Gently down the stream

Cozy homeIt took me a week or so to realize it but, for the first time, I have no aspirations or goals for the new year! I didn’t even think about it on New Year’s Eve, which is the time when I traditionally ponder what I accomplished during the previous year and then sketch out the things I’d like to accomplish in the new year to come. This is so unusual for me that I actually can’t remember EVER (as an adult) starting a new year without them. For many years I called them resolutions, then I changed to aspirations because I thought resolutions sounded too harsh and rigid but, whatever I called it, the bottom line was that I always had a list of goals for the new year. When I was still working the list was a combination of career and personal goals and then, after I retired, the list naturally became focused on personal goals – but I always had them!

Last year my main goal was to finish Liberty’s AKC training classes and have her tested to become registered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Inc. and we accomplished that. We have been volunteering for PAWS to Read at two elementary schools and, although that doesn’t require therapy dog registration, we’re all set for any opportunities that do require it. In other years I’ve had such goals as finishing a book and getting it published (done!) and passing the 100 design threshold on my greeting card website www.greetingcarduniverse.com/LyndaLinke (done!). I had wanted to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for a long time and I made it a goal for 2015 (done!)

Maybe it’s because I’m older and I’m just experiencing time in a different way than I ever have before. Maybe my perspective has changed because I’ve been learning so much about history and the bible over the past few years. At times, I feel like I’m floating on a stream and everything just flows in and around me and that feels good after so many years of feeling restless and discontented – and possibly too goal-oriented. I finally feel that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do.

I have some vague ideas about losing 10 lbs, writing a new book, adding more card designs to my website, seeking new volunteer opportunities for Liberty and me, and doing some small home improvement jobs, but those ideas don’t carry the same weight as “goals”. All I really want is to stay healthy and be grateful everyday for my blessings – I even have a new sign hanging in my dining room so I can see it every time I sit down to eat “Blessings … count them one by one”. I  actually don’t care if I accomplish anything this year or not … and there is an unexpected feeling of freedom in that.

PS/Ann – thanks for the card. So glad to know you’re still reading and enjoying my blog. Blessings to you and Ira 🙂

I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the year’s.”  ~Henry Moore

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What is this New Year of which you speak? My goals are always the same … food, love, walks, rides in the car, and TOYS!  

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions

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My American Dream

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God Bless America

The “American Dream” is not a three bedroom house in the suburbs with a two car garage. It is not about accumulating vast wealth. It is not about achieving goals. And yet, it incorporates those things and much more because it is an idea. It is a very simple and very complex idea. The American dream is based on individual freedom – the most radical basis for a government the world has ever known.

Our Constitution was designed to protect us from government over-reach and tyranny so that we can pursue our individual dreams in peace. Our rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence seem very simple on their surface – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – but they encompass everything we need to survive or succeed, according to our ambition and ability. Any thinking person understands that we are not equal in intelligence, attractiveness, physical strength, ambition, character or abilities and nothing can make us equal by those measurements. We are all unique individuals and we are equal only in the eyes of God and the rights He has given us, which are protected by our Constitution. Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant, this is the foundation upon which our country was built. We are equal in rights and opportunity under the law, not in achievement or acquisition or ability. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail. We have the right to pursue our happiness as we choose, as long as we don’t infringe upon the rights of others.

The American Dream is what has made this country exceptional. In spite of corrupt, immoral politicians and the army of federal agencies and government bureaucrats that are constantly chipping away at our Constitutional rights with a mountain of regulations, I believe the radical idea of individual freedom is still alive – although currently on life support. These are discouraging times and, although I’m sickened by the presidential campaign, I haven’t given up on the American Dream yet. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to fully appreciate my country and my rights – I really just started paying attention 5 years ago but now I look for and support politicians and organizations who are interested in protecting the Constitution from those who want to undermine or destroy it. Some people who know me think they know my politics but, they really don’t.  In my life I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans; in fact I just voted for a Democrat to be mayor of my town. I have tried to vote for the person I felt was best for the job; however, the Democrat party as a whole has veered way too far left in the past 20 years or so to align with me. 

I’m a Constitutional Conservative (with libertarian leanings), which means I think that conserving the Constitution is of more importance and significance than any one politician or political party. I’ve recently been educating myself about a movement that is growing in strength across the country – Convention of States http://www.cosaction.com/ Whatever your political party, if you’re concerned about the direction in which our country is heading, I urge you to go to their website and learn about their mission. I have signed their petition and I’m considering volunteering in some capacity with my state group. We the people still have rights that are worth fighting for.

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.  ~Patrick Henry (patriot, lawyer, and orator)

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Freedom is a beautiful thing!

See more of my artwork at Lynda Linke Productions

Small and not so small blessings

Lynda Linke logoJuly 8th will be the fifth anniversary of my “reinvention” journey – the day I retired from the working world and began living life in a different way than I had for the previous 35+ years. Years ago I read somewhere that retirement for “Boomers” is different from their parent’s retirement and that many of us like to think of it more as an opportunity for “reinvention”. That’s a fairly typical Boomer way of looking at things – slightly self-centered and egotistical, goal-oriented, forward thinking, and always striving to be different from previous generations. We’re not going to have our parent’s retirement! Perish the thought!! We might even be the first generation that really didn’t believe we would grow old, or at least the most vocal about it. Remember “don’t trust anyone over 30”? How about The Who talking about “My Generation”? Now that we’re all in our 60’s and 70’s, it’s our turn to confront the challenges of aging and, once again, we are determined to experience it in our own way.

Although I’m sure there are plenty of people in my age group who are happy to spend their retirement playing golf or fishing (nothing wrong with that!), I have read interesting stories about people who are using retirement as a time in their lives when they can create a different lifestyle. Many people have chosen to start a small business after retiring, often completely different from the careers in which they worked for 30 or 40 years. Maybe for the first time in your adult life you’re free to explore interests for which you never had time. You might make a radical lifestyle change – perhaps you always wanted to live on a houseboat or maybe you’re fulfilling the dream you’ve had since you were 18 of traveling the country in an RV. I just read a story about a couple who spent a year visiting all 59 national parks!

Although I can’t say I have created a radically different or unique lifestyle in the way some people have, it is certainly different from the one I used to have. For one thing, the reduction in stress and responsibility has allowed me to change in some important ways. One change, which is a small blessing in itself, is a real understanding that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. I have accepted my current limitations and restrictions and I’m content. That’s a biggie for me because I’ve always been restless and thinking about the next “thing”. I’m not living an exciting, adventurous life but I appreciate the small blessings of being able to immerse myself in a good book, walk with Liberty, have lunch with a friend, take my Mom on a vacation, go to the beach, get away on my own for a few days and a myriad of other simple pleasures.

I started out 5 years ago with a long to-do list, which is still only half completed. It’s been a small blessing to find I don’t care about accomplishing the rest of the goals I set for myself back then! I’ve learned some things about myself and one of them is that I’m not ambitious enough to be a successful artist or author or to start a business, and that’s okay because an important part of my journey has been learning to accept myself. I no longer feel like I have to be accomplishing something important every day. There are places I’d like to visit, things I’d like to experience and a soul mate I hope to meet before I die, but I don’t have the anxious restlessness I once had about those things – and for a former chronic malcontent that’s no small blessing.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~E.M. Forster

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Liberty is thankful for the not so small blessing of encountering NO alligators during her recent visit to Lake Hall in Arthur B. Maclay Gardens and State Park in Tallahassee. 

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