Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ego's velvet handcuffs...

Some days, ego is harder to rein in than others. It's especially meddlesome when you see it happening, feel the physical effects of it, and yet the Soul is still trapped by the velvet confines of comfort and is unable to redirect. However, just by becoming aware of the duality of our nature, the jailer slowly moves to hand over the keys and allows our true selves to break free...

Valentine's Day is just one of those days that seems to bring out the worst in people. Many feel obligated by the commercialization of it to buy things that they don't think about or need, and others actively distance themselves by proclaiming it a "waste of time and money". I swing both ways, unfortunately, which makes it a challenge to stay centered. While we had a relatively blissful evening filled with a lovely shared meal, notes of gratitude in our homemade Valentine bags, and treats for the kids, I couldn't help but wonder if I would get some special little surprise. My husband's firmly in the latter category, and so for the past 20 years, the holiday was largely ignored other than some festivities geared towards the children and the occasional bundle of flowers that I would buy for myself.

If only my damned ego would have kept quiet, it would have been a perfect day.

After all, my husband shows me love in a myriad of ways, too many to mention, honestly. But I had just performed a wedding in the morning, resigned from a job that should have been a perfect fit, and turned down one that would have required a LOT of reframing to find enthusiasm for. All of which left me feeling vulnerable, drained, curious about what's next, and untethered. And that's not a good combination for remaining stoic.

It's never been about the cost of goods. Women want romance. To this day, the very best "present" I've ever received, no matter the holiday, is the tree with a bright green ribbon tied around it. It told me that my heart had been heard, nurtured, and honored. I can go for a walk in the park any time I want and spend time with this special tree.

When I realized that I wasn't going to get a present of any type this year, I found myself in an honest-to-goodness juvenile meltdown. Passive-aggressive behavior was showing up everywhere, and it was really difficult for me to watch as my inner observer would fade in and out, trying in vain to remind me of what was truly important. Some perspective was reached, but ego is a cruel master and doesn't let go of the keys easily. It's very much like being on a ferris wheel...you get on, thinking that you'll enjoy the view from the top, but then you get stuck for a while. You get nervous, wondering if you'll ever get down, and then you gradually return to the beginning point. Eventually, you're allowed to exit the ride, only to come back for another later on. The size of my ferris wheel is gradually shrinking, but every now and then, I forget and get back on the big one. At least it has velvet seats... :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

Well, not out of our taps, anyway. The Dallas area became a literal ice rink last week, just in time to welcome the visitors to the Super Bowl festivities. By some fluke, we had the good fortune to be visited by a lovely ice clog that prevented any water from entering our house for 3 1/2 days.

It felt much longer.

We still have no idea where the pipes were clogged. Nothing frozen on the inside of the house, no way of knowing where on the outside, just...nothing. Last year, the lake froze but our pipes were fine. This year, the exact opposite. But I guess that's they whimsy that Mother Nature loves so much! At least She provided 6" of snow on Friday for us to harvest and use the melt to flush our toilets. We felt a bit like pioneers doing that, I must say, though the intrepid souls who went out West didn't have pantries full of food, plenty of heated comfort around, and blazing fast internet.

What I was struck the most by during the time of water shortage was how empty the house felt.

Sure, going without a shower for a couple of days while waiting for the roads to become passable again was inconvenient, but the fact that there was no tap flowing made the whole place feel derelict, decrepit, and just plain sad. Even the warmth of the fireplace barely cut through the gasping feeling that one gets when holding your breath for too long. Or maybe it was the open cabinet doors and all of the water jugs lining the countertops...regardless, the combination was like a one-two punch to our psyches. Gratefully, we accepted offers of showers, laundry services, and any other comforts that we thought we needed. But when it comes right down to it, this brief moment of discomfort brought a valuable lesson to all of us.

Water is precious.

One gallon of water isn't much for bathing, but can get the job done. One gallon of water doesn't come close to flushing a toilet effectively. One gallon of water will, if carefully rationed, wash the dinner dishes, though not as well as I'm used to. And one gallon looks mighty puny when you finally slake your thirst.

I thought that we had been pretty good at conserving our natural resources, but when you have to carry each precious drop across town over ice-covered roads, one begins to analyze the usage very carefully. Does this really need washing? Is hand sanitizer OK or do I need soap? Does that plant REALLY need water? How long can we go without flushing? In fact, that last question was the one that was the most challenging. Thank you, Mr. Crapper, for inventing the flush toilet!

The gurgle that heralded the return of our easy access to H2O was met with elation, and a deep appreciation of our blessings. After all, living with limited access to water is the norm for millions, and access to clean, abundant water is but a dream for even more. Thank you, you life-giving font, for continuing to bless us abundantly.

And the pipes? Perfectly intact, thank you very much! WooHOO!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Beginnings...redux

Another day, another job...

I never expected to find myself job hunting so soon after finally making the decision to go back to work full-time. Only 10 months after my first full-time job since becoming a mother, and I was again faced with the concept of "what do I want to be when I grow up?" This time, I thought, will be different. This time, I'll really pursue my passion for feng shui and life coaching. This time...

Instead, I begin a new chapter at another magazine, again selling advertising space.

Am I selling out my dreams for the almighty dollar? Some would say yes, but the way that I see it is that I get to help businesses tell their stories to the people that would benefit by learning more. By doing this, we'll both be enriched! I'll still be able to help out the individual client who contacts me, too. :) Win/win!

It feels good to be at a company who supports without smothering, has clearly defined long-term business strategies, and is goal-oriented, not task-oriented. I deeply appreciate the time that I spent in my previous position, and am eternally grateful to those who have shared their time, energy, and knowledge with me, especially my former manager. By her courage to tell me all of the things that pissed her off about me and my performance, it allowed me to do further examination of my behaviors, values, and boundaries. Many of the criticisms spoke more about how I was acting as a mirror to her own areas of discomfort, but, if I'm going to be honest with myself, there were a number that hit home.

Time will tell if this position will be a proper fit, but I already feel settled. It doesn't hurt that I'm working out of my home now, although that presents a new set of opportunities for organization.

Thanks to paying attention to the shifting energy at my old job, I was able to attract this new position and start within 2 short weeks. I'd like to say that I recharged my batteries during that time off, but there were a lot of loose ends that got tied up. Now, off to the races! Giddy-up!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Life's Shampoo Bottle

I had lunch the other day with a dear friend who is dealing with a recurrence of her cancer. Originally diagnosed with breast cancer, she enjoyed a few years of remission before it came back with a vengeance. Liver, lungs, and a little bit of lymph...I guess the cells enjoyed alliteration. That got beat back by the wonderful oncologists at Baylor - for a while. Her New Year's resolution became finding new treatment alternatives for the ever-encroaching disease. The pain levels are becoming unmanageable, and her time is running out.

Then again, isn't that the same situation that we all are in? The blessing of a terminal illness is that awareness that time is marching, and the destination is looming. Rose Ann was annoyed at herself for being teary when talking about her "Bucket List" cruise to Italy, but I likened it to trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, or even like getting one last shampoo out of the nearly empty bottle.

Think of it like this: as a child, we have this seemingly limitless supply of shampoo. We're careless, wasteful, and unconcerned if the bottle should fall over and spill. So what? We have a lot left. No big deal.

Next thing you know, the bottle is half empty. Still plenty of time...no need to put it on the list. And then one day...it sputters. You turn the bottle upside down so you no longer have to wait for the drip, drip, dripping of the viscous substance that makes your hair so lustrous. Now, suddenly, you become hyper-aware of how much you are using. That quarter-size dollop has become something closer to the size of a pencil eraser. Huh...still works really well at that size. Why wasn't I conserving when the bottle was full?

The doubts and self-recrimination begins. Berating oneself for being wasteful, careless...and was it really necessary to wash your hair every day?

And then one day, the sputtering stops. That shocking sound of empty spitting fills the room, and you realize that your out of time. There are those who will simply toss the bottle into the trash, but for those of us who are eager to suck the marrow out of life, we take off the lid and fill it up with some water. Why didn't we do this earlier? It's fun to shake things up! Everything inside that bottle is now so fun and frothy!

But the bubbles don't last. The shaking only works for a little bit. And the time finally comes to bid adieu to the bottle, secure in the knowledge that you have used every last little bit of it.

Rose Ann isn't quite there yet on the bubbles, but the sputtering has begun. Her tears are cleansing tears, not to be dismissed, ignored, or worse, cursed. Rather, they are to be blessed as the necessary ingredient to add to the shampoo bottle of life, mixing with all that is left, ready to shake things up at least a couple more times before our time here is done.

And when that time is done, shake your hair in the most glorious way you can, allowing the world the opportunity to see the luxurious results of that wonderful shampoo before moving on to the next kind!

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Losing a child...

My friend buried her son yesterday.

Nicholas was only 10 years old. It was quite an experience to see a casket that small, and the effect it had on all who were present was intense. His older sister, Taylor, had suggested that people write messages on his casket, so in no time at all, the markers left indelible prayers and goodbyes as artwork for the afterlife.

The first time I met Nick was when Deidra’s daughter Rachel and my daughter Kathryn were in kindergarten. He was in a special stroller that put him at eye level. His features didn’t look quite right to me, but Meet the Teacher night didn’t seem like the appropriate venue to ask about his condition. It was several months later that I found out the truth: Nick had been a normal 6 month old, and then he had his vaccines. He became irrevocably brain damaged after that.

I admit that I had always been skeptical about the reports of this happening, or the severity of the injury due to the introduction of several serums at once. For whatever reason, the combination of these shots with Nick’s chemistry proved to be wholly incompatible. The first 3 children all managed their shots just fine, but not Nick.

Deidra never played the victim card. She and her family always included Nick in every family activity, reading to him every night, saving a special place at the table for every meal even though he received his nutrition through a feeding tube. Her husband meticulously researched nutritional supplements and alternative treatments to help Nick increase his quality of life. Eventually, they jumped through enough hoops to convince the US Federal Government’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that they qualified for assistance, and were finally able to get some in-home nursing care. Most children who have the type of brain injury that Nick had don’t make it as long as he did, and it was because of the unconditional love and dogged determination of his family that he truly had a blessed experience.

I have to admit that I was torn at the funeral. I mean, how can you not bless the release of a soul who is trapped in a body that can’t communicate? And then I saw the posters that his siblings had made. He saved his smiles for them. There was an awareness that I had not been privileged to see, as he was almost always sleeping when I was around him. And no matter what his mental or physical state was, he had a family that loved him dearly. Another set of parents outlived one of their children.

This family will have some major adjusting to do, now that the 24/7 schedule of feeding, bathing, doctoring, and researching is over. Nick’s siblings will continue with their own busy lives, as their mom made sure that the burdens of caring for a disabled sibling was not going to keep them from a full life of their own.

Godspeed, young Nick. I hope you have fun running and playing with the angels now! And thanks, Deidra and family, for showing me what it means to love unconditionally.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I need a wife...

As I roll into the middle of my third week of work, I am finally realizing how important my role as a stay-at-home wife/mom was. Sure, I'm now bringing in a paycheck, but wow...this is tiring! Yeah, I know there is a collective groan going up from those who have been doing this for a very long time, but I'm just getting my stamina up. It has also coincided with a wonderful increase in other freelance writing gigs as well as new work for my Intuitive Interior endeavors, which makes for another full day on Saturdays and a partial work day on Sundays. My FaceBook participation is suffering (not necessarily a bad thing), I'm way behind on blogging (not that I was terribly active before), and my house is a mess. So, other than FB, not much has changed.

Yet again, I'm living proof that the busier I am, the more productive I am.

Today, I spent it in the field all day. Turns out my manager prefers that I make at least one daily visit to the office. My bad. I don't mind, I just thought I'd try to stay up north and save my new tires a bit. It's a different mindset in this company. They actually STOP working at 5. I'm not used to that concept. Having been employed as a field sales person for 7 years where my office was my car, and then a variety of other self-motivated pursuits, it's shocking to see that there really is a company that largely adheres to the 9-5 work day. It's kinda nice!

I'm off to enjoy some family time now. All work and no play makes for a cranky mom!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Job!

2010 is promising to be a very interesting year/decade. Besides just the usual realization that we have 365 days to put a new year on the end of our checks, I now have a new job! I will be selling advertising space for Dallas Child Magazine, one of the premier kid-oriented publications in the metroplex. I'm excited about this opportunity, but it also means a return to full-time work. I'll be chronicling this change for my first year to see how we all adjust to moving from a 1-income family to a dual-earner family. I've had such amazing flexibility up to this point, so going to a more structured schedule should be interesting! I'll keep you all posted. Job starts on the 18th, so I have a week to wrap up loose ends! I'll need it all... Whee!