All I Did Was Blink

Being 39: Where I've been, Where I am, and Where I'm going…

Friday Check-Up #2 Interviewing @ 40 March 18, 2011

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The power went out before I could blow dry my ...

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Admittedly, I may be able to count the number of job interviews I have had in my lifetime on my two hands with fingers left over. Let’s just say I have been blessed when it comes to finding work when I want or need to do so.

Today I interviewed for a part-time job that would fit very nicely into my life and ease me back into the work force. My longest running workplace job lasted 8 1/2 years. I have worked for myself for a while now, as well as doing nanny work here and there.

This could be the first time in a long time I would have to dress appropriately for an office (instead of sweats or pj’s till well after noon-thirty), actually blow dry my hair (instead of hurriedly running a brush through it and letting it do as it pleases), wear make-up…you know…care about my appearance on a regular basis like grown ups do.

Needless to say, I put a lot of thought and energy into this afternoon’s meeting. I tweaked the old resume. I labored over the outfit. I lamented about how rusty I feel when it comes to ‘selling myself’ to a would-be employer.

Funny thing is, I did not seek out this job opportunity. It kind of fell in my lap. And up until the point when the interview ended, I have been mostly casual about my feelings on the outcome. If I’m the right fit, I’m the right fit. If not, not. But now I find myself wanting to hear that I have been chosen to fill the position.

Maybe my casual attitude has more to do with the fact that I am not a young 20-something looking for a career. I am comfortable in my skin. I am settled as a person. My value and worth as a human being are not measured by my ability to land the perfect job. Time was I would be crushed if turned down after an interview, feeling my self-esteem plummet after the rejection.

My what a decade or two will do for one’s perspective!

The rest of my week has been driven by today’s events looming over my shoulder in spite of my calm demeanor. So, not much on the to-do list was accomplished. Tick Tock…five weeks are going to pass by super quickly!! Pressure’s on! I feel far more anxiety over the pending move than over waiting to find out if we are about to add some extra income to our lives.

 

6 Month Check-Up March 11, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 1:57 pm
My Day, a mini schedule

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So I have decided that, while I am being productive, there is more I could be getting done. That means it is time for me to beef up the accountability factor.

Each Friday until our move, and on the first Friday of each month from May to September, I will post an update on how things are progressing during this year of whatever it is.

I started this blog 6 months ago with hopes of digging into my clutter, my past and my wishes for the future. I have unearthed so many treasures and taken lots of happy trips down memory lane. I have had a few tough conversations and have given away a multitude of things.

Some weeks are better than others when it comes to de-cluttering before packing. But the time has come to actually start thinking about boxing up the things we plan to take with us!

YUCK! Another move! I am totally excited and completely overwhelmed, typical polar reactions happening simultaneously.

This week, I must confess, showed nearly no progress whatsoever. I started organizing our bedroom closet, but that was about it. I’m ok with that as far as it goes. But the calendar is looming. Time to set some daily goals:

Mondays – Phone calls and deliveries, packing new boxes

Tuesdays – Closets

Wednesdays – Old boxes

Thursdays – Recover from any piles that have emerged (I tend to pile in categories and then walk away. By the end of a week I have a maze through the apartment.)

Fridays/Saturdays – Major laundry projects

These are the set daily tasks. Once those specific things get done, I can jump into more old boxes until they are finally finished.

There we have it. Now to schedule in the blogging. Oh, wait. That always seems to find me ready and available;)

 

Memory Mine: Pets – Family Treasures March 7, 2011

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Bengi's glowing eyesThe first family pet I grew up with was a husky/collie mix who looked like Lassie and we named Benji. Go figure.

What a great companion he was. He put up with me and my myriad of stuffed animal friends. He was great to cuddle with at nap time. He would seek out anyone whose name we whispered from across the room.

He was my brother’s dog. And he was my first k-9 best bud.

Later there was Butch, the tiny squished faced chihuahua who only lived a sad, brief time. Then came Tory, she was my love. She had two teeny tiny babies through c-section and we vowed to never put her through that again.

All three of my favorite four-legged friends are gone now. I have had roommates with cats and fish. I married an outdoor dog kinda guy. (We agree to disagree -the Wiki definition makes me giggle when it comes to my hubby and me- and we will probably never have pets of our own)

This weekend my friend said goodbye to her lovely little family friend. I understand the loss. Our treasured pets make us smile and laugh. They often bring us comfort when tears come. My Tory was there with me when my father passed away. I was 19.  She let me hold her close and cry and cry. She would lick my hand and snuggle in for the night.

Night, night little Bailey. Though I never met you, you were a treasure to a family and will remain so in their hearts for years to come.

 

Memory Mine: Swing February 21, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 8:06 pm
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Daddy’s mom loved her swings.

Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved them too.
My brother clearing the brush
Nan gave birth to 12 children in the early 20th century; my father was born in 1918. (Go ahead, do the math..I turn 40 this year..Yip. He was 53 when I was born! Go dad!) She raised her family in the Pennsylvania Mountains, eventually moving to a little town outside of Pittsburg called Monroeville.

Growing up in Philadelphia, one of my fondest memories is of climbing aboard a Greyhound bus and heading for Murrysville where someone from the family would pick us up and take us to the home we all treasured as a place of reunion and familiarity.

I can smell the fresh vegetables from the garden where we would pick beans and sit around snapping the ends off to prepare them for cooking or canning. I can see the metal trash can outside the downstairs back door where we would husk the corn. I remember being one of a long line of cousins to get sick from eating too many berries off the arbor.

It was such a stark contrast to the concrete jungle I was accustomed to the other 11 months out of the year. The nearest neighbor was through the trees and down the hill. The second thing I would do upon arriving would be to run to the neighbors’ and find my summer friend, Paula Sue, (even her name told me I was someplace different) who would teach me about catching lightning bugs in a jar and watching them do their shiny dance before letting them go. We would search for smooth stones by the creek and lie in the tall grass as the clouds drifted by.

But the very first thing I would do, the very first thing every one of us would do when we got there (after the hugs and kisses and the ‘my how you’ve grown’s) would be to rush out to the big swing in the back yard! It was the kind of swing with two bench seats facing one another and a floor between. We kids would stand on that floor and make the swing sway back and forth using our legs and shifting our weight to get it going.

We would have long talks with family that we would see far too little of during the year. We would catch up, we would remember, we would dream and we would swing – for hours on end. It was where I learned lots of family history and legend. It was our favorite thing and it was our favorite swing!
But it wasn’t the only swing. There was the swing on the front porch where a privileged few could fit at one time; the rest would get the Adirondack chairs. We would greet the morning or welcome the night from that porch. There was the swing in the basement where we spent the majority of our indoor time. It was the ‘everything’ basement; kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom – no walls to separate between. We would all gather at the long table for meals. It was really several tables pushed together to get everyone around it at once. Pap would have no hats worn at the table, and do not dare to come without being properly attired! There were the old chain link and wooden board individual swings. Nan loved her swings!
I ponder those days when examining my life. Who am I now and why? What stayed with me all these years later? I would still rather hang out with family than just about anything else. I still love to head for the (deck), coffee in hand, and watch the sky go from day to night. I still prefer fresh from the garden over processed. Do these things happen all the time? Not as often as I would like, but I take it where I can get it. I learned from Nan that slowing down and being together is great for one’s heart and mind. Tranquil, peaceful coexistence, smiles and laughter do a body good.
Maybe I just need to build me one of those old swings and invite people to come sit on it with me, sway back and forth and take a break from the hectic pace of the 21st century. Wadda ya say? Got time for a cup o joe?

 

Memory Mine: BFFs, Birthdays and Facebook February 14, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 5:24 pm
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BFF. Best Friends Forever.

The phrase conjures up a picture in my mind of two little girls strolling through a garden, picking flowers and sharing one another’s dreams about the future.

I imagine they have been, well, friends for as long as they can remember. They probably grew up together in the same small town or in the same neighborhood, school or church. Their parents were friends or friendly. They shared toys, clothes, music, study notes, (never boyfriends!), and secrets.

Sometimes they would lose touch.

My bestie (did I just use that word?) and I went through this for the first time when we were 12. My family moved out of state. We wrote to one another. We called. I would visit when I could over the years.

“Were we ever that young?” Once upon a time, we were inseparable. Birthday parties in two feet of snow (hers) or in the heat of summer in the McDonalds play area (mine). Church camp and Wildwood, NJ vacations! Grade school graduations. Letters at college. Weddings. Funerals.

“K …happy birthday to my very bestest friend in the whole world!…Tell me all about your plans in the future…M” (Excerpt from a letter from my BFF on my 19th birthday. I came across it during my excavation, what a fun read!)

But the frequency of letters and calls would dwindle and before we knew it a big enough chunk of time had passed to mean we had missed some major moments in each of our lives. Catching up would be bittersweet. We would make promises to do better about keeping in touch. We would not keep those promises. Time would pass and somehow we would be catching up again, making the same promises.

I am the first to tell you that I am the worst at picking up the phone to call – anyone. I used to write chapter sized letters which eventually I began to type, then changed to emails. Now I have to make a concerted effort to get a Facebook post out to someone when they come to mind, something I am working very hard on correcting this year.

But, ah, Facebook! Reconnecting with people from as far back as toddler days is such a hoot! And seeing photos of then and now really makes you feel like you are right there in the mix of what is going on from day to day.

I am writing this on my very first BFF’s (shhh…39th) birthday, 2/11. We haven’t lived in the same city since 1984. We don’t talk on the phone – ever. We have been getting re-acquainted some through private messages on Facebook. I am planning a trip east soon and can hardly wait to see those adorable little munchkins who look so much like mommy did at their age!

BFFs don’t have to be in each other’s lives 24/7. The bond we share from all the way back then (I know, we are so old) is a strong one. We don’t know the other’s favorite…anything…anymore. But when we get into the same room it will be as though not a moment has passed. We will be laughing about times we have shared, learning about our lives as they are now, and doing a little dreaming about the future.

Happy Birthday, dear friend. You will always hold the title of My First Ever BFF!!

 

Memory Mine February 7, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 1:10 pm
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The excavation of boxes over the last weeks and months has re-acquainted me with several pieces of memorabilia. A new weekly feature will be a commentary on an artifact from my far distant past called “Memory Mine”.

Today I want to tell you about my mother’s baby shower photo album and where it took my mind and heart as I turned its pages. I promise they will not all be as heavy as this (or as long).

My Mommy

I came to a startling realization some time around my 38th birthday. I am officially older than my mother was when she gave birth to her 4th and final child…me.

Even more startling is the truth that I am not a mother.

Most women I know grew up dreaming about the future and what it would look like; their dashing husbands, their magnificent homes, their high paying careers. They dreamt of how many children they would raise, their names. Did they have their mother’s eyes, their father’s hairline?

I spent countless hours imagining camping trips and study nights. I had conversations with them in my head about cleaning their rooms or obeying curfew. I told them how I had to take three buses and a train through the mean streets of Philadelphia to get to and from school. (My personal ‘through the snow – up hill both ways’ lament) Great memories, but I would have milked it for all it was worth!!

The number of children varied as often as my hairstyle or my mood. I wanted my own baseball team. I wanted an only child. I wanted all boys. I wanted no boys. I wanted to have a multiple birth, get it over with in one shot. I had twin friends at church and in high school and I always thought it was fascinating to watch them interact with one another. I often wished I had been a twin.

I digress. The point is, I am now older than my mom was when she had me and I am childless. Why? Only God knows the real answer to that question. I dare not even speculate. I would most likely be wrong anyway and I look forward to asking the question someday in person. I can wait for the answer.

Mom and Danny

Looking through my mother’s memory book from what seems such a happy time is equally heart warming and heart wrenching. I love seeing mom so vibrant, young and radiant. She is beaming in every shot. I enjoy seeing her with her son, my youngest big brother, opening gifts and -no doubt- wondering about all the changes to come into the house and into their relationship because of my arrival. I am blown away at how charming and beautiful my family looks; mom’s sisters and one of her brothers, my grandmother. Grammom wore a fabulous early ‘70s yellow polyester dress and smiled from ear to ear. Another grandchild! Daddy … oh how I miss you. Excitement fills the pages.

Look at all I’ve missed out on in my own adult life.

Grammom

Beautiful Lady

The photos show the strain of time and poor handling. (Why oh why did we EVER think it was ok to scotch tape pictures to pages!! The scrap booking diva in me cringes to look at the damage it caused. I am transferring everything into a new photo safe album.) The faces are a part of my history, my story. What will my legacy be? Why is it so tough on this woman’s heart to live without having had a child of her own?

Mom and Dad

What a handsome couple;)

My emotions about being a mom – having and raising children, are honestly just as fluctuating as they ever where. The reasons for the back and forth these days have more to do with time management and enjoying the ability to essentially do what I want when I want without having to consider the kiddos.

But when the clock ticks loudly in my ear I feel a twinge of sadness that is so deep I know it has left a permanent mark on my soul. Who is going to remember me when I was vibrant, young and happy? Who is going to take care of me in my old age as I have watched my mom, aunts and uncles, cousins do for their parents? As I have done.

I rejoice with friends as they grow their families and I am thrilled to be an aunt to the most fabulous groups of kids! I have a long history of providing child care for a living throughout the years. The bond I share with some of those children is strong and lasting.

S and I have talked about foster care or adoption. It’s not off the table. I know that this is a highly transitional year for yours truly. Mayhaps I am just laying some much-needed and long overdue ground work before bringing new lives into our little world. Who knows?

In the mean time, I give a mommy an afternoon break and I play with her little ones. They make me laugh. They make me scold. They wrap their tiny arms around my neck. I close my eyes and feel a calming peace. My influence in the lives of the children around me is hopefully a positive one. I want to be a role model, a confidant, a support as they navigate this world. I settle into my place in the village helping to raise the next generation. Then I go home to enjoy a quiet cup of tea in front of the computer screen and type it all out, smile, and do a little dreaming about the future…

 

Let it Snow! February 1, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 5:50 pm
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Snow Storm

Image by Sami' via Flickr

Here comes the snow West Michigan. The library is even closing early, before a flake has flown…

Young child to parent at the library this afternoon, tears streaming: ‘I wanna stay here!!’

Library customer service employee to child: ‘Honey, we’re not even staying here!’

 

Name That Feature! January 30, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 4:51 pm
Question marks on the wall

Image by PitsLamp photography via Flickr

OK gang, I have decided it is time for a weekly feature.

As I have deconstructed boxes and continue throwing away useless accumulated items from my life, I have also come across plenty of treasures.

Like the decades old magazine full of stories about people long gone and dated ads for products, some of which we still use.

Like the never delivered cards and letters I have written to various meaningful people in my life…this one hurts my heart a bit. But I am choosing to send some of them anyway. We shall see what comes of it.

There are photos full of fabulous stories of my family and friends. I found my mother’s baby shower album from just before I was born.

Each week I will pick some interesting (to me?) piece of memorabilia and write about it. Maybe it will be a short story. Maybe it will be random thoughts. Maybe it will be just a photo meant to stir up conversation…

What shall I call it?? Hopefully you can help me figure that one out. Leave your ideas in the comment section and I will narrow the field from both here and my Facebook page. Perhaps we will have a poll by the end of the week.

 

He must increase, but i must decrease January 27, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 9:52 pm
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John the Baptist baptizing Christ

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Earlier today I used this phrase in a comment left on yesterday’s post. Actually, I said, “less of me, more of Him.” I have used this as a tagline in my email. I have thought about how the phrase as it reads could apply to my everyday life. But as soon as I typed the response to my friend a while ago, I decided I needed a refresher about where the words are found in scripture and the context in which they were first spoken.

John 3: 26-31 NASB

26And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.”

27John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

28“You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’

29“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice So this joy of mine has been made full.

30“He must increase, but I must decrease.

31“He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth He who comes from heaven is above all.

A few personal observations (disclaimer – this is not intended as a theological commentary in ANY way):

John the Baptist‘s followers were coming to John to say that Jesus was baptizing as John had been and that He (Jesus) appeared to be gaining many followers, in fact, taking from Johns own flock. Based on John’s response, it seems they were concerned that John was loosing his celebrity, his numbers were dropping. John’s use of this phrase seems to be saying, ‘Look, this is exactly what I have tried to explain to you all along. My role has been to announce His arrival and to create a buzz..now that He is here, I need to fade into the background! My peeps should really be His peeps if I have done my part correctly. It thrills my soul to hear what you are telling me right now!!’

So, how does this phrase really relate to me and my everyday life?

First, I never want eyes on me for the sake of my edification. If there is anything good or right that comes out of my mouth, the glory should all go to the One I follow. Pride has no place in my service to Him.

Second, I rejoice greatly when I hear of what God is doing in and through others. I get excited about eternity when I see that God’s word is penetrating the souls of men no matter who may have been the message bearer in His name. Jealousy only serves to keep me from being productive in whatever opportunities may be before me at any given moment.

Third, and this one is a bit of a departure from the context found in John chapter 3, my use of this phrase specifically as it pertains to yesterday’s post and the comments that followed was meant to convey that I never want the challenges of my life to shine brighter than the One who sees me through them!

Maybe I am way off base here. Maybe I am still not clear on the applicability of this phrase to my personal life. I would love to hear from YOU, readers, on the subject. Leave a comment at the end of this post. Lets ‘talk’. 😉

 

real January 25, 2011

Filed under: Life — itsahappyblog @ 8:23 pm
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Mask statue1

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i see the mask that i wear

it’s in place on my face

tightly wound like i’m bound to some secret even i don’t want to know about

This is the beginning of a poem I wrote about ten years ago. I used to have more of it memorized than what is here. When I put my hands on the copy again maybe I will post the rest of it. What I have shared has run around in my mind lately as I have been away from my blog. My intentions are for this year to be about getting my mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, relational and surrounding ‘house’ in order. I am doing this with some degree of success already. What I know is coming throws my internal walls up faster than you can say, “Where is the happy blog??”!

Ultimately, and in spite of what often comes out on the screen, I am a truly happy person. I have a faith that is strong, a family that loves me, a man who would do anything for me, friends willing to sharpen and encourage. I am blessed beyond measure. I love life. I love music and nature, travel and being at home. I enjoy reading, movies, cooking and baking, entertaining, laughing…

It’s just that there are some big things that need to be addressed on a deeper level than I have ever allowed myself to really go. The ugly past stuff that has helped shape some of the less happy parts of my life. Most of us have history that we would rather not repeat lurking around somewhere back there. Some harsher than others. I despise the word victim. It sounds weak, like there was no hope for the victimized to have any other outcome than what they have experienced.

Why is it that some who face adversity are able to shake off the dust of the past and seemingly excel at life in general? And then there are those who carry a load of chains wrapped around their entire being that simply drags them down, getting them stuck in the muck and mire of bottom dwelling.

For a while there is an ability to mask or hide what burdens the soul. There is a façade. A persona. Eventually that veil gets lifted or removed to show hurt and pain, confusion and defensiveness.

Late last night I typed for a couple of hours. The beginnings of something, what – I am still uncertain. Hopefully my thoughts today have not been too random. I am still in that writing head space. Just thinking ‘out loud’ on the blog…

Be encouraged readers, our journeys do not have to be solitary ones. I may be kicking and screaming but I am moving forward, thanks in part to several of you!

PS…post-a-day?? HA!! yeah right…not these days;) Ah well…I do enjoy reading from others though…maybe a little too much…

 

 

 
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