Sunday, June 18, 2017

Find a Job: Check

It was the week before last. I was in the midst of wedding mania, with a to-do list as long as my arm and another hundred things I was hoping to get done if I could before everyone got here. So, you'll understand if my job hunt wasn't my first priority. I was kinda-sorta doing it; responding to emails, checking the listings, but my attention was elsewhere.

That Monday, when yet another recruiter called about a possible opening, I was polite, but dismissive. I didn't hit all of the employer's checkboxes, and I'd been turned down more times than I could count for such a gap in my resume. But, he thought they'd at least want to talk to me, so I told him to go ahead and submit me for the job. What the heck.

Tuesday, to my surprise, he called back - they wanted to talk to me! I told him Friday was out of the question, but I should be able to do Wednesday or Thursday. To my surprise, he called back shortly - Wednesday was a go!

So, Wednesday afternoon I put on my best interview duds and trucked on downtown for the interview. I managed to put all thoughts of wedding preparations out of my head, and focus on the task at hand. It went well, I liked them well enough, they were still smiling when I left. As I was leaving, the manager told me they'd be making a decision the following week. "Great!", I thought. "This frees me to focus on the wedding; I don't have to worry about how the interview went until next week."

I got a call from the recruiter's office on my way home, which I returned as soon as I walked in the door. He asked how the interview went, I told him I thought it had gone well. Then he said, "It went more than well. You blew them away! They called me and told me to cancel the rest of the interviews and offer you the job."

I can't recall another word of the conversation. Presumably I was properly enthusiastic and professional. Talk about being blown away - they had made up their minds to hire me within 20 minutes of my leaving their office.  Really??? Really!

I start tomorrow.
Ready, set, go?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Father's Day

I miss my dad.

but it's not with the same intensity as I miss my mom. Recently, I've started to dig into the why's of that just a bit. His death certainly wasn't as wrenching; by the time he died, he was retired and living in Arizona, and I saw him at most once a year; talked maybe three or four times beyond that.

He was just 69 when he died - old enough to have lived a good life, young enough that he never got to be old. The week he died, he'd visited me in Kansas City on his way to Maria's wedding, then stopped in Iowa to see my brother. He died of a heart attack in his sleep. This may well be part of the lack-of-intensity-why - he didn't suffer, he just went to bed and forgot to wake up.

These past few months, as I haven't been working at a job, his voice keeps coming back to me.

I hear him finishing my bedroom when I was eight or nine - and making a common cutting mistake; he cut the mirror image he wanted of the paneling he was installing. Rather than getting upset, he calmly matched his cut and installed the board, telling me, "the important part is not that you never make a mistake, it's that you know how to fix it."

I see him fixing the old lead drainage pipe, embedded in the concrete floor of the second story bath in my old house. "That should hold for a while", he said, "just don't try to poke anything down it". It did - for at least another fifteen years.

I hear his voice telling me evenly, after I told him I was thinking of getting a divorce (when I was young, divorce was not considered one of the options within a marriage; I feared his disapproval.), "I can't tell you what to do here - you need to do what you need to do."

When he arrived for that last visit, he and my step-mother had just had a fight and hadn't quite resolved it. It seems she was upset about something, and was having her say. He was quietly nodding along, and she was fine with his nodding until he nodded in the wrong place. It was then she found he had turned off his hearing aids, and couldn't really hear what she was saying at all. She was still a tad bit upset; he just admitted being in the wrong with a small half-smile that told me he wasn't really sorry.

Yeah, I miss you, Dad.
Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Wedding

A while back, I wrote about Joe and Rita-Marie - how I'd set something in motion between them - but they had taken it from there.

Well, they've taken it to a happy conclusion - they were married last weekend.

It's been a long time since I was closely involved in planning a wedding. It was madness, and theirs was low-key! Rita-Marie was the opposite of Bridezilla, whatever you call it. (Must not happen very often, if we don't have a word for it...) She just wanted her friends and family there to celebrate with them. Really. No discussions about colors and dresses and menus. Their attendants were free to wear whatever they thought would look nice, and they had a pot-luck dinner reception. (thank goodness for my friend Karlie, who organized the dinner and cleanup - she made it look effortless, but I know it was a lot of work; she obviously really loves Joe!)

James, the best man, offered to do the flowers. I was pleased, was picturing some bouquets from Costco; I couldn't have been more wrong. Turns out he worked at a florist for a while in college. He spent hours the day before the wedding creating over a dozen lovely arrangements to grace the altar and the reception tables. amazing work.

It was a beautiful ceremony, if I do say so my unbiased self.

Two flower girls, thrilled to be included; one carefully dropping one petal at a time, one dropping handfuls as they went up the aisle. Two attendants - both best friends from college. Rita-Marie and Kate, Joe's sister, had one of those adventures in college where you either end up friends for life, or never speak to each other again, so the groom's sister was the maid of honor. Joe and James met up his freshman year, and spent their last few years in Rolla bunking together, while in grad school.

And the bride and groom - so happy, so tender. I love them both; my heart was full; my eyes overflowed with happy tears.

Rita-Marie's family came in from Texas and Nebraska, all my siblings and some of Joe's cousins came in from Iowa and Minnesota. My friend Mary came in from Colorado, Rita-Marie had friends fly in from New Mexico and Canada. And lots and lots of local friends took time from their day to attend.

So many beloved people, so little time to talk to each of them. It was the only sad part of the day for me - not enough time to connect to each and every one I loved who was there. They understand; for some occasions, brief hellos are all we have time to share. Knowing this would be the case, they came anyways.

Lots of love, lots of joy.
Lots of hope.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Don't Have

I woke up this morning in a difficult place, still feeling the sting of disappointment from last week's job rejections.

I STILL don't have a job.

I started to follow the thought down the rabbit hole of grey thoughts, disillusionment and fear.  Then, I paused on the edge, and started thinking about the other things I don't have.

I don't have a broken leg.

I don't have a sick child.  (thank you, thank you!)

I don't have a hole in my roof, and there are no cracks in the house's foundation.

I don't have squirrels living in the eaves.

I don't have to say a prayer each time I turn the key when I get into the car. I'm pretty sure it will start. And if it doesn't, I have a good mechanic to fix it, AAA to tow it there, and friends who would help me get to where ever it was I wanted to go when I got into the car.

I don't have flood waters lapping at my door, and there have been no armed thugs lurking in the yard.

I don't have an appointment for a meeting with Trump on my calendar. (I can't think it would go well.)

There are no odd, suspicious smells arising from underneath my cabinets or anywhere in the basement.

I don't have any wasp stings.

Yes, I don't have a job. But there are so many other troubles I also don't have.

What I DO have is today, today is the only day I have, and I will choose how to spend it.

I will step back from the edge of the rabbit hole, and enjoy the thousand shades of green highlighted by the cloudy sky. I will take some baby steps in my job hunt. I will check off a few of the things on my long list of 'Things To Take Care Of Before The Wedding'.

And I will take a quick moment to send a prayer in the direction of the people who have more troubles than I.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Permission to Fail

I'm still spending my weekday mornings searching for my next job. It's turned into a routine. I scour the job sites, follow up on any actual possibilities, sigh when I find out, once again, I have not been chosen for the position.

This past week, my job search took off. Monday, it was business as usual - I found three or four jobs to apply to, one or two were promising enough to follow up on after the initial application. By Wednesday, I'd heard back from five, count them, five, different companies about viable openings - jobs that could actually come through.

One would think this is a good thing, and it is, but the multiple options threw me into a tizzy. Too many choices! What if I pick the wrong one? What if I blow all the interviews? What if none of them come through?

Somehow, in my head, these jobs turned into the last jobs I'd ever have a chance to get, and I had one last chance to choose and choose correctly, or the game would be irretrievably lost. I wasn't sleeping well; I blew one interview because my head was in the wrong place.  Arrgghhh!

Then, I took a deep breath, and gave myself permission to fail. I still wasn't glad to have blown the opportunity, but sometimes, I mess up. And that's OK. I'm not perfect. Sometimes, my head IS in the wrong place. All I can do is to stop, breathe, and resolve to do better next time.

Because there will be a next time. These jobs are not the last openings I will ever see which are a promising fit for my skills.

Permission to fail worked. For the next two phone screenings, I was able to show them my best self - the one who has the skills they're looking for to get their job done. For both screenings, I was asked to come back for an interview. And, if I hadn't been, it would have been OK. While these endless rejections feel personal, they're not. There's a person on the other end of the line who is looking for the right person to fit into their job as earnestly as I am looking to fit into it.

I still have my fingers crossed, hoping one of these two remaining positions will be "the one". (if you're keeping count: of the other two, one turned out to be an entry-level position, and wouldn't have been a good fit for me, and the other just disappeared, as some 80% of the openings do.)

If one comes through, I will be most pleased. There's a part of me that's good and ready to get back to work. If it doesn't, well, I have another screening interview lined up for later this week.

I will breathe, I will bring my best self to the table.
And one of these times, I will find the elusive right fit.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Other Mothers

As my thoughts turned to Mother's Day today, I kept reflecting on the other mothers.

Mothers who don't have legal custody of the children they are raising, yet love the children in their care as fiercely as any 'real' mother could.

Mothers who love their children enough to know they won't be able to give them what they need - who surrender them to another mother, and sunder forever their own hearts.

Mothers who choose to foster children from troubled homes. They take a child in and love them and hand over a piece of their hearts, knowing all the while that this precious child can and probably will leave their home - and take that piece of their hearts with them when they go.

Mothers who oh-so-desperately want to have a child, but cannot.

Mothers who carried a child who never drew breath.

Mothers who loved a child who died too soon.

Mothers who, after teaching other's children all day long, have no energy for their 'own' children - and so choose never to bear them.

Mothers who reach out to another mother's lost, broken children, giving them a solid example of love in a world gone crazy.

Mothers who have to say goodbye too soon - who death claims before they are allowed to see their beloved children grown.

I know at least one woman who embodies each of these other mothers. Their courage amazes me. Their ability to love beyond reason moves me to tears. They are my touchstones, my heroes. I hope I can be just like them when I grow up.

They are living examples of Good in our world.

Goddess Bless all the Other Mothers.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


 Monster, cat of boxes, blankets and bugs, is still learning how to trust.

He spent quite some time as a young cat in an apartment where he was physically cared for, but where his owner was hospitalized - so there was no one there to actually spend time with him and his mom. He wasn't abused, but had no time or reason to bond with the caregiver who took care of food, water and litter box.

When Joe first brought him here, he was much afraid and hid in the basement for days. We made sure there was food and water down there, and checked on him often, scouting the rafters for his telltale white ears. We'd reach up, let him smell our fingers, scratch his head between his ears, and let him be.

He's lived here now for almost three years, and is a much happier kitty. His fur is thicker, he's lost most of the excess weight he carried, and he no longer bolts from the room when someone new enters. And, when he purrs me to sleep (I'd keep him around for that if no other reason - when I lie down, he'll come next to me, place his paws on my arm, and purr for 15-20 minutes. The best sleep machine out there!), he no longer automatically jumps away if I so much as twitch a muscle. Sometimes, he just waits for me to resettle, then finds a new spot and begins to purr anew. I REALLY like those times.

This past winter, he decided that perhaps, just perhaps, he was a lap kitty. I'd see him watching the mis-named Angel as she curled up on my lap with an appraising eye. Then, one day as I was sitting at the table, up he hopped. It's taken some practice. Monster is a big cat, and takes a lot of room on a lap. Where she can gracefully balance along one thigh when my legs are crossed, he takes up the lap, the whole lap and there's no room for anything but cat on the lap. We've learned together that a cat sitting on a lap needs to be properly balanced and their weight must be kinda-sorta centered or said cat will slip off and ungracefully fall to the floor. (It still helps sometimes if I'll tuck one hand around his back to help him stay on.)

It's heartwarming. He'll climb on up, and start his deep purr, tucking his paws, closing his eyes until they're satisfied slits. He's king of the lap. Any books must be held to one side; no sharing the prime center-of-the-lap space for him. It's taken him a long time to come this far - and I feel privileged to be on the receiving end of both his trust and his purrs.

Healing is good.

P.S. I thought I should share a picture of the artistry of wastebasket, radio, and broom placement I spoke of last week.  It truly is an art form (and yes, they had to be placed just that way for the radio station to be clearly received):