Friday, October 30, 2009

This work thing is kinda cool!

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.”
Benjamin E. Mays

Today is my day off. I did a bunch of paperwork, all the emailing and phone calls that I didn’t have time to do during the week, prepared my paperwork for next week. You know, a day off!

This afternoon I took Grace to Baker Beach. It had been quite a while and she was long overdue. It’s a beautiful thing to see her at the beach. She just runs on the sand, jumps in the water, chases her toy and other dogs, totally happy and free.

As I stood there I realized that I pretty much felt the same way. After a long period of being practically without work, I’m finally getting busy and it’s changing my whole outlook on things.

As I walked on the beach, I let my mind wander, I thought about my Mom and her elections for a while and about how beautiful the Marin Headlands were. I thought about my husband and his event he’s going to tomorrow, and about my groups and where I’m going with each of them.

I thought about the apartment and how I want to decorate it, and about whether or not I should buy a scooter. I thought about anything and everything without real focus, just enjoying the sun, the waves and the breeze.

Every once in a while I would stop to laugh at Grace, or to fetch her toy. You see she will chase the toy, but not bring it back. When she does, she drops it 25-30 steps behind me so that I have to backtrack and grab the thing to throw it again. I have a feeling that when she meets other dogs on the beach she goes something like: “How’s your human doing? Mine has been fetching all afternoon.” Oh well…

The point of all this is, I’ve been totally enjoying my day off. There is no anxiety, no guilt because for once in about 2 years, I feel like I deserved a day off. I’m tired from doing stuff rather than being tired from sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. I feel like I contributed to the world rather than living on the side track, watching it go by.

Sure the money part is great. I bought a dress, a neat cardigan and a new purse this week. More new stuff than I bought in the last 3 months, and I’m still not in the red! I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, it will take me a long time to recover from the last 2 years, and still the money isn’t even half of it. I’m just not built for unemployment. I’m happier when I’m busy, I function better under pressure.

This inactivity period has been hard on me. The more I sit around the more I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m a strong believer in the inertia law: A body which is moving tends to keep on moving; a body which is at rest tends to remain at rest.

Well I’m moving; I’m alive! Beware San Francisco, nothing’s stopping now! AH!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All in a dress

Yesterday I went to Oakland for work and got there a little early. The BART station is next to a Plaza where I used to shop when I first moved to the Bay Area so I roamed around, looking at the shops, noting which were still there, which were gone. As I turned a corner I found out that the Dress Barn store was still there. Hum, I do need work clothes…

I went in and didn’t find the tops I was looking for, but I did find a dress that I fell in love with. It’s all wrong for me, very geometric, horizontal stripes on my upper body, really not the dress for me. Still I tried it and lo and behold, loved it!

Today I decided to wear my new dress to work. I put it on, and somehow it didn’t seem to look as good as it did in the store. I was going to take it off, but decided against it. It didn’t look any different, my attitude was different. My insecurities were taking over. “I love the dress and I’m wearing it, so THERE!” I added a fitted jacket that I love, my favorite orange silk scarf, jewelry, make up, my cute little flat shoes, to be honest, I thought I was looking pretty darn good. That in itself is extremely rare.

So I got on the bus with my basket full of goodies and my faithful red wheeled luggage and found a safe seat that I could hold on to all the way to the end of the line. A few rows behind me there was a guy holding a long conversation with himself out loud, which I ignored at first. He was apparently courting somebody, and I didn’t want to turn around to see who the poor person was.

A few stops down, a group of young kids came on with several adults. The ranting guy’s monologue kept going sometimes getting rather crude, sometimes aggressive, sometimes singing John Lennon songs. The more he went on, the more the kids were moved to the front of the bus. It was crowded, the dude was loud, my gear was heavy, not a fun ride. People were giving me weird looks now and then, but I though it had to do with the basket full of goodies and ignored it.

Then we hit Stockton Street, China Town. Everybody got off the bus except me, the ranting dude and an older man who was sitting just in front of me. I heard the guy behind me move up until he sat right behind me. I finally realized why people were giving me looks; he was apparently talking to me. Great! He asked me out, asked me to go for dinner with him, asked me to marry him. It went on and on, the guy in front of me turned around so he could keep an eye on the whole thing. I got off at Montgomery and the crazy guy did too. He did not follow me however.

I got to the building where I was working, the security guard, who is always nice, greeted me with “You look stunning today”. Then I got upstairs and the first person I met said “Oh I love your scarf, actually your whole outfit is stunning”. Then the conversation kind went on about how cute it looked, and how a nice outfit can just make your day.

On the way home the bus driver (whom I see regularly since I take that line every day) looked at me and said “Oh, you look lovely today”.

I think I’m going to buy 4 more of that same dress and wear it every day!! AH!

I think that it’s true that making a little extra to look good can totally make your day. It’s not about having expensive clothes, or the latest in anything, I think it’s just about finding your own style and take one little extra step, a scarf, a pair of earrings you love, a comfy sweater… or a new dress!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It’s ok to disagree

My mother in law left today to go back home. I was very happy to see her of course, because of monetary considerations, and the cost of visiting my family all the way to East Canada, my husband tend to visit her without me and I tend to visit my family without him. My Mom visits us regularly but it was the first time my mother in law visited us.

I do care deeply for her, but I was also very nervous. You see, she is VERY Christian and I’m not. To her everything is about “the lord”, absolutely everything. For example if she is looking for her keys and finds them, the lord brought them to her. It is very important for her to follow the teaching of the bible, and she clearly expects her sons to share her faith.

During this trip she told me, several times, about one of her son’s ex (not my husband) who was a “Wicca” and about how she was so happy when the girl walked away to never come back. I had heard the story before, many times. At this point in my life I’m not really sure what I am. I lean strongly toward paganism. The philosophy suits me, the rituals not so much. I believe that all religions are different people’s representations of the same thing: The search of a connection to the driving force of life, of existence. I believe that all religions have the same value, that good is good, that bad is bad, and the difference shouldn’t be based on a book written hundreds of years ago.

So, religiously and politically I am miles away from her, so is my husband. He has never told her about his beliefs though (which are different than mine) and didn’t think it was worth telling her about mine. In his mind it would only hurt her and worry her, so it wasn’t worth it.

I agreed with him, but it did pose a problem: I am a horrible liar. Every time we visited with her I did my best not to get stuck alone with her. I knew that one day she would say something about “the lord” that would make me react before thinking. I did try to be discreet about it, but I have to admit I was avoiding her. Add to that the fact that I will not talk to her on the phone because I just can’t understand her and she can’t understand me…

When her husband passed away I realized that her faith was an anchor, a strength for her and for the first time I understood why sometimes it’s better to believe in something (no matter how wrong I think it is) than to stand alone. I got to know her a little more and to respect her a lot. She might seem frail, but she is stronger than she looks! We got closer every time we met.

So fast forward to this trip, she is coming here in our little apartment. There is nowhere for me to run to, nowhere to hide. I had made the decision before she got here that I would not hide. My “subversive books” about paganism, about, mythology and fairies and even a few erotic books are on the shelves for anybody to see. I didn’t go out of my way to point them out, but I refused to hide them. This is my place, my home, I will not hide here. If she saw them she never mentioned them, but I was very aware that most of them were right in the office where she kept her stuff.

The first part of the trip was very difficult for me. I had a job interview the day she came in and it didn’t go well, so I started stressed out right from the start. Everything we saw on TV seemed to put me on dangerous ground and I didn’t dare say anything about anything for fear of offending her. I took several deep breaths, and kept my mouth shut.

In the middle of her visit, my husband took her to visit a relative in Bakersfield leaving me at home. Finally alone, I slept in, did a few things, but mainly did a lot of thinking. I realized that I was the cause of my anxiety, not her. I was putting fences where there were none.

Earlier in the week we had seen something about homosexuals, I don’t remember what, but I remember her statement: “If one of my sons was gay, I would not stop loving him. I would be sad because the bible says it’s wrong, but I would not stop loving him.” At first that statement made me want to roll my eyes, but thinking about it, I realized that I had it all wrong. She wasn’t condemning homosexuals, on the contrary, she was saying that they were still worthy of love. I disagree with her religious beliefs, I disagree with the moral boundaries put forth by her religion, but I do love her, and I see that she is able to think beyond the book.

From then on, after they came back from Bakersfield, I dared give my opinion. The difference is that I worded it differently. On Dr Phil we saw a show about a woman who was trying to convert her Jewish husband to her Christian ways. Thinking it over, it wasn’t about the woman being a Christian; it was about her trying to force her husband to abandon his faith. That’s what I disagreed with, and that’s how I worded it. Wouldn’t you know it, she agreed!

We talked much more freely after that. The pressure was off, sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn’t but I took the time to word my points carefully, and respected the fact that her beliefs were different than mine, and we had a great weekend together!

I still didn’t sit her down to tell her about my faith, but it’s no longer because I’m afraid of her reaction, but rather because it’s irrelevant. I love her for who she is, and I do think she loves me for who I am. She might find out one day, and when it happens we’ll deal with it, but until then, I’ll be happy to disagree peacefully! ;op

On her way home today her plane got delayed to the point where she got to Kansas City after the last shuttle for Columbia had left. Thankfully we learned about it early on and my husband spent hours on the phone trying to find a solution. Finally I found the phone number of one of her neighbor who offered to go get her all the way to Kansas City. When my husband told his mom about it she said: “I knew the lord would find a way”… my husband couldn’t keep from noting “Well, I did.”

Its ok baby, “I” know you did all the work, deep down so does she… :o)

Of course when she called just now to say she was home finally she had to add “I’m sure happy that the lord told you to call my friend”… We did laugh, but respectfully. *grin*

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nighttime walk, we're taking over Seacliff!

Tonight Grace and I hit the pavement for our late night walk. Of course late night for us is 9:30pm or so, we go to bed early. It was a beautiful night for walking, crisp but not really cold. The night sky was clear and the moon and the stars were bright even with the surrounding city lights.

We kept a good pace the whole time. We have several route that we take depending on how long I want to walk, how windy it is, and if I want to sneak a peak in the rich people’s houses, or if I’d rather mix with the Geary street night life (or is it wild life?). My life is so exciting isn’t it?

Today I followed California Street to the corner of 32nd Avenue and then headed north toward the mansions of the Seacliff area. I walked to El Camino Del Mar, and then down to Seacliff all the way to 26th Avenue and then back up. It’s not a long walk, about 30 minutes, but more than half of it is close enough to the cliffs so that we can clearly hear the waves and get a few good looks at the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay.

The first part of that walk is simple; the hope is that the dog will do her business before we run out of trash cans. You see, rich people don’t believe in trash cans apparently and I’m not into walking around with the deed. Anyway, Grace dutifully proceeded in due time and then we were off to enjoy our walk.

First we met an older woman who was walking a perfectly groomed Mini Schnauzer. The lady seemed intimidated by Grace so I told her not to worry, Grace is very friendly. Well, I guess her Schnauzer didn’t hear me because he blew a gasket at Grace, barking and growling and carrying on. Grace just stood there looking at him like “Dude, you’ve lost your mind” but he wouldn’t stop. As we walked past the little devil bit Grace a little on the behind! Grace turned around and bared her teeth growling. She can look scary when she wants to; the other dog decided suddenly that he had other things to do.

We returned to our walk me laughing to myself and Grace prancing proudly. She sure showed him!

As we turned on 32nd Avenue, I was looking in the houses, not so much as the people, but at the rooms themselves. If I’ve learned anything in the last 5 years, it’s that sometimes it’s just not worth it to cage yourself up financially just to be able to say “it’s mine!” Those houses are worth a lot of money, even now, and honestly, they aren’t even that big, or that great. I’d rather rent an apartment and have someone to call if sometimes goes wrong thank you.

Tension on the leash shook me out of my reverie. Grace was staring at something ahead of us, another dog. I shortened the leash and reminded her to behave, but apparently it wasn’t necessary. The woman walking the other dog took one look at us and crossed the street to avoid us. I guess we looked scary or something. How weird! She did look scared too. Grace and I literally looked at each others, I shrugged and off we go.

The rest of the walk went on as usual, peak at Robin William’s house, will I see him again? Nope, no head sticking out tonight. His house is where several streets meet and the noise of the waves is very loud when to get to that point. Even Grace looked around like “there’s a beach close, can we go?”

We did meet a man who was walking two little cocker spaniels; cute little dogs and friendly too. We had a dog party for a few minutes and off we went running up the hill, one last lap around the block for a last call on doing the deeds, and inside we went for the night.

Every night it’s a dilemma: who’s walking the dog? Honestly I flake out of it very often. My husband is good enough to do it most nights. When I step up and do it though, I really enjoy it. We have a beautiful neighborhood and the walkways are large and generally in good condition, so it makes it all the more fun to walk around.

More than that though, every walk is like an adventure. Grace and I become great explorers roaming the neighborhood in the hope of discovering hidden treasures. We run, we tiptoe around, we chat (yes we do!), we dance around, we stop to look at the moon, we sit together on a bench and listen to the waves…

One night that we were dancing and running around a woman who was walking across the street told me “You know this is not that kind of a neighborhood”. I had to laugh, “You mean it’s not a neighborhood where we can play and be happy? Then it should be!”

Me n Grace are taking over Seacliff, if you don’t like it, move to Tiburon! Right? As I turn to her for confirmation, she's asleep beside me on the couch, her face smooshed in my hip, snoring loudly and her paws twitching. There she goes, off adventuring without me. AH!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fear isn't always that scary!

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” FDR

Today I was training my friend on the computer system that we will use from now on at Weight Watchers. After years of doing all the tallying by hand, we’ve got computers to do it. Finally!

My friend isn’t a computer user, as a matter of fact, she got scared when we were first trained this summer and chose to quit rather than having to learn how to use the system. I was convinced that she was perfectly able to do it, but… she still ended up quitting for a while, and then the launch was pushed back and she came back for a while. I was not about to let her quit again!

I think I took the right approach. Little by little I explained to her how easy it was to work with, and how I KNEW she was able to do it. Finally, she agreed to give it a try. So today was the day.

I didn’t want to overwhelm her, so I just got her started on the training program on the computer, and let her work her way through. I was there to help out, but didn’t hurry to do so. She would call out “I’m stuck again!” and then would add “Oh, I figured it out, all by myself!.” So much for being “not good enough to learn this kind of stuff.”

We have been working together for several years now, not only are we very good friends, but we’re also a heck of a team. I know that she loves working that meeting, and I love working it with her (I drive 40+ minutes early Sunday morning for 1 meeting!!!) but she would have quit on it because she was afraid to try something that obviously, she’s perfectly able to do.

There’s a lesson right there: Fear should not be enough to turn you around from something you really want to do. It’s a warning to be careful, to prepare, but if you fail to try because you’re scared, you’ll never do anything and you might end up losing important opportunities.

More than that, fear generates fear. If I didn’t dare try that computer program, maybe I shouldn’t think that I can learn this new language. Maybe I shouldn’t travel alone, maybe… Next thing you know you’re afraid of everything.

The opposite is true also, one courageous feat leads to another. If I was able to get myself through college successfully, maybe I can actually be brave enough to move to the States. If I managed to move across the continent, learn a new language, I’ll be darn if I can’t stop smoking! Pffft, if I could do THAT, then I bet I can lose weight and learn to take care of myself. Next thing you know, everything is possible!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fearless, nobody is. The people who seem brave aren’t fearless, they only faced their fear once, with great enough results that they decided to do it again, and again. Being brave isn’t about playing chicken with a train, or putting your hand in a campfire, it’s about deciding to give a computer program that intimidates you a try and working your way through it until it works. :o) Cheri rocks!