Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Six Week Change


Such a cool word, adventure. It can mean the craziest, wildest things in life you could experience in either a good way or a bad way. The noun definition is "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity." The verb usage is to "engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory."

Hazardous? Exciting? Unusual? Exploration of unknown territory? Sounds like the makings for an Indian Jones movie, doesn't it?

As you know, this journey of mine has been and still is an adventure for sure. I have been "exploring unknown territory" throughout its duration. Every slippery slope turn seems to have another new aspect  of adventure in store for me and my family. This new job in 2011 has been no exception.

The company was just a year old when I began. The job I was to do was Email Marketing. I had been doing this type of job for 6-7 years already, so it was not a new thing for me to pick up. Given my condition, my boss didn't want to stress me out too much by giving me a ton to do right up front. Needless to say though, the job was still being developed, and I was the one who was going to need to develop it further.

The first few weeks were quiet and I basically felt as though I had to make up what I was to do. Truthfully, that was what they were looking for. They wanted me to design the position and document it along the way. I could totally do that. But I really needed to be challenged along the way too. Mom and I praised God each and every day for the blessing of this job.

So, I was given some additional work to be a back-up to the lady who was managing the web site for the company. I would work on the radio broadcast side of the web site so that she would have a little more time to develop a new store-front for the inventory.

A month after I started, this lady gave her two-week notice that she was going back to the company almost all of us had worked for before. We had all been laid-off from there, but she had an invitation to get back in the door and do more web site stuff for them. It was a little scary knowing that the web site here would suffer with her being gone. But, my boss asked if I could learn more along the way in those two weeks so that I could take over until they found someone else.

So, six weeks into this new job of mine, I changed gears and managed the web site as my primary function. Email Marketing became a secondary function, which wasn't given too much effort as the web job was growing by leaps and bounds. Every day something new was added onto my plate with the web. I had to take a lot of it home with me to finish what was needed as most people got stuff to me late as it was.

As always I managed to keep myself sane.

As the days rolled by, Mother's Day quickly approached. As mom and I were driving around the city and I was showing her a few of the sites of the Springs she had not seen yet, I had a brilliant idea of how I could give mom a huge surprise gift for Mother's Day. I was going to give her a day at The Broadmoor Hotel Spa (Colorado Springs only 5 star hotel). The more I looked into it, the less of a good idea it was. I had no idea what services mom would like to have done. So, instead of giving her a spa day, I booked a room for an overnight stay, a posh dinner at one of their restaurants and a Sunday buffet brunch for the next day.

It was grand! Mom enjoyed herself so much. Grandma paid for a bottle of wine for our dinner at the Summit. It was a wonderful dinner too. Then, mom and I went  around the corner from our dinner site to the Golden Bee for their nightly entertainment. We had so much fun singing along with the whole joint. The Golden Bee is a piano bar set as an old English pub. A live piano player takes requests along with singing from a song book passed out to everyone in the building. Mom and I lived it up!

The next day, we got up and had a great buffet brunch at the hotels Lake Terrace Dining Room for Mother's Day. We needed reservations, so it was perfect I had made them ahead of time knowing it would get very crowded for Mother's Day. We were sat right next to the buffet itself and we had such a great time. We have talked about it for two years now. I don't think there is a chance I could ever out do myself with another gift. Nothing could compare with that weekend.

Not long after Mother's Day, mom and I headed to California for a check-up with my surgeon and radiation oncologist. I wasn't doing too bad, and I felt good. All in all, this year was shaping up to be a bright spot after a long, hard 2010. Thank you Lord for such a big blessing.

Next..."Going Another Round"

In 1985, singer/songwriter and Christian artist Leslie Phillips released Black and White in a Grey World album. One of the songs on that album was Psalm 55. It was one of my favorite songs for many years as it was just scripture sung over and over with a great tune in the background. The lyrics were directly from Psalm 55:16-17, 22. Here are those lyrics (scripture):

When I cry He hears my voice
Evening, morning and noon

Cast you cares on the Lord
And He will sustain you
He will never let the righteous fall
He will never let the righteous fall

As for me I'll trust in Him
Evening, morning, and noon

When I bought the cassette tape of this album, I think I wore it out within months. Leslie Phillips was one of my ultimate singer/songwriters of Christian music back then. I loved all that she produced. When you write directly from scripture, you can't go wrong. There is nothing like singing the Word of God. As I travel through this journey, there is nothing like the scriptures to keep me focused on the Father!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Next Big Thing in My Journey

Boat Parade
After hearing the news that I didn't have a job to go back to in Colorado, We got the house ready for Christmas. Since we didn't have to rush back, mom decided she was going to have her traditional Christmas. We started planning for our grand festivities getting the menu in place, seeing what Grandma and John were going to bring, finding out when the Annual Boat Parade party was going to be and what we needed to bring for that, and finally get our invites out to our family, neighbors and friends. It was going to be a grand event!

Mom didn't want a lot of help with the meal and decorations. She liked things a certain way, and she wanted to keep those details together for her to do. So, the main meal would be oven roasted turkey with mom's stuffing, the traditional green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, Grandma Marj's Cranberry Jello salad, Cousin Sandy's Yam Yummies and for dessert pumpkin pie, mince meat pie, apple pie and anything anyone else would bring to share.

The guests would include our neighbors on each side, Dan and Lesley (with son Daniel) and Rhonda and Leonard (with sons Alec and Curtis), mom's close friend Liz and her husband Salvatore, my friend Kathy and her husband Scott, our cousins Jim and Sandy and their daughter and son-in-law Christy and Jon. Of course, grandma and John, mom, dad and I would be there too. All together, there were usually the 20 of us in my parents house for appetizers, dinner and dessert. Most people had so much fun just gathering together that it was near impossible to get them to go home.

Christmas Dinner at our house.
But, we finally had the house back to just mom, dad, my grandparents and me. I was usually in a lot of pain by this time and was heading to bed to lay down flat in hopes to make the pain go away. Dad was usually watching t.v. and my grandparents were trying to help my mom finish some of the dishes before they left. Mom was trying to complete what she could before she headed off to bed. Christmas was a fun day for us, but it was also a lot of work for my mom and she was always extremely exhausted the day after.

The last few days of the year were just lazy days for us trying to recoup our energy for New Year's. This was always a day of football and the Tournament of Roses Parade for our family. Being from So. Cal. meant watching the parade early in the morning and being ready for football before noon. The first few days of the new year were also spent watching football bowl games and mom would go about her normal days of running errands including a little bit of after Christmas/New Year's shopping sales. Sometimes I would go with her just to get out of the house and see some new scenery for a change.

The second week of the new year began with a little glimmer of hope. I was on Facebook looking at some updates and messages from friends, when I ran across a message for a former boss who was no longer with the company either. He and I began talking a little back and forth. He wondered if I was back on CO, if I had a job and was working, if I wanted to work, if I was going to come back to CO, etc. All of this was leading up to a potential job for me.

This was exciting. I was not sure where he was working or what he was doing, but if he could find me a job back in CO, I would be elated. Within two weeks, I had a phone interview with the general manager and an offer to begin working in February as Family Talk's Senior Email Specialist. It was just over 1 year from the time I was told my co-worker was now my manager and I was going into surgery that I was now interviewing over the phone for a job position to a company I wasn't even sure what it was. God certainly has a sense of humor. When I thought my work life was over and I was more than useless, He comes through with a job prospect out of left field for me.

So, mom and I got everything together and made the journey back to CO with a Jeep full of stuff. I was heading home again getting ready to launch into a new adventure in this crazy journey I was only along for the ride on. Isn't God good?

Next..."A Six Week Change."

God can (and does) take your circumstances that seem so bleak, and turns them around when you aren't looking. He is always faithful to you. He desires nothing but good for you. But, He also desires you. He wants you to spend time with Him. Sometimes that only happens when we are brought to our knees (literally) and have to rely on Him to get us through.

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Sunday, July 14, 2013

No Reason to Return

In October 2010 (I left this out of the "Released" post, sorry), my dad had taken a business trip out of state. My mom and I decided we needed to leave for a fun little getaway too. So we rented a car and packed up our belongings for a week and headed up the California coast to Napa Valley. Mom and I needed this little trip so we would have something to look forward to instead of the typical day of therapy or hospital visits. We were able to talk my grandparents into coming with us as well.

However, to make the trip easier on my grandma, mom and I took off driving up the California coast a day earlier than my grandparents. We stayed in San Luis Obispo on the first night (just about half way to San Francisco).

The next day my grandparents flew to San Francisco. They spent the day in the city and we picked them up after dinner. It was a rainy night in the city and traffic was diverted in several places making navigating to my grandparents location extremely difficult. Needless to say, I was very frustrated trying to make our way through the city. I finally gave up trying to read the map in the dark. Mom had to try and find a way to zigzag her way to where they were waiting. And, a lot of the city is one-way streets making the diversions even more frustrating. All-the-while, my grandfather was calling us every few minutes to get an update on where we were so they would know when to get out into the street for their curb-side service.

We finally found a way to get to the streets we needed to, find my grandparents and we picked them up. Then, we navigated our way back through the city and across the Golden Gate Bridge heading for our hotel in Santa Rosa. We had a hard time finding a place to stay and couldn't figure out why so many hotels were so booked. We would later find out that this was the busiest time in the valley as it was "crush" season (the time where the grapes had been picked and were now being crushed for the wine making).

We had no real plan of where we would go, what winery we would go tasting at or what restaurants we would try. We were just here to see the area and just have fun doing whatever came our way. Beside, we didn't have anything pressing for us to return for. We just needed to be back home before my dad got back from his trip.

We had a great time touring around and seeing the beautiful countryside and all the vineyards. We even found a vineyard with our family name, Frazier Winery. Mom and I took our picture with the sign at the front gate, too. It was a closed winery, meaning you could only get a tour or be on the grounds if you had a scheduled appointment. We decided to drive on anyhow. We were Frazier's and had our driver's licenses to prove we belonged there. Oh what fun it was to break some rules.

It drizzled rain the whole time we were in Napa. So, even though it was dreary weather we had a blast. We also had some great food. One of our favorite restaurants was Mustards. My mistake was not getting the Mongolian Pork Chop. It was named one of Bobby Flay's "Best Food I Ever Ate" meals. I was just afraid it would be too spicy for me. So, I settled for a steak and was a little disappointed. My grandfather and mom had the duck special and were more than happy. They talked about that duck for weeks.

Grandma had so much fun this week we were gone, she still talks about our time and things we did to this day. Mom and I decided to put together a photo album for her of our trip so she could go back and reminisce about it at any time she wants.

Now, back to December 7th. Leaving the hospital after such good news, mom and I began making calls and texting the family and really close friends the good news. Everyone was elated to hear this.

Due to the hour, lunch time, mom and I stopped at a local health food store to grab some snacks and drinks for the ride home. While she was inside, I thought it was a great idea to call my former employer and tell them the good news. I made the call to the guy that had been promoted to the manager while I was away.

He and I talked for several minutes about the great news before I said I was ready to come back to work. I thought the call had dropped because of the silence I heard following my statement. But, I was wrong.

After a long silence, he spoke up and said that they had filled my position and the person had started yesterday! Man, I couldn't have had my news come in a couple of weeks earlier, could I? I could have been going back to Colorado with a job. But NO! I didn't find out until today, and I was still unemployed, and more depressed than before. Mom and I were pulling out of the parking lot of the health food store as I got the bad news. What timing all of this was.

After everything I had been through over the course of the year, this was par for the course. I was still out of a job and had no prospects for one. I seriously considered calling it quits on Colorado and moving back to California permanently. There didn't seem to be any reason for me to return.

Next..."The Next Big Thing in My Journey."

We don't always know what God has planned. Our planning sometimes lines up with His, but most of the time, our planning is not what God intends for our life. We have to be in tune with God to know that when He is working, we need to be patient and roll with what He has in store for our life. Getting upset doesn't usually help (I have learned this over and over again in this journey). It doesn't mean that we can't be human and have a moment of frustration or depression either. We just need to have our moment without sinning.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand." Psalm 37:23-24

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Don't Friends with Kids Have Time?

I am about to deviate from my story for a really good reason. 

I was on Facebook following some of my "friends" most recent posts, when I ran across a friends "share" of an article posted by another person. The article in this guys blog posting which was what he called, "The Overly Neglected Friends Without Kids." It was from an advice column to "Tell Me About It" written by Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post. The column's title was, "Why Don't Friends with Kids Have Time?" Here is what the question was:
Dear Carolyn: Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group ...

OK. I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners ... I do all those things, too. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or email? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events); I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy, but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a contest ("my life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks have the same questions. - Tacoma, Wash.
The reply from Carolyn is great. It does put this person in their place having not really taken time to understand her "with-kids" friends. Here's what she says:
Dear Tacoma: Relax and enjoy. You're funny.

Or, you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are either lying or competing with, is disingenuous indeed.

So, because it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, cleaned, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from un-shelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times. to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces checkout line screaming.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything - language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.
There was a brief time when I thought a little bit like this woman. I am a single woman who works full-time with no kids. I love having time to myself after work is over. But, I also love spending time with my friends, with or without kids. I have friends who have anywhere from 0-5 children, both young kids and kids grown and out of the house. These are close friends of mine.

But, I only had my experiences to go off of when trying to understand why it took days, if not weeks, for my friends to answer emails. Or, instead of calling back the same day I left a message, waiting at least a week to hear back by telephone from one of them. I learned quickly that if you want to spend time with these stay-at-home moms, you need to make an effort to learn what it is like to walk in their shoes (even if only for one afternoon). Or, if you are like me, you take four kids for an entire weekend while their parents deal with some major issues of another one of their children. Then, you really understand why a stay-at-home mom is so incredibly tired and can't get enough time or energy to call you back right away.

Their lives are not all bon-bons and soap operas with them lounging on the sofa while the kids play quietly in their rooms. They are hard working, both physically and emotionally drained, loving moms. Would they love to go out with their girl-friends for coffee? Sure they would. But, they don't get the one-hour lunch break like I do, and work doesn't stop at 5pm for them like single, full-time employed women without children. They typically don't stop for themselves until everyone else in the house (including the hubby, if not a single-mom) is long off to bed.

Carolyn answered this lady with the best list of "why" she could come up with. Tacoma didn't really want a laundry list, but frankly that is what it takes sometimes.

Moms, don't let your single friends make you feel guilty for taking care of your family first. If your single friends are real, true friends, they will find a way to spend time with you, even if there are little barefoot interruptions running around and screaming at the top of their lungs. This applies to stay-at-home dads and single dads too.

While I have gone off the reservation from my story for a short time, There are some stay-at-home moms who really don't do a whole lot to take care of their children and do have enough time to meet their friends for coffee, answer emails, return phone calls and stay on top of Facebook and stuff. I'm not saying they are bad parents, but I am saying there are some moms out there that fall a little outside the normal of stay-at-home moms I know.

If you are a single person of a stay-at-home mom or dad, and you really don't get why your friends with children don't seem to have time for you when you think they should, take a little time to really, truly find out why.