Monday, January 26, 2015

Yep..Life's Like That

Sometimes I feel like Dilbert and wonder what planet I work on. For the record, like most productive adults, I hate meaningless meetings which simply waste time. I'm the Director of my Center (and the entire staff), meaning I either have to cancel my programs or move them to another building in order to attend this stuff.  Seems counterproductive to invite seniors to come have fun, then turn around and tell them to stay home.  Sigh.
     Okay, so last week's CPR training wasn't meaningless.  Our employer paid for the course, which is about $100. But irritation raised it's ugly head as my co-workers complained about paying $5 for the certification card.  I hope no one ever needs them for CPR assistance, they may charge to get their $5 back.  And I still suspect at least one of them will ask for the the number to call 9-1-1.  (If you don't live around here, that's the American emergency phone number).
     The next day was a Staff Meeting. (I had so many groups scheduled I left them alone in the building, advising them to just behave until I got back...which is frowned upon, but I can't be everywhere.)  Anyway, several months ago a co-worker didn't pay attention at a Staff meeting. This evolved into a He Said/She Said encounter with the Supervisor concerning what actually occurred.  This, in turn, resulted in my being asked to take notes... I really hate all that scribbling.  We turn in weekly reports of our activities so all that "reporting" has already been noted.  Going around the table to repeat it verbally is what I call the "Brag-fest", to see who claims to do more work than the rest.  Unfortunately, Minute taking has become mandatory for me.  Yet rather than focusing their attention, my co-workers have become more mentally scattered.  They gossip.  Daydream.  Text.   Only my Supervisor and Dept. Head receive a copy of the Minutes.  They'd probably share if they knew how much time I spent taking phone calls from co-workers a week later who want to verify a date/event because, "I know you pay attention."   Should I be concerned that my notes are now considered what "really happened"?
     And what is my reward for paying attention and keeping all the dates straight?  I get to go to ANOTHER meeting.  Most of our Centers are in rural areas, with Community Meetings of the neighbors, most on a monthly basis.  Those groups have complained that the Center Directors are running out the door as soon as they enter.  They want us to stay.      
     I don't have one of those groups.  I have a Neighborhood Watch group which meets 3 times a year, tonight being the first of the year.  Yep, you guessed it.  Because my co-workers don't/can't/won't do their job, I've had another duty added to mine.  I get to stay after work tonight and sit in on the Neighborhood Watch meeting.  I called their Leader so she won't think I'm spying on them.  Her reply?  "I'm so sorry you have to stay after work!"
     Somehow, that made it all better.  
     So on days when I feel like ol' Dilbert, I will remember that sometimes you just have to turn an annoyance on it's head and go with the flow.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hi, my name is hope and I...

...still celebrate birthdays. Yes, I mean my own.

I know.  Some of you are shocked.  It'll be okay.  Take a deep breath, then read on.
 
I know some of you are probably shaking your head and wondering what is wrong with me.  Birthdays are for children.  What grown woman WANTS to celebrate being another year older?  (What grown woman answers the question, "How old are you?" with the truth?).

And maybe that's the answer.  Vertically speaking, I didn't grow much. Childhood doesn't seem like some distant, mythical place. Those memories are easily accessed, so childhood is just around the mental corner if I want a quick visit. My curiosity didn't get swallowed up by the reality of adulthood...it grew.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not mentally stuck in Kiddie La-La-Land.  I'm a college educated, sensible female person who is organized and on time...usually even a little early.  I have adult responsibilities, which I take seriously, and I tackle tasks given to me until completed.  (That would be the family curse, tucked into my psyche by the little ditty, "If a job is first begun, never leave it til it's done.  Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all).  Needless to say, I finish what I start...and on occasion, I've thought long and hard about starting something knowing I will be cursed to finish. Being organized means I have a job, do bookkeeping for Hubby's business and all the grunt work for our wounded soldier charity.  I know what it means to be an adult.  The problem is sometimes other people can't see that I am one.

There's a line in a Prince song which goes, "Act your age Mama, not your shoe size."   For the record, my shoe size is 6.

However, since I'm not that tall, I've discovered over the years that people often treat me as if I am 6 years old.  There's something about being short which makes some people treat you as if your I.Q. is related to your height.  There is the occasional pat on the head...which is entirely different than a pat on the back.  I get hugged a lot by strangers.

But you know what?  For the most part, I don't mind.  It just means I'm not getting old.  There is a vast difference between the act of aging, gracefully or otherwise, and only having a passing interest in life because your birthdays are piling up.  My curiosity hasn't aged, it's just gotten more intense!  I still want to know "Why?", even if there isn't always a concrete answer.  I want to know both sides of the story before making a choice...not always possible, I know.  And as long as my sense of humor is fully intact, I will be able to find the funny in situations that may not be funny at the moment, but on reflection they probably will be.

I once worked as a Paralegal at a law office for folks who received services based on income.  The two secretaries, the receptionist and I would go out to lunch about twice a year.  The waitress would always address each of these women with, "And what can I get for you Ma'am?"  Until they got to me.  I always got a sunny smile and a, "And what can I get for you Sugar/Honey/Sweetie?"   The receptionist once became incensed, demanding to know why I always got "sweet talk" when she was the youngest at the table.  And therein was the answer: the other three were demanding from the start, complaining about the menu or the choice of side orders.  I just politely answered the question and always said, "Thank you" when my meal arrived.  A little kindness goes a long way.  Or maybe the waitress thought one of them was my Mom.  At least she didn't offer me a booster seat.  (Though on occasion I probably could've used one).

And so today I will celebrate the me I have become, even if everything I've ever crammed into my head and life is still only a little over five feet off the ground.  The answer to the question someone wants to ask is, "57".   You see to me, each birthday is a victory...another year survived and a new one to look forward to.  Then again, it probably is another little ditty I heard when I was a kid.

"Age is mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I believed it then.  And I still do.  Now excuse me while I go see where Hubby hid my chocolate cake. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

And the first "THANK YOU" goes to....

As many of your know, I write a one page, monthly newsletter for my senior citizens.  It's to keep them in contact, which is especially important for those who've been ill or away.  We talk about who's having a birthday, who's sick/recovered and changes coming up in our schedule.  On the reverse is our calendar of events, and then a large space for me to share what's on my mind.  Sometimes I use that space to share details of important (if boring) updates on Social Security or Medicare.  Occasionally it's a trivia game to challenge their braincells or a "Did you know?" story based on a common event, like the creation of Mother's Day or Mardi Gras.  I'm in my 22nd year of crafting this slip of news and because I don't like to repeat myself, it's a challenge to keep things "new".  But when I run out of newsworthy items or games for that back page, I resort to what I enjoy most: just writing.  

I've discovered the seniors' favorite part of the newsletter is what they refer to as, "your little stories."

Okay, I admit it.  I have memories of childhood which seem like yesterday and I can find a way to plug them into a story which they can relate to as well.  Most of those "little stories" are sentimental in nature...or take a poke at me in one of my lesser brilliant moments.  But it reminds all of us that we're human and connected, no matter where we are on life's path.

This month, that page got dedicated to "Random Acts of Kindness".  My Mom use to have a bumper sticker which read, "Today I will commit one random act of kindness."  And that stuck with me.  I don't know about you, but the world could use a little kindness about now.  I encouraged the seniors to be kind to someone when it was least expected.  Like compliment the first 3 people you meet each day. But one of my favorite suggestions, which came from a "Kindness Foundation", was to write 52 Thank You notes, one a week, to thank people for making a positive contribution to your life.  I've challenged myself to do just that.

So, without further ado, my first THANK YOU goes to Maurcheen.  

Thank you for sharing your gift of music in a way which brightens my day when the sun isn't shining and makes me want to dance on days when life is going fairly well.  You have no idea how many times I've had the blues, only to find that you've posted the perfect song to center me.

So friend, I'd like to.....

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From Our House to Yours

Wishing all my favorite "invisible" people a very
Merry Christmas
and all the best in the 
New Year!

Knowing y'all is a present itself.  
And no...there is no Egg Nog at our house, 
no matter what Bou looks like.

And yes Sav, that is his favorite toy: the Christmas Possum.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you're looking for something philosophical or deep...not today.  No, today I bring you our family's silliest tradition.

The Egg.

Mom was a kindergarten teacher and she use to get some um....unusual gifts.  Every year we would single out the most "special" of the bunch, to see if we agreed.  That worked for years, until a new neighbor, not familiar with the southern tradition of Welcome-To-The-Neighborhood Basket.  This tradition probably isn't as common now, what with people so leery of those they don't know.  I do remember when I was a kid Mom taking a plate of cookies to a new neighbor from "up north".  The woman answered the door, said she didn't want to buy anything and shut the door.  Undeterred, Mom rang the bell again and began welcoming the woman to the neighborhood.  Amazingly they became best friends.

Okay, I digress.  Again.

So the newest neighbor obviously felt the need to hand over something in return since it was Christmas.  Her gift choice was voted unanimously the weirdest thing ever....a ceramic, fried egg spoon rest.

I must've laughed longest because I received it for my birthday the next month, with the note it was a "egg-specially" for me.

And so the silliness began, the egg circulated randomly, usually when least expected.  Over the years the box has been changed because before the recipient can open it up, everyone else is laughing and yelling, "The Egg!"  I typed up all the old answers, as a word is not suppose to be used twice, and put it in a book.  With extra blank pages to fill in, the book now circulates with the egg. 

No one is immune.  Mom even shipped it out of state one year to one of my siblings, thinking that was the end of it.  It came back to her...on Mother's Day.

I gave it to my nephew when he was a month old, noting, "You may be new around here, but you are not Egg-empt from receiving this gift." 

I ended up with it last, so it's my turn to share.  Who?  I'm not telling.  But I was shocked to realize we've been doing this for 20 years!

Guess there are worse traditions.