Strut It Up

Rasta Dog got her hairs trimmed necessitating wearing her camo coat when we walk the city streets on these frigid snowy eves. I am embarrassed to tell you she is a clothes horse- or would be if I indulged it. At present she owns only 2 articles of clothing. A black t-shirt with a skull and crossbones (indicating to all dogs in the area that she is one bad you-know-what so watch out- which she decidedly is not) which, if given the option, she would wear day and night and her camouflage coat. I am sure we are a sight. Me bundled up like the abominable snowman with my umbrella open (yes, you read that right) in a futile attempt to shield this poor suffering Jamaican from the northern snowy winds and Rasta Dog in her American Kennel Club camo coat happily treading along. Beauty and the beast and she's the beauty.

A nice thing about growing older is that you no longer care what other people think of you; or at least you care a whole lot less. I used to think it my job to get everyone to like and approve of me. I spent inordinate amounts of time living to try to please others and then growing angry and resentful when I couldn't. Now I realize just how self serving and vain that was and how just plain stupid. People for the most part are pretty wrapped up in themselves and don't care near so much as I'd like to believe about what I think or say or do.

I used to personalize everything. Seeing someone with a crossed look meant I had somehow pissed them off instead of what it probably meant- that they had a fight with their significant other or forgot their checkbook at home or just ate something that didn't agree with them. Now I try to give people space to be and even give them permission not to like me without having to suffer through my annoying attempts at winning them over. I find that I have a lot more peace and I think that comes from finally accepting and liking who I am. I know that sounds like dime store psycho babble but it's true. It has taken me 5 decades to get here but here is a really good place to be. The irony being that this is the fruit of rejection. It took a full force gale of rejection (in the form of divorce) to realize that I am not the sum total of what others think of me but of what God thinks and what I think of me, as determined by Him.

I finally like myself and am comfortable with who I am- warts and all. OK I don't have any warts but I do have wrinkles and extra pounds and some thankfully infrequent but annoyingly boingy gray hairs that stick straight out of this otherwise head of brown. Honestly, I wouldn't trade the now me for the twenty year old version with a killer skinny body and all of life to live still ahead of her because I love the now me and then I did not. Although I wouldn't mind having the option of having them both at the same time.

The now me is funnier, more relaxed and happier. The now me doesn't take myself so seriously that it can't find the humor in dropping a communion plate full of wafers in church two weeks ago and watching it shatter into a million little blue pieces at the exact moment that this herd of people (rushing relentlessly to their cars) is pouring out of the worship center and of course there are no brooms to be found and the maintenance closet is locked. The now me takes those things and weaves colorful stories to amuse others (which, for some reason, I am never at a lack of) instead of hiding in shame and embarrassment.

I guess because I finally love me I can be OK with others who do not. And I think I am freer to love others whether they love me or not. When you stop caring about how you look or how you are going to come across or if you are going to be perceived to be pretty, smart, industrious, successful (fill in the blank) or if you'll be let in that group or invited to that party or liked by that member of the opposite sex; when you just stop caring about all that and put it down- the suffocating need to be loved- you are set free to care about what is important- God and the people He has placed in your life. And astonishingly, when you truly love others, you find yourself loved in return, boingy gray hairs and all.

Rasta Dog and I are going to strut it up tonight when we hit the downtown sidewalks and streets for the final night's peruse, snow and arctic air be darned. Watch out Des Moines- here comes the crazy Jamaican umbrella lady and the deaf dog with the camo coat and aren't they lookin' mighty fine!

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