Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Living on the Edge--Part 2

Life after middle age can be an exciting adventure.
1. Explore your God-given passions. Pour yourself into life with abandon. Sarah Young in one of her devotionals says, “Out on a limb with me [Jesus] is the safest place to be.” Step out on that limb if He is leading you there.
2. Dare to be uncomfortable. Start small. Brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand opens new pathways in the brain—so I’ve read. Sit in a different spot in church. You won’t die. Ask someone you’d like to know better to lunch. Open yourself to criticism.
3. Try something new. Join a book club. Join the choir. Audition for a play. Put yourself out there. Expand your territory. No one ever died from embarrassment.
4. Explore a hobby. Life is full of so many possibilities. A sport? Scrapbooking? Antiquing? Blogging? Hate sports? Buy a WII.

Don’t let life pass you by while you sit on the sidelines paralyzed by fear of failure.
Take a risk. Buy green bananas.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Living on the Edge

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp -- or what's a heaven for?" Robert Browning.

I am not a particularly adventurous person. I have never wanted to travel to exotic places, eat unfamiliar foods, climb glaciers, or jump out of airplanes. I am not a thrill seeker. I don’t skate on thin ice, ride on bald tires, or swim in the ocean at sunset. I don’t invite catastrophe. Although I respond well in a crisis, I wouldn’t go out of my way to create one.

My idea of living on the edge is eating raw cookie dough (I knew the appeal before Ben and Jerry), riding in the parking lot without a seat belt, or taking cough medicine beyond its expiration date. And once I belonged to a glue sniffing club.

Let me explain that last one. As an only child I had a variety of rather strange pastimes one of which was putting together model airplanes and boats. I had a best friend who was equally imaginative and definitely more adventurous than I. We had no idea in 1956 of the dangers of glue vapors. Sniffing anything--except maybe Vicks Vapor Rub—was a completely foreign idea. We just knew that we liked the smell of model airplane glue. So we formed a club. (We had exclusive clubs for everything in those days.). On rainy afternoons when we were tired of comic books, we would go into her grandfather’s radio room and squeeze small puddles of the stuff onto paper and inhale the fumes. Neither of us suffered any brain damage—well, sometimes I wonder about her.

If we had been warned about the dangers of glue sniffing, I assure you I wouldn’t have sniffed. I’m rule governed—a natural born referee, playing by the rules and expecting everyone else to do the same. My daughter cringes when we line up for a sale at Tuesday Morning, knowing that if someone dares to cut in line, I will glare at them, daring them to make eye contact, so that I can direct them politely, but firmly, to the end of the line.

My mother always said “Let a word to the wise be sufficient.” And I pretty much heeded those words, not wanting to learn anything the hard way. My only rebellion consisted of keeping library books beyond their due date, swimming in the gravel pits when my mother strictly forbade it (I never dove just jumped), and parking on lover’s lane with my boy friend. I figured I could handle the danger in the car, and was willing to risk the dangers outside the car.

I do sound boring, but before you mark me off your list of people you would like to know better, I’d like to say that though I am prudent, I am courageous when called to be. Courage is not lack of fear but acting in spite of fear. Think of all that you failed to accomplish because you were afraid. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

I like to think of myself as a calculated risk taker, willing to step out in faith and risk ridicule, failure, or disappointment to accomplish a worthwhile goal. This behavior gets more difficult as we grow older and more set in our ways. Too often we get in ruts that inhibit our growth and self actualization.

When Jim was diagnosed with cancer we evaluated our lives and decided what was important. What things did we love to do? What did we hate doing? Could we eliminate some of those things that caused us stress and unhappiness to make time for new endeavors? When faced with a terminal illness, you realize how short life is--too short to let fear prevent you from pursuing your dreams.

In my next blog entry, I will tell you how to get out of your rut and make positive changes in your life.