Monday, April 3, 2017
I love Spring in Atlanta.
I know, that's a loaded statement. Let me clarify by saying I also detest the pollen we are 'blessed' with during the months of April and May. When the allergy clinic reports the pollen counts are in the 4000's and the air is tinged a vague yellow from the wafting sperm of tens of thousands of varieties of trees, shrubs, and flower, I grab the Zyrtec and another box of Kleenex and carry on. What I love is the fresh coat of green the city wears, a soul thrilling change from the drab browns of winter.
I love the warm breezes and sunshine that make you lift your face to soak in the vitamins and renewing energy missing during the short days of grey clouds and darkness. Pausing to watch in amazement as overnight the brilliant universe of colors from ancient azaleas and spreading dogwood trees burst forth, proudly displaying their Easter finery and challenging us to match their splendor.
In the suburbs the hardware stores bring out racks and tables filled with every possible starter flats, including tomatoes and pepper plants. The smell of composting mulch fills the air as the weekend farmers sally forth with their trucks and SUVs to accomplish in one sun-filled weekend all they missed during the work week.
Hanging baskets of every size swing in the breeze, reminding us of wide front porches with lazy swings and tables holding glasses of sweet tea and lemonade. Children run through the vibrant green grass looking for multicolored plastic eggs or just to feel the cool happy blades between their no longer woolen clad toes. Life is renewed and the earth welcomes plant and animal to the eternal change of season.
Yesterday I sat on the swing and watched the clouds swing by and wondered to myself whether Heaven enjoys the different flavors of our seasons or if it is eternal spring. I came to the conclusion the reason we desire the return of spring each year is to welcome the promise of something better. Summer is freedom and fall is aging, winter is waiting but spring is renewal. It is possible to bear the waiting because something better is coming.
Which is why Easter falls in the spring. The promise of something better coming is why Jesus committed himself to the cross and what millions of Christians like myself hold as the most sacred tenet of our faith. It makes the waiting and enduring of all the twists and turns of our life worth the pains and pleasures of this messy planet hurtling through the infinity of space.
So again I say, I love Spring. In spite of all the turmoil our lives have experienced these past few years, I know better days are coming.
Monday, March 27, 2017
I haven't written much the past two years.
There's a wealth of emotions tied to that one sentence, and even now I'm still dealing with the fallout of the wreck that has become my life. I've lost so much in two years. Some days when I reflect back on what's happened I can get a handle on everything, but other times I just cry.
A lot of circumstances when added together can become a tidal wave from which there is no escape. Our tidal wave started in 2009. They say God doesn't give more than we can handle, but obviously he has a higher opinion of my abilities than I do. Six close deaths in eight years were just the tip of the iceberg, and things only got harder when my darling hubby broke his back, for the third time.
So now the business is closed, the assets sold, and our unemployment is running out. I make $10 per hour and we are attempting to get the hubby on disability. My daughter is working two jobs to help with the expenses, and every penny is debated twice before spent. In the darkness that has been our reality, I've learned a few lessons I probably already knew but didn't adhere to.
1) Without money, you have time to work on the problems you've ignored. Every little resentment we've developed in the thirty years of our marriage has to be dealt with. No longer do we have the luxury of moving in separate areas in order to keep from facing each other.
2) When I'm stressed about finances and bills, the first thing that disappears are the voices in my head. I have three stories in various stages of development, and none of them are close enough to submission to be worth talking about. They have great story lines, but right now, every single character decided to head out on vacation.
3) People may ask how you are doing, but they really don't want to know. Everyone has issues and problems, they don't want to constantly be surrounded by yours.
4) Joy can be found in the most unexpected places. Take time to appreciate the small things you see around you. It's amazing how much you can get when you slow down and enjoy the ride. This life is all we have, don't spend so much time chasing money that you lose sight of what is truly important, and that is the relationships you have with the people around you.
I'm trying to live with these lessons and others, but I confess it's been hard. Hard putting myself aside and letting God take control. Hard realizing I am not in control of my fate anymore. Hard giving up things that I'd taken for granted, like movies and new clothes.
Each person's life is a journey, and though we we think the train has become derailed, that's all part of our journey as well. The Apostle Paul once said, :"I must decrease so that He may increase." I'm still decreasing, and I need to let Him increase instead of stomping my foot and demanding things of which I have not proven myself ready or worthy.
So I'll embrace the lemons, and learn to make not just lemonade, but lemon pie, lemon curd, lemon jelly, everything that can be made from those lemons, because no matter what my situation, I need to be grateful for them. Those lemons came about because God sent them, and I want to master the lemon, so I can move onto the next challenge.
And somewhere along the line, the lemons will become sweeter, and the journey will continue, winding down a path made for me leading to where I do not know. But I do know I will be stronger once it is complete.
Monday, January 16, 2017
I've been looking for a new 'real' job.
Sounds perfectly normal, right? Well, to be honest, it's been twenty-two years since I was unemployed and the market and methods have changed dramatically. No longer do you race out on Sunday to get the want ads to be the first to send out a resume, or make a phone call on Monday only to hear the position was filled two weeks ago and they forgot to pull the ad.
Now, everything is electronic, This makes things super easy for employers, but for those of us on the other side of the equation, it has become another area where you have to watch out for people trying to separate you from your hard earned money.
Here is an example that was sent to my email after spending an afternoon painstaking looking over a dozen web sites, trying hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff:
"Dear job seeker
Our recruitment team viewed your resume published Application :Administrative Assistant- Full Time/ Part Time) and we are pleased with your
qualifications,we believe you have the required qualifications to
undergo an online interview.
Your resume was shortlisted for an online interview with the interview
manager Mrs Carol Rawson via G-mail Hangout or Google talk with the
following email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Add Her to your
buddy list and message Her, She will be online waiting for you ASAP to
conduct the interview with you.
Your verification code is ( XXXXXX ), this would serve as your
identification number throughout the online hiring process. Your
timely response matters a lot.
We look forward to having you on the team.
Interview Scheduled : Online.
Venue: On Line Via Google Hangout
Training is Available
Your swift and timely response matters a lot in this beneficial
Best Regard :
I followed one of these rabbit trails months ago when I was a fresh faced newly unemployed idealist. It led to a chat room where the contents of the front page of a real company website were splashed before me, which then led to a hiring offer. They would send a check to cover any expenses I might incur to get the 'new' district office up and running.
Sure enough, two days later a delivery man dropped a parcel on my doorstep containing a cashier's check for $2700.00. I was to deposit it in my account, then send a new money order to so and so for the purchase of the equipment. Yeah, right. I bet there's a Nigerian prince in this mess somewhere.
Look, all I want is a job. If I had money to be scammed I wouldn't be on the hunt for gainful employment. In preying on those who can least afford to be catfished, you are taking grift to a new level of lowliness. In the immortal words of Septa Unella from 'Game of Thrones', SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.
Or maybe I am looking at this the wrong way. Instead of answering advertisements, I should place one: "Wanted: Admin/Office Manager/Receptionist/Lemming/Human Resources/Gerbil. Must have valid checking account for payments. Work from home trying to find new office space. Only the gullible need apply. Make your own hours all for $40/hour."
Click to Apply
Sunday, January 8, 2017
It snowed this weekend, always an exciting time here in the Deep South. Stores ran out of milk and bread, our DOT finally got to use all that road salt they had stored up. I made chili and watched my dogs stare at the ground with undisguised revulsion at the idea I wanted them to soil their delicate little feet. But snow always makes me reflective and since it's the first of the new year, I've decided to air a few of my annoyances and fears for the upcoming year.
I'm not crazy about the incoming government, but I'm wise enough to be willing to give them the chance to make a difference. Who knows, it might actually be a great thing, if people are willing to look past their own pockets and put the common good first. Isn't that what the Democrats are always screaming?
For the first time in a very long time, I'm unemployed. It's scary and the jobs market is a very different place from the one I knew more than 20 years ago. The industry I used to be in, computer hardware, is light years away from what I knew. While I'm great at a lot of things, I'm discovering I'm not special enough to stand out when there are literally thousands of applicants for every position.
It's made me very reflective of who I am. I am more than a one page list of accomplishments and skills. I've spend a long time these past few years digging into my past, the fears and accomplishments as well as my place among others, and I've come to peace with who I am and where I want to be. Becoming unemployed ten years before I can catch Social Security wasn't anywhere on the radar, that's for sure.
But I will endure. I've overcome loss before, and with God's help, I will again. Life is a journey, and this is part of my path. Doesn't mean I won't be frustrated; in fact, that seems to be my favorite emotion here recently. However, I will face my fears and my anxiety, and learn to grow with every experience.
Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth...
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Many times in my life I have found circumstances taking drastic, sometimes emotionally devastating turns. The first time I remember this happening in detail was December 1981 - January 1982. Within the space of these two months, my college roommate committed suicide, I was in a horrific crash involving a tractor trailer, and the man I had been dating since high school broke up with me by sending an invitation to his wedding.
For two weeks after I lay on the bed wondering what had I been doing so wrong that God felt the need to crash my world down around my ears. In haste and fear I threw myself into a relationship with more downs than ups. Then I spent two years rectifying the mistakes made in my overwrought mental condition.
Since then these upheaval collisions have only happened twice more: when I left my job in technology to go work for my husband's family business back in 1995, and in early 2015. Unfortunately that particular episode is still ongoing, and while I think I see the exit tunnel, things are still whirling around me like a sand storm.
When I am unsure where to go, or what decision to make, there is only one direction I turn: my faith. It has sustained me when everything and everyone else deserted me, and I give my Higher Power, who is God, all the credit for keeping me sane and focused when much of my life is burning down around me.
We are heading into the holiday season. Regardless of which faith you adhere to, this is the time to focus on others instead of our own selfish desires. If, for 31 days, we can all put our political, religious, or monetary problems on the shelf and bring out the damn Elf. Remember those who need us most: animals still suffering in animal shelters around the country. Take time and adopt, don't spend thousands on a pedigree animal. There are special pedigree animals waiting at your local shelter, I guarantee.
So what is my point? I guess the point is, we have to be flexible when it comes to life, learn to roll with the winds and to replant when the storm is gone. That's where I am right now, replanting. Taking the good and discarding the bad; consider it early Spring Cleaning. Is this where I wanted to be so late in life? Hell no! But it is the life I have, and I want to enjoy every minute remaining to the fullest extent every day.
This December, do a little cleaning of your own. Take all those negative posting people off your Facebook. Life is too short to always be miserable. Learn to tweet, and give inspiration to yourself and others each day. Lord knows we all need inspiration. Volunteer at the local animal shelter, or nearby hospital to hold premature babies as they grow and adapt to this big, scary world.
I guess the point of all this is to say, don't stay in your season of defeat. Stand up, dust off your pants and keep walking. Who knows what is waiting just up ahead?
Don't forget to check out my newest release: "Welcome to the Family", available on Amazon.com, BN.com, and The Wild Rose Press website.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Now Available from The Wild Rose Press - Meet the Devlyns. Not your everyday relations.
Silence then reigned in the limo as Sean stared at the scenery flying past, remembering the first time he’d made this particular drive. When Cassie at last relented and took him to meet her father and brothers, they’d been together almost a year. The trip ended up being a nightmare. The only plus side was the stronger bond he and Cassie built when everything was said and done. It was the trip which created the foundation point of their agreements.
The Devlyn men were whacked, especially when it came to Cassie.
Kevin was eldest, the only brother with whom Cassie maintained a cordial relationship. He was also the most straight laced of the three brothers. After leaving the service, Kevin got his law degree and worked for the family business as chief counsel. Just like Cassie, his relationship with their father was complicated; typical oldest son. Kevin had cleaned up more than one mess left behind by Martin or Greg and was badly scarred himself from the process.
Middle son Matthew was a high functioning Autistic and frequently became a pawn, easily swayed by youngest brother Greg. It was Greg whose neck Sean wanted to wring, along with Martin himself. It was they who ruined relationships between the siblings.
Greg was an evil, vile, sorry excuse for a human, and those were Martin’s words not Sean’s. Ever since childhood, Greg’s vendetta against his only sister brought havoc into their lives more than once. Doctors said he was a borderline psychotic, but Sean knew he’d crossed the border long ago. Martin eventually dismissed him to West Coast operations to keep distance between Cassie and her chief tormentor, but family and business still brought him to Atlanta more than Sean would like.
One part of that first meeting fiasco kept replaying in his ears, the speech her father gave about why Ferguson wasn’t good enough for his only daughter. He still could hear the derision in the man’s voice as he’d sneered, “The only son of a mid-level bureaucrat thinks because he talks a privileged, naïve, innocent girl into falling onto her back for him, we intend to accept this nobody into our family? I would sooner wallow in the mud with animals than know my grandchildren will be fathered by a damn Irishman!”
That was the only meeting he’d had with all the male members of Cassie’s family at one time. They left shortly thereafter and hadn’t returned since, or at least Sean hadn’t. Cassie occasionally stopped by to see her father, but at their Atlantic Station headquarters never the house. Though eventually Kevin did make amends, the other two brothers, Greg and Matthew, still didn’t speak to them. It bothered him that they were taking out their disapproval of him on Cassie. She didn’t deserve it. But what aggravated him the most was the damn hold they had on her that kept one finger always in her business; she didn’t know how to say no to the group of them.
The limo slowed as they took the Vinings exit off the freeway. Winding past the quaint Village center, they turned right, over the Chattahoochee River and into the exclusive, hidden neighborhoods on the northwest outskirts of Atlanta. At last they pulled up to a large stone entrance with an exquisite wrought iron gate overlooking the Chattahoochee River. The driver keyed a number into the key pad and the gates swung open.
“Welcome home,” Joe quipped.
“Shut the hell up,” Sean muttered. Joe smiled in return.