July 15, 2013

Now What.

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:42 am by openendedcomment

Today marks the two month anniversary of my “official” unemployment.   This is not a post of how poor the economy is, how hard it is to find a job, blah, blah, blah…because honestly, it isn’t all that hard to find a job.  At least it isn’t for me.  I’m lucky in that I have some really great professional contacts and have a few skill sets that seem to be in demand regardless of the economy.   Which begs the question: Why am I still unemployed after two whole months?  Well, it’s simple, really.  I have no idea what I want to do.

I know what I have done.  I have worked my ever-loving ass off since I was thirteen.   Seriously.  In high-school I held a full-time job and babysat regularly and was in debate and theater and speech and a cheerleader.  This tendency to be highly over-scheduled has continued for the eighteen years that have followed.   I don’t do relaxed.   I can’t handle monotony.  I need to dive into something and allow myself to be immersed in a challenge.  I love the thrill of the deal.  For sixty days I have been trying to replace my need to be productive in my career with being productive in my home.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve applied to numerous positions, have had a few good interviews and have had untold conversations with former colleagues, contacts and friends.  I’ve networked like a champ.  But a job search can only use up so many hours in a week and I’ve been filling the remaining sixty hours or so of my weekly time on a treadmill, organizing my home, making my children nuts, dealing with them making me nuts,  cooking, baking, cleaning, crafting, submitting prose to greeting card groups, writing marketing slogans,  taking online courses, gardening, making everything from “Scratch” (including cleaning supplies, baking mixes and breads), volunteering, fund-raising for various political organizations and in general doing whatever possible to make myself feel like a contributing member of my household and society.

It sucks.

As I peruse yet another batch of positions to apply to I am beginning to feel I am too close to the issue to have clarity.  I want the “perfect” job.  No, scratch that, I don’t want a  job.  I want the perfect career.  I do not want a job at which I will do well but spend the majority of my time plotting to leave.  I am too old for that crap.  I am not interested in anything that I can’t see myself doing for the next decade at the very least.  I want the ability to be challenged and creative.  I want to utilize my speaking and training skills.  I want to develop, design and flex my word-smithing ways.  In writing these slogans and marketing content I’ve been submitting online (many which have been purchased thank-you very much) I’ve found I sort of love doing it.  I did write content in my former position, too, but it wasn’t the focus of my position.   I like to and am willing to travel, but not too terribly much.  One offer I had was lovely in all ways aside from requiring 70-80% travel.  I mean, 30% is reasonable but 80%?!?  I think not.   I’d prefer to home-office, or at the very least have a flexible schedule.  I need it, I’m better with it and it makes sense for me to work where I am most productive.   I also want to interact.  I want to sell.  I love to sell…like love, love, love to sell.   Selling is in my blood.  It is a part of who I am.   I have always been in sales of some sort and I’m damn good on the phone and over a webinar.  Really, it’s sort of my thing.  I’m fast, I multi-task like mad, I can read people and manage relationships and I always figure out a solution that works for all involved.   So…now that you know all of that, I put it to you.  What on earth should I do?  If you were me, what would be your path?  Often “fresh” eyes are the best eyes and really,  what could be more fresh than this?

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March 19, 2013

A departure.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:19 am by openendedcomment

A new Pope was installed today.  As a woman who was raised as Catholic, this should be an important day for me.  It should be a day to embrace my faith and feel more connected to my church and to God.  I know this intellectually but emotionally and spiritually, I feel only confusion…detachment and sorrow.  I want to believe and I do believe in God and in the basics but in the church itself…in and for that I feel only loss.

This Pope embraces care of the poorest among us, he is a scientist and a Jesuit.  He believes in furthering education and humility.  These  are all wonderful things.  He spoke of and has acted on purging the church of the sins of its leaders.  That is a good thing too, and high time.  Today he spoke of love.  Love for those who most need it and love for those who least deserve it.  That is exactly what I have waited for the church to speak of and to act upon.  I ought to be eleated…but I am not.  I am not because though he spoke of love he remains firmly rooted in the archaic notions of women’s role being minimal at best and in women having no place in the church’s leadership.  He is traditional (in the sense of the church) in his stance on reproductive rights and even birth control.  Perhaps hardest for me is that he, together with the church’s leadership, remain resolute in their opinions and teachings on homosexuality.

I can’t agree.  I can understand that these are the church’s teachings, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  I’m not talking about other religions who may agree with the Catholic Church on some of these social justice lines, frankly, that isn’t what I’m concerned with.  I am selfishly concerned with my religion and the church I was raised in and more specifically with how on earth I can justify raising my own children as Catholics today.

I’ve asked.  I’ve spoken to priests and to very devout friends.  They’ve all given me the exact same BS lines and quoted the exact same scripture at me what seems like thousands of times.  No matter how often I hear it, I know it is not true.  I know it isn’t true.  The scripture they quote can easily be refuted with another verse in another chapter.  Besides, I do not and have not ever taken the Bible literally.  How can I?  How could anyone with an analytical and developed mind?  Knowing the Bible has been written and rewritten for political purposes over a millennium with entire sections removed and added for various reasons…knowing that the original disciples, the original priests and leaders of the church were allowed to marry and that women did have a larger role in the church for centuries until someone decided they didn’t…how could I?  And this is just the New Testament.  The Old Testament is clearly up for interpretation.  Please, please don’t comment on this part with any “Adam and Eve” stuff here.  I mean, really.  If Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, how did Cain and Abel procreate without committing incest?  If you truly belive that “traditional” marriage is between one man and one woman because “the Bible says so” then please explain why half of the Old Testament had numerous wives. If we’re going straight “traditional” as our guide, then Cody and the Sister Wives are our model and…well…please let’s not agree on that, OK?  And why and how on earth is it that the exact same scripture used to justify this hatred was used to justify laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages?  Look it up.  Exact. Same. Scripture.  Frankly, I’m offended.  I believe that God is offended.  The Bible and God’s teachings are those of love.  To use bits and pieces to promote hate is antithetical to Christianity and it makes me sick.  Further, if abortion and birth control are so wrong, why did the church assist with birth control (granted it was rather crude in form, but still happened) for women for centuries right up until the nineteenth when it became a social issue?  C’mon people…get some new material.

I want to raise my children with religion.  I want them to have the peace and knowledge that I do, that there is a God and there was a Son.  That their conscience is more than a conscience and that the traditions of communion and confession are important and true.  That said, I will raise good people.  I will raise children that believe in forgiveness over judgement.  People that understand tolerance and justice on a far deeper level than they know bigotry and hate.  I want to provide the world with four individuals who know how to question and think for themselves while rooted in firm and unshakeable values…and knowing what I know and hearing what I have heard from this place I used to find such comfort, I no longer know how to provide that for them.

And I need to.

They miss the ceremony and the tradition.  Sometimes I do, too.  We walked out of a mass several months ago when a deacon took to the pulpit and eschewed hatred and judgement for many that I love and millions who should find comfort rather than persecution in the arms of God.  I took one look at my four babies and knew in that instant I could not allow them to hear such things.  That even though I had always explained our family’s feelings on the issues after a mass, that by having them exposed in any form to such outrageous statements while telling them to “believe” was inexcusable as a parent.  So we walked.  It’s been bothering me ever since and today, of all days, I miss my church.  In writing this I can understand that I miss the idea of my church…of what I thought it to be for so many years.  I miss the comfort I found as I kneeled and prayed, enveloped by a sense of tradition and the teachings of Christ that I had chosen to acknowledge…of redemption and of love and of charity and peace.  New beginnings and eternal life.  I know that I will never go back, not the way I once was.  I don’t know what I am anymore, clearly not Catholic.  Not really.  To continue to identify as one seems unfair to those that actually are and a departure from what I know in my heart to be right.  I know that for my children I will have to find something different.  A compromise of what I know to be true and what I believe they need in their lives.  I will likely always cross myself and carry my rosary.  I will never waver from fish on Fridays.  As a family, we will still pray before dinner and still say the Hail Mary at the graves of those we love and lost.  I will find something new, someday.  In the meantime, for the church of my childhood and my grandparents, I will pray.  I will go again to the Basilica of Saint Mary and I will kneel before Our Mother and light a candle the way I have hundreds if not thousands of times before.  I will quietly ask that she bless me on this journey, secure in the knowledge I gained at the feet of Father Milano, that no matter what I am taught or told in my life and regardless of by whom, if I take the Spirit as my guide and listen in reflection to the truth of my conscience, I will be on the right path.

And for today, at this moment of what may be great change but still not great enough, my path is away.

December 17, 2012

When there is no reason.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , at 3:05 pm by openendedcomment

I’ve been reading.  News Sites, Blogs, Facebook…reading everything everywhere and each place I turn it is there.  The stories of children lost.  Stories of parents hugging their children a bit harder, saying “I love you” one extra time and even one picking their child up from school to go to a toy store.  Because they can.

I read another story, of someone criticizing saying “if it takes this to make you hug your child, you’re doing it wrong.” And that one hurt me.  That one actually made me mad.  You’re not “doing it wrong” you were just reminded how blessed you are to have that child and to need to express that love.  To be comforted by small arms and innocence and the hope that is our children.  To need to love them more now than ever is a good thing.  A right thing.

I spoke to a Mother I know on Friday night who was compelled to meet her little boy at the bus stop instead of waiting for him to come into the house on his own because those few extra minutes without him next to her was just too much to bear.  My cousin wrote he had to stop himself from returning to his daughter’s school this morning for one more hug.  I could barely let mine go today. And  none of that is wrong.  It is natural. It is the promise of the possibility for healing and change that we combat what can only be called an act of pure evil with a massive outpouring of love.  Kindness.  Care and yes, smothering affection. As though we were and with enough of it are smothering the flame of evil and hurt burning in those that would commit such atrocities against the very best of us.  There is nothing more right than that.

I hold firm that though I do not and though none of us may ever really know the reasons for last Friday or for any of the other tragedies that occur far too often, that the root of it all is not one gun, one law, one doctor or one game but rather the culture of violence,  tolerance for cruelty and ignorance of illness we have allowed to grow like an insidious vine, cutting off the beauty and life to our most prized flower.  Like the vine, it is not enough to trim it back when it becomes an issue for it only returns, stronger than ever, hell-bent on accomplishing its task.  We must dig it out.  Destroy each fiber and then, as any good gardener must, check and re-check to ensure it never, ever returns.  We have to end this and more than the ending we must care…with tender and vigilant dedication care and cultivate the best we have among us, the children, the future of who we are.  We must provide help where help is needed, be aware of those struggling among us and protect what we old most dear.  Changes must me made.  And change will come.  I believe that. When the grieving as a nation abates from acute shock to an ache and before we file this away as something that happened once upon a time, change must occur.

For now, for today, for many tomorrows we will grieve.  For some the grief will never end.  For them, I will pray.

December 14, 2012

The Catalyst.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 pm by openendedcomment

This is not going to be a popular post and at this point I just don’t care.  I can’t change what occurs in every other household but I can damn well make decisions in my own regarding my own family and my own children when it comes to something I know to be true to the very fiber of my being.

For months now my husband and I have made the decision that in this home and for our four children, violence is not tolerated, not allowed and not welcomed.  We do not allow them to watch violent movies.  We do not allow violent video games of any sort.  We did meet all sorts of resistance from them when we made this choice but at the end of the day it is not their decision, it is ours.  Just as they are not raising themselves but rather it is we who have the honor and the privilege of raising them,  we are not here to be their best friends but to ensure their safety, health, education and to provide love and guidance whether they like it or not.  We are the parents and that is our role.  Period.

I know that most parents of 9, 11, 13 and 16 year olds allow Halo and Modern Warcraft and all sorts of other games.  I know that almost every single one of their friends play these games.  There was a brief time when we too allowed this.  I justified it with the constant barrage of really, truly amazing parents I know being seemingly fine with it.  Parents with good, no great children that are a part of our lives being allowed to and seeing that they are weren’t affected.  I was an idiot and it ranks right up there with the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a Mother.  Before anyone is overly offended, let me be clear:  Your choices for your children are yours…but mine…mine for mine are just that.  Mine.  My instinct told me no, but societal norm allowed me to say yes and it will take me a long time to forgive myself for that.

Our catalyst was the Aurora, Colorado, massacre.  I watched the news coverage and saw an anchor go from somber reporting of a four-year old killed in her Mother’s arms to a story regarding Lindsay Lohan in under ten seconds.  Within seven hours of the tragedy, she and we moved on.  The headlines on MSNBC and CNN did not last an entire day at the top of the news sites.  They were there, but buried beneath election and celebrity news.  The thought and worse yet the reality that our culture is one in which such soul-crushing pain and violence can be brushed aside within a news cycle is something I can’t comprehend and it boggles my mind that any human being can find this acceptable.  The worst part of this is knowing that children, my children, are being raised in a place and in a mind-set of this kind of life-altering tragedy being commonplace and therefore acceptable…sad, but acceptable.  Painful, but a part of Modern America.  No.  No way am I going to accept that we as a culture can be faced with and can move forward from this kind of thing numb to it all.  How ingrained in our world is the loss of innocent life that we no longer are shocked by it?

I am not a law-maker and I don’t have a time machine.  I can’t change the access to guns and the laws governing them (though I can damn well try to and make a great deal of noise doing so)  I can’t go back in time and raise my children in a place before Columbine…Virginia Tech…Aurora…Oregon…today.  I do not have the ability to raise children who are unaware of such tragedy, who do not accept mass murder of children and “shooter” drills in their school as par for the course.  No matter how much I wish and regret that it is so, no matter that is actually sickens me that this is the case, there is not a damn thing I can do to keep them from accepting this as a part of life.  But I can do something.  I have to do something.  At the very least I may endeavor to maintain any shred of innocence they may have left, these children of mine.  I can hold them closer to childhood, a place this fear should never touch. I can do my utmost to allow them to feel outrage, shock and pain at an act which is the very definition of these things.  I can do that by not exposing them to blood, murder, death and the ending of life on a daily basis through games…winning by the kill…for it is not a game.  It is not entertainment.  It is not normal.  It is not even tolerable and it is not something that anyone, especially a child should be numb to.  To allow it to be so is a tragedy unlike any other imaginable.  To stand idly by and believe that constant exposure to violent death will not affect young minds is, to me, inane at best.  Of course if affects them.  Everything they hear, see, taste and touch affects them.  Why do we attempt to instill our values in our children if not to have them live those values?  Why do we speak to them of love and tolerance and friendship if that is not what we wish?  And if that is true how do we go from that to having them run off to the basement or their rooms to gleefully slaughter enemy soldiers in a virtual world and then fail to see the sickening irony of it all?  And no,  I do not feel that today or any of these  tragedies we have faced in such close proximity are caused by video games or by movies…but the pervasive culture of violence we are raising our children and young adults in can no longer be ignored.  My God, we have got to wake up.

The pain…the unthinkable, unimaginable and overwhelmingly unbearable pain so many are facing tonight and all of the nights to come…I can’t begin to say I understand the depth of this.  I can pray for their healing, pray for it to never happen again.  I can cry and I have cried untold tears this afternoon and evening.  I can feel but I cannot begin to understand.  None of us do and God willing, none will.  It is not the fault of any parent of any child who does these things.  It is not the fault of a game or a movie.  It is not the fault of a law.  But, when so many tragedies continue to occur here and not elsewhere…not to this degree…not with this kind of regularity…when this undeniable truth is faced, it is time we begin to take notice and past time we follow with action.

They are our future.  They are our legacy.  I am not asking any other parent to change their own values and their own rules…that is not my place…I am merely changing my own.  I am doing so because maybe I’m not as alone in this as I think I am.  Maybe I’m not the only parent who has taken this stand her home.  And if I am not, I want you to know that you’re not alone either.  None of us are and maybe, just maybe it’s time we start acting like it.