IS IT WORTH THE WORK? THINGS THAT SATISFY
I never would have guessed that a preschooler would teach me an important lesson about things that satisfy. This past July (and every July for the past 31 years) my hubby and I attended a family Bible Camp at Conference Point in Wisconsin. Our days were full of worship, good food, fellowship, and teaching from God’s Word. And of course there was fun in the sun— everyone’s favorite activity.
As I would rather be on the lake instead of in it, I was satisfied with a front-row seat on the beach where I could people-watch (one of my favorite activities). Kids and adults of all ages enjoyed swimming, diving, playing tag, sunbathing, and chatting. Some were floating on the surface of the water in an inflatable chair.
However, only a subset of attendees were actually satisfied with working during their vacation, and I found that curious. It was the toddlers and preschoolers who were busy digging trenches and building forts, while the older crowd took it easy. One young girl, early on in her task, worked alongside two boys digging a long trench perpendicular to the beach. After a while, the boys got bored and left. But the girl? She soldiered on, like she was engaged in a marathon. Intent on her job, the tike journeyed to and from the lake, filling her bucket with water, pouring it into the trench and then padding back to the lake to fill it again. She must have made the trip 12 times before I lost count.
But what I did note was this: as soon as she'd turn to fetch more lake water the last bucketful would begin slowly seeping into the sand. So by the time she returned, the water had disappeared.
FRUITLESS EFFORT TO SATISFY
I wondered how long it would take before she realized her efforts were fruitless—that no matter how many times she filled the trench, it would never hold water?
Well, soon after I contemplated this, she stopped at one point to examine her work, a puzzled expression forming on her face. I could just imagine her inner thoughts: “What happened to all that water? I know I poured lots in—where did it go?”
And then it happened. The realization was too much. So, with determination, she took a breath and threw the bucket on the sand, then stomped away. Ahh, the youngster finally understood. She had expended all that effort for nothing!
It was a lesson for me, too. How many times had I put energy into something I thought would satisfy, only to be disappointed? A new self-help book that will change my life. A pair of shoes with an arch the ads say will allow you to walk all day in comfort. Classic wicker furniture for our screened-in porch that will fit perfectly. A visit to a nearby tourist spot that promises good food and even better shops.
In reality, the book is shallow and unhelpful. The shoes rub in the wrong places. The wicker furniture is too big for the spot. Most restaurants and shops in the touristy areas are closed on Sunday.
And so on. . .
So what does satisfy? Really, only Christ can satisfy. He has made you and delights in you. He wants what's best and knows what's best for you. Pouring yourself into people and digging into and meditating on God’s Word will change your life. It will bring you peace and contentment. Here’s what the book of Isaiah has to say:
Wow! Can you think of anything more satisfying than to repair the breaches in this world? To restore relationships? To make a difference in people’s lives?
Each one of us has a sphere of influence that no one else holds. Start today—with a friend, a college student or a grandchild. Take them out for a treat. Offer to help them with a problem. Tell them they are in your prayers.
Invest in things that will last. Things that satisfy. Not stuff and meaningless activity, but people. It will renew your heart and give you a fresh perspective on life.
Can you think of one person to encourage or one ministry to engage in that will bring deep satisfaction to your soul? Let me know in the comments below. . .
Letting Go of the Familiar Things
The nomad life can be both freeing and frustrating. Freeing, because I have less stuff to deal with, and fewer responsibilities since I've left my hometown, job, church, friends, and family. Less appointments on my calendar. Fewer options for date night.
But, the nomad life can be frustrating. I don't have the clothes I need for each season because I didn't count on being homeless for a year and a half. Most of my books, files and all of my photos, craft supplies to keep me busy, and, hardest of all, I have only a tiny percentage of my favorite kitchen tools. As I mentioned in last month's blogpost, I'm making do, but it's not the same. I still stubbornly refuse to purchase a new garlic press, even though I need it for almost every dinner I make!
Embracing Gratitude Helps Me Through My Nomad Days
There’s something about being grateful for what I do have, that helps me get through—and even enjoy—my nomad days. Thankful for the roof over my head, and a washer and dryer IN our cabin, and not down the road. Grateful for new (to me) grocery stores that sell organic products and produce. They may not be the brand I'm used to, but they are still organic.
Goodwill has been good to me. I've been able to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe inexpensively, since I did not choose the proper clothing to pack (or not pack), thinking we’d be in our new townhouse by the fall of 2022. Instead, it would be an entire year later. That's four seasons of clothing! I've also found a few pots and pans along with kitchen tools—and even a set of weights.
I've also found ways of exercising, mostly online, Yoga-Go and Grow Young Fitness, both using chairs, since my osteoarthritis excludes me from performing floor exercises. And honestly, the landscape we've encountered is quite hilly and at times, dangerous, as the main road winds around and up and down, mostly through forests. Not a safe environment in which to walk!
But there again, I'm thankful for the ability to drive my car to the grocery store, local restaurants and shopping malls, and a few parks, where I can get out and walk, even for a short while. But I do miss my bike rides around our former neighborhood, and group exercises at the local community center.
One Sunday, we enjoyed a 4.5-mile walk around the largest natural habitat zoo in the world: The North Carolina Zoo We try to explore at least once a week, visiting the larger towns in the area to see the local sights. It's quite an adventure, and you can't beat the price. Another thing to be grateful for in this nomadic life. It satisfies my longings to travel. As long as I'm discovering something new, no matter how small or insignificant, I'm happy!
Embracing the New, the Ordinary and Even the Frustrating
Even something I took for granted—my hairdresser—ended up in a blessing. I found my interim hair stylist after admiring a senior woman’s hair on a visit to a new church one Sunday. She happens to be in the Winston-Salem area, which is accessible from both camps we've volunteered at. And Dara, after I showed her a pic, beautifully imitated my hairdresser Kathy’s technique!
That's another perspective of the nomad life—visiting a variety of churches who worship the same God, but in different ways: some contemporary, others conservative, Some with rock bands and country music, others with traditional hymns and songs led by a small band. We have Christian brothers and sisters everywhere!
And there's always a place to retreat when I need peace and quiet. This outdoor chapel at Camp Mundo Vista is a short (and steep) walk from our cabin, nestled in the Uwharrie Mountain range. It's not my park down the street, nor a place I can bike to, but a quiet respite nonetheless. Another entry for my gratitude journal.
Letting Go of My Idea of Home
A nomad’s home is any place to lay his or her head. Ours at the moment is this quaint camp cabin turned tiny house (yay!) with an added strip kitchen. Spacious and cozy all in one! It might not have comfortable chairs and a dishwasher like our last double-wide, but it’s quiet, safe and has a crockpot and comfy bed! Another change, but we are learning to be grateful and adapt as necessary.
I do whatever I can to make our home livable. In all three locations, I've made sure to have lamps to add ambiance to our environment. Fluorescent lights don't do it for me. So, off I go to our local Goodwill to find the right lamp for our space. Can you see the one in the picture above left? It blends with the pine walls of our cabin. I found it for the incredible price of $3.99 (shade included). And I will leave it behind as a gift for the next occupant, along with extra paper goods.
In lieu of end tables, I got creative and covered a few of the storage bins we carry from place to place. That way, there's no need to clutter the cabin with randomly placed cargo, since we have no closets here..
To summarize, at times in our lives (whether we are nomads or not) we must let go of things we think we need to survive, but in fact, don't. They might be preventing us from living life fully in our sliver years or any stage of life. Because it's when we let go, we see God work in our lives and provide what He knows we need. Isn't that comforting??
Is there anything you need to let go of to enable you to move forward in life? If so, let me know in the comments below!
Well, those are my insights on the nomad life this month. If you (or anyone you know) are a silver sister and would like help in preparing for the next stage of life, click HERE for 10 tips to Prepare You for Your Silver Years and Beyond.
Those Were the Days, My Friends. . .
As we headed towards North Carolina, our future home, and not far from the Virginia border, I saw billboards announcing the upcoming attraction: Mount Airy. Hmmmm. The name sounded familiar. Ahhh, yes! Voted an “All-American Town”, it was chosen as the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, and, coincidentally, the star himself grew up here. Above, you can see a mural painted in his honor.
We drove through, then later wandered down the main street, with it's many storefronts reminding us of another era. I felt like a child again, sitting cross-legged in front of my black and white TV, twin antennae sprouting from the top. Although I was a city girl, something was mesmerizing about Andy, who never got ruffled and took everything in stride. And Aunt Bea? Well, goll-ee! What kid wouldn't want her bustling around the house, cooking and cleaning, giving sound advice, and offering milk and cookies hot out of the oven after a hard day at school?
Even the Townsfolk Played the Part
The visitor’s center had two seventy-something folks giving us helpful advice—what to see and do in one hour, since we had to drive to the coast that day, and had very little time. Although we didn't visit the museum, we enjoyed our stroll, chuckling at the signs and peeking in windows.
Supposedly, Andy Griffith worked at this soda fountain in his youth. So, we decided to check it out. Wow. Talk about going back in time! We met Gina, another 70-something lady who made quite an impression on me. Even though she had many health issues, and had to stop driving, it didn't dampen her enthusiastic spirit for life. She found a way to make it work. . .
Of course, Gina offered to take a photo of us, so we obliged!
Out on the street, we found many references to Mayberry and the show. . .
And look what drove down the street, obviously slowing down as he passed, hoping I’d take a photo. . .
All in all, it was well worth losing time on our journey. Since I am moving towards rebranding myself as "historical" (silver hair and all), it seemed appropriate to stop and drink in the nostalgia.
Have you visited a town used as a movie set? Ever visited Mount Airy? If you are a Baby Boomer, did you watch The Andy Griffith Show? If so, who was your favorite character and why? Let me know below!
It never occurred to me that my desire to write middle-grade historical fiction would change. Nor, that my author’s bio must follow suit. But I was recently enlightened when I had to write a book proposal (much like a term paper, for those of you who are unfamiliar with them) and with it, include my bio. Seems simple, until you understand I am writing a non-fiction book on “aging confidently”, something I am struggling to do lately. Now, instead of writing for young people, I'm reaching my peers.
My Middle-grade Bio
This is what I created when I published The Heart Changer in 2019:
Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a 'Y') Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history, and offers her young readers hope, heart, and a real-life hero.
Jarm loves to travel, is passionate about visiting new places and determined never to visit the same location twice. Unfortunately, sometimes she has to break her own rule. Having journeyed to six out of seven continents, she’s slowly checking off destinations on her bucket list. Jarm’s next dream destination is a stay in a Mongolian yurt with plenty of yak milk to drink!
Some interesting factoids about the author: Her first job was working in — no kidding — a Chinese laundromat! After meeting a bat head-on, Jarm had the distinct privilege of sporting black eyes for eighth grade graduation. Her secret desire? To get caught up in a flash mob singing a tune from a favorite musical.
Jarm taught Kindergarten and high school art/home economics, served as school librarian, and later, nannied a four year old girl. But her greatest challenge was educating three missionary children in an isolated bush village in Papua New Guinea, without the benefit of modern conveniences.
Jarm is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers, and has published three articles in The Old Schoolhouse magazine (2013/18/19). She finished her advanced course with the Institute of Children’s Literature, completing her third MG historical fiction.
Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. Her debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer released with Ambassador International April 26th, and recently won the Illuminations Silver Medal Award in the Children’s/YA category, and honorable mention in The Purple Dragonfly Book Award’s spiritual/religious category.
You can connect on her website: Jarm Del Boccio, Author or social media platforms: Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
A New Genre, a New Bio—a New Identity!
Now that I am writing a non-fiction book on Aging Confidently, it's necessary to change my bio to reflect the current ‘me’ and to identify with my future readers—folks in their silver years and beyond. Below is my revised but tentative bio. I'd appreciate your feedback!
Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a 'Y') Del Boccio has spent the last 10 years breathing new life into the pages of history offering middle-grade readers hope, heart, and a real-life hero. Now, well into her silver years, and maturing along with her peers, she is looking forward, and not back. Jarm sees a reluctance to let go of the past and its comforts to forge ahead into new territory that will enlighten, refresh and energize the spirit. What many peers fear is the very thing that will help them age with grace, confidence and faith, making their last years productive and meaningful.
Jarm scares off the aging bug with travel, and is passionate about visiting new places—she is determined never to visit the same location twice. Unfortunately, sometimes she has to break her own rule. Having journeyed to six out of seven continents, she’s slowly checking off destinations on her bucket list. Her secret desire? To get caught up in a flash mob singing a tune from a favorite musical. Jarm feels like a 20-something when someone comments on her stunning silver hair. She tells them it's God’s gift to her (along with her stellar hairdresser of 30 years.)
Although Jarm taught elementary and high school students, served as school librarian, and later, nannied a young girl, her greatest challenge was educating three missionary children in an isolated bush village in Papua New Guinea, without the benefit of modern conveniences.
Jarm is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Word Weavers, and Hope*Writers. She has published articles in The Old Schoolhouse magazine and recently, her devotional on Nehemiah was accepted for Unlocked Teen Devotional.
Having sold her home in a tree-lined Chicago suburb, Jarm has moved 11 times in four months. Although it's an adventure she wasn't asking for, Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and plans to settle down with her husband to the North Carolina coast. With this move, she has become an avid declutterer and minimalist, since discovering it fogs her aging brain.
Her award-winning debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer released with Ambassador International in 2019, and still has two more kidlit novels to submit when the time is right.
You can connect on her website: Jarm Del Boccio, Author or social media platforms: Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
What do you think of my new identity? Would you add anything to my bio that would represent my ‘silver self” better? Anything you would remove that is not necessary? Please tell me in the comments below. . .
Since my husband and I are without a home at this time (our townhome construction in North Carolina has been delayed until spring), we are wanderers and sojourners, traveling across country, visiting friends, house-sitting and staying with very generous church family members a few weeks at a time. Above, you see me in a "here's proof I was at one of the most popular spots in the US" pose.
I'm the Happy Sojourner. . .
. . .and he is not. Dan is a home-body who can spend his vacations in his workshop or music studio, and not leave the house. He loves ritual and hates change. I, on the other hand, love variety and crave changes. It inspires me and tickles my little grey cells (as Poirot often says).
So, I must applaud my hubby for his bravery. I am coming very quickly to the conclusion that it's the thing we dread that keep our minds sharp. Getting adjusted to a new lodging and routine every couple of weeks (not to mention moving our belongings), jiggles our thought processes and comfort zones. Last month, we spent four weeks at Conference Point Camp in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. We volunteered three weeks, and attended our annual family Bible camp the fourth week. Working in the kitchen was exhausting, and ramped up our appreciation for restaurant and camp meals.
During our last week of volunteering, I was asked to manage the snack shop for a friend who flew out west with her husband to visit their daughter and family. The first part of the week, I worked alongside my friend as she showed me the ropes. But come Thursday, I was on my own with two well-trained and capable (thankfully) teens. Occasionally, my husband, Dan, would help out, but he was even more of a novice than me.
I was amazed at how my multi-tasking abilities returned (thank you, Jesus!) as we served a hoard of 107 band kids who literally swarmed in for their ice cream, smoothies and slushies. Whew! It confirmed my hope that I was not ripe for assisted living just yet.
So, What Does Sojourning Have to Do with Writing?
Ready for a surprise? I am moving my focus from Middle-Grade Historical Fiction to Memoir and nonfiction, specifically addressing aging and its many facets. Of course, I will offer ways to grow older gracefully, and point out the issues we silver-haired folks face daily. Does that sound like something you resonate with? I would love to have you comment below, if that is the case. What is your biggest roadblock to moving forward as you age? What are your fears?
If you receive this blogpost via email, click on the title of the post, and it should bring you to the blog itself, where you can comment below. I truly want and need to hear from you! Even if you are in your 40s and 50s, I want to know what concerns you about the future.
The Serious and the Silly
Looking forward to your comments. And I guarantee some of them will show up in my next book!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.