Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Bucket List

My dear pal Pat B. and I have been e-mailing each other about what we would each put on our "bucket list", things we want to do before we kick the bucket (in response to her going to see the new movie Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman)

We've both made lists with two categories - the realistic thing we think we really can accomplish and then a dream wish list if money were no object.

Here are my lists.

What I plan to really do before I die:

1) Learn to Juggle

2) Eat pancakes with real maple syrup in New England in the fall

3) Hit Kelly Sedinger in the face with a pie (and of course be pied in return!)

4) Visit every State in the USA (right now I'm missing Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and most of New England) I sort of like the idea of sending myself a post card from the state capital of every state so that would mean revisiting the ones I have been to.

5) Get all the way through the book "Jesus the Christ" by Talmage. I've started it several times. It's a hard read for me.

6) Be 100% debt free and have enough income/assetts for a simple life.

7) Consistently read my scriptures every single day for a year. (trying again on this one...so far so good, but I have a long history of being hit and miss on this.)

Now, if money were no object ...

Take all my kids & grand kids on a Disney Cruise

Travel to EVERY LDS Temple (once upon a time this WAS a serious goal of mine but that was before Gordon went on overdrive.)

Spend a year of service in a less developed country



And then of course there is the list of things I think would be great but so far do not have the level of commitment it takes to move them from pipe dream to reality...
These are all things I have either attempted or seriously considered in the past and either failed at miserably or just fizzled out on by lack of sustained effort. This is my list of shame of things I have let myself down on....maybe some day I can overcome them, or at least some of them. These are all things I would really like but have no confidence I'll ever do...

1. Learn to sew with confidence and skill (I have a decent sewing machine which I have not used in 10 yrs)

2. Write a book (sounds great, but I'm not sure I have anything to say that justifies the attempt)

3. Learn to speak/read/write fluent Spanish (hey, I was able to get us on a local bus and navigate around Playa del Carmen, I know how to cuss, count and ask where the bathroom is...but fluent is a whole other matter.)

4. Learn to play the piano and/or hand drum (I keep wishing I was musical. I am so not. I have yet to develop the necessary patience and willingness to tolerate my own mediocrity long enough to build even marginal skill.)

5. Learn to scuba dive so I can share my beloved's passion. (I tried lessons twice. I panicked both times. NOT for me.)

6. Become a smooth ballroom dancer. (I still count when I fox trot and I stink at waltz. The lessons were a fun weekly date night, but I just never really got the hang of it. Maybe if he would let me lead??)

Goals/dreams/wishes are all interesting things...

There are the things I don't really want, but think I SHOULD want.
There are the things I do want but believe I should not.
Mix those in with the things I truly do want...but am too weak or lazy to accomplish, or the things I keep striving for year after year, even when all evidence says I should just give up and accept they will never turn out as I hoped...

All that craving and climbing and trying...how much do I want to be about that and how much do I want to be about simply accepting what IS??

Depends on the day. Sometimes I think being driven and goal oriented is a positive thing. Other times I have my doubts.

I guess if I had to pick just ONE thing...it would be to be able to have peace & acceptance of myself and patience with others. It would be that state of being I call serenity ...the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pins & Needles

HOLY TOMATOES! The pipe dream might get real.

I had my phone interview this morning. It went VERY well. I still have several layers of hoops to jump through before I would know I had the job. I know they are doing preliminary phone screen interviews with 15 people, so it is quite possible that any one of them could blow me out of the water. Realistically, it is WAY too early to get excited about this. But it feels like all the planets are aligning and that things are falling into place.

I'm ready to start packing up my whole house and get ready to move. I think that the universe is smiling on me and getting ready to give me a job that would feed my soul as well as put food on the table. AND put me just one and a half hours away from my sons and the geo-tribe of 8 precious grand kids. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let it be so.

Many thanks to all of you who are hanging in there with me on this and have offered prayers of support. Hey Kelly, get that Boston Creame ready to celebrate!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Much is Enough??

I have a phone interview set for Friday morning at 8:30 AM for a job in Kalamazoo, Michigan that I really, REALLY want to get. I had applied for four different positions, and this one would be my first pick of the four. I have now made the first cut into the pool to be phone interviewed. Time will tell if I'm the right fit for what they want and if they can offer what I need to justify a cross country move.

One of my concerns is that because the job would be working for a non-profit agency, the likelihood of it paying what I make now is extremely low. So I have to make up my mind, how much would I really need to accept a position there if I felt right about all the other factors?

I recently taught a workshop on Career Development here at the college where I currently work full time. One of the topics I covered was compensation packages and how a person determines what they really need or expect in a given job. One of the statements I made in that workshop was: "If it was only about the money we would all deal drugs." There are many ways we are rewarded by our work that have nothing to do with money. I understand that. Still - is it realistic to take a job that would pay $10K less? Particularly in light of the fact that moving would most likely be the trigger for my beloved's retirement, putting me in the hot seat of being primary wage earner for our family, I do need to pay careful attention to that.

So today my heart is dancing between hope and fear.

One of my fears is that I will not get the job. But I may be even more afraid that they WILL offer me the job, but make a salary offer so low that it is not feasible. Or even worse, they could offer an amount that I would be willing to accept but my husband would not be willing to sacrifice his job for. It seems we have different levels of what we think we need to be ok. So who decides what we ultimately do? What does that mean for the one who may not agree? YIKES. That's a kettle of fish I'm not eager to open up.

I'm trying to have faith that it will work out however it is meant to. But I'm not sure I even know what that means. I'm not sure there IS a "meant to happen" scenario here. I can continue to grow and learn and develop as a person no matter where I live. I can make contributions to people around me no matter what sort of work I do. Clearly, I have my preferences. But it will happen however it plays out. I can influence the circumstances, but not control them. Really swallowing that certainty down solid is both liberating and makes me a little queasy.

But this morning I got a phone call from my son who lives near Grand Rapids. Seems my 13 yr old grand daughter just won the spelling championship for her whole school. Next she goes on to regionals. Last year she took second in State spelling bee. This may be her year to win the prize. It would mean the world if I could be in the audience cheering her on. I have lots of reasons for wanting very much to relocate back to Michigan. I'll curse the humidity and hate the mosquitoes. I'll miss mountains and at times long for dear friends left behind. But their are eight precious grand kids growing up there without me. I'm tired of being the lady who sends cool care packages and comes to visit one week each year. I want to be allowed to fully participate in their lives. How can you put a price tag on that?

So cross your fingers and say a prayer for me on Friday morning.

It just may be time for Belladonna Piranha to reinvent herself all over again.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Wind Storm



Yesterday there was a major wind storm where I live. Gusts were blowing away anything that wasn't nailed down. Neighbors of ours lost BIG trees on both sides of us - one went through the roof of their house, the other fell the other way, taking out a big section of picket fence, both pulling up huge piles of dirt with the tree roots. Then down the side street the other direction from us a tin roof came off - hit the power lines and made a huge FLASH-BOOM about 6 AM that woke up my husband. It then bounced off our garage and landed in our driveway.

Many people have been without power. On the highway semi trucks have tipped over. All around us is havoc. But amazingly we are unscathed. All my lovely trees are still standing bravely. I feel like guardian angels have watched over us through the whole thing.

Ordinarily I enjoy stormy weather. It feels especially cozy to be safe, warm, and well fed in my own secure house while wind and rain howl outside. But not this time. I couldn’t help but be unsettled with worry about those I love who might be in harm’s way in the face of this monster. All day long I was deeply concerned about others who were not coming through the winds as well as I.

As soon as things settled down we started calling around and sending out e-mail queries to check on those we know. We found out who had damage and who needed help. Early this morning will begin a work party of hammers and chain saws. We'll help neighbors and friends clear away broken trees and patch back missing shingles. We'll get the mess cleaned up and reassure everyone that they have allies who care.

As I sat and reflected about this, I thought about the other storms that are raging in the world. Again, rather than just stay cozy in my own comfortable niche, I need to reach out to see who needs a hand to clear away damage of another kind. For some it is an ailing parent, a barren womb, a lost job, a wayward child, mental illness, broken covenants, addiction, the list goes on and on. I can no more fix the underlying problems that beset the people I care about than I could stop the wind. But I can stand strong is support of those who are hurting. I can offer my hand and let them know I care.

God knew what He was doing when he said "it is not good for man to be alone." He created us to be helpers to one another.

It is SO EASY to get wrapped up in my own problems and concerns. That self absorption is one of the devil's favorite tools. Satan knows I am not going to go out and do things that are deliberately mean or callous. But if he can just keep me BUSY enough or too focused on MY little woes to to take time to love my neighbor, then in a way he still wins. So I need to remember that. It is important that I do practice healthy self-care and make sure I keep my own boat well chinked againsts leaks that could threaten staying afloat. It serves no one well if I am so busy running around doing "good works" that I fall over from exhaustion and need help myself. But once my wick in neatly trimmed, then I do have a responsibilitly to share my light with others.

Sometimes the damage is obvious, like when my neighbors have a tree poking through their roof. Other times it will be more subtle. I'll need to stay AWAKE and open to discernment, listening carefully for the still small voice of the spirit to know... who needs help today? Because we all have storms to get through. That connection that holds us together in good times and bad is what makes the journey worth while.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Enrich Your Word Power!

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