October 7th, 2017 | No Comments »

My commute takes the better part of two hours, each way.  I use the time to think.  I’m in my thirty second year of indentured servitude, and once again the corporate machine is groaning.  I’ve always been flummoxed by a company’s ability to stay in business and make profits under a consistent flow of poor decisions.

Comparison.  Competition.  There are times when I slip into that region of discontent.  I say discontent, because it seems that the state of contentedness is contrary to the concepts of competition and comparison.  Those concepts imply winning versus losing, better versus worse.  Contentedness suggests enough.  I like the idea of enough.

It started with an innocuous comment about success.  So and so is more successful than you (me) because so and so is perched at the top of the corporate ladder and is compensated accordingly.  The comps are flying already and I’ve barely begun this post.  I feel compelled to look into the root word structures –surely there are connections.  Comparison.  Competition.  Compensation.  Compel.  I digress, in true sueeeus fashion…

I was thinking about my initial reaction to the comment.  I felt defensive.  So and so isn’t better than me!  I could have reached the echelons of corporate leadership, had I chosen.  I felt hurt, as though it were some sort of reflection of failure on my part, as though I needed to convince someone, anyone, everyone, that I am just as good.  I felt jealous.  So and so makes more (money) than I do and has a fancy pants title.  Of more concern to me is why it even mattered.  My reaction was so immediate, and I felt as though I needed to justify myself and somehow assert that I am not a failure.  I also wonder why my reaction is so binary, so extreme.  Success.  Failure.  No in-between.

The nature of my work is all about the ones and the zeros, so there is that.  But the nature of my self is all about the in-betweens, or rather, perspectives.  Just because true/false, on/off, all/none, right/wrong are points that describe entities in a known dimension, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those are the only states.  They are obvious states, but not necessarily the only states.  Perception through one facet of a crystal may be very different from perception through another facet of the same crystal.  Is either right? Is either wrong?  They are simply different.  Why does there have to be a right or a wrong?

I think it’s a limitation of the human mind.  People are generally comfortable with the knowns.  Binary things are easy to wrap one’s mind around, because they are very simple to grasp.  Multidimensional things are complex.  Matrices within matrices from infinity to infinity in all directions.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I fell into a funk for a few days, as I worked through these thoughts.  I thought about the comparison game.  I mostly have the experience of my own life and culture to draw from, and it occurs to me that life as I know it has contained a steady feed of information that has contributed to the shape of my thoughts and emotions.  I don’t remember when it dawned on me that I could choose how to steer my thoughts and emotions.

There is so much conditioning taking place with the onslaught of information that we absorb through media.  When, if ever, does it occur to us to question the validity of the information that we absorb?  We get notions of body image based on the examples we see in print and on screen.  Does it occur to us to take a look around at a general cross-section of society and realize that almost nobody looks like the actors and models we see portraying life?  We get notions of romance which stem from fantasy and set expectations for reality, then feel let down that true love seems unattainable, when in fact we are living in a perfectly beautiful loving situation.  We are fed carefully crafted information designed to promote [something, someone].  It’s called marketing, and it’s a product of capitalism. It’s reason for being is to pad someone’s pockets or promote someone’s power or influence.

It’s so exhausting to justify myself to myself!  Once I recovered from my initial reactionary response to the self-inflicted judgment of failure (since I’m not the CEO), I reminded myself that I had faced precisely such a decision in my early twenties — I recognized ‘career path’ and saw clearly that although I was and am quite capable of ‘success’, that the capitalistic model of corporate America was contrary to my soul, and although the financial rewards and professional accolades are or were tempting, the internal price of or for success was simply not worth it.  I made a choice.

In retrospect, I don’t know where or how I ever attained such wisdom (I am working on some theories), but I am grateful.  Before I’d ever read Buckminster Fuller’s Critical Path, and by the grace of God, I made the better choice, the more valuable choice.  My success isn’t measured in terms of social status, professional status, financial status.  My success is measured in terms of soul status, and it’s only measured by me.

Throughout these thought streams, some key words or concepts kept surfacing.  Source.  Core.  For whatever reason, I am driven by the need to understand.  Anything. Everything.  It consistently emerges as something core to my very being.  I don’t know why (but I’m working on some theories).

Here’s an aside.  I have this thing about connections and structures and origins.  Keys.  Some of the keys that I’ve noted in order to collect and frame my thoughts are the words ‘core’ and ‘source’.  These words resonate with my soul.  In the overlap of my personal life with my professional life, the relevant catchphrase du jour emerges, “Never outsource your core competency.”  Look at that — source, core, comp.  All neatly bundled in a span of five words.  This correlation is busy whirring about in a background process of my mind, and I’m certain that something interesting will come of it, when the forefront of my mind is ready.

I’m no expert.  On anything.  That is the nature of knowledge.  The more you know, the more you realize how little you know of what there is to know.  That is where my affinity for source and core stem from (oh, if ever I could learn how to express myself without dangling participles, split infinitives and any and all manner of grammatical faux pas).

The affinity for source and core spans both my personal and professional lives.  One can think in terms of platform or foundation.  If the foundation isn’t sound, what then?  Every conclusion drawn from such a basis is suspect.  Bad data.  This is where assumptions are dangerous.  Something can become common knowledge through careful marketing or accidental means, yet have no sound basis.  An example is the theory of evolution.  It’s proposed as a theory, yet is generally accepted as a fact.  It might be a fact.  I don’t know.  I haven’t been exposed to the proof.

The core value of what I do professionally relies upon valid source [data].  Finally I remember what I was thinking when I entitled this post, “who’s afraid of the big bad [data] wolf?”.  It’s all about bad data.  Foundation.  Source.

The society in which I live seems to be built on a basis of bad data.  Conclusions or definitions of things like success, beauty, worth, and value are vapor without real substance.

I stand in stubborn defiance and cling to the quest for source, with my own assumption that whatever conclusion(s) may be drawn will be closer to valid, and therefore have some real meaning.

Understanding, for whatever reason, is a hunger of my soul, and I am seeking the peace that passes understanding.  It is attainable, by some measure.  I’m sure of it.

from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard; and I have come for thy words

Many years ago I set my heart to understand.  It’s part of my driving force.  I don’t know why –it’s intrinsic to me.  I haven’t gotten very far.  Or rather, the farther I get, the more I realize how little I know.  I’m very slowly putting the pieces together.

March 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

SUCK IT, FIFTY!

I’ve been struggling with anxiety over the milestone looming on my horizon.  It’s taken many forms, and has been mostly low grade, but mounting.  I thought for a moment that with such a milestone I should do something memorable or have something memorable to show for it.  I don’t know.  The last time I bought myself something ridiculously expensive as a milestone memento, it was stolen.   Not that that will completely take the wind out of the sails for any future extravagances, but it does leave some tarnish on the idea.  Anyway.  I have been feeling like I should go somewhere special, or buy something special, or do something special.  But I’m at such a loss.  I haven’t had any time to make any plans, as far as the notion of a getaway goes.  Where would I go, and what would I do?  Logistics.  God knows I need a break (ummm, I did just take a week and cruise to Mexico with my kids and all told, fifteen family members, and it was so wonderful to spend time with family, and it was so wonderful to feel and breathe warm ocean air and hear the sound of waves lapping against the boat, hour upon hour upon hour, and  yes, that was amazing, but of course I will throw in a but…   ….but in order to take any time off I have to complete all the work that I would have to do for the week that I’m away, which means, really, no break from work at all…  whine, whine, whine) and a rest and I don’t know what.  I need something.  I’ve been struggling with the changing tides of my work for some time now.  There’s little to no respite on the immediate horizon, as far as that goes.  Some of the bigger projects will work themselves out in the next few months.  Or rather, I have to finish them, and they will be a thing of the past, after which I might be able to steer myself toward a more manageable workload.  The immediate forecast is bleak, and there is so much pressure, beyond that which I place upon myself.  I am famous for demanding great expectations of myself, so this present workload predicament is taking its toll.  Blah, blah, blah.  I am so weary of complaints.  My own.  My kids’.  Anybody’s.  I have almost no threshold remaining.  I’ve been uncharacteristically irritable, off and on.  Weary.  I know that if I could somehow get enough rest, I’d be FINE.

Almost 29 years of indentured servitude, little to no sunlight, and countless hours of commuting are taking their toll...

Anyway.  I’m not one for pomp and circumstance.  I don’t want a party, and GOD FORBID, a surprise party.  I don’t want to be the center of attention.  I don’t want lavish gifts.  I don’t know what I want for that day.  The kids have visitation with their dad that weekend, and they are oblivious to life events, milestones, and things of that nature.  I suppose that’s my fault, since I haven’t actually taught them to be aware of such things.  I wouldn’t mind doing something special with my sisters, but we are out of time for planning any sort of get together.  Logistics again.  The sweetest thing I can imagine is having a nice meal with my loved ones.  And so it is settled.  My friend will prepare a lovely meal, and we will hang out as a sweet circle of three –my friend, my honey,and I–for the evening, in the comfort of my home.  Simple.  Sweet.  Perfect.  That is all I want.  Bliss.

I hope the 50s are the new 40s, because the 40s were mostly all right...

And as for turning fifty?  I am having a hard time wrapping my head around that number.  It seems like it’s a number that represents something that I just can’t quite put my finger on.   Age?  As if I was supposed to have accomplished something remarkable by now?  Or I should be at some other, more arrived, state of self by now?  Shouldn’t I have life figured out by now?  Shouldn’t I know how to handle stress?  Shouldn’t I know how to manage my children?  Shouldn’t I be cool, calm, and collected?  Well, externally I am all of those.  Internally?  I’m cool, I suppose.  Or maybe tepid.  I’m calm.  I’m collected in a scattered way.  I’m just weary.  Worn.  I went through my list of Facebook friends and pared it down to mostly family.  I could have just shut it completely down, but I do like seeing pictures of my family.  I am actually pleasantly surprised at the feeling of liberation that this small task accomplished.  Inability to keep up with the news feed has been frustrating, and I don’t need any additional source of frustration in my life.

I don't think I wanna be FIFTY. I'm not ready for this!

What would I have imagined for myself by this stage of life?  Happily married?  Kids healthy, grown, and making their own way in life?  Comfortably situated in some career?  Maybe those are all just projections from my early adulthood.  Time has marched on and things are as they are.  My life is not all those things, but my life is beautiful!

Looks like trouble! I still have some oomph left in me...

I don’t feel as though I’m emotionally ready to be fifty.  I feel as though I am only just now getting my momentum, only just now settling in to simply living.  I feel as though I’m only just now getting started in life.  I suppose that realization brings with it a little bit of panic.  Fifty years have gone by and I surely don’t have fifty years left.  I want to be able to live joyfully, to let all unpleasant things slide from me, never taking hold.  I don’t want to allow negative thoughts to crowd my mind.  I want to be comfortable in my skin and in my mind.  I am a rock, standing firm on the ocean shore, while waves crash around me.  They can’t hurt me.  I stand solidly, and let them fall at my feet.  I feel them and I let them go.  I breathe in.  I breathe out.  I keep on loving.  And so I live.

Wrinkles are emerging, but at least they are the smiley happy eye wrinkles...

I have this set of selfies in a photo album called “Fifty Shades of… …Sue” that I’m planning to post on my FB wall next Saturday. My suck it fifty declaration. My sense of humor isn’t always evident, but these are the thoughts that have been milling about in my mind in the past weeks and days while I’ve taken those pictures. All this anxiety. So to offset that, a collection of serendipitously lovely images. Hey, there’s another pretty one. Let’s post that. Really, then, it’s an unveiled invitation for others to say, my goodness, you don’t look anywhere near FIFTY! I have no shame.

November 28th, 2014 | No Comments »

Today is a be still kind of day for me.  What a treasure!  Some people want or need to be entertained, or constantly on the go, doing something, going somewhere, being with someone.  I get so few moments to just be still.  I sit in silence in my living room, looking at the ceiling, looking at the sky through the skylights, looking at the colors and placement of the furnishings and decor, breathing deeply and simply being peaceful.  It’s a friendly room.  It’s nice to just be still for a moment.  I have a thousand things I could or should do, but I’m not going to.  I’m just going to sit still for a little while.

I love my cedar ceiling. Love!

~*~*~*~

I find it tragically amusing that I posted in October about not falling apart, when I realized yesterday that I’ve fallen more apart than I had any idea!  I’m glad that I can amuse myself, even if it’s in a tragic manner.  Imagine the amusement I can attain when I’m rockin’ my world!  My core, the essence of me, always wants to find the light and bright side of things.  It may take me a while, but I’m always looking for it.

~*~*~*~

I’ve been thinking about perspective.  It’s so easy (for me) to be caught off guard and lose perspective.   I can get stuck wondering what I did or said that caused a given action or comment, and jump to some conclusion that may or may not be valid.  Or else I can’t come up with an answer at all, and I am completely flummoxed.  In my professional life, when I get stuck trying to solve something, usually if I drop it for a while, rest, and come back again with fresh eyes, I can figure it out.  I will then chastise myself for not dropping it earlier, thus saving myself the time, anguish and frustration of beating my head against the wall.  In my personal life, if I could at least remember to tell myself that problem solving is problem solving, and if I could remember that it always works well to just let it rest for a minute, allow myself to regroup, then clarity will more than likely follow shortly.  If only.  I sure would save myself unnecessary anguish.

~*~*~*~

There has been a lot of passion and agitation floating about regarding Ferguson, and I don’t know anything about the issue, other than some people I love are passionately impacted in one direction and some people I love are passionately impacted in the opposite direction.  I have absolutely no opinion because I don’t know the situation, but my heart aches and strains over the anguish and passion that others are struggling with over this very public issue.  Politics.  I can not abide.  The mere thought causes literal gut wrenching sensations.  It’s visceral.  Absolutely and completely.

~*~*~*~

Loose ends.  I have such a strong desire for conclusions, answers, solutions, closure –understanding.  Maybe that’s the bottom line.  Understanding.  For some reason, loose ends leave me feeling frustrated and incomplete.  It’s probably an OCD thing.  Sort of like writing a sentence and not using a period to punctuate the end.  That would drive me NUTS!  The thing is, it drives me bonkers in almost all elements of my life.  If a conversation just drops off in thin air, with no apparent reason why, I’m left wondering why.  I suppose it boils down to order vs. chaos.  A loose end represents chaos in my world.  A conclusion represents order.  With understanding, closure, conclusion, summary, completion, whatever it is called, I can put whatever it is away, and it will no longer clutter my mind and emotions.

~*~*~*~

Sometimes the accumulation of loose ends and lost perspective cause me to doubt myself, and I get turned around, upside down.  When this happens, I have to somehow retreat and regroup.  It’s so hard to do, when you’re stuck!  Sort of like trying to swim against the current.  I visualize myself, a lone figure, and I visualize myself spinning, arms spread, spinning around and around, sending waves of light, love, comfort, and harmony out from my extended hands, weaving a tornado of protection around me.  I stand in the center of stillness and catch my breath and gather my strength until I can emerge.  As I describe this, it brings to mind a scene from Guardians of the Galaxy in which Groot weaves himself into a cocoon of protection around his friends.  Like that.

~*~*~*~

I really should never doubt myself.  I should be more vigilant and remember, always remember, that I am empathic and absorb the emotions of those around me.  So often I get slammed by other people’s emotions, and it takes me some time to realize those aren’t MY emotions.  Those feels I feel, yes, but those feels aren’t always mine!  Empathy is a beautiful gift, and I truly love my ability to connect with people on such a deep level, but I just need to learn how to distinguish my feels from someone else’s feels.   I suppose that’s the thing about empathy though.  Those feels become my feels.  Oh, the feels.  All the feels!!  I am so often battered by the feels, like ocean waves crashing against a rocky shore.

~*~*~*~

Finding joy.  Gratitude.  It’s the simple things in life that bring me the most joy.  I grew some vegetables this year.  I planted multicolored carrots, and yielded only two.  Two!  The beets did well.  I love beets.  I also grew a mystery vegetable.  At first I thought it was a pumpkin, but it turns out it was an acorn squash.  I don’t even remember ever having squash, because I don’t like squash, but somehow it ended up in the compost, and when I built my garden, I added some compost.  That particular seed sprouted and thrived, so I decided to let it live.  It actually completely overtook the entire garden box, and produced several squash.  The slugs ate most of them, but it yielded one respectable squash.

garden bounty

I decided to take my end of season garden yield and make roasted veggies for my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast.  I roasted garlic and used fresh thyme and rosemary from my herb garden, and made a buttery spread.  I had an inordinately grand time, gathering the veggies from my garden, cleaning, prepping, and cooking them.  It felt so complete!  So wholesome!  And believe it or not, the squash actually tasted good to me.  Wonders shall never cease.

roasted and color coordinated

~*~*~*~

I’ve been struggling quite a lot lately.  I mentioned tragic amusement above…   Anyway, I’ve been thinking of all the various monumental life changes taking place, contributing to the struggle.  Work.  That’s a huge change.  The transitional dust most likely won’t be settled until at least next summer, so there remains quite a long road ahead.  I need to gird up.  Along with that, my niece, sort of the daughter I never had, graduated high school and moved across the country this fall.  This had a much deeper effect on me than I had any idea, and I was completely unprepared for the emotions that would surface.  Closing chapters of a long relationship, opening and closing and trying to navigate the waters of forming a new relationship leave me worn and depleted.  Frustrations over the superficiality of people in the singles world.  I see deep seated fears and insecurities in men manifest in various ways.  They probably have no idea of these things themselves, because they are living only on the surface.  But that’s a whole other probably very long winded post for another time.  Countless hours spent in traffic.  Darkness when I rise, darkness when I return.  Single parenting struggles, wanting my children to grow into gracious, kind, responsible, confident, and respectable men, and not knowing quite how to accomplish that.  The responsibilities of life.  I have a full plate.  It can be daunting and overwhelming if I think about it much.  That’s why I like to slow down and be still.  I get the most joy out of the simple things.  I go outside and feed my alpaca girls, chastise them for fighting each other for the lion’s share, and wander around the pasture, picking up their poop.  It’s therapeutic, really, to trudge about outside, rake and bucket in hand.  The wind in the trees releases the most wonderful cedar scent.  I feel happy.  I am very blessed.  I live a beautiful life.  I am full of love.  I love.  I am loved.

happiness is a rake and a bucket and a pasture full of poop

November 27th, 2014 | No Comments »

It has been a long time since I’ve written about my work.  I maintain a level of ambiguity, so as not to jeopardize my professional life.  Last spring we underwent a massive restructuring, and the announcement came like a sucker punch to the gut.  Unexpected.

that day cometh like a thief in the night…

A year later, doubled over and trying to catch our breath from the first sucker punch, we took another jab.

moving and shaking…

So there we were, in the ring, so to speak, engaged in a fight that we didn’t ask for and didn’t want.  I wasn’t (yet) personally affected, but I could see the writing on the wall.

carrying the weight of a word on her shoulders…

From my perspective, if I take a step back, it looks like corporate leadership behaves like a bunch of kids playing pick up sticks, only we are the sticks.  Throw the lot up in the air, see where they land, and try to piece things back together.  Who gets the most sticks before the stack collapses?  Winner!!!!  What about the remaining stack?  Yep.  That’s us.  That’s where we are now.  Discarded on a whim.

I don’t remember when they made the announcement, but they did.  And lo it came to pass.  The ax did fall.  I don’t recall the exact date, but there is one (May or June 2015), and on that day, the lights will be shut off.  We shall cease to be.

So it’s been a mad scramble.  The ship is sinking and the rats are jumping.

I thought about looking for other work, but decided not to give in to fear and uncertainty, and not to desert my team.  My specialized team consists of only three people, one of whom is new.  Our young padawan, we call him.  We are training him in the ways of the masters.  Ha!  Seriously, though.  My partner IS the master.  He is literally a world expert in his field.  I am the other master, and I am most decidedly not a world expert in that field, but I bring to the table those proficiencies that make our team a complete, high power unit.  We are a little tiny team of three, serving the entire company of thousands upon thousands.  We could be considered a bottle neck, which in business is not a positive thing, or we could be considered a vital asset.  Both are true.  Single threadedness carries a lot of business risk.  If the thread breaks, the business can be severely impacted.  It brings to mind the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  Not that the company truly recognizes its vital assets.  I’ve probably blathered on about that elsewhere in this blog.

Even with the leadership making these changes, we are still in business NOW, and we, individually, care about what we do and have a personal sense of responsibility to see things through.  So we have been pressing along, trying to keep afloat amidst the flotsam and jetsam that we are immersed in, simultaneously working on marketing ourselves, making our little niche visible to the echelons so that they will recognize that it would behoove them to preserve our function.  Miraculously, we have succeeded, and we have been given a life raft.  We’ve climbed aboard, soaking wet, and are paddling our way against the current towards the safety of the big ship.

~*~*~*~*~

I am grateful to have a job!  Grateful that I didn’t actually have to hit the streets and look for something different.  At the same time, these many months since the spring of 2013 have been so exhausting.  It’s been like a long and drawn out sickness in which bits of pieces of life connections are dying, and with each loss there is mourning and sorrow.  I’ve spent my life with these people.  This relationship has been thriving for 28 years, and now it’s nearly over.  The goodbyes are so hard.  I walk down the hall and peer into the cubicles and see only a few scattered faces here and there.  It’s empty.  It’s sad.  It’s like gazing upon a hospital ward during a war or a plague, with a few mangled hollow-eyed bedridden people holding on for dear life amidst rows and rows of empty beds left by those who  have departed.

A job is a job, and I can do almost anything, really, so the trauma is not so much about the job itself, other than the huge expectations levied upon us when we are already loaded past most people’s breaking points.  Even so, I’m a performer, and I will perform.  I can do that.  I will do that.

The trauma I am suffering is the loss of life, the life we have spent together for the last 28 years.  There is a lot of life that takes place in that many years.  It’s being forced to say goodbye.  I’ve been dragging my feet, not wanting it to end.  My new desk is thankfully in the next tower, rather than another city, so I’ve had the luxury of dragging my feet over the move.  I’ve been making the transition last as long as possible.  Everything besides my computer itself is moved, but I park my body stubbornly in the spot I’ve inhabited for the last twenty years, just so that I can see the occasional familiar face and hear the occasional familiar voice.  These are my people.  I love them.  Even though we have little to no connection once we leave the office, we are connected in the depths of our selves, from the years upon years upon years of time that we’ve spent together.  But it’s time to cut the cord and it’s time to leave.  I think that next week I will have to occupy the new desk.  I don’t even know how to express how this makes me feel.  It’s the end of an era.  I am a frazzled, emotional mess, and have been for quite some time now.

I’ve done all that I could.  I need to make peace with this and let it go.

It’s been so hard for me, and I don’t really know HOW to make that peace and let it go.  So I’m writing it out, hoping it will help.  Maybe it’s only something that time will ease, the way a scar will ever so slowly fade as it heals.

I don’t know.  But I have to move on and find new joys, rather than remain stuck under this cloud of sorrow.

I am so, so tired.

March 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

I’ve been thinking about the strength of the innocuous comment.  There is much weighty matter milling about my mind these days, and that isn’t anything unusual, but recently the gravity of certain things has elevated them to feature more prominently.  (I like the diametric play of gravity causing elevation.  If I can’t amuse myself…)*

It’s becoming clear that the prudent thing to do is look for a different job.  My job may survive, but it may not.  It hardly matters that my tiny team (there are only three of us) provides a critical skill that serves a great and diverse audience.  That is to say, for as much as it matters, the pain will not be felt until we are no longer providing our services, at which point it will likely be too late.  If or when that happens, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Time dilutes all woes, and eventually the needs will be met in and by whatever means are available.  Therefore, I shouldn’t shoulder too much responsibility for recognizing the anguish that is sure to come, because it won’t be my doing, and it won’t be avoidable by any action within my power to accomplish.

But it is that very sense of responsibility that keeps me dragging my feet.  Just because the giant corporation doesn’t understand the value or necessity of what we do, it won’t be the giant corporation who suffers first.  It will be the rest of the drowning rats who hold a sense of responsibility for the work that they do, who will suffer, while the ship is sinking.  I hesitate to take steps in a direction that will cause undue strain on those remaining.  Yet I have to remind myself that my own life is important, and if a ship is sinking, it’s best to have a survival plan or two (or twelve**) in place.

So many of my work friends are retiring, and for me it is a very melancholy time.  I don’t know why, but there has been very little cross-pollination between my work life and my home life through the years.  This hasn’t been an issue until now, when retirement rears its head for so many of my friends.  Until now, the bulk of our waking hours of life are spent together.  We used to laugh about how we knew each other better than we knew our significant others.   We don’t have relationships outside of the office, so the sense of finality is huge, when they walk out through the office door for the last time.  I thought of an old friend who had moved to a different organization, and wondered if he’d retired as well.   I looked him up in the company directory and was delighted to learn that he is still here.  We chatted about various people we knew.  He mentioned one fellow, with a lovely lyrical name (an Ethiopian), but I didn’t know him.  I told him that name reminded me of another fellow I worked with years ago, and shared his name.  Wonder of wonders, he knew him, and in fact had helped him obtain his visa so he could remain in the country and continue working with us.  He had known him before I had known either of them.  It’s a small, small world.  He hadn’t heard from him since 1988, yet he remembered him distinctly, and the fact that we three had this connection was a marvel indeed and brought a wonderful smile to all of our faces.  It’s funny how life is.  The mysteries of the universe.  Cosmic connections.

It turns out that a position is available in the department where my friend is working.  He has been quite happy there for the last several years.  The organization is very stable with very little attrition, so it is rare for a position to open up.  I am considering applying.  A month ago, or even a week ago, I don’t think I would have been inclined to pursue this further, but today, yes.  It’s not a question of whether or not I am qualified, but a question of whether or not I want to continue to ride the wave I’m riding.  At the least I will get to interview and learn more about the position.  At the most, I will be offered the position.  I won’t have to make a decision until I have a formal offer, so there is no harm in the pursuit.

So…   I told my dear friend who is retiring at the end of the month that our mutual friend sends his regards.  “His name came up recently,” he said, followed by, “Nobody likes him.”  Now, this is an innocuous comment***, and is nothing personal.  The context has to do with the work that we do, respectively.  I work in a service-centered environment.  Our job is to keep things moving, swiftly and safely.  The other department is more of a legal branch.  My other friend is somewhat likened to a king of the administrators in which it is his job to ensure that the “i”s are dotted and the “t”s are crossed.  This necessity can be frustrating to those who don’t understand the necessity.  This is also a reason why I may be particularly suited to the job, due to my innate peacekeeping quality coupled with my ability to understand multiple perspectives.

All that said, that innocuous comment stopped me short for a moment, and I briefly dismissed any thoughts I was forming about whether or not I would pursue this particular opportunity.  It brought to mind another comment, years ago, that steered the course of my very future.  When I was moving into my dormitory as a college freshman, I met the resident adviser and we chatted for a few minutes.  I had already chosen to major in electrical engineering and minor in computer science, however, it was day 1 and I had a little time (maybe it was a week or two) to change my designation.  She was majoring in architecture.  Architecture!  I loved the thought of it.  The word itself has a delightful ring to it.  I could envision myself merrily designing beautiful structures.  Ah!  Architecture!  I asked her about it, and she said “it’s very hard.”  Innocuous.   Those three words, “it’s very hard”, changed (or rather set) the course of my professional life.  I allowed that young woman’s perspective of her own ability (or lack thereof) to compete in such a field to override my own sense of capability.  It’s laughable, even, that I didn’t so much as make a simple logical comparison of the academic requirements for engineering versus architecture, let alone ponder for even a moment the young woman’s level of aptitude or competence in relation to mine.  I had no question as to whether I would be able to excel in engineering, yet that innocuous comment barred me from any further consideration of a field that I may well have adored, and in which I very likely would have excelled.

Hindsight can be valuable if it’s heeded.  I’m glad that these thoughts have been milling about and that that particular strain emerged to remind me that there is no reason why I shouldn’t consider ambling down another path for a while.

~-~-~-~

*I’ve been amusing myself with “vaguebooking,” and chuckling to myself as I write this article and recall all the various ambiguous things I’ve posted or partaken in recently on FaceBook.  Small World.  Fool me once.  It’s funny how life is.  Cosmic connections.  It goes on and on and on!

**Redundancy!  Ah the beauty of redundancy!  Failure is not an option!

***I eventually get to the point of my opening line.

Posted in me, work
February 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments »

There has been quite a bit of drastic change exacted on the organization from which I glean my livelihood.  We, as a business unit, have been decimated.  The ax has fallen more than once, and those who remain are wondering what will happen next.  Is the ax looming, the powers that be positioning it just so, for the maximum impact of a swift clean blow?  How should we interpret the writing on the wall?  One could ignore it, and say to oneself that surely, surely the powers that be have an inkling of the long term ramifications of business decisions being implemented now, and these powers that be couldn’t, wouldn’t possibly do something so asinine as to cripple future growth potential by effectively flushing some of their core values down the toilet.  That would be based on the empty assumption that the decision makers apply logic, and use valid business case scenarios to steer their decisions.

Alas.

I ask myself why.  Why are they doing this?  What do they expect to gain?  There is always talk of reducing costs and capturing more of the market share –standard corporate goals.  Somebody must have put together some sort of compelling chart that shows just that.  Or is this somebody’s glory chasing move?  Did one of the golden ones dream up an empire and sell the notion to the council who sagely nod in agreement, lo, it must be good and lo, make it so.

These golden ones are so far removed from the inner workings of the company that they have absolutely no idea how things get done.  They are looking at oversimplified numbers such as the cost of labor, and making jarring decisions based on such.

It seems that the decision makers make their decisions, bask in the limelight of their short term glory, then move onward, upward and away.  Backs are patted, congratulations are extended.  When the dust settles, the company reels in the aftermath, and the forces in the trenches (i.e., those like me) scramble to pick up the pieces and rebuild from the rubble.

I’m angry.  I’ve carefully avoided the word ‘career’ for most of the last 28 years, but it’s fair to say that my livelihood for the past 28 years is and has been important to me.  Most of the time I’ve been able to keep the nose to the grindstone and focus on my work, at the lowest level, and avoid the flatulence that wafts about above me.  In so doing, my colleagues and I have carved a niche of excellence in which we take pride in what we do.  We are steady.  We take care of business.  We keep things going smoothly.  We run like a well-oiled machine.

I like my job.  I like my coworkers.  I like my business unit.  I like what we do.  I like what we stand for.  I don’t want to see a perfectly healthy business go down the drain.  I don’t want to have to change jobs.

One thing is certain.  I am shaken.

And I don’t like it.

At all.

Posted in work
September 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

How’s that for a title?

I had quite a bit more stuff written here, blah blah blah, but I think the title pretty much sums it  up.

a bit morbid, yet a bit brilliant, and a bit apropos as well

April 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

And lo, it came to pass –a messenger came forth with a royal proclamation from the echelons on high.  It is hereby decreed that heretofore and notwithstanding, thy kingdom shall be divided in two.  Half of the crops, the herds, the fruits and the wares of the land shall be moved to another kingdom far and anon.  And what of the serfs who tend the holdings?  Shall the serfs be sent to a foreign land to tend the crops, the herds, the fruits and the wares, and establish them in a new country?  Ah, but no.  Alas, the decree is such that the crops, the herds, the fruits and the wares shall be given to the new kingdom, but the serfs will be released to establish themselves elsewhere.  But m’lord, one serf implored.  We have tended these crops, these herds, these fruits and these wares for years upon years.  Our crops, our herds, our fruits, our wares are foreign to others, but well familiar to us.  Be of good cheer, spake the messenger.  Our kingdom has new crops, new herds, new fruits and new wares — surely the serfs will rejoice at the opportunity to seek a place among these new holdings.

A blanket of silence filled the land.  The serfs shook their heads in sorrow and disbelief.  Some bristled with anger and indignation.  Who is the magistrate behind such a senseless edict?  In a new land, in the hands of an unfamiliar serfdom, the crops may fail, the herds may weaken, the fruits may spoil and the wares may crumble.  The kingdom will in no wise find more wealth through the dissemination of its crops, its herds, its fruits and its wares.

Woe.  Woe unto us, the toilers of this kingdom.  This crumbling kingdom.

And so it is in the land; there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

I started this post on March 23rd.  I can’t recall the day we heard the news, that it wasn’t just another rumor, but an edict from on high.  A massive restructure in which we are literally slashed in two.  We are seasoned people with a wealth of knowledge.  Most of us have twenty or more years of experience with the company, if not this organization.  Eighteen of my 27 years with the company have been devoted to this organization.  Our contribution is significant.  This restructuring makes little sense from the inside, and the long term effects will likely have astronomical costs.  I suspect it may produce some short term improvement in stock prices, which seems to be the focus from the echelons on high.  So myopic.  I generally don’t write about work, and I certainly keep myself from the politics and shenanigans that swirl around in the corporate atmosphere.  But this time it’s hit so close to home.  So close.  I happen to be standing on the leg that isn’t being amputated, and for that I am supremely grateful.  And wary.  And devastated for my friends and coworkers who are standing on the leg that is soon to be amputated.

They are scrambling to make life changes.  Some have already found new jobs.  Better to jump ship before it sinks.  They will have the best chance of finishing their careers in peace and dignity.  Today, Saturday, I received a phone call from a coworker.  I assumed he needed me to work some urgent data for him — I’m always on call for such things — but he had simply misdialed.  He explained that he was moving from his home to another place, and for some reason someone needed his boss’s phone number.  He was trying to track that down and dialed me instead.  (My phone is forwarded, because I’m always on call…)  He apologized, and said goodbye.  I was nearly overwhelmed with sadness, upon hanging up the phone.  This man is forced to restructure his life, after steadily and stably contributing years upon years to his profession.  I have absolutely no grasp of what logic has driven or how much thought, preparation and planning has been given to this massive restructuring.  From where I sit, it has the appearance of a whim. A knee jerk reaction to something.  Maybe a power play to capture a fleeting moment of glory or to register a notch in someone’s performance review.  Either way, it has the odor of personal gain and greed.

It is a crock, and it stinketh.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

We don’t know what’s in store for us.  We can no longer take for granted that our jobs are stable.  We’re in service, and as long as there is a product to support, one would think that our jobs would remain stable.  One would think.  But that would be logic, and logic no longer seems to be relevant.  Business.  What ever happened to the business model in which a company delivers an excellent product that it stands behind, provides excellent customer support, for which customers in turn remain loyal, and return business or refer business.  The employees take pride in their contribution to the whole, and the world turns smoothly.  These days, it seems that companies try to produce the minimum level of quality that the consumer will be willing to pay for, and let the support go by the wayside.  It may make for a better profit margin in the short term, but it speaks doom for the long term.  The corporate world has cancer.  It’s called greed.  And it makes me sick.  And sad.  And it makes me ponder such things as where will I go and what will I do if this job that I do comes to an end.

This is not to say that I am unaware of how fortunate I am to have such an excellent job in the first place.  I am grateful for what I have, and I absolutely love the people I work with.  We have been together for decades.  We’ve grown up together.  Grown old together.  Shared triumphs and tragedies together.  I love my job.  I love my people.  I hate to see us shaken up like this.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart.  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.

Eccl 9:7, 10

Posted in me, work
December 31st, 2012 | 2 Comments »

I am happy to bid adieu to 2012.  I would say that 2012 took me for a ride, but it would be more honest to say that I let 2012 take me for a ride.  I could call it the ride of a lifetime.  Woohoo!  Put a bright spin on it.  A ride indeed.  I think I may have experienced some of the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life in good ‘ole 2012.

It’s all good, really.  My life is full.  My children are happy and healthy.   We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food in our bellies, and warm beds to sleep in.

There is beauty and wisdom in all things, no matter the circumstance.  It just takes a certain perspective to be able to see it.

I won’t say that losing one’s children to the slaughter of a mad man has any beauty in it, but the shock and the horror force (some of) us to take note of our family circles, be more vigilant, hold our children more, and be more grateful for every little moment, and embrace it all.  Even when we’re at our wits end and drowning in frustration.  All these things are trifles.  I want to drink it all in.  Treasure. Every.  Moment.

The time that the children are children is fleeting.  I blinked my eyes and see so many of my nieces and nephews and my friends’ children are already grown.  Grown!  Where did the years go?

My hair is turning (more) gray.  My skin is starting to show its wear.

Professionally, I did well in 2012.  I had some lofty goals and I had actually admitted defeat to myself as well as my boss that it was unlikely that I’d be able to finish the super project before the end of the work year.   I pressed on, and somehow (by the grace of God and the skin of my teeth) I did it!  I felt like a superstar, and it was a great sense of accomplishment.  I don’t think it really mattered much to anyone but me, that I finished by the deadline, but it did matter to me, and I was/am pleased with myself  –pauses to pat self on back.  I suppose I ought to acknowledge that being a superstar for a moment barely compensates for all the days that my performance was distracted and disjointed from the emotional fray that I was buried in for the better part of the year.

Spiritually I’ve had some growth in 2012.  Not the sort of growth that a mainstream Christian might acknowledge or agree with, but I’ve learned some things and for that I’m grateful.  I thought that I wanted to settle into a church family, but realize that I’m truly not drawn that way.  I love the people, I love the worship.  But I belong to a church that is not made with hands, and that church is my home, wherever I am.  I don’t hunger for the company of a congregation, and I’m secure in the knowledge that I am a child of God.

This year has been a rough ride for me emotionally.  I’ve endured much.  I’ve made my loved ones endure much.  I tried so very hard to do more than I am able to do.  Like that image of a circus performer spinning plate after plate after plate.  I had so many plates spinning, but I just couldn’t keep it up, and they all came crashing down.  Lord, how I tried.  I gave it a good shot, though!

Physically, the twists and turns and ups and downs have taken their toll.  Whereas I’ve maintained my weight for most of the year, the past few months have seen a dramatic change in overall physical well-being.  From the moment that I made the decision to re-find myself, I’ve put on weight and my blood sugar has climbed.  Something’s got to give, I suppose.  I’m trying not to panic.  I’m attempting to take it in stride and breathe deeply, knowing that things will settle once I get a stronger grip on the emotional side of my life.

So where am I now?  I don’t really know.  In transition, I suppose.  I’m not settled.  I’m not where I want to be.  But I’m changing and standing faithfully where I need to stand.  I tell myself not to be afraid.  I tell myself that everything will be okay.  And it is.

adieu 2012

December 17th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

I’m feeling troubled.  It’s been a trying weekend.  Friday morning two of my production sites went haywire, and it was a scramble to try and get them fixed, to no avail.  Server migration and database connectivity issues.  Ho hum.  I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to repair everything, but conveying that to the help desk with the right telephone keypad menu choices is practically impossible.  So much for automated system support.  I kept checking status and resubmitting tickets all weekend long.  Again, to no avail.  Monday rolls around and I’m frantically chasing things down.  One of my tickets got linked to someone else’s ticket, and ended up in a database admin’s queue, which did neither of us any good.  I know there are reasons why server administration is tightly governed, but sometimes it would be so nice to be allowed some control over these things.  I could have fixed my problem in 5 minutes or less, but it took 3 days.

Somewhere in the midst of all that I had the thought that I really shouldn’t let it bother me so much.  The world will continue and 3 days in the scheme of things is 3 days.  Nobody will remember it after everything’s up and running again.

Friday evening when everyone had gone to bed, we heard some annoying revving sounds in the distance.  They went on for quite some time, so D got up to look out the window, and saw a man standing at the edge of the deck staircase on the side yard, as if he were about to come up to the house.  D got up and went to investigate and I stayed put for a little while, then I called the neighbors and told them we’d seen somebody lurking.  They called the sheriff.  Meanwhile, I noticed that my bedroom slider was ajar.  I use that door to step onto the bedroom patio when I need to use the phone, because I don’t get a signal inside the house, but it has been days since I took a call upstairs.  So I’m perplexed at the door being ajar, and wondering how long it’s been that way.

So many questions.  We live out in the country.  We’re not walking distance from anything or anyone.  There’s no reason for a pedestrian to be out and about, let alone walking in or across my property, and especially not at 9 pm in the pitch black night of winter.

D and I checked every nook and cranny of my house.  He said the lights inside my car were on, in the garage.  Odd.  The kids tend to leave their lights on from time to time, but these were the front cabin lights, and they never touch them.  Strange.

I’m left with the feeling that somebody might have been in my house or my garage or both.

It’s creepy, and very hard to even think about.  The whole weekend D stuck around, and I was so glad for his presence.  What if he hadn’t been there?  What if that car hadn’t been making all that noise off in the distance?  What if that man would have come into my house?  What if he’d have come in through my bedroom slider?

I kept thinking that I don’t even have the emotional capacity to be afraid.  It’s too much for me.  I didn’t have any room for fear.  It was an odd and interesting mental and emotional place to find myself.  Later, Sunday, after D had gone home and after I put the kids to bed, I climbed into bed and thought about things and sobbed for a little while, allowing myself to consider fear.  And while I was thinking about it, praying about keeping my family safe, I prayed for that guy.  Bless those who curse you.  I hope that whatever drove him to lurk on my property has departed and that his heart and intent from here forward will be to be good and not cause trouble for himself or anybody else.

Back to tonight.  I’m exhausted after a long work day.  I asked D if he wanted to Skype for a little while.  We were on for only a few minutes and he said he wanted to go.  I said goodbye, and felt queasy, as though my insides were churning.  Minutes later he posted on FaceBook that he’s ” feeling ??  not sure what to do”.

Friday morning Gadget’s daughter gave birth to a healthy baby girl.  He’s a grandpa now, and by some weird extension, I’m a sort of ex step grandma.  Meanwhile some crazy person in Connecticut took the lives of so many people, so many children.  I can’t even think about it, it hurts too much.  And later that day, all of the above.

It’s exhausting, all of this.  I’m feeling worn out on all levels.

All levels.

Posted in me, sorrow, work