Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Reflections and Words to Live By

Another year is coming to a close and I feel like only yesterday I was composing last year's post on 2010. As I've pondered on how I would recap this year, I found myself quite challenged. This year, in a word, was interesting. Think of being on a roller coaster that would go at the speed of light then stop to let you off to catch your breath, then sweep you back on to continue the ride. Or a Ferris wheel that spun out of control causing your view to be blurry. Enough of the carnival comparisons. I decided that from the reflections of this year, I would come up with words to live by. Things I hope to remember in 2012 and years to come.

1. The more things change, the more they stay the same - I'm not sure the origin of this phrase but I've heard it practically my whole life. This could sum up my year. One of the biggest changes was experiencing the acquisition of my company. I've been through these acquisitions more than I care to recount, but every one is different from the last. The acquisition happened in August and was so impactful because although I work with many of the same people, at the same office building, doing a very similar job, it was still a major adjustment. You see the constants weaved within the change. But, things did change, and will continue to change. I still love my job, even though the complexities and chaos have increased, and I'm ever so thankful to have a job in these economic times. There is another phrase "The only constant in life is change" and that rung true this year. On December 27 this year, I recalled that 27 years ago that day, I started my first full-time job. What was I doing? Sales support. And today, 27 years later, I'm managing a team of 3 (soon to be 5) Sales support associates and an inside sales team. Some things never change, they just evolve.

2. Loss is sad, but normally always provides growth - In May of this year, I lost a dear friend, Jan. It rocked my world. She was like a little soul sister who shared passions in ministry with me and we shared so many memories together. We joked about growing old together and taking care of each other. She left this world suddenly and way too early, but exactly when God had ordained. I miss her laugh and her crazy commentary, but I know I'll see her again in Heaven. I've had close friends lose parents this year, reminding me of how that felt 11 years ago when I lost my Mom. And, even during my company's acquisition, many co-workers lost jobs. Though they are still around and thanks to technology we can stay connected, it is still a loss. Work consumes a large chunk of my life and when those that play a part of it every day are gone, it's a tough adjustment. But no matter the loss, I try and learn from it and grow. Losing Jan was tough, but it reminded me of the importance of carrying the passion of Jesus she had and to be devoted to serving Him. When I reflect on my Mom's loss even 11 years later, I realize how God used that to grow me in ways I never would have otherwise.

3. Be radical - The word "radical" is defined as "an extreme change from accepted and traditional forms." After this year, my mind reels with ways to be radical. My realist side says to completely shed all the unnecessary and minimize stuff and work on all the craft and sewing projects in my head, and maybe even start that book I long to "opus." My romantic side says jump into a passionate relationship with all you have and let the waves take you wherever they may flow. My rebel side says to create the most amazing new product and become a millionaire, or just quit my job, go open a bed and breakfast on the beach. My redeemed side says to be unashamedly bold and confident in sharing the gospel with every breath I have with no hesitation. Bottom line, being radical makes your blood pump. I have no regrets about any steps I've taken, risks I've made, because even in those moments where I thought I'd done the craziest thing, later in my journey, I saw how God used it all for His Purpose.

4. Be Balanced - Since August, my life has been a blur. Yes, this acquisition is an ongoing theme as I reflect over the year. We had a lot to do in a short period of time and as 2012 peeks around the corner, I know that the goals are high for what we want to do there. As a Type A, obsessive person, I can quickly be consumed by my job. It is my livelihood and pays the bills, so as a single gal, I see that as what I must do. But, I've learned that there has to be balance. I have to be that seal that knows how to plop that ball on my nose and keep it well balanced. Work is important, but taking time out for others and even for myself is important. I would ask myself "What does all this mean for eternity?" and that's a really good question to ask. It means, for now, it's how I put food on my table, gas in my car and pay my bills. But, it doesn't mean it defines me or is all I ever do. Learning to balance is hard for this extremist, but I'm going to strive to live by these words.

5. Cherish Your Friendships...They are Eternal - I am blessed with some of the best friends on the planet...and they are located all over the planet. I wasn't able to attend Jan's funeral, but I was able to send something to be read at her funeral and I spent some time reflecting on our friendship. We didn't do anything earth shattering,...never traveled the world, or did the extravagant. But of all the things we did, we made memories. Even if it was watching a movie together eating her Trinidadian cooking and drinking slingshots (an amazing coffee drink). What I learned was that even in the small, insignificant times with friends, I'll always remember them. I'm an easy-to-please gal. Sharing meaningful conversation, a good cup of coffee, or just sharing life together enriches my life more than most anything else. I'm blessed to have more friends that are so dear to me than I could name here without leaving someone out, but over this holiday season, I've realized how so many people have very few close friends their entire life, and I have more than I deserve.

May 2012 be a wonderful year full of more blessings than I can count and fun adventure.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Five Minutes: Connected

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Connected.

Ready. Set. Write.

There are days when I feel like I'm too connected. My cell phone, affectionately named "Pepper" for the amazingly talented assistant of Tony Stark aka Ironman, Pepper Potts, has become an appendage. Besides staying connected via phone and text with friends and family far and near, it is where I can see my work e-mail 24/7. Somehow that shouldn't make me giddy, but it does. I get my personal email on my smartphone, Twitter updates, reports and other apps that can tell me the closest (and cheapest) gas stations, restaurant options, the closest Starbucks and movie times. It's a mini computer with all I need, including navigation.

I have a hard time remembering the days when I just had a phone with a number pad that I only used for voice communication. Now I can talk into my Google phone and search the Internet. As odd as this may sound, being this connected is somewhat comforting. With the holidays approaching, my company is shutting down for 8 business days yet some business will still go on. Will I be able to stay somewhat dis-connected? Maybe. But it's good to know I can stay as connected as I want and not have an onslaught of 10,000 emails in my inbox on January 3.

All that being said, how connected am I am to the True Source of Joy? I find myself trying to stay motivated to get in the Word deeper, to pray more, and with vigor and passion, yet, the busyness of life gets in the way. I need to be more connected with God, no matter how connected I stay with the rest of this crazy world.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Five Minutes: Color

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Color.

Ready. Set. Write.

Over the years, my favorite color has changed. For many years it was blue. But for the past few years, I have moved to purple and pink, quite interchangeably. When I think about my choice in favorite colors, I realize that it tells a story of my ever-evolving personality.

Blue was safe. It is the color of the sky but carries a warmth with it. Blue isn't risky. It's solid, sure and always the constant blanket above me. That was me for a majority of my younger life. Safe, solid, not a risk taker.

Purple is fun. Just saying the word purple makes me giggle. It's the color of grape kool-aid and a vibrant, striking hue that is commanding. Purple also represents royalty (ok, so maybe I'm a Diva). This became my favorite color when life became more footloose and fancy free and I love the bright and bold of a vibrant life.

Pink is girly. It can be as loud as fuchsia or as quiet as a baby soft pink. It also carries with it the spontaneity of purple, but with the tinge of femininity. Pink is rarely worn by men (although my Dad can rock a pink sport coat like a champion), so the color pink truly represents being a girl. That is me. All girl. But fun and giggly and vibrant. I'm a pink with a purple outline.

Funny how colors truly reflect our personality. Now, where is my box of crayons?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Deer in Headlights...Literally

It was a cold and dark night just a few weeks ago when I was enjoying some long-awaited girl time with my friend, Beth. It's amazing that even though she lives just minutes from my house, finding time to get together is difficult. But on this Friday night, we finally made it happen...and we made the most of the detriment of Brock's bedtime. It was a great evening...and then I headed home.

As I was driving down the two-lane road from the highway to my house, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a deer right at my passenger door. My first thought was "this can't be good" so I slowed Bluebelle (my car...folks, I name everything) down in hopes the deer would run on. But, alas, she didn't and took that opportunity to dart in front of me, causing her to smack right into my grill and headlights and go spinning down the center of the road. All these guys who sit in deer stands and wait hours to shoot a deer are nuts. People, just drive down the road and you can hit them square between the eyes.

After the impact, which thankfully didn't deploy my air bags, I found myself in the middle of this two-lane road. There were some cars coming the other direction, but thankfully, far enough away that they didn't hit me head on. I directed my car off to the left and thankfully there was a gravel drive that lead into a gravel lot. Now, I've traveled this road a ga-zillion times and never remembered that being there. I circled around, caught my breath, and as I was getting ready to pull out, a man in a truck pulled in. "Are you ok?" I told him I was, just a bit shaken up. He replied, "Well, at least you are safe, that's what is important." He took a look at my front end and said it was pretty banged up, but thankfully, my car was still drive-able. I cautiously pulled back out on the road to head home and passed the poor deer lying lifeless in the road. It was not the way I'd hoped the night would end, but I was so thankful it wasn't worse.

When I got home, I couldn't sleep. Not because I was hurt, but because I was in a state of awe over the protective hand of God. Look at my paragraph above. Count the number of "thankful" words. I think there are five. Five. Honestly 5000 wouldn't be enough. When I recounted the event (which I do so well in my reflective mind), it completely amazed me how God's Timing was perfect. I came upon the deer and saw it before it darted, causing me to slow down to lower the impact. I have a CRV, which sits higher than a car, and coupled with the low impact, didn't cause the deer to flip up and come through my windshield, possibly causing me harm. The cars coming in the opposite direction were far enough away that a residual head-on collision wasn't imminent. The exact spot where it happened allowed me an easy escape to a gravel lot. Most of the that roadside is merely gullys or ditches. My car is drive-able and because of my insurance, I'll be able to get it fixed. My mind was reeling with all these things that were complete reminders that God was protecting me every step of the way.

For you naysayers out there, you might immediately respond, "If God was truly protecting you, He would have kept that deer from even hitting you." Though I believe that God could pick that deer right up and plop him in a neighboring field, I know that God allowed this for a reason. The last few months have been tough. After my company was acquired, it was somewhat like going through a mourning period. One company ends and another one begins, though some of the players are the same, others have departed. It has been a pretty dramatic change and many times during the initial transition, it was hard to see God, though I clung to the fact that He was always there. Hitting this deer and all the circumstances around it was exactly what I needed to tangibly see the presence of God, alive and well as I always knew. But because I'm much like Thomas, I have to 'see' to believe. I'm safe and that deer gave up his life so I could see the One that gave His Son so that I could have life.

My car still isn't fixed are on order. And I'm still a bit gun shy when driving at night. But there is one thing I know. God never sleeps and is always protecting me.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Five Minutes: Tired

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Tired.

Ready. Set. Write.

There is a line from Ferris Bueller's Day Off that I love that goes something like this..."Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop once in a while, you'll miss it." That movie is always a fun reminder to me that taking a day off and playing "hooky" is sometimes good for the soul.

In this holiday season when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I'm amazed at how each year life gets busier. And, I'm a single gal with no children so I cannot fathom the hoopla that ensues with families of multiple children. It's as though we have about 6-8 weeks to crunch in all the Christmasy goodness we can from parties to food to musical presentations to theater productions to shopping to watching those classic Christmas specials and movies to decking the halls with boughs of whatever looks good in our homes to....well, you get the picture.

I find myself tired during this season and that somewhat saddens me. I should be rejoicing...ho-ho-ho-ing, singing glory, alleluia to the celebration of the One who came to save me, yet I'm swirling around like the Tazmanian Devil trying to be all things to all people and longing for my recliner, a good book, a cup of java, and Christmas music in the background.

When I grow weary and tired during this time of year, I stop. I set boundaries. And I reflect back on that memorable scene in Charlie Brown's Christmas when Linus says "Lights, please..." and recounts the Christmas story....because "Charlie Brown, that's what Christmas is all about." Indeed, Linus, indeed.