Mo Movin’

2015-07-24Woke up this morning to rain and thunder. Tired. I was awake in the middle of the night for a while and it left me feeling groggy when the alarm went off. I got up anyway. I had plans to go to the gym with Kacey this morning, so no going back to sleep for me. And it paid off. There are perks to being an early riser. I mean, besides feeling good about working out. This sky, as we were leaving the gym, for one thing.

I’m on vacation starting today. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until yesterday at work, when I found myself happily tying up loose ends and looking forward to a few days away from it all.

I thought things would slow down after we got my parents moved into their new house last week, but there’s been a steady to-do list ever since. We went over one night last week so that Mark could install a new kitchen faucet. On Monday this week, I brought dinner over and ended up running an errand and doing a few chores for Mom and Dad. There have been a few surprises with the new house, and this week a new refrigerator was delivered. So last night I was there moving food from the garage refrigerator into the new one in the kitchen.

My parents’ move wasn’t the only one happening this month. Kacey is making the transition from college apartment to a house off-campus for her final semester of school. She’s been moving things in stages while she’s home for the summer. Last week, she and Mark took care of the big stuff – the bed, desk, futon and such. Last weekend, she and I went to the apartment to clear out the last of her clothes and incidentals, and do the last bit of cleaning before fully vacating the apartment. We made a spontaneous stop at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store along the way. We exercised restraint and only bought a small container of saltwater taffy. And maybe just a small bag of Sugar Babies for me. They’re not as good as I remember.

Since Kace was the last of the group of roommates to clear out of the apartment, we got to sort through abandoned kitchen stuff, and throw away all the things that everyone else had left behind with the thought that someone else might want it. She’d been instructed to throw away anything that wasn’t hers or she didn’t want, so we hauled bags of trash to the dumpster along with an abandoned night stand that we left next to the dumpster, in case someone else might want it. As a bonus, my daughter is now the proud owner of a full set of cookware, a full set of flatware, a brand new wireless router and a North Face jacket.

Kacey was excited for me to see her new digs. She’s moving in with a group of friends who have been living in the house already for the past school year. The apartment was nice, but the house is … well. The apartment was nice.

I was a bit taken aback at first sight of the house. The carpet was icky and there were a few holes in the walls. LED lights were strung around the ceiling in nearly every room, and the decor included Starbucks marketing posters and cutouts. But having a son who lived in a college house for a couple of years, I remembered what college houses are like. And remembered that I just have to not think about it too much. And the more things we hauled into the house, the more it grew on me. Here’s a snapshot of the kitchen. I resisted the urge to do the dishes.

2015-07-19a

You keep a volleyball in your kitchen too, right?

Twice, Kacey told me I wasn’t allowed to come down the basement. So of course, I followed her down the stairs after the second warning. It wasn’t as shocking as she apparently thought it would be to me. I told her that her dad and I had a basement like that in the duplex where we lived when we were first married. Old houses have basements like that. Dirt floor. Stone walls. Dark, damp and musty.

Roommate A.J. had followed behind when I made the trek to the basement with Kacey, apparently wanting to see my reaction to the place she didn’t want me to see. As Kacey plunked a box of stuff on an office chair that was sitting randomly near the washer and dryer, he tried to warn her, “Wait! No! Oh, you put that on the haunted chair!”

I’m not sure why the chair is haunted. I’m sure I don’t want to know. Really, my biggest concern was the visible slant of the entire house. I told Kacey to make sure she positions her bed so that the blood won’t rush to her head at night when she goes to sleep.

I’m probably exaggerating just a little bit about the unlevelness of the house. And she’s excited about living in her new place. It’s really only new in the sense that she’ll be officially living there. Roommates Beth and Megan gave her an unofficial house key some months ago already. A.J. was moving out of the main floor bedroom that will now be Kacey’s and is relocating to the upper level with Austin, where the boys will have their own kitchen. Kacey assures me that the girls’ kitchen will be much cleaner once she and Megan return in the fall. And A.J. told Kacey he wanted to vacuum before she moved in to his old room.

He wanted to vacuum. I told her I liked him. All hope is not lost.

We left the house that day before Kacey had a chance to get her new room put together. We were hot, sweaty and tired after numerous trips to and from my car that was packed to the gills, and hauling belongings up a set of steps to the front door. But the hard part was done. And now, you can understand why I’m so happy to be on vacation for a few days!

July already. And busy. And happy. And gratitude.

There’s a little chalkboard in my kitchen. I originally bought it with the idea that it would be the place where we’d leave notes for each other; something to replace our habit of leaving sticky-notes on the kitchen door frame.

But… the sticky notes continue to be the method of communicating such things as, the dog’s been fed or If I’m not awake by 5, please get me up.

One day, not long after the kitchen became home to the chalkboard, I stumbled across an inspirational quote that I really wanted to remember. I wrote it on the chalkboard. And it remained until another quote struck my fancy and replaced it. Kacey joined the movement and periodically adds words of wisdom that she finds along her reading travels.

There’s almost always something on the chalkboard to remind me to have gratitude. Deep, down inside, gratefulness has not often been my focus. I’m focusing on it now, and sometimes it’s an effort. Passing by those dusty, white words each day, and stopping to think about them helps.

Hazy morning sun

Hazy morning sun

This time of year, it’s easier to have gratitude. My daughter is home for the summer and I’m just so thrilled to have her near me every day. Her bubbly attitude about life in general inspires me.

The longer hours of sunlight, warm weather, and the colorful, seasonal landscape give me frequent reasons to stop and feel appreciation. As summertime brings people outside, we often find ourselves spontaneously gathering with the neighbors. I sometimes forget how much good it does me to interact with others and just relax for a while.

The birds have moved out of the house on our deck. I thought I’d be thrilled, but was surprised to find myself feeling a little sad that they’d gone without saying goodbye. Shortly afterwards, I was checking out the growth in our vegetable garden down in the yard and realized as I heard their familiar song, that they were hanging out in the pine trees just outside the back fence. All is right in their world and I was relieved to know they are thriving.

Logan next door is growing up before our eyes. Having firsthand experience with the fact that kids grow up in the blink of an eye, I’m reminded what a privilege it is to be in Logan’s circle. Last night while putting away a few groceries after a visit to Sam’s Club, I heard his voice trailing behind Mark as he helped carry some things up the stairs to the kitchen.

“Here, Terri,” he said in that sweet, little boy voice, as he reached the upper level and handed me a package of lunch meat. While he still calls me “Tee” sometimes, that habit seems to be fading away.

“Thanks, Log,” I said. He proceeded to tell us about how he’d gone fishing earlier in the day. His arms and hands gestured wildly, and his story was sprinkled with lots of wells, as in “Well, I didn’t get any fish. They wouldn’t come out!”

He’s getting talkative, and his words are easier to understand. After the food was put away, he hauled me out to the driveway where we, of course, played chalk. Logan usually tells me what to draw, but now he’s creating more of the artwork himself. He was thrilled when I made one of his shapes into a fish. From this little boy who was previously very shy about expressing affection, I was rewarded with a full-frontal, tackle-hug! Then came a game of hide-and-seek, where Logan would tell me where to hide. He counted while I attempted to hide from his peeking eyes. He helped me water the pots of flowers, and then just before it was time for him to go home to bed, we played “bad guy.” Logan was the bad guy, and he said I was the fire truck. (?) I guess fire trucks chase bad guys until they capture the bad guy and pick him up, swinging him in a circle and make him giggle.

It’s been a busy summer, but mostly in a fun kind of way. We’ve been invited to several graduation parties this year, chances to gather with friends and family, and reasons for my oldest son to come home for a weekend visit. I love to see the way my grown-up kids now appreciate each other so much more than they did when they were younger. They have so much fun together, and truly seem to have become friends. Makes my heart just want to burst.

Last weekend, I tried something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Cheers Pablo. Have you heard of this? It’s a sort of painting class. You pick a session in which you’ll get to create a specific painting, show up, and everything you need is ready and waiting for you. And if you like, you can purchase drinks to sip on while you paint. Hence the cheers. My niece invited her mom, (my sister,) and Kacey and me to go. We each painted our own barn scene, following the instruction of a fun, young twenty-something girl who kept getting paint in her long dark hair! And while my first impression was that the result was rather elementary, I had so much fun painting it! The more I look at mine, the more I think I’ll hang it up somewhere in the house. And I totally want to do it again. Maybe in another class. Maybe on my own.

Today I’m enjoying a holiday from work. There’s a long weekend ahead in celebration of our country’s independence and nothing too spectacular in my next few days. The kids all have fun plans of their own and Mark has to work on the fourth. So I’ll do a few things around the house, spend a little time with extended family and just savor these summer days before Monday rolls back around again.

Turn, Turn, Turn

I went to church again yesterday. I’ve been going every Sunday since I first visited a couple of months ago. I like this place. The message always gives me something to really think about. So often when I hear one of the pastors speaking, I feel as if he’s reached inside my head and my heart and is addressing something that’s really important to me. I always get the sense too, that it’s not just me struggling with the things I struggle with. I love that. It makes me feel that we’re all so much more alike than I ever realized.

Yesterday’s message was about the seasons of life, and figuring out what our purpose is in whatever season we’re in at the moment. The underlying tone of the message was to embrace our circumstances each day. If we constantly look ahead to what’s next, we’ll miss out on the great things that are waiting right here for us to discover.

I contemplated what season I might be in, and came to the conclusion that it’s transitional. At least my head and heart are in a transitional place, even if my life circumstances appear to be pretty well-defined. I’m no longer a full-time parent. My kids are too big to be kids, but not all completely out of the house yet. I still dote on them when they let me, but the reality is, they’re learning to survive on their own in the adult world. That’s a good thing. There was a day when I wondered when any scrap of my time might be just mine again. My kids might truly need me on occasion these days, but mostly, I’m on my own. Sometimes that feels great. Sometimes it feels very empty.

2015-06-22I heard a tantrum happening outside this afternoon. With the air conditioner on and the doors and windows all closed, I could clearly hear Logan having a hissy fit in the front yard next to ours. Sneaking a peek out the window, I saw him hop onto his four-wheeler and ride circles around the trees in our front yard, all the while pointing in the direction of his house and screaming, “No, Mommy! Go way! Go way!”

Okay, I’m glad we’re past that season. It’s a relief to be able to quietly laugh at a scene like that and know I’m not the one who has to deal with it. Logan can be fun to hang out with, but when his emotions hit an extreme, I’m glad I can just send him back home to his parents.

So what exactly is my purpose now? One of the things we were told to think about is whether we’ve been in a particular season for long enough. Whether that season is drinking too much, or holding back forgiveness from someone who has done us wrong or whatever. If there’s anything we’ve been doing for long enough, and it’s not providing any value, then maybe it’s time to move out of that season and figure out what comes next.

For a long time, I thought that I came into my job when I did because my gradually emptying nest meant that I could throw myself into my work enough to become noticeably dedicated and give myself opportunities to advance. Both have happened, and I am fulfilled by the work that I do. This job has helped me remember how much I love to learn and explore. It has done wonders for my confidence. I will always be grateful to have landed where I did, and will happily continue doing what I do as long as it is the right thing. But … the older I get, the less I feel that this job is really my purpose. In fact, it seems kind of silly now that I might have ever thought my purpose is what it was.

It hadn’t really occurred to me before I started writing this, but I think a starting point has something to do with accepting the wind-down of this stage of life. I think there will always be some remnants of sadness when I think about the fact that the daily opening of the door eventually won’t bring the sound of one of their voices. But maybe acceptance will bring a clearer picture of whatever that something more could be.

What’s important. What’s not.

I’m really trying not to let this summer just slip by. It feels like it just got here, but already we’re seeing preparations for the Fourth of July. I would like to just stop and enjoy what’s here right now, thank you. As soon as the Fourth comes along, my mindset shifts to the idea that summer’s half over. Which is ridiculous because it truly has barely begun at that point. I need to have a talk with my mindset.

The weather has been a perfect balance of sun and warmth, and just the right amount of rain. I feel so fortunate to be getting just what we need, especially while recognizing that so many other places around the country are seeing extremes.

Summer gets me into my really happy place. I love dressing for warmer weather, and not having to wear a bulky jacket. I love taking a break in the middle of my workday to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise while walking around the pond and simultaneously feeling the sun soaking into my skin. I love wearing sunglasses and a soft breeze blowing my hair. And dinners taste better when cooked on the grill and eaten out on the deck under the shade of the canopy.

And having Kacey home for the summer is such a blessing. No offense to the menfolk of the household, but it’s nice to have another female around for a change. We can gab for hours about things the boys just don’t get. And she’s such a great storyteller. I feel like I know her coworkers and friends through the tales she tells, and there’s no shortage of humor in the way she describes her world.

Also, she’s an awesome gym buddy. My usual gym buddy, Erin and I only meet twice a week, so normally, it’s up to me to be self-motivating on the off-days. And sometimes, it can be too easy to allow myself to be a slacker. So I was pleasantly surprised when Kacey said she planned to get on the 5 am gym bandwagon while she’s home for the summer. And she’s held to it. Between the three of us, we’re expanding beyond cardio, and I’m tackling my fear of the machines and free-weights. And both my body and mind are thankful for it. I feel good!

2015-06-20Out in the bird house, the wrens have had their babies. We haven’t seen the little ones yet, but we can hear their tiny chorus of chirping as they beg to be fed. Mama and Daddy wren have been busy flying back and forth, making their way in and out of the house trying to keep their brood fed while Lucy keeps watch.

At work this week, there was a someone-dropped-the-ball situation. Nothing earth-shattering in the broad scheme of things, but it brewed into an ugly finger-pointing and it looked like I was going to take the fall for it. There was a meeting in which  I was surrounded by a group of people who were senior to me and after a few attempts to backtrack to what had actually transpired, one person kept tossing the blame back on me. I felt about this big and was certain everyone had reduced me to a moron in their minds. Since we couldn’t go back in time to rectify the situation (which, again, was a fairly minor hurdle,) the conversation ended with everyone choosing to believe what they believed. My boss left the meeting early, I guessed seeing the pointlessness of it all and having other important things to do.

I went back to my desk afterwards, wracking my brain in an attempt to call up the details of past events, and for the life of me, could not recall a situation where I should have done things differently. Believe me, I would have owned up to it if I’d honestly felt it was my fault. I have a good track record at work and would be willing to admit that I’d made a mistake if I’d thought I actually had. But based on my documentation, I really couldn’t confidently claim ownership of this one. I honestly think it was a matter of several parties just getting their wires crossed, and as so often happens, lack of proper communication.

While I was back at my desk, working and stewing over the situation, I received an email from my boss asking if I was interested in taking a walk around the pond. Here we go, I thought. I’m gonna get chewed out.

But, no. As we headed outside toward the pond and walking path, my boss asked, Did you feel like you were getting thrown under the bus?

Oh, yeah. I said. Completely. I told her I’d be willing to take the blame if I honestly thought the mistake was mine, but I just couldn’t find a scrap of memory in my mind where I now thought I should have done something I didn’t.

Stop, she told me. I know you, and I know you’re making yourself crazy trying to figure out what you might have done wrong. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and thanked her. Why had I thought she would chew me out? She has never once dealt with anyone that way.

You know I trust you, right? She asked. I assured her that I’ve always felt trusted and supported by her.

Then stop killing yourself over this. This is not on you. It was [the blaming person] who failed to check facts with the rest of the team before finalizing the project. Considering the length of time this has been in the works, all the people involved and all of the moving parts, it was [the blaming person]’s responsibility to make sure this didn’t happen.

She went on to tell me that she had left the meeting early because she was “so pissed” on my behalf that she couldn’t respond to [the blaming person] in any semblance of a professional manner. She said that [the blaming person] has a long-standing and well-known attitude of it’s business, not personal, which seems to allow her to act and speak in unthinkable ways and it’s getting old. My boss assured me that there wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t see through [the blaming person]’s smokescreen. No one else there thought I should be taking the fall for this, and she informed me that the VP was livid on my behalf. And ultimately, it was [the blaming person] who was directed to rectify the situation.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my boss? Afterwards, it was tempting to hold a grudge against [the blaming person], but I was just so relieved to know that my boss had my back that I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. And ultimately, I feel sorry for [the blaming person]. She has a brilliant mind, but she’s an island. It must be awfully lonely being her at times. And based on her approach with me after all was said and done, I can tell that she truly didn’t think she’d done anything hurtful. She was leaning on me for support in her efforts, asking my opinion, letting me know she values my capabilities, just like she typically does.

The longer I’m in the corporate world, the more I’m reminded, this is not who I am. It’s just what I do. I’m fortunate to be passionate about many aspects of it, but I can see that if it were one day gone from me… there’d be something else to take its place and I’d get by. So I’ll do it for as long as I’m allowed and as long as it serves my family’s needs.

And at any rate, I am just so happy it’s summer and it’s the weekend! Moving on!

Restoring my calm

Yesterday was beautiful. It was the perfect day to be off work. It’s been so long since I had a “mental health” break that I’d forgotten how good it feels to have a quiet, unscripted day stretching out ahead of me.

I never left the house or yard. I spent the morning taking care of a few inside chores while listening to music on the radio. By noon, I could feel the sun calling me to come outside. The sky was a deep, bright blue, free of clouds. The sun was brilliant, and the temperature was just right in the low eighties. There was a slight enough breeze to make it perfectly comfortable. I changed into shorts and a tank, grabbed a couple of books and found a nice patch of sunshine to soak up as I stretched out in the Adirondack chair.

After reading for an hour or so, I went inside to find some leftovers in the fridge and heated them up for lunch, which I promptly took back outside to the deck. While eating beneath the canopy, one of my wren friends kept me company. He perched on top of the feeder hanger and showed off his vocal talents.

Lucy was enjoying the gorgeous day every bit as much as I was. She wandered the perimeter of the yard, sniffing beneath the fences,and barking at passers-by. She ran from one end to the other and rolled in the thick, green grass. I spent some time weeding the vegetable gardens, trimming back the rhubarb that was going to seed, and transplanted some herbs which were overflowing the pots where I’d initially planted them. The garden will give the basil and cilantro much more room to stretch out.

As I took the day in stride, I realized just how much most of my days are spent planning, thinking, worrying, discussing, meeting deadlines and commitments, rushing from one thing to the next while always thinking ahead to yet another obligation. In stark contrast, I spent the day yesterday without planning, without conversation, and simply quieting my mind.

When Mark came in the door from work mid-afternoon, I was happy and energetic. I could see the pleasant surprise on his face. I think he’s gotten a bit used to seeing me come home from work looking and feeling frazzled.

As I sat at the top of the half-flight of stairs, he looked up at me from the foyer and asked, “How was your day?”

“It was lovely,” I said, smiling. “I would like to not work and just do this instead from now on if it’s okay with you.”

He brushed me off, saying, “You’d get bored.”

He was right. I love the challenge of my job. I like to work, to learn, to experience new experiences. I need to be around and talk with other people.But I definitely need to make sure that I periodically schedule more “nothing” days like yesterday. My spirit has been refreshed and it feels wonderful.

Rolling into Summer

I’m off work today. Weeks ago, I’d scheduled this as a vacation day because Mark and I were planning to go out of town for the weekend. Those plans fell through, but I kept the time off and I’m glad. I have nothing in particular in mind for this day, but it’s shaping up to be a beautiful one. We’ll see what it brings, and if that’s nothing more than getting a jump-start on the weekly chores so I’m free to enjoy Saturday and Sunday, I’ll take it.

Summer seems to be well on its way and I’m loving it! There has been a good balance of rain and sun lately. We’ve had several days with temperatures in the eighties and one day reached up into the nineties already! On weekdays, I’ll take a break from work to walk around the pond outside of the office. It’s good to get away from the computer screens and corporate environment to stretch my legs. The turtles have already returned to their sunning spot on a particular log. And this time of year, I’ll often notice the sweet scent of various plants and flowers blooming along the path. One day, a couple of guys dressed in business casual were traipsing around in the trees between the walking path and the water. They were both bent over, closely scrutinizing the ground. I asked what they were looking for. One held out his hand to show me the Morel mushrooms they’d discovered and were busy collecting.

At home lately, we’ll often enjoy dinner out on the deck under the canopy, or just relax there in the evening while watching the sky for storms rolling in.

Storms Coming

2015-04-25Our deck is becoming somewhat of a wildlife sanctuary lately. Remember the chickadees that had taken up residence in the bird house not long ago? Remember how we were saddened to see that some other creature had destroyed the nest, smashed the eggs, and chased the chickadees away? Remember how Mark suspected the sparrows? Well, there’s a new bird family in there now. Wrens. They seem pretty relaxed with the frequent human and canine presence in their neighborhood. And in the mornings, they sing beautifully (and loudly!) For weeks, every time I’d hear them, I’d think, “So pretty!” Until one day I found myself thinking, “Enough already!” Still, the wrens are pretty cute, even though I was mildly disturbed to learn that it was likely they who evicted the chickadees. (Sorry for blaming you, sparrows!)

Birds aren’t the only creatures getting comfortable on our deck. Lucy spends a great deal of time snapping at and chasing flies and various other winged insects. And one day, I almost stepped on what I first thought was a little wood chip. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a tree frog. He wasn’t the least bit bothered by me putting my phone up close to his face to snap a photo.

Tree FrogUnder the deck, the rain has been good for the hostas. They’re getting out of hand early this year!

Hostas

In packing news, we continue to sort through my parents’ accumulation of fifty plus years together, in preparation for their move to the town house they’re purchasing. We’re getting better at throwing and donating things, but plenty of stuff is still finding its way to my house, at least temporarily. Kacey is now the proud owner of a GPS, and Jake, a small cooler to keep his pop and water cold while he’s out on a job site.

Earlier this week, we came across the bowling balls. My parents, of course wanted to know if I, the family bowler, would want them. I didn’t. I have two of my own bowling balls and the main one is weighted so I can throw a hook. These were your standard spare balls for throwing a straight shot. And although Mom’s is a pretty, swirly, green one, it’s not heavy enough for me. Dad’s is too heavy.

Dads bowling ball

The bowling bags were water damaged, so they’re getting thrown away. Mom’s bowling shoes are long gone and Dad’s are curled up and dried with age, so they can be thrown away too. But I wasn’t sure what to do with the balls. I’m sure I could just drop them off at the Goodwill, but was hoping I could put them to better use. I asked at the bowling alley when I was there on Wednesday, but was told they wouldn’t take them.

In a last-ditch effort to figure out the best thing to do with old bowling balls, I stumbled across a Pinterest page. Now I know what to do with the balls!

Mom and Dad’s new place has a few small garden areas. Maybe they’ll get their bowling balls back as a housewarming gift. :-)

Opting not to be defeated

I woke up this morning and sensed the sun slipping through the bedroom window beneath the shade. I hadn’t pulled it all the way down last night. The air outside was comfortable and I wanted to sleep with the breeze drifting in.

I peeked at the clock. Five-thirty. Nope. I closed my eyes again and drifted off before I heard Lucy trot into the room and felt her drop her chin on the bed next to my face. She offered a short, pleading whine, and when I refused to open my eyes and acknowledge her, she leapt up and over me and then back down from Mark’s side of the bed, all in one continuous motion. She’s such a stinker. She wants what she wants, when she wants it.

I opened one eye to look at the clock again. Six-thirty. I decided I was agreeable to taking the spoiled, little princess out for a morning walk.

The past week at work was full of challenges, both of the good and not-so-much variety. A particular colleague continues to combat my sense of balance. While most of our small team has a good sense of give and take and support for one another, she seems to feel the need to not only position herself above everyone else, but to undermine the rest of us. I often wish I had the nerve to remind her that we are all truly peers! No one is above another.

She and I are currently working on two separate but related projects. In an informal meeting she had on Thursday with some of the IT staff, one of them suggested they call me in to collaborate. This would have shed some light on the work I was doing. She had a conniption fit, to the point she felt the need to tell me about it afterwards and attempt to justify her behavior. As she described it, she angrily asked if they were altering the purpose of the meeting and if so, she would drop out so that they could collaborate with me instead. She told everyone present that I was overwhelmed with my job duties at the present time and that they would be imposing on me by calling me into their discussion. Apparently, she made everyone so uncomfortable with her words and tone that they avoided her for the rest of the day. She’s well-known for her air of condescension, but there are times when it becomes downright unprofessional. This was clearly one of those times. She didn’t need to tell me what had happened. I wish she hadn’t. But it was obvious that she felt the need to describe the events in a way that might convince me she was somehow protecting me, in case someone else might get to me first with an uglier description of the events.

Several times afterwards, she stopped by to say, “I hope you’re not mad at me for not wanting to bring you into the meeting.”

I was mad. Not so much because she blocked me from a meeting that would have helped me do my work. I was already doing well enough on my own… but there’s a lot to do and anything that makes things easier is always appreciated. No, I was upset because she seems to think it’s acceptable to act as a human roadblock. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction, I shrugged it off and insisted my project was sailing along just fine and I was more than capable of obtaining any information I needed to get my work done. It was true. I did exactly that before Friday was over with initial testing of the project showing almost perfect results. But the fallout of her behavior is that several people later initiated communications with me with the words, “I know you’re swamped, but …”

“Swamped.” That was the exact word she’d told me she used when she lost her cool in her meeting. So I knew there had been a ripple effect from her outburst that caused others to approach me cautiously. That’s what frustrated me so much. I like to work. I welcome new experiences and opportunities. Her behavior could have caused others to pass me by when they would have otherwise invited me in. Probably not. People know me well enough not to let this one thing steer them away from me if I’m really needed. But it was apparent she’d created at least a temporary sense of hesitation.

As Lucy and I walked this morning, I was able to unwind from the stress of the week. The sun was brilliant at that time of the day. The sky was striped with alternating stretches of clear blue and white, puffy clouds. Cottonwood drifted down from the trees, dusting the ground with a blanket of white.

Lucy raced and stopped, pulled and sniffed. She’s not a well-trained dog, to put it mildly. I’ve tried, but she’s got such enthusiasm for the people we encounter along our route. I hold her back, never knowing who might be a dog lover and who might not. But if she could talk, I can imagine what she’d say to those she meets. Hi! Hello! Let me lick your knees! Don’t you want to pet me? 

Everything is an adventure to Lucy. She makes me see things I otherwise might miss. She wanted to chase a black squirrel, and a huge rabbit that disappeared underneath a white picket fence almost before Lucy caught sight of her. She made me laugh and relax. Along the way, as my dog sniffed every scent she encountered, I admired the artwork of spring. Lawns and trees and open spaces along the way seemed to be orchestrated in perfect harmony. Colors seem so brilliant this time of year, the greens so deep, the whites so clean, the yellows and pinks and reds so bursting with brilliance. Even some of those things we usually consider to be weeds were boasting pretty flowers. As we strolled past the farm, I contemplated the huge, old trees that had been allowed to stretch upwards and outwards, unmanicured for years,  their trunks and branches spreading high, and wide. Climbing trees. If I’d have been younger and without a dog, I might have climbed up inside of the branches and relaxed among the leaves for a while.

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The walk allowed me to take a step back from the situation at work. This colleague who continues to frustrate me is not a person of integrity. I’ve known this for years. She’s either openly ugly, or obviously phony with her fake smiles and insincere compliments. I don’t know why I allow her to continue causing me turmoil inside. If I’m not her target, it’s certainly someone else. And quite honestly, it’s so obvious that everything she says and does comes from a place of insecurity. She outright told me that in her meeting, the person who suggested they call me in, said he considered me the most knowledgeable or experienced in the area they were discussing. This set her off, I’m sure, but ironically, it was she who helped ensure I became just that! Whenever work in this area comes up and she doesn’t want to do it, she pawns it off on me, flavoring her requests with words such as, “I thought you’d be the best person to work on this. You’ve already done so much work in this arena and have the most expertise.”

Apparently she uses that particular compliment to get me to do work she doesn’t want to do. It’s not okay when someone else says it and means it.

During my walk, I realized that as difficult as my colleague continues to be, she helps me better myself. She makes me dig deep, to really think about who I am, who I want to be, and what I’m really capable of. She displays the kind of behaviors I make note to always avoid, and she challenges me to develop my own strengths. And then I did something I never thought I’d do. I prayed for her. I thanked God for putting her in my path and acknowledged there’s a reason she and I are in each other’s worlds. I felt sorry for her and asked God to help her, and I softened a little bit inside for her. Maybe there’s a chance we can both rise above this kind of thing. I won’t get my hopes too high, but at least I know that I can take the high road, even if she never does.

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Roger Crawford