A friend in need…

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“Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead.” – Les Brown

This past Monday was a day of disappointing news.

I won’t say it was a day of bad news. But on a day that the sky was dark and  cloudy, when the wind was cold and biting; when the strain of winter’s dreariness begins to take a toll on one’s soul, it was a day ripe with hopes of  good news to brighten the gloom felt both inside and out.

That just didn’t happen.

In the early afternoon, I received a text from my youngest daughter. She didn’t make the cut for an advanced choir for which she auditioned. She studied. She practiced. She prayed. We prayed. Her name didn’t make the list, and she was crushed. I was crushed for her as well.

“Can you come get me?”

Normally I would say “no,” but I knew she needed the comfort of her mom’s embrace and a private moment to console herself. So I called and excused her from class and went to retrieve her from the school. My temptation to stop and buy for her the biggest chocolate bar I could find gave way to the mom in me trying to reinforce good habits, and I didn’t want to send the wrong message of burying disappointments in food. A good cry, a big hug and some carefully, prayerfully considered words of comfort would be given, along with the space needed to examine the disappointment and to make a plan to move ahead.

She had the biggest, saddest look in her soft, beautiful brown eyes. A look of maturity with the hurt of a toddler. It killed me to look at her. I, too, began to cry.

“You have a beautiful voice, and it is truly a gift from God,” I told her. “Don’t let this disappointment get you down. He has great plans for you, and as hard as this is, trust that He will bring you through this and place you where He needs you to be.”

We chatted a bit more, cried a bit more, and then I left her alone, though I didn’t want to leave her side. A few moments to lick her wounds and cry into her pillow would be good therapy, and I continued on with the tasks of my day, tackling the to-do list as I checked on her throughout the rest of the afternoon.

Not too long afterwards, the dogs began barking at someone who was knocking at the door. On the other side were two of my daughter’s friends, bearing bags of snacks: her favorite chips, her favorite candy and a pizza-making kit. They brought all of her favorites, plus the love and compassion of friends who knew she needed them. My eyes began to well up at the love these young ladies showed their heart-broken friend.

I heard sniffles and giggles as they prepared the pizza, and squeals of laughter as the therapy worked – much better than a chocolate bar from mom. For a few hours, my daughter’s friends kept their pal company, had her laughing, and cast a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day.

During the time the girls were visiting, I received my own share of very disappointing news; where I was praying for outcomes that were completely different and unexpected from the ones I received. It was now my turn to cry, and to reach out to one of my friends for solace and comfort. It was also my turn take the words of wisdom I gave to my daughter, and apply them to my own circumstances. That, truly, was not easy, as I asked God “Why? Can’t I catch a break?”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

I believe God places friends in our lives to prop us up when we have a hard time believing that the disappointments we encounter can be used for the greater good in our lives – or for others.

We may never know why we are dealing with the disappointments that we have been given, but with faith and the love and support of our friends, we will survive – and grow stronger from the setbacks we encounter along our paths.

How have you helped your child/children through a major disappointment? Share in the comment section below.

© 2013 – Lynne Cobb

Sex, Super Bowl and Sundaes

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“Everyone in society should be a role model, not only for their own self-respect, but for respect from others.” – Barry Bonds

Like so many other Americans, I spent last night watching the Super Bowl. My teen-aged daughter had a couple of her gal pals over, and we feasted on pizza, chips and make-your-own sundaes.

I admit that I don’t know a whole lot about football, and the game itself doesn’t interest me much. As a writer with a background in journalism, advertising and public relations, I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.

This year, I was pretty disappointed.

My daughter and her pals use the word “awkward” for most any situation. So when the Calvin Klein, scantily clad male-model underwear commercial aired, in a room with impressionable young ladies, let’s say I felt, um, awkward.

Dismissing the commercial as inappropriate, I reminded the girls that, like female models, this guy didn’t represent real guys. And most men don’t do interpretive dance in their skivvies (I think!). I mean, they may slide across the floor like Tom Cruise in “Risky Business,” but not like in this commercial. And Tom did have a shirt on, too, didn’t he?

Of course, these types of commercials are prevalent. Airbrushed men and women grace our big-screen TVs and magazine pages, and make us average Joes look like the Stay-Puf Marshmallow Man. I think I am dating myself.

When Beyoncé took to center stage for the half-time show, let’s say at that point “awkward” was an understatement. I thought that I should run and stand in front of the TV, blocking the girls’ view, not caring about being labeled the old-fashioned, non-cool mom. But I didn’t. Instead, I took the opportunity as a teaching moment; to say that the attire these gals were wearing for the entire world to see was, in my opinion, entirely inappropriate. And because of what they wore, they sold themselves short. Basically, their talent came in second to their costumes, and that is sad.

Oh, I am a fuddy-dud. But please, hear me out.

Sex sells. That has been proven over and over again. But in our culture, we are selling ourselves out. We are getting to the point that we are being de-sensitized. Does that matter? In a word, yes! Well, why?

Just as with violence, we keep pushing sexual images on everyone. Young, impressionable kids are told by our attitudes that “sex is bad; sex is dirty,” and then they see images on TV and in magazines showing big boobs, tight butts, trim bellies and more. They are so used to seeing these images, that there is a need to show more and more skin to make  messages and shows more effective and enticing. And shocking.

Sadly, the more skin they see, the less they find it shocking. Our young ladies are basically encouraged to dress provocatively to get attention, because that is the message they are sent. So, any talents or skills they have are second in line to how much skin they bare. And it is spilling over to the guy’s side now, too.

When we, as a culture, de-sensitize sex, at what point do those lines blur into increased incidents of sexual harassment, assault, rape and other crimes?

I remember back when I was about 18 or 19 years-old, and I was heading out the door to meet my friends. I had on a brand-new, tight-fitting skirt, with a very long slit. It showed plenty of thigh.

My dad stopped me at the door.

“You’re not wearing that out of this house,” he hollered.

“What?” I responded, shocked and stunned. I mean, come on, Dad, I’m a legal adult!

“That sends the wrong message,” he yelled.

“What are you talking about?” I yelled back.

“That slit will be sewn up. You are not walking out the door in that thing. End of discussion.”

And he walked away.

Stunned, I went back into my room, changed, and muttered about getting my own place and wearing what I wanted. A few days later, when cooler heads prevailed, my mom sewed the slit to an approved length.

I am really sorry I never thanked my dad for that valuable lesson. Though he didn’t use these exact words, by his actions, he was showing his concern; that he wanted me to respect myself enough to not sell myself short. If some young man wanted me, then he should want me for who I was; the whole package – not just the thighs.

I bet if I post a racy photo on my blog today, it will generate a whole lot more hits than by just posting my words. But that’s okay. I am not going to cheapen myself. No Dad, I am glad I listened. I wish you were here for me to say thanks. Whatever I do in the world will be done to God’s glory, via the talent He’s given me, not by selling myself short.

So there it is – my a-ha moment. After all these years, it hit me last night while giggling with the gals and eating ice cream smothered in chocolate, caramel and whipping cream: If a product or a person needs to be sexualized in order to sell, then you know what? It isn’t worth my money or time.

An a-ha moment I plan to share with my kids. And their friends.

What do you think? Am I old-fashioned or onto something here? Let me know in the comments section.

© 2013 – Lynne Cobb

Guess what? Spelling matters!

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In high school I tried out for the spelling team, but only because I really wanted a letter jacket.”
― Jarod Kintz

English:
ten·ter
/ˈtentər/Noun
Definition: A framework on which fabric can be held taut for drying or other treatment during manufacture.
Synonyms
stretcher

French:
[ta(n) tay]
Definition: to tempt, attempt, try

So…who’s up for some “tenter” flat iron steak?

Wow. I have seen some whoppers in my day, but that one (see my photo above) was a big error. And if you look close, you will see another glaring mistake.

Words spelled incorrectly, phrases used in the wrong context – one can see these in newspapers, magazines, ads and so forth. They are nothing new. In fact, Jay Leno made a name for himself by airing some of these awful mistakes during his “Headlines” segment.

In an editing class I took about 10 years ago, our professor would give us extra credit for errors found on the front page of the paper where he was employed. Suffice to say, I received extra credit every week.

And that was a decade ago. Since that time, the errors seem to be getting worse.

Trust me, I will admit that I bend almost every grammatical rule in the English language. Yes, I end sentences with prepositions – I even start sentences that way! I make errors, letting my participles dangle for all to see. But no matter what I am working on, I always have someone read my work before I submit it. From newsletters to articles, they will be looked at before I send them off to an editor. Bless his heart, no matter where my husband is in the world, I send him my work and ask him to proofread. After he looks it over with fresh eyes, I am confident enough to send my work to an editor, and let a professional polish my words, making them presentable in print.

Errors will happen, but I think the reason they are so prevalent these days is that we are taking humans out of the equation. Print publishing has taken a huge smack in the finance department. Professional writers, like me, have seen pink slips and pay cuts. Many have changed careers, so the field of qualified proofreaders is shrinking. In the meantime, editors have become over-worked and underpaid. Therefore, mistakes are made.

My assumption is that corporations seeking to save a dollar have found it cheaper to use spelling and grammar software than to pay a professional who has a firm grasp of the English language. The cheaper-than-an-editor forms of copy editing and proofing ensure that the errors, which used to happen on occasion, now happen on a regular basis.

In my humble opinion, I find that this is a huge mistake.

Standards for our language have been edged out by electronic communications. Shortened words and phrases due to texts and Tweets make for an abbreviated form of the written language. And, may I add, this is spilling over into our verbal communication skills as well. But I digress.

So, excuse me while I jump up high here on my soapbox, as I want to share a few pointers with those who feel writers and editors are expendable:

– Spelling skills matter.
– Good writing is an art.
– Fact check before printing. One “Googled” source doesn’t count.
– Let a human proofread.
– Using slang? Don’t rely on reality television. Double check the term with Urban Dictionary for context.
– Using foreign terms? Look up spelling for those words and phrases, too.

If you are a business owner, pay for a professional writer to either write or proofread your company’s communications, to include email blasts, newsletters, Web content, Tweets and blogs.

Never underestimate the power of an English major. For, at the end of the day, we have a tenter tender heart for those who appreciate us.

Do spelling errors drive you crazy? Share in the comments section.
© Lynne Cobb -2013

Being a guest blogger!

Very excited to announce that I was a guest blogger on “The Your Resume Consultant Blog.” 

Here’s a link to the post!

httpsss://blog.yourresumeconsultant.com/?p=401

Thanks for taking a moment to read about another trip down memory lane!

Exercise and New Year’s resolutions…

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“Exercise is a dirty word.  Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.”  ~Author Unknown

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Not because I am afraid of commitment (well, that all depends on the commitment – ha ha!). My personal feeling is that I have all year to resolve to better myself, and that was exactly what I did last year.

Deciding to become healthier, I started buying more organic foods, used less cleaning chemicals, tried gardening, made my own natural toiletries, and I quit smoking (okay, I will admit one or two puffs on an organic cigarette in the course of a year, but hey, not bad considering the almost pack-a-day habit of last year.)

Well, what happens when one quits smoking? Metabolism changes, and sometimes snacking becomes the new smoking. Someone told me to expect a 25-pound weight gain.

Well, call me stupid, but I am thinking that putting on that much weight in one year isn’t much healthier than smoking.

But I persevered, didn’t smoke, put on enough weight to make me cry and want to throw things and even blog about being blue over not finding jeans that fit! (Remember this? httpssss://lynnecobb.com/2012/08/18/dressing-rooms-blue-jeans-and-a-midlife-crisis/ )

Of course, my dear husband (and any of my children who were in earshot) listened to my rants.

Now, over the course of almost 30 years, my husband, who is also a soldier, told me that the cure for all ills is exercise. For example, I might say, “I’m freezing.” His response will always be, “Do push-ups.” Or, me, “I’m tired,” and he’d say, “exercise.” And me, someone who thinks sweating is gross, rolled my eyes. Every. Single. Time.

So, as I saw I was getting a little pudgy and flipping out over it, I decided that maybe my soldier is correct.

So, I started walking. Success.

Then, I started biking. Success.

My bike is a retro-looking one speed. I call it a “me speed.” It goes as fast as I can go. It goes up hills, dependent upon – me. And the first few hills this I tried, well, let’s just say I walked my bike. Then one day, I made it up the hill.

I was hooked. On exercise. The thing I detested most.

Well, not hooked enough to ride my bike in the winter in Michigan. So, in the fall, I started floor exercises. I can now do over 35 crunches, and lots of tilts and even three Army regulation push-ups.

Success!

I am a machine!

So when my 15-year-old daughter, who is on the cheer team, told me she did side planks, I was curious.

And I Googled “side plank.” Good for strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Well, looking at that photo, I knew I could do that. Lay on my side, feet together. Elbow bent. Support my body weight. Feel the burn. Yeah, not the good “no pain, no gain” burn. Ow.

Success – no.

There are somethings a personal trainer should show you. Exercises are one of them.

Needless to say, I have been pampering my strained arm for four days. Writers type, and at the moment, typing can be very painful. Lucky for me, essential oil of peppermint is awesome at alleviating pain 🙂 And it is organic!

And dark chocolate is a great antioxidant, and releases good endorphins, which help manage pain.

I just hope this arm heals soon, because I want to exercise again. Yikes, did I say that? I did say that! I want to exercise again. Because you know that average 25 pound weight gain? Not only did I avoid that, I am down to my “smoking days” weight. And I feel better when I exercise.

So, needless to say, in this New Year, I have resolved to rethink my adversity to resolutions. And I resolve to consult with a certified trainer for exercises that are unfamiliar. Or at least consult with one when those exercises look “easy” on Google images

PS – laughter is a good pain medicine, too 🙂

Do you have any exercise “fail” stories you are willing to share?

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

Giving thanks and Christmas goodies

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This holiday season has been a challenge for me. Because of its ups and downs, I have incorporated into my daily routine a moment to stop and give thanks in all things. I am here to tell you, of all challenges a woman of faith faces in a day, giving thanks in all things is simply not easy. Looking adversity straight in the eye is not comfortable. And thanking God for it? Well, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

Today has been a very tough day for me. The last final days of preparing for Christmas have been hard because I am missing some of those who are most dear to me. So, procrastination has set in. I have created lots to do – all that has absolutely nothing to do with my very long to-do list.

But that is okay, because my feeling of being a bit blue has led me to a distraction, which has led me to a wonderful opportunity to give thanks in all things.

While cleaning the office, when I really should be cleaning the bathroom, I found an old column of mine – my very first published column – ever! A former editor, Steve Stein, took a chance on me, and on Christmas Eve, 1998, I was published.

The memory of the excitement of seeing my byline, combined with the words I wrote 14 years ago, gives me the opportunity to thank him and so many others who have helped me along the way. I can never thank my former editors and writing colleagues enough.

“Sugar Buzz” was written when my oldest was 13 and my baby was one. This column reflects what Christmas used to be like in our home, 14 years ago. Of course, I miss those days of Christmas past, and in giving thanks in all things, I look forward to the memories of Christmas present and future.

I hope you enjoy this column! God bless you and your families as you create special moments together.

“Sugar Buzz,” written by Lynne Cobb and published in The Mirror Newspapers, December 24, 1998:

I know I read somewhere that sugar does not affect children’s behavior. Well, this experienced mother can truly dispute that statement! Any parent who has ever hosted a child’s party or helped out during classroom parties can attest to this fact as well.

But who am I to complain? Growing up, there was always “something sweet” with coffee after dinner. This tradition has carried over to my household as well as those of my siblings. I have a panic attack if we have surprise visitors and there is nothing sweet in the house.

Now, as parents, my husband and I try to keep our children’s sugar ingestion to a minimum. (I said try!) All four of them were born with a sweet tooth. Dessert is part of the food pyramid, right? And Christmas is coming, which means – more sugar and goodies.

I honor of all the parents who will try to talk their children into vegetable sticks in lieu of candy and cookies, I lift my cup of cocoa to you. And here’s a tune I penned to “Silver Bells” to get you in the mood:

Sugar Buzz

Sugar buzz, sugar buzz,

It’s Christmas time in my kitchen.

Butter rings, fudge and things,

Soon kids will be spazzing out.

City children, country children,

With their hands gooey-gross,

Keep eating the cookies and junk food.

See them laughing, see them jumping,

See them bouncing around.

And they just keep on chowing junk down!

Sugar buzz, sugar buzz,

It’s Christmas time in my kitchen.

Angel wings, sugary things

Soon kids will be spazzing out.

Grandma’s baking, candies making,

See the kids beg for more.

Mom and Dad roll their eyes – plead for mercy.

Hyper children, sticky clothing,

Today’s the year’s longest day…

And tomorrow we’ll start this again!

Sugar buzz, sugar buzz,

It’s Christmas time in my kitchen.

Red food coloring, fined everything

These kids just can’t simmer down!

Merry Christmas!

© Lynne Cobb – 2012

Broken Hearts and Christmas

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“Somewhere there’s someone who dreams of your smile, and finds in your presence that life is worth while. So when you are lonely, remember it’s true: Somebody, somewhere, is thinking of you.” – Unknown

Christmas is the season of hope and miracles. Festive lights and decorations are everywhere. There is absolutely no escaping it. No matter where you are, music is playing. Wishes for snow and gifts are plentiful. To-do lists and errands seem miles long. Hustle and bustle. And exhaustion – all in an effort to have everything “perfect.”

For weeks I have been asked: Are you ready for Christmas? Are you in the holiday spirit? Don’t you love this time of year?

No. No. And this year, no.

For the record, I am not a Grinch. Most years, I am as wound up as a five-year-old waiting for the big day. Though no longer a child, I do believe in Santa. On Christmas Eve, I search the sky, looking for the jolly ol’ elf. And I believe in Christmas magic and the hope of this season. The Babe in Bethlehem is my Salvation.

But I am not really into Christmas this year.

I have freely admitted this to many people, and save for a few, I am greeted with shock and horror. Some people look at me like I am crazy.

But I am normal. And I don’t need a therapist and I don’t need an anti-depressant.

I just need people to understand that, for me, this is a difficult holiday season. I am going to smile. And I am going to laugh. And I am going to cry. And those tears are healing. Those tears are okay.

Christmas will be different this year. That doesn’t make it bad – it doesn’t make it good. It makes it different. I never wanted it to be different.

I wanted it to be perfect.

At some point in our lives, how we celebrate Christmas changes. Children grow up, family members move, dads pass away. Maybe, for the first time in my life, I really have come to understand that there is no such thing as the perfect Christmas.

I overheard a conversation that resonated with me. Two women were discussing the emphasis on to-do lists, and shopping and baking, “all for one day.” The older woman hit the nail on the head – that the emphasis is on the wrong place.

“All you need to be ready for Christmas is to be surrounded by the ones you love.”

Yet, this year, there will be very dear ones missing from our celebrations – but because of my I love for them, they will be in attendance, for they are always close in my heart. Always.

Undoubtedly, Christmas will be different. Acknowledging that difference and that I won’t do all the same things this year relieves me of some of the pressures of “perfect.” I won’t have to pretend I am happy if I am having a sad moment. Different will make previous memories more precious, and new moments memorable.

Different will give me an ever greater appreciation of what I have been blessed with, which will go a long way towards healing my broken heart.

Different will also force me to look outside of myself and share with others – hard as that may be – even if all I can do is muster up a smile or be polite.

Maybe different will cause me to become different – but in a good and more thoughtful way. Maybe it will give me a greater compassion for the lonely, the hurting or for those experiencing loss.

Maybe, just maybe, different will one day feel perfect.

“It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.” – Isabel Currier

How are you helping yourself or a loved one this holiday season?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

For the love of Louie, please make it STOP!

“Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.” Imelda Marcos

Really, I am not trying to be arrogant here, but I believe that I speak for people across the globe when I say folks world-wide can’t wait for the polls to close here in the United States on Election Day.

Not that I think we are pro-actively wishing our lives away. Not at all. But whether you are a conservative or a liberal; a Democrat or Republican; a Coke or Pepsi drinker; a wine sipper or beer guzzler; a Target or Wal-Mart shopper; a vegan or carnivore…or what ever else separates us from one another, I believe we can all agree on this:

We can’t wait for Election Day 2012 to be over.

Have you ever felt so mentally weary?

Right now, I am thinking that giving birth without an epidural is less painful than this election. A root canal? Bring it on. We can safely outlaw waterboarding – just tie the bad guys up and force them to watch the past few months of election coverage. They’ll cry like babies and sing like canaries.

The madness is completely inescapable! My brain hurts from the barrage of negativity. Not one side can claim innocence on the continuous beating of this election drum. The droning is everywhere you turn: pundits on the local news, national news, billboards, yard signs, radio, TV. My home is no longer a refuge as the land-line and cell phones continue to ring off their proverbial hooks. My email inbox is jam-packed with junk, just like my mailbox. How many poor trees have died for this election?

If all the money that has been spent on this year’s election – both on the national and local levels – would have gone toward the bazillion dollar National Debt, we may have been able to pay that off AND go on a wickedly wild shopping spree.

For the first time in my life, I want to poke out my own eyes and stick large wads of bubble gum in my ears just to keep the election noise out.

And social media? Wow is all I can say. The rudeness factor is off the chart! How many friendships, work relationships and arguments at the family dinner have been caused by the mean-spiritedness found on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Folks, it is okay to have differing opinions – really, it is!

Campaign Finance Reform… yeah, that is laughable. It didn’t go far enough and it certainly isn’t enforced. (Gee, was it because it was written by those who abuse it? I digress…). If I was Queen of the World, my idea of reform would be that politicians couldn’t spend a dime to get elected or re-elected. (I know, I know, some of you whose livelihoods are dependent on advertising revenue and printing just cringed and gasped!) So maybe we can set a very low, and I mean very low, spending allowance on running campaigns. And once it is gone, it is gone. Oh by the way, the window for campaigning would be shortened, too.

Think of the creativity this would inspire! Talk show hosts and news anchors would have to find something else to talk about – what a concept! And how refreshing!

Closing my eyes, I think of how uncluttered our lives would be. Our brains wouldn’t be so taxed and we wouldn’t be so anxious. We could retain useful information. We wouldn’t have an ad created each time a candidate made a small mistake or when they sneezed the wrong way.

The bad moods would be elevated. Stress would be alleviated.

Why, we’d actually be able to think! Before we voted!

What a concept.

Looking forward to Wednesday…how about you?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Bruised bumpers and the Blues

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”  – Sophia Loren

A few events over the past week brought me to this “A-ha!” moment: With age comes wisdom.

Heading to lunch with my husband, I was busy reading email on my phone when a huge thud jarred me: figuratively and literally. Some debris, either from the car in front of us – or kicked up by said car – walloped our front bumper. Talk about being shaken.

It was then I realized that my calmness, as well as my husband’s, was a sign of the times. In our younger days, we would’ve been madder than a wet hen at the young driver. She was completely oblivious to the fact that either she hit something or lost a large part of her car. With her tiny dog in her lap, I noticed the dents and dings in her car. She was completely unphased, and we couldn’t get her attention – as hard as we tried – to let her know what happened.

I didn’t even think to yell or scream at her. Maybe I envisioned one of my own children, having car trouble that could cause a major incident, and hoping that an encounter with another driver would be educational and not dangerous. Even when we reached our destination and looked at the damage, we were both surprisingly calm. Back in the day, not only would we rant and rave, we’d wring our hands and wonder how we’d pay for this mess, that was no fault of our own. Instead, we were thankful it didn’t break the light-housing or come flying through the windshield, which would surely caused injury to one or both of us.

With age comes wisdom.

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to attend an art gallery opening. The featured artist, whom we never met, is the husband of a colleague and friend of mine. She and I chat several times a week online and meet for coffee when we can. To be able to see her husband’s incredible art was a moment in our lives that we felt truly blessed to be able to share – alongside them and many others.

Exactly a week later, we had another great opportunity. Our neighbor and friend has been in the fight of her life. Diagnosed with a very aggressive, late-stage form of breast cancer, this woman has been a courageous inspiration for many. And just as it seemed that surgery, chemo and radiation had done their job, the bad news came. This fighter now had to face even more extensive surgery, just as she thought she had gotten back to her life. After six weeks of healing, doctor appointments and rest, this trooper was on back stage last night. And we were in awe. I firmly believe that The Blues were written for her to sing. Confident, smiling and blowing us away, she beat the crap out her cancer, and we were there to watch her comeback gig – completely in awe of her amazing talent. Who knew that this tiny little powerhouse could sing?!

But the most amazing thing happened after both of these events – and it was the humbled response of these artists. While we were so thankful for being invited to share in one of the most memorable moments of their lives, they thanked us for attending!

Hmmm…I think I am beginning to get it.

With age comes wisdom.

Back in the day, when I was a younger woman and desperately trying to seek fame and fortune through my writing, my focus was completely wrong. Please don’t take this as a judgement call, but in our twenties, many of us embraced our gifts as “ours.” We didn’t share – we had what I will call an arrogant talent. What will my talent get me? Some of us foolishly pitched that gift when it didn’t bring us the income or fame we thought it should.

Additionally, some of us shelved that talent when we started having families and felt pursuing a dream was a waste of time when there were kids to raise and an income to earn.

But as we got closer to or reached that half-century mark, the talent that was buried for various reasons began to sprout back to life. Maybe because we now have more time to nurture it, but maybe, I think, we have just come to realize how important that gift is.

We realize how fast time is ticking. I think, too, that we become confident in our place in life. Maybe we are a little less shy in sharing certain aspects of our lives.  Seeing that life has smacked all of us around by the time we hit this age makes us more humbled for sure, and most often, kinder to others. We have felt the sting of loss;  whether it was a job, a house, a loved one, or health. We embrace good news, and to celebrate accomplishments and talents of those around gives us time to pause from the mundane and experience joy.

We also change our attitudes when it comes to our talents. Instead of wondering what we get from it, we are more concerned about what others get from it. Our motives don’t revolve around making it big – they revolve around making a difference.

Will Doug’s gift of art inspire someone to experience the smell of paint and the feel of a brush meeting canvas? Will Annie’s gifted voice inspire someone to sing, take a dance class or play piano? Most likely, yes. But the biggest gift of all came from these artists sharing themselves – putting themselves out there for all to see. To bare their souls, not because they are awesome (which they are), but because of their choice to share their gifts with others.

God has graciously gifted everyone. Some have the gift of art, music, photography and such. Others have the gift of service; some have the gift of teaching. Still others can build and repair anything. Then there are others that can turn ordinary grocery items into the most extraordinary meals. Or grow beautiful flowers and delicious produce.

Our gifts are endless.

No one could have ever convinced me that going into decade number five would be one of the best times in my life. And, admittedly, there are days I long to be in my twenties again. (Sometimes it is because I long to see myself minus the little wrinkles forming around my eyes, or so I can wear short shorts because I’m not sporting these awesome varicose veins!) Seriously, though, revisiting my twenties is more because of my want to go back in time and smack that twenty-something me in the head, then bestow upon her all this wealth and knowledge and insight that I have today.

With age comes wisdom.

Here’s to settling down and not flying off the handle over the little things in life. Here’s to enjoying your older, wiser self. Here’s to sharing with others. And if you are burying that talent, unearth it today. I double dog-dare you to share that God-given gift of yours with others. In doing so, you will experience a joy that can’t be described.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Homemade Applesauce with Cinnamon

When the fall weather is crisp and sunny, as it was yesterday, we usually try to grill outside, as we know our days of doing such are numbered during this fickle change of seasons.

Pork chops were on the menu, and they would be wood-fired on the grill to perfection by the BBQ King – who, by the way, was recently overseas and “wowed” his fellow service members with his now world-famous ribs! Hail to the International BBQ King!

What will round out this delicious fall meal? Warm, homemade applesauce, simmered with cinnamon, plus freshly steamed broccoli.

The applesauce is beyond simple to make. In fact, it is so easy, you may never buy a jar of it again.

Enjoy!

Homemade Applesauce with Cinnamon

Peel and slice 10-12 apples (I usually use macs, and these were from our local Farmer’s Market).

Place slices in a pan with about 1/3 cup of water.

Give a generous sprinkle of cinnamon (don’t go overboard, as too much cinnamon  can taste bitter) and add two or three generous tablespoons of brown sugar.

Bring to a gentle boil, stir, then turn heat to low and cook until thickened. (Just add water or a little apple juice if you prefer a thinner sauce.) This step will take 30-45 minutes, depending on your preference for a thick or thin sauce. At this time, take a taste so you can adjust the cinnamon and brown sugar in your applesauce.

Most of the apples will cook down, but there will be a few pieces of apple that you can leave as chunks, or mash it all down with a wooden spoon if you prefer.

Serve warm or cold.

That’s it – simply perfect for a simple autumn meal.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb