Saturday, October 7, 2017

A post about stories

I am the keeper of stories. Stories that are not my own. Stories of friends, of family members, of strangers. Stories that are shared with me in moments of quiet, of vulnerability, of need to just.tell.someone!

I am the keeper of stories. Some stories are ones that have been told before but just need one more telling.  They aren't so secret, more pressing on the conscience of the story teller. These stories usually require a response to help ease the mind of the story teller or refocus the direction. I take on the roll of mentor or guidance counselor, offering words of assurance, encouragement and sometimes gentle rebuke.

I am the keeper of stories. Other stories have been held close the heart of the story teller.  The stories are looking to be told but only to one who is safe.  Who won't share those stories again.  They don't need words of advice or wisdom or direction.  They are stories that simply need to be heard, without judgment.

I am the keeper of stories. With each story I sit in awe and wonder that for some reason this person chose me to share their stories. Honored at the trust and mindful of that trust as well.

I am the keeper of stories. Stories that I will never share because they aren't my own. Stories of sorrow, pain, anger, joy, fear, hope, grief, hurt and more. Stories that remind me of the vulnerability in even the strongest of souls. Stories that remind me that behind every face is a story just waiting to be told.

I am the keeper of the stories of others...and stories of my own. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Searching for my voice

I sometimes have a hard time speaking up, not because I don't have opinions - I have plenty of those - but because I don't want to offend others.  I try to play nicely with others, don't rock the boat, be the peacemaker.  I'm just about done.

Last week, my Mom and I went to hear Jim Wallis of Sojourners speak at a church in the area.  There were so many people we wound up in one of several overflow rooms where they were live streaming his speech.  (I do know that he was, in fact, at the venue. We passed him as we left our building and he was going to the book table to sign books.) At the end, during the question and answer period, Jim made a statement - faith inspires hope which prompts action which brings about change.  I've been pondering that statement all week.

A Bible verse that has become my mantra over the years has been a variation of Micah 6:8 - "Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God."  Justice and mercy, in my view, look very different than the current US Administration views justice and mercy. I am tired of hearing about how we need to "make America great again", which seems to mean to put the interests of rich, white men above the needs of the poor, the needy, immigrants, people of color, working class, middle class, women, children...the list could just keep going on and on and on.  I'm tired of hearing that all the news media is lying.  I'm tired of the threats and patronizing comments from the current administration.  I'm tired of hearing about "alternative facts" and I'm tired of the thin skinned man that sits in the White House.  We are haven't even made it a month and already, I'm tired.

I've been struggling to find hope for the United States since November.  I've been struggling to listen to the opinions of those who don't believe the same way I believe.  I stopped watching the news.  I stopped doing anything more than skimming the headlines. Because since November, I've felt hopeless - wanting to be a peaceful person amidst the anger but just feeling so.darn.angry. I've listened to those who have said we just need to accept things and move on but I don't want to accept things.  I don't want to just move on.  And yet, I don't know what to do...yet.  I simply know I'm tired.

Faith - hope - action - change.  Justice - mercy - humbleness - God.   I'm pondering these things and searching for my voice. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

IT'SNOTOKAY

My friend Nancy and I have dinner or coffee together once every six weeks or so.  I cherish these meet-ups for so many reasons but mainly because I leave our time together once again reassured that I am not the "only one thinks that way".  Our views on theology and politics line up very nicely.  We don't agree on everything.  But we listen to each other, challenge each other to view the world through a wider lens and urge each other on to do good in the world.  Nancy once mentioned that she was encouraged I had done some in depth research and soul searching on a Biblical topic, to which I responded, "well, see, you are my friend and your views on that subject made me curious.  So I did my own research, explored the subject deeper and came to a similar conclusion...it's really your fault."

A few weeks ago we had dinner together.  Dinner started out with Nancy sharing about a book she was reading (I won't read it for awhile, but she highly recommends "When Breath Becomes Air".  Once you read the description, if you know my family history the last two years, you won't be surprised if I skip that book for awhile) and then moved onto politics.  Politics moved into hash tags - which cracked me up - and hence, here I am writing a blog post.

Nancy and I are both worried, concerned, sick, can't believe we have gotten to this place, I think you get the picture, about our country.  We talked a lot about the potential for violence and the insanity that seems to take over whenever politics are involved.  Nancy was speechless when I told her that I know people who will be voting for Trump.  I can't believe it either, but there it is.  We pondered how the "evangelical church" would stand behind Trump, when so many of the things Trump says flies in the face of what Jesus stands for.  (I put evangelical church in quotes because I strongly dislike that one group of followers of Jesus have taken over a word that literally means "sharing the good news" and made it into something that feels shameful and dirty to me.)

We talked about my experience in Oklahoma a few years ago, an open carry state, where many people came into church with their guns on their hips, and marveled how foreign that seemed to us.  While I respect others rights to feel differently, I don't like guns and don't believe guns are solving any problems in our society.  We talked about statistics showing that open carry states have a higher crime rate than those states that don't have open carry laws.  I'm still looking into those statistics.

We both know we are privileged, white women, who haven't really experienced discrimination.  We know we can't fully understand discrimination and know we have, in ways we didn't mean or fully comprehend, have been guilty of discriminating against others.  It bothers us deeply.  We don't know what to do about it, other than continuing to educate ourselves and speak up when we recognize discrimination around us.

Since that conversation, I've become even more alarmed at things that have been said and done in politics, as well as things said and done during the Olympics.  It alarms me that a young, black woman was so harshly criticized and taken to task for not putting her hand over her heart during the National Anthem during the Olympics.  Nights later I turned on the TV to see two white males standing on the Olympic podium while the National Anthem was played and neither one of them had a hand over their hearts.  I saw NOTHING about that on the Internet, heard NOTHING on the news making a big deal about their negligence to follow a flag protocol.  Nor did I hear anything about them taking a stand in solidarity with the young, black woman a few nights earlier.  I actually had to google flag protocol to see if there was actually something to the complaints.  I never knew.  I can't tell you the number of times I have stood for the National Anthem and not placed my hand over my heart.  I simply didn't know that was protocol...and now that I do and such a stir has been caused about it, the rebel in me may just "forget" again. 

That night at dinner, Nancy decided our hash tag, should we ever use one, for all the subjects we talked about and more would simply say IT'SNOTOKAY.  (Especially when it comes to the things that come flying out of Mr. Trumps mouth - IT'SNOTOKAY.)  And though I don't use hash tags, now when I watch the news or read articles the phrase that continually runs through my mind is...IT'SNOTOKAY.  It's just not okay. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A post about 2:30am wake ups

I woke up at 2:30 this morning.  Wide awake and hot.  I kicked all the covers off and maneuvered the blinds enough so that cool air began to flow into the room.  Within 15 minutes I was pulling the sheet and light blanket back up...but I was still awake.

And so I started to think about all the things that I had done the day before.  One of my team had called in sick, another was on vacation and I was filling in at a desk that moves pretty quickly.  I'm getting better at order entry, better at credit returns and all the other little things that go along with the job but I'm not up-to-par on the knowledge that resides only in the brain of the person who works at that desk day in and day out.  It was a stressful day.

People ask how my new job is going and the truth of it all is that I'm glad that I made the change but I'm not ready to say that this is the job I will have for the rest of my working career.  I like being in an office with other people.  I appreciate the interaction.  I just don't feel settled and so the jury is out.  Some days I just get anxious.

When I woke up at 2:30 this morning, all these things wandered through my head.  I let them wander through, as I scrolled through Amazon looking for a cupcake carrier to add to my wish list, with Frasier playing on the TV in the background.  I let the fears, the hopes, the anxiousness, the uneasiness, the unknown wander through my head and settle where it was going to settle.  Eventually I turned off the TV, rolled over and went back to sleep, my thoughts settled and my body a little cooler.  I could have fought those thoughts but instead, I let them wander through and wander out.  I allowed the emotions to play through and play out.  If I have gained any knowledge from the last 23 months, it's that life will throw curve balls and I can either allow the anxiety of those curve balls to derail me or I can step up to the base, face the emotions and allow them to play through. 

Hopefully I won't be awake at 2:30 tomorrow morning...today was a much less stressful day.  But if I am, I'll face the emotions, kick off the covers and just wait...peace and coolness will soon prevail.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A post about the state of grief

The wind started blowing the other night.  It was howling around the house, knocking the tree against the corner of the house.  I was upstairs listening and thought of my Dad.  There was some weather event that would cause my Dad to sleep downstairs on the couch.  I can't remember if it was wind or lightening but the reminder of my Dad came just the same.

Memories are triggered everyday.  The wind, a song, politics, a familiar face in the grocery store, photos, the date on the calendar, there are so many little triggers.  Some memories bring a smile, many bring tears.  I've gotten used to him not being here.  I hate that. 

There are moments when I forget and think of something that I want to tell him when I get home from work, only to violently remember that isn't going to happen again.  I miss my friend who would listen to my day, or my rants on politics or whatever triggered my "are they serious?!" response.  I miss hearing "How was your day, kiddo?" when I walk in the door.  I miss trailing my fingers over his shoulders in hello, on my way to my room and saying "Hi Dad" when I arrived home from wherever I had been that day, as he sat at the computer doing whatever he was doing.

I miss his smile and laugh.  The little grin that played along his lips when he was teasing someone and the laugh that came out when he was with his friends, relaxed and enjoying the moment.  I miss watching him kiss Mom in the kitchen and really miss him drying the dishes...Mom does too.

Life moves forward.  So much has changed in the last year and 11 months.  The paralyzing, overwhelming grief has abated but grief remains.  Tears come easily.  The hope that maybe, just maybe, this is all a horrific dream has not fully abated.  The reality is just too overwhelming to fully accept, right now.  I will get there...someday.  I'm moving at my own pace, and learning to live without my Dad.  And that's the state of grief. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A post about starting a new job

Starting a new job is stressful.  After almost 4 years in my previous position, I went into work every day confident I could handle any problem that was thrown my way.  I knew my way around the different web-based systems that I used.  I became prolific in "Rotary-ese".  I did my job well.  Just hated the commute.

I've been at my new job 9 work days.  I feel like a fish out of water, and not the cute one from Chicken Little who wore a helmet filled with water even though we was walking around the planet.  He could still breathe.  I get pockets of air, here or there, but by in large, I'm struggling to breathe.  But I love the commute!

I'm learning a new language.  Actually, I'm learning several new languages all at once.  There's the office product language, the sales language and the web-based entry systems language.  I've taken in so much information in the last 9 days my brain is on overload.  I'm learning how to negotiate the different personalities that I interact with on a daily basis.  I went from an office of one, with one person that I really took my cues from, to an office where I have three-four different people that I ultimately report to, 4 people who report to me and many other who are in and out and around all the time.  It's exhausting.  Seriously, exhausting.

Today was a tough day.  There are many moving pieces that keep this company moving and two major pieces broke down, today, causing a hailstorm of problems.  Plus, we were missing a key team player, which left me struggling to fill in her shoes, not knowing what to do and feeling like I was failing with each step. When the clock struck 5pm, the computers were shut down and the building was emptied within 5 minutes.  I do not joke.  I came home, and collapsed on my bed.  A bottle of Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple, a little Chex Mix, the comfort of mindless TV and a comfy chair and I'm feeling a little more centered and ready to tackle another day.

My hope is that today's problems don't replicate tomorrow, that tomorrow is relatively problem free and that Friday at 5pm comes quickly because I am ready for a weekend break!  I'll get through these challenges.  I'll figure out my place in this new company and one day I will have a handle on all these new languages.  I'm looking forward to that day!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A post about unexpected opportunities

I must be honest, I have been "looking" for a new job for awhile.  It became habit to browse the want ads, every day, to see what was out there and what might be available on "my side" of the hill.  So, when my friend texted me saying, "there's a job opening in my family's company and I think you need to apply", I shouldn't have been surprised.  But I was.

We met, I asked questions, I listened and at the end of the conversation I thought, "Okay, I'll apply but I'm not sure if this job is for me."  A day later an interview was set up.  On a Friday afternoon, I sat down and interviewed for a Customer Care Manager position.  I was glad I had silenced my phone because my friend texted me before I left the building..."call me when the interview is done!".  I called him and said "I can SO do this job!"

I suffered through the weekend and most of Monday in anticipation and then, Monday afternoon, my phone buzzed with a new email...I GOT THE JOB!

Things have been a whirlwind since then.  I gave notice at my over the hill job and have been trying to clean things up as much as possible for whomever might be hired next.  I've been training my current boss on my job duties (yes, there is some irony there) and I've been saying goodbye.

At least once a day I sit and let the tears fall as someone whom I have come to really like and appreciate emails and says goodbye.  The one that got me yesterday was titled "I am sad"...gah!  My eyeballs keep leaking.  I haven't resorted to taping Kleenex under my eyes (ht, MR), but I promise, if I do, photo's will be taken.

A week from Monday, I will jump into an unexpected opportunity.  I'm excited!!!