Nothing Can Stop the Magic

I am mostly oblivious about what I look like these days. I take a quick look in the mirror in the morning and then go about my day. This seems to work for me. But yesterday I saw a photo of me taken by Scotty as I walked through the Longmire parking lot, unaware I was being photographed – and…it really depressed me – I was looking at an old lady and I was like, “Who IS that person?!” (Scotty didn’t see what I saw in the photo – he told me I looked “cute,” but I saw something different.)

I almost stayed in bed this morning. Embarrassed about presenting myself to the world. But here’s what happened instead:

I thought about what the voice of the Cosmos has been telling me in the middle of the night for the last year: “You are not a body; you are a part of my body.” I realized I could make a choice to not let mortal ego impose itself on me. It hit me that – although I maybe can’t instantly change the appearance of my physical form – I can instantly change my attitude, my thoughts, my mental approach to life: My joy isn’t dependent on my physical form, or what others think of me, or my age or gender or weight. I don’t have to stop having adventures or living my life or sharing joy with others because I’ve gotten older. There are no limitations to joy or love or kindness.

“Oh! Someone said the snow geese are back! Let’s go check that out!” I said to myself.

I got dressed and got in the car. I’ve been listening to the same CD for the last six months, and thought maybe it was time to change it out – but I realized I’d brought my other CDs to Scott’s car when we went on our trip to Rainier. So I settled in to listen to my old faithful CD, and pretty soon I was on the road to Fir Island. And pretty soon I saw a pair of eagles sitting in a tree. And pretty soon I saw some way cool old barns. And pretty soon I heard snow geese honking in the air above me – and saw flocks of them winging through the sky in perfect formation. Such joy to see them again!

I decided to stop at the supermarket on the way home. When I was loading my groceries into my car, I moved a bag that had been sitting in there for who knows how long and found it was filled with old CDs! There was a John Denver one in there that was still wrapped in its cellophane – it was priced at $5 and I’m thinking I must have picked it up as an impulse item somewhere and then forgotten about it. I stuck that baby in my CD player and listened to the folksy tunes of John Denver singing about climbing Colorado mountains and farming Kansas wheat fields and the country roads that lead to West Virginia. A flood of sweet memories came back: My friend, Perky, playing her John Denver Christmas album as we celebrated “Christmas in August” at Rainier; my friend, Renee, playing her John Denver “Rhymes and Reasons” record in our dorm hall; going to a John Denver concert in Seattle with my friend, Carol. And here was John Denver, singing , “Yes, and joy was just the thing that he was raised on/ Love is just the way to live and die…” in my car. John Denver, who died almost exactly 25 years ago, still lives in his music.

Magic! Nothing – not age or ego or even death – can stop the magic.

Photos below taken by Karen Molenaar Terrell in Skagit County on October 17, 2022.

10-17-22: Eagle in a tree near Bow, WA. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Face-to-Face

So here’s a kind of cool thing: I was in a restaurant, heading for the restroom, and I saw this friendly-looking gray-haired lady – plump, but healthy-looking and pretty in an open, cheerful way – and I thought, “I like her!” and I could tell she was just about to smile at me, so I smiled – and she smiled at the exact same time – and I realized I was looking in a mirror!

This was really eye-opening to me. In my own head I have this image of how I think I appear to others that… well, it doesn’t match with the confident, happy woman I saw looking back at me in the mirror. It was cool to get a chance to see how I would see myself if I was looking at me from someone else’s perspective.

And this experience was cool, too, because I can remember another time – back when I was a university student – when I saw a slender young woman looking at me from a window – and she was pretty in the traditional way, but she looked harried and preoccupied and a little cranky, and she didn’t look like someone who was going to smile back at me – and I realized I was looking at myself.

I’d rather be the gray-haired woman I saw in the mirror today than the pretty young woman I saw in the window forty years ago.

“You Might Roll Down the Mountain”

In the end, it was as simple as getting in my car, driving myself up to the mountains, and taking a hike. But it hadn’t seemed that simple before I did it.

A year ago I had a fall that knocked the confidence out of me. I was trying to step onto a two -foot high curb – thinking, in my head, that I was still an agile youngster rather than the sixty-something woman I actually am – and ended up landing on my knees and arms, bleeding and bruised. It was a shock to me. What the heck had just happened there?! After the fall, I began having doubts about my physical abilities.

I’d been planning to go on a hike up Table Mountain the next day. But Table Mountain is a steep little hike up the side of a cliff and, having fallen trying to step over a two-foot high curb the day before, I thought it prudent to cancel the Table Mountain hike and do a hike a little less harrowing with my family.

After the fall, I no longer had the confidence to go on mountain hikes by myself. I found myself in a mental retreat – starting to pull inside a shell. But in trying to keep myself “safe,” I was making myself unhappy. I was BORED! And I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity,  my competence and abilities – and regain my confidence – I needed to push myself and do stuff on my own. I needed to get out and do the stuff that brings me joy and challenges me. I needed to trust myself and trust in Love, too, to protect me.

And so when I found myself with an open day and a good weather forecast, I told my husband that I thought I might go on a hike up Table Mountain. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to join me because he had knee surgery this summer, but I told him I felt I needed to do this by myself, anyway.  He laughed and said, “Be careful. You might roll down the mountain.” I knew he was joking, but I also heard a little concern in his voice. I understood. It’s always worrying when our loved ones go off to have an adventure on their own, and we can’t be there if they need us. But, to his credit, my husband didn’t try to stop me – I think he knew I needed this.

When I woke up that morning, I still hadn’t decided for sure to go on the hike. But by the time I got dressed and got downstairs, I knew I was going. I packed a quick lunch for myself, threw the hiking essentials into my backpack, kissed my husband good bye, and hit the road for my big adventure.

I got up to the trailhead at Artist’s Point pretty early – I’d wanted to avoid the heat of the day. I was probably on the Table Mountain trail by 8:30.  I was the only one on the trail when I started out. It was quiet and peaceful up there. Butterflies danced in the wildflowers and a nice fir-scented breeze swirled around me. It felt good to have my shoes on an alpine trail again. I made my way up the side of Table Mountain, stopping now and then to take photos. About mid-way up the side of the mountain there was a step that was a little too big for my 5’3″ self – a step bigger even than that curb I tripped over a year ago. But I found a rock jutting out above the step and hoisted myself up. Take THAT too-high step!

Before long I was standing on the top of Table Mountain. I texted my husband a message to let him know I’d made it to the top, and I hadn’t rolled down the mountain. I hiked around up there for a little while, taking photos and eating trail mix, before I started back down again. I passed a young family coming up on my way down. I told them they would have the entire top of the mountain all to themselves – that it was really quiet up there – and we all wished each other a good day.

When I got back to my car, I realized I didn’t feel “done,” yet. I decided to drive down to the Heather Meadows parking lot and find a little trail to hike on there. I ended up on the short nature trail – passing views of Table Mountain and the valley down below, and a creek laughing past purple wildflowers. I stopped by the creek for a while, and just let the joy of it fill my soul. I pooled water from the creek into my hands and splashed my face and neck and then plucked some wild blueberries off the low-growing mountain blueberry bushes and popped them in my mouth. I was in heaven, my friends.

In the end, it was as simple as getting in the car, driving myself up to the mountains, and taking a hike, to find what I’d lost a year ago.

“…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40:31

Your Life Needs You to Live It Right Now

Note to self:
You’re not born with a finite supply
of hearing, seeing, moving, being
that’s going to run out at some point
and leave you deaf, blind, arthritic,
and dead.
Don’t feel like you have to reserve life
and lay some aside like some crazy miser,
holding your life back for future use –
your life needs you to live it right now.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

I Like the Face That’s Looking Backing at Me

I’m looking at the photo Scott took of me this morning for my campaign. I’m seeing a 63 year-old face looking back at me… and… here’s the really cool part for me – because I’m not sure I’ve felt this comfortable with myself before – I like the face that’s looking back at me. I like the wrinkles – the lines earned from laughing and squinting into the horizon. I like the way she’s looking at Scott – direct and engaged. I really like this person – wrinkles and all. Maybe especially the wrinkles. Oh, the stories those wrinkles could tell! 

Yeah, I guess I was pretty once. I was young and strong and light and quick once. I had a body that could jump over a high jump and could take me up mountains and could climb trees and balance on a log over a river and give birth to children. And I’m glad for all that – grateful for that body and how hard it worked for me to get me where I am now.

But I’m okay with who I am right now, too. And isn’t that great?! 🙂

***

“As the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories…Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Karen Terrell color

I Have to Believe

I have to believe we really can get better, day by day.
I have to believe that we aren’t fated to accumulate
baggage and burdens, fear and loss, problems and weight,
ailments and affliction until the day we die.
I have to believe that each challenge that presents
itself to us can be an opportunity to learn a lesson
about the power and eternal ever-presence of Love.
I have to believe there’s no problem that can’t be healed,
no limitation, and no dismal destiny that can’t be unsealed
and overcome. I have to believe there’s a divine
reason and a purpose for everyone – him, her, and you.
And me. If I can believe I can make it true
for myself. And for my world.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Chronological data are no part of the vast forever. Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood. Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness…Life and goodness are immortal. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight. ”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Butterfly on Table Mountain

An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

 

 

 

I still have all my teeth…

Life and goodness are immortal. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.
– Mary Baker Eddy

A few years ago there was a news story about an “elderly woman” who got swept away in a flood. I felt so terrible for this poor elderly woman when I started to read the story – I could picture her frail elderly arms struggling helplessly against the flood and my heart went out to her. But when I got to the end of the story, the writer wrote, “The sixty year-old woman…” and… yeah… although I still felt horrible for the poor lady… WHAT THE HELL?!!!… the writer considered this sixty year-old woman ELDERLY?!!!… SERIOUSLY?!!!!!

That story stayed with me.

Last week I turned sixty.

None of my other birthdays freaked me out – 40? I had a two year-old at home – who had time to think about getting old?? 50? Piece of cake – I’d just gotten my Master’s, published my first book on Amazon, and was about to have a story featured in *Newsweek* – the fifties were looking good. But 60 – the prospect of turning 60 was freaking me out big time.

Coincidentally, I’d been asked to do the readings at church on the eve of my birthday. Seeing as how my readings are usually “all about me,” the topic I chose was – duh – “aging.” I read the story of Abram picking up and moving cross-country at the age of 75 and his wife, Sarai, giving birth at the age of 90. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy, I found: “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age… Manhood is its eternal noon, undimmed by a declining sun. As the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories.” And: “Never record ages. Chronological data are no part of the vast forever. Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood. Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.” And in the next paragraph: “Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof. Life and goodness are immortal. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”

I thought of my 98 year-old dad. His life didn’t stop unfolding “wisdom, beauty, and holiness” for him when he hit 60. He’s continued to paint his watercolors, and explore the world, and learn. He’s grown in wisdom, patience, and appreciation for others through the years. His life hasn’t been marked by borders of delineation between “young” and “old” – it’s been one continuous, flowing unfoldment. I believe that, had he appeared to “pass on” at 60, his life would have continued to unfold on “the other side” and brought him to the same place he is here and now at 98. I don’t believe death could have stopped his unfoldment, any more than age has.

Putting together those readings was really helpful to me.

I like to think that as the distractions of youth – vanity, ego, and so forth – fall from me, I will find a freedom and lightness I didn’t have earlier in my life. I like to think Mary Baker Eddy is right about aging, and that I will continue to unfold in “wisdom, beauty, and holiness.”

And here’s some good news:  When I woke up the morning after I turned 60 I was delighted to find that my teeth hadn’t all fallen out during the night and I appeared to still be ambulatory and stuff.

So there’s that…

birthday-schmirthday

Dazzling Days of Derring-Do

Remembering days when we played hide and seek
in the parking lot at Mount Rainier on summer nights –
my fellow park employees and I slithering
under trucks and dodging behind cars
and laughing so hard our bellies hurt.

Or we might go looking for bears on the trails
in the evenings – hoping we wouldn’t actually
find any, but enjoying the idea of it –
my friend, Dan, pulling me in front of him
for protection, as we encountered imaginary beasts.

We were young. The world was full of adventure
and laughter, and derring-do.

Forty years have brought changes –
marriage, motherhood, responsibilities.
My body seems more matronly than springy
these days. I will be entering my sixth decade
in a few weeks. I felt some trepidation about this.

Would I never have another adventure?
Were the dazzling days of derring-do done?

I went for a walk around the lake yesterday.
I wanted more. Walked from old town to the park.
I wanted more. Walked from the park to downtown,
and back again. Then Scott came home with an idea:
Let’s walk the trail to the beach when the sun sets.

I was all stretched out from nine miles of walking,
and ready for more. A walk in the evening cool.

Darkening trail, lovely roots and rocks to climb
smell of fir and cedar and briny bay
and the sunset – brilliant reds and golds
and blue filling my eyes in the west as the full
moon rises in the east, shimmering silver on the sea.

Crashing waves, sparkling light from sun and moon,
peace and perspective from the stars dotting the above.

And then flashlights come out of our pockets
and we find our way back through the woods,
rocks and roots, joking about what we’d do
if big eyes glowed towards us at eye level  down the trail –
and we’re laughing and brave and young again.

The adventures haven’t ended.
There are still dazzling days of derring-do.

– Karen Molenaaar Terrell

“Just Farting Around”

Brought Moz and Dad (98) over today to watch The Sound of Music and to give Dad a chance to watercolor on my dining room table. I told him on the drive over that this time it was just for him – he wasn’t going to be painting for anyone else. So I brought in his paints, set out his watercolor paper, and went into the family room to start The Sound of Music for Moz – and by the time I got back to Dad he’d already started painting! I asked him what he was painting, and he said he was “just farting around.” I watched him for a bit, as a mountain emerged on his paper, and I asked him what mountain he was painting there, and he said, “It could be any mountain.”

He didn’t finish today. After he’d laid down the background and a few trees he went in and watched The Sound of Music with Moz. I told him I was going to bring him back sometime soon to work some more on his painting, and he nodded his head and said, “Okay.” I told him I’d keep his paints here because this is a nice quiet place for him to work, and he won’t have a lot of interruptions here, and he said, “Yeah. That’s good.”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Dad Painting

Morning Walk with Dad

Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Morning walk and talk with Dad in LaConner –

Karen: Dad, it’s beautiful outside! You want to get up and go for a walk with me?

Dad: (lying in bed) No. I’m comfortable here.

Karen: But it’s gorgeous outside! Come on! Let’s go for a walk.

Dad: Okay.

(Once we’re outside, I follow Dad’s lead. He takes us on to the boardwalk along the Swinomish Channel.)

Dad: (Standing at the end of the boardwalk and sweeping his arm across the Swinomish Channel) This is so beautiful. I could stand here all day.
(Eventually we move to a bench in the sun.)
Dad: (Looking at John Wayne’s boat tied up at the dock) John Wayne is dead. We might have been the same age. I don’t know. He had a lot more active life than me.

Karen: (laughing OUT LOUD) He did NOT have a more active life than you. Did he climb mountains? Did he climb around on K2?

Dad: (smiling) Well, he made more action MOVIES.

Karen: There’s a big difference between movies and real life.

Dad: I could sit here all day. Because you’re here with me. I could sit here all day with you. There are not many moments like this.
Dad: My grandchildren came to see me not too long ago. Recently. I think it was my birthday or something. I’m very proud of them.

Karen: They came on your birthday. They came to see you because they love you.

Dad: (smiling) Of course they do. Because I am a loveable old man.
Dad: I could sit here all day watching the people. (pointing to the sky) Look! There’s only one cloud in the entire sky today!
Dad: (after we’d been out for 40 minutes or so) Okay. Let’s get back to Mom now.
Dad: (as I’m leaving) Thank you for going out on a walk with me today.

Karen: It was fun!

Note: These are not professional quality photos – took these pictures with my cellphone – because, of course, I left my actual cameras AT HOME. But oh well. It was a great morning. 🙂