The Button Box

Most of shirts, blouses, and coats I buy come with an extra button or two, and I have a growing collection of them. Gathering up the small spare button envelopes from some recent purchases brought to mind my mother's button box. Did your mom have one? When I was growing up this was a staple item in most homes. We took better care of things back in those days, if you lost a button off a garment you sewed on another one, and if you couldn't find one to match you sewed on a whole new set.  Buttons were salvaged from clothing that was too worn to wear, so there were always sets of buttons to be found in the button box.  My sisters and I loved to sort out all those colorful buttons, arranging them in patterns, and exchanging them as if they were precious coins. 

Now days we live in a disposable world... if the button is lost, toss the garment. If an item is broken, replace it rather than seeing if can be repaired. We have become a society of resource wasters, too lazy to make an effort to salvage things that can be saved or repurposed.  This sadly often holds true for people and relationships as well.

Recently we were watching a reality show about an extended family that has opted to live in the wilds of Alaska, totally dependent on the the land, wild game, and what they can fashion with their hands and talents. If they don't work hard to prepare for the future, such as winter setting in, they will go hungry and be without adequate wood for fuel. There is no running to the store for meat and veggies, or ordering a delivery of propane and charging it to your credit card.  Despite it being very hard work, there is much to be said for self-sufficiency, and for learning to make good use of what you have. Timely maintenance and repairs are the order of the day.  The same holds true for our relationships. They take work, they take time, they are important!

Along with taking good care of what you have, and sustaining it's usefulness as long as possible, comes the awareness that we truly NEED so much less than what we have come to believe is necessary to have a good life. Older homes have much smaller clothing closets... the reason is obvious... the average person's wardrobe was far less extensive in times past. How many coats/dresses/pairs of shoes do you really need? How much of what you have spends most of it's time in disuse or storage? Do many of those "necessities" reside in storage boxes that get moved from place to place and rarely if ever accessed?   I know that I am sometimes guilty of picking an item up from the store that I know I already have, just because that's faster and easier than finding it in the jumble of storage boxes.  Maybe it's time to get those boxes organized and pass along what we don't need to someone that has use for it.

As I get older, I crave more simplicity in my life... less is better.  Making do with what we have is fine. In reality, my life is very blessed and there isn't a need for high living, embellishment, or impressive consumption. Maybe we all need to work toward getting back to the days of the button box... and learning to be caretakers of each other, our possessions, and mother earth.

Off to Work I Go

This past week I rejoined the workforce, not by choice, but rather out of practical necessity.  I was blessed to find a good job with nice people in a positive environment with a mission I can personally feel good about.  None the less, I would much prefer to stay home than spend my days and weeks going off to earn a paycheck.  I'm sure that many, if not most, of the folks I know would agree with that sentiment, at least those of us who are homebodies and content to spend time alone.

I am glad to say that, once I learn the details and procedures, this job will not be nearly as mentally or emotionally taxing as my previous place of employment.  I also work just seven and half hours a day, instead of eight (which often turned into nine as we at lunch at our desks while struggling to keep  up).  A half  hour doesn't seem like much, but it makes a difference.  It means I have 30 minutes longer to sleep in the morning, or to move a little more slowly as I get ready to go.

The  problem is all in my mind, or should I say my heart.  I so much enjoyed having the freedom to structure my own hours and days for one short month.  It was wonderful to run errands, pick up groceries, make real dinners, and above all... have all the time I wanted to write, read, and interact with other bloggers. I had time to catch up with old friends thru emails and Facebook, I had time to visit with my daughter without struggling to find a time our day/night work schedules matched up.  Most importantly, I had evenings to spend with my husband, without feeling like I was being neglectful by taking time away from him to play in blogland or in Facebook.  Just a couple days back into the work routine brought me soundly back to the reality that is my life... too little free time.  How I wish I was the kind that could function well on just a few hours sleep.  Alas, even seven to eight hours feels like just enough to keep me going, and I would easily sleep for nine if I was able, or indulge in short afternoon naps... they are lovely!

I know that I am not alone in this feeling of always racing against the clock.  I am puzzled by how I managed to accomplish so  much more while working when the kids were young and at home.  Did I have that much more energy back then?  I don't know. I managed to do much better with housework and meals, and still find plenty of time to walk and engage in craftwork and conversation and even read a book or two a week!  I don't do much book reading anymore and I miss it.  I need to set aside a bit of time each day for that... but when?  

I feel guilty complaining about the need to go to work, when my husband works longer hours, six days a week, on his feet, and has been doing this at the same job for nearly thirty one years now!  I know he would love to be able to stay home too.  I am envious of the few friends we have who planned their lives and finances  more wisely and have been able to retire young.  I dream about the day when we can hopefully scale back our work hours to part-time or a few days a week and still make ends meet if we live carefully on our limited senior income. But I know too many who dreamed that same dream, only to have one or other depart for the spirit world before the time for relaxing together ever came.  

I am ever mindful that I must -we must -  live in the present day, not taking one another or each day for granted.  We have to make time for each other now, make happy memories together now, take time to play and relax now, and somehow still manage to fit in full work hours and time to sleep.  I treasure the time we do have, we spend 95% of our free time together, because that's what we both want.  We are each other's best friend, and who we choose to  spend our time with.  I enjoy my time alone when I am alone, but when John is home I want to be with him, whether relaxing in front of TV,  working on some project for the house, or out about town running errands or finding something fun to do. 

Ok, I am done whining now. Time to get things organized for work tomorrow, and soon time to go to sleep.  Here goes another day and another week, and already we are half through with the first month of the new year. Time flies when you are no longer a child!  As much as I love to write here, you will not see me  posting everyday, because I have to find a balance between writing time and sharing time, and life always trumps writing about life!  Hopefully, I will find the energy and direction to do a bit of both!

Have a good week ahead, remember to live in the present and to do something to make the world a better place each day.  That's something we each can do in our own small way... and it WILL  make a difference! 

First Day Snowstorm

I actually slept pretty well last night, once I was able to relax and nod off.  As the weather forecast predicted, it was raining when I woke up this morning, but thankfully wasn't cold enough for it to freeze.  Just as I headed to town the snowflakes began to fall, and by lunch time we ended up with a full-scale blizzard outside!  We closed the office two hours early so we could all get home safely on the soon to be very slick roads.  Right now it's just very slushy and sloppy but heading toward freezing.  Several inches of snow on everything, couldn't even tell where my driveway was when I got home!  Very pretty, but very messy, and a general nuisance.  That's ENOUGH snow for this near now!   We may have a late start tomorrow morning if the roads are icy, which is highly likely.   I most definitely will never forget my first day on the job!

I'm happy to report that after sharing an over-crowded office with three other women at my last job, I now have my very own office again... this time with a full wall of windows and a 9th floor view!  The snow swirling on the city streets below was sooo pretty, almost seemed unreal!

Everyone I will be working with is super friendly. We all shared our lunch hour together (with food picked up from the deli), including the two attorneys.  They are young and the conversation was fun.  The atmosphere is casual and comfortable.

Everything that needs to be done is done in one computer program, so that simplifies things considerably.  It appears to be user friendly.  The law firm has a heavy caseload and everything is paperless, meaning every document going in and out is scanned and electronically filed, and all contact/phone conversations are documented electronically as well.  So there is much to keep track of and busy phones to answer/assist clients. All within my ability to learn and do well  with.  My predecessor wasn't stellar so that makes my job easier, no shoes to fill, and they will be pleased with someone who does the job well and isn't afraid to help out when others need it. 

Couldn't have hoped for a better first day or a better place to work, I am so very grateful for this opportunity.  I know it will be challenging, but I really think it's going to be a good place for me to be!  Oh, and I can decorate my office to suit my tastes. Here come pictures of the furkids!! :-))

The Unknown

I awoke in a state of anxiety this morning, I could feel it beginning to stir last night. For the past month my stresses have been minor, with the exception of concerns about finding a job, and for the most part I could hide out from the world. I love being home by myself where it is quiet and safe and I feel in control.  Tomorrow that changes.

First day on a new job... intimidating.  I know it shouldn't be.  My rational mind says it will go ok, I will do fine, and I actually anticipate that I will end up liking the job once I learn what is required of me and how to do it properly.  But anxiety isn't rational, it comes from deep fears about anything and everything that could go wrong.

I've noted before that I was raised on fear. In their efforts to protect me and keep me on the straight and narrow, my parents instilled a healthy unhealthy fear in me about trying anything new... danger was always lurking just around the corner waiting to devour me.  I've struggled to deal with that all of my life. I am much more comfortable in situations where I know exactly what is going to happen or what is expected of me. It's not that I don't like a bit of adventure or experiencing something new, it's just that it also frightens me.

What should I pack for lunch?  What should I wear? Will I remember to take everything I need? Will I park in the right place? Will I get there on time?  Will I look like a bumbling idiot?  Fears swirl around in my head making my muscles tense and my breathing difficult.  Funny, it's not really a fear of the actual job, but of all the details. 

Now the weather forecast is for heavy snow all night with hazardous driving in the morning.  Lovely... another thing to fear... snow packed roads for the 20 mile trip to work. We have had dry weather since Christmas, but tomorrow it will surely be nasty.  I will have to clean off the car before I leave and play slip n' slide into town. I will need to leave earlier. It figures.

And I have a sore throat... again.  It had finally cleared up after nearly four weeks, but returned a couple days ago.  Just lovely, that will make everything extra fun.

This is how anxiety builds and wraps itself around you in a stranglehold. I wish I could crawl under the blankets and skip today entirely... wake up tomorrow morning and find myself already safe at work.  But that isn't going to happen, so I need to work on getting the anxiety under control.

Think positive thoughts, make a list of what I need to take, get organized, distract myself, avoid caffeine, get to bed early.  Realize that I have gone thru so much worse and come out on top.  This is just one scary day of my life, from there it gets easier.  I'll get thru it, I realize that I will.

Above all, I need to remember to relax and breathe... slowly, and to open myself to the energy that the Universe holds which will empower me to face the day confident and smiling. It will be ok... I will be ok.

More Precious Than Diamonds

It has been said that there are two kinds of people... those who use people and love things, and those who love people and use things. 

I am sitting here in the quiet house with a cup of wonderful blueberry lemon tea, furkids snoozing all around me, and smiling at the goodness of life.  I am so very blessed, not in what I have - though I have all I need and more than many, but rather blessed by the people I have in my life. 

One of the dumbest things I do, the most self-damaging, is to cut myself off from people at the times when I am struggling with life. I do the bear thing... I hibernate. I shut down communication with the outside world. When I finally come out of my funk, regroup, and haul myself back into the light, I am amazed by the circle of friends who surround me with love, support, encouragement, and humor.  People of all ages, from all backgrounds, from all walks of life, and from all over the world.  To think that I so often feel isolated and all alone, and yet I know all these amazing people who are there to interact with me if I will only reach out and connect with them!

In recent months I have managed, by the grace of God, to repair a couple relationships that fell by the wayside years ago, it it has been so healing! I realize how much I missed having these people in my life.  They each add their own special spice to the mix.  That's the key... each person brings something different to my life, and indeed each person in themselves is multi-faceted, bringing not just one gift such as humor or insight, but many gifts depending on the moment and the situation at hand.

My friends, both real world, and cyber world, are multi-faceted and brilliant... they are precious like diamonds! I run briefly thru the catalog of people in my heart, and I could list the characteristics of each smiling face that makes them dear to me, the things that make them uniquely themselves, the things I treasure them for.  A colorful collection of saints and sinners, those who have found their way, and those who are still seeking. From each and every one of them I draw life, energy, love and understanding. I learn from them and I learn with them.  I cry with them, I laugh with them, I sometimes grumble with them, and sometimes cheer with them. Their struggles touch my heart and I lift them up in my prayers, and I know they do the same for me.

Sometimes when I feel alone in life, and I flip open my laptop to find a bunch of friendly emails, texts, and FB greetings, a wealth of friendly folks who have reached out to me, I suspect this must be a tiny glimpse of what Heaven is like... being in the company of all those you love!

To each of you, I apologize for all the times I have neglected you, abandoned you, growled at you from my bear cave when you tried to come near. I want you to know that you are indeed more precious than diamonds in my life.  I pledge to remember to reach out more often... to leave a sign for you so that you will also know you are loved and never alone. This year, I am choosing to live by choices not by chance. 

Thank you, each of you, for being a friend.  You are bright and shining in my world!

Things Paranormal

Do you believe in the paranormal?  I have since a young age, not from any particular experience but from some inner awareness that life existed beyond the tangible realm and continues after transition back to the spirit world.

Readers who've been with me in past years will recall my stories of the ghost in our bedroom, though she hasn't visited lately and I wonder if maybe she has finally found her way home to a place of peace. I'm sure she is content in the knowledge that John is well cared for and loved. 

Last year John had an experience when he was alone at work one evening where he clearly heard the voices of children running and playing though no one was present in the building and the fenced/gated yard around it was vacant as well.

My husband and I both enjoy watching the various "ghostbuster" reality shows on tv, most recently catching up on reruns of Paranormal State which provides viewers with more related information about the paranormal and the occult than some of the others do.

One of the things that concerns me in these shows is the intermixing of tales about ghosts... people who are no longer living but appear to be still be around in some form, and demons... something altogether different and dangerous.  When I see people  playing with Ouija boards, seances, and such, without a true knowledge of where these things can lead, it frightens me for them.  Ignorance does not guarantee protection from evil.

Do I believe in demons? I most certainly do. At one time I was married to a very disturbed individual who was a practicing Satanist, not just in the adolescent form of lip service and ritual, but in the true sense of the word.  Initially I was fascinated, but very shortly I learned the meaning of fear... darkness... evil... terror.  I watched what happened to him, to our home, to our lives, and even to the lives of people around him.  He is no longer among the living, and he is the one and only case in which I can honestly say I am relieved by that.  I saw things that I will never glorify by speaking of or writing down, horrifying things.  If God is real, if love is real, then also the opposite - evil incarnate is real, and so are the forces of evil... demonic forces. 

In watching the shows on tv I note that most often such occurrences involve individuals who are deeply saddened, troubled, burdened, emotionally unstable.  Chaotic lives and chaotic environments lead to spiritual distress as well.  And it is upon such individuals that dark forces seem to prey.  Just as animal predators will seek out the weak and wounded.  When individuals being attacked by dark forces are aided in standing up to  and repelling them, things change, and most often the evil is dispelled.  This, I believe, is because God is stronger than satan, good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, and light will always overcome darkness.  We only need to proclaim that power to ensure it.

My admonition is that, despite natural curiosity and the desire to be in  contact with those who are no longer present... don't play with these things if you don't know what you are doing. Don't risk the possibility of opening doors to the spirit world that you don't know how to close, doors that can allow the passage of more than just the souls of the departed.  It is possible for demonic forces to disguise themselves as a loved one who has crossed over, or as small innocent child rather than the terrifying beast that it actually is.  Follow your instincts and your heart... "by their fruits you shall know them".   It is fairly easy to discern a comforting presence from a disturbed one, and a lost soul from a malevolent one. If it doesn't feel right... surround yourself with the protection of God's love and banish it from your presence.  Your well being depends on it.

Living in the Moment

This post ties into my earlier post Two Small Steps.  The second goal I want to work on this year is to live more fully in the present.  I'm not referring to dwelling on the past or daydreaming about the future, but rather focusing on where I am at any given moment, what I'm doing, and why.  Also, who I am interacting with and how. 

Staying focused has always been a monumental challenge for me. As a child I was a daydreamer whose mind often drifted out the windows of the classroom. As an adult I struggle to stay on task, finding my mind flitting from one thing to the next until I force it to settle in and pay attention.  The same goes when working around the house... you know the story... you go to the bedroom to get your shoes... oh the bed needs making... as you start that, you see a sock lying on the floor and suddenly you are sorting the laundry basket. Heading to the laundry room you notice the soap supply is low and before you even start the washer you've headed off to make a grocery list... and in a few short minutes time you've completely forgotten about retrieving your shoes.

Problems staying in the moment don't occur just when I'm by myself, even more importantly they surface when I am socializing and interacting with others.  My beloved husband and I will be watching a tv program that we both enjoy. But I'm not good at just sitting with empty hands, so before long I have scooted over my laptop table to check out Facebook or switched on my iPhone to see who has played their turn in Words With Friends.  Before long he is prompting me to look up at something important in the show or to read text that is appearing on the screen.  Then I feel bad and realize I have only been half-present in sharing the moment, I've allowed my mind to wonder off and play, and in doing so missed not only the full content of a good program, but I also missed out on sharing quality time with my husband.

What is this need to be busy all the time?  Why  is it so hard for me to just relax and be present, to take in what is happening around me without wandering away?  I know that my mind goes at full tilt, there are always many thoughts swirling, just as in the illustration above.  When I'm talking about one thing, I'm often thinking several steps ahead, and sometimes leave out important details in the communication because of it.  Even at night the hamsters in my head continue to run in the wheel.

This year I really want to work on being present... on living in the moment. Otherwise I'm missing out on half my life because I'm off wandering in the clouds.  I'm missing out on getting tasks accomplished and more importantly, I'm missing out on  precious moments that I am able to spend with the people I care about and love.  When I am with them I want them to feel that I am there, fully connected.

I know that some of my behaviors are more compulsive routines than anything.  If my hands are free and the iPhone is in reach, I am going to pick it up and see what's new. If the laptop is at hand I'm going to flip it open. Obviously then, I need to  move these items out of reach and maybe out of sight for  periods of time.  If I can do it at work, I can do it at home too. How often does one really need to check their Facebook?  I have a friend who has challenged herself to review it only once in the morning and evening.  Not a bad plan.  Would I go thru withdrawls? :-)

When it comes to completing projects, I need to excercise my mental ability to resist the temptation to flit to other items, and train myself to stay more focused on the task at hand.  Perhaps I can reward myself for completing something quickly and directly until it becomes more of a habit.

When it comes to people, I need to focus on them, on my love for them, and on my interest in them.  I need to pay attention to their words, their faces, their gestures... what they are saying and what they are trying to convey.  I want them to feel that they are important to me - because they are!

Starting today I am going to work harder at staying in the moment.  This way I can be ever vigilant for opportunities to make a difference, for ways to add a bit of brightness to the world. Rather than wander thru life aimlessly, I am going to love myself enough to move purposefully in the direction of the person I want to become... at one with the world, and at peace with myself.

A Leap of Faith

I love the above photo that I found on Google Images.  It says it all... this little fish is so certain there must be something better for him in the big world that he is willing to take a giant leap of faith in hopes of getting there.  I'm sure his friends and family had their doubts, probably told him he was crazy to leave the safety and security of his little bowl.  I'm sure they predicted he was headed for disaster and would fall short of his goal.  I wonder if he was as blessed as I am and had a few loyal fish in his life saying "You can do it!"

I had been unhappy with the work situation at my previous place of employment for some time.  Job duties kept increasing while staff continued to turnover and disappear. Pay didn't match the level of responsibility.   But still, I felt secure in knowing my job duties and being able to handle them well.  The known is always safer than the unknown.  The little demons of doubt told me to be glad with what I had and not to hope or try for more, that I could be risking all to end up in a worse situation.

Then came the devastating news that our family-owned company was being sold to a large corporation.  Our roles would change, our duties would change, and we would become an employee number amongst many spread across the country.  The only thing that wasn't going to change was our pay.  I tried to be hopeful, and to ride out the bumpy transition process, but it only took a very short while to determine being a cog in a large corporate wheel wasn't going to be much fun.  Since I was the only one in the office of three (already short-handed by one) with more than three months experience, many new responsibilities were heaped upon my desk.  The promised trainers to "shadow" us during the beginning stages did not materialize and we were left to fumble thru and rely on  instruction and guidance by telephone.  Coupled with this was an unwieldy coworker who had proven to be unpleasant to say the least.  It wasn't a fun place to work anymore.  In fact it was miserable.  Stress, anxiety and insomnia, accompanied by toxic levels of perfume, to which I am highly allergic, took a toll on my physically and emotionally to the point that I was wiped out and had nothing more to give.  I lost my voice almost entirely, and my skin was a disaster.

It reached the point where I knew I could not continue, and I told my husband of my plan to turn in my resignation and seek new employment.  He was amazingly supportive despite concerns shared by both of us that I would be able to find another job in a reasonable amount of time, since our finances requires dual income. On the  morning of December 8th I arrived at work early and submitted my resignation effective immediately.  Normally I would never do that, I believe in giving notice.  However my employment with the previous company ended with sale and transfer of assets and I had worked with the new company less that a week.  I could see no point in staying and learning to do things the new way when I had no intention of remaining in the position.  I also knew physically, that I had pushed it as far as my body could go.  My boss was very understanding and we parted on good terms.  We remain friends.  I don't expect he will be there for much longer either.

When I walked out the door that cold December morning with my box of personal belongings under my arm, it felt like the weight of the world had dropped off my shoulders.  I could breathe!  And for the first time in weeks my stomach stopped hurting.  It hasn't hurt since.  My skin cleared up too, but it has taken nearly four weeks for my voice to fully return, obviously it had been strained beyond it's limits.  

I cannot tell you what a scary move that was, and how afraid I was. Everything in my German heritage cried out about being irresponsible.  Never in my life have I left a job without having another secured first.  Prior to the  job I had just resigned from, I worked in one position for 19 years, leaving only to relocate so I could marry my husband! Security is my middle name, along with responsibility.  And FEAR, I've spent my whole life operating in a state of fear, I was raised on fear... "don't do this because something bad might happen."  It was a crazy move.  I am old... I turn 58 next month, I am far from perky, and I am certainly not Barbie appearance wise. I've seen employers hire young and attractive over mature and experienced time after time. The job market here is limited, but despite it all, deep down I believed God had a plan for me, and that it was necessary to close one door in order for a new one to open.  It was a leap of faith.

I spent December relaxing, letting my mind and body heal. It's been wonderful, and a break I badly needed.  Two days ago I started job hunting online and submitted resumes to a few places.  In the back of my mind I had envisioned what kind of place I wanted to work, with what kind of duties/responsibilities.  I've done it all, and I no longer have the desire to be top dog,  I just want to be a productive employee in a positive environment with a reasonable amount of work and equitable pay. 

Yesterday afternoon a position for a Receptionist with a legal firm was posted online. I submitted my resume electronically (how I love the modern age of job hunting via the Internet), and less than an hour later received a call asking if I'd like to come in this morning for an interview.  Definitely I would!  I checked out their online website and learned that I'd be working for a two attorneys in the local branch of a small law firm that has a high volume of casework.  The attorneys are a married couple.  The attorney who owns the firm works at a branch in a city not far away.  I liked the faces and eyes of everyone concerned.  Yes, I do go a lot by that!  Their firm handles primarily disability claims thru social security and private insurance companies along with some personal injury work and guardianship/conservatorship cases.  Helping people negotiate the maze of government bureaucracy is something I can feel good about!

Needless to say, I didn't sleep much last night.  I have interviewed for jobs just twice in the past 25 years, even though I've been on the hiring side of the desk many times.  It doesn't get any easier.  I went with the sensible approach... just be yourself, either they like you or they don't.  I knew I was more than qualified for the position and I felt I had done a good job on my resume.  I had excellent references including my past employer and HR person.  Still, walking thru the door with "your hat in your hand" is scary! I left early to negotiate the downtown morning traffic/parking situation and arrived with time to spare, as is my way.  Their offices are on the 9th floor of one of our two "high rise" bank buildings downtown... bet y'all didn't know we had any buildings over three stories tall in West Texas, did you? :-) 

Both attorneys interviewed me together, and I immediately felt very comfortable with them.  Office attire is semi-casual, slacks and tops, and Friday is jeans day! Whew, no dresses and heels, cuz I don't do that! Then they had me visit with the Case Worker and Admin Assistant who would be my coworkers.  Two very friendly, warm ladies, younger than me, but not kids, and we hit it off well I thought.  The attorneys told me they planned to do more interviewing this week, and make a decision early next week.  I left feeling really positive about the position, and hoping I made a good impression.  Competition is always scary.

Less than two hours later I received a call from the attorney. She told me they had all been impressed with me and asked if I would like the position.  YES!!!  I eagerly responded that I would love to work for them.   I'll be starting next Monday morning, 8:30-5:00.  No more 7 am starting time, no more working weekends, no more ten phone lines ringing off the hook... just 5 and a back  up person to help with them!  The pay isn't fabulous, but it's ok and increases in 90 days.  Health, dental, and vision insurance are paid for entirely by the company, so that's a big plus!  I am excited!   

Yes, it will be challenging, there are many details and routines to learn.  It is a paperless office, meaning everything is scanned and filed electronically, I love that... much less work and far more accurate!  Documentation of all calls is high priority and I am good at that. Needless to say, in working with claims, there will be an abundance of mail coming in and out as well.  No bills to pay... hallelujah!  (Although I did it well, I hate numbers, always have! I am not a numbers person.  I don't like absolutes.)  The clientele will be interesting, and challenging, we are dealing with people in desperate situations, many who have medical issues and/or mental health issues, addictions, etc. It will be a good test of my people skills and I believe I'm up to the challenge!

The moral of the story is... if I would have listened to my fears that no one would want to hire an old fat lady, and that I wouldn't be able to find a job I would enjoy any better anyway... if I had listened to well meaning friends and family members who were shocked that I would even consider making such an "impulsive" move... I would still be in a miserable situation and so very unhappy.  Life is too short to be unhappy about going to work everyday.  God has once again come thru and rewarded my faith beyond what I dared to hope for.  I know in my heart this is where I am supposed to be now.

Sometimes in life you have to push thru your fears, stop listening to all the negative messages in your head, and "just do it"... Josie Two Shoes is looking at a bright new beginning in this new year!

Two Small Steps

My friend Louise Gallagher has started a new blog this year entitled "A Year of Making A Difference".  It will chronicle her desire to effect two actions in her life that are closely intertwined... those being to be fully present and to do something each day to make a difference in the world. I encourage you to check out her blog and to consider making this journey with her.  I know that reading her  posts definitely helps me to be more conscious of my responses to my own life and to those around me. 

Doing something to make a difference... it doesn't have to be something monumental, think "random acts of kindess".  One of my favorite quotations is an exhortation from Mother Teresa to "Do small things with great love."  Exactly!  Louise provides some wonderful examples of how that can be done in the course of being out and about each day.  I thought to myself, ok, but what if I am at home and don't go out at all today.  How can I do something to make a difference?  The answer sits right here before me... my laptop and Internet connection to the world.  I can reach out to folks on Facebook and in the blogworld and leave a friendly comment or note of encouragement. I can share a picture that will bring a smile.  I can send an email to someone I know is struggling.  I can send a stranger a message telling them something I like about their blog. 

When my former boss called on the phone today requesting a bit of information, I chose to greet him and respond out of genuine caring and provide helpful answers instead of grumbling inwardly and feeling resentful that I wasn't appreciated as much as I should have been when I worked there.  I want him to know that it's ok to call me with questions, so I conveyed that with my attitude and my voice. I felt good about it and I'm sure he did too. It has been said that if you smile when you are talking on the phone, the person at the other end can sense it in your tone... you sound more cheerful.  I am going to work harder to be cheerful in responding to others.

I have known for many years that my purpose on this earth in is to encourage others.  I can't do that if I am grumbling about life, and doing my best to avoid interaction.  We reap what we sew.  If I reach out to others, I believe that the Universe will respond in kind. 

Being fully present...  that's a bit more challenging for me, I will write about next time.

Just the Facts Please

What is it with my family and getting things twisted?  In a recent phone conversation a family member reversed an important fact in a story she had told me just a few days earlier. It changed the scenario she was describing considerably.  When I noted she had reported the issue differently last week, she denied ever having said it in the first place!  No, I'm pretty clear about what she said.  This happens over and over in my family. What one is told one day changes the next. Always I am left frustrated and wondering which story is correct, or if the truth lies somewhere else entirely. 

I realize that two people can view the same situation very differently, so I understand when there is a conflict of opinion or details about something that occurred, but how can the same person retell the story with alternative "facts"?  I once had a supervisor that did this as well.  Each time he told the same story to someone new he embellished it a bit further, shining the light on himself a little brighter, until the final tale in no way resembled the original occurance.  And Lord help anyone who dared to note that the facts seemed to be getting distorted. 

I suspect this alteration of the facts becomes a habit to the point that the people who do this aren't even fully aware of the process going on.  When called on it they become vague or defensive.  Obviously, we all like to be the hero of the story, and we tell things in our own light, but for heaven's sake, don't alter the facts!

The same family members also apply this twisting of the facts to historical events in our family.  When discussing something that happened several years ago, suddenly I have it "all wrong", surely it didn't happen like that.  Well, actually, yes it did.  I am old, but my memory isn't that far gone yet.  I remember exactly how it occurred, and why are we even going there?  Leave the past in the past... PLEASE!

The results of often being told "twisted tales" is a total lack of trust in whatever I am being told by these individuals.  It also impacts my desire to share much of my own life, as those facts and stories tend to get distorted too.  Trust... so easily destroyed.

From a reflective standpoint, asking myself what lesson can be learned from this frustrating experience. I think it is to be ever vigilant myself to keep things simple and clear when telling someone about something, remembering to stick to the facts, and not to embellish them.  That is so much easier than trying to keep track of what you've told to whom.  I cannot change what anyone else is, but I want to be a person whose word is good and can be trusted.

Possibility Thinking

A friend on Facebook noted that although many of us seem eager to see 2011 draw to a close she didn't want to wash away the good memories the year brought. She has a valid point.  Although the predominant theme of our year seemed to be struggle, both physically and emotionally, some very good things also happened. 

John had long overdue knee replacement surgery in January  to address damage sustained in an oilfield injury years ago. It went well, and he worked hard on his physical therapy. He leg is now perfectly straight, and he walks with a normal gait and no pain... what a blessing!

After much deliberation, my daughter decided to relocate to a new city for a new lease on life.  No more walking around in sad memories, and working in a place with endless staff conflict.  I am so very proud of her for planning and carrying thru on such a big life decision!  She now lives about 60  miles from my son, near Nashville, has a nursing job she likes, and God willing, will find her way out of hibernation and into a bit of social life as the seasons change.  More than anything, she proved to herself she can!

We spent our 3rd Anniversary in Las Vegas, thanks to an all-expense paid trip from John's boss in recognition of 30 years of employment with their store.  Wow... 30 years is almost a rarity anymore!  We had a wonderful time there and didn't spend a dime of our own money!

At the end of October we took a week-long road trip to Tennessee, saw John's in Memphis, and then spent a few days with my kids checking out the highlights of Nashville.  All along the way trees were turning gorgeous colors, the kind of beauty that takes one's breath away and makes you never want to leave.  The weather was beautiful, and I could see myself happily living there if we were independently wealthy and could retire. 

We took a few three-day weekend trips as well, to places not as far.  Getting away together is always fun, and really good for recharging batteries.  We spent Christmas weekend in Fredericksburg, Texas - a small city of German heritage, where the little shops and all the colored Christmas lights brought back wonderful memories of childhood.  It was magical!  While we were away, several inches of snow fell here, making a white Christmas with limited travel for everyone.  Where we were it was much nicer, cool and crisp but not cold and the road were dry, so we were blessed in that too.  When your children all live far away, being alone at home for Christmas is too lonely.  This was much more fun!

In the past two years of my employment with the truck dealership, the office has gone thru SIX office managers/supervisors, largely due to pay not measuring up to hours and expectations.  The continual turnover and readjustment took a toll, with much of the work reverting on to those of us who remained and worked short-handed to cover all the bases.  I was blessed to have, for a very short period of a few months, one lady who was by far the nicest, most professional, best supervisor I've ever had in all my years of employment.  How I wish she would have stayed, but I didn't blame her for leaving, which came shortly after the announcement that our family-owned business was being sold to a large corporation.  That change came at the beginning of December and though I tried to keep an open mind, it rapidly became obvious that we would continue to work short-handed and underpaid while more and more responsibility landed on my desk.  At the  point of exhaustion and total frustration, I finally said enough, realizing this was not what I wanted for the coming months and years of my life.  Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband who understood my need to leave. So with the new year comes the very intimidating need to secure new employment as a nearly 58-year old office worker with a ton of experience, but no Barbie Doll looks.  Surely there is someplace out there who wants someone responsible, dependable, and who doesn't bring continual young-person life drama to the workplace!  I have to believe God has a plan for me and that everything will work out for the good.

The year ahead is truly an open book for me.  Anything is possible.  It will be what I choose to make of it, and everything depends upon my attitude and how I chose to deal with each day and what it brings.  Truthfully, although change is scary, it's also healthy and in its own way exhilarating.  I know well how important it is to make every day count, not just for myself, but also in my relationships with those I love. We need to make good memories everyday, to share love everyday, to take times for those we care about, and get our priorities straight.  Life is short, or at least if feels that way on the high side of 50.  I want to make my days count and I want my life to count for something too.  Taking a deep breath and facing the future with hope... here goes!