Much like my favorite heroine, Elphaba, and probably much like every other human alive, I am limited. Deeply flawed. While I might try to live my best life, and be my best self, in times of crisis…Well, actually I rock in times of crisis, it’s just the rest of the time that I could use improvement.
One of the issues I struggle the most with, is the issue of control. Having it, keeping it, not losing it, knowing when to hold it, and more importantly, when to fold it. And so when I am put in a circumstance where I don’t have control, and where I have to give up any idea of maintaining it, it’s a struggle. And that includes needing, and asking for, help.
I have had some pretty significant health “events” in my sweet life, and each one has brought its own challenge of opening up and letting people help me. When I have resisted help, it has contributed to delayed recoveries and other complications. So one would think I would be an expert at it by now.
Last year, I had to have pretty intense foot surgery. It involved no walking at all (except to bed, couch and bathroom) for a couple of weeks, and no driving for 6 weeks. While I knew about it months in advance, I was pretty sure the lack of independence was going to be the worst part of the whole thing. But, I listened to the wisdom of some very good friends, who reminded me that it is a kindness and generosity in itself to let people help. And, the most compelling argument is that I wouldn’t hesitate a second to help anyone in need, so why would I be so “selfish” to deny other people that same generosity.
So I planned mightily, and asked for help in a way that worked for me and my recovery. I had great nurses, shoppers, chauffeurs, fig pickers, and even dog rescuers. The recovery went smoothly, I didn’t lose any part of my soul accepting all of the wonderful support, and I learned a lesson in gratitude and acceptance.
Well, sort of. Last week I woke up in the middle of the night, and something was not quite right. After twisting and turning in pain for a few hours, I drove myself to urgent care. After 5 hours of continued severe pain, much of which was spent sitting by myself in a cold cubby between blood tests and CT scans, I realized I should probably let someone know where I was. I called my parents, trying to downplay the whole thing, and told them most likely I would be home in a couple of hours with meds, and would let them know I was okay.
2 hours later, I was being wheeled into the operating room, for acute appendicitis. Fortunately I had called my parents again, and a couple of very close friends, by that time, and the Kathi “emergency network” was being engaged. It turned out my appendix had actually ruptured, it was a pretty serious thing, and I spent several nights in the hospital. Of course, this was all unscheduled and quite unplanned, and involved my needing immediate help from a number of quarters.
Now I’m back at home, recovering a little slowly and uncomfortably. I’m well enough to be struggling again with what I need, what I want and when and how to ask for it. Really, I suck at this. So I can’t say there’s a lesson learned in this week’s meanderings, except to say, life is a journey. We never run out of opportunities to learn and be better people. I will try to embrace this latest “scar” as reminder of how lucky I am, not only for surviving this scary crisis, but by being surrounded and overwhelmed by people who love me enough to help, and who forgive me and understand me enough to know that that part is harder for me than losing the appendix.
The End, for now
Are you familiar with the story of Pollyanna? Originally a 1913 best-selling novel by Eleanor Porter, it is the story of a plucky little orphan (aren’t they all), whose optimism in the face of any and all adversity brightens up a whole town of formerly disgruntled and variously depressed townspeople, including her own, stern, spinster Aunt Polly.
Polly’s happy orientation is energized and bolstered by a game taught to her by her (now deceased) papa, who, of course, was a minister. Called The Glad Game, Polly sets out to share it with her fellow citizens. Here, in Polly’s own words, is the game explained:
“Why, we began it on some crutches that came in a missionary barrel.”
“Yes. You see I’d wanted a doll, and father had written them so; but when the barrel came the lady wrote that there hadn’t any dolls come in, but the little crutches had. So she sent ’em along as they might come in handy for some child, sometime. And that’s when we began it.”
“Well, I must say I can’t see any game about that, about that,” declared Nancy, almost irritably.
“Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about–no matter what ’twas,” rejoined Pollyanna, earnestly. “And we began right then–on the crutches.”
“Well, goodness me! I can’t see anythin’ ter be glad about–gettin’ a pair of crutches when you wanted a doll!”
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
“There is–there is,” she crowed. “But I couldn’t see it, either, Nancy, at first,” she added, with quick honesty. “Father had to tell it to me.”
“Well, then, suppose YOU tell ME,” almost snapped Nancy.
“Goosey! Why, just be glad because you don’t–NEED–‘EM!” exulted Pollyanna,
This is frankly just the sort of smarmy shit I used to thrill from as a kid. Okay, true confession, I still love this treacle sweet, look on the bright side of the street, kind of thinking. So, I started thinking about being glad. I came to the conclusion that being glad is different from being happy. Happiness seems like more of an overall, encompassing thing, like, I’m happy I have family and friends. I’m happy my hair is naturally curly. This is, of course, just my own interpretation on this. Should you disagree, please feel free to write your own set of definitions. Glad seemed to me to be a little more fleeting, less weighty, more doll, less crutch.
I had actually started writing this post last weekend, and had started writing a list of “gladisms” by Kathi.
- I’m glad my neighbors got rid of their chickens, although I miss their sweet gentle clucks
- I’m glad shaved ice has reached the mainland and become a bit of a trend
- I’m glad Jimmy Kimmel got married and seems to have so many celebrity friends in real life, just makes his show seem more real
So, my big Glad finale was going to be:
- I’m glad Fig season is here because it will end soon and it won’t come around for another year
See, shades of Polly, right? But then, well, a couple of things happened. I got a stomach ache, my appendix ruptured, I was rushed into emergency surgery and I spent 3 days in the hospital. Today is my first full day home, finally freed a little bit from the overall shock, trauma and pain, and I had time to think about things other than, wow, what the f*ck just happened to me.
So for this week, a day late and a few brain cells short, I leave you with my final Glad. Here we go:
I’m (choke) glad my appendix burst, because you only have one.
Thank you, Pollyanna, and thanks to all of the family and friends who saw me through the last week. It really is not just a life, it’s a full adventure! And, I’m glad to still be in it!
The End, for now
One of the things I have done since I became a (temporary, I hope) lady of leisure, is committing to myself to write and post to this blog at least once a week. It has become another accomplishment I can control, like working out, in this uncontrollable life. And I have kept to my commitment since I made it, posting every Tuesday or Wednesday for the last 8 weeks.
My “method” of writing, if I have one, is not complicated. I basically think about what I want to write about, and then sit down and write it out. I will give it a check for grammar and spelling, but I don’t rewrite or self-edit. I’m really doing this for myself, and if anyone else likes it, or it resonates, that’s an awesome cherry on the sundae.
For the last week, I have had it in my mind that I was going to write this week about optimism vs. pessimism. I had it titled, Half Full, and had even written a couple of paragraphs in my head. One of the thoughts I wanted to put to paper was about how Kerry and I have such hugely different orientations on this. Best friends for decades, we inevitably see the glass differently, she being of the eternal half empty viewpoint, while I remain hopefully and hopelessly optimistic.
This topic even became a current event this week. I have been wrangling with the state of Utah over some tax issues related to my mom’s condo sale. It’s been messy, complicated and expensive, but I am convinced that it will eventually settle out in my favor (see, optimistic!). So when I received an envelope from the Utah tax board this week, I half expected to see a check fall out, returning the money to me that I believe I have paid in error. Instead, it was a notice that I owed an additional $5,761, and that it was due in two weeks!
This is a mistake, and it will get resolved. But when I told Kerry about it, still in the freak out stage, and explained how I was looking for that check, she told me I needed to lower my expectations. And I laughed, because I never will! I am always going to be looking for that kitten in the foxhole, or expecting that check in the mail. And if I get disappointed, I’ll deal. And Kerry will comfort me, just as I will celebrate with her when things go right.
So why is this post titled “Stuck”? Because I had a lot more to say on this subject, about how our upbringing affects how we see the world. About how I have to resist what I see as a dangerous trait of being an unrealistic dreamer, which is very different from being an optimist, and which can lead to a life of disappointment. About how this affected my mother, and left her with an unhappy and unfulfilled life.
But when I sat down to write this all out, I couldn’t. I felt, well, stuck. It’s been a difficult week, and I’m struggling. I haven’t lost my optimism, but I think it is safe to say I could use a win. So, I’ll call Kerry, and she will comfort me, as always. She may not believe in the inevitable happy ending, but she believes in me. And that, my friends, is something I can take to the bank…along with that large check I’m sure is coming from Utah.
The end, for now
The last week has been a real roller coaster of moods and emotions, with sharp curves and steep inclines. In fact, I am pretty sure I have personified at least 5 of the 7 Dwarves in the last week: Happy, Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey and Sneezy (I had a cold). Probably not Bashful and I’m still debating on Doc. I did try to give my sister some medical advice last weekend, so I’m going to slide that one in too.
It started early last week, with an IMPORTANT interview. Of course, at this point, any and all interviews would be considered important, but this was for a very exciting opportunity, and as I referenced in my last post, one that would be life changing. My anticipation, nervousness, and excitement leading up to the interview, was at a high pitch. The fact that it was conducted by video chat, and involved my buying a web cam and then learning how to use one, just added to the fun. It actually all went seamlessly, but I haven’t heard anything more. That could mean that they are still interviewing the first round candidates, or they are going in another direction. So for now, I wait.
After that, I decided to take a few days off for 4th of July. I realize the concept of “taking time off” when you aren’t working may seem a bit odd, but for me, it just meant giving myself permission to play a little bit and forget for a few days. I spent the actual holiday with my sweet sister and her fiancé, and had a wonderful 24 hour getaway. But when I returned home on Friday, still in the vacation mindset, I had an unexpected and painful reminder—a UPS delivery of my final paycheck. And when I opened the envelope and saw it, I cried.
I shouldn’t have been so affected. My formal termination date, per the layoff terms, was July 7. I have had this date in my mind since I was given notice, and had been mentally preparing to sign the final agreement, which could not be signed before that date, and send it in. I don’t know why this made the whole out of work thing feel so much more real, but I was pretty depressed about it all weekend.
Monday morning, I woke up resolved to start fresh. No more “days off.” It was time to go back to the job of looking for a job, screening job sites, networking, etc. But, I felt downhearted. Now that I have signed my agreement, the clock has officially started ticking as to how long I will be able to keep afloat. It’s not an ungenerous amount of time, but I feel as if I know the exact moment in time that my resources will run out, and that clock is mentally with me most of the time, ticking away my comfort and security. It took some psychic wrangling to regain my gumption. I found a couple of interesting jobs to apply to, but true confession, I was struggling to stay positive.
One of the really great things that has happened since I stopped working is that I have committed to an ambitious (for me) exercise program. Not only have I lost 12 pounds in 8 weeks, but I also feel very proud of myself for keeping to the plan. I am sleeping better, and I can feel my clothes fitting more loosely. So I decided yesterday afternoon to work myself out of my grumps with an extra workout. I was on the bike, music blaring, pedaling madly, when I heard the phone ring, but I didn’t stop to answer it. 30 minutes later, breathless, I listened to the message from a recruiter, for one of the jobs I had applied to that morning! A very exciting opportunity for an IMPORTANT job. And here we go again, chugging up the track. Stay tuned!
The end, for now
I recently told my stepmother that I would be happy if nothing ever changed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t true. It’s uncertainty that makes me uncomfortable. I can actually adjust to change fairly well, once I know what it entails.
Without question, my life is going to change, has already changed. I lost my job, and I don’t know what will happen next. It will be, in fact, a big fat surprise. I will never find another job, and end up homeless, pushing Daisy and Louie down the street in a shopping cart. Or, I could land a fabulous job that makes me happier than I have ever been, with fulfilling work for which I am richly and justly rewarded. Or, more likely, a scenario that falls somewhere between the two, hopefully closer to rich rewards than shopping cart.
My days have already changed dramatically. Instead of getting up super early and rushing off to work, I rise at a respectively early time, and start my day with a fairly vigorous workout. A great change! I eat a healthy breakfast (no change), and start a semi-structured day that includes looking and applying for jobs, networking, taking classes from the placement agency, writing, working on the house and yard, and visiting with friends or family. As much as I look forward to getting a new job, I can’t say that this current situation is bad, just a little anxious. But truthfully, it may not surpass the level of anxiety I had at my former worksite, where the environment had been tumultuous for a steady period of time.
Right now, I am considering a scenario that would result in significant change, the most change I have ever experienced. I won’t go in to detail here, the ball is not currently in my court, but trust me if it happens, YOU will be the 12th to know! But it’s a change that I might not have even considered in the past, which now leaves me sort of tingly with anticipation and excitement at the possibilities. Maybe change could be a great thing, the key to greater happiness?
The Magic 8 Ball isn’t working for me. I have no earthly way of knowing which direction I am going. But instead of feeling too worried about it, I find myself sort of interestingly waiting to see what’s going to happen next. I continue to put as much positive energy and action as I can towards rowing that boat to a fruitful shore, but I’m not wearing the life jacket. I’m ready to dive in, swim like hell for the beach and start whatever next grand adventure this crazy life wants to hand me. In fact, I am ready to change!
The end, for now