Everything in its Time…

…but I hope that time is soon.

I’ve written about one of my best friends here in the past before. Laurie has been through a series of heartbreaks in the last few years, but it looks like things are turning around. Fingers crossed, knock wood, please God. Please.

Sand storm

Her husband has been through two major health setbacks, and I do mean major. He had a benign brain tumor that slowly had taken away his ability to function in life before it was diagnosed and removed, days, if not hours, before certain death. A few years after that, doctors discovered he had colon cancer. It took three years for him to be cancer-free.

Laurie’s brother, Monte, wasn’t so lucky. He, too, had been diagnosed with colon cancer, sometime between Dave’s brain surgery and cancer treatments. He developed an infection after the initial surgery, which postponed chemotherapy and allowed the cancer to ravage his body. He died last year, a few months short of his 50th birthday.

Her mom had died only seven months before Monte.  Laurie is heartbroken and emotionally drained. Her reserves are depleted. She finds joy in her children, who thankfully are healthy, happy and on the right track, both in college, both sharp as tacks. Yes, they no doubt carry scars from the years of their dad’s decline, not to mention the trauma that followed, but Laurie and Dave are good parents, there to support them.

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from Laurie telling me Dave was interviewing for several jobs, and the interviews were going well. One lasted 75 minutes, and he was called back for a second interview. He hasn’t worked in seven or eight years, and that’s hard on most men. He wants to work, wants to contribute to the family income, wants to be a vital part of the community in that particular way.

Vorsicht Rutschgefahr!

This job sounded perfect for him. I was so excited, and I believed he would get the job. Moments ago I found out he didn’t, which has crushed Laurie. I told her how sorry I was, that I had thought this was it, and at least we know he interviews well, a very important part of the job hunt.

I suspect that piece of good news isn’t important to them right now, but soon, I trust, he will take hope in it.

I always interviewed well, but I remember a period of time where I was getting this close to several jobs, and inevitably I’d get the call: “I was up all night trying to decide, and finally I chose the other candidate. I’m so sorry. If we have any other openings or she doesn’t work out, I’ll call you.”

The first time, the rejection only stung a little. The second time, I was discouraged but had other interviews in the works. The third time, I admit I wasn’t even able to be upbeat when my prospective employer called with the disappointing news. I couldn’t summon the strength to say, “I understand, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about the job. I hope we meet again sometime,” or something equally trite yet professional. I did say thank you, of course, but I was feeling deflated and overwhelmed, and it showed.

At some point after that, a former employer called and offered me a job with his new business. Okay, the story doesn’t have a truly happy ending here. It was the dream job from hell. Shortly after I accepted the position, but before I recognized the reality, I got a call from one of the companies I’d interviewed with, asking if I was still available. Given the opportunity to go back in time, yeah, I would have taken that job. But hindsight and so on.

I believe Dave will get a job. I pray it’s something he’s happy with, at least content with, for the time he is there. Yes, I’d love it if he could find something he was passionate about, but right now I believe he’d take a job that was less than his dream position, as long as it was rewarding in some concrete way.

Timing is everything. Persistence is critical. Hope is a gift we must make use of every day.

Remind me of this post in the weeks to come. My own job hunt is underway.


Photo Credits: (Desert Trees) © Nico Smit — Fotolia; (Leaves) © Marion Neuhauß – Fotolia; (Sunrise) © Pellinni – Fotolia

A Lifetime Search

Always the question with job hunting, “what am I capable of doing, and what will I enjoy doing?” We’re told to pursue our passion, to do what we love, but there are times when we must simply seek a job we can do well and be content with for a time, maybe a long time, and perhaps find the greater satisfaction elsewhere.

If I had my choice, I’d write for a living. I’d find someone AdobeStock_109760634 [Converted]who needs a blog writer and work my heart out making theirs the finest blog of its kind. In fact, I’ve been seeking such work, and no doubt it exists, but finding it is another issue.

Still, there are other things I enjoy doing, and I do them well. I’m good at customer service, providing a pleasant experience for others, and I find satisfaction with that work. Again, finding the right job isn’t always easy. I’ve applied for a few positions I think I would enjoy with companies for whom I believe I’d be a good fit, and haven’t heard word boo from them after dropping off my application, even following up with a phone call.

There’s a danger with turning what we love into a career. If we find solace in that work, that peace of mind can be taken away by professional demands. I’ve had countless people over the years tell me I should turn my knitting hobby into a money-making venture, and while that sounds appealing, the reality is, I need my knitting to relax. I don’t need the pressures of customer expectations, marketing, budgeting and all the rest. I need the freedom that comes with a hobby.

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Are you sure this price tag is right?

The other reality is, knitting doesn’t lend itself well to making money. If I charged someone for the time and expertise it takes me to complete a project, they’d be a fool to pay it. A simple pair of slippers might be close to $100.

Most of us, however, have multiple skills, capabilities that can bring us pleasure and yes, profit.  We also have personality traits that both expand what we can do best and limit it. It can be a lifteime challenge finding all the possibilities, or even a good mix of some of them.

As we grow older, we change and learn new things about ourselves, we move to areas with different opportunities, we seek new challenges. It’s a search with multiple discoveries.

If you know of anyone looking for a blog writer…but look who I’m talking to! A group of capable writers. Still, it never hurts to put it out there….

Images © geosap — Fotolia

Capable

Wisdom and Roadblocks

I’ve been binge-watching the show Younger for the last few weeks, and in addition to being entertained by the program, I’m intrigued by the idea of going back in time and starting over, knowing now what I wish I knew then.

I remember my twenties as agony, my thirties as much greater fun. As my body calls out with daily new aches and pains, I long for the time when age wasn’t catching up with me. With what I’ve learned up to this point in my life, think of what I could do with all that health.

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Me at 27 — or 29 — doesn’t matter, it was a long time ago.

There are moments, somewhat fleeting, when I’d love to be 27 and have the full opportunity to start a new career, with a lifetime of growth in that field ahead of me. In my mind, I can picture myself as professional, successful, innovative, and admired for my deftness in cutting edge work. I have long hair and a stylish wardrobe, and if my lipstick wears off, I doesn’t dangerously age me.

As intriguing as the idea of a second chance may be, it discounts the opportunities available to me today. Yes, youth has its advantages and its appeal in the workplace. But for many, too many, it comes with limitations, arrogancy and insecurity.

Younger isn’t a going-back-in-time show, it’s a pretending-to-be-14-years-younger-than-you-really-are show. The reality is, I do, in fact, look younger than a lot of women my age. Not 14 years, but enough. It’s heredity, and I’m thankful for it. Still, not enough to pretend I actually am in my 40s, with all the opportunities that still exist for women of that generation. That’s because, at some point, in some way, I’d have to return to the angst of that decade. And as Younger shows us, you can’t escape who you are.

I’m best at being who I am today. At times confused, somewhat scared, yet more than anything else, optimistic. In recent years I have been blessed with greater wisdom and insight, and a more relaxed attitude toward life. I don’t worry as much about what others think, I see through the lies and pandering of popular media, and I’m better about standing up for myself. Far from perfect there, but I no longer fear the consequences of saying “you can’t treat me like that.”

There is a reason I am where I am today, and given the chance to take my life experience and place it in my resurrected 27-year-old body would fail the human experience somehow. I am meant to be taking risks, making friends, loving my family and defining my priorities in part by the age I am, with all the gifts and drawbacks that brings.

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Me today. Yes, I’d prefer it if wearing my hair long didn’t age me. But in the scheme of things, that ranks low on the happiness scale.

Authenticity and being true to oneself are such lofty terms. I don’t seek my authentic self. That self is already here. I seek integrity in my actions, reality coupled with creativity in my goals, and those precious moments when my cat curls up in my lap and purrs himself to sleep. I have my insecurities, but they don’t dominate my life like they used to do. I have my responsibilities, and I seek to meet them.

Authentically, honestly, I am 56 years old. That brings baggage and relief, wisdom and roadblocks. It is like any other age, with limitations, frustrations and opportunities. Life is a journey, one you are constantly having to re-navigate. Thankfully the tools get better with age. After all, I now have more wisdom and experience to break through those roadblocks.


Radical Authenticity

Different than I Expected

I’ve found life isn’t getting harder, or more challenging, or more difficult than I expect it to be. But it’s getting more difficult in ways different than I expect.

I seem to be able to divide my life today into several parts:

making the same mistakes with the same predictable results; facing the same problems but with new challenges; blazing new, hopefully more productive trails; and dealing with the unimagined, some of it wonderful, some of it sad.

Dad, me, Beth
My Dad, me and my sister

Then there’s always the predictable, of course. My parents are aging; both will turn 80 this year. On my dad’s side of the family, that’s nothing. On my mom’s, it’s a little more meaningful. While today they’re healthy, the reality is, it doesn’t matter what you might reasonably anticipate, they are at an age when death might be unexpected, but you can never truly say it’s shocking.

I don’t worry about them dying, but I’m acutely aware they will someday, and I’m not looking forward to it. From time to time I’m made aware of the possibility that something I never thought of could happen, and one of them would be gone, just like that. I can’t dwell on those thoughts. Awareness it could happen is enough.

My friend Sandy, looking at family history, had no reason to believe her mother would live past her early 70s.

Now her mama is 90, and in reasonably good health, but little by little, her memory is diminishing. Sandy didn’t anticipate facing all the problems of finding care for her mother, who’s become increasingly incapable of caring for herself.

Fortunately, she found a good assisted living residence, and that will greatly take the burden off her shoulders. Believe me, she’s happy to have these problems, thrilled to have her mother with her. When she gets a chance to put it in that perspective. So often, she’s so tired.

She’s also dealing with the declining health of her husband, who’s doing well at this point but could turn at any moment. Or, live for years. That man is stubborn. In the back of my mind (okay, I have said it out loud once or twice) is the thought maybe we should worry a little more about Sandy’s health. She’s almost 70, but you forget it to look at her. If she died, a lot of things would fall apart for her husband and mother. Quickly.

That’s the sort of twist life seems good at turning. We expect her mom to go, we’ve been preparing, mentally, at least, for her husband to leave us, but one day she could just be gone without warning.

Many years ago my then-boyfriend’s childhood friend Dan had a rare form of cancer and was given months to live.

Because of his prognosis, he was asked if he’d be willing to take part in an experimental drug treatment. He did, and it extended his life long enough for another experimental drug program to come along…and then another. Eventually, Dan was cancer-free.

Dan had been prepared to die. He was left instead struggling with how to live, and floundered while adjusting his thinking.

Some days the little things throw me for a loop.
Mimi looking out the window
Mimi looking out the window

Today I reached over to scratch my cat Mimi behind the ears, and she cowered, terror in her eyes. I had no idea what was wrong. I held out my hand so she could sniff it, but she would have none of it. She walked away and sat five feet from me, staring in apparent deep contemplation.

That was three or four hours ago. Just now I got up from my desk and walked over to her, and she was fine. I have no idea what was wrong before, and I likely never will know. It upsets me. It’s never happened before.

If my cat is terrified of something, that’s not a little thing. Certainly not to her, therefore not to me.

I didn’t expect my life to be the way it is today,

and sometimes I’m at a loss with how to deal with the sense of sadness that surrounds me when I think of what I did expect and did want from life. Those moments don’t last, however, or dominate my thinking.

I’m proud of the skills I’ve developed in dealing with the pain and sorrow I’ve felt over the years, in the unexpected as well as absolutely foreseeable events that have transpired.

So now I’m going to cuddle with my cat. If she’ll let me.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: (Winding Path) © PetarPaunchev — Fotolia

A Quiet Celebration

Every once in awhile, life throws us a curve ball — a really cool, out-of-the-blue,  unexpected, happy curve ball. Now, I’m not really sure that as a sports term, curve ball is the accurate phrase here, but you get what I’m saying. Something we didn’t expect.

Most of the time, it seems, those unexpected events knock you off your feet with their negative consequences. You don’t know what to do at first, you’re floundering until someone or something helps you get it together. In this case, initially I was cautious. If I celebrated, did I break the spell?

Then I thought, if this is good news, it’s going to stick. If it only seems to be good news, if it turns out to be something else, then why not enjoy the momentary sense of relief anyway? I’m certainly well aware things can change. It’s not as if they did, I’d be disillusioned or destroyed.

So I’m going to celebrate. Quietly, and just with the kitties. But I’ll have a good evening. Because when good things happen, we need to mark the moment.

Victory Girl sm

the man and the boy named Paul

I learned a lesson that shaped my life in what was perhaps a tangential conversation to a day’s English lesson, and gave meaning to a well-intended, yet immensely distressing, event a year before.

I was a freshman in high school, and oh-so-fortunate to have a teacher named Paul Meredith. He taught not only the accelerated English course I was in, but the course for those who struggled so much they didn’t even qualify for the most basic of English classes. The kids on the outside, the ones we didn’t see.

Of course we called him Mr. Meredith, and one day, Mr. Meredith told us, “it’s not what happens in your life that determines who you are, but how you handle those events.” Or words to that effect. A new thought for me that day, but one that’s echoed throughout my life.

There was another Paul who entered my life a year before, in eighth grade. This Paul was one of those we didn’t see in high school, but in junior high, because our school was so small, he was visible.

Paul had been going to a different school up to then, called Mark Twain, for boys with behavioral problems. Much to my shame now, we tended to look down on them. Paul apparently had progressed enough they thought he could handle coming back to our “regular” school.

I guess he had a crush on me. He stood out from the other boys in my class because he always called me by name and was incredibly polite. I bet someone had worked with him on that.

One day I was wearing an elastic-waist skirt, peasant-style with a matching blouse, and another boy yanked it down. While my friends scrambled to pull it back up, Paul hit the boy in my defense, more than once. In fact, I think there was quite a scuffle. As a result, he was sent back to Mark Twain.

I had a hard time with that. I kept trying to explain what had happened, that he was only defending me. My parents & teachers told me his intention wasn’t what got him in trouble. It was how he handled it. Much later, I finally understood

candleI’ve cried more than once remembering him, and what he did on my behalf that cost him. It wasn’t about me, yet, it was. I hope someone told him, “Paul, yeah, you messed up, but hey, she stood up for you. You made the right impression.”

What’s more, for years I’ve wanted to tell Paul that whether or not I showed it, whether or not I even realized it at the time, I deeply appreciated his calling me by name.

No doubt his anger was the consequence of something that wasn’t his fault, and ultimately, it wouldn’t be what happened to him, it would be how he handled it that would determine the man he would become. Anger is tough to change, but he was young, and he was trying.

To both the man and the boy named Paul, I remember you.

Photo Credit: © 9comeback – fotolia.com

what the future holds

Years ago, fresh out of college and discouraged because I couldn’t find a job in my chosen field, I was debating accepting a lesser job, the kind of work I’d spent years pursuing my degree to get away from. I had been an “adult student,” someone who went back to school later than usual and took classes part-time instead of enjoying the luxury of being a full-time student (well, it seems like a luxury when your options are bit more challenging, as mine were).

Crossroad with signs of priority of passage
 

However, I needed to pay my bills, not to mention buy groceries. I was talking to a close friend about it and she said, “Take the job. We don’t know what the future holds.”

I’ve remembered those words ever since. I wish I could say that job ultimately led to a position with the best company ever, but it didn’t. Eventually, however, I did work somewhere I was able to fulfill my dream. More or less, because reality usually falls a little short.

Now the phrase has taken on a new meaning. I have multiple friends facing chronic, progressive or terminal illness, and they’re still young. Loved ones are frightened by the loss, emptiness and responsibility that lies ahead. Once again, I’ve come to realize, we don’t know what the future holds.

It is what it is, and will be nothing else than what it’s going to be. I fear what looms ahead for me, and I don’t even know yet what will happen. The challenge is something I’ll have to take on, though, because I will control what I can and accept what I can’t. It may take time to get there, but it is a road I’ve come to know well.

Photo Credit © rasica — DollarPhotoClub.com