I have to apologize in advance. Because I am posting this I am asking for forgiveness. I couldn’t help myself…I needed a break and found my self surfing the web. I also hadn’t posted on my blog for awhile and needed something interesting.
You have to admit it goes along with my new job and new boss pretty well.
OK I’ll be quiet.
Again my sincerest apologies.
I have a new friend…I think. He shows up whenever I open my back porch door for some air. I could be doing laundry or washing dishes or just plain sitting at my computer working when suddenly he will appear…
She’s actually my real boss, not Sister Ann. When she comes into your office she insists that she receive a treat – immediately. It doesn’t matter if you are typing, on the phone or busy writing, she suddenly appears in your office after she’s made her rounds to everyone else along the hallway.
Her eyes bore into the side of your head until you turn around and acknowledge her. She’s been taught not to bark and will not. One time she actually did bark in the building and was reprimanded sharply. We were all instructed not to give her treats that day. That was a sad day in the life of a canine.
Oh. I probably should have mentioned… We ALL have little jars in our offices with dog bones on them. Sister Ann goes around regularly refilling them with the “treats” Jewel quietly demands.
If you choose to ignore her she will go away but after awhile she will suddenly materialize again as if to remind you that she hasn’t forgotten and neither should you.
Jewel reminds me of my dog Koyuk who passed away after 13 years together. He also had the same type of piercing blue eyes (only one of Jewel’s eyes are blue) and the same quiet intensity when focused on something. He always used to stare at me too.
Recently I have started taking Jewel with me for lunch time walks. I suppose the next time she’ll be staring at me is with her leash in her mouth and I’ll have to get up and go walk her. Maybe I’m creating a monster.
When staring doesn’t work Jewel uses her nose to push into you. Once she even typed letters on my keyboard putting her nose on it and nudging it. I think she was trying to type “EAT” because it was a string of E’s that showed up on the screen.
I made the mistake once of leaving her treat jar low enough on a table to where it was eye level to her. She knocked it off the table with her nose, then looked at me while wagging her tail, as if to say “now that I have your attention…OPEN IT and gimme some!”
Of course I gave her
a few one.
I mean who could resist this stare?! It’s like being hypnotized.
I accidentally stumbled upon the fact that a dear friend of mine had passed away a couple of months ago. I have this habit of Googling people, particularly when I haven’t heard from them in awhile and I was actually looking to see if her address had changed or if anything new and noteworthy had taken place since the last time we talked several months prior. We did that…talked “regularly” every 3 or 4 months. Her life was full and busy and she had grandchildren and traveled often, so we had an understanding.
Sadly, it wasn’t the news that I wanted to hear or anything anybody wants to hear for that matter. I saw her name along with the words “Memorial Service” (1948-2011) and was in shock! Zita was like a second mother to me. I met her in Nome, Alaska through the church. The pastor that I was temporarily living with decided that I wasn’t being subservient enough and I moved in with the people who I ended up working for at Norton Sound Mental Health. At the age of 24, green, scared and confused, she took it upon herself to take over some of the mothering that I so desperately needed.
She was wary at first, reminding me that she didn’t know me and would have to think about some of the requests I had asked for, like spending a night at their house until I moved into other permanent housing, but gradually warmed to me as I to her. She taught me things about housekeeping that I still do today. I remember her teaching me how to sew a pair of slippers that I had admired of hers. When I asked her to make me a pair she said, “make your own” and proceeded to show me how to cut out a pattern with sheepskin and stitch with a heavy needle and thick thread.
She made everything from scratch and rarely bought anything from the store. She even made many of her own clothes and some of her husband’s. She made me a beautiful quilt that I still pull out and put on my bed during cold winters. She enjoyed life, was “never bored” and wanted so much more for everybody around her.
For over 20 years Zita and her husband Mike and I kept in touch via email. She referred to herself as my “mother from the North.” They stayed at my home when they were in California…twice. I visited them in their home in North Dakota and met up with them at different places throughout the country for weekends.
Over time her children married and had their own children. Mike and Zita would send emails, pictures and annual letters telling of the grandchildren and their adventures whenever they traveled. Zita was an apartment manager and did small odd jobs here and there..her husband, an engineer. Both were very active in the church.
Over the years her health began to decline…one of the last emails she sent to me reported…
Mike spends a lot of his time taking good care of me. My inherited ataxia, which affects my motor functions, is slowly getting worse. I found out that I gave it to both Hans and Gretchen.
I have a hard time picturing Zita slowing down but she did. I don’t know too much about ataxia but from what I understand she ultimately died from it. She passed away on May 24th very peacefully.
Zita was a bubbly, busy, happy person. Her husband and children were blessed to have her. I was blessed to have known her.
A beautiful memorial website is posted in her memory here.
Rest In Peace, Zita.
After I made my declaration and proclaimed myself free of bondage from the slavery of a restrictive workplace, I ventured out on my own and tried to make a go of it. I was moderately successful in some money making ventures involving food and preparing meals for those who couldn’t themselves or didn’t want to. While it brought in cash it wasn’t enough to cover all the bills. While I was denied unemployment and waiting for the appeal process to begin, I had a reality check (while I REALLY wished it was one for money.) The reality was that I needed to get another job and then focus my energies on doing something on the side… not vice versa.
You see, it had been my dream to strike out on my own and make something of myself without the confines and restrictions of an employer, but in reality I wasn’t totally prepared for what that involved. Sure, I had the gumption and will power to push through whatever I had to, but in the long run it was draining and my energy was zapped because I focused so hard on just trying to keep my head above water.
So when I decided that I really needed to focus my energies on finding another job I contacted a very good friend of mine who also happens to do career counseling. She said to me, “you may find yourself working in a job you really like but in an environment that you do not… and you may also find yourself in a a good environment but with a job you actually hate.” During an intense self-exploration session she helped me to hone in on what it was that I was REALLY looking for in a job.
As a portion of the session she gave me a handful of cards with words on them. Then she had me place them in three categories; VERY IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT, NOT IMPORTANT…I was asked to look specifically at the things that were VERY IMPORTANT to me and to write as summary of my work experience with each one. They are as follows:
1. Service – I’ve always loved serving others in the community and have made my career in service oriented environments.
2. Genuineness- Genuine emotions and feelings are very important to me. I do not suffer fools or superficiality. Unfortunately, many of the places that I worked did not share those views among the employees.
3. Health – I’m a cancer survivor so health is a great big factor for me. Unfortunately, being so stressed out to the point of chronic stomach pain due to organizational chaos and poor leadership became part of my last work experience.
4. Friendship – It’s not mandatory but I do like making friends and have made a few very good ones along my career path.
5. Honesty – A must in every workplace…quite the opposite in many of them, sadly.
6. God’s Will – This really should have been number one. It’s amazing though how if you ask Him he will tell you what His will is for you and you will live your life accordingly.
7. Spirituality – It is not necessary for everyone to worship identically to me but to at least acknowledge Someone greater than themselves and if they don’t at least to have the ability to respect those that do.
After our session I had an intense clarity of where I had gone wrong in the past. Had I followed the principals that I had outlined in this exercise it probably could have saved me years of heartache…but hindsight always being 20/20 I have no way of knowing.
Two days later I got a job…with a nun. Sister Ann’s mission embodies everything outlined in the exercise that I did with my friend. I am now the Program Manager/Client Outreach Coordinator at Bay Area Crisis Nursery. I still volunteer with my church and am still trying to recruit volunteers, donations and interest in programming and growing Community Services through our church.
BACN has a fabulous group of staff and volunteers that work together smoothly and seamlessly ensuring optimal performance for their clientele. I am orienting to the organization and have had the privilege of working shifts with the staff I will be supervising. While I am exhausted, I am honored, amazed and blown away by this group of wonderful human beings whose sole purpose is to serve children and families in the Bay Area.
I am also amused by the amount of overlap between the Community Services and the Crisis Nursery. Many of the same outside resources and donations are the same at both organizations. I have begun to feel as if I am at the Nursery to learn how to help the Community Services run more effectively as I am learning a tremendous amount.
God does have His ways of answering prayers even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. I should also add that he works on His own timetable. He usually is not early but He is never late. The greatest lesson I have learned in all of this is a) I don’t run anything. God is in control. b) Put your trust in God. Then relax.
First and foremost I work for God. Sister Ann just happens to be one of the paths in working for Him. The Nursery is not a Catholic organization, she just happens to be “the old lady who got all this started.” She told me, as I was talking about what I’d like to see happen at Community Services, “we may not be of the same faith but we serve one God, talk to Him about your plans.”
I learned a lot and I grew up a lot during this brief period of unemployment. Not only did I manage to land a job within four months… I found a job in this poor economy (when so many I know of remain out of work and have been for at least 2 years.) I found that I was dreaming the wrong dream for myself and that I put my needs before everyone else’s. My reality is now focused on others and not myself…and to think a nun helped my dream become a reality!
My path has become clearer and much more focused, making my life’s journey that much easier because I am learning to let go and let Him lead.
I think I’m going to enjoy the journey.
Next week my niece and little brother will get on a plane and fly to Glasgow, Scotland to see my sister and her husband, whom I affectionately refer to as “Them.” This is a first for both my niece and brother, to get on a plane and fly by themselves. But together. Away.
You might think I’m talking about a 5 year old and a 7 year old but they are actually 21 and 19.
I keep seeing the babies that they were when they were first adopted. Each less than two pounds, with oxygen cannulas. Now they’ve grown up and they’re going… away. Considering the physical and mental challenges that the two of them have overcome, I don’t know why I have any concerns for their safety or well being on this trip. If anything it should be the pinnacle of adulthood for the two of them. I know they will be safe and handle themselves well but maybe… its other people that could potentially harm them that I fear the most. Whatever it is, I am working hard to get over it.
I was rudely reminded about a week ago that they were grown up.
I had accompanied my brother to a parent meeting in regards to his senior trip because my mother was ill and couldn’t go. After the meeting there were permission slips given out to turn in before everyone left. As I leaned forward with my pen to sign the slip, my brother said, as the paper was snatched away from me, “dude, I’m 19, I can sign for myself.”
Oh. Guess homeboy really is at an age where he can do things on his own, I thought, as I watched him walk ahead of me afterwards with a swagger in his step, a hand in his pocket, and the other hand gesturing for my car keys.
Earlier that same week my niece reminded me with an exasperated sigh. “Auntie Tam, I’ve been in college for almost three years now, I think I can handle getting on a plane.
Well geez… What was I thinking?
It’s probably a good idea that I never had any children. They would be trying to get away from me all the time and I’d be trying to follow them.
As it is I told myself that I would not go to the airport with them. I would probably fall on the ground and roll around wailing. Then they’d have to take me away because they would probably think I was a terrorist trying to use my antics as a decoy for some type of weapon of mass destruction or something.
Or maybe I would just end up in a psychiatric facility.
Maybe it would be better if I kept such thoughts to myself.
They need to go away as young adults with lives of their own.
And they’ll only be gone a week.
And I will be OK.
Please forgive me for this post.
What you see from here is the finished product, a labor of love, a fresh start.
Here is my office!
Now I have a platform through which I can focus on what’s needed for developing the community service center.
Note that these pictures were taken on my camera phone so don’t blame me for the unprofessional look.
Here’s what you see when you walk in. I know the sun blaring through the window is not helping but adjust your eyes and imagine.
Now you’re looking out towards the door at the bookshelf (that I snagged from the hallway and got rid of the junk sitting on it).
Here’s the cozy corner created with a donated couch and a chocolate brown cover. The lamp is from Target, the pic on the wall is a gift from my mom and the fake plant was brought from home.
I ordered this wall art from a company called The Country Door. I thought the choice was very appropriate in light of what’s been happening in life lately. It’s not the best picture I admit, but it gets the message across.
B L E S S I N G S
It’s what my life is full of.
I love Anne Taintor and her witty, vintage artwork. I’ve even purchased some of it for my own home. I especially like this particular caption because in some ways its true. Frugal can be an ugly word, depending on what context you put it in.
Frugal to some could be described as tight, mean and miserly. Cheap, tightwad and stingy. To others it means practical, thrifty, or economical and pennywise, provident or efficient.
These days I’m all about trying to conserve my resources and live frugally. Not that I was wildly spending money to begin with but I really need to watch my pennies even closer. I’ve been a subscriber to a few blogs that highlighted being smart with money and I thought that I’d share them with you. Being frugal DOES NOT need to be an ugly word.
Since I’ve become unemployed I’ve been busier than ever. Yes, I still wonder where my next paycheck is coming from and am actively looking to replace my income, but at the same time I’ve been WORKING. I mean hard, schlepping, good for the soul physical labor.
I have buried myself in my volunteer project and am exhausted but very satisfied and happy that I am doing this work. It’s a great distraction and at the same time helping me build my portfolio towards getting paid work in the same environment in the near future. Keeping a positive attitude is what it’s all about these days.
One of my projects includes volunteering at my church community services center…which is functioning minimally at best. Back in October I was asked if I would take over as social services coordinator. The director of the center was looking to expand the center’s services and reach a wider population. Given my background, work experience and education I was able to offer a wealth of advice.
For years the community center has operated through the kind and loving hearts of a few long term volunteers but without an infrastructure or any real organization. Ultimately it has became a free for all, a mere dumping ground for used clothes and busted electronics. Church members view the community service center as something apart from the congregation. Once or twice a year they turn their attention to it when it’s brought into focus, but it’s not the thriving, flourishing, strong and organized hub of service and integral part of church that it should be and has the potential to be.
That’s where I come in, and not a moment too soon. My goal is to change the face of the center and to put it back in the forefront of the church’s mission.
But first things first…
As of December 2010 I found out I had an office. Only there was one problem. There were clothes piled high up to the ceiling plus some other unidentifiable junk on shelves that had to come out first before I could move in….and there was no place to put it. After speaking to my director he eventually found a place to move all the stuff and was kind enough to put in a desk and file cabinet…still it was a problem. I could not handle the decor!
Here’s the wall before the shelves came out. Charming isn’t it? Flowery wallpaper with rickety black shelves…Nate Berkus would be proud. NOT! There were actually other pictures that I took but your computer would shut down from all the hideousness if I posted them.
Actually this picture makes the wallpaper looks whimsical…let me tell you it wasn’t! I could hardly think, let alone make a phone call with all that green, yellow, powder blue and faded, stained white wallpaper from 1960. It simply would not do. So I asked my director if I could do an extreme makeover. He gave me the go ahead and I began scraping immediately.
Here’s what was beneath the wallpaper..
Somebody help me!!!!!!!!
Actually somebody did.
She didn’t know I was taking this picture she was so “in the zone.” Trying to conquer the Blue Wall of Death requires intense concentration.
Finally, the painting was finished. We did a heck of a job considering that none of us are professionals.
Thanks to my dad the trim even came out great!
It’s been nearly two weeks of scraping old wallpaper, washing walls, caulking, spackling, taping and painting. I never knew I had so many muscles in my body that could be so sore!
I feel great! I’m proud of myself! This whole process has been cathartic and therapeutic. I feel like this is the beginning of something great and not just because I’ve aesthetically changed an office. I am about to start a revolution. I’m ready to inspire others to take action, to overhaul what’s old and worn out, to start fresh and new, inviting others along for the journey.
Maybe I should have called this post From Hot Mess to Happiness.
Stay tuned…once the office is decorated, the filing system is complete and I began to tackle the first issues in putting the community services back on the map, I’ll continue to document that progress as well.
He may be gone but he’s definitely not forgotten. Jack LaLanne passed away from complications of pneumonia at the age of 96…complications of pneumonia, not a heart attack, not a stroke, not cancer. Complications of an illness that probably was too advanced for a person his age. In other words he lived a long and very healthy life. Even in his last days, Jack LaLanne remained fit and worked out for two hours a day.
A San Francisco icon, he was known as the “godfather of fitness”. I remember my mom watching his exercise show sometimes. His signature body suit and ballet slippers cracked me up. I know that he helped millions of people wearing that get up to become active and fit.
He will be greatly missed but his legacy lives on and inspires me and others to try to be active every day.
Thanks Jack! and rest in peace. I hope that I can help keep your legacy alive.