Monday
Apr212014

Being Authentic

She lives.

She is changed...not in large or measurable ways. There has been a subtle shift that really isn't visible, at least from the outside.  On the inside, she feels...renewal taking place.

For Lent this year...I gave up something I didn't think I could stay away from. I gave up - worrying.

Now...I worry about everything. All day, every day...my thoughts could be consumed with worry. About failed plans, failed relationships, near misses and everything in between.

Which is why I was suffocating from the weight of the worry.  I place so many demands on myself...be on top of all things at all times, anticipate the needs of everyone around me and in general be in control. And since these are all impossible tasks that I set before myself...the epic level of worrying about them all was about ready to crush me.

Crush my mind. Obliterate my soul. Gag my heart.

I have a compulsion to be the "good girl" and I'm learning that this is a fear-based illusion. That no one person can be that kind of individual. That in fact, to get to my authentic self, I needed to set aside the worrying.

So..I established for myself what felt like an insurmountable task...to stop worrying.  Each time I caught myself obsessing with my usual vigor, I would just...stop. And offer the worry to God.

It wasn't easy at first; in fact it was some of the hardest work I've yet done.  God put me thru test after test; it has NOT been an easy 6 weeks of life. Tests around every corner.

God...made me really WORK at this.

I interviewed for a job I wanted so badly I could feel it on my skin.  In fact I interviewed with eight different people; each meeting was outstanding. I was on my A-Game - really and truly representing myself, my background and my abilities in the best - and most truthful - light.

In the end, after all that, I didn't get the job. I was one of 2 considered - and I didn't get it.

I was - devastated. I finished my work-day in a fog, went home and cried copious amounts of bitter tears. And promptly started worrying about what I was going to do now.

Trapped in a job I loathe, working at a company I love, committed to a boss who is cold, hard and calculating, with no job opportunities on the horizon.  Worry. Worry. Worry.

Then God showed me how fruitless my worrying is - in the most profound way. And thus began the seeds of change.

Each time I felt myself slipping into the old habit of anxious, hand-wringing obssessing over every little detail of something - big or small - I prompted myself to stop and give it to God.  I would literally stop whatever I was doing and say a silent prayer for His help.

He never failed me, not once.  A calm would come over me and the worry would - vanish.  In it's place would be perspective, perhaps a solution or just the knowledge that all things come in their time.

And so - while I still find myself worrying over this and that - the prompt that was so prevalent at the start of Lent is now just a comfortable habit because I know the calm will come in its wake.

Life continues to beat me up a bit and these days - I just roll with it. Far better than I have in a very long time.

Welcome back to me - and my better self.

Thursday
Apr032014

Fork

Stick a fork in me for I am done.

Life - continues to kick me around more than I would like and, frankly, a bit more than I can bear.  Nothing serious - it's just one thing after another after another after another...

...and on and on and on.

Health.

Eyes.

Job.

Cars.

House.

Family.

Take your pick - not one of those is treating me kindly; in fact all of them are treating me like a punching bag.

Which is my way of saying - sayonara.

Or as a great man used to say - going sinker.

Not sure how long; thinking about so many things - or trying not to think of anything at all.  As a friend of mine said recently, she's going to use the month of April to retreat quietly inward and - reflect.

I think I'm going to take a cue from her and do much the same.

Saturday
Mar292014

The Weekly Muse

Life seems to see me lately as a punching bag - and one that needs to get used, alot. They say that God never gives you more than you can handle; this past week has made me wonder if God is overestimating my abilities.

It all started a week ago this past Thursday; I woke up with a stiff neck.  Figured I'd slept on it wrong and it would resolve itself in the next day or so.  By the weekend, I had moved from discomfort to outright pain.  I couldn't turn my head in either direction, I felt like my shoulders were glued to my ears and in general just felt miserable. And so would begin an 8-day journey that would include almost zero sleep each night.

On Monday after work I went to see my chiropractor.  Adjustments really weren't possible as my neck was truly locked into place.  So she did some deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy and some cranio-sacral work with instructions on using ice and to come back the next day.

By the time I got home - I was in full-blown muscle spasms that were like knives being thrust over and over into already-wounded flesh.  They were the very worst I've ever had - even more painful that after 2 hip replacements.

A panicked and pathetic call to my friend Liz and she gave me a few muscle relaxers to get me thru the night and next day, with strict instructions to see my regular doc in addition to the chiropractor.

The next 2 days are a blur of doctors, pain, more doctors and more pain.  I did get the magical muscle relaxers and they really are the only thing that makes this past week even bearable to recall.  I was out of work on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Oh yeah and if all that wasn't enough, while at my regular doctor drug-seeking procuring the right tools to aid my recovery - I was also diagnosed with a raging sinus infection.  So along with the magic pills I got an antibiotic.

Cuz - life is funny like that.

My return to work Thursday was challenging because in the midst of all this - I am now one of the final 2 candidates for that job I want.  And the hiring manager decided he wanted the final 2 candidates to meet with 4 more people.

Making a total of 7 interviews for one position.

And my first 2 of the final 4 were scheduled for Thursday afternoon.  So I sucked it up, put on my happy game face and gave the interviews of my life.  I was all energy, enthusiasm, drive and poise - on the outside.  Inside I was screaming in discomfort and fighting to keep my eyes open.  I repeated my performance yesterday with the final 2 interviews which were, thankfully, conducted via conference call.  If they had seen me in-person it wouldn't have been pretty.

And now - we wait.  For my body to heal.  For the news on a possible new job.

For the former - healing leapt ahead between last night and today.  I finally got a full night's sleep - no movement, no waking every hour, no pain or discomfort all night.  I feel better today than I have in 2 weeks.

For the latter - I don't like to say too much at this stage; I'm fairly superstitious and don't want to jinx anything. But I will say that if they don't hire me, they aren't the incredibly intelligent people I believe them to be.

The Oracle is away this weekend for our church's annual Men's Retreat. He left yesterday right from work and will be home sometime mid-day tomorrow.  And while I miss him - this past week was rough on him as well and we really had no quality time together; just me curled up in pain and drowsy from meds - I am making the most of my full day of solitude today.

I was going to do a bunch of errands - I am in desperate need of new shoes for spring and I need a nice new outfit for Easter. But this morning, as I woke from my dreamless and blissful slumber - I made a command decision to make today my own day of retreat.  I'll do the bare minimum in the house but will spend the majority of the day doing whatever the hell I want.  Prayer, meditation, watching TV, reading - whatever I feel like doing.

Tonite I will be at church of course, participating in the amazing privilege of service the Eucharist to my parish family. And then my friend Liz - she of the magic pills - and I will head out for a girl's night out. 

Tomorrow - well tomorrow will be quite special to me.  I have been asked to co-facilitate the RCIA class at church; the same classes that The Oracle and I went thru 3 years ago right now.

Three years.  Hard to believe my life's transformation was just 3 years ago.  In some ways it feels like yesterday and in other ways, I feel like who I am today is who I was always meant to be and that I've been this version of me for a very long time.

And in truth, I suppose I am; this version of me was hidden under layers of crap, wasting away under the expectations of others.  Now that she's free - she's never going back underneath those layers ever again.

So tomorrow - I get to sit with 9 RCIA catechumens and...teach.  I can't quite believe it; I'll be teaching (alongside one of my own RCIA teachers, the ever wonderful Dottie) about my beloved faith.  I may have mentioned before that I've been invited to become part of the RCIA Ministry for the next term; I view my experience tomorrow as a trial-run both for myself and for Dottie; she will be assessing me I have no doubt.  If I pass her muster, and mine, I may well add my name to the Ministry and begin a rotational teaching opportunity in the fall.

When I began my journey of faith, discerning where I belonged - I said a prayer every day that spoke about healing, God's abundant grace and the fervent wish that God would enlarge my spiritural territory.  I could have never imagined that a scant 3 years later I would part of the heart of my parish family; managing a ministry, doing parish event photography, serving on the Liturgy Committee, helping coordinate the Easter Holiday tradition of Stations of the Cross each Friday evening thru Lent, and being invited to teach the next group of RCIA candidates.

God enlarged my territory beyond my wildest imagings.  I went in search of a family, a place to feel like I belonged, a place that accepted me for who I am.

I found - so very much more.  Cah-razy.

Sunday
Mar232014

More Adventures

Cuz we are a glutton like that.

If you recall, not quite 3 years ago I shared my fear of dentists and the large amount of work that needed to be done to replace all the fillings in my teeth.  And just a scant 5 weeks ago I was forced to see my dentist again for an ache that has, thankfully, gone away much sooner than predicted.

At which point my lovely dentist dug at me a bit for not finishing the work we hard started back in mid-2011.  And so I caved in to his gentle prodding and scheduled 2 more appointments to complete the tour of filling replacements.

The first one - went off like clockwork. Nothing unusual to report, no surprises. 

The second one was this past Thursday morning and I am, just now, recovered enough from it to talk about it.

I had 2 fillings to be done on the bottom; again the more difficult of the jaw areas to numb.  One major nerve bundle serves the entire lower back half of your jaw and the novocaine - blessed stuff that it is - must be administered at the back of the jaw, nearly into the joint.  Tough to get to, and uncomfortable to receive.  My dentist does he best to make it as un-painful as possible - pushing a swab soaked in numbing gel way into the back until you nearly gag.

And so - we got the novocaine, waited until drool formed on my bottom lip and commenced with the job at hand.  In the process he informs me I have a small amount of decay in the far back tooth - one of the three wisdom teeth I have been fortunate to have come in perfectly straight like any other tooth - and he wants to fill the decaying area.

I give him the green light.  He's working around in there anyway and it's all numb so what's the big deal...right?

Well - the big deal was that back tooth was not numb.

Not. At. All.

When the dentist put drill to tooth - I levitated.  I screamed so loud that I'm sure the loading dock for the pharmacy across the street heard me.  To his immense credit, the dentist removed his fingers from my mouth just as I raised my arms to physically do that myself.

It all took about 3 seconds but they were very long seconds.

Three seconds.  No novocaine active.  A dentist's drill moving.

There are no words to describe the pain.  My scream was all I had.

I believe my dentist felt worse about it than I did; if that's possible.  He was horrified and I believe he cried for me; I know I had tears in my eyes to be sure.

He reiterated again that the novocaine should have numbed the entire lower jaw and couldn't work out how that last tooth was missed in the single nerve bundle.  But missed it was so - another novocaine shot.

The entire right side of my face - cheeks, lips, jaw, neck - was numb for 4 hours afterwards.

Fine by me.  He waited 15 minutes and tried drilling again and all was well. Got that tooth done in jig-time and off I went to work.  With apologies from the dentist ringing in my ears as I left his office.

Thank the good lord that was the last of the major work, for now.  I still have that cracked tooth that needs a crown but he said it looks in fine shape so nothing to worry about right now.  So for now I'm just on the routine 2x per year cleaning schedule, with x-rays each time to monitor that one tooth.

To say that I was relieved to get out of that office last Thursday morning - would be a gross understatement.  To say that I'm happy I only have to face cleanings from now own - is an even grosser understatement.

I'll do the cleanings and attend to my teeth in a timely manner from now on. But I will never let a dentist or any other kind of mouth-drilling-fanatic approach my teeth without a test first.

Side note: I never realized until I uploaded that picture - my dentist looks alot like Steve Martin; more grey hair than in the pic above but less than Mr. Martin has today.  Hmm...

Saturday
Mar222014

The Weekly Muse

Wow - another week gone without a blog post.  Time is really slipping away from me lately.  It's part lack of motivation and part just life kicking me in the ass.

I do sometimes consider giving up the blog; I love it and lately I haven't been able to do much with it.  But the immediate thought follows - but...but...I love it.  So - we continue with our sporadic and sometimes anemic blogging.

Life - does kick the ass around these days.  I have to say - working a job that I no longer enjoy with a boss who really is not the right boss for me - is exhausting.  Each day is an odyssey of enduring disrespect, lack of connectedness and a complete sense that what I do is not valued.

Exhausting - for sure.

There may however be hope on the horizon.  I've been pursuing a new opportunity with my first interview last week; I had a final interview this week.  Four interviews in less than one week - is quite a bit to take in and process.  This is a position that I can literally feel on my skin - it goes beyond the mere desire to have the job; this is a physical sensation.  It is a hybrid position that is part Executive Assistant and part H.R. professional.  I have the absolutely perfect background for this role - 30 years of admin experience plus several years in the past as an H.R. professional; along with years of office management and general professional experience and I truly believe - beyond just average confidence - that I am the perfect person for this role.

There is another position in the works as well; that one is moving slowly and the information I've been getting about the hiring manager from people I trust is definitely giving me - pause.  I currently work with cold, hard and calculating and feedback indicates that the new hiring manager is more of the same; she doesn't play well in the sandbox but has the backing of one of the most powerful executives in the company.  I will pursue the opportunity to its logical conclusion but will also keep a weathered-eye on my intuition.

In the meantime, we push thru each day to the best of our abilities.  Which, I confess, is getting more difficult with each passing moment. 

I know - it's a cliche.  But today really feels like spring is upon us.  I even sat on our back deck earlier; put my face in the warmer sunshine despite the windy conditions.  Listened to the birds singing, watched a chipmunk emerge from his winter slumber.

One of the first bird songs we hear and isn't it just beautifully lyrical and sweet?  In another couple of weeks we will wake up to this song right outside our bedroom windows...heaven.

And then there is this - the most magical of all the birds in our yard and the one that always fills my soul with hope and peace.

My beloved Eastern Bluebird.  Tomorrow The Oracle and I will head out to get some errands done and one of them includes upgrading our Bluebird Houses on the property.  The Oracle is so good about keeping up with repairs after each winter but this winter - and the severity of each storm we had - took its toll on the birdhouses so it's time to replace them.  Just in time too as the Bluebirds usually begin their tour of available real estate around St. Patrick's Day but the continued cold weather has kept them from their annual rituals. All the better for us...we can upgrade and hopefully attract them for the umpteenth year.

There is nothing quite like the first discovery that a pair of Bluebirds has selected a house on your property. Watching them bring in nesting material, then the knowledge that there are eggs....watching them feed their babies and then, if you are supremely fortunate - witnessing the fledging to the high branches. And eventually seeing the babies flying around the yard.  It is such a gift to be part of that process.

And we continue with yet another quiet weekend that has, so far, been restful.  There are chores that beckon inside and outside; and we steadfastly ignore almost all of them. This will, eventually, come back to haunt us and I am totally OK with that.

The Oracle and I need this time to relax together; we could spend so much of our time being busy - taking care of the house, seeing to the yard needs - and those things will always be there. But this restful time, this quiet time with just the 2 of us, is so renewing to our spirits.

I may stir myself up shortly to...take a nap.