Posts Tagged 'reflections'

Random thoughts and reflections

As we are coming to the end of the year, it seems appropriate to look back at 2009.

Some things have not changed – the kids have very obviously grown a few inches each, but they are the same lovable Eric and Justin. Same personalities, likes and dislikes, and the same challenges. Work continues to present challenges for both myself and Terry, and my travel schedule was pretty hectic at times. We had some good times with good friends, especially over the summer, though not as often as we may have liked. We enjoyed another season of football for Justin. Next year will be his last before playing for high school, which is a whole different world.

Some things have changed quite a bit – we welcomed a new and furry family member, Duke, who has easily settled into our home and our lives. We’ve made a few new friends in the neighborhood as well as through football. One of the biggest changes: Terry’s parents will arrive today or tomorrow, making Arizona their permanent home. Their first move since 1972!

I logged the frequent flyer miles with trips to Sacramento, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas. Of course our vacation in Hawaii was the best of all. Terry got to travel a bit, with a business trip to Las Vegas and of course Lake Tahoe where he won the Hawaii trip – he can’t wait to go back to Tahoe next year in hopes of getting another prize like that one.

We enjoyed some family visits – Terry’s Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Vern visited us from Ohio and Terry’s brother Tim came with his brood all the way from Switzerland in April. Easter was spent with them as well as Terry’s cousins Russ & Sherri and their family. My brother Damian visited over Thanksgiving and my Mom and stepdad just left last week after a 2-week visit.

2009 presented many challenges, but truly challenges are opportunities. I hope that 2010 holds many good opportunities in store for us as well.

Best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Airport ponderings

TravelerI love airports. Yes, you heard me right – love them. I know, I’m an oddity. But tell me, where else but the airport could you spot a grown woman wearing bright pink galoshes, a little old man eating out of a homemade lunch pail, a platinum blonde diva with 4-inch heels, an entire family adorned with Mickey Mouse memorabilia and countless retired couples in matching attire? Where else would you find a businessman in a $2000 suit standing in line next to a vacationer in worn out flip flops, cutoff jean shorts and a Laguna Beach t-shirt? Airports are a stop within an itinerary that is not our norm. An interruption in our regular schedule, but a potentially welcome one.

Sure the airport has its share of annoyances. I’m actually at the Charlotte airport right now and already this morning have witnessed the usual ones. The guy on his Blackberry talking too loudly to notice hordes of travelers rushing by him. The intolerably long lines at the coffee/pizza/burger stand (or bathroom). My biggest pet peeve is the casual traveler who is oblivious to others around him/her – walking slowly, gazing around, then suddenly coming to a stop smack dab in the middle of the walkway to dig through his/her luggage for something (presumably his/her boarding pass?).

But there is something else about an airport that’s particularly exciting. Airports are our “holding area” – the place where we wait to be taken to somewhere else. Somewhere hot and sunny or somewhere cold where a warm fireplace awaits us. Somewhere new and adventurous or somewhere comfortable and familiar. Somewhere we’ll get to meet new people or somewhere that reunites us with those we love. And on the return trip, the airport is where we wait to be taken to the place we belong – home.

So as I wait for my flight (to somewhere many would call paradise) I will just sit back and people-watch. Wonder where these people are going, who they are going to see, and what circumstances are bringing them there. And that’s one of my favorite things to do.

An epiphany

Have you ever had one? I did recently and would love to share it with you.

First I’d like to start with a snippet from the motion picture Evan Almighty. Do you remember when Evan’s wife was in the restaurant and God appeared as her waiter? He helped her to understand that prayers aren’t always answered directly, and when she prayed for more family togetherness what God gave her was the opportunity for her family to be together more.

What a powerful message.

I pray for many things, and probably like most people, I have a few long-standing prayer requests dotted with different ones that fade in and out depending on what’s going on with my life at the time. One of these would be a recent prayer to do better at my job. I really love my job, and one of the things I love best about it is its unique challenges. If you have ever worked in a position with a multitude of challenges then you know that one day you can shine and the next day you’re knocked down into the dirt. Sometimes you go through days, weeks or even months when it seems all you’re doing is shuffling your feet in the dust.

Recently I experienced a time like this and it was getting hard. Really hard. So I prayed. I prayed that I could do better at my job. That I could not just meet my goals, but exceed them, impress my boss and rise within the company. And still all I did for a long time was just play catch-up. I would look at the clock at 5 and realize that I couldn’t pinpoint what I’d done all day, but I was sure busy! Why couldn’t I look back on my workday and immediately know the goals I’d accomplished?

So I prayed more. And more, and more. And it seemed like my prayers weren’t being answered. In fact, things were getting worse. The challenges were getting harder and I seemed to have less and less time to accomplish my tasks.

Then the epiphany.

God was indeed answering my prayers – how did I not see it? He was sending me challenges. These challenges were in fact opportunities to shine. So as I prayed harder and harder, he gave me more to do, more difficult tasks and less time to do them in! What better way to excel at my job than to take advantage of these opportunities!

As soon as I realized this (insert V-8 slap-on-the-forehead) I let go and I put my faith in God. I continued to work hard, but didn’t worry about things as much. I continued to do the best I could at my job and trusted that the critical items that needed to be completed would be. And I’ve gotten a lot done – miraculously more than I had during my previous “stressful time” noted above.

Now I don’t have a “happy ending” like how my boss recognized my superhuman project management ability and gave me a huge raise (I wish!). Actually I haven’t had the chance to review all I’ve done with him yet. But you know, just knowing that the Lord is answering me, that He is giving me these wonderful opportunities – that’s enough. And I am thankful.

2009 can only be better

Well I have to say that I am thankful to have 2008 behind me. Sure, there were some wonderful things that happened, like getting my new job (which I love), being able to spend time with family and friends and making new friends as well. I’m not one who usually likes to dwell on the past, but there were a lot of negative things that happened in 2008 which I really don’t want to go into. If you know me personally, then you know what they are anyway.

But now it’s a new year. A fresh start. The chance to look forward to new experiences and new challenges. I won’t go to the depth my sister did in her blog, but there are a few goals I’d like to accomplish in 2009 including personal and professional development, weight loss by way of running again, reading more, writing more and finishing a few personal projects including a massive cross-stitch pattern I want to hang on the wall of our dining room by autumn.

And I have a feeling 2009 will breeze by, just like last year and the year before. So one of my big mantras this year will be to live to enjoy the moment instead of spending too much time lamenting the past or worrying about the future.

Holidays, job search and kid stuff

Wow, I can barely believe it’s been a week and a half since we’ve been home from New York. Thanksgiving seemed like a quick blip on the radar on the way to the Christmas season. It’s a shame, too, because the warm sentiments of Thanksgiving should not be stumbled over en route to December 25th. I am truly thankful for everything God has graced me with, especially my family and friends.

That said, I now find myself looking for a new job. It’s not the optimum time for this as you can imagine, and it’s hard to be without a paycheck during December, arguably the most expensive month of the year. But we’ll get through it and hopefully I’ll find work soon. I just hate the job search – the game playing, proving your worth, then dealing with rejection. Yesterday I had a guy give me the typical speech “It was down to you and another candidate, and it was a hard decision. We wish you luck with your search…blah blah blah.” Yep, just another way to say “Too bad you spent 20 bucks in gas, four hours in interviews and countless days preparing, but there was someone else we liked better than you.” Ouch.

I’ll tell you too, there’s nothing fun about being at home. Sure, it’s nice to indulge once in a while (when you’re working), but when the most difficult decision you make all day is whether to watch a trashy reality show, a home improvement project show or a cooking show, well, it gets old. Quick. Still, the day goes by pretty quickly even though I can’t figure out why. Sure, I’ve spent several hours scouring job websites for openings, but there are only so many out there to apply for. I did put the Christmas decorations up on Monday – it took 4 hours, and that was only the interior ones!

One thing that was nice (well, sort of) is that Justin was sick yesterday and I was able to stay home with him all day sans guilt. His body decided to reject his dinner at 2am Monday night, and even though he seemed OK otherwise, it was really a no-brainer keeping him home. Of course, when he asked for a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, I knew he was all right.

The kids had a half day today, and Eric is throwing a fit because I’m “making” him go to lacrosse practice instead of the mall with his gang (including his girlfriend). Teenagers are so much fun – NOT!

Happiness = perfection?

Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.

This was sent as part of a long email forward from a friend. I wanted to share it with you, because it really touched me. It’s amazing how powerful and truthful one short paragraph can be.

Hey! Don’t make fun of my haboobs!

ha·boob – (he-bōōb’) n. A penetrating sandstorm or dust storm with violent winds, occurring chiefly in Arabia, North Africa, and India.

Last May I was in Charleston, NC at a meeting. On the local morning news they were talking about how a “haboob” had worked its way across the Phoenix area. Having lived in Phoenix for over five years I wondered what the heck they were talking about. I looked up from applying my eyeliner and saw a photo similar to what you see above. “Oh,” I thought, “it’s just a dust storm.”

Every late spring/early summer, maybe every 8-10 days or so, we get these dust storms. In fact, we’re overdue right now. The storms always seem to hit during the evening commute, between about 4pm and 6pm, though of course not always on a weekday – that would just be eerie. They disrupt traffic, coat our cars with a veil of desert dirt, deposit leaves and branches into our swimming pools and blow empty trash barrels around in the streets. As the first big snowstorm was always the big local news story in New York, the first dust storm of the year is always big local news here.

If you’re lucky you might get to see an actual tumbleweed blow by in front of you on the freeway – yes, just like in Roadrunner cartoons and John Wayne movies. If you’re really lucky, the storm might even bring a drop or two of rain – usually BIG drops, though few and far between.

If we’re at home, we usually have to run out to the back yard and rescue the patio chairs from certain doom: Blowing into our swimming pool. Blinking back the dirt from our eyes and attempting to ignore the grittiness in our teeth, we rush to make sure anything that isn’t nailed down is either brought inside or tethered. Potted plants overturn, hummingbird feeders whip in the wind and I’ve even seen the patio umbrellas take off from neighbors’ back yards like kites. If we’re not at home when one blows through, we can only cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Yes, it’s all very cool to watch, and you’d better like it because there ain’t nothin’ on TV while this storm is happening – the satellite isn’t likely to be getting much of a signal what with all the hubbub going on outdoors. But the good news is, it’s all likely to be over in 30-45 minutes and we can go out back to retrieve our forgotten pool towels from the bottom of the hot tub.

Getting back to my recollection of that Charleston morning news broadcast last year, I watched as the newscasters made fun of Phoenicians and our “haboobs”. Their taunting made us out to look like wierdos who enjoy some sort of strange vocabulary – though I was more than slightly insulted since I had obviously never heard anyone refer to a “dust storm” in such a manner. Karma came only moments later, in the next story when the plasticized, big-haired news “reporter” was interviewing an alligator expert about a recent increase in Florida alligator attacks.

BIG HAIR: “So, Mr. Davis, tell me. If an alligator comes at you, what should you do?”

ALLIGATOR EXPERT: (pausing to look at her in disbelief) “Well, you RUN.”

Well, duh!