Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Quest Continues

I moved here a year ago. I started a new job that I thought I would stay with for, say, four more years and then I could retire. I had it figured out.

But “it wasn’t a good fit,” as they say euphemistically when a job sucks the life out of you. I totally respect the organization, but this type of work, especially in this place, is no longer healthy for me. So I’ve resigned, effective at the end of August, without a next job lined up. #stepoffaith or #desperation.

When you’re burned out, you don’t look for the same kind of work that burned you out.Therefore my search now is as much about a change of direction as it is about finding new income.

I believe in calling. I also believe mine is changing.

I crave a whole life. Not compartmentalized. Shalom giving and growing, for myself, for those I love, for the world.

What needs to happen to get there?

First, a lot of prayer. Also, trying to tap into the resources God has made available to me.

I’m doing personal work with a career coach and a counselor, which involves homework. Meditative, thinking, feeling, writing homework.

I have books I want to read or reread and actually do the exploratory exercises they recommend. In case you’re interested, they are:

One thing Michelle, my career coach, is helping me with is the workup to an Etsy business. This involves a line-in-the-sand date by which to research, write a business plan, create more of the products that my friend and I want to sell, set up the account and all the social media marketing pages, and write an editorial calendar and some blog posts to get us started.

Pretty exciting, because my creativity wants really badly to come out and play.

But I also have to support myself in the process. And by support I mean both income and self-care. My days don’t seem to have enough hours to do it all, but taking a step or two every day toward my new life is part of supporting myself in both ways.

So what did I do today, this Sunday, this day of rest? I paid attention to my spiritual health. I bought some luscious peaches, ice cream bars, an avocado, and a gorgeous red pepper. I had some conversations with family members. I texted with a couple of friends. I worked the Chicago Tribune Sunday crossword. I watched an episode of The Gilmore Girls. I filled out a job application. I did laundry. I made notes on potential blog topics, which is part of homework. And here I am, writing this one.

Finishing this job well is important, but I am looking forward to being free of it so that I can move more fully forward, even if I can’t see all the steps yet.

Steps. Onward.

 

 

 

I need another bookcase.

Here are two, full.

bookshelves

Yes, they are in front of the fireplace. I never use the fireplace and consider it a waste of valuable space in this 699 sq. ft. apartment, so at least this way I regain a smidge of floor space in the living room.

I can hear some of you now, thinking, “If she would get rid of some of those books, she’d regain even more room.” Believe me, I got rid of lots of books as I downsized to move here. Maybe someday more can go, but not now. They are my friends. And actually I keep finding new friends. A hopeless case, I guess.

Back to bookshelves. These are not the only ones I have. But they’re all full.

The one tucked under the tiny bar in the kitchen holds cookbooks as well as glass jars with dry staples and some vintage mixing bowls.

The bedroom has three, one on each side of the bed plus another that is actually two old wooden crates, stacked. They hold kids’ books that belonged to all three of my children, my collection of French books, Bibles, my high school and college yearbooks, and other miscellaneous books.

The hallway — yes, the hallway — has one that holds books related to my  job and various work-related 3-ring binders, collateral, and office supplies. That way they’re all within easy reach of the table in the tiny dining area that serves as my home office, sewing room, and yes, dining space. Some day I can clean out the job-related stuff and gain back at least one shelf for books.

You will notice that I do not group my books by color. I tried that once. It lasted about two weeks. I couldn’t find anything. My books are not decorative accessories. I know them by name. I’ve read most of them and sometimes refer back to them. The rest are in the to-read queue. My friends belong near others with something in common: topic or genre or author.

Now if you look back up at that photo, you will also notice that besides the color thing, these are not staged-for-publication bookshelves. I didn’t pretty it up for you one bit. Because this is not a decorating blog. It’s a life process blog.

And my life is not primped and polished.

It’s still a rough draft.

And right there, I think I mixed my metaphors. But for now I’m okay with that. It’s my life that’s real.

 

 

I spoke at a breakfast Rotary Club meeting this morning. The club meets at a rec center about 30 miles from my house.

To get there I rose early, put on some confidence clothes — today a sleeveless LBD with a black/gray/white flowy scarfy cocoon thing over it, because it’s July and 90 degrees  was predicted but I’m a teeny bit self-conscious about the crepiness (not to be confused with creepiness) of my upper arms — and gave myself plenty of time to get there because you never know with Denver traffic. This is something I have continued to try to outsmart since moving here 11 months ago, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

The traffic was not bad, the sun was up, it was a glorious summer morning. I found the place with only one missed turn. The rec center was off a main street in a fairly new development on ground that used to be Stapleton Airport before it was replaced by DIA.

Kudos to city planners for the way they have redeveloped that area into mixed use areas of retail, office, residential, and open space. (Except that like everywhere else in Denver, housing costs are through the roof, making it very difficult for lots of people, even if the area includes a few mixed income/affordable housing units.) This center was  on open space. Lovely day, like I said.

I went inside, met people I had only emailed with before, ate some fruit and a scone with my coffee, made some follow-up-worthy connections, and gave my talk. As I left, I passed the area devoted to stair-climber machines and treadmills. They were full.

I thought as I walked out into the fresh bright air, why would people pay membership fees, drive their cars however far, park and go into a building and exercise on these machines, when they could just take a walk down the lovely streets and on the trails set up for walking and running? This is Colorado, where it’s sunny, like, 300 days out of the year. People move here in droves for the gorgeous weather. And it was morning, so it wasn’t too hot yet.

What am I missing?

And then — and then — we have more people than ever being put on mega-doses of vitamin D by their physicians after they are deficient in that essential nutrient. Spending 30 minutes in the sun a day meets our daily requirements, or so I’ve been told. Look it up.

What I saw this morning is not peculiar to Colorado. You can go anywhere in America and observe the same thing. It’s a symptom of something. What would you name it?

As Brian Wilson said, “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.”

 

 

Potato salad for breakfast? Why not? We order eggs and hash browns all the time when we eat out.

I made potato salad last night, and it was my supper, along with a bowl of blueberries, au naturel. A good portion of both, lest you think I’m wasting away here.

Actually, I’m not eating potato salad again for breakfast, but I thought about it before I remembered the leftover canned pumpkin in my refrigerator that need to get used up. So I made some pumpkin oatmeal various-flours bread, which is in the oven as I write. I can anticipate the potato salad for lunch.

In a pinch, in a hurry, I might buy potato salad from the supermarket deli. But I don’t like it as well. It’s usually too goopy for my taste, more like mayonnaise with some lumps of things in it.

I make potato salad like my grandma and mom made potato salad. No written recipe, which bothered me as a newlywed but doesn’t any more. Eventually you get it.potatoes eggs

Here’s what went into yesterday’s batch:

4 good-sized potatoes that I had found in the produce clearance bin at the supermarket about a week ago. Peeled, chopped into the size pieces I wanted for the salad, boiled in water until tender. More than once I’ve cooked the potatoes too long and they’ve more or less disintegrated when I stirred together the salad. No worries. At a pot luck one time someone asked me for my recipe because they liked that I used “mashed” potatoes. It’s called not setting a timer. Oh, and don’t forget to salt them. I often forget. You can salt  afterward, but it’s a bit less even than salting the potatoes in the water.

4 eggs. These were farmers market eggs, laid by happy hens that get to toddle around a pasture instead of stay squeezed into a cage or pen. The cost of the eggs probably ate up the savings on the potatoes, but well-treated hens matter to me, and the eggs taste better and are better for you, I believe. My grandmother had chickens, and I grew up with farm eggs.

Some sweet onion, chopped up.

 

Some sweet pickle relish, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup, with juice. Grandma would have chopped up sweet pickles she had put up herself from cucumbers she grew in her garden. In my gardening days I would have done the same, but now I just try to find sweet relish that is not made with high fructose corn syrup.

Enough mayonnaise to moisten it all, but not so much that it drowns it. I use olive oil mayo these days.

A healthy squirt of mustard. Yellow, brown, whatever you have. This time I had brown.

Stir this all together in a big bowl. Add more mayo if it’s too dry. Taste it. Add more mustard or salt if you think it needs it. Or more pickle relish juice. It’s your salad.

I like real food. No purist, but I try to eat as close to real food as I can, given the rest of my lifestyle. I like my potato salad. It’s one of those common sense things that got passed down to me, just hanging out with women whom I loved who knew how to do stuff.

I think Mom and Grandma would be okay with eating potato salad for breakfast, too.

 

 

 

How to write anything tonight out of anything other than sadness and anger? And yet do I have anything to add that has not already been said better?

I have friends who are black. Tonight I can’t help but think about how it could have been one of them in that car, or on the ground, bleeding to death from bullet wounds. Husbands and fathers raising great children, working long hard hours, who are there for their families. Community leaders who invest their lives in serving their neighbors.Women whose intellect and conviction can change the world but who fear for their brothers’ and fathers’ and sons’, and their own lives.

It could have been Rod, or Alex, or Michael. It could have been Seantae or Cheryl, or Mechiel, or anyone in their families. People I count my brothers and sisters. Instead, this time it was Alton, and Philando, and Diamond.

No one even bothered to check his pulse. While the officer kept a gun trained on him as he died slumped in the front seat with a four-year-old girl in the back seat. While no one bothered to comfort his girlfriend except her four-year-old daughter. In fact they cuffed her and hauled her into the squad car, then to the station for hours like she was a criminal.

Why? Because apparently we white people are so freaking scared of black people that we shoot first and find out facts later. The benefit of the doubt is a big joke. The right to bear arms and and legally carry apparently only applies to white folks.

I am white and privileged. I don’t know personally what this is like. But I believe my black friends when they tell me this is the truth they live with, have all their lives. We have to say black lives matter, because apparently too much of the time they don’t. That’s the point. Don’t you dare go saying all lives matter right now. If you don’t understand why, read every word of this article. Of course they do. The point is black lives matter too, just as much as anyone else’s.

Neither is the debate about whether there are good police officers. Of course there are. There are even good police officers who do bad things in the heat of the moment and regret it the rest of their lives. But like everyone else, law enforcement officers need to be held accountable and trained to actually respond to all races alike.

The point is that this cannot go on. It is not acceptable. And it will never change if we aren’t willing to look at it from the point of view of the people who live every day of their lives afraid that they will be feared and distrusted, and even killed, simply because of the color of their skin.

I have a long way to go. A lot of the time I don’t know what to do, but I know it starts inside  and works its way out.

Nikki Lerner, a singer/speaker/writer whom I really respect, lives and breathes racial reconciliation. She calls us all, all hues and shades, to lean into relationships with people of other cultures and skin color, to really see and hear each other and learn to give grace. Please, let’s do that. If we don’t have any intercultural relationships, now might be the time to start getting to know someone different from ourselves. Please let’s do that too.

Never one to jump right on a book trend, I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

I have not yet taken each item I own in my hand and asked myself whether it sparks joy for me. I may or may not do that, but I did take a bag of clothes out to the car today to drop off at a donation bin next time I go that way.

A couple of observations.

One, Kondo is a tad bit obsessed. Has been since she was a wee child, apparently.

Two, her obsession indicates her super power, to quote a life coach I know. She is gifted at not only tidying but its sister, organization, and at seeing that our relationship to our stuff indicates the orderliness or lack thereof of our psyches. I totally respect her for finding a way to turn loose her super power to help others, to spark joy in herself, and to make what I assume is a rather decent living.

Three, her personification of belongings and dwellings at first struck me as over the top. But then something about it started to feel right, as an expression of gratitude and respect.Maybe the child in me relates, the same child who felt that if I didn’t play with one toy for awhile, it would feel left out, like I loved the others better.

So I’m asking: Where does my apartment want my sewing supplies and fabric to be stored? Big mystery right now.

And I’m also asking: What are my super powers? How can I turn them loose for good in my life and in this world? Can I trust them to take care of me?

A Marked Woman

The subject for this post came to me at about 3:30 a.m., and I’m going with it. I don’t know if it’s just about habit, or if there’s more there. But here goes.

When I get up in the wee hours to go to the bathroom, by instinct I reach left first for the toilet paper probably 6 times out of 10. That’s where it was in the house where I lived for the 11 years before moving here. In this bathroom, it’s on the right.

My kitchen wastebasket is under the sink. This is where it should be. It’s where it was in the house I grew up in and in some other houses I’ve had. In others, it’s been in the pantry, beside the cabinets,  or underneath a kitchen island. But wherever, at least once a week I’ve reflexively opened the door under the sink before realizing, oh yeah, it’s not there.

My parents had a starburst clock on the living room wall for many years while I was growing up. And still — still — occasionally I look on my living room wall when I want to know what time it is. Never mind that I haven’t had a wall clock in my house for years, probably decades.

This is the sentence that came to me at 3:30 this morning: Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me.

I have lived in lots of places. Let’s see —

  1. The house I grew up in. Lived there for 19 years. The clock on the wall. The white house with trees in frontwastebasket under the sink. Good, solid life. That place is truly in my core.
  2. The tiny house we lived in briefly right after we got married. Today it would be considered part of the tiny house movement.
  3. The 12×50 mobile home my dad helped us get. Bigger than the tiny house. Smaller than the apartment where I live now, a fact that gives me perspective.
  4. My parents’ retirement home in Florida. Temporary until we could buy our own.
  5. The house we bought in Florida.
  6. My mother’s home. Also my childhood home. Dad had died and we lived with her for 9 months, again till we could buy our own home, having moved back from Florida.
  7. The house we bought there.
  8. The first parsonage. My husband was the associate pastor at that church.
  9. The second parsonage. My husband was the only pastor at that church.
  10. The third parsonage. My husband was the senior pastor at that church.
  11. The home of a friend’s parents. Things had gone sour at the church and the congregation voted to ask my husband to leave.We did, with nowhere to go and no income. This place was shelter and storage space as we tried to heal and figure out next moves.
  12. The first house in Colorado. We bought it without seeing it, after friends on site checked it out and arranged for a volunteer crew to remodel it. It was traumatic for multiple reasons.
  13. The second house in Colorado, which we rented when we lost that first house.
  14. The third house in Colorado, which we started out renting and eventually bought. Lived there for 13 years.
  15. The house in Indiana. Lived there for 11 years. It’s the one my husband died in.
  16. This apartment, where I still reach for the toilet paper where it was in the last house. And where the trash again fits under the kitchen sink.

This litany of homes brings back all kinds of memories and emotions. But it’s what happened, and I do not think where I live now will be my last home, so the list will continue to grow.

It’s true. Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me. It’s not the place, ultimately, but what happened there. The seasons of my  life, some quite short, in which I was changed in some way. I grew. Joy and sorrow mixed. Sometimes joy won, sometimes sorrow won.

My children lived in 13 of these homes, too. They also bear marks from those places and the life we shared, for good or ill.

I don’t want any of us to live in those places any more. I want us to move forward. But sometimes sorting through the past is necessary to move on, to heal. Just like you sort through things before a move. Some things you can leave behind. Some things you decide are either meaningful and beneficial, can be repurposed or rearranged to make them useful, or are just plain beautiful. So you take those things with you as you move . . . onward.

Let’s do that.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 148 other followers

%d bloggers like this: