Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday, Ava!

On March 17, 2009, Ava Jeanne was born.

Today, March 20, 2010, we celebrated her first birthday. She is a beautiful baby girl, who has two doggies, Brody, a Yorkshire Terrier, and Tank, a Husky with one blue eye and one brown eye, and two wonderful parents who love and adore her. The house was standing room only as it filled with family and friends to celebrate the first year of this blessing from heaven.

She was dressed in a white shirt with white leggings trimmed in lace and a purple flower on the front and a purple Tutu made by Mom. She had a purple bow in her hair. She was all smiles and waving and was a little shy at first until the presents.

We left so she could take a nap.

You never know how precious life is until you become a parent and then a grandparent and hold that little life in your arms for the first time. Your heart fills with love you didn't know it had and it fills your whole body and soul to the point it almost aches. It's a feeling I have each time I hold that little girl, or my nephew, Cannon, or hug my son, who is now a grown Navy man soon to be 21. If anyone goes through this life without ever experiencing that feeling, you haven't really lived. I feel sorry for you.

Today the sun came out and it was bright and clear, even if it was a little colder than a few days ago, but we were all happy the weather was nice at least for her party and the shoes could all be kicked out of the house on the front step instead of in the doorway.

Thanks, Patrice and Jesse for throwing your baby girl such a wonderful party, and I'm glad to see she loves chocolate as much as her Grandma Sissy!

Ava, Happy Birthday honey! Pappa and I love you very much. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Job, New Schedule, New Outlook, Part 2

This has been a really crazy week.

Monday I got a call from my temp service that the company I was raving about working for had cancelled me.

I felt like someone hit me right in the gut.

No further explanation, just that's it, we're done with you.

As I was attempting to process this news, and fighting back the tears in the meantime, she tells me, "There's a job available at 6:00 am to 6:00 pm tomorrow at XYZ Company, if you can make it there, I'll call them and tell them to expect you. It will be Tuesday, Wednesday and then Thursday from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm (noon). Can you give me an answer before 6:00 pm tonight?"

I thought at first that I should ask the Hubby if he thought I should take it, and then I said, "Sure, I'll be there." He was on a motorcycle ride, and I figured bad news/good news could wait until he got back.

I didn't know what to do or what to think, but then I realized, this is what life is like as a temporary worker. You have no idea from one day to the next if you are going to be working or not working. Who am I kidding? Even permanent workers don't know from one day to the next if they will be working or not in this "new economy." What the hell makes me exempt? Not a damn thing.

Hubby was not happy to hear I lost a job, or knowing the drive was about 45 minutes to an hour for the "new job" and it would pay a dollar an hour less than what I was making at ABC Company, well, at this point, you can't turn anything down. We went for a drive in the Pink Ride and I cried a bit as we drove through the Refuge. I was already attached to the people I worked with and I was mourning the loss of them as much as the job itself.

I do know this much: I am happier working than not working. I feel my life, the planets and my whole Universe came into alignment once I realized I work, therefore I am, and accepted I need a job to structure my life.

My good friend, Beth Erickson said it best when I talked to her Monday, before I knew my Universe was going to shift once again, when she said, "It's different now that you're not running from a job you hate."

Amen, Beth!

That's exactly what I've been doing. I've been trying so hard to make the writing career work, or find any way to make money so I could be "ok" with not working a traditional job. I didn't realize I was doing it so I didn't have to work at my old job and it became more like hell on Earth with each passing day. It wasn't so much the job, like I've said before, it was the ENVIRONMENT.

My friend, Wendy, who works at XYZ Company and worked at ABC Company as a temporary worker, asked me, "Now, that you've worked at 3 different companies, which one do you like best?"

I couldn't argue with her, and this will blow your hair straight out, but the XYZ Company was Best out of all 3! Yes, the one where I drive farther (mostly back roads, lots of horse farms, trees, rivers, streams, a nice big lake, etc.), and I make less money than my old job, or even the one I had at ABC Company! Go figure.

I've realized this, and I told Beth this on the phone before the "bad news", that it's not about the money. It's not even the job. It's just feeling like I need to contribute in some way, no matter how small.

I'm grateful to be able to work, physically, and mentally it does a lot more for me than I realized. But even if I never hit the bestseller list, even if I never win a Pulitzer, I'm still a writer. I still want to touch people with the words I put on the screen, on my blogs, or in my notebooks. I want to write books and e-books, and teach writing to those who want to learn. I want to give seminars and workshops. Even if I don't make a penny off of it, it will be worth it to me if someone says they learned something or it helped them come out of the "closet" and be brave enough to write in the light of day.

And all of this would not be possible if it weren't for two very special people in my life. One is the Hubby, who I met fifteen (15) years ago today at Bob and Kathy's house, standing in the kitchen, with a Bayfront Bluesfest T-shirt and I felt like my knees gave out from under me. After 15 years, I still get that feeling when I realize how lucky I am to have that man in my life.

And the other person, is my son Alex, who came into my life whether I was ready or not and taught me I was stronger than I realized. Both have restored my faith in love and the belief that love really does conquer all and will never die.

As I look ahead, I know I can't count on this "new job," but I'll take what I can get and this place is wonderful, even better than the job I raved about before. I think it's funny how one minute you get the worst news, and the next day, you realize it truly was a blessing and it was how things were supposed to work out, not the way you wanted or expecte them to work out.

On Wednesday, my granddaughter, Ava, celebrated her first birthday. She is so much different than she was a year ago. It's so amazing the changes we all go through in each stage of our lives but the first two years are so full of change, you just have to go with it. Best advice I can give new parents: Adapt to the baby's schedule, don't try to make the baby adapt to yours. You'll deal with things a lot better if you realize it coming right out of the gate.

Good lesson to follow at any age: Go with the flow. Stop stressing out.

Take it day by day. It's all you can do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Yesterday I woke up from my "nap" at about 2:30 pm, and was amazed the sun was out and shining warmly out my windows. This last week, the weather has been gray, dark, dreary and soggy. We've had rain, rain, fog and more fog. I was beginning to wonder if my zip code had changed to somewhere in Washington state.

But no, the sun was out. It's out again today, and I can't tell you how much it has improved my mood and outlook. I know we need rain, but with the flooding problems around Minnesota and North Dakota, we need a few days to dry things out.

Yesterday, I got busy cleaning off my deck (proof is in the photo above). I swept all the leaves and pine needles and dirt off the outdoor carpeting. I got a bucket with some hot water and some Mr. Clean (Lemon Scented) and washed off the patio chairs, the patio tables and the railing. I looked in my flower bed and saw green things growing, but they are weeds, but I didn't have the heart to pull them out just yet. It's green and growing and until I get my plants all figured out for this year, they can stay for now.

About the time I finished, the Hubby came home and I moved my car and the green car out of the garage so we could take the '56 Chevy (the Pink Ride) out and fire it up. We turned the furnace down and opened the doors and windows up to air out the house, took the plastic off the door to the deck, and opened up the garage to dry out the garage floor which was damp. He swept out the garage floor and I was amazed that except for a couple of the bigger banks, most of the snow is gone. Last week I wasn't sure if the snow would ever melt. Now I'm wondering when I can sleep with the windows open!

It was a wonderful day, and I was glad I didn't sleep through the whole day. I'm going to have to rearrange my sleep schedule for the spring and summer so I don't miss wonderful days like yesterday and today. I was so excited I was tempted to put the gazebo up, but this time of year, we could still get a dumping of snow, and that would cause a collapse.

Once I have the gazebo up (above), I have my "writing room" back. I take my coffee, my notebook and go out on the patio to write to my little heart's content. I listen to the birds and the squirrels, and in the summer I love to watch the hummingbirds, the bumble bees and butterflies as they buzz and fly and feed around my feeders and flowers. Sometimes, I even nap out there.

But more than anything, this time of year signals that Alex will be home soon.
I know he's having the adventure of a lifetime, and I would love to see his ship come into San Diego, but it won't be possible for us with finances and my new job. But even if we can't see him in San Diego, I will be happy when he comes home.

Today, if you can, take your lunch outside, or go for a walk, or just spend some time outside in the warm sunshine today. It'll do your body and soul some good. It has for me. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Undercover Boss?! Why not? What are you afraid to find out?

For the 2 or 3 readers of my lovely little blog, you know in the past I have been unhappy (to say the least) with my former employer.

Well, actually, it was the ENVIRONMENT that said employer allowed on the work premisis. It was not a happy place, and I've noticed quite the difference between the former work environment and my current work environment and I can say with all honesty (because we all know I'm on the right path again), I simply LOVE MY JOB!

Let me say that again: "I Love My Job!"

Let me relay the reasons why:

1. This new work environment doesn't feed the rumor mills, in fact, they do everything they can to stop negative rumors dead in their tracks and ask the employees what can they do to make the work experience better not just for the regular employees, but for the temporary employees as well.

2. Everyone is kind, generous, helpful, and we all pull together as a TEAM (yes, I know how cheesy that sounds, but it's true).

3. There is a common positive bond between all of us on our shift (3rd shift Rocks). We all joke around and kidd and tease each other, all in fun, and if we see someone is having a bad night, we do what we can to make it better for them, even if it's just making some boxes or grinding some runners.

4. We are a diverse group and instead of riduculing each other for our differences, we accept and are open to discovering the wonderful things that make ourselves and lives different. We capitalize our strengths, not prey upon our weaknesses.

5. There are incentives to the employees to do well with the production numbers, and they are rewarded and acknowledged. It's not just about the bottom line, and while problems are brought to light, they are taken care of as soon as possible, not just added to the bottom of a long list that will never be done.

It's not just the fact I'm working and collecting a paycheck again that has boosted me to this level. I feel I'm where I belong, and I want to stay as long as I can and do everything I can to help the company and especially the employees succeed.

The sad part of this: I used to feel this way about my former work environment.

I couldn't wait to get to work so I could see what we could accomplish, what I could accomplish and I was proud of the work I did. Then when things got more about the bottom line, and the negative energy was encouraged to permeate throughout that work environment, I became a different person. A person I didn't like.

I didn't want to go to work. I couldn't wait to get home so I could escape all of that.

I still did my work, but I feel like my efforts to make the environment better for myself and my fellow co-workers was riduculed and I was made to feel like I was less than those who had a title or a diploma on the wall.

Even when I did exceptional work, it was never recognized or acknowledged. All I remember hearing was how bad things were, or how we all screwed up. No positive feedback at all. Nothing to build on because they had torn us all to pieces, bit-by-bit.

Workers weren't out to help you, in fact, if you needed help, you were on your own. Only a handful of them would actually take the initiative to come and help you or anticipate your need to finish up your tasks before the next shift.

The place was always a buzz with the latest gossip or rumors and often times that took precedence over getting the actual job done.

Waste, waste, waste. Machines making bad production were not fixed in a timely manner and they were left to run bad production wasting time, money and materials. In the end, it was either the fault of the QC (Quality Control), which was ultimately passed onto the operator and the operators were reprimanded.

Listen up!

Those who have employees or run any kind of business: How does it feel when you walk into the door? Do you feel happiness? Do you feel positive energy? Yes, I know this depends on if you or they have had their coffee yet, but overall, take a look around you.

If the same problems are popping up over and over with your business, maybe you should take a page out of my favorite television show, "Undercover Boss" and go deep to find out what's really working and what's not working and see what you can do about it. Knowledge is power, and in the end, if you learn things could need a tweaking here or there, then you've learned something valuable. Or even saved your business from going down the grinder chute.

I'm sure I haven't seen the bad side of things at the new job, and I'm still in the "honeymoon phase" of working at a new place with new people and none of the same old crap, and I hope I never do see that side.

I don't know everything about anything, but I do know the difference between night and day.

And I'm loving the sunshine, baby!

Have you seen my shades??

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Did I Write That Out Loud?!

In this age of "too much information" I have to apologize to my readers, friends and family, but mostly to the Love of My Life for exposing too much information in my last blog post.

Not everything needs to be put out there for the masses to read, and yes, some things need to be private and should stay that way. I crossed the line, and now there are people emailing him, writing him, and asking, "What the hell happened?"

For those enquiring minds, if you have a question, call me, email me, write me a letter, whatever. Please leave my honey alone. He's had enough to deal with and would just like us to move on from here.

I will say this and shut up about the whole thing. I am the most blessed person on the planet. I have the best friends and family and most of all, the best life partner I could have ever asked for. The love and support of all of you has helped me realize what is truly important in life, and I appreciate all of you.

While we never ask for bad things to happen, or to create them ourselves, the lessons learned from making it to the other side make you appreciate the good in your life much more. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I promise not to take anything for granted ever again.

In the meantime, I promise not to expose so much on my blogs or anywhere else. Not everything I do is so spectacular that it bears reading. I'm just a writer living my life in the woods of Minnesota, and enjoying every minute of it. I may not ever end up on the New York Times Bestseller List, or plugging my book in bookstores or on television, but then again, it's totally possible. Life is unpredictible, and that's a good thing.

Now, go and enjoy the sunshine! :)

Monday, March 01, 2010

New Job, New Schedule, New Outlook

The last couple of weeks I've been working as a temp in a plastics factory not far from my house. This is not the factory I worked at and was laid off from in June. This is a whole different place, and my hours have gone from second shift (3pm to 11pm) to third shift (11pm to 7am). My days have changed from Monday through Friday to Tuesday through Saturday.

I seem to be adjusting to the job and the schedule, but more than that, I'm trying to adjust to the new outlook. I didn't realize how much my identity and my self-esteem was tied to my job until it was gone. I need the discipline of having a regular job schedule and it helps me put the rest of my life into perspective and on a schedule as well. Sure, in a few months I might complain I need a day off or two, but for now, I am so happy to finally be working, earning a paycheck, and feeling like I accomplish something at the end of each shift. It's a gift I am so grateful to have.

My new outlook has also spilled over to the rest of my life. This new work environment has brought out the best in me. Everyone I've worked with has been kind, encouraging, helpful, and a lot of fun to work with. It reminds me of my old job when I loved to go to work there, before everything got so far away from treating the employees like they mattered.

It's also brought me to a turning point. I've been carrying around a lot of secrets. Things I've done that I'm ashamed to admit I've done. Nothing criminal, but things that have hurt my family and my friends. I've had to make some painful decisions lately. Decisions that have spurred me on to tell the truth and be a better person, a better mother, a better life partner and a better employee and a better writer.

I don't want any sympathy, I don't deserve it, but I do want those who love me and who are scratching their heads wondering, "What the hell was she thinking?!" I was not in my right mind, obviously, when I did some of the things I did. Just to say, "I'm sorry" will not make better what I did, but I am truly sorry, and will do everything in my power to make things right. I expect I will lose family members, friends, and the love and respect of some of those around me, and that will hurt, but nothing will come close to the pain I have been carrying around for a long time now.

Wrong is wrong, no matter what your problem is, whether it's alcohol, drugs, gambling, food addictions or severe depression. The "stinking thinking" gets you believing what you're doing is ok, and that you'll make it up to them later.

The good news is, I will be getting help for my severe depression, real help, not just a pill to take everyday. What I have is more than just a chemical imbalance. I have some serious issues I've been procrastinating, spending money that doesn't belong to me, lying like a rug, and avoiding anything that I don't want to do. I've been sneaky, and angry, and I've let things get to the point of being overwhelming and when I had backed myself into a corner, I had to decide if I was going to continue living like this or end it all. I decided I couldn't take the easy way out.

When I get to the point of being better, I will be working to help those who feel they have no hope, who are spending way too much time on the "dark side" feeling there is only one way out. Please, as hard as it may be, get help, talk to someone, anyone. You don't have to live in the dark, the sun is on the other side.

And so is forgiveness.

Update on Alex: He's currently in Rio de Janero, Brazil. Sounds like he's having a great time!