Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Too Many Books?

I'm a librarian. That said, I take a certain amount of pride in encouraging the use of public libraries. I frequently brag about how few books I buy because I make good use of 2 different public libraries that are easily available. Well I may need to rethink that stance.

Today I started cleaning up after the holidays. You know gathering decorations and gifts to be put away. I found an unusual number of new books floating around my house and the overwhelming majority seemed to be on topics of personal interest to me. Hmmm. . . Admittedly several are gifts from my dh (that's "dear husband" not "designated hitter"), but quite a few appear to have been purchased by moi at odd times and locations. How is it that I always bring books back from trips? That when I order or buy a book as a gift for someone else, something usually gets purchased for me as well? Am I flypaper for books?

Here's a list of the books I found today:

Everyday Blessings a new devotional that I received as a gift from a lady in Bible study

Om at Home: A Yoga Journal I picked this one up in Destin when dh and I went in November

The Whole Five Feet by Christopher Beha "what the great books taught me about life, death, and pretty much everything else". How can I NOT want to read this?!

A String & a Prayer more inspiration for my prayer bead business and classes

Glorious Grits an entire cookbook on grits. Hello!

Little Flowers of Francis of Assisi because I've always wanted to read this

Dragonflies and Damselflies the fairies of the insect world

Favorite Poems Old and New I missed out on poetry early on and recently began reading it again

The Ultimate Fairies Handbook also from the trip to Destin

A History of Irish Fairies ditto

Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Blake Soule I read her blog and really love it (http://soulemama.typepad.com/soulemama/ )

Eleven new titles. Maybe it's time to stop bragging. . .

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year Resolutions?

Let me begin by saying, I am diametrically opposed to New Year Resolutions. That being said, let me also confess to making them almost every year; breaking them almost every year; and feeling intense guilt as a result almost every year. The concept that changing a digit (or 2) in the year should encourage me to overhaul my entire life, thereby becoming a different (read better) person is preposterous. It's an exciting concept though. New year, new me! Who doesn't want to start over sometimes?

Of course it is flawed reasoning. New year? Well, really only on paper. My dogs don't know anything has changed, nor do they care. True growth and change is gradual. Usually it is painful and only the result of being forced to change, either by some outside force (lose weight or you'll die!) or some inside force that is more painful than continuing on the current path (flashbacks come to mind here).

So for this "new" year, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing that seems to work. Regular Bible study; regular, moderate exercise; paying attention to what I eat and why (but not TOO much attention); writing; having fun; helping others. And I'm also going to QUIT doing what doesn't work. Beating up on myself; going on guilt trips; second guessing God; eating things I don't want or need just because they're available; trying to solve everyone's problems; taking responsibility for all the world issues. . . Okay, well maybe I won't quit all of those things right away, but I will try to be more mindful of them, and stop those negative messages a little earlier than I usually do.

I wish all of you a lovely new phase in your life. Call it a new year if you want or maybe just a continuation of this thing called life.

Blessings!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Norman Rockwell Drop-out

The holidays are always an interesting time. Other people talk about their family traditions and speak in nostalgic driven phrasing. I feel as if I am a Hallmark/Norman Rockwell drop-out! We had traditions growing up and they seemed very important at the time, but as the family has shrunk and dysfunction has separated us, those traditions seem kind of hollow now.

My mother-in-law died shortly after my husband and I married. It was sudden and tragic. Three months after that, my father-in-law's mother died. The matriarchal mantle fell on me and I was completely unprepared to handle it. Sure I could do the cooking, baking, cleaning and decorating. I just couldn't handle organizing people I hardly knew, let alone telling my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law that if they wanted holiday meals, they would have to come to my house! Thus began 20+ years of wondering what we would do for each major holiday. I tried doing nothing. I tried being Martha Stewart. I tried forcing my husband to tell his family what to do. I tried not caring. I gave birth to 2 children, had a breakdown and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Not that the holidays should be held responsible for any of that!

This year I tried something new. I emailed my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law and pointed out this recurring theme. I ASKED them what they wanted and TOLD them what I was willing to do. Quickly it became apparent that food was not as important to them as I would have thought. We agreed to all meet at "Pop's" house around noon. I brought ham and rolls, green bean casserole, pumpkin bread and mincemeat cookies. I told the rest of them to bring what they wanted. We sat down to eat at 12:30 without brother-in-law and his family. They came in while we were eating and joined in. I don't know if they were offended, but they were nearly an hour late, so I didn't really care.

We swapped presents, nibbled, chatted, cleaned up and everyone headed home by 4 pm. My children were basically content; my house was straight enough when I got home; and I had very few leftovers. My kids went off to dog sit and my dear husband and I sat down and watched our home team get slaughtered. I think I may have just experienced Christmas nirvana (except for that football part!).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reading List for 2009

Every year I try to keep a reading list. It's interesting to see how many books I read and what I read. The fact is,I like mysteries. It's kind of a guilty pleasure after being brought up by an American lit professor. Mysteries were looked down upon, but then again my dad is the person who introduced me to Stephen King, but that's a different story. So here's my list for 2009. I'll probably add a couple more by the actual end of the year, but I thought I go on and list these. All are available on Amazon and most at your local library or through interlibrary loan. I don't buy fiction unless it's remarkably good.

In no particular order and with some commentary:

The Lady Elizabeth
The Johnstown Flood -- remembered seeing this one in my grandmother's collection sometime in the early '70s
Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs Novels)-- I really enjoy this series based on an early female criminologist in England between the World Wars
Speaker of Mandarin: An Inspector Wexford Mystery
Murder Short & Sweet
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation
Marshmallows for Breakfast
The Help
The Chameleon's Shadow
Olive Kitteridge
The Magicians -- the WORST novel I read this year
The Doctor's Daughter
The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life -- the BEST nonfiction this year
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
A Death in Belmont
Dark Places
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else
Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 1)
Miscarriage of Justice
Payment in Blood (Inspector Lynley)
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Ghost
Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2)
Bleeding Heart Square
Summer Reading
The Laws of Harmony
Round Robin (Elm Creek Quilters Novels)
Labyrinth
Sleeping Arrangements
A Prayer for the Dying
Uncommon Grounds
The Wednesday Letters
44 Scotland Street
Benny and Shrimp -- the strangest novel of the year
The Anatomy of Deception
Dexter By Design
The Suspect
Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office
The Front -- ok, maybe the WORST novel of the decade
A Place of Hiding
A Reliable Wife
Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story
Duma Key
By Reason of Insanity
The Dead Hour
Home Safe
Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer
A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley)
House and Home
The Quilter's Apprentice
The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greeks Myths

I think that's 52 which is pretty good. I think I need more variety and I probably read more children's books than are listed here. It will be interesting to see how my reading patterns change in the coming year, now that I'm no longer working at the library. What were your favorite reads of the past year?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Annual Christmas Party

When I was in high school I starting hosting a Christmas party. I loved to entertain and I loved to cook. I would invite my best friends over sometimes for a sit down dinner, sometimes just snacks and hors d'oeuvres. I just wanted an excuse to cook, clean and decorate. I was always surprised that my friends would want to come. It never occurred to me that they came because they liked ME! I figured if I cooked well enough they would come, and I could feel good about myself for a little while because at least they hung around me for my cooking skills. I felt as if I were tricking them into spending time with me. Abuse does strange things to thought processes.

Tonight I'm hosting the annual Christmas party again. There is a core group of us who have kept the tradition up for most of the past 30+ years. There will be snacks -- pigs in blankets are de rigueur. Tonight we're doing a soup theme. I'm making my Ham and Bean Soup and Chicken Minestrone. SMC will bring her luscious bread that's topped with butter, mustard, onions, cheese, and poppy seeds. (It's a meal on its own!). LBB is bringing meatballs, a chicken ball (?), and coffee punch. CCD is bringing dessert and a craft project for us to work on. KFH is coming for the first time in many years. So glad he's in town. We'll sit around and eat and talk and remember why we've been friends, in some cases, for more than 40 years!

Maybe they've hung around for more than just the cooking!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letter Therapy

So yesterday I posted a letter to an abuse victim. Years ago I discovered letter writing as a form of therapy. I can say things in a letter that I could never say to someone's face. I can talk to people who are dead. I can speak my mind without worrying about the consequences. It's a good way to test the waters and find out how I really feel.

Over the years I've written lots of letters to the people who abused me. I've never sent them for a variety of reasons: 1)I'm still afraid; 2)the person is dead; 3)I don't want to hear unhelpful/unkind things; 4)the benefit is in the writing, not the sending.

Yesterday I wrote a letter to 2 abusers. Neither abused me, but both abused the woman in the first letter. It was a cleansing and cathartic opportunity to "tell" them what I really think of their crimes and sins.

Not all of my letters are venting, though. Some of them are opportunities to let people know how much they mean to me. Like the Random Thoughts post from a few days ago. I worry about how people will respond to kindness almost as much as I worry about how people will respond to criticism.

My request of you today is that you take a moment today to write a letter you've been meaning to write. It can be therapy or gratitude, or maybe both. Send it, don't sent it. It's up to you. See how you feel and share if you'd like.

Blessings of the season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Open letter to an abuse victim

Dear One,
I want you to know that I believe you. I believe you were abused by ****. I believe you were abused by ****. I believe that even though you tried as hard as you knew how, you couldn’t get the support you needed from the people you needed it from the most. I know your pain was unbearable and you believed you took the only route you could.
I am so very sorry that you reached that point. I wish I could have been a compassionate witness for you in life. But I could not because I didn’t know you or your situation. I can be a compassionate witness now and I will be. I will continue to believe myself and speak the truth. I will support other victims and help them on the road to becoming survivors. I will do all within my power to keep other women from reaching that crushing point that took you away from your life and your children. I will speak out against ALL abusers regardless of their standing in the community. I will not let your death be in vain.
I don’t know exactly what this will all lead to, look like, or mean, but I promise to not let you down as others did.
I will pray for your children and their safety. I pray that you have found peace in the loving arms of Jesus. I will pray for the abusers that they will confess their sins and take responsibility, but mostly I will hold your name up as a victim of abuse. Not a crazy person, but a hurt person.

Go in peace

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Random Thoughts

The last couple of weeks haven't been my best. I know I should feel gratitude, but there's been a lot of bad stuff going around and it's hard not to get dragged down by it. This morning as I was reading ML's note on crankiness (and smiling) it occurred to me that I should tell some of you how I feel. So here goes!

MaryLou -- Thanks for lovely and funny and intelligent Notes to make me smile, think, breathe and remember. I am so glad you are back in my life!

Lori S. -- Thanks for animal updates and reminders that you liked me, didn't just put up with me. I am so glad you are back in my life!

Lori J. -- What an inspiration you are to me! Always so happy, upbeat and caring. Thanks for coming into my life in a bigger way.

John H. -- I always considered you a good friend, but the latest connections on FB have proved what a great guy you are and what an enduring relationship this is. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Chris H. -- Thanks for dry, acerbic wit and intelligence. And for liking my kids. You're a treasure!

Linda B. -- You've always been there even when I thought you weren't. Thanks for being one of the few people I can say anything to. I know you've put up with a lot and maybe not gotten much in return. You are the sister I was meant to have.

Caroline -- Years ago I was impressed with you and wanted to be you. Now I am just so happy you are still a part of my life. What a blessing you are and how cool is it the my husband thinks you're the best too!

Keith -- The brother I should have had. My friend, my biggest cheerleader, my singing buddy. You are the best even when you don't know it. I love you and always will!

Mark P. -- For hilarious stories about totally random things. How is it I never appreciated you fully in college?!

So after a week of family illnesses, sad stories of terrible loss in families, cold weather with NO snow, some chronic pain and a really messy house, thanks from the bottom of my heart for caring about me and listening to me whine! Don't ever stop.
: )

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Wrap-up

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with some good friends. We went to their home and had mid-day dinner with their 7 children, his parents, and their piano teacher. With the four of us we had total of 16 and all went smoothly. If I had been able to have more children, I would have loved to have a family like theirs. Their children range in age from 17 yrs. old to 2 yrs old. All of them are intelligent, talented and kind. Their home radiates simplicity, thought, and love. What more could anyone ask?

Holidays are stressful for those of us who have dysfunctional extended families. This year it was nice to leave that all behind and just enjoy the day with good friends. Thanks for including us in your lovely holiday traditions. I hope everyone had as lovely a time as we did!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving

Is is just me or does it seem as if the world forgot Thanksgiving this year? Halloween was a big hit with lots of ads and activities, but I guess there's just not enough $$$$ in Thanksgiving to make it worth any effort. But here it is the night before Thanksgiving and all I'm hearing about is Christmas.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It seems a good reason to have a holiday. It's really about gratitude, family, and celebration. I like it because it's non-commercial, but that's why it's so unpopular now. My plans are good this year. Thanksgiving dinner with good friends and close family. I've made my son's favorite salad and I'll make 2 pies in the morning. The salad is an old family favorite, Milk Salad and the pies are lighter versions of a couple of Thanksgiving classics, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie and Refrigerator Mincemeat Pie. Both are delicious!

Hope your day is filled with gratitude, love and some good food.

Blessings to all : )

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day -- Why not NO Labor Day?

It has always confused me that the day the country takes off to honor workers is called Labor Day. The idea is to give all the hard working Americans a break, so shouldn't it be NO Labor Day?

Anyway around my house, Labor Day seems to always be a day of labor. The last of the summer days off means trying to complete all those chores we meant to get done during the summer. So we run around trying to get things perfect before fall starts. Of course one of the flaws in this is that fall has already begun in the sense that school's back in session. So today we will clean house, work in the yard and talk about cleaning up Alan's workroom and the carport, but not do much about it. This is the result of Alan being a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy, and my being anal. We don't compromise on organizing very well. LOL.

So what are your plans for the day? Do you work or do you play or do you do both?

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's 6 hours not 40!

Well it's Friday and I've survived a full week (really almost 1 1/2 wks) of unemployment. Now keep in mind I only worked 6.25 hours per week. So the reality is by quitting I only gained a portion of a day, but somehow I had convinced myself that this would require a total overhaul of my lifestyle. I even said to a friend on Monday, "It's only 6 hours. It's not like I quit a full time job." Nonetheless, by Tuesday I was racked with panic, anxiety and self-loathing for the way I was wasting my life!

I always planned to be a stay at home mom, but in today's society it's not as easy as you'd think -- especially by the time your kids are as old as mine. I have one in college and one in high school, and while they both live at home, let's face it, it's more like having four adults in the house most of the time. I don't really want or need to spend to all day cleaning, ironing, baking and cooking. I could. Don't get me wrong, my house is far from immaculate! There are just things I'd rather do.

So, I'm taking a deep breath and making a list (I LIVE for lists!) of things I'd like to do/try while not under huge time constraints. Yesterday I made 6 prayer strands and 2 rosaries; did the laundry; picked my son up from school; cooked dinner for our family and another family; took my son to the craft store; cleaned up from the cooking; and actually got a chance to talk with all the people I live with. In my world that's a worthwhile day and that's all that really matters.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's my first full week of unemployment. I am going back and forth between happy and scared. I don't want to waste this time, but I want to enjoy it. On the one hand a plan would be great, but on the other hand it would be nice to just let things come as they will. So what will I do today? Laundry, exercise, make fresh corn chowder (it's cooler here today), write some, read some, maybe pull out the sewing machine and look at some fabric. I'm still trying to figure out who/what I want to be when I grow up (afterall I'm only 47!).

Two good lessons yesterday at church. One was the first in a series on being "Wholly Holy" and the other was "Clues from Monastics". If you get the chance check out St. Benedict's 12 Step Ladder of Humility:
1. "Always have the fear of God before our eyes" -- practicing the presence of God
2. Distrust my own will and accept God's will
3. Accept limits
4. Accept injuries, difficulties and hardships as blessings
5. Hide nothing
6. Practice contentment with the "meanest and worst of everything"
7. See ourselves as "the lowest and the vilest"
8. Follow trustworthy guides
9. Do not judge
10. Empathy with others' losses
11. Speak gently, briefly and not much
12. Also take on an exterior that is also humble
(w/thanks to Lee Camp)

Remember, God is not surprised by anything I do and He is not out to get me. I'm not where I need to be, but thank God, I'm not where I used to be!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Voluntarily Unemployed

So after 18 mos of considering it, I finally did it yesterday. I resigned from my part time job. Keep in mind I worked 6 hours a week as a reference librarian. Great library. Beautiful facility w/a million dollar addition to open in about 3 weeks. Terrific collection. Plenty of money to buy new materials. Music, movie, tv shows, audio books, lots of new fiction. The list goes on and on. I started there in 2002 working with 3 lovely lady librarians. We had fun. They took me in and made me feel part of the team even though I was only there a few hours a week. It was more like a playdate than work! Long story short, over time 2 of the lovely ladies left. One was replaced by another lovely, albeit younger, lady. The other was replaced by the one person I didn't want to have the job. Just one of those people you'd rather not spend a lot of time around. Never quite trusted her. She got on a little too well with the administrator. I told myself it would be okay. Made the best of it, but when she started creating numbers to make me look bad, I had to take a stand. I went to the administrator. He told me I was nitpicky. Just admit I'm sub-standard and let it go. I went to HR. He agreed there was problem. Don't leave. Lets see what we can do. Nothing changes. I go to the City Manager (it's a city library). He doesn't see that having a supervisor lie to and about an employee is a big deal. Now lets remember I work 6 HOURS a week. I don't know how much time, money and manpower went into discussing this -- but they never did anything.

So yesterday I walked into yet another meeting to discuss the situation and told them I was done. Gave my letter of resignation and in under 5 minutes I was out of there. I thought I'd be really upset and sat, but instead I was almost giddy. Don't get me wrong. I'm really gonna miss all those super nice library ladies (but will still do dinner, drinks, movies, chatting). I'm gonna miss helping patrons. I'm gonna miss simply being surrounded by all the great books and stuff. And I feel really badly for all those nice people that are stuck with all the crap. But mostly I just feel like a weights been lifted and it feels great right now.

I'm not sure where this blog is going, but this is the beginning. Stay tuned!