Saturday, September 29, 2012

the path of change

Yesterday's post about change afforded an opportunity to refer to the fact that I see a career change in the offing. There is a lot that I could say about what got me to this point of recognition, but rather than look back, let's look forward. Unlike true, magnetic north, there is no distinct destination point on which to set my compass. There are signposts, yes. But as my mother might venture to say about a trip we took together in Scotland many moons ago, just because there are an abundance of signs to Fort William doesn't mean you will ever get there. (On our travels Fort William was never the destination, but there were plenty of opportunities for it to become so!) Contemporary wisdom is that the destination isn't what is important, but the journey. While there is truth in that wisdom, a destination can be critical to being on a journey at all. Anyway...

I have been recognizing the consistency of some signposts for several weeks, and as I listen to my soul's response to them what I hear is the steady heartbeat of inner life and connection. I decided to pay close attention and explore what the signposts were telling me. Before sharing further, let me disclaim that what I am sharing here is what I have learned so far. As I noted yesterday, this is a process of listening and discerning, and it has already taken a couple of twists. Who knows how many more lie ahead?

Let me toss out the first bone to temper your curiosity. Even that is a clue! It has to do with dogs. "Ah..." I hear you say to yourself, and you're probably nodding. Yes? If you've been with me for any length of time then you know I have a big ol' heart for dogs. 

You will also know that I have a tender place for veterans and our men and women serving in the military. I am indebted to a facebook page called Dog Bless You for making me aware of programs that provide, or pair, service dogs to disabled vets, many of whom suffer from PTSD. I've been following Dog Bless You for a while, and love the pictures they post showing the bond between these service dogs and their companions (two pictures accompanying this post come from DBY's stash). In recent months they've been sharing pictures and snippets from various other facebook groups around the country that do the actual training and pairing for these canine-vet duos. As a result of those posts I've begun following several of them, an act that is apparent to friends with whom I connect on facebook since I ultimately end up sharing photos or stories that move or humor me.

The combination of these two interests of mine are providing a very natural signpost for me to follow in terms of investing myself in finding answers to the question, "what now, or next?" I've been exploring, researching, networking and learning about service dogs and training, and programs that support providing these dogs to vets. It is a vehicle for a vocation that makes a lot of sense for me. It also carries some challenges, not the least of which is that I have no significant experience training dogs, and none training service dogs. As I see it, however, that isn't an obstacle, just information with which to work.

At this point in this process that really sums up where I am at the moment. I don't necessarily have answers, but I do have information. Every day I uncover an additional piece of information, either about a training/pairing program, or about myself. Ideas pop up and I spend some time considering them. Some have potential, some provide information that help me hone the process and make some choices. As the saying goes, it's all good. 

I'll spare you the details of my cogitation, but at least now you have a glimpse of this first chapter of the story of where I believe I am headed. To borrow from the author of Following Atticus, Tom Ryan likes to say, "Onward, by all means." I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 28, 2012

friday five: how do you spell "change?"

At RevGals Martha invites us to "answer these five questions about change."

1) Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and seen yourself with surprise? Why?

Sure. I think we carry images of ourselves in our head that don't necessarily jibe with reality. For instance, I think of myself as thinner than I actually am--so those mirror reality checks? Yikes! I am generally a realistic person, but hope also springs eternal in my soul, so I take this as a good sign that I have a healthier self-image than the physical match-up actually suggests. I suppose this could be denial, but I don't think so. This also prompts some inspiration to do something about the weight, although taking action is another matter entirely! 
2) Have you ever witnessed a change in routine at church that upset people? (Hahahahaha!!!! I know you have!)
How much time do you have? You name it--resistance ensues.
3) Have you ever been surprised or inconvenienced by a change in a public setting (not church)?
Change is constant. The Latest inconvenience is the addition of traffic lights at busy intersections in town.  Next week it will be something else.  The change that frustrated me most was when a local store changed its Saturday hours to being open every other Saturday, and would close at noon. What? I worked out of town and during the week they closed at 4 pm, so Saturday was the only day I could shop there.  I understand that privately owned businesses are free to make decisions to suit the lives of their owner and staff, but this one really seemed to set the business up for failure.  That sound you hear is me, banging my head against the wall.
4) Has the passage of time changed your understanding of something you used to think you knew for sure?
I'm not sure that I have held that I knew anything for sure, although the thing about which I was most confident was knowledge of myself. What I have learned in a new way is that who we are evolves and shifts through life. Before you say, "duh!" let me put it this way. Some years ago I overheard two recently retired men catching up with one another, and one of them said, "when I had the interest (in whatever the subject was) I didn't have time for it. Now I have the time and I no longer have the interest." I have discovered that this kind of change does, in fact, happen, and I didn't expect it. It's a bit sobering.
5) Is there something you're trying to change, or want to change, in your life right now?
It looks like I am changing careers.  The loss of my job, crappy as that is, also creates the opportunity to switch gears. I am listening to my heart first, and it is steering me in a new direction.  It is proving to be a really fascinating process and experience, both exhilarating and frightening. All I can really say at this point is, "stay tuned!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

seven things

My friend Dana has invited fellow bloggers to list seven random things about ourselves. I did this a while ago, but that was then, and this is Thursday!

So without further ado...

1) Mere moments ago I burned my finger using a glue gun. Ken and I are making a crown for a dear friend who has a birthday on Saturday. She has spent the last 4+ months in the hospital or a rehab facility, and we want her to feel special. We glued little bead trim around the crown points, etc., which was an exercise in painstakingness and tedium. It looks cool, though!

2) It's a sacrifice to type with a burned finger. Just sayin'.
3) We have made some really amazing recipes from Pampered Chef's "Great Grilling Recipes" cookbook in the past week. I mean, really, really good eats. Just $15 and you won't regret the purchase! I believe you know how to make contact with a consultant to order one.

4) I made dog biscuits for the first time the other day! I don't know why I resisted making them for so long--they're not hard to make, use ingredients on hand, and are edible! For heaven's sake, there's peanut butter in the recipe! The dogs even like them, which is sort of the whole point, so I'm chalking this one up in the victory column! Yay, rah! And, yes, that is the dog biscuit bowl.

5) When I was in high school I was such a zealous Montreal Canadiens fan (NHL) that I dated my papers by the players names. For instance, Yvan Cournoyer wore #12, and Guy LaFleur #10, so on December 10 my notes would be dated: Cournoyer/LaFleur. 

6) We're trying to make changes to our eating habits to get healthier, and among those changes is doing our own popcorn. Paper bag in the microwave, yessiree! A little tweaking is in order, but so far we are pretty darn happy with the results. Save money, eat healthier, that's the name of the game!

7) I woke up this morning filled with anxiety. My last paycheck will get us through this month, but then? I am trying hard to focus on the day to day, and what I can do to move my life forward to find a job that is a good fit. It is a frustrating quest since there aren't natural job niches out there for my particular interests (and sets of skills--that's for you, Michael and Dana!).  I swing between feeling hope and feeling the outlying twinges of despair.  This morning the latter had its grip on me, and the day has been dreadful. A nap didn't help.  Looking at sheep and puppy pictures didn't help! Cuddling my own dogs isn't helping.  My prayers feel old and tired, but I offer them up anyway.  We're trying yet another recipe from the above cookbook tonight, so at least I am anticipating some great food! And betting on tomorrow. A new day, a fresh start, maybe take Juliet for a walk first thing in the morning.  I don't like this feeling and I want it to Go. Away!

Here's to tomorrow, y'all!

Friday, September 14, 2012

friday five: randomness abounds!

As part of the RevGals Friday Five, today's adventure is full of randomness. Jump in!

1. What is one of the best things that happened to you this week?

Reconnecting with someone with whom I recently suffered a damaged relationship (my fault). I am so thankful to be on the road to restoration and healing.

2. If you were in a Ms., Miss, Mr. (name your country) Pageant, what would your talent be?
When I was in grade school this was actually a perpetual conversation at the lunch table. As I recall, most of us denied having any talent and concluded that we would wiggle our toes.  All grown up (chronologically speaking, of course), I don't lay claim to pageant-worthy talent. But in the spirit of the question I'll don the "Miss North Pole" sash and wrap gifts without using scotch tape and tying bows that don't have knots. That is something I do with all my gifts south of the North Pole.

3.  You were just given a YACHT!!! What would you name it, and why?
I love this question! I really enjoy coming up with names for things, whether it's my dogs, the name of a program, title of a blog post... This one, however, has caught me off guard. Off the cuff I would want to play on the notion of my "ship coming in," so today the name of my yacht is "Arrived." That could change by tomorrow after I've had time to think about this some more! I'm a moderation kind of girl, so this smaller version would suit me just fine. I guess the Cabana Boy is off fetching our lunch while my companion and I are taking a dip.

4.  If you were to perform in a circus, what would you do?  

Invite all the kids to come love all over the animals. Behind the scenes I would make sure they were properly cared for. 

5.  What do you have in your bag/wallet/backpack that best describes your personality?

A book of sudoku puzzles. Gotta keep those little grey cells firing on all cylinders!  

Friday, September 07, 2012

friday five: help!

At RevGals Martha writes: This time last Friday I was on my way to the airport to pick up your usual host for first Friday Five. We had a mighty to-do list for the Labor Day weekend, and her accomplishments were so far beyond impressive as to be heroic. A dumpster is now full of water-damaged junk from my basement.

This was not a job I could have accomplished by myself. I had to ask for help.

I hate to ask for help. I love to give it. You may identify with these feelings.

So, for this Friday Five, please list four ways you have been helped when you didn't want to ask for it and one way you had a chance to help that meant a lot to you.

1) Speaking of wet basements, years ago I moved from Indiana (land of my alma mater and first real adult job) back to Connecticut, the land of my birth. I moved in with my father, who had room in his house and a fenced yard for my dog. During my tenure there an early season hurricane swept through, dumping torrential rain and flooding the basement of dad's house. Oh, and while this was happening dad was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. The water in the basement would recede, but in the meantime there was wet and damaged stuff submerged there that needed retrieval and disposal. Enter my beau, who without having to be asked rolled up his sleeves, donned the requisite waterproof boots and slogged through the mess to empty the basement debris. Hero status, henceforth and forever more!

2) When I moved to St. Louis to accept a call as associate rector I arrived with all my belongings, two dogs, and no place to live. A staff member at the church opened her home to me and my entourage, where we stored my things in her basement (dry!), and lived for three months until I bought and closed on my own home. Did I mention that one of those dogs was six months old at the time and chewing everything in sight? I could never repay the kindness and tolerance of that hospitality and am eternally grateful for it.

3) While at that same call in St. Louis I suffered a shattered heel one Thanksgiving weekend. After surgery I was non weight-bearing for four months, and for the first several weeks was confined to the couch with "toes above the nose." An army of parishioners brought meals, did my laundry, brought catalogs from which to shop for Christmas, mailed packages, delivered a Christmas tree and decked it out with my ornaments, took my dog to the vet (he was undergoing treatment for cancer), and in general saved my sanity. It was humbling (and necessary!) to receive the help, but I also learned from that experience how much people want to and are glad to be helpful.

4) When the last church I was serving could no longer afford to pay me and my bishop was less than enthusiastic about my priestly vocation, he offered to pay for several sessions with a noted career coach in my area. There are a lot of things that could be said about that entire episode of transition out of the Church, but the focus of this post is the help he offered. It was life-changing, and as I am in yet another period of transition in life the work I did with the coach is proving exceedingly beneficial and liberating. 

5) It's always meaningful to help someone in need, but oddly those occasions aren't logged in a quickly retrievable part of my brain. The occasion that does come to mind happened a few years ago while driving from Tennessee to St. Louis to visit friends. I was on the interstate in Kentucky, and spotted ahead of me what appeared to be a huge lump in the middle of the road. As I got nearer it looked like a dog, alive because it was holding its head up. I pulled off the road, ventured to the dog to check its status, kept an eye on approaching traffic and then carried the dog to the other side of the road. There wasn't any blood, but I didn't know how to check for injury or damage. Shortly another car pulled over, the driver a K9 handler with the Knoxville police department. I was willing to take the dog with me to St. Louis (one of my best friends there is a veterinarian), but Dan was covering a shorter distance to his destination and he offered to see to the dog's care. It turned out that the dog had dislocated his shoulder, and Dan's mother adopted him and named him Spencer. Dan and I were in touch for several years, and we even had lunch when I was driving through Knoxville once upon a time. It's time to look him up again.


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