Posted in b47eclectics, feelings, meme

a year in review – 2020

1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
appeared on Facebook live, attended a high school reunion, participated in a cookie decorating class, edited photos at pixlr.com, visited the dermatologist, ordered groceries online, streamed my church’s worship service, used the dictation feature of Microsoft’s Office 365

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2020, my theme was to simplify. The pandemic contributed to that effort, minimizing my routine and offering a crash course in taking one step at a time. With fewer schedule-related activities, I had a chance to gain ground in streamlining various areas of home storage.
For 2021, I’ve identified a need to improve communication with my family. Actually, I’ve already started. And, unlike with past relationships, I’m inviting the other person into the process. For example, I’m being transparent when I’m clueless about the next step, and asking their input.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
In September, my childhood friend, Angela, passed away. :*( We mostly lost touch after I changed schools in 8th grade, but I’ll always remember the fun we had on the elementary school playground.

5. Where did you travel?
Only locally, and little of that. This was probably the least travel of any year in my adult life. Even my former one-hour-each-way commute was cut to a 30-second walk to my home workstation.

6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
the ability to move forward on my plans for my own home

7. What date or event from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory?
Aside from the obvious pandemic-related events — the world grinds to a halt, aisle after aisle of empty store shelves, etc. — two smaller-scale happenings: the washer flooded the kitchen, and a snake(!!!) got stuck in one of the windows(!!!).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
In January, while I looked forward to my class reunion, I was intimidated by its potential for awkward chitchat. So I prepared brief answers to questions I could expect, and I braced to not be thrown if some responses seemed a bit cool. Mostly I told myself to RELAX and have fun with it. And, I’m happy to report, I had a blast! Plus, this experiment could be a gamechanger; I’ll go forth armed with the knowledge that I can indeed make conversation. #WhoKnew? #ColorMeStunned 😀

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’ve stewed a lot over perceived slights by someone… until the oh-so-humbling day I understood that I’ve been guilty of treating them the same way.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, significant illness. From February until the present, a couple dozen recurring ailments — some new, bizarre and concerning — have supplied a vicious cycle of discomfort that dominated my thoughts even more than the pandemic.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
big thing: hiring someone to mow the yard
small thing: a lamp, for next to my evening chair

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My high school classmates. Their kindness at the reunion has me thinking I should have ventured to speak up back in the day! ❤

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
a certain person and two never-before scenes that left me reeling, sad that now I so often feel as if I don’t know them anymore

14. Where did most of your money go?
To replacing several household things: washing machine, TV, coffeemaker, toaster, bathroom heater, hair dryer, computer keyboard, my fitted sheet.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
little things, such as walking in warm sunshine, the store having my favorite cereal, and the assortment of birds that frequently visit the window next to my desk

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?
Probably “Takes A Little Time” by Amy Grant. Plenty of mornings I’d wake up and be tempted to fall apart, and I’d repeat the lyric, “Well it may not be over by morning, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Then, praise the Lord, I was able to focus eyes of faith past the current body aches, the loneliness, the rampant uncertainty and anticipate a better day. A day when the proverbial Rome is finally built.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? definitely weighed-down and weary from the struggles
Older or wiser? OLDER!
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
let go of what I can’t control

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
“circling in deeply rutted paths”

20. Did your heart break?
yes

21. How did you spend Christmas?
In our usual way. My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our decorations and unwrapped gifts, and worked on computer projects before making lunch. The fam and I ended the day watching DVDs. One difference was that a bitterly cold polar blast had us struggling to keep warm all day.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I took the day off from work. I finished these questions and continued preparing for my year-end computer file backup. Later, the fam and I plan to watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m rediscovering my extreme fondness for childhood fave Knight Rider. I admit this somewhat sheepishly since, only a few years ago, I listed it among shows I was “over.” After a futile search for TV options that are light and fun, KR came to mind; “It’s cheesy,” I reasoned, “but I *love* cheese! GIMME!” XD

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Two ingredient drop biscuits. And for breakfast, toast (usually French bread) topped with canned sliced, stewed tomatoes… it may sound weird, but I find that the mildly-flavored tomatoes produce a tasty, pizza-y effect.

25. What was the best book you read?
Since I found myself with regular times of unplugged waiting, I started re-reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The songs at WAYfm repeatedly surprised me with encouragement on the days when I would’ve said my heart was too heavy to look up.
Also, while radio-surfing, I stumbled on a classic country music station, which brought to light a strong affinity for the voice of Mr. Waylon Jennings.

27. What did you want and get?
Although we each had distinct bumps, my family and I stayed in good health overall.

28. What did you want and not get?
for our church to be able to safely meet again

29. What was your favorite film?
I only saw a few repeats of ones in my collection; of those, I enjoyed the 1990’s remake of “Sabrina.” I hadn’t seen it in so long, I watched with a fresh appreciation for some details I’d missed before.

30. What did you do on your birthday?
took the day off of work, computered after breakfast, did some socially-distanced shopping, fixed lunch, took pictures of my purchases, loaded new audiobooks (of the Bible) onto my MP3 player, went for a walk — twice, fixed supper, thanked the well-wishers at Facebook, and finished the day watching DVDs

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
less drama

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
To borrow a phrase, I frequently changed from my night pajamas into my day pajamas. Working from home most of the year, I aimed for a notch above “day pajamas” during business hours, to help keep me in Work Mode.

33. What kept you sane?
As I wrote to Michele, “… even with so many low days, I’m thankful that this latest experience has again brought home the beautiful truth that our faith grows as we observe God at work in our lives. It’s given me much-needed practice pressing on in faith in spite of my feelings and circumstances.”

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
James Garner as Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files

35. What social or political issue or news story stirred you the most?
At first, I closely (read “obsessively”) followed stories about the pandemic, checking for reports every couple of minutes. Finally, taking the advice of the mental health experts, I turned off the news and quickly witnessed an improvement in my outlook.

36. Who did you miss?
my sweet church family, especially our Wednesday night Bible study crew

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I was reacquainted with some former high-school classmates.

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Few things *didn’t* change. I blogged about ways 2020 has rocked my world.
An addendum to that post: for now I’m okay with skipping the haircuts. As it turns out, I identify as a “long-haired, freaky” person. 😉

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
I can avoid a lot of frustration if I hold my plans and expectations with a loose hand.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I know your heart’s been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet…”
~ “Move (Keep Walkin’)” by TobyMac

Posted in feelings, follow-up, work

those things I do, 2020 edition “climbing out of the rubble”

“It’s been a hard year
But I’m climbing out of the rubble”
~”Less Like Scars” by Sara Groves

While outlining thoughts for each of my annual reflections, I’ve considered using the quote above to wrap up the post, as a summary.

Then came 2020! Those lyrics seem spectacularly appropriate as I look back at life this year. For me, adventures in pandemia have included…

  • Sinking in a river of tears. Count me among those who initially fell apart. As the coronavirus continued to ransack life as we know it, I found myself wearied by an old battle’s prolonged new attack. For weeks, if I wasn’t melting into tears, I was staring at the floor, shell-shocked and stuck on worst-case scenarios.
  • Looking up, pressing on. A modified mental diet — especially turning off the news — helped give my outlook a boost. More than that, I was reminded of a lesson from dark days not so long ago: anxiety, not answers, tends to follow a laser focus on the details of my situation. The only path I’ve found to peace is to process my circumstance through the lens of faith, trusting that just as I’ve seen God work in past struggles for my good, I can trust him with “even this.”
  • Virtual officing. My co-workers and I were sent home in March and have continued to work remotely since then.
  • Feelin’ the burn… discomfort and malaise. In the true spirit of 2020, my body added distress with an extended flareup of the mystery ailments I collectively refer to as My Condition. Since February, a couple dozen aching, off-kilter body spots have supplied a vicious cycle of discomfort that dominated my thoughts even more than the pandemic.
  • Growing my hair. My sole haircut for this year occurred in January, and it may be spring before I’m brave enough to visit the salon. Fortunately, I kept the hair clips, bobby pins, and ponytail holders from the intervals when I had, according to one schoolmate, “[darn] hippie hair.”
  • Going (Facebook) live. More than once I contributed to my church’s online Bible studies by joining the teacher for a discussion of the week’s lesson.
  • Showing some skin. My first ever visit to the dermatologist was a win-win, with an a-okay for the spots I was concerned about and options for follow up, if needed, on another potential issue.
  • Tending to the walking wounded. My mother fractured her arm right before Columbus Day, and that necessitated a whole new wave of schedule adjustments.

While 2020 has been something else (to say the least!), plenty of years have deviated wildly from my expectations. Now, as then, I can crumble or grow. Growing is hard, but (to paraphrase a quote I heard this week) crumbling brings some hard consequences, too. As I see it, growing is the more worthwhile choice. So, some days I can truly appreciate the ever-shifting “normal” as a refreshing change of scenery. Other days, I fall to feeling frustrated and overwhelmed… but more and more, I’m recognizing that doesn’t mean I’ve hopelessly blown it. Bad days and good days are both part of the faith-building process. And so I can take a breath and keep going — even if it’s only the tiniest step forward.

Posted in feelings, letters

no news

A status report… recycled from my latest email to Michele. 😉

I still check the local news websites (for updates that directly relate to my life), but like you, I shun the Yahoo’s, the MSN’s, etc. Primarily because I realized that a disproportionate number of their so-called headlines are merely speculation. [“XYZ says the pandemic could deplete the world’s supply of widgets!” 😒 Oh, it COULD? Then it also could NOT. Remember the good old days, when the news stuck to the facts??] Plus, even their valid reports can provide additional things to worry about. “No widgets?! Oh NO! I HADN’T EVEN THOUGHT OF THAT!!” :FretFretFret:

I’m sorry you’ve been anxious. Believe me, you’re not alone — and I don’t think it’s just the two of us, either! Especially when my work doesn’t exactly keep my brain engaged, and my mind tends to camp out on worst case scenarios. More and more, I find myself turning on the radio to WayFM. The DJs consistently offer a positive, Biblical perspective, and song after song speaks deeply to my struggles. Many of the lyrics can double as a prayer, as in two of my top current favorites: “Peace Be Still” by Hope Darst and “You Already Know” by JJ Heller.
https://www.wayfm.com/

 

Posted in crushes, feelings, follow-up, meme, websites, work

a year in review – 2019

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
participated in the Walk Through The Old Testament Bible study, learned to check the traffic flow in Google Maps, used the Opera browser, noticed quail in the yard, set a snap mousetrap, tried less-sugar Chobani and Campbell’s Healthy Request Bean and Bacon Soup, purchased and cooked a non-fish-stick-equivalent fish fillet, heard the train-rumble sound of a possible nearby tornado, printed at Staples from a flash drive, and got bit by a tick

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2019 my goal (repeated from 2018) was to spend more time on what adds value to my life, and I did indeed labor in several “valuable” areas. Loosely in order from least to greatest attempt: improving communication, nutritional eating, accomplishing tasks more efficiently, and upward thinking of the Biblical kind.
For 2020, my theme is to simplify. Pare down my stockpile of stuff. Reduce over-analyzing and over-to-do-listing. Focus more on the next priority, and less on nailing down the legion of conceivable tangents.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no. But quite a few people I know lost loved ones.

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
the ability to consistently style all of my hair in a way that looks good to me

7. What event from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory?
seeing the storage shed door open, and realizing that someone had cut the lock

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
completing an overhaul of my signature site, www.rusted-crush.com

9. What was your biggest failure?
Far too many times, I was annoyed with certain people — and I peevishly let them know it. :winces:

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In addition to regular recurrences of familiar digestive, sinus, age-related, and overuse issues, a backache slowed me down for a month.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I purchased a tall cabinet to corral my foodstuffs. (Technically, the unit is for storing officesupplystuffs but it’s fine as a pantry.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
A group I’m working with on a certain project. They listen when I talk (WOW, NOT EVERYONE INTERRUPTS), and they make me feel as if my input is appreciated.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The main object of my affection sent a *clear* sign of disinterest in a Painfully Awkward Moment. I don’t think he intended to be harsh, but I distinctly felt the harshness of rejection. :*(

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
the — mysterious, wonderful — ways God is redeeming my story

16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
probably “Look Up, Child” by Lauren Daigle because the phrase was part of this year’s resolution

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? happier
Older or wiser? older. I reach for reading glasses more than ever. (Sigh.)
Thinner or fatter? judging by my clothes, about the same
Richer or poorer? judging by my bottom line, about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
nipped a potential negative in the bud

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
balked at the slightest deviation from what I was expecting

20. Did your heart break?
For the first time in years, no. Although — to be sure — there were plenty of hard days that bent it

21. How did you spend Christmas?
I worked on these questions while waiting for late-risers. 😉 My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our 22-year-old, low-frills video camera. I then took pictures of our decorations and unwrapped gifts, and we cleaned up. Lunch was red salmon loaf, corn, boiled potatoes, and crock-pot green bean casserole. A lovely afternoon of casual puttering was followed by a soup supper. I walked outside to enjoy the 70-degree sunny-ness. The fam and I ended the day watching DVDs.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I have to work. Later, the fam and I will watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
My TV time is still spent rerunning past favorites such as Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Quantum Leap, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I also added What’s Happening? to my DVD collection.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
I gained an affinity for snacking on Oatmeal Squares cereal, for Publix egg salad on an Aldi rice cake, and for Ezekiel bread. I also found a delicious and versatile broccoli fish bake.

25. What was the best book you read?
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is the only book I’ll finish this year, but it remains an all-time favorite. Almost every day, some truth in it resonates with me.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
“Native Tongue” by Switchfoot: set to a mesmerizing beat, the lyrics are a fresh look at the wonder of God’s amazing love. (Not to mention a challenge to me to be more loving.) “The Strength to Let Go,” also by Switchfoot, expresses my heart’s prayer in the struggles of this current season.

27. What did you want and get?
My tick bite did NOT result in symptoms of a tick-borne illness. #PraiseTheLord

28. What did you want and not get?
for my new coworker to have potential to become a close friend

29. What was your favorite film?
There were none. I thought Captain Marvel was okay. I pretend Avengers Endgame was just a bad dream. #NeverHappened

30. What did you do on your birthday?
It was largely a repeat of last year, with taking the day off from work, computering, shopping in Madison, and hiking at Rainbow Mountain Trail. However, there was some newness in that the heat set a record: 100 degrees, in October! That meant cutting my hike short. On the bright side, I could shed my fall layers for a cute summer top.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if I had connected more with people

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
still business casual — with function over fashion, since I prefer not to shiver all day in our 63-degree office

33. What kept you sane?
choosing peaceful thoughts

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I was drawn to the strength and competence of Captain Stottlemeyer on Monk. Also, after seeing Captain Marvel, I outlined a fanfiction scene inspired by Jude Law.

35. What political issue or news story stirred you the most?
For a change, a positive news byte stood out to me: “I feel like it’s so easy to love. People like that, you never know what they’re going through. You just want to help them.” – gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s gracious response to would-be body shamers

36. Who did you miss?
my former coworker, Tricia

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Clarice and Beth from church

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Sweeping reorganization efforts continued across the board. Two significant changes were renaming my blog and being relieved of the website forums that I started back in 2004.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
Earlier this year a tweet by Beth Moore (“Thought I’d arrive at spiritual maturity then just abide right there undisturbed… Instead, here I am… still grappling”) caught my eye because it echoed my own perplexity. I, too, expected some sort of fill-her-up zap, after which I’d be perpetually unflappable. :sheepish: The lesson for me has been that when I trust that God *is* working, right where I am? That struggling is part of the faith-building process? Hallelujah, what a awesome gamechanger!

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I know You have Your reasons for everything, so I will keep believing.” ~ “No Matter What” by Kerrie Roberts

Posted in feelings, follow-up, websites

Wherefore was I Juliet?

When I started this site I was in a place where a string of failed relationships left me too disheartened to even think of trying again. Therefore, TV and movie dreamboats became the objects of my affections. It just seemed easier. To be sure, it was less painful. IIRC, my reasoning was, “At least I KNOW that won’t go anywhere.”

Somewhere during that mindset, I surfed across Kidd Video’s song “Video Romeo,” and it became a kind of anthem for me, so much so that I opted to blog here under the banner of Video Juliet.

A few years passed and my jadedness was clearly ebbing away because I ventured back into the real-life dating pool with a great guy. [They do exist. Color *me* stunned. 😉 ]

Fast-forward to not so long ago, and that so-called video world has largely dropped off of my radar. Sure, those stars still get in my eyes. But, happily, a moniker that speaks only of pining for Hollywood hunks no longer reflects what I’m about. In spite of that, “Juliet” lingered since I had no particular inspiration for a more suitable name.

Until very recently, when the lyrical expression melody rising (from “Spirit Sing” by Zealand Worship) got stuck in my head as having potential for a new signature phrase. I toyed with various permutations and kept going back to medley rising, for three key reasons.

(1) It echoes my experience of late, recognizing what God is doing in my life, in “the finding and the searching,” grateful for the journey(s) to where a song — hope! — is rising.

(2) Because the going is not always so simple, “medley” expands the musical theme to multiple songs, making it analogous to the jumble of thoughts and emotions resurfacing in my current season.

(3) By indicating an assembly or collection, the medley concept lines up with that of my long-time personal site, eclectic.

Given the previous rationale, I am forgoing my typical practice of hashing over decisions ad nauseam.

And — just like that — the proverbial page is turned to begin the new chapter of medley rising.

“Juliet has left the building.” 😉

Posted in feelings, follow-up

absence of malice

Earlier this year, I happened to check my junk/non-friend messages at Facebook, and I found a month-old email from my ex. He wrote that he’d discovered my website and had “spent the last two hours” reading about what a horrible boyfriend he was.

I was nothing short of stunned to know that he still frets about that. Even as far back as the page linked above, I shared that I have no hard feelings. To borrow a quote from television, “I spent that anger a long time ago.”

So, Ray, while I do *not* want to reconnect, I absolutely forgive you. When it comes to our past, at this point, if I were to be angry at anyone, it would be at myself, so foolishly desperate to hold on to someone who was so obviously not a good fit. I should have listened to wise counsel. I should have tried harder to communicate instead of ranting on and on (and on and on) in a journal. But I have peace about it all when I chalk it up to lessons learned. That time made clear to me what I do — and do not — want in a relationship; that clarity has no doubt helped me avoid some additional heartbreak. When I look through the filter of faith, I’m so thankful that even when we mess up big time, God can make beauty from those proverbial ashes. 🙂

So, Ray: forgive yourself. It happened and we can never undo it. Accept that, like me, you could’ve done some things better… and the next time you have an opportunity, do them better.

Close that chapter for good, and keep moving on with your life.

“And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Posted in feelings, meme, work

a year in review – 2018

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
got prescription glasses (and subsequently hated/refuse to wear them), went Christmas caroling in late January, saw a nesting Canadian goose, called wildlife control to remove a lizard from indoors, attended a work “lunch and learn,” followed a YouTube video for minor car repair (replace broken gear shift button), tried Florajen probiotic, tested the computer’s Read Aloud feature, used cardamom scented lip balm, polished silver jewelry with a baking soda paste, ate at the cafeteria at work, had a praying mantis set up camp in my window, watched “American Pickers”

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2018, inspired by Psalm 119:37, my goal was to seek out and spend more time on what “adds value” to my life. My initial idea was that a small effort could suffice if need be, but opportunities quickly abounded. Both personal and collective Bible studies provided eye-opening reviews of fundamentals. I reevaluated what I’m watching. And listening to. And posting on-line. I took on new challenges, and decluttered significantly in several areas.

And I’ve only scratched the surface, so I’m repeating this as a goal for 2019. Another goal (borrowed from a song by Lauren Daigle) is “Look up, child.”

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
no

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
As I recall rounds of layoffs and narrowly-obtained funding, I’m thinking perhaps a job with a more positive long-term outlook!

7. What date or event from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
receiving unexpected affirmation that a certain person IS hearing my attempts to encourage, after all

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
By devoting one hour each week for several months, I cleared out a filing cabinet’s worth of embarrassingly obsolete papers.

9. What was your biggest failure?
repeatedly accepting the lies my feelings tell me

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Both. In February, chills, aching, and general cruddiness prompted me to leave work and kept me home the next day. Months later, something like plantar fasciitis flared up after I spent my birthday on my feet, hiking and shopping; for the next three days, I limped because my right heel hurt when it touched the ground.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
yard renovations that should make that three-plus acres *slightly* more manageable

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
my friend Angela and her husband Tim, who answered my Facebook request for help with a lawn mower

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
In this season of emotional overload, whose didn’t? :\ Arguably, I stewed the most over people who are not reciprocating the courtesy that I show them.

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Rearranging some furniture catapulted my main living space from painfully inefficient to excellently functional. The transformation is doubly exciting when past failings had convinced me there was no solution. This time, I refused to accept that: “There has GOT to be a way!” I prayed for wisdom before giving it some thought — and minutes later, I had a floor plan.

16. What song will always remind you of 2018?
maybe “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran because of the daydream it inspired

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? hyper-reactive. I’m elated by positive words, and floored when challenged with negative implications.
Older or wiser? older. Yee-IKES at the deepening crows’ feet! 😦
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
had interesting tasks at work

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
gave up when making an effort to be heard

20. Did your heart break?
Repeatedly. Usually from obsessing over lingering perplexities.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
opened gifts with my mother and sister, took pictures of presents and decorations, opened a can of soup for lunch (Mom wasn’t feeling well), started — a to-me-from-me gift — “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa TerKeurst, worked on these questions, made salmon noodle casserole and steamed asparagus for supper, watched DVDs

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
Possibly going to work. Later, the fam and I will watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include a past (forgotten!) favorite: The Partridge Family.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Two favorite new recipes: butter bean soup, crock-pot cornbread dressing. Grilled Chicken Gyros from Taziki’s Mediterranean Fare. Knock Your Sprouts Off bread from Aldi. And the nutritional advice of adding variety to your diet “so that you don’t miss anything important;” that phrasing hit home with me, and so I’ll keep tweaking my far-too-repetitive menu.

25. What was the best book you read?
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom. It was borrowed, and I returned it… and found my own copy. At a thrift store = woo hoo!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The dirt-cheap clearance at 2nd and Charles provided a boatload of background music from genres that are — refreshingly! — less familiar to me. :thumbsup:
Also, I rediscovered “Dream Time” by Darryl Hall and identified some lyrics that have echoed in my head since the ’80s.

27. What did you want and get?
my mom recovered significantly from one health condition and received a good (i.e. “no surgery for now”) prognosis from tests for another

28. What did you want and not get?
Despite paring down my To Do list to focus on priorities, I repeatedly found myself anxious, constantly noticing things that still need attention. Finally I understood my dilemma: multiple worthwhile endeavors versus severely limited time and energy. So, accepting that some good things will have to wait and some will go undone, I must (prayerfully!) decide and move forward.

29. What was your favorite film?
There were none. I only saw Avengers Infinity War, and it came dangerously close to turning me against all things Marvel. :glares in the direction of the producers:

30. What did you do on your birthday?
took the day off, computered after a waffle+sourdough toast breakfast, went shopping in Madison, hiked at Rainbow Mountain Trail, got lunch, went for auto maintenance (and new tires), took pictures of my purchases (including the tires), thanked the well-wishers at Facebook, and finished the day watching “The Lone Ranger” and “Monk”

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if I hadn’t so often overanalyzed all enjoyment out of an activity

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
still primarily “business casual,” with emphasis on warmth for days cooler than 95 degrees 😉

33. What kept you sane?
As I shared with a friend: “Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards. Learn to be patient, so that you will please God and be given what he has promised.” [Hebrews 10:35-36 (CEV)] I have that on display at work to remind me that being brave and patient are two specific ways [to] exercise faith. And “keep on” and “learn to be” reiterate that it’s an ongoing process, and so when we stumble, we can start again.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Crushable characters in whatever DVDs I’m enjoying continue to catch my eye, with this year’s — increasingly retro! — top three being: Mr. Sheffield from “The Nanny,” Keith Partridge from “The Partridge Family,” and Zorro from “Zorro Rides Again” (1937) .

35. What social or political issue stirred you the most?
One-sided media bulletins remain a concern, and spark nostalgia for the time when reporters “…didn’t seem to have an agenda, or try to make anybody look bad, or good.” They simply read the news and then we would all make up our own minds about what we thought.

36. Who did you miss?
my former co-workers, Annette and Jean, plus my dear friend and mentor Miss Elsie

37. Who was the best new person you met?
my work neighbors Francie and Sharon who could teach a class on being nice

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
As the year started, circumstances spurred some (long overdue!) upgrades in certain domestic routines, which have continued. I also find my passion cooling for quite a few long-time interests… and I’m not even sad about it. :shrug:

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
More like a lesson-still-learning: “So many times we pray for a change in situation, but God is using the situation to change us! It’s a hard lesson…but it’s worth fighting for–to let God mold you into the person He made you to be. Sometimes it’s the adversity that brings out the best in us.” @mandisaofficial

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.” ~ “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

Posted in feelings, meme, work

a year in review – 2017

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
been classified as “IT support,” changed careers with no time gap between, climbed more stairs than ever before, found myself in the vicinity of a possible active shooter situation — thankfully a false alarm, memorized the list of books of the Old Testament, occupied an office (i.e. cubicle) not on the ground floor, participated in a digital interview, removed a lizard from indoors, saw a show at the new Cineplanet theater, used predictive text, watched a snake travel from limb to limb five feet off the ground, witnessed NASA’s Super-Guppy in flight

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2017, I planned “to look for something positive in my real life situations.” I did that… but not nearly enough. I repeatedly lost sight of the positive altogether.
For 2018, inspired by Psalm 119:37, my goal is to seek out and spend more time on what “adds value” to my life.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
no

4. Did anyone close to you die?
yes, several family friends :*(

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
my own home

7. What date or event from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 21, the day of the “Great American Eclipse.” How can I forget it when I often hear songs from the eclipse playlist?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
The duties at my new job are very straightforward and there’s plenty to be done, and so I am the most productive I’ve been at any job for years.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I spent much way too much time in a “bad headspace,” almost certainly triggered by overthinking.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
only mild recurrences of existing ailments

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I purchased several storage and decorative pieces, with the best (arguably) being a chest of drawers.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
the people who hired me!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
sadly, my own, with recurring bouts of a mood so changeable I felt a kinship with Dr. Jekyll… and sometimes Mr. Hyde

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
the answer to a long-time prayer request

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
“Reverse” by Greg Sykes. Also, “Sometimes He Comes In The Clouds” by Steven Curtis Chapman, particularly the line “Sometimes our faith can only grow when we can’t see…”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? happier, because although #9 and #13 weighed me down, #33 and #39 lifted me up, up, up!
Older or wiser? wiser… at least in the sense of #33
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
persevered

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
What-If-ed

20. Did your heart break?
Yes. But, then again, it seems I had *some* sort of emotional reaction to nearly everything this year!(!!)

21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our twenty-year-old, low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our unwrapped gifts, and we cleaned up. We had a light, early lunch and headed over to spend the afternoon on a lovely visit with my cousin and his family. Back home, we enjoyed Christmas music on the radio.

22. How are you spending New Year’s Eve?
After breakfast — and brunch 😉 — I went to church. After lunch, I finished these questions and posted them on-line. Since evening service has been cancelled, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. We’re hopeful that today’s arctic blast will thwart the neighbors’ usual sleep-delaying holiday fireworks.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include a series I’d never seen: The Nanny. I also rediscovered a fave from years past: Murder, She Wrote.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
French toast made with wheat French bread from the Walmart bakery. Plus, at long last, I identified what I consider the “classic” spices for soup: mustard seed, celery seed, and onion powder.

25. What was the best book you read?
Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young is what comes to mind of the ones I started to work my way through

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
WDZK, a new radio station whose country music mix from back when — and WAY back when — introduced me to my new theme song (ha!), “Walk Me Down the Middle” by The Band Perry

27. What did you want and get?
a new employer, and a shorter commute

28. What did you want and not get?
I didn’t get the answers I was looking for to my Big Questions… but I got the ones I needed, which is even better!

29. What was your favorite film?
I saw two films in the theatre — Lego Batman, Thor: Ragnarok — and liked them both, although neither earned a place on my “favorites” list.

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I attended the morning service at church. Since I was pressed for time, lunch was one of my favorite frozen meals: Lean Cuisine’s Butternut Squash Ravioli. I purchased some MP3s of CCM and put away the items I’d bought previously, after taking the requisite photo of my “gifts.” I returned to church, where my fellow choir members sang the happy birthday song to me during practice. After the evening service, I went to pay my respects at the funeral home.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if the work I’m paid to do was less routine… and felt more meaningful

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
My new place of employment is a slightly more formal office — no more wearing jeans every day — and so I modified my wardrobe accordingly.

33. What kept you sane?
At exactly the right moment, God opened my eyes to something pivotal that I’ve been missing.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
A character from a TV show: John Casey from Chuck. Also, earlier this year, I was reminded that I adore John Waite’s voice, and for weeks, I scoured YouTube for songs of his I hadn’t heard.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
My state’s special election made national headlines with its antics. :facepalm: After so much badness, we *all* lost, as far as I’m concerned.

36. Who did you miss?
Sean and Jessica from my old job, and, from my current job, my boss, who has been on sick leave since August

37. Who was the best new person you met?
the seven people in the department I joined

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Change abounded for me in 2017. Accepting a new job (naturally) included adjustments — new responsibilities, office, co-workers, daily routine, etc. Elsewhere in my personal life, there’s the “pivotal” development mentioned above. (See #33… with my apologies for being so cryptic, for now.) In the community, our thirty-year-old Madison Square Mall was demolished.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
When you find yourself mentally and emotionally in the strangest place ever, you can mope about how you “don’t even recognize” your life, or you can learn to be thankful to God for the clean slate, a desperately-needed “reset.”

40. A quote that sums up your year:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

Posted in feelings, work

not so much “Plan B” as it is “Plan 50 20”

Recapping key happenings that led up to my new job:

– In late 2016, with our contract expiration in sight, my employer began urging us to explore other options. This — along with a strong desire to part ways with my manager — propelled me from casually glancing at the “help wanteds” to actually updating my résumé and applying.

– I haven’t counted, but I guess-timate that I applied to an average of one opportunity every week, over a span of five months.

– With the bulk of my company’s work set to be completed by summer 2017, in late April I was cut to part-time status, to be in the office only three days per week.

– The week after I was made part-time was the first of four in which I had interviews. Those companies all suggested that we meet on my days off… although they didn’t know I was free on those days. And since I was interviewing on my days off, I didn’t have to use any vacation time, or burden my current employer with last-minute call outs.

– The first company I talked to — I’ll call them “ABC” — seemed like the ideal fit: I had good rapport with my two interviewers (who would also be my supervisors), and the work they described was almost identical to what I’d been doing for the past five years.

– I was applying for positions that I deemed “a good fit,” and from the multiple responses I received, I guess I chose well. After the interviews, I was convinced that any of those jobs would’ve been fine, even though none struck me as a clear, “This is IT!” Plus, there were a few disconnects in which the person setting up the interview and I evidently got off on the wrong foot. For example, one human resources agent asked me to call and let her know when I had emailed my application, but when I did a few hours later, her tone was distant, as if I was being pushy. (For doing what she asked! GRR!!)

– Throughout my search, I seriously considered changing career paths. I was drawn to a recurring ad for help at the library, but it was a minimum wage position in addition to being a long drive from where I live. Plus, I preferred to build on the experience I had, instead of starting back completely at “square zero.”

– Meanwhile at my current job, the good supervisor announced that he would be leaving in mid-May. I fretted, wondering what other positive, reasonable, well-spoken manager would be available to give me a reference.

– I took the other rejections in stride because I was counting on a job offer from ABC; when they sent word that they’d chosen someone else, I could see my last hope fading away. I pity-partied that apparently I require an opportunity with absolutely no competition.

– At the beginning of my job search, I started writing a list of my (many!) duties with instructions for my coworkers on doing them in my absence. I worked on it sporadically due to interruptions, not to mention frustrations about the ever-growing list, and how best to present it. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something I needed to do, to “do right” by the company and leave them with that information. In the fifth week of my part-time status, I put forth a concentrated effort and completed a serious first draft.

– The next day, ABC called again about a job opening I hadn’t seen: maintaining an archive (a.k.a. “library”) of technical documents. One of my previous interviewers thought of me and wanted to discuss it. What job seeker could resist such an invitation? Of course, I agreed to meet.

– The day of the interview, I began my traditional preparation, in which I describe how my experience meets their requirements. But as I looked at the job description they sent me, I could see why no one was applying; despite the job title, the duties they outlined were so technical that I didn’t even know where to start. In fact, I almost called and cancelled, convinced that I wasn’t the one for them. But I didn’t. I mean, we had already spoken, so surely they didn’t think I secretly had computer engineering skills, or something…? (And, heck, as I tweeted, “A long shot is better than no shot!”)

– Also, the day of the interview, I was late! Which is *so* not me. I’m generally very early for everything — except when it’s got life-changing implications. :slapsforehead: When I arrived, my previous interviewer came out to glare at me. I feebly apologized, and he graciously offered that he thought traffic was bad. I briefly agreed, we moved on, and no more was said about it.

– On the bright side, there was almost nowhere for the interview to go but up. And up it went — way up! The second interviewer was super-nice, and he shared that my previous interviewer “was impressed” with me. (I thought, “Um, so impressed that you didn’t hire me before?” But I immediately countered that with, “No worries — this job is better!”) My meager preparation added a key point or two to my answers. The interviewers even proposed that they could train me on what I didn’t know: I had wanted to suggest that, but I didn’t know if *they* would buy it!

– The next day — May 26 — ABC called and offered me the job. I accepted and we agreed I would start in two weeks.

A series of fortunate events? Sure, some people would say it’s all just coincidence. (Some people would say the same if a warehouse full of airplane parts exploded and produced a perfectly functioning airplane. 😉 I can attest that some of those “events” felt decidedly less than fortunate while I was in them, and I admit I slipped into despair, more than once. But I’m thankful that, looking back, I’m able to see the pieces come together, and I’m posting about it here to be a much-needed reminder for me to look for the big picture… or should I say, the big plan.

Posted in feelings, work

“…shall I speak at this?” you bet your sweet bippy

Recently, a coworker made inappropriate remarks, and although he was sent packing, the rest of us had to endure a crash course in sensitivity. As we sat in the course, I marveled at the hypocrisy of it all: a worker bee gets called on the carpet (and rightly so, from the few details that were provided), and yet, the main manager at our location gets away with his repeated angry tantrums.

Said manager, who was leading the training(!), repeatedly insisted that we should speak up if we see incidents of harassment. An associate took the opportunity to casually approach the topic of angry outbursts, and the manager’s response was dismissive: “Well, yeah, some people do blow off steam…”  Later, the associate and I agreed that such verbal abuse should be as off-limits as physical violence.

Lest anyone should think that my coworkers and I are simply too sensitive, I understand that, whenever people spend time together, there will be disagreements and moments of lost temper. But, from where I sit, the manager’s overreactions are so far, so unnecessarily far beyond that. No matter how calm his co-conversationalist remains, he can be counted on to dissolve into a contempt-filled rage, and when such an onslaught is directed at me, I’m left feeling as if I’ve been utterly stomped on.

Having more than once been the target of the boss’s aggression, not long after the meeting, I realized there would never be a better chance to voice my feelings. I caught up with the manager. “Continuing the thoughts in our training, for the record, when someone yells at me, I *do* feel ‘humiliated’ and ‘disrespected.'” He asked if he ever made me feel that way, and I responded affirmatively. I added that I can accept correction, and I can accept criticism, but “just tell me. No need to shout.” It was a very civil exchange, and he said he appreciated me letting him know. I was proud of myself for speaking up, and I felt I had made peace with the situation.

The next day, the manager joked(?) that I had “given him a complex.” Well, if that means I brought some enlightenment, that’s a good thing, in my book — and long overdue. Reflecting on his apparent surprise at my reaction to his shouting, I’ve wondered whether I should share two more for-the-records: (1) I don’t know of anyone who responds well to such unbridled anger, and consequently (2) I can’t think of a single situation that would be made better by it. (I truly boggle that this has never come up in his twenty-plus years as a manager.)

As I said, I’m proud of myself for taking the opportunity to speak up. Has it changed anything? It’s hard to say. It’s not as if there was an ugly incident every day, or even every week. In any case, even if the anti-harassment emphasis was just a show for damage control, to learn that I really can speak up is empowering. Who knows, if there is another incident, maybe I’ll call it out…without waiting to be asked.