Years ago, I worked with an older nurse who was the quintessential wonder woman that balanced all of her roles with beauty and grace.  We younger girls adored her.  She was our role model and mentor.  She was creative, gracious, and had a lovely home and family.  And she taught several of us to quilt. We would often hear her remark, “I will have to ponder that.”  What a lovely word, ponder.  It speaks of reflection, deep thinking, and mulling things over in our brains.  It allows ideas to simmer until an answer emerges.  It is wisdom. 

And so it is with every new year.  I ponder my life.  I review the highs and lows of the previous year and then I ponder how I want to shape the upcoming year ahead.  How do I want to show up at this point in my life?  I reflect on what I want less of and what I want more of in the next twelve months.  I find that I am constantly seeking balance.  My wonderful, busy DIL chose “balance” for her WOTY.  She is in those crazy busy years of balancing a career with a family and home.  I remember those years well.  When I look back on my journals, I notice that the word balance keeps resurfacing.  (Yes, I was journaling long before journaling was cool.)

Since I have been seeking it most of my adult life, you would think I would have this balance thing down by now, but it is a moving target.  It changes with each phase of our lives.  Like my DIL, there were the years of trying to balance all my various roles while raising a family.  Now I am finding I don’t need to, and frankly I simply can’t, juggle as many balls. So, balance looks a little different now.  It is more about taking enough time to ponder.   I need to take time to “ponder” for my mental/emotional health.  It centers me.  However, pondering requires balance as well.  It can become a slippery slope. Too much of it evolves into overthinking or worrying.  Not enough and I feel clogged up.

I also find that I need to take more time for my physical health. We used to be able to ignore our bodies and still look and feel fine.   Now I notice immediately if I eat too much sugar, consume one too many cups of coffee or eat a whole bag of salty popcorn at the movies.  I need physical exercise just to keep my joints limber, my balance intact, and not run out of breath going upstairs.  I am finding that I need to carve out more time for myself.  I probably should have done that all along, but like most working moms, I put everyone and everything else first.  You can get away with that for years but now I am finding I can’t do that anymore.  Fortunately, I no longer need to either.  So, this year I am committing to caring for myself more: physically, mentally and emotionally. 

“As you get older, it takes twice as long to look and feel half as good.”

The Retired Alchemist

Looking back, it has been a super busy year.  Sometimes I just need time to stop and process it all.  I need time to reflect and appreciate the blessings, wonders and gifts of 2023 and forgive myself for failures.  And I need time to consider how I want to move forward into 2024.  So, now that things have quieted down around here and we are semi-snowed in, I am pondering the year ahead, just like women have been doing for centuries.   And I continue to seek that elusive balance.   

Taking a snowy day to ponder.

“But Mary treasured up these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19

On the home front

Like much of the country, we experienced extremely cold temperatures and a huge snowstorm last week.  Mr. U spent a lot of time worrying about checking and rechecking heat lamps, making sure faucets were dripping all night, supervising that the garage door remained closed, and keeping wood on the fire.  One great thing about retirement is that you don’t have to brave the cold and snowy roads to go to work in this weather.  Instead, we choose when/if we want to go out. When we have been inside too long and need to be aired out, we can bundle up to go play outside and then come inside to hunker down by the fire.

We always have a late second Christmas with our immediate family in January when son #4 and his lovely wife can come visit.  Even though it was extremely cold and snowy, we had a wonderful time playing games, exchanging gifts, working on a puzzle, watching football, and eating way too much food.  Last year we started doing the Saran Wrap Ball Game. I make the ball ahead of time. You start with a good prize in the middle (I did money) and then you wrap small gifts around it as you continue to roll the Saran Wrap around to create a ball. Be sure to cut and restart the Saran Wrap frequently so it is more challenging. I used candy, small Slim Jim’s, fun socks, cash, gum, mints, movie tickets, scratch off tickets, etc. It is about the size of a basketball when you are done. When you are ready to play, you sit in a circle and the first person tries to unwrap the ball with oven mitts on while the person on their left tries to roll doubles with two dice. Once they hit doubles, the ball is passed grabbed by the next person to try. You keep the gifts that you unwrap during your turns. It is a great game for a group. Catch Phrase is another fun, humorous game that works well for a large group. Monopoly Deal is a good game if you have a smaller group of 5 or 6 people. It is a much quicker version of Monopoly but played with cards.

My “boys” do not like posing for pictures.  So much that, a couple years ago, they all shaved their facial hair in ugly odd shapes so that I would not want to take photos of them.  (See last year’s crazy facial hair pic here.) I knew it was going to happen again this year when they all started growing out their facial hair about a month ago.

This is what happens when you have a family full of boys!

Fortunately, they were willing to shave their faces for a family photo.  I tried desperately to get a good picture, but with nine adults, three grandkids and two rambunctious dogs, it was nearly impossible.  I threatened to get a professional photographer to do it next time, which resulted in one photo where at least everyone is looking forward. Well, except the dogs.

Take #179.

 Precious family time.  My mother heart is full. And exhausted. And now it is time to go ponder…

2 comments on “Pondering…

  1. Marian, you are such a gifted writer. I always look forward to reading your inspirational blog and hearing about your heart felt adventures. You’re not only a wonderful writer, but you’re a great photographer too. Your pictures are always beautiful and full of fun!
    Thank you for taking me along for the ride❣️

    1. Hi Janie –

      Thanks so much for your kind words and for coming along on the ride with me. I just updated to the I-phone 15 Pro in hopes that I will be able to capture better pictures. Of course, that requires your subjects to sit still long enough to get a picture. Life is an adventure!

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