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  • Dr. Rebecca A. Thomas

My heart is flyin’ up like a rocket ship, down like a roller coaster...

My heart is flyin’ up like a rocket ship, down like a roller coaster, fast like a loopety loop…(when I fell in love, down at Palisades Park) It’s been a long time since my last blog, certainly a lot longer than I intended. I really enjoy the challenge of putting something of significance to me down in black and white. So far, my life has been quite a ride! But like what sometimes happens with even such enjoyable things, blog writing got lost in the shuffle of life. Several times, I have been reminded by someone’s comment, that the blog is also enjoyable to at least a few others; but until this moment, I just couldn’t make it happen.

Three years ago about this time of year, in August of 2009, we made our trek from Virginia to Iowa. A major goal for me in that move was to purpose to find better balance in my life—more joy, more fun. It’s probably not a newsflash to anyone that while a psychologist’s job is quite gratifying, it is also rather heavy at times emotionally. Also, I had been in school and in training for years and years (and years…) with little time for funsies of any kind.

Frankly, I though this task might be easy, because I pictured life in Iowa as slow (OK, boring; my apologies to my fellow Iowans for that thought.) Well, it’s been anything but either slow or boring. That’s how the blog got lost in the shuffle! I can’t catch you all up on everything that’s happened since I last wrote, but over the following months, you’ll probably learn about all of it; you know just like a soap opera, you can tune in and easily follow the story.

So let’s pick it up here….the most amazing thing happened recently; I turned sixty—SIX-OH!!! This realization feels like the part of the roller coaster ride where you’ve reached the apex; and you’re just starting the huge downhill rush—not the putt putt putt up the first hill—nope it’s the hair-raising and scary centerpiece of the whole thing—the one that makes you wet your pants and then gasp some more as you find out that there are a few more surprises coming your way right after.

At 60, I’m thinking how this life is like that roller coaster ride; I’ve been on the ride my whole life; for me, it started out a bit jerky, slow, and an uphill struggle; you know that initial clack, clack, clack up the hill to take the first, but not the biggest, hill. As I progressed, there were some more interesting and eyebrow raising twists and turns. But it’s really all the prelude to that one killer hill, isn’t it? Sixty is the apex—the precipice—of that hill.

Surprisingly Jane Fonda said it best (my husband won’t be happy with me quoting Hanoi Jane); she labeled this season of life “The Third Act.” Now, see I liked that right away. I’ve been marinating on that thought for a couple of months now. I would have thought that this birthday thing would be a real bummer, but surprisingly it isn’t. Admittedly, there is a hint of melancholy; after all, it’s almost impossible to have as many years left in my life as I have already lived. But being 60 is also exciting and liberating. You know, me, I’m all about the paradoxes! Oh, I don’t miss the looks in the faces of the younger people who look at me like I’m over the hill and out of touch; the reason I recognize ‘the look’ is that I remember being 20 or 30 something myself! But I don’t think I would want to go back there—been there, done that!

While I get a little miffed at my body that’s a bit slower and has a lot less stamina than I think it should, I just pretty much feel like me. And maybe I feel more like ‘me’ than I ever did! I wasted a whole lot of time worrying about ‘fitting in’, about ‘being successful’, being’ cool’, ‘being good enough’ and about trying to figure out who I was supposed to be. Now I realize I literally don’t have the time to worry about such things!  I’m getting the simplicity of just being who I am, and wondering why it took me so darn long to figure that out! Duh!!

I’m OK (now!) with being a mold-breaker. I live and work in a church, which is very hard to compare to anyone else’s home or business; and I have started acting out, acting up and being more proactive in life. I am singing more, and playing my flute more, and learning to play the harmonica, and the ukulele, and the Jew’s Harp, too! (“Juice Harp” is hereby being offered without apology as an alternative to those who may worry about racial issues—that’s what it’s called!)

AND, guess what? I now have Ethel Jane, and I LOVE HER! She is a character that I created for an annual fundraising event in my community. Ethel Jane is an old school ‘church lady,’ The great thing about Ethel is that she is older than I am (and that’s getting harder to find!); and she is brave, and outspoken, and FUNNY! While she appears to be quite conservative and prudish, Ethel has some ‘junk in her trunk’ when she hears her old hymns jazzed up just a bit! She makes folks laugh and feel good because she’s such an irascible but humorous character—she’s full of vinegar! And anybody who grew up in church knows that there is a whole lot to laugh about!!

So it looks like the Third Act is going to be a good one; think about it, the first two acts only provide the prelude and the context to Act Three—that’s when the play comes together and the story gets interesting and meaningful. This act is already much busier than I imagined, though. I came from a family of people who looked forward to retirement in order to…. (imagine the sound of crickets chirping in this space). I can’t fathom that life. I’m ready for those fast twists and turns, with a couple of stomach lurching ups and downs and even a loopety loop or two thrown in for good measure that are still left in my story before the ride quickly, but gently slows down and pulls into the station.

So, if you don’t mind, I’d love for you to come along as I continue to chronicle my ride. My mantra is YCMTSU, my friends (You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, pronounced Yuk-Eh-Mutt-Soo, for those who might be interested---several folks have T-shirts!) There’s lots of stuff to fill you in on…like you probably already know that we live in a church and have our business in a church, but now….there’s a church meeting in our church! See? YCMTSU!!! Oh, and there’s a new grandbaby named Brody, and my sister now lives right next door in a carriage house (that means her house is over the garage), and …well some of this will just have to wait until I can get you caught up! I’m just starting to pick up steam as I head down that big hill….it’s the ride of my life, folks! Wheeeee!!!


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