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.

 

 

 

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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 Daring-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 daring-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 daring-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 daring-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.”

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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. 🙂

A Rainbow of Book Covers

Just published my latest book, Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom. It shares some of the adventures my mom (88) and dad (98) have had in the last year – moving out of their home of 48 years, and into a new chapter of their lives. My parents rock! They are brave, and kind, and are expert at adjusting to the ups and downs of Life.

On another note: A year or two ago I mentioned to friends that it would be pretty cool if I could make a kind of rainbow of all my book covers. Check it out! 🙂

book covers 2016

This Body

This body has done everything I’ve asked of it. Since I was 10 months old and taking my first steps, this body has been my chief form of transportation – and my most reliable one. It’s conveyed me to the tops of Mount Rainier, Baker, Adams and Hood. It’s brought me through amazing places of meadows and waterfalls, and sparkling deserts – taken me through foreign streets and foreign landscapes, and through the gardens and orchards of my own backyard. This body has run races, and jumped over high jump bars, caught baseballs and served volleyballs and swung a tennis racket. Its hands have clasped other hands in friendship, stroked my babies’ foreheads as they drifted into sleep, bandaged knees, tied shoes, painted and typed and weeded the garden. This body has given me the means to dance and sing. It’s birthed my two sons for me. Its eyes have given me a means to see the beauty surrounding me, and its ears have given me access to music and laughter. This body has been my faithful instrument; a loyal tool. It may not be as quick or light or nimble as it once was, but it has served me well, and I am grateful for it. So no, you aren’t going to hear me disparaging this body’s weight, or its wrinkles, or its age spots. You aren’t going to hear me talking about this body as if it’s my enemy. This body deserves more than that. This body rocks!

        The elements and functions of the physical body and of the physical world will change as mortal mind changes its beliefs. What is now considered the best condition  for organic and functional health in the human body may no longer be found indispensable to health. Moral conditions will be found always harmonious and health-giving. Neither organic inaction nor overaction is beyond God’s control; and man will be found normal and natural to changed mortal thought, and therefore more harmonious in his manifestations than he was in the prior states which human belief created and sanctioned.
– Mary Baker Eddy