Bad Gone Good

Have you ever had one of those Days/Weeks/Months/Years where if you put everything that happened on paper it would look like the worst year ever? As is common this close to the beginning of the New Year, I began to reflect. I’ve had two years that were truly bad…I lost a sibling in each of those years. Oddly enough, this year…on paper…should probably have been a runner up.

Here’s how this year has looked for me:

  • Short staffed & forced to work 6 day work weeks and at least 2-3 double shifts per week for 3 months
  • Husband diagnosed with appendicitis and rushed by ambulance for an emergency appendectomy (appendix was necrotic)
  • Less than month later husband has second surgery for inguinal hernia repair
  • 6 weeks later hubby has the worst surgery (both for him and me)…a pilonidal cyst surgery
  • Through all this I had an employee constantly making trouble, making excuses for her behavior and calling HR on every perceived slight (mostly imaginary).
  • On the 4th of July, I got fired for the first time in my life.
  • 2 days before my health benefits run out, hubby breaks his hand playing softball
  • Hubby’s favorite uncle becomes very ill very quickly. (They were talking hospice before they even gave the true diagnosis)
  • Hubby goes to Chicago to visit family for a few days (I had tried to get the time approved when I was working, but had been denied and a week before I lost my job he booked the plane ticket…Joke was on us…)
  • Hubby’s uncle dies a week and a half after hubby came back home.
  • A close friend was diagnosed with cancer.
  • My brother-in-law lost his grandmother.
  • Another family member was diagnosed with cancer
  • Yet another family member lost a toe due to some medical things.

Oddly enough, even through all of this, I feel thankful! I was worried sick about hubby with all his surgeries…but I was grateful that they all happened when I still had insurance. Even his broken hand happened within that timeframe. In fact, two of the three surgeries happened when my mom was in town. She dropped everything to rush to the hospital and be by our sides, keeping me company while I waited.

I lost my job…that should’ve sucked. Oddly enough, I wasn’t upset. I have a very solid skill set in a couple of career fields. Even more than that…everyone on my staff with the exception of my troublemaker called me or gave me a hug on my way out the door. They still keep in touch and let me know how much they enjoyed working with me and that they miss me.

The other thing about losing my job…my sister pointed out…my work/life balance sucked while I was there. On my wedding day (which was out of state) I got a call needing help. During the time my assistants were out, little to no help was given unless I pushed for it… I’m sure you’re getting by now that the little I’ve shared is just the tip of the iceberg with how much my life and time was monopolized.

Working there was also a big part of what caused me to stop writing…to rarely be able to attend church…to be unable to sing except around work and at home. Upon losing my job both my sister and my best friend called to tell me that they always felt I should’ve been writing anyway. They were right!

So, this year I’ve also become a member of the Florida Writer’s Association getting my feet back into the writing universe…and becoming active in my local chapter. I also just finished writing my first manuscript and am currently working on editing it…Cross your fingers! I also joined WordPress and found all you wonderful people! You guys have encouraged me, taught me, inspired me and enriched my life.

As for my singing…the day after I lost my job, my pastor called just to check on me. When I told him what had happened, he was empathetic…keeping me in his prayers. But he challenged me, too. He let me know that choir practice was the following day and that now that I had no plans I would probably enjoy checking it out. He pointed out that nothing makes the heart feel lighter than “making a joyful noise.” He was right! Since that day I have been a part of the praise team for the church, singing every Sunday. I think God was sending me a message through him. 🙂

Hubby’s uncle becoming ill…that really sucked. It was sad…and tragic. But the upside is that my husband got to go there…and spend time with him every day of his vacation, giving him a chance to say goodbye. That may not have been quite so readily possible if I’d been with him. They may have felt obligated to entertain me. The unfortunate thing was that he wasn’t able to go to the funeral when he died…but his uncle knew he loved him and that he was there to say goodbye.

As for the rest…it’s in God’s hands. My friend is battling, and I couldn’t be more proud. My family has a firm foundation in love, support and faith. So although on the surface, this year should probably look like it was awful…It wasn’t! I’ve found some very wonderful things to celebrate to go with some of those losses!

The thing I’ve learned? You can’t always control the things that happen to you, but you can control your response…and you can look for the blessings or you can focus on the bad. I choose to see the good and be thankful.

Is Women’s Lib Killing Our Alpha Males?

At the risk of offending some people, I’m going to be candid. Maybe it’s because of a post I read last month from Once A Month 4 Ladies or maybe it’s the election or maybe it’s a memory of an old friend, but people’s perceptions on feminism lately have been driving me nuts.

First I’ll tell you what I do believe:

  • Women deserve to have the right to vote (you may say duh, but that’s actually a fairly recent right!)
  • Women of equal experience and education as men deserve to be paid at the same salary
  • Women should be able to try out for any type of sport, and if they’re talented, deserve equal consideration as their male counterparts

I may have forgot a thing or two in my list, but I think you get the general gist. And then there are the extremists when it comes to women’s lib. They kind of ruin it for everyone because they send mixed messages to the male gender. Earlier I mentioned a friend. My friend and I were out with a bunch of people one day (mind you, we were in high school). We’d just arrived at the restaurant when one of the guys from our group walked ahead of us and opened the door for us. I said thank you. She snapped at him, telling him she wasn’t weak and she could get the door for herself. Confused, I pulled her aside. She explained to me that she wanted to be “treated like an equal” and not some “weaker sex”.

I was completely floored! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that “women’s lib” had made it all the way into the dating scene. Maybe it’s old fashioned of me, but I don’t think it has any business in the dating scene. I’m not a “go Dutch” kind of girl. I like when a guy opens the door for me or pulls a chair out for me. I don’t see that as him treating me as a member of a “weaker sex”. I see it as the man I’m with paying his respects…and in some very old school, old world way…maybe paying homage to the beauty of womankind in general.

And yet these days men walk on egg shells, unsure of what’s expected of them. We women bitch and bemoan the loss of the “alpha male” and that men “don’t treat us right” when they don’t take charge or he pauses at the end of the night, unsure if he should be paying for the whole tab or part of it. Who do we have to blame for this? Ourselves!

You want an alpha male? Stop trying to neuter him! When he opens a door, say thank you and smile! When he holds out your chair for you, find a way to let him know it’s meant something and that you appreciate the effort. And no, for my dirty birdie friends out there, I don’t mean crawl under the table and “show him gratitude”…well, unless you want to. (hehehe!) I mean maybe touch his arm or make eye contact and give him that special smile that lets him know you really appreciate the gesture. And for goodness sake, ladies…don’t go on a dutch treat date unless you got suckered into one.  Usually that’s the beginning of something not so special…”if you know what I mean”. 😉

What about you ladies?  Gentlemen?  Care to weigh in on this topic?  How do you feel about women’s lib?  Am I the only one who thinks it’s gone too far when it’s pushed it’s way into the dating scene? Are there other places where it’s crept in and done more harm than good? Inquiring minds wanna know!

I enjoy the mystique that women posess. I like being treated like something special. I thrive on being flirted with and doted on….and I don’t think that should be out of date or old fashioned. I also like those alpha men who enjoy taking charge but respect the fact that women have minds of their own and are able to think for themselves and fight their own battles (but offer to always be there for back up if needed).

Making A Difference

Recently I read an awesome Blog Post by Julie Glover honoring teachers in high school that have made a difference.  I thought it was great!  Teachers are like many military personnel…rarely is their work appreciated or recognized unless something goes wrong.  It made me think of the teachers that have helped challenge, encourage and develop me over the years.

I began to wonder.  How do they know when they’ve made a difference?  When their lessons have sunk in?  Sure, every once in a while a teacher will have some thoughtful student come back and thank them.  But more often than not, life happens.  Then all they can do it hope that the lessons they taught are practically applied.  And it reminded me that sometimes, through life, teachers can be taught, too.

So here’s a scene from one of my favorite teaching movies, Renaissance Man…mixing teaching and military.  It touched my heart.  Never ceases to choke me up.  Because DeVito’s character is the teacher.  The kids he’d been given were called the Double D’s…standing for Dumber than Dirt.  The drill seargent thinks that teaching these kids Shakespeare isn’t going to help them.  Won’t help save their lives.  And then there’s the lightbulb moment for both of them…and it’s beautiful.

In my life I’ve been blessed with wonderful music and English/Language Arts teachers.  The one who recognized my love of writing and poetry was a wonderful lady named Mrs Vorwick.  She saw something take root in me and encouraged it.  She even chose me, in eigth grade to go to a writers workshop at one of the nearby high schools to inspire me.  I remember being so honored.  I was the only one of my class of over 300 students that she picked to go.  Wow!

I hung on to many of my poems…even from back then.  Now a few of you who’ve been reading me for a while have read my most current stuff as I often share my poems immediately following it’s conception.  So here’s a flashback to my writing from the ’80’s.  Still very innocent and fraught with idealism and sweetness…  But this is to honor her for how far I’ve come today.  Because really, how can you appreciate the present if you don’t benchmark it against your past?

Set Me Free

“Give me wings,” you said to me,
“Let me go.  Please set me free.”
I looked at you with teary eye
And knew I had to let you fly.
So slowly, but surely I let you go
Hoping that you’d always know
I’ll care for you my whole life through
No matter what you say or do!

Then, one day, someone I once knew
Said, “I am coming back to you.”
I was so happy on that day
That I didn’t quite know what to say.
And since I know you’re back for good
I’m glad that I had understood.
You wanted me to set you free
So that you could come back to me.

So this was written nearly 20 years ago.  I still like the first verse…  Yes, you can tell I was young…but it still blows me away.  A teacher saw that and recognized my potential.  What about you?  Do you remember the teacher or person who influenced you and helped you to become the person you are today?  Or who encouraged you to chase your dream and shoot for the stars?  I’d love to hear about it.  And while you’re at it?  Thank a teacher.  Or a serviceman.  Give them a hug.  They don’t hear it often enough.  I think you’d be amazed at how much it will mean to them.

New Beginnings

Have you ever stepped away from something after doing it so long and realized that you were boxed in and didn’t even know it?

On July 4, 2012 I was terminated from a job I thought I loved. I had poured all of my time and energy into this career, then…POOF! After nearly ten years of service, I was let go. I was at a loss. I had never been fired before!

On my way home I talked to my wonderfully supportive husband and let him know what had just happened. We were planning for company that evening…to cook out, maybe see fireworks or play games. He asked if I wanted to follow through. After I thought about it, I decided that we should move forward and celebrate. I knew I’d need a drink anyway, better to drink with my friends.

I called my mom. I felt like a failure. No surprise, my mom was what she’d always been in my life. She was the rock that I leaned on. She told me that she thought it was a blessing in disguise. She then pointed out all the things I’d sacrificed on the altar of my career. Since 1999 I have not been able to go back home for Christmas. My husband and I have talked about having children but I’d always been so busy working that by the time I got home I was exhausted. And after all I’d given my employer, they rewarded my loyalty with a termination. She was absolutely right!

Then, my sister called. She’s one of my best friends, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears. I shouldn’t have been surprised when she repeated my mother’s sentiments. And then she added that she didn’t feel my job had respected me or my time very much. She sited my wedding day, reminding me that I was out of state, on vacation, and they’d called me twice. And then she asked me what I wanted to do. That was the million dollar question. She thought she had the answer.

“Remember when we were younger? You used to write all the time! You were never without a journal. You’d be writing poetry or stories. I always thought it was what you were meant to do! I never, in a million years, imagined you giving it up. Music was in my soul the way writing has always been yours! And you’ve always loved to sing, but haven’t done that either!”

I felt like she smacked me in the face. She was right! Music was a part of our lives; a part of our family. But writing was my soul! Somehow I sold it for a job. Not counting some journal work, I had only written maybe a dozen times in nearly ten years.

Since losing my job I’ve made a promise to myself. Never again give up my work life balance. I can’t look in the mirror again and not recognize my own heart. I’ve started writing, already completing two poems and starting on two potential projects, one being an erotic romance. I have also joined a choir, filling my joy of music. Music fills my heart and writing fills my soul.

I’m never giving either up again. More importantly, no job is worth sacrificing time with my family. I’ve finally found my way back to me.