Category Archives: Who I am

Smile on.

I’ve had a bit of a go of it today.

It started out with a spontaneous decision to carpool with Tony.  Which was great fun.  Sometimes necessary fun, like yesterday with the surprise “rain” that we had here.  I’m pretty sure that no one in the world knows how to properly drive in the rain, and I definitely know that no one in California knows how to do it.  At least according to social media.  Except for us.  And the “us” is interchangeable to whoever is authoring the comment, of course.

So, yesterday was necessary. Today was spontaneous, and I even joked that it was a “wasted” carpool, because traffic wasn’t all that bad at all [compared to yesterday].  Tony thought I was serious until he looked over at me.  Apparently, I can deadpan like nobody’s business.  But seriously, how can time with my best friend be “wasted?”

Anyway, Tony’s cup holders in his car are smaller than the ones in my car.  Which is strange if you consider that my entire car is smaller than his, but my cup holders are bigger than his.  Anyway, so his car’s inadequate cup holders were not holding my coffee mug and it kept sliding out every time he accelerated, decelerated or turned  Well, after I booted Tony out at his work and took over driving to my work, my coffee cup slid out and hit the floor.  It must have hit harder than I thought, enough to twist the lid.  It’s a pressurized lid, so it must have hit really hard, and was unbeknownst to me until I parked at work and went to get my coffee, except my coffee was free!  It had spilled out onto the floor mat.  I was not happy about this, not at all.

I immediately pulled the floor mat out of the car so that it wouldn’t smell up the interior.  I laid it out on the ground under the car and rushed into work.  I grieved the loss of my perfectly good coffee and took a tiny sip of the remaining small amount, then another sip, and then … the rest of it somehow spilled out and got in my hair.  SERIOUSLY!  What the … WHY???

At lunch, I headed out for my walk to the deli, but got a text that the food wasn’t needed, so I turned around and came up with the genius idea to ask the car wash guy to pressure spray the coffee off the floor mat.  Which he did and then he declined payment.

As I was walking back into work, I pressed the elevator button and our human resources person came walking up, so I smiled and held the elevator for her.  She turned to me and said, “You know something? Since the day you started here, you’ve always had a smile on your face.  I don’t know if you have shitty days or not, but if you do, I would never know it.  You are always so happy and pleasant to work with.  It’s nice.”

I blinked, smiled bigger and thanked her.  I told her I do have crappy days, but they’re not her fault… or anyone’s really, so why not smile?  What a nice thing for her to say.

So, here’s to smiling through shitty days. Because apparently people do notice.

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Filed under Money Hump Building, Who I am

Loss: A memorial of sorts.

She was the eldest of 3 siblings of which my father was the youngest. I was born on her 42nd birthday and we shared 45 of them with greetings and good wishes. I will quietly wish her happy birthday this November in my thoughts. She passed away two days ago on June 1st.
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Life was not always kind to her, but she dealt with it and moved on. She never let tragedy keep her down. She reveled in interacting with people and counted each person she shared a laugh with as a blessing. She was always ready to share a laugh with someone and her wit was quick, down-to-earth and sometimes unexpected. She loved deeply, but held her boundaries when needed. She married 3 times, the first at age 16. She bore a son from that marriage who died when he was 3 months old… or 2 years old, the notes my other aunt gave me say one thing, but I believe she told me 2 years old. My experience tells me that the age her child was when he died didn’t matter, loss is loss. Despite that loss, she loved children and loved me unconditionally. I never sensed any grief from her when she spent time with me, as a child or an adult, only joy. She understood that joy is a greater gift than holding onto sadness or grief.
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Her first husband ended up being crazy and abusive. Her second husband lost his life in a tractor accident. She married a third time in her 50’s and he was her companion until she passed away.

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Not given to long speeches, She always put things in perspective with an appropriately placed one-liner. For example, when I had gone through my divorce, I visited my aunts. I shared with them some of the things I was going through with my ex. She commiserated with me, validated my feelings and then gave me hope (along with a laugh) by telling me, “One day he will just be an asshole you once knew.” It was delivered with such perfect timing and in a tone of voice that I felt like a goal for my life had just been set, and when I finally reached the day that I forgot when his birthday was or what date we had gotten married, when those were just any other day, I wanted to tell her in person, “I’m there!!” I guess maybe she already knows.
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She loved girly things — makeup, pretty clothes. She was a cosmetologist and a beautician, and I remember loving that, because she was always up for “playing” with clothes, makeup, hair and dolls. She loved Christmas and decorated her home to the gills for it. But that wasn’t enough, no, because until recent years, she would fly to Iowa to help her sister (who also loves Christmas) decorate her house, too. In her later years, until her health declined, she genuinely enjoyed her job working the night shift at Circle K. I suspect her enjoyment of it was because it allowed her to have friendships with her customers, just as when she worked in a beauty salon. She loved people and she loved stories.
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She survived adult onset diabetes, as well as lung cancer and was even tickled to show me her scars from having a lung removed in July of 2007. She didn’t even let needing an oxygen tank stop her from traveling to visit her sister until recently. Last month (May of 2016), she was hospitalized due to severe pain, but was released the following week under hospice care with an inoperable cancerous tumor in her kidney. They thought she had a few more weeks, but she didn’t.
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I’m not certain what will happen now. North Carolina, where she lived, is quite a distance from me. I hate that budgetary concerns may dictate my desire to be there and offer love and support to her husband (my uncle) as well as my sole remaining paternal aunt. I’m not a huge fan of funerals, I don’t really know anyone who is, but the process of laying someone to rest amidst those who loved them offers closure to those who are left behind.
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I will miss her.

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Filed under Who I am, Women Before Me

Freeing Moment.

I love phrases that switch words around to completely alter perspective.  So simple, so clever, so complex.  Word plays.

 

From the Start Where You Are, a journal of self exploration comes the phrase:  “The question isn’t who is going to let me.  The question is who is going to stop me.” –Ayn Rand

I love that.  It makes me think about my first mind breaking trip that I took back to Oklahoma in 2004.  A return to my roots.  A trip that I had anxiety attacks about every day and night, over and over.  My mind was broken like a too oft played record, the grooves too deep to jump the needle of thoughts out of the rut.  Not only was I facing down my fear of travel, but I was going back to somewhere that I hadn’t been since I was 8 years old.  A place that memories had somehow fled out of my mind, except for a couple… and those weren’t very good ones.  By the time I went to the airport, I felt like I had been through a harrowing journey in my mind that had taken an exhausting toll on my body.  I don’t really know how I managed to do it, but I look back at that woman and tears stream down my face in compassion at the courage I manifested.  The strength of will I had to move forward through the terror.

The trip itself, of course, was a journey through time for me.  The woman I sat next to on the airplane asked me where I was going.  When I shared that I was returning to where I grew up, not to visit anyone in particular, but just to see it… she said, like it was a natural, coming-of-age thing to do, “Good.”   And that was it.  I didn’t feel belittled or dismissed, or like she was uninterested. In fact, her response was just the right amount of “normal” in the sea of emotional turbulence I had put myself through. It was perfect, and I’ve always been grateful to her in my heart for that.  Sometimes people, even random strangers, can say just the right thing at the right time without even knowing it.

There were many memories that I made on that trip… I remember arriving in OKC and getting my rental car and driving out to the lake that my parents used to go boating at.  I remember talking to my former neighbor, and her simple joy at finding out who I was and learning that my mom ended up being OK, she had worried for her.  She was so pleased at “what a fine lady you’ve turned out to be.”  She had lost her partner, and she openly shared her grief with me about that.  She happily shared my trek as we trespassed on the land where I had formerly lived.  On that property, I remember walking down a hill that was overgrown with weeds as high as my breasts and not knowing why I needed to do it, until I realized as I came out from under an overgrown shrub that there had once stood the playhouse my daddy had built us.  The way I had gone, my body remembered, but not my mind.  The Oklahoma Bombing Memorial and the somber sadness that overwhelmed me as I walked along looking at the pictures and momentos weaved through the chain link fence around the memorial.  So many memories, and none of them I would hold in my heart now if my anxiety had won.

The most stark memory I have, though, of all those that I made, was on my flight back home I was sitting in the airport during my layover in Denver.  I looked around at all the gates.  Flights were leaving to JFK, LAS, SFO, DTW … all of those places, and like a flash in my brain I thought to myself, “I could change my ticket and go… anywhere.  Right now, this second, I could.  There is no one to stop me.  I am limited only by me.”

It was a revelation of freedom and a recognition of my choices.

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Simple Resolutions.

Ever have one of those weeks where everything feels overwhelming, and you have to break it down into simple steps, one thing at a time, so that when you actually do something, it’s recognizable as progress?  I’ve been feeling that way lately.

I don’t know why I let myself get out of the habit of making lists… lists are the balm to the interior part of me that tends to get overwhelmed. The part that gets frustrated and feels like nothing is getting done. It’s the organization to the chaos.  And I really love being able to cross something off instead of taking a step (like making a phone call) and then having to add that back onto the list because someone didn’t return the call, or it didn’t get resolved.  Let this post remind myself, I LOVE LISTS!! LISTS!

Anyway, last night when we got home from the mountains, I turned on my Keurig machine.  I was unpacking and doing a bunch of different things, so when I went to make a cup of decaf later that night and found the machine off, I thought maybe I had just imagined myself turning it on.  So, I turned it on again, made my coffee and went to bed, leaving it on for my early morning cup of coffee.   This morning, I came downstairs, it was still dark outside, chilly in the house, and… it was off again.  I muttered to myself about adding that to my list — find out why my Keurig machine is turning off.

I got to work to realize I didn’t know what model the thing was and Keurig makes a whole bunch of models; even though it’s a very basic model with no programming, still … model is important.  I intentionally bought a simple model — cheap and uncomplicated.  So, I got home and went to look for the model, muttering to Tony that I didn’t understand why it was turning itself off, like it’s got an auto-off feature or something… and he’s muttering back to me that he didn’t touch it. He knows better.  I was reassuring him that I KNOW he knows not to touch my coffee machine.

Suddenly, it all made sense.  We do have a little person in the house.  He does have extended reach these days.  Yup.

And now I know my very basic Keurig machine has an auto-off button.  Beyond feeling silly about that, I have to say I’m glad I can just simply cross that off of my list.  The relief, people, it’s palpable!

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Filed under Best Husband, Our Kid is Cute, Who I am

Awana Club, 2nd week

After last week’s post, I thought I should post an update about how the second week went. I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes this past week, but things were much different and more organized this week.

To start, they did introductions and roll call. Then the teachers did a puppet show with the characters that were in the student’s pamphlet.

Then they were assigned a craft and were given a tiny tub of Playdoh, to “make something that God created.” William started with a footprint, then it morphed into a burrito, then bacon, then a taco, then an egg, finally a potato, then back into an egg. At least that’s what William said, and then in the middle of it all, he exclaimed, “Phew! This is hard work!”


Then they did a Bible story, although I’m not really certain which Bible story it was, but the verse they concluded with was 1 John 4:10, sort of> It was more like a partial verse, “God loved us and sent his son…” and that was also their memorization assignment for last week. Not too hard, considering that some of these kids (William included) can quote entire scenes of movies and complete stanzas of songs. A seven word Bible verse is definitely doable.

After that, they had snack time… and William volunteered to say the prayer! I was impressed! So, snacks last night? Cheddar Penguin crackers and chewy fruit snacks. I wasn’t overly thrilled with that, but ended up being grateful. Why? Because I had spied several bags of Fritos in the lead teacher’s equipment bin, so that momentary fear that I was going to have a child whose breath smelled like dog feet changed my perspective!

Then they had play time in the tots playground. William wanted to go into the playground for bigger kids, but the instructor told him he couldn’t, the gate was locked. He peered through and said, “Well, there’s a gap in the fence, so you just open up the gate and I’ll go around, then.” He didn’t get to, but I have to admire his problem solving skills.

The one thing I’m not happy about is that when the Cubbies arrive, they are supposed to be taken directly to the room. They don’t get to play on the playground before hand and they don’t get to participate in the opening flag ceremony or Pledge of Allegiances. I was informed that it was a mistake that they were included last week. I asked the pastor why that was, and he said he didn’t know. I emailed them about it this morning.

Personally, I think it shows a stand of unity as a greater group. It also allows the little ones to see that there are older groups (Sparks, etc.) to aspire to as they grow older and they shouldn’t be isolated just because they’re little. I believe that they are never too young to learn the pledge of allegiances. And, finally, it’s a nice routine to start the evening.

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Weight on my Shoulder.

How about something random today? Like, things I have in my purse:

-purple plastic spoon
-small plastic bottle of Hershey’s syrup
-pink lipstick
-small bottle of lotion
-Nikon camera (point & shoot variety)
-small pink hairbrush
-wallet
-credit card holder
-small notepad & pen
-Cover Girl compact
-Neutrogena stick sunblock
-small dental floss
-small bag holding Advil, Tylenol and Claritin
-several packets of Splenda
-nail file
-flash drive
-cell phone

William and I were using a food scale to weigh each item in my purse, and then the entire purse. We discovered that somehow, all these tiny little items all add up to 5 pounds that I lug around with me everyday.

Things in my Purse

If that’s not random, I don’t know what is…

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Filed under Tidbits, Weird is Fun, Who I am

What’s Important?

I originally wrote the post below in 2008. Writing about it documented a turning point in my life, recognizing boundaries and what to prioritize in my life. Even now, there are times that I let my boundaries get smudged, it happens insidiously over time. Or because I feel a misplaced loyalty to someone. Fear can be a motivator, or I can get wrapped up in the moment at work, not realizing that “the moment” at work will take away from precious time with my family.

A friend recently shared a story with me about a loss in her family and, when the person was in the hospital, she felt the urgent need to leave and speak with the doctor about things before his shift ended, but instead of following that internal prompting, she was asked to stay at work for an important meeting. Her family member ended up passing away that night, alone, in the hospital. This happened a few years ago, and she regrets not having the willingness to set a boundary when it was needed most.

What I’ve learned about boundaries is that the majority of the time, if I set one, people respect it. If I don’t set one, people don’t know it’s there to respect.

“You have two minutes! TWO MINUTES!”

My fingers are racing across the keyboard, pressing letters, creating words and paragraphs off of a tape he had just finished dictating. I press print, grab it off the printer and hand it to him for review. As I hand it to him, I swing around and grab a FedEx slip out of my forms tray and fill it out. He hands the document back to me with final revisions noted.

“You now have one minute and thirty seconds!” His fingers are tapping on my desk, his eyes turned toward the clock on the wall, counting down the time. I finish the changes and print the document on letterhead for his signature, handing it back to him. I run to the copy machine, make a copy, slip it in the envelope, run out the door and hand it to the FedEx guy just as he unlocks the metal box that has become the reason for my existence.

That was six and a half years ago. There were nights that I was at work until one thirty in the morning. The documents were so important, so urgent, so earth changing. Or so he believed.

A few months after that, the company closed. It didn’t get the financing it needed for the IPO the partners wanted. All the documents and paperwork created by my stampeding fingers on a keyboard were boxed up for storage. Put away forever.

I moved on to another boss who was just like him. The importance, the urgency, the stress. That boss had his contract bought out by the parent company and six months ago, I was down in the storage room looking at all the boxes and boxes of paperwork we created, trying to figure out where they should go. The smell of the room tingled my senses as I looked around in this building that is, for the most part vacant, yet at one time hosted so many people you could hardly hear yourself on the phone.

Last night, me and my husband went to the dinner theater and saw “It’s a Wonderful Life” acted out on stage. The story took us through the life of George, how he so badly wanted to travel, see the world, make a difference. Everyday, he faced what he seemed to believe was a life of disappointments, unachieved dreams. When, really, he was failing to see the difference he made in the lives of those around him every single day. The dreams he helped his neighbors achieve. How his relationships with the people he loved and cared about mattered. He wished that he had never been born without taking into account that if he had never been born, his brother wouldn’t have lived past the age of 8 (George had pushed his brother out of way of a truck). That countless lives would have never been improved just for their knowing him and he them.

Life isn’t about boxes, FedEx deadlines or urgent documents. It’s about the moments we spend IN the moment. It’s about taking time to laugh, to enjoy drawing breath and to hold close the ones you love. Just like those boxes down in the storeroom, when we’re gone our stuff will just go in boxes.

It’s the memories in the hearts of those who care about us that will live on.

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