The depression is not lighter.

I realize that 7-10 Days is kind of arbitrary. Feeling the effects of a change in meds can take longer. But I had really hoped…

I wasn’t planning to go to my small group today – was going to text the leader and say I wasn’t coming. But then one of my daily devotionals talked about fellowship. And since I had just asked God to make it clear if it was okay that I skip, I felt like He answered me directly – “Go!” So I went.

And I was blessed for going. We spent time in worship – just listening to praise songs and entering prayer and the Presence of the Lord. I always have my journal, and I wrote down some of the words to the worship songs, as well as praise to some names of God. Redeemer. King of kings. Lord. Holy God. Father. Creator. God of All. Protector. Provider.

I’m glad I went. I realized – again – that I’m not the only one struggling with loneliness. And Jesus knows my feelings, and I can feel Him draw near to me to comfort me.

He knows I’m not better after 10 days of the increased meds. But He loves me in the middle of my mess. He is acquainted with sorrow. He’s not surprised by my sadness. He sits with me in my isolation. He tells me that He is with me – I am not alone.

And as my therapist reminded me the other day, I am more than my depression symptoms. I may not feel like it, but I am greater than my depression.

I am working on thanksgiving. Having a grateful heart. It seems to me that gratitude will build contentment, which will fight bitterness. I want a thankful heart. One of gratitude for my daily blessings, large and small. I’m writing them down, to make them concrete. I desire to fight depression with gratitude. Oh Lord God, help me to make it so!

🎶 Give thanks, with a grateful heart.

Give thanks, to the Holy One.

Give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now, let the weak say “I am strong.”

Let the poor say “I am rich,

because of what the Lord has done, for us.” 🎶

So it’s been 10 days. And it may be 10 more. Or longer. Until the depression lifts. But in the meantime, I will continue to praise and thank God for His blessings. Friends who know me and love me anyway. A husband who supports me always. My kids. My work. My home. Medications. Moments of sunshine. New friends who want to get to know me better. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lover of My Soul, the Giver of Grace. May He receive all the glory. Amen.