"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

November 1, 2011

To DO List for My 50th Year

On the sweatshirt of a birthday gift from a very funny friend.

I am so blessed to have made some amazing friendships in my life. While I have cherished a few golden oldies from my childhood and college years––even though we don't see each other enough (thank you Facebook!)––most of the dearest friends that I have made have been in the latter half of the past decade while still living in New Hampshire and here in Kentucky. Several make me laugh, a lot, and I was quite spoiled by some on my recent birthday: with good wishes, thoughts, prayers, laughter and some lovely gifts. 

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” 

People who know me know that I am the real deal, bumps and all: I may speak my mind at times, I may defend others who are not so fortunate, and I never suffer fools gladly. Like meets like and stays with like and if you encounter a false friend in your life you will soon know it. The best indicator of a sour relationship is that it just isn't working: something's "off," you might find yourself apologizing too often and for things you're not aware that you've done, or it just feels forced. Perhaps there is a certain envy in the relationship on one side, or both, that causes friction. Either way, these friendships are toxic and you are best to run, fast, in the other direction. 

Sometimes we just encounter narcissists––whether friends, family members or coworkers––in our lives who are simply incapable of any kind of authentic self or true relationship or the ability to accept responsibility for their part in something. They can be classic victims and often shed their identities, and personas, and start again. You may be left in their wake. Consider yourself fortunate and, if still standing there trying to figure them out, just run, RUN! Or, sit back and enjoy the behaviors from a distance. Better yet, no, just run and don't look back. Maybe say a few "Hail Marys" or prayers while you're at it. Forgiveness fills the heart but it never forgets. [It is also good to remember that narcissists, like sociopaths, can not change who they are: there are thousands of websites on this very subject, and even many books. They are more insidious then you might think and not always whom you might expect, at first.]

It goes without saying that my family comes first–our children on Addie's
visit last month–but sometimes we have to make time for ourselves, too.
We had such a wonderful time out West in October–a trip is a great way to reconnect.

Above all we need to be surrounded by people who love us and have our backs, just as we need to be that friend, family member or colleague. One thing I'm realizing as I age and stare at 50 next year is that I have a reduced capacity for bullshit of any kind or people who lack a sense of humor or who are inauthentic. So boundaries are in order. So is cleaning out my closet: in all realms. This year will be a combination of many things as I prepare, hopefully, for the next fifty years of my life.

“You are never too old to set another goal 
or to dream a new dream.” 

I need to also count and remember my blessings each and every day. And, as C.S. Lewis wrote (he is also responsible for all of the quotes in this blog today): 

“You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” 

I would like to try and do things that nourish the body, feed the soul and surround the heart in warmth and good feeling. Several years ago, two friends and I started writing out our goals for the next year, around the holidays, always with shared presents, good food and a cup of tea. This continues that tradition.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough 
or a book long enough to suit me.” 

To Do List for My 50th Year (written just after my 49th birthday):
  1. Put health, exercise and good eating habits FIRST and ALWAYS (the rest will come): SCHEDULE IT IN!
  2. Make weekly menu plans for best use of pantries and freezers.
  3. Go through all "stuff" in rooms, closets and cupboards in two houses, bite by bite, room by room: keep, pitch, donate, regift, sell. Only keep what is useful or truly beautiful (this includes special sentiments). Prioritize projects for 2012-13 execution (esp. archival and WRITING).
  4. Go through shop, box by box, and either rebox or SELL!!!
  5. Go through archives in shop and either pitch (eg. BURN) or regroup for later proper storage and sharing.
  6. Spend as little money as absolutely possible.
  7. Get office spaces better ready for good work flow (see 3. and 4.).
  8. Spend much less time with media and read much more.
  9. Write more notes and letters to friends and family: "Only connect." (see 8.)
  10. Establish clear boundaries in all realms to open doors and windows in others: Let the LIGHT in and darkness AWAY!
  11. Cultivate authentic relationships.
  12. Keep laughing and occasionally swearing. It helps.
  13. Drink more tea, and often drink it with friends. 
  14. "Remember," as my great-grandmother advised, "the ruthlessness to rest."

An old cross in the adobe home of our cousins in Colorado.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

You come back when you're ready!


  1. I really like that, "a soul with a body".

  2. Madame, what a soulful and thoughtful blog! You must have some good friends and family members who promote such thoughtful thoughts (sorry, I couldn't help that.) May your 50th birthday be filled with all things good. When is it, by the way?

  3. Michael, thank you. It was Saturday, October 29. Almost a Halloween witch and born right after the Cuban Missile Crisis ended in 1962. Yes, I am very blessed and count many Facebook and blog readers as great friends, also.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I enjoy reading your blog. I like your List for 50, particularly #8. I frequently chide myself for not reading as much as I did, say, five years ago.


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