Monday, January 14, 2019

making time...

I love the brightness that comes with a fresh snowfall.  Even when the moon doesn't seem to be shining due to cloud cover, it is bright and clear.  I think I stood for almost an hour last night looking down at the hills behind my house. Normally you can't see anything. There is no contrast.

Last night the trees were pitch black against the bright white background, I could see the deer strolling around, foraging for food in the deep snow.  It as breathtakingly beautiful.  I wish I could have gotten a picture, but just like sunrises, it's so hard to get a good night shot with a cell phone and I didn't have my good camera upstairs.

I got lost in the beauty.

It felt like the perfect ending to a busy and rewarding kind of day. I didn't get everything done that I am behind on, I guess I am further behind than I thought.  Who am I kidding?  I've been behind for almost 4 years, I'm not further behind I'm hopelessly behind. But it was a rewarding day just the same.

The upstairs carpets were cleaned, most of it was dusted (I avoided the sewing room - that will take weeks!) and bathrooms were scrubbed, I succeeded at getting most of the Christmas decorations down and boxed up for the coming year.  It will all happen, just didn't happen over the weekend.

I am not going to say I even managed to clean out one full closet, I didn't.  The laundry is all caught up - that in itself is a miracle.  Hubs is constantly trying to get me to agree to letting someone come once a week and do that, nope - the very idea does not sit well with me.  In the process I filled 2 big bags of things that either no longer fit, haven't been worn in at least a year or simply weren't great ideas when purchased. I'd cleaned out the pantry two weekends ago and had an assortment of household goods to add to the mix. Over the course of this week, I want to go through winter coats, we have so many and it's time for donations to happen.  People can definitely use warm coats when the temperatures drop so low.

We took a quick run to Savers and donated the full trunk of clothes and household items.  I wasn't finished cleaning things out, but needed a break.  It felt good to get it out of the house.  And FYI a Beetle has a much larger trunk than one would expect.  Especially when you take the cover for your convertible out.  That is something we will not be needing for a bit, so much snow and temperatures expecting to drop into the single digits.  I'll take the trunk space right now.

I like to donate to Savers because they support the veterans.  I'm not a huge fan of Goodwill, they like to donate to their CEO's pocketbook and there isn't a Salvation Army near me, that I am aware of.  As I clean out the house, I will donate more and will probably share the wealth a bit.  St. Vincent's is also good, but they were closed.

I keep thinking I should join one of those groups that cleans out so much a day.  I think about it and then I realize that one - I am not a joiner and groups are not in my comfort zone, and two - if I had time to do that, I would already be doing it.  So I don't.  Shoot I don't really have the time for this.

Sitting here in the silence, surrounded by my plants, soft candlelight and the magnificent darkness out the bay window.  And day dreaming while I am typing.  I don't have time.  I do have things to work on.  I've come to the conclusion that all work and no "play" is making me an unbalanced person. This does not work for me at all.

Nope... not going out.
I have a ton of things that are work related that I could be using this silent time to complete, things that need the silence for me to focus on, I just can't right now. I don't want to delve into that world for a few moments.

I even made the decision to pack my lunch this week.  I might need to schedule it on my calendar to insure it gets eaten.  I may even go sit my little car and read a book, but I am definitely going to find a break in the middle of the day.

I am learning to make time again, I'm slowly stepping back from being immersed in the rat race.  I wonder if there is a 12 step process, if there isn't there should be.  I am not the only person who is living a non-balanced life.  Not even close.

It's all about the small steps.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

the gift of a day...

The fireplace is dark and cold, but the candle is bright and the coffee is hot. 

Hubs doesn't know that I just crawled out of my cozy bed, he's been awake for a while now, watching television, lost in his own distraction world. 

I'm looking out the window in disbelief, it is still snowing here.  Not the big fluffy flakes of yesterday, these are the tiny ones that usually don't lead to much accumulation. I haven't ventured outside this morning, the driveway appears to just have a slight dusting.  Our awesome neighbor got his little home snow blower out yesterday and for literally hours he cleared all of the sidewalks and driveways for folks in our little cul de sac. Although Hubs and I will have to cut a wider path out of ours today, our driveway has an odd angle that literally takes you straight into the little island in the middle if you cannot angle right.  The pile of snow on either side, assures you cannot angle right. And the snow plow that just went through did not make it any better, in fact I'm not sure he even plowed, just buzzed past.

Hubs must have heard me thinking about my fire, because he just came up and started it.  Refilled my coffee cup and brought me a breakfast bar.  I feel so spoiled!  Probably because I am.  So now the picture is complete. 

I feel like we should do a Christmas morning rerun, as I haven't even gotten the decorations tucked away yet.  The fire surrounded by stockings and lights, the snow outside, it looks like a Christmas card.  Later today, it will revert to being the way it is most of the year.  Hubs and I will pull the boxes up and start untrimming the tree and the house. 


Soon, it will be "normal". Whatever that is.

What did all of my snow bound friends and family do yesterday?  Did you rest, read a book, watch a show (after cleaning off your dish if you have one?), maybe cook a fancy dinner?  It's unbelievable the amount of time slowing down seems to give you.  Or at least it was for me.

I didn't get everything done, heck I didn't even make a list.  I simply started. I have been incredibly behind on household chores.  By incredibly I might mean, I even found clothes that I thought I had lost.  Ironing took me hours.  In all fairness, I opened all three window shades and put the ironing board facing the falling snow.  As I lost myself in my task and looking outside, I might have been day dreaming more than steadfastly working.

I hate to iron and I love to iron also.  It's a very complex relationship.

Getting started for me, is about as much fun as getting a filling at the dentist.  OUCH!  It seems daunting. Overwhelming.  A stack of wrinkles and hangers.  I have a system that works for me, as our closets are sectioned, I also sort the ironing to match.  That way I finish one section at a time. It's usually as I am finishing the first section that I realize I have been lost in thought, almost meditating as I work my way through the pile.  Yesterday had the added bonus of big beautiful snowflakes.

As I said I have been behind on this task and it ate up several hours.  But I also stopped and chatted with a friend while sipping hot tea, curled up on the love seat that has been buried under piles of laundry and started reading one of my new books. I might have even found time for a brief cat nap.

The gift of a day "trapped" inside was priceless.

Hubs and I tried to coax both boys into a walk in the snow, one of my favorite past times.  Gator truly was not having it.  We made it three houses down before he was done.  Turning around he dashed to the neighbor's door, having to almost be dragged to our own home one vast white yard away.  He was determined to get out of the deep, white, cold stuff.  He never wandered into it outright, probably good as it came all the way to Neeko's chest - so does Gator. For the balance of the day he grudgingly went out on to cleared little paths where the snow did not dare to fall.  My warm loving pup needed a fire after that trauma! 


Neeko on the other hand was quite delighted and terrified all at once.  We've not had this much snow in his lifetime, so it has been an interesting experience for him.  Not realizing it wasn't solid he initially bounded into some deep piles left from the snow plow and down he went.  The look on that sweet face had me laughing so hard. He looks so perplexed and confused standing there in snow all the way up to his chest.  Watching him figure out how to get out was even funnier, as he would put a foot down, watch it sink and pull it back.  I don't think he figured out he could plow through it like the bullhead he is until several walks later.  Each time jumping out of it to safety and turning to look at it in sheer amazement.


Neek's also caught his first and last snow ball.  He's amazing at catching, eye mouth coordination for him is a highly refined skill.  At least it was until that cold white ball exploded as he bit down.  He dropped it as if he'd caught a live coal and stood there looking at it perplexed and disappointed.  How was this neither food nor toy?  What happened?  There were no further attempts to catch the white balls thrown to him, he let them drop at his feet.


Such a peaceful relaxing day.  Even with the chores thrown in.  In fact, I feel far more accomplished than I have felt in a long time.  Today will be more chore based, but only because I am loving the feeling that I am getting from being able to sit on my love seat and read!  My favorite recliner is almost empty of hangers and I am going to be able to vacuum the kitty hair that has drifted there.  Christmas decorations will finally be boxed away for another year, but the wonderful feelings of Christmas will never be put away. 

Our Y is open today, I have an incredible team that insured the walks were clear, and they could safely access our spaces.  While I haven't gone stir crazy over this gift, I know many have.  We are simply not so much homebodies anymore.  As a society we have to be moving, doing, going.

It's time to figure out what we will have for dinner, I found a new recipe for homemade noodles that I have been dying to try they look yummy and nourishing.  I might even make a loaf of homemade bread.  Days like this completely bring out my inner Laura Ingalls.  They challenge me to go back to my roots before the convenience of a 24 hour grocery and pre-made everything. 

Later I will sit and stitch for a while.  I have a project to finish and this past 12 days has robbed me of any free time.


Well... I hope each of you finds your own special way to relax, unwind and cherish this gift.  The ability to slow down and simply be...

Saturday, January 12, 2019

beautiful...

Snow.

Precious, beautiful snow!  My Pennsylvania heart is over flowing.  It might be in my blood to love HUGE amounts of snow.  Especially as I have hardly ever lived in Pennsylvania (I will always claim it as my own though).

Oddly, by Pennsylvania standards, this is probably just a dusting.  By Missouri standards, well... The shops didn't need to worry about food spoiling when they closed yesterday.  It was all wiped clean, a complete run on the market so to speak.  I asked Hubs to grab some eggs and dog treats yesterday.  Because I'd used the last and finally had a day to rest, I might make eggs for breakfast. 

I didn't think that was going to be a major undertaking, I mean, 10 minutes tops... right?  WRONG!  He sent me pictures from the store.  Black Friday had nothing on folks that faced the potential to be home bound for 24 - 48 hours.  Suffice it to say we might not eat at home enough as a population if that was any indication.  My response to the pictures was ah heck no, we don't need eggs that bad, I can make something else for breakfast, go home.  His response?  No way!  I have been standing in this line for 45 minutes!!

What?

That alone perplexed me.  I hadn't attempted to leave work yet.  We closed early, but myself and two of my team couldn't leave right away.  We had friends that didn't feel our safety on the road was important.  Let's leave it at youth today are not being brought up right, and there are some parents that need to start being a bit more involved with them.

Going home was Stress 101. I am sure that I might have earned a degree in that one last night. By the time I was able to leave almost all the highways were closed due to accidents and the side roads were very greasy.  It wasn't a huge amount of snow maybe 3 or 4 inches tops, but the city as a whole might have been caught with their pants down.  The front was moving in faster than anticipated and accumulating far faster than anyone expected.  MODOT was doing their best, but let's be serious here folks. It's hard to plow and salt when everyone waits until the last minute to close and thousands of people are trying to follow the rules and get home and off the roads.


Don't forget to add in the fact that most of the younger drivers around here haven't really had a snow event in their driving lifetimes.  Probably 90% of those that were off the road, spun out, in accidents etc last night that I saw had in all likelihood not driven on snow in those amounts in their lives. Or were just plain silly.  And by silly I mean it was probably not a good night to take your corvette for a spin and pick up trucks do not like snow, unless they are carrying a full load in the bed - even 4 wheel drives.  At least not in my experience and last night definitely drove it home.  It's also a good time to not be texting and driving.  Particularly on icy, slipper hills.

The number of cars abandoned, people literally leaving them in the middle of the road and leaving was mind boggling. It wasn't a blizzard.  And if folks had simply been patient and driven slowly and persistently, paying attention... I personally feel there wouldn't have been people still stuck on highways this morning.  And there are.  Truck drivers that have stalled and broken down on the highways have opted to climb into the beds and sleep.  Fair enough, except for the folks that are stranded because of your truck blocking the way and when your "rescue" comes they can't wake you up to move your truck.  Tad self-centered in my opinion. 

My 12 mile drive last night took 3 hours.  I went through parts of this city that I absolutely didn't know existed.  Between my GPS and my Dad's spirit, more than once I felt like I heard a voice say go that way, I managed to find roads that were plowed and uncrowded. My sweet little beetle was able to move around the stranded cars and went right up those steeper hills without fail.  And I only got 3 major scares of being hit, but managed to avoid all of it.  Note to friends driving in the snow for possibly the first time... don't floor it!  You will end up spinning and sliding.


By the time I turned down our cul de sac, which is not on the snow route, I was a bit concerned as the snow was all the way to the bottom of my beetle, she didn't let me down.  Just over 3 hours after walking out the door and starting the journey home I was safe in my garage. Thankful to finally be home. 

I found out later a few of my friends had been trying to get home for over 6 hours.  If I had known earlier I would have reached out and told them to head to my house - it was closer to where they were.  We could have shared a fire and dinner.

That is what I walked into the door to.  Hubs had made me a fire, there was a pot of bubbling beef soup and a jack and coke.  I definitely felt loved when I finally made it in the door.



Upon climbing out of bed early this morning I saw the snow had stopped, at least for a bit, it's falling again.  I was a bit annoyed to see the selfish neighbors hadn't headed the request to move all vehicles into driveways for the night (they have a very LONG driveway) so the snowplow's could clear the road.  Hubs and I will definitely have our work cut out for us if anyone is leaving our driveway today.  As will our neighbors, as the plow wasn't able to plow correctly and we have a small hill to move.


I had the pleasure of being yelled at in person, on-line and over the phone yesterday because our association made a decision to close early. Seems a lot of folks got released from work early for their safety and to let them get home and off the roads, which translates into, time to go play.  When I explained that I needed to send my staff team home to safety I was told we were selfish, they were demanding money back for the missed opportunity and basically being jerks. 

I'm confused by people anymore.  The lack of concern and compassion for our fellow humans is unconscionable. The rudeness, the entitled behaviors, the willingness to slip into ignorance and profanity, when did we start sliding down this road?


Shortly I will participate in a call to determine opening times today.  I know my personal thought, but I am a small cog in a big wheel.  We will do what is decided.  I am thankful that I do not need to travel today.  I have a team that is closer to our branch ready to go. 

I agree with MODOT, stay off the roads.  Let us do our jobs.  Truthfully, unless it is a true medical emergency, all of us could stay home for a day.  We could shovel our drives.  Have hot cocoa with the neighbors, build a snowman, sled a hill in our neighborhood, and take long leisurely walks in the beauty of the snow.  Make dinner and simply rest.  I know that not everyone has a fireplace, but if you do, put a log on.  Enjoy the nothingness that a snow blanketed world offers you.  In today's world those days are far too few and far too rare.  Lock out the chaos and enjoy this nature induced micro vacation.


While Hubs watches a movie, cable is out, I am going to sit here drink my coffee, enjoy my fire and candles, watch the huge snowflakes fall on my beautiful patch of woods and do a bit of work.  The peace and quiet will finally allow me to think. And who knows I might finally take down the inside decorations, work last week put me a bit behind.



Unless you have to, stay home, rest and be safe.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

transitions...

Today is King's Day, Epiphany, the final day of the Christmas season around the world.  It's the day for Christmas decorations to come down and the new year to finally materialize from the remnants of last year.  It's also a new moon, and a time of celestial change.  Today truly is a day for transitions. The energy will shift for some it will be good, for other's not so good.  And if you are lucky enough to live in the parts of the planet that will observe the partial lunar eclipse, I envy you.

On Wednesday a dear friend gifted me with a candle set, transitions, and a calendar of positive thoughts, she knows me too well.  She understands where I am going.

As I sat here stitching for the past hour or so on a gift that I need to complete, I was reflecting.  It's been relative silence, Hubs is down in the man cave watching who knows what, I can hear the sound drifting up the stairs, but not really enough to hear it.  Although earlier I am fairly positive I was reliving my teen years hearing Boogie Wonderland loud and clear. Hubs and I have different needs for starting the day.  I want quiet, reflection, hot coffee and a gradual start.  He needs sound and lots of it. 

I am not someone that does well with massive stimulation to my brain, ever and definitely not early.  But we have adjusted and become in tune to what the other needs over the years. He knows that I will retreat from chaos and over stimulation.  That I do not need to be surrounded by people or activity.   He rarely subjects me to either.  Of course work mornings can be a challenge as we are both trying to occupy the same spaces with our different needs, we do find a way to compromise.

I'm ready for some transitions.  I think that is evident from the changes I am making. I am studying ways to calm, ways to center and focus.  I am learning more about me, who I am on the most basic of levels and what I need to be happiest. 

I have taken several personality tests over the years.  I am usually not surprised, they never change.  I am an INFP (Introversion, Intuiting, Feeling and Perception) - or according to Myers-Briggs "the Mediator".  This could explain so many of the interesting challenges I seem to find myself in.  I can't even argue with the results, although I would like to.  I am not sure all of those things are great characteristics, but they are me.  Oddly it is one of the rarer combinations.  I'm not odd, just rare?  No that does not make it feel better.


Those things are just some mumbo jumbo that makes me realize I am not crazy when I become overwhelmed as I did last night.  Hubs and I had a great day out riding on the motorcycle in the afternoon, those days rarely pop up like yesterday.  I thrive riding behind him, mostly lost in thought, taking in the view, my mind processing things that are eclectic and random.  Pondering things I see, ideas that are prompted by something untouchable.  The sound is a bit much for me, because I want to be able to lean over and share ideas with him without yelling.  I know he loves it loud, I don't know if his damaged hearing can tell how very loud it is. But I have found ways to adjust.  Isn't that what life is about?  Adjusting to people and things so that we can all live and be together harmoniously?


After our ride he was simply craving his favorite spaghetti, nope, not a spaghetti fan or Italian food for that matter, but I know he loves it and I can always find something to enjoy.  Initially it was nice.  The music was a bit too loud and I was still a bit over stimulated from the night before. Yet we were able to chat and enjoy one another.

By the time we left the volume was insane, conversation could not even remotely happen, the music was louder and the increasingly louder room had me completely frazzled.  I crave a place to go out to eat that is not going to cost me a fortune that isn't going to overwhelm me with kiddo's running, yelling and misbehaving while Mom's and Dad's enjoy each other's company and ignore their little ones. But that is just my crankiness and shouldn't impact their ability to enjoy one another.

I think the part of it all that brought me the most joy, was leaving.  Leaving and being married to an incredible man that understood how very overwhelming it all was to me.  The silence upon walking out the door was so powerful.  It felt like a giant calming blanket.  It allowed us to slip back into that comfortable place we usually live.

Heading home, we stopped and day dreamed about a car that I truly enjoy.  I am cheap and won't buy it, but it is fun and I enjoyed peeking in windows and day dreaming.  I've always loved the VW Beetle, no it is not practical, or a top seller - evidently - this is the last year they will make it. They definitely fit the person I am.  So we laughed and did some window shopping, they were closed for the evening so I could have peace while dreaming.

I think Hubs realized the evening had taxed me a bit too much though, because as soon as we came home he created a cozy area just for me.  A steaming hot bath, soft music and LOTS of candles.  He knew I was past my ability to absorb any more.  He respected that and he made me a safe hygge spot to recover in. 

Just when I think he really thinks I might be nuts, he reminds me that he has taken the time to truly know me.  Know what makes me tick and he listens.  We are not always on the same page, sometimes life gets tangled up and we get cross or insensitive to the other's needs.  And then poof, we are back in sync. 

It's time to get this time of transition started.  There are decorations to remove, chores to do, work to do - last weeks changes altered my plans a bit, we will attend the memorial service for one of our neighbors who passed far too young, barely older than me.  And then there is more work as I help another team transition to a different place. I think I will have to draw on some of those personality skills to survive this day. 

I hope your transitions go smooth.  And you cherish your journey.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

it matters...

Hello... Grim Reaper here... that is completely how this week has felt.  The positive factor has been almost non-existent.  In fact the dark dreariness of the weather for most of it was only amplified by my mood. 

This was the longest short week on record. Yet despite all the ugly, there were some soul filling moments. And as I sit here curled up in my space, drinking my coffee and watching the beautiful sunrise, I still feel hope.

Things didn't go great yesterday and one of the end results is that I need to work a fairly decent portion of this weekend.  It's all good, things happen.  Doors close, but better things are often waiting when you step back and take that deep breath. 

If you are able to stop. 

Simply be present.

After two long and painfully brutal days, I changed my plans for last night.  I had already opted out of a going away party for one of my team that I truly adore.  I was not up for driving all the way back to the city, especially after those two days.  My introverted self was needing a hole to hide in and some time to balance everything out in my head.

At about 5 pm, in the midst of chaos and stress I decided it was time to tilt the tables and do something different.  I shifted my own rules. I changed my thoughts.  I took that moment to step back, be present, and instead of letting others draw my energy - as had happened for two days, I absorbed the energy, joy and love of the groups I was with.

After a quick impromptu birthday beverage with a co-worker that I am so thankful has become part of my life, I headed across my new part of town to the farewell celebration for another person that I have come to cherish.

Given where I was mentally, both events should have been painful.  Instead, they were almost life giving.  The laughter, hugs, and genuine warmth, caring and honesty filled my bucket to overflowing. I'm still sad that our friend and co-worker is leaving, but their reason is incredible and envy worthy.  I will keep them close to my thoughts and prayers as they journey and I cannot wait to hear the stories of the grand adventure, even if only second hand.

All of it got me thinking that far too many times we fail to understand the impact even our smallest actions can have on another.

To have the ability to share a moment of someone's special day, when they had somewhere to be, to laugh and giggle over stupidity and the inane.  It was priceless and I am so thankful for it. I look forward to the growth of that friendship. 

Then In the midst of the chaos and laughter at gathering number 2, it really hit me the impact of our daily being.  I was pulled aside for hugs and mini chats so many times.  Those incredible hugs were meaningful, they were honest and pure.  They were exactly what I needed.  I love hugs that are real, I thrive on them. I loved the joy and laughter that was shared around the tables. 

Yet it was the side conversations, the "hey, got a second" chats that impacted me like nothing else. At one point I was pulled aside by the woman that replaced me at my old branch.  She wanted to tell me about an encounter she'd had at church. Oddly, as she started speaking I realized that the person she was speaking of had shared his side of the story earlier in the day.  He'd told me that he tried to talk her into coming back, the part that she shared warmed my heart even more.

The past few months have been challenging, I have often doubted that I have made an impact, or even a small difference. I've struggled to feel connected as there has been no time for the important stuff.  The words that this virtual stranger shared with her felt like the warmest blessing.  Evidently I had managed to touch his life. It was stuff that is truly trivial, yet powerful for that very reason.

I wished Hubs could have been there, as he is always the life of the party to my fringe participation, but he was tired and sound asleep long before I arrived at gathering number 2.  I usually shy away from attending gatherings solo, I need my outgoing side kick for moral support. I missed sharing the joy and love in that room with him, while celebrating being able to be part of that group of people.

Sometimes I think we are so busy rushing through life, that we forget the power, the impact that we make on others.  Most of the people I interacted with last night had no idea the impact they were having on me.  The quiet talks, the hugs, the laughter, the smiles.  The people that were genuinely happy to just be in one another's company. 

I have been so blessed in my life. I am thankful for each silver lining I have found inside some of the darkest clouds.

Friday, January 4, 2019

did you try?

I was at the top of the hill, looking out into the valley yesterday morning, and I was struck with wonder at the peaceful view.  You cannot say for one moment that I live in a remote countryside, I don't.  I live in the midst of thousands a mix of homes and apartments, a virtual mass of people.  Yet early yesterday, just as the sun was attempting to lighten the sky, with the early winter morning fog that hung more like a frosty blanket over the houses it was magical.

The hills a bit higher in the distance, loomed higher than usual due to the fog, the few homes very evident had the trails of steam rising from their chimney pipes.  And it looked like that was all there was to the world.  It reminded me of times where I have lived in far more remote areas.  Germany where the villages are single and distinct, not running into one another in a solid flow of humanity, the tiny mountain villages in Colorado and even Washington.  To me it was mystical and calm.  I didn't want to drive past.  I wanted to savor being lost in the quiet my imagination running wild.

Sadly, the light turned green and it was time to return to reality. I love my career path, I enjoy greatly what I do, but some days are more exhausting than others.  Yesterday was simply one of those days.  I'd had to go in unexpectedly early, as the person that was manager in charge before me called in sick.  They didn't think to ask anyone, including me for coverage, so I simply went in and covered it.  I don't do well with people taking advantage.  It's mentally exhausting.  People don't realize sometimes that the simplest act of asking someone to do something changes it completely from an expectation to a request.  The end result would be the same, but it wouldn't be mentally defeating.  People truly do want to be good to one another, they just want to be appreciated and not taken for granted.  At least that is my personal belief.

I fear that small act set a negative tone for the day.  It wasn't a huge issue and it allowed me to deal with things that had been unloved during my vacation. But the mental slap was hard to shake.

The day continued in a awkward and trying way to the point the beauty and calmness of the morning faded to a non-event.  I'd almost forgotten about it.  My desire to record the powerful effect of the beauty almost lost to a day of disappointments. I didn't write when I came home.  I needed time to process the day.  Too many times lately I feel that I am dealing with insanity that at some point should have been addressed by the parents during formative years.  And the things that people assume are okay, are well, exhausting.

Last night, I gave up.  I finished my evening by completing a disciplinary action form, even the wonderful dinner my sweet Hubs had waiting when I came in the door a full hour after I had planned didn't lift me out of my doldrums.  It was only 3 days into the new year.  And I was already dealing with stupid. So by 9 pm I'd misted my pillows and face with rose water it calms and centers me.  I curled up with my old dog, puppy snuggles are the greatest cure for a rotten day.  And fell fast asleep.

Today is another day, it isn't as cold out, so I am sure the drive in won't have the same magic, the mystic vision will have faded to houses and apartments placed close together with very little actual human interaction.  It's a chance to start fresh.  It's another new beginning.  My favorite meme lately is "you'll feel better after you have slept, it's the human equivalent of have you tried turning it off and on again".  That is basically a true fact.

I had the time to have breakfast with Hubs, he remembered I said I had an early start and made us a fabulous breakfast complete with lots of hot coffee.  It may seem trivial, but it sure beat a yogurt and granola bar munched in the middle of chaos, peaceful and enjoyable, complete with time for conversation. Lunch is even packed.  I am ready to be successful today.  I've had time for a reset.

There is much to be done today, but I am going to find myself some magic.  It might be in someones smile, a child's laugh, the clouds opening to sunshine, the possibility of snow, or maybe the gathering of a wonderful group of people and friends to celebrate someone's decision to broaden their sense of the world and travel.  I am going to find something that will enlighten my life and bring me joy.  Which should be an interesting search due to the fact that I will be immersed in budget spreads and all sorts of end of the year final stuff...

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

compassion...

Last night I got wrapped up in following the comments on a live stream on Facebook.  The plight of the homeless here in St. Louis always grabs my attention and drags me in. I live on two sides of the fence with it.  Having worked in the city for over a decade and dealing with it first hand on a daily basis.

What caught my attention last night was a guy that was really egging the scenario and conversation on.  I know him.  I've dealt with him.  He is a compassion thief. He is homeless by choice.  Everyone owes him something, he served in the military is his standard claim. I sat and chatted with him for the better part of an hour earlier in 2018, during a time when I had little compassion to spare, even less empathy.

He came up to me and asked if I had a moment for a veteran that honorably served this country. Duh! That was a no brainer for me. Sadly, as he wove his tale of woe for me and assured me that none of the veteran's organizations around would help him and he was drifting on his own, he also "unwove" his story for me.  I am a Brat and damn proud of it.  I was born into the military, I was raised military, and married not one but two military men.  Both of my children come from military proud stock.  I have lived my entire life until 2002 being dragged where ever Uncle Sam wanted and needed us to be. My family tree on my mother's side has service back as far as this country has existed. And my dad's side since they immigrated to this country. So please, don't lie to me about your status. I do not have the time, energy or compassion left for people like that.

He hadn't truly served, he was a "troubled youth" given the choice to join or go to jail. He didn't make it through the first week of basic training, because in his words "bad kids always find bad kids and it didn't take me a day to find the ones that would provide me with drugs". He never got past a buzzed haircut and a bunk.  He wasn't a veteran.

Yet I found myself wrapped up in his comments leading those folks on.  I wanted to reply, point out that he'd been kicked out of boot camp because of drug use - his words not mine.  Seems Uncle Sam wasn't thrilled with his bad youthful habits and wouldn't overlook them. I wanted to scream at him for using his lies to detract from the people that truly need help.  The ones that life has battered and abused, who through no fault of their own simply couldn't make a transition to being homed.

As he ranted and raved about people not being willing to provide the 3 squares a day that he needed, the beds in the shelter being uncomfortable and needing new mattresses, the library limiting the use of computers and internet time, and what seemed like a laundry list of complaints against humanity.  I was sickened. 

My compassion ran out.  I allowed him to take a shower even though he'd used all his guest passes, as he had no money to pay the guest fee.  He'd even asked if I would give him my socks as his were dirty - ummm no, I was wearing pantyhose. A short while later while Hubs and I were enjoying a peaceful lunch together, something far too rare, sitting at the plaza in Downtown we saw him.  He and his buddies were sitting there pulling drink after drink, not beer mind you, out of the bags they had stacked around them on the benches. Yet he had no money for a shower or food.  It's about choices.

I completely agree that compassion is in short supply in this world. We allow so many things to happen that are horrific, within our power to stop, and yet we don't. People that need help don't get it, children and animals are neglected, abused and even murdered.  Our inner cities are a hot mess, the poverty stricken areas in rural areas are ignored. And compassion for ourselves is unheard of.

But why? 

Is it because we don't feel like we can make a difference?  Is it because people like that man take advantage of the good that other's do? Or is the cause even deeper. 

Is it because we've learned to not have compassion for ourselves? 

I often find myself in a spot where I do not show myself the same compassion that I would show another.  Today is a prime example.  I've felt my fibro flaring for a few days now.  Lifting my arms has become a struggle, the pain in my muscles when I stand or move is defeating.  When even sleeping brings on pain and an inability to handle the weight of a sheet.  It's exhausting and demoralizing.  I want to curl up in a ball and give up today. I want to show myself compassion.  Fill a hot tub with epsom salts, rest until it's in check again. 

I won't. 

Vacation is over and pain or no pain, it's time to rejoin the world. To put a smile on my face and be present for those that I serve.  Because that is what I do, I serve.

Yet if I cannot show compassion for myself, how can I continue to pour from an empty vessel? 

Is that something that all of us are starting to feel?  On varying levels of course, but at what point are there more compassion thieves than our ability to give that compassion away?

I get tired of hearing no one will hire the homeless.  Wrong, it isn't easy to hire a homeless person, it takes work.  I know, I've hired them.  Only to have each and every one of them walk off the job when they didn't get demands (unreasonable ones) met.  The last guy cussed me out and called me names that were unbelievable, simply because I pointed out that he had not finished cleaning a room.  Cleaning was his job.  Days later he came in and apologized, I was not empathetic to his plight.  We all have bad days.  The difference is in how you choose to show up.  At least in my opinion.

I feel there would be a lot more compassion in this world if not for the compassion thief.  The gimme, gimme, gimme person.  The one that has made their choices and expects someone else to be responsible for it.  I know it would be easier for me.

Each of us has a role to play in this crazy life.  And if we are all giving at our greatest capacity I believe it would make an incredible difference.  I also believe that each of us needs to start with showing ourselves compassion.

When we take care of ourselves on the most basic of levels, we have the ability to become almost magical.  The levels of what we can do are magnified.  I believe that when we take care of our own basic needs, we are able to give that back to the world, not because someone has told us to, or demanded it.  But because we have a basic human need to take care of each other, to insure that everyone in our pack, tribe, family, community - you pick the word - has an equal opportunity to achieve that same thing.  Taking care of themselves.

I know that not everyone will agree with me, I'm okay with that. Because I do not agree with everyone I hear and know.  I am allowed to hold my beliefs and I will.  And I will work on showing myself a bit more compassion, so that I am able to be a more compassionate person in a world that is sadly lacking in it.

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