Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dad's 78th birthday - and more changes ...

Change continues to be in the air for me. I got laid off. Then, my camera died. A couple of days later, my DVD player died. On Tuesday - horrors! - my laptop died. (I'm currently in the library computer lab so I can get some work done.) My cellphone is also on its last legs. Seems like all the electronics got together to conspire to "drink the Kool-Aid" and die in a mass suicide. I'm not so sure I believe they're all just inanimate objects any more ...

So ... Got a new camera and love it. Ordered a new Dell laptop yesterday in Spring Green with a wireless mouse, also in Spring Green. And Nick the 'puter guy is grabbing my data from my old laptop so we can load it when I get the new Dell.

It's just time for changes in my life. As one of my yoga teachers would say "Receive what you have been given." I've been given change and I have to accept and embrace it.

Another change: I had a great phone interview this morning with a company I've been wanting to work for for over a year! We've scheduled an in-person interview for this Monday at 4pm. Gotta buy a new outfit and new shoes, prepare myself for questions they may ask me, and write a list of questions I want to ask them. Wish me luck! I really, really want this one!

Dad's birthday

Tuesday was Dad's 78th birthday. I had a dinner for him at my place on Sunday complete with birthday cake. My brothers, sister-in-law, daughter and granddaughters were here along with Dad, his wife and her grandchildren. I always love it when our family gets together; it's a lively time with lots of laughter and teasing, great discussions and general fun.

Growing up, I remember Dad being tall and lanky, kinda like Clint Eastwood. He worked two jobs for as long as I could remember to provide for us. On a sunny afternoon, he'd sometimes lie in front of the front door where a pool of warm sunlight spilled onto the carpet. He always worked in the yard shirtless, his skin brown from the sun, sweat beads on his forehead, scars tracing his back. When we learned to ride two-wheelers, he was the one holding onto the bike and running with us until we didn't realize he'd let go and we were peddling on our own. The songs "Hang down your head, Tom Dooley" and "Working in a Coal Mine" always remind me of Dad; I think he sang them when we were little ... or maybe he played them on the radio since I don't remember Dad ever singing.

Dad's not the big, outgoing personality that Mom was. He's what anyone would call "a Good Man", a former Navy man, kind of reticent, hard-working, church-going, faith-filled. Oh, but what a wit! While Mom would be the center of attention with her funny stories, Dad would be standing at the back of the room with me, quipping about this or that and making me bust a gut laughing. He's full of expressions that make me laugh; my cousin laughingly remembers him talking about an unattractive woman as "looking like 40 miles of bad road!" He had a co-worker, Wrigley, that he used to tell stories about. One day, he called Wrigley a different name in the story and I asked him "isn't his name Wrigley?" Dad laughed and said that it wasn't; he called the guy Wrigley because he chewed gum all the time. Dad had names for everyone and I'm sitting here smiling at how he'd make up those names and make us laugh.

Dad worked in a foundry for his day job pouring molten metal. His blue Sears work shirts always had burn holes in them; his back was pocked with burns, too. He never complained. He'd rise very early, have his oatmeal, go to work with a big lunch Mom made for him, come home for a quick nap (the man could sleep at the drop of a hat, anywhere, any time), eat dinner, then head off for his 2nd job. With his and Mom's hard work, I was able to have ballet lessons, ballet costumes, piano lessons; my brother had trumpet lessons and a beautiful silver Besson trumpet. My younger brother was into sports and played in Little League. Whenever I sit down and play piano, I first say a blessing for my Mom and my Dad. Then I play one of my Mom's favorites, knowing that she's smiling in heaven.

If he'd had his druthers, he would've stayed in the Navy. He loved being at sea, being with his fellow seamen, out in the wide ocean with horizons as far as you could see. He served on the USS Ernest G. Small in the Korean War. On October 7, 1951, the ship hit an underwater mine, killing 9 and injuring 18 of Dad's friends. He was below and fortunately wasn't toward the front of the ship which was heavily damaged. The front bow eventually broke off as the ship traveled to safety. It was a tragic event; the ship earned 4 battle stars for her service in the Korean War.

Dad has always loved to swim, too. When my daughter was very young, we went with Mom and Dad to Hawaii and Dad spent hours in the water, floating on his back, the sun glistening on the water around him. He'd been stationed in Hawaii during his service and I remember a small glossy black-and-white print of Diamond Head that he had, along with other photos of him and his mates mugging for the camera.

I so love my Dad! The first man I ever loved, so good, so patient. Mom used to say that the only arguments they ever had were about us kids; Mom was the disciplinarian and Dad was the softie. Maybe because he was working so much and didn't get to/have to spend the time with us that Mom did? I loved to spend time with Dad growing up. Mom would try to teach me the home arts: cooking, embroidery, crocheting. I wasn't very good and she wasn't very patient, so she'd very quickly get upset and tell me to "go out in the yard and help your Dad!" Now, although I can't cook or sew, I'm a pretty good gardener and love to spend time in my little garden, thanks to Dad.

Dad could be a romantic. A friend of mine told me recently that she's always cherished the memory of seeing Mom and Dad holding hands when they'd attend our band or drill team events or football games. (They attended everything we ever did, and we were very busy in high school!) Her parents didn't do that and she always wished that they were more like my parents. I always remember Mom and Dad holding hands as we walked into church each Sunday, too.

A few years after Mom crossed over, Dad remarried. He has a busy life with his wife; they have a second home in the desert that they're always working on, and are very busy raising three of her grandkids. It was odd at first to think of Dad raising another family, but the kids are really good to him and help him out a lot.

As busy as they are, I don't get to see Dad a lot, but I call him each week and we talk and laugh. He still makes those quips that send me into gales of laughter and I can visualize his eyes twinkling on his end of the line. When he was here on Sunday, I gave him a long, tight hug to let him know how much I love him. Happy birthday, Dad! And may God grant you many more!

Monday, September 24, 2007

shifts and changes ... part II

Around the end of July, I could already sense that there were shifts directly ahead in my life. Something in the air, in my spirit ... do you know the feeling? A sense of anticpation, a whiff of change, a slight thrill of expectation.

I'd felt a job change was imminent; I was working long days, accomplishing a lot, and although I loved the internal customers on whose behalf I worked, things just felt "off", out of alignment. Change came on August 13 when my position was eliminated and I was laid off. Change happens and we either chafe at it and shake our fists at the sky or we embrace it and see it as an opportunity. I'm a bit of a Polyanna ("Let's play the Glad Game!"), so I was actually excited to see what new opportunity lay ahead for me for the next phase of my career.

I really want to get back into Web/Interactive management; I find it so creative and challenging and I know the work so well. I am passionate about the customer experience and marketing results: how people interact with online media, how they make the choices they make as they use a Web site, is the information organized well? is the interface optimized for superior performance? are the buttons placed logically in a way most users have learned? are there any copy errors? (As a copywriter/editor, copy errors are a big pet peeve of mine. If a web site can't get something as simple as spelling correct, it impacts users' perceptions about the rest of the company and their product.)

There's another shift coming along: my daughter and son-in-law have bought their first home. Instead of being just 12 minutes from me, they'll soon be an hour away. Currently, I go visit with them and my granddaughters (mostly my granddaughters) every Tuesday. On Fridays, I take my granddaughters to dinner and we hang out afterward. On Sundays, it's church or breakfast. Things will be changing, but we'll find a way to still make the most of our time together. The new house is big and wonderful and move-in ready. Plus, it's an incredible buy and has stunning views of the lake and the mountains. I was close to tears with happiness for my daughter and her famly when we went to the new home for the inspection on Saturday. Their first home! Another shift for all of us ...
And now, the world itself is shifting, shifting into fall. What a wonderful time! After the excitement and activity of the summer, we pause and breathe, slowing down as nature adjusts her tempo and we take notice of the changing temperatures, the changing light. I have crystals hanging in my living room window (another Polyanna idea!). When fall comes and the sun shifts down toward the equator instead of being directly overhead, the rays hit the prisms and rainbows dance all over my living floor and walls. When the girls were younger, I'd tell them the rainbows were angels come to play. "Look, Nana! There's an angel on your arm!" they'd laugh delightedly. The sun also comes through the narrow sidelight in my entry, casting an eerie, comforting light in the entry area. Change is in the air. Do you feel it?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

shifts and changes ... part I

Since I'm in a new neighborhood now, I feel that I should re-introduce myself and share a bit about the shifts and changes going on in my life.

I am:
  • a mom with one wonderful daughter who is my heart,
  • a Nana with two sparkling granddaughters, 10 and 7, who light up my life
  • a mother-in-law with a great son-in-law,
  • a daughter (my Dad is alive and will be 78 on Tuesday; Mom crossed over in 1990 and we all miss her incredible personality and abundant love),
  • a sister with two amazing brothers; when we're together, the conversation and laughter is non-stop; I love them both so much! I have a sister-in-law who is wonderful and generous and so good and ever-loving to my brother.
  • a friend with deep, close relationships with people who have walked into my life and share my journey with their love and support
  • a cousin and niece to a wonderfully connected family; with each passing year, I treasure my relationships with my cousins more and more

Those are some of the people in my life. I also have an ex-sister-in-law who I love very much; she is like a younger sister to me.

I play piano; not really well and I can't play by ear, but I sightread passably well and I love to sit and play my favorites with all the windows open and the ocean breeze caressing my skin as it flows through my small townhome. My neighbor, Steve, will sometimes yell across the fence "Play some more Elton John!"

I studied ballet for about 10 years and I am passionate about dance. When my daughter was growing up, I bought tickets for the ballet season each year at our performing arts center; now I go with one of my treasured friends. We see dancers from companies around the world, sip champagne at intermission and people-watch the Russian balletomanes when the Russian dance companies perform. The Russians come dressed in fur coats and smoke cigarettes at intermission, their Russian words filling the air along with their smoke.

I've also studied ballroom dance and salsa, performing in two amateur salsa groups. After one performance, our director called me back onstage and introduced me to everyone as a grandmother! Wild applause - I don't know whether for my dancing or for being brave enough to get up there with a group of 20-somethings!

I currently study yoga, the physical side as well as the philosophical/spiritual side. Yoga has been an incredible experience for me in terms of managing some health issues. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1995 and it's been a journey to learn how others deal with the constant pain and to find ways that I can manage it. Last year, I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis and transitional vertebrae, which means I have some vertebrae that have shifted forward out of alignment with the spinal column and press on the spinal nerves, and other vertebrae that fused together, probably as a baby, which could explain the scoliosis that I have. The doctors mentioned extensive spinal surgery to address the problems, but I just increased my yoga practice and went for more aggressive, twice-weekly chiropractic care which has made a huge difference in my mobility and pain levels. No knives for this girl! I love my yoga and feel incredible after 90 minutes of sweating and working and getting in touch with where my body is each day. I hope that what works for me can also help others who have pain and health issues.

... to be continued ...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

taking a look around ...

Well, this looks like it'll make a fine new home for my thoughts and words. I'm moving in here, unpacking my boxes and arranging the furniture here at my new blog home.
I've had a blog at MSN Spaces since May 13, 2005, but I'm going through a lot of life shifts right now and I think it's time to find a new blog home, too. Spaces has been nice, but my old laptop (six years old! ancient for computers!) is just having a hard time at Spaces and acts really quirky. Time for a change.
I'll probably be moving some of my old posts here, so please bear with me if you've read them on Spaces previously. I'll also be posting new thoughts, as well, hopefully something interesting or thoughtful. Tomorrow, I'll tell you a little more about me and about the shifts in my life that are occuring. Change is good!