Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Saying the "R" Word... (retirement)

I'm at a crossroad.  After 22 years of working at one job or another, I'm reaching the end.  And I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.  So funny - I never thought I'd feel like this.  Every year I worked, I would think of so many projects I wished I had the time to finish.  Or even start.  And now that I'll have the time, I'm kind of wringing my hands over it.
I've been working from home for the past three years.  I have to admit that I didn't totally love the work, but I did love working from home in yoga pants, and the no early mornings.  However, it was mostly comprised of tasks that any monkey could do.  Not a lot of creative input or innovation - the things that make work fun for me.  But it was easy work, and as I've slipped in and out of my fifties, easy started sounding better and better.  And maybe that was the root of the problem.  We learned that one of the main admins for our Education Department back at the Minneapolis Mothership was retiring.  So happy for her.  It sounded like she and her husband had a whole host of new adventures to set sail for.  Trouble is, as it turns out, the Mothership decided to hire ONE person to do both her job AND my job.  That was a nice little surprise that was sprung on me the day after I returned from Arizona.  Sweet.
That first day I just walked around with a rock in my stomach.  I called L.  I cried a little bit.  And L was amazing.  The first words out of his mouth were "Well, maybe it's just time to retire."  And as the days have gone by the past couple of weeks, it's sounding better and better.  I'm starting to think of this or that project that I might want to tackle.  Mulling over enticing possibilities is a delicious way to daydream.  I wouldn't be opposed to working even just part time (because let's face it kids, I love having money) but right now I have nothing in the works, and I'm feeling okay about that.  But more than that, I'm anxious to get in touch with my creative mojo, which is something that hasn't happened in a long, long time.  Painting comes to mind.  Cooking.  Doing things that in years long past used to give me such a release and so much satisfaction.  Yes, I'm looking forward to reconnecting with that part of myself.

I want to take more charge of my health.  I've been reading books on essential oils, and herbal tonics, and homeopathic remedies.  Realizing (more strongly) that healing must involve body, mind and spirit.  Western medicine certainly has it's place, but more and more I'm drawn to whatever I can do to help myself, relieve symptoms, and walk away from as many of these current medications I'm taking as I can.  I will probably always need to take something - Orencia, or something like it - but I'd sure like to at least get off of the steroids and over the counter Ibuprofin.  Give my poor liver and bones a break!  There are some classes I'm trying to figure out how to take, and I'll figure it out eventually.  (They seem take place in a largely inaccessible area of Idaho... no hotel within 35 miles, and airports?  HOURS away.)
Besides all of that, my daughter Katie and I signed up for a 6 week fitness challenge.  I needed something to kick start me into finishing my weight loss goal.  So here we are on Team 7 with 3 other young mothers from Utah that we've never met other than via email.  No matter, we are emailing each other once or twice a day with support and encouragement.  We really want to win those $40 gift cards, but more than that, we really want to win back some healthy habits and lose some bad ones, shed some pounds, and remember who we are and why we're here.  Katie and the other girls are at one stage of life with small children and a hectic lifestyle, while I am at the other end wondering how it all got by me so quickly.  At first I felt bothered by all of the emailing and fuss - I'm not used to so much human contact - but now I'm really starting to enjoy it.  I'm getting downright gabby in my emails.  And I've not been tempted once to cheat on the goals and rules I set for myself. 

I'm most proud of that I think.  We are a team, and it's one for all and all for one.  We are making our individual worlds a better place for our families.  We are taking time for ourselves, we are eating healthy, we are breaking bad habits.  We are not drinking anything but water.  That's right.  Not even Coke Zero.  We are just in Day 4, but so far, so good.  5 1/2 weeks to go.  By that time we should be awesome and completely invincible.

So that's life as I know it right now.  Nothing is certain - not even my end date.  It is supposedly July 31, but it may be extended, as the new hire is proving tougher to find than anticipated - I mean, who doesn't want to do the work of two people for the pay of one?  But sooner or later, I will pack up their laptop and equipment, and reclaim my office as the project room it was meant to be.  It will be bittersweet as the past 12 years have been spent with that company in one capacity or another.  But I've learned that life goes on.  There are new delights just around that scary corner if you can be brave enough to take a peek.  And usually, whatever happens is exactly what you would have asked for if you'd only known it was what you wanted in the first place.

So I stand on the brink.  Still forming a plan.  Still entertaining dreams.  But each day I'm getting closer to discovery.  I'll most likely start with something familiar.  Painting, perhaps.  Or, I'd really like to finally get my piano repaired and start playing again.  Both of those are long-cultivated, long-neglected talents that I'd love to dust off and polish up.  But I feel there are other avenues just waiting to be explored and tested.  This could be the best thing to happen to me since... well, since my husband and kids.  It's a little unsettling, but then again, what wonderful thing ever happens without some thoughtful angst?  Time to take a deep breath.  It's go time.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mia Turns 8 - and That Means a Party! (Or Two)

Late June in Arizona - could anything be more hot than that?  Probably... but I don't want to experience it.  We departed the Mothership on Friday morning, heading for Arizona and the upcoming celebration of Mia's 8th birthday and baptism, complete with the parental units.  Why Arizona?  Because Katie and her little family had been vacationing with Zach's family down in Mexico the week before, and having everything in Arizona (where Zach's family lives) made it so easy for everyone to attend the festivities.  Our year old Ford Edge was a wonderfully comfortable ride, and the trip went quickly and smoothly.  Dad ended up riding up front with L so he could stretch his legs a bit, and have an easier time getting in and out.
We arrived about 5:30 that evening and had just enough time to unpack before the Wild Bunch (Katie and her family) also arrived to check in to the hotel for the night. Because after they arrived there wasn't a minute to spare.  We swam, we witnessed classic pool moves, we played Marco Polo, we read stories, and had stories read TO us.  It was non-stop.
The girls of course remembered us, and were sooooooo excited that we were there with them.  Little Drezden had no such recollection, but I don't know when I've met a more mellow baby who was so content being passed from person to person to person.  He loooved  Dad.  That was cute to see.  And Dad has always been a baby lover.  Drezden is a busy little guy: if you're not feeding him something, he's on the move.  He's learned to stand up on very wobbly little legs, so it was a challenge to keep after him - but he's a happy little guy.  If you had some fruit in your hand, he was your forever friend.  He's gone from being our Man Cub to being our Fruit Bat.  So we spent some time at the pool that first evening, and then we went out to dinner all together.  There was a nice little Italian place right by our hotel, and they gave us a nice table out on the patio, complete with misters to keep us cool. (Did I mention that Arizona is HOT??)
See Mia giving herself bunny ears?  Really nice to have a family dinner all together!
The girls had macaroni and cheese, we had our various pasta dishes and/or salads, and the Fruit Bat had a little of everything.  It was a really nice evening, but soon the girls and Drezden were starting to fall apart so we went back to our hotel and got them ready for bed.  I don't mind saying the Mema was also feeling a little wilted.  Hayden had a Pinkalicious book she wanted me to read to her, and Mia had a Junie B book that she wanted to read to me.  Luckily, at our hotel they had little the nicest little reading room right outside of their room, so off we went to revel in the adventures of Pinkalicious and Junie B.  Good times.

We all met for breakfast the next morning and had a little breakfast buffet all together.  Drezden had (what else?) fruit, and the girls had their fill of BACON.  How they love bacon...  Back up to the rooms to get in their swim suits.  There was a large biker club staying at the hotel, and they were taking over the pool at noon for their big shindig, so we went there and got some playing time in before their party started.  The girls twirled and spun and cannon-balled their way into the pool, all the while screaming "Watch this one!  My grand finale!!"  There were some glorious, never-before-seen moves witnessed by the pool goers that morning.  And Drezden?  He hung out on the sidelines in his straw hat.
 Nana enjoying Drezden poolside
Mema and the Fruit Bat

Hayden wore herself out thinking of new jumps to do.  It was a continual round of "Watch me!" and "Look at this!"  Mia kept hoping for a good game of Marco Polo, but soon invented some pretty good jumps of her own.

I noticed my dad watching the biker people start to set up for their party.  Lots and lots of HUGE biker guys.  My dad walked up to a particularly huge, slightly dangerous looking one, (and this is totally out of character for him) and asked him if he would wish his great granddaughter a happy birthday.  I have NO idea where that random request came from, but I guess the idea just struck his fancy.  The biker man got a huge smile on his face and enthusiastically wished Mia a happy birthday and asked her if she would like to have her picture taken on the big purple Harley they had parked by the pool.  Well, of course Mia loved that!
So there's our little 8 year old biker chick having the time of her life.  And all because her great grandpa wasn't shy about striking up a conversation with a great big little bit scary looking biker club member.  It was a highlight for sure.  Such nice people in this world wherever you go... sometimes in completely unexpected places!
The next event: Mia's 8th birthday party.  She wanted a Hawaiian -themed party, and our pineapple princess's wish was our command! 

Lots of fresh fruit, chicken and shrimp skewers, and everyone was required to wear a lei.  Zach's whole family was there (it was at his parents' house), complete with tons of cousins of all ages.  The food was great (thanks Renee!) and the highlight (as it is at every birthday party in Zach's family) was the pinata.  This year's pinata was a big tiki mask, and Mia almost tore it apart all by herself.  Plenty of candy for each and every cousin.  She received a pair of roller skates from all of her cousins, and I've never seen a happier girl!  (Her gift from L and me is still waiting in Massachusetts: a 4 man tent with a queen size air mattress.  Pineapple Princess wanted to go camping!)

So much kid noise, so much laughing and talking, so much fun, but at last I could see it was time to get my parents back to the hotel for some needed rest.  (Truth be told, I was getting tired myself, but I just blamed it on the parental units...)  Our little Mia was 8... unbelievable!

Pineapple Princess Mia, Katie, and Dad (sporting his red lei!)
Sunday was Mia's baptism day.  And, true to Arizona tradition, it was blazing hot!  We went to breakfast and then drove out to see the new LDS temple that had just been built in Gilbert.  Beautiful, beautiful...  But it was about 110 degrees so we scuttled back to out hotel room to keep cool until our 3:00 lunch at my friend Sandy's house.  I've known Sandy ever since our kids were little together.  She moved to Arizona a few years ago, and I'd not been to her house yet.  It was GORGEOUS, and she had set out such a wonderful luncheon for everyone!  Soon it was filled with grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  And a few dogs and a cat.  We ate, we laughed, we caught up with each other, and spent a few really fun hours together.  L and I gave Mia a silver locket necklace with her name engraved on it, and she was thrilled.

 Mia and her Nana (my mom)

Thanks Sandy, for treating us all like family!  I can't wait to come back and have a good girl visit!
Beautiful friend Sandy and daughter Katie
Luncheon over, on to the church for the main event.  We gathered the baptism clothes, the towels, and everything else we'd need, and drove over to Zach's parent's church building in Mesa.  Mia was so excited to change into her white clothes and have her daddy baptize her!
Mia and Zach ready for the baptism!
In our church, you are completely immersed in the water when you are baptized.  Not even a toe can float up or you have to do it again.  Luckily, Mia kept it all together and nothing floated up, but when she came up she gasped because the water had become a bit cold.  No to worry - dry clothes awaited, and she was ready to go in a few minutes.  Her aunt Christy had given a short talk on baptism, and after the baptism, L gave another short talk on receiving the Holy Ghost.  Soon the whole ceremony was over, and there were hugs all around, followed by an endless round of family pictures.  Here are a few:
Zach, Drezden, Katie, Mia, me, Hayden, and L

3 generations of girls
The older end of 3 generations of girls - so lucky to have these pictures!
A few days before we all arrived in Arizona, Katie had taken Mia out to the new Gilbert Temple and had taken several baptism portraits of her.  They turned out so lovely, I'm going to include my favorites here.  They really capture the inner beauty of this sweet and happy 8 year old.

I had a hard time picking a favorite, so I'm making you look at almost all of them!  One of them will be going into a frame - just haven't decided which one yet.  After the baptism, Zach's family hosted yet another round of dinner and togetherness.  L and the folks went back to the hotel to rest, and I went to the inlaw's house to help Katie pack.  I found she was actually almost done with the task - just a few little details to include in the packing.  It was a big day, a beautiful day, and an exhausting day, full of emotion and heartfelt moments.  Too soon, at 9:30, it was time to say our goodbyes as L picked me up, and Zach's parents drove this wonderful little family to the airport to head back to Massachusetts.  I'm never EVER ready to say goodbye and it was hard.  I couldn't get enough hugs in, so finally L had to practically throw me in the car.  Someone has to be the grownup, I guess.  I'll leave you with this one last picture taken of Mia as she said goodbye to the ocean down in Mexico where they'd been vacationing.  It pretty much describes how I always feel saying my goodbyes, and I love you's to Katie when it's time to go.  So bittersweet.  Aloha for now.  But new adventures are just around the corner.  Waiting...

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