Sunday, March 30, 2014

Books and Memories...

Some spoilers ahead.

I just finished listening to A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (narrated by Atossa Leoni, who did a great job with the pronunciations) and have enjoyed it quite a bit. Not the same way that I enjoyed The Invention of Wings by Sue Kidd, or even the way I enjoyed Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund, but more in a way that I enjoy reading about recent history (the last 40 years). This book is set in Afghanistan and begins before the Russian invasion then ends just  short while ago. It's not brutally honest about all the things that happened, but nothing is sugar-coated, either.

I couldn't help but think about where I was during certain parts of the book. During the Soviet invasion I was celebrating Christmas with my family in Tennessee. When Tariq lost his leg due to a mine, I was in Washington playing with my paper dolls in the trailer we lived in. When Laila married Rasheed out of desparation for her own life, I was marveling at the wonder of my own son. The day before Zalmai was born in a filthy hospital through cesarean section without anesthesia (all due to the Taliban rules against women), my daughter was born in a clean hospital with decorations on the wall and all the medical equipment I could imagine standing by just in case something went wrong. During the drought that lasted years I was well-fed and living in a comfortable apartment and was unhappy with the situation I was in. And, of course, I was shocked when the towers fell here.

I would like to think that I'm not a shallow person, but I do get wrapped up in my own life most of the time. I know that there are horrible things going on in the world we live in. And when I read the news or hear something on the radio, the reality of it sinks in and breaks my heart. I know that sounds trite, but it's so much deeper than I can explain. I feel an aching in my chest that brings tears to my eyes. Knowing that there are women in the world who are brutalized with no recourse (the Middle East, Africa, etc.), knowing that children are used to build an army of hatred, knowing that so many people are starving and losing loved ones and dying... it truly hurts. And I give thanks for the simple struggles I have. I give thanks for the dreariness of counting out each coin so that I have enough money to keep my electricity on. Or to get a bag of chocolate chips for homemade cookies. Or to take my daughter to the movie occasionally. I give thanks for these things. Even as I cry for those who suffer.

I am thankful for the life I have.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dads...

Salt LampI think about the Dads I've known throughout my life and how they influenced me. I had one growing up and another as an adult. I've had a father-in-law and a man who called me his daughter-in-law. I've seen the bright smiles of new dads and I've witnessed the failings of those who walked away. As for the ones who failed... suffice it to say that I see the suffering of the children they walked away from while complaining that they don't have time or money or whatever to spend time with the children they helped create. A phone call doesn't take that much time, a birthday card doesn't cost that much to send, and the sincere apology for your absence only needs the sound of truth. At the same time, I also see the strength and grace of the children who are determined to be great even without their fathers. And that gives me hope even as I hear the anger and pain from my own son.

I think I am pretty lucky to have had some important men in my life and I truly wish that I'd made better choices so that my own children could have had that, too. The one who had a part of my childhood helped to shape who I became and how I treat my own children.

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On the working front, I've been given more and more responsibilities at the second job. There has been talk of promotion soon. I'm hopeful and, at the same time, not as surprised as I once might have been. I can handle a full workload and still meet most deadlines and my work is accurate. We'll see how things go.

On the personal front, there are still a lot of dreams through the night. Most of them leave me feeling as if I've been pulled through a wringer while others require a strong effort to not feel soiled or tainted. Blessed is the night when I remember nothing upon waking. I know that there will be more of the good nights as time passes and I am looking forward to the day when the bad nights are a rarity instead of the other way around.

Now it's time to get back to the things I need to do. I hope you all have a great day filled with sunshine and blessings.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Clarification and other thoughts

First, a clarification since I was asked... the mistake I made (in the last post) wasn't that I chose to end a relationship, it was that I believed for so long. There are so many things I could write about it all, but that wouldn't change any of the hurt or the challenges. Instead, I'd like to take a page from the book of a man I only knew briefly. He was more forgiving than anyone I've ever met. And not the kind of forgiving where the issue is brought up over and over, but the kind where it was truly laid to rest and life moved forward. I would like to be that way.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Acknowledging mistakes...

I recently expressed to a friend how I'm striving to deal with hurtful moments and memories that pop up occasionally. I'll share that here:
Asheville, North CarolinaI'm learning to stop for a bit of time when I come across a shard of memory and acknowledge the hurt instead of ignoring it. Because ignoring it drives it in deeper. Imagine walking into a room and you are crossing it to open the window. You step on a piece of glass (memory) and it hurts because it punctures your foot (heart). If you stop and work it out (figuratively and literally), it will hurt while you're getting it out of your foot, and it will hurt the first few hours afterward. But you can heal. If you ignore the glass and keep walking across the room it will become lodged in too deep to remove with just your fingernails or tweezers.
One of those moments occurred last night while I was watching a show with Brianna. It struck me that I made an enormous mistake. I think that hurts more than the fact that I've been hurt. Now I need to just accept that I'm human and pull that shard out before it gets too embedded. That's all I've got to say about that.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Workshop...

As I wrote before, I've been attending a workshop that focuses on some of the Celtic Goddesses. I had the thought that I'd write about my feelings and such, maybe a little information about each Goddess, and what my thoughts are. Instead I'm finding it a little more personal than I thought it would be. And some of the emotions involved are not easy to express. So... I'll just keep this stuff in my journal. I will share this much - Calleach: Dive in. Brigid: Embrace.

Two weeks ago I put the cats on a diet. It's not been easy going and Serephina is the one who complains the most. Essentially, I researched what they all should weigh (tabby cats weigh more than Siamese, mixes weigh somewhere in the middle, etc.), then weighed them on the postal scale (it goes up to twenty-five pounds). Lyra was the lightest and Serephina was the heaviest. Now, anyone who knows our cats might have thought the opposite, but I was very careful about putting them on the scale. So far the results are a little surprising, too. Aurora lost about eight ounces and the other two only lost four each. As long as they don't lose more than a pound each month, they are doing alright, but it was interesting that Aurora lost twice as much. Anyway, it will be nice to worry less about their health after this ordeal. I'll most likely keep them on the feeding schedule just so I can keep a closer eye on them.

Saturday I did a twelve minute cardio workout (the whole thing is broken into 3 segments). I was pleasantly surprised at how I felt afterward and wanted to keep going. Instead, I made myself get something to eat and more water and I relaxed a bit. I wanted to see how my body would respond to this before I pushed all the way to the edge (failure is success, right?) and caused any issues. Since the only reaction so far are a few sore muscles, I'll be continuing this routine for a little while before moving onto the next section of the workout. My ultimate goal is to be able to walk three miles each day hike, bellydance, and enjoy my life. I don't really care about the finish line or the 5k events or anything else along those lines. I care about feeling happy with who I am.

Brianna and I have been working on her school schedule for next year. We had to sign a form that explained why she's seeking early graduation. There wasn't a line for "she will be 18, will have enough credits, and wants to get on with her life," so she just marked that she will be seeking employment. I'm glad she has a plan for after school and am happy that she seems to listening to my advice (mostly about saving for emergencies and retirement). I'm also glad that she's looking forward to taking pottery with me when the time comes.

I have a lot more to say right now, but also a thousand other things to get finished. I hope you are all having a wonder-filled day.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Retirement?

Day eight (OPC)Yes, I said retirement. It seems a little strange to think about that word, but the dreams I used to have are now set aside and it's time to move forward the best I can. After all, I'm "only" forty-two years old. I've been researching and have found that even if I waited until my fifties I could still retire with a little something put away. The trick, though, is to start as soon as possible. I won't be starting in the next few months since there are so many bills to catch up with, but the thought is growing and I'm determined to have a solid plan in place and implemented before my birthday.

One might wonder what this subject might have to do with "Life on Fire" but if you think about it, this is a major part of a person's life, right? I mean, we all want to live a little more comfortably when we've reached our "golden years". Social Security can't be relied on since there are so many issues in the government right now and, even if it remains a viable option, it won't pay very much (my estimates are a joke).

I've made a few decisions about which direction I want to go with other areas of my life, too. Last weekend I was pretty busy with paperwork and didn't get a lot of time to think, but I do have a 13 minute drive twice a day and I've been using that time to mull a few things over.

I lost focus on the areas of my dreams that brought happiness to myself and those who were touched by them. One example is Alina Shea Creations. I had reached a point where I would dye up as much yarn as I could in as little time as I could so that I could focus on job searching and Market America. Crystal Healing? That wasn't even on the stove, much less the back burner. Both areas suffered greatly. This is not acceptable to me. I love the people who bought yarn from me. I loved their projects and stories and how they shared what was going on in their lives. I loved how interested they were in the things I was doing. It truly felt like family. The Crystal Healing that was supposed to become a branch of my business "tree" felt like something that would bring comfort and goodness to those who would become my clients. It could be integrated with Reiki and I know how powerful that can be, too.

Now that I am getting the bills paid on my own again, I will be bringing these both to the forefront. As for the other area... I'm not going to put much more effort into something that doesn't bring me joy and peace. I know that there are some who would argue that I need to stick with it, but I'm not driven by the possibility of a huge income. If I had been, I'd have become the engineer my family pushed so hard for me to be.

On the more personal front, I am still more sad than I like to admit. This part isn't depression, it is sadness over losing something that I will never get back. Sadness over so many misunderstandings and hurts and shattered hopes. There are still nights when I wake in tears and the whole day feels touched with darkness. There are days when I wonder how everything got so fowled up. And, yes, I even have days when I think that I must not have been "good enough". I know this is all a bunch of malarkey, but the feelings are still there.

Even so, I am doing my best to reclaim the smile I like to wake up with, the strength I have to get through anything, and the wonder of the world around me.

I joined a workshop that focuses on Celtic Goddesses. The first week we learned a bit about  the Cailleach. She's a fearsome being that has facets all over the world. I'm not going to go into detail today, but it was a nice workshop and I'm looking forward to the remaining meetings (four more). I might write a bit more about the Cailleach later. I'd like to write about each of the Goddesses as we learn about them... if time allows.

It's nearly warm enough to begin my walking routine again. My plan it to start with walking to the library and back. Once that doesn't feel like I'm going to keel over, I'll walk a different direction. Each week or so I will increase the distance until I'm walking three miles again. I don't know if I'll ever run again, but that was never my dream anyway. I'm thinking that I should be able to go on the hikes before much longer. After all, I've always been quick at healing once I got past the worst part of something.

Oh! Brianna and I are going to try taking some pottery classes this summer. It will be nice to do something with her just for fun. Who knows? Maybe we'll get a couple of bowls out of the ordeal. Or a cool coffee mug.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Changes...

I don't know how many of you will notice this, but I'm going to "retire" the blog "Life on Fire After 40" simply because all of this is my life. And, quite frankly, I don't want to try keeping up with both blogs, especially since I will be keeping the crafty one and the Miles.

Lunch break is over. I hope you're all having a great week!