Friday, November 13, 2009

Counterpoint to the Evening

Wednesday evening is practice night for my church choir, of which I’ve been a member for about a year. These days we are gearing up for the annual Lessons & Carols service. It’s exciting because there are always lots of new numbers to sing and it is the choir showcase service. We are also thinking ahead to Christmas Eve service which also has lots of music in it. Our choir director asked if any of us would be interested in doing some group numbers, not exactly solos but still out front and I said count me in. So this Christmas I may be part of a trio singing a medley of carols.

When choir practice was over we had a birthday celebration for anyone who’s birthday is in November and those we’d missed earlier in the year. This is renewing an old tradition among our group that fell into disuse and I think we are all happy to have it back again. Everybody should have their special day. The members who volunteered to sponsor this month’s celebration brought wine, desserts, and some nice crackers, chips, and dips. It was all good. Then we left for the evening.

Outside our sanctuary door there’s a motion activated security light. It’s dark earlier these days so I was glad that it came on as I headed out to my car. But apparently someone in the world wasn’t so happy. As I passed the tree on the corner of the building I heard a sound I’d never heard before. It was a sort of hooting. I stopped and listened and it happened again and again. It was an owl protesting about light disturbing his peace. In all my life I can’t remember ever having heard an owl before, but I recognized it immediately. Perhaps there’s no other bird that sounds like that. Maybe it’s so distinctive that once you’ve been told what an owl sounds like you can’t mistake that sound for any other bird. The moment made me feel very good. To know that nature was out there and active, that a bird I tend to think of as a wilderness creature was on our church grounds, made me aware of how special our sanctuary and grounds are. Whenever I’m on our campus I feel blessed. There’s this feeling that just seems to fill the grounds up, not just the sanctuary. We call ourselves reconcilers and I think that sound served to remind me that we reconcile ourselves to nature too.

The Happiness Project had an interesting post the other day about de-cluttering. It was rules to not follow. In it Gretchen gave Eleven Myths of De-cluttering along with how we should not follow those old beliefs and why. I was surprised to find these out and have to admit that I’m guilty of believing and practicing many of them. Maybe I can try out these new methods and get better results. What do you think? Are you guilty of any of these?

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happiness is a Playful Cat

Stray Porch Kitty, these days affectionately called Hooboo, made his presence felt this morning. When he thinks it’s time to get up, usually just before the alarm goes off, he gets up on the bed and either makes bread on my shoulder (thank goodness for comforters) or lays down on top of me and settles in to wait for signs of wakefulness. Today it went a little beyond that. If you read Sandi's blog you’ll remember that just this weekend she talked about her cats and how Sonny gets up on the bed, plays with Mac, and then snuggles under the covers to play “bat nose” with her. This morning it seemed that Hooboo has developed his own version of that game. From his settled perch upon my upper body his little paw reached down to tentatively pat my cheek and then my nose. Yes there was one tiny claw sticking out. He was very gentle until I reached up to pet him. Then the game became attack the hand which drove me back under the covers. LOL He didn’t hurt me but I was very glad for fast reflexes. And doubly grateful for a loving cat who likes to be close to me in the early morning hours. What a fun way to start the day.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Blending Two Projects

For the last 10 days my good friend Sandi has been taking part in the Month of Giving Thanks challenge. She’s found something to be grateful for every day and it has kept her writing. I find this a happy circumstance because I love reading her blog.

For the past few months I’ve been following The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on my Google reader. That blog is the interesting result of Gretchen taking a year and trying out every “make yourself happier” method she could discover and it has attracted many readers and generated a book. It’s provided me with some tiny mood enhancers which might seem small and insignificant but if anything helps you feel better then I say, “Way to go!”

I considered joining Sandi in her Thanksgiving project. I have a lot to be grateful for. And reading her daily posts has helped me remember that. But being grateful has doesn't always bring me joy. And reflecting on that, plus this evening’s conversation with my counselor, has generated this post

Being grateful, especially when you are enjoying what you are grateful for, is wonderful! But sometimes it can serve to emphasize a need you have. When that happens no matter how grateful you are for the help you got, whether from friends or any other source, you hear this inner voice saying, “You’re needy!” Boom there goes your happiness and sometimes the relief for having had your needs met. That’s a horrid way to feel about yourself. And it’s silly! There’s nothing wrong with having needs! Everyone does. We need air. We need food. We need shelter. We need friends and moments in our lives when everything feels like it is going right. And sometimes, when things in your life go horribly wrong you need lots of other kinds of help. That doesn’t make you a horrid person or a weak one. But I’m sure you’re smart enough to know that fighting those internal messages is more than difficult. It’s a monumental task and takes strength, insight, and perseverance. Not to mention a lot of self retraining.

So this evening when talking to my counselor, I declared that I didn’t like certain things in my life and I wanted to feel happier. I’d like to make sweeping changes in my life and have everything be back on track the way it was before certain catastrophic events occurred in my life. However, that’s not very realistic of me. I’m not a sweeping change person. I’m a one step at a time girl who doesn’t multitask well. So for the next few posts and maybe many posts to come I’m going to be talking about things that make me grateful and things that make me happy.

I believe the Thanksgiving was initiated nicely in my first paragraph. I’m so grateful that I have a wonderful friend like Sandi. She plays scrabble with me almost everyday and shares her life with me. We keep tabs on what we’re watching on TV (in my case on the internet) and what our plans are for the week. We pray for one another and show due concern when needful. And we are so much alike that Sandi has declared me a sister. If I could move the entire state of South Carolina and fit inside of Texas, right next to San Antonio, I’d gladly do so because that would mean that I could visit Sandi as easily as I drive to church. Someday, Sandi and I are going to meet face to face. When that happens it’s going to be one of the most wonderful trips I’ve ever taken!

Now for happiness. The things I’ve been gathering from The Happiness Project that help brighten my mood are 1) make your bed and 2) put on your shoes. That sounds silly doesn’t it? But doing those two things actually helps me feel prepared to face other things. If there is anything I can take from that it’s the understanding that happiness isn’t superficial, or momentary. It’s an entire many layers deep feeling that is affected by your lifestyle and the choices you make which lead to feeling ready to face anything that might come your way. I can find changes caused by those two tiny actions when I look over the past week. When I grumbled about not having work when I’d expected to, my blogging friend Jinsky told me that I should use the time to enjoy something nice, like a really good book. I’d like to confess that it wasn’t a book that I enjoyed. It was cooking.

When I was younger I was a decent cook. After those life changing events it felt like I’d forgotten how to cook. That’s almost impossible if you learned, as I did, from a loving grandmother. But somehow things became difficult and appeared insurmountable. That really bothered me. Not this week, though! I found myself making breakfast again. Not cereal but scrambled eggs which meant there were pans to clean afterwards. The next thing was breaking out the broiler. I’ve been buying my major groceries through Angel Foods for 2 months now and I’ve got way too much stuff in my freezer. So the other night I decided it was time to use some of the steaks. I got the broiling pan, cleaned it, and reorganized the oven drawer in the process. Then I thawed 3 steaks and broiled them after I found the cookbook that reminded me for how long. They were delicious thanks to Kevin (old navy friend) who taught me to use a hint of garlic powder and celery seasoning when cooking beef. Yum!

About the work thing, I’m still hired but they called on Friday morning and said, Come on Monday,” and then called Friday afternoon and said, “Oops! We’re sorry but everyone has to wait another week.” That’s week 2 of a job with no work. So I’m praying that it doesn’t happen again. At least I’ve got time to do some other things, like play scrabble with Sandi. I’m sure I’ll find other things to do to fill the time but right now I’ve no idea what. But it will be interesting to find out.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Monday, November 02, 2009

From Joy to a Dangling Feeling

Last Monday the Census called to ask me to go back to work for them. Of course I said yes! I really liked the job and the people I worked with earlier this year.

The man who called asked me to start last Friday for training. So bright and early that morning I was up and out the door. The day was wonderful! It felt like a home coming! There were lots of familiar faces, catching up on what we’d been up to, finding out what was going to happen next, and nodding with one another that this or that was no surprise.

We were told to come back today and that there would be continued training. So today I got up and happily headed out the door to continue learning what would be expected of me. Everyone was excited and happy when we met at the office door, waiting till it was unlocked and the alarm was disarmed to go in and get started. That feeling didn’t last long. We were barely inside the door when the supervisor asked us to listen to her before we got started. It turns out our bosses jumped the gun and had started us working a bit too early. We were being asked to turn around and go home. What?!!!

The supervisor assured us we were still hired. She said we would be called later this week and told where to report next Monday. She handed us all time sheets and asked us to fill them out for today and we got log half an hour of time and mileage if we’re working for a different office. So the day isn’t a total loss. It just feels unsettling.

I’m giving up a different temporary job to take this Census one because this one is going to give me steady work, probably through summer of next year. I’m really excited about that! But not having work when I expected to just bothers me and I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself. So I’m trying to figure out what I can do to fill in the time. Handle paperwork I guess. Run a few errands. But I really don’t want to do much spending till I’ve got money coming in.

One thing is puzzling me. Every time I’ve worked a temporary job before, if I showed up for work I was given a minimum of 4 hours of time. If there was nothing to do I found a way to stay busy. This 30 minute thing has me wondering if they should have had us all fill the time sheets out for 4 hours instead of the 30 minutes. I don’t know if that’s a labor requirement set in stone by some law or just a standard policy which can be ignored by the hiring agency. Like I said, kind of unsettling. So I’m trying to figure out if I should be grateful for what we were given or if I should say something. If you know something about that kind of situation I’d really appreciate hearing what you have to say. In the meantime, thank God for work!