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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The Ideal(istic) Adult

Being thirty was about the best thing that ever happened to me.

I’d set goals and achieved them, and the world seemed like a welcome place, with manifold glorious destinations. My mind was likely at its sharpest (although admittedly, I still had much to learn), Me c 1989I’ve probably never looked better, before or since, and I’d started to make some money. Not a lot, but more than ever before, and it seemed like a fortune.

If I could live forever in that magical world, that’s where I’d be. Has my life gone downhill since? No, not really. I’ve had ups and downs — that’s the way life is — but I’ve never regained that sense of optimism, my belief in the future and my own potential.

That glory must have been more than reaching my goals, because I’ve set goals and achieved them since that time, goals that were further out of reach and potentially more rewarding.

The problem with that sort of idealism is the world is more complex and more ordinary than our dreams. Jobs don’t deliver, people disappoint us, relationships fail. Of course then we find better work, more rewarding and lasting, we discover friends who stand beside us through thick & thin, and new relationships begin, with all the hope they hold at the start. But it’s the first time the world looks good that we’re happiest, because we don’t have the cynicism of experience.

Yet the wisdom we gain over the years benefits us, too. We see that hard times end, and impossible situations are resolved through perseverance and yes, some luck. Pain beats at us persistently, but in the end we overcome it, newly girded with the wisdom of survival.

Looking in the mirror can be discouraging. Our looks fade. It costs more money to maintain a lesser appearance. It’s hard sometimes to remember you’re 55 and not 35, who your peers actually are and what you can & can’t do anymore.

Given the choice, I’d always prefer to be an adult, but can I specify a few things? I’d like to have the physical and physiological benefits of being 30, with the wisdom and maturity that comes from living.

Of course we’re not given any such choice, or anything like it, and I’m aware many have the same thoughts as they get older. Makes me wonder what I need to appreciate about being the age I am now, and what I’ll miss about it 20 or 30 years from now.


Image Credit:  © justdd — Bigstock

Leap, or sit still

I sit these days, frozen, waiting for events to transpire before my next move. I’m plotting that move, knowing I have only partial control over how it will unfold.

I could get out there again and face the odds I faced before, with likely the same results. Nothing has changed that would make me think otherwise, which is why I’m waiting. In the meantime it seems my body is beginning to betray me.

Life happens while you’re making other plans. I’ve heard that one hundred times or more, and laughed and shook my head along with the others. Of course that’s true! Events conspire to re-direct our routes, or force us to remain on the same ones, all the time.

I haven’t figured out yet how to grab hold of the reigns of my life and take control. I feel as if there is some leap of faith I haven’t yet taken that I need to be willing to risk, just once, and things will change for me.

Yet I have no idea what that might be. Perhaps it isn’t anything bold that needs to be done. Rather, I may need to quietly listen to the clues around me.

Or maybe I already have the wisdom to do the right thing, and I’m following it by patiently waiting for the proper timing, preparing myself for the future and doing my best with the opportunities I have now.

Because life isn’t about having control, but you can be prepared.

Leap, or sit still. I’ll trust my heart will know what to do at the moment it must decide.


Photo Credit: © Ekaterina – AdobeStock

The Last Book I’ll Ever Read

Never in a hundred, never in a thousand, never in a million years, would I read the story of my life, start to finish. For that matter, I don’t think I’d try to write it, start to now.

In a good book, or at least a cheap paperback, the heroine (me) would rise above her misfortune and become an international success.

That ain’t going to happen. I may reach a point of settled contentment, I may reach a point of great joy, or I may (goodness) fall in love. But extraordinary success is unlikely, and frankly, I couldn’t handle it anyway. I’d fall right back down again.

But I can’t lose hope. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and in the last few years, through what you might call a perfect storm of bizarre circumstances, I’ve had a particularly challenging time.

Owl In Glasses Reading Old School BookBut I’ve learned, and I’ve grown, and I’ve moved forward. I’m wiser today than I was yesterday. If the last chapter of the story of my life reveals a wise old lady, preferably a wealthy & wise old lady, then my life will have been well-lived.

Okay, then I’ll read the book.


Image Credit: © Angela Waye — BigStock

Whooz da prettumzist?

Da kittums, dat’s who.

I confess, I tried to set up a cute picture of one of my cats looking in the mirror for today’s prompt (Primp). It didn’t work. I guess they aren’t as vain as their mama.

So let’s move on from the kittens, and on to me…

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I spend less time these days in front of mirror than I did years ago, although of course, in my younger years I was working with better material. Most of us hit our peak before 50. It’s just a fact. These days, looking at my neck depresses me.

Fixing myself up used to be a lot more fun.

When I get my hair cut, I make sure I’m wearing the full visage. Too much time staring at that mirror under those lights. I don’t know what it is about salons and retail stores, but the lighting is always so harsh. Okay, salons, maybe they need it to accurately see what they’re doing, and I’ll forgive them for that reason. But why should The Gap make me feel bad about myself when I’m trying on jeans?

It isn’t the visible signs of aging that concern me as much as the time that is passing by without achieving what I believe I’m capable of doing. Yet I hold fast to my belief in the power of subtle changes.

There are days when your world might completely turn around for the better, and it’s possible all good things will come to you in short order. Generally, however, the gifts in life are given to us one at a time, until one day we look back and say, “hey, my life is growing stronger.”

Where I am today is far better than where I was five years ago. Some of it feels the same, but the reality is, it simply isn’t. Yes, there are stresses in my life, but I believe things will work out. That’s been my experience in far worse circumstances than what I’m facing today.

hen-and-chickies-sm
Guess what I know that you don’t??

Thank God for the power of experience. It’s — no other word for it here — a relief. Okay, other words fit, too — it’s a comfort. It’s confidence. It helps you sort out what matters. You don’t worry so much about what’s going on outside your control.

But today I think I’ll spend a little extra time in front of the mirror and see where that gets me. A little primping might do my heart good.


Image Credit: © sapunkele — Adobe Stock

Wisdom is as Essential as Salt

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
— Aristotle

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Centuries apart, great minds came to the same conclusion. It takes more than a headful of knowledge to truly be of use in society. The one who can spout a bounty of facts may be of passing interest, but those who take those facts and put them into perspective will have a lasting impact.

Grammar police are often annoying, and with good reason. They rarely relay in any meaningful form the purpose of speaking with precise correctness. Written grammatical correctness has its place. It makes reading easier and more comprehensible. (Anyone paying attention will find errors with my writing, so no need to point that out. I know already.) And certainly speaking with clarity is a necessary skill for most of us.

turkey strut

But if I fail to properly use “whom” while I’m talking to you, or I tell you I’m “good” instead of “well” when you ask how I’m doing, you should know you come across as pompous and insecure about your own intellect when you correct me.

That kind of education, knowing proper grammar, is important. But knowing when it matters is just as important.

I have said it before and it bears repeating: the most valuable class I took in college was Logic 101.  I was fortunate. I had a fantastic professor. Today’s world of pundits and sometime fools spouting off facts on 24-hour television requires our discretion and wisdom. It doesn’t hurt to have those skills in everyday conversation, either.

If you cook, you know salt is essential for the tastiness of so many foods. Those on a salt-restricted diet will tell you that’s absolutely true. Yes, there are healthy alternatives. Wisdom is as essential as salt, and the alternative is discernment.

Knowledge concept with books and seedlings

I have good friends who are in education. Bonnie is one of the leaders of a state college in California, and her passion for students and learning is inspirational. As is the same spirit in so many teachers and administrators. I applaud all of you.

My cousin is working toward his masters’ in education, and plans to teach high school when he’s done. All that learning for a job that pays so little while demanding so much. Kudos to all of you committed enough to the process to pursue that highest education for the sake of others.

I hardly have to tell you educators, because you know by experience, the importance of wisdom as well as knowledge. I remember the wise words of my freshman English teacher, who’d throw those thoughts out almost as an aside, better than I remember the vocabulary tests we took each week. It’s forty years later, and they have helped shape my life.


Photo Credits: (rooster) © Tsomka — Bigstock; (book with plant) © Elnur — Bigstock


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