The Almighty Dollar

It’s no secret that many people are motivated by the almighty dollar.  It can sometimes drive them to distraction, make their head spin, and keep them up at night.  Me too.  But I’m not talking about THAT almighty dollar.  I’m talking about the dollar I found in the parking lot of the mall during the Christmas return season.

Not kidding you…it seemed innocent enough on an incredibly bitter cold day hustling back to my car to just scoop down on the run and snatch that crumbled up dollar bill and throw it in my purse.  I was the only one in the parking lot because I am that kind of crazy when I need to just get something done.  Who cares if it’s 2 degrees?  I know 2 degrees is like summer in some parts of the world, frankly I don’t know why people live in those parts, but here it’s a bit unusual. Anyway I wanted my return out of my house because I had already moved it from one spot to the other fifty times. As I slammed the car door against the cold and started up the engine, heated seats, heated steering wheel  (I know I should stop my bitching right?)  I looked around to see if anyone was in the parking lot and it was practically deserted except for one of the small buses that usually come and go.

So I’m out of there.  But over the next couple of weeks I can’t stop thinking about this crumpled up dollar bill.  It was crumpled up so perfectly like someone had been clutching it.  Or perhaps it was stuffed in a pocket and when they pulled out their glove it fell without them even knowing it. Maybe it belonged to a child.  Or one of the many patrons that came to the friendly mall on the small bus.  Every time I went in for my keys my finger would brush up against this little dollar bill.  The scenarios in my head began to drive me to distraction, make my head spin and keep me up at night.  I know what you’re thinking, it’s completely irrational I agree.  There’s no way one can walk back in the mall and say did anyone lose a dollar bill?  It’s not like a bunch of keys for God sake…

So a few weeks go by and I start to forget about it, I never put it in my wallet it just found its way deeper into my bag.  Then one day I’m coming out of the grocery store and there are two boys collecting (begging) for the Northern Highlands baseball team.  I’m so embarrassed that I don’t have any cash, well only twenties from the ATM (love the team, not THAT much) so I apologize and move along to my car.  Half way there I remember the crumbled dollar bill…you best believe I ran it back to the boys and slept like a baby that night. Whew paid forward.


February 3rd

Today is our birthday.  No I don’t know exactly when they were born but the girls came to me on 11-3-08 at approximately 18-19 months old, or so the vet thought, so do the gizzintas… Now just Toti and I celebrate together.  She gets a special treat and I get to stay in my pajamas until 2 (even on a work day).

My text message alert, my IM alert, Facebook alert, email alert, IG alert all have different ring tones so this morning sounded like a symphony of love. Complete with crescendo, overture and finale. I am grateful for every one of those notes.

I get to hear people’s actual voices, on the phone, that I haven’t heard in a while.  My heart is bursting at the sound of Ki, and Bev, and of course, Rere, Terri, and Sandra.

Words are powerful, and poignant, and blessed and abundant.  For every word of love on this day (and during these weeks!) I am grateful.  The words came from near and far, from those I see every day or only once in a while. They came over social media and over dinner tables. They came with pictures and cartoons and gifs.  They came with reminders of where I’d been and what I’d accomplished and they came with the hope of another wonderful year ahead.

Google knows it’s my birthday.  It took me a minute to realize it, I don’t know how exactly (clearly I have my own algorithm), I’m not sure if I’m freaked out about it or not.  But they know…

I am officially of retirement age.  Oh don’t worry I’m not leaving the best gig in the company until they throw me out, tap me on the shoulder and tell me it’s over. They might very well think I’ve already retired, I’m that far under the radar.  Well if they sweetened the pot I might consider it but those days seem to be over.

Top it all off with dinner with those nearest and dearest and damn it was a day to remember.  Because February 3rd hasn’t always been the best day of my year, there have been times when I could have stayed in bed (fat chance of that now, thankfully) and not many would have noticed but if you do your life’s work well you’ll be rewarded with all of these wonderful reminders of how your legacy is shaping up.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this day so special. Ubuntu; I am because of you.

Saint Inertia

Patron Saint of those who have a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged… you know who you are. There could be any number of reasons for this but if you rely on physics:

…a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

You being the “matter” the external force well, a gentle kick in the ass comes to mind. For no other reason than you’re bitching about it, without ever once having made a move to change it.  Not seeking an external force in the way of, oh let’s call it HELP. Or change of scenery, or tweaking, or reading, or learning, or left turn, or exertion (there’s a patron saint for this too), or something other than what you’re doing now.

This seems to be testing my patience at an ever increasing rate and frankly I’m beginning to question the word patience as my guiding principle for this year. Somehow the universe is sending me situation after situation with a “let’s see what she does with this one” attitude.

But I’m not biting. Nope, can’t make me. Not gonna do it. What I am going to do is let go (see previous post) of all the people places and things I feel compelled to fix. Listen I have found myself at the altar of Saint Inertia on more than one occasion, once for almost eighteen years so I get it but it sucked. It took all those kinds of help listed above to break free and I’m still harnessing external forces because this Saint has some serious staying power if you let her in. She’s a force to be reckoned with but it’s worth the effort. My sister is using what she calls the GYST (get your shit together) method and it seems to be working for her.

Allowing yourself to remain in her grasp will kill you, it robs you of sleep, effects your finances, your performance in almost every aspect of your life, it puts on weight or takes it off too damn fast (I should only have that problem), it makes you believe this is where you’re supposed to be, and it’s NOT. It’s the equivalent of walking on thin ice every day of your life without realizing it. STOP IT before you fall through and drown.

So. When someone rolls their eyes at you, connect.  When someone asks you if they can help, let them. If someone pays you a compliment, believe them.  If anything happens other than your norm, give it a try. That’s called saying yes.

You might not have to go running back to the altar of Saint Inertia for forgiveness.  You might actually take a baby step. It’s true. It could happen. You might wind up changing…with the tiniest bit of help from Saint Exertion. Now she’s got GYST.

On Letting Go

In 2017 I resolved to let go of people, places and things that I would feel compelled to fix. Mind you there usually isn’t a request for me to fix something/anything I just feel, well, compelled.  I don’t want to feel responsible for the care and feeding of anyone but me for the foreseeable future.  I do, however, reserve the right to jump back in if I can’t help myself.

In order to do that I need to listen more and speak less.  It’s true that on some occasions I speak louder with silence than I do with words. That is if anybody notices.

This has been an interesting (in the there’s more under the surface kind of iceberg analogy of interesting) week for me. It provided an opportunity to put my new found listen (or in this case read) more, talk less technique to the test.

To put some historical perspective on this, several years ago the world lost a fabulous human being.  I was incredibly lucky to call him mentor and friend, as were many, but even more I was privileged to become family. When he passed away a small group of colleagues who felt the loss especially deeply bonded together over their grief and love of this man. We became a club which by definition is an association dedicated to a particular interest or activity. And that we were, until we weren’t.

As is the fate of many clubs this one met less and less often and seemed to lose track of its original purpose which was to emulate the man.  To emulate this man was to laugh, chide and hold each other accountable when one or another got outta hand.  It was not unusual to hear him say, what the hell is wrong with you, or snap out of it, or just plain WHATTT, and pull you back into reality.  He understood reality, things change, time marches on, and you can either go with it or bitch about it.  He wasn’t a fan of bitching about it.

And so when the “reminder” (complete with copy of the obit) came over email that he would be gone seven years this Saturday my spine twisted.  First, no shit.  Second, I am the last one that needs to be reminded of that because I am still living the legacy he gifted me.  Here on Stowe Lane we say his name every day, there is no better legacy than that.

Then there is the inevitable let’s get together, but I can’t. I just can’t. I’ve come to know that I can no longer listen to the same conversation over and over as it does nothing to help me (it does nothing to help them) it makes me feel “compelled”.  It is completely contrary to the man.

Don’t get me wrong he loved a good piece of gossip, what’d ya hear…but he laughed at it and moved on.  And so when the angst started showing through and the lists of people who had been wronged made its way into the email stream I knew that the intent of the get together was not going to be to celebrate the impact he had on our lives but to discuss the perceived slow and painful decent of the company (a company that has been good to me because he showed me how it worked).  WHATTTTT?

And so I said nothing.  I was silent. I have loved these people the better part of my career and they are still in my heart for the support they provided me when I needed it, but if I’m going to move into the third act of my life in the coming years I can’t bring this with me. I just can’t, especially since the silence went unnoticed. You are missed my friend…


Generally I’m not one of those people who chooses a “word” each year but this year a word seems to have chosen me.  Patience.   My mother is famous for calling patience a virtue, I’m calling bullshit on that.   I’m going more with Aristotle’s point of view, patience is excruciating, but worth it.

So far this year, another hospital stay for Mom that looked as if it might be the last. But…Phoenix that she is, she’s actually back in rehab where she’s the bell of the ball as you know by now. Some interesting things have come out of this latest adventure, talk of nursing homes, better hydration, walking more or if you want to go home you need help.  Wait for it…she’s in agreement on several of those points.  Nursing home, not so much…she’s more a worker than a spender. The conversations were delicate, the consensus took a bit more than the usual minute but the outcome was worth it.

It has been bitter cold, snowy for a spell but mostly cold. My walking ritual was interrupted and the stir crazies set in much quicker than they ever have.  I’m more a winter person than summer but this is excruciating.

In anticipation of what might have been, and her direct orders, I began poking around in boxes and dressers and cabinets and cubbies at Mom’s tiny apartment. Bring home the jewelry, bring home the coins, give so and so the whatever, make sure you grab the other thing.  Patience, patience patience…which led me to thinking about my house and the interesting annual ritual they have in Sweden called “death cleaning”.  Go through your home as if…  Would you need to place undue burden on your loved ones (aka you know who) after you’re gone?

And so today begins the sorting and purging of papers and blah blah in my own home.  It’s a whirlwind around this little place on Stowe Lane but…definitely worth it

Patience: what doesn’t kill you.