22 July 2017

Sad update

Please visit my other blog to see what the title means.  I can't write it twice.

10 July 2017

The Loveliness of Just Being

I have been trying really hard in recent years to be more mindful - especially with time.  Instead of always thinking of the next thing or place, I've been trying to make myself appreciate more the here and now.  It's not easy, as I generally have about 48 different things going on in my brain at any given time.  (Not necessarily big or important things, mind you.)  

But I have actually made a lot of progress, especially compared to when I started.  And yesterday was a perfect example of how nice it is when it works the way you would like it to work all of the time.

Here's the basic breakdown of my day:
  • Got up
  • Spent an hour or so just thinking, relaxing, reading, cuddling kitties
  • Fixed and ate some breakfast, with a cup of tea
  • Watched "CBS Sunday Morning," because I wanted to see the segment about Louise Penny
  • Check e-mail, read blogs
  • Cleaned up my breakfast stuff, and put on my sloppy clothes to do some garden work/sweeping up outside
  • Put some flowers into flowerpots
  • Put new topsoil on the planting areas in the front of the house and in the garden
  • Put decorative rocks in both places
  • Watered everything
  • Took a shower
  • Read a while
  • Knitted a while
  • Read some more
  • Walked to the market for a few things
  • Prepped a quiche for dinner and put it in the oven to cook
  • Read some more
  • Ate dinner
  • Cleaned up dishes so The Tim could wash them
  • Changed clothes to go to a concert
  • Went to concert
  • Came home, washed up, and put on my pjs
  • Went to bed
OK, so that is likely more detailed than you cared or needed to know.  But I did in fact do all of those things.  And the list is kind of long.   Even so, each thing was done with actual mindfulness.  I managed to do each thing on its own, not multitasking, not rushing through one thing because I knew others were coming up, or that I wanted to specifically accomplish x number of things in the day.  Granted, the things highlighted in blue were slightly more easily done since The Tim took a really long nap in the afternoon, so I was completely left to my own devices, but I could have done them as well if he'd been around (he's just a "let's do so-and-so RIGHT now" kind of person).  

I enjoyed my day.  The weather was really nice, so being outside in the garden was extra enjoyable.  But as I was reviewing the day in my head as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that I had been present during the whole day - the time when I was relaxing, reading, knitting, cooking, I was aware that not only was I doing it, but it was the only thing I was doing at the time.  And it felt nice, calming, and nothing felt like a chore.  

Maybe it's was the planets being properly aligned, because I have no delusions that this will be my life now.  But I have to tell you, it was really GOOD to experience just being.  And an even better feeling not to worry that I wasn't also doing ten other things, or planning all the things that should happen next.

In a word, it was lovely.  :-)

(Lake Gerar, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Photo by my niece Amanda)

*The concert, for those of you wondering (and I know I would be), was James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, and it was worth every single cent we'd paid for the tickets!

27 June 2017

I Often Wonder ...

Lots of things, to be honest.  But these things have been on my mind lately:

** How do some people always look perfect?  For instance, I have a next-door neighbor who works full-time running her own business, has a kid, a husband, and a dog, and no matter what, always looks amazing.  I don't mean, amazing as in always fully made up with her hair fixed just so, etc.  I mean, she will come back from running, and look better than I do on my best days.  Seriously, how is that possible?  I would just like to know.

** Do people still teach their children manners, and to be kind?  I am someplace where I am around a lot of kids all day long.  It seems that whether they are with their own parents, or with teachers/chaperones/other caregivers, politeness and kindness are the exceptions.  When I was a kid (during the mid-20th century), I knew that if I misbehaved AT ALL when we went someplace, that there were consequences.  And I didn't even have really strict parents, but there were still rules.

** When did being smart become something bad?  I don't mean being a know-it-all, or a show-off, I mean just being an intelligent person.  It seems that now, being smart means being "elite" and therefore not caring about anyone else.

** Why do we always hear that people who live in the Midwest are a) the only "real" Americans, and b) kinder than anywhere else?  Why don't "real" Americans live in Maine, or in Idaho?  And it's been my personal experience when I have lived in the Midwest that people there are no kinder than they are anywhere else that I've lived.  Frankly, I get pretty sick of hearing about it.

** If I had four children, people might comment about it, in that a lot of families these days are smaller than that.  But the fact that I have no children and four cats makes it open season on people declaring that I am some kind of weirdo Cat Lady.  No one ever calls a woman with four children a weirdo Kid Lady.

** How do people manage to knit so many things in such a short period of time, particularly when/if they have full-time jobs and a family?  I knit A LOT, and granted, I'm not the world's fastest, but even so, I have been feeling amazed at myself when I can knit a pair of socks in a month.  Do these other people never eat or sleep?

** Why do so many employers seem to frown upon people actually using their vacation?  Especially in the U.S., most of us get such a paltry amount (2 weeks out of a whole year??), and then when you actually ask for the time off, they act like you are some kind of low-life.   In many countries, workers routinely receive more time off, and are *expected* to take it, and somehow those countries and businesses still exist.  How shocking.

** And every day, every minute, I wonder how the current resident of the Oval Office still has people who think he's great.  I'm not sure I'll ever really be able to wrap my mind around that one.

15 June 2017

Glamour Do's and Don's

When I was a kid, one of my older sisters had a subscription to Glamour magazine.  She was all about fashion and style, and what was the latest, etc.  I would usually take a look at it, because I took a look at/read nearly everything that was in the house (seriously, my parents had no interest in censorship - I'm sure I'd be in the care of Child Services in today's world).  Sometimes I found it interesting, sometimes it was all beyond my interest or understanding, but my very favorite part ALWAYS was at the end of the magazine, where they would have the page of Do's and Don'ts.


This isn't really a good representation of what it used to look like, but you get the idea.  I used to enjoy this because, at least when I was a kid, I seldom saw people actually dressed or made up like the "Don'ts" and found it highly amusing.

I haven't looked at a Glamour magazine in many years, so I have no idea if I would have the same kind of appreciation for it.  But I'll still see people whose attire or makeup is astonishing/frightening/whatever and think to myself, "Surely that's a Don't."  But that's as far as I take it.

Today though, we have a LOT more people deciding what is or is not appropriate - in just about every category.  I am particularly fond of the ones where they inform us of what women should/should not wear/do after the age of ____ (fill in the blank).   I guess I find it even more shocking/amusing that to some, it's gospel truth!

But a friend recently showed me this item, and I was highly amused because: a) after 30??? are you kidding me???, and b) one of the items is hoop earrings!!!  When I read this, I laughed out loud, because I don't understand how hoop earrings are a problem for anyone of any age.







I'm afraid I don't get it.  Granted, I see some hoop earrings that are so large/heavy/embellished that I would never wear them myself, or I would find them uncomfortable if I did, but I've never seen anyone of any age wearing hoop earrings and thought, "Whoa, that shouldn't be happening."

Shorts where your butt is showing?  I don't personally want to see anyone wearing those.  Sheer tops/dresses/pants?  Same thing.  I mean, there are so many other things to choose from, and someone is taking a stand on HOOP EARRINGS???

If you're looking for me, I'll be taking off my hoop earrings, putting on my orthopedic shoes with rolled down  knee-high nylons, and sitting in my rocking chair until it's time for my medication.

23 May 2017

Kindness

"Always be a little kinder than necessary"
James M. Barrie

A few years ago, I became aware of the One Little Word concept through some blogs I follow.  In a nutshell, the idea is that you choose a word to guide you through the next year.  For instance, if you chose the word "Joy," you would try to guide yourself throughout the year to find, experience, and give joy.  It's a way of teaching yourself another way to be mindful.

I decided to try, and chose the word "Kindness."  Mainly because I knew in my heart that *true* kindness was difficult for me.  I have an easy time being kind to those I love, or to those who are kind to me.  I think everyone finds that pretty simple, even a no-brainer.  But it has always been hard for me to be kind to those who are not that way in return, or to those who didn't somehow measure up to my expectations.  I thought that perhaps if I could consciously become a kinder person, I would become a better and happier person.

At first, it was truly difficult.  I am not patient, and do not suffer fools gladly.  I also tend to be annoyed by things that don't even concern me, and am quick to judge.  I would find myself in my usual mode, and then remember that I was trying to be kind.  (I mean, I even bought a necklace with a pendant that said "Be kind" to help remind me!)

The funny thing was, as the year progressed, I started to realize that I had internalized my desire to be kinder and was often acting that way without having to consciously remind myself.  I tried to look at people and situations in a different light, which was a hard thing for me to do.

It was really hard.  It still is.  But today I'm a much kinder, much better person than I was before.  The One Little Word has really stuck with me, and there are several times a day I think of it.

These days, the world does not seem as kind as it may have been before.  It's difficult to turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or log in to social media and not come across some event, attack, behavior that is appalling, tragic, or inhuman.

I think that in this world, in these times, kindness is more important than ever.  And in a lot of small ways, I think it is stronger than ever.  Reading about the attack last night in Manchester, England, where completely innocent people attending a pop music concert fell victim to pure unadulterated evil, has emphasized this to me.  People in the town immediately started doing what they could to help.  Hotels opened their doors to those looking for a safe place to be.  Law enforcement did not just look for those who set off the bomb, they went into crisis mode to track individuals and provide what information they could as soon as it was available to them.  This morning on Twitter, there were so many messages from individuals offering people a place to stay, a home-cooked meal, or even just a cup of tea.  These are acts of kindness, maybe not ones offered every day to every random person, but there nonetheless when needed.

Sadly, there are more kinds of evil in the world than ever.  Fanaticism in its many forms seems to have increased.  Innocence, once lost, cannot be regained.  Evil, once unleashed, cannot be obliterated from existence.  Things can seem bleak, hopeless, and it's easy to be overwhelmed.

But if there is one thing I have learned in my own journey, it is this: there are no small kindnesses.  Every time you are kind to someone else just because you can be, you are standing up to evil and helping to restore humanity.

Be kind when you can be.  Even when it's hard.  Especially when it's hard.

15 May 2017

When the Unexpected Works Out

I would have to say that 99% of the time, I'm a fairly cautious person as far as buying things goes.  Particularly in the case of clothing, since getting things that both fit me and that I like for a price I am willing to pay can be tricky.

At the moment, I don't remember exactly how it turned out this way, but I recently found myself in the possession of a $75.00 J. Crew gift card (I think it was from a return of a gift after Christmas).  I'd forgotten all about it, and came across it when I was cleaning out various pieces of paper and whatever from my purse and wallet.  Hm, I thought - $75.00 is a lot of money, I should spend this.  So I poked around on the website, since the closest store to us is somewhat small, and I'd actually have to change out of my pajamas on a weekend to go there.

I saw a few things I liked, and gave them consideration, but then I saw these and for reasons I still do not completely understand, decided that maybe the gift card should go towards purchasing them.  There was some kind of sale going on, so between the gift card and the sale promotion, they were under $50.00.  Still in this state of weird unreality for me, I ordered them.

What was that about?  JEANS?  I have a hard time finding jeans that fit me and that I like.  And "boyfriend" jeans?  With rolled cuffs?  What in the name of a small black dog named Pete was happening to me?  First of all, it was unlikely they were going to fit; if they did, the legs would likely be too tight to suit me; and, they were probably going to look ridiculous.  My only consolation was that I knew I could return them, but I was irritated at myself, because why did I buy something that was not going to work?  

So then I probably saw something shiny, or thought about pie, because I completely forgot I'd ordered them and went on to be concerned about something else that I'm sure was unimportant.  As one does.

A few days later, the package arrived and I was actually embarrassed.  It was visual proof of my huge mistake in judgement.  But I opened the package, if nothing else, to see if it would be easier to return things via mail or get dressed and walk up to the store.

The thing is though, the jeans kind of looked nice.  And when I took them out of the plastic bag they had been shipped in, they didn't look all that "trendy" or tight.  They actually looked like they might fit.  And the rolled cuffs could be unrolled.  I was intrigued.  So I figured, what the heck, and tried them on.

Huh.  They FIT.  Really well.  And the legs were not tight.  And they looked nice, not like I was trying to make people believe I was 30 years younger and 20 pounds lighter.  Because I am not a supermodel, they were not as cropped on me as the picture on the website showed.  I actually liked them.  And so I decided to keep them.

Since that time, I've worn them four or five times, and it turns out that they are one of the nicest pairs of jeans I've ever owned.  Even The Tim, who seldom comments on anything I wear, said, "Are those new jeans? They look nice."  WHAT???  

I have decided that it was just one of those times when the universe was on my side, and the planets all aligned.  I am unlikely to ever order jeans online again, from any website, because I feel like I've used my one free pass.  

But boy is it making me happy in the meantime ... :-)


See?  HAHAHAHAHAHA - who IS this???

09 May 2017

An Unpopular Rant

I noticed my last post was in March.  Ugh.  Sorry about that.  It's been a rough few months, and though the desire was there, the making of time was not.  Hopefully I'll get back here on a more regular basis.

Of course, if I am lambasted and made a social outcast by this post, maybe not ...

Disclaimer:  I think that parental leave is a very important issue, and that it's clear the U.S. needs to get their act together - and I think fathers need as much access to it as mothers do.

Having said that, I think that employers also need to determine how to deal with the work not being done while someone is on maternity leave.

Of the seven times I've been working with someone who has taken maternity leave, there has been only one time when that person came back to work full-time after the official leave time was up.  The others either quit over the phone the day before they were supposed to return (for real - they were able to get the full benefit), or extended their leaves indefinitely, right before or after returning to work.

As someone who has taken up to eight weeks for medical leave, I fully understand that it's inconvenient for co-workers and employers.  Either the work doesn't get done at all, because you are the only one who knows your position (my case), or someone else has to do their work and yours for the time period when you are out.

Currently though, there is a situation at work that is making my days miserable.  One of my co-workers took maternity leave beginning on December 5, 2016.  She was due to be back on March 6, 2017.  During the time she was gone, I was told (not asked, not suggested) that I would be doing her job as well as mine (which is already a job that four people used to do).  No extra pay, of course.

In the spirit of being supportive, and knowing that people had to deal with me being out on medical leave a few years back, I did my very best between December and March.  I was not allowed to take any days off that were not already scheduled, which was a pain, and when I broke my ankle and DARED to be out for two days, I was reminded of the importance of being at work.  Blah blah blah.

March 6 arrived, and the co-worker returned.  At a departmental staff meeting on March 8, it was announced that the co-worker missed her baby too much and didn't want to put him in day care all of the time, so she would be coming in for 1-2 days a week "indefinitely."  She is still considered full-time and being paid and getting benefits as such.  Nice work if you can get it, if you ask me.

I then asked our boss (privately) what this meant for my workload, and it was like I was speaking Ubangi or something.  What did I mean?  Of course I would keep doing her work, she is at home with a baby!  She will be "working from home" a lot and "checking in."  (She is a person who deals with the public all day, every day, btw.)  They can't afford to hire someone to fill in for her, and don't have any extra funding anyway.  So I will be continuing in the current situation "indefinitely."

When I was on medical leave, I did not receive any pay or benefits, so went back to work as soon as it was at all possible, and was not given a part-time option.  I completely understand that my co-worker finds it hard to leave her baby, I'm sure it is.  I'm sure she is also exhausted a lot of the time.  I know her life has changed dramatically.

But again, I'm stuck.  And frankly, I'm annoyed about it.  HR says it's not an "HR issue," and even a friend of mine said that I should not be complaining because someone was extending *maternity* leave!  Because, as I'm told whenever a co-worker with kids gets time off and I don't, "I don't have a family, and they do."  (Apparently The Tim and the kit kats are bogus family.)

Employers need to realize that maternity/paternity leave is essential for the employees directly involved, but also for those picking up for them as well.  I am barely able to complete any of my work, and I refuse to start working longer hours because of this.

OK, I may have lost a lot of you here, and if so, I'm sorry.  But it's unfair, and frankly I'm royally sick of it.

If you are still here, thanks for reading to the end, regardless of your feelings.  I'll try harder next time to post something less bitchy.  :-)