Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Reflections and Lessons Learned

It seems like just yesterday I was composing the 2009 year in review, yet here I am reflecting back on the year that almost is history. I haven't blogged as much this year because my life has seemed to accelerate to mach 10 speed with my hair on fire (thanks to my writing mentor, Amy, for that visual) But just because I didn't blog as much didn't mean my life wasn't as full and glorious as ever. To recap it would take way too much time for a wordy gal like myself, so I'm going to hit the highlights. For those that are faithful readers and active participants in my life, some of these may be a memory for you too.

I was privileged to speak at conferences twice this year and published in my first book - One of my dreams has been to do public speaking on a regular basis and to write more (books, devotions, etc.). This year I saw that dream come to reality. At the very time I really wasn't pursuing it. I spoke at my church's women's conference in March and at a Women's Brunch at a friends' church in Knoxville. I never tire of speaking to and teaching women. I am blessed FAR more by their stories afterwards of how God is working in their lives than they will ever be blessed by what I say. If I ever questioned my passion, it got squelched in September after the brunch. I talked to women who were in tears, sharing their hurts, sharing how God was breaking them to make them better. I sat for over an hour listening, crying and praying with those women. I am blessed. This summer, I was published in a Psalms devotional published by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am May 23! Not only was that a blessing, but an honor to be on the pages alongside seminary graduates, professors' wives, and women much farther along their journey than I. Lesson learned: Give God your dreams and He'll make them reality in His Time.

My office moved locations in March - Newsflash: I love my job!! Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my adoration for what I do even though there are days when I'm ready to lose my mind. But the one downside of my job was the downtown location. Not a downside for everyone, but for me, the 30-45 one-way commute was a buzz kill. Our offices are now located 10-15 minutes from my home and we have our own parking lot. Having your own parking lot is taken for granted when you park in a parking garage everyday and have to walk down a wind tunnel passing Mrs. Gulch and Toto flying by you. We now have a beautiful office with "real" furniture and more space. Good thing because for 2011 we're projecting to grow revenue by 30%. Lesson Learned: Never take for granted the little things or the things that you love, even when they are frustrating at times.

I have traveled 6 out of 12 months this year - When I looked over my year, I was shocked to see how often I traveled. Granted, they weren't all week-long epic excursions, but still wonderful trips. I went from Virginia to Florida and many points in between. I had one trip to Alabama I canceled or I would have traveled 7 out of 12 months. Some business, some pleasure, but all trips were enjoyable and full of funny stories. (Welcome to my life!) I used to travel a lot for my job about 10 years ago and that got wearisome. But I now am trained to pack quickly and actually get antsy when I don't have a trip planned, no matter how quick a jaunt. Being the competitive soul, I suppose I'll be trying to shoot for 7 out of 12 this year. Lesson Learned: There is no place like home, but a good trip can be refreshing for the soul.

I became a bit more gadgety this year - In June I ordered a Kindle. I love to read and unless I want to have my own library, all these actual books are taking up way too much space. I love the Kindle for travel (see above) because that one device can hold a ton of books. I also became the lucky recipient of an iPod Nano Touch at our company Christmas lunch. I've been too cheap to buy an iPod. I listen to Pandora, so I find no need to "buy" tunes when I have that variety. Now that I've won this iPod, I owe iTunes my next paycheck, I think. I admit freely that I'm a tech geek, and each year, I seem to get a bit geekier. Lesson Learned: The world as we know it is changing and we'll be like the Jetsons in no time.

This year went by blustery fast and sprinkled along with unexpected blessings - Last Christmas, I took my team of three out to lunch and told them that according to the plan, I wouldn't be manager to all of them in the coming year. That all changed. As I took my team of four out to lunch this Christmas, I recounted that statement (with the additional person) and the fact that I'm hiring three more people for 2011. Never in my dreams would I have expected that, but it's a very good thing. That is just one example of the year I've had in 2010. Life moving along like a stream of water that flows, and though some ripples flowed over craggy rocks, it just made the journey more exciting. In the end, I've had a great of the best yet. Were there times I wouldn't have said that this year? Most definitely. As I face 2011, I can face it with fear and trepidation thinking about the unknown, or with high expectations knowing that no matter what the road, in the end, it will be a great year. Lesson Learned: God uses all things - the bad and the good - and works them together for our good. In that, I truly find comfort.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Musings for the Week - The Sing-Off, Shopping, and Surprises

1. I don't watch much television other than a few shows - The Office, Glee - and a random sort of other competitive shows - Top Chef, The Apprentice. But typically they stay in my DVR until I have to watch them or delete them because, well, I just don't have the time or desire to sit and watch as much as I might record. But the singing competition on NBC, The Sing-Off, has won my heart! I love music, most any kind. And music sung in pure acapella with voices as the only instruments is heaven. Although I've been an American Idol fan, I feel their days are numbered. The Sing-Off is refreshing in oh so many ways. It simulates the real-life Glee, which could fill up another blog post on why that is exciting. The judges - Ben Folds, Pussy Cat Doll Nicole Whatshername, and Shawn Stockton from BoyzIIMen - are phenomenal. They actually make sense and don't say "pitchy" ever other word, or make no musical sense at all. There have been two episodes so far and the show has a short run each year so be sure to catch it on Mondays and Wednesdays for as long as it lasts - or online. Otherwise, you'll have to wait a year for that harmonizing goodness.

2. Last Friday, I went to see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at a local high school with my soul sister, Amy, and her daughter Kaela. Once Kaela heard it was a "girls' night" she just had to come and let her brother and Daddy have their boys' night. After one girls' night at my house in her PJs watching Glee, she was hooked on the girls' night concept. Amy will attest that her holiday season can't begin until she sees this production, and this was the first time for Kaela. And you can't beat $5 for an easy way to get into the Christmas spirit. If you've never seen the play, nor read the book, please do so this holiday season. You'll understand the real meaning of Christmas and realize that Jesus came for the misfits, the square pegs, the outsiders. Jesus was born and Mary laid Him in a trough. He spent His Life and Ministry (and death) ministering to those of us who find ourselves in the troughs of life. He truly is the Reason for the Season. Amy and I shed a tear, just like we did when we saw it two years ago. Let Christmas commence!

3. Whilst receiving my DNA when I was created, I missed some of that shopping gene. I shop out of necessity. You won't find me going to a mall to stroll and browse. Partially because it's not my thing, but partially because when I see something I like, it's too tempting that I have a hard time not buying it. But there is one type of retail therapy I love - shopping at Walgreen's. The store has been around for more than 100 years, and it's obvious why. Last Saturday after a long day of household chores, laundry and grocery shopping, it was late...and snowing...and I was on a Benadryl hangover and out of medicine and cough drops. So, at 7pm on a snowy, dark Saturday night, I headed to Walgreen's. (People, I have got to get a life) I needed a few other things - makeup, scarves and gloves for our office Christmas tree - so the trip was well warranted. I even traveled to my favorite Walgreen's, which is about 15 minutes away. I found everything I needed, with much on sale, and a friendly staff who chatted with me as I shopped. I've been to CVS, Rite Aid and the whole drug store lot, but none can compare to Walgreen's. I heart Walgreen's.

4. I just finished a marvelous book - The 13th Hour. My book club opens up windows of books in various genres I would never read on my own. I adore that about being part of my book club. If you are looking for a fast read for the holidays that you just can't put down, I highly recommend this book. In short, it's a mystery about a man who has been accused of murdering his wife. He is given a timepiece that will allow him to go back in time - an hour at a time - for 12 hours to solve the crime and prevent the death of his wife. When you open the book, it starts at Chapter 12...because you are going backwards in time. That's just delicious! And speaking of delicious, the book for this month is The Love Goddess' Cooking School. No, it's not some R-rated book, but a light-hearted story of a woman who has lost a love and assumes the little Italian cooking school her grandmother ran before her death. If you like following a character who is recovering from lost love and talk of good Italian food, this book is for you. It's that time of year when the weather outside is frightful, but curling up with a book and a cup of java is so delightful.

5. When setting up my DVR to record the aforementioned show, The Sing-Off, I caught a listing for the showing of Singin' in the Rain. I've loved that movie for a long time. I noticed it was on TCM, Turner Classic Movie Channel. I heaved a sigh because that has always been a premium channel, untouched by us lowly basic cable users. The channel listing was 608 and I thought, "Hmm, let's just go there and see." Much to my surprise, I have TCM! I know this is quite geeky and classifies me as some sort of movie goober, but that surprise was absolutely wonderful. I heart old movies and much of my Blockbuster queue is filled with movies you can't get at Red Box. Now I have access to those old movies 24 hours a day. The old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movie, "Babes on Broadway" was on last night. As I'm winding down for bed and need that "go to sleep" movie, nothing hits the mark like an old classic where men loved women and women adored men. Thank you Insight for finally doing something right.