Something Bad, Something Good

You just never know when something bad can happen. Two weeks ago I got to work (which is to say I walked from my bedroom to what I loosely call my office) and there was a cheery message from my colleague. This is the woman who trained me, and she takes the lead in assigning me work. Anyway, I sent a message to her saying I was ready for my assignments.  I didn’t hear and didn’t hear. My manager was late, and it turns out with good reason–she’d gotten a message from Rita, my co-worker, saying she (Rita) had fallen and broken her femur.  Hip replacement surgery was necessary.

AdobeStock_315071966 [Converted]I was shaking the rest of the morning. Not because of what happened to Rita (although I felt terrible for her), but what it means for me. The brunt of the workload is going to fall on me now, and I still don’t know how to do everything. I expect Rita will be out at least a month and I’m scared. Yes, it’s a chance to prove myself, and I’m trying to focus on that, but it’s scary asking questions my manager might expect me to know the answers to by now.

But things have started to come together. It’s still scary, and I’d be concerned if it wasn’t. But all I can do is all I can do, and leave it at that.  I’m learning a lot and that’s worth it all.

AdobeStock_308598167 [Converted]Of course in the middle of this newly-added pressure at work, my TV completely poops out. Doesn’t even power on. I had to resort to watching my streaming channels on my laptop, which has its limitations. I looked online at what was available in the way of new TVs and realized I’m still in the 20th century when it comes to television sets. Okay, maybe not completely. But close to the turn of the century. I mean, what is a smart TV?

I got lucky, though. I mentioned what had happened to my co-worker Bre, and she offered to give me one of her extra television sets. Of course I planned to pay, but she brushed that aside and gave it to me outright. Yes, it’s a smart TV–with Roku–and it fits perfectly on the little dresser I use as a TV stand. 

The really cool thing about this is that I’d just gotten a brand-new Roku, and now I can give that to a friend who’s limping by with one of the originals. She’s on a fixed income and is barely getting by, so I know she’ll appreciate this gift. I feel good.

bathroom scale and isolated on white backgroundAnd the last good/bad thing to happen? I had a health scare, which forced me to confront some of my bad eating habits. I’ve changed and lost five pounds–I’m close to my goal weight, which is a good thing since losing that weight was a New Year’s resolution and I’ve struggled every day with it. I just couldn’t get it together until I had a concrete reason to do so.

Yes, you never know when something bad is going to happen, but you never know when that something bad might turn into something good. 

Overriding Feeling of Gratitude

I’m committing to making a conscious effort to be grateful for what I have. It’s not that I haven’t been grateful in the past, but I have taken a lot for granted. What a luxury! With a bit of irony, I find myself being thankful that I have been able to take so much for granted.

It’s not that I want to live a life of paranoia that I may lose what I treasure, but rather, I want to lift my eyes skyward and say, “thank you, God, for continued good health. I know that as I age, things will go wrong, but remind me about what I still have, and remind me to be grateful for your continued care, no matter what happens.”

Not just my health is involved here, of course, although the older I get the more aware I become of what can go wrong. And I don’t want to imply that I won’t grieve losses or feel fear or frustration in the future (sorry for the alliteration). But the overriding feeling should be gratitude.

I am grateful for my friends, past and present, online and in person. I thank God for my parents and my brother and sister and all the work they do on my behalf when the situation calls for it.

Heart lately 2

Why gratitude now, you ask? I’ve come very close to losing a few things I value, and I’m grateful to have had them, whether or not they stay in my life. I’ve had gratitude journals in the past and they didn’t really work for me, but I do want to daily be grateful for the good things in my life.

So I’m holding on to gratitude. I think it makes the heart beat stronger, literally and figuratively.


Image Credits: Skyward © prosign–stock.adobe.com; Heart © Belinda O

The Cream Always Rises

“The cream always rises,” a favorite college professor of mine used to tell his classes, and like fools, we thought he meant if ever you were unemployed, or underemployed, you’d end up getting a great job. If you were top-notch, that is, and we all thought we were. Or at least hoped we were.

While there may be some truth to our naïve beliefs, having a superlative job isn’t everything. And it certainly wasn’t what our professor was referring to. He was close to retirement himself and had seen a long line of promising students fall victim to family tragedy, mental illness, physical illness and the like, compromising their ability to get the superior job they believed they were capable of tackling.

Still, they were cream, and they rose.

Closeup of yellow blooming daffodils on blurred green backgroundI have a friend, also from college, whose husband has ALS. Her honesty about the heartbreak and her integrity toward her family is a shining example of rising. Another college friend went through a series of tragedies, too much to detail here, and in her darkest moments she told me this just wasn’t what she expected out of life. Both women have persevered and are role models for me of how life will change you, one way or the other, and it’s up to you how you handle it.

Of course this isn’t a new thought and I’ve heard it, time and again. I’ve hoped that I’ve met life head on and come out ahead, even if my job is less than I expected, and I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose my car to an accident or whatever. But until now that’s just been hope.

I was discouraged the other day by disparaging words from yet another friend from college, someone who couched her thoughts in what I call God talk. Now, I’m a woman of faith, but not her kind of faith, which she believes is the only kind to have. She smiled while she spoke to me and basically questioned whether or not I had ever truly been a Christian.

Crying–yet also quite angry–I texted the friend who’d had the series of tragedies in her life. She amazed me. She told me I had been an example to her. Me? I was shocked. Now, I’ve been through my fair share (haven’t we all) but I never thought of myself as Cream That Rises. When I told her about that saying, she laughed and said, “I think we’re both cream.”

You just never know. I can tell you this, those who sit in judgment are not cream. 


Image Credits: Boy raising hands ©beerphotographer–stock.adobe.com; Daffodils ©Aul Zitzke–stock.adobe.com

Choices

Two weeks ago I visited my mom and helped her make the adjustment to assisted living. For a variety of reasons it had become apparent to the family that she needs an environment where she will be safe, and my brother took charge of pursuing her options. Through a Medicaid program called elderly waiver she is able to afford a (quite small) place in a nice, newly-renovated facility near the apartment she had been living in. So we’re all satisfied she’s done the right thing and are happy with the service she’ll be getting.

What I struggle with, though, is watching my mom get older, knowing that it will be me someday. Without children, I don’t know who will help me when the time comes. I made the choice some time ago not to have children, and as it turns out, my body had made the same decision for me. Yes, I could have adopted, but the bottom line is, as much as I love babies and older kids, I didn’t want any of my own.

AdobeStock_145424722 [Converted]So who will care for me as I age? My brother put in a lot of time and effort to help get my mom where she is today, and I did what I could as well. It all came together for her in a way it isn’t likely to for me. When I mentioned my fears to my brother, he sort of laughed and said it’s a little early to worry about that now.

It is. As scripture says, don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble of its own. I do believe in planning,  but I know I can’t really plan for how I will be cared for in the future when I don’t know what my situation will be. Still, I will do what I can so I’m at least partially prepared for any eventuality.

Yes, today has enough trouble of its own.


Image Credits: Dandelions © Bigstock; Aging © Adrian Hillman–stock.adobe.com

Cloud Talk

Today I was early for work, so I leaned back in my car and watched the clouds float by. It was a windy day and they were moving quickly.

Like Charlie Brown and friends, I sought images in the sky. First face I saw was a cameo-like profile of s woman. It morphed into the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame, and then became nothing more than abstract poofs.

I moved on to the image of a mountain lion, and began to wonder if some legends of old found their start in cloud formations. I know the stars inspired some stories, but what about clouds?

What inspires stories, the tall tales or myths of today? We hear sometimes of odd prompts that influenced an author, songwriter or other artist. We don’t see the connection, but it’s there in the mind of the creator.

As for me, I watch the clouds float by and listen to hear what they might be saying.

Photo Credit: © Pakhnyushchyy – Fotolia

The Tide is Turning

Things are turning around. 

In the past few months, I’ve posted about my problems finding a job as well as the stress of having two cats who (suddenly) don’t get along. The latter was due to what’s known as “displaced aggression.” One of my cats, Mimi, saw something that upset her, and she took it out on her brother, Walter.

Well, I’m thrilled to say that’s changed. While Mimi still might growl a little if Walter gets too close, they’re almost back to their old selves. I can’t begin to express what a relief this is. For the past few months, any reminder of my cats brought about feelings of guilt and frustration. I had to separate them, and to do that, one was locked in a bedroom while the other had the run of the place. Then I’d switch.

As you can imagine, that gets a little tricky when you’ve got obligations outside the home. There were times when one of them had to be locked up for eight hours, and that killed me.

Now I even can leave my bedroom door open at night without fear there will be fighting. They’ve worked this out between themselves. Mimi stays with me and Walter goes to the living room. As much as I’d like to have Walter snuggle up to me at night, if that works for them, I’m not interfering.

On the job front, again, good news. I’ve got a freelance writing gig that looks like it will continue for several, perhaps even many, months. Like any new job I’m learning my way, but I believe I’ll be able to do it and do it well.

Thanks to all of you for the encouraging words. For so long it seemed like nothing was going to change, and even though I know that’s not the way life works, it was difficult pushing through it at times.

I’d like to get back to my blogging again, so I hope to see more of all of you soon!

Walter and Mimi are more than willing to help me with my blogging.

Image credit: (c) geosap — stock.adobe.com

The Final Forgiveness

There are those who hurt us and infuriate us, people who forever remain oblivious to the harm they are doing. They are locked into their own understanding of what is good and right.

You want to honor all they’ve done for you, but seeing them comes with a price. It is a constant battle of wanting to rise above knowing you will only be dragged below by your good intentions.

At what point do you let go?

It is best, purest, if it can be done now and the issues are put behind you. But they are difficult to let go of. We are human; we are — on both sides — in many ways locked into who we are and what we believe. It protects us, guides us and provides us with clarity. So perhaps you forgive, only to be set up once again for a battle of wills and false understanding. It is a vicious cycle.

Then you hear: he is dying. He is hanging on, but soon will be gone.

It is time for a final forgiveness, an acknowledgement of our own failings and the knowledge that the temporal, in the end, is a wisp of smoke, dissipating into thin air.

It is time, but it is still hard. You haven’t been heard. There have been assumptions and presumptions that wound. Rumors and lies that become fact in the minds of others.

What does it matter? His death isn’t the final word because you go on living. What matters most?

Refine me, O Lord, open my blind eyes and lead me down the path of forgiveness.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

If You Are Burdened…

I loved my Kate Spade handbag.

It was practical and stylish, two words common to describing her designs. I was lucky — I got it half-off, something the snide sales person had no problem disdainfully pointing out when I paid for it (a story for another day). Never mind him. I had my Kate Spade handbag.

I carried it for years, until the wear and tear made it too embarassing to use any more. That’s my sole connection to Kate Spade. But when I heard about her death today, I was moved to tears. The story is coming out that she committed suicide, and that breaks my heart.

A friend who was at one time suicidal described to me what she felt in this way:

“It was like there was weight on my body, an outside pressure that made it hard to breathe. All the sorrow and pain I’d felt in my life was trapped inside of me. The only thing I wanted to do was break away from it, and death seemed like the only option.”

She made a phone call and followed the advice of a professional. Later she had to work her way through the physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Today she tells me she no longer struggles with those feelings and their burden, but it took her some time to deal with the issues that caused them, including physiological factors.

I am not a professional, nor in any way am I trained to advise someone who is feeling suicidal. If you are suffering with those feelings, please call the Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988.


Image Credit: ©eyetronic – stock.adobe.com

Discerning the Assumption

They tell you not to assume anything. But I disagree.

I’m job hunting now, and it is (as others have told me) a demoralizing experience. But I assume at the end of the my search I’ll have a job. If not, what would be the point of continuing?

Maybe that’s faith, not an assumption.

I have a friend who’s told me she doesn’t enjoy going to movie theaters. We’ve stopped inviting her, because we know what she’ll say. It’s not that she isn’t welcome, and we frequently let her know we’re going so she can include herself if she wants to go. But why ask the question when you’ve already been told the answer?

That’s common sense, not an assumption.

When I was in college, I took a course with no prerequisites. It was, I was told, a bottom-line, basic, true beginners class — no prior experience required. It also was a graduation requirement. Turns out everyone in that class — except me — already knew these basics, so the teacher taught at a higher level and left me behind. He believed I must know more than I thought I did. After all, I was bright enough.

Now that’s an assumption. Fortunately I took the course pass/fail and he graciously passed me. I didn’t learn a thing.

There are times when we assume things based on the facts we have, yet that information isn’t complete. It seems so obvious, so clear what the situation must be, until that puzzle piece that’s been missing appears. I’ve said it before. We don’t know what we don’t know.

How do we know when it’s faith, common sense or an unfair assumption? Look at who you’re depending on for the information. That will shed some light. The rest is life experience.

Which I’m assuming you have. Just kidding. If you don’t have it now, you will soon.


Assumption

Image Credit: © Bigstock.com

A Time to Plant

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

I think that’s human nature, getting so caught up in the details of an issue that we don’t see the bigger picture. And sometimes that bigger picture is beyond the scope of our understanding. It might take years before we fully comprehend all that there is to know about a particular situation.

When multiple parties are involved, each with their own stake in what’s going on, it can be hard to understand the bigger picture. You know there’s a forest out there — heck, you’re smack dab in the middle of it — but all you can see are the trees, the facts that don’t necessarily seem to tie together.

But somehow they do.  Not necessarily in an orderly fashion, and at times the meaning remains obscure long after we leave those trees behind. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good in that forest.

It also doesn’t mean there isn’t bad. Sometimes the hard cold truth is people did things they simply shouldn’t have done, and their actions have an unfortunate impact in your life, or the life of someone you love. Sorting through that remains a challenge.

Those are the times you have to bring the good to the forest. Plant your own trees, and watch them grow. Take charge of the world around you. It doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be good and the pain will disappear, but it’s good to take control.

I know some of you are facing situations where you have little control — illness or injury, for example, that may or may not be treatable — and these words may sound trite. For that I apologize.

But few of us are 100 percent victims of our circumstances. There is a time for mourning, and a time for giving thanks. And a time for planting trees.


Image Credit: ©sara_winter – stock.adobe.com

 

Forest

Astonish Me

I’m looking to be astonished.

Praying for it, actually. I want God to break open the heavens and say, “here it is!!” My faith tells me it can happen, but my faith is weak right now. So I’m praying for more faith.

How often are we blessed with astonishing news? Do we remember those blessings as well as we should? I know not all my followers share my faith, so I’m putting this in the context of life, not necessarily a belief in God. Do we tend to remember the bad news and accept the good news as our right?

Or perhaps that is an American way of thinking, even a white American way of thinking. I was born into more privilege than many people on this earth. Despite my struggles at this moment (I need a job!), I still enjoy a better life than others in war-torn, destitute countries and regions of this world.

I also have had my share of troubles and setbacks, and I’m struggling with some of those now.  It is impossible to define a balance of good and bad in our lives, and compare it to others.

Last week I was part of a discussion about happiness. The core of this conversation was the concept that money buys happiness. We all agreed, it takes a certain income, an element of security to be content with your lot in your life. That amount differs from person to person, of course, and much of it depends on where you live and what your needs are at any given time.

One man asked, “if money doesn’t buy you happiness, then why don’t the people with money give it away?”

Wow, what a question, and so many answers. I remember some thirty years seeing Donald Trump in an interview on Oprah. He was still married to Ivana — that’s how long ago it was (he’s had two wives since then and, as we know, a few other relationships). Anyway, he stated that after awhile, it isn’t about what you can buy, it’s a scorecard.

The man with the biggest bank account wins.

That’s a mentality I can’t buy into, and not to worry, it’s not likely to become an issue in this lifetime. But my point with this is, it isn’t simply the money that matters. Paying your bills and buying what you need isn’t the issue for those with great wealth. To whom much is given, much is required — but many seem to lose track of that requirement.

So I’m not asking to be astonished with great wealth. Rather, surprise me with the means to live a relatively simple life, that abililty to replace my worn shoes and keep my electricity from being shut off.

I’m praying, astonish me with that. I’m scared.


Image Credit: © GraphicStock.com

Astonish

 

Hey Ship!! Here’s Your Harbor!!

Recently I ready brief biography of music composer Dorothy Fields on a fellow bloggers site. One quote from her stood out to me:

When your ship doesn’t come in, go out and find it.

How often does our ship actually come in? Certainly there are times we are lucky enough to have good fortune fall our way. But more often than not, we need to create our own possibilities.

I’ve written before about being prepared for opportunity, and I think that’s part of it. Training and experience obviously help in the job hunt, and having an updated resume at the ready is wise. But there’s another part of it. Sometimes we need to take action and actually get out there and look for our own good luck.

We need to be brave.

Going back to the ship analogy, it isn’t always easy to set out in choppy seas to find a wayward vessel. But what are your options? Sit at the harbor and get rained on while your ship is sailing further away?

We need to make sacrifices.

Sometimes it’s small things we need to give up, and those can be the hardest to let go of. Consider your monthly expenses and pare those down. You may end up with greater discretionary income to cover the costs of seeking your ship.

We need to be patient.

It’s easy to give up and say “I tried, but it didn’t work.” Maybe you need to give up on reigning in one wayward ship and believe another is on the horizon. Don’t stop looking because your last opportunity is now out of reach.

Believe in yourself.

If you struggle with this, I have no quips or easy answers. However, I do know taking risks builds confidence, especially if you keep those risks in perspective.

I’ve had ships come and go, and some remain a steady part of my fleet. Now I’ve exhausted the metaphor.

But if your ship hasn’t come in, go out and find it.


Image Credit: ©juanjo – stock.adobe.com

 

Thank You

For the last seven years I’ve suffered at the hands of those with greater power and lesser insight.

It’s not that my life has been all hell and horror, but it’s safe to say the worst moments of my existence happened during this time. So I’m thrilled to announce it’s officially over.

That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to live with the consequences, nor does it vindicate those who caused this pain. And for my part in it, I’ve paid the price. A proportionately higher price than our society accepts. Life isn’t fair sometime.

But we are not a product of what happens to us. We are a product of how we respond to those events, the accusations, the unjust decisions. I’m not saying the events themselves don’t change us. They do. But what shapes us, in the end, lies within our hearts.

So I thank not only those who stood by me, but those who inspired me over my lifetime. All of you who shared your wisdom and built a tower of strength within me.

And I thank God for holding me close.

Thank you.


Photo Credit: © stock.adobe.com

How or Why and Peace of Mind

Last night I dashed out to the local CVS to get some candy. I admit it. A quick trip, three miles or less.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a car, different make but similar style and color to mine, parked in the same corner I was headed. Then I noticed something else. The license plate number was almost identical, save for one number. Instead of an eight, hers was a zero.

A second later the driver of this car appeared. An attractive yet otherwise unremarkable young woman carrying a prescription and another small bag (maybe candy, who knows?). Yet it got me to thinking.

What if she’d just robbed the place? In the rush and panic that would ensue, what if someone mistook my car for hers?

Now that’s my active imagination,  no doubt. Here’s the problem: these things do happen. Given that she had long blonde hair and was clearly a good twenty years younger than me, chances are I wouldn’t suffer the worst. Still, in the world we live in today, I could.

The odds are worse for minorities, and we’ve all seen the stories. I remember one particularly troubling report on a news magazine, perhaps Dateline, of a man who was imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Some might say, well, maybe he didn’t commit that crime, but surely he was guilty of something just as bad. Only in this case, there was no evidence of that.

He could have gotten out on parole years earlier if he’d confessed and shown remorse, but he refused, saying the only thing he had left was his name. I hope he was able to find peace once he was released, but odds were still against him after all those years of incarceration.

I hope others helped him find dignity, because he’d lived a long time without it.

We learn when we’re young that life isn’t fair. Yet we can’t live life with a constant awareness of our alibi for that moment or our excuse for doing something others might find odd. That, in and of itself, is going to raise red flags for some.

Why are our lives at times devoid of justice and peace? I don’t know. I don’t understand the imbalance in the world. But I do believe in a God who is just, even if we can’t comprehend how or why.

And that’s my peace of mind.


Photo Credit: ©Anna – stock.adobe.com

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

 

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