Archive | September 2015

Unexpected Consequences of Growth and Clarity

mind-767584__180Eight years ago I quit my job without having another one to go to. I cashed in my 401k at the time and lived off of it for five months. I did it because the job was an extremely high pressure, production oriented call center that really didn’t care about it’s employees. I was a number that generated subpar metrics according to their goals and criteria. They paid extremely well and had a phenomenal profit-sharing bonus every year. That was one of the reasons I lasted six years there. But I was miserable, I hated Mondays and I hated myself because I couldn’t measure up to their standards. I quit because I was burned out and I had enough in my 401k to take some time off to myself. I know that was not an optimal course of action, I know that.

Trust me when I tell you I learned my lesson from that. I spent way too much time home alone with myself and ended up miserable, not to mention I burned through $30,000.00 of potential future retirement income. Although still making choices that weren’t well thought out or healthy, thank God I was in recovery. I had 9 years clean and sober when I went to my home group meeting in the park one Sunday morning in October of 2006 and confessed just how emotionally, mentally and spiritually fucked up I was. Well, my sponsor at the time was at the meeting and she told me since I had the time on my hands that I needed to do thirty meetings in thirty days. See this is why we have sponsors, mentors and guides. Because we can’t figure this shit out on our own. It was a brilliant idea and I followed her direction. It jump started my rise from the abyss and my job search. At the end of thirty days, I was interviewing for jobs and my recovery was going strong. I landed with a really good company, making decent money where I was valued as an employee.

Fast forward eight and half years, I’m still with that company. I’ve grown so much as an employee in my marketable skill set! I promoted into another department 3 years ago and I really loved it. Except our company has been going through a transition and change in corporate culture over the last two years. They’ve shown very clearly that their priorities are now production goals and metrics. The workload has increased by 20% yet the quality of work product is no longer valued as much as closing numbers, response times and upgrading to compete with other companies. Valuing employees hasn’t just fallen to the wayside, it has been chucked unceremoniously. I find myself  feeling stressed out and inadequate of late. I know I am a smart, capable, worthy employee. My company used to feel that way about me too. I have copies of all my prior annual reviews to prove it! But the shift in evaluating annual reviews now says I am sorely lacking. I have friends in many different departments that feel the same way and have voiced the same issues. It has been a growing disbelief, discomfort and dissatisfaction that can no longer be denied or ignored. I could give specific instances that demonstrate clearly just how unappreciated we are now, but this is about my response to the situation.

I have grown and progressed by leaps and bounds in the last eight and a half years. Much of it is due to my 12 step program, but paradoxically, much of it is due to my current employer. My 12 step program, spiritual kin, and sponsors have shown me how to love, appreciate and value myself. My employer taught me how to interpret, evaluate, audit and assemble information to negotiate the resolution of claims. Think about that. My employer taught me critical thinking and interpretation in order to stand firm in resolving issues. So imagine the irony that I have now used those skills and abilities to analyze my current work situation. Guess what? It’s no longer acceptable to stay where I am not valued and appreciated.  In fact, it’s become intolerable and it’s time to move on. This saddens me because I believed I would be retiring from this company. However, it’s clear that I would not last another 17 years according to their evaluation. plants-731166__180

So after this long weekend, I begin searching for a suitable work environment or career course for this next phase of my life. I search with a clarity of purpose this time around, not leaping without consideration of consequences. I have such a clear idea of who I am and what I can offer this time around. I know I want to work somewhere where my contribution is valued and appreciated, a place where employees like where they work. God has been invited into this particular process long ago so all I need to do is the footwork and trust in whatever the results may be.

This entry was posted on September 5, 2015. 1 Comment

The Queens From Whence I Came…

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These were my standards of bravery, strength, beauty and brains growing up. They were and still are formidable queen mothers, only now they’re also queen grandmothers and great-grandmothers as well. They are my dad’s mother, Nana, sitting front and center in pink rocking the fur, to her left my dad’s oldest sister Aunt Marie in the deeper blue, standing behind her is Aunt Marva in pink, my mother is in light blue next to her, then my Aunt Patty in black and white and Aunt Virginia in red. There were uncles and my father around, of course, but it was the women who were front and center in my mind and my memories.

My Nana was one of my first babysitters. She cooked pancakes with corn in them and served them with thick Karo syrup. She had fish fries on Friday nights during Lent. She used to smack my hand with a white marbled brush if I was foolish enough to reach up to interfere when she was doing my hair.20150902_204500 It felt like she was pulling my brains out through the roots of my hair because I was tender-headed as a child. She’d send me into the backyard to choose the switch she would use for my whooping when I misbehaved too! Yep, I had one of those childhoods and she was one of those Nanas. I also remembered how she used to hum church songs, sometimes singing out loud. To this day, “This Little Light Of Mine” makes me think of her. She lived with her oldest daughter, Aunt Marie and I remember thinking how lucky my cousins Leslie and Linda were to have her around all the time.

Aunt Marie is a fiercely intelligent, outspoken, humorous, beautiful queen. Straight forward and eagle-eyed, she misses nothing! She was always so well put together with lovely hair, make-up, and smart clothing style. As a teenager, I lived with my Great Uncle James for a time. She was the aunt that would come pick me up every other Saturday to take me to the beauty shop with her so we could get our hair done. She was somewhat intimidating to me as a child, but I was always certain of her love. As an adult when I went back East for my maternal grandmother, Mimi’s funeral, it was Aunt Marie that noticed I needed to ask my son Lyndon to open a water bottle for me because I didn’t have the strength in my wrists to do it myself. She interrupted the conversation in progress in Aunt Virginia’s kitchen to ask me why he had to open the water for me. I was still in the midst of my testing and had not yet discovered my Lupus diagnosis, so I had to tell my female relatives the symptoms I’d been having up until then. Nope, nothing got by her.

In order of descending age, Aunt Virginia was the next oldest. She has another nickname that we call her in the family, but she doesn’t care for people outside of it to know it, so we’ll go with the other nickname- “The Colonel”. This was due to her formidable organizational skills and the fact that she would coordinate most of the annual summer trips to Caledonia park for our family and The Reeves side of her husband’s family. She was short in height but never in stature. She married an ex-military drill sergeant, Uncle Tom, but was never intimidated by his loud, gruff manner. When the family was at Aunt Virginia’s house, the kids would play in their remodeled basement while the adults were upstairs playing cards, watching a game or just hanging out. She was the aunt that insisted I come back for my dad’s funeral when he passed. I didn’t have the money so she bought the ticket. It seems she was unable to attend her own father’s funeral because Uncle Tom was stationed in Germany at the time. She didn’t want me to have any regrets as she did for not being able to make it back for my dad’s service. She’s also the consummate hostess and cook like Nana. If you tell her you’ve been craving or thinking about some food or dish, she will make it or make sure it’s in the house.

Aunt Marva is the quiet, gentle one of the group. A velvet lady with the strength of steel. She had the most children (5) and was the only aunt to have boys. She had three of them so I can understand the steel strength. She is sweet, understanding and very loving. She is the daughter who looked the most like Nana. As an adult, when I talked to her about Baby Bub as she was going through a serious she-devil teenage phase then, Aunt Marva was always soothing and reassuring to me.

Patty is the baby of the aunts and the one I spent the most time with because she and my mom were thick as thieves after my mom left daddy. Her daughter, my cousin Sonya, was close to my age so we also spent a lot of time together. Patty was beautiful, outgoing, with long flowing hair that was always on point. Seriously, she could have been a model if she wasn’t so short. She had a mouth and a temper on her too. You didn’t want to cross Patty, no sirree. She was also the only aunt I was allowed to call by her first name. She was simply Patty, not Aunt Patty. Sonya and I got into all kinds of shenanigans because my mom and Patty were usually off doing their own thing. Patty’s home always looked lovely because she loved going to flea markets and decorating her home.

11233788_10206911996500679_6684945410263291188_nThat brings us to my mother, Alverta. I’m not sure I can even do her justice. She was a single mother who worked her ass off to make sure we lived in decent places and went to decent public schools. She is beautiful, stylish, sharp-witted, opinionated, and generous with her time to those in need. She is a woman of enduring strength, courage, and humor. She cooked for us, kissed us good night, hid eggs around the house at Easter, took us out to The Pancake house for my birthday every year, and too many hundreds of other memories to write.  I just remember thinking and I still think so to this day, that my mom just always kept moving forward, no matter what. No matter what. I still haven’t been able to do that.

These women grew up in a different era and thrived for their daughters and sons. These women showed us what it took to raise daughters and sons of worth because they didn’t know any other way or they wouldn’t accept any other way. Thank you.

This entry was posted on September 3, 2015. 1 Comment

Looking Back To See Ahead

stock-photo-woman-looking-through-the-old-window-on-the-garden-or-forest-in-the-countryside-black-and-white-211654111It is not just important, but essential to look back occasionally to see where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. I suppose the end of summer automatically conditions me to gear up for school and the last part of the year. I, myself, am decades past going to school, but having raised three children, the tradition of back to school continued until now. Earlier in the year Baby Bub decided (mid-semester) that she wasn’t going to continue with college. Therefore, there is no last minute registering for classes, purchasing of school supplies, or buying clothes. I have a lot of time to and for myself these days as opposed to taking or making time for myself. Even though it feels odd, it’s a good time to look back. Two things made this topic come to mind for me. I’ve been blogging for a month now and next week I will take over a service commitment on Sunday morning.

It’s amusing to look back a little over a month ago and remember the fear, anxiety and insecurity I felt in anticipation of launching this site. Besides the technical aspect, of which I am still limited, I had HUGE fear about the writing itself. What would I write about? Would anyone read it? Would anyone understand it or relate? WILL THEY LIKE IT? Would I be able to keep up with the commitment to myself to post three times a week? I went back and read all eleven of them. This one will be #12, three posts a week for four weeks. So that question is answered. I’ve had positive feedback from enough friends and a few acquaintances to know I’m on the right track. As for what will I write about… well it says right at the top of this page underneath the heading- a journey home to my heart, my true self. The cool part about that is, it’ll be a journey with rises, falls, twists, turns, triumphs, stumbles, joys, pain, laughter, and love. What’s truly great about this is the gift I’m receiving that I didn’t anticipate. The clarity and presence I feel in my life! Trust me it’s not all a bed of roses, but I am fully engaged and present for  it. No checking out of life, avoiding it or hiding from it with too much television, reading romance novels and emotional overeating! I’m rolling with the good, bad, the frustrating, the monotonous, the ugly and the divine. How about that!

The service commitment I am taking over this coming Sunday morning is one I held six years ago. It’s a one-year weekly commitment to show up and facilitate for a 12 step meeting that is my home group. Six years ago I was pretty much railroaded into the commitment at a time in my life when I was having a hard time showing up and thought I was hiding in plain sight. The last thing I wanted to do was be front and center in front of a bunch of people, even people that are family to me, my spiritual kin. It was incredibly uncomfortable, irritating and scary at first. I was at my heaviest weight and very insecure about my appearance, not to mention unsure of my spiritual fitness to be of service to this community of spiritual kin that gently, firmly, and honestly loved me until I learned to love myself. They became the mirror I had always avoided at all costs. A mirror that encouraged, supported, cheered and appreciated that which I failed to recognize on my own. I bloomed in the course of that one-year commitment and while I was definitely of service to the group, they were far more of service to me. To this day, when others tell me how much they appreciate my message or share, I give all the credit to my spiritual kin and AA. My light is their light shining with God’s sunshine. I keep what I have by giving away what was so freely and lovingly given to me.

For once I’m looking ahead without fear but in anticipation to what additional blogging will bring to my life and just how much more spiritual growth I will gain from being of service to my community. It’s a good place to be and It’s been epic so far.field-768601__180

This entry was posted on September 1, 2015. 2 Comments