Wednesday, December 31, 2008
this year feels different to me. I am all ... (I don't know...)... hopeful, inspired, full of faith in myself....
So, Happy New Year, dudes...and namaste! (Oh - did I mention that my yoga class this evening was part of what made me feel all gooshy and inspired?) Ok, now it's back to Elf (family movie night...you know...not exactly the wild New Year's Eve... but it's ok). :)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
My bear has been through a LOT with me. One of my dear readers became my best friend during my Freshman year of college (a rather rough year, in many ways) and she gave me this bear. If memory serves, he came from Vermont and was very, very fancy looking and beautiful when he first came into my life. He is now very "real" - like the Velveteen Rabbit - and I honestly can't sleep unless I'm all curled around him during the night.
He doesn't have a name, but I think I'd grab him before any other material possession if I ever had to escape a fire or other disaster.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Obviously we all have our own personal histories. Our own baggage, you might say - although I tend to think that my history is much more active than an inanimate object. For me, it's as if my personal history is a person standing right there with me, who sometimes takes my shoulders and points me in a particular direction. Maybe even shoves me towards that direction.
I've tried all kinds of coping mechanisms throughout my life regarding my history. I've tried to run away from my history (but there's no way I can ever be faster than it). I've tried to ignore it and pretend it's not there (but then it's even easier for history to push me in a certain direction, because I'm not paying attention). I've even tried to turn around, look history straight in the face and deconstruct it intellectually (although it wasn't a wasted effort, the intellectual deconstruction didn't accomplish what I'd hoped - which was to make my history disappear).
Finally, this morning, I have an image of what I need to do and the answer seems pretty obvious to me now. History is with me - no matter what. That's not a good thing or a bad thing. If I'm willing to simply acknowledge my companion, but not let myself get pushed around by history, then life will be so much better. Sometimes history pushes me in a good direction. (The reason I'm out to save the world is due, in large part, to my history.) Sometimes history pushes me in a direction that is pretty bad for me.
But my history is a part of who I am and I won't pretend it's not there anymore. I'm going to listen, consider, and then decide what I'm going to do. If I feel those historical hands on my shoulders, pushing me in a certain direction, I'll reach up and lift the hands off my shoulders so that I can think more clearly. I might end up going in the direction history pushes, but I might not.
You know, I got my B.A. in history (and minored in philosophy). So it's about time I figured out how to deal with it.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
2. Very stylish Liz Claiborne computer bag
3. Mama Mia!!!!
4. Lots of fancy body lotion, etc.
5. A book all about Disney World so I can plan our trip!!!
Woo-hoo! I was completely spoiled, as you can see from my partial list of Christmas gifts. Now...if only I wasn't SO TIRED.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
In short, life is good.
I'm definitely glowing from all the Hallmark-y, squooshy, family goodness that one sometimes feels during the holidays. Here's the trick of it, however - it's really easy for me to feel that way when I'm in a quiet house (aahhh...quiet) and my rambunctious kids are 2 hours away in Waco. They are just so loud! So here's my holiday goal: patience. Preferably, permanent and persistant patience. (Yes, the alliteration is intentional.)
I hope that all of your little Christmas dreams come true and that you are filled with love for your fellow men (and women). I'm sad to say that many of you won't have the joy of enjoying my homemade pies, fudge and herbed cornbread stuffing, but until I can figure out how to share my once-a-year cooking skills via Blogger, I suppose you're out of luck. Bummer. I'm sure your moms, brothers or other family chefs are almost as good as me so you won't be completely out of luck. (hee, hee...)
As for me, I'm kind of hoping for a copy of Mama Mia for Christmas. I already got a great popcorn set from Williams-Sonoma from my husband (yum, yum, yum, yum, yum) and I picked out my own gifts for him to hand off to the kids to give to me. So I figure I'm all set.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
It's especially bittersweet, as I look back on my life and consider my choices (or my lack of choices because of inertia) and then look forward to the lives of my children. I feel that ever-present parental ache of wanting to teach my children what I've learned but I know that I can't. Not really. I hope they'll stand on my shoulders and reach past where I've stood, but I also know that some of my biggest mistakes will be repeated. Perhaps with a slightly more artistic bent or a different twist...but they will probably be repeated. It's the way of the world.
Finally, however, (after 37 years) I understand that my life is interesting (and I am interesting) only because of the slips and falls. Think of it this way....we're all walking on a forest path and it ain't smooth. You've got your boulders in the way, you've got your rickety rope bridges spanning chasms, and you've got those annoying tree roots that creep out of the ground to trip you up. (Got the picture yet?) Eventually, and inevitably, we will stumble. But as we are lying face down in the muck, we might notice a tiny red flower.
Without my own stumbles, I'd never have seen the flower. It doesn't mean the stumbles were ok - as a matter of fact, some of the bruises might never go away. But there's still a beautiful thing in my life that wouldn't have been there otherwise.
So...I guess that's why we learn things the hard way. Sometimes we can't see what we need to see unless we're flat on our stomachs, with battered elbows and knees.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Tomorrow it's supposed to be really cold, I believe. And my evenings this week are CHOCK FULL of activities so I don't have a prayer of making it to the gym except for the 5:30 a.m. classes. This time of year is fun but completely insane and it really throws my exercise patterns for a loop - especially if I'm always looking for excuses to avoid exercise in the back of my mind.
Tomorrow is the 4th grade choir concert (dinner with in-laws before the concert), Tuesday evening I think we're free but I'm almost afraid to check the calendar in case I find out that I am sadly mistaken, Wednesday evening I'm joining a work friend at Nomadic Notions to learn how to make earrings (should be fun and therapeutic for me), Thursday evening is Christmas with said in-laws and grandmother-in-law (an amazing and wonderful woman) and Friday evening is neighborhood caroling with the Girl Scout Troop. Somehow during my spare time, I need to prepare various appetizers and desserts because we are hosting some friends on Saturday night for a low key holiday party. Whew!!! It's enough to make me want to run and hide under the Christmas tree.
Anyway...getting back to my lazy bones...I suppose that if I can get up Tuesday morning for the super early class (I've managed to do that for a number of weeks in a row now) and at least get out for one or two more walks during the week (or even the Thursday morning class...) then I should be proud of myself. Wish me luck. Right now all I can really think about is going to sleep tonight (zzzzz....) but, sadly, it's only 3:15 in the afternoon, clothes that need to be folded are covering my bed (thus blocking any attempt at sleep until that chore is complete) and we have 2 more social activities this evening before we settle down for the night.
Yup. Merry Christmas, guys.
Friday, December 12, 2008
It's difficult to summarize in a few paragraphs, but he opined that many of the same people who hate lawyers, hate the courts, etc are often the same people who are stomping their feet up and down as they say "There ought to be a law!" or "Why doesn't the government do something about this??" (he referenced Nancy Grace at this point of his speech but I've never watched her show so I can't opine about that analogy). He talked about the amazing number of regulations and laws that come down from all levels of government every month.
All of this talk about our society's obsession with rules really got me to pondering about my own views on rules [laws, policies, procedures, etc.]. It's a very complex and multi-leveled analysis for me because I am, at my core, a rule-based person in a number of ways. However, I think (although I'm not entirely sure) that these rules are often defense mechanisms for me, or at least "easy ways out."
For example - on a personal level, I'm always giving myself new rules about what I can or cannot eat, how I need to exercise, what I need to do....etc. It's not always a good thing because they often just become another reason for me to beat myself up.
I believe that my relationship with rules is even more interesting on a professional level, however. I've been a lawyer for 11 years now and I've been in-house counsel for 7 of those years. During that time, I've learned to appreciate the benefits of well-crafted (and clear) policies, bylaws, and procedures (and I've also learned how incredibly complicated it is to write even the simplest-sounding policies...because it's impossible to consider every contingency). I am the author of a number of polcies, procedures and bylaws.
I see the value of clarity - as a matter of fact, I simply ADORE clarity and crave it in the written word. I've also noticed first hand, however, the obsession many of us have with wanting to cover every possible base with policies and rules. For a number of years, I've really begun to dislike the sheer VOLUME of written rules with which we surround ourselves, especially in our workplaces.
Now - let me be clear. I'm a firm believer that companies should have a harassment-prevention policy and an ethics policy. And, of course, it's only fair that employees know what the rules are for getting reimbursed and other basic procedures. But we have a tendency as employers (and maybe parents too??) to assume that anytime something goes wrong, that means we have to create a new rule.
I realize I might be jeopardizing my future job security here (since no matter where I work, I'm often the one who drafts the rules and policies) but I have to say that I think we're taking the lazy lady's (note that I didn't say "lazy man's") road when we throw paper at each other instead of trying to communicate with each other about the key issues.
What would happen if, instead of making new rules and policies, we all sat down together and figured out what the core issues were? Including what might be going on in terms of employee spirit (or family spirit if we used the same concepts at home)?
I know. I sound like Pollyanna. And I also know that an employer could be sorry if it doesn't have a particular policy in place, especially if an employee later claims that he or she didn't know that it was against the rules to...(I don't know)....throw trash out the window onto a co-worker's head unless the rule was written in the employee handbook. But I've seen a lot of people change their attitudes once they're shown a little respect and held to a high standard. I can't help but believe that most of us feel infantilized when those in authority rely on mounds of rules and "gotchas" to control us. (I know I do.)
So go ahead, laugh at the irony that the expert policy-writer thinks there are way too many out there. But I would love to someday be in control of a place and make sure that my employees have a reasonable set of written expectations (for both me as their employer and for them as my employees) but also have a deep sense of self-worth because they'll know that it's a workplace where people are trusted and are honestly confronted (with face-to-face respect) if mistakes or even dishonesty occur.
It will take work, but I'm confident that I can do it. Give me a ring in a few years if you want to work in a place like that! :)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Within 24 hours:
- one of my friends supported me through my own trauma even though her mom had 1/2 of one of her lungs removed this morning because of cancer
- another friend taught me how I could put my hair up on Saturday night when I go to my fancy, schmancy party
- another friend listened attentively as I told her I knew who her soulmate was and that I was trying to figure out a way for them to meet
- another friend shared her heartrending story about losing a child and inspired me by her ability to continue seeing the miracles in life
- and my Mom, probably my biggest cheerleader of all, spent a good 30 minutes on the phone with me during my commute, telling me in every way she knew how to "go for it!" in regards to career stuff
This is all within one day and it doesn't even count my sweet kids and the hugs and kisses I get as soon as I walk in the door.
My cup runneth over, as they would say in the churches I attended as a child. Now it's my turn to share the love.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
2. It's also front and center how slow I am at reading non-fiction books.
There are other downfalls, I suppose...but it's worth it. I really like this form of therapy. :)
Here are the benefits:
1. It's a good way to express myself.
2. It forces me to think about things that I might not normally consider.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
[Important Note to Readers: This is NOT, I repeat...NOT, an attempt to convert you to the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. As I have repeated until I am blue in the face, I do not think it is morally wrong to eat meat. Carnivores do not offend or upset me. The vegetarian lifestyle is just the right spiritual choice for me. Ok - now that my legal disclaimer is out of the way...]
What I like:
- the flavor of the food (this is generally accentuated by the fact that I don't eat sugar, so I think my palate is more sensitive to subtle tastes - but veggies and grains really do taste great)
- not eating animals (again...not a judgment on others...just what's right for me)
- the health benefits (as long as I stay away from my nemesis: FRENCH FRIES - those greasy seducers are out to get me if I'm not careful)
- living in Austin (a very vegetarian-friendly town)
What I DON'T like:
- the fact that it takes a little bit more thought to figure out what to eat (i.e. how to get my protein so I don't pass out) because I really hate to THINK about food
- when people assume I am a "judgmental" vegetarian (coincidentally, this is what I always hated about being a Southern Baptist - people often figured I didn't dance, didn't drink [ok, I didn't but only because I was underage] and thought everyone else was going to Hell...whatever...SO not true...)
Now...if you will please excuse me...I am trying to figure out where I can get agave nectar so that I can make "Tofu Cutlets with Cilantro Pesto." Yum. (Uh-huh. It is yum. I can hear your snide comments out there...)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Well - I finally came across a great definition of angst in my "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life" book and I decided to keep my blog promises and post it here. At first the definition kind of depressed me because it seemed so inevitable - as if angst had to be a part of our lives. But then I realized that if I accepted this definition - it meant I wasn't as crazy as I thought I was! (And that is always excellent news.)
"Angst is the German word for anticipatory anxiety or dread that accompanies the human condition because the threat of annihilation is palpable and present from our first to our last breath. Our fragile estate floats over a great abyss, and no matter how diverting our strategies may be, there is no day in which we do not know this simple fact. An acceptance of this angst as normal is healthy; its denial is pathological, and will sooner or later result in some life-estranging behavior, or worse, the trivialization of the journey. The task brought to us is to live our lives fully, in the presence of the threat of annihilation."
Sounds pretty intense, right? But I really like the message of this book - which is that we're not failures as humans if we are sad, or anxious or even if we fail. (Because we will, of course.) We are supposed to LIVE and LEARN. When we have negative feelings, we're supposed to experience them - not cover them or hide from them. What a challenge but it's so freeing to hear the message that we are not failures if we are sad or if we aren't sure what to do.
In short - I can't recommend this book enough. Although I borrowed it, and need to return it to my BRILLIANT sister-in-law, I will be buying my own copy. I'll leave you with one more quote, which really touched me:
"...the goal of life is not happiness but meaning....Life is not a problem to be solved, finally, but a series of engagements with the cosmos in which we are asked to live as fully as we can manage."
Oh - and on that note - I did write my grandmother. Thanks for the moral support.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Seriously, people. Either my family is a group of penguins, posing as humans OR they are waging a campaign to slowly kill me with hypothermia.
MY HOUSE IS SO COLD!!!! (And those of you who don't live in Texas can just be glad that I'm not in your state, complaining about the weather, ok?)
I was shivering and turning blue this evening, when my warm-blooded husband laughed and said that he and the kids had been home for a few hours today when he finally went upstairs and noticed that it was 65 degrees in the house. 65 Degrees!!!! They hadn't even noticed. They were just going along their happy way....chilling down the house for me, presumably.
You'd think that at least one of my kids would have received my tendency to turn blue at the fingertips whenever the temperature dips below 70 (you think I'm joking but I'm NOT...), but no...I guess it's a recessive gene. Lucky for them.
Do me a favor: Just remind me, if I'm ever tempted to take a job north of the Red River, that no amount of love or money is worth being cold all the time.