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Determination

Generationally speaking

So there was this presentation at a recent conference that I keep thinking about: a presentation on the challenges different generations within one organization face:  challenges communicating, differing expectations, sharing of feedback, work styles, and more.

Background – My employer has undergone tremendous growth over the past couple of years – with so many coming, and even more going. And when employees leave, we don’t know they’re gone until their emails go unanswered or, worse yet, names disappear from the employee directory.

Change can be good. But it can also be unsettling.

It’s odd being the last one standing from the original team.

Some retired, some fired, others left on their own.

I’m the keeper of a history no one cares to know about, until they need it. And explaining it over and over again is exhausting.  I’ve had four bosses in two years ~ my head’s spinning.

At 55 I’m now the oldest employee in the office; it’s to me whom others come to for advice, counsel and direction.  50% of our workforce is under the age of 37.

Those of us with 20 to 30 years of experience are in the minority; even more rare are employees like me who’ve only had two to three employers our entire career.  The new normal is 5-8 employers by age 35.

A 60 minute conference call can start with 15 minutes of praising and fawning over the leader.    I’m embarrassed by a the clamoring, gushing and kissing of the ring.  Blah.

My generation, the baby boomers, had many candidates competing for each job, every opportunity, every advancement. We signed up, showed up, and kept up. We got it done.

We wrote and adhered to policy, learned by trial and by fire, came in early, worked through lunch, and stayed late. We respected authority and boundaries and did our best to manage and succeed through the pace and the stress.

“Work/life” balance, what’s that?  “Purpose over paycheck?”  Huh?

Boomers stayed loyal to our employers, believing that, over time our hard work and dedication would be rewarded.  And sometimes it was. But,  just as often, it wasn’t.

Now we find ourselves working with much younger colleagues ~ Generation “X”ers, and Millennials.

Lest I sound too negative let me make it clear many are smart, creative and witty.  They’re accomplished, hard-charging, bright and capable.

However this is a group who seems to be always “on,” consistently paying half-attention while multitasking, and who don’t regularly slow down long enough take a breath, ask questions or listen for the answer. Some skip greetings, salutations, punctuation and sentence structure.  I’ve had bosses who text at all hours of the day and night, and colleagues rattling off stats on whatever personal milestone, habit or TV series they’re binge-watching now, like doing so is an accomplishment.  Co-workers who steadily are “plugged in,” and constantly seeking reassurance, admiration, affirmations are exhausting.

I know some view Boomers like me as rigid and set-in-our-ways.  But with our consistency comes depth of experience, too.  I know I’m not alone in wondering how this is all going to play out.

~But ~

Something positive that may come of this is that a new workforce who demands a better work environment, a positive office culture, robust perks and equal pay is sure to benefit all of us.

Related:

  • This organization defines millennials as the generation aged 21 to 36 in 2017.
    • In 2017, 56 million millennials were working or looking for a job — outnumbering 53 million Gen Xers, who made up 33% of the labor force, and 41 million Baby Boomers, who accounted for 25% of the total.
      • Apr 16, 2018

 

  • Bye Bye Boomers: Who will fill your workforce gap?
    • According to Gallup, about a third of today’s workforce comes from the 75 million-strong Baby Boom generation.
    • The oldest Boomers turn 70 next year and the youngest are in their early 50s.
    • More than 44 million of them are still working.

 

And while a bit extreme, these two clips made me laugh:

 

 

What’s been your experience?  Can you relate to this post?

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Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Growth, Life, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Technology, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lists in the face

I remember being surprised at being invited to that executive’s retirement party given we’d hardly interacted.  I was around 27 and, looking back, a bit naive.

The night of the party, one of the (ancient) executive’s pals, in his toast to the retiree, joked about inviting “pretty girls like __(me)__ so we all have something nice to look at.” Their wives looked horrified and sad, most men chuckled, and I can still feel the rage at being reduced to “something.”

I know and have loved many wonderful men – decent, kind and gentle men.  I’m fortunate I can easily rattle off a long list including Grandfathers,  Great Uncles, Dad and his brothers, my husband and our sons. But I also have known – and had to work with – creeps.  And, in my experience, the creeps spoil the well for the good men.

Now, as a Grandmother, my Spidey senses are on FIRE whenever I’m out with our grandkids – both grandSON and grandDAUGHTER — I watch them like a hawk even though they aren’t “babies” any more.    I’m hyper-aware of everyone around us; if one asks to go off to another aisle to “see just one thing” we all go; it’s not up for discussion.

I’ve talked with the grands about good people and bad people, about trusting their instincts, and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe to tell any of us, and that they will never be in trouble for doing so.  I worry about Social Media and creepy perverts who lurk in shadows everywhere.  But, as many of us know, creepy perverts were in our churches, schools, and communities long before Facebook or SnapChat ever existed.

I made a quick list of how experiences with creepy men has impacted how I live; the list wrote itself in minutes.

  • I stay alert and pay attention to surroundings; if someone feels “off” I get away from them.
  • I never walk, shop for groceries or stop for gas in the dark.
  • I prefer to exercise in the house vs. in the neighborhood.
  • I wear a cross body purse, always and my cell phone remains charged and accessible, even at home.
  • I check the back seat of any vehicle before getting in, anywhere and in every light.
  • I rarely venture away from the hotel when traveling for business ~ Company (male) colleagues like to walk to restaurants for group events (because they never have to think about lists like this!). I prefer to take a taxi but will walk in a larger (mixed) group.
  • I never sleep on flights.
  • All windows and doors are locked  ~ if I find myself alone at the office (very off-putting) I take the cell phone with me to the copier or the restroom.
  • On business trips /outings I stick to water or (sometimes) order a cocktail I don’t like and sip it; whatever I have goes with me to the ladies’ room.
  • It’s Hubby’s deep voice on the answering machine.
  • I’m not thin anymore;  extra weight has lessened the burden of unwanted attention.
  • I never use parking garages,  valet where possible and expense it, and offer no explanations or apologies.
  • I don’t get on elevators with men, not even one.
  • I limit fluids during road trips which limits stops, and never use highway rest areas; Fast food restaurants only.
  • At company functions I employ the Irish Good-bye – excuse myself and don’t come back.

Your turn:

  • Can you relate to this post?
  • How have your experiences impacted the way you navigate your day-to-day life?
    • Any tips or thoughts to add?

 

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.” — Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Grief, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel, Useful Information, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Exercise, Having fun and the “To Be” List

They say everything adds up and indeed it does.

In late June I started tracking my steps/normal activity + bouncing regularly on my Rebounder (indoor trampoline).  And no, it was nothing more than a realization that I was sitting too much and moving too little.

  • You won’t get the butt you want sitting on the one you’ve got!  😉

As background, I’ve been bouncing on and off since last Fall, but I finally committed to a regular schedule after joining a “Bounce Daily for 30 Days” challenge in a Rebounding Facebook Group {{ see, there can be good things in FB-land, not just political rants, recipes involving cheese or personality quizzes!}}

My beautiful bouncy Bellicon rebounder!

Since June 21 I’ve amassed 452K steps= 186 miles, and 18 hours of it is just from bouncing!

  • I like keeping track because keeping track keeps me accountable. I also like visuals, stats and bright colors.

But – as has been the norm for most of my adult career life, I get sucked into conference calls, long drives, last minute projects and fire drills … so when I finally arrive at home I’d come in all sloth-like.  I’d give hubby a passing “hi,” stumble my way through supper, slink into a book and head off soon for bed.

Kind of like our friend the Sloth below, moving at the speed of mud:

Not anymore.

With few exceptions, now, after work, I change into “home” workout gear (the not cute kind but no one sees so who cares kind!) – old jersey shorts, a soft tank top, sports bra and light runners (You can bounce barefoot but I have one wayward foot that pronates when I do. I call her Nancy. ).  I put my hair up, set a timer, crank up the tunes …. and work my way backwards – Example:

  • A Kitchen timer is typically set for 45 minutes
    • (When I started I could barely do 7 minutes. 45 mins is 6x that – SHAZAM!)
  • Before I know it the 35 minute mark comes around.
    • While I’m bouncing to Barry White, Al Green or Elvis Presley, in a blink there’s just 20 minutes to go.
  • 20 Minutes! Meh – here comes Tom Petty, The Temptations, Three Dog Night,  Mandisa or The Beatles
    • Soon only 7 minutes remain. …. what’s that you say?
  • 7 minutes? Heck that’s 2 songs . .. Rock N Roll!
    • Beep beep, timer chirps and I’m bouncing, sweaty, smiling and happy;
      • You’re welcome for the tour of the Olympic Stadium housing my mind games! 

But, here’s the thing – those little mind games work.

Every. Single.  Time.

Because rather than announcing that I’ll “get 20 minutes in” … like it’s a hill to climb on the boring old dreadmill (that I’d likely skip) instead I imagine myself at the top of the curving hill … bouncing my way on down.  Yay!

Rebounding is THIS MUCH fun!

While bouncing I experience the following:

  • Thinking, remembering and plotting
  • Losing myself in a song,
  • Laughing to a memory,
  • Gnashing through a mistake
  • Marveling at my endurance, coordination and strength
  • Smiling loudly, sorting stuff out, thinking ahead
  • Daydreams
  • Epiphanies ping-ponging past me

See, it was while bouncing that I glanced at my 2018 Vision Board — the same one my Inner Lizard had harped at me to take down.   I heard her biting remarks – it’s soooo stupid, nothing’s gonna change, take it down, it looks like a grade-school girl made it … etc etc etc.

Then I read it again.

And with my hair flying,  my face sweaty and everything I had in full bounce, I might have cried just a little when I recognized six key words I’d cut out of a magazine last December:

  • FIND A WORKOUT YOU DON’T HATE

2018 Vision Board coming to life

So I ask you: is the exercise you’re doing fun?   Because if you’re not having fun I’m guessing you’re not doing it. Or you won’t be doing it (whatever “it” is) much longer.

It’s time to mix it up, I double-dog dare ya! And write a “To Be” list while you’re at it 🙂


*** What's on your "to be" list?*** 
Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Sports, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Random 5 Friday ~ Coffee, Peace, Votes and Rats

Random 5 Friday.  Ready? Set — Go!

1 )  This picture, taken at night in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada, brings me peace.  I cannot look at those stars and not believe.

Photo Credit to Gerry Pocha

2 ) There was risk of a rat sighting today.  While I am thankful for the heads-up, my skin prickled at the mention and, thankfully, I dodged the interaction.  🙂    See once you’ve lived/worked/endured rat behavior – years can pass and your tail will still twitch at the memories a bad experience left on your soul.

3 ) Yesterday was National Book Day (should be a holiday, I’m just saying…. ).  Saw this and just had to share:

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.” — Elizabeth Hardwick

4 ) Autumn is sneaking in.  Know how I know?  Mornings are just slightly darker.  On weekdays I am always up by 6:00 or sooner — now, it’s like August arrived and the sun decided to sleep in.  Seriously, there’s been a turn and I feel it most in the mornings.  Coffee up!

5 )  The August Primary took place earlier this week.  Whenever I get to vote, I think of Mom & Dad … they were both so passionate about voting and never missed an opportunity to take part. One time, because of bad weather & greasy roads, their only way out was to drive the tractor a mile & a half to the highway where they were met by Dad’s brother & sister-in-law – all four rode together into town to vote.  Open-air tractor or not, Mom grabbed her red patent leather purse and hopped on. I can just see it, the two of them heading off up the hill.     Man, I miss them. ❤

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

 

Did you celebrate National Book Day, too? 

Ran into any rats lately? 

Seeing signs of Autumn where you are?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Elections, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Men, News, Personal, Politics, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Sunshine, questions and a big juicy life

A while back, a blogging friend Dor, awarded me the “Sunshine Blogger Award” – this award is as special as sunshine on my shoulders, sunshine on my toes… Or saying my future’s so bright I just gotta wear shades!

taken yesterday

Thank you Dor for your kindness & for including me. The rules are to do the following –

  1. Give a Big Hearty Thanks to the blogger who nominated you & link back to them (Check!)
  2. Answer the questions the other blogger asked you (See below)
  3. Nominate a host of others (rules suggest 8-11) but I’m just gonna leave this open whomever wants to play along and 😀
  4. List the rules/display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your site. (done)

Here are the questions Dor posed for me:

  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you wish you were the other and why?
    • Gemini ~ both, depends on the day and situation.  I can work the room at a conference or cocoon myself away with my books ~ it all depends.
  2. Are you an animal lover?  What pets do you have and love?
    • Yes, no pets right now but our Grand-Dogs and a Stray Cat warm my ❤ regularly
  3. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    • Mr. Corbett; he was smart, strict and fun
  4. Have you ever had a bad habit you  broke?  What was it and how did you change it?
    • I’ve stopped asking for permission to enjoy myself!
  5. What is your favorite place to relax?  Explain where it is and why it helps.
    • Home or outside / outside at home / the beach!  I’m cozy at home and comfy outside, provided it’s not 95F+
  6. What is your favorite movie of all time?
    • One I watch every time it’s on is “Something’s Gotta Give.”  ~sigh
  7. Do you love to travel or do you hate it?  Why?
    • Love to travel for vacation and I tolerate business travel.
    • I love the coming & going, but I don’t love impatient flyers trying to fit a couch into the overhead compartment. Remember when flying used to be fun?
  8. Are you an organized or a disorganized person?
    • Organized. My grocery list is typed in the order of the store.  I admit it 😉
  9. Are you always late, early, or right on time?  Are there any advantages or disadvantages to your timing?
    • Always early. A disadvantage is that not everyone riding with me is ready on time!
  10. Do you create lots of blog posts in advance of publishing or do you do one at a time?
    • As they come to me
  11. What inspires you to create a blog post?
    • see answer to #1  😉

And here are your questions, friends:

  1. What’s a scent or fragrance that takes you back to summers as a child?
  2. What dessert item do you remember savoring at family reunions, parties or weddings?
  3. Name a song that makes you want to get up & dance.
  4. What ability do you wish you had and why?
  5. Who do you wish you could have a conversation with?
  6. And lastly, what are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“The Look”

Truth:

“The Look” from the 4′ 10 1/2″ dynamo known as our Mother had the power to:

  • Settle us down in Church,
  • Silence us at 4-H, piano lessons or team practice.
  • Threaten show tickets or a trip to the fair being revoked.

“The Look” had the ability to:

  • Break up a fight in the back of the Olds as she cruised down the highway.
  • Chide us silently,
  • Remind us where manners lived,
  • Tell us to “shut it” without saying a word and
  • Get us to sit up straight without so much as a touch.

Add Pink Curlers !

If you were lucky enough to have a Mother who wielded “the Look,” you were lucky indeed.

Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to the world’s greatest Mom, mine.

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Love, Mom, Thoughts, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random 5 Sunday ~ Hoarders, Deals and Stupid Ideas

It’s Sunday morning, the sun’s shining and we might * gasp * actually be seeing Spring today. I know, I know, we’re holding our breath because we woke up to snow Thursday.

To that end, it’s time again for 5 random thoughts, this time on a Sunday.

Ready?  Here we go:

1 ) Hoarders.  If I’m ever featured on an episode of Hoarders I’m blaming the books.   I’m not a shopper, hate the mall, and despise trying on clothes.  But click here to add one more book to my Amazon cart?  Oh, just one more nets me free shipping?  I’m in!   Many books have been devoured this past winter but this one is, hands down, my favorite:

2 ) Weekends.  A good part of the weekend is spent doing whatever I want to.  In the overly-scheduled world that is my work week, my soul craves an opportunity to goof off, waste time and accomplish absolutely nothing at all.  And I do.

“A mind preoccupied with planning plays homage to the idol of control.” – Sarah Young

3)  Stupid Ideas.  In my job I try to remain open to new ideas and different approaches.  But some ideas are simply stupid.  And stupid ideas are made stupider when brought up by those who should know better.  Except they don’t.  And, the older I get, the harder it is for me to stifle the snort a stupid idea commands. I’m working on it but let me just say, “Thank you, God, for the mute button!”  Snort Snort!

4 ) Deals  ~ about a month ago I was down with the flu – something positive that came out of that delirium was, in the midst of sleeping through watching morning T.V. shows, I learned of a cool site called MorningSave. Kind of like a buying group it’s a collection of all the “deals” featured on morning shows like “The Wendy Show,” the “Steve Harvey Show,” etc.   There are plenty of “deals & steals” on there, much of it is electronics (Bluetooth speakers, fitness gadgets, home security, portable phone chargers, etc),  fashion (handbags, jewelry), and personal items (watches, hair gadgets, skin care, teeth whiteners, etc) but here’s the skinny ~ most items are more than 65% off.    🙂

No chickens were harmed in this post

5 ) Saying Yes. I’ve written about the power of saying Yes.   And about how “no” is a sentence.   I’ve said “no” a lot over the past years.  Doing so has made room for Yes’s but I haven’t always said it.   I’ve enjoyed some time and some space without anyone in it.   Lately, I’ve started saying yes again — to things that challenge me – speaking opportunities, serving on advisory panels, putting myself out there to alleviate the boredom that comes with a little too much routine.  This has been soul-invigorating.  I’m not sky-diving or cliff jumping anytime soon, but pushing myself to say “yes” to opportunities that freak me out a little has brought something rewarding:  personal growth.

How about you? If you were featured on “Hoarders” what would it be for?  How do you like to waste time?  Heard any stupid ideas lately?   Got any new “finds” to share?  And lastly, what have you said “yes” to lately?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Seasons, Share, Technology, Thoughts, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Life sets us a challenge

I stood in the doorway, surveying the mess: about to sort and pack years of records in 24 hours.  My first reaction was shock.  Overwhelmed at the task before me, the next reaction was anger.   And finally, standing at the crux of the chaos, I felt sadness for what could have been.

Backstory:  an employee left so it was my job to sort through the ashes.  Literally.  Through the piles. The stacks. The dust. The dead flies and the mouse droppings. ** Cough Cough **.   Out-dated phone books, notes, scraps of paper, stacks in corners, corners unseen.  ** Cough Cough ** A rhythm developed ~ assemble box & lid, open drawer,  breathe, lean in and go.   ** Cough Cough ** The back of my hair, damp with sweat, black dress slacks brown with dust and debris.  Shaking my head at the “no jeans” policy ~ laughing because this was Hazmat worthy.

Sorting, stacking, cleaning, organizing:  Nearly 40 boxes to be shred, garbage cans overflowing and 7 – count ’em 7 – boxes to be moved /re-filed.   A sore back and stiff neck that linger still.

Asked how this could be done so rapidly my answer: “determination fueled by disbelief.”

I’ve recently made some self- care choices that, on the surface, appear inconsequential: I got a personal cell phone.   Next I exported all (18 -ha!) personal contacts from the work phone and moved them to mine.  Then I  deleted those same numbers and any personal apps, too.   Why?  This week reinforced something sobering ~ we are all replaceable.

It’s an adjustment to turn off the work phone Friday evening and not look at it again until Monday. I’m working through it.  Now, it’s the personal phone that accompanies me to the grocery store or out on a date night with hubbs.  And I like that, when checked, there are 2 messages instead of 60. The breathless 60 can wait.

Yes, it’s a small step that’s netting me peace of mind and the separation/boundaries I’ve been craving.

Life does not look back.  Life looks ahead ~ and leaps.

 

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”  Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

 

What self-care steps have you taken lately?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

R5S~ Peace, Joy and Progress

Random 5 Friday Sunday ~ here comes 2018, time to bid adieu to 2017.

1 ) Yesterday was that day of winter vacation – the day far enough past Christmas but closer to New Year’s  – the day when you can’t remember exactly what day it is or what you’re supposed to be doing … it’s a day I look forward to all year.  My day of “nothing” — nothing to do and all day to do it.  I slept in, drank a pot of coffee, read blogs, stayed in my fuzzy pants all day and cooked a wonderful stew in the pressure cooker.  A lovely shower, a bowl of stew, new fuzzy pants and blankets found me asleep in the chair by 9:30.    Today, I woke at 6:00 a.m., feeling like a million bucks.  Rest, a break from stress, schedule and chaos,  you can’t beat it.

2 )  Christmas with our boys and grands was just that – grand — we laughed, ate, played games, laughed some more, sang Christmas songs and told stories.   Gifts were exchanged and memories were made.    Love was in the air and it was the happiest of days!

3 )  Time off — I’ve not responded to most work emails, but have taken great delight in deleting any that aren’t applicable to  me; doing so has culled the volume. My job is demanding with many people pulling on me on a regular basis; making this small effort now lets me ease back in without resentment.   Value up!

4 ) Progress ~ in that picture on the left I was recovering from bronchitis (for the 5th time that year) and battling a lingering fever, body aches and chills throughout my Christmas holiday (ugh!) I read the 10 day Grain detox book  (accompanied by a cough, highlighter pen and sticky notes) and started a grain detox Jan 4 2016 — I have not been sick once – nothing – not even a cold – since — despite copious work stress, moving, the passing of my Mom, a heavy travel schedule and more.  Amazing!

*** 747 days without 1 sick day!*** I used to battle recurrent sinusitis and bronchitis, cold sores, frequent colds & the flu👍 Kick grains to the curb and feel your best within  days 👍😀. Amazing health can be yours!    An Emjayandthem (C) photo

5)  New Year’s Eve tonight ~  Friends are stopping by for a drink/appetizers before heading to an evening party. We’re staying in where it’s cozy; roads here are awful, temps hovering in the single digits.   I’m delighted to stay in, smooch my handsome hubby and ring in the New Year in the peace and comfort that is home!

Happy New Year!  Let’s surprise ourselves next year, shall we? 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life Lessons, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 for October – 665, pies and Free Fallin’

It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world.  Ready?  Set?  Go ->

1 )  665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day.  I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health.   Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis.   It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it.  I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick.  Amazing!   10 days became a lifestyle.

2 )  Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad.  He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice.   Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances.   Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.”   And there it is.   But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby.   Fathers come in many forms.

3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer.   Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns.  Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert.    You know what keeps me going?   Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~  I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world.      It’s good to have goals 🙂

My sister-in-law’s homemade Saskatoon berry pie.

5 )  Tom Petty.  RIP.   So many great songs, all sing-along-able.  This was and is a favorite.   “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.”   ~ Sigh

And how was your week?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Growth, Life Lessons, Men, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The price we pay

I’ve been absent, that much I know:  1 post in August, another in September.

I used to write almost daily. What happened?

I’d like to say life happened but that’s just not true.

Yes we’re busy.  Busy-busy-busy.  I am so sick of the word busy.

The truth is harder to admit out loud:  I. Miss. Her.

It’s been a year+ since she left.  It was time and believe me when I say I don’t want her to come back for things to be how they were in the end.

Just last week a colleague’s mother passed away and the grief paid a visit. A Tsunami wave of it so strong and deep I nearly lost my footing.

So many of my stories, experiences and thoughts have her intertwined throughout.

But.  She wouldn’t want this. She would not want this for me at all.

She would set her mouth in a firm way, frown and tell me, “it’s time.  You have to carry on.”

And so I do. I try.

Some days  are better than others.

Some days I forget to think of her.

Other days I dial into conference calls and try not to shout out loud “OH FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!” like she would have been tempted to had  she been there.

Some days I move around as though nothing happened.  As though the void of her passing wasn’t there.

Other days I prep the coffee maker to wake up and find I never added … water or coffee.

Some days.

Some days I laugh and chat with my sister and a memory makes us both giggle then gasp back tears, all at once.

Other days I can engage with humanity as though nothing happened.   Like the wound isn’t still gaping.

There’s a lesson for me here:  Grief has no timeline.

It’s real and raw and it’s why I haven’t even thought about writing.

Because to write now is writing in a world without her in it.

All that she was and all that she shared and encouraged in me – a love of reading and writing, of good books, breaking news, meandering conversations, being still and quiet,  political nuances, singing along to songs worth singing to, Sunday supper on the stove, and a home tidied with things in their place  – all that I love to do and 5 million more – are because of her.

God, I miss her.

  * * *

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

 

This song was one of her favorites ~ and it echoed one of her favorite Bible verses.  Sing with me will you?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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peace full home®—intentional living

making your home, your life and your world a place you love

Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...