Sunday, September 28, 2014

Goodbye brings my new Hello

I’ve never been one for long, teary goodbyes and I’m pretty sure it’s not due to me being a cold, heartless person. I think it really comes down to two main reasons: First, goodbye is not usually for that long. Second, it’s often followed by a bunch of new hellos.

More often than not, when we say goodbye, it’s only for a short time. I specifically remember dreading the moment certain friends and family members would leave after a visit. It was in part because I didn’t want to see them go, but it was mostly because I didn’t enjoy the 15 minutes of crying in the doorway (not by me) as our guests were leaving. You would think that we were all going off to battle with a slim chance of ever returning. In reality, we would usually be seeing each other again within the year and with numerous phone calls and letters during the interim to tide us over. It seems like even less time now with social media as we’re often sharing photos and commenting online about the visit before the visitors even get out of the driveway.

Having just left one company to begin a career with another, I have had my share of goodbyes over the past week. The goodbyes ranged everywhere from the teary eyed farewells to one outright refusal to actually say goodbye because we’d still be seeing each other nearly weekly (the exact point I’m making). To me, the teary eyed goodbye takes away from the good times you had and doesn’t look forward to the good that is still to come. That leads into the side of goodbyes that I do enjoy….the next hello.

During my two days off between the old and new employers, I got to reflect on the good times with the old company and look forward to the exciting new adventure with the new company. There will be a lot of hellos this week at the new job. Hello to new co-workers, clients, projects, and more. Knowing that is a big part of why the goodbyes at my old employer last week weren’t all that difficult.

As my post title says, goodbye brings my new hello. Rather than focusing on the people and things left behind with a goodbye, I will focus on the new people and things I will get to say hello to by leaving. Besides, I will still see most of my former co-workers again in the near future and have already seen a dozen or more posts by them already this weekend. There’s not usually a huge finality in goodbyes and by focusing on the new hellos, my goodbyes will be even easier. It’s probably also why I always end my posts with: Until next time….

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Family Time

I was listening to the radio during my drive to work this morning as they were talking about different families’ routines for supper. Working in retail for most of the years since I was married and started a family, I have missed most of our family’s meals. It’s not something I have appreciated as I feel like I’m missing out on so much while my girls are growing in leaps and bounds. Sometimes it seems like we’re just passing each other at various points during the day. It seems that I only get a few minutes in the morning during the mad rush to get out the door for work, school, and daycare. After returning home from work there is another brief window between walking in the door to putting the girls to bed. This is a cycle that I am excited to say we will be breaking in the very near future.
I will be starting a new position with a different company in a little over a week. There are many things about this that have me quite excited. It has the thrill of being in an industry I have never worked in before while still working in a role (customer service) that I enjoy and have a lot of experience with. The company values are phenomenal as is the attitude of all the employees I have yet had the pleasure to meet. (Normally I would have been concerned that this seemed too good to be true, but I have had the benefit of knowing the company and some of its employees for a number of years now.) The best part about this job for me is the schedule. I will actually get to eat supper with my family every weeknight AND spend the weekend with them! I think it’s a great first step and enjoying family time.

The second step is that I'm going to make the most of the time we have together. I’d like to think we’ve been doing that all along, but it could be a little hard to see most mornings and evenings. When you’re in a time crunch in the morning (with tired, groggy kids….and often parents) or enduring the nighttime battle of going to bed (often also with over-tired kids….and sometimes parents), it’s sometimes hard to hear the love between the screaming and crying. (It’s not always just me crying either.) I’ve learned a lot about valuing time with family this past year. It’s something I have even joked about in the past, but never really “worried” about too much in reality.

The joking part comes from my last few years living in Texas before I was married. I was living in Dallas when my parents moved from the Dallas area out to East Texas lake country (about 90 miles away). I would drive out there nearly every weekend to stay at their house and fish the local lakes. The funny part is that I ended up moving out to East Texas myself (5 miles from them) and then only seemed to see them for an hour or two every Sunday morning at church…and the occasional lunch afterwards. (Mom was always able to draw me in with her cooking.) Proximity can often end up being inversely related to how much actual time you spend with family. The thought is that they are just down the road and you’ll see them tomorrow. Then it’s suddenly next week and next month…

After moving up to Minnesota and being 1000+ miles away from my folks, I found myself calling home a lot more just to chat. I would often call during my lunch break and talk with mom until my lunch hour was over. I never made an intentional effort to make these lunchtime phone calls. It just turned into a routine we had and I am very glad it did. My mom was diagnosed with cancer shortly after Thanksgiving this past year and then passed away about 7 weeks later. I am thankful for all those phone calls over the previous years because it made it that much easier to deal with, and be thankful for, her very brief battle with cancer. We didn’t have to worry about finding closure as we talked 2-3 times per week.

Speaking of closure, have you told your family how much you love and value them lately? That is one thing that I have taken for granted. If you have never been in the situation before, here is the mindset: Think of a family member. You have 10 minutes to talk to them right now and then you have to leave. You know that you will never speak to them again because they will die shortly after you leave. What would you say to them? I’ve always thought I would somehow know what to say or how to say it, but it proved to be much harder than anticipated. My suggestion is that you write a letter today as if you will never see them again. Even better is being able to have that conversation with them on your own time schedule rather than being too late.

Well, I didn’t really intend to get so deep in this post, but I just kept going with the flow…like I usually do. I think my main thought is still intact. Value your time with family and make the most of it whenever you can. I am excited that my new work schedule will make the time factor easier. Now I just have to work on better expressing my feelings to my family. Friends, you’ll have to wait until I tell my family first. Until next time….

Friday, September 12, 2014

The value of change

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I’m sure my loyal readers (both of you) have been wondering when you would hear from me again. I’ve often heard about writer’s block, but always thought it had to do with not having anything to write about. After a few months of writing this blog, I am now realizing the bigger “problem” is having too many things to write about and not being able to hone in on one idea. I guess I haven’t really been all that great about staying focused in my posts anyway, so I decided to just start typing.

I was recently thinking about the idea from Greek philosophy that says that change is the only constant. If the only constant thing is change, then I wanted to make sure I was making the most out of the changes in my life. Having written a few posts recently about trying to find the good in everything, I decided to look at how I react to change. (Notice how I’m honing in on a specific topic there?) We deal with many different types of change throughout our lives. Some are quite drastic while others often go unnoticed. Many people try to label each change as either a good change or a bad change, but I try to see both sides whenever possible. I’m not sure if it’s advisable to mix the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang (dark/light, good/bad) with the Greek philosophy of change being the only constant, but that’s what I tend to do. (I have also been known to mix ketchup into my mac and cheese, but I’m not sure that’s relevant.)

One of the things I really enjoy about living in Minnesota is the change of seasons. A couple of days ago I was wearing shorts and tonight we’re supposed to get temperatures down near freezing. Following my Yin/Yang concept, I will admit that the cold weather moving in is not what I would classify as a good change, but the beautiful Fall colors that will soon appear are classified as a good change. Of course, it is easy to impress me in this arena since I grew up in Texas where there are only three seasons (summer, summer part 2, and ice storms). Winter snowfalls in Minnesota create a lot of work when you have to shovel snow, but it also brings a lot of fun when building a snowman with my girls. Spring may bring a lot of rainy days, but those days of rain bring flowers and help the crops grow. Summer brings the heat and the heat means running around in the sprinkler in the back yard. (OK, my girls run around in the sprinkler. I’m just the official water regulation supervisor.) I could go on with balancing good and bad aspects to the change of seasons, but I think you get the idea.

The photo accompanying this post is actually more than just a cheesy play on words. (Full disclosure: I didn’t have a better picture in my files anyway and my previous bad experience with copyright trolls has taught me to only use images that I own. A story I will have to share at another time.) Our financial status is a type of change that we deal with and one that definitely has both good and bad associated with it. Society would have you think that having more money is good and less money is bad. Being rich means you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay the mortgage or put food on your table. Unfortunately, it may also mean you don’t know who your real friends are and might have to deal with everyone wanting a piece of what you have. Being without money, at the very least, creates stress and may have you struggling to put food on the table. Not having money can also teach you to appreciate the truly valuable things in life like your health, family, and friends.

Most of us experience numerous changes in our careers as well. Whether it’s something as simple as a new co-worker in the group or something major like a new job, changes at work have both good and bad aspects. A new co-worker might mean days or weeks of picking up the slack while they transition into a new position and learn a role, but it might also mean a new friend and/or lightened workload for you. Being promoted or changing jobs can be scary and might make you feel incompetent at first, but it can also add excitement and new possibilities to your career.

The most recent change we’ve been going through in our house is our five year olds’ (going on fifteen) constantly changing attitude. There is no middle ground. One minute she’s laughing and having a grand old time. The next minute she’s kicking, screaming, and throwing something across the living room. During the bright, shining daughter moments it’s easy to see the good. We get to enjoy spending family time together and see how well she is developing as a smart, fun girl. The darker moments are not fun for anyone, but there is a plus side….believe it or not. Without the bad end of the changing attitude spectrum, it would be easy to take the good end of the spectrum for granted.

I’m going to close this post out with a change that I saw on September 11, 2001. The horrific terrorist attacks on that day are about as extreme an example as you can get for trying to find the good in everything. While thousands died during the attacks, there was actually a glimmer of hope in the change of attitude for many of us. I lived in Dallas, TX, at the time and although Texans are known for having a friendly attitude, interaction between strangers in public was usually limited to a smile and a “howdy”. As the events unfolded that day in 2001, I immediately noticed how strangers were talking with each other with a rekindled sense of community. Suddenly, we weren’t just a bunch of individuals running around going through the motions of our day to day life. We were now a group with shared feelings and emotions.

Think about all the changes life throws you each day. Think about how it makes you feel initially. Watch how that change ultimately affects you and your day. Then, after the change has made its impact on your life, see if it had the good and/or bad affect that you initially thought it would. You might be surprised about how the various aspects of each change truly affect your life. Until next time….