Thursday, August 24, 2017

Because today might be the best day of my life

I sat outside during my lunch break today. It was one of those perfect, almost-fall days with sun that feels like heaven. The air was crisp and cool, so I wore a sweater.

Wearing sweaters in the coolness of the fall after a hot summer is a special treat.

The past couple weeks, I’ve felt like there is a gap between the Lord and me. 

Sometimes You're further than the moon
Sometimes You're closer than my skin
 - David Crowder Band

As I sat outside, the sun warming me, I felt close to Him again. It was so still outside; not in an eerie way, but in a peaceful way. It was like I could hear the grass growing, because there was no background noise.

When a day starts off with coffee this good, it just might be the best day of my life. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Phone, again; how to be agile

The Jitterbug flip phone presented a few issues that hinder my communication. Because my communication could be graded at a C+ (on good days) or a D- (on bad days), I can't let my phone bring me down even farther. Or further. I can't let the phone bring me down.

I now have the Jitterbug Touch 3, which is a smartphone! And I can communicate pretty well on it. I am working on my communication skillz, and interpersonal skills overall. 

At work, we are going through Real World Agile Training. Most of it is common sense, like "only have one person talk at a time." Okay, cool. Got it. 
However, there are some concepts that have sidetracked my brain to the point where I can't remember everyday words like "police officer" or "home-owner's association." One of these concepts that sidetracks me is that when I explain to my team what I did yesterday and what I will be doing today, that is not a status update.   I'm still not really sure what it is, but I think it is a status update. But it is not. 
My brain cannot handle these type of word games. I am just not made for it. 

Also, I have decided that everyone who works at Agile must be Ducks fans (only covertly though), because they throw the O in most of their online group photos, but never mention the team. I think their hand gestures are supposed to represent the leadership triangle, BUT the triangle hand gesture is already taken by the Illuminati, possibly? That is territory better left to the professionals. 

Unrelated to either of the above topics, it is only Tuesday (no, Silly! It's Wednesday) yet feels like a late afternoon on a Friday, only without the excitement that Friday brings. My brain is shot. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hay mucho mas.

I took a fork in the road on my last few entries. The scenic route, if you will.
Since posting the entry on April 24, 2016, life has changed significantly. Here is the blogger-appropriate update, complete with several generalizations in order to keep confidential things confidential.
    • New job! My new job is like the perfect man! Only it’s a job! But it’s like I’ve gotten married and I am still on my honeymoon over a year later!
I don’t feel like I am going to work when I go to work (I look forward to it.) I get paid to be myself.
It has been healing in its own special way; I know who I am now, and I know that I am NOT defined by my job. All of the managers are firm believers in servant leadership AND they follow through on its concepts. I feel like a real, live person when I am here, as opposed to feeling like a wandering soul at some previous jobs.
I no longer pass my days with meetings topped off with more meetings (and you still need to get all your work done, young lady!). The atmosphere in this place is sustainable and life-giving. It’s great. And I swear I am not brainwashed.
The place where I work will not be around for too many more years in its current state, hence the love letter I wrote to it on July 24.
    • I still live in the US.  But now I live on my total own for the first time in my life. (I lived alone for about three months in 2008, while I waited for a roomie to enter my world and go halfsies on the rent with me.)
The choice to move away from the safe haven of my housemates was one of the most difficult choices I have made thus far in my life. I honestly thought I would drift farther and farther away from them until we were nothing more than acquaintances. Because I had lived with them for about eight years, that thought was quite upsetting.  Alas, the physical separation has actually strengthened our bond. Good news.
The part of the move that was the most frightening for me was the tormenting thought that living on my own would bring the eating disorder(s) back. The Lord had healed and healed and healed me some more while living with my housemates; would venturing out on my own reverse all that? Would it reverse it AND make worse?
I’m happy to share I am okay and I’m on my way! Woohoo!!! Since moving out, I’ve come to understand in a deeper way who I am and from where my strength comes. It’s from the Lord, and the small body of believers He has graciously supplied for me.
I still have emotionally up days and down days (because I am female), but I don’t connect feelings with food anymore. Food is fuel.
    • I have slowed down my life. In an attempt not to be labeled “Type A” (the bad kind of type A…you know someone like that), I take time to slow down, let myself read books, let myself take naps if I am tired or not feeling well, and I turn people down when I can tell I need to stay home and recharge. It feels really good.

That is the quick version. I am hoping to copy my blogging buddy and start posting once a week. I may stick with the topic of eating disorders, but I may not. It’s all about life and destiny, choosing to walk in the Spirit. Is this what it feels like to be okay? 

Monday, July 31, 2017

The first time I went golfing

I had a goal last summer to go golfing. The summer ended without being able to achieve that goal. This summer is a new chapter in my life.

The first time I went golfing, I was 33 years old. It was more enjoyable and tiring than I had anticipated.

The grass on the course was the most exceptional grass I have ever walked on. I think a good way to pass the day would be to lay on it, and absorb its pristine quality through my pores. However, I learned a good lesson about golfing etiquette: don't stay too long on the course. Always let the men behind you go first, because they are better than you.

Golf is a bit of a conundrum, because it seems so leisurely from the outside. The reality is, a lot of the other players are in a hurry.  They speed hither and yon on their little carts, with no time to pause and reflect.

The sun felt hotter than normal on my skin; I was glad we went late in the day.

I discovered that the driver is my favorite type of club. I loved standing with my weight evenly distributed between my feet, focusing all of my attention on the ball atop the tee. I loved switching my focus to my form, pretending that I had been playing for 20 years, and that I was about to take the best swing of my life. I drew the club back like a pro, then felt my weight shift as my right foot pivoted forward to follow through after making exquisite contact. I lost sight of the ball momentarily, and used the time to stare into the sky like this was the greatest moment of my life.

I liked the driver mostly because of the whoosh sound it makes, followed by a swift crack when it strikes the ball. Everything was so quiet on the green that the sounds made the game. (Unless you are a professional golfer. Then your score makes the game.)

My friends and I didn't keep score.

We also only made it through six of the nine holes we had anticipated playing. I was getting a headache from the heat and humidity, and it was nearing my bedtime (see previous blog entry regarding nursing home).

Next goal: spend an afternoon at the driving range.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Phone

Let me preface this entry by saying that I should probably live in a nursing home, because I have a lot in common with 90 year olds.

I recently upgraded my previous cell phone by replacing it with a Jitterbug flip phone. I just want my phone to be a phone.

My 26-year-old coworker asked me yesterday how I find where I need to go without having a Smartphone. I don’t know where he goes on a daily basis that would necessitate the use of maps. I typically go to about four places in a given week, and I have the directions memorized. I am smart.

When I go out of town, I am almost always visiting family, so I call them as I get close if I can’t remember where I am going. I also like paper maps.

Then I added that I like to ask locals for directions, because it is a good way to meet people. My 50-something coworker then said, “That’s great that you find that exciting….but I am just surprised your face isn’t on a milk carton.”

Well, I am also a bit surprised I am not on a milk carton. However, I don’t think anyone looks at milk cartons or drinks milk anymore? Not sure; I can’t Google that on my flip phone. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

More Than I Hoped

Beloved Job,

I was attracted to you by your flip-flops and graphic tees. You shone with panache and flair that spat in the face of corporate pride. You stayed classy and relaxed in a building that enjoyed enforcing outdated and uppity ideals. You were the back-beat to my kick drum in a world of violins.

We officially became a couple on May 9. I never thought I would be the type to remember the exact date of our first date. Then you blew all of my presuppositions out of the water. 

From the beginning, you made sure to take care of me. You kept communication open, for real. You followed through when you said you would. You made sure we touched base each morning to see how things were going. You continually ask me what my goals are, and you help me grow as an individual.

Because you know I like reading, you occasionally give me books that we discuss together later.

You think servant leadership is the greatest, and you aren’t afraid to flaunt it, in a humble way.

You are always giving back to the community, and you encourage me to take time from my busy work day to get out and help out.

Even when altruism isn’t the motivating factor, you tell me it’s okay to come in late, leave early, take a long lunch, put my family first, etc. You always say “Yes, if…” instead of “No, because…”, just because you want to continue improving. 

You challenge me to be a better me without being condescending. I didn’t think that was possible. You also don’t value me based on doing everything just right. I also didn’t think that was possible. You’ve changed my mind about a lot of things.

I prayed about making the right choice before we made it official. I felt the Lord’s blessing, and I rushed to receive it to the fullest. He blew me away with the fulfillment I felt because I waited on His guiding peace. He’s used you to teach me and help me identify the lies I believed about “your type” in the past. I thought the only good job was a…well, I didn’t think a good job existed. I didn’t think I could be happy going to work each day.

You changed all that.

And now we both know that our relationship has a projected end date. We may only be together three more years, at the most.

It was beyond our control, beyond our knowledge. It only makes the time we have together that much sweeter.

I have laughed, cried, been hopeless, been hopeful, been sad, been happy, pretended like it wasn’t happening since I was told that, “Yes, it is happening.”

“In about three years…”

No more seeing you every day. No more lunches with you. No more spontaneous team activities. No more silly, fun Twitter posts about what we did together last week.

“In about three years…”

Thank you for being you, beloved job.

Thank you for proving that working is not a life sentence; it can be a joy and a privilege, and way more educational than grad school. And high school. And elementary school.

Work can be enjoyable and I can actually be good at it.

Thank you for proving that you are worth it. Thanks for being everything I thought you would be, and more.

Thank you for letting God use you to bring me closer to Christ and filling me with His life as I spend time with you each day.

Missing you already,


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mentor Mania

I started re-reading Donald Miller's book Scary Close last week. One of his chapters talks about being too careful, and how a life that is lived too carefully lived isn't really lived at all. It is spent trying to acheive what we think we are supposed to do, say, and be. It's all about following invisible rules and playing a role that doesn't suit you. In other words, it means you are being fake, Poser!

There is nothing more careful than insurance.

Except maybe accounting? The insurance rules and regulations I've memorized over the past four years are kind of sickening. I've spent day after day looking at people's applications (life, condensed) as a bunch of if/then statements. A typical conversation in my head goes like this: "If there is a grandchild listed on the application, then I need to make sure that the biological parent is also on the application. If the biological parent is on the application, then I need to make sure he or she is 1. Single and 2. Under 26 years old. If both of these requirements are met, then I can enroll the family." What?

I've noticed a change in my writing since I started working with all these rules. I fought it off for awhile, but i couldn't keep it away forever. I read an email I had written to my coworker Kayla a year ago, and I smiled. My email about work stuff actually made me happy, because there was life in it. I expressed myself through the email, even though it was just an answer to a question about an application.
My writing has since become dull. I feel like I have gotten too careful about things. I feel like I am being watched, and each minute I take for a break (even though they are legally allowed) is being calculated and measured, and somehow used against me.
I understand that a big part of running a business requires cuts, and sometimes really big ones. But there is a spirit of fear over the place I work that has caused an uneasy quiet to settle into the atmosphere. I feel like I am breaking a rule when I laugh above a whisper. And I like to break rules like that. So I feel rebellious when I laugh. And maybe I am being rebellious, like "Take that, Fear! You stupid, lazy, bloated lie! HA HA." The daily fight is exhausting.

I met with a Christian counselor a few times last winter. She was helpful, and she noticed immediately that I needed some major help in the assertiveness category. Only she said it in a nice, counselor way, like would it be okay with you if we worked on some assertiveness training? And after I said yes, she said "okay" in that safe way with long pauses before and after it. Okay.
After going through about three sessions, I felt empowered. You mean I don't have to do something just because someone else wants me to? I can say no?
Yes, I already "know" these things, but no, I do not act them out. I'm typically so passive if someone I love, fear, like or dislike would ask me to put shards of glass in my eye, I'd do it. Not because I thought it was a good idea, but because they asked me to do it. So it helps me to be reminded every once in awhile, i.e. every five seconds, that I can say no. No. "Non," if I were in France.

I also started meeting with a mentor at work last winter. Reaching out to both the counselor and the mentor were an act of assertiveness for me, by the way. Just asking them to be involved in my life was a huge deal for me. I prayed about it, agonized over it, couldn't believe it when they both seemed to like me and really want to see me succeed. I have grown way too accustomed to the Fargo way of expecting rejection at every turn. Around every corner, there it is again. Run!
My work mentor gave me a book called Strengthsfinder 2.0, and it's basically a personality assessment. Only instead of focusing on all of the negative parts of who you are, it focuses on what you're good at. So like for me, I've been told since the time I was old enough to understand that I am an introvert and that's bad because I'm quiet and that's bad and I keep to myself and that's bad even though maybe I'm good at writing but that is still hermit-like so that's bad. My takeaway from all that? I'm bad. Thank you, modern psychology. You really know how to treat depression. Jerk.
The result of my Strengthsfinder online assessment was that my strength is harmony. That is actually a strength. It blew my mind. I was actually angry for about a week and I thought the book must be demonic. That can't be right, I thought. I have a strength? And it is something that I feel like I've been put down for my whole life? It almost like what the devil intended to use to harm me, the Lord intended for good. I think I've read that somewhere, ha ha.
After I went through my angry week of wondering whether or not to burn the book and say a prayer of cleansing over myself, I kind of like exploded in joy. I was happy again for the first time in about six months. Like deeply happy. Like so happy someone at work told me to my face that she didn't know what happened to me, but she liked the new me a whole lot better.
The truth was, it wasn't a new me, it was just me again. I was starting to believe the truth of who I am instead of the lie of who I'm not.
That's just a small snippet of the past six months or so. I am still not assertive yet. Maybe I can create a new term and start calling myself passive-assertive. I'm on my way, but not there quite yet so please don't reject me because I am still easily broken. Except now I don't break as easily, and it doesn't take me so long to forgive and move on. So there.
And in all this, God was speaking to me about letting go and moving on. I applied for a new job. I've been trying to add "no" to my vocabulary. I try to make eye contact when I talk to coworkers. I've started shutting my laptop so that I pay attention in meetings and don't hide behind the screen.

Don't hide behind the screen. (Captain Obvious:"That was pretty profound, because it serves as a metaphor, and means so much more than what I just wrote.") So on that note, I will close.

No wax,