Lessons Learned at Death’s Door

Sharing with you some past blogs that had an impact on my life. Life brings us twists and turns that we think we are not prepared for. I am grateful that I am alive today to share this experience with you.

Andrea Unsinkable

I could have easily died on June 6, 1979.  I have told my story to doctors who find it amazing that I am here to tell about it.  I was only 31 years old.  Over Memorial Day weekend (May 26-28), I was having some cramps—a bit uncomfortable, and felt discomfort standing straight up.  It went in waves.  The only person I told was my sister-in-law who was visiting us from Chicago.  She noticed that I seemed uncomfortable.  I told her I would call the doctor after the holiday.  I did and set an appointment for mid June.  I was due my annual OB/GYN checkup anyway.  The cramps went away in a couple days and everything was back to normal.  Well, until the morning of June 6.

It was nine days since Memorial Day, and I had quickly forgotten the discomfort I had felt that weekend.  I remember my day very…

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Fifty-Two in Fifty-Two!

5252Can you believe this is my 52nd blog in 52 weeks!  When I started this journey, I made a commitment to write one blog a week for a year, and to do in on a regular basis so that people would know they could follow consistently.  I am amazed at the response I have received from writing these blogs.  I have a total of 92 followers on the actual blog page, and I have 101 people who follow my blog through Facebook.  I am simply overwhelmed by that.  I hope that each of you who are reading this, have received something, even if a tiny nugget, from these blogs.

00 celebrate successAs I have mentioned in past blogs, I went through the experience of working with a life coach, and because of that experience, I trained to be one also.  While I was in the coaching program, my coach suggested I write a book.  One thing that coaches do is throw out an idea and see if it sticks.  If it doesn’t they move on with it.  I told my coach that I did not have enough of anything to write a book.  He then said I should write a blog—he thought I had stories and life experiences to share.  I remember commenting to him that I cannot imagine anyone wanting to read my blogs.  Ha!  I now have 193 people who regularly have access to my blogs.  Who would have thought?

I went a number of years without even those thoughts in my head to be writing about my life experiences and how I see the world.  Then for some reason last year, I started
thinking about it.
  Why not give it a try?  I played with a few blog titles of what I thought unsinkable MEwould be suitable.  “Andrea Unsinkable” just seemed to fit me.  I have had a lot of things in my life that brought me down, and sometimes I thought that was where I would stay, but then I would just pop up again, sometimes maybe only enough to take a breath, but i realized that I was unsinkable!  

I don’t know how I got to here—the place I am today.  The path was never straight.  We go up and down, and sideways, and sometimes we think we will never find the place of true contentment.  Isn’t that what we are really looking for?  Not giddy happiness because we know that is fleeting, but good ol’ solid contentment.  I am finally content.  I am at peace with God, peace with myself, peace with all the dirty rotten things that have happened to me, some my fault and some because it just happened to me.  Every one of those experiences made me the person I am today.  The things I think deeply about, the people who I care about, the career moves I have made, have all been orchestrated so beautifully in a way I could not have imagined.  It took all that stuff, good stuff, mediocre stuff, and bad stuff, mixed up together, stirred, shaken, baked a bit, and I see the beautiful life that God has given me.  I see the lessons I learned as the opportunity to stretch and grow.  Sometimes I went through these battles kicking and screaming, and sometimes I just sailed right along.  

00 shockThe other day I looked in the mirror and was surprised to see this older woman looking back at me.  It was rather shocking, because I don’t know when that happened.  I will be 70 years old in December.  That kind of blows my mind.  None of my milestone birthdays have felt as awkward as this one coming up.  Maybe that’s why my high school class is getting together in September to collectively celebrate our 7th decade of life.  (Shout out to Lindbergh High School, St. Louis, Missouri, Class of 1966–I love you all)!

It is very weird to think I am in the “autumn of my life.”  I may be in the “winter.”  I have many friends who have passed before they turned 70.  I used to think 70 was old.  My Psalmmom used to talk about the bible saying we get “three score and ten.”  She would say that anything beyond that was a blessing—my mom made it to 75.  That’s not very old in my book.  Why do I not feel old?  I should restate that, because there are days that I feel a bit achy.  That never happened 20 years ago.  In my head, I feel young.  I love life, and I love connecting with people of all ages.  

So, in my 68th to 69th year, I have had the privilege to reach out to people of all ages, races, genders, and share my story.  I hope you got to laugh.  I hope you didn’t cry, because my bad days were short lived.  I hope you learned that you are not alone in the challenges in your life.  We all have challenges.  We all have scars.  I think I have grown more by being willing to finally tell my stories.  

In three weeks, my husband and I are going to Europe.  I have never crossed the pond, and I am pretty excited about this trip.  My son married a wonderful woman from Germany, and we are going there to celebrate their marriage with her family and friends from her home country.  We will be going to England and France also.  Never in a million years did I ever think I would get to take a trip like this.  We will be gone for three weeks. Then we will come home, and have barely a week to recover from our jet lag, and we will hop in our car and drive to Arizona to close on a new house, where new adventures in our lives will begin.  On top of all that, we are putting our beautiful home in the woods on the market.  We hope and pray that someone will move here and their family will love this place as much as we have, and will make new wonderful memories here.  We will be making new memories in a new living situation of downsizing our lives.

In the meantime, you will probably not see any original postings until I return from all this traveling at the end of June.  I am planning on reviewing my previous 51 blogs and re-sharing the ones that really still have an impact in my life or I feel would just be fun to read again.

Thank you, all my wonderful blog followers.  Please do not go too far. I will be back with new stories.  My head and my heart are full, and I love sharing my life with you.  Knowing people from all around this globe are reading my words, just makes me smile.  I hope you are smiling also.  I love each and every one of you!

00 love you

Who’s Crawling In Your Brain?

What do you do when you are lacking confidence?  We all have times we feel unworthy, lack the confidence to step outside our comfort zone to do something new, different, or challenging.  I couldn’t figure out what was holding me back.  Why did I know I could do something, and yet some little small voice was speaking in my head that I couldn’t, or I didn’t deserve more, or I wasn’t smart enough, or not enough of something.  You know those little voices we listen to when we know we shouldn’t?  Those little voices that are the negative feelings we have?  Now, just to make sure we are on the same page, I am not talking about audible voices.  I am talking about the seeds of doubt we have from time to time.  

A few years ago I was working with a life coach.  It was an eye-opening experience.  A coach is not a counselor.  They don’t diagnose and try to fix a person.  A coach is also not a consultant.  They don’t listen to what someone is dealing with, and then come up with a plan for them.  A coach knows that the person whom with they are working really knows the answers, but they need some help unlocking the door.  The coach asks powerful questions that makes one really think through and discover their own answers.

I was working with my coach on some areas in which I wanted to be more effective, but something was holding me back.  Fear!  Yeah, fear, but what did I have to fear?  I gave excuses that I couldn’t do something, and the coach asked me who was saying that to me.  Who was saying that to me?  Well, let me think . . . and I named someone who had a long time ago told me negative things, and my coach said, “____________ is telling you that now?”  Well, no, that person wasn’t even in my life any longer, so why was I saying that?  

That began my journey of those little voices that speak in our brains that says we not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not whatever enough.  One of the coaching exercises we did was naming those little voices.  It sounds odd, but it was pretty amazing.  Some people call them “gremlins,” some use the term “saboteurs.”  I personally like the name “saboteurs” because those thoughts were sabotaging my efforts. At first I didn’t understand what the coach was trying to get me to do.  As we talked about it, I realized I could name these saboteurs, and doing so made me realize that it was ludicrous, silly, and non-existent.  It was playing old tapes in my head that may have been there for years, and never questioning them—just letting them whisper in my ear.

I’m going to share with you who the saboteurs were that I discovered doing this exercise.  It might help you in figuring yours.  Once you can name them, even describe what they look like (be creative), you can realize that they are pretty silly, and wonder why we even listen to them.  That day I identified four saboteurs.  Here they are:

00 worm1, The Worm – The Worm burrows through my brain telling me I don’t deserve any of my heart’s desires, I am not good, I am lazy, I am everything negative and will never be, no matter what I do, deserving of anything good in my life. He brings me to my lowest, makes me feel unworthy and alone. I named him the “worm” because what he does is slimy and yet sneaky–how those thought slither through my brain. This “worm” would work its way around my brain when I was in the midst of something difficult at work, and yet I knew better.  I knew I was capable.

2.  The Church Lady – She is the most conservative lady on earth. She reminds me of all the people who will say bad things about me, how ungodly I must be, how even God 00 church ladydoesn’t like me, how so many things in my life were wrong so I just have to live only with consequences.  It is so easy to judge ourselves harshly and sometimes in ways that God doesn’t judge.  Yet, when we confess our sins to God, he forgives them.  He doesn’t bring them up again.  In fact, Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  What does that mean?  When God forgives us, it is forgiven.  It is removed as far away as the east is from the west.  That’s to infinity!  So, if God can forgive me, who do I think I am that I cannot forgive me?  So, I can silence the Church Lady by reminding myself of that verse.  God loves me, He forgives me, he doesn’t bring it up into my face over and over.  He has let it go.  No need to punish myself.

3.  The Professor – The professor is busy telling me how stupid I am, that I cannot remember things, that I pretend to be accomplished, that I have everyone fooled, I am a 00 professorfraud, I just got lucky getting the jobs I got. Everyone really knows how stupid I am and therefore I do not deserve respect.  I was not a great student.  I really struggled being a student.  I think it has something to do with my independent stubbornness.  I’m not a fan of being told what to do and when to do it.  So, sitting in a classroom, and being told to read so many pages, etc. was difficult for me.  On the other hand, I did do what was required of me.  I graduated from high school.  I graduated from college. I even attained a Masters degree—they don’t just give those away if one hasn’t worked.  I also have several professional certifications.  But back in high school, my counselor told me I was not college material.  Even though I successfully completed all this schooling, I think I was allowing her voice to whisper in my ear.  No more!

4.  Rico Suave’ –  This was possibly the loudest of all my saboteurs.  Rico was all men. His looks changed all the time because all men look different. He told me what men like–and 00 Rico Suaveit was definitely not me!  He said I was not pretty enough, not sexy enough, talked too much, not attractive enough, too fat, just no man would want me on his arm or anywhere else.  I felt I had failed in two marriages.  I was damaged goods.  No one could love me or trust me.  I sure didn’t know how to flirt—it’s wonder I had married twice!  I had no confidence in my ability to meet someone who would even consider me a possibility as a significant other.  When I worked with this, I had to really figure out what I was doing.  I knew what I wanted in a mate.  I had a clear criteria by then.  My coach encouraged me to stop listening to this silliness, and just get out there and see if I could find such a person.  I went to the internet and signed up for a dating site.  I had a lot, and I mean a lot of first dates.  Except this time it was different.  I was the one who refused the 2nd date.  I had my criteria, and if I could tell up front this man did not meet the majority of my list, it was a “no thank you.”  I quit thinking it was me that kept this from happening.  It was now me having control of me and what I needed.  I also didn’t take anyone who wasn’t interested as a personal affront.  We all have different taste, and if I’m not their cup of tea, that’s okay.

I learned how to silence these crazy saboteurs.  For me, I had to get to my “God Spot.”  My 00andrea“God Spot” was term I made up in a coaching session where I was searching for a new perspective to a problem.  This term popped out of my mouth, and I realized that it was what I needed.  I needed to feel I was in a “spot” where I felt God’s unconditional love for me.  Because I am feeling this unconditional love, I can use all the gifts, skills, personality, whatever necessary that God has given me, and I don’t have to feel 2nd class, and I can impact others lives.  There is much gratitude when I am in this spot.  I can say to myself, “I know my stuff.  I am enough.”  As I am doing that, being in the light of my “God Spot,” I feel that light narrowing and literally becoming the laser light that hits the saboteur and zaps it, and it shrivels and dies.  And I am free, free to feel the love in this light, free to know that I know my stuff, free to know that I have an opportunity to make an impact, and that I am magnificent as God created me—not second best—because God doesn’t create junk!

When I first started writing my blog last year, that worm wanted to pop up and tell me what a silly idea this was.  I silenced it.  That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my writing.  I want to connect with people.  I want people to know they are not alone in their struggles.  I want to spread love and joy, and share my life, so you can feel free to live yours and share your life.  I can’t let that worm stop me from writing my blog.  So, I silence that worm and continue writing.  I hope this all made some sense to you. 

What are those voices that rattle around your brain when you are not feeling at the top of your game?  Maybe you should think about it, name them, and when you do, it’s pretty easy to let them go!



Cleaning Closets

00 big litleThis has been a very unusual year for me.  As my husband said the other day, he planned to make 2018 a calmer, quieter year.  Instead, we are busier than we have ever been.  In December we made the decision to have a house built in Arizona.  We will start our “snowbird” life there in 2019. In the meantime we have been back twice, once to select the finishings for the house, and the other to do a walkthrough inspection after framing.  This move is probably a bigger adjustment for Dennis than it is for me.  He has lived in very large homes for the past 30 years.  I upgraded when I married him, from a 1,600 square foot home to one over 4,000 square feet.  Our new home is back to the 1,600 square feet.

I love this home we live in in Mid Missouri.  It is in the woods, sits on a small lake or large pond.  We have a built in swimming pool, wrap around decks, and a 20’ fire pit patio between the pool and the lake.  Summers here are like vacation time.  We do a lot of entertaining during the summer.  This house also boasts of more bathrooms that I care to count—there are actually 6 toilets in this house.  For one who does not like to clean bathrooms, that’s a lot of bathroom cleaning.  Fortunately, I have a great husband who kicks in and helps with the cleaning.  But, this house also sits on 3+ acres that needs tending also.  It is just a lot of work.

As we are getting older, we want to slow our lives down to enjoy everyday, to be able to travel and not worry about the work that needs to be done at home.  That was one of the reasons we selected a new build.  It will have minor maintenance.  We have come to the decision that our lives would be simpler to own only one property.  We will not move away from Mid Missouri permanently.  My husband’s mom is 99 years old.  We don’t know how long she has, but we want to be around her while she is still with us.  We don’t have to own such a big property to do that.

00 full closetIn order to be ready to leave this home, there is a lot of clean up to do.  Not only does this house boast of 6 toilets, every bedroom has a walk-in closet, the upper level has two linen closets, and the main level has two walk-in pantries, linen closets, cleaning supply closets, whatever we call them.  All those closets make for  a lot of sorting, of what to sell, what to keep, what to throw away, and what to donate.  So far, it has been fairly easy to let go of things.  There are a few items that each of us has sentimental feelings about, and we have to work through that because our new home cannot keep calmaccommodate all of our sentiment.  The other day I told Dennis that I realize that the bigger the box (size of the house), the more stuff fits into that box!  I think I like the idea of a smaller box!  We were in Phoenix five weeks ago, and since we have returned, we have been continually busy every day, going though the what to save, what to sell, what to pitch, and what to donate ritual.  I’m not kidding.  This has been a constant process.  I have a problem with clutter, so as we empty out an area to go through, there is a load of clutter as we inventory and make decisions.  My stress level starts rising until we box up and move everything to one of the above four categories.  The house will have a semblance of order until we open the next closet or set of cabinets.

My mom used to talk about Fibber McGee and Molly’s closet.  They were a radio show, then television show in the 40’s and 50’s.  I remember her saying that when they opened their closets, everything would fall out.  Yeah, we have a tendency to clean closets when we feel we are at that point.  Most of our closets are not that bad, but they were full—full of stuff that we don’t necessary need or use—time to clean out. 

I have loved the storage space this house provides.  We have a ton of cabinets in a very large kitchen, and there is a kitchen on our lower level that also have a fair amount of cabinets.  I will have to give up some of my convenient kitchen gadgets, appliances, and fun stuff to accommodate a much smaller kitchen in Arizona.  I am okay with that.  It’s just the work involved to get there that raises the stress level.

00 MovingI think we are almost finished with our sorting.  Well, I think we are 75-80% complete.  I miss reading.  I usually read a lot, and I have been too busy to do so, but I see my future with time to read, to maybe finish the quilt I started well over a year ago, to go hiking a lot, and travel.  Those things will be afforded to us when we move to a smaller box!

God has been so good to me.  I raised four boys in a home that was only 800 square feet.  When I had my house built that I moved from when I married Dennis, I was so grateful to double my living space.  It was a hard ride to get to that place and be able to build a 1600 square foot home.  I am still grateful for my lovely home I had.  There are so many great memories in that house.  The majority of my grandkids were babies and grew up visiting in that house.  When my fifteen year old granddaughter was in elementary school (after I moved to this home), she wrote a paper for school about her memories of playing with her sister and cousins at my house.  Her dad sent me a copy of that paper, and I have it saved on my computer.  I also have the 00 donatefunny little “PhotoBooth” movies that were made on my computer by the grandkids at that house.  When I moved to this home, the grandkids became more sophisticated, and have continued making videos.  I have them all saved on my computer.  They are so creative and funny.  

One day when we make Arizona our permanent home, I will miss these grandkids a lot.  They are all teenagers and older, so I do not see them as often now anymore.  They have young people lives, and that doesn’t always include Grandma.  I make a point of getting back to St. Louis to see them in their music concerts, plays, and sporting events.  I have a grandson who will soon be three years old, who lives in Los Angeles.  When I live in Phoenix, I will be able to drive to LA to spend time with him, and he will be able to visit Grandma’s house more often to make new memories for him and myself.

In the meantime, I’m sorting and getting ready for a new chapter in my life.  Many people know that I am about reinventing myself over and over.  This will be a new reinvention.  My geography will be different, and I will miss so many people, but we need to make the next move to relax and enjoy our senior years together.

I am excited.  I don’t know what new adventures are facing me, but I know God has given me so much, and I am looking forward the seeing what else he has for me.  In the meantime, I better get to another closet . . . .




Best Friends

Today I have been thinking about my best friend.  Actually, today my best friend is my husband, Dennis.  I had been single about two decades when I met Dennis.  In those years, I had many girlfriends, and one who I could say was my best friend.  She was the Susan22one person who I could talk to about anything.  Susan rejoiced in my good news, and listened like a trooper when things weren’t going well for me.  She never judged me, she just knew how to be there for me.  We had many lunches and dinners together, went to movies together, attended my kid’s and grandkid’s school performances.  She was the ultimate card sender.  I have so many little gifts around my home that she gave me, and when I look at them, I think of her and it makes me smile.  

About the time I met Dennis, Susan was starting to have some serious health issues.  We still hung out together.  She always loved hearing about my escapades of the men I met through Match, and she was especially happy for me when I started to tell her about Dennis.  The last time I saw her in person was when Dennis and I got engaged.  After I married Dennis, I moved about 90 miles away.  I would call her several times, but always got her voice mail.  I ended up writing her a few times, and I knew deep inside that she was not doing well.  One day I got notice that my very dear friend had passed away.  My heart was broken.  I do not handle loss well, and losing her was so tough.  

I am married to Dennis, and I know he is supposed to be my best friend, but it had been so many years, and I was just trying to figure out how to be a wife again.  I had been single for so long.  I didn’t have to answer to anyone, and did pretty much as I pleased.  IMG_4823Now, Dennis never asked me or even hinted to me that I needed to answer to him, but I knew I now was in a permanent relationship, and I need to give him my love and attention.  I do have to say that he made that pretty easy for me.  My husband has a servant’s heart.  I watch him with his 99 year old mom, as he treats her so kindly, and not only her, he treats all the people at her nursing home so sweetly.  He will bring them coffee at lunch, and help them to their chairs.  I watch him help my children move, help his son move, be there for his nieces and nephews.  

Today, I had a doctor’s appointment, and we went together.  It was cold outside, so he offered to drive the car to the door to drop me off, and then park the car.  It was so sweet, and so unnecessary.  I told him that I was not a diva and didn’t need to be dropped off while he parked.  I like walking in the door with him.  I like that we are partners together.  When we do projects at our home we do them together.  I love painting walls, he does not.  So, he will prep the room.  He will bring me the equipment, and then he will leave me alone to do my thing, but he will also show back up if I need his help to reach where I cannot, or for anything I may need.  My husband makes beds and cleans bathrooms!  Wow!  How did I find this guy?

Those are not the reasons that he is my best friend.  In my blog last week, I shared something that I wrote years ago.  It was actually about my fear of losing my best friend, Susan.  As I finished that writing, I stated, “God will give me what I need.  If I lose my friends, and if I need friends, God will lead me to new ones.  Don’t be afraid.”  I had found Dennis—or Dennis found me—or better yet, God brought us together.  What I wrote so many years ago was true, “If I lose my friends, and if I need friends, God will lead me to new ones.”

IMG_1670I will be married to Dennis for five years this August.  We have been in each others company daily since we got married.  There have been  only a handful of days where we were geographically apart.  We do almost everything together.  For a girl who did most things alone, this was a real change, and at first was a bit uncomfortable, not bad, just didn’t know how to do that.  The funny thing is, I don’t get tired of him.  We can sit in a room and be doing our own thing, reading, on the computer, watching TV, or whatever, but it feels completely natural.  He is good about helping clean, but the kitchen scares him to death!  I take care of the cooking.  We are both alive because of that!  I have eaten only one meal he has cooked.  We still laugh about it.  I was sick, so he cooked for me.  I was instantly healed so I could cook real food again!

Dennis is my best friend because I trust him completely.  He doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body.  He is my best friend because he treats me with respect.  He thinks I’m smart—that really helps.  I have a very right-sided brain compared to his really left-sided brain, and we balance each other so well.  He laughs at my jokes and my stupid actions.  You really don’t want to hear me sing my medley of songs about whatever subject we are FullSizeRenderdiscussing, or try to see how low I can get my voice to go just to say something stupid.  I love the sound of words, so I love pronouncing them over and over to the point of stupidity, and then just start laughing.

When I met Dennis, he was a retired CEO.  I was worried he would be a stuffed shirt.  I was worried he had no sense of humor.  He says he was pretty serious when he was working. I cannot imagine it—he is so funny and goofy today.  We just love laughing together.

I realized today, that my husband is my best friend.  He knows everything about me, knows my ups and downs, knows when I am having a bad or good day.  He is my cheerleader.  He makes me feel loved, protected, needed, and beautiful.  I have been blessed.  God did give me a new best friend, like I never thought would ever happen for me.  I am blessed.

Best Friends Bff GIF-downsized_large

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