The Proof is in the Pudding

And I’m the pudding. It’s all well and good to write endless tomes on how much I’ve learned in recent years, but try putting that to the test. One of life’s pop quizzes on how I’ll respond when things get bad.

I aced it.

Last week the temporary job I was working on — one I’d hoped would become permanent — abruptly ended. The explanation was vague. Colleagues who messaged me said management terminated the contracts of several temporary employees. In all fairness, it is what happens when you’re a contract worker. Still, it’s nice to have a reason.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

I discovered I’d accepted the truth of that statement, something I’ve written about on this blog in the past. Rather than agonize and speculate over what happened, I’ve decided not to dwell on it. Time to move on.

This puts me in a bad place financially. In addition to facing a difficult time paying my bills, my credit is at risk. That could have long term consequences.

But I’ve been through bad times before, and I’ve learned you live through them. Things eventually turn around.

I hope my next job lasts for years. I’d like something that could become a part of me, rather than another passing experience. I believe when you set your mind to something it’s more likely to happen, and my hope has become a part of my search criteria.

It’s like they say, wish I knew then what I know now. But that’s such a universal conclusion in people’s lives it tells me there’s some order to our experiences, some reason we internalize beliefs like these when we do.

Tomorrow I may panic. Today I am at peace.

Image © Bigstock




Ah, one of my favorite quotes, most often abbreviated to “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”:

“Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” — William Congreve, The Mourning Bride

That shortened form keeps part of the original thought intact, but it overlooks another important idea: there is no one we despise more than the one we once loved the most.

Something every divorce attorney knows, and the best make a fine living on that understanding. The rest of us can learn from it, too. Why do I hate him so much? He shouldn’t have this hold on me anymore.

Mobile mit Herzen - der Ansto zur Liebe, PartnerschaftBecause the pendulum has swung. Once upon a time, you would have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge for him. Now, you want to push him off it.

There’s good news about pendulums. They swing to one extreme, and then to another. Then the arc of the swing is smaller, until finally, there’s no more momentum. Unless, of course, something happens to start the swing all over again.

We’ve all seen that happen, and if you pay attention, it usually happens while the pendulum still has a pretty good arc. Once it’s stopped, it’s hard to start things up again.

A thought that has application both for you who dream of the day the passion will end and you who dream of the day it will begin again with the one who’s got the power over your pendulum.

Image Credit: ©blobbotronic — fotolia.com



moving slowly

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

I’ve been moving slowly for a very long time. But, I’ve been moving.

The clock dawdles, or so it seems, when you’re waiting for change. If you’re watching and waiting, it may be times are hard and you’re looking for a better situation. Something that makes you happy to wake up in the morning.

At times the challenges may be so overwhelming you need time to recuperate. Recovering from an unfamiliar and frightening situation can be difficult, to say the least. We seek safety and comfort first, and change second.

That’s what happened to me a few years ago. I found myself overwhelmed by circumstances over which I truly had no control. I wasn’t sure who my friends were, and out of fear they’d all deserted me, I avoided everyone.

Eventually things began to right themselves.

A close friend reached out to me and told me the truth about what others were thinking. It was good. I found new friends, a new job, and for the first time in 15 years, I bought a new car.

I learned something through all of this. Before we can truly move forward, we need a level of security. Simply finding that solid strength within ourselves can be moving forward, despite how a lack of change in circumstances may appear to others.

There were those in my life frustrated by my slow recovery. Thankfully, others recognized how lost I was and how much healing I really needed.

If you’re struggling,

sunrise in savanna_

whatever your situation, allow time to restore your energies, and forgive yourself for not bouncing back like a child’s punching toy clown. Some things aren’t meant to be rushed. The smallest step is enough.

When times are hard, our hope is in anticipation of a promising future. It’s there, waiting for us. Life works that way. Can I guarantee that for everyone? No, that’s not within my power. But it’s what I’ve seen in the lives of those closest to me, especially friends I’ve known for decades.

Every move forward, now matter how slow, is taking you where you want to go. And really, we don’t always know how far we’re going to have to go anyway. The next step may surprise us with unexpected joy.

Image Credit:(top) hourglass © Alexey Klementiev; sky © Pakhnyushchyy; lights © mehmetcanturkei; background © averroe — All, stock.adobe.com. (Bottom) © GraphicStock.com

Home Again

This week, a happy cat story….

Some of you may remember Jake, the dapper cat in a top hat. Well, after moving to a new neighborhood, Jake slipped out the door and disappeared. His mom, Asia, was distraught. I helped her by printing out a bunch of flyers with that cute picture of Jake wearing the top hat. I pulled out all the stops, and ended with the emotional plea, “it’s time for me to come home.” No shame.

Frankly, I figured Jake was gone. But I knew Asia had to do everything she could to get him back. Incredibly, two of her neighbors one block over called her and said they’d seen Jake. She dashed over, found him, and grabbed him just as he was going down the storm drain. Jake is home.

As you can see, everyone is happy to see him again.


Catfight in the OK Corral

For the last three weeks, I have fruitlessly tried to reconcile my warring cats.

I believe it started when Mimi looked out the front window and saw another animal: maybe a cat, maybe a raccoon, but mostly likely a dog. My street is a dog-walking thoroughfare.

She turned on Walter, and the fighting began.  Redirected aggression, they call it. Let me say this before I go any further, because I know what suggestion is coming: you cannot let cats “fight it out.” That method will only escalate the problem.

It’s been twenty days of playing musical cats. Mimi gets my bedroom, Walter gets the spare room. Sometimes we switch rooms. One or the other is always out, but poor Mimi is stuck in my bedroom all day when I work.

She’s taken to it pretty well, but everyone once in awhile she bolts when I open the door. Well, not so much now. A friend loaned me a baby/pet gate, and that’s firmly guarding the entrance. Usually she’s sitting behind the door when I open it. It’s her safe place. That spot used to be the back corner, behind a chair and the closet door. At least she’s come to the front.

If this goes on much longer, I’ll have to block off the downstairs so she can reign there, while Walter stays upstairs. He wouldn’t like that all, and is likely to sit by whatever blockade I’ve set up, and cry.

I was the one crying out the other day when (pre-baby gate) Walter shot into Mimi’s (a.k.a. my) room. I dove to catch him and hit my eye smack dab on the door knob. That hurt. I was, however, successful in keeping Walter out of the room.

So I went to work the next day with a black eye and absolutely no way to explain it to the majority of my 140 co-workers. “I hit my eye on a door knob”? “It was my cat’s fault”? “No, really, I’m okay.” I got several knowing looks from women who’ve barely met me.

This war must end, and I believe we are making progress. I know exactly when it will be over. The day I shell out every penny I have to separate downstairs from upstairs.

Photo credit:  © Stefano Garau — stock.adobe.com


Runaway Train

I don’t typically write about current events, but I was stopped in my tracks by this headline, from Mamademics:

If You Give White Teachers Guns, I’m Pulling My Black Son Out of School.

It brought a whole new dimension to the argument to find another damn way to stop mass shootings. (Even as I write that, I have to wonder, who in their right mind thinks arming people will deter violence?)

Putting guns in the hands of teachers is such a phenomenally bad idea I don’t know where to begin. I don’t care how well you train someone, if a crisis is the only real-life situation in which they’re called upon to pull a gun, the wrong people are going to die.

As Danielle at Mamademics points out, it’s simply a matter of time before a teacher pulls a gun to stop something less critical than an armed gunman. And black children are more likely to be victims, especially if the teachers are white.

Do we need to add to the racial divide by arming people who otherwise would never touch a gun? Whose sensibilities are going to be tainted by the thought, this is here in case I need it? Whose racism, however deeply buried, will be fueled by the gun on their hip?

All it can do is create a greater chasm between teachers and students, between black and white, between growing awareness and old-time bigotry.

I am white. I don’t have children. I can’t fully understand the pain that is behind Danielle’s headline.

But it stopped me in my tracks, and there’s a runaway train heading our way.

Image Credit: © welcomia.com — fotolia.com


Keep the Beasts Away

As a senior in college, my journalism classes were peppered with visits from real-life reporters.

One of them was a top crime reporter from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, whose name I’ve long forgotten. He showed up for our 9:00 class with rumpled hair, wrinkled shirt and unshaven face, holding a cup of coffee and looking too sleepy to be nervous. We weren’t shy about asking him questions, but it was when we allowed him to talk freely about his career that the most interesting information poured forth.

An earlier reporting job had been for the major daily paper in Chicago, where he worked the overnight shift. Most of the time he covered accidents and drunken brawls; if he was lucky, someone with some degree of fame was involved. One night, while playing cards with a colleague, he heard a call come over the police scanner. A woman had reported a foul odor emanating from her next-door neighbor’s home.

This kind of report was common and rarely went anywhere, but the two men figured since nothing else was going on, they might as well see what was up. Not expecting anything serious, they were intrigued by the growing number of emergency vehicles surrounding the house in question. Police weren’t talking and had roped off any access to the premises, so the reporters checked in on the neighbor who’d made the call.

A kind woman who’d lived in the same home for decades, she poured them some coffee and began talking about the man next door. Pleasant and polite, she said, but there was one strange thing. Young men, boys, really, would show up at his place on a regular basis. She’d seen plenty of them going in, but none ever came out.

That caught the attention of these reporters. They called their editor, and continued to investigate this increasingly harrowing story.

They broke the news to the world about John Wayne Gacy.

For those of you who don’t know, Gacy was one of the most notorious American serial killers of the 20th century.  Convicted in 1980 of the rape and murder of 33 young men he’d lured to his home and buried in the crawl space, he eventually was put to death by lethal injection.

The point of sharing his experience with a wide-eyed audience of journalism students was to remind us you never knew when or in what form opportunity would present itself. This horrifying story catapulted the career of these two reporters. Always seeking  information the hordes of other reporters missed, they helped fill out the tale of a gruesome tragedy.

They weren’t voyeurs, nor were the opportunists playing on the despair of others. This crime changed them in ways they were reluctant to discuss. As reporters, however, they called upon their training, formal and informal, to relay the full story. Much of what they reported is long forgotten, but a significant portion of it informed the world of the danger that could lurk in their neighborhood. If one boy heeded the lesson from their reports and saved himself from degradation and death, their work yielded the desired results.

Doctors prepare for the disaster they pray never happens; schools practice for the terror they never want to see. In our own way, preparing ourselves personally and professionally for the darkest parts of our society helps make our lives and the lives of those we care about safer.

No, we can’t live with a fatalistic attitude, nor can we worry ceaselessly about unseen events. We prepare, and go on with the joys and expectations of our lives. No better preparation can be made than that of cultivating a compassionate and caring heart, one that is grieved by tragedy but never hardened.

May you never face the worst of man or nature, and for those who do or will, may God carry you through it. And may all of us do what we can to keep the beasts away.

Image Credit:  ©Algol — stock.adobe.com


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