Perspective

Perspective

In this picture it looks like it might be raining…however, that is just melted snow. I snapped this after a quick stop to grab a coffee on my way to work and while it’s a simple picture, taken with my IPhone, it actually represents so much more than water drops on my window.

Taken in the early morning commute you can see parts of what is one of my favorite places in this beautiful city. This particular morning would mark the last day of what has been a very long, and at times, depressing chapter of my own making. I spent this drive reflecting back on my struggles and successes of the past several months.

July 1, 2015, after a flurry of changes at work and some knee-jerk reactions and decisions on my part, I would find myself in position of forced resolve and great regret. While I felt a small amount of justification in leaving a bad situation, I soon discovered that my haste would land me in all-too-familiar and undesired territory.  Long story short, I accepted a job that I knew deep down I did not want. And, if I’m completely honest, I took it because I was hurt and I wanted to make the person who had hurt me suffer. Already in the midst of very personal and emotional crossroads, this would be my rock bottom. The next few months would be difficult but on this drive, on this morning, I was able smile and recognize that while I certainly do not ever want to find myself in this place again, this is exactly what my hurting soul and selfish heart needed.

First, the long commute, while not completely intolerable, would prove to be an ultimate attitude adjustment. Gas prices initially were higher and would be a source of frustration whenever I found myself at the gas pump or dealership for an all-too-often oil change. I started eating out less to help cover the additional costs. I was a little more aware of the miles that I put on my Jeep outside of work and made fewer and fewer unnecessary trips into town. I also grew tired of the same radio stations and started listening to BBC News and Family Talk radio. While I know that my problems are sometimes legitimate, I spend entirely too much time feeling sorry for myself and need to sincerely learn to appreciate the very wonderful blessings that I have been given. There are people all over this world living with conditions that no human-being should have to endure, yet there are amazing stories of how they do it with such grace and dignity, how can I possibly live in my warm, comfortable home, eat more food in one meal than many see in a week, and then snivel about not liking my job?

Then there was the job itself. Honestly, I hated it. Every morning was a struggle, I even started ruining whole weekends because all I could think was Monday would be here and I’d have to go back. What’s the good in that? Hmmm…I learned just how self-centered I had become. I have an amazing husband who has made so many selfless sacrifices that I was aware of but never really, really appreciated…until now. I have great friends but I never realized just how very privileged I am to know these people and have their kindness and support. The job forced me to do things that I simply did not want to do and when you find yourself doing things you do not want to do you learn to either wallow or make the best of it. I confess there were days that I wallowed but some days I simply did the job, stopped thinking of my own self and discovered that I have the ability to impact others in a positive way.

Outside of work I started really seeing what matters. I began to let go of a lot of insignificant baggage and learned that I no longer have to live with self-doubt. I do not have to be that selfish, self-center, self-protected person who refused to let go of a past that I cannot change. Spending my life focusing on guilt, regret and all that’s wrong is preventing me from living the life I so desperately want.  As I spent months searching and interviewing for a new job, I learned patience and I soon discovered that the job market has changed and is not overly-friendly. Every interview, every revision of my resume, every rejection was a blow and while it was beyond frustrating I also felt each one chipping away at my entitled ego. I would need to be persistent and rely on the help of others but eventually I would finally get the call I had been hoping and praying for.

Now, I sit here with a new perspective. In this moment, looking out this window, in this beautiful snow, in a city that I adore, feeling loved and supported by those close to me, I know that no matter what I do not have, I have everything.

 

Distracted

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My bedside table…here you will find an assortment of photography books, two different calendars, three journals (a fourth in one of the drawers), a notebook, the new Comeback book and study guide I just bought, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline that I borrowed from a friend (I’ve read the first two chapters), my IPad, four other self-help books that I really want to read, my bible and of course my clock, lamp and cell phone and ironically Stress Relief lotion.

I woke up this morning with a dull headache and in one of those moods that you can never quite figure out whether it’s a good or bad one. I wanted to do nothing but also wanted to do so many things. I knew my daughter was coming over, I needed to get groceries and if I didn’t do laundry I was going to have some tough decisions about tomorrows wardrobe. The weather was insanely perfect for January so I really wanted to get out for a hike or walk but the sun was bright and hurt my head. I really needed to watch some of the shows on my DVR before it fills up and begins to randomly delete them and I had promised myself that I would have my scrapbook space organized by the end of January (which would be today).

I finally threw off my covers and swung my feet off the bed, immediately regretting the speed with which I sat up. A strong pounding turned what had been a dull ache into roar. Elbows on knees I rested my head in my palms and sat there for a minute with my eyes closed until the thundering returned to a slow steady thumping and then finally eased into a tolerable, dull ache again.  Opening my eyes I caught a glimpse of the pile of books and binders on my floor then glanced up at the only slightly smaller stack on the night stand. Uugh…looking away, I slid my feet into my slips and headed to the kitchen for coffee.

I was out of creamer (need groceries), so my coffee was slightly less than satisfactory but it was enough to get me mobile. I started the laundry, cleaned up the kitchen and then ran out for groceries and was home by 12:30pm in time to spend an all-too-rare afternoon with my daughter. I was able to get some of my scrapbook stuff together while she and her friend worked on a few pages of their own and I even spent a nice slice of the afternoon with my son creating a barnyard on MineCraft. Who knew it could be so much fun?! By late afternoon my headache was killing me, my back hurt and that stack of books and things in my room had become increasingly more annoying to me. What was suppose to be a dinner of pork chops, roasted potatoes and green beans, turned into a quick bowl of cereal so I could lay down and try to lose the headache in time to still get a few things done before the inevitable Sunday evening slump hit.

Unfortunately laying down meant looking at that pile of books…did it get bigger somehow? I laid down anyway but kept glancing over at the bothersome books. So many, so much…too many, too much…photography, fiction, how to move past your past, how to let go of mistakes…happiness, organization…being creative…SERIOUSLY!?

I got up, grabbed my camera and took this photo…several of them actually. I kept moving my tripod, opened blinds, shut the blinds, turned on the lamp, shut off the lamp. Tried with the flash and without. Played around with my remote shutter release (that was fun!) and then finally took this one. (I did play around with it on my computer and applied a pencil sketch filter to it because I like that filter and very seldom use it.) When I finally finished and had the photo the way I wanted it, I noticed that my headache had subsided and I was much calmer. But I also know that I’m struggling. I’m pretty sure I have some sort of AADD, it’s not just assorted random books that I find difficult to focus on. Cleaning my house should be an olympic event the way I do it. I fly around from room to room doing random things here and picking things up there. It all gets done but if people were to watch me doing it they might consider calling in a psychiatrist and having me checked out. What’s funny to me is that I don’t seem to notice it at work as much. However, I do multitask like nobodies business.

It has been a month since I started this blog and I must admit that I am enjoying it and I love that it is giving me some focus, however distracted it may be at times. In the search of living a mindful, purposeful life I do need to try and reign things in a little. For the month of February I’m going to tackle that proverbial annoying pile next to my bed and work to become a little more focused. By that, I mean to take all of those books and put them away. I’m going to pick one and read it. I will continue to make it a goal to get my camera in my hands every single day (and I need to be okay if once in a while that camera is my phone) and I will at the very least post at least one of the pictures I have taken that day. Once a week I hope to share something similar to this post. It may just be about my week or the book I’m reading. I just want to make sure that whatever I do, I do with purpose and heart.

Momma

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Today I pulled into my driveway, parked in my garage, walked into my kitchen and into the arms of my son. This is what we do almost everyday, when he’s not completely engrossed in a game or tv show. Tonight, he and his dad were making dinner and it smelled delicious.

We fixed our plates and then did something else we do almost every night, we sat down around our coffee table, in front of the tv. As we ate and chatted about our days, we watched “Master Chef Junior”. Two nine-year-old girls were battling it out to see who would be the ultimate Jr. Chef and take home the coveted trophy and a check for $100,000. A commercial break showed a dad swinging his daughter around in a circle in their front yard, as soon as he set her feet on the ground she begged to go again.

As I sat there in my living room, next to my smiling, happy, healthy son, watching these nine-year-old wizard chefs and listened to the little girl giggle and beg to be swung again, I couldn’t help but feel so amazingly blessed and a little bit overwhelmed.

On my drive home I had been listening to a news report about women who had been killed during a peaceful protest. I forget what country, I’m not even sure what the protest was about, my attention was focused on the heartbreaking story of one woman who testified that she had been at the market that day with her five-year-old son, when someone threw an RPG into the crowd. She, herself, was riddled with shrapnel but still she frantically looked around for her son and found him laying on the ground. All he said was, “momma” and then died.

The picture above is of my son, when he was five. It was his very first day of school. I remember it vividly. His happy chatter as he finally woke up and became excited about what this new adventure might bring. When I finally got him to sit down on the steps for me to take a photo, I had to be quick because sitting still and being quiet were not his thing. (Something we would be reminded of at every parent-teacher conference from that point on.)

I simply cannot fathom what that mother, and so many others, must be going through. My mind cannot comprehend how human beings can be so incredibly cruel to one another. And I feel ashamed at my own mindless complaining of the trivial inconveniences of my daily life. We have a comfortable, happy home, no shortage of food to eat and live relatively safe lives. Simple basics that so many in this world will never have. Yet, just the other day I recall being exasperated as my son yelled, “mom” from his room for what seemed like the millionth time.

I hope this woman’s tragedy serves as a constant reminder to me to cherish every-single-second that I have with my children and to smile and say a prayer every time I’m blessed by the sound of their voice calling me “mom”.

Hanging Up

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Today I yelled at a woman over the phone. To be fair, she simply would not stop talking and let me ask a simple question. Instead she just kept talking louder. Yelling at people is not my style but I have learned that there are some people who will not listen to reason. Maybe this person leads a stressful life and the only way she manages to get anything accomplished is to continually talk down to and over people or, maybe she’s just not nice. I have no idea. I only know that after five minutes of me trying to get a word in and her ever growing condescension I had finally had enough. I snapped at her that I would need to get back to her tomorrow, to which she snapped “No later than noon!” and I hung up.

 

After the phone call, I shut down my computer, told my boss good night and took the back roads home. I listened to a report on “sleeping beauties”, languages that are becoming non-existent but have the ability to be revived. It was fascinating and sad at the same time. As they talked about Aborigines and Himalayans I noticed an old farm in the distance. There was even a small roadside cemetery I could pull into and safely get this shot. The phone call and stress of the day vanished and I was reminded that despite everything there is still good in this world. There are still people who are willing to work hard and help an entire people restore their native language. There are still friends who are willing to listen when it’s been a long day and there are still (thankfully) wonderful old barns. I just wish, like some of the languages they were talking about, that there was a way to revive these beauties.