Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy 45th to me!

Birthday perfection... In my book anyway. 

- Having family around to share it with. Quite literally in the case of my mother in-law as we actually share our birthday! August 30!

- Getting news throughout the day that my incredibly tough sister is improving  after a bad accident just Thursday.

- An afternoon nap. 

- Lobsters and lemon cake for dinner. (It's my birthday and I'll skip the veggies if I want to!) Three lobsters. Well... Plus two lobsters on Thursday that my darling child brought me for my birthday! It's officially a lobster-Paloozza in my belly.

- Visiting around the fire pit. 

That's pretty close to all I could ever need for a birthday! But... I can't wait to redeem my gift certificate for a massage that A gave me! I think it's a theme because my mom gave me spa goodies too and a vegetarian cookbook that I can't wait to poke through. And Lego earrings. Yep. As in real Legos! And my bonus dad (I just heard that the other day and I like that so my better than "step-dad") gave me a sweet little keepsake box that looks like a book. I'm a lucky woman!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Leap of Faith...

Before beginning my job as the Program Director with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps back in 2003, I learned that they were unsure about hiring me because of my lack of experience with grants. They actually hired someone else. He was local (I was living in MD at the time) and within a few weeks, he proved to be a poor fit. They called me. The President of the organization was very candid about his reservations in hiring me but after much direct and honest conversation, he announced that he was going to "take a leap of faith" and hire me. It's one neither of us regrets (despite there being some bumps in my journey at VYCC... I consider them "growing pains"). 

Today I gave my notice to leave my job as the Fieldwork Coordinator at the Senior Environment Corps. As I was driving away from the office, the term "Leap of Faith" popped back into my mind. 

I gave my notice for a few reasons. The first is that I feel like I've done all I can do there. It's not a challenge and I feel like I've grown the program as much as I can. It's time for new blood. I breathed a lot of life back into my region of the program over the past 3 3/4 years and now it's time to move on. It was never meant to be a permanent part-time job and it's now run its course. 

The second reason is that with my father in-law in treatment for his lung cancer and my only-child-husband having a have-to-do-it-in-person type job, I am ready for a job that I can do from anywhere so I can support my in-laws more often and the SEC isn't that. 

The final reason is that for the past several months, the powers that be at SNHU (my other part-time job where I've been for almost a year already!) have been working on a plan for me to work full-time. With my counterpart at SEC retiring in March, I didn't feel the time was right. But this past week, I was given a firm offer of full-time employment with SNHU and the option to start whenever I am ready. I don't have a salary or benefits package outline yet but I'm told I'll be "very happy" with it. They know what I need so it's not a total mystery to me but it's an untied loose end. 

And that's the reason that the term "Leap of Faith" popped to mind today. I don't have the last detail sorted out with SNHU so I feel a bit like I've jumped before the net is quite finished being assembled... But I feel confident that by the time I will need it, the net will be there. 

Then I started thinking that the term "Leap of Faith" had woven itself into my career years before the President of the VYCC ever used it with me. Back in my adventure education days, it was actually the name of one of the high elements on the ropes courses that I used to facilitate. It was an element that challenges mind and body in a number of ways. Typically it's a 25'-30' pole that one climbs up wearing a harness attached to a pulley system overhead. At the top of the pole, you have to put aside all fear and maneuver yourself so that you are standing on top of the pole with about a 7" diameter surface to stand on and nothing to hold on to while you wobble your way up there. Once stable, you dive and try to grab a trapeze (or similar item) thereby trusting the equipment and your belayer 100% - a leap of faith. 

I realized that every time I accepted a job on the other side of the country without being able to fully check it out, it was a leap of faith. When I quit my jobs to raise my brother's kids, it was a leap of faith. When I invited A to VT for a visit after just a few weeks of reconnecting over the phone, it was a leap of faith. 

Despite some more bumps in the journey (remember... "Growing pains") each and every one of these leaps have led me to a new adventure that I wouldn't trade. 

So here I stand, perched at the edge of the pole. A "last day of work" less than three weeks from now and a "first day of full-time work" still written in the sand (which is technically ground up stone, right?) and the nerves of "what if it crumbles" making me a little nauseous but the memory of all of the successful leaps in the past making me bold. 

For now, I will enjoy these next few weeks of work with the SEC. Say "see ya later" to my favorite volunteers and service partners (not goodbye because I'll be around!), enjoy the freedom of a few weeks of "only working 30 hours/week", and hope that our plan of recharging in the nooks of Mount Desert Island at the end of September comes through... And I'll remember to breath and enjoy it all because life moves pretty fast.........

Friday, August 22, 2014

Law enforcement rant coming your way...

Yesterday I watched the video of my husband getting tased as part of his instructor's training course to carry tasers for work as a police officer. I couldn't watch it without crying. I doubt I'll ever watch it again. If you've never seen someone you love in such a situation, I can assure you... It's VERY difficult to see! He doesn't take it lightly and neither do I. Should he ever have to tase someone, it will be because he has exhausted all options leading up to that. 

Today I watched the video and listened to the audio of a good friend who is a police officer (with a different department) as he and his fellow officers faced down a suicidal man with a gun... And the action they were forced to take. It's not sunshine and roses that a 63 year old man in chronic pain couldn't walk away from the situation but he wouldn't back down either and the officers did what they had to do. 

Over the past week we've gotten updates from Andy's cousin (and his wife) who is a police officer near Ferguson, MO. His department is on the short list to be deployed there (and some may already be responding). Despite what the news channels are or are not reporting, a "non-peaceful" faction of the protestors has released personal information such as addresses, makes and models of vehicles etc about officers and their families and have encouraged angry "protestors" to target them. It gets real when you get the call to be the guardian of your cousin's children should anything happen!

Having people you care about in the field of law enforcement is very challenging for a TON of reasons but it's made EVEN HARDER when people make ignorant broad-sweeping comments, posts, or off-hand remarks about "cops" and how corrupt, dirty, militaristic or inhumane they are or how they all have itchy fingers to hurt someone. Anyone.  

It's disgusting to me that people can't be sensitive to the fact that they are the first ones headed into the erupting chaos to sort it out. Or that they forget that officers act on the information in front of them. If that information is a Molotov cocktail being hurled at them or a cocked revolver being trained on them, they have to act to protect themselves and others. Police officers don't have the luxury to opt out when things are bad and only getting worse! It's also amazing to me how quickly people forget the fact that they are spouses, children, parents and loved ones of real people. They disregard the fact that despite being able to suit up and handle the worst situations imaginable, THEY ARE PEOPLE.

This week has been intense with all of these situations coming home to roost. But it's not been made any easier by the insensitive actions of others. 

Are there bad cops? Yes. Are there poorly trained cops? Yes. But that's the extreme minority!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Mother's Gift...

What do you get for a woman turning 80 who lives in a relatively small living space and isn't really in need of much? 

First you throw her a surprise party a few weeks before her birthday so she is completely caught off guard. You'll spend the next few weeks hearing her talk about "floating on air" from her joy and you'll hear/remember weird comments made at the party (if you don't know my mother they would be weird... But for anyone that knows how we regularly talk about her "croaking" some day, it's not so weird) like "Did I die?", "Is this heaven?" and "When I croak you don't have to have a funeral because we just had it and I got to be there!"

So... In the midst of near disasters with cakes, sibling head-butting, and watching your nieces and nephews delightedly gather wildflowers and decorate the ski lodge for the party, you begin to think... What can I possibly GIVE Mom?

I decided to keep it simple. I gave her 81 acts of kindness in her honor. (One to grow on!) 

It seems simple enough. Acts of kindness are part of my life naturally (not to brag or sound "self-serving"). But now that it's time to get started, I find myself mired in a dilemma... What constitutes an act of kindness worthy of making "the list"?

The other day at the beach, I offered to take photos of families trying to capture "the group selfie". It's kind. But is it kind enough?

The same day I stopped on my way over the dunes to bend some wire on the fencing inward so that nobody got jabbed or scraped by it. Is that kind enough?

Daily I take extra seconds to hold doors for people (often not getting thanked but smiling at them and saying "You're welcome" hoping they get the hint). 

Yesterday there was a woman outside the market in a wheelchair. She appeared to be waiting for something but it was really hot out. I asked if she needed a hand but she said she was all set. Does that count?

I have a funny feeling that I might get to my mom's 81st birthday running low on acts of kindness on the list... But that's okay. She taught me that every extension of myself in a kind way - a smile, a helpful gesture, a significant act of assistance - makes the world a better place. So in the end, no matter where the list ends up, I hope to have made a difference to at least a few people in honor of my wonderful mom!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Suitcase...

When I told my husband tonight that I plan to deal with the pile of clothes that has been accumulating in front of/on top of/around and near my dresser and hamper for the last ~10 days... He asked me if I will finally unpack my suitcase. Truth be told, it has not been completely unpacked in three (possibly more...) months. The travel I've done since the snow melted has been insane and exhausting. And more truth to be told... I'm ready to be done and stay home for a while. I don't have the heart to tell him that I'm traveling again this week and will be in NH Thursday to Saturday this week for work. I guess, if he has time to read this post, the cat is out of the bag now. No. We no longer have a cat so he wasn't in my suitcase. He's in a box under my husband's nightstand (his ashes anyway)... Another thing I need to unpack one of these days.