Monday, February 23, 2009

The Other Part of my Life ~

I wish I could show you where I work. It is a building/house with some bedrooms, some offices, and some funky smells. I had not seen it before I accepted the job offer and when I did see it, I almost cried. There was a hefty man sitting on the porch with his back against the wall. On the other end of the porch a young woman continued the conversation she had been having with herself. "Here's the staff bathroom." our supervisor said. I peered into the small, ratty-looking room with the dirty floor and rusty mirror. "Nice." I replied. I had a whole week to get used to the idea of working there. Thank Goodness I had yet to find out about the roaches ~ that would have been a deal-breaker.
So a week later I worked my first night and called my mom crying the very next day. I was still in shock from listening to my new coworker describe how she had lost her two front teeth to a client. (She neglected to tell me that it happened where she had worked previously). Then there were the roaches, who had nerve enough to approach me, crawling on my paperwork and computer screen. On top of it all, this building was in a neighborhood where people milled around at all hours of the night and sometimes tried the front door to see if it was locked.
I complained to God. "God," I whined, "why am I having to work here after seven years of school, 2 degrees, and the writing of countless research papers?" "Why do my friends get to work in real offices with chairs that have both arms and I don't?" I was feeling really sorry for myself. I kept asking God these questions and I kept hearing only silence. I didn't have a choice so I kept going back to that run-down building to work.
It was only a matter of time before I noticed changes. My coworkers and I began to be able to tell the roaches apart. I commented to my coworker that the roach I was watching was unique - he had stripes on his back. She replied that he was probably just bi-racial. It was routine to check our bags at the end of the shift to make sure that none of them hitched a ride home.
Then there were the cats who hung out on the front porch. "You better run!" I thought to myself when they ran away every time I came out. After a couple of months it got bitterly cold and I noticed the 3 cats huddled together in the corner as I left work that day. I stuck my head back in the door and yelled out, "Somebody needs to feed our cats. They look awfully cold and miserable out here." Our cats?? I guess we were all family now.
But something else changed. I began to learn the names of everyone and how they came to live there. One time I commented to a man about how much he walks around. He replied matter-of-factly, "Oh, that's because my ankles have hurt ever since I jumped off that three-story building." He tells me that he hears his dead brother talking to him, telling him to hurt himself. Another time I asked the hefty man from the front porch if he was going to watch the football game on Sunday. He informed me that he always watched football, especially since he used to play for the Dallas Cowboys. He just couldn't remember what number he wore on his jersey. There was also a lady who spent her entire nights making jewelry because every time she laid down the voices kept her awake. She read her Bible to pass the time. She also gave me a pink bracelet she had made. I wondered if she just figured that pink was my favorite color or if she somehow knew.
Not long ago we moved to a temporary location because our old, shabby house is getting a $500,000 facelift. A number of our residents moved into nearby apartments and some had other living arrangements. We discuss them regularly as if they are our brothers and sisters. We worry about how they are getting along and call to check on them. Many of them came with us to our current location. When we move back to our refurbished house, there will be new faces and (hopefully) fewer roaches to keep us company. It did not take me long to figure out how I ended up in this old, funky-smelling house. And I really don't mind at all.

What if...

1. If you were talking in your sleep, what would you say?
"And then the mouse came in and did a handstand on top of the shoe."
2. If you were to treat yourself to the "finer things" in life, what would you treat yourself to?
A massage, mani- and pedicure, facial and body scrub, and COFFEE!!
3. Approximately how many jokes do you know by heart? Tell us your favorite one.
I know 2 jokes: What kind of shoes does a frog wear? Open-Toad.
A grasshopper walked into a bar. The bartender said, "Hey, did you know we have a drink named after you?" And the grasshopper said, "Really? You have a drink named Steve?"
4. Where is the worst place you've ever been stuck waiting?
The first time I met my in-laws, my husband's flight got there later than mine and I ended up spending about 3 hours with them and I had never met them before.
5. If you were invisible, where would you go?
In my supervisor's office when she got called into her supervisor's office!
6. What is your favorite flavor or Jelly Belly?
I can't stand jellybeans ~ ICK!
7. Give 3 adjectives to describe the perfect kiss.
Warm, soft, slow
8. What is your addiction?
9. What song reminds you most of a past or present relationship?
"Another One Bites the Dust"
10. Fill in the blank: When I dance, I look like a ______________.
My brother said I dance like a giraffe. I have never seen a giraffe dance so I'm not sure.
11. Who is one person you wish you'd never met?
I think we all know the answer to that question by now.
12. What is your greatest phobia.
Phobia = irrational fear that something will take your life. I was going to say snakes but that is not so irrational, snakes really can kill you. But I am scared to death of them!
13. If you were given a canvas and watercolors, what would you paint?
An abstract that describes all of my different emotions. Wow, that's going to be colorful!!
14. If you owned an enormous yacht, what would you name it?
My Little Anchovy
15. What have you tried in life and simply were not good at?
Tennis, relationships, running, losing weight, all kinds of things!
16. What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?
The Ring. Hoo, Boy! That was some scary stuff!!
17. If you were an animal, what would you be?
Probably an elephant or a hippo. But one day I'm going to be a gazelle!!
18. What do you need more of right now.
Hugs. More hugs please!!
19. If you were on a deserted island, what 2 books would you want with you?
The Bible, The Handbook for Island Survivors
20. What is the biggest indication that someone is a nerd?
When they wear their pants clear up to their armpits.
21. What is the worst piece of clothing someone can wear?
A tube top.
22. What is the grossest thing you've ever done in public?
I threw up in my friend's truck. And no, I wasn't drunk.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unexpected Gifts ~ !

So, as I was about to leave work this morning, my co-worker handed me a card. Turns out it was a Valentine card, good for a free donut at Crispy Creme! Then, after I came home from work this morning, I heard a knock on the door. I looked out the peep hole and there was a lady standing there with some stuff in her hands. You know how people look through the peep hole ~ you sometimes can't even tell who it is because they get real skinny in their feet and head and then the rest gets bigger. Very flattering. Anyhow, I opened the door and it was my neighbor, who has 3 children that I check up on every so often. She said, " Happy Valentine's Day!" and handed me a red rose, a balloon, and a bag of chocolates with a card from her 3 little ones. I was stunned! Later, after I had done some necessary shopping and come back home I was laying around being lazy. Since I had worked overnight and was tired, my plan was to take a shower, go grab something to eat, and settle in on the couch for a movie. So after my shower I got dressed and opened the door ~ and almost tripped over a beautiful vase of flowers that had been delivered from a real florist!! I was so overwhelmed I started crying. And these gifts were additional to the card I received from my mother (with a gift card inside, YAY!) and the card my dog sent me. Who knew he could write so neatly even without having opposable thumbs!?!
So many times we overlook the lovely things in our lives. Sometimes the world seems like such a scary place and then I am reminded that there are still generous and caring people like the ones who have blessed me today. Thank you everyone!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day ~ !

When I was little I loved Valentine's Day. I loved that we spent the entire week at school making special mail boxes in which to collect our Valentine cards. I loved spending the evening of the 13th filling out cards to give to my friends. The best part was the party at school where we get to have red cookies and pink cupcakes and chocolate! The whole day we could hardly get any work done because of the excitement. None of it had anything to do with "love" or "romance."

And then I grew up.

I guess I just expected the excitement of that day to go on throughout the rest of my life. With all of the jewelry and candy commercials on TV and the Hallmark movies and red balloons flying around I guess I was tricked into thinking that it was still supposed to be a magical day. February 14th started losing its magic around the time I graduated from elementary school. No more silly cards, no more cupcakes and red streamers. It was a day only for those who had a "significant" other. But when I stop to think about it, my life is full of "significant" others!

~Mom & Dad ~ who could BE more significant??
~Tug ~ yes, dogs are people too.
~My brother, Jeff ~ we are finding that we have more in common every day...
~My friend, Jennifer ~ who has helped me through a very rough patch.
~And her husband, Bill ~ who keeps us laughing hysterically.
~My co-worker, Bruce ~ thank goodness for his lasagna when I was too sad to shop for groceries.
~Amber ~ who offered to lend an ear at any time I needed even though she is the busiest person I know.
~Mary C ~ I don't have to worry about my parents because she calls them every day. And she is amazing in many other ways!
~Stephanie ~ who lets me rant and rave and completely understands.
~And most importantly, Jesus Christ ~ my true Valentine who taught me the real meaning of love by laying down his life for me.

The meaning of "significant other" has changed greatly for me. The list I've made is not complete but these are just a few examples of why I have come to treasure those I have in my life ~ on Valentine's Day and every day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Storm ~

I was talking on the phone with my mother during the storm. No, I mean the literal storm last night that covered the metroplex. She called to make sure I was OK and I told her that Tug (the dog) and I had gone to the car wash to avoid the hail. Upon hearing mention of Tug, she commented that Katy, "our" rat terrier was sitting in her lap shivering in fear because of the lightening and thunder.

I've been there when it happened before. Katy knows a storm is coming before the clouds even roll in. She trembles and shakes and no matter how much you comfort her, she is still anxious. So when I was told she was shaking I started wondering, "Why is she still afraid even when we hold her in our arms, soothing her and loving on her? Why can't she see that we aren't afraid and just trust that we are protecting her?"

Then ~ BAM ~ it hit me!

I had spent the past couple of days worrying and being anxious over my own storm when I was wrapped in the arms of a loving God. He saw my storm. Not only did He see it but He could also control it. It took me a while to calm down after getting myself all worked up but gradually I rested against Him and knew that everything would be fine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clean Slate ~

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; Some blunders and absurdities have crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered by your old nonsense.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A clean slate sounds good in theory. I would rather just clean off the bad stuff and keep the good, although I don't know if that is possible. I think the point Mr. Emerson is trying to make is that we should not be so hard on ourselves that our mistakes or misfortunes keep us weighed down in "if only I had..." Whether we knew better or not doesn't even matter ~ the consequences came out the same. Though we wish things were different, the truth is, they aren't!
I started this year with very good intentions. I thought, "A new year means a clean slate!" I was going to get in shape, get healthy, be more spiritual, and the list goes on. Life continued and I tried hard to do those things I had promised myself. Then something else happened and I kept thinking "If only I had..." then everything would be different! Now, not only was I dealing with the grief and sorrow of losing someone close to me. Not only did I feel the guilt and shame of failing to live up to my culture's expectations. It wasn't even just the fear and anxiety regarding employment and finances.
Finally I realized that the pattern of "if only I had..." was sapping me of the strength and energy to follow through on any of those beginning-of-the-year good intentions. It was also keeping me stuck in the depression stage of grief over what had recently happened.
So it's time to stop analyzing how things would have been different "if only I had" and start thinking of how to move forward. I'm not saying that we should not grieve, as grief is a healthy emotional response. I'm saying that it doesn't do any good to look at the past with regret. We have to work with what we have at this very moment. I have many things to be thankful for:
~ Physically health.
~ My parents and brother. I have an awesome family!
~ Personal relationship with God.
~ My job. I have one and many people do not.
~ My country and the freedoms I have.
~ My education and the endurance to finish all those papers!
~ Tug - my little buddy :)
~ Car, housing, clothing.
~ My LPC supervisor and the chance to learn new things.
~ Friends to call when I get lonesome/sad.
~ Future prospects, blessings in the works.
So I'm not sure if I really want a clean slate after all. Maybe it is best to keep it all on there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nothing Insightful

I have nothing insightful to write about today. I haven't blogged for a while because I haven't had my Internet at home and the one here at work was down. Oh, BTW, I am allowed to blog at work, even on the clock, because I work nights and I just have to be "here" in case something unusual happens. ANYways, so here's what is been going on lately.
I guess the most significant thing is that on Thursday I got a letter in the mail letting me know that I was to appear in court the next day to finalize my divorce. I never planned on being divorced (who does?) and I did absolutely everything I could to make it work. Sometimes I worry about what other people think and I am tempted to explain the whole doggone thing. On the other hand, the important people know what happened and they love me no matter what. It was painful. It was like losing a leg ~ it was never supposed to happen but it did and now I have to learn how to deal with it. So Friday, I fell off the wagon and went out to eat Mexican food with my friend, Jennifer, and her husband, Bill. We decided we had an "expansion project" going on because after that we went for ice cream. Dedgum! I'm not even supposed to be eating animal products!! I'm so sorry little cows and chickens!! But back to the subject (which I would much rather avoid all together). We had a good time and they made me laugh. But then on Saturday, I woke up around 9 a.m. and went directly to the couch, laid back down, and proceeded to cry until I had a whopping headache. My mother ended up coming to the rescue and I made it through the rest of the day, which included a trip to Dillard's, one of my favorite stores. The point is that now I am divorced and that's pretty scary to me.
Around the same time, I had to meet with my counseling supervisor. We were talking about Freud's concept of "Unfinished Business," which is regarding the fact that some people go through things and then later in life that thing that they went through comes back to bother them because they didn't "finish" it. For example, a little girl is abused and then when she is all grown up the memory of the abuse starts causing problems for her. How does she deal with that unfinished business? As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, my supervisor explains that we acknowledge the fact that we can not go back and change what happened. We must decide how we want things to be in the future and go forward from this point. That brings to mind a scripture, "Forgetting those things which are behind, I press on..." And from an Existential point of view, one would ask, "How has this event impacted my life and what can I glean from it?" In other words, how can this event (even though it's bad) be used as a tool for growth? God knows what we need to hear at just the right time. I keep hearing that conversation between my supervisor and I over and over and I have decided to pick up from this point on and move forward with my life. I can not change the past and I refuse to be stuck in a pattern of regret. So the alternative is to decide where to go from here and get on with it. As I said in my very first blog, the best is yet to come.