Friday, August 31, 2012

So Happy...

     Some days you wake up lucky; the sun is shining, the air is relatively clear, and for no good reason you feel happy. Of course, for me, it helps that I have the day off  work for the holiday weekend. Really, that has a lot to do with my almost giddy state.
     There are also no pressing chores. Sure, there is yard work or housework to be done, but nothing will collapse or grind to a halt if it is ignored for the morning. Even though I am not going anywhere, I have that sensation I get when I am on an actual vacation.
     I feel light and free. All worries or doubts have momentarily vanished. When I actually do go on vacation, there is a mind game I like to engage in that allows me to really relax. I pretend that I am a person of leisure, that I have a trust fund I live off of, and that I never have to think about going back to work ever again. It really does work for me. It allows me to truly, deeply relax.
     It also helps that I live in the state of Michigan. You are never very far from water of some sort-rivers, creeks, inland lakes, and the Big Lakes. I am blessed-only about twenty minutes away from a state park on Lake Michigan.
     If I leave now, I can still get in a morning swim before it gets too crowded. That will guarantee a great start to my day!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Simon Says...

     You never know when something great may happen. It was just an ordinary day a few weeks ago. It had been enjoyable enough, as far as ordinary days go. Nothing too bad had happened at work. I had received some encouraging news about a new writing project. I was anticipating some ice cream after dinner.
     My husband happened to mention a call he had received from our veterinarian. They had received a call from a dear older lady that resides at a local retirement community complex. She has two cats that she loves dearly and had lately been visited every morning, while out on her little patio, by a sleek stray cat. She was hoping the vet might recommend someone that would be interested in welcoming another cat to their home.
     Our vet thought of us right away, remembering our recent loss of Taz back in May. Jim called the dear older woman and made arrangements to drive over to her apartment to meet this new cat. He found the cat to be a fine fellow and wanted to bring me over to visit the very next day.
     Unfortunately, due to miscommunications, our dear older lady thought that since Jim didn't immediately take him home, we were not interested in the sleek cat. She called animal control and they came and picked him up. When we showed up the next day, she was distraught. We reassured her and said we would call as soon as we got home and figure out how to welcome the cat to our family circle.
     The cat had been taken to the local humane society, so now we needed to fill out a rather extensive application for "adoption." I was actually a wee bit nervous. Things have changed over the years-for the better. They had questions such as-if there are issues with your other pets-how will you integrate your new pet to your home and family? If there are behavior issues, how will you work to resolve them in a caring way?
     We were alerted a few days later to let us know that our adoption of Simon had been approved. I was happy they had named him, as I have always felt that naming another being is not one of my strong suits and this took off a lot of pressure. The name fits our new elegant kitty. He has a regal air about him as he sits on the new stand my husband bought him, so he can look out the windows in the guest room, where he is quarantined until his cough clears up and he is off all medications. The medicines are just a precaution. He stayed at the human society for six days-in case his original family was able to claim him back.
     By this weekend we should be able to introduce Simon to our other cats and let him have the run of the house. It should be interesting to hear what Simon says about his new home!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Unexpected Mercy

     So, sometimes I get really stressed out. About things I cannot control. About things I cannot change. Really, it is one of my worst habits. My worry about an issue will take root in my mind and the tendrils of the problem will stretch and grow in the ample fertilization of my imagination.
     My day job currently has me in training as a technical operator at a start up company here in Michigan. Unfortunately for me and the company-Michigan is in a tough economic situation and there have been work stoppages and temporary layoffs. It has created a stressful work environment. There is a sea of uncertainty that I feel I am drowning in each day I am at work. There is misinformation, missed cues, miscommunications. This leads to tensions and fighting amongst people that really need to be united so that we can endure the peculiar situation that we have found ourselves involved in.
     I often say that we are becoming our own odd society, being left to our own devices. Think "Lord of the Flies." That should present a clear image as to how tense the situations can be. I feverishly check news sources to ascertain whether or not our predicament might change, if there is any hope of a different outcome. The news appears to get worse and worse.
     There is fighting among different departments and harsh words and accusations abound. The work environment becomes not just unpleasant, but toxic. The stress permeates all areas of my life, even sleep-which used to be a sanctuary for me, is now filled with nightmares.
     And then, just when you think it can't get worse than it is, it does. A leader that doesn't know the entire situation gathers a group of people together to berate them. It is unexpected. They are blind sided. It is stunning to be treated in this manner. We're supposed to be in this together. This moment clearly shows the divisions among us. We are on a precipice. There may be no turning back.
     I am a patient person. I can take a lot. I tend toward being a quiet, peaceable person. This episode sickens me. No one deserves to be treated like this. Our leaderships displaced frustration is bringing us all down. I am frustrated to the point of almost making a stand. I have the urge to stand up during our leader's tirade and simply say, "I quit." But the phrase is so foreign to me, even though it is my heart's longing, I can not do it. I also can not handle the fear that would come with such a statement-being the focal point of attention, of perhaps another person's wrath, of all the things that could go wrong. I need the security that the job brings, however short lived it may be. I can not be the one to pull the plug on it.
     I am visibly upset when I get home. I explain the situation to my husband. And he doesn't belittle my feelings. In fact, he says-the next time something like this happens and you feel you need to make a stand for yourself or someone else, do it. We'll sort out the details later.
     Now, I won't just give up or quit and walk away. It truly is not my style. However, knowing that my husband trusts my judgement and cares more about me than any financial situation was the gift of mercy that I needed. It cut my anxiety in half. Or more. A great weight was lifted from me. I don't have to feel trapped by my circumstances any more. Feeling I do have a choice makes all the difference in the world.. Even if I never exercise that horrible choice, I have the freedom to do so if I must. It is such a restorative feeling. I had been feeling broken, but not any more.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Encouraging My Fellow Travelers

     As I have started this new path on my journey as a writer, trying to create and maintain a blog, I have had help and encouragement from many people. As a way of thanking a few of them, I would like to introduce you to their blogs. I was fortunate to receive this recognition from a fellow blogger and want to pass this along to some of the blogger's that I read rather frequently. I hope you will take a moment to check out some of these interesting, creative, and often visual blogs. I have learned so very much from each of these individuals. Each of these writers is deserving of this award for a variety of reasons.

     T.Z. Wallace has been a generous and thoughtful guide along my writing journey. She approaches her blog in a clear and realistic way as she chronicles her journey of completeing the novel that she is working on and hoping to complete soon. I find myself rooting for her success while being encouraged by her journey.

     A blogger that I particularly enjoy is Deborah Mendez Wilson. Her blogs are so vivid and rich in detail I feel as if I am right there in the moments that she is writing about and able to experience what she is describing.

     One of my newest favorite blogs is an enticing visual journey that explores delectable dishes created by talented actress/photographer/cook/director/producer, Christine Elise.

     Another blog that has many fabulous photographs is by Kristen Dunn. 

     When I find myself in need of inspiration or needing to get outside of my own perspective, I really enjoy Beth Arnstein's blog.

     Another visually stunning blog is kept by my friend Mike Nedza. He is a writer and fisherman that is deeply concerned about environmental issues.

     Each one of these writers has a unique perspective that they readily voice. They are all great to interact with and would appreciate hearing from new readers. I hope you will take a moment and check out what they are working on as they share their journey with us all.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wistful Thinking

     It is almost my favorite time of year. I love autumn; the cooler air, the different angle of the sun's rays as it no longer scorches the earth, the traditions of fresh beginnings with the coming school year and all that entails. And yet, there are the twinges of sadness as the evenings begin to descend sooner, the harvests are collected, and it is hard to escape the passing of time. Soon, it will again be too chilly to swim in the big lake and we will need to bundle ourselves in scarves and hats whenever we want to go for a stroll.
     Inevitably, as my thoughts wander while I ponder life's mysteries on this great, gray morning, I look towards family and holiday traditions of my favorite fall season. The template that first comes to mind is one of the paintings by Norman Rockwell. He did a wonderful series of oil paintings entitled "The Four Freedoms." I loved looking at these when I was a child. I adored his paintings. I could look at old magazines that belonged to my  parents that featured Rockwell's paintings on a multitude of subjects for hours. I would often imagine the stories associated with the images, he smells, the sounds, trying to place myself in the context of what was envisioned.
     It wasn't until I was much older, studying history in high school, that I was introduced to Roosevelt's great State of the Union Speech from 1941 in which he defined the four freedoms that were enjoyed in the United States and that we should help to spread and preserve throughout the world. It seems a call to a bill of rights for all peoples, everywhere. Maybe this is why it influenced the founding tenets of the United Nations as well. It seems to me that if I incorporate these ideals into my own beliefs and viewpoints, my own life will be enriched. If I am able to see that enabling others to enjoy these same privileges not only enriches their lives, but mine as well, then I will be well on my way to finally realizing the teachings that my parents presented to me when I was very young, that concept of the "Golden Rule", "Do to others as you want them to do to you. Luke 6:31."
     I can not make any special claim to having the answers about issues such as national healthcare, tax codes and rates, or funding for government programs. The only thing I can say I know for sure is my own experiences with issues that are at the forefront of our national difficulties. My viewpoints and beliefs are all colored by my experiences, both the good and the bad. I speak from what I know now and in defense of the child and young adult I used to be.
     It seems to me that in order to preserve the first two freedoms depicted in the paintings or speech-the freedom of speech or the freedom to worship, you need to first ensure the freedoms from want and fear. Until people feel they safely have what they need to exist day by day and for their children and themselves to be safe, they will have little interest in the efforts to preserve of the other freedoms. They will not have the strength to have the foresight to understand the necessity of that preservation.
     It seems to me that no person should ever fear that they can not seek and receive the medical care they need for themselves or their children. No person should have to fear the crushing financial debt that can follow the successful physical battle for their lives. No child should ever have to live with the fear that their home might be lost due to the cost of a parent deciding to pursue the child or the parent's medical care. It seems to me that this should be covered by the concept presented in our Declaration of Independence-"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
     As I have said before, I believe we are called to care for one another. In order to do that, we also must care for ourselves. The child that I was informs the fully actualized adult I strive to be today. The greatest task one can do is defend the ones that can not defend themselves, whatever reason they can not-weakness, illness, fear, youth, imprisonment, or old age. So many people are marginalized by cultural strictures. We are called to "Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Psalm 82:3" The child that I was informs the fully actualized adult I strive to be today. All that I believe and choose to do is done to honor and protect the child that I was and the child that is at the foundation of each of one of us.