Life Shifts Continue…🎃

I vividly remember driving to work a year and a half ago, starting my first day back into what I term the “business-work-force”. After 20 years as an adjunct professor, raising three children and getting them into college, I was looking forward to taking a much-needed long, deep breath, expecting to slowly consider how this mid-lifer would resurrect one of my hobbies, or read a few books or start really writing again…you know, the kind of things that running a household and raising a family often prevent for a couple of decades.

These plans were quickly squashed when my teaching salary could not compensate for the unexpected termination of my husband’s position, due to a corporate restructuring at his ‘big pharma’ company.

He ultimately secured another job that was to be “temporary” and suffered a hefty pay cut. Yep, this mid-lifer was forced to reinvent herself in a world where youth rules.  

More than the tasks of the job or meeting the staff on that very first day, it was the traffic that caused me the greatest stress :). My teaching schedule required a 6am departure for morning classes or 3pm for evening courses. I was not a part of the “rat race” which I wrote a post about last year HERE. Teaching college has its own challenges but I wouldn’t call it a grind. The “grind” in my opinion begins when rubber hits the road.

Thruway drivers weaved in and out, cut me off, and acted as if traveling at 60mph was a granny-pace. On the side roads, cars ran red lights and rolled through stop signs while their drivers sipped coffee and scrolled Instagram. My personal favorite was sitting at lights that changed four times before I could get through with 20 vehicles ahead of me.

At the beginning of my new career, I moved within the company cautiously, careful about who I befriended while examining the proverbial “lay of the land”. I was also managing silent insecurities having to navigate a corporate environment that I hadn’t been a part of since I was 26 years young. People much younger had more experience. This truth and my own desire to succeed forced me to work harder – for myself. An unexpected outcome was a promotion within three months along with a raise. Four months later, I was offered another generous raise. This too was unexpected since by that time I had become respectfully vocal regarding how the company had to make improvements in staff benefits, create an employee engagement plan, and execute a few other items if they hoped to retain good people.  

They were receptive to a few changes, so I moved forward with implementation knowing full-well that a few free lunches, celebrating birthdays and adding a newsletter would not make up for the level of unethical behaviors, potentially illegal actions and bizarre management practices.

Really bright and well-paid engineers were leaving the organization for less money. Horrible employees were inexplicably retained. Micro-management of high-level staff was suffocating. Several months ago, I determined to leave. The problem was finding time to send out resumes when the president continuously called me on my days off and the amount of work had risen to 11-hour days.

During August alone, I had moved my youngest back to her university, moved my oldest daughter back home, helped my son through a wonderful job change and my semester of teaching started back up (I still teach part time online). The nest was full at the end of summer and now the twins are both home working remotely for great companies. September’s non-work-non-teaching time was spent planning a baby shower for a friend’s daughter. We are the sorts who can’t seem to do the minimum. We are of the life motto: more is more and life events should be celebrated in BIG ways. The shower was last Sunday and the effort was worth it.

Throughout these home-life changes and additional responsibilities, the stress at work escalated to an unhealthy level and the owners were immovable when encouraged to rationally consider why ¾ of the employees had exited. When you can’t get through a brick wall, nor find a path around it and are prevented from climbing higher, you find something new.

As I drove to work on my final day, I weaved through traffic like a champion NASCAR driver. However, I’m a safe-never-run-stop-signs-or-red-lights kind of gal who always lets people merge. But I’m tougher in spirit now than I was a couple short years ago. There are pros and cons to being in difficult situations and living out unexpected turns in the road of life. One positive is that I collected some good people along the way. These same sweet souls gave me three weeks of farewell cards, gifts, food, etc., and have reached out multiple times with expressions of missing me deeply since my departure only a couple of weeks ago. For those that exited the company long before me, they still keep in touch.

God gave me peace that it was time to leave but I wasn’t clear about what was next other than continuing to teach. One thing was for sure: the highly professional, always-dressed-up corporation I worked for displayed unethical behaviors that really disgusted me. Little did I know, being disgusted was about to take on a vastly more elevated meaning.

Two days after my final day at work – just when I was praying about my “next assignment” – I was stunningly placed on a grand jury that would require my faithful attendance for two months. Before any of the 25 of us could say “what-the-what?”, we were immediately sworn in for duty. As the lot of us walked to our cars, stunned as to why we weren’t questioned as we had been in previous years when called for jury duty, we realized that fear of COVID was preventing swarms of potential jurors from even showing up. For those gainfully employed, they were beside themselves about the amount of time required with less than $5/hour in payment.

Many people LOVE jury duty. They sincerely LOVE it and wish they could go back more frequently. I’ll agree that it’s interesting to learn the inner workings of our judicial system up close and personal. However, the lawyers warned us that the material our particular group would see was especially “difficult”. To my knowledge, there is only one person out of my large group that believes this to be a fun experience.

I love my country. It’s important to serve, but day after day, hour after hour, we review case after case of the worst atrocities. You already know this from staring at your social media and your preferred news channel, but humanity is depraved. Each day we sit in our chairs, reviewing endless, sickening behavior. I’m viewing in real-life what I wouldn’t ever watch on television.

Two random, (non-grisly) things you are already aware of but I’ll share to confirm from my brief legal experience: 1) There is a camera recording you in places you really don’t think about. Did you get that? Not just at stop signs, street lights and outside of buildings. We are being recorded e v e r y w h e r e.  2) I have learned that Google can virtually pinpoint how long I was in the produce aisle at my local grocery store two years ago on a specific date merely because I have a gmail account. Did you get that? Via the email accounts they can track a person’s whereabouts.

If I wasn’t already repelled with tech companies as described HERE and in other posts, these proceedings are merely additional confirmation. No one to blame but ourselves for downloading our apps and opening up our personal data to the global cyber-thieves. They remain lightyears ahead and it’s too late to attempt controlling them. While it’s great if they supply pertinent information to catch the bad guys, it’s astounding to be educated on the depth of their knowledge regarding our daily lives. I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest of the mind-blowing information we have been learning alongside observations of the most gruesome evil.

On that happy note (insert laughter), it’s been one month since I’ve posted but I hope to rekindle my online communications with the special people who write on WordPress. It’s been a community I’ve missed in the last several weeks. Most of you have also had lulls in your writings for various reasons, so I know you get it. Likely, I still won’t be able to write as frequently as I hope to during this current season, but I’m going to try…

Happy Halloween to all!

Save the Journals or Burn Them…?

 

Although New Year’s Day is often a day to toss out the “old”, the January 1st purging of my home office was not planned. I just happened to smell a fire brewing outside and discovered my husband burning some Christmas wrap and nonsense snail mail.

I was sitting in my office and looked around at what I could hand over for the “burn pile” as we call it in my house. I decided to quickly scan the files in my cabinet, pulling out 11 months of Kohls charge bills, water bills, etc. for my husband to throw into the fire. Then my eyes caught sight of several prayer/life happenings journals. I opened a few and perused the dates, ages of the kids and what I had written. Some of the writings were not pleasant.

Very fervent prayer requests – all received a hard “no” – at least up until now. I was so detailed…so “Mom”…so clearly overwhelmed and crying out to God to help with this whole parenting thing. Much of the writing was also in gratitude, but many frustrations were there in ink.

I wondered why I thought of these journals as such treasures. I have many. One of my habits over the years was to start a new journal whenever I needed a fresh start, and that wasn’t always on January 1st. For several years, I thought about my children discovering my journals someday and enjoying the pages filled with their Mom’s thoughts. On January 1st? I really didn’t think some of my writings needed to be read. I also questioned whether or not they would care about my thoughts and prayers at the time.

I didn’t want my kids to someday look at my prayers that didn’t get answered as I had prayed them and resent God. They had to walk a faith journey of their own.

I had recently asked my kids if they cared if I saved a slew of thank you cards I had received over the years. I had actually tossed an entire carton of thank you cards about three years ago and wondered if my kids would have someday enjoyed reading about all the thoughtful  things their Mom did (wink wink). Would such writings help them know me more? I threw them away and Tuesday, I was looking at another small pile that had collected in my desk drawer. I decided to hand them over to the burn pile.

As I continued to question whether or not to turn a few journals into ash, I contemplated two things I observed recently.

1 – I painted my dining room a couple of months ago. Prior to painting, I had to empty my credenza full of china and glassware. I set up a long folding table in the front foyer and put all the credenza contents on it. That table sat there for days and every time I walked by it, I couldn’t help but think of all the estate sales and garage sales I had seen where tables just like this one supported a lifetime of someone’s collectibles, now for sale without regard to sentiment. When I finished the paint job, I got rid of several things. Guess what? I don’t miss any of them. I kept what was truly worth keeping.

2 – If you read my post, Determined to Enjoy the Breathtaking Beauty of Nature, Despite the Profound Pain of Life, you probably noticed that I lost my beloved friend two years ago. I am very close to her daughter who recently got engaged and is moving into a new home. Although we had previously gone through my friend’s belongings, we were together again last week, purging even more “stuff” so she could lighten the moving load.

After good counseling and two and a half years of additional time to heal, her daughter was ready to let go of more belongings. I asked her about a few things in particular…if she was “sure”. She answered, “Yes. I just can’t hang on to everything.”

As I held my journals in the office, I thought of my friend’s daughter who kept scrapbooks but certainly not every written thing her mother wrote. The truth is, she is busy now. A new career. A groom-to-be. New home. Overseas travel. Already planning her first child as soon as possible after the wedding. Even though she will no doubt become much more sentimental about her Mom’s writings once she becomes a Mom herself, every single thing won’t be read.

In addition to journals, I have endless pages (surprisingly organized) of typed happenings specific to each child that I have created over the years. Funny stories of when they were two years old, cute things they said or sentimental talks we shared, birthday party happenings…pages of “life” that I have in piles for each of them. I’m confident they will enjoy those stories someday when they have children of their own.

Pushing off my decision whether or not to burn the journals, I pulled out the folders of orthodontic work (and the costs) that I was saving. The folder of my older daughter’s senior trip to Europe (and the costs!). The folder of 10 years of ice hockey…ice time, equipment, hotel rooms, team fees…Field hockey, lacrosse, soccer. I decided my kids wouldn’t care about what we paid or the hours of planning and investment, so into the burn pile they went.

I still struggled whether or not to save the journals. I actually came across one I had written years ago and marked “not to be read until you have children of your own”! Hahaha.

Ultimately, I decided to burn a few. I still have plenty left that I will take time to decide on but those first few I tossed…? I feel okay about it. I don’t think I’ll regret letting go of the few I read through.Writer’s write. If I’m not at the computer, I’m in a journal or, the blessing and curse: I’m writing in my head….always words and articles and chapters forming…just like most of you reading this right now.

After I watched to be sure every personal page was ashes and wouldn’t fly by air into the neighbor’s lawn, I walked back to the house. Guess what I wanted to do? Write about how I decided to burn some writing! And so this post was created.

If you have thoughts regarding the saving (or not) of your personal writings, I’m interested!

Happy Thursday!

Our Blog Writing Reflects Our Many Characteristics

My youngest called from college, distressed about boy #1 talking to boy #2 on her behalf. She did not approve. She believes that any young man worth dating in the future would need to personally get to know her – through her.

The conversation progressed into fully analyzing the words boy #1 used to describe her to boy #2. She disagreed with one of the adjectives.

My daughter’s voice elevated. “Am I like that? What does that even mean?” She thought it may have a negative connotation which in her case, would be impossible. No, I’m not just wearing Mom-goggles. That child was the easy teenager…her siblings view her as annoyingly good.

I tried to make a joke because gosh, it was all positive and she was just being a 20-yr. old. But, she wasn’t having it. After all, she really does like boy #2 and was highly concerned about the chosen adjective. Ultimately, after discussing the various meanings of said word, my daughter concluded, “I am many things…I live life to the fullest and I laugh a lot. I think quite a few different adjectives would be used to describe every individual girl.” True. But most girls would have giggled. My girl gave me an analysis!

That got me thinking about words, sentences and adjectives…

Later that evening, I was reading through blog posts from several of you incredible writers. I was suddenly noticing the array of candor, personality and diversity of posts…within the same blog. While most blogs have one strong theme, individual posts reflect several different moods, tones, frustrations, interests and joys. My own blog included. The content evolves over time. In a word, the diverse writings echo our lives.

Poets who insert periodic posts about family happenings.
Photographers who sometimes tell short stories.
Blogs devoted to depression but also include occasional bright happenings.
Inspirational quote sites that sporadically contain fiction excerpts.

Although often our own worst critic, as writers we have something of value to offer. We care about “words” and spend considerable time trying to determine the best ones to convey our meaning. Ultimately, we do the best we can with the time we have to post something thoughtful or thought-provoking or entertaining or just plain ‘ol pretty to look at. No matter what we write, it often encompasses many different adjectives which ultimately convey the many different aspects of our lives.

About This Mama Duck…

Well, first, the “duck” title is a metaphor for being the leader of my nest (a home on a few acres of land that is in need of updating but with three ducks in college, we’re keeping the outdated kitchen!). The duck metaphor also represents the protector of the babies even if they are now 20, 21 and 21 respectively (did you see this back in April?). Ok, she’s technically a goose but wow, that’s a mad Mama! Apparently, this high school golfer walked too close to her nest! (Click image for goose story.)This Mama Duck is the food-hunter…The food-preparer…(click cone image)And all things home, family and faith. Oh yeah, I’m also an adjunct professor who is looking for a new career now that the baby duck moved to college last month (sniff sniff). This blog was started back in 2013. I took a hiatus from early 2017 until now. Much of the writing over the years was Mama-stuff that was sometimes serious but usually humorous or lighter-hearted. Life got a little harder in the last couple years and so did my heart, so I stopped posting. I didn’t think readers would be interested in the cynical, often depressing writings that were building up in my hard drive (the computer, not my heart…that is softening).

But, I will… maybe… eventually…post a few of the more miserable writings lingering around my office. Why? Well, I’ve been paying close attention in recent years to other 40-and-50-something year old Mama ducks and they too feel a bit confused, angry, struggle with the inequality of it all, wondering how it didn’t turn out quite as expected considering the insane amount of work and sacrifice that went into many relationships, jobs and situations. (Click image for earlier article.)That said, this Mama Duck follows Jesus. It’s shameful how ungrateful I can be when I start questioning God about what I don’t have, didn’t get, haven’t achieved, when I’ve been blessed so much. The cycle goes a bit like this: Injustice makes me mad. I tell God about it. I don’t always act Christ-like when I’m in these fits. I question Him. I get miffed (more on that later…don’t send mean comments…I love the Lord 🙂 ). I have gathered a few writings about wrestling with God….trying to reconcile His love and holiness with the depravity of the world (yes, I’m already highly familiar with the common Christian responses to this issue).  Ultimately, after spiraling through my questions, I end up in the same place: He is Him. I am not. He is the parent. I am the child. He is sovereign. It’s not about me. It’s about those He puts in my path, my church, my heart. It’s about Him. I am a student of His Word and have been serious about my faith-walk for over 20 years. (Click image for earlier article.)Some of the more popular past posts can be found under “Popular Posts” in the header above.

More about me and this blog can be found under About Me in the header above.

Thank you for checking out my blog. I look forward to reading your writings and thank you for reading mine!

 

Sunny and Versatile?!!

I have little knowledge or understanding about blog awards, but I’m sending a big Thank You to Bonnie over at Harmonyspearls for nominating my blog for these two awards! sunshine award

versatilebloggerawardThe only thing I know about blog awards is either that people accept them or they post on their site “award free blog”. Since Bonnie is the first person to introduce me to blog awards, I gratefully accept! Thank you very much.

As you requested, here are my responses to your questions and my nominations.

1) What is my favorite food? Snow crab, lobster, broccoli, fresh bread, great salads, chocolate….

2) Who is my favorite actor? Yikes, too many to choose one!

3) What is my favorite television show? The Kelly File, Home & Family…

4) What is my favorite “tear jerker”? I have a tendency to sniff through most sentimental movies. I’m a bit of a softie when it comes to watching movies. I do find Becoming Jane terribly tragic, especially knowing how much Jane Austen loved Tom Lefroy!

5) Tea or Coffee? I only drink both occasionally, but I do love cold Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino’s in the bottle.

6) What is my favorite sport? Ice hockey!

7) What is my lucky number? 11.

8) What is my favorite holiday? Christmas!

9) Twitter or Facebook? I have accounts for both, but I’m not a regular user of either one. I do prefer Twitter and will eventually get on board with using it more!

10) What is my favorite Christmas movie? The Nativity, and pretty much all of the Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.

Selecting 10 blogs to nominate was very difficult indeed. I love the blogging community and appreciate each one that I follow for its uniqueness. In my heart, everyone deserves an award for offering helpful words of encouragement, God’s blessings, and usually, for simply being brave enough to share their life.

If you decide to accept these two awards, copy and paste the following 4 rules, your nominations, and the above 10 questions on your acceptance post.

As stated by Bonnie, the rules of acceptance for the Sunshine and Versatile awards are:

1) Thank the person nominating you.

2) Place the award badges on your blog page.

3) Answer the ten questions listed above on your page.

4) Pay it forward! Nominate ten deserving bloggers for the same awards.

If you don’t already know of these blogs, you will be blessed, relate, and/or laugh if you visit them:

http://treasuringmoments.com/
http://pocketfulofmotherhood.wordpress.com/
http://kellyjgrace.com/
http://sweetrains.wordpress.com/
http://momof3isnuts.wordpress.com/
http://mamasongs.wordpress.com/
http://atimetoshare.wordpress.com/
http://bethannchiles.com/
http://graceglimmers.wordpress.com/
http://wickedgoodteens.com/