Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! My hope is that the new year will bring us all peace.

I am thinking back on all the changes my life has seen in the recent years. Some of them have been difficult, but I am trying to view them as opportunities to learn and grown. I have worked hard to get myself to a place where I can begin a new career, one which I have control over, to at least some degree. This has given me back some of my self confidence which had taken a real beating the past year. Some people wish to roll the clock back and be many years or decades younger. I do not wish that. Life has taught me many lessons that I would not wish to repeat, but having survived them I am a much stronger person. There are times I wish I could make people be me, if only for one day. I think they would learn a lot too. I do not take anything for granted. Each day I know that I am receiving a gift. No one knows how much time they have left but when you deal with the problems that I do, you know that they should all be savored and lived to their highest potential. I had to make some difficult changes recently to gain back the quality of my days. I cannot control the quantity of my days but I can take all the steps I can to insure the quality. I wish all of you quality days and most of all I wish you the knowledge of the gift of each day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to All and to all a Goodnight

I had a wonderful Christmas. Last night my spirits were not too bright but I put my best face on and we went to my brother, Bob's house. He had a nice crowd which included two surprise guests, my niece and her fiancee'. I hadn't known she was dating anyone since her break up during the summer so it was quite a shock. I didn't get to talk to him much but it was good to see her, she made a long drive from upstate New York to see us. As usual my sisters-in-law were a lot of fun. We had a nice time and got to spend some time with the newest member of our family baby Cadence who is a few months old. She had on the cutest Santa outfit. My sister-in-law gave me a great handbag (have I ever mentioned my love of handbags?) Came home and went to bed and this morning we woke up bright and early thanks to out cat alarm. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. I knew I was getting my flat screen monitor and didn't expect much more. I should have known better when the Leprechaun Santa is on the job. He consulted with our friend Tim, quilter extraordinaire and got me a sewing machine. I was delighted and look forward to doing a few things with it. I also got the most adorable Christmas monKey ornament with two monkeys. I think my favorite gift of all though was a business card holder. It has hot pink flowers on a border with my name engraved on it. Inside is the slogan my husband suggested that I use. I love it! All my gifts were wonderful but this one reflected such thought. My son came over and gave me an electronic organizer and a real estate dictionary which he proceeded to quiz me on. That guy! He was amazed at what I already know but I will be taking two weeks of further training next week.

My husband received some good stuff from Mrs. Claus which included a beer making kit, DVDS of the show House and a PS2 game. I was sad that the lottery tickets in his stocking were not big winners. I guess he will be going to work tomorrow after all.

We spent most of the day at my mother's house. My brother his wife, sister, her daughter, parents and my grandmother were there. We had a nice dinner. Sometime later my sister's significant other arrived. My sister has a horrible cold. She will be leaving in the morning. Tomorrow will be a hectic day for me as I run around getting papers I need and checks. Today was a much needed escape from the problems of the recent past. I am tired and looking forward to a restful night. This Christmas went surprisingly well and I am happy that I got to spend it with two relatives I have not spent time with in a very long time. Merry Christmas and good night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Staying Afloat

Right now I am battling within myself. I am struggling to understand why some people say things and then when you take their advice get angry at you. I am wondering why people cannot just be happy that you have worked hard and put yourself in a place where you can possibly have more income (income of necessity not want). If they can't dictate to you how to live your life then they question your loyalty. What is that all about? Does one have to ruin any financial opportunities to prove loyalty? I think the key is that one must do what one needs to survive.
I am reminded of a quote "Don't tell me who you are. Don't tell me what you'll do. Show me what you've done and I will know you."

I just read a wonderful entry by Judith HeartSong. She makes such wonderful observations about life. She speaks how such situations are learning experiences. I must view this that way. I am about to embark on a journey. Where paychecks will not be steady. I have not received a paycheck in three weeks. (I am expecting to receive one for two of those weeks soon.) It's a bit scary. I have to view this as an opportunity to receive an education at which time I will start to earn money. Patience. Something I need to work on.

Christmas time has always been a struggle for me. It began when I was ten years old. I remember that Christmas as though it were yesterday. We took in a brother and sister foster children. My mother knew their aunt. For Christmas we were poor, my father was in the Navy and there were four of us children already. We crammed them into our rooms and now there were three sharing our double bed. For Christmas my mother bought the girl a teardrop pearl necklace. It was beautiful. My sister and I received a child's table with two chairs. It was ideal for my three year old sister but I was ten and although petite couldn't fit close to the table on the tiny chairs. My cousin called me and I went to her house. She had received a metal miniature kitchen. The sink even had running water. She also received a beautiful birthstone ring and many other things. I had such envy. It was so hard to deal with. The foster daughter was very mean to me. My mother kept telling me that I had to be understanding. At night she dug her fingernails into my arms until they bled. It was hard to be understanding. Finally they went back to their parents. We never heard from them again. Since then Christmas became an emotional ordeal for me. I still don't understand why but years later this haunts me. This year has been especially tough for us. We are both from large families. We have twelve nieces and nephews between us and two greats. We also have seven siblings and four of them have spouses. Over the years I have asked to stop exchanging. Some have agreed but most have not. I am overwhelmed with trying to shop and buy for all these people. Many of them buy anything they want all year and want or need nothing. Yesterday one who had agreed three year ago not to exchange called to tell me that she had bought us both gifts. Now in the eleventh hour am I expected to be out shopping for them? It gets harder each year. My charge bills arrived yesterday and thought I might need medical attention. I want to stop the madness. My mother-in-law's gifts are still here because I didn't have the money to ship them up there. I did ship the box with the children's toys earlier. I love buying gifts and I love giving. When the giving is so sacrificial it becomes difficult. It took me until the summer to pay off my charges last year. If my situation remains the same next year I think I am going to have to bite the bullet and refuse any adult exchanges except for each other, my son and our parents. I just can't keep going through this year after year. It ruins the holidays. I want to experience a Christmas Eve with the excitement that I once could. No stress, no pressure. I want the gifts I give to be sharing time, quality time with people I care about. Not an obligatory gift that I know they will be thinking "Who can I regift this to?" Sorry but how can I give you anything you want when you buy what you want on a daily basis? What can I give someone who is receiving diamond jewelery each year? Why do I feel pressured to go out shopping to get something for someone who agreed not to exchange knowing that I have two prescriptions I will be running out of in two days that will wait until my paycheck arrives to be filled.

This is my Christmas prayer: Lord please help me stop the madness and fill my heart with peace. Please don't let this stress get to me and necessitate a trip to the ER because I can't afford the copay. Amen.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Four Days and Counting

I cannot believe we are four short days away from Christmas. The countdown has begun.
Today I had the priviledge of taking my 94 1/2 year old grandmother grocery shopping. She is so sweet, words cannot describe my joy at spending time with her. I always think of the Christmas story about the cup of tea. How this woman goes into a house which brings back Christmas memories like a flood. My grandmother does that for me. My grandfather has been gone many years and I still miss him. To think that she will be gone one day just terrifies me.
She talks about that and I have to go into denial mode. I am seizing all the moments that I can with her right now. Thanksgiving was lonely for us. Although Rob and I are always happy to be together we only saw my son and no other members from either side of the family. Christmas we will have my grandmother here, my sister and her two daughters here and will be going Christmas Eve to my brother's house. It will be busy and we will see many of my family members. Rob's family haven't been here in three years. Fortunately, my parents who were dead set against meeting him have taken him into their hearts. Sometimes I think they like him more than me. Of course there are times I wonder whether they like me at all. Seriously.

I had Rob dye my hair last night. I have decided I cannot afford to get it professionally done anymore. It grows way too fast and often I am not happy with it. I was born with black hair. I was often asked if I had Asian ancestry which to my knowledge I did not. My grandfather's family were Black Irish. That means they had black hair and blue eyes. I always wanted that combination and think of Snow White when I think of that combo. My mother had that when she was younger. Now her hair is entirely gray and she refuses to put any color on it. I got the black hair but not the blue eyes. I have decided to have my hair be dark brown. It looks softer on a coughmiddleagedcough woman. It's also easier to add highlights or lowlights to.

I am tired tonight. I didn't sleep well last night. Change does not come easy for me like it once did. Even when we make changes we feel necessary it is hard to leave people behind. I hope as I get busier with launching a new career that will lessen. A new year dawns. I hope it will bring a feeling of financial security. I hope it will provide me with an opportunity to take a vacation, something I have not done in over a decade. Mostly though, I hope it will bring me good health and healthy relationships with the people in my life who matter most.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Changes in the Air

I am doing a lot of soul searching right now. Wondering where I should be in terms of my new license. There are many different ways it can be used and I am investigating the options which will be best for me. If I become a full time agent and give up my current part time job I will lose the security of the income (which is modest) however I will be giving myself an option to earn much more. I think I know what to do and have been receiving advice from people who have made careers for themselves. It's exciting but when one leaves the safety net it's always a bit uneasy.

I am still dragging from when I was sick several weeks ago. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and never did get back to sleep. I dozed but not the good restful sleep. I keep thinking how nice it would be to be making my own schedule more or less. I know that I have been way too stressed out. It's not good for me physically or mentally.

Tonight is my office Christmas party. Oops I mean holiday party. They start it at 4 which is ridiculous because noone shows up between 4 and 5. It goes until 8. At 8 a great new musician who just cut his first CD will be playing at a local pub. I would love to go providing I can stay awake. I think I could force myself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hanging Tough

December has been a rough patch for me. While I love Autumn and early Winter weather and the holidays I have not been feeling well or rested. I missed two weeks of work just after Thanksgiving and I just can't feel rested no matter how much sleep I get. Last night my sister called which was a wonderful surprise and we talked for two hours. I got to bed just before midnight and had to get up at 7a.m. Since I don't work on Tuesdays that wasn't plesant. I had to get up, get showered, get medicated and get to the endodontist for my root canal. I really dreaded this. I have to take a huge amount of antibiotics before I go and often am running into the bathroom frequently before the procedure begins. I have to say that I was thrilled with the wonderful and capable Dr. Berger. I told him if I ever need another root canal he'll be the one doing it. He was very relaxing and gentle and the entire procedure was painless. That was very different from my two previous root canals done by dentists. The procedure was completed in one day! I just have to go to my regular dentist for the permanent filling and I'm done. The novocaine has worn off and I have a bit of discomfort but nothing I can't handle.

Yesterday as I arrived home from work I saw a message blinking. My mammogram that I had several days ago and got a thumbs up for seemed to trouble another radiologist and I need to go back for more films. Since I had a breast cancer lesion removed two years ago I am a bit nervous. Hoping it will be okay, I go back a week from this Thursday.

Next Tuesday I get digitally fingerprinted. In my entire life I have never been fingerprinted. At least I won't have black ink all over the place but you know what this means. IF I ever commit a crime, they will readily identify me. Thankfully, I have nothing planned.

Today my one man support system Rob took off a day and took me to the endodontist. That helped me. When we finished there we ran into the mall and picked up a few things for Christmas and something for our friend's birthday. It will arrive belatedly but at least it will arrive.

It's overcast outside. This year our neighborhood has gone light on outdoor decorations, as have we. I want to make sure that next year I don't plan medical procedures or tests or any stressful things during the month of December. If things are going well financially maybe I will even take December off! No matter how stressed I am, no matter how full my plate is, I know that my life is good and that there are good people who truly care about me. There are others in my life who are not good people, who seem to enjoy being deceptive and who don't want me to succeed. I know that I am not responsible for those people. I keep them at arm's length and let karma deal with them. They will not rob me of my joy at all that is good.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Tuesday to Be Thankful For

Tonight I am looking back on a day well spent. Yesterday I had a bit of a melt down feeling the pressure of my state licensing exam that I had to take today. Rob was home from work and was subject to my emotional bouts of terror. I did manage to get some studying in and took two practice tests online which helped to prepare me.

This morning I was up bright and early to do some final studying. My dear friend from work called me (one of the ladies I had taken the course with) to tell me she had just come from work and had said prayers for me. She gave me a pep talk as well. I simply adore this woman. I got dressed and decided to leave a bit early to pop in on my friend Monica who I worked with over thirty years ago. Her daughter was there with her four year old daughter who recently finished chemo and is doing well now. I met Monica's daughter when she was four years old and today I was looking at HER four year old daughter. Rather than feeling old I was explaining to Monica and her daughter that I had survived my cancer thirty years and am still going strong. Little Madison is a lovely girl and I took an angel that played Silent Night and she sang along with the angel. My heart was melting and I suppressed my feeling to just squeeze her so tightly. I feel it's important to act as normal as possible with a child under these circumstances. We had a nice visit and it lifted my spirits and Monica expressed her faith in me as well.

I headed over to the testing center. At the door I paused wondering if I could do this. I have had so much stress over this test. I read somewhere that 40% fail the first time. I did all my paperwork, had a horrible picture taken and was ushered inside with absolutely nothing. My purse had to be locked up. We couldn't even use our own pencils. Only a calculator of the simplest kind was allowed in. They allow 4 hours for the test. I can tell you that it is a very difficult test. They offer choices which make fine distinctions. You need to know the material thoroughly and be able to apply it to situations. I finished the test in under two hours. I walked out and they told me it would be a few minutes before the computer would give them the results. The results are pass or fail and not scored. Not sure why but that's how it is. My hands felt shakey although I thought I did okay. There was only one math question that I redid several times and couldn't get. I just moved on. After what seemed like an eternity the man smiled so broadly and said "YOU PASSED." I felt weak in the news. The tears began to flow and I was ferklempt. They handed me tissues. I explained to them how stressed out I have been. They said that they were glad I passed because if I were this upset over passing........... Yeah. I left with a huge sense of relief. Later my cell phone rang and my other coworker who took the class with me was calling. She had just passed her test and wanted to know that I had passed mine. She said if I hadn't it wouldn't have been as sweet for her. Yes I told her. I passed. I made many phone calls to let people know. I am proud of what I have accomplished. It wasn't easy to work and go to school and do the studying that I did. The important thing is that I did it. It will open up some other opportunities for me as far as income is concerned.

We went to IHOP to celebrate. We're just frivolous like that. :)
Seriously, I have missed two weeks of work with illness and studying. When I sell my first house we can celebrate then.

I just have one more thing to get through before I can relax. Next Tuesday I am having a root canal. While most people don't enjoy them, I find the dentist terrifying. Rob is taking me. I am not fooled. He wants to make sure I actually show up. After then, I will be able to enjoy eating hot/warm foods again. Right now it's not too pleasant.

As though visiting a friend, receiving tons of support from friends, passing the test and dinner at IHOP were not enough, I came online and saw that Jennifer, my journal guardian angel put up a Christmas tree and made it snow. Thank you, Jennifer.

Some days like today remind me how much I love life. Yes, you never know what new joys will unfold on any given day. Thank you God for another day of life.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Little Walks Down Memory Lane

Often I will read an entry in another's blog that will jog a little memory of my own. Tonight Jennifer was talking about her grandmonster turning 13 soon. It made me remember the traumatic incident that occured in my thirteen year old life.

We had a foster child named Michael. His father, stepmother and their children lived in a development. Michael couldn't get along with the others and they put him in foster care. He was a friend of my other friend Dee and I persuaded my parents to take him in. He was with us about a year I think. He had many friends from his development and one day he asked us to go and pick one guy up so they could hang out. I remember the first glimpse I caught of his friend, Ray. He had the largest, most piercing blue eyes and a beautiful smile. One glance and I was a smitten kitten. For the following year we went to each other's school dances and lots of trips in groups. We "went steady" for much of that time. During the end of the year Ray had "needs" that I was not willing to meet. He made it clear to me that their were other more worldly girls that were willing to. He tried to negotiate and bargain but I just wasn't that kind of girl. In June one night he called me and told me that he was breaking up. It was absolutely devastating to me. I called my best friend Debbie and through sobs told her how my world had ended. She had her Mom come and get me to spend the night at her house. I will never forget her mother, Dorothy telling me that there were "plenty of fish in the sea" and me sobbing in reply that there was only one FISH for me and Ray was it. We played "The End of the World" and other heart rendering songs as I cried throughout the night.

About a year later I fell in love, the real thing that lasted for three years with someone else. One day out of the blue Ray called me. He told me that he now understood what a jerk he had been.

The interesting thing is that from the day I first set eyes on Ray, I developed a "thing" for blue eyes. I always tell people never to underestimate the power of a teenage crush. Teenagers are vulnerable and often struggle with low self esteem. I am happy to report that my life was not ruined but it hurt at the time and I can still remember how I felt some forty years later.

Friday, December 01, 2006

'Tis The Season to be Stressed fa la la la la la la la la

I read an entry earlier about the commercialism of the Christmas holiday. It's so very true. This year, I have tried not to buy obligatory items but things that will have sentimental meaning to people. Still, I get weary. Although not up to it, I ran to the mall for gift certificates for my niece and nephew. They are great kids. It just feels so cold and impersonal to me.

One of my coworkers (who also took the real estate course with me) Melinda has sworn off all gifts. She started this last year when she said she had become completely overwhelmed. She has four grown children, the youngest of which is in an expensive college. She works THREE jobs, all part time. She has such a gentle voice and is a very compassionate person. When she told people she was going to implement this last year, they looked at her like she had three heads.
She went on to tell people that she would not accept gifts from them. This will be her second Christmas without the gift buying stress. She was telling me the other night how much more joy she can have. She still does a huge family gathering at her home. She makes a big deal over her children's birthdays. She just won't do the Christmas gift thing anymore. I love her courage.
One year I suggested to my family that we give donations to charities in each other's names.
My father who has everything humanly possible went ballistic. This is the man who year after year rips open something and ridicules it. This year he is getting a gift card to his favorite restaurant. My mother would no doubt cry all day if she didn't receive a gift. Again, there is virtually nothing you can buy her that she doesn't already have. Their VCR is only used when one of us is there to operate it for them.

Maybe next year Melinda's bravery will rub off on me and I will declare "Stop the madness."
Food for thought. Bon appetit.