Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trust in the Lord...Part 2

Over on one of my other blogs I had written some thoughts about Probverbs 3:5 which says: "Trust in the Lord with all of thy heart and lean not unto thy own understanding."

Like it or not, it seems the Lord is going to just KEEP giving me lessons in this area until I buckle down and LEARN.

As my friends and family all know, this past week I flew to Alaska to interview for the job that I'm hoping for, Dean of Instruction at a private proprietary college. There are many pros and many cons about this particular job. But after six months of unemployment I am ready to get back to work. Also, as much as I would miss people I love here and leaving behind all my cozy sense of familiarity, I really do believe I would be happy living in Alaska. I can't explain it. Every time I go to the Mat-Su valley I just feel like I am COMING HOME.

So I have done all that I can do to snag this job. Now all I can do is wait and see how it plays out.

I hate the vulnerable out of control feeling of having my destiny in the hands of others. Even though I believe I am a good match for this job, and my meetings up there all seemed to go well, I am very aware that the corporate powers that be may decide they just don't want to pay to move me up there.

I can't rush it. All I can do now is wait.

Will I get it? Don't know. But EITHER WAY, I know that the Lord knows my needs. Things will work out. I need to trust. I've prepared well. I've put forth all I could put forth. Now I wait.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ambivalence & Grief

Next week I head up to Alaska for my final interview in Wasilla. Then it will be decision time - they will either offer it to me or they will not. I will either decide to take it or decide to pass. I honestly am not sure how I feel about that.

This evening I've been sorting through boxes in my closet to figure out what things I would move with me and what things I'd be willing to part with. I have boxes and boxes of STUFF - cards from old friends, concert ticket stubs, restaurant menus from past dates with my husband, pressed flowers from old gardens, brochures from museums, quotes that impressed me, and all the rest...the detritus of fifty plus years of living that I've clung to despite having moved time and time again.

Do I still keep holding on to all those tokens of times past or might it be time to let much of it go? Not sure. (part of that, I suspect, will be determined on whether the new company agrees to pay for the move.)

In one box I found several different cards wishing me well on the occasions of having left my various jobs. So many goodbyes have accumulated along the way of my vagabond life.

I understand the concept of looking on life as a glass half full, choosing to focus on the blessing of having known so many great people scattered across the country as I've criss crossed this land over the years. Most days I do feel quite privileged by the opportunities I have had to cross paths with so many dear folks from all walks of life. But tonight I am feeling the sharp sting of the loss of each of those sweet friendships and the bite of having had to say too many goodbyes.

While I DO look forward to the chance to take on this big adventure (I think), I feel pensive and sad over the prospect of once more being in a town where I have zero history or sense of belonging. I am more than a little intimidated about again having to start all over from scratch in establishing a social network of people to sweeten my life.

Because this particular job will put me back into a "boss" role at work I know I won't feel free to have the rich friendships at my workplace that I've had at some of my other jobs. I can get along great with others and build a strong sense of team. But being the boss means there will have to be boundaries that sometimes leave me feeling a bit isolated.

I expect I will meet people at my church and hopefully make some friends there. But even that can be difficult at times. I'm too liberal and unconventional for a lot of the church people I meet.. and yet too faith based and accepting of certain religious ideas and rules to fit in with the liberal, unconventional folks I know. So all too often I am stuck in the middle of no man's land, wondering if this is similar to what some bi-racial people experience, never completely fitting in either world.

I keep thinking of the people here who I have come to love so very much over the past eight years, and those who have proven their grit through layers of mutual support and shared challenges. I think of those who have fully accepted me despite our major differences in values and those who have shared of themselves over the years in truly significant ways. I am mindful of all I will be giving up to embrace this new adventure. I honestly believe that if we get the opportunity to go we should grab it. I am convinced that in many ways it will be an amazing experience that I will revel in with passion and fervor. But at the very same time, I know that saying goodbye to this place, these friends, the sense of connection and belonging that I have painstakingly woven here is going to break my heart.

There is no one sided penny. There is indeed opposition in all things. In coming days I will work hard to choose to focus on the good parts of this opportunity, should it open up to enfold me. But tonight I'm feeling the fear and the grief. Tonight I'm afraid that if they said "sorry, we pick someone else" I would simply give a huge sigh of relief.

We'll see what next week brings.

Most things in life get easier with practice. Repeating a thing over and over again usually brings increased levels of mastery. But not coping with grief. The aching stab of loss just gets compounded with practice. Every new loss seems to piggyback on the preceding separations, widening the cavern of emptiness all the more.

Whether we leave in the next couple months to head off to Alaska or wait till the fall and try again for Idaho I WILL eventually be leaving the life I have carved out for myself here in Eastern Oregon. Knowing that separation is absolutely coming with naked inevitability - whether sooner or later - has my heart wincing in anticipatory grief. All the positive parts of what come next simply cannot blot out the cost of the loss.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who Turned Out The Lights??

I've been exploring around the blogosphere, reading several different blogs by writers in Alaska to get a feel for what the locals have to say about living there. One phrase that sticks in my mind is this one from What's Cool in Alaska:

"In Alaska, the tell-tale sign that winter has arrived is not the snow; it's the dark. And darkness has arrived in Eagle River, Alaska! As I type this at 7:02 am, it is pitch black outside. It's more than just dark, too. It's thick, pea-soup-fog dark that you can almost taste with every breath. It's can't-see-the-horror-movie-villain dark, until his hockey mask or machete is just inches from of your face."

Then there was another one talking about it being -52 degrees.


I've got to admit, both of these factors give me second thoughts and third thoughts and fourth thoughts about whether living in Alaska is something I'm ready for. The beauty there is absolutely stunning. I THINK we could adjust and would enjoy the lives we would build for ourselves there.

But could I really handle the cold and the dark so much of the year?

Giving it some serious thought, that's for sure...

But this is what I DO know for certain - Where EVER we land there will be things about it that I like and things about it that I do not. Already I've lived in six different states. I LOVED aspects of every one of those places and found other things I was not comfortable with.

I choose to believe that I CAN make it a positive experience in Alaska - even in the face of higher cost of living and major climate challenges.

Now I just need to land that job I'm going to interview for.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pondering the Practice of Eating Meat

I am an unrepentant carnivore. I eat the flesh of beasts. All sorts of animals that have walked, crawled, swam or flown have become tasty meals for me. Here is a list of just some of the animals I have eaten at one time or another:

MAMMALS: cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, elk, moose, buffalo, rabbit, squirrel, chinchilla, ox

BIRDS: chicken, duck, goose, pheasant, quail, chucker, Cornish game hen, dove, ostrich

FISH: trout, catfish, crappie, perch, salmon, halibut, moon fish, cod, bass, bluegill, snapper, grunt, speckled sea trout, steel head, walleye, paddock, swordfish, mia-mia,tuna,sardines, anchovies

SHELL FISH / AMPHIBIAN/ REPTILE / OTHER lobster, crab, snails, mussels, clams, crayfish, squid, octopus, frog, snake (Cobra), turtle, oysters, shrimp, scallops

Don't get me wrong, I like a good salad and have never been one to eschew my vegetables. (So I guess it would be more accurate to same I was an OMNIVORE, right?)

But the point I am making is that I am thinking some about the economics, health implications and ethics of living on the flesh of other animals.

The food chain I have prescribed to over the years has been built on values assimilated from many sources. Most of it is totally arbitrary. For instance, why do I find it very acceptable to eat a cow but would not eat a horse (unless I was very, very hungry)? Other food taboos I have include primates, slugs, and fellow humans. (Remember the 1973 movie Soylent Green?)

Some cultures define cows to be very sacred.

I, on the other hand, consider cows to be rather tasty.



I had a conversation with my brother recently about the plans to butcher a bovine that I am acquainted with named Norman. I'm not sure how I feel about that one...I definitely find it more difficult to eat animals that I have had a relationship with. Which makes me wonder about eating the ones I have not had the pleasure to meet. HMMM is there and equation here having to do with Meet and Meat?

I have a good friend who is very deeply committed to the principle of being a vegetarian based on the idea that she will never eat anything that had a mother or a face. To her, food practices are very much an expression of her compassion for other living creatures. But I challenge her on that sometimes. Afterall, whose to say that carrots don't have souls?

Other people I know choose not to eat meat (or to extremely limit it) for health reasons. Dr. Dean Ornish has long proclaimed the virtues of a meat free diet for heart health.

You would think that with all the heart disease that runs rampant in my family I might be more concerned about this.

But honestly, I'm not.

While I have no active death wish, I also have no great desire to live to be 90. I figure I'll live until I die, and it's not going to be subsisting on bran muffins.

I recognize there are some advantages to having primarily a plant based diet. My own faith (LDS) subscribes to a teaching we call the "Word of Wisdom" (D & C 89) that advocates this.

I also recognize that it is a drain on the planet to raise enough resources to feed animals for butchering. "According to a recent report by Compassion in World Farming, "[c]rops that could be used to feed the hungry are instead being used to fatten animals raised for food." It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh." (see

So, knowing that eating meat (particularly beef) is not heart healthy and recognizing that the resources required to raise beef for meat harvest places disproportionate stress on my planet over growing plants for food...WHY do I continue to choose to eat meat?

Dunno. But I do. For now. I'm trying to be more mindful about it. Still, I am no where even remotely close to adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.

I AM working on incorporating more whole grains and leafy greens into my overall diet. But I'm still planning most my meals around a hunk of dead flesh and savoring every bite of it.

Bon appetit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Choices and Opportunity Cost

I've been thinking a lot about making choices and the impact that has on my life.
We are all familiar with that saying about how when one door closes God opens a window. I do believe there are multiple tracks I could take that would all be good. But I keep getting stuck on the whole issue of knowing that every choice I make closes off the possibility of the five or ten or one hundred OTHER things I might have chosen but did not.

Invariably, I wiffle waffle. Should I order the chili reeno that I KNOW I will like or should I be more adventurous and get something with mole sauce that I may or may not like just to try a new taste?

When I am planning my future do I want to do the safe and secure thing or take a big risk?

What critia should I rely on for making my decisions?

How much do I listen to the advise and opinions of people I know and how much will I be willing to go brazing ahead in a direction that some who I respect have cautioned me against?

No matter what I do, it seems like I always will wonder about the road not taken. Which reminds me of the poem by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

photo credit: PerfectImpressions by mar

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pros & Cons of ALASKA

I passed my 3rd phone interview for the job I am vying for in Wasilla, Alaska. I am now scheduled to head up to the great white north for a face to face interview at the end of this month. They are running my background check, credit report and talking to my references this week.

While I certainly do not presume I've got it in the bag, I think the possibility that I will be hired for this job is fairly good. So, my husband and I have been having lots of discussion about the pros and cons of moving to Alaska.

On the PROS side -

It's drop dead gorgeous. The mountains up there are absolutely breathtaking. Want proof? Just check out some of the pictures posted HERE

The fishing opportunities there are pretty amazing, and anyone who knows my man knows that counts for a lot.

Wasilla is a relatively rural community (somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 people) yet just an hour's drive from Anchorage which has all the resources of a metro area.

Anchorage has airport, museums, symphony, and all sorts of fun things to do.

Wasilla, where we would be living, has plenty of resources for us in terms of shopping, medical care, library, etc etc. yet is quieter, less traffic, more open spaces - all things we prefer. After nearly 30 years of living in podunk towns to be near my sweet husband's agricultural work I just don't want to deal with the hustle and bustle and anonymity of city life anymore.

On the CONS side - these are our concerns:

The cost of living in Alaska is considerably higher than the lower 48. It's expensive to ship everything up there and those costs get shifted into price tag. Also property tax is quite high along with cost of registering a car, etc. etc. It's just plain EXPENSIVE to live there.

The climate is going to take some getting used to. It gets freeze your boogers cold up there. Also it is DARK much of the winter and LIGHT way past my bedtime in the summer. I am not excited about having to driving in snow and ice, I think the wind will drive me batty at times and I suspect I'll have my share of seasonal cabin fever funk.

More of a stickler for me is the fact that we will be so far away from everyone we love. One the one hand, this is not entirely new. We have ZERO family in the state where we currently live (Oregon) and are accustomed to having to buy plane tickets for annual treks to see the grandkids. Still, we CAN (and DO) currently jump in our car to drive to see family in Idaho and Utah. That is something we will very much miss.

However, the one big pro that sort of trumps all those things is the job. Obviously we will not move to Alaska at all UNLESS I get hired for a job that I think will be a reasonable fit for me. If I were CHOOSING between equivalent jobs in both Alaska and Idaho I would almost certainly move to Idaho - but the reality is that just isn't the case.

I've always believed that people basically have two alternatives in this world. They can choose WHERE they want to be and then make a living whatever way they can there, or else they can pick what sort of work they want to do and then follow that star where ever it takes them. We have done the latter for our entire married lives.

Following my husband's career has taken us from Arizona to Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Washington and now Oregon. As his career winds down and he prepares for retirement it is now my turn to become primary wage earner so we will go where I can get meaningful, rewarding work. I had hoped that might be Boise. That didn't happen. So now I am ready to consider this other possibility.

However, I'm not "settling" for Alaska due to lack of other options. I really do believe if I chose to hang out till fall, a job WOULD open up in Idaho. Instead, the job search is what led me to CONSIDER other options and once I stumbled on the Mat-Su valley of Alaska I became more and more intrigued.

I'm genuinely looking forward to this Alaska adventure, if it happens.

Still, I'm trying to go into this with my eyes wide open, considering all the advantages and disadvantages as much as I can so I can make a reasonably informed decision if the job offer is made. Yet when it comes right down to it - no matter what reservations my HEAD may hold onto, my heart says I'm headed to moose country. It will indeed be an adventure to see whether or not that is what plays out.

Photo credit - Moose Crossing sign found at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Books Read / Listened to in 2010

I started out with the best of intentions for tracking every book I read or listened to throughout the year. However, after just a few months I got side tracked and quit writing them down. Sigh. I know there were many others.

But here's my list of what I did keep track of. The audio books are the ones with asterisks (*) and the others I read the old fashioned way.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver *
The Run by Stuart Woods
Anyone But You by Jennifer Cruise *
Speaking in Tounges by Jeffery Deaver *
Blood of Angels by Reed Arvin *
Bordon Chantry by Louis L'Amour
Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox
A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity by Bill O'Reilly *
Impact by Douglas Presston
Burnt Toast and Other Philosphies of Life by Terri Hatcher *
Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose *
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

I've wracked my brain trying to recall those I didn't make a note of.

I mostly read whatever books my husband brought home from the library. Even though our tastes in books are generally somewhat different I enjoyed being able to talk with him about the various stories he had dread. There were several murder mysteries, espionage thrillers and the occasional western.

Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, serious or fun, basically I just love to read!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wasilla, AK

The job hunt continues. I am now in the final running (out of over 150 candidates) for a position in Wasilla, AK. I've appled for over 100 jobs in six states over the past year, and interviewd about 9 times, so I've learned a thing or two about NOT counting my chickens before they hatch. But somehow this one feels more real than a lot of the others I looked at. Either way, it will be interesting to see how it will all unfold.

Photo Credit: Photo of mountains from Wasilla found at

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