Resolved …

So here I am, at the beginning of January … er, the middle of January … *ahem* … And I am writing a post about New Year’s resolutions. It’s not terribly creative or exciting or unexpected, is it? I know. It feels a bit hum-drum, even to me. I shouldn’t admit this out loud. Because you might stop reading right here and now. Yikes! (I hope you don’t, by the way. I so love having you here. And I so love nattering away at you.)

It has been many years since I last made a New Year’s resolution. I’m sitting here trying to think about when I last did this. It must have been before my daughter was born, so that’s at least 15 years. If not more. Double yikes! Clearly, I am way out of practice with the whole “resolutions” thing. I never was any good at it. I would make all these resolutions and start out the new year brimming with good intentions. Every darn year, I would have broken each and every resolution by the time mid-January rolled around. I think the only resolution I ever managed to keep was the one where I promised myself I would no longer make resolutions.

And now, I am even breaking that one. Go me!

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This year, I sat down and thought about resolutions. For the first time in a long time, I thought hard. I really pondered! Because I need a fresh start. I need to change this rut my life has fallen into over the last few years. I need to grab it by the throat, shake it violently, and make it into something new. Something I can live with. Something that works for me. Something that makes me feel good about the fact that I’m alive, instead of making me feel like Life is tossing me under the bus at every twist and turn.

I had to face some facts that I didn’t want to face. I’m not getting any younger. I’m not happy with the way things are. I don’t love myself. I am in a place in my life where I never expected to be. Once I got to be “of a certain age”, I believed things would get easier. Or, maybe, I would have succeeded at something. Or I would have pursued a dream. Or … something. I thought I would be settled and satisfied with at least part of my life. But I am not. And I am beginning to suspect that things are not going to work out the way I always thought they would.

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These are not great revelations. But I never made myself sit down and face them, head-on. I have always pushed these thoughts and feelings to the side. I’ve become good at pretending they don’t exist. But they do exist. They are real, and they hurt like hell.

In facing my truths, my resolution, such as it is, became clear, too. This year, I didn’t need to tell myself, “Self, we are going to resolve to eat less sugar.” Or, “Self, we are going to resolve to lose some weight.” Or, “Self, we are going to stop cursing.” (perish the thought!)

I realized every resolution I wanted boiled down to this one thing: I want to learn to be kind to myself. 

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Let’s just think about that for a minute. Let it sink in. Because, honestly, it’s pretty damn terrifying.

I want to be kind to myself. By the end of the year, I want to stand in front of the mirror and look myself in the eyes. And I want to love the person I see looking back at me. Or, at the very least, feel a strong “like” for her, as if she is someone I wouldn’t mind going out with for a drink or dinner. I want to exercise, not to lose weight, but because it makes me feel good. I want to write because it brings me joy, not because someone expects me to or because I might get some elusive, imagined “reward” for doing it well. I want to give myself credit for trying my best and having the best of intentions, instead of always immediately seeing everything I have done wrong. I want to say to my God, “Thank You for this amazing and beautiful life You have given me”. And I want to mean it.

It’s a tall order. That’s why it’s so scary. But it’s also why this “resolution of resolutions” is oh-so-worth it. Will I succeed? I really don’t know. Maybe not completely. After all, we are talking about a whole lifetime of self-hatred pitted against one year of trying to change things. But, if I succeed even a little, that will be huge. And it will be enough.

So … a year of learning to love myself. Let’s see how it goes!

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Guarded Optimism

I have never been a fan of the month of January. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas. They were always big “family times” for us, with everyone gathering together to eat, play games, laugh, and make memories. New Year’s has never been much of a holiday for me. After all the build-up and anticipation and excitement of Christmas, New Year’s feels “blah”. It’s not that I hate it or anything. It’s just that it has never mattered to me one way or the other. Instead of a holiday to be celebrated and anticipated, New Year’s Day more or less felt like any other ordinary day.

But January … Oh, January! You have never been the month for me. Even as a teenager, I hated January. It was a long month of gray skies and chilly weather and short days and long nights. It all seemed to go on forever. And ever. And ever. I think it was the idea that I had nothing to look forward to. There was so much excitement and pageantry and joy around Christmas, but it was like life was supposed to go back to hum-drum normal on the 26th. Or by Dec. 28th, at the very least! January sees me into the doldrums every year.

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As you know if you’ve bebopped through my blog at all over the past few months, 2018 was not a great year for me or my family. The year ended in a big, fat pile of SUCK. I struggled through Thanksgiving. I dreaded Christmas. I didn’t feel joy in any of it. I spent most of December experiencing the lowest of lows. I had trouble dragging myself out of bed most mornings. It was like I walked through my own life holding my breath all the time, afraid of the next email or phone call or text. Because every time one of those things came our way, it brought yet another bit of bad news.

You know that old saying about waiting for the other shoe to drop? I felt like I was sitting under a pile of old, battered shoes that Fate had tossed on top of me. There didn’t seem to be any end to those tough times in sight for me or for my family. No matter how hard I tried to stay optimistic and faithful, I felt sad and hopeless.

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So you can imagine I awaited the coming of the New Year and the month of January with even more trepidation than usual. Given that it’s never been a good month for me even in the best of times, I was trying mentally to prepare myself for the worst. After all, things are not exactly peachy-keen for us. My husband is still out of a job. He is still no closer to a new job than he was in December. Or November. Things look promising, but they continue to dry up or die on the vine. None of this is my husband’s fault, of course. He is doing all he can! And then some!

It remains hard to know I can do nothing to pull us out of this slump. I have no job. I have no income. The likelihood of me getting a job within a couple of months is pretty low, considering I haven’t worked outside my home in the last 15 years! It’s hard to see someone you love struggle and suffer, and it’s even harder to know you can’t help them in any meaningful way.

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But a weird thing happened with the dawning of the New Year. Instead of waking up on January 1 feeling sad, disgruntled, and locked in my own mental doldrums, I woke up feeling … different.

We flew home from Texas on January 1 on an early morning flight. As we traveled across the sky and I watched the sun rise, I realized I didn’t feel sad. Or depressed. Or hopeless. I didn’t feel any of the things I had been feeling all through November and December. Instead, I felt at peace and hopeful and less worried. And … shall I say it? Optimistic.

It makes no sense at all. Nothing has changed. We are still where we were last month and the month before that. We still don’t know what is going to happen to us or where we are going to end up. There is nothing but uncertainty ahead of us and uncertainty behind us, too. There’s no reason for me to feel this way. And yet …

I dunno. I can’t explain it. Against all odds and evidence to the contrary, I feel good about the new year. I feel like 2019 is going to be a year of renewal and change for me and for my family. And I think they will be changes for the better. Maybe it’s silly of me. But optimism, no matter how guarded, is much nicer than my usual January “bleh”. It’s only a little thing, but you know what? I’ll take it.

Ghosts of Christmas Past (and a bunch of pictures, too!)

As in, just recently past. As expected, Christmas came and went in a whirl of activity. Remember how I posted about dreading our trip to Texas? I dragged my feet like the sulkiest toddler in the park. I dithered over getting things ready for our neighbor to take care of the pups. I dawdled over packing. I complained (to myself, silently — thank goodness!) all the way to the airport. I grumped through security. I pouted at the gate.

And guess what?

It was all for nothing! I was so silly about the entire thing, and it turned out to be a great and fun trip. We saw old friends. We laughed. We made memories. I had a really nice, albeit quick, visit with my parents. Even my mom seemed more upbeat than she has in quite a while. The only downer was that my husband got food poisoning on the last day we were in Austin, so we had to delay our trip to Kerrville for a half day. As bad as that was, he bounced back quickly. I was thankful for that! By the time we were preparing to come back home, he was feeling much better.

So, this is just a short post to give the universe a shout-out and say, “Okay, Universe! You were right! It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And thanks for the memories.”

It was a good Christmas. And even a good New Year’s Day, too. I hope the same is true for all of you guys. I want to close out the post by showing a few of the pictures I grabbed of our tree and other things over the holiday — here and there.

SOME SCENES FROM HOME:

I thought our tree was particularly lovely this year. This is the second or third year we have used colored lights, and I love their soft and gentle glow. I can’t take any credit for the tree, as my daughter and her friend decorated the whole thing for us. I think this made it even more beautiful and special!

I’ve been trying to get in some extra “play time” with my macro lens. And the tree ornaments were willing subjects. My husband and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in October, but we have been together for around 28 years. And we have had some of these ornaments almost that long!

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THE TRIP!!

Of course, I had to grab at least one “on the plane” picture. Unfortunately, I had stashed my camera under the seat in front of me. I didn’t want to dig it out, so I had to make do with my phone camera. Still, I think it turned out okay. We left so early that we got to watch the sun rise as we flew across the sky. Pretty special!

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SOME AUSTIN SIGHTS:

We got to visit some of our old haunts in Austin. Weirdly enough, it happened to be raining during most of our visit. We checked the weather before leaving, and the forecast was for temperatures in the mid to upper 60s and sunny weather. That is not what happened AT ALL! We definitely packed all the wrong clothes. But it worked out okay, in the end.

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AND KERRVILLE, TOO!

I think I have mentioned before that my parents live in a small town in the Hill Country. Kerrville has a population somewhere around 23,000 people. I was really proud of myself that I managed to keep up with exercising on this trip. Of course, I ate a lot of terrible things that I would never eat at home. But that’s okay! It was the holidays! And vacation!!

I love to walk all around Kerrville when I visit. In the Summer, my daughter and I stay with my parents for around a month or month and a half. I generally walk every day, either in the early morning or the evening. It was fun to walk my same route on this trip, in the chilly dampness of a winter morning.

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And, really, that’s all I have for this post! I mostly wanted to touch base about our trip and share some pictures. I have thoughts on the New Year, which I hope to share in a post soon. I would like to get back on a more regular posting schedule with this blog in 2019. So I hope to see you guys again soon!

 

Holly Jolly Days

I do not feel “Christmas-y” or “Holiday-ish” or “Jolly” or … well, any of these things. I feel rushed and harried and harassed and hassled. I feel a little bit sad and beaten down by life. Really, I kind of feel surprised that it is almost Christmas. December feels like it has scooted by at lighting speed. It is roaring toward the end before I even got used to its beginning! I wonder if this means I am getting old. Or if it means I am not enjoying life as much as I should. Or if I am letting moments slip by me unnoticed amid my worries. Or, maybe, I am just stressed about things, overall.

Whatever the case, I have been trying to capture that “magic” of Christmas for myself. I’ve been reading favorite books, although none that are holiday-themed. I’ve been watching Christmas and holiday movies on Netflix. I’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car. I’ve been trying to do holiday-themed and festive nail art. We have had our tree up and decorated for a while, and I make sure it is lit every evening. I love sitting down next to a tree full of colorful lights. Today I sat down and wrapped gifts. That generally puts me in a festive mood. I love wrapping. And it did help a little bit.

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But, still, I have to confess I am more than a little bit in the doldrums. Even after all of my holly-jolly-making efforts. I’m just … tired. I think that’s what it is. My daughter’s schedule is crazy. My husband is still searching for a job. In many ways, we are no further along this Christmas than we were last Christmas. I had thought we would be in the midst of changes for the better by now. Or that we would be able to look forward to something new and exciting. But, really, I am looking forward to months of “just the same” coming at me. I think I am exhausted, both physically and mentally.

We are traveling this holiday season. My husband’s family wanted us to come to Texas for a birthday and anniversary celebration. We are going to spend a few days with my husband’s family. And then, my daughter and I will spend a few days with my parents. It means we get to see all the parents this year. And it means my husband gets to spend time with his siblings, which he enjoys. It’s a good plan, and I’m sure it will be nice.

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But … I’m dreading it. Does this make me a terrible person? Ugh. It probably does. But whatever. This is how I feel. I am dreading every bit of it. I’m dreading having to pack after spending weeks rushing from one appointment and school activity to another. I’m dreading having to get up in the wee hours of the morning to go to the airport for a 6 AM flight. I’m dreading having to go through security and talk to strangers. I’m dreading having to sit on a plane next to strangers. I’m dreading hearing my mom complain and feel sad about stuff. I’m dreading having to be around people who mean well but who ask questions I can’t answer. I’m dreading having to laugh and smile and pretend like everything is A-OK, when I feel like it is anything but.

Maybe I’m not capable of feeling jolly or festive this year? Or maybe I am just being a spoiled brat about the whole thing. It’s not like I would be happy sitting at home alone, either. At least, I think I wouldn’t be happy with that. Ugh. I don’t even know any more.

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And I guess that’s the thing: I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I want to go or stay. I don’t know if I am happy or sad. I don’t know anything about anything any more. I just want to feel …

Festive
Happy
Excited
Relieved
Joyful
At Peace

I want to find the magic and happiness I used to feel during the Christmas season. But I have to figure out how to find all of that within myself. It’s still there, isn’t it? I think I can feel it, just there, around the edges.

The Dead Wood

I trimmed my roses back a week ago. Or, maybe it was two weeks ago. Not that it matters. The important part is that I did the trimming, not the time frame in which it happened. I love my roses. I really do. Generally, I don’t even mind pruning them. I try to keep up with dead-heading them in the Summer, when they bloom and bloom and bloom. And then, as cold weather approaches and Winter starts to close in, I give them a really big prune. And I mean “big”. We are talking a drastic cut back.

The last two years of my life have been a mess. In so many ways, I have felt like most of what I knew was wrong … most of what I had built was crumbling … and a lot of fear and uncertainty took hold. I still struggle with my own depression. My daughter was diagnosed with depression. My husband had a heart attack and quadruple by-pass. I lost both my beloved aunts. My husband lost his job. And he is still searching for a new one. And truthfully, I know we are still lucky and blessed. There are so many people who are suffering and sad in this life. There are so many people who have it much worse than me. It feels selfish, in a way, for me to talk about or write about the things I have struggled with over the last couple of years. And yet, selfish or not, it has been a struggle. And continues to be one.

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My roses have always been such a joy. They have bloomed enthusiastically and energetically all throughout the Spring and Summer. And even into the Fall. But this past Summer, they hardly bloomed at all. And I realized that, in the scurry and struggle of my life, I had been a bad rose mama. I had neglected them terribly.

And so, I pruned. It felt good to stand in the gentle breeze and focus on nothing more than the one cut right in front of me. And, after that, to move on to the next and the next. All things in their proper order. As it should be. It felt good to talk to my roses, to apologize to them for being absent for so long, and to thank them for all the beauty and joy they have brought into my life. The rhythms and motions were familiar and comforting. It feels like it’s been a long time since I have slipped into my own life and worn it like a comfortable shoe.

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At the end of it all, I was left with something that resembled a pile of sticks. By the time I was done, the sun had started to set. I stood in the gathering half-light of dusk and surveyed my work. And, as always, I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What had I done? My beautiful roses! Had I gone too far? Had I ruined everything in trying to do something good?

Right now, my rose bushes look sad. Our weather has been cloudy and drippy and chilly. I think this makes them look even more pathetic, and the one little string of lights we have wrapped around them to decorate for Christmas hasn’t helped in the least. Have you ever seen that Charlie Brown Christmas special where Charlie Brown rescues the saddest, smallest, most pitiful little tree and, then, the whole gang puts lights and decorations on it? Yeah. That’s what my rose bushes look like with their little string of holiday cheer.

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But I have to keep faith and hope that, by Spring, things will look different. Things will look better. By Spring, there will be fresh leaves and new growth where, before, there was only dead wood. And by Summer, there will be blooms once more. Even though, all Winter long, I am going to look at my stick-bushes and feel that same sinking feeling. But it’s temporary. I have to remind myself it’s temporary. And I have to remind myself that removing the dead wood is good, even though it might feel like a bad thing. New growth can’t happen without it.

And maybe there is a life lesson in there for me, too. Maybe I need to cut away some of my own dead wood: my regrets, my sorrows, my guilt. I need to look in the mirror and say kind things to myself. I need to have faith that this difficult time will pass, and that there are better things on the horizon. In the Spring, there will be new leaves. And in the Summer, flowers.

A Long Post for a Bad Week

I really wanted to call it a “shitty” week, because there is no other way to describe it. But I felt bad putting that right there in my title. So I put it in the first line of my post, instead. I’m sneaky that way. Whatever. It really was a shitty, shitty week. There’s no point in sugar coating it or trying to make it better or calling it something it wasn’t.

So you guys know my husband is looking for a new job. He has been looking for a new job for over a year. Finding a new job is hard. “Hard” really isn’t enough word to describe it, but it’s what I have in this moment. So we’ll just go with it. Anyhow, I think we all know trying to find a new job is a suck-fest and a half. He has been close several times. Like, so close we felt as if we could reach out and touch it. So close we could imagine ourselves stepping into that new life. So close that it seemed impossible for it not to happen. And yet, somehow, it ended up not happening.

This week, that same, stupid scene was on a never-ending, repeat loop in the movie of my life. I had built my teeny, pathetic hopes and dreams into something coherent and cohesive. Was it a pretty design? No. Was it perfect? No. It was cobbled together with sticky tape and lumps of glue. It leaned in places and caved in at other spots. But it was there, still standing tall and keeping it together. This week came in like Godzilla and smashed it all to pieces.

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There is a large and well-known company in the town where we are from. Last year, my husband interviewed with this company for an executive position. He interviewed and interviewed and interviewed. Over the course of about a month, my husband must have talked with nearly every person in every unit that would possibly come into contact with the position for which he was interviewing.

You might think I’m exaggerating, and I wouldn’t blame you for it. But I’m not. He interviewed over the phone three times. He traveled to the town for interviews three times. The on-site interviews were, literally, all day long, where he shuffled from person to person. Everyone loved him. The hiring managers loved him. The people he would work with loved him. They loved him so much that they flew my daughter and me down to look at houses. The whole way through, he is hearing how people love him and how they are talking about him at all levels of the company and how all the talk is positive. It was a love-fest of gargantuan proportions. Seriously, this hippie love-fest made Woodstock seem like a tiny gathering of a few friends. They flew my daughter and me into town to look at houses. Did I mention that already? Yep. I did. Because this was a huge thing.

Guess what? About a week after our trip to look at housing, the company called my husband and told him thanks, but no thanks. The hiring manager didn’t even have the courtesy to contact him. Instead, it was an HR representative. With no explanation whatsoever.

I. Was. Crushed. I cried for days. I know that sounds stupid. It was just a job, after all. But my husband really needs a new job. And this wasn’t “just a job”. It was a perfect job. It would have allowed us to move back home. It would have provided us with a fantastic income. It would have answered pretty much all of our concerns and problems. Think about it. All those little, niggling doubts and irritations about money … wiped away in one swipe. This is powerful stuff.

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But, you know … Life doesn’t always happen the way you want or expect. And I know that. We all know that, right? Right. So we did what anyone does when life doesn’t work out as we want or expect. We cried a lot. And then, we moved on. We looked for other opportunities. My husband kept interviewing and interviewing and interviewing. And he got close, yet again, on several opportunities. But nothing stuck.

Until, now, a year later, when two other opportunities come up at the same company in our home town. These weren’t executive positions. And, truthfully, my husband was probably overqualified for them. But we felt we could make it work for our family. If it worked out, we would have the opportunity to move home, which would give us a lower cost of living and less bills and the ability to care for our aging parents. And, even more than that, it would give us a fresh start. Do you ever feel like you NEED a fresh start? Because I do. I’ve felt like that for a long time, deep in my heart.

After what happened last year, I was less than enthusiastic about my husband applying for these jobs. But he felt it was worth the chance, and I supported his decision. He applied. He interviewed on the phone. He went to the town, yet again, to interview. Everyone loved him. One of the hiring managers even went so far as to give my husband her direct line and her mobile number, in case he had any questions or concerns. She went so far as to tell him she was eager for him to come to work there. There was an offer. This was a preliminary offer, but, still … An offer! We couldn’t believe it. We were so excited and eager. We started researching schools and places where we should live. I realize now that we jumped the gun too much in this instance, but I’ve never been in a situation where a preliminary offer did not work out. And, in our defense, we are scared and nervous about what might be around the next corner. We needed, so much, to believe in this. We needed, so much, to believe that something good could happen for us.

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And then … Out of nowhere, it all fell apart. When the company HR representative first went over the compensation package with my husband, he talked the salary DOWN from what my husband was told in his interviews. Who does this? It was crazy and unexpected and confusing. My husband went back to the hiring manager to ask about this, and the manager told him she would work with HR to fix it. She did. They came up with a new package, and everything seemed great. The HR rep communicated the new package to us, and it seemed everything was good. This was on a Monday evening, at the close of business. Right after talking to HR, my husband emailed the manager he wanted to work for, asking for a time the next day when they could speak over the phone. He wanted to accept the job offer with her. We went to bed happy, thinking our long job search journey was done. It felt good to know we were moving home, and that what has been a stressful and pretty awful time for our family was, apparently, over.

Except … Unbeknownst to him, my husband failed to say “the magic words” when the new offer was communicated to him. The HR rep met with the two hiring managers on Tuesday morning, before my husband was able to talk with anyone in the company. He told them my husband wasn’t “enthusiastic enough” when they discussed the compensation package. He then went on to tell the hiring managers that it was his impression that my husband was only interested in promotion, and that he would never be happy in the positions for which he was being considered. The hiring managers, including the one who was so eager and excited about my husband coming to work in her unit, apparently got mad. And they rescinded both offers. Out of anger. Without even trying to discover the truth of the matter.

So, basically, the company HR representative got mad that my husband took steps to try and negotiate a better compensation package. And he went into a meeting with the hiring managers. And he did whatever he had to do to tank this entire deal. Which is pretty shitty. But what’s even more shitty is that neither of the hiring managers had the integrity to come back to my husband and hear his side of the story. Neither of them had the integrity to figure out this was, at best, a misunderstanding between my husband and the HR representative … and, at worst, an outright lie.

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WHO DOES THIS?!? I mean, seriously … Who fucking does shit like this? It’s perfectly normal to want the best salary you can get. There is no planet in the known universe where anyone, ever, would be happy with an initial offer that was LOWER than the salary communicated to them during an interview. Also, what’s wrong with wanting to move ahead in one’s career? Again, there is no planet in the known universe where people are happy to sit in a dead-end job for the rest of their lives. Or, maybe there is one place in the universe where that is the case, and we all know where that is. Right? Yeah. Right.

And what kind of manager gets so bent out of shape over the idea of a salary negotiation (which, remember, didn’t even happen; my husband was happy with the offer) that she acts in such a petty and ridiculous manner? This is business. It’s not personal. Well, it’s not personal to her. It’s very personal to us. Because she is playing with our lives and our livelihood. If interviewing for a job is like dating, this manager is the equivalent to the girl who sneaks into your apartment after a breakup and slashes all your dress shirts. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

It’s not even that these were dream jobs. Or, really, even jobs that were all that fantastic. It’s that I can’t believe how mean and petty and outright horrible the HR rep and hiring managers were. And, by extension, the company itself. After all, a company is only as good as its employees. And the message this company is sending, loud and clear, is this: I will screw you over at every opportunity.

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So, yeah. All of this was bad enough to make for a crap-fest of a week. But, wait! There’s more!

My husband had an opportunity with a different company in another state. This particular opportunity has been banging around for a year. For a YEAR, the manager has wanted my husband to come work at this company. They have been talking around this thing for so long, and it always seemed like a good Plan B for us. The manager was eager for him to come work for her. She even went so far as to send housing information and set up calls for my husband with people who live in the city and work for the same company, so he could get a feel for life in this particular city.

Well, guess what? Plan B is now gone, too. After a year of saying how perfect my husband is for the job, that manager now suddenly feels he won’t be happy in the job. Really?!?! Personally, I think she promised him a salary that she found out she can’t deliver. And now, she is too embarrassed to admit it. But whatever … Either way, it’s shitty.

And then, a third opportunity fell through just yesterday. Same song, second verse. Or are we on the third verse by now? Whatever. The refrain is this: People Suck.

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It is hard to see someone you love so much treated so badly. It hurts when you have to stand by and let it happen. It hurts when you feel as if you are free-falling through a major hole in your life, and you have no control over any of it. It beyond hurts. It sucks. Right now, things suck for my husband and for my family. I don’t know what is going to happen to us. I don’t know where we are going to go or what we are going to do. I have to keep believing it is going to get better and that there is something better out there for us. But, truthfully, it becomes hard to believe any of that when so much crappy shit happens in the span of one week. I would say that at least it’s over and a new week is coming. But, honestly, I feel like I am taunting Fate at this point.

This has been one of those weeks where I feel like I’m watching all the Legos fall around me. And they are making a huge sound as they hit the floor.

A Day of Ups and Downs …

Today has been a day of ups and downs. Have you ever had one of those? It’s a hard way to live, even for a day. Because there is something I want so, so badly. And that one thing is so very nearly within reach. But maybe it isn’t possible for me to have that one thing, even though I want it so very badly. Maybe the thing I want is available and there for the taking. But maybe taking it would be a bad choice.

You see what I mean? Up and down. Up and down. Over and over again. Repeat and rewash. Ugh. It’s so frustrating.

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The thing is, I want a change. I need a change. And I think my family needs a change, too. I don’t have any empirical evidence to back this up, but I have a strong gut feeling. I also have a strong gut feeling that change is just around the corner. As a family and with regard to my husband’s job, we are at a point where change NEEDS to happen. We’re talking back up against the wall and nowhere else to go time, here.

It’s scary. And frustrating. And we have been on this train for over a year now.

I can smell change in the air. I can feel it coming toward us at full speed. Will it be our ticket to something better? Or will it just be that same old train, coming to run us under its wheels once again? Right now, it’s anyone’s guess, because we seem to be making progress toward that change … but, at the same time, we are stuck in the same old spot.

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Today, I had a few moments of giddy elation. It seemed like something definite was happening at long last. It seemed like the change we have been seeking and waiting for was right there, right within reach. And it seemed like, for once, it might actually be the change we wanted. I was so excited, my hands were shaking. I wanted to laugh and cry, all at the same time. I was giddy. That’s the only way to describe it: “Giddy”. I haven’t felt truly giddy in a long, long time.

But then, suddenly, it seemed that our coming change might not be coming at all. Within the span of a few hours, my emotions ran the gamut from unfamiliar, dizzy heights all the way back down to stomach-churning uncertainty, stress, and fear. I feel like uncertainty, stress, and fear have been my constant companions for too long. I’m tired of uncertainty, stress, and fear.

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I think that’s it: I’m just freaking tired. I want to feel excited and happy. For once, I want to feel these things without reservation. It’s not that I think things will be perfect once change comes upon us. I’m not that naive. And I don’t necessarily need “perfect”. Just … different. Or, maybe … positive. Those little things would be enough. Or maybe just stable. Maybe it would be enough for my life to be stable and simple and easy.

Change is coming. I can feel it. And I’m ready. Is it the change I want? Or is it the train, coming out of the darkness to run me down, once and for all? I have no idea. But I’m ready.

Another Rainy Day

This morning, I woke up to a wet and rainy world. And my first thought was, “Ugh. Not again.”

It’s not that I don’t like rain. In general, I think of myself as something of a pluviophile. I like hearing it patter on the roof of my house. I like how it makes the streets and sidewalks look new and clean. I like how the raindrops settle on the edges of my roses, making the petals look like they are wearing pearls of silvery light. At night, the lights reflect off the wet streets, and it looks like the whole world has become liquid light.

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Sometimes, I like to walk in the rain. It’s quiet. The sidewalks are deserted, and it feels like a good time to think all the thoughts I usually keep stuffed down inside myself. There is something about walking in the rain that clears out all the cobwebs. I always return home feeling refreshed and brand new. Sometimes, I even manage to work through a problem or two along the way.

My dogs love walking in the rain, too. They rush ahead, to the end of their leashes, with their tails waving high in the air. They are always excited about life. Such is the way of the dog. But rainy days are something else. Sometimes, I wonder if the smells are newer or fresher or somehow different to them.

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But today, I have to admit all of my lovey-dovey, warm-and-fuzzy rain feelings have deserted me. I don’t feel excited about wet skies and slippery sidewalks. I didn’t look outside my window this morning and feel as if I was looking out onto a brand-new world. I just felt … meh. There’s no other word for it.

We have had so much rain. When I step onto the grass in my lawn, water seeps up from the ground around my foot. That is how much rain there has been. The ground is soaked. The sidewalks are soaked. My roof is soaked. I am soaked. And tired.

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I guess that’s the main thing: I am tired of the rain. Sometimes, too much of a good thing is just that: too much. And I have things I have to do today. There is lots of laundry calling my name, which isn’t a terrible thing for a rainy day. I also have errands to run. Errands suck when it’s raining, because most people flat-out can’t drive in the rain. I’m kind of dreading it all, to be honest. I am sitting here, trying to work up the determination to get dressed and set out into the wilds of the highways and by-ways.

But, in this moment, I am safe and dry. I am sitting in my quiet office, watching Castle and typing up this journal entry. And both of my dogs are in here, too. They are lying on the floor, not exactly touching but close together. All is peaceful, and I can’t help but think about how, perhaps, rainy days aren’t so bad, after all.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 5, Part 2

It is a rainy, rainy night tonight in my corner of the universe. Along with rain, there is occasional thunder. And along with occasional thunder, there are two scaredy-dogs vying for the limited “cavern space” under my desk. All of this makes me wish I was somewhere else. And where might that be?

Yep! You guessed it!! My mind has turned to fond memories from our island adventure in Maui this Summer. So I thought it would be a great time to head in here and FINALLY wrap things up with the second part of my Day 5 post. If you recall, the first part of Day 5 started in the wee hours of the morning with a fairly long drive and the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen in my life. And then, there were pancakes. Which were also pretty darn good. An amazing sunrise and lots of clouds and equally amazing pancakes is already a pretty full day. But our plans for Day 5 had only begun. Because we were headed back to THE ROAD TO HANA!!! (In my mind, I am saying those words in a movie announcer voice. Because, you know, it needs to be that way.)

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So remember how we had already traveled this road? And made it only halfway? Um, yeah. So here’s what we did: We went back to Mile 0 and started all over again. This time, we were better prepared. We had snacks. We had water. We had a full gas tank. Even our Road to Hana description app was in full working order! Of course, we were all exhausted from getting up at o-dark-thirty in the AM. But no adventure is perfect. Our time in Maui was coming to a close. If we wanted to travel down this road in order to see what we might see, we needed to jump on it!

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Originally, I thought I would organize this post in a more or less chronological order of all the sights we saw and the stops we made along the way. But the truth is that there is a LOT to see along the way. And I took a lot of pictures. And it has been quite a while since our trip. And, well, I am feeling lazier than lazy. Which means I am going to head into this post piece-meal and picture-heavy.

There were some things along the way that have stayed with me. Even now, months later, I think about the magic and wonder they inspired in my heart. And this is one of them. As we traveled the twists and turns and peered over the edges of cliffs, I kept seeing these weird, fuzzy-humpy shapes out of my window. It took me a little while to realize they were bamboo — forests and forests of bamboo, growing up the mountains all around us. It rained off and on as we drove, and, once the mists cleared, the sunlight hit the edges of every leaf. It was as if the whole world was chased in silver. Or, maybe, like I had traveled to some strange and unknown planet. It was like seeing LIFE for the first time, ever.

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Of course, there were more waterfalls along the way. Some were hidden away, far off the road and along the untraveled path. It took some hiking to reach these. I was tired that day, from getting up so early, and I didn’t have the mental energy to hike to most of them. But I managed a few. It was worth the extra effort!

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There is something life-affirming about standing under a canopy of green and feeling the world growing around you. If I closed my eyes, I could practically hear the life hum around me as the wind rustled leaves above my head and small, unseen critters rustled through the leaves as we passed. And the rain! Is there anything as beautiful as the sound of rain falling and hitting every single leaf on the way down?

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As expected, there was something to see around every twist and turn. At the bottom of every hill and the bend of every curve, things came to us. Some of them were small and delicate. Grace and beauty, right before my eyes. There were times when I found myself holding my breath as I tried to take all of it in with my eyes and my heart.

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And some of the things were mysterious. Where might they lead? Were there fairies somewhere in there, just waiting to grant wishes? Or, perhaps, biding their time until they had a chance to perform some mischief?

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We visited my beloved Rainbow Eucalyptus trees again. And they were just as incredible the second time!

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We even visited the Garden of Eden. And you know, if it could exist anywhere on Earth today, I think Maui would be the place. At the very least, it was fun to see these little guys owning their little patch of grass. Like a couple of divas or bosses in the making! Of course, they have a great teacher in their Mama. She was beautiful, majestic, and just a little scary. We were careful not to get too close!

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And, of course, there was the ocean — always the ocean. It was our constant companion, visible just over the nearest cliff or next hill. Its moods were varied. Its sound was soothing. And it was always beautiful. I think I could look at the ocean for forever.

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And, at the end of it all, a beach of black sand. It was unexpected. And mysterious. And the ocean seemed intent on taking it back, one grain at a time.

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At the end of the day, we headed for home knowing we had truly seen everything. We had hiked up cliffs. We had felt the rain on our faces. We had walked beneath canopies of lush green. We laughed and told stories. We made memories. It was a good day.

 

A Rough Day

I’m taking a break from my Maui vacation posts. I had a rough day today, and I needed to blog it out. It is the latest in a long string of rough days. My family’s circumstances are changing right around us. It is stressful and a little scary. We are unsettled.

I don’t usually write about things like this. I mean, I write about my family sometimes. And I sometimes write about difficult things facing us. But I seldom write about myself, my background, and my own feelings.  I have to admit I don’t feel completely comfortable sharing this. Because I don’t want to hurt anyone, and there is a little kid inside of me who is desperately afraid of the wrong people reading this. Because they wouldn’t understand. And yet, there is something within me that needs to say it out loud, even if it is only to send the words out into the ether.

Sometimes I feel like life pushes me along in its wake. It shoves me this way, then tugs me that way. Which doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Not really. So you just go along with the flow. What could be wrong with that? It’s easy. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to want. You just float along.

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But it’s not that great. What if you want to choose for yourself? What if you want to know where you’re going? Maybe you have a destination in mind and want to choose your own path. Maybe there are specific things you want to do or see. But none of that is up to you. Because Life.

I’m a floater. I always have been. I was more or less trained to be this way from birth. I always had to be agreeable. I always had to be pleasing. I had to wear certain things or do certain things or care about certain things. Not because any of it mattered to me, but because it mattered to the people around me. Always put others first. Always care about their feelings, but have none of your own. Don’t make choices. Let others have their way. Don’t have hopes or dreams. Just … Don’t … Want … Anything.

When you grow up like this, you get the message. And it is this: You don’t matter. You are not good enough. You are not real.

I am an adult woman who is nearly incapable of making a decision. Or having an opinion. Or making a choice. Even something as simple as “Where do you want to eat?” or “What movie do you want to see?” ends up with me shrugging and saying that I don’t care. It makes my husband so mad.

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And then, one day, you’re all grown up. And you still can’t cope. Maybe you think you can. Maybe you even feel like you have made peace with all those things from your childhood. You have forgiven and moved on.

Except …

All those things are still there. Every hurt. Every sting. Every bruise ever suffered by your tender heart. Every moment of every time you told yourself, “If I do this one thing perfectly, I will be loved. I will matter. I will be real.” It never happens. And somewhere deep inside yourself, you know it never will. You hope for it and you try for it over and over again. And you end up feeling stupid and foolish.

No matter how much you think you have changed … no matter that you are now an adult … Those feelings and insecurities are always inside of you. Sometimes they bubble up to the surface and catch you off guard. And then you find yourself sitting in a public place in full-blown panic attack mode. You can’t stop crying. And you wonder if anyone would notice if you just put your sweater over your head to block out the world. Just for a few moments.

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That was me, earlier today. I had a conversation with my mom. It wasn’t any big, heavy conversation or anything. It was just our normal, daily chit-chat. But something she said caught me. All these feelings came bubbling up, too fast and too much.

How foolish I must have looked: an overly-chubby woman with slightly wild blue hair, perched on a stool and crying into my sweater. It was not my finest moment. Luckily for me, I was meeting a dear friend. She arrived and gave me a hug and helped me collect myself.

I wish I could go back in time and meet Younger Me. I wish I could hug her tight and tell her that I love her. I wish I could tell her she is strong and okay the way she is. I wish I could tell her she is enough. And that she matters. And that she is Loved.