Notes from Jan

Savoring the Sidelines

August 16, 2023

Can’t remember when I did so little for so long. But then, age comes with more than social security benefits. Add to that the slow pulse of beach time. No need for clocks, since nothing runs on time. Time shifts from minutes to moments. It’s transformed from precise time, like 6:04, to time to sit and stare at clouds, listen to the ocean, take deep breaths, do nothing. Just be.

Granted, it takes some adjusting. But I love it and some of it has to do with the beach house. It’s a no-fuss kind of place, where sandy feet really are welcome. Wet suits, damp beach towels decorate porch railings. Sea breezes wave them like flags of summertime.

The weathered house flaunts its age, sandwiched between a modern condo on the left and a multi-family rental owned by the Blockade Runner hotel. So I’m sure the owner could’ve sold for big bucks many times. But Ginny didn’t and at age 94 seems content to keep the place, as was. And that’s why we love coming back. It’s full of memories and reminders that not all change is for the better.

But change comes. Like not so long ago, four generations of women rocked on this porch: Mama, me, Heather and Lily. Now, its’ three generations and I’m the oldest left standing. Or rocking would be more accurate. But I’m still here and gratitude shifts my focus to appreciate both what was, while enjoying what is. It’s one of the imperishable gifts Jud gave me by his example, to balance reality with hope. Then, combine it with Mama’s sage words: “Life’s short. Never miss a chance to sit close.”

And so most mornings I awoke to the smell of breakfast. Chad making pancakes or eggs to order. I never planned or cooked a meal. “The kids” did it all. No fuss. I never washed a dish. No guilt. Which may be the most amazing of all, since I come from a long line of guilt associated with having idle hands.

Chris, my sister-in-love, and I read down at the beach or up on the porch. Catered to by the young, which meant all but my brother, Ralph. He rocked with us, occasionally interrupting our reading with commentary on life going on around us.

Life viewed from the sidelines. I’m there now. No need to prove myself or take charge of anything. It’s a sacred place. Content to be, learning to receive.

Thank you, my precious and crazy-wonderful family.

And thank you, Ginny, for the beach house, where good enough is simply perfect.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Ann Menzie August 16, 2023 at 11:54 am

    Being on the sidelines lets one contemplate life and God. I had open heat surgery in July and it has forced me to slow down. I am a doer and this is difficult but I’m learning a lot. First how many good friends I have. They call and send cards as well as visit. What blessing. I get to contemplate how blessed I am. My children visit and call and give me”advice”. My husband cares for me. We sit in the backyard looking at the birds and rabbits. God is good

  • Reply Jan Carlberg August 16, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    Wow, Ann, that’s a lot of good going on in your life. It’s amazing what’s possible today through modern medicine. So grateful to read your surgery went well, dear Ann, and that you’re experiencing love and care from so many. Yes, God is good, and takes joy when his kids do Good. Happy healing from the sacred sidelines.

  • Reply Nancy Mering August 16, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    I think your comments will resonate with a lot of your reading audience, Jan. David and I are just back from St Louis—of all unexpected places to go in August—for a gathering with both kids and their families and a beloved nephew and his family—a group of 23. David and I did a bit of food planning but no execution, including not doing the big Costco shopping at the beginning of the week. Guilt appears but I’m able to squash it pretty well. We had such a terrific time together.. BTW, St Louis is a family-friendly city. All museums free, including the zoo which is reputed to be be second only to the San Diego Zoo which is very costly to enter. Not that anyone asked me. . .

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 16, 2023 at 1:05 pm

      Such a good gift, dear Nancy, to see your name appear. Sounds like “fun for the whole family”. And thanks for sharing the good news about FREE admission for families to enjoy the zoo and museums in St. Louis. Still miss you at church but I know how important it is to be closer to family for their sake and ours. Plus Maine’s a beautiful state.

  • Reply Radina Welton August 16, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    So sweet! “Good enough is simply perfect.”Thank you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 16, 2023 at 5:18 pm

      Well, dear Radina, you are always welcome to stop by and comment. Hope you’re enjoying family times in Oregon. Hugs to the Petrocelli family, as well. Praying for Kendra.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe August 16, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    Oh Jan, I needed to read these wise words today. As a new septuagenarian, I find myself still trying to keep the pace I have for the past 50 years, trying to do everything for everyone. I’m wistful when I hear people talk about the joys of retirement because I still can’t keep up with all I’ve committed to. How I long to sit and contemplate and just be. But the older-still Protestant work ethic still compels me to be doing. When will I learn that good enough can be simply perfect? Thank you for pointing the way.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 16, 2023 at 5:24 pm

      Trust me, with my Norwegian genes,learning to be still and simply to BE or receive, is tough to learn. Contentment, and being still, at first, feels lazy. Not so. It’s deep trust in God’s faithfulness and in learning “doing all things” is more about what Jesus can do than me. I’m learning that good enough is so good. Thanks, dear Maggie, for adding your wise words to the blog.

  • Reply Evelyn Morgan August 16, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    Janny Dawn (as Steiny would call you), this took me back to listening to your mama talking about Wrightsville Beach being like Heaven on earth. I’m so happy that your whole family can still enjoy that place like your family once did. It’s so good you have family to reunite with and that you can enjoy those grands. Thanks for the memory. Love my old roomie.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 16, 2023 at 5:30 pm

      And I love seeing my name as ‘Janny Dawn”. Years ago Steiny, Porter and David came and met us at this beach. Not at the same beach house that I wrote about, however. Our family started coming to this beach when I was 16. We still love the area. As I get older and the Grands age, it’s harder to get everyone together. But when we do, it’s so much fun. And there’s no place like the beach for making memories and messes. And I love you, dear Evie, my “old roomie.” Thanks for taking time to respond.

  • Reply Joyce Ruppell August 25, 2023 at 9:55 pm

    I experienced an on the sidelines moment today and felt sad and depressed. I am heartened to read that others are struggling with the same issues as we ease into a slower pace and not being so busy all the time. I long to continue to serve and be productive we’ll into the coming decades and pray that God will fill my hands with worthy work.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 26, 2023 at 8:48 am

      Thanks, dear Joyce, for your honest sharing. Yes, being on the sidelines can be uncomfortable, even frightening. But I have found contentment to just BE still and receive. And to listen better and see prayer as a most “worthy work.” YOU matter, dear Joyce, more than anything you do. Jesus loves your good company. On the sidelines is a wonder-FULL opportunity to enjoy the company of Jesus and gain fresh perspective on what really matters.

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