Just Be

Today is the first weekday in weeks that I am actually off work. Monday night one of my board members demanded I take the rest of this week off and return to work next week. In typical workaholic fashion I spent yesterday handling our social media and working on a grant, figuring I would get ahead of myself since I have 3 grants to churn out by December 31. I love my work and I am passionate about it, knowing people lack necessities bugs me and I do all I can to bring some joy to their lives.

 

A funny thing happened today, I woke up with plans to make the most out of my one child free day since it was the six year olds last day of school. So that means two weeks with the kiddo at home! I love our time but knowing that this year I won’t have the luxury of being off two weeks alongside her, I know there will be some stressful points. Anyway I had my day planned out and well it seems Mother Nature had a different plan as the roads were slick with ice. The Spousal Unit was willing to do the driving so I could run errands but after hearing of numerous accidents and slide offs, it hit me…just be.

 

I haven’t been to either a yoga or yoga nidra class in the past couples of weeks; generally yoga is the glue that keeps me mindful and present. I know when I am sliding back into harmful ways of being when I feel the need to go 100 miles an hour, and I have been going full speed ahead for weeks, not fully present and juggling way too many balls. Part of it is necessity but the other part is simply being caught up on the treadmill of life that way too many of us live on. When simply being fully present and in the moment is near impossible because we are always mentally skipping ahead to the next task. I hate living like that, yet without yoga to put me in the present I fall back into bad habits.

 

So I spent the day accepting that my plans simply were not to be and then the Divine wanted to make sure I really got the message. See, my son aka college kid is coming home tonight. I haven’t seen him since he went back to school at the end of summer, so I am anxious to see my baby, knowing he is truly no longer a baby but a man…I gave birth to him though and he will always be my baby. When I booked his flight some weeks back, I purposely chose a flight so he would get home right before dinner. As you can imagine Mama Bear has been running around sprucing up the house and cooking to make sure his first meal back is a good one. Well my son who has been flying solo since he was 5 years old missed his flight. He has never missed a flight, turns out he misread the itinerary.  It’s a snafu but after a call to his Pops to get money for the change fee, as I type this his flight is in the air. Only thing is it will now be close to midnight by the time he gets here.

 

That means our perfect Solstice meal, won’t be so perfect but it’s okay because I will just be present in this moment, knowing he is on his way. I can’t change it and getting mad or sad does no good.  Sort of like my odd Christmas tree, I’ve been working so hard that it’s only been in the past day I could think about Christmas. Let’s just say that going to the tree lot four days before Christmas does not get you the choicest selection, it’s okay…we have a tree. She is at least 7 feet tall and only cost $20.

 

If you have been running around like crazy, might I suggest that you take a moment and just be…everything will come together. Life is not perfect and our holiday or days don’t have to be either, instead I invite you to join me in enjoying the messiness of the season.

 

I suspect this space will be quiet for a few days unless the writing bug hits me, so I wish you and yours a warm holiday.

 

 

The Ugly Side Of Helping Others

Warning this is a vent, hell it’s a rant. While my goal is not to offend, the fact is I need to blow off some steam and for me that generally involves writing, after all its better than the old days when I used to smash things.

In Maine, they have a funny saying I never heard until I moved here…when folks are really busy, they say I am out straight. When I first moved here I was like WTF, does that mean? Now, almost 8 years into my Maine life, I totally get it. So to steal the vernacular of the native folks, I am out straight.

My daytime life involves helping folks when you boil down the fancy language. Yeah, I have a title that seems like animpressive title but at the end of the day, the work I have been doing for a dozen years now really is about helping others. I have worked in a wide array of setting to achieve that goal but no matter if its been a homeless shelter, low income housing or community center. At the end of the day, the work is about trying to affect change in the lives of others who need some help.

Prior to getting into this line of work, I had a brief career in sales. I was an advertising sales rep for a medical journal. Financially, I did quite well…well enough at 22-23 as a young single Mama to afford a condo on Chicago’s lakefront. I suppose had I stayed in that line of work, I would be a lot better off financially. But as I joke, I found God and was lead to do more meaningful work. So it is what it is.

Most days I love my work, I love helping others and I do it for the joy. Because of the way I was raised, I seem to have a knack for relating to folks in all walks of life. I can juggle a family in need and turn around and talk with donors in a way that is meaningful. I guess if I were to analyze my gifts and talents I would say that is a big one, the ability to connect with others. I will never make a gorgeous home though I can cook great food, so I accept that barring a lotto win, my house will probably always look like a college student, but the ability to connect with others…that seems to be where my gifts lay.

Anyhoo, in all my years working with folks there is something about the holidays that seems to bring out the worse in people and to be honest it pisses me off. One of the downsides of the work I do is that pretty much every year where I have been employed since the Spousal Unit and I married a dozen years ago, our personal holidays are disrupted. Years ago in Chicago at the agencies I worked at, homelessness doesn’t stop because it’s a holiday and as low woman on the pole (especially before I got my degree) that meant I had to work on the actual holiday. After a couple of years it went from having to work both Thanksgiving and Christmas to picking one of those days. Last agency I worked at in Chicago, only person who was not included on work holiday duty was the Executive Director.

So you would think now that I work at a place that is closed on the actual holidays life would be easier but no it’s not. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my crazy time of the year, the agency that I work at provides help and programming to many families..help frankly that I am happy to do. But the past few days have brought me face to face with the ugly side.

Look, I know its hard being poor at a time of year when society says consume. Everyone wants the same things for their families, good meals, gifts and good times. Many families in need rely on agencies and programs such as mine to help them, but sometimes folks forget that behind the agency it’s flesh and blood folks running the show. Folks who also have needs, this past Saturday I woke up to a child with a red face, slight fever and runny nose. A child who just wanted to cuddle with Mama and have homemade soup. Problem was on Saturday I had to work, I was running a special program that by the end of the day provided meals and gifts to over 100 kids and their families. Long story short, there was no way I could meet my kid’s needs at that time. To say I felt like an ass would be a understatment. Thankfully the Spousal Unit did the best he could since by the time I got home to say I was spent would be a great understatement though she did get that soup.

Since Saturday I have assisted loads of families in getting their needs met, some with a gift or two and some with the entire holiday including the dinner. Most are appreciative but its been the few that felt the need to yell or pester me that things were not on their time clock, that have me wanting to just snap. Really, I am not a fucking magician and at the moment my kid doesn’t even have a fucking tree and has been consuming way more tv than she should because I am too busy and too tired to function like a normal Mama.

Times like this the gimme gimme consumerist aspect of our society pisses me off, the fact that everyone feels so entitled and gets mad if their expectations are not met exactly the way they want them to be. The fact that people never stop and realize that hey we are all humans…where is the true spirit of the holidays? Where is the kindness? instead people yell and get mad because they cannot get what they want when they want it.

So today I pray I can wrap up work so perhaps I can plan to relax with my own family and thank you for allowing me this time to vent. By the way we did get the tree, the night before last and the only thing we are lacking are the candy canes….I promised the kiddos that candy canes would appear tonight.