Tag Archive for: Blog Her

Before I get to the job interview (Believe me, I’m not stalling. There’s just a lot going on!), A Merry Hour it was!  Last night we had a great time in the spirit of the holidays eating, talking, drinking, and barking. My dogs wouldn’t be left out, and above the laughs and Christmas music, I could hear (probably better than anyone) our two dogs, Rocky and Winky (short for Bullwinkle), barking, barking, barking.  Yesterday, when I was on my hands and knees mopping (I can’t figure out an efficient way of mopping floors!), and my dogs ran back through the house brushing the dirt from their paws and low profile bellies, over my newly cleaned floors, I prayed: “God, I am hoping for extra credit for committing to these two varmints!”

My friend pouring from her "bottle" of wine she won at a recent senior class fundraiser

My friend pouring from her bottle of wine she won at a recent senior class fundraiser. You can’t see in this picture, but it was big enough to “feed” all of us.

A favorite Blogger, Emily Jones, featured a card I loved in a recent post. I decided to print it, add a little glitter, and give it to guests when they left last night’s Merry Hour.  The lights and sounds of Christmas fill us with emotion. Depending on our circumstances, those emotions are usually heightened by our circumstances.  Every person wants to shout from the mountain top, Joy to the World! But some Christmasses, it’s all we can do to sing, Peace on Earth. I loved this card Emily gave us for free, so I could share it with my guests. Also, no calories!  Click on this link to download the card.

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And finally, the kids are off to Chicago with their dad. It’s the part of a divided family that I don’t like. Yet, what I want is for them to have fun and enjoy what is, and not linger over what is not. So, with a prayer and enthusiasm, I sent them off for four days. God is with them here, and he’s with them there. Amen.

The Best for the Last. My Job Interview:

My appointment started at 2:30. It ended at 4:15.

I met with the owner of the company, which is an insurance brokerage firm. His assistant (I’m not sure her title, but she’s definitely his right hand woman) joined us.

I’d prepared myself with responses to the two most asked interview questions: 1) What would you say is your biggest strength? 2) What would you say is your biggest weakness?  They never asked the questions.

Instead, it felt like three people getting to know each other. How can one not like that (if you’re me)?  We talked about where I am in life, and why. We talked about where I want to be. We talked about their business model and how they do it. We talked about logistics and goals. We talked about their commitment to giving back and the causes they serve and the energy they put into them. We discovered we go to the same church (my friend had told me that, but during my own internal conversation when she told me about a job in insurance, I didn’t hear that).

They asked about the last books I’d read and why I liked them (WILD, Bread and Wine, Unbroken). It’s been since last March, but they didn’t seem to mind that, and I was relieved. It’s hard to believe someone loves to read, when it’s been 9 months since they picked up their last book. Well, picked up isn’t accurate, but anyhoo… Then they asked what my favorite TV shows are. Yikes. I thought I was done. I don’t watch much TV. Not because I don’t enjoy it. I do. Honest! I feel like I’ve got to convince someone that I’m not anti TV, kind of like I’m not anti children, when I interviewed for the H.S. secretary position and they asked if I liked holding babies.  My TV answer was CBS’s Sunday Morning, which is the absolute truth, and then, The Bachelor. The Bachelor? Did I say that? Oh jeeze. It’s true. I can get caught up in those Bachelor shows, as much as I hate them, I am mesmerized by them. I did forget to tell them that I like Dateline, but I haven’t watched an episode since we moved into our house in August. Oh, wait. I haven’t watched The Bachelor since then, either! See, I struggled. I could have answered a question about my biggest strengths and weaknesses with more authority. I’m glad I didn’t remember Dateline.

But, if I was concerned about those tidbits of personal information, I was horrified when I got teary eyed in the interview. I don’t know what prompted the emotion. I was embarrassed and got out of the tears as fast as I accessed them.  I apologized. The owner said it was okay, telling me that he wanted us to be authentic. But does he really, I wondered? I replied, “Well, I’m done being authentic.” We laughed and moved on to questions about how I would manage receiving instruction (orders?) from someone younger than myself.

The conversation made sense. It wasn’t about my skills, whether I knew Razor’s Edge (something on my “to learn” bucket list since I’ve been researching jobs), or any other program. It was about me, them, and their business model and how we fit together.

I communicated what I was looking for in my job search:

Opportunity

Opportunity to grow and learn new skills, so in less than three years when my support fully stops, I can use the skills I’ve learned to continue with them, or carry my skills with me, so I am employable, able to be completely financially self sufficient.

Benefits

I want health benefits that will allow me to discontinue paying them now, so I can invest that money, and retirement benefits for the same reason.

Flexibility

The recognition and understanding that I’m a single mom. That is scary and bold, but I’m not going to pretend it’s something else. If I feel I’m needed, I can accommodate my children, and make up the time by coming in early or staying late.

Before the interview, I asked God for clarity. Before I left the interview I said, “I would like to work for you” and meant it without hesitation.

I realized that in looking for the dream job, I’d found the dream company.  I understand it’s early to know if this company will meet my needs. But the clarity I had came from peace I had, in both my head and my heart. There was no conflict between the two. Nice.

I have an appointment this morning at 11am to pick up my compensation and welcome package. I am scheduled to start insurance school on January 5th, 2015.

At the beginning of summer I had three goals.  I’d hoped for all three to come at the close of summer.  The first two did.

1. Buy a house : DONE

2. Sell my SUV and buy a smaller car with much less gas mileage : DONE

3. Get a job : DONE

My friend pointed out last night how it’s interesting that the job starts in January, of 2015. I hadn’t considered that. While I thought I was way behind, I’m really right on schedule.

Thank you, Lord. Welcome, 2015.

Merry Hour, as defined by Joni Frances (Thurber):

The term used during the Christmas holiday season to define what is typically called “happy hour.”

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Isn’t that cute?  I’m not saying I’m the first person to coin this phrase, but I’ve never heard it before, so I’m going to claim it.

So, I’ve been sick, in bed, since Sunday. I say “in bed” because it gives a whole different level of sick.  Let me clarify.  I think there’s “not feeling well,” which often means we can manage our day to day, but with less energy and gusto than we’re used to, and then there’s “sick.” To me, “sick” usually means, “in bed.”

It started last week with a raspy voice. Friends and family, myself included, laughed and wondered why I got sexy voice for free. I wasn’t sick. I had no symptoms. Each day was productive, holding nothing back, which was a good thing, because it meant I still worked and I had my interview on Friday.

But BAM! After a long Saturday, sexy voice turned to scratchy burning throat that kept me up all night, and the rest is history. So, for the next three days this was my view:

Warning: Don't zoom in.

Warning: Best not to zoom in.

I know I’m sick when I miss:

COFFEE: Three days without it. It doesn’t sound good.

FOOD:  It doesn’t sound AS good, but I still get hungry. And when I get bored, I walk around in the kitchen trying to find something quick. But the pain of swallowing isn’t worth eating. We have a tradition in our family when we’re sick. We make brownies. I know it’s weird. It started because long ago, like before children, living on my own, when I was sick, even with a high fever, I would get bored and make brownies, then go back to bed. This first morning I was sick, I found Bridgette (my wonderful home from college daughter) in the kitchen making brownies, adding walnuts just for me. The walnuts made it harder for me to eat them, which was a good thing. I’m the only person I know that can gain weight when sick, just by eating out of boredom. I have to say, this time around, I didn’t eat my usual sick diet.

SHOWERS AND MAKE UP:  OK, I missed the showers, but I was perfectly fine not donning make up every day and blow drying my hair.

WORKING OUT:  Yes, I missed a few days of preparing this body for battle. Not a battle as defined by most, but there are many days this body feels like it’s in a battle, with consistent aches in various parts. Doing physical therapy several times a week, and getting in some cardio is essential for my over all well being. It’s what I do to ensure I will be around and in good shape for my children, and my children’s children.  I’m hoping I can help Bridgette and Bradley take care of their children, creating a stronger family support than what they’ve experienced. It starts here. It’s okay that I missed though. That also meant I didn’t have to make hard decisions about getting up at 4:30 or 5:00am. Another battle.

EVENTS:

Dinner with a dear friend.

A friend with whom I hate to miss anything. Someone recently called her a “kid whisperer.” She deserves that title. But she could also be called the “friend whisperer.” She’s got a way with all people, bringing out the best in everyone she meets. Last Christmas we met for lunch and she gave me this Christmas Mickey hand. I wear it and send her pictures occasionally and she sends them back to me with her hand.

This is my Christmas Mickey hand driving to OSU to pick up Bridgette.

This is my Christmas Mickey hand driving to OSU to pick up Bridgette.

I couldn’t go to dinner, but my good friend took the kids to dinner without me. As much as I missed out, my kids were blessed, which trumps my loss. My friend was her usual jolly elf, bringing her assortment of Christmas accessories. If I were to ask Bradley to take a photo with reindeer antlers, I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t happen. But I have a picture with both kids in antlers and Mickey hands. I decided not to post, but please imagine it, because it’s really really cute. The kids came home having spent time with an awesome friend and a full sized pizza, for me. I wasn’t able to consume the whole thing like my reputation would lead her to believe, but what I’ve eaten in the last couple of days, excluding two pieces of brownie, was her pizza.

Bradley singing in Les Miserables.

WAHHHHH! For months, the Sunset Choir has been preparing for the Les Mis Christmas performance, which is one of my all time favorite stories, along with It’s a Wonderful Life. I love to see Bradley’s musical side, as well as all the other kids I’ve watched grow up in music. Plus, I’d emailed about twenty families, inviting them to watch the show, because there was no cost, other than a donation. And, I was scheduled to do concessions.  Missing out on last night’s event was heartbreaking. I shed about two minutes of tears over it.

By the way, speaking of two favorite stories… I think I mentioned this before, but it’s timely to mention it again. There is an author named Bob Welch who has written books based on our favorite classic stories, like It’s a Wonderful Life. He gives us 52 messages we can all learn from these stories. I think anyone who watches Les Mis and It’s a Wonderful Life (thus far, my son may disagree when it comes to It’s a Wonderful Life… I have hope) leaves feeling hopeful about life. But then we forget what we learned and what we felt.  These books are good to keep on our bedside table to be reminded of the goodness in the face of desperate and dark. I’ve never met Bob Welch, but he’s a friend of a friend, which is cool!

Working.

I had picked up a sub job that isn’t easy. It’s manual labor that requires attention to detail. I got a friend to do the job with me. We both sub for the district and I decided it would be much better to do a job like that with a friend by my side. It was much better last week when we got to do it together. But when I was sick, the friend I recruited worked the job while her friend (me) lay in bed. Ugh. I felt bad for that. She’s a workhorse and handled it like a trooper, but I still wished I could have been a workhorse next to her. Not to mention, I didn’t pick up any other jobs.

Merry Hour.

I’m scheduled to host Merry Hour at my house tomorrow night. I believe it’s going to happen. I don’t mean for it to be a big deal. But I’ve had to adjust to not having people over like I once did. So many factors have gotten in the way of that. Our house is feeling like a home. I want to take advantage while people are taking time out for friends and when the Christmas decorations are up. A group of moms (but not myself… I couldn’t do the movie) were scheduled to go see WILD, but it’s not playing tomorrow after all (except at one theater in NW PDX). Instead of canceling altogether, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have that same group over.

So, if I had had to cancel that due to sickness, I would have been beside myself with grief! Once I post this blog, I’m taking a shower and cleaning house…

The good thing that happened while I was sick in bed? I got offered the job for which I interviewed on Friday! I will post about the whole experience soon. The clarity wasn’t just on my end. The interviewers and interviewee clicked. After I go in on Friday and receive the welcome and compensation package, I’ll consider myself hired. I’m scheduled to start January 5th. It’s a new world for the Thurber Threesome. Oops. Fivesome. The dogs (darn it) are very much a part of this life, and I’ve still got to figure out how to manage them when we’re gone all day!

In Each Day a New Cup, I referred to a conversation I had with a fellow mom at the club a few days ago.  Going through a divorce, she commented that she is hopeful, because of people like me, who have blazed the trail before her. I thought a lot about our conversation and her perception of how things have evolved for me, and I want to share some things in my life that made the difference of where I am, versus where I could be.

Here are my Five Top Things that I believe will get you from being the trail on which you’re trampled to being the one leading the trail:  In theory, they’re not hard. But they take resolution. They’re behavior and attitudes that can kill us if we don’t pursue them with intention in our most desperate days.

1. Get out of bed.

That’s not to say we don’t all deserve a day to rest.  But the simple act of removing one’s self from the seemingly safe respite of a bed can be an act of God when there’s so much we feel we’re not equipped to face.  I remember a day that seemed even an act of God wasn’t enough for me.  My children, then 10 and 12, got themselves up, fed, and off to school without the nurturing routine in which they’d been accustom.  As I think about that moment, I recall the despondency that prevented me from doing my mom job. Sure, they survived. But that morning is part of their story, too.  A page I wish I could have avoided.  They were hurting, and this mom let them.  I don’t raise my kids to “survive.”  I raise them in the hopes that they will thrive.  There was no thriving that day.

It was one day, fortunately.  The regret I had when I considered the direction my life would take if I let those days accrue was more than I could stand. It didn’t happen again.  That’s not to say that getting out of bed was easy. It was hard. But getting out of bed was worth it.

2. When the phone or the doorbell rings, answer it, no matter what.

It’s hard to believe that life goes on when ours has seemingly stopped.  I recall feeling like the sun was mocking me as it shined high and bright on a summer day. How can it be, while I sobbed in my car on my way to a commitment I didn’t want to keep?  Contradictions to my state of being were all around me. The world did not care.  That reality is harsh and good.  If the world accommodated my emotions, the sun didn’t shine, if strangers shared my same agony, the potential for me to remain in that same state would be great.

On the other side of your door is a boy scout who’s fundraising for his annual fee, and a mother who’s doing her best to do her part to contribute. Everywhere we go we’re engaging with people who need us as much as you need them.  In your crisis, your home can be a sanctuary or a prison.  Create the sanctuary, where you don’t turn others away, but embrace them as Jesus’ hands and feet. If they aren’t, you will know, and will gain wisdom in the effort.

Going through a crisis brings out the best in people. It also brings out other things in people that can be hard to sift through. You will discover who is calling to gather information. Those calls, you can avoid, once you identify their objective. That can change your friendships if you’re not able to entertain those people.  But it’s okay. You’ll discover quickly the people who are a support, not just a cheerleader.

On the day that I couldn’t get out of bed a friend with whom I’d regularly gone to bible study for a couple of years called. I’d forgotten that we were to ride together that day.  Everything in me didn’t want to pick up that phone. Ring, Ring, Ring.  How would I explain the inadequacy of the my morning?  I don’t recall my exact words when I picked up, but she skipped bible study and came to help. She’d assumed I’d been having a hard time, this day she lived it with me.  There were many times it seemed crazy that I would answer the door.  I wasn’t fit to be a friend.  But I remember vividly those moments when a friend or a good acquaintance knocked on the door.  It might be a bible study partner, or a mom with whom I’d volunteered side by side over the years, arriving when I needed that person, in that moment.

3. When someone asks if they can help, say YES.

It seems common practice to answer a request for help with something close to a “No, it will be fine.”  Is “fine” what we want? If we want to move beyond “fine,” be bold in your answer, and honor your friend’s effort.

Try something like this: “Yes, that would be awesome.”  The word “awesome” dates me. I know. I over use that word.  Dig to find out what type of offer they’re making.  Try, “What would you like to do?” or “Would you mind picking up Esmerelda from dance this week? She goes two times to Dancing with the Stars dance studio.”

One of my favorite gifts was cleaned and cut vegetables. In a zombie state, I remember throwing a meal together at the last minute.  Noodles and parmesan cheese (a long time toddler favorite, but at 10 and 12 my kids had graduated to something more), bagels and cream cheese, cereal, spaghetti, potatoes. Carbs, carbs, carbs.  Receiving the nutritious part of the meal relieved me of the guilt that I wasn’t providing the nutrition my kids needed.  And, they weren’t subject to watching me stand over carrots as I peeled them with tears running down my face, imagining the inevitable, that the very kitchen I prepared in, would be someone else’s later.

So many things go undone as a single person without a family to help.  Unlike wisdom teeth being pulled or an ACL tear, a divorce and change in the family as you knew it, a change in your forever plans, is a perpetual state of loss.  If you remain a single parent, wholeness doesn’t come in a few weeks or months. Take the help when it’s offered, because when the newness of the crisis wears off, you will be in a position to ask (which is hard) because the offers will stop.

4. Read the Psalms.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Imagine reading this in a time of despair.  God’s word, and in particular, the Psalms was the water that quenched my aching thirst.  I had a chair in my family room where I sat, as soon as the kids were off to school.  I wanted to remain there all day long. I was desperate for the healing words to soothe me, and I hungered for them to stop the hurt.  I wanted to live in the pages of God’s word.  I didn’t want to face the world as it stood before me.  Grief was my companion, but God was my friend, and I can’t imagine living without his wisdom, compassion, and hope. I carried his words with me with every errand and every commitment I couldn’t escape.

I purchased a pretty journal where still today I record my favorite verses.

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Treasures are in this book.

When I can’t remember where to find a particular verse, I go to my book, where I treasure the verse like a found precious object.

I received books that gave me insight and perspective. I loved those books, but my favorite one is called A Grace Disguised. It’s a story of huge loss through a car tragedy. The author is able to communicate so that someone going through loss in divorce can also find restoration.

There’s no question my faith grew stronger as a result of my divorce. As much as I’ve mourned the loss of a complete family, I wouldn’t give anything in exchange for the relationship I have with God today.

5.  It’s okay to medicate.

This was hard for me. My same friend who arrived on the morning I didn’t get out of bed, urged me to consider taking medication.  I recall one friend telling me over the phone that maybe I should consider medication, but somehow in that moment, the suggestion seemed more like I was over reacting about my loss, almost as if I should accept the broken vows and the betrayal of so many things.  On this particular morning, my friend offered that I should talk to a doctor and that it would be something to get me through the worst of it.  I recall not having the energy to navigate the appointment (I was using a teaching hospital and didn’t have a steady doctor at the time). She made the appointment for me, and we drove together a few days later. The diagnosis was “situational depression.” I could live with that.  I got the prescription filled, but for a couple of months it remained unopened in my medicine cabinet. I recall the day I recognized the value in taking it.  I wish I hadn’t taken so long.  I took the medication for about a year, and it was the right thing to do. It didn’t alter my grief, or my personality.  But it altered my perspective enough to manage things. I remember getting pneumonia during that time and running out of the medication. Getting my prescription refilled was problematic.  Abruptly discontinuing the medication was lethal and I had a couple of very hard days that I know scared a couple of friends (myself included).  Be cautious of discontinuing those drugs without the care of a physician.  A couple of months later a doctor helped wean me off without incident.

When I think of “Blazing the Trail,” I think of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.  I recall my former mother-in-law giving me advice in the beginning and telling me to just not “give a damn” and be like Scarlett O’Hara.  I remember thinking, as wonderful as Scarlett is, I always wished I could be like Melanie Hamilton.  She was angelic, full of strength and grace. I aspired to be more like her, but have missed that mark in so many ways.

I believe I wasn’t intended to be like Scarlett O’Hara or Melanie. I was intended to be myself, to work through my loss with God at the center. He instructed me, and I did my best to listen. Five things that you can do. The world is full of people who haven’t been able to.  When you see a child who has lost his way, or a man or woman on a street asking for money, chances are big that there was a parent who experienced a loss they couldn’t manage.

I’m grateful that I’m here, where I am, living this life. I can share Christmas decorations, celebrate victories and frustrations with my pooches, as well job searches, house moves, and basically the hard that happens at the same time as the wonderful.

There’s really been no “blazing.” It’s okay if it looks like that, as long as you know this: It’s one morning, one day, one Psalm, one friend, one YES, and maybe one pill, at a time.