Reach Out

Not that I have any imminent concern, just a general one, but I have to say I wouldn’t do well in a quarantine. It’s felt a little like one this weekend. All my normal weekend activities, including church, were cancelled, and I can only watch so many episodes of “The Mothers-in-Law.”

I did watch Bishop Curry speak via YouTube at a service at the National Cathedral this morning, so I sort of got church in. Problem was, at the end of the service I really wanted to go into the parish hall and socialize. For those of you who don’t remember or know who Bishop Curry is, he’s the Episcopal church’s Presiding Bishop (chief mucky-muck), the one who spoke at at Harry and Meghan’s wedding. He’s a gifted speaker and it was a decent sermon, but I wouldn’t want to attend church like that every weekend.

Even as I write this I’m acutely aware of the people for whom an online service is the only way to participate in church. It makes me aware of how much care we need to give to the lonely. In the current climate, that may be difficult, but a card or letter may be an alternative, especially for the elderly for whom that kind of correspondence is familiar. If you know of a shut-in, please reach out now.

Maybe it’s not even a traditional shut-in. I know of a man who’s perfectly healthy, at least physically, but he doesn’t leave the city limits. Anything he can’t buy locally he orders online, with one recent exception. He needed new flooring, so his neighbor drove him to the bordering city to check that out. Keep in mind, these are small cities, each with a population under 50,000, and the city he lives in is primarily a bedroom community with little shopping besides grocery stores. I need to remember him and send a message on his Facebook page.

I know of another woman (and we all know someone like this) who’s caring for her elderly mother. She rarely gets out, in part because her mom mysteriously falls ill anytime my friend has a social engagement. I believe she’s reached her limit and has told her family that other plans need to be made for her mother’s care. Knowing what a challenge caretaking can be makes me wish I’d sent her more text messages.

So I guess there’s a silver lining in this coronavirus situation if it reminds me to reach out to those in need. Let me be a blessing in someone’s life.


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Ah, Moving

It’s happening again.

Nearly four years ago I struck a deal with a woman who has since become a friend. She owns a nice townhome, but wasn’t able to live in it at that time because she was caring for her mother. I needed a better place to live, but had a limited budget. She was willing to rent the place to me at an affordable price if I accepted a month-to-month rental agreement. If something happened to her mom, I’d get a decent amount of notice to move out.

I got that notice earlier this week. Catherine is changing the living arrangement with her mom. I’d been preparing for the inevitable, although I didn’t expect it to happen this soon. And I’m really bummed. This is a nice place, and any move that I can afford will be a step down.

I put in my application to some apartments in my price range. Being affordable, there’s a waiting list, so I don’t know if this will work out. All I can do at this point is wait to hear whether or not I qualify, and if so, whether or not there’ll be a unit open in three months. Not that they can know that this far in advance. This complex requires a 30-day notice, so I’m potentially in limbo for awhile.

As with any move, there are benefits. I’m trying to focus on the positive and not think about what the smaller space will mean to my cats. Everyone says they’ll adjust, and I believe they will, but like any pet lover I want them to have the best possible living arrangement, and this townhome is much better than an apartment.

But back to focusing on the positive. I’ll be closer to work, most shops, and the grocery store. If I get into the apartment complex I’ve applied to, it’s in a wooded area, bordering a golf course. I have a friend who lives there and she tells me the management is responsive and caring. I’ve driven through the place from time to time and it seems to be a quiet, settled place with good tenants.

Man Covered In Cardboard Boxes - Moving Concept
Packing! Augh!

I don’t want to move. I like it here. Still, I find myself wishing it could happen sooner rather than later, just to get it done. Packing! Augh! So much to do, so much to think about. I’ll have to sell my dining room table, which I love. I have no idea what it’s worth but I’ve been told it’s “worth a lot.” So what do I ask for it?

I plan to make the most of this move. Yes, it’s disappointing. I live in a quiet neighborhood with good neighbors, and giving that up for the unknown is scary. But I can’t focus on what I’m losing. I need to look at what I’m gaining. I have a strong faith, although I don’t necessarily believe every change is God’s plan for improving my life the way I want. But I do believe change is an opportunity, and I do believe God is in my life.

Yep, every change is an opportunity for growth, right?


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The Bishop’s Wife

Classic for a Reason

The Bishop’s Wife, 1947, RKO Radio Pictures. Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven. Directed by Henry Koster. B&W, 108 minutes.

Staid Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) has neglected his wife and family in his quest for a new cathedral, and is on the verge of giving in to a value system of greed and selfishness held by certain wealthy parishioners who aren’t afraid to make full use of their influence. He prays for guidance. To his shock, the answer comes in the form of a debonair angel, Dudley (Cary Grant).

The Bishop’s skepticism of Dudley’s claims of divine guidance is soon overcome by frustration with the angel’s growing relationship with his wife, Julia (Loretta Young). Dudley brings back a spark to Julia’s demeanor that has been missing for many years, as the Bishop has become more engrossed in his work and less attentive to his marriage.

Adding to Dudley’s work…

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Attitude, Ahoy!

Wow, getting back into the swing of things–in this case a full-time job–is difficult after so many years of part-time work. On top of that, the last time I had full-time work I was working out of my home, so there was a certain amount of freedom there. Now, I’m at the workplace Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. And frankly, the job is not much of a challenge.

However, I’m at a point in my life where good benefits are just as important as the job itself, and I have good benefits. For example, I get three weeks of vacation next year, not to mention two floating holidays. That’s on top of the 3.33 days of vacation I’ll have earned by the end of December. I’m not comfortable taking those vacation days before my 90 days is up, which will put me smack dab in the middle of December. Instead, I’m carrying them over to the third week in January.

AdobeStock_158786624We get MLK day off, which of course is a Monday. My birthday is the very next day, so I’m planning on taking that entire week off and celebrating or crying, whichever mood strikes me at the time. Actually, I’ll probably spend the week housecleaning and maybe clearing out some of my spare bedroom–a.k.a. the junk room. All that extra stuff weighs heavily on me. Ideally I’d like to get down to just enough stuff to fill a one-bedroom apartment, but that’s a ways off. Still, it’s good to have a goal.

Back to the benefits. The one big drawback is the High Deductible. Fifteen hundred dollars, and that includes prescriptions. That’s a big chunk of change and the out-of-pocket goes even higher, another fifteen hundred. That’s a high percentage of my annual salary, so knock wood and lift up my prayers that I’m never burdened with hefty medical bills.

Still, I’m grateful for the work, as dull as it is, and I’m certainly grateful for the benefits, imperfect as they are. Three paid weeks of vacation is a big deal for me. So, as the song says, I’m going to accentuate the positive.


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Shades of Prejudice

Is prejudice so ingrained we can’t overcome it?

I don’t know. I believe we can work past at least some of our racism (or other -ism) when we become aware of it, but is there a residual element that lingers? I was listening to the radio the other day–most likely NPR–and heard an interview where a young man who’d broken away from a white supremacy group still found himself battling the hate. There’s little, if any, support for those who are trying to change their thinking in that situation.

There’s more support for us ordinary folks who sincerely seek to broaden our thinking and become better people. Still, it’s sometimes hard to admit exactly what we are thinking, especially when we don’t the root of it ourselves. Did I dismiss an author because he’s black, or because I thought the premise of his book was trite? Did I think the premise of his book was trite because he’s black? The latter I feel fairly confident is not true. Trite is trite and this was trite.

I’ve experienced a modicum of prejudice in my life because of my Polish heritage. A few weeks ago a friend made some snide remark about how you wouldn’t expect a Pole to have blonde hair. Sitting directly across from us was another friend, also of Polish descent, who is about as blonde as they come. Naturally blonde. She just grinned and I rolled my eyes, but like a game of Mad Libs, I could easily see substituting blonde hair for having a high IQ. I’ve heard that one plenty of times. And it doesn’t take too much imagination to take the Mad Libs analogy a little bit further.

There are shades of prejudice and I don’t know which is worse, the subtle shades or the sharp ones. All I can do is seek the truth and see the shades of difference that make each of us unique and our stories valid.


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The Beauty in Instinct

“I went with my gut.”

Perilous words for some. For others, it more likely means a wise decision. It depends in many ways just how informed your gut is about a given situation, and how finely tuned your sense of intuition might be.

I’ve read articles by renowned thinkers that tell us intuition is nothing more than a response to how much we know. I believe intuition can kick in when there are tiny details in our lives that don’t add up, or perhaps do add up to something dangerous. Things we aren’t consciously aware of but our brain registers them nonetheless.

Still, there is something to be said for the unknowable. The renowned thinkers I just referred to were all men, and while I have great respect for their credentials, I think they are missing something. I think there is a sixth sense some people have about the world around them. There is something to the phenomenon of woman’s intuition.

Now it could be that this so-called sixth sense is an awareness of a dimension of existence not everyone sees, hears or feels. It could be a gift from God. Don’t get me wrong–I have a great respect for science. I just believe there is a side of our existence that can only be explained in part by the physical. The rest is a mystery.

I don’t want to limit myself to what the human brain can understand. I believe in God, and I believe that by definition he can’t be fully understand by mere mortals. That’s not to say he hasn’t put things in motion, giving scientists something to discover. Without science, we would be living in chaos.

And going with our gut doesn’t mean there isn’t perfectly logical reasons for doing so. We may not be able to articulate those feelings, but they’re valid. Still, there is the unknown. I’ve said it before in a different context: You don’t know what you don’t know. Time will reveal more scientific discoveries, but there will always be that which cannot be explained.

That’s the beauty of it.


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Trust

The security of order, a belief that others will do what society expects of them.

Two years ago we learned, more and more each day, that what many of us suspected–or knew–to be true is a harsh reality. Every day, it seemed, another man in power was accused of sexual misconduct, and while there may have been a woman or two crying wolf (no pun intended), most were credible. They are credible in part because we know this happens.

Early on in the “Me Too” movement I listened to a reporter on NPR, Mary Louise Kelly, interview the head of that organization over the resignation of an executive after allegations of sexual harassment were revealed. She was professional, but you could hear the anger in her voice as she asked direct questions. When did you know…why didn’t you do more….? She was the voice of so many women, and while I’m not going to say she spoke for the victims (because I can’t speak for them), her words resonated with me.

She was also the voice of hundreds of NPR employees, angry and frustrated at being scooped on this story by the Washington Post. I get that anger. It’s a professional slap in the face, as well as a betrayal by those internally who knew this information yet kept it secret. But the larger frustration comes from all those who knew what was going on and were waiting for something to be done.

It’s hard to trust those who just let things slide, no matter how fearful they may have been of the consequences. Well, let me qualify that–fear of some consequences may be understandable, and what you choose to understand is up to you. But ducking your head when you have the power to do something is hard to forgive.

Does the movement continue, even without news coverage? I know that to some extent it does, for a man I suspected of sexually harassing women has just been accused of such misconduct by several women who previously worked for him. I say I suspected him of doing this because I believe I received an objectionable phone call from him when I worked for him. I reported it to the phone company (at the time they handled these things) and was told that under no circumstances would I be told who made the call, but it would be investigated. So I don’t know if he made the call or not, and I never will.

A short time after I reported this phone call I was fired for fuzzy reasons by the man I believe was the guilty party. I reported this to the phone company as well, and was told they would investigate, but I knew that the situation was hopeless.

I hope this man is brought to justice. Circumstances today are much more conducive to action.

In the meantime, all you who face this sort of manipulative, frightening, infuriating behavior, I hope you have the support you need to come forward and point fingers at those who should be held accountable. I know it isn’t easy, and I know accusations don’t always lead to the desired result. Get good counsel.

God and friends be with you.


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