Friday, February 29, 2008

Gratitude Journal: February 2008

Here's this month's partial list of the simply abundant things that I'm thankful for that manifested during the month:

  • Got an oil change and regular maintenance on my car and they didn't find anything else that needed fixing.

  • A beautiful bouquet of tulips and balloons for Valentine's Day from my daughter, who arranged for them to be delivered to me here even though she was in Iraq.

  • My daughter is home from Iraq for almost 3-weeks and will be here to celebrate my birthday next week.

  • Even though I was laid off from my job with no notice, the process made me realize how much the people that I'd worked with (other than my boss and one colleague) appreciated me and the work I'd done for them.

  • Learned that I'm eligible for unemployment benefits. Although the checks aren't going to be much, every little bit helps.

  • Have enough money in savings to be able to spend my daughter's vacation time with her. If I had to have been laid off, this was the perfect time for it.

  • Got a 4-month contract position beginning the day after my daughter leaves to go back to Iraq - how's THAT for perfect timing?

  • The contract job doesn't pay a lot of money, but it'll be interesting and it's about a mile from my home, so I can save money on gas and lunch (I can come home each day). It's also bought me some time to conduct a proper job search.

  • Found a basic health care plan that should tide me over, it's affordable, and even if I'm not employed full-time with the temp agency after this initial contract, I can keep the coverage, which was a major concern.

  • Able to get all of my prescriptions refilled before my major health insurance policy expires tomorrow.

  • Two of my prescriptions, including one that I take every day, is available from Wal-Mart's $4 prescription drug program, saving me about $150/month on that one medication alone.

  • Since I started taking a medication to lower my cholesterol it's come down substantially in the first 6 weeks. I may even be able to stop taking it in a few months if the trend continues.

  • Celebrated the best Valentine's Day ever with my new guy.

  • The lead that led to my long-term temp job came from the guy I used to date. I guess there is something to be said for ending a relationship with style.

  • Participating in a wonderful 8-week women's support group that meets on Saturday mornings at my church.

  • Started knitting an awesome cable sweater with my #1 knitting buddy. We met at Starbucks on Sunday and knit for 3 hours. Time files when you're having fun.

  • Another wonderful month with my new guy. It just keeps getting better and better!

It's been a great month.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Still on the journey: Week 1

Last week I started an 8-week women's support group at my church. I wasn't sure what to expect, but things got off to an awesome start and I am certain that my presence there was not by happenstance. The group is structured around a wonderful book, "Still on the Journey", which takes a Biblical and spirital approach to dealing with the challenges, both big and small, that women face along this journey called "life."

We have homework assignments each week that will involve journaling. I decided to do my journaling here since the work we're doing is directly relevant to what's going on in my life. So, at some point each week, I'll post my thoughts on what we're learning here.

Our first assignment was a reading in Genesis 16 about Hagar, who after being treated unjustly by her mistriss Sarah [sp], ran away into the desert. I doubt that Hagar intended to end up in the hot, dry, miserable desert, I suspect she simply wanted to get away from the people and the circumstances that had caused her so much pain. I know that feeling well. Been there... Done that.

Of course, I never ran into the desert, but my "running" was quite literal. I moved to another city, sometimes to another state, when things got too difficult or too painful where I was. The problem is that once the excitement and the newness of moving to a new home, exploring a new city, making new friends and settling into a new job wore off, problems started to creep back into my life again. It took a long time, but I finally realized that no matter where I went, I was always there.

While Hagar was in the desert, an angel found her, called her by name, and asked her two very important questions: Where have you come from and where are you going? While discussing Hagar's predicament in the group, I realized that I've been where Hagar was at that moment and I've spent the better part of the last two years finding answers to those very questions for myself.

I've come from a place of unresolved pain, anger and bitterness. As a long-term survivor of a violent assault, I felt helpless, hopeless, afraid and ashamed. In my rush to put it behind me and move on with my life, I never dealt with the source of my pain and instead pushed it deep down inside. While I temporarily plugged a gaping hole in the dam, I failed to realize that the water was still rushing on the other side, building force, only to create cracks in other parts of the carefully-erected wall I'd built. Failed relationships, stress-induced illnesses, severe and chronic insomnia, job-hopping, spiritual isolation and countless other "holes" started appearing in my life until finally the dam burst.

It certainly hasn't been easy, and it hasn't been quick, but by God's grace, I am recovering. I am healing, one challenge at a time. With God's help, I've figured out where I'm going, ultimately. By that I don't mean that I know what city I'll ultimately live in or what job I'll have, but I have a very clear understanding of what's important in my life. I'm able to say "No" to things and people that are not good for me, I'm able to love myself - warts and all, and most importantly, I'm able to recognize and be thankful for God's blessings, even in the midst of a storm. I don't know the particulars of what God has in store for me, but I finally know in my heart that He does have a plan for my life and that as long as He is my guide and my compass, that I'll always be exactly where He wants me to be.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Astrology: a guilty pleasure

OK. I admit it. I've been known to check out my horoscope every now and then. I'm a by-the-book Pisces woman. When the news is good, I smile and when it's not, I forget about it and move on.

Let me say right here that I am a Christian and I do not consider astrology to be a religion. I think of it like a science. To me it's not that much different from predicting weather patterns in the Farmer's Almanac. I don't pretend to understand either, and I don't really care. Sometimes I just think it's a fun diversion.

Since I have some free time on my hands now, I decided to do some long-overdue filing this morning. I found a detailed horoscope for people born on my birthday, March 3rd, that I printed out on March 3, 2007. The horoscope was a forecast from March 2007 to March 2008. For something that I don't put a lot of serious stock into, in retrospect, it was amazingly accurate.

The year promises to be a busy period in your life when you might make dramatic changes to your nutrition or health regime.
I finally found the right health care team who collectively got a handle on my sleep apnea, insomnia and depression. I've changed my diet, gotten on the right meds at the right dose, and I'm feeling great.

Keeping "on top" of things in terms of staying organized is likely to be a focus, although you may not always succeed at doing so!
One of the best things I did during this period was hire a team of personal organizers to re-organize my home office. The results were so profound that I did the rest of my house utilizing the techniques I learned. As my horoscope suggested, my compliance rate in keeping everything in order hasn't always been 100% since then, but I have met my "15 minute" rule, meaning my home is always no more than 15 minutes away from being ready for unexpected visitors.

A healthy dose of introspection is encouraged.
I think this blog speaks is the best evidence that this was true. I started it at the end of March 2007.

This is an ideal year in which to do editing or research of any kind, and to put finishing touches on projects you may have initiated last year.
My book is finally finished and is going off to the printer this week! I feel like I'm in the final stages of a very long pregnancy.

Past errors may come to light... You're taking on a whole new perspective with regards to your life.
Again, that's what this blog is about.

This period in your life is the culmination of a stage of personal growth and development. Events at this time may bring to a head various developments in your emotional, psychological, or spiritual life over the past several years.
This is the most stunningly accurate assessment of the entire horoscope. Everyone who's known me for years knows this to be 100% true. Some have gone so far as to say that I've ended my season of trials and have entered a season of abundance. And for that, I sincerely and humbling thank God.

It's easier than ever to express your unique individuality, and if this involves changing careers or jobs, a new love affair, or an entirely new hobby, it's something that takes you forward into unexplored territory.
I did make a major job change in May. Because of that job, even though it was short-lived, I was blessed to meet some wonerful people and some great professional connections. Also because of that job, I am now in a wonderful new relationship with an amazing man. And, I've developed an interest in an entirely new hobby - photography

Your personality is sparkling this year, which is sure to attract new circumstances and people into your life.
It already has. :)

You might fight that you become more goal-oriented, as superficial goals no longer satisfy you. You want your life path and your objectives to reflect what you're really about, and your likely to rid yourself of unsatisfying goals this year.
Absolutely true. I wrote about this recently here.

You are inclined to do a lot of "digging", researching, analyzing, investigating, and getting to the bottom of things. Increased psychological awareness of yourself and others can benefit you greatly, and employing strategy in your decision-making is easier than usual this year.
Again I point to this blog.

You'll have a chance to heal old wounds with regards to love. You are especially open to love and romantic feelings and more willing to act upon them.

Amen. :)

So, this astrology thing may be a sham, but I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now faith is REALLY a verb

I was terminated from my job today. I should have seen it coming, but I must admit that it caught me off guard - especially the part where I found myself being watched while I gathered my things, as if I was a common thief. My employer and I have had irreconcilable differences in our philosophy on how to run a business and how to treat customers and employees, so this point in time was inevitable. But I thought I'd at least get a week's notice. Don't ask me why I thought that given everything else I know about my former boss. Call me stupid, but I just have this terrible habit of assuming that people will do the right thing.

Ironically, she tried to blame it on me, but when I asked for examples of performance issues, deadlines that were missed, or a single example of an instance in which I didn't do at least 110% of what was asked of me, she couldn't provide a single one. Instead, she told me that she was "restructuring" her business, that she needed to take a more proactive role, and that essentially she was going to be doing my job AND getting her business back on track. She said that she'd been planning to let me go on Friday, but after I pushed back on her refusal to allow me to use comp time to leave a bit early on Valentine's Day (insisting that I had to use vacation time), she decided to do it today. Sadly, if I hadn't pushed back on the performance non-issue, I honestly think she would have let me leave thinking that I could have done something to avoid this.

Again, call me stupid, but I didn't think that requesting 90 minutes of comp time was such a horrible crime, especially since I'd started work 45 minutes early on the day I made the request and I volunteered to work through lunch on Valentine's Day to make up the difference. Ironically, the thing I'm most angry about at this moment is the fact that she was going to make me use vacation time tomorrow, knowing that she was planning to fire me the very next day! The word "character" comes to mind.

God has been so good to me these past few months, despite all my troubles at work. In every other area of my life He has blessed me beyond measure and I am so grateful. That's why I'm convinced that this too is part of a bigger plan that He has for me. As awful as this afternoon has been, I'm confident that He's already opening doors to something much bigger and better, even though I can't see it at the moment. I just need to remain faithful, and thankful, and prayerful. I don't know what the next job will look like, where it'll come from, or how long I'll be unemployed, but I know it'll be better than the place I left.

I know I need to start planning my job search, sending out resumes, letting friends and others know that I'm looking for work, and I'll do all that. Just not tomorrow... or the next day. I have a wonderful Valentine's Day celebration planned for tomorrow night, so tomorrow I think I'll sleep in and then give myself the "home spa" treatment so I'll be relaxed and ready to have a great time. Then, after a wonderful evening tomorrow night, I'll sleep in on Friday and find something fun to do. And then of course, there's the weekend. I'll treat my job search like a job and start the process on Monday, after I've had a chance to rest and recover.

Faith is indeed a verb.

Image available at

Saturday, February 9, 2008

January blessings

I promised myself that this year I was going to keep my Gratitude Journal updated. I know, it's the same thing I promised myself last year too, but this year I'm really trying to do it. To hold myself accountable, I decided to post a short-list of blessings at the end of each month that demonstrate that I am indeed living a life of what I call "creative abundance. " I'm a bit late with January's list, but here it is:

  • Had the best New Year's Eve ever (honestly). When the ball dropped, I was in the middle of my living room dancing cheek-to-cheek with my new guy. I couldn't have been happier and it didn't cost us a dime!
  • Saved hundreds of dollars by visiting a new eye doctor who prescribed a less expensive type of contact lenses that are also extended-wear, thereby saving me lots on the lenses themselves, not having to replace them as frequently, needing less saline and cleaning solutions, and perhaps most importantly, not having to buy a new pair of prescription glasses for back-up.
  • Got great tickets (3rd row center) to an awesome Valentine's Day concert at a substantial discount through work. I got a similar deal on tickets to take my dad to see his favorite artist of all time - B.B. King in May.
  • Got lots of yarn donations (as well as new volunteers) for my knitting ministry when I spoke at a women's knitting retreat.
  • Filled my 5 Fave's plan with T-mobile, so now I can talk to my favorite people any time, any where, at no additional cost and without having to worry about minutes.
  • Found some awesome bargains at the designer consignment shop that I visit on occassion.
  • Started making my own sugar scrub for pennies compared to the $19.99 per jar that I used to spend to buy virtually the same thing from Bath & Body Works.
  • Received a $25 gift card from CVS for filling a new prescription there. How easy was that?
  • Got six week's worth of samples of my new medication for FREE.

Note: Image available at

Friday, February 8, 2008


I detest liars. I know that we all tell a "white lie" every now and then... taking a sick day when we're not really THAT sick, saying "no" when a girlfriend asks "do these pants make me look fat?", or saying that you had a nice time when the date really wasn't all that great. I guess technically a lie is a lie is a lie, but that's not what I'm on my soap box about today. I'm talking about lies that are truly unethical. Lies like when the boss says "I'm working on that raise, just give me a little more time" when it's absolutely not true, or when a prospective employer says "Race (or gender) didn't have anything to do with why you didn't get the job" when you know that's EXACTLY why you didn't get it, or when a guy says "I love you", when you know that's guy-speak for "can we just have sex?"

If there's one thing that is almost always certain to send me off into a state of sheer disgust, it's when someone lies to me. Yes, I take it "personally" even when I know that the person is a pathological liar who lies to everyone, even him or herself. Why? Because for me, being lied to represents more than merely a character flaw on the other person's part. It is an insult that they think I'm too stupid to be able to see through the lies. The fact that I don't always challenge someone when I catch them in a lie doesn't mean that the lie was lost on me. But it changes everything about my view of that person and my perception of our interaction. Sadly, once I know that someone has lied to me, I'm much less likely to believe anything else they say, even if it's true. And what's really ironic is the fact that the very people who lie the most, are the ones who most often believe that everyone else is lying to them! As George Bernard Shaw said, "The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else."

I think lying is about control... attempting to control another person (their behavior, their perceptions, their reactions), attempting to control a situation, attempting to control the consequences of one's actions (or lack of them), and even attempting to control our fears, be they real or imagined. I don't know who Tad Williams is/was, but I agree with him we he said that "We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger."

I constantly struggle with how to react to liars. In some instances, the solution is clear - simply stay away from them. Unfortunately, it's not always that easy. When the liar is a co-worker, or an employer, or even a relative, it's not that easy to walk away, although sometimes it's absolutely necessary. But it's that frequent, and necessary interaction that also makes it hard to consistently turn the other cheek. While not challenging a liar may make life a little easier in the short run, it quietly erodes away at the very fabric of the relationship, destroying trust and leaving bitterness and resentment instead. And, I often fear that not challenging a liar enables and emboldens them to lie even more. Does that somehow make me complicit in their lies? Probably. That sucks.