Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finding Joy

heart shaped boxThe further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that in ordinary.   Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe.  Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are.  ~Mark Nepo

I heard an interview recently with Mark Nepo in which this passage was read.  I have thought a lot about it over the past few weeks and I purchased the Kindle version of Mark’s book The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. 

The above is an excerpt from a larger passage in which Mark talks about being able to find joy in small things. 

So many of us have been trained to think that being particular about what we want is indicative of good taste, and that not being satisfied unless our preferences are met is a sign of worldliness and sophistication. I remember being at a party where a woman wouldn’t accept her drink unless it was made with a certain brand of vermouth. She was, in fact, indignant about it. Or going to dinner with a colleague who had to have his steak prepared in a complex and special way, as if this particular need to be different was his special public signature.  Or watching very intelligent men and women inscribe their circle of loneliness with criteria for companionship that no one could meet.  I used to maintain such a standard of excellence around the sort of art I found acceptable.

Often, this kind of discernment is seen as having high standards, when in actuality it is only a means of isolating ourselves from being touched by life, while rationalizing that we are more special than those who can’t meet our very demanding standards.

The devastating truth is that excellence can’t hold you in the night, and, as I learned when ill, being demanding or sophisticated won’t help you survive.  A person dying of thirst doesn’t ask if the water has chlorine or if it was gathered in the foothills of France.  

As I said, this has made a huge impact on me recently.  My attitude over the last few weeks has been poor and this passage keeps coming back to me, reminding me of what is important in my life.  Reminding me there is joy.

I think about some of my favorite times in life, many of which I have written about here.  I go immediately to the memories of being on my grandparent’s farm.  My sister reminded me last week of the sounds of the frogs and crickets at night outside the window.  I remember the sunshine and cool breeze coming through the open window beside the daybed while the old metal fan swung from side to side.  The smell of my grandmother making breakfast early in the morning.  Picking blackberries, chasing fireflies at dusk, coke floats on a hot summer night, huge country style meals with hot biscuits and homemade strawberry jelly, swinging on the grapevines from big flat rock to big flat rock to get down to the lake, jumping from the hayloft and climbing in the corncrib.

These days, as I sit in the sunroom with my windows open, a soft breeze blows in the warm late afternoon and that feeling returns, the feeling that I realize now is joy.  I am reminded that there is joy every day that I miss because I have been too busy looking at the negative of every day life.  The hot coffee in my favorite cup from Anthropologie, meeting friends for a quick chat at our favorite coffee shop, riding in the car through the country while a friend introduces me to where she grew up and shares the memories from each house or store or creek along the road, stopping at an old drive-in for hot crinkle cut fries and a homemade banana milkshake, meeting my daughter for a margarita and people watching on the square, my son posting a quote from his favorite childhood book on my facebook wall – “I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be”.

I hope I always remember to recognize and appreciate the joy that is there in life every day.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I've never been here before . . . not knowing what I want out of life. Knowing I don't want to be here but not having a clue which way to go. No ideas whatsoever. Such unfamiliar territory.

I have always had an idea of where I wanted to go with my life. Not really goals or defined steps but a general idea of what I wanted and a dedication to trusting the Universe to take me there.  I am not a planner but it works for me.

When I was younger I knew I wanted to teach, to get married and to have children. That's exactly what happened although the route to get there was not one I could ever have planned. Most of my life has been that way. Not necessarily the way I would have planned it but mostly perfectly interesting and amazing.

I've had a lot of different jobs in my life that were not in the plan but I loved most of them and I learned something from all of them that I took to the next job.  I usually had some idea of what I wanted to do next, beyond the job I had  at the time and sometimes I was pleasantly surprised by a job offer that turned out to be just perfect for me.  The one thing that never worked . . . me looking for a job.  Somehow, when I was unhappy and went looking for jobs outside the company I worked for, it never worked out.   I learned to just trust that it would all work out and it always did, much better than I could have planned.

I was raised to want more, to learn and grow and to move up in your position.  When I was a teacher, I wanted to be an assistant director.  When I was the assistant director, I wanted to be the director.  And so on, and so on, and so on.  I have worked for the same company for almost 30 years, all of my adult life.  I have been in my current position for 14 years.  The next step up is a VP position which I have been interested in before and have even applied for twice in the last 7 years.  I'm not really interested in that position anymore and thankful someone else got the job instead of me.

That's the problem.  I have no goals for my career any more.

I never write about my job here.  It's something I don't believe in doing.  But I'm not really writing about my company or my job in this post.  It's more about where I am in my life right now.  There are a lot of people that I work with that read this blog and this is in no way related to our company.  It's ALL about me. :)

Part of it, I think, is related to turning 50.  I am looking back at my life and wondering where it went.  I feel young and I feel like I have lots of opportunity ahead of me.  But the fact is . . . it's hard to start over at 50.  And I'm locked in to a certain salary in that I have expenses and obligations and no spouse to support me.  And for the first time in my life, I don't know what I want to do.  Even if I were to leave my company and go to a whole new industry or start my own business, what would I want to do?  I can't think of anything I would want to do as a full time job.  It's kind of scary.  Something is missing.

I am not saying I'm too old to start over.  My mom was almost 60 when she started her own business.  Age has nothing to do with it.  You need a dream and a passion.  Where did my dreams and my passion go?

Things are changing right now.  But I'm a survivor.  The thing is . . . I don't want to just survive.  I want my life and my job to mean something.  I'm passionate about the people I work with and our customers but I'm not sure anymore if the position I'm in is where I need to be. 

I am reminding myself that the Universe will  take me in the direction I need to go . . . that things happen for a reason . . . that I need to trust that things are moving forward and will be better.  I am remembering and thankful that my family is safe and healthy, that I have a home, that there is much suffering in Japan, in the Middle East and so many other places and my frustrations are insignificant and temporary.

Is this a natural occurrence at a milestone birthday?  I don't remember doing it at 30 or at 40.  What are your experiences?   What changes did you make?  Are you happier?

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

What’s In A Name?

name-tagAn interesting phenomenon has occurred in my family.  It started when my siblings and I started getting married.  It has continued through the years and now, with my Dad’s new marriage, it continues.  We have so many of the same names throughout our family.  Let me try to explain without too much confusion.

My middle sister’s real name is Michelle but we have always called her Mickey.  My husband’s brother is married to a Michelle whose mother’s name is Mickey and whose dad’s name is Terry.  My new stepsister’s name is Michelle and my new stepbrother’s name is Mickey.  Growing up, my sister was always Girl Mickey and by new stepbrother was always Boy Mickey.  Now that our parents are married, they are once again Boy Mickey and Girl Mickey even though both are in their mid-forties.

My husband’s brother’s name is Greg (married to Michelle above) and my sister Mickey is married to her husband Greg.

My brother’s first wife was Terri and his second wife was Casey which is my daughter’s name.

My youngest sister is married to Josh and our cousin’s name is also Josh.

So now, my daughter is dating a guy named Austin which just happens to be my brother’s oldest son’s name.  I have already joked that he MUST be “the one” because he has the same name as someone else in our family. Smile
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